AN: Although most of you probably forgot about this story already, I finally finished it! I started this two years ago and I have improved my writing throughout each chapter. This was my gateway story to my passion as a writer, so I can't believe that it's finally over. Thank you everyone for your reviews and support, I hope you enjoy the last chapter!


One thing he would definitely miss about Japan would be the starry nights from the porch, the view of the endless sea of lights above him. But the city had lights of its own, the tall buildings, the billboards, and the people; a different type of sea. He had spent the past two years with an irritating woman and a formidable swordsman in this rural area. Mihawk had been hesitant in taking anyone under his wing at first, but when he saw Zoro's lethal glance when he came out top in the kendo competition held in Osaka, he was intrigued to teach the beast. The trio then spent time in a traditional Japanese home like Koshiro's, except the atmosphere here was more ominous and grim just like its residents.

A petite woman with a screeching voice stomped ungracefully to where he sat, yelled, "Roronoa Zoro! I thought after two years you would have gotten used to the routine by now, you heartless buffoon, go get your dinner and eat!"

"I don't want to eat your food, it smells as bad as your beast over there," he grunted as he referred to the brown bear sleeping a few yards away from them.

She huffed, "Don't make fun of my Kumashi, he's the cutest bear ever"

As the swordsman stood up, he grabbed his swords and adjusted them around his waist. "Truth be told, your cooking's not the worst."

"Oh, how flattering," she replied, sarcastic. "You sure know how to make a chef feel better."

"If you were a chef, I would fear for the future."

"Oh, shut up, just go eat your dinner. I just wanted some appreciation for my hard work, but all you give me in return are your snarky remarks about how bad my food is. It's not my fault that I can't cook as well as your boyfriend."

Zoro became rigid, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Her voice oozed of sarcasm, "Yeah, okay, I know all about your blond back in America. Whenever he comes on television, you rush over there to gawp at him like a creep. I thought I could shape you into a cuter person, like Kumashi, but I guess it's impossible for the likes of you." She sighed as though all of her hope and dreams had been crushed.

The swordsman rolled his eyes, "Your bear is not a person, first of all, and I don't think you can speak Japanese properly because nothing you say make any sense, and I assumed being born here had its advantages," he jested, a smirk almost heard at the end of his words.

"You're the one with a strange American accent, you foreigner!"

They bickered like two squawking birds until they sat at the table where Mihawk had already begun to eat, who was tasting the watery soup of hers with a blank expression. He chased the taste of Perona's food with red wine and dabbed his mouth with his napkin afterwards.

Like a fucking royalty, Zoro thought.

As the green haired man ate his dinner quietly, a certain person he had made a promise to back in America lingered in his mind. Though he could not keep his promise about heading back as the best swordsman, he believed that he had indeed become stronger and had built a concrete mindset of what he wanted with the cook from this point and onward. Training with Mihawk on a daily basis, meditating, eating horribly bland food made by Perona (which was the most difficult part of adjustment when he had left America with Sanji's food, as well as Sanji himself, on his tongue). These rigorous processes helped him clear his mind. So whatever the blond expected, Zoro believe he could meet it.

"Ghost girl, bring me another cup of wine," Mihawk demanded from the pink haired woman.

"Don't tell me what to do! I'm not your servant, you know," she complained with a pout of her lips. "But I'll get you one because I'm a nice person."

Perona, being a long distant cousin of Mihawk's, was in his home due to the fact her foster parent named Gekko Moriah had died from an accident, or a murder, as she had conjectured through the newspapers and police reports she had researched about.

The swordsman snorted. "Don't flatter yourself, ghost girl, or you'll start believing it." The nickname came from her ghost-like appearance. The paper pale skin, the long bottom lashes, and the creepy laughter that was unpleasant to hear.

"Oh, will you quit it!"

They argued like siblings and irritated the hell out of the old man (Mihawk), but they had also grown close over the past years. She took care of him, though poorly, so he had begun to think of her like a sister, a loud, obnoxious sister whom he would undoubtedly protect if she was placed in danger; and she would do the same (probably). He also respected Mihawk, a strange man indeed, but surely not a brute murderer he initially believed him to be. The man was strong willed and merciful, many times he spared the lives of those who climbed the mountains to challenge him for his title. And he oftentimes mentioned the remarkable swordsmen who had caught his attention the most, the likely ones that would topple him from his stature if not Zoro himself. Kuina was mentioned a few times.

It was lucid that Hawkeye had not the faintest idea that she had passed away. He spoke of her as though she would confidently march up to his doorsteps to challenge him once more. Zoro kept silent about knowing her, the fact that it could have been him killed that night if Kuina had not gotten there first. The information was not exactly confidential, but he respected the boundaries between them. Neither knew much of one another, only accepted the present and did not prod into the past.

Zoro sat on the porch after dinner, thought about Sanji and how things could have changed over the years.

Sanji had become a renowned cook, had made a name for himself due to his exceptional knowledge in food and his ability to cook, in addition to his (hate to admit it) good looks and charm. As the memories of the blond flooded in— the airport incident, the meeting with Zeff, the pivotal point in time when Sanji had accidentally stumbled onto the conversation between him and Law— Zoro grinned to himself.

Internally, did Sanji change much? But Zoro wasn't worried, knew that they would somehow simmer into their odd relationship once more, knew that they complimented each other with something deeper than insignificant attributes.

"Here's your wine," Perona said behind him, handing Mihawk the glass cup.

Hawkeye took the drink without a word.

"The mountains are so nice here, with the chills, the gloomy atmosphere, and the creepiness," she squealed. "It's such a vacation spot."

Zoro furrowed his brows but didn't raise a question, still contemplative of his thoughts.

Tomorrow is the day, he thought. The day he would meet his friends again, and the cook, whom he hadn't exactly left as just friends back at the airport. They would meet again, and would they kiss? Would they embrace? Would they fight?

He himself became much stronger over these years, toppled the other competitors and came out as the top, was taken under Mihawk as an apprentice to be trained by him, to be trained with him; and Sanji, who had polished his reputation as a chef, Zoro wondered how he had polished his skills as a martial artist. He couldn't wait to brawl against the fiery blond, legs versus swords, to show off, and to see how exactly Sanji had changed and improved over these past years, including flexibility-wise.

"What are you going to do when you go back to America, are you going to see your boyfriend?" Perona jested as she sat down next to him, swinging her legs from the porch since her feet could not touch the ground. "What's his name again? Sanji? I heard he's a womanizer, how did you get him?"

With a gruff, grouchy tone of voice, he responded, "None of your business."

She puffed her cheeks out, "You heartless buffoon, you're so not cute, at all!"

Dracule Mihawk spoke, "What is your plan?"

He sat on the front porch chair with a newspaper on his lap and a cup of wine in his hand, his voice a high level of composure and power, with a demand for the attention of those surrounding him, one of quiet strength and confidence without even trying.

The demand literally ripped the answer out from Zoro's throat, it was that authoritative.

"To travel with Sanji, learn more about the world, and eventually make my way back here to challenge you and become the greatest swordsman."

Hawkeye laughed, a hearty bubble of mirth, "I trained a swordsman who wants to kill me, but at least you'll keep things interesting for awhile. I might be overestimating you, Roronoa Zoro, but I have high hopes for you."

"Dammit! Why do you ignore me but answer him?" Perona complained.

Zoro smiled, his eyes and mouth widening, pride welling in his chest and determination flaring in his gut, as he heard the words of praise from his mentor, the man he had yet to defeat.


"Mr. 0, the alleged underground leader, one of the most wanted fugitives, was found hiding in an air-conditioned bunker, which consisted of a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. It was concealed beneath his own home, found after the police had done a thorough search. And despite living like a mole, his kitchen was packed with expensive wines and imported Cuban cigars. He is also the beloved politician, Crocodile, who had been a democrat, with an image that was reputable among many civilians. He is accused of drug dealing, assassinating other politicians, spying on the government, and criminal association. He was arrested last Thursday, facing immense charges..."

Sanji gritted his teeth at seeing the news. He pressed the power button on his remote control to turn the TV off.

That bastard finally got served, he bitterly thought.

The square faced, oily haired, hook wearing bastard who killed his parents when Sanji was young, he was finally getting what he deserved. It relieved Sanji to know that his parents could finally rest, that Zeff could rest, that Sanji could rest, would no longer have nightmares and sleepless nights, being pathetic, feeling guilty, hateful, and afraid. But nonetheless, seeing the boss' face many after years still made his veins freeze, his heart cold, and breath stop. It brought out all the repressed vivid memories of his childhood, made him tremble with hatred and horror, and it made him crave for a cigarette.

He pulled one out and placed it in between his lips so he could suck on it for all its worth.

Crocodile was the man whom his parents had worked for when Sanji was young, and he was the man who had killed them and starved Sanji. Because of him, Zeff had to hide their identities by changing both his and Sanji's last names to Blackleg.

But now, he thought, it was all over.

His house phone rang and he immediately thought it was Zeff to tell the blond the good news, but it was Luffy instead.

"Hey, Sanji!" the straw hat boy cheerfully greeted on the line.

The cook smiled, he had not seen or heard from the boy in awhile due to his busy schedule, "Hey Luffy, what's up?"

"Do you know?" Luffy beamed. "Do you know?" he repeated, excitement wringing in his tone of voice.

The blond knitted his brows, "Know what?"

The Crocodile news?

There was a moment of energy building up before the straw hat boy exploded with the good news, shouting in his ears, "Zoro is coming back tomorrow! He just called us from the airport, said he'll land here by 12 in the afternoon!"

Sanji paused, his pulse quickening at the news. "Really?" he whispered as his hands trembled.

"Hn? Aren't you excited, Sanji?"

The blond's whole body shook as he clutched the phone by his ears. "Idiot," he wiped his eyes with his sleeves. "I'm shitting with excitement."

He could almost hear the widening smile from the other line before the boy began to chuckle good naturally, "Let's welcome him at the airport tomorrow, okay Sanji? I'm sure he would want to see you the most."

Sanji reddened because the comment had insinuated that the whole group knew about the airport incident, as they called it, the romantic chase to meet the swordsman to give him a big fat kiss on the lips before sending him off to Japan.

God, he wanted to kill himself when Ace blabbed to everyone about it in front of him.

"Shut up, you brat," he barked with no bite, and the boy laughed in response. Sanji remembered something, "Hey, how's Robin and Law? Did you see the news this morning?"

A few weeks earlier, Robin had disclosed the fact that she was in an organization (which Sanji already knew) and that she needed their help to get out. Someone was foiling her boss' plans (which Law was behind of) and she was afraid that she could be taken into custody if she stayed. Robin was hardly the person to confide in anybody else, to trust others, so this was a big deal; and Luffy, who had been the one to introduce the woman to the group in the first place, put his food down to assist her.

The dispute between Luffy and Crocodile, fist to fist, occurred while the blond was in France (for cooking competitions). Though he wanted to rampage with his friends, he could not abandon his position when he was so close to winning, so he only heard snippets of what happened afterwards. He heard that Luffy allowed the vermin to escape in the end (even though he had completely and utterly bashed his brains in), but Crocodile didn't get far because he still had Law's wrath to face, the exposure of his identity as Mr. 0, the underground organization boss that the government had been trying to capture for years now. After that disclosure, there was no other place left for him other than imprisonment.

Of course, Sanji was shocked to hear that the boss of the organization for Robin, Law, and Zoro was Crocodile, the murderer who had traumatized his childhood.

"Shishishi, they're fine, they didn't need that much treatment, they're strong," the straw hat boy assured.

Apologetically, Sanji responded, "Sorry Luffy, that I couldn't be there."

"It's fine, just cook for us when Zoro gets back. I can't wait until I taste your food again! I get hungry every time you are on the television, everything you make looks so good!" There was a loud sound of his stomach growling from the telephone line.

The blond chuckled, he was indeed planning to throw a large party for the group.

"Did you reach your goal yet?" Luffy suddenly, inquisitively asked.

Sanji had told Luffy about All Blue, his plan to build up his savings account to travel the oceans by entering cooking competitions all around the world. The boy was ecstatic about the plan, told Sanji that he was planning to travel, as well, to be adventurous and become the freest man in the world.

"Almost," the cook answered.

"If I win this upcoming competition held in Chicago in two months, I'll have enough money to travel for three years and still have enough leftover to give to my old man." The cook grinned, "Of course, if I plan on traveling with Zoro, he would have to contribute since I don't have enough money to support both of our asses."

"But Sanji, don't you have a recipe book getting published soon? You'll have more than enough to support both of you after that."

The straw hat boy was surprisingly (well, not really) insightful, as he easily saw through Sanji's jest at being unable to provide for the swordsman's sorry ass. Due to his recipe book getting published and because of his reputable (and quite popular) position as a chef, it was guaranteed that his savings account would almost double from its current numbers, then he would have enough for himself and the swordsman, maybe enough to settle down after they achieve both of their dreams.

"That's true, but enough talking about myself, how are you and Nami lately," he asked, quickly switching around the topic.

When he found out that the two were in a relationship his jaw almost dropped to the floor, wondered how in the hell Luffy had more game than him. But after seeing the two together, he realized that the straw hat boy was quite perfect for the woman, being a straightforward idiot with a strong heart, a cheerful light to her dark past. He made her laugh, and that was enough for Sanji.

"We're moving in together for now, then later we can go on an adventure," the boy laughed. "Ace is already out there making a name for himself, I'm a few years behind him but I won't lose, I'm going to meet him again as a changed man."

Sanji placed a fresh cigarette in his mouth, allowed the buzz to calm his system.

"The best luck to you, Captain," he grinned around his cigarette.

The nickname came up one day when Usopp mentioned how they all followed through Luffy's reckless acts without much thought, and when he said "Captain Usopp" while the group was complimenting him for his realization, Nami input that Luffy was like the real captain of their group due to his selfishness, poor listening skills, and impulsive behavior; and ever since then, everyone referred to the straw hat boy as their captain.

.~.~.~.~.

Perhaps he should have been buying ingredients for the upcoming party, but he found himself awkwardly walking over to the woman at the counter with a pack of condoms and a lubricant in his hand, his face brightly lit, his hands folded together in front of his stomach.

What am I doing this late at night?

The store was empty, the only sounds were the clicking noises of the machine and the woman telling him, "Thirteen-fifty," and the sound of her tucking the items into a plastic bag.

He handed her fifteen dollars and croaked, "Please keep the change," before dashing out of the store with the plastic bag hanging low from his hand.

Jesus Christ, what am I doing, we're not going to have sex as soon as he lands in America. We only kissed twice, goddammit!

But the anticipation and the sexual frustration that had built up over these past two years had accumulated to this state of not even caring whether the sex was between two guys or not, the fact that he had to restrain himself from every girl due to him being in a somewhat in a committed with the marimo was torturous; he had to actually reject those sweet smiles and offers, those revealed breasts and teases, those damn perks of being a worldwide reputable cook. Why must I save myself for that damn cactus? he bitterly thought a lot of the times. But now that the swordsman was coming back and he had the actual opportunity to put those embarrassing tips from Ace to use, he was excited to use his pent up sexual frustrations on Zoro.

But for now he replaced the frustration with a pack of cigarettes.

.~.~.~.~.

We're all in this together/Once we know/That we are/We're all stars/And we see that.

Sanji was roused from his peaceful sleep when he heard Nami's ringtone. The most irritating song from the depths of hell that Luffy and Nami changed to because they had thought it would be hilarious to see Sanji's reaction.

We're all in this together/And it shows/When we stand/Hand in hand/Make our dreams come true.

The blond stumbled out of his bed and fell to his knees, then he crawled on the floor to get to his goddamn phone, which was all the way across the room.

"Sanji-kun?" Nami asked when he pressed the button with his lethargic fingers, the giggles still apparent in her tone of voice as well as the loud guffaws of Luffy's in the background. Clearly, both of them found the ringtone still hilarious. "Hi Sanji-kun," she greeted, still laughing a little.

"Hi Sanji!" Luffy shouted into the phone.

The cook rubbed his eyes and yawned a little before responding, "Hi Nami-san." His voice was deep and half asleep, husky and hoarse, evident that he had just woke up.

"We were checking to make sure you were awake before coming to pick you up. We'll be there in about ten minutes, get ready, Zoro said he's about to land soon."

Shit!

He had these grand scheme to be dressed up and clean shaven, to comb and mousse his hair, to floss and whiten his teeth, but right now he was scrambling to find at least a decent shirt to match that bird nest of a head, trying to decide whether he had enough time for a tie or not. Due to the anticipation of finally meeting up with Zoro and relieving his sexual frustrations, he couldn't sleep a wink last night.

As he was putting on his pants, the phone rang again with that same annoying tune from High School Musical. He tucked the phone between his ear and shoulder.

"Sanji, come downstairs, we're waiting for you," Nami told him, the sound of the engine in the background of her voice.

The cook stuffed his keys, cigarettes, and wallet inside of his pocket as he zipped up his pants, hopping over to the door with the phone still tucked into his neck.

"I'll be there soon, Nami-san, just a moment."

He slipped his feet into his brown oxford shoes before heading out the door, making an effort to straighten his hair by brushing it with his lean fingers. Outside, he saw the couple waiting inside the car, parked alongside the curb, and greeted them before slipping into the backseat since Luffy had already called shotgun.

"Usopp just called to tell me that Zoro had already landed and they're getting his luggage now. I made a reservation at a very familiar restaurant so you don't have to worry about cooking for us, Sanji-kun, I know you just came from France and you're exhausted."

Though he wanted to disagree, because he loved cooking for his friends, he was rather flattered by how much thought the woman had put into this, and he had to admit that since there weren't enough ingredients in his refrigerator (with his midnight expedition leading to the pharmacy store rather than the grocery store) it was a better idea to eat out to catch up with his friends.

Two years, he thought, beginning to get slightly nervous. He's probably more arrogant, Sanji thought with a laugh. Has he changed his mind? he wondered.

Luffy impeded his thoughts. "I heard he watches you on TV, Sanji," he told him.

"Yeah, apparently the first question out of his mouth was 'how's that idiot cook doing?'" Nami said, imitating his grouchy tone of voice with a surprising accuracy.

The straw hat boy boisterously guffawed, "Usopp told us that he hasn't changed at all in two years."

Sanji had to breathe a sigh of relief at that, knowing that Zoro was the same old idiot and not some pompous, refined piece of shit who drank wine instead of his usual rum. It was a refreshing breeze in the heat of the desert, because the one he fell in love with was not an elevated Zoro but the old Zoro who was clumsy and had a big heart and chased around a dream bigger than himself, the idiot who was as foolish as himself.

"I was hoping that he would mature a little bit," Nami huffed. She had made a turn on the exit, which meant that they were really close to the airport.

Sanji's heart raced faster.

"That would be boring, I would never want Zoro to change," Luffy whined.

Nami sighed, "What you call boring is peace to my heart."

"Who needs peace when you can have fun, Nami, shishishishi."

Sanji smiled.

The car made a sharp turn to the right to find a parking spot in front of the airport. The place was buzzing with people since it was late in the afternoon. Sanji's pulse had rapidly sped up as the passing of time seemed to beat into him, excitement and nervousness buzzing in his system. He bit his lips and clutched the fabrics of his pants. He really regretted not waking up early now, perhaps he would have had more confidence if he had been dressed up more stylishly.

Why am I so nervous, it's just marimo.

Nami parked the car and turned off the engine. Luffy busted out the door, she yelled after him, they both smiled. Sanji followed after them, slowly, nerves making him tense.

"Don't be nervous, Sanji," the straw hat boy patted him on the back.

The blond took out a cigarette, sucked on it desperately, "Just go in before me, I'll be there soon."

"Are you sure?" Nami asked, concerned, as she stood in front of him. "Sanji-kun, we'll wait for you, it's fine."

Sanji's hands trembled, "I'm fine, it's just that I'm a little shaken by the thought of meeting him again." He deeply inhaled the smoke, allowed it to trickle down his throat, to soothe his nerves.

Luffy clapped him on the back, brutally, as though the boy's arms were not a pair of noodles but a set of body builder's limbs, it made Sanji cough on the smoke he was trying to wisp. Before the blond could yell at the boy, Luffy stared at him dead in the eyes, assured him, "You don't need to worry, Sanji, Zoro loves you." Then he smiled, as warmly as the sun.

Now, the blond could have asked how he knew that, but for some reason he believed it and it reassured him.

The red haired woman grinned as she pushed the two, "Let's get going then."

"Wait," Luffy told her. "I think Usopp is calling me." He took out his phone, an old model of the iphone, and answered, "Oi, Usopp! We're here right now, where are you guys? Hn? You want us to wait here? Okay, hmm... okay, we'll wait here."

Nami crossed her arms as she sat on the trunk of her orange car, with bumper stickers the same design as the tattoo on her arm, "Geez, that long nose always mixing up our plans, at least now we won't have to go in just to come back out."

"What time is the reservation, my dear?" Sanji asked.

She held up her torso weight by lifting herself up with her arms, her palms resting on the surface of her car. Her lips nipped into a small frown as she answered the cook, "Oh, a reservation... they told me we could come at any time, so as soon as we meet we'll go there."

The cook raised a brow, wondered if the restaurant had any business if they didn't require any reservations.

"Don't worry about it, Sanji-kun, I got it all figured out."

"Is it a buffet, Nami, eh? eh? You know I love buffets, eh Nami?" Luffy was excitedly hopping around, clapping his hands, drooling a bit from the corners of his mouth. "I hope their food is as good as Sanji's."

"Don't bet on it," Sanji told him with a confident grin. "We'll throw a party this weekend, I'll cook all the meat you want to make up for the past few months."

"Then I guess I'll have a lifetime of meat to make up for the past two years then, curly?" A foreign, but not so foreign voice behind them jested, in a husky, jet-lagged tone of voice, familiar and poking fun, as though the bastard had not been gone for those years at all.

Sanji's breath caught in his throat and the thumps of his heart hastened again, the hand that held the cigarette trembled under its small weight as he slowly turned around to meet the face of the swordsman, a one-eyed, smirking swordsman who was walking their way. Luffy's face broke into a large, wide grin, as he jumped in front of Zoro to wrap his lanky arms around his waist, to lift the two hundred pound man up into the air.

"Zoro!"

The swordsman, with a heavy frown, flailed in the boy's arms, looking as though he really couldn't free himself from those skinny ropes of limbs. "Oi, put me down, Luffy."

Sanji wondered how strong Luffy was if even Zoro had to struggle against Luffy.

The rest of the group caught up, Usopp in the lead, Chopper and Brook side by side right behind him, Robin and Franky all the way in the back.

"Hello Sanji, Nami, and Captain," Robin greeted with a small giggle. Ever since the Crocodile incident, she had been smiling and laughing more, immersing in conversations more, opening up around the group more.

"Luffy! Sanji! Nami!" Chopper gave the three of them a hug.

Brook shared a joke with them, an afro one that got Luffy clutching his stomach.

Franky cried at the reunion, wiping away the dribbles of tears with his handkerchief.

Nami crossed her arms with the tiniest smile visible on her expression.

Luffy laughed boisterously. It was the typical straw hat crew that Sanji had missed.

All that was left was...

"Hey, cook," the swordsman greeted, luggage in his hands, a confident smirk on his visage.

Sanji's face softened for a second, a split millisecond, before he twisted his lips into a shit eating grin, "You back as the best swordsman, marimo?"

"Not yet," he answered. "I'm going to challenge him after traveling the world with you."

The cook let his head loll to the side, as he held a cigarette in between his fingers, "Now, why would I do that?"

Zoro, with the visible smirk still lingering on his face, growled, "Bastard, you damn know why."

"Shithead."

"Curly brows."

"Dumb ass."

I fucking missed you so much.

"Alright, alright," Nami cut in between them, and the pair of men realized that the rest of the group were grinning their way, and Sanji flushed in realization that they had accidentally created a bubble excluding others from joining in. "No more fighting, no fighting in Baratie eith— crap, it was supposed to be a surprise," she smacked her forehead with her palm at the accidental slip of her tongue.

"Baratie?" the cook asked in surprise.

"You didn't hear anything from me, okay Sanji-kun?" The woman winked, as she stroked beneath his chin with her index finger, grinning her cat-like smile towards Zoro who was gritting his teeth.

"Of course, my dear," Sanji swayed with a little bit of hip motion, heart in his eyes, hands folded.

The swordsman rolled his eyes.

.~.~.~.~.

"I saw you on TV, cook," Zoro mentioned in the back of Brook's car, with Usopp in the shotgun seat, and Chopper cushioned in between Zoro and Sanji.

The blond raised an eyebrow with a slight twist of his body, interest piqued at the mention by the swordsman, "Oh? Which one?"

Over the two years, he had been on four culinary competitions, two held in France and two held in America, he had won every single one of them, which is why his reputation peaked at such a rapid pace. He had been offered to be a judge many times, to own a TV show, to be the sous chef for many prestigious restaurants, but he respectfully turned down all of them, only accepted the cash prize and the offer to publish a recipe book; however, for that, because he had not announced his real reason for entering the culinary industry, most thought him to be an arrogant prick.

The long nosed man coughed, "Every one."

Brook chortled at the input.

There was a sharp glare by the swordsman, a giggle by Chopper, and a smirk on the cook's visage before Zoro answered the question with an embarrassed streak of blush brushing his cheeks, "The recent one in France." He cleared his throat.

"The one with thirty episodes?" Sanji asked in shock.

The swordsman awkwardly coughed, looked away, the sixty shades of red still vividly visible on his face, "Yeah." He turned to Sanji, snapped, "Don't flatter yourself, idiot, it was just on television."

Sanji held up his hands as a universal peace gesture, or I have no weapon.

"I didn't say anything, marimo, don't get your panties in a bunch," the cook smiled, affectionately. "I'm sure you happened to watch every single episode of a French cooking show in Japan," he tilted his head, licking his lips at the sweet taste of victory he hadn't had in two years.

God, I missed this.

The car erupted with fits of giggles, even Brook who was supposed to be composed while driving behind Nami's car. "Zoro-san, it's okay to admit that you binged on the episodes online to watch Sanji's bammin' slammin' booty."

"Brook," Sanji groaned, hand on his forehead.

Usopp grabbed a hold of his stomach as he wheezed with laughter, tears forming in his eyes, "Oh, my god. That was a good one, Brook."

"Shut up, Brook!" Zoro barked.

The long nosed man wiped his eyes with his index finger and sighed in contentment, told the swordsman, "Zoro, we all know that you check out Sanji's ass with every chance you get."

There was a moment of silence for the man who was brave enough to say such words to a demon before the swordsman lunched forward to grab the man and his brown overalls.

"I'll kill you, long nose!" Zoro growled.

Usopp squeaked like a frightened mouse, pulled as far away from those grabbing hands as possible, told Brook to quickly pull into the parking lot of Baratie. As soon as the car came to a halt, he unbuckled his seat belt to dash outside to hide behind the small figure of the straw hat boy, who laughed at the two, being in the center of their Tom & Jerry chase.

The cook was crimson in the face from the comment, but at the sight of Baratie, his old home, all the feelings of nostalgia replaced the feelings of embarrassment, and his stomach stirred with a tingle of excitement.

"Surprise, Sanji," Nami told him, as she leaned forward with a shy smile and an exposure of her palms, as though saying 'ta-da'.

"Go inside, they're all waiting. Try to look a bit surprised, we planned this a month in advance, they're expecting some tears," she grinned, with a pat him on the back.

Sanji gave her a quick hug, landed a soft kiss on her forehead, whispered to her, "Thank you."

He felt those analyzing eyes of the swordsman burning the back of his head. Perhaps that's why he hugged her longer than necessary, to draw out Zoro's lingering attention on him; and it was all too strange for him that a look from a man got him more worked up than a touch from a woman, a beautiful one at that.

When they entered the Baratie, they were almost immediately welcomed by the cooks, the foul mouthed, ass-kicking, multiple versions of Sanji. "Ohhh!" Luffy rejoiced at the sight of food lined up from table to table, and Zoro grinned at the sight of booze at the bar. Zeff, who was sitting on a wooden chair with crossed legs and arms, watched Sanji as he walked in, who was all suave-like, with his hands tucked inside of his pants, and they stared at each other with stoic expressions for a few minutes, in silence, until the old man said, "Welcome back, Eggplant."

Sanji smiled, all tender and shit, before responding with, "Hey old fart, how's life?"

Zeff grunted as he pulled himself up, "You're a hundred years too young to check up on me, damn brat."

"Still shitty as always, huh?"

The old fart grinned as he bonked him on the head, a light tap with his wooden peg, and Sanji noticed with each year that the old man had a harder time reaching the top of his head, probably due to the lack of stretching and Sanji getting taller annually. With a grunt, the old man took an empty seat next to Sanji. "Have you seen the news, Sanji?" Zeff asked, as expected, the first mention of their conversation.

Sanji nodded, "I saw, old man. Everything is back to the way it's supposed to be, maybe better. That bastard is locked away in jail and I am back with my friends, about to chase for All Blue. I can't be thankful enough to Luffy that he beat the shit out of Crocodile.

The old chef glanced at the straw hat boy, who was inhaling the food like a vacuum cleaner, competing with the cooks who were sweating to match his pace. "I never thought that a brat like him would be the one to put peace in my mind, but life works in funny ways," he chuckled. "Have you cooked all around the world yet, lil' Eggplant?"

"Stop calling me a little eggplant, you damn geezer, I'm already an adult," the young cook complained with a childish pout.

"You're a hundred years too early to be thinking you're grown up, brat," Zeff told him.

Sanji scratched his head. He had long given up trying to convince his old man that he had grown up with words— which is exactly why he took up smoking; actions spoke louder, after all. He puffed on a cigarette, answered to the former question, "I've only visited a few parts of the world, but after the next competition I'm going to stop putting aside All Blue and pursue it while traveling around, with that idiot marimo." He jerked his thumb towards the swordsman, who had taken a seat at the bar.

The old man glanced at Zoro, smirked, "Have you taken an interest in him?"

Sanji reddened, "None of your damn business."

Zeff chuckled, shook his head, "Accompany your boyfriend, he's looking over this way with a pitiable, idiotic look on his face."

The blond flushed even further, stammered, "S-Shitty delusional old man, stop talking crazy." But sure enough, marimo was glancing their way, burning a hole through Sanji.

"I may be old and disabled in one leg but I'm not an idiot, Eggplant, he's bonkers over you, and you better keep him company before he drowns himself with all of the alcohol from the shelves," he grunted before walking away, heading towards the straw hat boy who was still vacuuming up the place with a black hole for a stomach.

After his old man left Sanji by himself, the intense set of gaze from across the room set fire to his skin, and it somehow left him charred and bare, made him blush with embarrassment, tremble with anticipation, and swallow with nervousness; there was a tug in Sanji's heart, a pull that made him gravitate towards the swordsman who was sitting by the bar alone, drinking his cup of patron.

Sanji walked at a slow pace, his eyes and the marimo's eyes interlocking, like this was a fucking romance novel, like they were already in his bedroom, alone.

It sent shivers down his spine and aroused his gut.

"Join the party, mosshead," Sanji told him as he sat down on a stool next to his. "Why are you by yourself?"

"To get you alone, obviously," the swordsman bluntly said, grinning around his cup.

When did this bastard get so smooth?

Sanji's already red features spread, "I-Idiot."

Zoro leaned in, just a slight bit, but noticeably on the cook's part, as he breathed, "I'm back, cook."

That took the blond back a bit as he expected some snark remark from the swordsman. It really was strange how their relationship had transitioned from their initial meeting to now, from some bitter rivalry to acquaintanceship to somewhat friendship and now to a sort of relationship, it was fucking bizarre. They were bizarre in almost every senses of the word, but simultaneously, they complementary of each other, like salt and pepper.

"I know."

"Have you changed your mind at all?" the swordsman asked, his smile gone, voice hushed.

It was so intimate between them, with only a breath away, eye to eye, only the cup of tequila in between their fingertips from interlocking, but it was also so awkward to talk about this with the swordsman, as though Sanji, the man of romance, was back in high school as a virgin just entering puberty, with pimples on his face and that awful haircut, stammering at the sight of ladies. He was nervous, there were waves of butterflies, or moths, whatever they were, squirming in his stomach.

Sanji caught his breath as he said in response, "No, of course not."

Of course not, he repeated in his brain as he remembered all of those times he had to reject those sweet, beautiful ladies with their supple breasts and inviting smiles. But seeing the relief wash over the swordsman's face, it was worth the wait, Sanji thought, the rejections and the abstinence from sex.

The green haired man rubbed the nape of his neck, glanced to the side, "Am I allowed to your place tonight?"

Sanji's jaws dropped as he did not expect Zoro to have initiated this... this whole sexual innuendo, the innocent question that usually led to some hot and dirty sex between two parties.

What is happening?

At the lack of response, the swordsman frowned, "You could say no, idiot cook."

Nonononononono.

"No to that, yes to you coming over to my place," the blond responded, almost automatically, mechanically, because he was not doing that abstinence shit anymore, he had the sex drive and desires as a human being, and with Zoro at an arm's reach, at a fingertip's reach, it was time for Sanji to make up his mind and have some filthy sex with this moss for a swordsman.

The cook groaned internally as Zoro gloated externally.

Do I not even care about the fact that we are both guys anymore?

The night passed uneventfully. Sanji talked about the past two years with Zoro, how he had signed up for culinary competitions feeling the need to put his dream into action, how he had won consecutively which led to an instant reputable position as a cook. But he didn't mention the fact that this endeavor, this action of moving forward, was under the influence of Zoro's own strong willpower, that the swordsman changed the course of Sanji's life just by existing, simply by knowing him. Likewise, the swordsman talked about his own competition back in Japan, how he had toppled the other competitors to come out on top, to be trained underneath Hawkeye, who, he hesitantly said, was not a bad person. He also talked about the pink haired lady he stayed with, and the cook admittedly felt envious but shook his head because it was his nature to never have any sorts of negative thoughts about a lady.

"Oi, have you been staying in shape, curly?" Zoro asked in curiosity.

The cook grinned, as a matter of fact, culinary competitions weren't the only competitions he had entered over the past two years. He had also, once in a blue moon, competed in underground martial competitions, introduced by none other than Ace, who was also trying to build up his bank account for his great venture out in the blue, and they had worked as partners initially, but as the cook's reputations built among those who were on top of the charts, he had begun to work solo, which wasn't a problem at all. He had gotten seriously hurt once and it was only because he faced off against a woman. Once Ace had left on his own adventure, Sanji sometimes went back to keep in shape with savate, in hopes that once Zoro returns they would fight at the same wavelength again.

"I'll show you when we spar," Sanji told him, promisingly.

The thought of sparring with the swordsman again burned his chest all the way down to his gut as Sanji imagined them seriously trying to fucking kill each other.

That would be great.

At one point of the night Brook played the piano, Usopp sang with the cooks, Franky danced on the tables, and Luffy performed a show by shoving two chopsticks in his nose with Chopper as his assistant, it was lively as they always were; and even the two refined ladies, who were dining on the side, laughed along with those idiots. Sanji, too, perhaps because of the buzz in his system, couldn't help but to laugh along.

And by two in the morning, with the sky inked with pitch darkness, the party came to an end, and the drunken group spilled out of the restaurant, one by one, saying their last farewells to the cooks.

"Bye!" Luffy shouted, waving his arms wildly over his head. "I'll be back tomorrow!"

"DON'T COME BACK," the cooks all shouted in unison.

The boy with the straw hat laughed, hands on his stomach, as he was dragged by Nami back to the car, along with Franky and Robin who said their goodbyes to the cooks and the others who were taking the second car.

"Old man, don't collapse during the time I'm gone," Sanji said to Zeff who was leaning by the door, arms crossed, with all the weight shifted to his leg, his real leg.

"Don't catch a cold, Eggplant, the sea can be quite rough."

The group smiled, fond of how the two chefs displayed their concern for one another, because it somehow reminded them of another relationship, one between Sanji and Zoro.

The young cook threw a nonchalant wave behind his shoulder before he entered Brook's car again.

All of them were tired, a bit wasted (except for the driver, of course), and none of them spoke to one another (for like a good fifteen minutes) until the car pulled over in front of Sanji's apartment. They hauled Zoro's luggage from the trunk before saying their goodbyes to Usopp and Brook, not Chopper since he was passed out in the backseat. The cool night air felt refreshing against Sanji's pink tinged cheeks, soaked with drunkenness and nervousness, as the swordsman behind him had a smirk on his face. Perhaps it wasn't nervousness but anticipation that made the blond's hands tremble. When they walked into the building, he greeted the security who glanced at Zoro with suspicion, but only because the green haired oaf looked like a gangster with his naturally slanted eyebrows. They entered the elevator, the tense atmosphere lingering above them, and it only thickened by the time they approached Sanji's door.

The cook cleared his throat as he jabbed the keys into the doorknob, "The place is a bit of a mess since I haven't been around for long."

He tried to pick up the conversation but failed miserably as the swordsman remained silent behind him.

Say something, idiot.

As the pair walked in with the luggage dragging behind them, the door clicked shut and Sanji swallowed the thick cotton in his mouth; the green haired man left the bag by the door as he respectfully took off his shoes before walking in, with a calm as ever demeanor that shook the cook's nerves even more.

Shit, how did I ever get laid? Sanji wondered as he hung his hat and jacket on the coat hanger, shyly glancing towards Zoro who settled on the couch.

What the hell, bastard, make a move!

Then again, what did he expect? For the swordsman to have grabbed him by the wrists and take his lips, to grind his own hips against Sanji's to draw out a husky groan that clearly spelled out sexual desperation and longing? Damn, that was him, not Zoro. Zoro was a swordsman, who had probably trained his body to remain abstinent, to not require sex.

A soft word was spoken that silenced all of his loud thoughts.

"Sanji."

That surprised him, the swordsman never called him by his name.

Sanji licked his lips as he neared the man sitting on the couch, whose arms and legs were unfolded, whose body was drawn forward towards the blond, and whose pupils were dilated but filled with genuine intent. "Two years ago at the airport, you chased me down for a closure, an answer, and at the time I couldn't give it to you because I was a coward of my feelings, guilty that I was moving on too quickly from Kuina's death. But I promised you one thing, that I would be back as a better man to give you an answer, to tell you this..."

With a sibilant intake of breath, the blond nodded, his lips quivering.

"I love you."

The swordsman, though it was obvious he was trying to appear tough, with the stone edged expression and the non-blinking of his eyes, his hands were shaking as he waited for the blond's response.

They've only known each other for a week, technically, but that was the thing, maybe even though they weren't sure they would last or not, they were just two idiots trying to make something work because they felt it, this indescribable connection between them, this undeniable gravitation that pushed and pulled the two against one another.

Sanji gently grabbed a fistful of the back of marimo's head as the tips of his knees dived forward, one by one, tucking into both sides of Zoro's waist. The man's eyes widened. To hell with it, the blond thought as he leaned forward for a kiss for the third time; he sat a little higher than Zoro, so he dipped his head lower, their noses touching as he kissed those parted lips of the man's, whose eyes were drooping in a sleepy manner. The swordsman's hands massaged the slender sides of the blond's, caressing up and down, palming beneath the shirt, feeling the hot skin burn under his touch, and Sanji sighed into his mouth, for he had lacked the intimate touch of another human being for the past two years now.

His heart was in such agony, pounding, drumming, leaping out of his chest in a syncopated rhythm, only to be relished by the act of pressing his lips, his body, against the swordsman.

Never in my life— not even with Nami— never—

"Zoro," he groaned, almost in a woeful manner, as the green haired man followed the slow rhythm of their kiss, had had his head bent to the side in a relaxed composure.

Ever

The green haired man gripped the sides of the blond's waist and pulled him closer, creating a sort of friction that sent a shudder to vibrate up Sanji's spine, which also forced him to extend his neck and expose the salty sweat of his porcelain skin and cry out in pleasure.

"Shit," the blond hissed, taking a hold of Zoro's shoulders as a measure of gripping for security, stability. "I haven't had this in two years, you damn marimo," he leaned forward to trace his lips on the lobe of Zoro's hot ear.

"Let's take this to the bedroom," Sanji whispered, his wiggling toes digging into the back of Zoro's shirt, a wild grin curving up his lips.

Zoro, also with a slight upturn of his lips, leaned forward to lightly nibble on the bottom lip of Sanji's. His hands gripped around the cook's muscular thighs to pull his legs tighter around his waist.

"Okay."

With the cook's body fastened around him, he traveled to the room where Sanji slept, bumping into a few walls due to the fact that the blond was pulling on his hair to prevent him from straying from the path to the bedroom.

"This way, dumb ass," the cook ordered as he breathed into Zoro's forcibly opened mouth.

The swordsman, in usual occasions, would have snapped back with a heavy retort, but this time it was different. For Sanji, the look of lust and the desperate clawing of Zoro's fingers, scratching at Sanji's belt, which held up the pants that prevented their bodies from touching, skin to skin, it felt so much more than what the blond thought he could feel in one setting. These emotions, all those pent up love he had for Nami could not compare to them, and those meaningless sex he had when he was younger; they were far from fulfilling as one kiss from Zoro.

"Fuck, hurry up, Zoro, hurry up," Sanji demanded, almost agonizingly, his voice throbbing and trembling. "I'll give you the permission to top me tonight, so fuck me, you damn motherfucking marimo, fuck me."

The cook's bare back, since his shirt was forcibly taken off by the swordsman, touched the folds of his bed sheets, and the green haired man, who leaned over him, flashed him a nasty mischievous smirk that flared Sanji's gut and emptied his mind, until the cook was only overwhelmed with his senses and emotions. "Perverted cook," Zoro breathed into his chest, his hands still massaging the blond's slender sides, his lips tracing across the fair skin and Sanji's pink, erect nipples.

"Ah—" the cook gasped because even a small touch was electrifying.

Zoro's smirk melted into an amiable, boyish, affectionate grin, "You actually waited for me for two years." He slowly trailed his way to the blond's pelvic area, the pants loose from the unbuckled belt. He gently pulled at the fabric with his teeth as his hands massaged both sides of Sanji's waist.

"Didn't think I would, marimo?" He teasingly pulled at Zoro's green hair.

"Love-cook, I didn't think you could fight off women."

"Oi, oi, you brute, I didn't fight them off, I simply rejected their sweet offers and their delicacies, gently, like a gentleman would."

"Would a gentleman like his first blowjob from a man?" the green haired man asked before taking in all of Sanji's length at once, feeling the tip hit against the back of his throat and tasting the pre-cum on his tongue. "Fuck," the blond cried out with a thrust of his hips into the air.

Zoro expertly pulled his head back before taking it again, repetitively, each time earning a heavy moan from the cook who had closed his eyes in pure, physical bliss. Then he ran his tongue down, tracing the veins on the pale skin of Sanji's cock to the base where his nostrils were tickled by the few strands of blond hair, and Sanji, who gritted his teeth to restrain any sounds, hissed instead, his hands clenching the green locks of Zoro's. Seeing the cook, not vulnerable but exposed, confident in his posture but hesitant in his eyes with scarlet hues soaking into his cheeks, probably due to the fact that it was his first time with a man, it aroused the swordsman. Everything about Sanji aroused him.

With each grunt, gasp, groan of the cook's, his cock trembled inside his pants and only wished to be liberated.

Noticing the bulge, a competitive flare arose in the blond's blue orbs, as if the game had shifted, replacing the initial shyness and hesitance. With a mischievous grin, Sanji fondled the bulge with his wiggling toes with a raised brow, as if saying, "Ah?"

Zoro pulled his head back, a shudder like an electric shock fluctuating up and down his spine.

The wiggling toes clenched around the zipper of his pants and slid it low along with his pair of boxers, exposing Zoro's tanned member to hang loosely in the open.

"Oi, stop gawking at it, you shitty cook," Zoro groaned with a slight blush, slapping his forehead with his palm when he saw the cook's jaw drop.

The stupefied cook closed his mouth, recovered his posture by fastening his legs tight around Zoro and grinding, bare skin to skin, against the swordsman, drawing a sharp hiss from both of them. "Stop dreaming, you damn marimo, who was gawking at who now?" Sanji asked with a raise of his hip and a jerk of his own cock, a quick one but in the line of sight of the swordsman.

Zoro swallowed, eyes widening. "Ero-cook..."

The blond's arm extended to reach to his side, opening up the first drawer to pull out a small bottle of lube and a few condoms. "Put this on," he told Zoro, tossing a condom to the side while squirting a fair amount into the palm of his hand. "While I do this..." he trailed off while slicking his two fingers. Sanji felt the swordsman's heavy lidded eyes on him. Perhaps that was the reason why he took his time putting the lube on, because the way Zoro looked at him set fire to his skin, in a way that not another person could, in a way only this man could.

With a sharp hiss, he inserted himself, felt the hot flesh wrap around his two fingertips. Zoro, whose eyes had remained affixed to the scene, licked his lips, slowly and patiently, waiting for the blond to make his next move.

"Marimo," he panted. "Come here," he ordered.

And as though the swordsman was bound by an invisible rope, he obediently followed the order, leaning forward to place his knees in between Sanji's legs, his erection rubbing against the clef of his ass.

Sanji's breath quickened when he felt the hardness of Zoro's cock near his entrance. His heels dug into the mattress and his fingers gripped the bed sheets. Zoro saw that the blond was trying to relax, trying to control his shaking by clenching his jaws and shutting his eyes closed.

"Relax, Sanji," he consoled. "Relax." Zoro carefully observed the blond's face, watching for signs to stop or continue.

In a sudden movement, in a lightening fashion, the cook opened his eyes and with a push of his arms, pressed his body into Zoro's cock, pushing slightly so only the head was inside. He growled, "Fuck me, marimo, fuck me hard enough to make up for the last two years." To reassure and to allow him to continue, he gripped the swordsman's arm and squeezed, encouraged with the moving of his hips as well.

Zoro's dumbfounded look quickly melted into a mischievous grin, "Don't regret this, love-cook."

Sanji smiled back and replied, "I wont."

How could I, dumb ass? I love you, he confessed silently.

The swordsman took a hold of the blond's waist and slowly eased forward, pressing gently. Heat surrounded him immediately, the softness of Sanji wrapping around him as he slowly sunk inside, but he was careful not to give into the pleasure and start plunging in and out of the blond like he had always imagined. And since Sanji had closed his eyes shut and wasn't saying a single word, Zoro continued until he was fully inside.

"Are you okay?" he asked, panting heavily. Being inside of the blond but being unable to move, it was like torture.

The blond nodded. "I'm fine, it's just... different."

That was a lie. It hurt like a bitch, like his skin was tearing and bleeding internally.

He was in pain physically, enough to draw tears to the corners of his eyes, but emotionally he was fulfilled, in ways he could not describe. There was an unnoticed void he had until now, an ache in his heart, a pang of loneliness he had never been able to pinpoint. But as Zoro brushed his bangs to the side and leaned forward to share a tender kiss with Sanji, that dull thud of his chest became enlivened, beating with the swordsman's, replacing the blood of his vein with something else, something more ecstatic, more delightful. The physical pain became a mere sting, forgotten by the emotional fill he felt.

"I'm okay, Zoro, you can move now."

The swordsman nodded before drawing his hips back. Sanji held his breath. In one smooth motion, he rolled his hips forward, burying the tip of his member so deep inside Sanji that the cook cried out in a heap of frenzy, arching his back and clawing at the sheets beneath him.

"Fuck!" the cook gasped, squeezing the bed sheets tighter and biting his lips until it bruised.

Zoro leaned over him to caress the loose strands of his blond hair with his fingers, panting in his ears, "Are you okay, Sanji? Should I stop?"

Immobilized, the blond could not respond for a moment. There was still the initial sting and pressure from the penetration, a faster pulse and a heavier breathing (even when he was a man of stamina), but he was mainly paralyzed because the last thrust of Zoro's hips had felt sublime, to the point that Sanji could have almost came.

He gaped at the swordsman in wide eyed wonderment. "Zoro?" he verbalized in between his sharp intakes of air.

"Yeah, Sanji? Does it hurt?"

Sanji grinned up at him, extending his arms to wrap his arms around the swordsman's neck, startling the three gold earrings to chime. "Never mind that marimo, do that again," the cook encouraged, a gleam of excitement in his eyes. "The same exact thing."

The green haired man furrowed his brows, "Like this?"

He withdrew and plunged in again without a warning, and the blond blond stifled his embarrassed cries with the bite of his lips once more. It felt good, fantastic even, but not as mind-blowing as the first one had been. "A little to the left," he demanded. Zoro pulled out and pushed in again, aiming to the left as Sanji had instructed him to do, hitting the sweet spot that left the blond trembling with pure ecstasy. "Marimo," he moaned, in between his uneven exhale of breaths, pulling the swordsman closer to kiss him deeply, which Zoro responded to more desperately than Sanji himself.

"I love you cook, ever since you first kissed me or perhaps even before that," Zoro whispered into his mouth after pulling away from Sanji's hungry lips. "I want to make love to you over and over again," he said as he continued to thrust into the cook, aiming for the same spot over and over, pushing the cook into a senseless, agonizing delight. "Sanji," he repeated his name over and over as he got lost in the sensation of his cock fervently entering and re-entering Sanji, in the sound of the sweet, honey-glazed tone of the blond's voice moaning, and in the thought itself, the fact that he was fucking the cook whom he had somehow fell in love two years ago.

"Fuck! Yes!" Sanji cried out as Zoro's erection continued to slide in and out of Sanji, burying one of his hand into the swordsman's green hair as he jerked off with the other, perfectly syncing it with every movement of Zoro's hips. He was so hard and aroused, and warm, as though all the blood in his body decided to gather into his hand. He felt his orgasm nearing, peaking, overriding his thoughts and emotions, into the state of white colored blankness, leaving him paralyzed as he spilled hot semen into his hand.

Seeing Sanji orgasm, as though peeking into the most private part of his mind, Zoro came a few seconds after, his mind dissolving into the image of the cook's closed eyes, parted lips, and naked body. Then he sprawled on top of that body, burying his nose into the crevice of the lean neck of Sanji's, staying still to enjoy the few lasting buzz of the afterglow.

"Shit," Sanji said after a couple of minutes of silence.

Somehow it was so befitting that the cook would say that after having an intense, passionate sex with a man for the first time in his life. It was so like him that Zoro began to laugh.

"What are you laughing at, you asshole?" he growled, feeling the weird vibration of Zoro's laughter on top of his heartbeat.

"So like you to say shit like that to ruin the mood, shit cook," Zoro teased, pulling his head up to stare into Sanji's eyes.

The blond's heart jumped from seeing the swordsman's eyes so close up. Eyes are the reflection of a person's soul, he once heard. He wasn't afraid of seeing Zoro's genuine and honest soul, but rather, he was afraid of Zoro seeing his own. Unveiled and stark naked, figuratively and literally, covered in the filth of his past and guilt, the truth of who he really was beneath the facade of a tough womanizing cook. The swordsman was seeing it all.

But despite all of this, Zoro smiled and teased, "It's not like you to let me have the last word, cook."

It seemed like all the answer Sanji wanted, needed, that Zoro saw everything but he didn't give a shit. For once in his life, there was someone who saw Sanji for he was and loved him for who he was.

"Mosshead, let's do it again."

"Again? It's only been a few minutes."

"We got two years to catch up." Sanji softly kissed the swordsman's forehead, "And I am ready."

"Yeah, I can feel your dick rubbing against my ass," Zoro grumbled.

Pushing himself and Zoro up with his powerful legs, he flipped them around to switch up their positions. He grinned over the swordsman, who appeared a bit taken back by the sudden swap. "Well then, let's change things up for a bit..."


Zoro was close to sleep, already seeing the white hues of clouds and vast ocean, body completely worn out from the physical exertion in bed with the cook who had the libido of a teenage boy who had just hit puberty and discovered porn. But he was stirred awake when Sanji's deep baritone voice spoke in his ears. "Zoro, how long have you liked me for?" he asked, into the blackness of the room.

The swordsman grumbled, "I was just about to sleep."

A low growl close to his ears again. "Answer the damn question, marimo."

Zoro closed his eyes, "I don't know. It happened so gradually. I remember hating your guts and wanting to kill you, only tied to you because of my morals and my promise to stay until your hand healed. Then slowly it wasn't so bad talking to you, fighting with you, sleeping next to you, it all kind of became something I looked forward to do rather than something forced. You became a man with a dream and a past, with a childhood friend and hobbies, shifting from the first impression of a womanizing cook to someone relatable and reliable. My friends liked you and enjoyed your company, which was a constant reminder of you. Then I began to think about you in inappropriate times, like when I was having sex with Kuina—"

"The day we all went to you house?" Sanji interrupted in surprise.

"Yeah? How did y—"

"Continue with the story."

Though curious, the green haired man continued while the memories were still fresh in his mind. "When we kissed for the first time, it wasn't so bad. I mean I felt guilty in the moment, but afterwards, the months I wasn't seeing you, it became a haze, like my ordinary routines from before I met you were impossible to go back to. Everything I did traced back to you, my thoughts, my dreams, even when I was training and meditating. My friends continued to mention you and I was frustrated because I thought it would have been better if we had stayed as friends instead, if you had not kissed me that day. Of course I was wrong. The day that the haze disappeared and everything seemed real again was when Kuina passed away, it may have been because of her death or because of you were there. Even after that, I could not submit to my feelings to you because I felt guilty that I was moving on too quickly after Kuina's death."

The blond dropped his voice, "You loved her too much."

Zoro nodded, though Sanji could not see it in the dark. "Yeah, I did. But I realized that it wasn't because of her death that I was moving onto you. Even before she passed away my feelings for her had become more casual, less romantic, but I still loved her, just as a sister, a friend. But I thought it was too cruel, thought I would forget her if I no longer held onto her close to my heart, so I kept denying my feelings to you, kept turning away when you wanted me to see it so badly."

Almost hesitantly, Sanji asked, "So what made you suddenly change your mind at the airport?"

"Seeing you try so damn hard, to stop me from leaving to have your closure, I realized that I didn't want a closure with you." He paused, hearing the blond hold his breath. "Kuina was a part of my past. I loved her and I still do, but she does not deny me my present, with you, here. I had to accept that in order to move on. So it wasn't so sudden at the airport, responding to your kiss, because everything that happened built up to that point."

Sanji exhaled sharply. "Fuck, marimo," he groaned. "When did you become so good with your words."

"With practice."

Zoro pulled the slender body close to him, until he could feel Sanji's heartbeat against his skin, until his nose was filled with the faint traces of nicotine and spices from the cook's hair, until their bodies were molded into one like two puzzle pieces meant to fit. He softly kissed him on the forehead, whispered, "I love you, cook, I'm glad we met."

Looking back, it all felt distant. The car accident, the first meeting, the incidents in between. Throughout, only Zoro's face peeked through Sanji's memories. And perhaps that is alright because the past was for the present to occur, for one action that takes place to lead to another, for coincidences to become a reality.

"I love you, marimo, I also am somehow thankful that you almost ran me over with your car that day," Sanji told him, half sarcastically but half genuinely. "Now go to sleep."