Here's the second fic for the fanfic50 LJ, claim Sanji and Zeff. There actually isn't a lot of Zeff in this one... It's more about Sanji. And Robin, I guess. The prompt was #2 - Addiction.
Warnings: There's a lot of bad language.
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece!
Sanji put the lid back on the stew pot and turned his head to the side to cough into his sleeve. It hurt. His throat ached in a persistent, annoying fashion. How long was this fuckin' going to last? He patted his pocket.
"You had better not be getting germs in my food," said a grave voice behind him, and Zeff's hand came down solidly on his shoulder.
Sanji grit his teeth and turned. "I'm fine. Leave me alone." He shoved his hands into his pockets and tried not to look at the scowling face of his adoptive father.
"Shitty eggplant. If you're sick, then get the fuck outta my kitchen." Zeff gave him a smack, mustache bristling. "Are you an idiot?"
Sanji didn't answer, his gaze fixed somewhere in the middle distance. Around them, the chaos of the Baratie's kitchen continued to rage, chefs carrying platters to and fro, throwing things on to boil or yanking them off. The latest crop of waiters gingerly stepped among them, snatching dishes away and running out to the dining room before a fight could break out. Sanji wondered absently how long this group would last. He hated to be out among the tables if he could be cooking.
"Sanji!" Zeff barked, grabbing the blonde man by the hair and twisting him back to face him. The older chef stared grumpily into his protégé's face. "What's up with you?"
"Nothing." Sanji freed himself and reached into his jacket pocket, feeling around for the cigarettes that weren't there. He coughed.
"Well, I think you should sit today out." Zeff steered a protesting Sanji toward the door. "I'm letting you off early. Go do something productive, like sleep."
"You shitty- Hey! Let me back into the- I'm not sick!" The galley door swung shut, and Sanji knew he'd get a peg leg to the face if he tried to weasel his way back in. "Shit."
He guessed he'd better find something else to do.
The city was bustling with tourists and shoppers, up for the winter for skiing or ice skating. Colored lights decorated the lamp posts and many of the store fronts, giving the streets a festive glow. It was only a few weeks before the New Year's celebrations began and music and cheer were everywhere.
Sanji didn't feel very cheerful. He just felt cold. The biting wind that had swept into town over the last few days was irritating his lungs, and he had to keep stopping in his walk to hack unobtrusively. He'd already been asked by several passers-by if he was all right, if he needed help, and so on and so forth. Nosy bastards. He didn't want to tell them why he looked like he hadn't been sleeping, why he felt like the flu had rained down upon his head, even though he'd had the stupid shot two months before.
He ran a gloved hand over his chest to try and ease the ache, and felt again the flat pocket where his smokes should have been. Shit. Shit! He shoved a knuckle in his mouth, letting the warm taste of leather flood his palate before he bit down. His glove was already beginning to wear thin from this abuse, but it was better than chewing his nails.
He kicked a fallen pine bough from his path and watched it skitter ahead through the churned-up snow on the sidewalk. A group of pretty girls tittered as they walked past him, bundles of brightly-wrapped gifts in their arms. He wasn't in the mood to ogle them, and he let his gaze slip by as they hurried ahead.
Then Sanji had to stop. As the crowd cleared somewhat, he could see a small shop across the street. It was a drugstore. The yellow light spilled out into the dusk and beckoned him. The Marlboro logo on the window didn't hurt.
He was across the road and inside the shop before he knew what had happened.
Familiar aisles stretched inside, the hanging signs providing insight to their contents. A wreath stood prominently on the wall, surrounded by tacky advertisements blaring SALE SALE SALE! A fat, red Santa stood in one corner, his rosy cheeks garish. It might have been all right for the people who followed that shit, but Sanji didn't care. He headed over to the counter.
"Happy holidays, sir!" chirped the saleswoman behind the register. "Can I help you?"
"Yeah. I need two packs of cigs, please. Whatever's cheapest." He coughed into his sleeve.
"Sure." She held out a hand. "ID?"
Sanji swore under his breath. "Um. Yeah. Hang on." He rummaged through his coat. Not in the breast pocket. Not in the sides. He ran a hand through his hair. "Just a minute." This would be easier if his hands weren't shaking so much. Shit, but he needed a smoke.
Finally he fumbled his wallet out of his jeans – aha – and slapped the little plastic card on the counter. For good measure he also took out a few dollars. That was all that was in there, anyway.
…She was still standing there, hands empty. What the fuck.
"There a problem?" He frowned at her, trying not to grit his teeth.
"Mr. Baratie, this ID says you're nineteen."
"Yes. And?" He coughed again. God, the cough was killing him. And she was still standing there. "That makes me one year older than eighteen." Was she stupid? "Can I please have my cigarettes?"
"…In order to buy cigarettes, you need to be twenty. This says you won't be twenty until next March."
"Sir." Her voice had hardened somewhat. "Don't you watch the news? The new tobacco law went into effect three days ago. You need to be twenty. I'm sorry." She passed his ID back over the counter.
Sanji stared at it. He saw himself reaching over to pick it up, slipping the little plastic card back into his wallet. He saw himself putting it back into his pocket. It would be so easy to climb over the counter and take what he needed. She couldn't stop him if he got going. So she was a woman. She couldn't hold him and he didn't need to kick her. They were right there.
They were right there.
Sanji coughed again, and it lit his throat on fire. His ribs twinged and his head pounded. God, he felt awful. What he wouldn't give to end it. He patted his empty pocket.
"Sir, you have a nice day, now."
Sanji came back out of the fog and blinked. He realized he'd been staring at her. He wasn't going to imagine what he looked like right now, but he was sure it wasn't good. She had her hand near the phone.
"Yeah. Yeah, you too." Mechanically, Sanji forced himself to turn around. He walked out the door of the drugstore, one foot in front of the other. The cold slapped him in the face and he shivered in the new darkness. It was only five o'clock, too early to go home and crash. What was he going to do for three more hours?
"Ah. Cook-san, is that you?"
Sanji, surprised, peered through the gloom. "Robin-chan?" And there she was, beautiful in a tailored purple coat and matching boots. Fancy meeting such a lady here when he was feeling down. He couldn't believe his luck. "You look lovely tonight! May I carry that for you?" He held out a hand for the shopping bag at her side.
"Mm. If you insist." She allowed him to take it from her. "You look tired, Cook-san. I hope you aren't coming down with something?"
"No, no, I'm fine. Please don't worry about me!" But it was just then that Sanji had to pause in his pirouetting to catch his breath. He ended up hacking up a lung, leaning against a lamppost.
"Oh my. Are you all right?" Robin placed a graceful hand lightly on his arm. "Let me buy you something to drink."
"No, Robin-chan. Don't go through so much trouble…" Sanji wheezed, and he tried to give her a convincing smile.
The coffee shop was warm and cozy, decorated in chocolate and merlot. Robin led him through the chatting crowd of city dwellers, smoothly wending her way around an old woman and her grandchild. The boy reminded Sanji of Luffy, the way he kept asking for a cookie. He chuckled.
"Here. Sit down." Robin, miraculously had located a corner with a few armchairs, near to the central fireplace. She had placed her coat on the back of one and indicated that Sanji should take the seat next to her. "Warm up. Do you like coffee?"
"Robin-chan, this is really too much. Please, let me pay for myself. Or for yours…?" Sanji thought about the miserable amount of money in his wallet and tried not to sigh.
"Fu fu fu. I wouldn't dream of it. You should let others take care of you when you don't feel well, Cook-san." She smiled. "It would be rude to keep saying differently."
"Ah! Then, Robin-chan, I will humbly allow you to treat me," Sanji murmured, giving in and taking a seat. "But allow me to repay you some other time."
"Certainly." With another amused curve of her lips, Robin left him there and went to purchase their drinks.
He had to admit, it was a nice gesture. He would definitely feel better after a rest and a meeting with the exquisite Robin-chan. He shrugged off his jacket, draping in unceremoniously over the arm of his chair, and leaned back, allowing the heat from the fire to sink into his face. He closed his eyes. He thought better of removing his gloves. He didn't need his bad habits messing up his hands.
"Coffee, Cook-san." Robin had returned, and he took the saucer from her outstretched hand.
She nodded and settled herself. They passed a few moments in companionable silence as sugar and milk were added where needed and stirring commenced. Sanji asked Robin how her teaching was going. She seemed glad that vacation was fast approaching, as it would allow her some time to get back to her research.
"The poneglyph study is coming along well. I admit that I am spending more time pondering its mysteries than I am grading papers." She laughed softly. "But Cook-san, how has your work been going? I notice that you aren't at the Baratie today."
Sanji shook his head wryly. "No. The old geezer tossed me out earlier." He sipped his coffee. "He's just worried, I guess. I would have done the same thing." He could be charitable now that he was comfortable, and anyway, it wasn't like Zeff would ever hear of this anyway.
"I see. Have you been sick for long? You should have told Captain-san." She chuckled. "Or Swordsman-san."
"No. Well, I'm not really sick…" Sanji cleared his throat and licked a drop of cream off his spoon.
"Are you trying to quit?"
"Eh? Well…" Robin-chan was sharp as always. Sanji set his empty cup aside on the small table between them and half-shrugged. "Not really. It happened to work out this way." And it was a real pain in the ass, too, but he wasn't about to curse like that in front of a lady.
Sanji flushed. "Yeah. You see, about a week ago I decided, foolishly, since I know that idiot won't even appreciate it – excuse me – I decided to get the stupid marimo a New Year's gift." Suddenly the carpet was extremely interesting. "Um. It just so happens that good sake is extremely expensive around this time of year, so…" He shrugged again. "I used up some of my other funds. That's all." He coughed. "I'm getting paid in a few days… Though with that new law I suppose Zeff'll have to get my cigs for me." He frowned.
"That's very kind of you, Cook-san."
He sighed, though Robin didn't miss the soft smile on his face. "Yeah, it is. That fool had better be grateful. He won't even know, though. That moron doesn't get back from Japan until Monday."
"Mm." Robin's cell phone rang. "Pardon, Cook-san."
"No problem, Robin-chan. Actually, I'll take these back to the counter." He gathered the empty mugs and carried them up to the front of the coffee shop.
Robin flipped open her phone and, smiling, put it to her ear. "Hello?" A pause. "Yes, I know. Ah. I was just talking to him." She chuckled, and glanced at Sanji's back. He had apparently paused to romance one of the waitresses. "He'll be very happy. Fu fu. Yes, I'll be able to pick you up. Mm.
Sanji returned then, and though Robin lightly protested, he gave her one of the ginger snaps he had bought.
"Thank you, Cook-san. I'm afraid I need to be returning to the college now."
"That's quite all right. Here." Sanji helped her put on her coat and gather her things. "Thank you so much for today. I am feeling much better."
"Good." Robin picked up her bag and let Sanji hold the door for her. "I'll see you soon, I hope."
"Hm. Then, ja ne." She stepped outside into the night, looking very pretty in the gentle snowfall. Sanji saw her off to a taxi then turned back toward the Baratie. It was dinner time after all, and he didn't have enough cash to eat out.
Robin slid into the black leather seat and said "Grand Line International Airport, please."
Sanji was almost asleep when Zeff came into his room above the restaurant. It had taken an hour or so of pacing before his mind would stop racing, but here he was, on the precipice of dreams. And then Zeff had to start talking.
"How are you feeling, eggplant?"
Sanji irritably raised an eyebrow. "Not bad. Tired."
"I see. Well, depending on what you feel like tomorrow morning, you can do the dinner rush with me."
"Okay, great." Sanji nodded. He could feel his eyes closing again. Man, his pillow was soft.
"It's going to be a nightmare around here, next couple of weeks," continued Zeff, and Sanji groaned. "I'm going to need all the help I can get."
"Yeah, that's great," Sanji said. "Is there a reason you won't let me sleep?"
"Don't get snippy, pup," growled Zeff. "I just figured you'd want to know that your boyfriend's here."
Sanji blinked. He sat up. "Huh? But Zoro doesn't come back until-"
"Yo." And suddenly there was a marimo in his room, stepping out from behind Zeff and strolling in like he owned the place. He tossed something to Sanji, who sleepily fumbled at it, and sat down heavily on the end of the bed, not bothering to check if Sanji's feet were still in the way.
"Ow! You bastard, why the fuck did you do- Hey wait." Sanji examined the package in his hand more clearly. "You… you brought me cigarettes?"
Zoro scratched his head. "Yeah. Robin said you were sick and told me to give them to you after she got me from the airport."
Sanji was speechless. "I- That is…"
"You look like crap." Zoro reached over and grabbed Sanji's head, pulling him into a rough hug. "So start smoking and get better."
And as Sanji curled up in Zoro's lap, new smoke safely clamped between his teeth, he reflected that, overall, it wasn't such a bad day.
He'd have to make Robin a feast.
Hope you enjoyed! Reviews make me very happy!