Woohoo! I did it! Last chapter! I finished the epic birthday fic! It's North of 10,000 words, so hopefully that will appease you lovely readers. :) Also, remember that reviews will get you a smutty epilogue! (Maybe with a little Ace/Law action?) :D

Happy birthday to bookworm_rach08!

Chapter 4

Sunday night, Zoro locked his office and moved to the railing overlooking the front lobby.

"Kaku, Franky," he called down to the group below, "come up to my apartment."

Franky gave him a look. "Oh shit," he said sarcastically, "are we gettin' canned?"

"What the hell, Zoro?" Law grumbled. "I need a drink! What the hell's so important we gotta wait for you guys?"

"I never said you had to wait for us," Zoro said waving his hand dismissively. "Go, hail the cab, get over there. We'll be there in a bit."

He left out the fire escape, confident that Franky and Kaku would follow. He climbed the metal stairs and entered his apartment through the back. The unit had another, more inviting entrance, but this one was more practical, and faster.

Kaku practically hopped across the kitchen and slid onto one of the bar stools. He leaned his elbows on the bar top and watched happily as Zoro pulled a beer from his fridge.

"You gonna tell us now?" he asked. "About the blond?"

Zoro took a swallow and ran his fingers through his hair as Franky took the stool next to his long-nosed friend. Leaning against the counter, the green-haired man had to chuckle. His two friends were sitting with all the excitement and impatient enthusiasm of hungry dogs.

"First off," Zoro said quietly, "I wanted to thank you guys for not saying anything at the party."

Kaku and Franky both nodded.

"It wasn't coming up in casual," Kaku said.

Franky hummed in agreement. "And the fact that you both acted like you didn't know each other? We got a clue."

Zoro sighed heavily. "Yeah, guy's so deep in the closet he's set up camp."

"We figured," Kaku said.

"Turns out he's also friends with Nami."

"Ooooh!" Kaku and Franky said in unison. The two of them knuckle-bumped and Franky continued. "You sure know how to fuck yourself over, boss."

"We deserve raises," Kaku snickered.

"I know," Zoro mumbled, "You're getting them."


Zoro nodded. "Not because you didn't say anything. I'm giving you guys raises because I knewI didn't have to worry about you two. I didn't even have to think twice about how you guys would recognize him. That kind of trust…" Zoro paused to take another swallow. He sighed, shrugged his shoulders. "That kind of trust is really rare."

Kaku grinned at him. Franky smiled and looked away embarrassed. "Thanks boss," the larger man said quietly.

Zoro shrugged again. "Well, you've earned it. And I hope twenty cents more an hour is adequate to show my appreciation."

"Hell yeah," Kaku slapped his hands down in the bar top.

"Shit," Franky looked at Kaku. "What the hell am I gonna do with all this extra cash?"

"Buy Zoro a blowup doll," Kaku chuckled into his fist. "A blond one."

"There's more," Zoro said into his beer.

Kaku and Franky stopped teasing and turned to listen.

Zoro rolled his head, popping joints and effectively tightening his shoulders. He needed a damn massage.

"The raise could also be a bribe… possibly." He eyed his friends carefully as he continued. "I sort of… gave him a job."

Franky's eyes went wide. "Really! Doing what?"

Zoro made a face. "Cooking, moron."

"Oh," Franky's features relaxed, but then his eyebrows shot right back up. "Really! You mean we're gonna have that guy cooking all that fucking Super-Amazing food in our kitchen!"

Zoro nodded again. "That's the plan."

"Holy…" Kaku turned to Franky and they high-fived. "I fucking love my job."

"I fucking love your job too," Franky agreed.

"So, just to clarify," Zoro tossed his empty beer bottle in the recycle, "Due to the unfortunate connections Sanji and I have, I need you two to just forget that night ever happened. It won't be that hard. You'll only see him at work. His life circles won't coincide with our life circles. Nami doesn't need to know about it, and neither do Law and Ace. Especially Ace. Understand?"

Kaku saluted and Franky nodded his head. "You can count on us, boss."

Zoro relaxed against the sink counter.

"Yeah… I know."

A month passed. Christmas was just around the corner. The Grandwas booked with shows every week, and the pre and post production filled the days until the first of the New Year. Zoro had even given up his precious Wednesdays to come in and work on set and lighting between gigs. It was all right though; he had planned it that way. The holiday season was always like that, it was a good thing. If a theater wasn't overworking its staff in November and December, someone was doing something wrong.

Sanji's cooking had proven time and time again to be far better than anything Benny had ever sent over through his catering service. Sanji's crab cakes blew Benny's out of the park, and his elegant desserts nuked the finest bakeries in Manhattan. The best part about it though, was Sanji could make things that were sophisticated and delicious on a very small budget. The money Zoro saved was used for new lighting fixtures and a much-needed pait job and sign for the outside of the building.

Franky and Kaku were true to their word and never said anything about that night. They also got along surprisingly well with Sanji, which was a plus. The cook fit in with the rest of the group, in a professional sense. He worked well with everyone, and when his kitchen duties were done, he sometimes came in and helped with setup or takedown. When the work days were over and he was invited to come out to the clubs, Sanji would refuse politely, saying he needed to plan the meals for the next day, or reminding everyone he had to be at work several hours before they did. It didn't seem to bother anyone that Sanji was somewhat antisocial. He was "straight" after all. He wasn't expected to be into that. Sanji's refusal to accompany the group was expected and therefore, didn't shake the moral in any way.

Zoro continued to work like a machine during the day and partied hard at night. He knew he was compensating for something he didn't want to think very hard about, and he knew that he was being somewhat self-destructive, but he didn't care. He saw how Sanji wanted to be a part of the nightlife. He saw that Sanji was lonely, and he saw the way the cook looked at Ace. It killedZoro that he couldn't do anything about it. He wanted Sanji to be happy, he wanted Ace to be happy, and God damnit he wanted Law to be happy too. Unfortunately, he knew there was no way all of that could happen. Someone had to forfeit, and Sanji was doing just that. Zoro was impressed and humbled and a thousand other good things by the cook's sacrifice. But he was also frustrated, and the reason he was frustrated was because his own feelings for the cook were so damn strong.

Zoro never kidded himself. He wanted Sanji, he could admit that. He'd wanted Sanji since he had first laid eyes on him, and that want had not diminished even after several months. Every time those blue eyes turned to him, or he caught a glimpse of a slender finger tucking a strand of silky, blond hair behind an ear, Zoro's heart raced. Just a few words from that smooth voice and Zoro's stomach was in knots. He thought about Sanji all the time; at work, at the club, at home… The only time the blond was not on his mind was when Zoro forced him out during his solitary training. The sing of the blade and the familiar, practiced movements of his katas seemed to be the only thing in the universe that could clear Zoro's head.

The whole thing was useless. It was stupid. It was frustrating. Sanji had been his once, for a single night, but Zoro knew he would never get that chance again. Like in all good dramas, Sanji was in love with someone else, and just to throw salt in the wound, the one he was in love with was Zoro's good friend.

"Gah…" Zoro muttered under his breath, "They can't write this shit…"

WHAM!Sanji's foot collided with Zoro's side and the swordsman went flying across the workout mat.

"What'd you say, moss-head?" Sanji leaned over him, hands on his hips. "Maybe if you'd quit mumbling and block properly you wouldn't get your ass beat."

Zoro stared up at the blond from the floor, his features placid. "Shut up, cook. You know you can only knock me down 'cause I let you."

Sanji scoffed and held out an arm to help Zoro up. "Keep telling yourself that."

A few days after Sanji had started working for him, Zoro had asked him about his fighting style. The cook had been enthusiastic about explaining it, and so the two had decided to get together and spar sometime. Zoro had learned very quickly that he couldn't come at a training session with Sanji like he had with Ace. Sanji's attacks were honed to a level of skill that Zoro had never seen before. He moved so gracefully it was almost like a dance. Sanji was much faster than Ace, and the cook's kicks hit about a million times harder.

Sparring with Ace felt pretty good, Zoro usually ended up fairly winded after about forty-five minutes. With Sanji, he was worn out in fifteen.

"I'm not even gonna justify your lameness today with an explanation why you're sucking." Sanji's words were harsh, but there was no real bite to them. He and Zoro's conversations were usually filled with colorful diatribe that neither of them really meant.

"Not only are you slow on the right side—like you always are—but now you're not even watching my feet, or my eyes! I could come straight up to you with a pot and crack you over the head and you'd never know!"

"I thought you weren't going to justify my lameness with an explanation," Zoro grumbled as he stood.

"I couldn't stop myself," Sanji sighed. "I can't help but help pathetic people."

Zoro had to smirk at that. "I just have a lot of stuff on my mind."

"Oh yeah?" Sanji backed up, readying himself for another round. "Not good when you're sparring with someone that could kill you. Like what kind of stuff?"

Zoro shrugged. "Just stuff, schedules and shit. And you're wrong, you wouldn't be able to kill me."


Sanji gave Zoro about half a second to steady himself before he moved in low, faster than fast. Zoro just barely leapt out of the way and danced to the side.

It wasn't that Sanji was a better fighter; there was no better fighter. After one session together, the two had realized they complimented each other perfectly. They worked it out that Zoro was the stronger of the two by far, but Sanji was much faster. Zoro could take anything Sanji threw at him, so the cook was able to work on his strength as well as his speed. Then on the other hand, Sanji could take a punch, but he could also block pretty much anything Zoro tossed his way. He also kept Zoro on his toes, so for the first time ever, Zoro could not only go all out, but he could also work on his speed at the same time.

Forty minutes later, Sanji slipped his shirt on and toweled his hair dry. "Sound check at seven?"

Zoro nodded as he pulled on his shoes. "Yeah, but they're having some big cast party thing tonight and renting out some restaurant. You gotta be in early tomorrow, so you can head home now."

"When are you gonna eat?"

Zoro shrugged. "I have hot pockets in my freezer."

Sanji made a noise. "Gross. I'll go back with you and make you something that won't sit in your stomach for five days."

"You don't have to," Zoro said softly.

Sanji shut his locker and lifted his bag. "I want to."

Zoro sat on the bench, unable to look directly at the cook. This was one of those moments, one of those things that had Zoro's stomach tying in knots. Sanji treated him so well that it was hard to forget about everything that hung between them. It was obviously because of what Zoro had done for him, but Zoro still couldn't help himself from wishing that the kindness and the special attention was paid because maybe Sanji cared about him too. Even if it was only a little, the thought still made Zoro's heart race.

"Well, fine," Zoro stood and hid his despondency underneath a cheeky reply. "Then I want that pasta thing with the beef and peppers we had last week."

Sanji chuckled and followed him out of the locker room. "Wow, so demanding."

Zoro snorted. "You're the one that insisted on coming to work just to feed me."

"You don't eat properly and you get cranky. You get cranky and you're no fun to work for. I'm just looking out for myself."

As the two walked together the few blocks to The Grand, the banter eased and they started talking about the upcoming show, Arcadia. Sanji had never heard of the production, so Zoro was happy to educate him. When they arrived at the theater, they parted at the lobby, and Zoro made his way upstairs. He dropped his gym bag in his office, and continued up to the sound booth. Law was there, sitting in the tech's chair and watching the crew put the finishing touches on the set.

"Hey," Zoro said as he slid into the seat next to his friend.

Law turned to him and smiled. "Hey there!"

"Where's Larry?" Zoro asked, referring to the visiting company's sound technician.

"He's out with some of the cast," Law leaned his elbows on the board, craning his neck to get a better view below. "I guess they're done with all the checks. Right now they're just going through a few last minute blocking changes."

"Principals?" Zoro asked, leaning forward as well.

Law grinned. "Obviously you've seen the guy playing Hodge."

Zoro smiled back. "I was thinking more of Noakes, the gardener."

"Oh yeah?" Law's eyebrows lifted. "I don't think I've seen him yet."



The two sat for a while watching the actors portraying Bernard, Hannah, and Valentine move through the new blocking of the first scene in act one. It wasn't the best talent Zoro had ever seen, but the cast was decent enough. The reviews were sure to be good.

When Sanji came with food for Zoro, Ace was with him.

"Look who I found wandering around," Sanji smiled as he handed Zoro a large bowl of pasta and a glass of iced tea.

"Hey, babe," Law's face lit up and he tilted his head back.

Ace kissed him upside down over the back of the chair. "What are you up to, sexy?"

"Just thinking about you," Law said in a playful sing-song.

"Gross," Zoro said as he shoveled savory beef and pasta in his mouth. "Get out of my sound booth. You guys are making me lose my appetite."

"Ha," Law scoffed, "there isn't a force on earth that could actually do that."

Zoro just grunted and continued eating.

Law looked up at Ace and pouted. "He's no fun anymore."

"He was fun at one time?" Ace joked.

Zoro gave him a look, but Ace just grinned back at him.

"Seriously," Law whined and leaned back over the sound board, "He's been all grumpy since Mystery Blond."

Zoro froze. That particular topic hadn't been brought up in so long in casual conversation that he hadn't expected it and so had no way to defend against it. He swallowed with more than a little trouble and tried not to think about the tension filling Sanji's side of the room.

"I thought you guys would be bored with that by now," Zoro muttered.

Ace chuckled. "How could we when it still makes you squirm?"

"I'm not squirming."

"Hey," Sanji rose from the chair he had been perched on, "I gotta go prep for tomorrow. I'll see you guys-"

"Wait, wait, Sanji," Ace waved him closer. "I know you don't like the Gay stories, but have you heard what happened to this guy?" He pointed at Zoro.

Zoro didn't have to look. He could feel what the cook was thinking. The tension and the embarrassment was tangible in the air. He heard Sanji shift his feet and slip his hands in his pockets. The blond was desperate to get out of the sound booth, but bolting now would be suspicious.

"Uh…" Sanji said softly, "no. No, I haven't."

"Come on," Zoro growled, his voice coming out much more steady then he felt. "He doesn't need to hear this."

Law turned around, gripping the side of the chair in excitement. "Zoro saved some guy on Eighth, that's this really nasty street in The District, and then took him home. Just met him, and he's taking him back to his place. He didn't even get his name."

Zoro worked up enough courage to glance sideways at Sanji. The blond was standing nonchalant, slouched, his hands hanging in his pockets. Outside, the cook was cool and casual, completely the opposite of what Zoro felt on the inside.

"Zoro doesn't do that very often, I'm assuming?" Sanji asked.

"No way," Law shook his head. "Kaku said he was sexy as hell too. I'm totally bummed I missed him."

Zoro saw the smallest hint of a smile pull at the corner of Sanji's mouth, but the cook hid it well. He brushed his hair out of his eyes and shifted his stance again.

"So, what does this blond have to do with Zoro being no fun?"

Ace ran a hand through his hair. "Guy disappeared on him in the morning. He moped forever after that. We'd go to Alabasterand he'd look for him all night." He turned to meet Zoro's deadpan stare and spread his hands in surrender. "You hid it pretty well, man, but not that well."

Zoro set his empty bowl on the board and took a swallow of his iced tea. He was so beyond embarrassed that he had no idea what kind of face he was giving Ace at that moment. There was no way he was ever going to be able to look Sanji in the eye ever again.

"You think he was from out of town?" Sanji asked.

God damnit, Sanji, Zoro thought to himself, Stop asking questions…

Law shrugged. "Could be."

"Why are you guys still here?" Zoro muttered. "Doesn't Ace dance tonight?"

Law spread his arms and stretched. "Yeah, yeah, I'm done. I was just waiting for the man." He stood and took Ace by the hand. "Let's go, babe. I wanna see you get naked."

Ace grinned. "You don't have to wait for me to be on shift to see that."

Sanji stepped out of the way as the two moved towards the sound booth door. "Have a good night, Sanji," Law smiled. "We'll see you tomorrow."

"Yeah, night Sanji," Ace echoed. "Zoro, we'll see you at the club in what, like an hour?"

Zoro waved them off. "Something like that."

Sanji nodded to them. "Bye guys."

The door closed behind the couple. Zoro wanted to disappear. Sanji just stood, hands in his pockets, his face still impassive and cool. He didn't look at Zoro as he moved closer and sat in the chair Law had just vacated.

A few long minutes passed in silence as they watched the director talk to the actors on stage. The tension in the air increased and Zoro's heart pounded in a slow, hard thump against his ribcage.

After what seemed like years to Zoro, Sanji finally spoke.

"Kaku's never said anything about it?"

Zoro scratched at his jaw. "No. I basically bribed him… and Franky."

Sanji chuckled softly. Whatever he was thinking, it didn't show on his face as he watched the actors below.

"So…" he said after a few more minutes of silence, "you moped? For real?"

Zoro wanted to throw up. "I didn't mope… I was just pissed that you disappeared and I couldn't ask you what was wrong."

Sanji didn't look at him. "You were worried about me?"

Zoro played with a set of knobs that were currently disconnected. He tried to wet his lips, realizing that his mouth was suddenly very dry.

"Of course I was worried… you were really upset."

Another long silence passed before Sanji spoke again. "Did you really look for me?"

Zoro growled. "Stop with the third degree already! I had…" he paused and lowered his voice. "It was really good, okay? I liked you a lot, but then you disappeared, and I didn't know your name, I didn't know how to find you… I had no idea who I'd just taken home and fucked. You could have been under age, or somebody's husband or some shit."

Sanji turned farther away from him, leaning his elbows on the table. "What would you have done if I'd come back? What if I had just shown up at Alabasterone night?"

Zoro sighed, seeing the way Sanji's shoulders sagged.

"I would have asked you to come back to my apartment with me again."

Sanji breathed deep; his posture not giving away whatever he was thinking. He slowly moved his arm and rested his jaw in his hand. He was still turned fully away from Zoro, and the swordsman felt himself longing to see Sanji's face.

"So…" Sanji said softly, "you looked for me because you wanted to have sex with me again…"

Zoro would have punched himself if it was actually possible. "Yes and no." Wait, that sounded bad."I wanted to, but that wasn't all. I really did want to know if you were okay. I wanted to know what had made you so sad. I don't know. I just… wanted to talk to you again."

Slowly, Sanji turned. He looked over his arm at Zoro with his sad blue eyes. His grief was unchecked, his despair unrestrained. Zoro's heart ached at the sight.

"What would you have said to me?" he whispered.

Zoro didn't move. He stayed leaning against the sound board, his body reined in tightly. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and pull the cook into his arms but he restrained himself.

"I probably would have done the same thing I did at your apartment," Zoro said quietly. "But, I mean, who knows back then? I probably would have offered that you stay with me or something."

Sanji's expression didn't change, but something happened to his eyes. The blue that had been dull and forlorn only moments ago, brightened. The cook turned away quickly, as if knowing the change was happening and he did not want Zoro to see. Sanji straightened, running his hands over the sound board nervously, clenching and unclenching his fingers. He stood.

"I… I need to go."

He barely made it two steps before Zoro was out of the chair and sliding his arms around the cook's thin body, one around the blond's shoulders, and the other around Sanji's waist. "Sanji…" he whispered as he buried his face in Sanji's neck. The cook was shaking, trembling just as hard as he had that first night the two of them had been together. Zoro pressed his body against that hard, lean frame, and almost groaned as Sanji melted against him. He had expected resistance, not this complete and desperate submission.

Sanji's hands ran over Zoro's forearm. His cheek nuzzled into Zoro's hair. "Zoro…" he pleaded. His breath was heavy. "Please… please don't do this…"

Zoro said nothing and pressed his lips to Sanji's neck. He felt fingers in his hair as he trailed kisses up to the cook's ear. His groin throbbed almost painfully when Sanji arched against him. The cook was wound so tight, repressed so hard that he was hyper sensitive, desperate for any kind of physical touch.

"Don't go…" Zoro whispered. He slid his hand down to Sanji's hips, caressed the skin he knew was soft and supple under a layer of denim. "You don't want to…"

Sanji let out a soft breath and steadied himself with his hand on the wall. Zoro bit the blond's ear gently and Sanji's head fell back, his eyes slipped closed. The swordsman was thrilled at how responsive the cook was and whispered into his ear.

"You can't deny that you want this," he growled. "I want it too. Just fucking let go for a little while."

Sanji turned around in Zoro's arms and pressed himself close. Their hard breath mingled, their hands came back up to grip at clothing, slide over skin. Zoro's eyes met the cook's and there was one moment, one instant of perfect understanding. There was one fraction of a second where Zoro saw those blue eyes flash crystal, like the sky on a clear summer's day.

Then Sanji's lips were on his.

For the past few weeks, Zoro had been pushing the reality of what was happening to him to the back of his mind. He knew if he ignored it, he wouldn't have to admit it. But now, here it was, right in front of him. Happening to him. He was sure about what he felt and there was no getting around it. No running away.

Sanji's tongue slid over his. The cook's hands caressed the sides of his face, moved down to cup the back of his neck. He was forceful and demanding, rough in just the way Zoro liked. This was not the Sanji who was experiencing his first time with a man. This was a more confident and unrestrained Sanji, he was reckless without being too overpowering. He was as sexy in action as he was in bearing and Zoro's restraint didn't have a chance. The swordsman groaned. He felt himself losing it in a way he hadn't since he had been young and innocent.

Zoro wasn't sure if Sanji had backed them up, or if he himself had pushed the cook, but the weight of their bodies made a hard thud against the wall when they hit it. Sanji moaned breathlessly and threw his head against the wood as Zoro bit into the flesh of his neck. The swordsman trailed his hands down tightly muscled sides. He felt those strong fingers in his hair again, pulling, kneading, guiding Zoro to where the blond wanted to be kissed.

But then something happened. As Zoro undid the button of Sanji's jeans, as he slid his hand into the cook's pants to feel the erection waiting for him there, Zoro felt Sanji's whole body tense. When Zoro raised his head, Sanji started to push him away. He wouldn't go at first, but Sanji was strong. Not as strong as Zoro, but it was enough.

"No…" Sanji whispered. "I can't do this… I can't…"

Zoro let go and took a small step back. Sanji growled, a furious growl that was perilously close to a scream. He put the heels of his palms to his temples and pressed on the sides of his head.

"Fuck!" he cried. "Fuuuuuuck!Fuck! I can't do this!"

Zoro tried to calm himself, steady his breathing. "Why?" he asked softly, feeling the anger building inside him.

Sanji lowered his hands and opened his eyes. He stared at the floor at Zoro's feet. "I just can't, Zoro. I can't do that to Ace. I can't be that shitty of a friend."

The anger peaked and boiled over. Zoro's restraint had broken, his nerves were shot to shit. There was nothing to stop him, to hold him back anymore. He moved forward, slamming his fist to the wall by Sanji's head. The blond looked up, his eyes wide. His body tensed like it did during their sparring matches, but the cook made no moves towards defending himself.

"You're not a shitty friend!" Zoro growled. "You're fucking killing yourself so he can be happy! Do you have any idea what he'd do if he knew that!"

"Yes!" Sanji growled back. "I do know what he'd do, and it's not right! He's happy with Law! It's the happiest I've ever seen him! I don't have the right to fuck it all up!"

"That's his choice if he wants to fuck it up!" Zoro snarled. "It's not your responsibility!"

Sanji pushed off the wall, forcing Zoro to back up. "It IS my responsibility! I made yearsof his life a fucking hell! Now, for the first time, I can sit back and watch him and not feel fucking guilty about how miserable he is!"

"But now you'remiserable!"

"That doesn't matter!"

"It does matter!" Zoro roared. "It matters a hell of a lot to me!"

Sanji stared at him, his breath heavy once again from the lure of the fight. His eyes had that fiery blue back and they regarded Zoro carefully. His despair, his anger, and his longing slowly melted away to reveal a hesitant and cautious curiosity. His lips parted in silent question, but then he stopped and swallowed thickly. When he finally spoke, his voice was raw.

"You're always helping people, Zoro," he murmured. "You have this compulsion to help people who have problems, or are down, or hurting. You can't help yourself. I saw that in you right away. It's an amazing quality, not enough people have it."

"What the hell are you getting at?" Zoro snarled.

"I'm just another person you're trying to fix. I'm just another… case that needs to be solved." Sanji shook his head. "I heard about what you've done for the people around you. You take lost causes and you give them these amazing second chances. You give them their lives back, and they worship you for it. That's what I am. I was a lost cause, and you gave me an amazing second chance. Now, you see I'm still struggling with things and you're still trying to fix it."

"You're wrong," Zoro clenched his jaw. "It's not like that with you."

Sanji took another step forward. "Then what the hell is it like, Zoro? Why does what happens to me matter so much to you?"

Zoro closed his eyes and he let out a long breath. Even as his stomach threatened to heave up everything inside, he returned his gaze to Sanji's beautiful eyes and spoke in a voice that was much steadier than his heart.

"Because, Sanji, when you're miserable, it makes me miserable."

He heard Sanji's clipped inhale.

Zoro continued, not giving the cook a chance to respond. "When you're upset, I want to kill someone. When I see you look at Ace with those eyes… my heart hurts for you. You put on this face and go on like there's nothing wrong, but I see it." Zoro opened his eyes and looked at Sanji once again. "I wish you would just tell Ace so you could at least have the option of moving on and we could stop all these secrets."

Sanji stared at him. "Zoro… you're making it sound like… l-like…"

"Like I love you?" Zoro asked. "That's because I do. I've been in love with you for months." The swordsman's heart steadied as he said the words. Sanji had been right about what he had said back at his apartment. It was an immeasurable relief to get what you're hiding off your chest. Zoro slid his hands into his pockets, feeling better than he had in a long time.

The cook stared at him, shock evident on every part of every feature. Zoro was proud he had put it there, even if he had no idea what he was supposed to do now.

"I…" Sanji's voice caught.

"That's why I want you to tell Ace," Zoro continued. "You need to tell him about yourself, and tell him you love him. Otherwise, I'm gonna go crazy watching you drive yourself crazy."

Sanji let out a breath, squeezed his eyes shut, and then collected himself. He looked up at Zoro.

"What about Law?"

Zoro shook his head. "I know Law. I know he wouldn't want to be with someone who was wishing they were with someone else. Unless he already knows about Ace's feelings for you, and they both still think Ace has no chance with you."

At Zoro's words, the sound booth door opened. Zoro's heart leapt into his throat when he turned to see a lanky figure slowly stepping over the threshold. If Zoro felt sick before, now he felt like he wanted to die.

Law pushed the door shut behind him and leaned against it. He shoved both his hands into his pockets.

"I do know…" he said softly. "I know about Ace's feelings for Sanji. He told me when we first got together."

Zoro's fists clenched at his sides. "Law, I didn't—"

"It's okay Zoro," Law shook his head. "You're right. I don't want to be with someone who's only wishing they were with someone else…"

Sanji stared at the ground, his eyes wide and terrified. "How much did you hear?"

Law turned to him and his eyes flashed. "Everything. I came back to get my hat, and I heard noises like someone was fucking up here. I decided to bail, I'd get my hat later… but then I heard Sanji's voice. The Sanji who's supposed to be straight."

The cook said nothing.

"You're the mystery blond, aren't you?" Law asked.

Sanji nodded his head slowly.

Law laughed a laugh devoid of humor and laced with bitterness. "Well, looks like everyone's in love with just the wrong person. I love Ace, Ace loves Sanji, Zoro loves Sanji, and Sanji loves Ace. Shit… it's a fucking Greek tragedy…" With that, Law's lips started to tremble and tears collected in the corners of his eyes.

Zoro almost panicked. Law hadn't cried in years, not since Zoro had helped him sober up. For him to break down now, meant that this was much more devastating to him then Zoro had first anticipated.

He moved to reach out to his friend, but Sanji got there first. The cook stepped across the sound booth and took Law gently by the arm. Law didn't resist. Perhaps he was too far gone into his despair to even think about it. Sanji pulled him, made Law turn and look at him.

"You're wrong," Sanji said simply.

Sanji then pulled Law out of the room, and Zoro could do nothing but watch.

Zoro was an idiot. He had left his keys in his office, his office that was now locked. Locked by Sanji, right after the cook had pulled Law inside with him. God knew what they were doing in there, but as Zoro paced the stairwell, leaned over the balcony, and just generally drove himself insane, the inside of his office was quiet. Zoro hadn't heard a peep for almost an hour. Had they killed each other? Double suicide or something?

And, as if things couldn't get any more fucked up, the door opened, and in walked the last person on earth that Zoro wanted to see. No really, he would rather it have been Don Q.

Ace took the stairs three at a time, meeting Zoro at the top. His face was a mixture of worry and fear.

"What the hell's going on, Zoro? I got a text from Law saying there was an emergency and I needed to call in sick and come here."

Zoro ran a hand over his mouth and said truthfully, "I really have no idea."

Ace looked around. "Where is he?"

Zoro pointed to his office door. "He's in there."

Ace, looking more confused and worried by the second, moved to the door, but when he tried to open it, it wouldn't budge.

"Why the hell is it locked?" He turned and pounded on the thick wood with his fist. "Law! Babe, are you okay? What the hell's going on!"

The door opened suddenly and Law stood just inside. Zoro's stomach tightened painfully at the look on his face. It was relaxed, calm. He didn't seem upset at all anymore.

"Hey, babe," he said softly.

"What's wrong?" Ace sounded almost frantic.

Law shook his head. "Nothing's wrong. But you need to talk to Sanji."

"What?" Ace's face paled. "Sanji? Why? What happened?"

When Ace tried to look past Law into the office, Law took his jaw firmly in his hand and pulled the larger man's face back to him. "Look at me. Ace, look at me."

Ace turned back to him, leaned into him. "Yeah?"

Law took Ace's cheeks in his hands and pressed their foreheads together. "I love you. I'm gonna be right here, okay?"

Ace let out a breath. "Fuck, you're scaring me."

Law shook his head and pulled away. "Don't be scared."

Zoro watched as Law moved away from Ace. He came close and took Zoro's hand. The slighter man pulled Zoro to the stairs and they sat, huddled together, watching as Sanji came forward.

The cook stood with his hands in his pockets. He had a cigarette between his lips, smoldering a fingernail's width from the filter. He looked calm and collected, infinitely more composed than Zoro knew he would be if he had been in Sanji's shoes.

"Hey…" Sanji said softly.

"Hi," Ace murmured. "What's going on?"

Sanji stepped forward and closed the office door behind him. "I needed to talk to you."

Ace nodded, backing up to lean against the balcony railing. "Okay, I'm here."

Sanji stared at the floor for a long moment before he closed his eyes. "I'm gonna tell you something. Something you're probably not going to like very much, but… I need to. Okay?"

Ace blinked. "Uh... okay."

Sanji took a breath. "Do you remember the night you told me about Law?"

Ace frowned, "Yeah."

"Did you ever wonder why I just showed up at your place at two in the morning?"

Ace nodded again. "Yeah, but I figured… with your dad and the restaurant and all…"

Sanji looked up at Ace, and Zoro's stomach flip-flopped at the look in his eyes. "I came to tell you about Cami."


Sanji nodded. "I came that night to talk to you about how fucked up our relationship had gotten. About how I couldn't have sex with her any more, and everything that that… might have meant."

Ace stared at Sanji, long and hard. His eyes were wide, his hands gripped the railing behind him for support.

"I… I'm… what?"

Sanji took a breath and continued. "I didn't have anyone else I could trust to talk to about it. You were the only person I knew that wouldn't get all fucking weird and judge me, or condemn me or some shit. But I got to your place and you were so excited that I couldn't talk about it—couldn't find the right time to bring it up. You were happy for the first time in forever so... I didn't want to kill it."

Zoro's heart was hammering in his chest. His mouth was dry again.

"I don't understand…" Ace asked slowly, "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying," Sanji murmured, "that I came to you that night because I wanted to tell you that I thought I might be gay, and that I had these really strong feelings for you, but I didn't understand them, and I didn't know what to do."

Ace's breathing was harsh, his eyes were wide, unblinking. "But… you didn't tell me. You've never told me that. I would remember if you'd have told me something like that. Why haven't you told me this already? This was a long time ago. How long…" Ace must have realized he was rambling because he covered his mouth with his hand and took a few deep breaths.

"You didn't tell me…" he said, is voice muffled.

"No," Sanji agreed. "I didn't tell you because I didn't want to mess up what you had. What you had finallyfound. I left your place that night knowing that I needed to go somewhere far away. I needed to not be in the way of your happiness anymore."

Zoro had been listening with a heavy weight settling on his shoulders. He tensed as Sanji spoke. He heard the blond's confessions and his heart sank. He felt Law's hand tighten on his, being the solid support that he always was.

"I just wanted you to be happy," Sanji continued. "I didn't care about anything else."

"But…" Ace's eyes were watery but the tears did not fall. "But then you really did disappear! Where did you go! I heard about Cami and then you were gone!"

Sanji nodded. "I broke it off with Cami. I told her to leave. I had nothing to give her, and because of our recent intimacy problems, she went easy."

Ace's lip trembled. "Where did you go?"

Sanji paused and he looked at the ground as if he was ashamed. "…The District."

Ace's hands went to his head. He laced his fingers together and squeezed his eyes shut.

"Oh my God…" Ace cried. "Sanji… Sanji, why? Why? I would have… Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you come to me?"

Sanji moved closer. "Because I know you, I knew what you would've done. You would have broken up with Law and offered me everything. You would have sacrificed your happiness for me, and I couldn't handle it."

"But, Sanji—"

"You've already been through so much pain because of me. I couldn't let it continue when you had something so amazing." Sanji reached out and ran his hand over Ace's jaw. "So I left. I ran. I hid away for a few days to cool my head, and then I decided to find out on my own if it was really happening."

Ace took a few calming breaths. He slid his laced fingers down his head to rest at the back of his neck. He opened his eyes and looked at Sanji again.

"So, was it?" he asked softly. "Was it happening?"

Sanji locked eyes with Ace and slowly nodded. "Yes."

Ace dropped his hands. He took a few more calming breaths. He put his hands on his hips, but then dropped them, seeming to be unsure as to what he should do with them.

"I'm sorry I lied to you for so long," Sanji whispered.

Ace looked at the floor at Sanji feet. He rested his hands on his hips again and swallowed thickly. His jaw trembled and he let out a harsh, shuddering breath.

"Sanji…" he murmured, his anguish at what happened to his friend was obvious.

Sanji moved close and let Ace pull him into a hug. Zoro felt Law stiffen next to him, and he found it was his turn to squeeze Law's hand in reminder.

Ace held Sanji a long time, long enough for Zoro to understand that they both needed this. Sanji needed to know that Ace understood, and Ace needed to cry at the loss of the Sanji he knew. Ace needed to feel the hurt and the pain that Sanji had already gone through and conquer it, just as Sanji had done. The swordsman sat watching, tense, waiting for whatever was coming next.

"I'm so sorry…" Ace said, his voice muffled into Sanji's neck. "I'm so sorry, Sanji."

"It's okay," Sanji whispered. He pushed at the larger man and wiped tear tracks from Ace's cheeks. "It's okay…"

Ace sniffed and leaned back against the railing, bringing Sanji with him. "It's… it's a shock. I'm shocked."

Sanji chuckled, "I know, and I haven't even told you the rest."

"There's more?" Ace's voice was high.

Sanji nodded. "The night I went to The District, guess what club I chose out of all the clubs to choose from?"

Ace looked at him. "You didn't…"

Sanji smiled. "I saw you dance."

Ace let out a half laugh and smiled back. "Did you like it?"

"Yes." Sanji let his hands go to Ace's arms. He kneaded the flesh there, coaxing muscles to relax and tension to ease. "I saw how amazing you were, and I saw you with Law, and I felt like I had done the right thing." Sanji sighed heavily then and looked away. His eyes lost in memory.

"I decided then that I would find someone, try it out just once, but then never go back ever again. I would hide it from you, and let you keep on thinking that I was straight so I wouldn't come between you and anything you wanted."


"Let me finish." Sanji's voice was quiet, almost a whisper. "It all worked out because I had barely come to this decision… when I saw him."

"Him?" Ace choked.

"He was coming at me with this look. This look like… I don't know, a hunter or something. It was like I was prey that he was stalking. We came close and it felt…" Sanji shook his head. "It felt like a fight. Like a match where everyone's eyes are on you and the crowd is cheering and your adrenaline's pumping. He looked at me with those eyes and I thought I was on fire…"

Sanji's voice had gone quieter and Zoro's body started to tremble. Law slid an arm around his shoulders and whispered gently into his ear. "I can't imagine what you're feeling right now, but I think I might be jealous anyway."

Zoro squeezed his hand once again, understanding now why Sanji and Law had decided to have him here to listen.

"I didn't know what to do so I just passed him by, watched him over my shoulder as he walked away. I swore to myself that if I ever saw him again, I would talk to him. It didn't matter what was happening." Sanji laughed then. "Turns out, a few hours later, I'm half drunk in some ally with a guy that looks like a vampire, and that same guy shows up and saves me."

Sanji leaned in close and said even softer into Ace's ear. "Guy turns out to be an ass hole, and kind of a weirdo. I mean he dyes his hair green."

Ace inhaled sharply. His body went ridged. When Sanji pulled away, his eyes were enormous.

"You…" Ace tripped over his next words. "Y-you're Mystery Blond…"

Sanji nodded.

"Oh my God…" Ace breathed.

"I didn't tell you to make you feel sorry for me, or make you feel obligated to… do whatever…" Sanji pulled away and placed his hands on his hips. "I just wanted you to know. Zoro, and now Law, have both told me that it's not fair to anyone if I just let all the secrets pile up, and I get it now. Everything will just fester and someone will end up going crazy if I don't say something."

Ace nodded. "You're killing yourself keeping it all in."

Sanji looked away and nodded.

Ace and Sanji stood in silence for what seemed like forever. Then finally, Ace pushed off the balcony and straightened. "Sanji, there's something you need to know."

Zoro felt Law shrink beside him. The slighter man pulled his legs up and put his head on his knees. No doubt he knew what was coming next, and Zoro ached for him. It was a horrible situation to be in the middle of. It was a terrible, unfortunate thing. Zoro wasn't feeling so great either, he was just waiting for the inevitable words that would seal fate and take Sanji away from him forever.

Ace slid his hands into his pockets. He took a breath.

"I already told you I love you. I've loved you for… years, much, much longer than you realize. I've given up jobs, turned down potential partners, prayed… just waiting. Waiting forever for you to tell me what you've just told me."

Zoro's heart broke as Law shook beside him.

"But…" Ace continued, "It's not like that anymore."

Law's head shot up. Zoro's heart skipped and then started to pound mercilessly in his chest.

Sanji's eyes widened. "It's not?"

Ace shook his head. "I never thought I could feel for anyone as much as I did for you. I didn't think there was room for anything else."

Then, for the first time since they started talking, Ace looked away from Sanji. His eyes rested on Law, who was breathing quietly into his hands.

"Turns out that one-sided feelings can't compare to feelings that are returned to you."

Law made a noise in the back of his throat. Ace made a motion with his head and Law stood, moved across the space between them, and slid into Ace's arms. Ace held Law gently, running his fingers through the other man's short, dark hair. Ace looked at Sanji, smiling softly.

"Law is my life now. I could never let him go."

Sanji swayed on his feet. "I… oh my God, that's great." He closed his eyes and smiled. "You don't love me anymore…"

His knees buckled, but Law caught him. "Sanji!" he cried.

Sanji put his arms around Law and laughed. "Oh my God… I feel like something horrible just climbed off my back."

"You know what you have to do now…" Law smiled into his shoulder.

Sanji nodded. "Yeah… Holy shit, I can breathe…"

Law pulled away from Sanji and took Ace by the hand. "Babe, we need to go."

"What?" Ace's voice was high. "But I just found out! I wanna talk to him some more!"

Law shook his head. "Sanji has another important conversation he needs to have." He inclined his head in Zoro's direction.

Ace looked at the swordsman and his eye's got big again. "Oh?" He looked back at Law, understanding sweeping over him. "Oh…"

Law pulled Ace close and slid his arms around the larger man's neck, "I think you and I need some alone time after all this drama anyway."

Ace nodded, his expression softening. "Yeah, we do." He turned to Sanji. "We'll talk tomorrow then, okay?"

Sanji nodded, the smile still on his face. "I'll call you."

The two waved to each other, and Sanji and Law shared a meaningful look. As Ace headed towards the stairs, Law turned to Zoro and motioned to Sanji with a tilt of his head.

"You take care of him."

Zoro stood slowly, watching as Law and Ace exited the front doors. He held the railing in one hand, his grip tight as if he was worried he might fall over. Everything had happened so fast. Where were they now? Was Sanji okay?

He turned to the cook who was watching him with a careful expression. Their eyes met and held for several long moments. Zoro's stomach was still in knots, his chest was still tight, but there was something else. His spirit was somehow lighter. He felt the presence of Sanji's burden lifted, and that weight no longer stood between them.

"I don't know what to say," Zoro murmured.

Sanji shrugged. "'Congratulations'… Maybe, 'fucking took you long enough'."

Zoro shook his head. "I shouldn't be congratulating you when the guy you love just left with someone else. I don't care how much you wanted him to."

Then, Sanji smiled. It was a real smile, a smile that brightened up each and every one of his features. It made his eyes sparkle. It lifted Zoro's soul just to see it. It looked so good on him that Zoro felt his knees go weak.

"I've…" the swordsman almost tripped over his words. "Wow... I've never seen you smile like that before."

"I haven't had a reason to," Sanji moved over the carpeted floor and met Zoro at the balcony.

"You have a reason to now?" Zoro asked.

Sanji nodded.

"And what is that?"

Sanji came close and put his hands in his pockets.

"You really are an idiot…"

Zoro made a face. "Thanks."

Sanji leaned forward and put his hands on the railing, one on each side of Zoro's waist. "I know I made it sound like I was in love with Ace, but I didn't mean to."

The earth tilted and all Zoro could do was blink. "Huh?"

"I tried so hard to keep my distance from you," Sanji murmured. His voice dropping to that low and raspy baritone Zoro remembered from their first night together. "But you gave me this job. You were so nice to me. You were something that I could maybe have if I really wanted, but I couldn't betray Ace more than I already had."

Zoro's already traumatized heart started to pound again, slow and hard against his ribcage.

"From the first moment I saw you," Sanji continued, "from that first instant that we locked eyes at the club, I haven't been able to think about anything else but you."

Zoro's breath was shallow as he listened, as if his lungs and shrunk.

Sanji moved closer. "I've never wanted anything more in my entire life. I've never wanted to touch anyone so much, never wanted to kiss anyone so much. I tried to convince myself so many times that it was fine, I should just go for it. We could fuck in your apartment after work and no one would ever know. We could have this secret affair. Just add it to everything else that I was keeping from everyone."

Zoro wet his lips, his breath coming fast and uncontrolled. "But… you're a better person than that."

Sanji nodded. "I could never do that. I could never use the guy I'm in love with like a toy."

Arousal welled up inside Zoro so strong, he was suddenly light-headed. He reached out and took Sanji by the arms, pulling the blond against him and simultaneously backing them up towards the stairs.

"You've been driving me fucking crazy," Zoro growled.

Sanji came close and panted against Zoro's mouth.

"I know."

Zoro guided Sanji up the stairs backwards, pushed him through the fire escape door.

"Ever since that night all I've wanted to do is shove my cock down your throat." He snarled against Sanji's lips. "I have fucking dreamsabout your mouth. I plan my God damn days around when I can see you and watch you suck on a cigarette."

Clothes were already coming off. Sanji's jacket and Zoro's belt were tossed away on the stairs, and the two barely made it into Zoro's apartment before they shed their shoes.

Sanji slid his hands up Zoro's chest, pulling the swordsman's shirt over his head. "For the last few weeks, I've been wishing that you would just force yourself on me, that you'd just take me against one of the walls in the kitchen, or crawl on top of me when I was working on meal plans. Just hold me down and slide yourself down on my dick. If you had done that, I could have justified it."

Zoro yanked Sanji's belt off. "Stop talking."

It was frantic. Animalistic. Zoro was sure he had ripped Sanji's jeans in his attempts to pull them off the cook's long legs. His own clothes were somewhere on the floor. Now the blond was on top of him, his lips were trailing down his neck, his hands were smoothing over the scar on his chest. Fingers were on his cock. Sanji's strong, skilled hands were working him fast and steady. When the cook's lips trailed down his stomach, the swordsman realized where Sanji was headed and he groaned softly. He slipped his own fingers through soft, golden hair and arched hard when the cook's mouth engulfed him.

"Ah…" he squeezed his eyes shut and bucked his hips. "Oh, fuck…"

Sanji hummed. The press of his tongue, the slid of his lips, the feel of his hands on Zoro's shaft, pumping and sucking and oh… oh… oh, it was so good!

"Sanji…" he growled, "Sanji, I'm gonna come. Wait… ah, wait…"

But Sanji did not let up. He pressed a hand down on Zoro's stomach to keep him down, and deep throated as much of Zoro's length as he could. The cook's throat muscles contracted around him, practically tearing the orgasm from Zoro's body. The swordsman let out a guttural cry, releasing into Sanji's mouth. The blond drank him down, taking everything Zoro gave him, and then greedily ran his tongue over his length and the skin around his groin.

"Shit…" Zoro panted as Sanji made his way back to his collar, his throat. He felt drunk. "Where'd you learn to do that?"

"Mmm," Sanji kissed the pulse threading hard beneath Zoro's jaw. "Bananas…"

Zoro chuckled and raised his arms to run his hands down Sanji's sides. The cook was shaking, but this time, Zoro was sure it was from excitement.

"What's your recovery time?" Sanji asked as he kissed Zoro's forehead. "How long do I have to wait before you can fuck me?"

Zoro grinned and lifted a hand to search beneath his pillow. "A couple minutes." He found the bottle of lube and handed it to Sanji.

"But you don't have to wait…"

Sanji eyed the bottle, and then looked up into Zoro's eyes.


Zoro nodded. "Really. If it's you, it's okay."

Sanji stared at him for a moment, but then set the bottle on the bed and lowered his head to kiss Zoro's lips. He gently spread Zoro's legs and kneeled between them. He slid his hands up the swordsman's thighs and groaned softly when Zoro's arms came around his waist.

"You want me to wear a condom?" he asked.

Zoro shook his head. "No."

Sanji kissed him again, a slow, tender kiss that had the base of Zoro's spine tingling. He watched as Sanji rose up, took the bottle of lube, and stoked himself slick. He liked the blond's cock. It was thick and heavy, curved into a nice pink tip. It was a little bigger than the dildo Zoro sometimes used on himself, but he was sure it wouldn't matter. Sanji got him so hot there was no way he wouldn't turn to putty the moment their bodies connected.

Sanji leaned over him, and slipped one arm underneath one of his thighs.

"You realize I've never done this before…"

Zoro smiled. "You've never fucked anyone before?"

Sanji chuckled and kissed Zoro's lips again. "Never a man… like this."

Zoro reached down and took Sanji's slicked length in his hand. "What about the other way?"


"Have you been with anyone else… since me?" Zoro felt strange asking, but that didn't change the fact that he wanted to know.

Sanji shook his head.

"No. You're the only one."

Zoro breathed deep, relieved, and feeling stupid for it. "That's good, 'cause no one's ever fucked me before."

Sanji stared at him with wide eyes. Zoro smiled at the reaction and pulled him closer. The cook slipped his knees underneath Zoro's thighs, and pressed forward as the swordsman guided him in. Zoro's mouth fell open and his eyes rolled back at the sting and the pressure of Sanji's length sliding inside. It was different than the toys. It was warm, and the feeling of having a body against him, of having Sanji's shaking breath against his cheek, made it so amazing that Zoro couldn't even think.

"Oh God…" Sanji breathed. "Oh my fucking God…"

Zoro raised his other leg and wrapped it around Sanji's thigh. He brought his hips up, meeting Sanji's, causing the cook to groan again and tighten his grip on Zoro's leg. Sanji gave one experimental thrust, and Zoro was lost.

Sanji's hips were so strong they propelled Zoro up the bed. The sheets twisted beneath them, and when Zoro reached up, he found he could press against the headboard. The swordsman knew he was going to have bruises the next day, but he didn't care. He was so far gone that nothing else in the whole world mattered at that moment.

As Sanji rocked into him, Zoro heard himself crying out. It was a vulgar sound unlike anything that had ever passed his lips before. He clenched his jaw around it, trying to bite back the noise, pulling from the discipline he had created for himself and maintained for so long.

But then Sanji's voice was in his ear.

"Don't hold it in," he hummed. "I wanna hear you lose it."

Zoro refused and clamped his jaw shut harder. Sanji rose up, resting on his knees, and slid his hands up Zoro's thighs. His hips rolled, and Zoro was transfixed by the body that now ravished him. Sanji's form was like the Adonis, much leaner than his own, but packed with muscle and contained the grace of a master martial artist. Every thrust of the cook's hips brought out the definition in his stomach. Every pull of his arms showed the tone of his shoulders and chest. The moonlight played across Sanji's sweaty skin and made it shine.

Zoro's hands twisted in the sheets. The tension in his body started to peak, to coil tightly in his loins. "Sanji…" he gasped. He wanted to tell the cook how beautiful he was, but he couldn't make himself speak.

"Ah…" Sanji's movements sped up, his grip became tighter. "Shit… oh… oh fuck, Zoro…"

Zoro arched again, his second orgasm tightening, clambering to be released. He opened his mouth to let out a cry he had been too proud to let go. The sound that erupted from his throat was something so primal that Zoro didn't recognize it.

Sanji's hand was on his cock, pumping him fast and hard along with the steady thrust of his hips.

"Oh hell yeah," the cook growled. "Come on, baby. Come on…"

When Sanji bore down, and Zoro felt him pulsing deep inside his body, the swordsman came again. His second orgasm washed over him like the thunder of applause in the world's grandest theater. He seized, he threw his head back. He roared as thin ropes of come splashed across his chest and over Sanji's hand. The cook was cursing into his neck, pounding into him so hard it lifted his body from the bed.

And then his movements slowed, Sanji's body tensed and then relaxed. The two lay still for several minutes, floating in a haze and trying to catch their breath.

"Holy shit…" Zoro panted when he could finally speak again.

"Yeah," Sanji mumbled into his throat. "That was months' worth. Don't expect that again next time."

"I wouldn't live through it," Zoro smiled.

Sanji slowly lifted himself off of Zoro and separated their bodies gently. He leaned over the side of the bed and rifled through the pockets of his jeans. He pulled out his cigarette pack and lighter, and crawled back up to flop down next to Zoro.

"Thanks for not throwing my pants across the room," Sanji said as he lit up.

Zoro rolled to his side, wincing at a tender twinge. "I can't take credit, I wasn't paying attention."

Sanji smiled and took a long drag, propping himself up on an elbow. "I make your head spin?"

Zoro smiled back. "Yeah."

Sanji chuckled and scooted closer. He ran a hand over Zoro's scar and a peaceful, contemplative look came over his face.

"Tomorrow morning, I'll wake you up and we'll fuck. Then I'll make you breakfast."

Zoro's eyes slid closed. "Sounds like heaven."

He heard Sanji chuckle again and felt the cook's lips on his forehead. "While we eat, you'll tell me about this scar?"

Zoro reached out and ran his fingers over the sharp angle of Sanji's hip. He felt trepidation at the thought of baring his most unflattering memory to the cook, but he also wanted to open himself up to Sanji in a way he never had before.

The swordsman pulled himself close and kissed up Sanji's neck. "Okay," he whispered. "I'll tell you everything."

He felt Sanji smile into his hair.

"No secrets?"

Zoro smiled as well, holding the cook close to him.

"Yeah, no secrets."