Disclaimer: I don't not own One Piece, its characters, nor am I making money for writing this fiction.

Chapter Six

Zoro was startled awake the next morning by the sudden, rapid movements of the body (formally) next to him. His vision was a little cloudy, but he could still spot the silhouette of Sanji scrambling across the floor… naked, and on all fours, no less. Zoro blinked hard to clear the haze from his eyes. "…Cook?"

Sanji ignored him completely as he crawled to the opposite end of the room and began searching urgently for something. Confused, Zoro observed the scene with a slight frown. 'What the hell is he doing?''

"Cook?" Zoro repeated, speaking a little louder this time. The swordsman sat up and ruffled his own hair. "What is it?"

Sanji ignored him once more and continued to rifle through the moderately cluttered area behind Zoro's weight rack. The cook was trembling and emitting quiet, pained grunts. He soon found the object he was looking for, snatching the item out of its hiding place. It was a small plastic trash bin. It was empty and about the size of a five-gallon bucket.

Zoro barely had time to wonder why Sanji needed a garbage can before the cook stuck his head inside it and retched loudly. The unexpected and equally unpleasant sound made Zoro's eyes widen. He understood in a flash: another hangover. Zoro got up and speedily made his way to the other man.

The swordsman stooped behind his new lover and laid a hand upon his back. Sanji's skin was clammy and his muscles were tense. Zoro started to gently rub his shoulder. After a few moments, the blonde began to cough as his bout of vomiting slowed to a stop.

"Morning," Zoro said, though there was very little cheer in his voice.

Sanji acknowledged him with a groan. "Marimo…"

Zoro snickered. "Knew you were drinking too much."

The cook scoffed tiredly inside the trashcan and applied a half-hearted kick to Zoro's leg. Sanji could care less about his drinking. In fact, he was thankful for most of its effects. The alcohol provided invaluable help with his goal of expressing his true feelings to the thickheaded swordsman. Although Sanji couldn't recall a whole lot about the previous night, the throbbing pain in both his anus and lower back was a humongous clue.

'So Zoro and I actually… whoa,' Sanji thought, starting to wrack his brain for any and all images and/or details he could uncover. If he wasn't feeling so sick, the cook reflected, he would probably be grinning like a crazy person. Behind him, Zoro was caressing lazy patterns on his back with his large, calloused hands. It was so soothing, and kind…

Sanji didn't have as much time as he would have liked to appreciate the thoughtful gesture. Another wave of nausea hit him square in the gut, causing his stomach to ache and spasm. Cold beads of sweat blossomed on his skin. Sanji gripped the sides of the bin and, not ten seconds later, was throwing up again.

Zoro watched quietly. He wasn't a squeamish man by any means, but he didn't like to see the cook in such distress. There wasn't much he could do for him, though. Hangovers were just one of those things that had no real cure, despite a variety of treatments.

The blonde's slender body trembled and strained as he continued to empty the contents of his stomach into the trash pail. Accidentally, Sanji allowed his head to dip too low, which resulted in vomit exiting through his nose as well as his mouth. His eyes widened as his airways were momentarily cut off. It was a painful choking sensation. The bile burned like acid. Sanji gagged and began to hack violently into the bin.

Zoro applied a few firm slaps to Sanji's back in an attempt to stop the coughing and make breathing a little easier. It didn't seem to be working. "I'm gonna get Chopper," Zoro decided, rising to go and pull on his boots. The swordsman had never removed his pants during their romp, so other than lacking a shirt, he was pretty much dressed.

Sanji lifted a hand to halt Zoro on his way to the exit hatch. "W-Wait…" the cook panted, "Don't… Don't bring him up h-here… I'll come down…" he managed to say between coughs and ragged breaths. "I'll… get dressed and come down… Go let him know…"

The first mate was unsure of this choice of action, but nodded anyhow. He dropped through the trap down and slid down the ladder to the deck. Now alone inside the Crow's Nest, Sanji managed to haul himself to his feet and shuffle uncoordinatedly towards the circular bench where his clothes had been discarded. His body ached so badly that he couldn't help groaning as he moved. Sanji made a mental note to never again have sex with Zoro without proper lubrication.

The cook paused at this thought. 'Sex with Zoro…' he repeated in his mind, unable to quell the giddy feeling that bubbled in his chest. Sanji had done it… He accomplished his goal, and had been given the chance at a relationship with the pirate he had come to love… All his pain and sickness aside, this was a wonderful, wonderful day.

Sanji sluggishly dressed himself and started a cautious decent to the deck. He was less than halfway down the 100-foot mast when it occurred to the cook that perhaps this hadn't been such a good idea. His nausea was starting to return. It made his head spin and his stomach churn. Sanji gripped the rungs of the ladder and shut his eyes tightly. "D-Damn…" he swore, groaning as he waited for the world to stop doing loopty-loops.

Below, Zoro and Chopper emerged from the infirmary. The little doctor was eager to tend to Sanji no sooner than he learned of his ailment. Chopper would have preferred to treat his crewmate while he was still inside the crow's nest, but no such luck. He was too late. The cook was already attempting the dangerous climb, which was, in Chopper's opinion, all the more hazardous because of his condition.

"Sanji! What's wrong?!" the reindeer shouted up the mast when he noticed the blonde wasn't moving. "Sanji?!"

Sanji slowly opened his exposed eye and peered down at his friend and his lover, only to see about four or five copies of the deck swirling beneath him. The young chef shuddered and shut his eye once again. "I-I'm coming! Just give me a sec!" he yelled back, stifling a groan as his head swam profusely. "J-Just… ah… Dizzy…" he muttered.

"You're dizzy?" Chopper echoed, his keen ears able to hear Sanji regardless of the staggering height. "Okay, don't move! I'm coming up!"

Zoro looked to the doctor. "I'll come too."

Chopper shook his head, "No. Too many people on the ladder won't doing anything except jar him more and make the dizziness worse," the boy explained before growing into his larger form. "Hang tight, I'm on my way!" Chopper called out as he started up the ladder.

Sanji didn't respond. He simply cursed under his breath at the thought of being "rescued" from the high place like some cat stuck up a tree, or worse, a damsel in distress… The shitty marimo wasn't even the one coming to save him! Sanji figured that was probably Chopper's doing, though. Zoro couldn't really be blamed.

The cook waited patiently on the ladder for Chopper to reach him. Once he did, the furry doctor extended an arm towards him. "Here, can you climb on?" he asked. "Be sure and move carefully."

"Right…" Sanji breathed as he slowly let go of his lifeline and slid onto Chopper's outstretched arm. The burly doctor was able to support him easily, letting his friend ride in the bend of his elbow as he climbed down to the grassy deck where Zoro was waiting for them.

"There," Chopper said when they arrived, "Can you walk?" he asked the squinting cook. He received a dismissive grunt of confirmation and lowered Sanji to his feet. "Follow me to the infirmary. I'll give you something for your stomach," said Chopper, shrinking back into his smaller, cuddlier form. He scurried off to the medical room.

The cook trailed the scampering reindeer while shielding his sensitive eyes from the early-morning sunlight. Doing so helped his dizziness a little bit. He cast a glance towards Zoro as he passed him and spared the swordsman a sheepish, but strangely playful smile. Zoro grinned in return. It was an unspoken promise between the two of them to meet up again later for more… private times.

Sanji was instructed to have a seat on the examination cot after entering the ship's clinic. Chopper hopped up onto his favorite swivel chair and scooted close to the blonde. "So… just the usual? Hangover symptoms?" he asked curiously, but with a little exasperation in his adorable voice.

"Yeah… pretty much," Sanji replied, rubbing his aching forehead. "Something for this damn nausea is good enough… At least I'll be able to cook without wanting to puke at everything I smell…"

Chopper turned to pick up a white plastic jar from the shelf just above his desk. "You know… you really should stop drinking so much," the little doctor advised. "I've noticed, and… I'm sure some of the others have, too. I wanted to ask about it a while ago, but I didn't want to upset you… I just couldn't tell if something was bothering you, or if you were just having fun…"

Sanji was a little dumbfounded. He never expected Chopper to take such a direct approach and inquire about his drinking. It was a sweet gesture. Chopper was such a nice kid. If anyone on the ship would notice something amiss and be concerned for his health, it would definitely be their resident physician and emergency food supply.

The cook smiled to his younger crewmate, feeling touched by his consideration. He reached over and patted the top of Chopper's pink hat. "Thanks, but… you don't need to worry about me. There's nothin' wrong. I've just been having a real good time lately," Sanji lied, "I guess I have been takin' things a little too far."

Chopper looked up at the blonde with a blush on his furry cheeks. "Yeah… Just be careful. I know what happened last night is just something that people do… but all these hangovers aren't good for you," he said as he unscrewed the top of the jar and shook two fat, white pills into the center of his little cloven hoof. "These should make your stomach discomfort a little less intense, as well as suppress your urge to vomit. I also suggest eating a couple slices of bread when you get to the kitchen. It will help soak up the excess alcohol in your system."

"You always know just what to do, Dr. Chopper," Sanji said with as much cheerfulness as he could muster. He praised the young medic in the hopes that he would forget about the issue of his drinking.

Just as Sanji suspected, the compliment sent Chopper into a fit of both wiggles and giggles. "Shut up, you jerk face! You know saying stuff like that doesn't make me happy or anything!" The pint-sized reindeer danced on his chair and tugged shyly on the brim of his hat. "Get out of here, you bastard," he laughed.

Sanji stood up with a grin on his face. "You're the doctor," he said before taking his leave, the nausea pills in hand. He sighed as he strode down the empty hall. Thoughts of the day's breakfast began to cycle through his brain. His stomach protested, but Sanji couldn't just stifle his culinary creativity, especially not when he had a hungry crew to feed. He could do something simple, Sanji figured, maybe something a little old-fashioned? He thought…sliced ham, poached eggs, waffles or pancakes, definitely some extra sausage for Luffy, a little fruit salad…

'Needs something else…' Sanji said to himself, rounding the corner and venturing out on deck. He lifted his free hand to shield his eyes once again. The cook lengthened his strides. He was eager to get to the kitchen and out of the sun. What else could he prepare that would go well with eggs and ham…?

A grin developed on his face as he thought of the solution: potatoes. Some nice, chunky skillet potatoes with peppers, mushrooms, and onions, and just a little cheese sprinkled on top. "Perfect," Sanji muttered with satisfaction as he entered the galley.

"What is?" asked a voice.

Sanji blinked. To his surprise, Zoro was there. The muscle-bound moss-head was sitting casually on one of the barstools, his elbows resting on the counter behind him. His previously visible upper body was now covered with one of his usual white shirts and Sanji couldn't help being disappointed by this. The expression on Zoro's face was just as placid as his posture. He seemed so… relaxed, not uptight and scowl-y… and not annoyingly indifferent. Just… relaxed. The cook briefly wondered if this was the Zoro he would get more often now that they were… well, a thing. It would be nice…

"Well?" asked the swordsman, disrupting the silence that was settling around them. "You said something was 'perfect'?"

"Oh," said Sanji as he dropped back into reality. "Nothing… I was just thinking about the breakfast menu," he answered honestly, going behind the counter at which Zoro sat. He opened one of the higher cabinets and took a glass from inside. The swordsman watched as his lover filled said glass with water and used it to swallowed two large tablets.

"How are you feeling?" Zoro questioned. He noticed that Sanji seemed a little steadier on his feet.

"Honestly?" Sanji sighed. He rinsed the now empty glass. "Like shit. Gotta work through it, though…"

Zoro gave the cook an assessing once-over before speaking again. "You should have let Chopper come treat you in the crow's nest… Probably would have been easier on you…"

"Well, yeah, but…" Sanji murmured, drying the glass and then returning it to the cupboard. "I didn't want him to come up and… realize what happened." He gazed down into the empty sink as a blush formed on his otherwise pale cheeks.

The swordsman arched a curious eyebrow. "How the hell would he have known?" he asked with genuine befuddlement.

"The fuck should I know, idiot?" Sanji snapped, though there was considerably less agitation in his voice than usual. "Chopper's a reindeer. He's got a really good sense of smell or whatever… It wouldn't have taken much for him to detect something like… like that."

Zoro seemed to ponder for a moment, and then, strangely, he snickered and shot Sanji a grin. Not just any grin… No, no, this was a grin that would have put the Cheshire Cat to shame. It wasn't quite as wide, Sanji had to admit, but it was just as sly and about ten times more mischievous. The look made the cook just the slightest bit uncomfortable.

"What?!" Sanji barked, "You're creepin' me out, shitty swordsman!"

"You said that Chopper has a great sense of smell…" Zoro replied, the impish grin never leaving his face.

"Yeah, so?" Sanji asked cautiously. He didn't understand what Zoro was getting at.

"So you don't think he was able to pick up on your scent, ero-cook?" Zoro stated with much amusement.

Sanji lifted a finger and opened his mouth to retort, but froze mere seconds afterwards. His finger went limp and his face fell as he realized the shitty marimo had a very valid point. Crimson embarrassment spread all over his face. It was like someone had slapped him with a paintbrush. Sanji thought back to something Chopper said in the infirmary that had struck him as odd…

"Yeah… Just be careful. I know what happened last night is just something that people do… but all these hangovers aren't good for you…"

The cook turned about fifteen or sixteen different shades of red as he trimmed that statement down just a little more.

"I know what happened last night is just something that people do…"

Sanji's blood ran cold and Zoro's snickering turned into full-blown laughter. "Looks like you finally get it," the swordsman said between chuckles. "Took you long enough. You should see your face."

"Sh-Shut up, idiot marimo brain!" Sanji yelled, steam practically shooting out of his ears. His heated face was twisted into an extremely sour look of sheer embarrassment. Sanji wanted to crawl inside the oven and never come out again.

Zoro got his laughter under control after a few moments and his grin softened. "Calm down," he said, "There's no point in getting so upset. If he knows, then he knows… but maybe he doesn't. Don't get so bent out of shape."

"You wanna starve, moss-head? Shut it!" Sanji growled, turning his back to the swordsman. He started pulling dishes, utensils, and other items out of the cabinets. He seriously needed to get cooking. Maybe a good distraction would ease his mortification.

Zoro smirked and rose from his seat on the stool. He overstepped his usual kitchen boundaries and ventured behind the counter. The first mate advanced on the cook until he was standing directly behind him. Zoro's smirk grew. He knew Sanji was trying his best to ignore him, but the light shudder that raced down the blonde's spine was a dead giveaway to the fact that he was having a hard time doing so.

"Starve?" Zoro questioned, leaning in closer to the cook so that his nose and lips brushed the back of his neck. He felt Sanji go rigid. "You know you'd never let me," the swordsman whispered softly.

Sanji gripped the edge of the stove. He fought to keep his trembles to a minimum. He didn't want Zoro to see them. The marimo was just messing with him. He knew this, and yet, he couldn't dispute or argue with his comment. It was the truth and they both knew it. The cook wanted to melt at the feeling of Zoro's warm breath on his skin. The sensation triggered a flood of memories from their night together to resurface in his mind. He almost moaned. His blue eyes widened and he managed to catch the sound and swallow it before it escaped.

Zoro continued to smirk against the nape of Sanji's neck before stepping away. He heard the cook release a heavy exhale as he did. The thinner man turned around and glared weakly at his lover, who was obviously very entertained right now. "I'm trying to cook here, baka marimo…"

The first mate's look of amusement transformed into a scowl at his words, though it actually came off as more of a pout, Sanji observed. The cook couldn't contain a chuckle. Really, there was no point in trying to stay mad at Zoro. "Get out of here, would ya? You can bug me as much as you want later."

Some of the mirth returned to Zoro's face. "Is that a promise?" he asked with a bit of that same impishness from before.

Sanji pretended to contemplate this for a good minute before he flashed a smirk of his own. "That is entirely up to you," he replied smoothly.

Zoro grinned wolfishly. "Then it's a fact."

As usual, breakfast was pure mayhem, but also entirely enjoyable for everyone involved. Sanji found himself feeling a little better as the hours rolled by. His own meal had been quite a bit lighter than normal that morning, but with his stomach feeling as it did, toast and a cup of coffee was more than enough.

Sanji was grateful for the fact that Zoro stayed behind to help with the dishes after the others had gone. It made the process of cleaning up after their crewmates several times easier. There was no rest for the weary, however. No sooner than they finished tidying, it was time for Sanji to begin the lunchtime preparations.

Zoro offered to delay his training and remain to assist with those as well if Sanji needed a hand, but the cook politely declined. He insisted that he could handle it, planning to keep things light: a hearty soup and fresh, crusty bread for sopping. It would be a walk in the park. Sanji ushered the marimo out of kitchen and got to work.

Things were tamer when Sanji rang the galley bell to signal that lunch was served. His crewmates were much less ravenous, and some of them even got their portions to go. Robin was one of them. Sanji noticed the small daypack hanging from her right shoulder as she requested that he pour the soup into a thermos instead of a bowl. The cook complied.

"You heading out, Robin?" Sanji asked curiously.

The beautiful brunette smiled as she answered. "Yes, I am. I want to do a little research into this island's history before we set sail again."

Luffy groaned loudly from the dinner table, where he sat inhaling all the food Sanji placed before him. "That's boring! Did you do that yesterday?" the Captain asked around a hunk of soup-covered bread.

Robin chuckled at his antics. "That's true, but I only paid a visit to the bookstore. The notes were very interesting. Today, though, I'd like to try and find a little more physical history," the archeologist explained.

"What do you mean?" Chopper inquired.

"Remember the signs we passed on our way into town yesterday? One of them had the words 'prairie' and 'tomb' written on it," Robin said as she opened her backpack to insert the canister of soup. "I'm planning to investigate this tomb and see if there is anything I can learn from it."

"Yohohohoho~!" chortled Brook, "How perfectly intriguing, Robin-chan! Would you mind if I were to tag along?"

"Of course not. You're more than welcome," the tall female said, "Anyone else? Swordsman? Miss Navigator?"

Zoro was lifting a glass of iced-tea to his lips, but stalled when Robin mentioned his title. "Oh… Uh, okay…" he replied with a light shrug. "I wouldn't mind seein' more of the island."

"I'll sit this one out," Nami said, "I did all my surveying yesterday, so I'm satisfied."

"Mind if I come?" asked Chopper, sporting a hopeful smile. "I wanna see more, too! It's really pretty here."

Usopp, Luffy, and Franky all declined the trip, finding the aspect of searching old tombs either too boring or far too terrifying. Robin replaced her satchel and then turned to Sanji. "And you, Mr. cook?" she asked, "Will you be joining us, or are you too busy?"

Sanji hesitated with his answer. He faced the sink as he mulled over his options. Venturing off the ship into parts unknown hadn't really been on his list of activities for the day… In all honesty, he wanted nothing more than to go and rest a little before dinnertime. His hangover still had him feeling rather poorly, and his backache (thanks to Zoro) made him dread a long-distance walk… Still, the beautiful Robin had been kind enough to offer… and Zoro was going, too…

The cook finished the clearing the dish-rack before turning to flash his crewmates one of his most winning smiles, an attempt to hide how tired he felt. "Sure, I'd love to come along," he replied, "Will you wait while I go get changed?"

Robin smiled sweetly. "Sure," she said, "We'll either be here or out on deck when you're finished."

"Ah, you're too kind, Robin, my dear! I am undeserving of such compassion!" Sanji gushed before noodling out of the kitchen. "Won't be long!"

At the table, Zoro rolled his eyes.

'What an idiot.'

End of Chapter Six

BlackRoseVixen05: Howdy, guys! Sorry for the wait! Life has been hectic. Thanks for tuning in for my latest chapter! It's something of a filler that will lead into what's to come. Hope it wasn't too boring! ^_^ As always, I ask that you will please take a moment and review. They always make me smile and encourage me to continue, as well as improve. See you next chappy! Hopefully it won't take me as long ;3; Je ne!