Hey, everyone! Here is a little Christmas surprise: the great artist yafuu has agreed to do a collab with me. The result is a 26 pages long doujin about this ZoSan Christmas story. The first part has already been released (you can find the link on my profile page) and the second part will hopefully be out on New Year.
If you don't want to wait then you can read the whole story below. Note that it isn't a one-to-one adaptation because the storyform always differs from the script and if everything would be exactly as described then the doujin would probably end up with a few hundred pages.
There are also direct thoughts in here because of the doujin transition (which I normally don't ever do, so it might sound weird XD)
Have fun and please give yafuu's gallery on her website, DA or pixiv a look too! She has some really great stuff in there! :)
Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece.
The Gift of Knowing You
There are gifts of many treasures
For both the young and old,
From the tiniest little trinkets
To great boxes filled with gold.
But, put them all together
And they could not stand in lieu,
Of the greatest gift of all
The gift of knowing you.
When your times are filled with troubles
Sadness, grief, or even doubt,
When all those things you planned on
Just aren't turning out.
Just turn and look behind you
From the place at which you stand,
And look for me through the shadows
And reach out for my hand.
I will lift from you your burden
And cry for you your tears,
Bear the pain of all your sorrows
Though it may be for a thousand years.
For in the end I would be happy
To have helped you start anew,
It's a small price to pay
For the gift of knowing you.
~ by Dave Stout
The Sunny swayed slightly in the waves. Cold water, partly covered with ice, crashed against the powerful ship's wood while slowly, flakes of snow fell on the already pure white deck.
A big Christmas tree stood proudly in the middle of the ship, its decoration glittering in the light. Red and golden garlands decorated the tree and small ornaments that looked like miniature Merrys hang on its branches, each one signed in a very neat handwriting that spelled out 'Usopp'.
Instead of a Christmas star, the top of the tree had been covered with a very special strawhat. Bound to the crown, it's sides swayed slightly in the week breeze.
Suddenly, the tree shook as a black-haired boy ran past it. Laughing loudly, he dodged a few snowballs with ease, holding the bright-red Christmas hat firmly on his head as he ran.
Usopp, the guy who had carved the Merry ornaments, ran after him, throwing snowball after snowball and getting more and more frustrated when not one of them had hit his target.
The boy with the hat stopped and grinned cheekily at Usopp, who swallowed in return. Sensing the danger, he stopped, backed up a few steps and then tried to run the other way.
Chopper, who had been right behind Usopp, screamed when he saw Luffy grabbing some snow and beginning to run towards them. Together with Usopp he began to dodge the snowballs and all three of them chased each other all over the deck to escape their captain's attacks.
When they had run to the front Chopper suddenly stopped to stare at Franky's newest invention: A big, red sledge with Franky's trademark stars on the sides.
"That's awesome, Franky! It looks just like the one from home!" Chopper said with sparkling eyes to Franky who just added the finishing touches to the sledge.
"It's where we'll keep our presents. You can pull it later for us," Franky replied with a big grin.
Chopper smiled happily and thrust his little hooves into the air. "Yay!"
Behind them, Luffy was still chasing Usopp. When the captain had enough of just running around, he stretched his arms and let them slide over the ground to gather snow for a gigantic snow ball.
Usopp's eyes widened as he looked back. He screamed when he understood what his captain was planning and tried to run away, but Luffy was faster. He threw the giant snow ball at his friend who was immediately buried.
At the ship's bow, right at the railing behind the steering wheel, Nami and Robin were standing and laughing at the poor Usopp while Chopper ran back and forth in panic.
Oblivious to the chaos outside, Sanji was standing in the galley and decorated some cookies while humming to a Christmas song Brook was playing on his violin.
Just like the tree outside, the galley had been decorated with lights and garlands. To fit the occasion, Brook had decided to wear a red sweater and green trousers which made a stark contrast to his white bones.
Sanji himself was wearing a white sweater and normal black trousers. With high precision, he finished decorating the cookies and wrote Nami and Robin's names on the heart-shaped ones. Grinning happily when he had managed to make the last stroke without fail, he turned around to Brook who had just ended his last song.
"That was a good one, Brook!" Sanji said to the skeleton.
Laying the violin on the table, Brook replied, "All to get everyone into a festive mood. Yohohohohoho!"
Grinning again, Sanji turned around to take a last look at his cookies. As always, he had only used the best of ingredients on the ladies' share and had given it his all to make their appearance as pleasing to the eye as they were to the taste buds.
"Say, Sanji-san," Brook said as he looked at the cook. "Why are you writing names on the cookies?"
As if he had waited for this very question, Sanji turned around at once.
"To make sure no one of the guys eats them, of course," he replied quickly. "These are specially made for Nami-swan and Robin-chwan!"
He clasped his hands together as a heart appeared inside his eye. His legs moving as if under a spell, Sanji began to make a strange dance, whirled around the galley and chanted, "Nami-swaaan~! Robin-chwaaan~! I'll capture their hearts with excellent cuisine!"
"Sanji-san, you look as if you've lost all your bones!" Brook said as he watched Sanji's elegant twirls. "I'm not one to speak, though... with being nothing else but bones! Yohohohoho!"
While everyone was busy enjoying the weather and mood, Zoro was leaning against one of the Sunny's tree. Half of him already covered in snow, he snored loudly while more and more snowflakes began to hide his body under a thin layer of white.
Zoro's face twitched when a snowflake landed between his eyes but he kept sleeping soundly until...
A big snowball had hit him straight in the face.
"Shishishishishi! You look so funny like that!" Luffy said, pointing his finger at Zoro and laughing loudly.
His face covered in snow, Zoro growled as he wiped the freezing stuff out of his face. "Why, you little-" A vein popping up on his forehead, he made to stand up but was stopped by a concerned looking Chopper.
Touching Zoro's forehead with his hooves, Chopper frowned. "You're way too cold, Zoro! I told you not to sleep in the snow!"
"I'm alright, Chopper," Zoro said through gritted teeth. "This is nothing... let me just-"
Glaring at Luffy, Zoro stood up but Chopper shook his head. He gave Zoro's bandaged body a hard look and said, "Oh, no! You're going to the galley now and get something hot to drink!"
"Doctor's orders!" Chopper said in a determined voice and put out his chest to make him seem bigger than he actually was in his normal form.
Zoro looked at him and after a long moment in which Chopper met his stare with the same hard look, he sighed. "Fine," Zoro said and then turned to Luffy. "I'll get you later for this!"
"Shishishishishi!" While Luffy laughed, the big pile of snow next to him began to shake and suddenly, two fists appeared out of it. A body followed and Usopp finally broke free with a battle cry.
Glaring at Luffy, he hugged himself and shuddered. "L-Luffy... p-p-prepare yourself!"
Laughing in delight, Luffy ran away and Usopp followed him immediately, his stiff limbs stumbling slightly with every other step.
Zoro frowned as he watched the scene. He scratched the back of his head and turned around to go to the galley.
Just as he had reached the door and opened it up a bit, he heard Sanji's voice and stilled.
"Robin-chan and Nami-san will surely fall in love with me when they see these!" Sanji said, causing a strange twitch in Zoro's heart at the words. Clenching the doorknob tightly, he continued to listen.
"Oh, what a nice plan, Sanji-san. Maybe I should bake some cookies, too. Yohohohoho!" Brook's voice replied.
"You're just hunting for panties, Brook, but I'm on a quest to find true love!" Sanji said with the air of superiority. "Ah, that reminds me: I still have to finish the-"
Having heard enough, Zoro let go of the door and looked to the floor, his eyes clenched shut tightly. "Che!"
Turning around, he looked at the deck and saw that Chopper was too busy playing with Luffy and Usopp to notice him. Massaging his shoulder, Zoro used the chance to go to the back of the ship instead.
On the deck, everyone was playing merrily until his instincts told him to look and Luffy stopped to chase Chopper.
Turning his head to look at the galley Luffy frowned as he saw Zoro rounding the corner instead of going to get something to drink. Cocking his head, a thoughtful expression twisting his face as Luffy crossed his arms.
Meanwhile, Brook had begun to play another Christmas song. The wonderful tune filled up the whole room and the decoration seemed to glitter even more with the song.
Smirking from his place at the counter, Sanji bent down to take out a new bowl and looked at the door that had closed only moments before he had stood up.
In the back of the ship where the excited voices of Usopp and Chopper could still faintly be heard, Zoro sat down against the ship's wall and closed his eyes. The snowflakes that slowly fell down on his skin were cold and tingling but he had perfected the skill to sleep anywhere and everywhere years ago and only this much wouldn't cost him his sleep.
Sleep... sleep healed anything. Normal wounds and diseases as much as other pain.
After a while, quiet steps alerted Zoro of another presence. His captain might have undergone an intensive training but Zoro hadn't less to show for.
"Won't those guys miss you?" Zoro asked without opening his eyes.
"They can do without me for a bit," Luffy answered and the seriousness in his voice made Zoro look up at him.
His usual smile replaced by a frown, Luffy had his head tilted to the side and looked as if he was thinking about something quite hard.
"What's up with you, Zoro? Did Sanji do something?"
And there it was... the damn perceptiveness that always came in the most unexpected moments.
"What makes you think it has to do with him?" Zoro asked.
Putting out his bottom lip, Luffy looked as if he tried to find an answer for Zoro's question. "It's... always him when you're this angry."
Angry... was he angry? Was that the right word to describe this feeling?
"I'm not angry..." Zoro decided hesitatingly.
"Usopp is a better liar."
Looking up at his captain, Zoro sighed. Angry... yeah, maybe Luffy was right and he was angry. The only question was: why? Because the cook liked to behave like such an idiot? Or had it to do with something else?
"The cook... hasn't done anything," Zoro said and turned his head to look at the sky. "Not to... or for me, at least."
For a while, Zoro could feel Luffy's eyes on him and he was surprised when his head was suddenly covered by a big red Christmas hat.
"There, that's better," Luffy said with a big grin. "A good luck charm for you!"
Zoro touched the hat while staring unbelievingly at his captain.
Just as he wanted to ask Luffy about this gesture, Usopp's voice came from the deck. "Oi, Luffy! I've got something for you!"
"Coming!" Luffy replied and before Zoro was able to say anything, he had run back to the others.
After staring at the place where his captain had vanished, Zoro turned his head back to the sky and watched enraptured how snowflakes fell from the big, white clouds. They swayed in the light breeze and danced inside the air.
He didn't even notice how cold he had become until a mug of hot tea had appeared right in front of his face and the warm steam touched his skin.
Looking up from the nice smelling mug, Zoro's eyes followed the white-clad arm to the annoyed looking expression of Sanji. A cigarette was dangling from his lips and the slight flush of his cheeks and nose indicated that the white coat, he had decided to whip on, didn't do much to keep him warm.
"You'll catch a cold like this, you stupid marimo," Sanji said and if it hadn't been for his next sentence, then Zoro would have thought he was worried about him. "Don't give Chopper so much trouble."
Zoro took the mug out of Sanji's hand but looked away to escape his eyes. "I never get sick," he said deviantly.
Sighing, Sanji sat down next to Zoro and placed the ashtray, he had carried in his other hand, on the ground. Zoro tried not to linger on the warmth that entered his body when their shoulders touched.
"No, you only get cut up in every fight. Your injuries haven't even healed properly yet," Sanji replied.
"That's none of your business, cook," Zoro said. It was annoying how often he had been reminded of his injuries these days and the cook's fake worrying made things just worse.
"It is my business when you trouble your crewmates, idiot."
Silence fell between them.
Zoro held the hot mug in his hands tightly and took a good swig, enjoying how the hot liquid ran down his throat and warmed him from the inside. Strange, how even though the tea was nearly scorching hot, that place where his shoulder touched Sanji's burned even more.
Usopp's voice was suddenly carried to them from the deck. A shocked outcry had followed the attack name and Usopp laughed.
"Not fair, Usopp!" they heard Luffy say.
"You've used your powers, too!" Usopp replied and moments later, they heard other cries.
"WAAAH!" Chopper screamed in panic. "He's gonna get us!"
Next to Zoro, Sanji suddenly looked down and laughed. "Those guys sure are lively... good thing we're nearing a winter island at this time."
From the corners of his eyes, Zoro glanced at Sanji. He had been sitting with him for a while now... wasn't he busy? Didn't he have to bake for his dear ladies?
"Don't you have something to do, too?" Zoro voiced his thoughts. "Baking some 'Cookies of Love' or some other shit?"
For a moment, Sanji looked puzzled at him. Then he blew out the smoke and pressed his cigarette into the ashtray.
"I'm never making shit, shitty marimo," Sanji replied calmly. "There is something else I have to finish but the problem child needed some attention again."
A vein popped up on Zoro's forehead as he looked at the ocean. "Che, don't get out of your way for me, lovecook."
"Suit yourself," Sanji replied, stood up and made to go to the front.
"Nice hat, by the way," he said without looking back and held up a hand for goodbye.
When Sanji had gone, Zoro took off the Christmas hat and looked at it in his lap.
"Funny... I don't feel lucky at all."
Still staring at the hat, he clenched it tightly inside his hands.
In the evening, everyone had gathered inside the galley. Brook was playing Christmas songs while Luffy danced around with chopsticks in his nose and Chopper nearly choke on all the sweets he had stuffed into his mouth.
Sanji was serving the others cookies while wearing his favourite apron for the occasion.
"The heart-shaped ones are for the ladies," he explained. "And you guys should find the right ones without problems."
After Sanji had placed a big plate full of cookies on the table, Chopper picked one of them up.
"Woah, this one looks like me!" he exclaimed as he looked at the cookie that was shaped like his head.
Zoro who sat on the bench and watched the scene with disinterest, took a big swig of his sake. The Christmas hat, Luffy had given him before, was still lying next to him as his eyes wandered to the plate. Clenching his teeth, he took another swig and then looked away from the cookies.
"Woah! Those cookies are awesome!" Luffy exclaimed.
After eating his strawhat-shaped ones in a matter of seconds, he reached for the other's cookies, only to get kicked on the head from behind by Sanji.
After all attempts to steal some food had failed, Luffy dismayed at the plate and then his expression suddenly became puzzled. "But Sanji... you forgot Zoro's," he said.
Sanji looked over at Zoro, who glared back, and then back at Luffy. "I didn't forget him. That idiot doesn't like sweet things, remember?"
From his place on the bench, Zoro's whole body began to tense. Yeah, he didn't like sweet things, but still-
"Oh, Sanji-kun! These are so delicious!"
Only those few words managed to get all of Sanji's attention to Nami. In a whirl of hearts, he flew to her.
"Only the best for you, Nami-swaaaaan! Every cookie is filled with my undying love!" he exclaimed, the words piercing Zoro's heart more than a sword ever could.
After clenching his eyes hard enough together that it was nearly painful, he stood up, grabbed the Christmas hat and took another swig from his sake bottle as he walked to the door.
No one noticed it, but Sanji had stopped his admiration of Nami for a moment to look after him with a sad smile.
A few minutes later, Zoro sat alone in the crow's nest and looked at the ocean through the window. The already empty sake bottle lay to his feet and he regretted greatly that he hadn't taken more bottles with him. The Christmas hat, on the other hand, lay next to him on the bench and every once in a while, he touched the fabric with careful fingers.
It hadn't brought him much luck but at least it calmed him down a bit.
Suddenly hearing something, Zoro's hand stopped above the hat as the trapdoor opened up.
"You sure are a handful, marimo," Sanji said as his head appeared in the room. Carefully, he balanced a tablet, covered with a white cloth on one hand, as he stepped up the ladder.
Zoro stared wide-eyed at him, but then he turned his head back to the window. "What are you doing here, shitcook?" he asked.
"Looking after the lost kid again. Why did you just disappear?" Sanji asked as he went up to Zoro and stopped in front of him.
"I just wanted to drink in peace."
"With only one bottle?" Sanji asked. "You should know, it wouldn't be enough..."
"Shut up," Zoro replied and a faint blush appeared on his face.
Sanji cocked his head and smiled at Zoro. "I couldn't even give you your present, yet."
"I don't need a-" Zoro's words were stopped when Sanji held the tablet in front of his face and removed the cloth. Several riceballs appeared under it, together with a new bottle of sake.
"You-...!" Zoro said with wide eyes.
"I wasn't sure what to make for you..." Sanji began without meeting Zoro's eyes. He put a hand on the back of his neck as he spoke on. "You always say that you eat everything but you never say what you really like. Onigiri are the only food I know you like, so-"
Zoro stared at him but Sanji still refused to meet his gaze. His face was heating up under that stare.
"Even though I got to know you," Sanji thought. "I still... I still don't know such a small thing. And when... when that happened..."
Sanji's stomach churned painfully as he remembered how Zoro had faced Kuma.
"I nearly lost the chance to get to know you completely," Sanji thought on and he clenched his teeth together. The hand he was holding the tablet with shook slightly as the painful memories returned.
Then suddenly his train of thought was broken as Zoro reached out, snatched a riceball and put it into his mouth.
Zoro chewed slowly as he watched Sanji intently and wide-eyed, Sanji could do nothing else but staring back.
"You were wrong," Zoro said simply.
Confused as Zoro reached for something next to him on the bench, Sanji watched as he picked up a Christmas hat and put it onto the cook's head.
After taking Sanji in with a smile, Zoro took the tablet from him and set it down on the bench.
Just as Sanji wanted to ask what the hell was going on, he had to cry out as Zoro suddenly grabbed his tie, pulled him down and kissed him straight on the mouth.
Sanji's eyes widened in surprise but slowly, he got used to the touch of soft lips and returned the kiss. Lost in the feeling, he placed a hand on Zoro's cheek and opened his mouth to deepen the kiss even further.
When they finally broke apart, Zoro grinned widely at him. "There are at least some sweet things I really like," he said.
Only in that moment Sanji realised what they had just done. Blushing furiously, he stared down at Zoro, his whole body shuddering as he clenched his fists at his sides.
The whole crow's nest shook as Sanji exploded. "You stupid marimo! Don't do things so suddenly!" he cried out. "Oi, come back here!"
and Merry Christmas to everyone!