It's the tattoo of cherry blossoms that Sanji spots first. When he first sees Zoro again after twoyears he spies them. They're small and delicate cherry blossom petals floating along Zoro's collar bone and up to the beginning of his neck. The pinkness of them is stained permanently into Zoro's skin.
It turns out that Zoro acquired his ink for sentimental reasons. Zoro confesses that he was worried that they'd never meet again and wanted to get something permanent before it was too late and his memories faded. The cherry blossoms of course are for Chopper. At first Sanji thinks it's sweet, Zoro has always been close to Chopper, he's treated him like a little brother and Sanji thinks that him wanting to keep Chopper close even when they were apart is nice.
Across his right wrist is a straw hat floating in the breeze, Sanji overhears Zoro explaining to Luffy that it's because he's Luffy's right hand man. Then there are stupid laughs all around at the lame joke. Sanji's okay with that perhaps, Luffy is their captain and without him their dreams are null, so it makes sense.
When Sanji spots the musical note tattooed on the bare skin behind Zoro's ear though Sanji is less than pleased. The musical note is for Brook, Zoro tells the musician that one night he heard strains of music and someone singing songs. He says that he'd thought for a moment that he'd found Brook and was obviously disappointed when he turned out to be mistaken. Brook bursts into emotional tears and spends the night playing music in Zoro's honour.
Sanji finds out about the fourth tattoo when he sees Franky admiring it. On Zoro's left bicep is what's designed to look like a rip in his skin with cogs and machinery under it. Sanji bites his tongue and says nothing.
At the bottom of Zoro's neck at the back is a crosshair tattoo which Usopp crows and boasts over for ages saying that Zoro knows that Usopp has his back, that the tattoo is a symbol of great trust worthy of a great man. The sharpshooter's bubble is burst when Zoro smirks and says that the reason Usopp has his back is just so that he can put Zoro between him and the really dangerous people. Sanji grits his teeth and shoves down the feeling of jealousy. Where is the tattoo of knives or footprints for him?
Robin's tattoo is a haiku poem about hands and strength written in delicate cursive text and wrapped around Zoro's ankle. At the same time Nami's is revealed on his other ankle. If Sanji weren't so furious he could appreciate its beauty, the mikan is almost watercolour like with leaves drifting from the branches that turn into coins.
Sanji is unbelievably angry. Zoro has gone and gotten a tattoo for everyone except him! If Zoro got the goddamn things to remember the people he loves when they're not there then why is there not one for him? He knows that he and Zoro never had the easiest of relationships but Zoro meant something to him, apparently Zoro didn't feel the same.
Sanji had missed Zoro the most during their separation. He missed the other man's wit, their arguments and his rare smiles. He missed the days when Zoro irritated the life out of him and the nights when he and Zoro met in private and made love. Well, that's what Sanji had thought that they were doing anyway. Perhaps to Zoro it was nothing more than a way of letting off steam. They'd never discussed it but Sanji had thought that they didn't need words.
Three days after Zoro first showed up again he finds Sanji late at night in the hold. Sanji is, in his defence, down there for the legitimate reason of carefully storing away rice and pasta for the voyage ahead. Zoro is clearly down here looking for some fun with him. Sanji can tell that from the lazy sexy grin that Zoro gives him. That grin used to tell Sanji that he was about to be undone by Zoro, that he would spend time pressed indulgently to Zoro's bare chest with both their hearts hammering away together in ecstasy and their bodies slicked with sweat.
"Fuck off and leave me alone." He snarls at Zoro instead. Zoro looks at Sanji in startled surprise, as if Sanji had just declared that he was going to give up eating or something. The fact that Zoro was so goddamn confident that he could just stroll back down here and under Sanji's clothes aggravates him even more.
"I- it's been two years Sanji." Zoro states wide eyed. His arms are hanging by his sides limply in shock and Sanji can see the hat tattooed on his wrist. Anger and jealousy flare up in Sanji's belly.
"Gosh, really? I hadn't noticed! Thanks for the update, now piss off before I stab you and cut your stupid tattoos off with my knife!" He threatens waving his blunt old knife that he only uses for unpacking boxes in Zoro's direction. He wouldn't make such a threat with his real knives, not that he has any plans on following through with his threat with this one either, but still, it's the creativity of the threat that matters.
"Why would you-?" Zoro starts abortively and pauses suddenly. He squints at Sanji then gets that intelligent look that Sanji hates. Zoro can be quite clever at times, astonishingly bright in fact when it's most inconvenient to Sanji usually. His lips quirk into a dark grin after a second and the smugness radiating from him is insufferable.
"You're pissed about the tattoos." He states.
"Fuck." Sanji thinks.
"What stupid shit you decide to decorate your ugly self with is none of my concern. Now get lost before I make good on that threat." Sanji says, lying and threatening at the same time.
"You're pissed because everyone else has seen theirs and you've been left out." Zoro grins wider.
"Leave me the hell alone! I hate you!" he yells angrily because there's no point in lying now. He turns his back on Zoro and blinks back childish upset tears, he's not going to cry just because Zoro's a dick. Zoro left him out, probably because he'd barely thought of him, and now he thinks that it's funny. He feels so foolish for ever considering that Zoro really felt anything for him. He feels even more foolish because he was, shit he is, in love with the asshole.
"Okay." Zoro says quietly after a while and Sanji can hear his footsteps backing up.
"I just thought you'd want to see yours is all." He says flippantly and starts climbing the steps.
Wide eyed Sanji turns back to face Zoro, who is paused on the steps and eying Sanji over his shoulder like he knew all along that Sanji was going to turn back around.
"What?" He asks in a small voice.
Zoro thankfully stays silent at that and doesn't act any more insufferably smug. Instead he turns back to face Sanji fully and pulls his green robe apart leaving him in the sleeveless shirt underneath. Chopper's petals and Franky's cogs are visible and agitate Sanji's jealousy again. With a sly smile Zoro peels his shirt off.
Sanji hears his own gasp in the quiet of the room.
The tattoo is massive. It's over the left side of Zoro's chest and spans from the top of his pectoral muscle to near the bottom of his ribs. There are four streams of water rushing in and blending together in a whirlpool right above Zoro's heart. The streams of water almost look like a cross or a pinwheel, each coming from a different direction.
As Sanji steps closer and touches a finger to the ink he spies more detail. Each rushing stream of water is different. The one at the top is a steely grey blue with rough waves like the sea in a storm, in it Sanji can see the fin of a shark peeking through the waves. The one coming from the right is the kind of tropical ocean blue that laps the shores of desert islands and there is a flicker of colour, a reflection of light from the scales of tropical fish. The bottom most stream is a green-blue with detailed whirls and eddies in the water, small silver looking fish skirt the edges of the tattoo. To the left is a deep dark blue that's darker than navy and almost black in colour, the water patterns there are peaceful and Sanji can see the dark silhouette of a whale swimming gently in it.
"It's All Blue." He breathes in wonder and traces along Zoro's skin where the colours run together and blend in the whirlpool over Zoro's strong beating heart.
"It's you." Zoro corrects and it takes Sanji a moment to see it. This tattoo is a portrait of him, not some mere memento like the others. Each ocean on Zoro's skin doesn't just represent the oceans that he hopes to find in All Blue, they represent him. Every different side to his personality, every mood and emotion from the turbulent to the peaceful is there in ink of his skin and all of them are swirling into one into Zoro's heart.
It's a wordless love letter to him etched forever into Zoro's skin.
"I think," He says swallowing down the lump in his throat, "that you had better kiss me now."
Zoro smiles at him and does so, fitting his lips to Sanji's exactly like they were made for each other. As Sanji runs his hand over Zoro's heart he feels foolish for ever doubting the man, they never needed words.