„Die Dinge beim Namen nennen"
He always thought that girls were fragile. And because of that they needed protection, security and a lot of affection. He wanted to talk to them, he wanted them to notice him, wanted them to confide in him.
That was why in primary school he wouldn't insult them or pull their hair like other boys did to get their attention. He treated them like the fine and fragile beings he thought they were and was rewarded with a lot of birthday invitations.
When he was twelve he felt his belly tingle for the first time when a certain girl looked at him. He felt his mouth run dry and his hands began to sweat whenever she smiled or laughed. Nervousness and affection pooled into one emotion that described his very first love.
She was blushing hard when he told her one day after school and she reached for his hand so he could walk her home. His very first girlfriend was pure, shy and a little arrogant but he liked her very much. They shared the first hug, the first kiss and walked home hand in hand for three weeks until she decided that another boy was much more interesting.
He was sad for a while but it couldn't be helped. So he directed his remaining love and affection to the hobby he had recently picked up: cooking.
The next years he learned about knifes and pots, receipts and variations, spice and oil. It completely amazed him and he was anxious to learn more and more. He would cook his own lunch, cook for his class, cook for the next girl he liked and cook for friends he made.
With fifteen he got to know Usopp and they hang out quite frequently. Usopp was, just like Sanji, a romantic at heart even though he was shy and a scaredy-cat. But they were on the same wavelength and somehow became best friends. They could talk for hours about everything: video games, books, teachers, girls, fashion and sex.
The following year he turned sixteen and Usopp moved and had to change schools. It wasn't that far away, they could still meet up every two days but the contact decreased little by little.
A girl confessed to Sanji and even though he didn't like her that much he decided to go out with her. He thought that maybe he would develop feelings for her because she was nice and had a great body. He even overheard some boys talking about her in a lusty way during PE. But when he pushed her down on the bed, kissed her naked breasts and had sex for the first time he knew that he wasn't that much interested in her.
And even though he was aware of that fact he kept the relationship up for almost half a year.
With seventeen he decided to change schools. His ex-girlfriend was kind of furious when he broke up and began to spread nasty stories about him. It was the first time he was confronted with a woman's wrath and felt like he had done nothing wrong to deserve this.
So he put up with a one hour long way to school and was rewarded with Usopp back at his side and some new friends. He met Luffy and the gorgeous Nami and a daft guy named Zoro who had a strange thing about swordsmanship going on. He got to know their quirks, interests, sense of humor and the easy way they all communicated and fit together.
With eighteen he began to treat cooking like a serious matter, not a sole hobby. Zeff let him work twice a week in his restaurant and his schedule got busy. Still, he played soccer in school and began to practice martial arts in the same dojo Zoro was in.
He had some flings here and there, some fun. Most of the time though he went in for something with his friends: they drove up all the way to the beach, he competed endlessly with Zoro in volleyball and he laughed for hours with Luffy and Usopp. He treated Nami to drinks and cooked for everyone once it got dark.
He was nineteen when he first became aware of it. Zoro was standing next to Luffy during PE and suddenly, he turned and looked Sanji dead in the eye. An electric impulse seemed to slay through his body and all he could do for a moment was stay there and look back.
Then he noticed it because he started to fight more and more with Zoro, just to see him fight, see him argue, see him flustered. It was in the atmosphere around him, in the way he seemed to move, the way he laughed and the way he looked when he had to think hard about something that confused him.
He felt that he had to touch Zoro or speak to him or kiss him, call him at night.
When he turned twenty he graduated and decided not to go to college but work at the Baratie instead. It felt fulfilling: he got to cook all around the clock; he got to treat beautiful women and sometimes a costumer even told him how absolutely fabulous he thought the meal was.
The times he wasn't cooking he was out, partying with everyone. He met the new friends Luffy and the others made at college: Robin, Franky, Chopper and Brook and even got to know Usopps girlfriend Kaya. They all got along just fine even though he felt that the atmosphere between him and Zoro was worse than ever. Sometimes he felt Zoro staring at him or the Marimo would follow him to the kitchen just to watch him for a few minutes and walk out in silence.
That strange behavior left him tingling with a feeling he couldn't quite grasp and it built higher and higher until one day he crumbled under it.
The night he had sex with Zoro for the first time was a deliberate accident. He went out to party and drank enough to feel ready for what he was about to do. When Zoro gasped against his lips and kissed him hungrily he felt a strange emotion within him. It was as if he was trembling deep inside, as if something within him resonated to Zoro. He couldn't quite place it, so he concentrated on his body instead.
Thinking back it was the first time he really enjoyed Sex. His body was hot all over and he didn't even care that Zoro was a man, everything that mattered was skin against skin and kisses and breathing and caresses and lust.
They did it twice in the morning and in the evening again. Sanji felt like he could never get enough, he wanted to taste and bite and claw at Zoro, he wanted to satisfy all of his needs at once, desperately wanted him close, closer, but still wasn't close enough.
He turned twenty-one and his mind was a mess about the things he wanted. It was about a week or so afterwards that his friends were getting slightly suspicious. Panic settled in.
The thought that this wasn't right crawled out of the deepest pit of his soul, sneaked up his spine and invaded his thoughts. It oppressed his rapid heartbeat, slaughtered the tender thought and bound the butterflies in his stomach. It left a bitter aftertaste on his tongue that wouldn't vanish.
So he called Zoro and ended whatever relationship was between them. After all he wanted a family and he wanted kids. He wanted to wake up next to a beautiful busty woman.
And he wasn't gay. He definitely wasn't gay.
In the following time he decided to concentrate more on cooking, decided to refine his style; Zeff even put some of his creations on the menu. He went on blind dates and flirted heavily with everything that had breasts and looked good.
On one of those blind dates he got to know Conis. She was brave, kind, gracious and a little naïve. He instantly liked her very much and they got along well. It didn't take long for them to start dating. Sex with her felt good and being with her felt soothing.
Sometimes he caught himself imagining his life with Zoro but the beast inside him blocked any thought that went that direction. He introduced her to his friends and they were happy for him and accepted her easily.
Zoro never once confronted him about it even though sometimes Sanji thought that he looked like he would do it any moment. But then Zoro would smile bitterly to himself and shake his head and he would stroll off to somewhere else.
Two years later Sanji and Conis exchanged wedding vows. Sanji hadn't invited Zoro, not only because they had near to not once crossed paths in the last year but also because Sanji didn't want him to be present. In fact, when he was dressed fully he stared at himself in the mirror and wondered what he was doing.
He had never run from anything in his live. But deep inside he knew that he was running from Zoro and everything that came with his relationship with him.
Two weeks later Zoro called him on the phone and congratulated him. Sanji closed himself up in the bedroom for three hours afterwards and declared that he wasn't feeling well.
Life with Conis was nice but nothing too impressive. She was a typical girl in many ways, sometimes he didn't understand her, sometimes they had small arguments here and there. However, he missed fighting with Zoro, he missed sparring and the insults that passed between them from time to time. Some nights he woke up with Zoros breathing in his ear or the feeling of his warm body over him and he felt remorse because his wife was sleeping next to him.
Even with Conis as his wife he felt that his life was revolving around Zoro.
In the year he turned twenty-five it didn't really surprise him when Conis told him that she got to know another man and she wanted to get a divorce. Even though he liked her and made sure she knew that, he was certain that 'like' wasn't enough. She quickly moved out of the apartment they once shared. He couldn't stay there either because it would be impossible to pay the rent alone. And so he decided to once again concentrate on his job more than ever.
He decided to move to France and study there.
It was a tearful goodbye at the airport, his friends hugged and kissed him and didn't really want to let him go. Even Zoro had come and Sanji trembled and held onto him for a moment longer than the rest when the man had hugged him goodbye.
France was nice, he learned a lot, cooked a lot and tasted awesome food. The language was still a little strange but he gave it his best.
When he turned twenty-six he wrote a letter to Zoro. It was an embarrassing act but that night he felt down. The heater broke, his boss fired him, he didn't know how to pay the rent, he missed the last train home and thus had to walk home in the cold. Everything had gone down the drain and he dreamt about the night Zoro embraced him for the first time.
He wrote about his life in France, about his feelings, about all the things he wanted to tell him. And once he was finished he ripped the piece of paper apart. It wasn't right, the beast screamed and told him to get it together.
So he moved, applied to a new job and even got to know a beautiful girl that went out with him.
When he was twenty-eight he returned home and his girlfriend accompanied him. He hadn't thought about Zoro since that night he wrote the letter and felt like this time everything was in place. His old friends greeted him happily at the airport.
He was amazed to realize that things had changed: Robin and Franky were a couple now, Nami had outgrown another cup size and Brook had formed a relatively famous band. Zoro had changed, his hair was longer and his body thicker and it seemed that he had a boyfriend now.
The dimension of the information sunk in at night. It tore through his heart and he had to strangle a dry sob at the realization that Zoro had obviously moved on and Sanji was the only one being stuck. It made him moody and impatient.
One month before he turned twenty-nine his girlfriend left him and the country to go back to France. She never came back.
Sanji searched for a small apartment for himself and applied for a new job. He went out with his friends again or cooked for them and it was almost as if he never left. Franky and Robin fit together like blanket and pillow and he was glad for all of them.
It shocked him when Zoro told them that he had to move for a few years. Job-related.
A few months later they once again met up at the airport and Sanji felt torn. He wanted nothing more than to cling onto Zoro, sob and cry and bury himself in him but then again he had no right to do that now. After all Zoro had moved on. So he hugged him tightly and kissed his clothed shoulder and smiled and said goodbye.
The next six years he found himself terribly busy.
It took him a while to notice that he had outgrown the Baratie. It was still his family, still the place he learned the basics of everything he knew and everything that fascinated him but he felt that he couldn't learn anymore from this place and Zeff agreed with that.
His mind wondered what to do even though his heart had already decided.
He never thought that opening up a restaurant would be that tough. It took him weeks to find a suitable and affordable establishment that had enough space to fit in more than five tables and a fully equipped kitchen.
He had to take out a loan that nearly made him despair but Zeff told him to have faith.
With thirty Usopp knocked on his door one morning beaming with delight and told him that he proposed to Kaya last night and she said yes. Sanji was instantly wide awake and they laughed and talked until late afternoon. Usopp wanted him to cook the menu and Sanji agreed without a second thought, in fact, they already started to design it.
It was a happy and bright summer day when his best friend married. Sanji sat and watched both of them turn bright red when they had to kiss in front of everyone and saw the tears that shimmered in Kayas eyes when everyone cheered for them.
Only two months later Robin and Franky announced that Robin was pregnant.
Suddenly, among all the joy and exhilaration, he longed to see Zoro.
When he turned thirty-one he opened his very own restaurant for the first time to a private party. Until then no one was allowed to set a foot into the restaurant and so everyone had gathered and they celebrated the whole night.
Business started slowly and then it suddenly became busy. He made the first reservations, had to employ more worker and the restaurant became an insider tip.
Some nights he would flirt with women but he wouldn't take them home, even though they were beautiful and well developed. He was fine without a partner in his life because his job prepossessed him completely.
He worked non-stop, the whole week, created, cooked, tasted and woke up alone.
In the year he turned thirty-five, Zoro returned suddenly in his life again. One night they had all shown up in the restaurant and held a spontaneous celebration.
Sanji noticed little things about him that had changed. Like his temper which seemed to have calmed down a bit or the new scars on his hands or the little crows-feet that kind of drew the attention to his eyes. Even though Zoro looked older and more mature, he had somehow managed to keep up his tan and training and not look stupid with that combined with his silly green hair.
He thought back to what the nineteen-year-old Zoro had looked like and suddenly realized that time had passed quickly.
The Zoro in his dreams who was still young and full of goals slowly transformed into the adult version. Suddenly being alone all night felt awful.
In the next few weeks they all caught on about everything. Sanji felt like everyone had turned back to twenty-year-olds again, even though some where married and some had to care for a baby. They met up at bars, gathered in Sanjis restaurant or phoned regularly.
With thirty-six he noticed the change in Zoros attitude. The man would sit in front of him wherever they met, he would smile more at him and touch him. Not in a special way, but noticeable nonetheless. Like when they said goodbye Zoro would make sure to touch his hand or his arm, or when he brushed past him Zoro would touch his hip ever so softly.
It was confusing. And what was worse, it made him want more. He felt the old panic resurface in him, the fear to be laughed at, to be expelled from his group of friends. But it felt weak and exhausted within him as if it was tired and old; a feeling of long ago.
One day after a gathering at the restaurant Zoro came into the kitchen to help him clean up. They were alone and Sanji could have sworn that his heartbeat was louder than the soft clank of the dishes.
Zoro complimented on the food to break the silence and Sanji somehow started to recite how to cook it. It was then that Zoro had smiled at him lovingly and kissed him on the lips. It was a soft kiss, more like a gesture of friendship but then Zoro leaned in and kissed him again seriously.
It took only a second to slay the panic that tried to crawl back into Sanjis heart and kiss back. He clung to Zoro like he needed him to live, bit and sucked and kissed and caressed every piece of Zoro he could reach.
They didn't make it out of the kitchen.
Later that night they talked about lost years and love. Sanji realized then, that every step away from Zoro had left him wanting to be closer and everything that had happened to him or around him had happened because of Zoro.
When Sanji stepped out on the balcony to smoke Zoro followed him. They sat silent for a while until Zoro chuckled lightly.
"I had a feeling", he said, "that you'd grown tired from lying."