Notes:

Bocchan: lit. "young master", referring to rich (and usually sheltered) young men, especially heirs to wealthy families.

The Tiger Beneath the Sakura Tree

Chapter 2

Zoro woke the next morning to a loud banging sound. He grumpily sat up in his bunk to find Sanji rhythmically kicking the bars of the cell. He was biting down on his cigarette and looking furious.

"I can keep this up all day, you bastards! Don't think I'm bluffing!" he was barking out at two shinigami who were sitting at a desk with their hands over their ears. "A shower, and real food! I won't eat this crap you keep giving us anymore! Let. Me. Cook!" He punctuated the last words by banging his foot on the bars.

"Christ, you know how to get a morning off to a bad start. Mismatched-eyebrows," Zoro grumbled, scratching his chest absently as he sat up.

Sanji paid him no attention. "And would it kill you to get us a change of clothes? Though I can't say I'm the biggest fan of…that," he vaguely indicated the shinigami uniforms. He sighed out some smoke wistfully, seeming to calm down. "But if you can't give us a shower, at least a change of clothes…And what did you just say, Marimo?!"

Zoro put his finger in his ear in time to avoid the worst of Sanji's volume. He jumped down from his bunk, ignoring his anger. "Is there a plan today?"

Sanji considered, breathing out smoke. "Not sure yet. Haven't heard from our lords and masters. I'm going to try and think of a plan for when the others find us. I have a feeling it's not as easy as saying 'Oh, I want this person from this anime and this person from this one'. I think they'll have to come here and get us. If that's the case…well, actually, even if it isn't, I assume you're not leaving here without those swords. That's a problem we'll have to work out."

Zoro frowned at him. "You care if I get my swords back?"

Sanji took a drag. "No. But I care about Chopper, for example. You care about your swords, Chopper cares about you. It's a bit circuitous, but the point is, I'll accept that you need them back."

"What a sweetheart."

"First, kiss my ass. Second, I know this is a stupid question, but I don't suppose you have any ideas?"

Zoro frowned for a long few moments.

"It's okay, you can say honestly if you don't," Sanji said patiently, though with a hint of annoyance. Under his breath he added, "Not like I was expecting anything."

Zoro glared. "Very nice. And how many times have your plans helped us since we've been here?"

"We'll never know, since a certain green-headed ape was unable to perform even the simplest task!"

"We'll be stuck here forever."

"It's pretty hopeless, yeah." Sanji sighed. "Well. Keep it in mind anyway. Let me know if you think of something."

"Nh," Zoro grunted, disinterested.

"What we need is Usopp," Sanji muttered, leaning his head against the bars. A dippy grin came over his face. "Or Nami-san…at least then I'd be happy while we're stuck in this weird place…I wonder where Rangiku-chan is right now…"

Zoro scoffed. "All we need are my swords."

"Yeah. Because that worked so well before."

"We know what to look out for now," Zoro said seriously, glaring at Sanji with his good eye. "Or would you rather put Luffy and the others in danger by having them help us break out of here?"

Sanji was shamed into silence for a moment.

"And who are these 'others'?" came a voice from the entrance of the holding area. Zoro and Sanji both turned to look. Indeed, it was Kuchiki and his lieutenant. They made their way over slowly and with dignity. Kuchiki pointedly avoided looking Zoro in the eye. He stood before them and said, "We will begin the second round of interrogation."

"Ah! Just a minute, Bocchan," Sanji said, hooking one arm around a bar and leaning somewhat threateningly toward Kuchiki, outside the cell. "We have a few things that need taken care-of before we answer any more questions."

Kuchiki closed his eyes. Again, obviously an expression of annoyance for him. "So my subordinates inform me. A change of clothes and bathing facilities can be arranged. Cooking is out of the question."

"Aw, come on. You just haven't tried mine," Sanji cajoled with a grin.

"Nor shall I," replied Kuchiki in a frigid tone. "Renji. While I am interrogating this one, you may take the other to the bathhouse. And watch him closely."

"Yes, Taichou," Renji said.

"I assume you can wait." Kuchiki had directed this statement at Zoro, though still without looking at him.

"Nh," Zoro grumbled, leaning against the bars as Renji opened the door and took Sanji out. "Hey. If he gives you half a chance, jump him and get my swords for me," Zoro called over his shoulder.

Sanji gave him the finger without looking back. "The day I do you a favor, it'll be snowing in hell."

Zoro sighed and briefly met Kuchiki's gaze. "We earn side money as a comedy act," Zoro joked.

However the chilliness of the shinigami captain's expression as he said this told him he was not in the mood for jokes. "Returning to yesterday's topic-"

"Of how you sucker-punched me?"

"-explain how an ordinary human with ordinary weapons was able to do what you did."

Zoro sighed, folding his arms and leaning against the wall. "You don't seem to listen when I'm talking, so if it doesn't sink in this time, I give up. It's not magic, it's no trick, and it's not your crazy half-soul swords. We're not ordinary, my swords and I, but everything I've gained is a result of training. That's it."

Kuchiki watched him for a long time with his eyes narrowed. He seemed to be looking for something in Zoro, and something he didn't want to find. And then, he seemed to find it. He lowered his gaze. "Absurd," he muttered. "But since you only seem to respond one way, I will move on for the present. The most important questions: how did you get here, and why did you break into Seireitei? Additionally, why did you break into my grounds?"

Zoro breathed out another brief sigh, casting his gaze up toward the window again. "I don't suppose you're going to believe me, but the fact is I didn't do any of that of my own will. You can check with the idiot."

"My lieutenant has done so, and unfortunately he seems to say the same thing."

" 'Unfortunately' ?"

"As you correctly surmised, these are unsatisfactory answers. Clearly, there is a flaw in Seireitei security. Normally, I would be happy to take down your ludicrous testimony, lock you in the dungeon forever and leave it at that."

Zoro got shivers by how casually he said all this. He also sensed no joking or exaggeration in that phrase.

"But my duty dictates that I wring you dry of information first. If you do not prove useful even then…perhaps more drastic measures will be necessary."

Zoro observed this cold man for a time. Then he returned his gaze to the window. "Why wait? Torture is something I understand better than verbal parrying anyway." He came to stand right over Kuchiki. "In other words, give me what you got." He smirked dangerously. "And don't hold back."

"Ahhh," Sanji sighed happily, sinking into the wooden bath. He glanced with some annoyance at the tattooed shinigami, Renji, who was folding his arms and calmly waiting near the door. On the inside of the door, that is. "You know…I get that you're dedicated, but I really only want to share a bath with beautiful women. Apart from your hair, you're pretty far from my type."

"So it's true what Rangiku-san said," the shinigami muttered. Then he smirked at Sanji. "She said you got a nosebleed before she even touched you."

"Which I am happy to admit to, although your tone does piss me off," Sanji growled.

Renji shrugged. "Humans can rarely fight their natures."

Sanji scoffed in annoyance, soaping his arms. "Meaning you're not human, huh? Whatever. All you're telling me is that you're a virgin."

Since Sanji was busy washing himself, it took him a few moments to notice that the shinigami's whole face had turned bright red, much though he was trying to look casual about it. "Sh-shinigami don't need it the way humans do," he said, very unconvincingly.

Sanji grinned, turning to look at him and hanging his arms casually out of the bath. "Bullshit."

Renji was clearly trying to avoid his gaze. "Shinigami's purpose is protecting humans, that's it. And we live for thousands of years, so we just lose the need for sex."

A wider grin. "Bullshit."

"I…look, I don't need it, that's what I'm telling you! I feel like this conversation got out of my hands at some point."

Sanji chuckled and rose from the bath, naked of course. Renji watched him warily as he did so, and casually approached him. "All I'm hearing are excuses. And weirdly, although you're probably not, you seem younger than me. And I have this tendency, more like an irresistible urge, to tease people younger than me."

Renji turned his head away, still blushing. "I'm older, taller, and undoubtedly stronger. You'd have a hard time bullying me."

Sanji grinned. "I don't think so."

Without another word, he grabbed Renji's package. Renji gasped, eyes wide. His face was bright red. With shaking hands, he was vainly trying to push Sanji away, but Sanji hooked one leg around his. He yanked it out so the shinigami lost his balance on one side, and then Sanji shoved him back against the wall, now somewhat lower down and more vulnerable than Sanji.

"Ahh," Sanji whined. "If only you were a pretty girl. That expression you're making is very much my taste."

"Ah!" Renji cried, panicking as Sanji's hand cruelly and carelessly dragged pleasure out of him.

"Yes, that one. You bastard, you're actually kind of hot when you look like that. How annoying." Without halting his hand's lascivious motions, Sanji pressed his wet body against Renji's. "Really. How annoying," he said, more softly.

Renji weakly gripped his shoulders, now panting openly. "S-…stop…"

"No."

Renji looked up at him with baleful eyes. He panted for a moment, trying to gain back his calm. However, he didn't seem to manage it as he murmured, "Please…"

Sanji examined this expression for a moment in gathering annoyance. "Fine," he said at length. "I'll stop in a minute."

Renji's eyes went wide, as Sanji deftly loosened his obi and shoved his hand inside Renji's kimono. Renji cried out, arching his back. His fingers gripped Sanji's shoulders, but he was unable to do much else now.

"You're really starting to piss me off. Guys shouldn't show expressions like that. You're acting no one has ever touched you before."

Renji flinched, his head resting in shame against Sanji's shoulder.

Sanji stared at him. "Son of a bitch," he muttered. With his free hand, he slipped Renji's kimono off one of his shoulders and started teasing his nipple. Renji cried out, his head still pressed against Sanji's shoulder to hide his embarrassment. "My hands won't ever feel clean after this. How are you going to make up for that, bastard?"

"Ngh," Renji grunted, his fingers digging harder into Sanji's skin. "W-…wait…I'm…going to…"

The next moment, his red hair whirled as he threw back his head, crying out sweetly as he came in Sanji's hand. For many long moments after, he twitched and breathed hard against Sanji. He leaned his forehead against him again. However, this only lasted a moment.

Sanji disengaged himself and let Renji slip to the floor, his eyes glazed over and his kimono all askew. Sanji walked over to the sink and washed his hands thoroughly. He dried them, then went over to his clothes, in a basket on the counter, and dug around for his smokes. He lit up, and then returned to his bath.

Despite his outward calm, all that kept going through his head was: WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST DO?!