CHAPTER 1 - Upgrade




"I have no problems speaking my mind. You're an open book to me. You've been obsessing for days. I suggest you stop yourself soon." he spoke smugly with a serious expression on his face as he looked down upon the cook's smaller frame. Disheveled and ruffled, hurt and tired, Sanji's skin paled under the moonlight, cold shower water dripping from all his strands of hair.

"Or else..?" Sanji managed to force himself speak despite his throat hurting so. He looked down and focused on breathing, afraid of looking up.

"Or else you will break and it will be at my hands. And I would thoroughly enjoy it.." Zoro replied carelessly.

"Why.." the blond tried to ask but stopped himself immediately. The other smirked with an evil and yet desperately burning glint in his eyes. His hand pressed harder against the cook's throat.

"Because as much as you've obsessed.. I've obsessed much more." Cold, honest words escaped the usually tight-lipped swordsman.

- }:{ -

Five weeks ago, it had all started with two troublesome crew members...

"Frankyyyy~!" Usopp and Chopper yelled in unison as they ran out on the main deck. Chopper slipped on the wet grass and rolled until he hit the swing on the other side of the deck. Usopp slid rapidly on the grass and almost followed in the fall before regaining balance. Franky was fixing a piece on the main mast. He was one of the first to wake up after storms, fixing anything that happened to their precious traveling companion, the Thousand Sunny. There was little more important than the ship he had designed and built.

Sanji stood next to the rails smoking quietly, looking at the sunrise. Tiredly, he turned around and rested his elbows and lower back on the railing. It was unlike him but except the girls, Brook and Franky, everyone was dead tired going on for a week already.

"Oh, God, not again.." Franky sighed as he looked behind at the two bumbling idiots as they ran closer. Holding two nails in his teeth and a hammer in his right cyborg fist, he turned around menacingly. The display of anger on the tall and well-built man forced the two suddenly stop and freeze in front of him. Usopp hurriedly ran behind Chopper. Both leaned back and trembled at the sight of the angry half-cyborg, half-human who raised his hammer and scowled at the disturbance. Anger flashed on his face.

Zoro napped at the base of the orange trees on the front, upper deck. He sluggishly opened one eye to see the commotion and closed it again.

"H-h-h-hi, F-franky..!" Chopper greeted with a scared look on his face. Usopp shyly and tremblingly waved good morning, still hiding behind the small reindeer. Franky growled harder leaning towards them.

"Good morning. Chopper.. Usopp.." he took a deep breath and replied to them. This was now the fifth day the two had come to beg Franky for the same favor. They were tired and unsteady on their feet, mostly like zombies. He knew what they wanted. "Now stop bothering me about it!"

"B-b-but, Franky, please! We beg you!" Usopp yelled as he took a step forward to almost stand next to Chopper, still with his hands on the back of his small nakama. Tears ran on both their faces, pleading with wide puppy like eyes.

Robin and Nami sleepily walked out in their pajamas from the same door the boys had come out.

"Gooood mooorning~~Nami-swan, Robin-chwan~~" Sanji yelled out sweetly and waved passionately until the girls replied with smiles and greetings back, then resumed his earlier pose with a grin instead of the tired blank stare.

" 'Morning, everyone." Nami said and yawned as she sat on the deck tanning chairs. They had dried since the ship had gone through the storm the night before. Robin greeted as well and sat across from the redhead, crossing her right leg over her left one. She had beautiful long legs, the smooth silk pajamas just falling down elegantly. Nami wore a shoulder string tight tee and short summer pajama pants tightly shaped around her thighs.

"Naaaaami-san, Robiiin-san please help us.." Chopper looked back with pleading eyes.

"Oh, come on, Franky, why don't you just give in? It wouldn't be too different from how it is now." Nami calmly stated as she stretched her back and arms in the air. "They both need to sleep some time soon. If we need Chopper to fix any of us, we're screwed if he's falling down due to sleep deprivation."

"It would be. Luffy doesn't even like the idea, he likes being with everyone." Franky replied shaking his head. Requesting room changes in his already perfect ship was a no-no especially since he had done the work with his friends before leaving them behind to join the Straw hats.

"Franky, would it take long to modify the rooms?" Luffy yelled down from the mast. He had kept watch during the night. It was about breakfast time so he stretched down around the mast instead of using the stairs, and landed next to the boys' left side.

"Nah.. just two days if i would modify them to hold more closets and stuff to create more useful space.. But, Luffy.. you said you didn't want the rooms modified either, why?" Franky asked sighing.

"Nami's right. It's my fault they can't sleep, since i snore so loudly.." Luffy shrugged his shoulders. "I like sharing the bunk hammocks with the guys in the joint quarters but i can't keep them tired just because of that."

"Luffy.." Usopp and Chopper cried happily and jumped towards the captain, hugging him until he stretched upwards. Releasing him, they wiped their tears and smiled like they would once again have a chance at soft, undisturbed and deeply needed sleep.

"Fine, fine.. I give up.." the cyborg reluctantly agreed.. "You will all have to sleep in Usopp's factory until this is done, i don't want any disturbances before i finish it. I'm going to the work room to start on the project plans." He turned around, grabbed his tools and disappeared inside. Chopper ran towards Nami and Robin who pat him and told him how glad they were for them.

"Thank you, Luffy~~!" Usopp sang with happy tears dripping down his cheeks.

"No problem, but you guys owe me for this. I liked the room the way it is." the dark-haired captain raised his shoulders, sighing about the future change. He liked sharing his room with everyone else but.. the others couldn't rest with him in it.. especially this particular week.

"Now we won't have room for the sunken table for all of us to sit together and play cards anymore.. I hope Franky makes room for us to play too!"something clicked in his mind and he rushed after the cyborg.

"Damn it, Fraaaaaankyyyyy, waiiiit, let's taaaaaalk..." Luffy yelled and stretched his right arm to the door handle on the deck's other side, opening it and suddenly bouncing in to follow after the ship builder.

"Small sacrifices for sleep.." Usopp shrugged his shoulders and muttered to himself. He was too tired to care anymore. He was just happy the captain was there to finally end the streak of days started with begging Franky to save them from insomnia.

- }:{ -

"Why do we have to sleep in here again?"a grumpy Sanji complained, mostly to himself, looking around the small Usopp factory room, all the while gripping the unlit cigarette in his teeth.

Every male on the ship had gathered there and rolled out their futons. At least almost all of them. The small room was filled with grumpy men who fought for space, noisily. Franky was still in the work room drawing plans despite the late hour in the night. So here they were, sprawled one over the other, legs fighting for space, elbows nudging and teeth biting horns. Luffy fought with Usopp for the center between Chopper and Zoro, poor small Chopper in the middle trying to make them stop, his horns suffering at the rubber man's cluttering teeth. It was a comical evening, despite the way everyone acted. They all enjoyed fighting with each other, it kept their spirits up and active.

The only space left was next to the swordsman, a tight space on the side of the room, between two work benches. The cook looked down with a sour face. The two growled at each other as Sanji threw his mat on the floor next to him, pushing Zoro's swords to the side. Normally, Zoro would make a bigger fuss than just growl except Luffy on the other side was struggling with Usopp over the more comfortable mat, stretching and squashing the ship sniper, so on and on.

Chopper was slightly regretting that Franky was working on the rooms now because it meant they would share the tight space with everyone for about two days and nights.. and hoped that nobody would die in the mean time.. Zoro fought with Sanji, jabbing each other for extra space, Luffy and Usopp had a war going on and Chopper being the neutral side was getting hurt from all sides. Brook finally joined at the end of Chopper's futon matt with his and 'yo-ho-ho-ed' himself down merrily to clean his violin and empty it from game cards that had invaded it a few nights before. The room had quickly became noisier than any other party in their usual large quarters.

"Damn it, asshole, watch on what you're sitting!" Zoro scuffed at Sanji when his elbow hit him in the groin. Their futon heads were right between the two work benches filled with crushed peppers and all sorts of concoctions for Usopp's sling shots. Their shoulders crushed together and each held his ground for space as they pushed unto each other to earn more.

"Arrrrghh, your fat ass is just taking up all my space, stupid Marimo jackass!" the blond cook yelled louder showing his teeth.

"Guys, please fucking calm down already!" Chopper yelled desperately and pushed between Usopp, Luffy. Zoro kept getting jabbed from all their commotion as well.

"That's itttttt!" Sanji and Zoro both yelled at the same time, everyone else freezing. Luffy's arm was extended in Usopp's mouth, stretching it from upper left cheek to right lower chin, drool falling from the lower teeth. One leg was pushing onto the sniper's chest and one was wrapped around Chopper's horns and torso. Zoro eyed the blond as they sync-ed unwillingly.

"I'm going to take Nami-san's watch turn in the Crow's nest!" Sanji yelled angrily as he jumped up and grabbed his jacket from next to the bed.

"No, you're not, I am! I haven't slept in a week because of Luffy too! I want to sleep, for fuck's sake!" Zoro shouted back as he grabbed his swords.

Both stood forehead to forehead pushing to win the argument by physical force if necessary.

"Whoever gets there first wins. Slow-poke." the swordsman offended the one called Black Leg Sanji. His legs were strong and very fast. The cook could usually handle at least ten or twenty people if he needed to, in a battle. Sanji took offense immediately.

They both growled and grabbed their futons at the same time, running towards the door. They got stuck for a second, shoulder to shoulder before they both ran ahead to go up towards the main mast. They shoved all the way out, running into the walls, scurrying off to get there first. The sound resumed as soon as they were gone. Luffy and Chopper then started to argue over Luffy not taking his cold medicine. It had been the cause of his overly noisy snoring. He was taking antibiotics when Chopper asked Robin and Franky to hold him and shove them down his throat but Luffy hated pills and was being too difficult. They would've had to last for at least two more weeks with his snoring if he wouldn't get treated correctly. That had been the increase in begging on Usopp and Chopper's parts towards Franky. They had begged for almost a week and finally they were about to separate from the noise machine. It would be far more useful on the long run considering that even on a normal week, Luffy would snore their ears out.

Sanji yelled out sweetly – towards Nami - as he and Zoro pushed against each other, shoulder to shoulder, to enter the Crows's nest first. Nami, staring at the two bumbling, fighting idiots, raised an eyebrow.

"Are you going to take my watch turn, Sanji-kun?" She asked when she realized she could sleep in her warm bed. She smiled sweetly and wiggled her invisible tail knowing that Sanji would always do anything for her. "I appreciate it, thank you~! I'm off!" Running past the two that had just climbed inside at the same time, she didn't even wait until they rested from all the fighting before she disappeared down the staircase.

"Hwaaaai, Nwami-swan~ Sleep tight~" Sanji waved happily while holding his futon under his left arm.

Zoro threw his on the floor and sat down quietly with a smug look on his face. It was suddenly very quiet.

"What are you looking at me like that for, stupid marimo?" Sanji growled down at him with the cigarrette almost falling from his teeth.

"Just thinking this is the millionth time when Nami disregards and uses you like a tool and you always get nothing in return... Idiot love cook. Guess you have butterflies instead of brains up there. No wonder you're such an airhead when you see a female." Zoro answered with a sneer on his lips. He turned and placed his three loyal swords on the bench next to which he sat his futon.

Before two seconds were over, Sanji threw his own futon at Zoro. He boiled angrily looking down at the swordsman.

"That just proved you have shit for brains, shitty cook." the green haired swordsman added unimpressed as he tossed the other's futon aside.

"Shut the fuck up, swordsman! It's not like you have any brains at all, you fucking weight lifting machine. You're more of a cyborg than Franky is, you probably only have rocks in that damn skull of yours~!"

Zoro eyed him growling before he kicked Sanji in the ankle. The cook had been taken by surprise as he fell down and hit his back on one of the smaller weights in the room. The crow's nest room was also Zoro's training room. Large windows, metal bars, benches on the sides and many different sized weights were easily noticeable around the wide circular room.

"Ittettette..." Sanji yelled out in pain as he tried to stretch his back and get up. He had gone through too many back accidents in the past year, some almost causing permanent damage. This didn't feel good.. at all.

"Oi, shitty cook. Are you dying?" Zoro asked while still resting his arms under his head, still unimpressed.

"I'm.. gonna be.. goddamn.. fine.. but maybe... call.. Chopper.. fucking marimo.." Sanji painfully muttered as breaths came out heavily.

"Lay down on your stomach." the other spit out seemingly like an order. Sanji growled at the man who reheat his back pain with the simplest of moves, annoyed to hell and back.

"Huh? W-why..? just get Chopper.." Sanji asked while gritting his teeth painfully..

"Trust me.. I've had plenty of back problems too.. I know more about fixing them than anyone." Zoro finally got up and waited for Sanji to – reluctantly – sit down on the floor, facing down.

"But.. let me guess.. gonna hurt like hell.. I'm thinking you're doing this to just kill me and get rid of me faster.." the blond laid down with stinging pains in his back. The blond strands spread on the floor as Sanji's head turned to the left side. The cold floor seemed to ease his pain for a second before he felt much too warm again.

Zoro sat down with his right knee on Sanji's right side, while his left knee stayed up for ballance on the other side. He clutched his palms and fingers together and stretched above Sanji until cracks were heard from each one.

"It's going to hurt like a bitch.. but it'll be better than pain killers shoved down your throat for a week." Zoro said with a large smirk on his lips. "And just so you know, I am thoroughly going to enjoy this. A lot." he whispered as he leaned down, his lips close to Sanji's left ear. Sanji grit his teeth, still holding on to the unlit cigarette, almost chopping it with the power of his sheer anguish.

"W-waait.. maybe it's best to get Chopper.." he spoke, changing his mind about letting the rough swordsman fix his back, but Zoro pushed him back down as he tried to get up. The shirt was pulled out from the tight suit pants and pushed aside.

"I suggest you spit out that cigarette before you choke on it.. You're gonna be out of it after I do this." the marimo suggested, much too excited about the pain he was about to inflict.

"Holy f-fuck... W-wait, Zor-..Aaaaaaggghhhh!" Sanji suddenly screamed as Zoro's right forearm slid painfully from his lower half to his scapulae. He figured out which rib was causing the problem to be around the fifth lower rib. He went back and both his palms massaged the area gently.

"Gaahh... that feels so much better.. It didn't hurt that b-bad..." Sanji smirked tiredly yet triumphantly as he savored the gentle massage over and around his nuisance rib. Zoro smirked and leaned down until his lips were much too close to the cook's uncovered ear. Sanji looked up slightly and felt warm due to the hot breaths crushing with cold air in the room.

"Don't call me Marimo again.. fucking love cook." the green haired man whispered gently before drawing his body back. His fingers strongly pushed the painful rib back in its place.

"Gaahaaaaaa~~!" Sanji yeled out in pain as bones were set back in their rightful space, muscles squashed roughly over. The cigarette finally dropped from between his teeth as his mouth opened. The scream resonated in the wide room. The wide, horrified eyes shut immediately as the cook fainted from pain. Sweat streamed down his neck, forehead and back. It glistened brightly on his pale skin as the moon streams flowed into the room.

"Well.. that felt good. I can finally get some god damn rest." Zoro satisfyingly exhaled. He pushed the weight away easily and dragged Sanji on his own futon that he had been laying on earlier. The only blanket in the room was his. Having been used as a pillow rather than a cover, it now switched roles. Zoro threw it on the blond after pulling down the shirt down towards the black suit pants. The rough skin on his fingers felt the smooth one below as he pulled the shirt. He could feel the sweat on the silky skin and his fingered just.. lingered there too much.. A gulp formed in his dry throat as the five digits just rubbed gently across the lines, barely touching the lower back muscles, where the spine met the tail bone.. Long moments passed before the haze in his eyes cleared.

Zoro suddenly jumped up, realizing what he was doing. Another sore gulp formed in his throat as it felt constricted and his chest tightened. He leaned down and furiously spread the blanket over the cook as fast as he could.

He walked as far and fast as he could until his body stood at the other side of the room, facing the window. The sea swayed slightly, but it wasn't as calm as it usually was.. but then again.. neither was he. Closing tired eyes and crossing scared arms, he focused on the movement of the waves until he managed to take control of his heart beat once more. Sanji was not a woman. His mind went in all sorts of directions.

- }:{ -

"Yo-hoho, yo-hohoho.. yo-hoho, yo-hohoho...Going to deliver Bink's sake, Following the sea breeze, Riding on the waves, Far across the salty depths, The merry evening sun, Painting circles in the sky, As the birds sing.. yo-hoho.. yo-hohoho... yo-hoho.. yo-hohoho..."

Brook's voice could be heard resonating clearly on the ship, singing as the happy Luffy cheered on. The violin merrily continued as Usopp and Chopper danced arm in arm, excited that the next day the rooms would be revealed and they would finally get some proper sleep. The girls brought out trays filled with sandwiches and laughed about the merry boys. The sun shined brightly and warmed the ship. Frankly was using one of the swings resting near the main mast while savoring a deeply earned large Cola glass with ice in it.

Despite the ship having gone through a patch of cold air just a few nights before, they had now reached an area where it felt like smoldering summer. That was what Grand Line was like.

- }:{ -

Sanji sluggishly blinked his eyes, waking up to the bright sun flowing through the windows like sea invading a softly colored pearl shell. He hadn't slept this good in forever.. always waking up before everyone to prepare the ingredients so he could just rapidly prepare the recipes during the day.. never being able to sleep in... always turning in late because he'd be up in the galley to clean up for the next day.. washing soft kept towels by hand so he wouldn't damage them in the washing machine.. and so on. Always tired, never showing it but now.. he rested. He had actually slept.. it felt amazing.. until suddenly it dawned on him. It was noon outside seeing as how the sun warmed the ship so easily. He hadn't prepared breakfast for everyone. He panicked.

He jumped out of the futon, pushing the warm blanket aside and stood up ready to go down the staircase. He stopped.

'Pain.. there is no pain...' realizing that, he immediately thought back to the times when he would be in the infirmary for days or weeks with Chopper shoving treatment down his throat.. painful massages many times a day.. and no smoking.. that was the worst.. Now, there was nothing. He felt like new.

'For fuck's sake.. that jackass marimo knew how to do it and he let me go through all that crap each time?!' Sanji boiled but paused before realizing once more just how good and rested he felt. '...but God.. it feels amazing..' he wiggled his body trying to see if it hurt in any way. Jumping down on his hands, he twisted his waist and legs in the air doing one of his normal attacks to see if it was for real..

'Holy fuck.. god damn, marimo.. you have got some good hands..' Sanji thought before breakfast thoughts resumed in his mind. He opened a window towards the deck and looked down, hearing the commotion of the merry crew.

"Morning, Nami-swan, Robin-chwan~!" he greeted happily like always, his hair being ruffled by the soft, hot breeze at the high altitude.

"Hey, Sanji-kun~!" the girls smiled and waved.

"Oyyyy, Sanji! I'm huungryyyy! I want meat! Meat!" Luffy yelled out, happy to see Sanji come down the staircase.

"Why didn't anyone wake me up? I should have prepared beautifully arranged, delicious breakfast and lunch for the beautiful ladies.. ah, and maybe some scraps for you too, of course." Sanji teased the boys who made faces at him.

"Swordsman-san told us you had a back accident last night and were too tired to wake up. Reindeer-san gave you a look-over in the morning and you were in top shape but you just wouldn't wake up no matter how loud Luffy was.. so everyone let you sleep in to rest enough. Feeling better, Cook-san?" Robin replied with a smile on her face, elegantly holding a wine glass in between her fingers.

"Yeah, much better.. thank you so much for worrying about me, beautiful Robin-chwan~~ The prince will now make something delicious for everyone~" Sanji happily wiggled with heart shaped eyes.

"The rest ate, Saaaanjiiiiii, I want meatttttttttttt! Prepare meat on the bone for me~~!" Luffy cried out miserably hungry -just like always, like a phrase embedded in his brain- as tears streamed down his face, clogging his nose even more than the cold he already had. The cook looked at the large sandwich tray and the girls nodded in agreement. Usopp and Chopper were now wolfing down the remaining sandwiches along with Brook who took a break from singing to greet Sanji. Zoro was snoozing under the tall orange trees, in the shadow, up on the front deck, hidden away. Sanji slithered away ecstatically towards the kitchen. He saw Zoro's legs crossed, laid out in between the shades. Looking up, Brook was standing with his violin, right in front of the moss-head. Zoro had his back towards the main deck. Sun shined on the grass covering the deck and into Sanji's eyes. He covered them and stopped for a second to look up before entering the area under the musician and .. him.

A smile tore at the corner of the swordsman's lips, unwillingly. In a mere second, it turned downwards, remembering the lingering touches that had slipped away from his will. The smooth skin.. pale.. soft.. tender.. sharp.. He pushed his knuckles into his forehead before the thoughts continued.

- }:{ -

Diner time was about the only time Franky was around after that, working diligently on the modified rooms. The boys were happy when he announced the rooms would be revealed in the following evening.

Zoro quietly shared the Crow's nest with Sanji and soon Usopp and Chopper had joined, not handling the awful snoring anymore. Large, red, puffy eyes were the usual these days. They forced Sanji to play cards before sleep but the marimo stood still and quiet in his own section.

Sanji tried to insult him like usual but Zoro didn't reply, just pointed his seethed sword at his chest. For some reason, it didn't feel normal.

- }:{ -

Sanji's mind was replaying a dream in his mind.. rough, strong fingers gently touching his back.. caressing where there was no wound.. gentle without reason.. he kept waking up during the two next nights as Franky had announced it would be more fun to showcase the rooms in the morning with natural light. The two nights felt like a month. Waking up tens of times as the images replayed the touches.. It felt exhausting.. and menacingly creating weird emotions along with it.

- }:{ -

"So, Franky said that we're going to have like.. 3 new rooms?" Luffy stated questioningly, turning his head to the left side, staring at the paper on the mast. ""Huh... so.. who is gonna sleep where?" A stupid expression sat on his face as he forced his mind to think, hands crossed against his chest.

"Unnghh... I wanna bunk with Usopp captain~!" Chopper raised his left huf. Usopp crossed his arms and nodded in agreement. They had become good friends and Chopper believed most of his amazing, made-up stories.

"Franky-kun sleeps like a rock.. - in this case, metal -.. he said he has no problem with the snoring or any sounds at night." Brook pointed out child-like. "And neither do I, I sleep like a bone~!" he said seriously with empty eye sockets looming in over the others. His expressions changed to laughter a second later "And my ears are not bothered by the sounds during the night either, because I have no ears~~! Yo-hohoho, Yo-hohoho~~" the merry skeleton joked and laughed out loud as cheerful as one child could be. Everyone laughed.

"So, I can sleep with Franky and Brook in one room." Luffy counted on his left hand fingers. "Usopp and Chopper in one room and Sanji and Zoro in one room.. Yeah, that works!" he stated relieved that he would not be sleeping alone in one room. It would make partying at night more difficult.

- }:{ -

"Eeeehhhhh?!" Sanji screamed during the dinner as everyone else had told him the roommate he would be bunking with. Zoro sighed and put another potato in his mouth.

"What do you mean i have to sleep in the same room as HIM?! HIM of all people?!" the cook tore their ears out with his yells. Everyone cringed. He paused to apologize to the ladies for being inelegant and continued towards Luffy. Pointing at Zoro, he angrily spouted his disappointment and demanded a change.

"You guys always fight. Maybe this will help you both get along better. Please leave it like that, San~ji~kun~ " Nami manipulated Sanji easily, tired of his complaining. She blinked her eyes sweetly like she would always when she wanted something. Luffy smiled widely and nodded.

"B-b-but, Nami-san~~" he pleaded disappointedly with large eyes. An unlit cigarette squashed inside his teeth as he chomped down on it. Zoro continued eating without minding him at all. He had done that for the past few days, ignoring Sanji completely.

"Let's eat~~!" Luffy yelled out and when Sanji stopped complaining and walked away, everyone looked down to continue eating their portions. Almost all the meat had been robbed from their plates. The yelling continued as everyone fought for the last few pieces of meat. Luffy's big wide, stretched face was to blame. Everyone punched him in the head as he happily chewed on the largest pieces of meat.

- }:{ -

"Don't you have a problem with the room's set up, marimo?" Sanji asked as he walked closer to the swordsman staring out of the Crow's nest windows. Zoro took a small look to his left side where the blond stood and returned to watch the sea. Complete silence. It was dark. The only sounds were Chopper and Usopp's soft snoring in the other side of the room.

"Oy, fucker. Stop ignoring me, shithead marimo!" the cook yelled and kicked Zoro with his right leg. The kick landed on Zoro's left palm as he defended his hip.

"Fuck off." Zoro said impatiently and pushed the leg back. Sanji took a step back and growled all the way to the futons, pissed off. He had enough of being ignored. He had a plan though.. the plan to take over every inch of space in the room until Zoro would have no option but to notice and reply to him. Ignoring wasn't going to last for long. If fighting was the only option to not be ignored, then for fuck's sake, he would fight.

- }:{ -

"Oh, man, I can't wait!" Luffy smiled widely, waiting for the curtain to drop in front of the newly modified space. Franky had literally put up a large curtain in front of the men's quarters. Once a big room with 6 hammocks in it, now would be turned into 3 smaller rooms with a small playing area towards the former doors.

The girls also joined to see the new rooms and discussed on the possibilities on how it would look. The entire group waited in front of the grey curtain. Zoro stood in the back corner, leaning on the wooden wall, with his arms crossed. Sanji joined the girls to serve them snacks while waiting for the past five minutes. Usopp and Chopper had happiness written all over their faces.

Franky slipped out from behind the corner curtain and coughed. Their attention moved to him.

"Are you ready to see my new masterpiece design?" he grinned widely and stood proud with hands on his hips. Everyone cheered loudly. Franky started counting from ten to zero. The curtain fell.

New shining wooden doors lined up, three in a row. Two smaller rooms were on the left and right sides and one larger one in the center.

"Now, guys, before you say anything and go in... I want to let you know that the rooms are sound proof. Since ya'll wanted to sleep restfully, i made sure i added that function in the walls. There are speakers in all rooms though, linked up to the Crow's nest microphone so if anything happens, we'll all know about it right away!"

"That sounds great!" Usopp, Chopper and Luffy danced shoulder to shoulder, excitedly.

"Okay, so let's have a tour of the center room first!" the half-cyborg announced with a large, proud smile. Everyone squeezed in a row to see the biggest of the rooms. The walls were a light brown Adam wood like the material of the rest of the ship. They had been storing supplies of wood in the lowest deck for any repairs or improvements. The beds were not one over the other anymore. Two of the beds were one across the other and one was at the end of the room. They were embedded in the walls with storing space over each one, at the same height a bunk bed would be at. The beds had the futons, blankets and pillows already placed neatly. Detailing was one of Franky's favorite parts. Decorations were neatly hanging on the walls. The final bed seemed to be Luffy's – since it had his favorite yellow and red lines blanket there, similar to his straw hat colors. Franky's bed had light blue and red colors – with flower pattens - while Brook's colors were blue and mustard yellow – with star patterns.

"Waah, this looks amazing, Franky!" Nami congratulated him as she touched the wall decorations. There were small half barrels sticking out of the wall, a sword crossing a smaller anchor, and even a support for a den den mushi phone.

"Guys, look at this~!" Luffy said as he pushed his bed up in the wall.

"A desk!" There's a desk under the bed~!" Chopper shouted excitedly. Everyone talked about the wonders of hidden spaces Franky had created, such as closets under and around the bed, decorations on open storage spaces above the beds and so on. The beds across each other seemed small until Franky asked Brook to pull his towards the center walk-way. The bed became wider. The others stepped back and Franky opened his as well. The beds were inches apart but the space that had been created for restful nights, it was amazing. There was a large window above Luffy's bed that let a lot of bright light shine down into the room. As it was morning, the room shined beautifully, looking more spacious than it actually was.

Everyone was extremely impressed with the use of space, colors and ideas that Franky had come up with. Even the girls were considering new additions – such as closets – in their rooms seeing how clean and perfect it seemed.

Sanji liked the room enough to forget who he was bunking with. Zoro had also been impressed, despite trying to not be overly excited about it. He kept quiet until the others walked to Usopp's and Chopper's room in the left side. The room had been similarly constructed except it was slightly smaller and more accessories and supports for medical and sniping tools on the walls. A two story desk was at the end of the long room, one small chair for Chopper to sit up top while Usopp's was on the lower base. There was a small staircase just perfect for the devil fruit reindeer leading up to the desk on the side as well. A large window stood behind his wall supported desk and allowed light to come in for both of them. They were ecstatic, especially when the beds rolled out to expand just like Franky's and Brook's beds. Despite the fact that they almost united when laid out, they were happy. They had a ton of space to stretch out when sleeping.

"I can't believe how genius you are, Franky! You are fucking amazing!" The reindeer doctor appreciated and thanked the engineer while admiring the set of doctor tools above his bed, next to some fun decorations – such as flower vase and colorful glass marbles in transparent bowls stuck on the wood to not fall in case the ship rocked too much. Franky hadn't forgotten about the messy waves and had assured everything stood perfectly where they were placed.

The blankets were colorful and comfortable on both beds. The two happy straw hats jumped on the beds and checked out each little storage space around the beds.

"Now, all you need is to bring in your clothes and stuff, and you're set. I am AWE-SOME! Right, riighttt?" Franky posed happily. With tears in their eyes, the boys thanked him and hugged him tight before checking out their new room some more.

"Let's see the last room too, Franky-kun" Robin added when Franky wouldn't stop posing proudly. He turned around and led them to door number 3.

Sanji and Zoro were pushed by the girls, to the front. Sanji rolled his eyes seeing Zoro looking all bored. It just pissed him off. Despite what he thought, Zoro was actually very impressed with Franky's work. It wasn't something he could do and that wasn't something he would admit lightly to.

"Ready, men?!" Franky shouted excitedly, with the biggest of grins on his face. Almost everyone cheered. Sanji smiled and widened his eyes, expectantly, and sort of excited. He liked newly furnished spaces, clean and clear just like he liked his kitchen.

"Ready." They both answered seeing as how Franky was actually waiting for a response. The door opened, like all the rest, towards the outside. Everyone pushed forward with Franky first.

The room was very similar to Chopper and Usopp's, just slightly darker toned wood. What Zoro assumed was his bed, looked just like he wanted it to. The sheeting was normal, just a thick, warm brown blanket with a white pillow. Sanji drooled at his blanket when he saw that it was a very pearl-like grey with softly red heart patterns. Like all the rest of the pillows, his was white as well.

At the end of the long room there was a tall desk with small cabinets over the writing space. Sanji's recipe books were placed there standing diagonally and neatly, heart patterns and small pictures of hot women on the covers. A den-den mushi rested next to a feather pen holder and a ink bottle. Zoro's three swords – that had been borrowed (very reluctantly on Zoro's part) by Franky – were placed perfectly on Sanji's left side of the room so Zoro could see them from his bed. Their decorations were simple, mostly flowers, recipe books and small sword cleaning oils and sheets.

"I like it. Thanks." Zoro said as he walked towards Franky. Everyone got caught by surprise at him actually liking the small, long room, but it ended with everyone happy.

"Hnnn.. I love it.. I'd love it even more if I had A-NO-THER bunkmate.." Sanji growled as Zoro ignored him and everyone and just sat on the narrow bed. He didn't bother to extend it seeing as Sanji was standing in the way. He sat on his right elbow and looked around, ignoring Sanji's growls.

"Glad you like it, guys!" Franky posed again as he was a dart in the evening air and someone would take a picture. The girls left a few minutes later with Franky, congratulating him with the job well done. He had been so proud that even his electric blue hair stood up sharper.

Everyone dispersed to their rooms to check them out in more detail and rearrange their clothes. Their old room had metal closets for each man but now they had closets to use so everyone worked on using the space as best as they could. Franky had managed to create more space than they needed though, and they were happy. Luffy was happy as well since Franky had turned the large space in between the bar area and the men's quarters into a play room for cards and such, right below the main deck, one floor under the girl's room - which was placed across the kitchen area. Though, usually, they would also play in the aquarium and bar room.

Sanji left for a few minutes to bring his own neatly packaged clothes from the room outside. When he came back, he placed his things on the bed and

sat down. He looked at the large window on the upper wall, at the end and opened his smokes pack. He crossed his legs and knocked the pack on the bottom of his left palm until a cigarette came out. Zoro was already with his eyes closed and his arms crossed under his head.

"Stupid Marimo." the blond muttered before he took another deep inhale of smoke in his lungs, staring at Zoro.

"Shitty cook." a mumbled reply came from the swordsman. Sanji smirked. He was finally not ignored, even if it was just for a second.

- }:{ -

The rest of the day went by fast. Everyone was running around to arrange their rooms with their clothes and personal items. Well, except Luffy who had his clothes just sprawled all over his bed.

During both lunch and dinner, they had all talked about Franky's work and how happy everyone was with it. Robin had sneaked off with Nami at the end, considering improvements to their own rooms in the future.

Afterwards, everyone spread out to their usual duties. Nami was in the navigator's room studying books and working on maps. Robin was on the deck, reading a book that Nami had given her, about the history of Grand Line. Brook was watching Usopp build his glue-pepper pellets and Chopper was studying a new medicine book acquired on the last island. They had about two months before they would reach the next island so they had stopped two weeks before to shop for all sorts of supplies: food ingredients, nails, paint, bed covers to prepare for any cold air areas if the need arised, and so on. That was when Luffy had caught a cold. It had been a winter island and he had worn summer clothes like usual, despite everyone advising warmer wear.

- }:{ -

As late evening came, around ten o'clock, everyone started to play. It went on until two o'clock at night. Brook went to fulfil his duty as watch in the Crow's nest and the others either fell asleep in the aquarium and bar area or scurried off to their rooms. Soon, it became silent. Brook's voice was softly heard in the microphone from the watch tower, resonating through the small speakers in the rooms. Sanji closed the door to his empty room and turned the speaker volume lower. He had been considering to mess up Zoro's side of the room but if the asshole didn't clean it afterwards, he'd be stuck cleaning it up. He hated to sleep in a messy room.

The other reason was that Franky had created so much room with hidden cabinets that there wouldn't be any excuse to put his stuff in Zoro's compartments as well, even if it was just to bug the hell out of him. The swordsman didn't have that many clothes either, so it was just no way his earlier plan would've worked, he realized.

"For fuck's sake.. I'm obsessing.." Sanji muttered out loud and bit on his cigarette, smashing it between his teeth. He observed the bed. It was made out of panels that rolled half under the bed, then extended to double, almost triple size once pulled out. "Genius." Liking how he could use the bed as a couch if he wanted more space, he was grateful for the cyborg's ingenuity.

Taking off his black jacket, Sanji neatly placed it up on the door's hangers. Remaining in his white striped shirt, he pulled it out of his suit pants. He always felt better after a shower. Opening the cabinet to the left side of the bed, the one closest to the door, he picked up a pair of shorts and a white cotton tee shirt. Grabbing a towel from the cabinet under the bed, he neatly stacked it over the clothes and walked towards the bathroom above the main deck.

Climbing up the narrow staircase, he reached the small room with the sink. He saw there was someone inside already, Zoro. His clean clothes had been messily thrown over the washing machine across the sink. He placed his there as well and dropped his shirt in the laundry basket resting near the machine. The bathhouse was usually shared by the men of the ship, being larger than the sink room where the staircase went down through the floor.

Wrapping the towel around his waist, he grabbed the handle of the door in the right side of the sink and walked inside. Walking through the small corner and turning to the right, his feet stepped on the cold, refreshing marble floor. The room was filled with steam which only rushed out through the small window behind the large bath tub.

Usually, it was crowded but everyone had fallen asleep either drunk or tired due to Luffy. It was too quiet compared to the usual. Sanji ignored Zoro who was resting with his arms on the tub and head laid back. He sat down on a small chair in front of the shower area, in front of the tub.

The swordsman opened his eyes slightly and noticed the thinly athletic male turn on the shower. He would've known it was him without even looking. The smell of tobacco that the cook was always wrapped in, was a dead give-away. Zoro was used to it. He didn't like it too much. It tempted him but he fought his urge of trying out a cigarette each time he saw the blond smugly light them up.

Filled with images of the blond's back enough as it was, like a short handed obsession that one could barely hold in his trembling chest, Zoro sunk his body under the warm water. Sanji turned around at the sudden splash and stared for a moment. For some reason, Zoro just pissed him off for the past few days, even more than usual. Usually, it would be acceptable. Now, ignoring the cook.. helping him out for nothing in return a few nights ago.. though he might have just felt guilty he had caused Sanji to fall, the blond thought.. and all weird of vibes he sent off menacingly.. Sanji was just too pissed off.. being just in his mind or not.

Sanji ducked his head under the shower before placing it back on the wall and scrubbing at his body. Images of hands gently caressing his lower back muscles rushed and invaded his mind as he scrubbed in the same area. It made him pause. Had it not been just hallucination caused by pain, what else could it have been? There's no way Zoro would ever react like that to him, no matter what.. well, there was just simply no reason for that, he thought. He almost convinced himself before the swordsman pushed out of the water and inhaled steamy air in his freshly relaxed lungs. Sanji looked in the small mirror under the shower hanger, in front of his face. The green haired male was combing a hand through his spiky hair. Gulping, he turned and looked down, instantly killing his immensely insane thoughts.

Zoro stood up and grabbed his own green towel from the hanger across the bath tub. He slowly wrapped it around his lower waist and walked towards the door. The steps resonated in the large bath house.

The blond cook breathed out relieved. For what reason though, he didn't know either.

- }:{ -

As Sanji stepped into their new room, he noticed the swordsman had already expended his bed and was cleaning his swords with a thin yellow, soft reel cloth, having already added the light coat of oil. The sword beautifully glistened in the light of the bright moon and candle next to Zoro.

Sanji disturbed the beautiful lighting by simply turning on the lightbulb Franky had installed in the ceiling by pulling the small string near the door.

Zoro grit his teeth but kept silent. He raised his sword in front of himself and looked along the blade for spots where the oil wasn't properly wiped. He always took care to not leave fingerprints on his swords. If he would leave salty sweat on the swords, they would eventually rust.. For such reasons, he regularly cleaned his swords with lemon juice or special oils. They wouldn't be anything but new for as long as he would have them.

Making sure it was perfectly taken care of, Zoro pushed it back in the sheathed and got up from the bed. He gently placed it on the wall support next to the other two freshly cleaned katanas. Ignoring Sanji, he turned back to his bed and while standing, he took the candle and blew it out. Neatly, he pushed it in the shelf above the bed along with his new reel cloth and oil bottle.

The marimo was now wearing a wide white shirt with three buttons open, similar to one of his fighting outfits. He pushed it off and threw it on the desk chair further from his bed and walked towards the bed. Now only wearing some wide, dark cotton shorts, he sat down and placed his hands behind his head like usual.

Sanji decided two could play that game.. or at least, try. He ignored Zoro and went to open the window above the desk. Fresh sea air rushed in as soon as he cracked it open. Walking back to his own bed, the blond pulled out his own bed and bumped Zoro's in the process. The other opened his eyes but closed them back again. Sanji boiled. He couldn't stand the silence anymore.. so after he properly and neatly laid out his bed, he kicked Zoro's.. again.. and again.

"What the fuck's wrong with you, Marimo? Why are you ignoring me, fucking dipshit?!" he yelled out loud, anger taking the worst of him out on Zoro. The swordsman ignored him despite the bumps. Sanji got even more pissed off, eyeing the other male like that. First he had been ignored. Second, he had been remembering god damn hallucinations or dream about the swordsman, over and over.. then silence.. IT WAS ENOUGH, Sanji decided fervently. Ever since they had known each other, they had physically fought for the most trivial things, as real comrades, disregarding forgiveness and blame all at once. This time, it felt different. Sanji needed to act. Make him react like usually, he thought. The desire of seeing the other man react was crushing the will to leave him alone.

Zoro didn't do anything in return, he simply slightly smirked at the other's annoyance. He kept his eyes closed. Sanji lift up his right leg and shot it down towards Zoro's stomach. The other's eyes widened at the impact. He grabbed Sanjí's leg and threw him in the wall where the cook's bed was. It wasn't more than two seconds before Zoro jumped down and over to Sanji, grabbing him by the thoat. They were face to face now. Sanji smirked satisfied.

"Thought you could ignore me, huh.. I win, jackass!" he muttered towards Zoro who's face was a mere inch away, their noses almost touching. Zoro's face boiled with anger.

"What's your problem, shitty cook? Want me to return your ribs to the state they were in a few nights ago?" Zoro asked smugly as he boiled, an evil looking smirk curled on his lips, teeth gritting against each other. "I wouldn't be so gentle this time."

Sanji's eyes slightly widened. "Hah.." he breathed out heavily.. "You don't even know the meaning of gentle, marimo.." he struggled to talk as Zoro's hand pushed harder against the blond's throat. "..except maybe for your damn swords.."

Zoro's eyes focused hard on the lips that uttered the offensive words and a rough fist went in the blond's stomach while the right grip squished harder on the blond's skin. Sanji smirked at the wordless reply and looked up through the still wet strands of hair as they stuck to his forehead messily.

"I assure you I have no problem with being violent, nor do I have problems showing how gentle I can be. However, it's not the gentle side of me that you wish to see daily. You provoke me, you taunt and you confuse.. You are both equally damaged but, at least I have no problems showing both shades of me." Zoro spoke angrily, standing as close as he could, his moving lips touching the other's open lips as words rolled out with heat and roughness mingled together. Sanji's wide eyes focused on the intense stare making him feel burnt deep in his chest. His breathing became heavy and rare, but his chest could focus merely on the lips almost touching his.

"I can read you like a book and as interesting as you may be, I have no problems either cutting you or gliding my lips across your skin." With a sharp press on the other's throat, Zoro released the grip and stood up facing Sanji. The cook looked ahead of him, unable to look up.

"I have no problems speaking my mind either. You're an open book to me. You've been obsessing for days. I suggest you stop yourself soon." he spoke smugly with a serious expression on his face as he looked down upon the cook's smaller frame. Disheveled and ruffled, hurt and tired, Sanji's skin paled under the moonlight, cold shower water dripping from all his strands of hair.

"Or else..?" Sanji managed to force himself speak despite his throat hurting so. He looked down and focused on breathing, afraid of looking up.

"Or else you will break and it will be at my hands. And I would thoroughly enjoy it.." Zoro replied carelessly.

"Why.." the blond tried to ask but stopped himself immediately. The other smirked with an evil and yet desperately burning glint in his eyes.

"Because as much as you've obsessed.. I've obsessed much more." Cold, honest words escaped the usually tight lipped swordsman.

Sanji looked up with a different kind of surprise and fear in his eyes. Trembling eyes stared at the tall, muscled swordsman. Silence fell in between until Sanji gulped and rushed words fell from between his lips.

"We've fought daily for almost a year.. What makes it this time any different?" he asked, his chest tightening at his own thoughts laid out.

"It started with gentle." Zoro admitted, without any more information. The cook understood when caressing sensations slipped back in his mind. The obsessing dreams had not been false, created by needs of physical release. They had gushed out from real memories, as hazy as they may be.

The taller male walked out before Sanji could speak any other words. The door slammed. Sanji stood with his right leg stretched out and with his left elbow supported by his bent knee. He laid his left cheek on his arm. Wet strands of hair fell across his eyes, and the moonlight shone on his blue irises, like gems in the night.

For the first time, he didn't feel like he wanted to smoke.

The tension in his chest, unknown to him just yet, wanted to work against his mind. If it eventually did, it would be far worse than another person betraying a dear friend. His own body betraying him.. it cruelly longed for the words and caresses of a terrifyingly mysterious man. The silence in the room made him feel like his heart was about to jump out of his chest. Shallow breaths barely escaped his lips.

- }:{ -

Morning came and Sanji's tired eyes stared at the wall behind his bed. He rested on his right side, his face almost completely hidden in the pillow and body covered with the heart patterned sheets.

During the night, Zoro had returned an hour later. Sanji had pretended to sleep, unable to speak or question, unable to be honest or even lie. The other man was aware that he was pretending. His breaths were shallow and too focused for a sleeping person. He continued to obsess. Sighing, he went to sleep and ignored him again.

After a long few hours, Sanji's nervously tensed body had finally relaxed enough to sleep.

- }:{ -

Zoro dreamed. Images of tender skin under his rough palms ran through his mind. Nails digging down in the pale, softly cared for skin of the blond cook. His teeth biting the neatly trained thighs that could knock a person out with a single move. His legs holding the other tightly, forbidding him to breathe and move away from him. Seeing the smaller man's open mouth breathe out heavily as his constricting chest fought to reach out for more of the swordsman. Offering him more than he had offered anyone.. ever.. gentle and violent at the same measure. A rough love that stretched beyond tight grips and went into caressing.. caressing those wet lips with the tips of his battered fingers.. Looking down at him as he pressed further. Moans of pain and pleasure mingling so much that made him feel like the whole world could hear.

He felt himself dream. He knew it wasn't real. He obsessed. They menacingly plotted against him. His own body and his own mind betrayed him.. so much that it forced him into brutal honestly. The inability of bearing such heavy thoughts crushed him under it all.

- }:{ -

"Sanji-kun, are you feeling well?" Nami asked Sanji when he drifted across the kitchen, placing down plates with wine in them. The larger glasses had salads in them. Soup had been poured into large salad bowls. She looked towards Chopper who seemed just as worried.

Luffy and Usopp were having a ball though, they liked the new strange arrangement. Franky was strangely examining the wine plates before pushing them aside and digging in the salad. Robin and Brook were also enjoying the new strange way of serving food. Nami looked annoyed at how much Luffy and Usopp were enjoying it. She punched them both in the temple but at least they went down laughing.

Zoro was on watch so fortunately Sanji escaped the room being filled with tension. He didn't even turn around at Nami's question. Standing with his back against everyone, he waved sluggishly and reassured Nami. Despite his weak reassurances, everyone could tell Sanji was tired. Dark circles rested under his eyes and a dark aura wrapped around him protectively.

"I think mister swordsman and cook-san didn't get along so well on their first night together." Robin whispered towards Nami. Sanji turned around rapidly, looking dark and menacingly towards everyone.

"L-lets just say.. it was a looong night.." Wide tired eyes loomed over everyone. The room felt darker for a few moments.

The door opened, disturbing the tension. Everyone looked before returning to eating. Luffy had the habit of always emptying their plates, stretching his mouth until it looked like twenty people were eating at the same time.

Zoro silently walked towards the counter and grabbed a plate. He took a clasping tool and set some meat and salad on it. Nobody said anything as he walked towards a fridge and grabbed a bottle of sake. Sanji focused on setting more food on the table. The crew stared between the two awkward silent men. They all felt the tension in the room. Luffy focused on eating more than on the two, chewing on two large pieces of meat on the bone.

After he turned around and saw everyone staring, he glared. They all pretended to eat. The swordsman walked out with the plate. He returned to the Crow's nest for his watch turn and maybe to lift a few thousands of pounds worth in weights, the usual..

Sanji breathed relieved when the galley returned to its cheerful noisy self. He went back towards the oven and checked on his later-to-be-served vanilla cake. He bent his knees and leaned down. Hands placed on the oven handle, he stared in and remembered. Moments became minutes as eyes became hazy, memories flooding his chest and making him feel delirious with racing heartbeats.

- }:{ -

Zoro ate in the watch tower of the ship, in the Crow's nest. There was nothing in sight. The plate rested by his right side, on the long circular bench. Silently, he chewed on half a piece of dragatti meat. He threw half of it back on the plate and wiped his mouth with the back of his palm. It was going to be a long week.

He struggled to not think of the blond cook who unknowingly taunted his mind. If it was willingly or unwillingly done, he didn't care. All he cared about was that he was being taunted and tormented. Never would he have thought that a man would cause him to boil so. Anger and lust, all wrapped together like a neatly gift.

Images rushed repeatedly into the back of his mind, no matter how much he despised the idea that he wanted the other man. He wanted to touch and caress. He wanted to linger and absorb. He wanted to hold and to hurt.

Gulping, he leaned down until his elbows rested on his knees. Palms engulfed his face as he pushed down angrily. Growling, he jumped up and stomped directly towards the other side of the room. He had asked Franky to bring him some supplies to build himself a Salmon Ladder. It was a great instrument for strength training and Zoro needed anything to keep his mind off the stressful nuisance at the back of his mind.

The swordsman was not good with building but Franky had given him tips when Zoro expressed the wish to build it himself. Distractions felt welcomed. Anything that worked.. Franky, however, had insisted to at least build them from steel and the swordsman would just need to put it together. So he did.

He nailed down two supports in the floor and set the two main pieces of steel. With mouth full of screws and a screwdriver rattling snake, he mounted the pins on each of the main supports as he climbed higher and higher. When he finished, he jumped down from the chair he had earlier dragged in to reach high enough.

After checking the scopes in all sides of the circular room and made sure the ship was still alone in the area, he picked up the soon-to-be-used-and-abused horizontal bar.

Clutching the cold steel bar in both his hands as they turned with palms towards his chest, he sat between the two tall steel bars. He placed the bar on the lowest pair of pins. Focused, he turned his palms and started to throw the bar one pair of pins at a time.. His body supported on only his hands felt stressful good, his forearms and clavicle area tensing the most with each jump. The normal pain of training was more than welcomed as his mind emptied and he could only focus on the salmon ladder.

- }:{ -

Evening came. Chopper took his turn in the Crow's nest. He played a music dial into the microphone resonating through the ship stereos.A song called 'Devil's thunder' played through the dial the reindeer had purchased on the latest island. The singer was a beautiful mermaid over thirty years old who had moved to the mainland once she had gotten her legs. The reindeer had really liked the voice and her story. Sanji had drawn Chopper's focus on the dial picture in one of the stores. Voice resonating beautifully through the ship, it calmed the Thousand Sunny as it sailed towards the sunset.

Zoro had missed dinner, using being tired as an excuse to have nobody question if he was hungry, and just be left alone. He had taken a fast shower to warm his tense muscles, as well as his sore scar. The scar that continued towards his shoulder to his hip, diagonally, had started to hurt after a few hours of work on the salmon ladder. The new exercise tool was taking a well appreciated toll. It kept his mind off unnecessary obsessing.

- }:{ -

When Sanji tiredly turned in to sleep after a long day in his normally gratifying kitchen, Zoro was sleeping. Sprawled all over the bed, face down, his breathing filled the room almost rhythmically to the song played over and over in the stereo. His whole body moved with each soft breath. Sanji stared over his shoulder. Without realizing, he stared for a minute. Gulping and biting his lower lip, Sanji turned back to laying out his bed.

The room was just barely as wide as two beds one across the other, meeting, only separated for a few mere inches. Sanji carefully set his blanket over the laid out bed.

Zoro's left hand was hanging down from his own bed. Thankfully, pulling out the bed didn't wake the green haired swordsman. The trained, large arm occupied the small space in between the beds. Sanji didn't care they were so close, he was just grateful not to need to deal with the roughly woken up man and more tension. Out of everyone, Zoro had had the least sleep in the past week and a half. The cook realized he must have been tired, finally getting some good rest. Though why he even cared, wasn't something he knew. They were nakama though. He blamed it on that reason only.

He left the room forgetting his changing clothes, hurrying to refresh himself with a luke warm shower. Franky, Usopp and Luffy had already been in the large bathhouse and they had welcomed Sanji to crack jokes to relieve some tiredness before turning in to bed themselves. The blond finally relieved some tension in their company.

- }:{ -

Around one o'clock in the morning, Sanji finally turned in. A warm shower had made him feel a little bit less tired. His eyes still barely remained open as he climbed down the staircase below the deck. The light was weak – only coming from the moon outside, through small round windows on the sides of the ship – on the hallway that lead to the men's quarters so he mumbled on towards the room, through the dark.

Water still dripped on him as he walked in the narrow, long room, only a medium sized towel wrapping around his waist. Sanji looked towards the bed and eyed down the swordsman. Gritting his teeth, he considered kicking him awake but fought the urge to do so. He was too tired to face the growling marimo. It was too late in the night.

Sanji glared down at the man who had somehow moved and ended up with his legs on his own bed, sprawled over almost the entire bed. The head and hands were also somehow hidden under the pillow on the other bed – Sanji's, blankets tussled together and shoved aside. His shirt has also been tossed to the floor, remaining only in dark green boxer shorts. Facing down, head under the pillow and hands over and around.. sprawled in all directions.. taking up more than half of both beds.. it was a funny and irritating image all in one.

Sanji sighed and shrugged his shoulders. He seriously didn't want to wake him up. All he wanted was to sleep after a crappy week.

Turning to his left side, he opened the cabinets and searched for a tee shirt and shorts so he could finally change. Checking again that the marimo's head was under the pillow (Sanji's pillow), he unwrapped his towel and wiped his arms and shoulders. Smudging it through his head and the rest of the body, he finally felt dry enough. Quietly and tiredly, he dressed in the new red shirt and blue shorts.

The challenge now was to somehow push the other man enough to make room for himself. He stretched out his right leg and pushed on Zoro's left knee, straightening the man's leg and moving it further. The man shifted until his head came from under the pillow and his face turned towards the door and the blond.

Sanji glared and grit his teeth. He needed a goddamn smoke, he thought.. Sighing, he slowly pushed the man's left arm more towards his body and created more space. Leaning down towards Zoro's bed in the right side, Sanji grabbed the swordsman's pillow and tossed it down in the left side as far as he could from Zoro.

Leaving almost half a meter between them, Sanji slowly sat his back down on the small pillow. He inhaled a large rush of fresh air coming from the open window at the end of the narrow room.

He looked up towards the window. The moon was shining beautifully. He appreciated romantic things such as the Diamant shine of the beautifully perfect full moon. As his eyes returned to the room, his eyes fell over Zoro's sleeping face. The man could be a monster on the battle field but he looked so quiet and peaceful when he slept. Somehow, it disturbed Sanji when he caught himself staring at the light hitting the tanned tension of muscles.

Sanji gulped loudly. His throat made his chest feel hard and heavy, but before long, his stomach was invaded by rumbling sounds of nervousness.

'For fuck's sake... What the hell..' Sanji mentally cursed at himself. He punched his fists into the soft pillow under his head and breathed out angrily with an almost inaudible growl. He felt like screaming and punching into the other. Staring at the ceiling, Sanji rubbed his forehead and tried to calm himself enough to sleep.

"Are you going to stop fidgeting soon?" Zoro's slightly muffled voice caught him by surprise, half his face pushing down into Sanji's larger pillow.

The blond swallowed dry and his heart felt compelled by the tension rush, to beat faster and cause his chest to tighten as he turned his head to the left side. Zoro glared at him, half-asleep. Sanji took the smaller pillow under his head and smashed it onto Zoro's face.

"Oh shut up, stupid marimo. You took over half of my bed god knows how and now you're the one complaining?" the angry, loud words rushed out from between his lips. The other smugly smirked and laughed. Sanji's face betrayed him, the feelings of anger and nervousness mixed on his face.

Zoro raised himself on his elbow and closed in the distance between them. Time felt to disappear out of the equation and slow motion kicked in between the loudly beating chests. Sanji couldn't order his body to move despite his tries. Frozen in place, eyes almost wet at the tension invading his body, he tried to not let his heart crack with each hammer pounding down in his ears.

The swordsman leaned in until his face was a slight distance away from Sanji. The blond's wide eye closed tight. His ears pounded heavily, resonating from his constricted chest.

Zoro's smirk increased as he grabbed the pillow thrown earlier and shoved it into Sanji's face. It hadn't been what Sanji was expecting. At all. He breathed relieved like for the first time as Zoro went back where he had slept earlier and turned around. With his left arm under the pillow, he turned his face towards the window and his back to the blond chef.

Sanji's body devoid of power simply fell back onto his back and looked up at the ceiling.

"Fucking marimo." he cursed loudly.

"Go to sleep, love cook. You got a day of more shitty cooking tomorrow. One more chance of poisoning the crew with your crappy cooking. One more chance at chasing around girls." Zoro replied and taunted somewhat spitefully at the last part. Under his other taunts hid images of Sanji resting there tensely by his side.. wet ruffled, medium length blond hair that spread randomly across the bed.. too wide of a shirt for the smaller frame.. small shorts that revealed the pale thighs in the moonlight shining down in the room. He silently gulped and hid behind taunts.

"Fuck you, my cooking is the best.." Sanji whispered as annoyance took the place of nervousness. He turned his back to the swordsman. Without realizing, their bodies were much closer than in the beginning. In the beginning, each had sat at the furthest of sides. Now they sat back to back, their backs almost touching.

- }:{ -

The next two weeks went by rapidly. Unknown to Nami who had the role of ship navigator, they discovered a lost summer island. They disembarked to check it out and found that it had been uninhabited. Only animals and birds occupied the beautiful green forest island. They took their time to refresh their meat food supplies, much to Luffy's addiction's liking.

Zoro and Sanji kept space between each other even though Sanji obsessed so much about being ignored that he always tried to pick fights with the swordsman. The rest were now starting to find it worrisome. Luffy was the only one who told the others to leave them alone because friends like them were rare. They just needed time and to fight to take out whatever tension there was just like they had done in the past, Luffy thought. Since the fighting had been minimized due to ignoring on Zoro's part, the tension merely increased.

"It will be fine, just leave them alone." he told the others over the large open fire. They rested at the edge of the beach, where the forest started.

They nodded, smiled and started dancing, playing and laughing around the camp fire. Brook sang happily for all of them.

The girls had helped Sanji barbecue the giant wild pig that Zoro captured in the third day. Luffy was in heaven. He was eating as much meat as he could before continuing the trip. He had even asked Zoro to grab a few more large animals and slice them up nicely for Sanji to refrigerate in the ship below deck, in the lowest floor. They had large reserves of meat by the time they even considered to leave the peaceful island.

Nami made a map of the island to add to her new increasing collection. Since her old one had been destroyed – fortunately, she had a new passion for map drawing. Robin had also researched the island thoroughly to find out as much as they could since there were very few markers of earlier civilizations passed through.

Usopp had found some great new additions to the dangerous mixes about to be used to create small bombs to snipe enemies with. Chopper had been researching some fresh plants for medicine. They had all been happy to find the quiet island, especially to restock their supplies without having to use money.

Without regretting disembarking and spending two good weeks there, they waved goodbye to the summer island.

- }:{ -

Having been the only one to stay and sleep inside the ship during the two weeks, Zoro had gotten selfishly used to sleeping on both beds. When Sanji returned, he silently accepted it and ignored the man. He slept closely, unintentional as his body betrayed and pulled to be near the green haired man. They didn't argue, fight or talk.. barely at all.. so he ignored Zoro just as much as the other did to him.

- }:{ -

The next weeks passed more rapidly as the mood on the ship stabilized somehow. It was more or less like before, the tension having minimized, or everyone just got used to it. They missed the daily fights the two nineteen year old boys used to have on the deck about any trivial matter.

The swordsman had started spending more time training and Sanji had locked himself up in the galley, cooking all sorts of savory wonders for especially the two beautiful women on the ship. He swooned over them as usual, always flirting, always paying little attention to the others compared to Nami and Robin.

- }:{ -

Zoro couldn't control his mind anymore. Always flooded by ideas of possible taunting and arguments.. he just didn't voice them. He struggled not to voice or act upon them.

The tension had hidden behind his eye sockets, always feeling like he was about to crack and hold the other, willingly or unwillingly. He barely stopped himself and decided to train himself to let go.

Meditating over and over was helping a little but the most effecting was the salmon ladder. It sent shivers up his long chest scar and helped him focus on the sharp pain before anything. He appreciated the jolts of normality into his body. Made him feel like everything was normal and that he wasn't so close to just grab the blond and hide him away in their room.

Abnormal urges.. for a monster swordsman soon to be the world's top.. he thought.. urges.. fucking urges.. too many urges swam around in his chest, but even more, in the entirety of his body.. Oh god.. the nights were the worst.. Sitting there closely, Sanji twisting his body in his sleep.. his hand ending up on Zoro's arms or even chest.. pale legs resting over tanned knees.. and ruffled hair spreading teasingly across the pillow..

Sanji had no idea what he was doing to Zoro until one night when he had slowly woken up and realised his body's pose.. He had gulped hard and frozen in place. Noticing the swordsman was breathing evenly and restfully, he hadn't moved.. so he kept his left ear over Zoro's chest, afraid to move. Hadn't the other realize the way the blond unknowingly used him as a pillow? He must have.. Sanji's blue irises shined nervously before shutting them and willing himself to sleep.. he knew that neither would say anything about it, even if Zoro would wake up..

His body tensed when Zoro's right arm moved over Sanji's head, gripping his fingers around the blond strands. A sharp intake of a breath resonated in Sanji's ear, making him feel like a frozen statue until Zoro's breathing evened out again. The cook couldn't help but feel his body be relieved of pressure when Zoro didn't wake up. He sat there comfortably in silence for a long time. He finally managed to fall asleep.

- }:{ -

The nights became strangely more relaxed as the mingled body parts became a normal occurence.

Both had become aware but not one of them said anything.

- }:{ -

Friday evening. The fifth week after the decision to change the rooms had been made. It was the last night of summer before the next winter island.

Sanji had just cooked a delicious meal for everyone on the ship. Wild bore with vegetables.. a large fruit salad.. tangerine sauce over juicy chocolate mousse.. red wine.. sake.. cola.. a lot of food sent up in the Crow's nest for Franky who's turn was to keep watch.. extra meat for Luffy and so on.. The night turned into a party before they even knew it.

Even Zoro was joining in the card games and drinking as much sake as he liked.. which was a lot, like usually.. He could hold his drinks, they barely made him hazy, if at all.

Sanji prepped for sleep when the party kept going on and on. Tired from the long day of preparations, he was the first to leave the main deck where the party continued.

Robin joined in the Crow's nest to take more savory treats and cola for Franky.. She liked his stories about building ships and his home town.

Nami fell asleep on one of the deck chairs with Chopper in her arms, using him as a pillow against his chest. Usopp had drunkenly fallen asleep next to Brook, near one of the swings resting below the main mast.

Luffy had somehow fallen asleep with his head on a bunch of rope, sprawled on the grassy floor. You could almost see soap-like bubbles move up and down, floating from his nose as he snored away. Hopefully he wouldn't catch another cold.

Zoro protectively placed a few blankets on all of them and stood by the rails, staring ahead towards the coming morning light. They were moving into another winter air zone soon, a night at most. Grand line was something, he thought.. the only ocean in the world where islands one next to the other could be in different seasons.. winter.. summer.. spring.. flashing red autumn.. He smiled and took down the swords from his waists. His precious swords would always rest on his waist band in case anyone decided to attack for the large bounties placed on their heads. After one more hour, he kicked everyone awake and they each spread out towards their own rooms.

Franky had added a greenhouse shield on the highest part of the deck where Nami's tangerine trees rested. The girl pushed the level to open it. It raised up around the plants and protected them from the cold rush coming towards the ship. Nami then also sneaked into her room to rest.

The ship entered a misty area where the hot and cold air mingled together. Humidity was wrapping the ship in sparkling drops.

- }:{ -

Entering his room, Zoro placed his swords on the floor near the bed, in the right side. Sanji was sleeping comfortably with his face up, his left arm on his chest and legs spread over Zoro's bed. They had gotten used to sleeping on both beds so now it simply came naturally. They didn't talk to each other but sleep.. well.. they were men.. if they couldn't even do that..

The man smiled as he pushed up his dark blue sleeveless shirt. Discarded, it fell over the swords. Pulling the pants neatly tucked into his boots, he pushed them off as well, letting both the pants and boots drop with a thunk on the floor.

Zoro stared at the man innocently sprawled out before him. He placed his knees next to Sanji's torso and leaned on his palms, a forearm length away from the blond. Staring down, a smile curled up on his lips.

- }:{ -

Sanji slowly blinked his eyes awake when he heard a loud sound of something dropping heavily on the carpet. With eyes half-open, he noticed the man lingering in the air above him.

"Y-yo.." he managed to mutter before gulping quietly. Zoro smiled down at him and moved a leg over Sanji's stretched legs. He was now standing completely above Sanji. The moment seemed long as he researched the blond's surprise, space invaded look.. wide open eyes shakily looked up at him before steadying themselves.

Zoro's smile turned into a faint smirk as he did something Sanji did not expect. He laid down. Over Sanji.

Naked, strong, tanned chest rested atop the smaller frame of the other man. Burying his face into the blond's neck, with his back towards the window, Zoro sat on his side and placed his hand over Sanji's waist. His left leg rested over Sanji's left leg, their skin touching.

"For god's sake, shitty marimo.. you have a mouth.. speak.. don't ignore me.." Sanji's tension suddenly cracked and his right hand moved over his wet eyes. "Marimo.." he said somewhat pleadingly.

Zoro nuzzled his chin deeper into Sanji's neck, under the blond strands of hair. He pulled the cook's frame tighter to his own as he moved to Sanji's left side, his back to the window.

"Ha.. ha.. you are such a jackass.." Sanji joked when he realized Zoro's unspoken reply..

"You wouldn't obsess over me if I wasn't." confident whispered words entered the ear now being warmed by the other's hot breath.

"Let's stop it.. Ignoring.." Sanji begged with a low voice. He rubbed the heel of his hand over his eyes, hair covering his fingers atop his brows.

"There's a price to that. There are choices to make. Some you can't return from. Trust me. Ignoring is better." the strong man replied as his left hand's fingers teased along the length of the cook's waist.

"Ignoring sucks.. It's tiring.." Sanji spoke, surprising even himself. He had meant to only think that. Taking a deep breath into his lungs, he continued.

"I don't want to make those decisions." surprising words came out of his mouth, shocking even himself. Instead, relief started to coat his body, tension dissipating sparingly.

"You wish I make them for you when I can't even fully accept it myself?" Zoro asked with a serious voice, setting his head more comfortably on the cook's shoulder.

"..." Sanji did not reply. He didn't know. But no denial came either. He just didn't know.

"I.. maybe.. maybe not.. Maybe ignoring it really is better.."

Zoro's hands gripped tight against the blond's frame and fingers dug in harshly in his waist. Sanji's eyes closed at the pain. Opening them again just barely, he stared down towards Zoro's smirking lips. Covered by his own hair, he couldn't see Zoro's eyes, his face hidden at the crook of his neck, hot breath softly caressing the pale ear.

The swordsman didn't speak a word either. His hand simply slid up towards the cook's naked back. He pulled him over. Sanji stood half-atop Zoro, looking down. The distance was small and blond stray strands fell around his face. Curled eyebrows raised at the movement. They had never, ever kissed but the magnetic pull worked between the two like lining a magnet and a spoon.

"Still.. If you want something, you have to fight for it." Zoro said confidently, like it was the greatest truth.

Hopefully and daringly, he waited for an answer.

- }:{ -

Chopper finally had enough of the 'Devil's thunder' before he changed the dial to play a song from the Sky island. When they had left the island, their friends had offered them many dials. Chopper had just discovered it in the Crow's nest as he browsed through the audio dials.

Finally finding some nice and relaxing song dials, he put in the one from the Sky island. A beautiful angel girl sang a soft, romantic piece called "Be brave". Chopper admired the painted portret on the snail-like dial. It looked like the snail den den mushi phone. So cute, he thought..

The small reindeer ran to the microphone and the song resonated in the stereos around the ship engulfed in fog.

"What I've got.. is a little of a lot of hopin' you'll be mine cause I can't hardly stop.. thinking about you. I hope you're thinking about me too..

Well, I got to.. thinking how it'd be if I got the courage up just to let you know, it might set me free.. How would that be?..

Angel in the corner, watchin' over me, you know it's been a long time since I felt this feeling...

You're face is so familiar, you're still so far way, think that I should know you if I could just be brave...

If I could just be brave..

What I've got.. is a little of a lot of wishin' you'd be kissin' me 'cause I can't stop thinking about you..

I know you're thinking about me too, 'cause I can feel, feel your eyes on me when I'm walking in the room., and you're all that i see... And I think it's gotta mean a little more than nothing.. "

Chopper gently wiggled as he stood with his head out the Crow's nest window, clapping his huffs to the music rhythm, happily. For some reason, it felt like a refreshing and amazing night.

- }:{ -

Sanji's hazy, wet eyes closed slowly as he leaned down and softly placed his lips over the swordsman's.

The stronger man's hands wrapped around the other's back and pulled him down tight.

A step towards a decision had finally been taken.

It was better than standing still.

- }:{ -




Hi, guys,

Missed ya'll~

Second chapter coming soon. Milk and cookies for all reviewers~ so pretty please review and let me know if you liked, would mean a lot~!