After about half a year, I finally got this together! Yay for writers block!

Chapter 7

"It's a pathogenic bacterium."

The sun had set about an hour ago, and Chopper had gathered everyone in the kitchen. Occasionally they could still hear Luffy cough from inside the infirmary.

"How bad is it?" Zoro asked. He looked a bit sick himself, with dark circles starting to show under his eyes, and the whiskey bottle in his hand added to the probability that he was a little drunk.

"Well, since I've diagnosed his condition, I'll be able to produce a medicine, though I'm surprised to have encountered this decease, it's supposed to have been extinct for decades… It's an infection that was commonly found in morgues and villages with poor health care, where people often came in contact with corpses. I guess the non-hygienic and humid environment of Thriller Bark made a perfect spring board for the bacteria, and well, Luffy fought against a lot of zombies…"

"We all did," Usopp said, his eyes as big as saucers.

"That's why I need to check all of you to see if anyone else has been infected. I doubt it, since no one else other than Luffy has shown any symptoms, but better safe than sorry."

After Chopper had explained the situation, everyone heaved a sigh and felt more at ease. The reindeer doctor assured them Luffy would be better in a day or two, and that his decease wasn't contagious, but they should let him rest. When Chopper had taken some of everyone's blood, he asked Sanji to make tea and sandwiches for the crew.

"Thank you."

Chopper looked at Zoro over their mugs of tea. "Mm," he nodded, a blush spreading on his cheeks. "Would you like some sleeping pills?"

"Ah, no… that won't be necessary." Zoro pulled his fingers through his short hair and downed the rest of his tea.

"You can go talk with Luffy, if you want to," Chopper said quietly, and the swordsman gave him a tired smile. He stood up and walked over to the infirmary, knocking before he went inside.

Chopper's table was crammed with different kinds of chemistry sets, herbs, bottles and what-nots. Luffy was stationed under the warmest blanket Nami could find, with a cloth on his forehead. He still looked a bit pale, but he didn't cough as he had before. Zoro sat down in Chopper's swivel chair, carefully not to disturb Luffy, who seemed to be fast asleep. But he wasn't, he discovered.

"Hi, Zoro," the raven sighed. He tried a smile, but his glassy eyes kind of ruined it. "Chopper gave me something that made my head all funny."

"Shh, take it easy."

Zoro took the cloth from Luffy's forehead, wet it in a bowl of water, wrung it and put it back. He covered Luffy's hand with his.

"You… you just make sure you get a lot of rest."

"I am sorry I made you worry."

"It's alright now. Chopper has it under control." Zoro twined his fingers with Luffy's and kissed the back of his hand. He didn't pull back, but savoured the moment. Luffy watched Zoro close his eyes, and he smiled. Gently he pulled his hand out of Zoro's hold and let it glide over the swordsman's cheek. The golden earrings jingled softly when his fingers brushed them. Zoro opened his eyes, leaned in into the touch for a second before he rose up from the swivel chair and made a move to kiss him. Luffy turned his head away.

"I don't want you to catch whatever I have."

"It's alright, Chopper said it's not contagious."

"Oh, good," he sighed, and let him kiss him. The kiss was nothing more than lips softly touching, but it was enough for Zoro to finally relax, to know that the horrible day would come to an end.

"Mm," Luffy hummed happily. "Thanks."

Zoro smiled back. Outside the infirmary they could hear Franky telling the punch line to a joke, and Usopp laughing.

"How has it been with you?" Luffy asked out of the blue.

Zoro guessed Luffy wanted to talk about something not concerning diseases. "You know, the usual. Been in the gym, meditated. Weather was real nice."

"I meant how things have been with you and Sanji," Luffy corrected himself. The hand that had been stroking Luffy's stilled, and Zoro looked down at him with a hint of surprise.

"I didn't know you noticed." Luffy looked expectantly at him. "Ah… Things happened…" Zoro had no idea how he would explain, since he wasn't sure where he stood with the chef. Had they started something? He had told Sanji he wanted to, but the way Sanji had responded wasn't much to go on.

"Have you had sex?"

"No." Images of him and Sanji in the men's quarters, pressed against the door, flashed in the back of his eyes. The sound of Sanji's voice when he came in his hand echoed in his ears. "Though I… helped him out once."

"I always had a feeling he swung both ways," Luffy said. Zoro leaned against the bed on his elbows, fists under his chin and with a frown on his face.

"I believe it's new territory for him. So I don't want to rush. And I'm not sure if he wants to…" Luffy nodded his head to show he listened. Zoro wanted to continue with the line of thought, but no words came to mind, so it ended in a heavy sigh.

"I'm not worried when it comes to you and Sanji," Luffy said. "Sanji just need some time to figure it out, and he will tell you if he doesn't want to be with you, he's not an idiot when it comes to stuff like that."

Zoro made another face. "I think I need to be clearer about that with him, I'm not in love with him. I just find him hot."

"Okay."

Zoro's hands had wandered down to Luffy's blanket, and played absentmindedly with a corner of it. Talking with Luffy about what was going on between him and Sanji was somewhat a relief.

"So you haven't had sex yet?"

"Luffy!"

"Hahahahah!"

"He's alright," Nami smiled. Robin smiled right back, and picked up the book she had been reading the day before. Beside them Usopp and Brook had started playing with domino pieces, arranging them in a long trail. Hearing Luffy's laugh was a guarantee that life aboard Thousand Sunny was normal yet again.

oOo

Sanji was enjoying a cigarette, leaning against the railing beside the Energy Room. The sun had set some minutes ago, and the horizon was colored with orange and red. Usopp had said goodnight some minutes ago on his way to the Crow's Nest for his turn of night watch-out. A day had passed since Luffy's sudden sickness, but he had already been up and walking, with only a slight cough lingering.

`What kind of relationship do they have…?´

After what Sanji had witnessed at dinner the previous day, he'd had a difficult time to sort out his thoughts. At the time he had been glad that Luffy had Zoro, that they shared such a strong bond, which was quite inevitable since they had traveled together for a long time. When Sanji thought about the hints he had seen and heard the last couple weeks he came to the conclusion that the captain and his first mate was more than just that. But that raised another question; why had Zoro offered him sex? Or even given him a hand job in the first place?

`Surely Zoro isn't someone who would two-time anyone?´ Sanji sucked on his cigarette. The horizon had fallen completely dark by now, and the ship was illuminated by the moon, stars and lanterns only. He turned his back to the sea and lent against the railing, crossing his arms. `Or have I read too much into this? Are Zoro and Luffy just really close friends?´

The memory of Zoro's offer made Sanji remember the kiss. `Did he really believe I would be okay with that? Just because he told me what happened does not mean I'm okay with it! But why did I -´ Sanji shook his head, as if to get his thoughts in order. Hadn't he wanted to kiss the swordsman only yesterday? He heaved a sigh. `Damn it, that idiot put ideas in my head, and now I can't get any peace of mind. Did I really enjoy his advances? Do I unconsciously want to try that…?´ Sanji tried to recall Zoro's story, but he couldn't remember if he had said anything about him enjoying it.

A seagull flew by him and landed on the railing a safe distance away. Sanji watched it make itself comfortable for a night's sleep. He himself felt restless. His cigarette had burnt down, so he threw it in the ocean and opened the door to the Engine Room, taking a shortcut to the lower deck.

Down in the dark of Usopp's and Franky's work offices, Sanji felt around along the wall. He found the lantern he knew were there, lit it and made his way through the Soldier Dock System. Halfway to the storehouse, he felt he had enough privacy, and put the lantern down. Thousand Sunny creaked all around him, the sound of the sea against the keel echoed eerily. With a slow sigh, Sanji leaned against the wall and pulled down his zipper. Up until then, masturbating had seemed impossible, with all the disturbing thoughts of Zoro. But Sanji was surprised to how well his body responded to the fondling. A fleeting thought of the red haired courtesan in Water Seven flickered in the back of his mind, and he smiled to himself. Yes, surely the memories of the night with her would be enough. She had worn a pretty deep red dress, with the straps low on her shoulders and the skirt cut high in the front, showing her white legs. Her hair had draped around her neck like a waterfall, perfectly framing her cute face, and her eyes…

Sanji eased his trousers further down his thighs and continued to stroke his cock. He licked his lips.

Her eyes…

Sanji frowned. But the woman's face was already lost on him. The night in the alleys of Water Seven faded away. Sanji quickly changed subject, and settled on a safe card; Nami. A coy smile played at his lips as he pictured her in her newest bikini, a tiny blue thing that worked its magic in a splendid way. He let her lay down in her lounger, with an arm resting above her head and the other over her stomach. No, scratch that, her hand was stroking her breasts, Sanji could almost feel how soft it was. Nami's hand slowly reached downwards over a smooth stomach, fingering the thin fabric of the bikini bottom. Sanji's cock twitched in anticipation. The delicate, manicured hand sneaked in under the hem –

`No

Sanji gasped and stared at the wall with eyes wide open. The Nami in his fantasy looked at him in the same way she had looked at him at the party. The magic bubble had been popped, and Sanji knew he couldn't continue. Just like the morning after the party, when Sanji had found it impossible to flirt with the ladies, he now found it impossible to use his usual fantasies.

`This must be some sort of phase,´ he tried to reason with himself. `I should just let this blow over, find a girl in next port, forget everything… Damn it! If that Marimo hadn't…!´

Sanji thumped his head against the wall, and lent so that the light from the lantern hit his back. `If he just hadn't told me about what happened… I would have accepted my blackout and gone on with my life, not question everything that has been going on around here for the last couple of weeks! But no, he just had to tell me we made out while he had his hands on my dick!´

His heartbeat had gone up and it scared him like hell. He looked down at himself, now almost completely soft. `I will not fantasize about him!´

A small sound made Sanji catch his breath, and he whipped his head around. His insides froze to ice.

"I didn't mean to sneak up on you," Zoro said.

TBC

I'll wrap this up in the next chapter. I also feel the need to explain my choice of title for this fanfic, I kind of hinted it with Usopp and Broop playing with the dominoes? How actions leads to other actions. Lame, I know, I wish I could change the title to "The Cliffhanger", would make so much more sense ;_;

Also thank you all for the reviews! I keep reading them to encourage myself, they make me so happy!