CHAPTER 5 - Sour days and sweet fillings




"Zoro-kun, Sanji-kun!" a voice yelled and barged in. Zoro quickly turned his back to the door, covering Sanji's front.

"What the hell, Brook?!" he yelled, jumpy and angry with the sudden, rude interruption.

"We have a serious problem!" the tall skeleton yelled when he was completely in the door. He suddenly noticed their nude state and closeness, and he blushed, despite having no skin. He quickly turned around, letting the open door draft in cold air from the wide outside hallway.

Sanji opened the cabinet in front of Zoro and pulled clothes out, shoving them in Zoro's arms.

"What's the problem?" Zoro asked, frowning as he tried to untangle the clothes in his arms, randomly chosen by the blond.

Sanji rapidly opened the cabinet on the left side, taking out some clothes for himself as well.

"Nobody will wake up! I have no idea what happened! They're all unconscious!" The skeleton musician cried out, saddened and scared, despair noticeable in his rushed voice.

Their eyes widened at the response. Urgency instilled in their already quickened chests.

-}-{ -

Sanji stared shockingly at the older man now holding Zoro against him, kissing the hell out of the marimo. Zoro's wide eyes couldn't help but squeeze shut as they recognized the taste of tobacco, and the feeling of home. He'd recognized the older man and there was no way he could resist.

"Hey, hands off! Who the hell are you?!" The young blond cook shouted as he hurriedly and forcefully yanked Zoro away from the man.

The older man's eyes traced every movement of the swordsman as he stumbled back. Blue eyes became sorrowful as they followed the young swordsman's face. Sanji's hands tightened around the mustard colored coat worn by the one before him. His fingers curled into a tight fist as they pulled the man closer and he scowled, waiting for an answer. "Are you listening, old man?! Stop looking at him like that, you fucking pervert!" He pushed the hazy old blond seeing as he stood unresponsive, still watching mesmerized towards the swordsman with a sad but satisfied smile on his face.

"Stop, Sanji," Zoro said with an understanding tone as he caught his breath again. He straightened from where he'd been pushed into the table, into which he'd stumbling back in confusion.

"What the hell are you talking about, marimo? This guy here just assaulted you. What the fuck is wrong with you?" The young chef shouted, angered. After all, just half an hour ago, they'd been kissing and he had been ready to try to surrender to Zoro with his entire body. Would he have made a mistake? Surely, if the guy was ready to make-out with thirty or forty-year old men at a first glance, even with him by his side. Did he matter that little? Sanji couldn't stop his mind wander in all directions, anger increasing inside his chest. His wide, shaking eyes stared from the old man to the swordsman. The man seemed so strangely familiar, it gave him a weird feeling but he couldn't pin-point the reason why.

"Sanji-kun, look at his hair and face.." Brook hinted, amazed at the occurrence. He calmly observed the old man. For him too, the man felt and looked oddly familiar.

The blond released his hold and took a few steps back. He glanced over to the man but for the sake of his mind, he still couldn't put his finger on it. Who the hell was he? He had blue eyes similar to his own - although with a touch of harsh, cold grey, and a little longer than shoulder-length blond hair tied in a pony tail falling low on his left shoulder, with a faded cream-colored, cowboy hat resting on his head. But.. all that didn't help Sanji much. What did shock him into realization were the curly brows Sanji groomed in a special way. They were exactly the same in shape and size.

Taking a few steps back, Sanji swallowed heavily. "This can't be.. It's impossible." he mumbled as he shook his head not believing it, words more to himself than anyone. He backed away to one of the thrashed tables on the floor, stopping when his back felt the wooden margins. "You're.." Shocked eyes stared at the impossibility.

"You," the older man replied. Sanji looked him over one several more times trying to wrap his mind around the idea. The man gave a weak smile as he stared his own self in the face, waiting for words to come out. "The future you."

Zoro and Brook stood to the side, observing the two interact. They were also too stunned to speak, as the strange situation gripped them tight by their throats and held them still. "And to make you stop from asking another stupid, obvious question, we don't just look-alike."

"H-How.. How is this possible?" Sanji yelled, walking forward and gripping the older blond by the long, animal skin mustard colored coat once more. Answers needed to be given, and soon at that. They didn't have time for weird shit when their own had disappeared. In a short, momentary panic, Sanji glanced over the messed up meal-hall. Chairs had been thrown around while tables had crumbled with food on the floor, giving the impression that many people had been inside here, taking their friends.

"I will explain everything to you after we get back to the ship. There is no time to lose. By now, the crew should already be on a ship, being taken away." The calm answer made them all jump, realizing he had information they needed. "Before you ask, I don't know which ship but I know where it's going to be three days from now."

"Taken? Taken by whom? And where the hell are they being taken?!" Sanji yelled out angry, almost wishing to have an excuse to knock out the other. The feeling he got from him was sour, bitter and everything in between. He wasn't the same as the man, there was too much change in him. They might look similar but there was no way they were the same, the cook knew it. Sanji simply couldn't understand what was going on.

"Like I said, there's time for explaining on the ship. We can't stay here much longer, another wave will be trying to attack your ship one hour from now."

"Wait! Luffy-san was not here! Where is he?" Brook asked, hopeful. The captain had been missing for almost the entirety of the day. Sanji and Zoro stared at Brook, eyes wide in realization that another of them was still around.

"Luffy was taken too, just not from the hall. You'll understand when I explain everything to you, this has all already happened before, with the small change that I'm here now. Please be patient and do as I say if you want to get them back safely," BlackLeg asked calmly.

"If this is true, there isn't any time to lose. Let's go, explain after we leave the island. Everyone, move!" Zoro commanded, replacing his captain. He was the first mate, the second-in-command after all. "You'd better not be messing with us. I hope you are what you seem to be." the gruff voice slightly menacing as he looked to the older blond.

The four of them immediately hurried towards the ship where it was being surveyed as older Sanji had told them. It seemed like the ship was about to be attacked, just as they had expected from the information given to them by BlackLeg - as they decided to call the older version to avoid confusion.

Sanji couldn't take his eyes off the man once they left the hotel, quickly taking what few important things they had in the room upstairs, and Robin's presents below. They rapidly knocked out a few attackers and sneaked onto their own ship, using the darker evening sky to their advantage. Luckily, the men seemed slightly inexperienced so they were easy to take out and leave them behind on the island shore.

The ship soon started to move with Sanji steering it in the direction of the eternal log pose given to him by Blackleg. He kept it close, wrapped tight around his left wrist like a precious jewel. The compass needle hovering in the round glass orb seemed to hint towards west, so that's where the Thousand Merry hurried towards.

It took a couple of hours of silent worry until they set the ship on auto-pilot like Franky had made it capable of running, and soon headed down to the galley to get the answers they all needed. Sanji stayed behind for a while longer to make sure they were moving in the right direction.

When Sanji returned from steering the ship he saw three tension-filled faces around the table.

Zoro's eyes were shrouded in darkness as his forearms rested tensely over the table, looking down. He was lost in thought. Brook, on the adjacent right from Zoro, at the end of the furthest part of the table, was also looking gloomy - more than usual. He was definitely deeply bothered by something. Across from Zoro, and adjacent to Brook's own right side, the older blond leaned back in his chair, with his long legs crossed elegantly and his arms across his chest, slightly more calm than the other two.

"What's going on? You all look even worse than earlier.." Sanji asked worriedly, taking a look at them all over and over again, trying to read their features.

"Um, Sanji-kun.. Perhaps we should go and leave you to talk with mister BlackLeg by yourself. We've already been told-," Brook tried to say with a sympathetic voice. It made Sanji feel uncomfortable, like he'd just done something wrong. His feelings rose to a higher level of anxiousness and confusion when an angry Zoro pushed against the chair he was sitting on, sat up dejectedly and rushed past Sanji, cutting Brook off in the middle of the sentence.

The door slammed behind him, almost causing a tear in the galley ceiling. The blond stood there frozen, staring ahead towards Brook who flinched at the sound of the door and the angry steps heard on the other side, slowly fading away with distance.

"What's going on?.." he managed to mutter, eyebrows furiously grinding against each-other as they tensely furrowed.

"They just found out this crew's fate. A fate that I ruined twelve years ago, and a fate that you ruined three days from now," the older blond answered calmly, taking off his cowboy-hat. He placed it on the table and took a cigarette from his pack. He lit it up and exhaled a long smoke-filled breath, indulging his needy lungs.

Brook looked down to the floor, holding his hands between his legs, on the chair he stood on. He didn't dare to speak or leave after Zoro's angry exit, so he looked down. He didn't want to see Sanji's confused expression. He would soon know anyway.

"What the hell do you mean.. What the hell kind of bullshit are you trying to put in their heads?" Sanji yelled as loud as his lungs let him, voice rising even more at the end. His entire body trembled with a burning kind of anger at the words. What the hell was going on?

"Take a seat. I will tell the story one more time, and it will be for the last time. The future suffers enough from me telling you anything, I don't want this to become any worse than it already is. As I've asked Brook and Zoro, you will not tell this to anyone other than the three of you here. Not even to your crew-mates when you rescue them. Am I clear?"

"I don't give a fuck about telling anyone anything, I just want to know what the hell this is about!" Sanji tried to remain as calm as he could. After a long, silent pause Brook caught a brief moment of relief and slowly stood walking away from his seat. He quietly left the galley altogether, providing the other two with some privacy. He went to search for the ship's first mate.

"Alright.. It all started this day, twelve years ago for me. The crew was drugged with a pie like the one I bought for Usopp. It was just a replica but I wasn't there so the crew found a way to start the party until me, the marimo and Luffy joined. Brook said they'd all fainted a few minutes after the first taste. He promised to wait for the captain to eat together and chatted with them until they all fell down from their seats and on the tables. That's what he said happened." Blackleg sighed and filled his lungs again, burning away at the cigarette between his lips.

Sanji watched him carefully, still frowning but with a bit more calm.. So far, it was the same information he had. He sat down at the table, on the seat where Zoro had earlier sat, after picking up the tossed chair. His eyes focused on the reluctant adult staring back at him. Unlike Sanji, he had no bangs covering one eye, all his hair long enough to hang around his left shoulder in a tight ribbon on the lower side.

"The three of us still standing were attacked two hours after the rest of our nakama fell. We resisted, managed to fight them off easily - they were just some small ass mercenaries trying to earn money, set up by the kidnappers. We searched the village for an entire day before we finally found someone who gave us information - the cake shop keeper. He told us a group of pirates were keeping several of the older families' daughters hostages until they gave them large bounties and fruit-users. They used the villager's women to gain advantage over capturing us. Of course, they were normal villagers, no sort of powers, training.. Nobody suspected them enough to expect them to drug pirates.. which was why the plan was so flawlessly perfect for them. Quite a look helped do this spread around the village, Luffy also got drugged with food while he was out looking around.

We were told the crew was taken to the Belinige island out west, several hundred kilometers from here. One mercenary had recognized the man who later had brought an unconscious Luffy to a ship, and he knew where he was. Zoro got the information out of him pretty easily."

"Wait, this is a bit complicated.. Why the hell did someone want us? I mean, you must know if it's true that it's been .. twelve years for you," Sanji interrupted, as confused as he was.

"Yes. The Blackbeard pirates. They were gathering ability users to steal their powers, and then they tortured and sold them to the navy for free sailing in certain areas or even just for money."

"So what happened after that? I assume you immediately ran after a log-pose to head that way," Sanji interrupted, needing to know the rest faster. Apparently the other wasn't in any rush with his information, dragging it along with each smoke he took. For the first time in his life, Sanji hated the fact that he smoked and still, his own lungs ached for a hot, burning intake to relax him but he didn't give in. It wasn't the time.

"Yeah.. We found one on the black market on the next island. We had to trade all the treasure we had but we got it.. We couldn't be more relieved as we headed out. It's the one I gave you. We lost precious time because of it."

"But still, it doesn't sound like things turned out well. What went wrong?" Sanji asked again, impatiently trying to find out as much as he could, as if the information would suddenly run out.

"Zoro tried to keep things in check. Held back from the two of us, feeling guilty for everything that happened. He blamed himself for focusing on personal issues - with us, leaving the rest of the crew to be taken, not being more careful." another long sigh escaped in a dark smoke from between parted lips.

"That's.. It's not his fault. That stupid swordsman!" the younger self called out, exasperated, wide-eyed and tense. He took a moment to imagine how the swordsman felt after everything. "If we'd been there, we would have just been taken too. Nothing is his fault."

"Of course not. It was mine. Everything that happened from that day on was my fault." With a heavy tone and a heavy heart, Blackleg looked into the cerulean eyes he once saw as his own, wondering how in the world they had ever been so hopeful and clear.. The only thing that was left in his own tired eyes now was sadness and grief. "Our fault."

"What the hell did you do? Tell me, there's still time to fix things, isn't it?" Sanji asked, fighting the urge to jump over the table and pull him by the black vest visible under the coat.

"Easy, eggplant. Don't make this any harder than it has to be. There's enough pain to go around for decades, there's no need to taint yourself so easily. Allow yourself to breathe for a few more minutes."

The pitying words pushed Sanji's heart into a corner, cringing like a power tool was being used to drill holes into the small cracks of soul inhabiting the hard muscle. He gulped quietly and fought himself, standing down patiently, trembling with anger and confusion. If only someone properly and more quickly would explain what the hell was going on..

He felt slightly relieved when the other finally seemed to continue, after a long pause staring at Sanji across the table.

"The next thing we knew, we were there by the third day. The crew was in a small sea-stone building, all drugged out of their minds, kept under surveillance. By the time we fought off several of the Blackbeard's hired men, we found out a bit more information. It seems the Blackbeards were on a different island, a pirate stopping pit, gathering a few other fruit ability users. Only one member of their initial crew - their first-mate - was there. Zoro and Brook fought him off somehow while I found the key and took them from the damned sea-stone room, fighting my way out through more guys.

There was no time for even a breath, a minute of rest or anything. Everything felt like a rushed blur. Brook eventually found his way to me and helped me drag the half-unconscious nakama back to the ship on the other side of the island. We returned to help Zoro and by the time we were there, he was losing. He ordered us to run."

"You wouldn't run, would you? Did you?" an appalled Sanji asked furiously, imaging abandoning Zoro to his death.

"We could hear more voices coming and their first-mate say that his crew was returning with even more spoils of war. We had to get out of there. I grabbed Brook and ran. I ran for our lives, betraying the one person who wanted me. I broke everything."

"It's not possible.. Is it? Did you really run? Is it really true?!" Sanji mumbled as he stared down into the table, wide-eyed in shock. Would he really abandon a crew-mate if his life was at stake? Even more so, Zoro? "No.. It's not possible.. I would never do something like that!"

"If the voices really belonged to their main crew, and they were coming then as we thought, the options were saving everyone or all of us dying. I had to think of the unconscious members on the ship. Zoro was fighting to give everyone a chance. If we had more time, we would probably have won together. The Blackbeard first-mate that Zoro was battling wasn't in such a good condition either compared to Zoro. They were just more resilient, stronger. They played dirty too, tricks and all kinds of taunting. Someone had to distract him for the others to escape. Zoro stayed, yelling for us to live.. For me to live."

The young self stared dejectedly up into the hazy blue eyes reminding him of his own. The pain inside didn't dissipate at all in twelve years. He knew he wouldn't ever forgive himself for something like that. "You had.. no choice then?.." he whispered, pitying the older male.

"That's what I've been telling myself at that time.. And when we got to safety I found out that the Blackbeards were even further away than we'd thought. We later read in the newspaper that a showdown between them and someone went down, several islands away from Belinige.. So, the voices we heard were just.. mindless, cheap mercenaries we would've taken out without even trying." The cigarette was brutally cut short as it was shoved on the small, glass ashtray in front of the older BlackLeg.

Sanji's eyes almost broke in tears when he heard that Zoro had died because of him.. when he could have definitely lived.

"Our crew fell apart at the news.. Nobody could take Zoro's death well, we all felt guilty. Brook isolated himself on an island, thinking he was cursed and hating the fact that every time, he lost more and more nakama. Chopper left to go serve as a doctor on poor islands, hoping to gain something back in his heart. Though I heard he died three years later, hunted down by bounty hunters.

Franky returned to Water Seven where he fought the navy to return to his home, but had to run away. Nobody knew where he disappeared off after that." After a small pause to take a needed breath and fight off the sadness, Blackleg continued. "I heard Usopp returned to his own village since nobody knew his face from the poster, so he was the only one who got something remotely similar to a happy ending. As happy as one could be knowing he also felt guilty and considering he returned and became a chemistry teacher for the village school. I've seen him again but he wasn't the same cheerful guy he used to be." Blackleg sighing as he remembered Usopp's stern face telling him he was foolish to think he could ever be a pirate in the first place. It had been a sad day raining regret.

"Nami, Robin.. Luffy. What happened to them?" Sanji dared to ask, realizing the other had mentioned there was only one with anything close to being happy.

"Nami and Robin.. Hah.. Nami-san made a small crew to rob pirate ships and return to small, defenseless islands.. The courage in that tiny goddess, it was amazing. I read about it many times in the newspapers for years before she was shot to death on a raid. It was a trap by someone who'd been robbed by them before. Her entire crew got slaughtered like cattle." Sanji gulped and fought hard to not burst crying there and there. Even if it hadn't yet happened, the fact that they could happen, it tore his heart into pieces.

The older blonde looked him over. He saw the trembling in the smaller body and the horror passing through his mind.. But for him, it wasn't an image. It had been life.

"Robin's life returned to what it used to be, always hunted down and joining crew after crew to search for poneglyphs.. I didn't hear anything from her for years, until she came searching for the rest of us," Sanji raised his head at the words, hating himself for the small little hope he held at the sound of it.

"She first came to me and asked me to find Luffy. We tracked him down on a summer island, drinking himself into stupor. He blamed himself for being captured carelessly and hated his very existence. After Zoro's death, his brother was executed. He'd tried to save him and felt he failed again when Ace died. The fact that he couldn't save either Zoro or his brother, it tore him to the deepest core. He became a mess, unable to function anymore. He wouldn't listen to us when we begged to talk to him. He even fought us off just to leave him alone. The change in him.. Of his innocence.. It broke both our hearts."

Another cigarette was soon lit and pushed between slightly quivering lips as shivering hands fought to light it up unsuccessfully. He gave up and threw the lighter on the table. The cigarette soon joined its fate as it was broken in two and tossed away.

"What did Robin-san want from the two of you?" Sanji gulped and daringly asked, hoping it was some information they could use. So far, Robin seemed to know something useful, trying to gather the crew again.

"On her search for the poneglyphs, Robin found information about the location of the 'Taimu Surippu' fruit. It's the one that allowed me to come here.

Needless to say, we spent several years looking for it and making sure it hadn't already been consumed. It took several more just to train successfully so I could return in time. Once again, I had to abandon someone to risk gaining a better outcome, even if it wouldn't be perfect. Robin begged me to give us all another chance at doing it right. We were the only real family she'd ever had, she never let go of hope. She'd also changed.

It took more than a year to travel all the way back here. I couldn't travel long-term for twelve full years so all I could do was jump a few months at a time and rest, then start all over again. I actually met Nami as I jumped once, right before she died and I tried warning her but the only thing on her mind was what Robin had also begged for, what Luffy couldn't even bear to believe again. Fixing this damn cursed past. They put their trust in someone who ruined their lives with a single choice, like I had done nothing wrong."

Silence set in the galley as the younger self struggled to digest the information. His stance similar to what Zoro had shown briefly before leaving, eyes hooded and head lowered in shock, sadness and anger.

"Can't you go back even more? Before this entire thing happened?" Sanji suddenly asked. The idea sounded like the only possible solution.

"I barely reached this day, egg-plant," Sanji looked sympathetic to the words his own step-father had nicknamed him with, bringing a touch of warmth to their talk before continuing. "I am losing my very essence being here with you. If I go back more, others are sure to find out that I exist. If more people know about the fruit's powers, it could cause more damage than good. Would you even believe me If I came months earlier to tell you this?" Blackleg asked incredulously. Sanji stared at Blackleg, knowing very well that the idea would have seemed.. fantasy at best.

"Probably not.." the younger cook answered truthfully. He then looked up, remembering the moment he'd joined them in the galley. "What did Zoro think about all this? I mean.. I know his final reaction, but.. what did he s-say?" Asking worriedly, Sanji looked up to the other, silently waiting.

"You know how he is. In one reality he blames himself for the crew being taken, in another he blames himself for the crew being taken,ruining their lives with sorrow and dying." Blackleg sighed deeply, then got up from the chair. He pushed it under the table. "You know.. This whole entire dance you've been doing together until this day, for weeks.. He died for me to live. I think that's plenty proof that he does really love us. Stop tormenting him before it's too late. Make this a better outcome, screw the personal risks. Sometimes it just doesn't get any better, you can't keep waiting for the perfect time.. Do you understand?"

Sanji stared blankly into the other's eyes, his stomach fluttering with tension at the words. Tears still perched behind his eyes, threatening to fall in any possible second. He briefly shook his head. "It's not like he could accept me when he's too busy blaming himself now and probably me.. This was all really my fault, I don't see why he wouldn't.. It's too late."

"Am I not the proof that it's never too late, Sanji? I felt his lips this morning after losing him twelve years ago. Make the impossible possible. Stop acting like a wuss. You are not one, and you know it damn well!" Blackleg insisted, raising his voice just slightly as he glared down into a bright blue eye, the other hidden behind golden bangs. There was still a shred of hope in both men, there had to be otherwise nothing would be happening the way it was. Because of that, it wasn't too late.

Sanji dared to smile at the words, and he got up. He stretched out his right hand and shook Blackleg's hand.

"Good boy," the other muttered as he gripped his hand tight. He released it and placed the hat back on his head.

Unknown to Sanji, the older version of him had one more plan in mind and that was.. a necessary evil. There was no other choice. He watched tensely as the young cook left the galley heading out to speak to the swordsman, yanking another cigarette from his pack, lighting it up and breathing in a large fill of smoke..

"Poor fools.." he muttered sourly around the white cigarette.

What BlackLeg had to do would be hard but it had to happen. He'd long since decided on it for the good of the crew. Looking down to the hand holding his cigarette, the man watched his hand flicker as it faded into space momentarily. It lasted less than a second, glimmering back and forth. He tightened his fist and blew out more of the comforting smoke he loved so much.

-}-{ -

The swordsman had withdrawn in the Crow's nest keeping watch as they continued sailing on the freezing waters. His head low as he stared at the floor-boards in the ship's watch tower, elbows on his knees and leaned forward as he held with both hands onto his Wado Ichimonji. His eyes moved to glance from tip to handle, lips in a straight line and a soft cringe between his eyebrows. There was no way Zoro would let that happen. Not even if 'future Sanji' said that, as insane as that itself was. Zoro wouldn't die and destroy the team in such a way, and most of all there was no way he would destroy Sanji's life by making him spend years trying to save him. He wouldn't allow Sanji to blame himself no matter what Blackleg said.

And Zoro wasn't so weak he thought, cursing in his mind at the stupid claims the other had. Fine, if it was true, it was true but Zoro wouldn't allow it to happen again and the first thing he chose was to forget his guilt and focus on a solution this time, not avoid Sanji, not feel sorry for himself or pity anyone.

Because Zoro was damn going to fix things and get that happy ending he wanted if it was the last thing he did. He frowned at that, a small snicker escaping him. Not the last thing he'd do, a bad way to put it, he thought as he looked down to his most trust-worthy and oldest partner since Kuina had died. Wado Ichimonji. It helped him clear his head.

"Marimo?" the blond popping in through the hatch on the floor in the Crow's nest, surprising the swordsman in his thoughts.

"Hm." the man not looking up, instead sheathing his sword and stringing it back to his hip with the others.

"Are you okay?" Sanji asked worried knowing well what the other had told him and what he was aware of as well, that Zoro would blame himself for the other's capture, for not protecting them and even for his own damn future death. He didn't want to let him go through that.

"I am. Did you hear what he had to say too or did he give you that bullshit with 'The less people know, the better'?" the marimo snorting as he stood up and looking up the snowy windows, the ship already sailing through the night in the eerie fog.

"I heard." the other's voice softer as he walked over and sat by Zoro's side. "I still can't believe you let that jackass kiss you." Sanji said incredulous as he sighed, raising his arms. "But you are brawns over brains, it's understandable you'd do such a stupid thing," he teased trying not to laugh, wanting to cheer Zoro up with his teases.

"Hey, can't blame me your older self still looks fuckable after a decade. A man can get surprised every now and then," the marimo teasing back with a grin as the other glared.

"You're such a jackass." Sanji shaking his head at the other's retort, annoyed slightly.. but yeah, he had to admit, he looked damn awesome at that age, the long, blond hair definitely a good idea to keep.

"So, are you sulking and feeling like crap like he said?" the cook asked deciding to take a more direct approach, Zoro irked as an eyebrow raised curiously to look at the blond. "Because you would be a complete, utter idiot if you were, you know that, right?"

"Let's just say I'm trying very hard not to be, seems it wasn't very useful the first time so I'm not gonna repeat that mistake, repeat or do it for the first time.. eh.. whichever it is." Zoro replied slightly confused as to which came first, the egg or the chicken. Sanji snickered as he watched the other scowl over that.

"Good boy," the blond said, sitting up as he started petting the other's head like he was a pet. Zoro immediately glared and grabbed his wrist with his left hand.

"In which time, space, universe or whatever am I a dog that needs to be pet?" he glowered looking up at his mate.

"Obviously in this one," the blond smirking as he shook his hand off, petting him again, making Zoro growled as if he were annoyed. However, the fact that his lips curled up a little bit at the corners betrayed his good mood. The first mate was trying hard to be positive so he could have a clear mind when they'd reach their friends, hopefully get a different kind of future. They'd make it happen no matter what, he knew it.

The 'upset' swordsman standing up to grab the pestering hand again, staring into the other's visible eye, raising his right hand to push soft, golden strands away to reveal his other blue gem as well. "You are looking to get hurt, aren't you?" he asked mischievously.

"Woof." Sanji hushedly mocked as his lips formed a half-grin, staring just as intently back at Zoro, hinting at the fact that the other was a pet.

"You're funny, cook," the man smirking as he walked to the hatch yanking Sanji with him.

"What're you doing?" the blond's eyes slanted, brows furrowed slightly as he confusedly watch the other drag him towards the exit. Brook was down below on the deck clearing the snow that had gathered since they'd been off the ship. Zoro, however, instead of answering, yelled out to the ship's musician, looking down through the hatch.

"Brook! Trade my shift until morning?"

The bone skeleton looking up curiously as he threw the last pile of snow over the ship's railing with the shovel. It was still snowing but they were already heading towards the margins of the island's magnetism force and soon would be out of the snow and fog.

"Sure, Zoro-kun! I will keep an eye out!" the old skeleton answering cheerfully, "You know, if I had eyes, yo, ho, ho, ho," Brook laughing at his own joke as usual, getting a nod and a laugh from Zoro and a chuckle from Sanji. Nobody honestly had any idea how the skeleton could always be so joyful, it was a gift, truly was.

"Are you blaming yourself for what he said? Leaving me behind to save the others?" Zoro asked as he turned to look to Sanji again, the cook sighing and looking away.

"I'm not going to let it happen again, there won't be anything to feel guilty about." the cook said hopeful like Blackleg had told him. He didn't want to lose anyone and now that he knew what was going to happen, they wouldn't lose. However, guilt did wash over him as he remembered what he'd been told about the future of their crew-mates, guilt visible in his eyes.

Zoro noticed that momentarily faded look and shook him by the wrist as he still held onto it. "Wake up. We're not going to do the same mistake. If that happens, it happens but I know it won't. Not again. Either way it wouldn't be anything you did. Even Blackleg had no choice, he saved the others. We're just going to do things differently. It will be fine."

"Y-Yeah. Of course." Sanji meekly agreeing as he looked back to the moss-head.

Zoro smirked mischievously towards Sanji who's wrist was still clutched hard in his left hand. Zoro released his hold and instead grasped tight around the other's waist and not more than a second later, had plopped the cook over his right shoulder. He hated seeing the chef sulk so stupidly.

"O...Oy, marimo, did you get some brain damage?" the cook slightly flustered as the other kept his knees tight over his own chest, hands wrapped around Sanji's legs.

"You.. or, better said, your older self has regrets about us.. them.. oh, hell, whatever, I don't plan to have the same regrets and won't let you have them either. We're going to have sex and a whole lot of it too. It's obvious you care about me so screw it, we're gonna stop running around chasing our tails like goddamn idiots," the man grumbled before bursting out a perfectly smug grin over his shoulder towards Sanji who had the most confused, reddened face.

"You c-can't be serious!" the cook complained yelling out loud but it was too late as Zoro already started down the ladder with him on his shoulder, springing down to the deck. "O-Oy! This is not the time!" Sanji arguing, wide-eyed at being carried around like a sack of potatoes.

Yet, despite his complaints and shouted claims for the other to stop and put him down, Sanji let the other do as he wished despite being strong enough to fight him, he let himself be carried down to their quarters knowing well that Zoro was right.. and not only that, he really did want him. If things would've happened like Blackleg said, Sanji knew it would be a regret not being with the man because of foolish fright, nerves and stupid insecurities.. But it didn't come easy even so. He had his doubts.

-}-{ -

Zoro put him down when they reached the inside of their room, Sanji backing away a few steps as the door clicked closed, the large hand still wrapped around the knob before turning to look at him.

"I still don't think there's a reason to r-rush," the blond frowning as he stepped back towards his desk, "We know what's going to happen.. we can change it.. get a better outcome.. so why are you rushing to do something you might regret?" Sanji asked, his doubts coming to light as the other slowly walked towards him, onyx eyes so intensely focused on him, a determined smile on his face.

"Because I don't want to wait anymore, that's why," Zoro answered calmly finally reaching Sanji as the blond stopped caught between the desk and Zoro, a few inches all that separated them. "And there's nothing to regret." His words confident and simple as he watched Sanji.

"But-," Sanji tried to think of another thing to say but couldn't as he slightly unfocused, the other too close for comfort yet again, blue eye focused on the other's lips and dark, sharp eyes.

"No 'buts'," Zoro hushed him, a finger on the slightly parted pale, soft lips before him, "I know. You are not a woman, I've never thought of you like one but it was damn fun to tease you about it. I will have you because you're perfect the way you are, even the way you argue and fight with me, all of it," the man said softly as he fixed back into that blue gem he loved so much. He pushed yet again through soft strands with his hand to reveal his twin, now two sky-blue jewels glimmering back at him in the evening cold of the room. "You know how I feel about you by now."

"You're still a jackass," Sanji joking to mostly relieve his own tension, the close proximity between them for the millionth time making him weaken inside as he felt that hand tighten around his strands before moving towards the back of his head and pulling him towards Zoro.

"And you're mine so stop fighting, stop doubting, stop everything and just.. feel." Zoro's tongue smoothing out the space between soft lips, parting them before Sanji's nervously and slowly dared out to touch Zoro's own, blue irises covered by heavy lids as he let the other kiss him hard, dancing tongues pairing together closely, moist as the juiciest syrups Sanji had ever mixed.

Mouth upon mouth in sweet friction apart and together again and again while large hands travelled down around the thinner waist to just pull Sanji into the broader frame, in a daze of movement felt not seen, their tops disappearing as fast as their eyes had closed, Sanji's own hands doing the same as Zoro did to him.

Sweet moans filling the small room as Zoro ground slightly into the smaller hips and kissed him again, their shirts falling down with a shuffled thud to the carpeted floor. He stopped himself for a second to move back and pull Sanji with him towards their beds, releasing him for just a second before he pulled out the couches and lay out the beds.

Sanji nervously pulled out the sheets from the cabinet and laid it out over the two beds connected in the middle, startled when Zoro suddenly yanked him down with him, the swordsman on his back and Sanji straddling him.

"You're shaking," the green-haired shipmate noticed as his hands travelled upwards on the smooth chest towards the other's neck, stopping to wrap around his neck and pull him down slowly.

"And you're imagining things," Sanji replied softly, lying as he closed his eyes, silently humming at the hand gripping around his neck, those strong fingers pushing into the back of his neck making him melt down in a puddle of syrup, never something that the blond would admit but it drove him insane when Zoro took hold of him like that.

The marimo smirked knowingly as he saw the other's expression, blue eyes closed as the other took in the feeling from Zoro's slender, strong fingers. Zoro knew the effect he had on the blond chef, he could feel the tension in the lithe body, the mini expressions read on his trembling lips, the soft lines around his eyes, the subtle wrinkles between the upwards frowning curled eyebrows, the slight quiver in the smooth spine as his free hand slid over it..

He could see through all of that.. and he loved it.

It made him want Sanji even more.




Milk and cookies for all reviewers~