An early Xmas present for Anna-Hiwatari on Tumblr~

"Cook, will you stop being stingy with the damn blankets!?" Zoro growled, his breath coming out in visible puffs.

"Hell no, Marimo!" Sanji snapped, his teeth chattering, "It's your damn fault I'm soaked!"

"I'm not the dumbass that fell in the river like a klutz," Zoro seethed as another shiver rocked through his equally wet body.

Sanji wrapped the thin sheet tighter around himself, wishing they had packed better. He was secretly glad that the idiot swordsman had been holding the pack when he'd slipped on the icy river bank, or they might not have had anything to warm up.

If he hadn't been so distracted by the Marimo's bitching about being forced to go with him on their hunting trip, he wouldn't have slipped. That was his story and he was sticking to it.

It had nothing to do with how hot Zoro had looked in the leather jacket Franky had given him for his birthday last month, or how handsome he seemed to have become while they had all been separated, or how tight his old black pants were on him now that he had bulked up more.

It had nothing to do with that.

Sanji just had a feeling that the others were going to get a kick out of the fact that their best swimmer had needed rescuing. He had hit the freezing water so hard that it had knocked the wind out of him, making him take in a lungful of the liquid that had already started pushing him downstream.

He only realized that he had blacked out when he came to in the cave they were currently sheltered in. His chest felt heavy, like someone had been sitting on him, and his lips tingled for some reason. The Marimo had covered him up with the blankets Chopper had packed for them and was fiddling with a rather pitiful looking fire. As he assessed his situation and went through the last time he had been conscious, he realized suddenly what exactly had mostly likely happened while he had been out.

Sanji's gasp of surprise had apparently caught Zoro's attention, because he was suddenly at the cook's side with an uncharacteristic look of concern on his face.

"Stay down, Cook!" he warned, his voice firm and somewhat strained as he pressed on the blonde's shoulder. "You swallowed a lot of water, so don't rush it."

The chef stared up at his nakama, stunned at the uncharacteristically anxious swordsman.

"I'm fine now, I think. Zoro, did you…?" he started, unable to voice what had so obviously happened.

The green-haired man shifted uncomfortably, before a shudder rocked through his body. Sanji noticed his body trembling slightly in the cold air, his wet clothes clinging to him and making the cook's pulse jump.

"If you're cold, take a blanket, shithead," he said under his breath. He rose slowly, holding out the top sheet to his crewmate, "I want to listen to Chopper's riot act just as much as you do."

The younger man's lips parted in disbelief and Sanji's eyes flickered down to them, wondering how it would have felt if he had been conscious to their caress earlier. The thought brought a bit of much needed heat to his face.

Zoro snatched the blanket from him gratefully, scooting over next to him in nervous silence. As if the cave were a bubble, the tension that filled the air seemed fit to burst. Sanji's eyes kept roaming over to the other man, observing the furrowed brow and the light shaking of his frame.

He sat up fully and adjusted his covers accordingly, huddling just a little closer to the small fire and the man that had started it. The swordsman seemed to notice, but, other than the raised eyebrow, he didn't mention it. A flash of understanding encompassed his features suddenly, and the shitty Marimo reached over to grasp the sheet Sanji had thrown over himself.

"Hey, let me have this…"

Sanji grabbed hold of the material stubbornly, "No way, Marimo."

"C'mon, just let me-"

"Nope!" the blonde said, jerking the sheet away from his nakama childishly.

Zoro huffed in frustration, and Sanji marveled at the wisps of visible breath. It made him itch for the cigarettes that he'd lost to the frosty water. It was only getting colder as the night went on, and they were stuck there together until morning at the very least.

Sanji didn't understand why the idiot wanted the damn blanket so bad, but he wasn't going to get it. It was currently his only shield from the feelings that wanted to surface, feelings he had been fighting for over two years.

He had curled into his knees, biting back a trembling in his jaw that he wanted to brush off as chattering, when the blanket was ripped off his shoulders and head by a triumphant looking Marimo.

"You shitty bastard! Give that ba-" he started to yell.

Zoro smirked at him before parking himself so close that he choked on his words. The green-haired man whipped the blanket over the both of them, drawing Sanji close to him with one powerful arm.

"There, we can both use it," the swordsman said casually, taking delight in the blonde's speechlessness. "So stop bitchin'."

Sanji had to swallow several times before he could manage a half-hearted, "Shitty Marimo…"

His heart fluttered in his chest as the heat from Zoro's arm started to permeate the remaining sheet and his damp shirt, the man's steady breathing the only thing he could focus on.

Two years must have made the younger man a little more charitable, he concluded, because the only other possibility couldn't possibly be true.

Could it?

"You know," he said wistfully, deciding to test his luck, "It would be better if we were naked."

It was now the swordsman's turn to choke on thin air, his uninjured eye widening so much that it looked comical when he turned to stare at the blonde.

"What the hell, Cook?!" he finally demanded.

"I meant that we need to get out of these wet clothes, you shitty pervert…"

Zoro relaxed a little, but his face still held some disbelief. The knowing look he'd had earlier returned. The longer the cabbage-head stared at him, the more Sanji was regretting his bold words. He just knew the man was going to tease him, but he was still not pulling away.

As if deciding something, the green-haired man let loose a breathy chuckle that sent a heatwave through the half-frozen cook.

"There's more than one way to warm up, Curly brow…"

Sanji blamed the cold for the numbness he felt as Zoro cupped his cheek and leaned in. He blamed the stiffness in his limbs for the lack of a defensive maneuver. He reasoned with himself that the combination of the near-drowning and dropping temperature from the snowstorm that raged outside the cave had left his mind and body open to the attack.

He blamed his willingness return it on the need for warmth.

His hands in Zoro's hair and Zoro's focused on unbuttoning his shirt, Sanji found himself in a different kind of battle with his rival. Not surprisingly, three swords style had leant the Marimo a great deal of prowess with his mouth. It had often been the source of fantasy within the security of his thoughts, but the situation brought all the practical applications of such a skill to the forefront of his mind.

Zoro took his quiet moan as a sign of consent and soon the blonde found himself shirtless, sucking in a shuddering breath as he felt the chill seep in. Feverish hands ran over his torso like dancing flames, licking at his skin in a way that made him wonder if they were too close to the fire.

"Cook…" Zoro breathed into his ear when they broke apart for air, his tongue tracing the shell as Sanji shivered for a reason unrelated to the cold.

The time spent in quiet frustration over the lack of a particular kind of action between the first mate and himself had built within the Straw Hat's cook from the entire duration of his membership in the crew, and he sure as hell wasn't going to hold back when a prime opportunity was staring him right in the face.

"Let's get outta these clothes, huh?" he said, his hands already rucking up the back of Zoro's damp shirt.

For the pair of them, the lack of verbal banter was strange, but the gasps and grunts that filled the air said it all. They fought with their hands and mouths in ways that were starkly different from their usual routine, but a vast improvement in both their minds. New weaknesses and strengths were discovered and proven; culminating in Sanji lying sprawled on the forgotten blankets wearing no more than the swordsman that was currently occupying himself with the blonde's perked nipples.

Zoro used the distraction of the teeth and fingers making the cook's back arch to run an unoccupied hand down the soft trail of golden hair on Sanji's stomach. When he found his target, the almost-whine that came from the man beneath him had Zoro smirking into the bite mark he was leaving on the pale neck.

Sanji's sense of control, which seemed to have slipped from his grasp the moment Zoro touched his cheek, finally came back to him as he felt the firm grip on aching arousal.

As if someone had lit a fire under him, he surged forth, wrapping his arms around the oaf's neck and upending the both of them. From his new position above the stunned swordsman, Sanji pillaged the other pirate's mouth and returned more than a few tortuous techniques he'd had inflicted upon him.

Zoro's chest heaved as Sanji worked his way down the chiseled abdomen, tracing the scar that had left a long lasting impression on them both with his tongue. Pupils blown wide with arousal, a blue eye flicked up to the dark one that was watching him intensely. Giving a cocky wink, the blonde moved lower and ran his tongue over the hardened member that had waited impatiently for his attention.

If the sharp intake of air was any indication, he had clearance to proceed.

He didn't waste much time on the initial embarrassment of performing for a new partner, taking in the heated flesh like a pro. His years of chain-smoking proved him no less talented with his mouth than Zoro, quickly coaxing the stoic swordsman into letting loose quiet groans that went straight to his balls.

Sanji placed open mouthed kisses down the shaft, trailing his tongue over the throbbing vein that ran up the underside. He rolled the heavy sack in one hand as he raked his fingernails down Zoro's torso with the other, making the oddly masochistic man's back arch beautifully.

Just as the green-haired man thought it was all going to be over, Sanji pulled back. The grunt of frustration made the cook give a breathy laugh, his smoky gaze running over the panting swordsman proudly.

"Did Chopper pack a first aid kit?" he said suddenly, catching Zoro off-guard in his sex-induced haze.

"Wh-whut?" Zoro said intelligently.

Sanji huffed as he rose and padded over to the bag, quickly ransacking the pockets. Finding some ointment, he tried to ignore his painful erection as he returned to his confused nakama.

"Can't exactly get very far if we don't have something, Marimo…" he said quietly as Zoro observed what he had retrieved with a shit-eating grin.

"Lead the way, shit cook," he goaded.

His face hot as he tried to disregard the swordsman's watchful eye, Sanji uncapped the tube and spread some over his fingers.

"You'd get lost if I didn't, dumbass."

Sanji realigned their bodies to where his hovered a mere breath above Zoro's, his mouth wasting no time as it coaxed the other man's tongue out again. With the swordsman's hands tangled in his hair, he used one arm to support his weight as he pressed a finger to his entrance, a sharp breath leaving him as he pushed in. By the time Zoro realized what he was doing, he had already begun to stretch himself with a scissoring motion that left him wanting. The hands had left his hair and found the abandoned tube on the ground next to them, his mind occupied by his own sinuous fingers, before he could see Zoro's intent.

Suddenly a strong, slick hand wrapped around both of their neglected erections, making him moan and buck into the heat of his rival's firm grip. He felt Zoro's thumb trailing down his spine, tracing a line of fire over the ridges and scar from another winter island their crew had once visited. The sensations overloaded his mind briefly and soon he found that his own fingers were not the ones preparing him.

This knowledge, in addition to the hand that worked their members together, made him let loose a moan that almost seemed to startle the swordsman.

"Y-you ready?" he managed after finally breaking free of the fierce kiss Sanji had unleashed upon him.

Sanji rose up on his knees, the green-haired man's hands finally stopping as he stared warily up at the blonde. He immediately missed the attention, so he reached down between them and pumped their shafts together lazily, letting his own go after a couple strokes. His rival's sharp eyebrow rose as he positioned himself over the hardened flesh, not bothering to warn the man before he pushed down.

It was a testament to his determination and pride as he settled himself firmly upon the impressive member in one fell swoop. Zoro's threw his head back with a sharp cry, a string of curses leaving his mouth that Sanji echoed in his own thoughts.

He smiled smugly from his position astride the other man, his brow furrowed as he adjusted.

"That answer your question, shitty swordsman?"

Zoro's remaining eye cracked open finally and he fixed Sanji in a heated glare that made his dick ache, a hint of challenge laced in the growl that started to emanate from somewhere deep within his chest. Without warning, he rolled his hips deliciously; making Sanji's mouth let loose a startled yelp that drew out into an appreciative groan.

"That answered it," the green-haired man snickered.

Sanji decided to continue the previous motion, effectively shutting the cocky asshole up.

His dramatic hip and leg control gave him a distinct advantage in his current position, giving Zoro an endurance test. The heady musk that had filled the once-chilled air of the cave was filed away in his mind as he rocked his hips down to meet his rival's thrusts, the harmony of their voices stored in the farthest reaches for future reflection. He had no idea if this was a one-time thing, but he wanted to remember it all.

When Zoro's voice changed pitch, he knew the end was nearing.

"ah~ shit-cook, I'm-" he gasped.

Sanji nodded as he cursed, "fuck- me too… Zoro!"

Zoro's hand wrapped around his erection and he came with the swordsman's name on his lips.

It only took another few frantic thrusts after that for the swordsman to return the favor, Sanji's name drawn out in a broken yell that left him hoarse.

They lay together, panting, for several moments before Zoro made to remove himself.

"No, wait…" Sanji said, wanting to savor the feeling, "I need a minute."

Zoro complied, not really in a hurry to move yet, and wrapped an arm around the weary cook.

"So," he rumbled, his throat sore, "You warm yet?"

Sanji chuckled, "Getting there."

Zoro smiled and placed his other arm around his crewmate, drawing him into his own higher body temperature. He grunted as the cook raised himself slightly and let Zoro's spent member fall from inside him before he pressed closer again. He nuzzled into the swordsman's collar bone and sighed contently.

Zoro hummed into the soft golden hair appreciatively as he stroked at the pale flesh beneath his fingertips, Sanji's still sensitive body shivering at the touch.

"You wanna share the blankets now?" Zoro teased.

Sanji didn't rise to the goading, instead resting his chin on the swordsman's chest and peering up into his mirth-filled eye. Zoro stared quizzically at him for a few moments before raising a hand to lift his chin.

The kiss they shared was nothing like the earlier war, the ease and mellowness concealed a passion unmatched by any clashing of tongues they had experienced in foreplay. This was a collaboration, a joining of the power and feelings that both of them held within themselves. Their teamwork, after all, was without compare.

When they finally could not bear to go without oxygen, they fixed each other in an intense gaze that communicated what words could only strive to convey. The years of solitude and self-reliance, the pride and stubbornness stripped away as they shared in each other's conviction.

Zoro ran his hand through the golden hair of the man in his arms, and for the second time in his life he felt regret. Regret for all the time wasted without this very feeling.

Sanji suddenly felt very exposed, and rather than acknowledging his mental nakedness, he found one of the discarded blankets and drew it up over them. He was loathe to leave the warmth and comfort of Zoro's embrace, feeling as if everything would fall apart if those arms weren't there to hold it together. As if sensing this, his crewmate secured him in a possessive hug that Sanji would never have pegged him for.

The looming question still remained, and as much as he didn't want to sever the connection, he had to say something.

"Thank you," he mumbled into Zoro's neck, "for saving me."

Zoro was surprised by the lack of the normal prickliness or insult, but he gave the cook a squeeze.

"I wasn't gonna let you sink, Cook. We gotta keep you around to satisfy the black hole of a captain we're stuck with."

Sanji snorted, "I don't think many other people in the world can handle being this crew's chef."

Zoro nodded, "And we wouldn't want 'em anyway."

Sanji's heart skipped a beat before speeding a bit.

"Is that why?" he whispered.


"Back at Thriller Bark. Is that why?"

In the two years since, Sanji had often thought back to that day, wondering why the idiot had so firmly insisted that he be the one to sacrifice himself. It had often given the blonde nightmares where he would wake just like that morning thinking that he'd never see the swordsman again.

"We can't lose you, Sanji," he said firmly.

We? He wanted to ask.

Zoro beat him to it, "I can't."

The barely audible whisper made Sanji rear back suddenly so that he could stare wide-eyed at the object of his hidden affection and desires for over two years.

All he could see was the open look a longing that he'd always seen in his own eye when he looked in the mirror; the look of a lonely soul.

"Things are going to be different now, aren't they?"


Sanji raised a curled eyebrow as Zoro leaned up to press a chaste kiss on the blonde's already bruised lips.

"They're going to be better."

He'd never felt so warm in his life.