They weren't brothers. Not at all. Zoro was the kid a few roads down who lived in the steel shop, the old man that he had lived with made blades for a living; swords, knives, you name it. The old man wasn't even Zoro's father and god knows how he'd ended up there in the first place. And just because Zeff had adopted him and sort of adopted Zoro when his surrogate father died didn't mean that they had any kind of relationship.

Zoro didn't live with them, didn't hang out with them really (although if social services came calling he definitely did). Zoro kept his life going in the steel shop carrying out the same work, you wouldn't know anything was different except for the fact that after that Zeff spent more time balancing accounts for businesses, both the Baratie's and the blacksmith's and their bank balance was a little less healthy.

Zoro was more or less self sufficient but a few times a week he'd eat with them, he stopped trying to pay Zeff for the food after the tenth kick to the head. So that's how they'd grown up, Zoro would come over, they would fight and argue and have fun. Sometimes they'd just chill with each other, Zoro was a good drinking buddy.

His relationship with Zoro was bizarre, he was his best friend and his worst enemy. There was no one else he fought as hard with but no one else that he could be as honest or genuine with, Zoro just got him like no one else.

And, well… there was another layer to their relationship that was definitely not… brotherly. At least on Sanji's side anyway. He thought he'd got it under control, but apparently not. He'd walked into Zoro's steel shop needing some new knives made, no one made them better than Zoro did and one of their scumbag waiters had just ran off with a load and vanished. The shop was locked and empty though but he'd let himself in, Zoro often locked the place up if he was making something, how the man made any money he'd never know.

It's the clang that first catches his attention, it was a rhythmic clang of metal on metal that makes the cook pause and cock his head to hear it again. He wanders back to Zoro's workshop where he makes knives with expensive equipment, but Zoro isn't there.

Cautiously he follows the sound to the back door of the building and pushes it open. Zoro's got an old fashioned blacksmith area out there with a proper ye-olde furnace and everything. Zoro is… gorgeous. And Sanji is willing to admit, within the privacy of his own head, that Zoro has been gorgeous since he was able to grow facial hair and has just got better as time goes on. Right now he's shirtless and covered in a sheen of sweat and soot and all Sanji wants to do is to go up to him and touch every bit of him that he can get his hands on. He also desperately wants to have sex with Zoro, which again is a long held desire.

He's never acted on this desire because well, he hates Zoro, he adores him too and he's not sure that he can bear for any of that to change even if he would sell one of his kidneys to get a chance to have sex with Zoro consequence free. Usually he manages to keep his shit under control around Zoro but moments like this knock him for six. Zoro glances his way and goes back to viciously hammering the metal, his back muscles moving hypnotically. Sanji tries to shut his mouth and remind himself that it's not normal to want to lick Zoro.

"Give me a minute!" Zoro yells over the hammering.

Sanji has a few minutes actually to calm down and imagine enough things to get himself under control (someone breaking his fingers, Usopp in a bikini, food poisoning). So when Zoro turns around after throwing the sword in a trough of water his face is a picture of perfectly schooled boredom.

"Got another ren-faire contract, I get to make cool swords all day!" Zoro beams in adorable sooty glee.

"No you don't, you've got to make me a shit tonne of knives." Sanji corrects and flicks Zeff's paper list at him.

Zoro's face falls as he looks at the list. Zoro might enjoy making knives, hell, he's the best at it, but his passion is in weapons. Regrettably people don't buy brand new samurai swords all that often so Zoro makes knives for a living mostly.

"You wouldn't have this problem if you didn't let the irresponsible shits that you work with touch those knives." Zoro points out. Sanji hums in agreement because this is something that they've both said to Zeff before but Zeff trusts people too much and wants everyone to have the best tools to cook with, even if they run off with them from time to time.

"I don't want to make some shitty knives for no reason. Give them your set-" Zoro starts but Sanji cuts him off in a furious yell.

"NO WAY! They're not having my fucking knives!" Sanji screams just cutting himself short from adding 'I love those knives'. And he does, they're his most treasured possession, he sleeps with them under his pillow for goodness sake. Zoro made them for him for Christmas when they were sixteen, each one perfectly individual and suited for its job. All of them are balanced perfectly for Sanji's grip and use, they fit with him seamlessly and they took Zoro months to make.

"If you stopped fucking interrupting me for once you might hear what I have to say!" Zoro yells back and punches Sanji in the ribs, not hard enough to hurt but hard enough to make his point. Sanji kicks Zoro back hard because he's never giving up his knives and certainly not for some new wannabe chef to steal.

"AS I WAS SAYING, I'm thinking of starting on a new set for you. I'm not happy with the last one." Zoro shoots back.

Sanji stills at that and goes pale. He mainly goes pale because all the blood has dropped from his face and is rapidly heading south. The thought of Zoro spending all that time working on something so perfect and so beautiful for him just does things to him. The imagined image of Zoro thinking of him, of his hands, as he works at his best as his craft has been a fantasy of his for years. And okay, yes, he has weird mental porn but it's irresistible. And the idea that Zoro might be doing that again, might have started already, oh boy. But still- Zoro's said that he's thinking about making new knives for him before and not done it, and Sanji will be damned if he's parting with his ever.

"I can't cut with what you think you're going to make, only what I have. And they're not having my knives. Over my dead body." He scowls at Zoro.

"But you won't be using them." Zoro frowns back clearly puzzled.

"I am now, and who says that I won't afterwards?" He insists angrily. Truth be told even if Zoro does make him new knives and he uses those instead he'll still keep his old ones because Zoro made them and they're precious.

"You might as well throw them, they're not good enough. Your new ones will be sharper, stronger, smoother. They need to be perfect, they need to be the best." Zoro says seriously with that dark look in his eyes. Sanji relents and stomps off because Zoro is useless to talk to when he's like that. He's obsessed with making the perfect blade and he beats himself up for every mistake, not that he makes many.

"Make the fucking knives for the wannabes." He orders and storms off.

Two days later Zoro does turn up at the Baratie with new knives and eats dinner with Sanji and Zeff whilst he's there. Zoro's dog tired, he's probably been doing nothing but make those knives for the last few days. He's practically falling asleep in his linguine so Sanji allows himself the dirty pleasure of stretching his legs out under the table so his ankles brush Zoro's. He feels like a bit of a Victorian pervert when he does this but it's the only non violence related contact he really gets with Zoro so he'll take what he can get.

Zoro goes off to sleepily do the dishes, the one thing that Zeff will let Zoro do to pay him back for the food and Sanji goes off to jerk off in the shower to thoughts of Zoro. Sanji knows that Zoro will be gone by the time he gets out so he takes his time and bites back the sounds that come from his lips by biting a mark into his shoulder.

The last thing that he expects when he wanders out of the steamy shower room and back into his room in an old t-shirt of Zoro's that he left at the Baratie once and a pair of boxers is to see Zoro sprawled out on his bed. Sanji must make some sound because Zoro sits up and looks over his shoulder curiously at Sanji before holding one of Sanji's knives up in explanation.

"I was looking for these, Zeff told me that you keep them in here." Zoro states with a note of question in his voice.

"I was worried about thieves." Sanji lies smoothly feeling grateful for all the practice that he put into that lie when he first started sleeping with Zoro's knives under his pillow.

Zoro seems to take his lie at face value and goes back to examining Sanji's favourite fish knife. He's glaring at it which Sanji doesn't like, Zoro's so hard on himself, it's not good for him. He sits down on his bed next to Zoro and for a while just watches Zoro examining the knives.

"How did I ever think these were good enough?" Zoro finally snaps angrily.

"Stop it." Sanji warns and rests his head against Zoro's shoulder with a tired sigh he's still to buzzed out and happy from coming to put any real venom into his tone.

"Hold this will you?" Zoro asks shoving the fish knife into his hand. Sanji's hand wraps around his beloved knife with practiced ease, it's wonderful.

Clearly Zoro doesn't think so as he snarls and unfurls Sanji's hand from the knife.

"It doesn't even fit anymore! Your hand has grown. These knives are so awful! They're not good enough for you, they're not good enough for anyone, they're fucking scrap metal!" Zoro shouts almost hysterically and gets up on his knees ready to hurl the offending knife at the opposite wall. With a desperate yelp Sanji grabs Zoro's wrist and tackles him to the floor

Sanji squirms up Zoro's body and rescues his precious knife from Zoro's grip, he's got half a mind to stab the fucker for that but he won't. Zoro lets out a juddering breath against Sanji's neck that stills him instantly.

"I'm sorry." Zoro apologises against Sanji's skin and he has to suppress a shudder of pleasure at that.

"It's just- you've no idea how frustrating this is. They need to be perfect. Otherwise I'll never-" Zoro trails off with an unhappy whine in his throat.

"Don't you fucking do that again!" Sanji yells angrily sitting up on Zoro's legs.

"I love these knives, if you want to make new ones then fine but don't you dare do that again! You're lucky I even let you touch them, you're the only one but me that does." Sanji declares passionately. He realises from the shocked expression on Zoro's face that he's said way way too much. Zoro's expression changes slightly into something Sanji can't read.

He forces himself away from Zoro and hurriedly shoves the knife back into its fabric case with the others and shoves the whole thing protectively under his pillow again.

Zoro mutters some apologies and goes home quickly, leaving Sanji alone in his room with his knives. With a sigh Sanji gets into bed and pulls one of his knives out. He examines the blade in the half light of the room, turning it this way and that. Zoro probably didn't mean what he said about making him new knives, he's been seized by bouts of anger at his apparent lack of perfection before and Sanji's not got new knives out of it. Zoro's mood usually goes away when he makes something else that's better than before. Still… perhaps he said too much tonight?

Zoro hates himself a little, he's not really one for self depreciation but even he can appreciate that he's a goddamned mess. He's always wanted to make the perfect blade, ever since he started, that's fine. He's no problem with his drive for perfection or his obsessive nature that helps him get closer to that goal. But when he was sixteen he put so much effort into making a set of knives for Sanji for his Christmas present, he'd felt that they were as close to perfect that he was going to get, and for a long while it was. About a year after that he made a replica samurai sword whose blade was gorgeous, perfectly thin and delicate but strong as hell. It was better than the blades he'd made for Sanji's knives.

That should have made him happy, he was closer to perfection. But it didn't. For the longest time he'd adored the thought that his most perfect creation, something that held a piece of his soul in, spent all day in Sanji's talented hands. But then after that his most perfect creation was something else and it was starting to kill him.

It was stupid really, it wasn't as if his knives were actually him, or if his soul really was in them but he wanted to think so. He wanted a part of him to be with Sanji all the time because he wouldn't. He wanted his knives to be close to Sanji in a way that he could never be. Because he was in love with Sanji. The frustrating, adorable, beautiful, graceful, foul-mouthed, ill-tempered, sex-on-legs blonde bombshell that was Sanji. He wanted Sanji like he wanted nothing else. But it was never going to happen. For one Sanji was obviously straighter than Zoro's best sword and for another they were sort of, maybe, legally speaking, related a little. Not in any icky genetic way, but Sanji's surrogate father had adopted him too. He'd hurt people before for pointing out that they were sort of brothers but he was well aware that even if Sanji had been into men, and that was a BIG if, Sanji wouldn't consider him because of Zeff being their adopted father.

So all Zoro could do was to stay with Sanji as his best friend/worst enemy and trust that he at least could have a part of him in Sanji's hands. He shudders deep down to his bones when he thinks of that, of Sanji's long lean fingers wrapped tightly around the metal of his knives and working their magic. It had been enough of a fantasy before he'd found out that Sanji slept with his knives, that he let no one else touch them, as if he was a jealous lover or something. Zoro whines in his throat despite himself. He's being stupid. Sanji most certainly does not think of his knives in the slightly erotic way that Zoro thinks of them and he's just torturing himself by thinking about it.

Still, he can't help but see the new knives that he wants to make for Sanji. They'll be beautiful, just like he is. They'll be sharp and deadly but with a clear perfection that would leave any sane person breathless, just like Sanji. He knows the specs for them now, they need to be longer and a little broader to accommodate the hands of the man that Sanji has grown into being.

On a whim he pulls out his phone and calls Nami to try to borrow the money from her that he needs for the specialist equipment that the most perfect knives, Sanji deserves the best.

Sanji is sprawled on his couch on the solitary upstairs floor of the Baratie that he and Zeff have to themselves watching Nigella Lawson do sexy things with dough on the television whilst idly munching popcorn from the bowl resting on his stomach. Zeff for his part is sat at his desk on the far wall balancing the books for the businesses.

He hears a pleased sigh come from Zeff and sees the files and paperwork for the Baratie shuffled and shut away in their box, content in the knowledge that for this month the Baratie is financially stable. Next Zeff turns to Zoro's receipts and paperwork for the shop. It'd be an easier job for Zeff if Zoro wasn't such a horrible bookkeeper, if he had printed invoices for stuff rather than scrawled ones written on napkins. Still, he is meticulous about keeping a record of everything for Zeff, even if it's a crappy one.

Sanji turns his attention back to Nigella's ample bosom on the television. However the sound of paper shuffling rather frantically keeps breaking his interest. When Zeff growls out a low 'what the fuck?' he sits up and looks at the man.

"What the hell is he doing?" Zeff snaps angrily at the paperwork.

Interested Sanji stands and makes his way over to Zeff and the desk. For a change there are a lot of printed paper receipts, the kind that you get from companies when you order stuff from them. As well there's a hefty legal looking document and far more paper than Sanji is used to seeing from Zoro. Zeff is thumbing through the thick looking legal document with a look of mounting horror on his face.

"He got a loan? From Nami?" the old man snarls.

"What?" Sanji breathes in shock. Zoro had sworn blind a few years ago when he borrowed a couple of hundred from Nami that he'd never do it again, her interest rates were insane. But this time he's signed an agreement borrowing about sixty thousand from her. Shortly beneath it is an order for a piece of machinery that seems to cost about the same, it's some complicated machine that Sanji has no idea what it does.

"Look at all these orders, custom jobs… and the deadlines!" Zeff gasps flicking through the handwritten notes in Zoro's rough scrawl. Sanji's eyes bug out in shock, Zoro must be working around the clock to fulfil all of these orders. What the hell is the marimo playing at?

Sanji is already grabbing his coat when Zeff starts telling him to go over to Zoro's and find out what the hell is going on. Sanji runs to Zoro's and lets himself in with his own key. He skids into the workshop where all the machines are powered up to go, something Sanji's never seen before. Worryingly though there is no Zoro visible at any of them and the place is eerily quiet. Sanji looks around and feels a hot flush of panic flash through him when he spots a discarded knife on a bench covered with blood. Running across the floor towards the kitchen are directional drops of blood and there's a large smear on the doorjamb to the kitchen.

Filled with fear Sanji hurtles across the place and into the kitchen to see Zoro propped up unsteadily over the sink with a tea towel clenched tightly around his hand, it's red with blood and Zoro looks pale.

"Fucking fuck!" He swears clumsily and launches himself at Zoro, pressing him to the work surface in an entirely different way than he would usually like to do.

"I'm fine, I'm fine." Zoro groans, his head lolling forward as Sanji pulls the cloth away to see the damage. He half expects Zoro to have lost a goddamned finger from the way that he's bleeding but Zoro's actually just cut the webbing between his fingers, a painful and difficult to bandage injury that bleeds like a bitch.

Sanji pulls back, Zoro can't have lost enough blood to look this terrible but Zoro looks like he's almost on death's door. His skin is pale with a greyish tinge and there are dark circles under his bloodshot eyes that make him look like some kind of corpse.

"You do not look fine. What the hell have you done to yourself?" Sanji asks touching Zoro's pale face with his hand, the stubble there is rough and thick, Zoro hasn't shaved for some time.

"I'm jus' busy. It's just a little cut, my hand slipped. 'm fine." Zoro slurs slightly, pulling away from Sanji and sucking his wound whilst he rummages one hand through the first aid kit for bandages.

"When was the last time that you slept?" Sanji questions desperately. Zoro pauses, his reactions are sluggish, and his brow creases with effort.

"What day is it today?" Zoro mumbles, half to himself and half to Sanji as he clumsily paws through the first aid box that Sanji is too distracted to use right now.

"It's Thursday, Thursday night!" Sanji answers horrified that Zoro doesn't even know what day it is.

"Then, Monday." The blacksmith answers and triumphantly fishes out a roll of bandage.

"You've not slept since MONDAY?" Sanji yells angrily and fearfully. Zoro doesn't acknowledge him but that is answer enough for Sanji.

"That's it, you're coming with me. I'm not letting you out of my sight until I feel that you're okay." He insists and tugs at Zoro's arm.

"Go 'way. I've got work to do." Zoro scowls batting Sanji away with his bleeding hand. Sanji narrows his eyes at the stubborn marimo and weighs up the possible outcomes. After a moment's consideration he kicks Zoro hard and sharp in the back of the head, dropping him into unconsciousness instantly.

Zoro opens his eyes with a groan, his head is throbbing. He glances around the darkened room that he's in which is only dimly lit by the glow of the street lamp from outside. He frowns to himself, this isn't his room, in fact it looks like Sanji's room.

He rolls onto his side and sees the shine of Sanji's golden hair in the half light. The cook is sleeping on an air mattress at the edge of his own bed, which Zoro is for some reason in. He's debating whether or not to wake the cook up when the man's blue eyes slide open sleepily.

"Hey, you're awake." Sanji rumbles, his voice deep with sleep. Zoro tries to ignore the flutter in his gut that Sanji's voice causes.

"My head hurts, what the hell hit me?" Zoro groans rubbing his sore head.

"I did." Sanji yawns and searches blindly with his hand for the clock on the bedside table. Finding it he smacks the top of it illuminating the screen. The little digits read 2:48am SAT.

"Saturday? It was Thursday before! Hell, I've got shit to do, I've got commissions!" Zoro yelps desperately sitting up and flinging the bed sheets back.

Quick as lighting Sanji's leg swings up, his bare heel connecting to Zoro's sternum and shoving him back down roughly on the bed. Before he can recover Sanji leaps up and lands on his knees on the bed, he catches Zoro's wrists in his hand and jams one knee into Zoro's stomach and presses the other one painfully into the meat of Zoro's thigh.

"Oh no, you're not going ANYWHERE marimo. I saw how sleep deprived and overworked you were, what were you thinking taking on that much work?" Sanji growls down at him. Zoro struggles in his grip but, despite being much lighter than him Sanji has always fought smart and with the way he's pinning Zoro right now he doesn't have much hope of getting Sanji off of him.

"Leave my business out of it! I've got commissions that need making!" he snarls up at the cook, he can already mentally scroll through all of the things that are already overdue and the things that are rapidly becoming that way.

"Relax would you? I found your diary and called everyone, I told them you'd had a health emergency and got them all to agree to put your deadlines back. Also, if anyone asks, you have heart arrhythmia." Sanji says with a cheeky smirk pulling at the edge of his lovely mouth.

Zoro relaxes under Sanji's grip, the cook's lie might have bought him a few days then, he can just start in a few hours then. Seemingly sensing his lack of intent to escape Sanji removes his knees from Zoro's body and sits down on Zoro's stomach instead. His eyes are looking at Zoro's hand, his long fingers run along Zoro's fingers and palm in a gentle stroke. Zoro is thankful for the darkness hiding his reddening cheeks.

"You were so tired that you cut yourself, really badly too. You never cut yourself." Sanji says quietly and runs his fingers along the bandage that has appeared since Sanji knocked him out.

"Well clearly that's not true. It's not a big deal, it was just a tired mistake." Zoro shrugs lifting his hand up so he can see the bandage on his hand.

"We both know how sharp your knives are. What if you'd slipped and cut yourself here?" Sanji asks tapping Zoro's wrist above his veins.

Zoro opens his mouth to protest, to say that it wasn't possible that he could have done that, but Sanji has a point. Even if he knows that it's a lot less likely he's not going to piss the cook off by insulting his intelligence.

"I'll be more careful." He promises quietly.

"Why were you even being so careless in the first place? Why did you take out such a big loan from Nami, you swore you wouldn't borrow so much as a penny from her ever again. What's so important that it outranks your health and your sleep?" Sanji questions with an unhappy expression.

Zoro huffs a sigh but doesn't answer. He can't tell the cook that he bought the equipment to make knives for him, he can't say that he's working his ass off to try to repay Nami for the machine before she piles up too much interest on him. He can't tell the cook that he dreams about the designs for the perfect knives for him almost as much as he dreams of Sanji himself. He knows he's being stupid again, but that's what Sanji does to him. It's not as if he really expects that if he gives Sanji good enough knives the man will mirror his feelings, but, well, he's dreamt about it before.

"You wouldn't understand, it's about perfection." Zoro says in a half-answer.

Sanji's expression sours and he climbs off of Zoro and perches on the edge of the bed with his back facing Zoro, his back is a tight line and Zoro worries that he's offended the cook somehow.

"You're right, I don't understand. Just… promise me that you won't work today? That you'll rest and relax?" Sanji says giving him a hopeless look.

Zoro promises before he even knows what he's doing, he can't say no to Sanji like that. He falls asleep in Sanji's bed again feeling warm and comforted hearing the cook's breathing.

Sanji is in a bad mood on Sunday. He's already unhappy because Zoro wouldn't promise him that he'd drop any of his contracts, even if he did promise to start sleeping again. But mostly he's in a bad mood today because Patty and Carne have decide to make today "irritate the shit out of Sanji" day. They've been dicking around with his equipment, although not his knives (even they know better than that) and they're winding him up mercilessly about Zoro.

"You shouldn't say that Zoro and Sanji are brothers, that pisses him off." Patty says loudly to Carne. Sanji grits his teeth tightly and continues chopping carrots and ignoring the two cooks.

"You know why? It's because Sanji has the hots for Zoro." Carne replies equally loudly.

"I do not!" Sanji shouts at them hotly.

"You're right, I think he does. Have you seen the way that blondie looks as him? He's all 'Oh Zoro, ride me like the stallion that you are!'" Patty says in a falsetto that's supposed to be Sanji. They're playing the 'pretend Sanji can't hear us' game as well. Sanji grinds his teeth and silently hates the pair of them.

"It doesn't help that Zoro's as gay as a lumberjack for him too." Carne laughs loudly.

"Will you two assholes shut your stupid traps?" Sanji yells furiously at them.

"Aww, poor Sanji. Are we upsetting you? He seems a little frustrated Patty, maybe it's cause he's not got laid in a while." Carne grins at his buddy.

"Yeah, what's the matter string bean? Exhausted the town's supply of blind girls?" Patty asks with faux sympathy as he slams his hand into Sanji's shoulder in a fake comforting pat.

Sanji feels his knife shaking in his hand with anger and he smartly puts it down before he loses his temper and does something with that knife that he can't undo. Suddenly a flash of green catches his attention, attuned as he is to spotting Zoro. The marimo is entering the kitchen, his eyes are already on Sanji and flick to Patty and Carne over Sanji's shoulder with a little scowl. Sanji sees him duck behind a cabinet with a wink in Sanji's direction.

"At least I'm not a fat meathead like you two." Sanji snipes back hoping to bait them away from the topic of Zoro whilst the man is present, he really doesn't need Zoro hearing that.

He ignores Patty and Carne's mocking about his build/appearance/luck with women as he spies Zoro's hand snagging a dish towel from the side and dunking it in the sink. Sanji leans just so to the side so that the balled up soaking dish rag flies right into Patty's face with a loud wet smack without so much as grazing Sanji himself.

Zoro appears fully then, cackling like a madman as Patty picks himself up off of the floor and scowls at the marimo. Sanji can't help but laugh at the man and makes a halfhearted swipe for them with his foot as the two men scarper muttering angrily.

Zoro stops by Sanji's side and leans down on the counter top with his elbows as his back rests on the edge of the work top. He lazily stretches his legs across the aisle and flashes a grin up at Sanji.

"That never gets old." Zoro snickers. Sanji laughs his agreement to this and counts himself lucky that Zoro didn't show up earlier.

Sanji glances down at Zoro in his lowered position to see the man looking up at him through thick dark lashes, holy shit how had he never noticed those before? He supposes he's never really looked down at Zoro like this before. His mind suddenly conjures up an image of Zoro looking up at him hesitantly through those dark lashes as he kneels before Sanji with one hand on the button to Sanji's jeans before he- Agh! What is wrong with him? This was Zoro for crying out loud, they might not think of each other as brothers but Zoro certainly didn't think this of him. He was being one real sick puppy to keep twisting things in his head like this, none of that would ever happen. He pinches the bridge of his nose and allows himself a moment of pained self pity.

"Are those two annoying enough to give you migraines now?" Zoro asks with a note of concern in his voice.

"Something like that." He mumbles in agreement.

"I guess I don't have to worry about giving you a headache myself then when I tell you that I'm heading back out to work." Zoro says slowly and cautiously.

"What? You said that you'd take it easy!" Sanji snaps irritably.

"YOU said that. Anyway, I'm not going to work myself to death, I'll sleep and everything. Besides, the earlier I get back to work the less crammed my time will be." Zoro points out reasonably. Sanji scowls at him anyway, he doesn't see what the hell could be so important that Zoro would do this to himself.

"You'd better at least be eating properly." Sanji huffs unhappily and chops a carrot rather more viciously than was necessary.

"I eat just fine mother." Zoro snorts rolling his eyes at him.

"Please, I've seen your fridge. It's full of expired take out and ketchup packets." He retorts irritably. And, okay yeah, it stings a little that Zoro would rather eat crap food than eat at the Baratie for free.

"I'll be good, I swear." Zoro grins at him and saunters out of Sanji's kitchen. Sanji reflects gloomily that if he'd wanted something that shows up when it pleases, eats your food and attacks you when he doesn't want to know you then he could have just got a cat. At least a cat would be cheaper.

Zoro does show up occasionally through the next week, and even though he looks like he's not getting enough sleep it's clear that he's sleeping a little. Sanji suspects that Zoro is probably working at least fifteen hour days, if not more. It's that weekend that Franky nearly scares the life out of Sanji by appearing by the back of the Baratie behind the fence in the dark after the restaurant.

"Hey." Franky says suddenly from the dark, making Sanji jolt in shock. He'd thought he was alone outside the back of the restaurant.

"Jesus Franky! What're you doing lurking out here?" Sanji gasps clutching at his chest where his heart is still hammering wildly.

"I wanted to find you." Franky mumbles looking at him weirdly.

"Well I do live here, and we have a front door you know." he points out.

He sees from Franky's hesitant expression that the engineer wasn't certain about seeing Sanji at all, he hadn't decided whether to talk to him or not. It seems him showing up though had made Franky's decision for him.

"What did you want to talk to me about?" Sanji asks curiously, it's not like Franky to be hesitant to speak his mind. Franky starts abortively a few times before scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably before genuinely speaking.

"Uhm… do you and Zoro- I mean, do you consider Zoro to be your brother?" Franky asks eventually.

"No." Sanji snorts and puts his cigarette back in his mouth to light it, it had dropped out of his mouth when Franky startled him.

"But Zeff has adopted you both, so technically…" Franky points out slowly.

"Look," Sanji starts and takes flicks open his lighter, "it's never been like that with us. Zeff adopted him so that the social wouldn't take him away when he was capable of looking after himself. He mostly didn't live with us either, so we're not brothers."

Sanji explains and lights his cigarette, taking in a rough but soothing breath of nicotine.

"So… what kind of relationship do you have with him?" Franky asks in a cautious tone.

"What's with the Zoro quiz?" Sanji frowns but Franky just shrugs and seems to refuse to say anything until Sanji answers his question.

"I don't know. He's kind of everything, he drives me nuts, he fights with me all the time and insults me, he's my closest friend and my nemesis. Is there a word for that? Not that it matters, he doesn't listen to me anyway. I told him to take it easy with all of this work but he won't listen to a damn thing that I say." He huffs in a smoky breath.

"Do you know why he's doing all of this stuff? What he's working so hard to make?" Franky asks slowly.

"Hell if I know what the shitty marimo is doing or why he does it." He says rolling his eyes. He might have known Zoro most of his life but the man was still a mystery to him.

"So answer me Franky, why did you come all the way down here at shitty-time-of-night to ask me dumbass questions about Zoro?" Sanji asks suspiciously and leans on the tall wire fence separating the fenced off back of the restaurant and their dumpsters from passers by.

"It doesn't matter- just don't tell Zoro I was here. And… and don't hurt him okay?" Franky answers quickly before waving goodbye awkwardly and jogging off before Sanji can press him further on his odd answer.

Sanji frowns at the retreating figure and stupid hairline of Franky. What the hell was that all about? If Sanji didn't know any better it almost sounded like the kind of weird conversation that he'd expect Franky to have with someone Zoro was in love with or something.

Sanji's cigarette does tumble out of his mouth at that thought. That conversation did sound awfully like that. But surely not? Surely that wasn't the case? But if not then what was that about? Could… could it possibly be that Zoro reciprocated his bizarre feelings? Maybe… god, maybe he stood a chance at making his fantasies and dreams about Zoro into reality.

No, no, no! He had to stop this. He was just… what was it Robin called it? Projecting. He was just projecting his desires onto Zoro, assuming that Zoro felt for him what he did just because he wanted it to be so. He was being stupid… but still… perhaps it was worth keeping his eye on the man.

Zoro was curled up on his sofa working quietly in his technical sketchpad. He had the rough ideas for Sanji's knives in mind, he knew roughly how big and how heavy they needed to be and he was constrained in design purposes by the function of the knife. Still, there was a lot that you could do within those margins and he really wanted Sanji's knives to be perfect. He was toying with the idea of looking at Sanji's current knives to see which parts he used most and tailoring the new ones to accommodate that, he'd have to be subtle about it. He remembers Sanji's fish knife looking like it had needed more sharpening here and here. He marks the area on the sketched blade and makes a note alongside it.

"You should just tell him you know. It'd be far easier than this." Franky says to him, gesturing to the workshop and Zoro's sketchpad.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Zoro says flatly and wishes fervently that Franky would get back to repairing his machine so that he can get back to work.

"You know full well what I'm talking about. If you would just tell Sanji how you felt then maybe you could put the pair of you out of your misery and actually do something about it!" Franky says waggling a wrench in his direction.

"You're insane, just fix my machine." Zoro sighs and returns to the previous page in his sketchpad, the paring knife. That one was a little easier.

"You're the insane one. You're nearly bankrupting yourself just to write Sanji a love note in steel." The engineer says in loud exasperation.

"The Blue-head has got a point anaki." Johnny calls from the front of the shop.

"No one asked you!" Zoro snaps irritably.

"Seriously, maybe if you were upfront with him you might get somewhere. How do you know he doesn't like you back?" Franky points out as he slides the replacement part into Zoro's machine.

"I think I know him a little better than that." Zoro grouses miserably. He wishes that Sanji did want him back but he's known Sanji far too long for that to be an option. Sanji was a skirt chaser at the best of times and even if that wasn't the case the man was usually so unsubtle about, well, everything that Zoro is sure that he would know if Sanji wanted him. No, Sanji was a lost cause romantically speaking.

"If you think it's so hopeless then why all this effort?" Franky frowns not understanding.

"Because it's all I have, and you didn't see his face the last time." Zoro says smiling despite himself.

He remembers it clear as day even now. They were both sixteen and his crush on Sanji was still painfully fresh and it hurt each time Sanji got a girlfriend. He'd selfishly wanted to prove that he could mean more to Sanji than they ever would so he made Sanji the closest to perfect knives that he could manage. He wanted to be a part of the life and passion that Sanji had that those bimbos could never reach.

"One present, that's it?" Sanji had snorted at him. It was Christmas and Zeff and Sanji had both got him several presents each. He'd made Sanji knives and bought Zeff some quality booze off of Shanks.

Sanji had dismissively torn the wrapping paper off of the ill-wrapped package and found the black fabric roll case underneath. Sanji raised an unimpressed eyebrow at him before undoing the knot and flicking the roll open. His dismissive expression fell off of his face in an instant to be replaced by awe. Sanji's long perfect fingers ran along the blades excitedly and he experimentally pulled one free and held it up to the light. A breathless gasp came from Sanji's lips that sounded like an entirely different excitement than the kind associated with presents.

"I think he means that he likes them." Zeff chuckles deeply at them. That seems to snap Sanji free of his trance and he hurls himself at Zoro, wrapping his arms around Zoro's neck and crushing him into a hug.

"I LOVE them!" Sanji exclaimed loudly in Zoro's ear.

"They're really for me?" Sanji had gasped delightedly pulling away and looking at Zoro with sheer JOY in those big blue eyes.

"The wrapping had your name on didn't it?" he had muttered in embarrassment. Sanji had thanked him about a million times and spent the rest of the day playing with them in delight. It was the happiest that Zoro had ever been or seen Sanji.

"I know what I'm doing, okay? It's worth it, I promise." Zoro grins up at Franky.

"You've got it bad man." Franky signs shaking his head.

Sanji is walking home in the dark with shopping bags in hand. He wasn't even supposed to be working tonight but Patty, the retard, had forgotten to get all of the ingredients that they needed so Sanji had gone out to get them. His walk didn't need to take him past Zoro's shop but more often than not he detoured so it did.

"I'm worried about him." That was Johnny's voice, Sanji pauses in the dark outside Zoro's shop and listens hidden behind the corner.

"Me too. But there 'ain't nothing we can do." Yosaku sighs and Sanji can hear keys jingle as the two lock up the side door of Zoro's shop. The two of them run the shop part of Zoro's business for him, leaving the man free to make the merchandise and keep his brilliant social skills to himself.

"All this work and money though, just for him? I mean it's just Sanji, is he even going to be grateful for all of this?" Johnny says sulkily.

"Sure he's grateful, the man uses the last knives all the time, and he'll love the new ones too." Yosaku says with a resigned voice.

From his hiding place Sanji's heart rate kicks up like mad. Zoro was really making him new knives? That was what all this was about? Oh god. He bites his lip and shudders happily.

"And the rest? Is he grateful for that?" Johnny prompts, breaking Sanji's glee.

"He's... He's not aware of it Johnny, you can't be grateful for something that you're not even aware of." Yosaku hedges uncomfortably.

"Franky's right, it's practically a declaration of undying love in steel and you think that it's enough for Sanji to miss all of that and just say 'oh thanks for the nice knives'?" Johnny snaps.

Sanji's eyes widen to the size of saucers. He can't be hearing right, surely? They must be wrong, Zoro isn't in love with him, he'd know wouldn't he? But… well, Zoro doesn't know about how Sanji feels for him so maybe they're both equally oblivious…

"Shut it, Zoro will gut you if he hears you saying that. And it's none of our business what the two of them do. Let's just go home, I'm tired." Yosaku says dismissively. Grudgingly Johnny says goodbye and the two of them head their separate ways leaving Sanji hyperventilating against the side of Zoro's building.

Eventually he breaks into a run and then into a sprint. He makes it home in world record time and flings the shopping into the kitchen, trusting someone will catch it. He rushes up the stairs three at a time and almost slams straight into Zeff coming downstairs. Ah, right, he needs an excuse to see Zoro doesn't he?

"Zeff! Do you need me to take anything to Zoro's?" Sanji asks trying to repress his excitement but still jiggling on the balls of his feet. Maybe, just maybe, what he's wanted all this time has been right under his nose waiting for him. He needs to get there and see if his dreams really are coming true!

"Uh, no. What's got into you?" Zeff frowns at him suspiciously.

"Nothing! Never mind! I'm going out to drink with Zoro, I'll be back… tomorrow probably!" Sanji grins and sprints past Zeff. Oh god, maybe he could spend the night in Zoro's bed, preferably naked.

He's trying to hop out of his grotty work clothes and into the nearest clean thing that he can find when he catches himself.

He's got to be sensible about this, he's wanted Zoro since he knew what it was to want someone like that. And Zoro's not cracked and confessed yet. He needs to play this smart, he needs to make himself absolutely irresistible to Zoro and make it clear that he wants Zoro just as much, if not more.

Shucking off the last of his clothes he gallops into the bathroom and throws himself in the shower determined to make himself as fucking gorgeous as he's ever looked. He makes sure that his hair is clean and smells good and styles it in the same way that a fluttering lady once told him that it looked like gold silk. He tidies up his goatee ever so slightly and brushes his teeth until they're positively sparkling white. After that he goes for the big guns and heads to his wardrobe. With no small amount of glee he pulls out what he privately refers to as he lucky jeans or to be more precise, his getting-lucky-jeans.

Now, Sanji's always respected women, but even he has needs and doesn't always have time for a girlfriend. So sometimes he'll go out specifically just to get laid. And when he's done so and worn these jeans he's never failed, not once. He's had numerous offers from women and men alike in these jeans so he needs them tonight.

He shimmies into them and inspects himself in the mirror. They do certainly make his ass look fantastic, he's well aware that his long strong legs and perfect ass are one of his best features. Hopefully Zoro will agree. He's torn between choosing something equally tight to wear on top just to show off and wearing something soft and sensual. He eventually springs for a soft long-sleeved white cotton top that temptingly shows off his collarbones. He wants Zoro to be attracted to him but he doesn't want the man thinking that all Sanji wants is one night. No, he wants far more than that.

After a little more fussing with his hair and ignoring the blatantly suspicious look that Zeff throws him as he saunters out of the Baratie Sanji heads to Zoro's. He forces himself to walk because he doesn't want to get all hot and sweaty. Well, not just yet anyway and not alone.

Zoro hears the door to the shop unlock and shut again, the small bell chiming quietly.

"I thought I told you two to go home!" He shouts, not looking up from the grinding wheel that he's sharpening some arrowheads on.

"Hm, wrong person." Sanji's voice says with a smirk.

Zoro looks up. Sanji is standing at the entrance to the workshop leaning against the doorframe looking endlessly fuckable. Those jeans never leave anything to the imagination and the rest of him just looks so perfectly made up that Zoro just wants to run his hands all over him and mess him up. That or hold him down and blow him until he screams. Zoro keeps his face stoic and glances causally up at the clock on the wall reminding himself once again that Sanji is not dressed like that for him.

"A bit late for a visit isn't it? It's eleven at night." He comments and goes back to sharpening the arrowhead in his fingers.

"Hm, it's certainly too late for you to be working. You should be in bed, or out with me, or whatever." Sanji says slinking over to the grinding wheel, so that his legs are in Zoro's peripheral vision. Zoro frowns, that sounded almost… no.

"Come out drinking with me." Sanji insists, touching his shoulder.

Oh, so that's how it is. Sanji wants someone to stand next to so that he can look better and get the girls. He's in no mood to watch that, ever.

"I'm far too busy to go out drinking with you and watch you try to sleep with women." He snaps and deliberately sends a shower of sparks Sanji's way. The cook quickly darts back and avoids singeing his pretty little self.

"I'm not going to sleep with any women." Sanji points out irritably.

"I coulda told you that, but it's never stopped you from trying before." Zoro smirks toothily up at Sanji and catches the pissed off look on the cook's face.

"Har-fucking-har shit-face. I don't want to sleep with any women, just you… and me drinking." Sanji responds.

Zoro frowns at the arrow-head. He must be sleep deprived or hearing things because it almost sounds like Sanji is shooting innuendos his way. It's probably just the tiredness and his brain being suggestible from Sanji's outfit.

"Busy." He grunts and plinks the arrowhead into the box of finished ones that he's making for more renaissance faire people. He's just about to start grinding the next one when the grinding wheel suddenly loses power and spins slowly to a halt.

"Hey!" He snaps glancing up seeing Sanji with a power cord in his hand.

"Oops, was that me? Get your ass up marimo, we're going out." Sanji says scowling at him. Zoro stands up and matches Sanji's scowl with his own, he moves to take the power cord out of Sanji's hands but the cook stops him with a boot to his chest.

"Zoro, you've known me for years. Has arguing with this face ever got you anywhere?" Sanji demands giving Zoro a determined stare.

Privately Zoro will admit that no, arguing with Sanji when he looks like that never gets him anywhere, but he doesn't have to tell the cook that.

"Fine, but I'm not carrying your lightweight drunk ass home." Zoro snorts and shoves past the cook to go and change into something not covered in metal shavings.

When he returns a few minutes later Sanji is standing quietly in his shop inspecting the knives that he has for sale. They're not a patch on Sanji's old ones, they're just standard ones that Zoro makes to pay the bills. Still better than that shit you can buy in the supermarket but that's not hard.

Sanji notices his return and flashes him a kilowatt smile. Zoro feels his suspicion levels rise. Sanji is never this nice to him, not unless he wants something anyway. Still the cook will tell him sooner or later if he wants something, so he might as well go along with it until then.

They leave the building and lock up, it doesn't take long before an innocent question about Sanji's day has got Sanji into a lather about everything. Apparently Patty and Carne seem to be going on a piss Sanji off campaign of late and that's not helped by them being morons so that Sanji has to run around after them fixing their mistakes.

"You know it's just because they know that you won't just leave their mistakes alone. If they screw something up you're gonna fix it for them because you don't want a customer to have to suffer for it." Zoro points out to Sanji.

"What would you have me do? I can't let some poor person get a crappy meal because they can't be bothered." Sanji asks with a sigh as he shoulders the door to the bar open and leans on it to hold it open whilst Zoro walks in behind him.

"Well, do what you did tonight. Leave them to it. Then you don't have to see them screwing up so you're not responsible. Zeff can chew them out for it and they'll learn." Zoro suggests and leans on the bar trying to get the bartender's attention. The place is relatively empty so there are a number of tables for them to sit at. He and Sanji order and the cook leads him over to a booth, it's a bit big but it's quiet. Instead of sitting opposite him like Zoro expected Sanji slides in on the padded bench next to him, close enough that Zoro can feel how warm he is.

"I do live there you know, I can't just be out all the time." Sanji points out and takes a slow sip of his pale beer and hums in happiness. This derails Zoro's thought process for a moment but he catches up before Sanji opens his eyes again.

"Well, if you could be in the building with them whilst they're screwing up without working to fix it then you wouldn't have this problem. You work too much." Zoro points out.

Sanji nearly chokes on his beer at that and barks a loud laugh out at him.

"Looked in a mirror lately, idiot? You're the one who's working too hard!" Sanji says loudly.

"Ah, but I choose to work too hard. You don't seem to be able to choose." Zoro points out succinctly and grins at the slightly flustered looking cook.

As the evening rolls on a bit Zoro turns in the bench so that his back is against the wall of the booth and his side is to the back of the seat. This way he can watch Sanji talk as the cook laughs his way through a recollection of a hilariously bad lie that Usopp told him the other day. He doesn't know why Sanji is out with him tonight. They don't often go drinking together alone, and usually if they do Sanji has abandoned him by this time in the evening to score with some girl. He's certainly dressed for that but Sanji doesn't seem to be showing any signs of intending to leave.

"Oops, I'm out." Sanji says interrupting himself having tried to take a swig from his empty glass.

"You want something else? It's my round." Sanji asks gesturing to Zoro's own glass.

"Hm, rum." Zoro shrugs and Sanji nods cheerfully and slides from the booth. He watches with interest as fantastic backside sways away from him in those jeans as he makes his way to the bar. Zoro allows himself a self-indulgent little sigh because whilst Zoro is capable of looking and not touching Sanji doesn't exactly make it easy on him.

Zoro's eyes sharpen though when a busty brunette notices the same thing that Zoro has noticed. She sidles up to Sanji at the bar and gives him a full red lipglossed smile as she leans on the bar to make her chest spill out of her tight dress a little. Sanji is looking that much is blatantly obvious.

Zoro looks away and scowls at the drinks menu on the table. He knows how this one goes, fuck, he's probably not even going to get his drink now. He leans over the table to get his coat from the other side, he may as well leave now.

"Oi, you leavin' me?"

Zoro glances up in shock to see Sanji standing at the edge of their booth with two glasses in hand, a beer for himself and a few measures of rum for him. More to the point he's alone, no busty brunette in sight.

"No." Zoro answers quickly and thankfully his fingers land on his phone in his pocket. Pretending that was what he was getting Zoro sits back with it in his hand. He flicks it on under the pretence of checking for missed calls.

"Hm, expecting anyone marimo?" Sanji asks sliding back in next to him in the booth, close enough that their thighs touch from hip to knee.

"Just checking, clients." Zoro lies and flicks the phone back onto his coat. Sanji grins at him sloppily, half drunk and beautiful as ever. He slides Zoro's drink across to him and takes a swig of his own.

"Captain Morgan says hello." Sanji chuckles lightly as Zoro drinks his own drink. Captain Morgan's rum isn't Zoro's favourite but he enjoys it plenty on the odd occasion.

Zoro leans back against the seat happily and spies someone across the bar looking back at him. He glances over and sees the busty brunette glaring at him suspiciously. Zoro realises suddenly that she must think that Sanji turned her down for him. Well, that's half true, but not in the sense that she thinks. Still… he flashes her a smug grin and carefully slides his arm along the back of the booth, close enough to look like he has his arm around Sanji. Her glare is sharp and jealous now and, feeling satisfied Zoro ignores her and turns his attention back to Sanji.

"Ah, I'm getting drunk." Sanji laughs to himself, his head falling back onto Zoro's arm. With a sleepy drunk smile Sanji turns his head so that his cheek is resting on Zoro's arm and suddenly Sanji is way too close for comfort. He wants to lean in and press his lips to Sanji's soft pink ones, he wants to tangle his fingers possessively in that shiny blonde hair. He wants to do lots of things that are dangerous and not allowed and the cook's proximity, the way his body is pressed sidelong against Zoro's is making that more and more difficult by the second.

"We need to go." Zoro manages as he slams the last of his rum back and drops the glass on the table.

"Wait, what?" Sanji frowns at him blearily.

"I've got work in the morning and I already told you that I'm not carrying your drunk ass home." Zoro snaps and snags their coats. A rather bemused looking Sanji lets himself be shuffled out of the booth and out of the bar, oblivious to the jealous gaze of the earlier girl.

They walk back to Zoro's in what Sanji, from his happy little drunk expression, thinks is a companionable silence. Zoro on the other hand is berating himself mercilessly in his head. He has no idea what Sanji was trying to achieve tonight but he shouldn't have let the man convince him, he needs to be more careful in future.

Sanji grins at him as Zoro opens the side door to his building, Zoro lets himself in and then turns to say goodnight to Sanji. Ordinarily Sanji would already have been wandering off by now with a casual wave and a smirk. Instead Sanji is looking up at him like there's something that he wants to say.

"So…" Sanji hesitates and bites his bottom lip into his mouth nervously. The cook's full lower lip slides slowly from between his teeth as he considers what to say. Zoro tries not to stare but it's pink and tempting and shiny from Sanji's mouth.

"Night." He says tensely and shuts the door right in Sanji's face. There's only so much his self control can handle.

"OI! Don't shut the door in my face asshole! Where are your manners?" Sanji yells at the shut door. Zoro ignores him however and stumbles up to bed cursing the world for making Sanji so very tempting and so very out of his reach.

Sanji stomps angrily up his stairs at the Baratie, these jeans have never failed him, never. Not until now that is. He'd been hoping to get Zoro to spill his feelings or to snap and kiss him but despite his best efforts the man remained cool. He even went as far as trying to instigate a little jealousy but that didn't work, nor did getting up close to the man. And when he thought he'd go for broke and just spit it out the bastard slammed the door in his face!

He's not sure that he's ever felt more humiliated!

He stomps past Zeff who is sprawled across the sofa with his peg leg on the coffee table and his head hanging on the back of the sofa staring at the ceiling, the unwatched TV blares in front of him.

"What's got your knickers in a twist?" Zeff asks gruffly.

"Nothing!" Sanji snaps churlishly, stomping to a halt with his back to Zeff.

"I thought that you were out with Zoro." The old man says in a voice absent of intonation or insinuation.

"I was." Sanji answers unhappily. So much for getting his hopes up, Johnny and Yosaku were clearly wrong and he'd clearly misinterpreted what Franky said. The stupid thing was that it hurt. Despite his better judgement he had got his hopes up and now that it was clear that he was wrong it felt like he'd had it all snatched away again.

"You know, that Zoro can be a weird boy sometimes." Zeff muses, his moustache twitching.

"What?" Sanji sniffs turning around to face Zeff as dry eyed as he can make himself.

"It's just… you can talk to him sometimes and he seems so apathetic and disinterested in what you're talking to him about or offering. But I think he's just like that sometimes, even if he is interested. It's probably a self confidence thing. If no one thinks he cares then they can't mock him for caring. Stupid boy." Zeff says flatly.

Sanji squints at Zeff. Is… is the man saying what Sanji thinks he's saying? Does he know how he feels about Zoro? Is he genuinely offering him advice about that or does he just think that Zoro was rude to him accidentally? He can never read the crafty old man when he's like this. And Zeff isn't giving anything away with the way that he's watching Sanji, the man has a perfect poker face.

"Thank… you?" Sanji ventures uncertainly. Zeff makes a grunt of approval and leans his head back and closes his eyes again. Weirded out Sanji wanders back to his room.

Sanji honestly has no idea how Zoro feels about him. He keeps a sharp eye on the man and sometimes he thinks that he catches Zoro looking at him as if he might be interested in Sanji, but other times he looks like he couldn't care less about him. Zoro doesn't seem to mind him getting close to him, even if he always finds an excuse to distance them sooner or later, he doesn't think that Zoro is aware that he's testing the waters which is infuriating in itself.

It's about three weeks later when a hesitant knock on his door frame ticks him off. He knows without looking that it's Zoro and not anyone else, he's memorised the man's walk.

"You know, knocking on the frame of the door when the door is open is pointless." He snipes, scowling at the magazine. This does he or doesn't he business with Zoro has put him in more sour moods lately than he's used to. Eventually he flings the magazine across the room so it crumples against the far wall and leans up on his elbows to look at Zoro.

The man is standing in the doorway with tension dancing in his jaw. In his hands is a black case, large enough to be a briefcase but its not, it's just a black box.

"What's that?" Sanji asks raising an eyebrow. But from overhearing Johnny and Yosaku's conversation before he can probably guess. He sits up properly then, with anticipation thrumming in his veins.

"Is that a present for me?" He asks hopefully. Zoro's fingers tighten on the box and drum on the edges of it nervously.

"Yeah." Zoro says with a tight voice and stays still. He looks like he's considering running off with it, if they are knives for him then Sanji would bet that Zoro is fighting the urge to run back with them and try to make them better somehow.

"But it's not my birthday, or Christmas." He smiles slowly at the man.

"I- yeah. Here." Zoro walks forward robotically and shoves the box in Sanji's face with both hands. Carefully Sanji takes it, it feels promisingly very heavy. He places it on the bed before him and glances up at Zoro whose fists are clenching and unclenching nervously, how sweet.

"Sit." Sanji orders pointing to the foot of his single bed. Stiffly Zoro sits down. Sanji smiles at him but Zoro doesn't seem to react, he's clearly too nervous.

Seeing nothing else to do Sanji carefully shimmies the lid to the box off. Underneath is a soft leather cloth, probably to protect the knives. Excitedly he slowly pulls the soft leather back and an excited little squeak escapes his lips at the first shine of metal. No longer able to wait he yanks the cloth back and stares.

Oh god. They're gorgeous.

Inside is a full set of knives, every one that Sanji might conceivably need in the kitchen, some that he didn't even have before. Each of the handles is sculpted perfectly to fit into his grip and as he picks one up experimentally he finds that they fit like a dream. It is as if they're a part of his own body, they mould through the contours of his hand and are weighted just so.

He looks carefully at the handle. Each knife handle is detailed and different with the common theme of waves etched into them, the detail is tiny and painstakingly beautiful and realistic. He turns his attention to the blade of the knife in his hand and can see the tell tale colour differences from Zoro's diligent old-school style of blade making. He leans back onto his elbows again and examines the blade in the shine of his bedside light.

"It's so thin and sharp!" He breathes in wonder. Curiously he presses the blade horizontally across his thumbnail and draws the blade ever so lightly across the nail. He sees it sink in effortlessly cutting. He stops before the knife goes through his nail and cuts his whole damn thumb off. Even Zoro's knives before have never been so sharp, so delicate so… so brilliant.

He runs his fingers carefully over the others, he can tell now that they'll be the best thing he's ever had and he can already think of things that he wants to test with them. Johnny's words come back to him, that these knives were a love letter written in steel. If that's true then it's the most beautiful poetic love letter that anyone has ever made.

He finally makes eye contact with Zoro who is looking at him with trepidation.

"Thank you." He breathes reverently and watches the unease melt off of Zoro's face to be replaced by a tentative little smile.

"They are absolutely… perfect." He insists forcefully. He needs Zoro to understand just how he feels about these brilliant creations. Part of him just wants to run downstairs and really take these babies for a ride but… no, there's something that he wants more. Zoro looks quietly pleased and somewhat satisfied with a modest little blush high on his cheekbones.

Hesitantly Sanji places the knife back in its permanent case and carefully closes the box again. He slides the box gently onto his bedside table and looks carefully at Zoro. The marimo looks a little worried, he probably thinks that if Sanji can just put his knives down like that then there's something wrong with them.

Sanji kneels up and swallows nervously. He's got a lot riding on this but he has to know. Filled with nervous hope he puts one hand on Zoro's shoulder and the other on the bedspread between them as he leans in and kisses Zoro. It's just a light press of his lips to Zoro's for a moment but then he moves and runs his tongue across Zoro's lower lip trying to tease the man's mouth open. Zoro's lips however remain embarrassingly immobile. Hesitantly Sanji presses his lips to Zoro's again hopefully, but the man doesn't move a muscle. With regret he pulls back to see Zoro staring up at him wide eyed.

"Well," he mutters to himself, "that answers that- AGH!"

Zoro moves suddenly like a coiled spring let loose, grabbing the back of Sanji's neck and fiercely mashing their mouths together. There's an almost painful clack of teeth for a second before Sanji is able to react and genuinely kiss Zoro back. He groans into the kiss, what the hell had Zoro been waiting for back there? Zoro's hands fist in his hair and the marimo shifts his weight forward until Sanji topples backwards on the bed. He wriggles down the bed under a puzzled looking Zoro and kicks the door to his bedroom shut. He grins up at Zoro, after waiting this long for this he does not want to be interrupted.

Taking advantage of his new position under Zoro he runs his hands up Zoro's smooth muscled sides and impatiently slides his hands under Zoro's shirt. An impatient sound rumbles in Zoro's chest, which is all the warning Sanji gets before Zoro straightens up and yanks his t-shirt off and bends down to start tugging Sanji's away. Ordinarily Sanji might have been a little annoyed at the presumption but he'd waited for this far too long as it was and he wasn't going to complain at Zoro's haste.

With both of them bare chested Sanji pushes himself up on his elbows and arches his back so that their bare chests press together and he can reach up to snag Zoro's mouth in a kiss. With that they fall back onto the bed together with warring mouths and exploring hands.

Sanji's mind is running with a million questions. Whyme?Whynow?Whydidyouneversayanythingbefore?Howlonghaveyouthoughtaboutthis? He's desperate to ask but he feels almost as if speaking might break the spell that they're under and Zoro will come to his senses. Deciding instead to opt for non-verbal boldness he flicks the button on Zoro's trousers open and actually feels the damn marimo smile against his mouth.

He shimmies Zoro out of his trousers and assists with a smile as Zoro helps him with his own. They're both in just their underwear now and Sanji really really can't believe his luck. He's a little paralyzed by worry and indecision, what if he does something that Zoro really doesn't like and changes the man's mind? It always seems too easy in films and books, no matter how perverted or kinky the desires of people are it seems that when they finally get the person that they want in bed everything magically matches up. Not that he's got anything massively outrageous that he wants to do to Zoro but some people can be funny about things.

Zoro on the other hand doesn't seem to have any such doubts as he noses at Sanji's jaw and bites and kisses a curious trail along Sanji's skin. Sanji feels himself melt a little because despite being clearly quite eager Zoro is kind of… gentle. He shouldn't really be surprised, he's seen Zoro's gentle side plenty of times, but it's always been with other people never with him. It's nice but Sanji doesn't really have the patience for nice right now, so after a few self indulgent minutes of letting Zoro kiss him he slides up the bed until he's upright with his back against the wall. He fully intends to shove Zoro back so that he's got the marimo pinned under him and he can do some well deserved exploring of his own. But then Zoro, who hadn't moved when Sanji did, looks up at him. His head is just about level with Sanji's hips and instead of questioning Sanji or letting Sanji tumble him backwards he instead just rolls with it and continues exploring… lower.

Sanji is startled by the groan that slips out of his lips when Zoro peels off his underwear and bites the pales skin between Sanji's thigh and hip. Nor does he miss the deep chuckle that said groan earns from Zoro, it's the most noise Zoro's made so far and certainly a very Zoro-like noise. Zoro curiously licks his way up Sanji's incredibly hard cock and Sanji starts becoming a little anxious about doing this here in his home at the Baratie. There are two reasons for this, first of all is that he's always been a very vocal person during sex if not necessarily verbal, the second reason that makes this worse, or possibly better Sanji's not decided yet, is that Zoro's expression is very clear on the fact that Zoro clearly considers everything that he's doing with Sanji to be the best thing ever. The expression on his face when he licks Sanji would lend someone to believe that Sanji is the best tasting thing that Zoro's ever had in his mouth. And, well, Sanji's always been susceptible to flattery which is having the effect of making him even louder.

It all seems like far too much far too soon, Zoro's clever tongue is just pulling him apart at the seams and his hands are curiously touching every place that they can reach, paying special attention to anywhere that draws a particularly vocal reaction out of Sanji. It doesn't help that this is better than every one of Sanji's fantasies about this, that the real Zoro is so much more solid and hot that his imaginary counterpart, that he's so much more intuitive in giving Sanji things he didn't even knew that he wanted.

"Oh god, Zoro stop." Sanji exclaims loudly, shoving sharply at Zoro's shoulder. He really desperately needs this to go on for longer and he really wants to get to touch more of Zoro before he comes. Zoro willingly moves back as far as Sanji shoves and stares at Sanji with big worried eyes. Sanji's brain isn't exactly operating at fully speed yet and it takes him a second or two to get his breath back, in that time Zoro's expression changes from worried to panicked.

"I'm sorry- I…" Zoro stammers starting to back off. Sanji's eyes widen, Zoro thinks that he's changed his mind, or that he hadn't wanted this in the first place. The stupid idiot doesn't seem to realise that Sanji's wanted this for years and now he's trying to LEAVE!

"Don't you dare!" Sanji snaps, throwing himself at Zoro and wrapping his arms and legs around Zoro's back, he's not going to let Zoro think that he's got the wrong idea here.

"You were just going too fast is all, damn you're good at that." He explains further to Zoro who is clearly frozen in confusion against him. Before the marimo can get his wits together again Sanji shoves him backwards so that his head is hanging off of the foot of the bed and quickly divests Zoro of his own underwear and sets about returning the favour.

"God, you're kind of stupid sometimes." He mutters before hesitatingly taking Zoro into his mouth.

"You- oh wow- you said stop!" Zoro points out indignantly with a pleased sounding groan.

"Yeah, I said stop, not no." Sanji retorts with a grin as he pulls up off of Zoro.

"Well it was the only word that I got out of you." The blacksmith snipes back causing Sanji to flush in embarrassment.

"Yeah I need to learn to be quieter." He says meekly with still burning cheeks.

"Mmm, don't." Zoro smiles softly at him, his hand tangling into the short hair behind Sanji's ears. He grins broadly up at Zoro before wrapping his mouth around him again with a loud pleased hum. Eventually Zoro tugs him up into kneeling and kisses him. Hesitantly Zoro pulls away and worries at his own lip with his teeth, his hand however is sliding down Sanji's back and coming to rest on his ass in what can only be described as a grope.

"Do you have any… um…" Zoro mumbles, his fingers fidgeting on Sanji's cheek nervously.

"Lube?" Sanji questions with an excited note in his voice. Zoro nods quickly.

"Yes, yes I do!" Sanji smiles and lies back so that he can reach up his bed and open his bedside drawer. He's thankful now that he bought that small bottle of lube, and okay he'd not imagined that this might actually happen when he did buy it but he'd bought it for Zoro. Or rather, to enable his fantasies of Zoro when he got himself off. He rolls over onto his stomach as the cap proves to be significantly harder to get off than he had hoped, probably because of his excitedly trembling fingers.

Zoro strokes a large warm hand down Sanji's back and along the roundness of his butt and down to the top of his thighs in an almost wistful way.

"Am I dreaming?" He hears Zoro murmur to himself.

"You dream about this?" Sanji asks with a happy smile as he rolls back onto his back and looks up at Zoro. This is more confirmation that Zoro has wanted him all along, if only they'd said something sooner, they've both wasted so much time.

"How could I not?" Zoro smiles gently and runs a thumb over Sanji's abs. Sanji grins like a loon and pulls Zoro down into a kiss, running his hands through Zoro's hair and enjoying the feel of the green strands between his fingers.

"I do too. Dream about it I mean." Sanji breathes between kisses.

Zoro pulls back at that and smiles happily at him. Sanji takes the opportunity to offer up the bottle of lube to Zoro who gladly takes it.

What happens next is more about Sanji cataloguing the sensations than any real list of actions. He can feel Zoro's lips on his ribs and the unusual slickness against his skin that lube has. He feels the pressure of Zoro's fingers trying to press into him and for a few moments his body resists, until Sanji's brain catches up and reminds him that this is Zoro and he's always wanted Zoro. Then his body parts and he can feel Zoro's clever fingers working inside of him.

He can hear himself whining and moaning at Zoro's touch, he's pleading and begging for more because whilst what Zoro is doing is good, ohsogood, it's not enough and he needs more. When Zoro eventually does lean over him and guide himself in Sanji can't manage to hold back even a little bit of the choked up pleasured sob that it pulls from his throat.

He digs one heel into the bed and the other into the small of Zoro's back as he pushes himself off the bed to press against Zoro and move against him better. He's wanted this forever and he's going to do everything he can to make sure that it's the best sex that either of them has ever had in their lives. He clings one handed onto Zoro's neck and finds himself fascinated by the difference in their bodies, the cream of his skin against the tan of Zoro's, his lean but strongly muscled frame rubbing against Zoro's large strong muscles. He can feel each one of them firing as Zoro slides slickly in and out of Sanji pulling him apart.

Zoro pulls Sanji upwards into his lap and Sanji gasps, yelps and moans at the change in angle and how much more deeply Zoro can slide into him. Their pace is getting erratic now and it's clear that neither of them is going to last much longer. Sanji leans forward with his arms around Zoro's neck and bites into his arm, he needs to stay quiet or else they won't have to worry about telling anyone about their change in relationship because the whole goddamn town will know what they're up to. His orgasm is building brightly inside of him and he's fighting hard to stay silent.

"Don't- don't do that." Zoro pants, trying to nudge Sanji away from biting himself to keep quiet. Sanji isn't going to budge however and simply whines loudly in his throat.

Zoro draws a startled gasp out of him when he wraps his hand around Sanji's thoroughly over-sensitive cock. Sanji shudders, this is going to be it.

"Please, I wanna hear you." Zoro breathes into his ear and runs his thumb over the head of Sanji's cock. Sanji's not sure if it's out of concession to that endlessly sexy plea from Zoro or from his mouth dropping open in shock but either way when he does come his mouth is free and he howls in bliss. Zoro himself moans loudly, not that you can hear it over Sanji's voice.

Afterwards Sanji shudders happily in Zoro's lap with the other man's hands stroking down Sanji's sweat slicked back. He doesn't really care that he was loud, he doesn't care that Patty and Carne are going to rib him about this forever because he has Zoro and that alone is worth it.

"Wow, sex and knives. What are you going to get me when it's actually my birthday?" He laughs breathily against Zoro's neck.

"I'll think of something." Zoro chuckles into his hair.