A/N: This is the story I have been wanting to write for ages. It is based off an old RP I did years ago with my Zoro, but nonetheless it has taking a different path and turned into this - an emotional story of a love between two broken souls.
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece. If I did, I would live in the Thousand Sunny museum and would ride it all along the New World while drawing the manga ... But, I do own this concept and the two beautiful baby boys that you will see grow into independent young men.
"I'm about to lose my mind.
You've been gone for so long, I'm running out of time.
I need a doctor, doctor.
Call me a doctor, doctor to bring me back to life."
This was ridiculous.
That was the only thing on Sanji's mind right now as he lay on the couch in the therapist's office. Hell, he didn't even want to be there, but Zeff had threatened to fire him if he didn't get any help for his "problem." The blond rolled his eyes; this wasn't even his fault. He didn't wish for his life to turn out this way … it just kind of happened. Now Sanji was trying to pick up the broken pieces, hoping to keep his family together before it was too late. He brushed his fingers through his bangs, waiting for Dr. Law to finally say something. The silence was killing him, was eating him inside out. He felt a nervous twitch in his hand, and he longed to talk. That was his number one flaw: he spoke too much. Now while he was supposed to be "reflecting on the issue" as the emo-looking therapist put it, he felt anxious and out of his comfort zone. Finally, he broke his staring competition with the ceiling and turned his head to the young doctor sitting in a chair across from him.
The man had to be no older than him – and he was pushing forty. But, Sanji had to say that Doctor Trafalgar Law looked good for his age. Hell, he still looked like he was in his early thirties at best. A furry hat with random-placed spots complimented the suit he was wearing, and Sanji swore he saw tattoos on the guy's hands. They allowed that with doctors now? He'd have to ask Chopper, because the image was strange. Not only that, but the therapist also had dark bags under his eyes – but it looked more like eye shadow than fatigue if you asked him. What was Zeff thinking when he recommended this guy? He looked like he should be in a band, not listening to people's problems.
"You sure you're qualified for this?" Sanji asked aloud and then mentally kicked himself for being so disrespectful. The man had a plethora of degrees and certificates hanging all over the walls! Sanji's mouth was getting him in trouble yet again, but he didn't change his facial expression as he waited for the other to answer.
His reply was a chuckle. "Mr. Roronoa-Black, I assure you that you're in good hands. I trained under the masters of psychology. My mentor was Dr. Doflamingo himself." Though, Law seemed to be a little hesitant to reveal his teacher's name, because everyone knew that Doflamingo turned out to be a psychopath who drove his patients to madness and suicide. In spite of the man's contributions to psychology, he turned out to be some crazy motherfucker, and Sanji didn't feel comfortable having his trainee as his therapist. Dr. Law sensed his discomfort and cleared his throat, "When I was studying under him, he showed no signs of his illness." He paused, adding thoughtfully, "He would be the one to know how to mask that sort of thing."
Sanji still made a face and turned back to the ceiling, which proved to be much safer than this potential madman he was about to spill his life's story to. "T'ch. If you start doing that mumbo jumbo mind control shit on me, I'll kick your ass." At this statement, Law scribbled something on his pad. Even though he was only seeing it from his peripherals, Sanji knew that was going to bug him through the entirety of this session.
"Noted, Mr. R—"
"Please, just call me Sanji." He sighed. Hearing his full married last name made him feel the knife in his back. Roronoa-Black. They had finally gotten married, but that was when things changed for the worst. Sanji slumped against the couch even more, trying to sink into it, not wanting to go through with this hour-long torture session.
"Very well, Sanji-san." Dr. Law smiled at him, though, with a gentle kindness that Sanji hadn't seen in years from a soul in this god-forsaken place. "Where would you like to begin? I won't force you to reveal information, but I will ask some questions throughout your story."
Sanji swallowed, staring up at that ceiling as if waiting for a god to come down and smite him. Did he really have to go through with this? He exhaled a deep breath and let his eyes close, letting the feeling of defeat wash over him as he relived his memories. "I was in my early twenties I got my job at the Baratie." He said slowly, trying to get the details right. "Zeff, the owner, was my foster father – don't ask about my parents, 'coz all I know is they abandoned me and I don't care about them – and my mentor. He helped pay for culinary school so I could take up a cooking position at his restaurant as soon as possible. He was a good Dad; a little rough, but there's nothing wrong with tough love, eh?" He chuckled ruefully. Tough love was better than no love at all.
"Do you enjoy your position at the Baratie?" Dr. Law asked, writing on that damn pad again. At least Sanji couldn't see it, but he could hear the scratching of the pen against the paper. It was like a curse – maybe it was paranoia. No, it was definitely paranoia; he didn't want to be judged.
"Well – I did. Before the bastard told me to take some time off." He quickly added, "I'll get to that," before Law could ask why. "Anyway – I was making decent money as a chef at one of the biggest restaurants in the fucking country, you know? But I was young and stupid, and I wanted to live a little more than comfortably. So instead of asking dear ol' dad for a raise, I decided to get another part-time job that I could do while I was off shift from the restaurant. There's this place called Thriller Bark, you heard of it?" He cracked an eye open to glance at the doctor.
"I don't think I have," Law said after pondering for a second. Then, he snapped his fingers. "Ah, yes, I believe Eustass has spoken about it before. It's a club, yes?"
"Mm," Sanji hummed in agreement, "but it's a little more than that. It's got a downstairs stripper joint. The place is for freaks, so the show is combined – men and women strippers. For everyone of every sexual orientation, you know? Anyway, I was a handsome boy, and I was arrogant, so I figured this job would be a piece of cake. Moria hired me with one glance, but I gave him a condition: I wasn't some regular stripper. I did special weekend shows, since I had other obligations. The greedy fuck agreed, knowing he'd probably get more money that way – especially since his marketing guy, Hogback, was a fucking genius."
"So you became a part-time stripper." Law repeated, taking the time to write another sentence on his paper.
"Yep. Didn't even know it was possible, to be honest, but I sing a good song when I need to. I became quite a hit at Thriller Bark, attracting more and more customers as each weekend passed. I did my shows on Fridays and Saturdays, late, after my shifts at Baratie. But once I was there for a little while, I became acquainted with a couple of the other strippers – the regulars, as I dubbed them. There was this beautiful woman with bright orange hair and enchanting eyes," He could still imagine every inch about her, her touch, her smell, "Her name was Nami Mikan, and she was everything I dreamed about in a woman. She was smart, funny, and she was talented. She assisted Moria with the money; she had gone to college for accounting, but she needed some money to pay off the debts, so that was why she was at Thriller. To be frank, I think I was in love at first sight…"
~ back then ~
"Your performance was top notch, Nami-swan~!" Sanji cooed from backstage as the woman left the stage clad in her silk robe. She was mostly naked underneath Sanji knew, and he could see her perky nipples from under the cloth covering her. He clapped his hands together, "I could only hope that one day you will give me a private performance!" He sighed dreamily.
But he wasn't far off from the mark when Nami grabbed his wrist, "Ne, Sanji-kun, come to a back room with me?" She turned to look at him, a seductive smirk on her lips as she pulled him with her. On her way past the (un)dressing rooms, she let go of him for a brief moment to grab a bottle of whiskey. "I've wanted to have you for weeks, but I didn't know when the right time would be …" She said when she returned, winking as she held up the liquor.
"For weeks! I'm honored, Nami-san," Sanji could tell that he was blushing, and he laughed as she pulled him into one of the bedrooms set up for private shows, among other things…
~ and now ~
"Prostitution as well?" Law asked with slightly widened eyes.
Sanji shrugged his shoulders before commenting, "Moria was all buddy-buddy with the police, so they didn't bother with his illegal practices. I never sold my body, but I knew Nami-san did. She needed the extra money, while I was content with the money I made from the stripping. She was clean though and always careful – with everyone but me, really." He could feel the sweat on his forehead as he let that thought linger in his head. "After that day, we had sex frequently. Some called us lovers. She would come meet me after work some nights, and we'd go out for coffee or something. Our relationship grew, but neither of us spoke of making anything official. It was just us, and it was what we wanted." He couldn't help but smile, feeling his eyes glaze over as he continued to stare at the white ceiling.
"Did you love her?" Law asked gently, placing the pen down.
"More than I realized at the time."
~ back then ~
It was late on a Thursday night, but Nami had conned herself out of the show. She and Sanji had promised to go on a date, and there was something on the ginger's mind. She stood across the street from the Baratie, hugging her chest with one arm as she tucked some hair behind her ear. A couple of days ago, she had gone to the doctor, only to find out some … interesting news. She closed her eyes and sighed, wondering when Sanji would get off his shift already. It had already been nearly a half hour since he was supposed to get off. Had he forgotten her already? They had been doing this for over a year now – whatever this was. She almost got the feeling from him that he wanted to marry her, but those thoughts were far from her mind. She could never commit herself to something like that, even though there was enough reason to.
Finally, the blond stepped out from the alleyway; he must have exited through the back entrance. She smiled and waved over to him, "Sanji-kun! Over here," She called out, grabbing his attention. The cook plucked the cigarette from in between his lips and tossed it into the street before rushing across and pulling her into a big hug.
"What a sight for sore eyes!" He said, nuzzling his face into her neck. "You would not believe the day I had." Sanji sighed, slumping his shoulders a bit. "He works me so hard sometimes. I think he forgets I'm human sometimes…."
She rubbed his back, pulling him closer. Nami could hear his exhaustion in his voice alone, but she was worried about him. Sometimes, Zeff did work him too hard; she had seen the aftermath at the club when he would get himself drunk with a bottle (or so) of wine. "It's OK, Sanji-kun. Let's get away from here, ne?" She pulled away and cupped his cheeks, staring into his magnificent blue eye. For some reason (and she never asked), he had hidden his left eye with his bangs. It could have been for fashion, knowing him, but she sometimes thought otherwise. She pecked his lips lightly before letting go and hooking her arm around his.
"Hai, Nami-san," Sanji murmured, "There's this new dessert place I wanted to try out. Hungarian pastries, I think. Would you like to go there? Maybe we could pick up some pastries and go back to my place and just … relax." Usually when Sanji asked to go back to his place, it was for sex, but Nami could hear he was too tired for it. Maybe he did just want to cuddle. Well, she still didn't know how he was going to take the news, though. She bit her lower lip.
"Whatever you want, Sanji-kun. I have something important I need to tell you regardless."
Sanji stared down at her, his abnormally curly brow rising at her comment. "Hm?"
"Not now. I want you to be sitting down first." Nami said and practically dragged him down the street. He then led her to the small café, where they sat at a table near the window, two delicious looking pastries in front of them. He hesitantly took a bite of his own before smiling – it had Sanji's seal of approval. He glanced over to Nami and noticed that she hadn't even touched it yet.
"Ne, Nami-san, what's wrong?" He asked, a tiny bit of whipped cream hanging off the side of his lips.
"Sanji-kun," Nami reached over the table to grab his hands, staring intently into his eyes. "I'm pregnant."
~ and now ~
Sanji was chewing the inside of his lip now, lost in the memory. He had nearly fainted after she told him, and he knew his first thought was: oh my Kami, is it even mine? But it did turn out to be his after all.
"We wanted to keep it, even if we weren't together. We'd make it work like we always did. I – sorry, but can I light a cigarette in here? I can feel the withdrawal setting in," He interrupted himself; he could feel the tingling in his hands. Law gave him a once over before nodding. Sanji pulled out his pack of King Blue and slid one of the cancer sticks into his mouth. After he lit it and had a drag, he continued, "Nine months later, our son was born. We named him Kazuma. It was a mutual decision. We just felt drawn to the name… I was a fucking parent. That was insane enough as it was." He blew a donut of smoke, watching as it slowly floated up to the ceiling, dissipating into thin air.
"Now when does Mr. Roronoa come into this?" Law asked, placing the pad down. He rested his elbows against his knees, observing the blond cook.
"Zoro? Right before Kazuma turned two he came into our lives. Nami-san and I still didn't live together, but she had Kazuma living with her and her sister, Nojiko. I would come over when I could, but it was tough. We only really had the weekends together as a family. But whenever I got an extra day off, I would spend it with Nami-san and Kazuma. Though, I noticed something different in her. Whenever she didn't have the responsibility of the kid, or whenever Nojiko could take care of him, she would lose herself – in drugs, in alcohol. It was worse than I had ever seen it. Kazuma caused a change in her, and to this day I didn't understand it. But, anyway, Zoro knew one of the barwomen – Perona. Apparently, they had been old friends or what have you. She had been trying to convince him to come to the show for years …"
~ back then ~
"Ne, Zoro, I think you'd really enjoy it! There people there are just sooo sexy~" Perona had said over the phone for the hundredth time. Roronoa Zoro sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. He had run out of excuses for now going, and well – why not treat himself? She could get him in for free. And maybe if he was smooth enough, he could go home with someone later that night.
"Fine." He grumbled after staying silent for a moment. "What time should I get there?"
"Oh, yay! I'm so excited!~" She basically squealed into his ear, prompting him to pull the phone far away from ear. "The show starts at eleven! But, I can get you in earlier, especially if you want to get in for free! Just talk to Ace and tell him I said it's OK." He could hear the smile on her face, for fuck's sake. Wait a second …
"Ace works at the club? What the fuck? Luffy never told me that!" Zoro's eyes widened slightly, and he imagined his best friend's older brother dancing on stage … naked. Oh, no, that's awkward. So, so awkward. He slapped a hand over his face. Bad Zoro. Bad thoughts!
"He's a bouncer! When he was on parole a couple of years ago, he asked Moria for the job so he could control his pyromania urges~" Perona was laughing because she totally knew that Zoro was blushing. The perverted swordsman! "Get your mind out of the gutter, baaaa~ka!"
"Shut up, you witch! I'll see you tonight!" And with that, Zoro hung up his phone by slamming it back onto the receiver.
Nightfall came too quickly for Zoro's liking, but he made his way to the club around ten o'clock, just to play it safe. He wondered if Perona would give him some free drinks, too, but that may have been pushing it. (That still wouldn't stop him from trying.) He approached the club doors, spotting Ace standing there with his lighter, flicking it on and off, on and off. It was very weird seeing Luffy's brother in this context, standing outside with a nonchalant attitude, playing with a lighter. Hell, he looked nothing like a bouncer, but he knew Ace was threatening when he needed to be. He approached the man, casually crossing his arms once he was face to face with him.
"Oh, Zoro! Good to see you. Perona was boasting about how she managed to convinced you to come tonight," Ace grinned widely, nudging him slightly. "The club's open, so you could head right in. Just tell Kuma that I gave you the OK to head downstairs. " And then he leaned in, "Just a precaution: I think Perona's trying to hook you up with someone tonight. You know how she gets."
Zoro's face turned blue at the thought. He rolled his eyes. "That woman is going to be the death of me." He grumbled under his breath before sighing and slumping his shoulders dramatically. "Well, thanks Ace. Tell Luffy I said hi, yeah?"
"Have fun, Zoro~"
With that, the green haired man headed downstairs, following Ace's orders. He went straight for the bar and plopped down on a stool, looking around the dimly lit area. "This place is definitely somewhere you'd hang around," Zoro scoffed, a scowl on his face.
"This drink's on the house," Perona said, pushing the rum bottle toward him with a wink. "Thanks for coming, Zoro~ You're going to have fun, I promise."
Just as she finished speaking, a couple walked in. The man was a hot blond, bangs covering his left eye. He was thin and lanky, but Zoro could see the muscle hiding beneath his fitted shirt. On his arm was an orange-haired woman with an incredible body. Zoro's mouth hung open slightly. Yep, he was staring. No shame in that, huh? The woman seemed to notice and smirked, beckoning the blond to follow her. It was he who spoke first.
"Oi, oi, are you the new act that Moria was talking about?" He said as he looked Zoro up and down. Not bad, to be honest.
Zoro smirked slightly, "Not quite – "
"He's my guest!" Perona interrupted, grinning from ear to ear.
"Ah~ Perona-chan, any friend of yours is a friend of mine," Sanji said, offering his hand to Zoro, "The name is Sanji," The octave of his voice changed dramatically from the awfully high pitch it was at two seconds earlier, "It's nice to meet you."
"I'm Nami," the red-head said, shaking Zoro's hand once he released the blond's. She suddenly leaned in closely, placing a hand on his chest, slowly dragging her perfectly manicured nails down his abdomen. "If you like what you see, you should come hang with us after the show," She whispered, a seductive smirk on her face, "I promise that you won't regret it." She moved away slowly, revealing her cleavage to him in her low-cut shirt.
Zoro only grunted in reply, trying to keep a straight face, but there was no denying that familiar tightening feeling in his pants. He took a swig from his bottle. "M'looking forward to it."
"Ah~ Yay!" Nami clapped her hands together. Sanji's brow rose, but instead of questioning her actions he checked his watch.
"Ne, Nami-san, let's head backstage~ We need to get ready soon!" He tugged her along before pausing suddenly and looking over his shoulder. "Oi, oi. Moss-head. We never got your name."
Zoro nearly spit out his drink. Moss-head! This guy had balls. He met the blond's visible blue eye with his own dark ones glaring ever so slightly before saying:
~ and now ~
Sanji couldn't help but grin around his cigarette, unable to contain the joy he felt from that memory. Law reached over to write something down while the cook seemed lost in his thoughts.
"Did he go to the after party, then?"
"Mm. And Nami coaxed him into coming home with us. Poor Nojiko, though! She had to work early that Saturday morning – there was an important meeting she had to attend – so she had made Nami promise her that she'd be home before two." He scratched his cheek. "We were home a little … after three, if I remember correctly…"
~ back then ~
Sanji entered the apartment behind the two drunkards. Nami and Zoro were attached to each other as soon as they got in the door. He had pushed her against the wall, their lips connected in a heated kiss while Zoro's hand slowly moved up her thigh. Nojiko appeared in the doorframe from the living room and crossed her arms as she watched Nami push Zoro away and drag him into her bedroom. Sanji frowned and approached the older Mikan sister, pulling her into a hug.
"I am so sorry, Nojiko-san. I tried getting her home earlier…" He could recall Nami laughing and waving her hand, dismissing him. It was obvious that Sanji was the sober one out of the three. "Er – I can take care of Kazi from here. How is he?"
"It's OK, Sanji-san." She smiled softly, "He was an angel, as always –"
Sanji made a face when Nami's whine echoed loudly in the hallway. Nojiko put her hand on his cheek before nodding in understanding. She grabbed her purse and left. Sanji glanced across the room, eyes locking on a crib with a toddler curled up with his blanket and pillow; Kazuma was fast asleep, lost in his childish dreamland. Before he had a chance to go over and see his son, Zoro emerged from Nami's room and pulled Sanji over his shoulder.
"Oi, Marimo! Be more gentle – !"
~ and now ~
"The rest was history."
"That will be all for today, Sanji."
Sanji stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray Law offered him. He sat up from the couch and rested his elbows against his knees. They shared a look before the cook stood and brushed the wrinkles out of his shirt. "Maybe this therapy thing won't be so bad after all." He then snorted at his own musing before turning on his heel, exiting the room with his hands shoved into his pockets.
Tomorrow would be another day, another story.
A/N: These first two chapters are going to focus mostly on the backstory, and then Chapter 3 will start the meat and potatoes of the story! I hope you enjoy. This is going to be the story I will be spending most of my time on for the next while. Fix You and Ningyou Shima will be updated soon - after I get a couple of these chapters out of the way. Anyway~ Enjoy and please review!