A/N: Alright, another oneshot here!
Takes place between Alabasta and Skypeia. No Franky and Brook, sorry! ^^; Only reason it's so specific is cuz I made Zoro a little wary of Robin….which I guess he still is during the Skypeia arc…..but then there's the whole catching-her-after-Eneru-zaps-her thing….gah…whatever, it doesn't really matter lol. =P
Blood, Sweat, and Tangerines
It was the tangerines' fault really.
If those stupid, obnoxiously orange citrus fruits hadn't been sitting in what was clearly a laundry basket, everything would've been fine!
But no. Instead, here he was rummaging around in the kitchen trying to make up for his most "horrible misdeed to date", as Nami had called it.
Scowling at the open cabinet full of unidentifiable spices and ingredients, he huffed out a breath before slamming the door shut.
Zoro growled to himself as he gave the kitchen another loathing scan. "And this is why I'll never become a cook…jeez..."
Earlier that day….
"Hey look, Usopp! Whoaaaa, I'm gonna falllll!"
"Luffy! Get off there, you idiot! What if you really slip?"
"No, I won'tttt! Check it out, no hands!"
Zoro turned, his concentration broken, to glance down at his noisy crewmates from his place on the upper deck of the Merry. Luffy had officially lost his mind and was dangling precariously over the edge of the ship by his feet, laughing and flailing his arms around as he pretended to lose his grip. Usopp and Chopper were flailing about in similar fashion as they tried to coax the captain back onto the deck.
The swordsman sweatdropped. He knew exactly how this would play out.
If Luffy kept up his little escapade, chances were he'd end up in the ocean, followed quickly by a certain frantic reindeer, and Zoro's attempt at some peaceful training would be forever shattered.
Granted, Usopp could always rescue them, but, knowing him, the long-nose would redirect the focus of his screaming and flailing to his sudden case of Can't-jump-into-the-Sea-King-infested-water-osis, leaving it once again up to Zoro.
At least a dip in the water might cool him off…..it was hot out.
With an irritated sigh, Zoro set down his thousand-pound dumbbells, ready to quell the madness, when the sound of stomping feet and a subsequent yelp from Luffy stopped him.
The navigator set down the basket she was carrying with a loud THWUNK and practically shoved Chopper and Usopp out of the way as she stormed to the edge of the ship, sending the young doctor scurrying across the deck to hide in plain sight behind the mast.
"And just what the hell do you think you're doing, Luffy?" Nami cried, dragging him back onto the deck by his ankles before kicking him over onto his back and digging her heel into his chest. "Honestly, do you think any of us are eager to swim to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve your deadweight ass? Hmm?"
Luffy let out a pitiful groan. "But Namiiiii….I wasn't really gonna fall! I was just having fun!"
"I don't care if you were having fun! You can't go messing around near the water! Especially with these two morons supervising!" Nami jerked her thumb back at Usopp and Chopper.
"Hey! I had the situation perfectly under control! Call me Captain Usopp! The supervising master!" Said-captain let out a triumphant laugh.
"Z-Zoro's here too," Chopper called timidly from behind the mast. "It would've been…okay…"
"Uh huh, sure." Nami shot the two a rather unimpressed look before turning back to unleash some more wrath on Luffy.
Zoro gulped and decided it was a good time to escape. He technically wasn't involved, but with Nami in such a pissy mood, things were bound to get ugly. Specifically, the size of his debt was bound to get ugly if the navigator found reason to be angry with him too.
A bead of sweat trailed down his face. Whether it was from the heat or the fact that Nami had randomly switched the topic of her rant to, "the two strongest fighters on the crew being so freakin' directionally challenged they couldn't find an enemy if he was right in front of their face", Zoro didn't know. All the more reason for him to remove himself from the situation.
And so, the marimo walked as casually as possible down the stairs and across the deck, avoiding eye contact and all but whistling as he made a beeline for the galley door.
Eyeing what appeared to be the laundry basket at Nami's feet, he quickly peeled off his sweaty shirt and haramaki, balled them up, and tossed them in before slipping through the doorway to safety.
He shut the door behind him and let out an audible sigh of relief.
"Damn, she's crazy," he muttered, running a hand through his hair.
A sudden chuckle from across the room had his eyes darting over to the kitchen table, and he instinctively gripped Wadou.
"Things sure seem lively today," Robin's soft voice noted from her place at the table, a small smile playing at the corners of her lips as she rested her chin on her hand.
Zoro relaxed a bit, though he still kept a watchful eye trained on the suspicious archeologist. He shrugged. "Nothing out of the ordinary, I guess," was his reply and he turned upon hearing the door to the storage room swing open.
In waltzed a flamboyantly love-crazed Sanji, elegantly balancing a large box of teabags on his fingertips as he twirled and pirouetted to Robin's side.
"Robin-chan, my love, I searched through the dark recesses of the storage room and found these specialty tealeaves from Alabasta! I can brew them into a delectable tea for you if you'd like! One as subtly flavorful as you are beautiful! Your-!"
"Oi, cook! Make me some of that too. Only put some ice in it or something, it's freaking scorching outside!"
A vein popped in Sanji's forehead as he froze mid-mellorine. He turned slowly to face the source of the rude interruption. "Oh, you're here too, Zoro….what a pleasant surprise." He growled, making it clear that the surprise was anything but pleasant. Calmly, he walked over to the stove and set the box down on the countertop beside it. "Do you really want me to serve this to you cold?" he asked, cracking his knuckles as he glared over at the marimo.
"Yep, and make it snappy. I'm thirsty." Zoro replied with a yawn before crossing his arms and leaning against the door with a smirk.
Sanji's eyebrow twitched and he began stalking towards the smug swordsman. "I'm not your damn slave, you sh-!"
Robin laughed again, the sound reminding Zoro of chiming bells interrupting the spineless growling of a small, annoying, blonde-haired dog.
"I'll have the same as Kenshi-san, please," the raven-haired woman said with another giggle as she watched the two from across the room.
And just like that, the small, annoying, blonde-haired dog snapped out of defense mode and was all but panting as he swooped back to the stove, whimpering out a lovesick, "Hai, Robin-chwan~~!" as he began preparing the tea.
Zoro rolled his eyes and murmured, "Idiot…" which warranted another quick death glare from Sanji.
"Shut up, you jerk, like you're one to talk," the cook muttered right back as he rolled up his sleeves, opening the box of tealeaves. "And put a damn shirt on when you're in the kitchen. Jeez, walkin' around with sweat dripping off you, getting in the food. It's unsanitary!"
"What?" Zoro's voice shot up an octave. "I'm not even near-!"
Suddenly, a long, high-pitched shriek from outside spared the kitchen from being destroyed in what was sure to become an inevitable scuffle, and the three turned their heads in alarm towards the source of the ungodly noise.
No sooner had they turned than what could only be described as a hurricane was heard whirling towards the galley door.
Before he could get out of the way, the door burst open, smashing Zoro against the wall beside it with the force.
"WHERE IS HE?" The redheaded hurricane cried as she stormed into the kitchen, carrying a certain shirt and haramaki. "WHERE IS HE HIDING?"
"W-Who, Nami-swan?" Sanji asked, trying very hard to keep from being blown away by her ferocious beauty.
"ZORO, THAT IDIOT! WHO ELSE?" Nami yelled with jagged teeth as she kicked a chair out of the way to check under the table.
She was about to leave to raid the men's quarters when a small groan sounded from behind the door. With a growl, Nami whipped around, stomping to the door and slamming it shut, revealing the flattened marimo pressed up against the wall. Peeling him off violently, she shoved him into the center of the room.
He hissed, glowering at Nami as he tried to ignore the snickers and chuckles coming from Sanji and Robin at what was surely his very smushed, very red face.
"The hell was that for, Nami? What's wrong with you?" he yelled right back at her, fists clenched and teeth bared.
"Nothing is wrong with me, you disgusting pig! You're the one who got sweat all over my tangerines! You ruined them!"
"WHAT? What are you talking about? I didn't touch your stupid oranges!" And furthermore, why was there a recurring assumption that he was getting sweat all over everything…
Nami just scowled. "Maybe you didn't, but your soaking wet, filthy clothes did! Did you not think before you chucked your whole goddamn wardrobe on top of my perfectly untarnished basket of tangerines? HOW WOULD YOU LIKE HAVING A SWEAT-DRENCHED SHIRT DROPPED ON TOP OF YOUR FACE, HUH?" she cried, and with that, the rampaging navigator pounced forward and proceeded to shove his clothes into his mouth rather forcefully, smearing the sweaty garments all over his face despite the choked protests of the struggling swordsman.
After a minute, Zoro pushed her away and shook the clothes off his face, gasping for air with his hand on her forehead as he held back the still-swinging navigator.
"Gah! I didn't know there were tangerines in there! I'm sorry! You don't have to be so frickin' anal about it!" he panted.
Suddenly, his eyes widened as a malevolent smirk curled across Nami's face, and he realized his choice of wording might not have been the best.
"I'll show you anal!" she said through gritted teeth and promptly kneed him in quite the sensitive area, sending him crumpling to the floor with (what Zoro would refuse to admit to later) a high-pitched squeak. His face hit the ground, and he groaned, buckled over with pain amidst the howling laughter of that ever-obnoxious blonde-haired dog.
Nami glared down at him before continuing her rant, pacing back and forth in front of him, her voice taking on the payment-is-in-order tone that Zoro knew so well. "Now I was going to use them to make chocolate tangerine pie for everyone, but due to their unfortunate contamination, they are simply not safe to touch at the moment. Therefore, it would be quite inconsiderate to let Sanji-kun or myself for that matter come in contact with them. So as punishment," she paused, stopping her pacing to crouch before Zoro's still-crumpled form. "I think Zoro should make the pies." A smug grin crossed her face as she poked him in the head for emphasis.
His head shot up and he gaped at her, open-mouthed. "Whaaaaat? Are you serious? I can't cook! Why would I want to serve you anyway?"
She laughed triumphantly. "Because I'm actually being quite generous here! All I'm making you do is bake some pies! You should be thankful I'm not raising your debt another couple million beris! Although, the more you argue, the more inclined I am to add that to your punishment as well."
"Dammit," he cursed under his breath, realizing he'd lost. As if he hadn't figured she'd bring his money issues into it…
Grumbling to himself, he stood up slowly, wincing as he realized his nose was bleeding. He pressed the back of his hand to his nose and let out an irritated, yet conceding sigh. "Alright, fine. I'll make the stupid pies for you. But I don't think Curly Brow here's gonna like the idea of me messin' around in his kitchen, so whoops! Guess I can't do it then! See ya!"
And with that, he sprinted across the room to the door, from which point he was planning to jump off the ship, swim as far as possible to the next island, go back to bounty hunting, and never have to deal with the crazy navigator again. It was a rough plan, but it was a start.
However, before he could execute his brilliantly formulated escape plan, a claw-like hand grabbed him by the ear, dragging him backwards as he helplessly cried, "Ow ow ow ow!"
"Not so fast, Zoro!" Nami said, giving his ear an extra pinch. "I'm sure our lovely cook will be more than happy to let you use the kitchen for a while. Isn't that right, Sanji-kun?" she asked, smiling sweetly at the already gawking chef.
He nodded fervently, an explosion of hearts spewing from his general direction as he twirled in a circle and pranced about with a giddy, "Haiiii, Nami-swaaaann! Falling in looooove~~!"
With a triumphant grin, Nami released her hold on Zoro, giving him a quick pat on the shoulder before turning on her heel to head back out to the deck. "Well, get to it!" she called over her shoulder as she exited, followed closely by Sanji.
Robin too pushed back from the table, and, taking her book, went out as well, but not before adding an amused, "Have fun, Mr. Swordsman," as she left.
Zoro let out a long sigh, rubbing his sore ear absently, when through the door hurtled the flying meteor basket of toxic tangerines, which subsequently slammed into him, sending him flying and smashing once again against the far wall.
"And don't come out till you're done!" was the last thing he heard before the door slammed shut on his impromptu prison.
And so, here he was, trapped in the kitchen with an indecipherable recipe, a bunch of stupid oranges, and not a shred of dignity.
He'd decided to wear Sanji's pink Doskoi Panda apron just to annoy the cook, but soon regretted it as he eyed his reflection in the shiny fridge door. Zoro had to hand it to him; Curly Brow was the only guy he knew who could pull off such a ridiculous ensemble.
However, the apron didn't seem to be boosting his culinary savvy much as he scowled down at the recipe again, hoping it would magically start to make sense.
It called for a separate piecrust to be made first, followed by a chocolate cream for the center.
"Then where the hell do the tangerines come in?" he grumbled to himself, scanning down the page. He scoffed upon finding that they were merely a finishing touch, to be laid out artistically on top of the completed pie.
With a sigh, he began searching once more for the ingredients, muttering to himself all the way as he rummaged through cabinets and shelves.
"Stupid damn witch," he seethed, emphasizing the word 'witch' as he slammed a bag of flour down on the countertop. "Gettin' pissed at me for no reason….it's always me." Down slammed the butter. "She'll be mad at Luffy for two seconds, but he'll just flash those damn puppy eyes at her and it's over. Never Usopp, never Chopper, never Robin, and sure as hell not the idiot cook." The milk followed. "Don't know what I ever did to her…..carried her around on my back even though she could clearly walk, saved her ass more than once in Alabasta, I even stayed with her when she was sick! That damn!" Eggs. "Woman!" Sugar.
And just for the heck of it, he slammed down the basket of tangerines too with an irritated grunt.
Zoro glared down at everything he'd laid out. All the listed ingredients seemed to be there. The trouble was putting them together to produce something even remotely edible.
He'd had to cook for himself occasionally during his days as a bounty hunter, but that "cooking" had mostly consisted of hunting for wild game in the forest and roasting it over an open fire. Nothing too extravagant.
He read the first step in the chocolate cream recipe.
"Combine milk, one-quarter cup sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a saucepan and slowly bring to a near boil. In the meantime, whisk together egg yolks, the remaining one-quarter cup sugar, and cornstarch…..Alright, what the hell does that even mean?" Zoro cried, now slamming the recipe down on the counter too.
Maybe if he just threw all the ingredients together and stuck them in the stove?
Obviously, the written instructions weren't going to be of any help, so he tried to imagine how Sanji prepared meals.
He cursed under his breath, realizing that he never paid attention to Sanji's culinary performances. Pacing the room, he eyed the stove, trying to remember anything at all that he'd learned from the ero-cook. However, all he could think of was to "never waste food", "beware of Luffy the food thief", and some weird saying Sanji had mentioned once about "all the best meals being made with blood, sweat, and tears".
Blood, sweat, and tears…
Nami had given him a nosebleed….
And he'd already been accused twice of getting sweat all over everything….
Two out of the three ingredients!
With a shrug, he figured that was more than enough to get him started, and, glaring at the tangerines that had started it all, he knew he could definitely add some more blood and sweat to the mix.
He drew his swords slowly and decided he'd just have to wing it.
"Alright, ya damn oranges. Time to see whose tears we'll use."
Nami yawned and stretched as she looked up at the darkening sky from her position on Merry's deck. She'd been enjoying some peace and quiet sunbathing, but it was getting close to dinnertime and she knew she'd have to turn in for the day.
"Oi, Nami-san," Sanji said, approaching her chair after managing to free himself from listening to yet another exaggerated Captain Usopp story that had successfully ensnared Luffy and Chopper. "I haven't heard any noises coming from the kitchen in a while. It's making me nervous."
The navigator frowned, turning to glance at the closed galley door. "You're right. He hasn't been talking to himself, and I haven't heard any crashes or explosions either. Something's off."
The two were just about to investigate, when, right on cue, the door to the kitchen swung open and the marimo stepped out, still wearing Sanji's apron and carrying two plates and some forks.
He slowly stalked over to Sanji and Nami, shoving the dishes at them as he approached. "Here," he grunted, then crossed his arms as they took them.
Nami looked down at her plate and was surprised to see a perfectly normal-looking piece of pie. In fact, the pie actually looked rather appealing, the filling a creamy chocolate mousse topped with three tangerine slices and a dollop of whipped cream.
She glanced over at Sanji, who was eyeing the food skeptically, before taking a bite.
Chewing, she raised her eyebrows. It was….dare she say it…..good. No. It was really good!
"Wow, Zoro! I'm actually impressed! This isn't half bad!" she said, mouth full as she took another bite.
Sanji was chewing contemplatively as well. "Yeah, it's almost….too good," he mused, sending a suspicious glance over at the swordsman. "What ingredients did you use?"
Zoro's head shot up and his eyes flashed heatedly as he glared intensely at Sanji. "Damn right it's good! And it sure as hell better be, cuz I used blood, sweat, and those freaking tangerines! Do you want me to add some tears too? Hmm?" he pressed, moving his face closer to Sanji's threateningly. Upon receiving no reply from the shocked cook, he nodded and spat out, "Didn't think so," before turning on his heel and storming back towards the galley door.
"I'm taking a shower!" he growled back over his shoulder as he stomped away, slamming the door shut behind him.
A few minutes passed, Nami and Sanji staring after him, still holding their plates of half-eaten pie, stunned expressions on their faces.
Suddenly, the door burst back open, revealing a still-seething Zoro holding the clearly marked laundry bin. Ripping off his apron, he threw it forcefully into the bin, before holding it up and calling out sarcastically, "Did I get it in the right basket this time, Nami? Huh? Or should I spend the rest of the day baking you a damn cake or something? Hmm?" And with an angry growl, he once again retreated through the door.
"He's freakin' lost his mind…." Sanji breathed, pinching the bridge of his nose to try to quell his oncoming migraine.
However, Nami just giggled. "Ahhh yes, that was definitely one of my better punishments!" And leaning back in her chair, she took another bite of her victory pie.
A/N: Ohhh my goshhh…ahahahhaha….so the idea of Zoro cooking popped into my head….and this is what became of it. I'm gonna leave it up to the readers to decide how Zoro made the pies…as I'm not even sure myself! Tis a mystery! xD
And now that I've got these oneshots out of my system, maybe I can actually get some work done on Yontouryuu! *crosses fingers* Thanks for reading! :)