This is for GeckoMoriaShadowLord for winning first prize in the Yaoi Supernova Author's writing contest. You can check out the fic if you go to their profile. The story is called "The Day and the Time". I was given no prompts for this, only that it be Zoro/Sanji, so I decided to expand on an idea that was popular for a while in the Naruto fandom. I think the situation is hilarious when it involves a certain pair of Strawhats. :D Rated M just to be safe.
Pure Form Affection
"So…" Nami made a face at the spectacle below, "we just deal with it until you either find a cure, or find that his condition his permanent?"
Chopper nodded slowly, his chin resting on his folded arms. He sat with his legs dangling over the edge of the upper deck, watching Luffy sprint across the grass with Zoro at his heels.
"He's not a threat to us," Chopper explained. "We're still his nakama, he still knows us, he just relates to us a little differently now."
"That's putting it lightly." Sanji put his cigarette to his lips and inhaled. The smoke was a comforting burn in his throat and lungs, and the nicotine soothed his nerves as he thought about how messed up the situation was.
Usopp made a noise. "I think you need to explain what's happening again. I seemed to have not processed it the first time."
Chopper turned to the marksman and gave him a sympathetic look. "Just think of Zoro as a dog… a big, dangerous dog that walks on two legs. Whatever that thing was that he got hit with, regressed him back into a more… primal state. Everything he does, says, or feels is completely on natural instinct. He has no bias, no inhibitions, nothing like that."
"He's not going to start peeing all over the place, is he?" Sanji asked.
"I have no idea," Chopper shrugged. "We should be able to train him like any other intelligent animal. And if the effects aren't permanent, I'm confident that I will find a cure fairly quickly."
Nami sighed. "Well, let's hope so, because our first mate puppy has turned our captain into an even bigger retard."
Sanji stood smoking long after the rest of the crew had wandered away. The cook watched Luffy play with Zoro on the grass. The two wrestled and laughed together in the sunshine. When Zoro grabbed a corner of Luffy's shirt in his teeth, the captain howled with laughter and took off again in another round of tag. After a while, Usopp got over his fear and joined the duo, bringing makeshift toys like a stick and a rubber ball for Zoro to chase after. When the swordsman brought them back, he would drop the toy at their feet and crouch down, ready for someone to throw it again. Chopper got into it too, giggling every time Zoro sprinted off to retrieve whatever it was he had tossed across the deck. Franky even managed a throw or two, laughing good-naturedly when Zoro brought the ball back to him, excited and expectant.
"He really is like a dog…" Sanji murmured.
"Why are you not down there?" Robin's cool voice drifted like smoke over his shoulder.
"Ah, Robin-chwan~!" Sanji cooed. "I would play, but I have to finish dinner! I can't let my lovely ladies starve just because our dear Marimo is too stupid to know better than to attack random plants with teeth!"
Robin chuckled softly. "In his defense, swordsman-san was just trying to clear a potentially dangerous obstacle before we passed by."
Sanji shook his head. "I told him to leave the damn thing alone."
"But he did not, and now he has been hit with the pollen, and we have to deal with the consequences. No use crying over spilled milk."
Sanji smiled and nodded graciously. "Thank you, lovely Robin-chwan for that de-motivational speech. Bad new always sounds so wonderful when coming from your lips."
Robin shook her head, humming softly. "But you didn't answer my question."
"Yes, I did," Sanji replied. "I have to finish dinner."
Robin looked at him with those eyes that always seemed to know too much. Sanji felt himself breaking under that gaze and finally looked away.
"Okay, if you must know…" He took a drag and blew it out slowly. "If the Marimo is going on purely instinct, then it makes sense that he's playing with Luffy. You see how he kind of teases Usopp, and protects Chopper? It's all just a dumbed down version of how he acts all the time. If I were to go down there…"
He trailed off, hoping she would get what he was saying and let it go, but she didn't. She kept right on looking at him with those probing eyes.
Sanji grumbled, feeling a little like an insubordinate child.
"If I go down there, he'll probably get upset and try and fight me. I don't want…" he took a breath, hating how he sounded like he was feeling left out.
"I don't want to wreck their fun."
When she didn't say anything, Sanji turned to look at her. He expected to see something like pity or at least some kind of understanding, but the look on her face was more amusement than anything else.
"What?" he pouted.
She shook her head. "I find it baffling that two people who are so close, can be so unaware of each other." With that, she turned and started down the steps. She waved over her shoulder and when she spoke again, Sanji could hear the smile that spread her lips. "I'll see you at dinner."
When she reached the lower deck, she made her way over to the group of wrestling mischief makers. Luffy welcomed her, and Zoro sat watching her carefully as she plucked the ball from the grass. She came close and bent to run her hand through his short, green hair.
The affect was almost instant. Zoro's mouth broke into a wide smile, and he crouched expectantly as Robin readied her arm to throw. The ball sailed through the air and Zoro gave chase. He didn't catch it, however, as Robin used her powers to sprout hands wherever the ball was about to land. The whole thing turned into a huge game of trying to beat the ball, with Robin throwing it continuously from mast to deck, to wall and back again. Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper almost died of laughter, and Zoro's face was an expression of pure joy as he chased the toy all over the ship.
Sanji crushed the butt of his cigarette with his shoe, and with a heavy sigh, turned to slip back into the galley.
He wasn't jealous. He wasn't.
He started toward the sink, but the flash of metal stopped him in his tracks. Zoro's swords were propped against the wall, lonely and unattended.
Sanji blinked. Those swords were precious to Zoro, and right now, he was in no condition to take care of them.
Without another thought, Sanji gently picked up the swords and moved into the pantry. There were cupboards up high with locks on them. Only Sanji knew the combinations. He opened one up, and placed the swords gently inside, cushioning them with a few small bags of rice.
He shut the cupboard door and locked it, feeling satisfied, and returned to the kitchen to start the sauce for the meat.
X x X x X
Dinner was an interesting event. Zoro was offered a place at the table, but made it clear he wanted to eat on the floor. At first Sanji was worried he would make a royal mess of everything and end up wasting a colossal amount of food, but it turned out Zoro ate pretty much the same, just minus the utensils.
Sanji stayed by the sink, watching for glasses that needed refilling. He had placed the platters of food on the counter and Brook had kindly passed them to the table. The cook didn't like the idea of his lovely ladies serving themselves, but he liked the idea of a Zoro-dog getting pissed and rampaging in his kitchen even less.
He watched with mild annoyance as Nami slipped a piece of her meat to Zoro under the table. Zoro had been wary at first around the navigator, but like with Robin, when Nami had patted his head and told him he was kind of cute this way, Zoro had smiled and done the Zoro version of wagging his tail.
Sanji wasn't jealous. He wasn't.
Sanji listened with half an ear at the conversation as he turned around and started to fill the sink with hot water. He might as well get started on the dishes now and get a little more free time. Prep for breakfast was going to be quick, he could just do it in the morning.
The silence was what prickled the back of his neck. Sanji stopped scrubbing the pot he was working on and glanced over his shoulder. He found most of the crew watching him from the table, with looks of amusement on their faces. It would have been an entertaining sight if it wasn't so creepy.
"What?" Sanji asked.
Luffy grinned at him and pointed. Sanji followed where he indicated and saw a head of green hair peering around the side of the bar. Zoro's eyes were wide and curious as he watched Sanji from his low crouch. The cook froze, not exactly sure what to do. He turned around slowly, drying his hands on a small dish towel.
"What do you want?" he asked.
Zoro made a noise and disappeared once again behind the bar. The crew burst into laughter. Even Nami grinned at Sanji as the cook felt his cheeks start to burn.
"He wants to play, Sanji!" Luffy guffawed.
Sanji shook his head and quickly turned back around to finish scrubbing the pot. "I have stuff to do."
There was no way Zoro wanted to play with him. Zoro hated him… sort of. They didn't get along ever, so why, when the swordsman was stripped down to his barest instincts, would he want to be around Sanji at all? That was crazy. He was probably stalking, learning the territory, getting ready for an attack.
However, no matter the rational, as he finished washing the dishes Sanji felt a little lighter than he had all day.
X x X x X
Sleeping arrangements turned out to be a problem. Zoro didn't want to sleep by himself. At first, he snuggled with Luffy, letting the younger boy wrap his rubbery arms around him like some kind of body pillow. Luffy was happy to oblige and fell asleep almost instantly. But the boys had only been in bed for a half an hour or so, when Zoro decided that he wanted to sleep with Chopper instead. The giggles coming from Chopper's bunk were endearing, but they still kept Sanji from being able to sleep.
Finally, after another half an hour with Usopp, and then another switch back to Chopper, Sanji decided that he was going to go sleep on his pull-out in the kitchen. He grabbed his pillow and blanket, and shuffled out of the boy's cabin and into the galley. He didn't bother turning on the lights, he just grabbed the latch that released the fold out cot, and tumbled onto the lumpy, but still comfortable mattress.
He got about forty-five minutes of sleep.
The galley door opening woke him up. He lay still, listening to the soft padding of feet on the wooden planks, and tensed when the familiar smell of steel hit his nostrils. This was it, Zoro was going to try and kill him while he slept. Even digressed back into basically an animal, Zoro still hated his guts, and now the bond of nakamanship meant nothing. Zoro was going to try and kill him, and it was justifiable because it was purely instinct fueling him.
Sanji braced himself, tensing the muscles in one leg, readying himself for a hard kick as soon as he knew where the swordsman was. He felt the other's presence close, clenched his fists, took a slow breath…
"Sanji…" Zoro's voice was soft, deeper than usual.
Sanji froze. What did this mean? He knew Zoro could still talk, but he hadn't actually heard him since his accident. Should he reply? Should he pretend to be asleep?
The fact that they weren't fighting was more intriguing than any worry the cook had, so he found himself answering.
"What do you want, Marimo?"
Sanji felt a hand on his shoulder and he almost attacked.
"Sanji… warm…" Zoro whispered.
Sanji's heart stopped. Zoro wanted to sleep with him? He could see the oaf wanting to sleep with Chopper or Luffy, but him? No way! Zoro hated him! …sort of. This new and strange turn of events had Sanji's head spinning so fast he felt like he was going to fall right off the cot.
"Um…" he murmured, "are you sure? I'm kind of a cover hog."
He felt Zoro's body shift and lean on the cot. "Sanji… warm…" he said again.
Sanji made a face into the darkness. "Oh yeah, that's right you probably don't understand me. Why am I talking to you?" The cook stuck out his bottom lip and huffed, ruffling his blond fringe.
"Okay, fine. You can sleep with me tonight, but if you do what you were doing in the cabin, I'm gonna kick the shit out of you."
Zoro was on the cot and snuggled up beside him before Sanji was finished speaking. The swordsman buried his face in Sanji's chest and made a sound that was like a cross between a human sigh, and a very cat-like purr.
Sanji didn't know what to think, and had even less of an idea of what to do, so he did the only thing he could: he relaxed back into the pillows and closed his eyes. He would worry about it tomorrow.
X x X x X
For the next few days, Zoro followed him everywhere. At first it was annoying, and embarrassing. When Sanji turned during his morning cigarette and growled, "What do you want, Marimo? It's like five-thirty in the morning. Go back to bed," the swordsman-turned-dog smiled up at him.
So Sanji figured that was all it was. Zoro hung around him because Sanji was the cook. Just like a dog, Zoro's loyalties were to the person that fed him. There was no big mystery to it.
But then the swordsman stayed in the galley after the meal was over. He sat watching Sanji do the dishes for a few minutes, and then promptly crawled underneath the table and took a nap. Luffy and Usopp poked their heads in about twenty minutes later, asking where Zoro was. Sanji, his face burning, had yelled that he had no idea why Zoro was in the kitchen and they could drag him out and play with him if they wanted to thank you very much!
Luffy had just laughed and backed out the door. "Ah, that's okay, Sanji. We'll play with him later. This is probably his favorite room, so no wonder he would want to take a nap in here."
Favorite room, Sanji had grumbled to himself. It's only his favorite room because he eats in here…
Zoro had played a little after lunch, but had come back into the galley when he had worn out the younger members of the crew. When Sanji had peeked out the door, he found Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper all slumped against each other on the railing, holding fishing poles in weary hands. He had turned back to Zoro, shaking his head.
Zoro had followed him, watched him prepare lunch, and accepted small pieces of meats and cheese with a smile so brilliant it made Sanji's heart sing. The cook had been through many oceans, feeding all kinds of people, but none had shown such unrestrained joy when eating his food. Sanji had reached out his hand then and petted Zoro gently on his head. The green hair was coarse and thick, and it tickled his fingers as he scratched a healthy scalp. Zoro had practically rolled over with happiness, and Sanji had felt his insides do a pleasant little flip.
After a week passed, everything was routine and no longer embarrassing. Zoro slept with Sanji in the galley (the cook couldn't make himself cuddle with the swordsman when they were in the boy's cabin) and then woke early with the cook when he made breakfast. The swordsman napped between breakfast and lunch, and then played out on the deck with Luffy and the others before dinner. Zoro sometimes took a break from the norm and went to go visit the girls on the upper deck as they tanned or read, but he mostly stayed in the galley with Sanji, or played in the grass with their enthusiastic captain.
Sanji had been extremely relieved when he found that Zoro was pretty good about toileting himself. He had dreaded taking the swordsman outside and standing around while he peed on the deck, or something equally embarrassing, but wonder of wonders Chopper had gotten him to use the washroom like normal.
Thank God for small favors.
Now, after a huge dinner and the most delectable dessert Sanji could come up with, the cook sat out on the deck, smoking a cigarette and running a hand through the head of green hair currently resting in his lap.
The soft click of Nami's heels approached, and Sanji's hand stilled.
"You're that kid that always wanted a puppy and never got one, huh?" Nami asked.
Sanji chuckled. "Something like that."
The navigator leaned against the railing and folded her hands under her breasts. "It makes sense that he's most comfortable with you and Luffy. You guys are our most powerful. You're the ones he relies on most in battle. Probably the ones he trusts the most.
Sanji hadn't thought of that. He smiled up at Nami as small hearts floated gently above his head. "Nami-swan~! You're so smart!"
Nami shrugged. "I know." She came close and squatted by the dozing swordsman. She reached out and ran a delicate hand over his hair. "You love Sanji-kun, don't you, Zoro?"
Zoro made a low noise in the back of his throat. "Mmm… Sanji… warm… hungry…"
Sanji rolled his eyes, and Nami laughed as she stood. "I think you two would be great friends if you'd just get over the macho 'whose is bigger' thing."
Sanji smiled at her and took another drag off his cigarette. "We can all dream, Nami-san."
Nami tilted her head as she regarded him carefully. "Are you talking about me or you?"
He sat for a long time after she had left, his hand returning to the green hair and petting absently. Why didn't he get along with Zoro? It seemed like it would be relatively easy, except for every time they were in close proximity of each other, sparks flew and adrenaline surged. He always wanted to fight the swordsman, he always wanted to taunt and kick and throw all his frustrations and tensions at the bastard because he knew the Marimo was doing the same thing. He could take it, just like Zoro knew Sanji could take it. They just worked that way.
Zoro stirred and nuzzled into Sanji's thigh.
"Hey, Marimo," Sanji muttered, "don't go putting your face in my crotch. I draw the line there."
Zoro sighed. "Sanji… love Sanji…"
Everything became very still then. Sanji's heart seemed to stop beating. The air around his body froze without becoming cold. Even the sound of the ocean seemed to fade into silence as Sanji tried to take in a breath.
This had to be a dog thing. When Zoro-dog said "love" it didn't mean "love". It meant loyalty or some kind of pack/nakama something that Sanji couldn't possibly understand because he was a human. Whatever the reason, Sanji started to feel uncomfortable. The places Zoro was touching him were starting to burn. The skin of his thigh was starting to char. He was smoldering underneath Zoro's touch and if he didn't get away immediately, he would be nothing but ashes.
"Get…" Sanji choked out. "Get up, Zoro." He pushed on the swordsman with his thigh, urging the man up.
Zoro twisted to look up at him. His eyes were filled with confusion. He no doubt could feel the tension in the cook's body and was affected by it.
"Come on," Sanji said more firmly, "get off me."
Zoro jumped to his feet, worry and fear etched so clearly on his face. He followed Sanji as the cook made his way toward the boy's cabin. He stopped when Sanji's hand fell on the doorknob.
"Sanji…" Zoro's voice was as close to a whine as it could get.
Sanji stopped, took a deep breath, and tried to calm the raging storm in his chest. He glanced over his shoulder and was a little taken back by what he saw.
The look on Zoro's face was one of shame. If he had ears, they would be plastered to the back of his head. If he had a tail, it would be between his legs. Sanji immediately tried to rethink what was happening. Zoro was like a dog, he didn't know any better. He was just being loyal. Sanji fed him, took care of him, backed him in fights, fought for him when he was injured. Zoro probably did love him in some strange way and just said what he felt. Now he had picked up on Sanji's unhappiness and confusion and thought it was because he had done something wrong.
Sanji let go of the doorknob and turned to face the swordsman. This was Zoro stripped of every human inhibition, of every social acceptance (not that the normal Zoro really seemed to care much about that, but there was a line even the swordsman wouldn't cross), everything that made humans the cautious, secretive, emotion-hiding creatures they were. This barest form of Zoro seemed to love Sanji with more than just his heart. He loved Sanji with his whole body. In Zoro's mind, Sanji fed him, and took care of him, and that meant that Sanji loved him. So, logically, or rather instinctively, Zoro loved him back. It was the purest form of friendship and bonding that one could have.
Feeling like a fool and an asshole, Sanji relaxed and put out his hand. "Come here," he said softly.
Zoro didn't hesitate. He rushed into Sanji's arms, burrowing his face into Sanji's chest. His hands gripped the cook's waist tightly, his breath came in soft pants that were so close to sobs that Sanji felt his heart breaking. He wrapped his arms around the swordsman's thick shoulders and held him tight.
"You ready for bed?" he whispered into green hair.
Zoro nodded, but didn't move.
"Come on," Sanji coaxed. "Come on, let's go."
Zoro seemed better when they settled down on the cot in the galley. He curled into Sanji, slipping one of his legs between the cook's, and nuzzled his face into Sanji's neck. Sanji shoved him away playfully when he felt the warm wetness of Zoro's tongue against the skin of his throat, but he ended up just laughing and pulling the swordsman in again after a short wrestling match.
Sleep did not come quickly for the cook, however. He lay awake reevaluating his relationship with the new and the old Zoro alike. He wondered how the old Zoro felt about him. He wondered if the old swordsman had any of the same feelings at all as the new swordsman. Did the old Zoro like him as well, and he hid it under fights and insults?
And how exactly did he feel about the old Zoro? He liked… okay, he loved the new Zoro, but the old Zoro?
And the submissive thing? When did Zoro become submissive? Why was he submissive to Sanji? That didn't even make any sense.
It did, however, have a certain amount of appeal. Sanji didn't kid himself, he liked the idea of a Zoro that was submissive to him… but then again, he missed the Zoro that tried to one-up him at every turn.
Emotions in turmoil, but feeling rather safe and secure in Zoro's embrace, Sanji finally found sleep in the early hours of the morning.
X x X x X
"Are you sure?" Nami asked, her eyes were wide as she spoke to Chopper from across the table.
The doctor nodded, a satisfied smile plastered to his face. "Definitely. I've isolated the enzyme, so all I have to do is figure out the mutation, and I'll be able to extract-"
"Chopper," Robin said softly, "maybe you should just explain the basics, like what the time frame is?"
Chopper looked at her. "Oh, yes, sorry." He cleared his throat and continued. "The rest of what I have to do is fairly simple. It'll only take a few hours. I can give Zoro the antidote tonight and after some sleep, he'll be back to normal."
"That's great!" Luffy exclaimed. "Except for the part about no more playing fetch, that sucks."
"But you'll have your first mate back," Usopp offered. "Imagine if we were attacked right now. We're down one of our best fighters! I can't protect you guys by myself forever."
"He's right though," Nami added, "three weeks with no attacks? It's kind of like someone upstairs is taking pity on us."
Luffy shrugged and clapped Chopper on the back. "Well, I'll be sad to see Zoro-dog go, but I'm excited to get the old Zoro back. Go ahead and give him the antidote whenever it's ready, Chopper!"
"You got it!" Chopper said happily.
Sanji continued washing the dishes as the conversation went on behind him. He didn't want to be a part of it, lest someone notice how unhappy he was about the whole thing. It was stupid really, but he had grown so attached to the new Zoro, that he felt like they were discussing putting his dog down.
Stupid. They needed their first mate back. End of story.
Sanji was so lost in his thoughts, that he didn't notice that everyone had finished lunch and left until Brook stuck his head back in through the galley door.
"Sanji!" the musician chortled. "You must come see this! It's pretty spectacular!"
Sanji sighed and turned off the water. He dried his hands, and pulled a cigarette from his pack. He slipped through the door and lit up, frowning at the strange display happening on the lower deck.
Zoro was crouched over the body of a great fish. Half of it was lying on the deck, and half of it was dangling over the side of the ship. A long ragged cut tore through the fish's head and mouth, and tiny bits of bile and blood were dripping into the water.
"What's he doing?" Sanji asked Franky as he moved up beside the shipwright.
"I uh…" Franky scratched his chin. "I think he's fishing…"
Sanji noticed Zoro's body tense as he watched the dark waters. His eyes flashed like polished stone as he searched for something beneath the waves. The cook was about to go see what was so interesting, when Zoro leapt off the railing and into the sea.
"Ahahaha!" Luffy cheered. "Go Zoro!"
Sanji ran to the railing, watching the swordsman struggle with something large and white. Zoro shrieked a battle cry as he gripped the slippery sides of whatever he was trying to catch. He went underwater and then back up again. Under and back up.
A flash of silver caught Sanji's eye, and his heart sped up. There was no way.
The tips of the waves created by the swordsman and the monster fish started to shine crimson. Sanji was sure the blood was not Zoro's, but he still winced every time a wave of red splattered against the side of the Sunny.
"You're makin' a mess bro!" Franky shouted. "Just knock him out and bring him up!"
It was a struggle, but Zoro managed to fling the fish on deck. Luffy finished the fight with a well-placed punch to the head. Sanji's grin split his face as he looked the catch over.
"This is a freaking silverfin!" Sanji exclaimed. "I've never seen one of these before! Zoro! How did you…"
Zoro had pulled himself up over the railing and was smiling at Sanji. He shook himself dry and ran his fingers over the silver fins.
Luffy fell over laughing as Sanji looked the fish over more carefully. "Wow Sanji! Zoro got you a present! Isn't that cool? What can you make with this fish?"
"Oh, lots of stuff," Sanji grinned around his cigarette. "Silverfin's flesh is supposed to be some of the most succulent and flavorful of all the fish in the grand line. This'll be the best dinner we've had in a long time."
"WOOHOO! ALL RIGHT ZORO!" Luffy cried. "Let's play!"
"No!" Nami cried from the upper deck. "Zoro needs a bath first! He's covered in blood and fish guts!"
"Oh, yeah…" Luffy looked perplexed. "How do we… can't we just have him jump back into the ocean?"
Nami started down the steps. "No, he needs a bath. It's been three weeks almost that he's been like that, and soap hasn't touched him once. He's starting to smell like a real dog."
Franky laced his hands behind his head and whistled a tune. "I have some repairs to make on the uh… the bilge."
"Yeah," Usopp exclaimed, "and I have many many…things… to attend to!"
Nami rolled her eyes. "I'm seriously going to fine you all if no one steps up to-"
"I can do it, Nami-san," Sanji said quietly. "I'll get him clean and I can handle him if he gets too rowdy."
Nami smiled at him. "Thank you, Sanji-kun!"
Sanji shrugged and turned to the swordsman. "Okay, Zoro," he barked, "let's go."
X x X x X
"You know," Sanji said quietly as he dumped more soapy water over Zoro's back, "Chopper's gonna give you something tonight that'll turn you back the way you were."
Zoro slapped at the bubbles, seemingly unmindful of what Sanji was saying. He batted at the ones hovering in the air and chuckled when they popped against his face.
"But you don't even know the difference, huh?" Sanji asked as he scrubbed Zoro's arms and shoulders. "You're just happy as ever, no worries, no troubles besides eating and getting in your afternoon nap…"
Zoro swirled the water with his hands and watched the soap's patterns with rapt attention.
"You have no idea the stupid feelings I'm having," Sanji continued. "You have no idea how much I'm gonna miss this version of you… Tomorrow, you're gonna be stupid Marimo again and we're gonna fight and cuss at each other all the time."
Zoro turned to look at him then, using his hand to splash soapy water in Sanji's face. Sanji "eek"ed and glared at the swordsman without any real menace.
"Sanji… play…" Zoro smiled.
Sanji hung his hands over the edge of the tub and sighed. "This sucks…"
Without thinking, without worrying about consequences or implications, Sanji leaned forward and kissed Zoro's forehead softly. The swordsman looked at him and smiled, happy for the affection. But then he must have felt the intensity that the cook was feeling, for his smiled softened and he looked at Sanji with an expression that was more serious than any he had held previously as this animalistic Zoro.
It was stupid, it was really, really stupid. Sanji saw it coming, and he should have stopped it, but he didn't really want to, and what did it matter? Zoro wasn't going to care.
Zoro leaned in slowly and tentatively touched his lips to Sanji's. It wasn't really a kiss, it was more like a brush of lips and a quick flick of a tongue, but it ignited something hidden inside of Sanji. Zoro no doubt felt it, because his hands were on the side of the tub in an instant, and he was leaning out, breathing deeply into the curve of Sanji's neck. The cook shuddered and tilted his head back. Water sloshed everywhere, soaking Sanji's pants and shirt. Zoro was out of the tub and hovering over him before he knew what to do.
"Sanji…" Zoro growled.
This was not the submissive Zoro Sanji had gotten used to. No, this was more like the old Zoro. This Zoro was challenging. This Zoro let it be known what he wanted without all the human feelings and rules that always got in the way. This was a primal, pure Zoro, exposed down to nothing but the barest of emotions and needs.
And this Zoro wanted him. He wanted Sanji.
There was no explaining it. There was no justifying it, or making sense of it. It just was. It was an attraction that was rooted in power and trust and blood and sweat. It was a deep connection that wasn't meant to be reasonable.
Zoro licked up Sanji's neck. His tongue flicked over his lips and nose, his eyelids, his forehead. He nuzzled in his blond hair, nibbled on Sanji's ear. Sanji felt Zoro's hardness against his thigh and was momentarily shocked into stillness. But the unrestrained desperation and want the swordsman was showing him, quickly pushed any other thoughts out of the cook's head.
Sanji had always wanted to be wanted like this. He had always needed to be needed like this. Maybe he was cheap, maybe this was wrong in a lot of ways, but if this really was Zoro deep down, then who could judge? If this is what Zoro wanted, who was to say this shouldn't happen? It wasn't like Sanji was forcing himself on Zoro.
Zoro was fierce in his rutting, something Sanji had not experienced before. He's partners were usually small and gentle, innocent or shy. He wasn't used to this show of force, this strength. Zoro held his arms down, bit him harshly on his chest, his powerful hips thrust against him with bruising strength.
Sanji liked it. He liked the hint of danger and the possibility of injury. It was exciting, and he found himself kissing and licking and biting back whenever he could. When Zoro stilled over him and let out a deep growl, Sanji's head spun at the thought that he had just been the cause of Zoro getting off. That in itself was powerful in its own way. It was a rush, something he could get heavily addicted to, like his smoking.
"Sanji…" Zoro was panting, "Sanji… warm… good… Sanji…"
Sanji pulled his arms free and ran his fingers through Zoro's hair. He kissed the swordsman on the forehead and pulled the heavy body on top of his. They were both soaking, lying on the tiled floor of the washroom, but Sanji didn't care. He had just crossed a line with Zoro and he needed a moment to let it sink in.
"Sanji…" Zoro whispered again.
"Mm? What is it, Zoro?" Sanji asked.
Sanji laughed and shook his head. Of course. "Fine," he pushed the swordsman off him and sat up. "Get back in the tub and rinse off. I'll go make dinner after I get you dry."
Zoro smiled, and happily obliged.
X x X x X
Chopper had the antidote ready at dinner. He mixed the powder into a cup of sauce Sanji provided, and poured it over the swordsman's piece of fish. The cook watched with mounting sadness as Zoro inhaled the meal, unknowing that what he was putting into his body would distance him from the cook once again.
When the meal was over, and the remaining pieces of the silverfin were packaged and placed in the freezer, Sanji went out to have a cigarette. Zoro brought him the ball, but only played for a few tosses. His eyes were drooping, and his feet seemed heavier than usual.
"He's going to get very groggy," Chopper explained. "We might want to put him in bed soon. When he wakes up in the morning, he should be back to normal."
Sanji nodded, hiding his disappointment under a deep drag of his cigarette.
They tucked Zoro into his bunk in the cabin, and Sanji left to sleep in the galley. He tossed and turned for hours, his heart hurting like he knew it shouldn't. When he finally did sleep, it was a dreamless, restless sleep, and when he woke, he felt like he would have been better off not sleeping at all.
He washed in the galley, and started breakfast. He didn't want to see anyone yet, especially Zoro. The routine of cutting, peeling, frying, kneading, and baking soothed his nerves. When people started to trickle in for breakfast, Sanji put on his best smile, and served the ladies with as much gusto as usual.
Zoro slept through breakfast, but Chopper offered t bring him something later. Lunchtime rolled around, and the swordsman still was a no show. Luffy was beginning to get antsy, asking Chopper why Zoro wasn't up and lifting weights or something. Chopper said that it might take a few days for Zoro to fully recover. Luffy accepted this without much complaining and stuffed his face.
Dinner was a different story.
Zoro entered the galley on Chopper's heels, he looked tired, but pretty much back to the old Zoro. Luffy flung himself at his first mate, and was quickly batted to the side. Nami and Robin greeted him kindly, and Franky and Brook alternated between pats on the back, and breaking out into song. Usopp seemed wary at first, but was quick to get over whatever it was that was bothering him. He teased Zoro about playing fetch, and shrunk under the table when Zoro shot him a not-so-menacing glare.
"I did not play fetch," he growled.
"Yes you did!" Luffy exclaimed. "And it was AWESOME!"
Zoro grunted and shook his head. "Whatever… Oi, cook, I'm hungry."
Sanji, who had been listening to everything with a heavy weight on his heart, growled into the pan of sizzling onions.
"You'll wait your turn, Marimo. I serve the ladies first, and then you other pigs."
"Yay!" Luffy exclaimed. "Everything's back to normal!"
Yeah, Sanji thought miserably. Everything's back to normal.
He shot a quick look over his shoulder, and almost burned his hand when he met the swordsman's eyes. It wasn't a look of anger or annoyance that met him like he was used to, but rather a look of disappointment and sadness. The look shook Sanji to his bones and he whirled back around, attacking the dinner with a renewed aggressiveness.
They avoided each other after that. The only contact they had was when Sanji retrieved Zoro's swords from the cupboard where he had hidden them. He left them on the table, and Zoro came to get them without a word. Everything was awkward. Sanji couldn't look at Zoro without thinking of that time in the washroom, and Zoro seemed to be thinking so hard about something when he looked at Sanji that he almost seemed in pain.
A couple days became a couple more, and then a week had passed by. Sanji was still sleeping in the galley, (or pretending to anyway, he wasn't actually getting much sleep at all) and the tension between the two of them was higher than it had ever been. It didn't seem like the crew noticed, or at least, they didn't notice how bad it actually was. One the eighth day, Sanji was ready to jump overboard if something didn't happen.
Apparently, Zoro felt the same way. After lunch, the swordsman stayed at the table, nodding to the other crew members as they left one by one. Usopp was the last to leave. He seemed worried to leave the two of them alone.
"You can go, Usopp," Sanji said easily. "He won't dare break anything in my kitchen."
Usopp said nothing and slowly climbed the ladder to the upper deck.
Zoro sat for a while in silence. Sanji washed dishes and smoked. Tension mounted. Unspoken things rang loud in the silence.
"Thanks for locking up my swords," Zoro murmured.
Sanji shrugged. "Whatever."
Another long silence.
"I liked you a lot more as a dog," Sanji grumbled.
"I'm sure you did," Zoro growled.
It was too much. Zoro was asking for it, and Sanji was itching to break something. The cook twisted around and hurled a pot at the swordsman's head. Zoro was waiting for it, however, and knocked it away with a slap of his hand.
"You wanna go, cook?" he sneered, standing slowly, his hand on Wado's hilt.
"Yeah," Sanji loosened his tie. "Let's do this."
The crew gave them a wide birth. By the time the two had worn each other out, Franky was complaining how they were going to have to repair the mast, and how he was going to have to replant most of the grass on the lower deck. Luffy, on the other hand, seemed happy with the fight. He sat on the railing as Sanji climbed the stairs bleeding and favoring his right side.
"Feel better?" the captain asked.
Sanji grinned around his cigarette. "Yeah, a lot."
X x X x X
Sleep still eluded Sanji that night. He stared up at the galley ceiling, wondering if he would ever get a good night's rest ever again. His head hurt from fatigue, and his muscles were beginning to protest the lack of true rest.
The galley door opening startled him, and Sanji froze. Light from the moon outside silhouetted a large figure before the door clicked softly shut. The scent of blood and steel hit Sanji like a train and the cook almost flew out of bed to defend an attack.
But Zoro just dropped to the floor beside his cot and sighed heavily.
"I can't sleep," Zoro said quietly.
Sanji swallowed. "So? What the hell do you want me to do about it?"
Zoro growled. "I want you to move the hell over."
"What!" Sanji shrieked as the swordsman shoved him to the side and climbed on to the cot. "Hey, Zoro! You can't just-"
"Shut up," Zoro growled. "I'm tired, you're tired, I want to sleep, and I seem to remember sleeping pretty good in here with you."
Sanji froze as Zoro curled around him from behind. The swordsman's arms came around his waist, and warm breath heated the back of his neck. Sanji shivered as the gravity of Zoro's words hit him all at once.
"Zoro…" he whispered, "you remember?"
Zoro nodded into his hair. "Bits and pieces."
Sanji tried to get his heart to stop hammering against his ribcage. "If you remember… do you remember when… the time when we… uh… the time-"
"I said shut up, Sanji." Zoro's breath puffed against his skin and it felt so good. "Just go to sleep."
So Sanji did the only thing he could: he relaxed into the warm body behind him and closed his eyes. He would worry about it tomorrow.