It had been three months since what had been officially termed "the accident". It had been termed that by Baby's lawyer, the court and the media who had reported on the whole thing. There were plenty of advantages to being their own label as the Straw Hats were, creative freedom, self management, image control. Traditional labels could really screw artists over by taking a huge share of their profits, getting artists tarred with the same brush when the label did something unscrupulous. However there was the benefit that a large label usually had a large budget for legal fees, something that the Straw Hats didn't have.
Baby's manager had leapt into action almost the moment she was arrested. He sent her for a psych evaluation where, unsurprisingly, they found her mentally unstable. He managed to get the trial rushed through on the grounds of her health, leaving the police with little time to pull together a solid double attempted homicide case.
The whole thing had been ruled out as a suicide attempt and dangerous driving, their lawyer couldn't prove without a shred of doubt that Baby had seen them. The whole thing was absolute bullshit and Zoro had nearly broken his other arm when he came home after the verdict and punched everything in his room until Sanji had managed to stop him. Zoro had nearly clocked him and Sanji personally thinks that it was the fact that Zoro almost hurt him that stopped him, he'd be naïve to think that Zoro didn't fear turning to violence as Baby had. After all, most perpetrators of domestic abuse were previous victims of it.
The end result was that Baby was currently confined to a mental health institution, undergoing court mandated treatment and serving out a house arrest for six months. Robin, Nami and Usopp were beyond furious about that but Sanji was just glad that she was out of their hair for the time being. He'd worry about what was going to happen when she got out in three months.
Sanji checks his hair in the mirror of the bathroom. He fusses with it, rearranging it where the wind had blown it about on the way to the office that he was in. He tugs at the collar of his nice shirt and smooths it down. The pastel blue shirt it unbuttoned with a black T-shirt underneath, it read 'Gentlecook'. Zoro had got it for him and despite the way that Zoro teased him Sanji quite liked it. Still, the whole look was far more casual than the dressy style that Sanji preferred for a date. He was taking Zoro out after this, but the date wasn't so much for him as it was for Zoro, and so they were going to one of Zoro's places with absolutely no dress code, official or otherwise.
Satisfied with his reflection he checks his watch and heads out of the bathroom into the plush psychiatrist's waiting room. He settles himself down in a leather chair that seems to eat him the second it holds his weight. There's a white noise generator above the door that makes soft rain sounds and makes it impossible to pick out words from the muted speech going on in the room on the other side of the thick wooden door.
It took forever to get Zoro to agree to go to this place, despite his initial agreement on the idea with Sanji something always seemed to come up. At first Zoro protested that he was still looking for someone, that excuse got shot down by Kaya pulling in a favour to get them both seen by a professional colleague of one of her psych professors from med school. After that Zoro had just not got around to booking an appointment, what with the trial and everything, or so he said. When Sanji had finally got bored of waiting and gone on his own Zoro had claimed that he wanted to hear Sanji's results and opinion on the guy before going.
It turned out that Sanji himself had relatively little damage from his ordeal with Baby. No lingering fears of women or cars. He just had some perfectly normal unresolved anger at her and himself for Zoro getting hurt, but the doctor walked him through the idea that it wasn't Sanji's fault and assured him that the rest would fade over time. Sanji has to say that the doctor was right, now if only speech therapy was as easy.
Zoro gave excuse after excuse until Nami literally forced him into going by tricking him into her car and driving him there. Franky had to practically throw the idiot into the doctor's office before he'd go. Their first session was the same hour and a half session that Sanji had been through and was just a general test of overall mental health and whether or not it was worth pursuing further treatment.
If Nami and Franky's treatment of Zoro had been the stick then Sanji was offering the carrot. The doctor obviously wouldn't see someone who didn't want to see him and so Sanji had promised that after his appointment they'd go out to dinner, just the two of them, to anywhere that Zoro wanted. After a little suggestive eyebrow waggling that implied that dinner would not be all Zoro would getting that night Zoro then agreed to see the doctor.
In Sanji's entirely untrained opinion he thinks that Zoro's afraid to find out just what kind of damage Baby's done to him. Besides, he's not an especially reflective guy. Zoro prefers to deal with the problem in front of him and ignore the aftermath. If he can't immediately face it head on then Zoro doesn't want to know about it.
He's just settling into the soft leather seat, his head resting comfortably on the back of the chair and his eyes starting to drift shut in relaxation when the office door bangs open and startles Sanji nearly a foot into the air.
"I'm OUT of here you fucking QUACK. You don't know shit about what you're saying, I'm not WEAK!" Zoro roars, storming from the office with the doctor on his heels.
"I wasn't saying that at all Zoro, there are no judgments here, please calm down." The doctor insists, his voice meek and his eyes wide.
Sanji quite likes the doctor. His name is Merry and he has big watery eyes and cotton coloured curly hair. He reminds Sanji of a little lamb and to see Zoro shouting at him like that is more than a little disturbing.
"Whoa, whoa, what's going on here?" Sanji asks, getting to his feet and putting himself between the livid Zoro and the wide eyed doctor.
"He says I'm mental, I told you I didn't want to do this!" Zoro says accusingly, pointing a finger right in Merry's face and giving Sanji a withering glare as if the whole thing is somehow his fault.
"You're not mental Zoro, that's a very unhelpful and judgemental term. Besides, that wasn't what I said or meant." The doctor soothes, but Zoro is having none of it.
"Then what to you call that shit? Anger issues and PTSB or whatever it was?!" Zoro snarls at him.
"PTSB?" Sanji frowns in confusion, he's never heard of that.
"PTSD." Dr Merry corrects Zoro.
"Whatever." Zoro snaps.
"Oh, isn't that the thing that soldiers get when they've had the shit bombed out of them?" Sanji asks as a long lost memory of some news broadcast flashes up in his mind. He catches Dr Merry's wince though and wonders if he's just insulted an entire condition with his ham fisted definition.
"It is something that soldiers often experience but it's more complex than that. Plenty of people have traumatic life experiences and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it's really not unusual Zoro and it certainly does not mean that you are, as you would put it, 'mental'." Merry says calmly.
"If you'd like to go back into my office in private we can-" Merry starts again, trying to usher Zoro into the office to resume their conversation away from Sanji's unqualified ears. Zoro however reacts like a cat about to be shoved in a bath. He ducks under Merry's arm and somehow puts Sanji in between him and Merry without Sanji even really seeing him move.
"No way. You're completely wrong about me, I'm not sick and I'm not weak." Zoro says, shaking his head sharply.
If this is Zoro's reaction to any diagnosis then Sanji can perhaps understand his reluctance to go to the shrink at all. He's lucky that he listened to Doctorine though, Zoro clearly has some kind of issues as Merry is saying, but at this rate Zoro's going to end up worse off for the diagnosis, not better.
Sanji turns around and pokes Zoro in his cast. He's getting it off the next day, all of the pins in his arm meant that the healing took far longer than normal.
"Would you say your arm was weak for breaking when the car hit us?" Sanji asks, staring Zoro straight in the eyes.
"What? No. You saw what the car did to the door, I was lucky it was just my arm." Zoro answers, looking puzzled at the apparently abrupt change in topic.
"Right, because you had thousands of pounds of metal smash into you, so your bone broke. It's normal." he continues.
"Well, yeah. What are you getting at?" the guitarist asks with a confused little frown that Sanji would almost find adorable if Zoro wasn't being a stubborn idiot.
"By the same logic you'd be stupid to think that being with Baby since you were fourteen and having her mentally kick your psyche around for years would mean that everything in your head would be fine. So something's gotten a little damaged up there and you've got PTSD or whatever. Honestly I'd be stunned if nothing was wrong. I'm pretty sure I'd be a complete dribbling lunatic if I'd been with her that long and went through what you did." Sanji points out. He shudders at the thought of being in that sort of relationship with Baby and what it might do to any previously sane man.
Zoro just stares at him and Sanji holds his gaze, he's not backing down on this.
"Seeing a doctor for this is no different than going to the ER for your busted arm was." he reiterates in case Zoro's missed his point.
"Sanji is right Zoro, this is all perfectly normal and to be expected. More people than you might think get psychological help throughout their lives, and you've been through a lot of traumatic things." Merry says gently, as if Zoro was some small skittish animal.
"I should be able to deal with this, you turned out fine." Zoro grumbles, looking at Sanji in a vaguely accusatory way.
"Yeah, and I didn't break my arm in the car crash. You know, because we were in different positions." Sanji says loudly and jabs Zoro in the ribs.
"Don't be an idiot and get some shitty medical attention already. Quit beating yourself up, you've had enough of that in your life already." Sanji adds.
He hears Merry's gasp behind him. The doctor is probably horrified that Sanji could so callously bring up such a tense subject like that with Zoro. He'd be wrong though. Everyone else in their house either tries to avoid talking about the whole Baby situation or talks about it with unparalleled venom, either way it's a hugely emotionally charged subject. Zoro's not really fond of either approach. Sanji however has found that Zoro reacts best if Sanji just talks about it as a thing that happened. Zoro knows that Sanji thinks it's horrible, he doesn't need Sanji to preface every mention of it with that and he doesn't need Sanji treating him like he's made of glass. It's hard to appreciate the value of normalcy until it's suddenly lacking from a person's life.
"You're a real bastard, you know that?" Zoro bitches, rolling his eyes in despair.
"I've been told so." Sanji admits in agreement, a grin sneaking across his face.
Sanji watches as Zoro's whole body moves with the deep breath that he draws in and then seems to uncoil as he breathes it out. Zoro rolls his shoulders as if he was getting ready for a workout and turns back to the doctor who backs off a mite as if he thinks Zoro might punch him with his good hand.
"Sorry I snapped at you Dr. Merry, I'm kind of a dick sometimes. So I'm told anyway." Zoro adds, flicking a smirk over his shoulder at Sanji who snickers good naturedly.
"I guess you're the one qualified to say what's wrong with my head, and Kaya seems to think that you're good from what she's told me. So... I guess I'll agree to letting you rummage around in my head." Zoro says with a soft sigh.
Merry looks startled for a good few seconds before he reacts and then takes Zoro over to the desk to agree a regular time to see Zoro. Sanji shoves his hands in his pockets and allows himself to beam happily now that Zoro can't see him quite so much. He's actually pretty fucking proud of Zoro. Admitting that there's a need for help isn't an easy thing to do for anyone, but it's got to be especially hard for someone as self reliant as Zoro. He feels pretty damn privileged to be able to witness that and for Zoro to trust him enough to see him back down from his pride. For such a shitty bastard like him Sanji's a pretty lucky guy.
"If you keep grinning like that your face will stick that way and you'll look like that forever." Zoro says, snapping Sanji out of his daze.
"I don't know what you mean." Sanji says, wiping the smile off of his face as best he can.
"Sure you do, that stupid dorky smile could be seen from space." Zoro chuckles darkly, taking Sanji by the elbow and leading him out of the office.
"Nah, it's obscured by your ego." Sanji retorts and Zoro retaliates by shoving Sanji into the wall and sprinting off down the stairs. Being the mature adult that Sanji is his first reaction is to yell and chase after him so that the two of them get into a one armed slap fight as they run along down the street, causing havoc to pedestrians anywhere near them.
"So how do you suppose that they get those casts off then?" Sanji asks the room idly. He's hanging upside down from the sofa, his legs over the back and his head dangling from the seat cushions as he watches Chopper, Franky and Luffy race each other in Mario Kart on the TV. Sanji would be playing with them but one of the controllers has never worked all that well since Luffy tried to play a race with his tongue and absolutely no one wants that controller any more.
"Beats me." Luffy shrugs, sticking his tongue out with concentration as he corners on Rainbow Road and his car goes into a loop the loop on the track.
"Probably with some kind of saw." Robin answers and turns a page in her book.
"Makes sense." Sanji agrees thoughtfully. He kind of wishes that he could have been there to watch Zoro getting the thing taken off. But Zoro had stolen the shower first and forgotten to wake Sanji in time to use it too, so by the time Sanji was ready they were already out of the door. Besides, Nami was there to pay the last of the fees in person, Usopp was there for moral support. They really didn't need him too and besides the two of them don't need to be together at every second of every day.
"I hope the saw doesn't go to deep and cut Zoro's arm off." Robin remarks casually as if she hadn't just brought up the maiming of Sanji's lover.
"Wait, what? No way, surely they have some kind of safety so that doesn't happen!" Sanji squeaks in fear. He hadn't thought about it but if they use a saw wasn't that some kind of possibility? Shit!
"Oh man! If they cut off Zoro's arm does that mean he'll get an awesome cyborg arm? That'd be so coooool!" Luffy yells excitedly.
"I don't think it works like that Luffy." Chopper frowns and then groans as his little mushroom car careens off of the track and plunges down into the void of space.
"Yeah, I wish tech was that advanced. Hell I'd chop things off just to get the cyborg parts, I'd be an awesome cyborg." Franky chuckles to himself.
"They should have just chopped Zoro's arm off as soon as he went in there then!" Luffy exclaims in delight.
"No one is getting an arm chopped off!" Sanji yells angrily, with just a touch of anxiety.
"Well you never know," Robin comments airily, "hospitals do make mistakes."
"What? No! He's going to be fine!" Sanji answers hotly, anxiety creeping up his neck. No one could make that kind of mistake, could they? But then there were stories in the papers every now and then of people who went in for one kind of surgery and came out with another having been done on them. But that was completely different, right?
"Hey, we're back!" Usopp calls, the sound of the front door opening and closing echoing over to them. Sanji flips himself back upright and finds himself stupidly relieved when Zoro walks in with both arms intact and just a cast missing.
"Zoro, you're okay." Sanji says with no small amount of relief. Zoro looks in pretty good shape actually, his forearm is covered with a white compression bandage, not unlike the kind you'd get for a sprain. It mainly covers his wrist and part of his forearm rather than the entire area that was under the cast. Despite Zoro's naturally tan skin tone Sanji can see the line where the cast has been and where the skin underneath is slightly paler.
"Of course I am." Zoro responds.
"Sanji thought they might make a mistake and chop your arm off." Franky chips in with a sneaky grin.
"Wait- hey- that wasn't what I-" Sanji protests weakly, looking around at the offending man.
"It was really quite sweet how he was worrying." Robin agrees with a little catlike smile.
"Wh- but- I..." Sanji protests with a whine.
"Seriously cook? You idiot." Zoro laughs at him, making his way around the sofa to Sanji.
"N-no! That wa-wasn't-" Sanji argues, his words getting caught again. Goddamnit, lately he's been so much better. His speech has been far smoother but now and then the fucking speech impediment jumps up to come and interrupt him and usually at the worst times too.
"I'm just fucking with you." Zoro grins and perches on the arm of the sofa.
"Hey Luffy, check out my badass scars." Zoro says, peeling back his support bandage. Luffy's eyes shine with childish excitements as Zoro reveals the long jagged scar at the top of his forearm. Sanji has a flash of memory appear behind his eyes. Zoro covered in his own blood and cradling his arm with a sharp white bone jutting out of it, ripping the flesh asunder. Sanji swallows sickly and tries to shove down the nauseous clammy feeling that's suddenly overtaken him.
Zoro is oblivious to Sanji's mental theatre and is stiffly turning his arm this way and that and pointing to smaller scars, explaining that it's where the doctors put the pins in his arm. Luffy and Chopper nod excitedly.
"My fingers are still stiff as fuck and my wrist is even worse, twisting my arm is painful and it all just feels really weird." Zoro explains.
"Yeah, the doctor was pretty explicit that the healing was nowhere near done yet, you've still got physio to go through. You're not allowed to play your guitar for at least a month either." Usopp says firmly, waving his finger sternly in Zoro's face.
"Already hidden them, I know what he's like." Franky comments, crossing the finish line on Rainbow Road first and taking advantage of Luffy and Chopper's distraction.
"Hey!" Zoro exclaims indignantly, even though Franky was blatantly right to do it. Sanji is just surprised that Franky got there before Sanji thought to hide them himself.
"Hey bro, just remember that your wrist is gonna be pretty weak after not using it for so long." Franky pipes up, taking his eyes off of the screen and looking over his shoulder at Zoro.
"Yeah, I know that." Zoro frowns.
"So, you know... don't go all out right away." Franky guffaws, making an obscene jerking off gesture with his hand.
"Franky!" Nami snaps and whacks him over the head with her handbag as Zoro guffaws.
"It's ok, I've got Sanji to do that for me." Zoro chuckles dirtily, leaping over the back of the sofa with his good hand and landing at Sanji's side before placing a sloppy kiss on Sanji's cheek.
"Don't push your luck, bastard." Sanji grumbles.
"Anyway, I'm playing next. I've not been able to play for months so it's definitely my turn." the guitarist proclaims, reaching over where Franky is sat on the floor and grabbing his controller. Sanji watches out of the corner of his eye as Zoro tentatively holds the controller in both hands and stiffly moves his thumb over the buttons. Sanji supposes that it's gentle enough and Zoro does need to get back into using his hand.
"Alright, if Zoro's playing then I'm in. I've got a better chance of winning if he's playing." Sanji pipes up, taking Luffy's controller.
"Oi, what's that supposed to mean? I'm the best and cornering here, I'm a great driver!" Zoro snaps, elbowing Sanji in the side.
"No one said you weren't, and if you could figure out the right way around the track every time you'd always win. However, seeing as you're a directionless moron I'm still betting on me instead of you." he replies and retaliates by elbowing Zoro back.
"Did I hear something about betting?" Nami asks, perking up and turning her attention back to them. She had just been on her way out of the room after beating Franky senseless, but mentioning bets of any form was a sure fire way to get her attention.
"NO!" The rest of the room responds for Sanji. Most of them have learnt by now not to bet with Nami, the only person it ends well for is Nami herself.
"Mean." She pouts and saunters out.
Sanji isn't sure at first what wakes him up, but when he shivers from the lack of heat he realises that it's because his own personal bed warmer has mysteriously disappeared. He sits up in bed, eyes blurry from sleep. The half of his bed usually occupied by Zoro is empty and clearly has been long enough for the bedsheets to go cold. Sanji rummages for his phone in the dark and fumbles for the home button with sleepy fingers. The room is illuminated in the pale light of the phone and though Sanji squints at the sudden brightness he can read enough to see that it's half three in the morning.
He slithers out from under the sheets and scratches at his lower back, knowing full well that the bedsheets have left imprints on his skin. Zoro's not in the bathroom and a cursory check Sanji sees that Zoro hasn't just decided that now his arm is out of his cast he's sleeping alone again, something Sanji is secretly glad about. For all that he bitches about Zoro's snoring he does quite like sharing a bed with the man.
He goes back to his room and grabs his smokes, the wakefulness setting off his nicotine cravings. He lights one up and goes to find Zoro. There are a few options here. Either Zoro's got hungry and decided to get up to eat, which is unlike him but still possible. Perhaps he couldn't sleep and instead of tossing and turning and risk waking Sanji up too he decided to go elsewhere. Again, that's possible but Sanji knows Zoro, the guy as a surprisingly high sex drive for someone so placid and on the surface apparently disinterested in sex. Zoro would be more inclined to wake Sanji with little kisses in the hope of winning him over to some sleepy sex to send him back into sleep than he would be to let Sanji sleep.
So this begs the question of where is Zoro? Sanji comes to the conclusion that he is probably no good and probably doing something he shouldn't be doing. Sanji's always up for a rousing game of 'hunt the idiot boyfriend' and so he checks the usual places that Zoro hides out. He's not in the living room or in the recording studio, nor is he in the kitchen. If it was the middle of the day Sanji would check if Zoro was napping in the sunbeam that comes through the library window, but as it's the middle of the night he can pass that area. There is no Zoro to be heard or seen anywhere.
Sanji bites his cigarette in irritation and some ash falls off of the end. The thing is nearly done with anyway and without an ashtray around he goes outside to put out the cigarette. He grinds the butt out on the paving stone outside the front door and it's then that he spots a faint light spilling from the garage window. He follows it to see that lights are coming from inside the tour bus, specifically upstairs. Zoro is hunting for his guitars.
He sneaks inside the bus on silently stealthy bare feet, making it all the way up to the top deck where faint notes of music are drifting down. He pauses and listens, if he didn't know it was Zoro playing then he wouldn't have guessed. The notes sound shaky and he can hear that each note wavers and doesn't stay clean and clear like it should do. He pokes his head up into the floor and comes all the way in. Zoro spots him and stops playing, the guilty flush high on his cheeks as he sits there with his treasured white acoustic and the ripped up floor panels of her apparent hiding place scattered around him. He's well and truly caught.
"You know you're not supposed to be doing this Zoro, you're being bad. I ought to spank you." Sanji threatens mildly, a smirk on his face. He gets to watch as Zoro's face goes through a complex mix of 'uh oh', 'oh no' and 'oh yes'.
"I don't... know how to feel about that." Zoro admits, his cheeks even redder. Sanji snickers and settles down on the floor near him. He takes Zoro's injured hand in his own and tenderly feels his wrist and up his arm. There's some swelling there but Sanji doesn't think that it's from what Zoro's doing now, it's more likely just from having movement in his arm again.
"It sounds shit." Zoro complains quietly.
"Yeah well, you can't p-play and I can't sing. We're a shitty band." Sanji assures him, not minding that his words catch as it kind of proves his point.
Zoro snarls and grabs Sanji in by the back of the neck, hauling him in for a kiss that's almost more of a bite of his mouth than it is a kiss. Sanji wobbles unsteadily on his knees, off balance and not wanting to put his weight on Zoro's guitar or on his arm. He's saved from the dilemma when Zoro lets him lean back and breaks the kiss, though his hand is still on the back of Sanji's neck.
"You can sing, you will sing again, don't you dare claim otherwise." Zoro orders him.
"Mixed messages or what?" Sanji smirks and kisses Zoro again. Zoro groans and shoves Sanji flat on his back with his injured hand. Sanji goes easily and falls back onto the plush padded floor of the bus. It's so strange, it feels like almost yesterday that they were in this bus on the road before Baby drove her car into them, but equally it feels like almost a lifetime ago too.
"Aren't you gonna bitch at me for playing when I shouldn't? I'd figured you'd be balls deep into a lecture by now." Zoro asks crudely, settling himself into the space on the floor next to Sanji with his guitar resting off to the side.
"I don't bitch." Sanji answers sharply, shooting a scowl at Zoro.
"Suuuuure." Zoro chuckles softly.
"Whatever. It wouldn't do any good. I knew you'd be playing way sooner than you should, I might as well yell at water for being wet. There wasn't any question that you'd do this. Besides, you know you shouldn't be doing it, I know it and you ought to have known that I wouldn't be surprised to find you doing just that. I don't like wasting my breath." Sanji answers smoothly.
"I don't know, you usually waste your breath all the time, I just tune you out." Zoro says lightly. Sanji elbows him sharply in the side, earning an 'oof' of pain from Zoro.
Zoro and he lay there for a little while in the kind of comfortable silence that Sanji has grown accustomed to. Zoro doesn't often ramble when he has nothing to say, he's more inclined to stay thoughtfully quiet if he's not just teasing Sanji for kicks. At first that trait had made Sanji worried, was Zoro getting bored with him? But by now he knows that it's just how Zoro is, he's not one to waste words on idle chatter just to fill the silence. The moments of quiet between them are almost comforting to Sanji now.
He went through a good few weeks of constantly asking Zoro what he was thinking about and getting annoyed responses before he cottoned onto that idea. Maybe Sanji's just a romantic sap but he likes it now, he likes the idea that Zoro trusts that Sanji gets the important shit between them enough that Zoro doesn't need to say anything. Like, perhaps what they have is so deep, so important, that words just couldn't do it justice. Or, hell, maybe Sanji's just fantasising and Zoro's really just thinking of video games or contemplating chords. Who knows?
"Have you noticed that you almost never stutter around me any more? It's almost always around other people, or when you're stressed." Zoro comments after a little while, his sudden entrance back into speaking almost startling Sanji.
"I- I h-hadn't." Sanji stammers out, his face heating at the embarrassment of doing just that when Zoro had just said about it.
"Aw, I think it's cute." Zoro smirks, leaning up on his elbow and looking down at Sanji.
"Don't call me cute you bastard!" Sanji yells indignantly, his voice staying thankfully steady this time.
"Awww. Kawaii~" Zoro teases, his voice sickly sweet and with a sing-song quality to it. Zoro doesn't often lap into the Japanese of his father's native tongue, Sanji's never asked just how much Japanese Zoro knows. Topics to do with his father are a conversational dead zone where nothing good lives.
"Gee, is that Japanese for 'I'm a stupid bastard'?!" Sanji snarls at him.
"Oh Sanji, you're not a stupid bastard." Zoro grins back.
"I MEANT YOU!" Sanji howls and shoves him over angrily. Zoro explodes into laughter, even holding his stomach at the force of his cackles.
"You little- I'll sh-show you!" Sanji snaps and rolls on top of Zoro. He shoves Zoro's head to the side and bites his neck, hard.
Zoro stops laughing immediately as Sanji's teeth sink into the soft skin of his neck. He whines soft and tilts his head to the side. Sanji swallows, using the vacuum created by the action to tug more of Zoro skin into his mouth and bite down again. Zoro's hips buck softly under him.
Sanji's always wary about this, after Baby at least, but Zoro has kind of a... a thing for pain. If Sanji bites him or claws at him then Zoro goes all weak at the knees. Sanji's never tried to surprise him with it or deny him an out if he doesn't want it, that's treating too close to Baby's treatment of him. But when it comes to consensual pain in this sort of situation it seems to push Zoro's buttons. It's a kink that Sanji is more than a little wary of and he's really interested as to what Doctor Merry will say when he finds out Zoro's thing for pain, especially after his history with Baby. He's not going to question it though, it's not his place. Nor is he going to try to psychoanalyse Zoro about it without his say so. Zoro's kinks are his own business and Sanji's not going to take away Zoro's control by telling him what he should think about them.
Two hands grip at Sanji's hips and though Sanji notices that one is significantly weaker in it's grip than it's partner it still feels good to be held with some kind of symmetry.
He releases his grip on Zoro's neck. He kisses the bite gently and licks across its now red and purple surface soothingly, getting another groan from Zoro as he does so.
"And you bitch at me about mixed messages." Zoro pants, eyeing Sanji through heavy lidded eyes.
"Didn't I just tell you that I don't bitch?" Sanji snaps and glares at Zoro. He sits back a little, his hips grinding against Zoro's and creating a pleasant but teasing friction for both of them.
"I... I don't know. I tuned you out." Zoro smirks, his voice a little less steady than he'd like it to be.
"Ugh, you're impossible." Sanji huffs and rolls off of Zoro and back into the space beside him.
A few months ago he would never have passed up an opportunity like that one to go all the way into having sex with Zoro. A few months with Zoro have cooled that inclination though. That isn't to say that he's less fond of sex with Zoro, or that he desires him less. He just likes being romanced into it a little more. Besides the emotional intimacy that moments like this can generate are just as pleasing.
Zoro rolls onto his side and runs the fingers of his injured hand through the still short hair over Sanji's new scar. Sanji would have to be dim to not have noticed the regretful way that Zoro often looks at that scar, but Sanji can't say that he's any different with Zoro's arm.
"Do things feel like they're getting more normal? Your speech is loads better, you're gonna start singing again soon, my cast is off... it's like she's fading into just a bad dream." Zoro says softly. And yeah, that, that's the kind of thing that gives Sanji the emotional equivalent of a hard on. Zoro's all tough shell but his soft insides and that caring protective nature inside it... unf. Good god, being with Zoro is giving him really weird turn-ons.
"It's not quite that easy, but... a little bit yeah. She doesn't have her claws in so deep any more. You should say what you just said to me to Doctor Merry, he'd be interested in that." Sanji offers up. He can see the displeased face Zoro pulls out of the corner of his eye, he doesn't even have to look right at him to see it.
"You know your face will stick that way if you pull that face." Sanji teases.
Zoro grumbles and shoves Sanji in the shoulder. He does drop that displeased face though.
The two of them settle back into a comfortable silence again and Sanji is just starting to feel his eyelids growing heavy and think that it's warm and soft enough to just sleep on the bus rather than go back inside to sleep when Zoro speaks again.
"I can't even remember the last time my fingers were too weak to press hard enough on the strings to hold a note. I was probably a little kid." Zoro says, holding his hand up above his head and glaring at it as if that could make it do what he wants it to.
"Well you did just break your arm and get the cast off today dumbass. It's gonna take time and physiotherapy to get back to normal." Sanji says with a roll of his eyes. Zoro knows all of this and Sanji knows that Zoro knows all of this. It's a waste of air even telling him but Zoro apparently needs to hear it because he relaxes with a fed up sigh when Sanji says it.
"But I want it to be better now." Zoro says childishly.
"Patience grasshopper." Sanji responds, getting to his feet and stretching.
"Don't call me grasshopper." Zoro says with a scowl as he leans up on his elbows to give Sanji a thoroughly disapproving look.
"Why not? You're green enough- hey!" Sanji yelps as Zoro flips himself up onto his feet and takes a swipe at him.
"How about mossy troll?" Sanji suggests with a laugh as he ducks another swing from Zoro and scampers down the stairs with Zoro hot on his heels.
"Algae face?" He proposes and escapes from the bus with Zoro chasing him.
"Moss ball!" Sanji jeers and sprints into the house.
"Seaweed hair!" He shouts, sprinting up the stairs as Zoro thunders up behind him yelling threats and no doubt waking up the whole house in the process.
"Mouldy mane?" Sanji says with a laugh, though he's really starting to scrape the barrel with nicknames here. The two of them burst into Sanji's bedroom and Zoro slams the door shut after himself and, with surprising strength for a man with a recently broken arm, hurls Sanji onto the bed with a bounce of springs.
"Oh oh! Woodland elf he- MMF!" Sanji is cut off when Zoro rips off his own shirt and stuffs it in Sanji's mouth. A swift hand seizes both of Sanji's and pins them hard onto the mattress. Zoro bends down and bites Sanji punishingly hard just under his ribs.
Zoro's hand slips under Sanji and grabs at his ass and squeezes it hard. Strong fingers whip Sanji's boxers down with some difficulty because Sanji's hardness is getting in the way of the band of them sliding down smoothly. Huh, when did that happen?
"I'll show you." Zoro growls menacingly in his ear. Sanji whines and nods his head fiercely as a strong knee forces its way between Sanji's legs and parts them. Sanji is only too happy to go along with that. He rocks his hips into Zoro's and tries to communicate 'yes please do show me' as best as he can with a t-shirt stuffed into his mouth. Consent is obviously super important but he really doesn't want Zoro to have to pull himself out of the rough and tough demeanour to check that Sanji really wants this. Besides, he's suddenly needy enough for this himself that he's hardly exaggerating his desperation.
"I've only shoved this in here to stop you mouthing off, but it's going to do nothing to stop you screaming the house down with what I'm doing to do to you. You're gonna have to look everyone in the eye tomorrow morning knowing that they've heard every sound from you." Zoro promises sinfully in Sanji's ear. True to Zoro's word Sanji groans loudly and grinds against Zoro's thigh as much as his position will allow.
They say that you learn something new every day and apparently today Sanji has learnt that he has a new kink himself. Zoro might be into pain but apparently Sanji's into being shoved around and controlled, or at least right now he is.
Zoro was right though, it took several weeks for the bruises and bites to fade, for the rough fingerprints on his hips to vanish into pale skin and equally as long for Sanji to stop flushing tomato red every time one of the others teased him about quite how loud he'd been that night. Even Nami wasn't mad at having her sleep disturbed after how mortified Sanji was. He really shouldn't have let Zoro remove that shirt from his mouth, no matter how much Zoro wanted to hear him, and for everyone else to as well.
On the morning when Sanji's bruises and hickeys have finally vanished he comes downstairs to find Zoro sprawled against a hallway wall, throwing and catching a ball with his injured hand like he's in the great escape. The ball bounces from the floor, off against the wall and back into Zoro's hand. It's part of his physiotherapy to work on repeated actions and the dexterity of his fingers. The doctors have allowed Zoro to star playing guitar again for a limited number of hours a day, not that Zoro hadn't already been doing just that. Sanji has to say that the mental boost from the improvement in his playing has done more for Zoro's recovery than the physical benefits have.
"Feeling like Steve McQueen now are we? Going to tunnel out of the house? Or perhaps get a motorbike instead of a replacement bicycle?" Sanji teases with a grin. Zoro throws the ball slightly off centre and Sanji has to dodge it to stop it bouncing against his head.
"Oops." Zoro says innocently as if that had been anything other than deliberate.
"Whatever, shouldn't you be off to your appointment with Doctor Merry? You'll be late by now, surely?" Sanji questions, looking at his watch. Zoro usually walked or caught the bus, he said he preferred the time to think after his appointments but Sanji knew it was more likely to be time to calm his temper that Zoro needed.
"Nah, Usopp's driving me. We're gonna go catch a film after and have dinner at that pizza place out of town and check out the arcade there. Don't make dinner or anything, we'll be pretty late." Zoro says, standing up with a stretch and squeezing the tennis ball in his hand, exercising his grip. Zoro had been nothing but diligent with his physiotherapy work, eager as he was to get back to playing guitar at full strength. Their prize tour from the competition had been put on hold whilst he and Zoro recovered, but it couldn't be put off indefinitely. Zoro was clearly keen to get going again as soon as possible, Sanji himself was less so. The thought of stuttering through a song on stage was enough to give him nightmares.
"Oh, well. Enjoy yourself with your shitty arcade food." Sanji says instead, wrinkling up his nose at the mystery meat in the hotdogs that Zoro and Usopp would no doubt be scarfing down in the arcade after their pizzas. Goodness only knows what's in those things.
"We will." Zoro answers in his best contrary voice before starting to throw the ball against the wall again.
Sanji sighs and heads off to the kitchen to prepare an actually nutritious meal for dinner for the rest of the band. Perhaps a slow cooker recipe with lamb and Mediterranean vegetables, that'd be nice.
He hears Zoro and Usopp leave when he's partway through the lamb chops but other than that he's more or less undisturbed. This is one of the reasons that he likes cooking, it's a time when he can be by himself, creating a beautiful dish and listening to good music without interruption. It always calms him right down, no matter what's been going on in his life.
The doorbell buzzes just as Sanji is wiping his hands dry on a dish towel after washing up. With his sense of zen like calm still following him he walks through the mansion to the front door and opens it. A burly delivery guy stands on the other side, or one who looks very much like one at any rate. A green cap is perched on his head with "removals" written on it. In his hand is a large stiff guitar case that has stickers all over it.
"Roronoa Zoro?" The guy asks in a bored voice, looking down at the notepad in his hand.
"Uh, no. He's out, but I'm his... partner. I can sign for a delivery for him if that's what that is." Sanji says, hedging on exactly what to label his relationship with Zoro to a stranger. Sanji eyes the guitar. Zoro hadn't told him he was ordering a new guitar or a new case. Either way it doesn't look new or freshly shipped so he's pretty puzzled by the whole thing.
"Whatever." The guy says, his voice a little stiff and disapproving and Sanji can see a look of distaste on his face and quickly realises that he must be disapproving of the fact that he and Zoro are both guys. Sanji scowls back at the guy and mentally fucking dares him to say a word about it.
Sanji huffs and signs the form, thinking all sorts of terrible things that he'd like to do to this presumptuous bigot. Mostly though he just wants him out of his space and signing this form is the thing that will get him gone the soonest. The guy eyeballs the signature as Sanji hands it back as if he suspects that Sanji might have somehow written in pink glittery ink and infected him with some kind of homo cooties just by touching it. Out of spite Sanji lets his fingers brush along the guy's as he hands the pad back and maintains eye contact that's a little too intense for the guy's liking. The guitar case is shoved in Sanji's chest and the delivery guy hightails it back into his van as fast as his short chubby legs can carry him.
"Asshole." Sanji snorts to himself and shuts the door with a slam. He hefts the guitar case in his hand and looks at it for a moment, it's certainly not one that he recognises and it actually feels quite heavy. Either way, Zoro can get it when he gets back from his junk food and arcade binge tonight. He'll just leave it in their- ah... his room until then.
When Sanji drops the guitar case on the bed he takes the time to examine the stickers on the case. A lot of them seem to be quite old and tattered, as if the thing has seen heavy use. He peers curiously at the stickers and as he reads them one by one he realises that they're for small local music competitions, school ones, local fairs and the like. There's also stickers from some of Zoro's favourite bands stuck on there, shows he must have been to when he was younger. Right at the top of the case is a shipping label with Zoro's name and address on. The kind you stick to something if it's going on an airplane so that if your luggage gets separated from you it's not going to end up in the ether of lost luggage in the airport. Sanji can't help but smile as he traces his finger over the plethora of stickers, this thing is a veritable time capsule of Zoro's love of music.
His curiosity and sentimentality entirely activated, Sanji settles himself down on the bed and moves to pop open the guitar case. Unfortunately the thing is locked with a small four digit combination lock. The blonde pouts, unhappy at being denied his peek into Zoro's past.
Sanji chews his lip thoughtfully and eyes the little bronze combination lock. Zoro's a pretty forgetful person at times, so what would be something that he wouldn't be able to forget? Sanji moves the digits around until they display Zoro's birthday, and as the last number ticks into place the lock clicks open. He grins, too easy.
With the lock cast aside Sanji pops open the fastenings on the side of the hard guitar case and opens it. A flash of colour assaults his eyes when he'd just been expecting a plain case inside. He looks in surprise at the inside of the case, the inside of the lid is entirely covered in photographs that have been carefully stuck there so not an inch of the original case can be seen. There's so many in there that some have even been stuck over with carefully cut pictures into the less interesting voids of the pictures below.
Almost all of the pictures are of Zoro, ranging in age from a young teenager to quite recent. Sanji's fingers trace across the pictures. One of Zoro drinking a milkshake in a diner and staring out of the window, unaware of the camera. Another of Zoro and Usopp dancing together, clearly drunk, Zoro's older in that picture, perhaps only a year or so younger than he is now. There are some of Zoro asleep in bed, his bed head lit up in the dull morning light, a sight that Sanji is more than familiar with now.
A sinking dread fills Sanji and his eyes start scanning for it until he finds it. A familiar flash of dark hair and dark eyes, pretty painted lips stretched into a smile. Baby with her arm around Zoro's neck, taking the picture herself with one arm outstretched to the camera. There's another, a strip of photos taken in a photo booth of the pair of them together, her pulling Zoro's face into an unwilling smile in the first few, Zoro batting her hand away in the third and the fourth him with a genuine laugh of amusement as she fake pouts. Zoro's not narcissistic enough to fill his own guitar case with pictures of himself, but someone else is obsessed enough with Zoro to do just that.
Sanji looks down at the guitar, it's an acoustic. He picks it up and turns it over in his hands. It's strung wrong, or more accurately it's strung normally. All of Zoro's guitars are strung left handed, the inverse of most guitar players, but this one is set up for a right handed person. Underneath where the guitar was are books, guitar teaching books at reasonably high grades. The music is advanced, it'd be a cake walk for Zoro but it looks like someone who'd been learning for a few years. This is Baby's guitar, not Zoro's. He'd been teaching her.
Sanji realises that he'd been holding his breath and lets it go in a whoosh, feeling himself get light headed at having held it for too long. Why was this sent here? Who...
Ok, no. That's a stupid question. Baby clearly sent this to Zoro, a way of shoving their shared past in his face, a way of getting under his skin. Her claws had finally been coming out of the two of them and now she's digging them right back in.
Sanji's fingers tighten on the neck of the guitar as anger overcomes him. His instinct is to smash the guitar, to say fuck their past and stop her attempts at hurting him again. He doesn't though. His eyes wander to the pictures again and it's not hard to see that in pretty much all of these Zoro looks genuinely happy. Baby was a shitty girlfriend and a worse person but... Zoro wasn't miserable 100% of the time and no matter what Sanji does, no matter how much therapy Zoro goes through, no matter if they never see Baby again... she's always going to be part of his past. He's always going to have memories of her, life experiences that she was a part of. Sanji can't just erase that, no matter how much he might like to.
He forces out a slow breath and tries to calm himself down. This isn't his guitar, it wasn't a delivery for him and he should just... let it go. He loosens his hold on the guitar's neck and moves to put it back in its case, but as he does so he jolts something from in between the guitar teaching books. It's the sudden flash of silver that makes him pause.
He reaches out and picks up the object, it's a CD inside an envelope.
Sanji pauses, one hand on the guitar that he was meaning to put back and another on the envelope and CD. This was all meant for Zoro, not for him but... well, how is Zoro going to react to getting back home and finding this? Baby sent this to him, it's an obvious jab at their shared past, a way of shoving in his face that she'll always be a part of him and perhaps a cheap attempt at getting him back. That's not what Zoro needs right now. Not at all. But perhaps that's not his call to make, perhaps he should just let this be and let Zoro deal with this himself.
All the same, how many times has Sanji wished for a heads up on what it was that Baby was about to say or do to Zoro? If her message is on this CD then he can get just that and he'll know how best to support Zoro through it. If he thinks about it that way he's really got an obligation to look at it, right?
Sanji rests the guitar down on the edge of the bed and grabs his laptop off of his dresser drawer and pops open the CD drive. He settles himself on the bed and waits for it to load. It's a music file, nothing else. No message or anything, just one song sitting there. The folder that the song is sitting in however is named "I'm sorry, forgive me?" and that alone is enough to make Sanji grit his teeth in anger.
He plugs in his headphones and double clicks the icon for the song. His mac boots up iTunes and starts playing the song.
Acoustic guitar fills Sanji's ears, the music slow and lazy in the more retro style of some of Baby's older music.
"Let's forget about the past,"
Baby croons in his ear, her voice husky from cigarettes.
"'cause it can't be undone,
I realise now,
You're the only one,"
Was... was she really asking Zoro to forgive her? After all that she's done?! After trying to kill the both of them?! Did she really think that would work? Though really she had no reason not to think that, from what Zoro's told him it always has worked in the past. She says sorry enough, manipulates him enough and then he comes right back.
"Let's forget about the past,
I knew I was wrong,
Give me one more chance,
Take me back where I belong."
The music picks up a little more and Baby's voice gains more power, clearly getting into the swing of her song now.
"I did things that were wrong,
I ran from pillar to post,
Oh when you comin' home?
Yeah, I've had my bitter dose,"
She did things that were wrong?! Yeah, like trying to kill him, to maim him over again and again. How dare she ask for forgiveness?! Did she not care even a little bit about what hearing this would do to Zoro? Zoro was already in therapy from the mental harm that she'd caused him, and that wasn't even taking into account the fact that he's only just got his cast off as a physical side effect of her harm to him. Baby doesn't care about that though, she cares about getting what she wants, about winning.
Regardless of Sanji's overflowing temper the song continues unabated.
"Let's forget about the past,
Our whole life's ahead,
Let's start anew,
And forget all that's been said,
Let's forget about the past,
Our whole life's ahead,
Let's start anew,
And forget all that's been said."
Sanji slams his laptop shut, his teeth clenched in anger. She was trying to get him back, to brush all that she'd done under the carpet. Never mind that she'd tried to kill him, surely Zoro could forget all of that, right?
Unable to contain his anger he leaps from the bed and begins to pace around the room like a caged animal, complete with snarls of rage. His eyes land back on the black guitar, a dark twin to Zoro's own white one. He snatches the instrument up and shoves it back in its case as if it was a poisonous snake.
He understands now that nothing is going to stop Baby, not unless he puts a stop to her first. Sanji snaps the case shut, clicks the combination lock shut again and hefts the case back up off of the bed. He was going to put a stop to this and now.
He storms down the stairs, floor after floor until he's back out in the hallway by the front door. He eyes the keys hanging on the rack.
"Franky, I'm borrowing your car." Sanji calls out and grabs the key off of the hook without waiting for permission or acknowledgement. Usually he'd drive his own car, but the person he's going to see is the one who is solely responsible for the fact that he is currently without a vehicle.
As Sanji is going out of the door Franky's voice does catch up to him though. Saying something about where is he going, what's the hurry and where did he get that guitar? Sanji doesn't listen though and just leaves, making his way to Franky's vehicle and getting in. He switches on the ignition and guns the engine as he peels out of the driveway, the guitar in the passenger seat an ominous presence as he drives.
Sanji of course knows the name of the mental health facility that Baby is being held at and some quick and completely illegal googling and driving route him in the right direction to get to it. The hour drive that it takes to get there does nothing to calm Sanji's rage. In fact it merely intensifies it as Sanji had an entire hour to go over and over again in his head all of the details of what Baby has ever done to Zoro, to mentally replay the song and plan out just what he was going to say to her when he came face to face with that witch.
The mental health facility looks more like a private ranch than it does a loony bin, the only thing to clue you in otherwise is the large chain fence that reaches about nine foot in height, to stop inmates or whatever they're called from escaping. He is stopped at the gate and given a visitor pass after saying that he's there to visit a patient, after that he parks Franky's car up and gets out to survey the large stately building and the rolling lawn grounds to the building.
When he gets inside he smiles charmingly at the receptionist and tells her that he has some lost property of one of their inmates and could he see her to return it? He's left in the reception waiting area whilst a nurse goes to check if Baby will receive a visitor and Sanji busies himself with sweet talking the rest of the staff as he waits. By the time the nurse comes back Sanji is pretty sure that if she'd said that Sanji couldn't see her that the rest of the staff would protest at such a 'nice young man' not being allowed to see a patient. Thankfully that theory isn't tested as he's approved right away and led into a visiting room.
The visiting room is relatively bare, a few small sofas scattered about the place that Sanji can't help but notice are bolted to the floor. Still, the place looks pleasant. An orderly ushers him in and instructs him to knock on the door when he's ready to leave, after that he locks Sanji inside.
Sanji's hand tightens on the handle of the guitar case as he stands, too tense to sit, and waits for Baby to come in. When she does he's taken aback for a moment, she looks just like the girl he first met. Her hair is loose and natural and her clothes are simple and comfy rather than aimed at seduction. She has a flowing pink skirt that reaches the floor and a pastel blue t-shirt with a smiling ice cream cone on.
He's not the only one who's thrown of course. As the door on her side of the room locks behind Baby she stands there in shock as she regards him, clearly it wasn't him that she'd been expecting to see. No, she probably expected that her vile package would draw Zoro here instead. Sanji grits his teeth and throws the guitar case at her, she catches it with a stumble and a surprised noise.
"You can keep this!" Sanji barks at her, his temper flaring.
"My guitar! Where- have you been in my house?!" Baby demands furiously, her eyes shining with anger as she glares Sanji down.
"Don't play dumb, you mailed it to Zoro." he says shaking his head, he didn't come here for a round of denial and faux innocence.
"I'm not. I've not mailed anything to anyone, least of all Zoro." she says defensively as she turns to place the guitar case on the sofa. She pops the lock open and flicks the lid to check the guitar inside. Her fingers run over the strings and the frets as to check that it's all okay and that Sanji hadn't damaged it by throwing it, not that Sanji would care if he did.
"It's got Zoro's name and our address on the front, you mailed it." Sanji points out firmly.
Baby doesn't respond to this right away, instead she just shuts the case and runs her finger over the sticker with Zoro's name and address on it as if in thought.
"They must have thought it was his. Doffy and his crew are helping me move across country. I decided that I can't live here anymore and when I get out I'm moving across to the coast. I can start my career again there. They must have seen Zoro's name and address on it and decided to ship it to him to avoid him having to chase me for something they thought was his." Baby says, her voice calm as she runs her fingers over the stickers on the outside of the case.
"You're moving?" Sanji asks, the note of pleased excitement evident in his voice. If she's going to be hundreds of miles away from them then Zoro will surely be better off!
"Gee, could you look a little less happy about it? I'm not sure the message really got through there." Baby says, her eyes narrowed angrily.
"Sorry." Sanji apologises on reflex, though he doesn't really mean it. He is pleased that she's leaving, nothing can change that.
"So besides jumping to conclusions and assuming that I was sending my ex my guitar, what did you come here for? I'm assuming that this isn't a social visit." She asks, settling herself down on the sofa and regarding Sanji with a dispassionate stare.
Sanji grits his teeth and puts his hands on the back of the sofa facing Baby, he doesn't want to sit down with her like they're having a pleasant little chat.
"I came here to tell you to stop sending him shit to get under his skin. He's lucky that I got to this before he got home. Stay away from him, you've done enough damage. If you really are moving across the country then great, stay there, far away from Zoro." Sanji says firmly.
Baby looks slightly surprised for a moment before her face splits into a slow and predatory grin that sends shivers running up Sanji's spine. He doesn't like that expression on her.
"That's very interesting." She purrs darkly, resting back in her chair with her arms spread out on the back. She looks cocky and confident and Sanji doesn't like it one bit.
"What?" Sanji demands, taking the bait. He knows she wants him to ask that but if he doesn't ask he knows that he'll just stay awake at night wondering what it was that she was going to say.
"Oh, nothing. Just as part of my treatment here they've been working on lots of things with me. Therapy to deal with my past, anger management and – most relevantly here, recognising abusive behaviour." She says lightly, inspecting her nails with an air of indifference that has to be entirely put on.
"Good, you need it." he shoots back.
"Oh, burn." she snorts, rolling her eyes.
"No, what I was getting at was the details of the list. Controlling who your partner can and can't see, intercepting other people's contact with them, deciding that you know what's best for them..." She says, her eyes boring into Sanji's mind.
Shit, is she really accusing him of being controlling and abusive? After all that she's done to Zoro she has the gall to accuse him of THAT?!
"You have got to be shitting me. I'm telling you to stay away from Zoro because last time you were anywhere near us you tried to murder us. I'm not controlling him, I'm protecting him!" Sanji snarls furiously. His nails start to bite into the sofa fabric as he restrains himself from doing something that he'll regret. He's conscious of the fact that there are orderlies outside of the doors and if they hear a huge commotion Sanji will probably be kicked out.
"Because you know what's best for him, of course. Sounds pretty controlling to me." she says in a sing-song voice.
"You tried to murder him, you tried to cut his eye out with a knife, I've patched up more injuries from you than I care to count. You don't get to tell me that I'm abusive after you've done all of that." He says, his voice low and dangerous.
"Well maybe Zoro has a type." She says airily.
Something Sanji said must have got to her though as she breaks eye contact with him and looks off at the barred window across the room.
"I didn't mean all of that stuff. I regret all of it. Zoro and I never should have... well, that's why I'm moving." Baby says quietly.
Sanji frowns suspiciously, is that a trap? Is she trying to con him like she did in court? After all, that's why she's in here rather than serving time for attempted double homicide.
"I don't buy that shit your lawyer pulled in court. You belong in prison, not here. You planned what you did, you're not sick." Sanji says suspiciously. He walks around the sofa and settles down, he doesn't want her to think that she's made him anxious and stressed, even if it is true.
"It's not that simple." Baby sighs, resting her chin on the heel of her palm and looking out of the window with a faraway look in her eyes.
"I'll admit that when my lawyer decided to pull the whole 'not in control of my actions' thing that I thought it was just a good way of getting off without charges. But... since I've been here I've come to realise that I needed this. I needed treatment." She says quietly.
"Bullshit, you knew what you were doing. That wasn't a suicide attempt when you drove your car at us, that was a murder attempt." Sanji snaps back, tired enough of having heard that in court, he doesn't need to hear it again.
"It was both. I wanted to kill him because you two had made it clear that I wasn't getting him back, you'd won. But... if I couldn't have him I didn't see why you should have, and I wanted to punish him for leaving me. But I didn't want to live without him either. It was complicated. I'd thought it through but I wasn't thinking right, I've still got bits of that night missing and bits where I can't remember what I was thinking. It's not as black and white as you think, I planned it but I was sick too." Baby says, looking at Sanji again for the first time in a while.
Sanji's hands snap shut. He always knew it was deliberate, but hearing her admit out loud that she'd planned to kill them, that she'd really meant it... it's another thing entirely. Baby continues talking in his silence.
"I've had a fucked up life and gone through a lot of rough shit, I'm not well but... well, they keep trying to tell me here that I can't just palm off all of the responsibility for what I've done onto my illnesses. They say that even though they made me impulsive and unbalanced enough to do those things I still chose to do them." She explains.
"Exactly what are you supposedly sick with then?" Sanji asks stiffly, he doesn't like where this is going. It feels like she's trying to claim that she's not bad for what she did.
"That." Baby says stiffly, shooting him a hard glare, "is none of your goddamn business."
"Considering as your apparent illnesses nearly got me killed I'd say it is!" He argues back.
"No, I might owe you an apology for what I did but that doesn't grant you the right to know everything about me." She hisses at him.
"You 'might' owe me an apology?" Sanji gawps at her, horrified. Baby actually has the decency to wince at that.
"That didn't come out right. I do owe you an apology, but I'm not supposed to give one until I feel I can really mean it and right now I don't. Besides, I don't think you'd accept one from me right now anyway." She reasons.
"Considering that Zoro's only just got out of his cast I'd say you're right." Sanji states flatly. She'd taken Zoro's biggest love away from him, hopefully temporarily but still. And no, Sanji doesn't mean himself but rather Zoro's ability to play his guitar, that's what means the most to Zoro.
Sanji is surprised to see Baby look genuinely remorseful as she leans back into the couch and pulls her feet up onto the chair with her, curling into herself in a subconscious attempt to protect and comfort herself. Sanji hates himself for it but he just can't get a read on her, he never knows if she's being sincere or if she's trying to manipulate him. Knowing her it's probably the latter but he just can't be sure.
"You really think I'm evil don't you?" She says after the silence between them has stretched out for a while.
Sanji hesitates before replying. Before all of this he'd never believed that anyone was truly evil, but he'd never been unfortunate enough to experience it first hand the way that he has with her. But would he go so far as to call her evil? Goodness knows he's thought it often enough about her, but can he really say it to her face? Is she even actually evil? It's such a strong word, usually the kind of thing reserved for serial killers and genocidal dictators. Compared to that Baby's actions don't seem so bad. Then Sanji remembers the split lips, the bleeding nose and the completely broken way that Zoro would hold himself when she spoke to him. She took someone as strong as Zoro and shattered him beneath her stilettoed feet
"I guess that answers that question." She says softly, closing her eyes and sighing.
"I don't know." Sanji admits with a shrug.
"You're not exactly nice. You've been cruel and violent and I'm not sure I'll ever forgive you for what you've done to Zoro. But you're the one who has to live with you, not me." Sanji answers.
He knows that Zoro thinks that Baby has her good points, that she's not all bad and that there was at least a large part of her once that was great and that he loved. He remembers all of those pictures of Zoro looking happy and believes that Zoro genuinely was happy in those moments. But Baby would never have taken pictures of Zoro bleeding on her floor, or if she did she wouldn't display them. He suspects that Zoro is closer to the truth than either he or Baby is. Baby seems to think that she was a victim of her unnamed illnesses and Sanji feels like she's rotten to the core, they're probably both a little right and if anything Zoro's view of her as a mean and untilmately flawed person is probably more accurate.
The last thing that Sanji wants to do though is to tell Baby that Zoro doesn't share his opinion of her as being entirely terrible and perhaps evil. He doesn't know if she's fishing for information on him or still trying to get him back, he doesn't want to give her any hope of that ever happening.
"You think that this is all my fault, right? Like I'm some wicked witch and you're the hero of this whole story. Zoro's not your princess and he's not innocent either." Baby says sharply, looking at him with her penetratingly dark eyes.
"If you even th-think of trying to blame Zoro for what you did to him-" Sanji starts, the fury rising up inside of him again.
"He is responsible! At least in part! He could have left me the first time I hurt him!" Baby points out, jabbing her finger in Sanji's direction.
"Hurt him? Hurt him? Let's not use euphemisms h-here Baby! The you mean the first time you took someone who loved you and beat the shit out of him. When you punched him, slapped him, kicked him and g-god knows what else!" Sanji yells. He's getting so emotional and wound up now that he's starting to lose control of his speech and he's sure Baby has noticed. She seems more intent on his words than the delivery though and she thankfully doesn't say anything about it.
"It's not all my fault ok?! Sometimes he was just deliberately asking for-" Baby cuts herself off, and it's a good thing too because Sanji's lifelong rule of never hurting a woman is a hair's breadth from breaking right now. The temptation to just leap up and crash his foot into her jaw, to shut her up from all the shit that she's saying... it's just too strong.
But instead of continuing Baby shakes her head and tangles her fingers in her hair.
"I don't mean that. I know he didn't ask for it, or deserve it or... or anything. I'm trying to change how I think, I really am but-" She says, her voice sounding choked.
"But what?" Sanji asks through gritted teeth. His fingers are clasped so hard on the edge of the sofa to keep him there and away from her that he can feel his knuckles turning white from the tension.
"It's not like I had anything- it's not like I ever had any different shown to me. My... my father... if you could call him that, not that he deserved the title after what he did to me. He used to do the same to me when I was growing up. My whole life with him was walking around terrified of next time he'd get set off from the slightest little thing and I'd end up black and blue." Baby says, her voice uneven and full of emotion. She curls into her knees a little more, looking hurt and unhappy.
"So, what? You decided that you'd had enough of being the victim and you wanted to be the one on the other side of the fist for a change? You should have known better, if you knew how terrible it was to be attacked by someone you love then why would you do it to someone else? Why to Zoro? Zoro told me that he saved you from your father and nearly died doing it! Why would you hurt him of all people?" Sanji demands. After all that Zoro had done for her Baby betrayed him thoroughly.
"I know I was wrong, ok? I shouldn't have done it but I'm a fucked up person ok? I've had a shit life and I've made shitty choices. But it's not all me, I never knew how to deal with things without lashing out or how to love someone properly without violence. No one ever loved me without violence, how am I supposed to without that?" Baby demands of him.
"You're wrong, you've been loved without violence. Zoro loved you." Sanji says flatly. There's nothing to be gained from talking to her, maybe she's putting this whole thing on as an act or maybe she's starting to realise that she really is, as she put it "fucked up", but she's still blaming other people and other things for her own cruelty. Sanji can't even begin to forgive her or think of her as anything other than a threat until she actually accepts everything she did without excuses. He stands up to go only to be halted by the sound of tears.
"He did. He did and I lost it all because- oh god." Baby sobs into her hands.
Sanji freezes. He doesn't know if these tears are real or crocodile tears put on to manipulate him, it's certainly not out of the question that she could be trying to pull his strings like that.
"I love him, I do. I'd give anything to have him back." Baby wails, her voice somewhat muffled through her hands.
"That's not happening." Sanji answers quickly. No way would Zoro manage to go back to her now that everyone knows the details of what happened when they were together.
"I know that!" She shouts at him and scrubs at her eyes. "That doesn't mean I don't want him!"
"I know I was bad for him, I tried to leave him several times when I was clear headed enough to see how much damage I was doing. I tried, I did. I didn't want him to go through what I had to go through. He'd never let me leave him though, when I tried he'd follow me, he'd call me all the time, send me songs, beg me to stay with him. He'd say it was his fault or that he forgave me. I'm not the only fucked up person here, Zoro is too." Baby says firmly, she's staring Sanji down and he's got the unshakable feeling that she's never ever going to budge on this issue.
"What's that supposed to mean? That this is Zoro's fault again?" he challenges her, he can't believe that she's got the audacity to try that again.
"It means that Zoro's fucked up too. He's terrified of being abandoned and the idea makes him desperate and crazy. Haven't you noticed how he's still friends with everyone he bonded with as a kid? His sister died and left him alone, so did his mother and his father didn't want him anymore and abandoned him. Zoro's got issues." She says pointedly.
Sanji wants to call her a liar, to call her out on maligning Zoro. But, well, the supposed evidence that she's offering up isn't exactly wrong. That doesn't make her right though but still.
"Even if that's true, I find it hard to believe that that Zoro would be so desperate to hold onto you after what you've done to him." Sanji argues back. A voice in the back of his head though is reminding Sanji of all the times when Zoro brushed off what Baby did to him, how she hurt him, how her cruelty was just how she was. Zoro hadn't been eager to leave her right away had he? But there's a big difference between not being happy to leave her and not wanting her to leave him. But then he recalls how sullen Zoro had been when the papers were full of stories about Baby getting off with random guys in a club. Had he been unhappy about the thought of her leaving him even then? Sanji is getting filled up with doubt from his toes to his head.
"Fine, I'll prove it to you. I must have some of the songs that he wrote me begging for me to come back." Baby says and flicks the guitar case open again. She rummages for a few moments and flicks through several papers and books before producing a sheet of paper for Sanji. She shoves it in his hand and pulls her guitar out. She runs her fingers over the strings and quickly tunes it by ear, just as Sanji's seen Zoro do a million times. He balks, is she really going to play this for him?!
His eyes fall to the paper as Baby acts almost as if he isn't there, so absorbed is she in tuning her guitar. The first thing Sanji notices about the paper is that it's Zoro's messy handwriting all over it. It's his signature way of writing music, with tabs and lyrics jumbling into one perfect representation of music. Zoro wrote this alright.
Sanji's eyes scan the tune and the lyrics and he's struck with the notion that he doesn't recognise this song at all. He's listened to every song that Zoro and the others ever recorded before he joined and this isn't one of them. Whatever happened with this song it doesn't seem like it was shown to anyone other than Baby.
The song is named lullaby and at the top, separate from the lyrics is a message from Zoro. As Sanji reads it his heart sings.
"Baby, don't leave me. We complete each other."
Baby reaches out and plucks the paper from Sanji's hands. Apparently her memory for music isn't as perfect as Sanji and Zoro's. Her fingers pluck out the notes and Sanji can hear that it's got Zoro's fingerprints all over it, but it's not written for Sanji's voice, it's written for a higher voice, for Baby's voice. She starts singing, smooth, sweet and slow.
"Baby, sing me to sleep.
Painful memories when you say that you need me.
You save me from leaving things that I might need,
But the missing piece is out of my reach,"
Sanji feels it like a kick in the gut. This is without a doubt Zoro and he knows how to read Zoro's meaning in his lyrics enough to have come to the conclusion that Baby was telling him even if she hadn't said a word. This is Zoro saying that their relationship hurts but that he needs her, that she completes him. Baby plays on, her eyes on the paper but her hands moving with muscle memory and her strong voice, the voice that's the rival for Sanji's, continuing on flawlessly.
"But I don't mind if you can't be with me all of the time.
So be on your way. No, that is not what I wanted to say.
I just want you, no, I need you to stay."
She... she was right. Zoro hadn't wanted her to go, at all. Even when he stood a chance of being free he chose to go back to her, to pull her back to him, knowing all of the marks that she'd left on him, the times that she'd hurt him. Why... why would he do that? But Baby's answer rings in his ears, Zoro is just as fucked up as she is. That's why both of them are seeing shrinks.
"Baby, sing me to sleep.
Drunken melodies when you say that you love me.
Well, maybe I need a guarantee,
'Cause the way you speak, you're scaring me."
Sanji's heart aches. He can't bring himself to be mad at Zoro. Despite what Baby wants him to think, this isn't his fault. No matter whether or not he begged for her back it still didn't mean that he was asking for her to hurt him like that. Baby's wrong about that much.
"But I don't mind if you can't be with me all of the time.
So be on your way. No, that is not what I wanted to say.
I just want you, no, I need you to stay."
Baby doesn't seem to care in the slightest about Sanji's mental turmoil. She's picking up the speed of the song and the tone like she's performing it on stage instead of alone to her ex's current boyfriend.
"And I know, I know that it won't be long
'Till you a-running, righting the wrongs
Ignoring the light to swallow the fright
To make it in time to keep me safe tonight."
Sanji shuts his eyes and almost tunes Baby out. The important question here is does this change anything? There were always going to be big blank patches of Zoro and Baby's relationship that he didn't know about and perhaps never would, he could deal with that, even if the answers weren't the ones he wanted.
Zoro might be more messed up than Sanji had realised right away but he'd be a shit boyfriend if that meant that he was going to jump ship on Zoro now. Zoro was getting help and Sanji was supporting him with that, backing him up and making him able to help himself. He couldn't wave a magic wand and cure everything bad that had ever happened to Zoro, no one could, but Baby shoving Zoro's damaged parts in his face wouldn't do a goddamn thing to push them apart.
He doesn't know if that's what she's doing here or if she's genuinely grasping at straws to find someone else to blame for her shitty behaviour, be it her father or Zoro himself. Either way it doesn't matter, nothing has changed.
Regardless of what's going on in his head Baby keeps singing and finishes her song.
"Baby, sing me to sleep.
No apologies when you say that you love me.
But I don't mind if you can't be with me all of the time.
So be on your way. No, that is not what I wanted to say.
I just want you, no, I need you to stay."
She finishes and looks up at Sanji, her face almost a perfect picture of 'see?' as if she'd won some kind of bet against Sanji.
"He didn't want me to leave him." She reiterates just in case Sanji had missed that part by being somehow brain dead. She shoves the lyrics sheet into his hand like an eviction notice, please vacate the premises of Zoro immediately. Sanji holds the sheet in his hand and thinks for a moment before responding.
"Doesn't matter. You still chose to hurt him, it's not his fault. Zoro's better off without you and you know he is. I came here to give you your guitar back and to tell you to stay away from us. If you're really getting help and this isn't all fake then great, and if you're really moving away then that's even better. I'm going." Sanji shrugs.
This quite clearly was not the reaction that Baby had expected from him. She leaps to her feet, dropping her guitar with a clang that would send Zoro into a fit of 'how dare you treat a guitar that way' rage. Yet another difference between her and him. She grabs his arm as he goes to leave.
"You're not like us, you're normal." Baby accuses, practically spitting the word at him.
"You're not broken like we are, you can't understand him like I could, like I can. We were both fucked up but we mended each other's weaknesses, we needed each other." She says tauntingly, her dark eyes flashing at him.
Sanji pauses at that and looks at Baby. She clearly thinks that she's won with that parting shot. She hasn't. She hasn't because she's wrong and also because this isn't a game. Zoro's not a prize or an idea, he's a person.
"I'm his boyfriend." Sanji says simply.
"I know that." Baby says flatly, sounding irritated.
"My point is that I'm not his doctor, I'm not his therapist, I'm not his keeper and my job isn't to fix him. Any damage you've done to him or his past has done to him... that's not my job to fix. I'm not with Zoro because he needs me, frankly I don't think I could even know where to begin to help him." Sanji says calmly.
Baby's mouth spreads into a lipstick red grin.
"You're right Zoro needed you then, so he couldn't leave and he apparently couldn't deal with you leaving. I don't want that. Zoro's the only person who can fix himself, not me. I don't want him to be with me or stay with me because he needs me, I want him to be there because he wants to be. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be chosen than be a necessary price to pay like you were." He says easily.
Baby's hand pulls away from him as if he'd burnt her. She's shocked and hurt, reeling from his words. Sanji knocks on the window to get the orderly to let him out before Baby flicks from shock to rage and decides to rearrange his face. The orderly opens the door and Sanji is out the other side before she can react. By the time she screams and hurls herself at the door Sanji is through the other side and halfway down the hallway.
Sanji walks into the house with the sheet of lyrics folded into his back pocket and burning a hole through his jeans into his insides. He still stands by what he said to Baby. Her understanding of Zoro and what a healthy relationship is can only be described as entirely warped, but even so Sanji was happier before he knew that Zoro had pretty much begged for her back. He shuts the front door behind him and leans on it for a few seconds with his eyes closed. The sounds of the house filter into his ears, the soft sounds of the TV and conversation floating through the air, distant music coming from speakers upstairs and the occasional burst of Luffy's laughter. He's ok, he's home.
He hangs Franky's keys back up on the hook and resolves to apologise to him later for essentially carjacking him today, he can't wait until the insurance company finally finishes processing his claim and gives him the money for a new flatbed for him, or at least a very nice pre-owned one.
With weary legs and a worn out heart he heads upstairs, up and up until he reaches the floor that belongs to him and Zoro alone. Yes, he owes Franky an apology but right now that can wait, he just wants to get to his bed and flop face down.
As he makes it onto the landing of his and Zoro's floor though he's interrupted by soft notes of music that halt his tired feet.
Sanji pauses, head cocked, trying to locate the sound. It's coming from the left, from Zoro's room where the door is slightly ajar. He listens intently, trying to place the strains of the music, but the more he hears the more he realises that he doesn't know this song, Zoro is writing. One of the notes twangs and rattles harshly against the fretboard, warping the sound and hissing in metallic anger at not being depressed against the wood hard enough. Zoro swears none too quietly.
Sanji pushes the door open softly and comes inside Zoro's room. The place is a wreck as always. Despite the fact that Zoro has been more or less living in Sanji's room since the day that Sanji returned from the hospital Zoro has still managed to mess his room up. Clothes lay strewn across the place, plectrums litter more or less every flat surface along with loose paper and writing utensils of all kinds. Zoro has been known to write tablature and lyrics on his own skin if no other surface is available and so even the rest of the house is regularly dotted with notepads. Sanji steps over a pair of boots strewn in the middle of the floor and makes his way inside. In the centre of the chaos, facing his bed, Zoro sits on the floor, his legs crossed under him indian style with his precious white acoustic cradled in his lap.
"What h-happened to the arc-arcade?" Sanji asks in a stammer.
"Usopp ate a bad hotdog. He's probably still hurling his guts out downstairs." Zoro says airily. He rolls his wrist this way and that in the manner the physio taught him before placing his fingers back on the fretboard, he quickly runs through a scale but before he can get through to the end of it the notes start slipping again. His fingers are trembling from the strain and they can't hold the strings down.
Sanji pulls the guitar gently from Zoro's hands and places it softly on the bed. He climbs into Zoro's lap in its place and settles his butt in the gap in Zoro's folded legs. His long legs wrap around the small of Zoro's back and his arms wind their way around Zoro's neck. He presses his forehead into the juncture of Zoro's neck and shoulder and breathes Zoro in.
"Sor-sorry to hear that." Sanji manages.
"It's fine." Zoro shrugs, his hands resting lightly on the small of Sanji's back.
"I-I s- I saw- I-" Sanji struggles before hissing in annoyance. He's been so much better lately and he'd even been clearer than this when he was with Baby in person. Yet now when he's at home with Zoro his voice is abandoning him. Zoro's arms tighten gently around him and some tension bleeds out of Sanji's body.
"I went there." He says, managing those three words and nothing else. Sanji fishes the lyrics sheet out of his back pocket and hands it to Zoro, leaning back in his lap to be able to do so. Zoro takes the folded sheet from him, flicks it open and doesn't even look at it, his eyes just on Sanji.
"Huh." Zoro says absently.
"What?" Sanji questions with a frown. Isn't Zoro going to even look at what Sanji just gave him.
"Hn, nothing. I guess I just wasn't expecting you to tell me that you'd been to see her. I guess I'm too used to her playing head games with me that I just expected it. I figured you'd lie." Zoro says easily, flicking the piece of paper behind him onto his bed and resting his hands back on Sanji's hips and lower back again.
Sanji blinks a few times at Zoro in dumb surprise.
"How'd you... know?" Sanji asks in surprise.
"Well, you stole Franky's car and stormed out with her guitar case that hadn't been here before. That and you had a CD in your laptop that you shouldn't have had." Zoro says simply.
"Oh." Sanji blinks in surprise. He hadn't been planning on lying about his trip to Zoro, but if he had it seems that there was no way that Zoro wouldn't have known about it. If Zoro had been expecting him to lie would Zoro have called him out on it or just dealt with it as that was what he'd "expected"?
"Not that I was snooping or anything! I wanted to fuck with your iTunes so that it'd change your music library to nothing but the Nyan cat song." Zoro amends hastily, looking slightly worried that Sanji might be upset.
"HEY! That's even worse! Oh god, now it's in my head!" Sanji wails, jamming his hands over his ears as if it could possibly shut out the repetitive tune now blaring full blast inside his skull as his perfect musical memory replays every saccharine synthetic note to him over and over.
"Are... are you mad that I went to see her?" Sanji asks uneasily, shifting in Zoro's lap as a flush of guilt creeps up the back of his neck.
"You can do what you want, I'm not your boss or anything. You don't have to ask me permission for shit." Zoro says giving a definite non-answer delivered with a shrug that's far too casual to be natural.
"That wasn't what I asked you. Are you upset that I went to see her?" He asks again.
Zoro purses his lips and blows out his cheeks, looking incredibly childish for a moment. He lets the air out in a sigh and finally answers.
"A bit. You didn't tell anyone where you were going, just rushed off like an idiot. She baited you there and you just took it and ran with it. I know that she's got people guarding her but she could have attacked you or said something to really warp you. I'm kinda pissed that you didn't think about it, but I know she's good at manipulating people like that, so it's not entirely your fault I guess." Zoro answers honestly. Sanji remembers that it wasn't too long ago that Zoro was running to her every beck and call.
"I suppose it was a little bit dumb." He admits aloud and feels Zoro's hands give him a reassuring squeeze around his hips, Zoro's not mad, he was probably just irked when he worked out where Sanji had gone off to.
"And she wasn't manipulating me there. The guitar got sent here by mistake because it had your name on it. She said that..." Sanji trails off. Zoro's fixing him with a 'really?' look that makes Sanji's words dry up in his throat.
"Well, that's what she said." He adds meekly. He's got no proof that it was actually the case and that Baby didn't somehow do it to get one of them there, he'd just started to buy into her story just by how surprised she looked to see him. Damn, he didn't know if she was that good at pulling people's strings or if it really was just an accident.
"I don't wanna know jack shit about what she said. She's not getting in my head and she's not getting in yours either. I'm done." Zoro grumbles and flops backwards onto the floor next to his bed.
"Sounds like a good idea." Sanji agrees, settling on the floor by Zoro's side. He lays on his front and after a few moments he takes hold of Zoro's hand. He runs the pads of his fingers gently over each of the little scars where the pins went into Zoro's arm. One by one he stretches Zoro's fingers back and rubs at the tight tendons, only going so far as Zoro's body language tells him to. He works over each stiff joint and muscle, taking his time and sending blood flow to the still recuperating limb.
It's nice, having the time to think over everything that Baby told him and everything that he knows about Zoro. He stands by what he said to Baby. He's not Zoro's shrink and there's fuck all he can do about Zoro's issues, he can't just wave a magic wand and erase all of what Baby did to him over the years. Maybe it'll all heal up and Zoro will never think about it again, or maybe it'll be more like Zoro's arm, where it'll heal and work just fine, but here and there will be small marks and memories of the damage that was there before. Who knows?
He's not Zoro's shrink in the same way that he's not Zoro's physiotherapist. He doesn't know how best to help him through what he's been through any more than he can prescribe physical treatment and make sure Zoro doesn't overwork his hand. What he can do is what he's doing now though, being there when he can and helping Zoro work out the kinks and soreness when it comes up. He can be there if Zoro has nightmares or when he can't sleep, he can help Zoro write songs that have nothing to do with her, or the songs that bleed painful memories out from his psyche. He can assist, but ultimately it's Zoro's job to heal himself.
Sanji smiles, feeling at peace with himself, with Zoro and at the world as a whole. He looks over at Zoro and sees the man staring up at the ceiling, looking lost in thoughts of his own. Sanji wonders if Zoro's come to the same conclusion as him, whether he's decided to really devote himself to the therapy that he went to today.
"What're you thinking?" He asks Zoro softly, resting Zoro's hand back on the floor gently and pillowing his head on Zoro's bicep so that he can cuddle close and look at him.
"Nnn, it's nothing." Zoro grunts, shaking his head.
"No, come on, tell me. I want to know." Sanji says with a smile, what kind of sweet little thoughts could Zoro be thinking.
"Well..." Zoro starts slowly, "I was just wondering what the hell is even in a hotdog anyway?"
"Seriously?!" Sanji squawks indignantly. That wasn't the sweet nothing he'd been hoping for! Why the hell was Zoro even thinking about that?! Sanji springs to his feet and moves to leave Zoro's room in a huff, the idiot completely ruined the moment!
"Oi! You asked!" Zoro yells after him but Sanji just kicks Zoro's door shut and goes back into his own room.
He loves Zoro, he really does, but sometimes he's an annoying unromantic ass with no sense of when romantic moments are happening or what to do! He sighs and spreads himself down on his bed. No sense of timing, that's Zoro's problem.
Having resigned the moment as being thoroughly lost Sanji picks up his laptop and opens it up, fully on board for some mindless internet surfing to take his mind off of the whole day. As he flicks open his laptop the speakers suddenly blast out music, nearly startling Sanji out of his skin.
"NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN!"
Sanji eventually manages to shut off the damn music player, his ears are still ringing from the music, if one could call it that, but it does nothing to muffle the sound of Zoro laughing hysterically from the next room.
A/N: So, there's still some more to come of this fic, one last chapter and perhaps a little epilogue to follow. The songs this time were Let's Forget About the Past by the Detroit Cobras, Lullaby by Julia Nunes and uh... Nyan Cat by uh... the internet?