A/n: This fic resulted from several things, the overwhelming urge to write because the other zosan things that I'm working on aren't gelling right and also reading lots of memes, specifically about socially awkward penguin and the retail robin ones. So I present to you this… whatever it is. Enjoy the beginning, expect more updates soon!
Sanji is up on the ledge for what feels like forever. At first he feels incredibly confused and disorientated, he can't remember why he's up there and he can't seem to get down, no matter what he tries he ends up right where he was without really remembering his previous attempt. He feels like a goldfish in a small bowl.
It's a pretty bowl alright, the ledge is high up, really high. There's a window behind him and below and before him is the sprawling view of the city, one that's almost a full of hustle and bustle at night as it is during the day. During the day he watches people and the birds and at night the twinkling neon lights make a pretty sight.
After a while, he can't remember how long - he's seen a lot of sunrises, he starts to remember. He remembers a party, a nice one, one for him congratulating him on… something. He remembers cooking. He remembers an old man with a silly moustache. Then he remembers falling, fear, pain and darkness.
It takes him a fair while to realise that he's dead. It's only when he sees a dog peeing against a bench that he realises that he's not pissed in forever. Then he realises that he's not slept in what is probably weeks, or eaten, or spoken to anyone and good GOD he can't remember the last time he smoked. It's an awful thing to realise that you're dead, especially when you have to be alive and conscious to experience it. Well, conscious at least.
He tries killing himself numerous times. The only place that he can seem to go is to fall off of the building, but he just falls through the ground and wakes up a moment or two later back on the ledge. If he tries to move too far from the window he feels an awful pull inside his heart and he eventually faints and winds up right where he started.
Sometime later a man slides the window open and steps out onto the high ledge. As his foot makes contact with the ledge Sanji hears a snap, like the sound a rubber band makes when it smacks you in the hand. Sanji feels something inside his chest reel. The man is shabbily dressed with stupidly green hair sticking up in crazy tufts in every direction, his face is tense but if you look past that he's attractive. His eyes dart around furtively and when his eyes land on Sanji they stop there.
Sanji realises in one big elated emotion that the man can SEE him! Which he says as much in an excited gasp as he leaps to his feet. The green-head pales and he hastily backs out of the window, retrieving his foot from the ledge and slams the window so hard the glass rattles. Sanji darts through the wall after him and is surprised by the effortlessness of it. Before he had to work hours to do that and then he'd faint, not now though.
"I can't see you!" The man shouts over his shoulder and beats a hasty retreat.
"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard, if you couldn't see me you wouldn't be talking to me!" Sanji yells, chasing after him.
The green haired guy pauses at the bottom of the stairs with a despairing groan. He turns slowly and looks back up at Sanji who is halfway down the stairs after him. The guy awkwardly shoves his hands in the pockets of his hoodie and sighs.
"Look, this isn't easy to hear but you're dead okay?" he says up to him.
"Thanks, genius, I worked that out." Sanji glowers at him from his position on the stairs.
The guy screws his eyes shut and tilts his head back muttering 'of course not, that would be easy'. Sanji notices his earrings shining in one ear against the black of his hoodie.
"I didn't jump." Sanji blurts out. He hadn't known that before now but as the words leave his mouth he's certain of it.
"Yeah, I can tell. The suicide-ers tend to look… messed up. Deader that is." The green haired guy answers uncomfortably.
"I… I think I was pushed." Sanji adds as he walks down the last few stairs towards the other guy.
"Murder. Brilliant. I hate murders. Come on then, my name is Zoro." Zoro announces and flicks his hood up and turns to leave. He strides quickly out of the building with Sanji in tow.
"I'm Sanji." Sanji offers. Zoro grunts in response and keeps walking down the street. Sanji finds this rather rude but as other people look through him and even pass through him he starts to realise that perhaps Zoro is ignoring him because no one else can see him. Even he can concede that standing around talking to no one is pretty weird.
Sanji instead opts to survey this new guy, Zoro. He's wearing scruffy jeans that are ripped and stained, they look like they're incredibly worn out. His hoodie is also frayed at the wrists, if Sanji had to guess it's something that the guy has done to it himself, perhaps he bites his cuffs or pulls at them. His shoes also are scruffy converses that look like they're being held together with sheer willpower rather than thread, there's even duct tape around the toe of one that's been painted white in a horrible attempt to blend in. All in all the man looks scruffy and shifty.
Zoro eventually enters a building, unlocks the door and jogs up two flights of stairs before letting Sanji in another door and furtively shutting it behind the both of them. Zoro flicks his hood back down and turns the light on, it's old and flickering.
"Come on then, let's hear it." Zoro sighs pulling his hoodie off and throwing it in the corner. He flops down on the sofa and looks at Sanji expectantly.
Sanji looks warily around the room, the place is a one-room dump, there's dirty laundry around the place and the bin is full of fast food containers. The kitchen looks barely used except for all the dirty dishes piling up by the sink. There's only one other door in this place which Sanji guesses leads to the guy's bedroom, he'd bet it's equally messed up. He knows that he's dead and thus intangible but Sanji can't help but smooth down his suit as if just being here might have mussed it.
"Hear what?" He asks with a frown, coming back to Zoro who looks like he belongs in this scruffy place.
"Your story, moron. How did you die, who do you think did it, what's keeping you here? That sort of thing." Zoro says rolling his eyes.
"Asshole, this is kind of new to me. I've not been dead before." Sanji snaps irritably, he's only here because Zoro is the first person to see him and now it seems that he can leave that damn ledge.
"You get used to it. Come on then." Zoro sighs and rummages down the back of the sofa, eventually retrieving a notebook and pencil. Sanji sees Zoro write Sanji on the top and misspell it. He corrects the idiot which makes him blush in embarrassment, that makes Sanji feel a little more superior again.
"Where do I start?" Sanji asks and tries to sit down on the sofa next to Zoro. It takes a little effort not to fall through it but he manages.
"Tell me about yourself." Zoro suggests, turning to that he can look at Sanji and write on the notepad on his knee. Despite his first impression of the man as scruffy, shifty and rude something makes Sanji pause. The man has kind eyes, he looks tired and a little unhappy but he seems to mean well.
"I was at a party…" Sanji begins slowly and as he speaks the memories come back a little. Beside him Zoro starts making notes in an untidy scrawl.
"It was for me, I think. Or, it felt like that. It wasn't a birthday party, more like a celebration of accomplishment, I think I'd won something, or done something. I remember food, as in, I remember that I cook. I'm a chef. So… maybe it was something to do with that." He continues.
"A graduation?" Zoro suggests.
"No but… similar." He frowns. Why can't he remember?
"I remember being by the window in the corridor where you found me. I was… arguing with someone. I think. I remember being angry. Then… I think I was pushed, out of the window. Then I don't remember anything except being on that ledge for the longest time until you showed up." Sanji answers.
"Any idea how long?" Zoro asks carefully.
"Weeks?" Sanji hazards a guess.
"Hm. Don't worry about it. Time goes a little funny when you're dead. Let's see now." Zoro says leaning over to pull a laptop out from under his sofa. He flicks the screen open and pulls up the internet. He types the name of the building into Google and the words "fell" and "death". The search brings up a few news articles and the first one that Zoro opens has a picture of Sanji's face on it.
That was taken at my birthday. Sanji remembers distantly.
"Hm… two weeks ago… tragic death, nineteen year old prodigy chef… death by falling. Presumed suicide. Oh, it was a cooking competition that you won, televised apparently. No suspicion of foul play." Zoro skims and reads aloud.
"Why did you ask me all of that if you could just look it up asshole?" Sanji snaps irritably.
"It's important that you try to remember. They don't think you were murdered and if you were then I need you to remember as much as you can." Zoro smiles at him. Sanji finds himself momentarily struck by how much that smile changes the scruffy angry looking teen's face.
"You'll help find out who killed me?" He asks hopefully.
"Sure. I'd guess that's what's keeping you here. I can't just leave you walking the earth alone for all eternity now, can I?" Zoro smiles gently.