This is for sybile because it was her birthday on the 8th. (Sorry it's late! T_T)
I've wanted to try my hand at some SanjixUsopp (or Sansopp) since forever! And Syb was the one that sparked that interest with her amazing Sansopp arts! Thank you so much, Syb for being such an amazing inspiration and providing us with great fanart! Stay awesome!
This is kind of ridiculous and angsty, but I thought it appropriate since it's Usopp. Stay tuned for a second part. I really want to go over the whole thing again but have it be from Sanji's POV. :D (And yes, I'm still working on those commissions but I wanted to write something for Syb because I love her! Don't judge meeee!)
Weak in the Knees
Sleep never held onto Usopp for very long in the mornings. It released him with a gentle nudge and a promise to be waiting when nightfall came again. As sunlight tickled the backs of his eyelids, Usopp rolled and stretched an arm over his head. He had projects to do and homework to finish. No time to waste lying in bed when one could be productive. Wow, had he woken up before his alarm again?
Cold dread dropped into his stomach even before his brain registered that something was wrong.
He wasn't in his bed.
The sheets were wrong. The pillows were wrong. Oh, oh God, what was the horrible taste in the back of his mouth?
Usopp peered out from beneath his lashes, squinting against the glow of morning sunlight filtering in through light blue curtains.
Oh, wait. He knew those curtains. He knew this room.
This was Sanji's place.
Inspiration hit him and he relaxed back into the pillows. The party. He had gotten drunk and Sanji had taken him home. This was normal. Sanji only lived three blocks from Luffy's. This wasn't the first time Usopp had woken up in Sanji's apartment a little bleary.
It was however, kind of weird to wake up in Sanji's bed. He'd been tossed on the couch about eight million times, but not once had he ever slept in Sanji's room. He had only seen the room a handful of times.
Shifting his legs, Usopp tried to maneuver himself into a more comfortable position.
Shifting his legs again, a little slower this time, Usopp felt no rustle of fabric. No feeling of elastic around his waist or cotton between his legs.
He was naked.
Wait, was he really naked? Why was he naked?
Usopp heard a sound and his heart actually crawled up into his throat. He had always questioned the veracity of that phrase, but when he heard the rustle of sheets next to him, and the soft sigh from a familiar smoker's throat, Usopp felt the muscle that pumped the blood all through his body move and start doing its thing in his esophagus. This was it. He was going to die of a heart attack. In his mouth.
Sanji stirred beside him, sighed, but then fell still. When Usopp braved a glance in the cook's direction, Sanji was lying peacefully on his back, one hand rested on his chest.
His bare chest.
His bare to those really amazing lines in his hips chest.
Yeah, Sanji was naked too.
Trying desperately not to panic, Usopp wasted no time in slipping out of the bed and onto the floor. He crouched, paralyzed at seeing his clothes strewn across the floor, his shoes nowhere to be seen.
What the heck happened last night? Had he really gotten so drunk that he had made the moves on his best friend!? Real life actual moves and not just moves in his head!? No way. Had they seriously come back to Sanji's place and—
No, he wasn't going there.
Get your clothes. Find your phone, keys. Get out.
He couldn't find his left sock, but it was relatively simple to find the rest of his clothes and shoes in Sanji's near spotless apartment. His phone was in the pocket of his jacket, his keys in his pants. He pulled the emergency band from his wrist and pulled his hair up into a knot before he opened the door and slipped outside.
The street was quiet, must have been too early on a Saturday for most people. Usopp moved swiftly, wanting to get to the corner and around the side of the building. If Sanji were to wake and look out the window he would see him. He just needed to get around the corner and then he would be safe. He pulled out his phone with trembling fingers and checked the time. A little after six. Wow, he was lucky, Sanji usually got up around four or four-thirty.
Since he already had the phone in his hand Usopp slid over to his contacts and scrolled to Luffy's name. He finally rounded the corner and turned down the next street as he furiously typed his message.
hey crazy party huh?
how drunk was I even?
He didn't expect a reply, but his phone buzzed before he could even get it back into his pocket. He looked, amazed to find Luffy's name in the notifications.
DUDE whered you go! we played twister!
In some back door part of Usopp's head, there was at least a little relief. At least now he knew he hadn't thrown himself on Sanji at the party.
lol went home. got sick. ttyl
Luffy replied one last time with some smileys but Usopp didn't pay that much attention. At the moment, all he could think about was just getting home. He knew the shock of what had happened was going to wear off soon and he wanted to be alone. When he hopped on the bus his head started to pound, and by the time he got off at his stop, his stomach was churning.
Climbing the steps to his apartment was almost impossible but he made it. He managed to fumble his keys in the lock and get himself inside before he had to put a hand over his mouth to keep what was coming up from getting all over the carpet. Not that there was much. He wretched into the toilet for what felt like days before he was too exhausted to move, then he sat on the floor of the bathroom and leaned back against the bathtub.
Slowly, terribly, the full impact of what had happened started to creep into Usopp's awareness and he closed his eyes. He felt the shame and the embarrassment start to climb inside and eat away at whatever parts of him they could find. How could he do this? He had promised himself! He had swore to himself!
He had lost it all. It was over.
Tears filled Usopp's eyes and he covered his face with his hands as if there was someone to hide from in his small bathroom. A long, painful sob rose up from somewhere deep in his gut and slipped from between his lips. His shoulders shook as anguish overtook him and he lowered himself to the floor, his cheek rested on the floor mat.
"Oh my God…" he moaned, "What have I done?"
The rest of the weekend passed in a strange blur of math equations, avoiding text messages, and stomach cramps. None of Usopp's friends seemed to be angry with him, nor did they come across as trying to get information from him, which was nice, because that probably meant they knew nothing. That didn't change the fact that he didn't want to talk to any of them though. Not at all. He was too ashamed. The gang might never know the details of what had happened, but they were definitely going to figure out something had happened when they realized he and Sanji had stopped talking to each other. Or Sanji beat him to a pulp. Or he just turned up dead one day. Usopp wasn't sure which of those was more likely.
Monday and Tuesday went relatively smooth as well. He went to work and lost himself in the whir of machinery and the precise focus of welding. Nothing helped forgetting a night of intense stupidity like a flaming torch in your hand, apparently. When he returned to his apartment in the evenings he choked down a protein shake and fell into bed, too exhausted and too depressed to really think about anything.
However, Wednesday night found Usopp at his desk trying to get some work done before vacation ended. This was futile, of course, productive thoughts would not come. Setting his pencil on the unfinished homework, Usopp rested his head on the desk and sighed as another wave of nausea washed over him. What kind of person throws themselves at their incredibly straight best friend, huh? In what universe was there enough alcohol to make that okay? More often than not Usopp was grateful he couldn't remember that night, but sometimes he wished he did so he could analyze his behavior. Was he insane? Was he a masochist? Did he have a multiple personality? Had he been taken over by aliens for a few hours? And then what about Sanji? Had he played along with it as a joke and then was too drunk to stop? Or worse, had he done it out of pity? Sanji was a genuinely kind person, so had he just gone along with it because he felt bad for how completely desperate and pitiful Usopp had no doubt been?
And what exactly had they done?
Swallowing thickly, Usopp wrapped his arms around his churning stomach. He needed to stop thinking about it before he threw up again.
But really, who was he kidding, how could he not think about it?
Straightening and standing carefully, Usopp moved out of the bedroom and headed for the bathroom. Maybe a nice hot bath would help. And if not, the toilet was right there, he could puke and then settle back into the tub again.
As he ran the hot water over his hand, Usopp's thoughts started to wander. What had happened? He thought he had himself under control. He'd had a super amazing crush on Sanji for probably seven or eight years, but he had always been really good at hiding all those kinds of feelings. If he had been a girl events would probably have turned out differently. He could have played the best friend like he had been, but then one day while they were on a friendly walk in the park or something, he could have "accidentally" tripped and almost fallen, but then Sanji would have caught him. "Oh, Sanji! Thank you!" and then Sanji would have looked into his eyes and seen how Usopp felt and they would have kissed and everything would have been roses. Sanji loved that kind of stuff, that's totally how it would go down.
…Okay, maybe that fantasy was ridiculous, but it had definitely played in Usopp's head on more than one occasion… along with several others.
At that moment Usopp's cell rang, buzzing against the smooth surface of the sink counter. He sighed heavily when the display read "LUFFY". The guy had been calling him all day. Whatever, he might as well answer and let someone know he was alive.
"Woa, Usopp! Luffy's voice was muffled like he was talking into a pillow. "You're not dead!"
"Nope, I'm not dead, Luffy."
"Well good! Are you coming to the movie tonight?"
"What!? Why not? You've been like extra excited for this movie all year!"
"I have a lot of homework. I'll see it on the weekend."
There was silence for a few seconds before Luffy responded.
"Are you okay?"
He hated lying to Luffy. It was so hard.
"Yeah, I'm fine, I just need to finish these math equations and hit the sack. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"
Another few long seconds passed, but Luffy finally answered.
"Okay… but are you going to Vivi's party tomorrow?"
Crap. "Uh, I don't know, man, I don't know if I'll be up to—"
"Aww come on, dude! Franky and Law AND Sanji all can't come! You have to be there! It's gonna be the last big bash before we have to do school things!"
Sanji wasn't going? Well, that might be okay, he could show up for a little bit, have a few beers, and then disappear. Vivi's place was sort of out of town, but it only took one bus to get back to his neighborhood.
"Yeah," he said, "I'll be there."
"Hey, Luffy? You know why Sanji isn't coming tomorrow?"
"Nope. I haven't even seen Sanji lately. He called today to say he wasn't coming tomorrow 'cause he had to work, but that's the only time I've talked to him in like a week or something."
That horrible feeling was back in Usopp's gut and he swallowed against bile that came up into his throat. Of course Luffy hadn't seen Sanji lately, Sanji was probably locked away in his apartment planning the most effective and satisfying way to break his x-best friend's face.
"Yeah, I'm here. I gotta go. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
"Okay. And hey, if you need to talk about anything, you know you can always—"
"—I'm okay, Luffy. Talk to you later. Bye."
With that, Usopp hung up and threw himself at the toilet.
Thursday night. Party and Vivi's house. Last big bash before school started again and everyone had to go back to being serious business students—or at least put on the appearance of being serious anyway. Alcohol flowed and the music bumped so loudly it could probably be heard on the moon. Good thing Vivi's house was on a large property. The only souls they would be disturbing tonight were probably bovine.
Holy shit, this was a bad idea.
Usopp had definitely had one too many. He wasn't drunk, not even really that tipsy, but for someone that had come here with absolutely no intention of drinking, one was too much. Two was pushing it. Three was uncalled for.
Why the hell had he just polished off a fourth?
Aliens. That was the answer. He had been probed and now there was some mutant human-bug alien hybrid creature growing in his chest cavity. That would explain his questionable behavior and the fact that he couldn't keep any solid food down.
No. No no don't make me do shots. "What's up, Zoro?"
Scowling and almost looking like he meant it, Zoro slid the patio door fully open and leaned against the frame.
"Seen Nami? She's got my Bruichladdich."
Usopp's mouth hit the deck. "Zoro, are you serious!? That whiskey is like a hundred and eighty proof! They have to make it in a chemist's lab! You're going to die if you drink that stuff!"
Zoro blinked once. "That answer has nothing to do with where Nami is."
Throwing his hands in the air, Usopp shook his head, "I don't know."
Grumbling, Zoro moved back into the house. Usopp could hear him mumbling "god damnit, woman" as he disappeared into the mass of people.
"I think he's just sore 'cause Nami's handling it better than he is."
The corners of Usopp's lips turned up at the sound of that small voice. He looked up to find Chopper leaning out one of the third story windows, holding a red, plastic cup and smiling down at him.
"This party is strictly sixteen and older," Usopp teased, "you have to have a license to be here. I'm going to have to escort you off the premises, son."
Chopper grinned and flipped him the bird. "I may be fifteen, but I'm the only one here with a career job. Who do you think paid for all the booze?"
Usopp shrugged, "Vivi?"
Rolling his eyes Chopper took what looked like the last swallow from his cup and motioned with his head. "Come upstairs, it's too loud on the second floor."
Usopp saluted, "On my way, doc," and headed for the sliding doors.
To the steady beat of The Black Eyed Peas, he pushed through people congregated around the entrance to the kitchen and waved to some friends sprawled across the couch. Ace and Kidd were sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the television, eyes front and focused on what appeared to be an extremely intense game of Doctor Mario. Coby high-fived him as they passed each other in the hallway, and Vivi and Kaya were descending as Usopp approached the staircase. Both girls gave him drunken hugs filled with laughter and genuine affection as he passed by and headed upstairs.
"I think I might be a little drunk," Chopper confessed when Usopp found him in the master bedroom. The kid was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking through a photo album, his empty cup sitting upside-down on his head.
"Naw, you're good." Usopp waved a hand and plopped down beside his friend.
"Vivi and Kaya have been friends forever," Chopper said, his words only slightly slurred. "Some of these pictures are of them in like… kindergarten."
Usopp didn't want to look. Just the idea of old friends brought back all of the horrible things he had been able to forget with a few drinks. His stomach rolled. The dread and embarrassment came back to him in a slow, painful wave and he let himself lay back on the bed. He put his hands over his eyes and swallowed hard against a whole lot of feelings.
"What's up?" Chopper asked.
"Yeah, okay. I may be like four years younger than you, but let's not forget who's the smartest one in the room, and you're legally a genius."
Usopp shook his head, pressing his palms into his eye sockets not only to push back the inevitable pain of a headache, but also to prevent an onslaught of tears he was sure was going to come.
"I don't think I'm ready to talk about it just yet."
"Wow," there was a soft thud, probably the photo album hitting the floor, and Chopper shifted at his side, "That sounds kind of serious. You sure you don't want to share?"
Usopp nodded, saying nothing.
"Okay, but I mean isn't it going to make it worse to just bottle it up? You know I'm not going to tell anybody, you can trust me."
Sighing heavily, Usopp lowered his hands and sat up. He clasped them together in his lap and fixed his eyes on a spot somewhere across the room. His guts twisted up in knots as he briefly considered telling Chopper what was on his mind.
"I'm sort of…" he started, but then stopped. He breathed slowly, trying to calm the raging beat of his heart.
"It's sort of a pride thing," he continued finally, "I don't—I mean I understand that you're like super smart and you're totally one of my best friends but… I mean I don't think I can… I mean I trust you, but… I—I don't—"
"Woa, hey," Chopper put a hand on Usopp's arm and squeezed. "Hey, Usopp, it's okay, wow, calm down."
He hadn't realized he had started to babble. He'd though he had said most of that in his head, but apparently his body was doing more of its traitorous bull shit.
"Sorry for what?" Chopper asked, "Being upset?"
Usopp ran a hand over his mouth and shrugged. At least he wasn't crying.
Chopper shifted again, brining himself closer. He plopped a hand down on Usopp's head and whispered gently, "What can I do?"
Usopp smiled sadly and shook his head.
Big brown eyes bore into his and it was so hard not to just pour out the entire story right there. Of course he could lie, he could make some shit up and Chopper would believe him. Chopper always believed his ridiculous stories.
Instead, Usopp wrapped an arm around Chopper's neck and pulled him into a hug. He tussled the kid's hair and murmured softly into the soft, brown curls.
"I did something really stupid, and I hurt somebody."
Chopper was quiet for a moment, pulling absently at Usopp's t-shirt. When he finally spoke, his words sent ice through Usopp's veins.
"Did you get in a fight with Sanji?"
It took several tries to make his mouth work, and when he did, Usopp's tongue felt like a lead weight. "Why do you say that?"
Chopper shrugged. "I saw him yesterday at the Baratie. He looked upset."
For a moment, Usopp thought he might have to get up and run to the bathroom, but with a few long, deep breaths, the sudden and terrible wave of nausea lessened and he got his insides under control.
"Upset… upset like how? Was he mad?"
"He was banging things around like he does. I couldn't really tell if he was mad or not, I was only there for a few minutes picking up lunch for me and Kaya."
There was just nothing to say. Usopp knew Sanji was mad, he was probably furious. The cook was probably going around chopping off the heads of fish imagining they were Usopp's, or peeling potatoes and fantasizing they were his skin.
"Usopp," Chopper pulled away and patted his shoulder, "I'm sure everything will be fine. Whatever happened between you two I'm sure you'll figure it out. I mean, Sanji's your best friend it can't be that bad."
Usopp's heart broke at Chopper's words. He felt it come apart in his chest and bleed out, spreading the most intense of pain to every part of him in could reach. Tears welled up in his eyes as he leaned into Chopper's hold.
"No… no it can."
Chopper's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to say something more, but the door opened and several drunk bodies tumbled into the room at once.
"Oh!" Nami's voice was thick, "Sorry to interrupt cuddle time, but we need technical support!"
Vivi giggled and draped herself across Nami's back. "Awww, I wanna to be part of cuddle time!"
"Hey, wait! There's cuddle time up here?" Luffy's voice was loud in the hallway. "Why wasn't I invited!?"
Chopper jumped up from the bed and immediately started shaking fingers and lecturing everyone on the dangers of drinking too much strong whiskey. Usopp took his friend's distraction gratefully and wiped at his face. He collected himself and stood, smoothing out his hair and re-securing the hair band that was doing its very best to keep his dreadlocks under control.
"Hey! There he is!" Ace's smiling face peeked around the door frame for a moment before he disappeared again. "Hey we found him guys! We'll be back online in a few minutes!"
"What happened?" Usopp asked.
"Someone blew a fuse," Nami explained. "We popped the switch at the breaker but Vivi says there's something that has to be fixed at the big switchboard—hub—panel thingy in the garage."
Vivi nodded. "You're our only hope, Usopp."
Despite the fact that he wanted to just break down and sob into the carpet, Usopp pushed past the pain and puffed out his chest.
"Of course ladies, I shall fix the mysterious electrical problem and save the kingdom once again."
"YAY!" Luffy and Ace's cries echoed from the stairway up through the third floor.
Vivi's garage was a separate structure from the main house and was large enough to hold four cars, which it did, but it also served as a secondary power grid. In case of storms and other natural disasters like severe earthquakes, a backup server was installed. It was independent and could run even if the entire city's power went out. Whenever Vivi held a party, power was transferred to the backup server in the event that someone blew a fuse or overloaded a transformer. It was basically a safeguard against someone starting a fire in the main house.
This also wasn't the first time Usopp had been sent on a reboot mission.
Opening the door and flipping the light switch, Usopp headed toward the panel. Actually, it wasn't just a panel, it was more like what he imagined the inside of a Decepticon would look like. He opened the face panel and knelt, surveying what was actually a very beautiful and intricate setup.
He heard the creak of the door and then the soft click as it shut once again; soft footfalls as someone came inside but stop to lean against Vivi's dad's BMW.
"I'll be okay, Chopper," Usopp sighed, "I'm gonna go home after this. I promise I'll get some sleep and I'll text you tomorrow."
Only silence answered him.
"I swear, dude, I'm not gonna kill myself or anything. I'll even eat something cause I know that's what you're gonna say next. I'll call you first thing in the morning and we'll talk."
The silence that still answered him was actually unnerving, but nothing compared to what he felt when he heard the soft, unmistakable click of a Zippo lighter.
Terror clouded his vision and Usopp almost sprang to his feet and started running. He knew he would never make it, but he could give it his best goddamn try. Maybe he should just close his eyes and wait for it. Maybe it would be quick and painless. This was the perfect time, the perfect place. He would die here and no one would ever know what had really happened to him.
However, the fear was insignificant to the embarrassment that boiled up from his gut. His chest tightened so intensely with regret and shame that it was hard to breathe. He wanted to break down, to sob, to wail into the concrete and scream he was sorry until his voice left him. There was nothing, nothing he wanted more at that moment than to just die. To just end and not have to deal with what he knew was coming in the next few minutes.
He heard the flick of the lighter again, the soft burn of paper, and then the slow exhale. It was funny, Usopp had always loved that sound, but now it was about as appealing as the scrape of skeleton fingers across a gravestone.
He dared a look over his shoulder. Sanji leaned against the hood of the BMW, his hands in his pockets, his head forward, blond hair falling heavily across his face. His lips held the cigarette loosely as the smoke curled up toward the ceiling. He had come from work, his slacks were wrinkled and the sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to his elbows. He was sweaty, and there was a small splatter of red sauce from his jaw across his collar.
Usopp swallowed once, twice, and finally after a third time he got words past his lips.
"I… just give me a second to fix this before… um… just hold on…"
Hands shaking, Usopp turned back to the panel without waiting for a reply. He quickly put everything back in order and replaced the face. He stood wiping his palms on his jeans and took a breath. His heart beat so violently against his chest he started to wonder if he would actually have a heart attack before Sanji killed him.
Silence rang out through the garage so loudly it was almost earth shattering.
When Sanji lifted a hand to take the cigarette from his mouth Usopp almost whimpered. The cook dropped the butt at his feet and snuffed it out with the toe of his shoe. When his blue eyes turned to face Usopp finally, it was like a punch in the gut. Those eyes had always been such a comfort, such a warm, welcome place for him; a shelter from bullies, and a home when he missed his dad or he was just plain hating himself.
Now those eyes were nothing like what they had been. There was nothing of the funny, friendly, wonderful Sanji he had always known. This person in front of him was a stranger.
When the cook straightened and took a step towards him, Usopp flinched and retreated, slamming into the panel behind him. The heel of his boot hit the metal and the resounding sound echoed loudly through the silent space.
It seemed to startle Sanji. The cook froze, and his face did something Usopp had not expected. Pain welled up around his eyes. His features softened and his lips parted in surprise.
"Usopp…" he whispered.
Usopp's body was shaking. It was humiliating.
"Are…" Sanji swallowed, "Are you afraid of me?"
Usopp nodded without hesitation. "Yes."
He had expected violence. He had expected Sanji to growl, to curse, to scream, or maybe say nothing, but at the very least Usopp had been readying himself for whatever was going to come at him to be offensive and terrible.
He had not expected tears.
Sanji clenched his jaw and slumped back against the hood of the car. His body sagged under an invisible weight so powerful that Usopp almost felt it. His features turned from surprised and hurt to horrified. He looked as if someone had died and he was at fault. He closed his eyes but it didn't stop the tears from trailing down his cheeks. Sanji lifted a hand to cover it up, to hide it, but it was hopeless. He shuddered once and breathed in sharply, painfully.
"I'm sorry…" he whispered.
Usopp's head was having trouble understanding, and his heart was doing an excellent job of trying to break out of his ribcage.
Sanji wiped at his eyes and pushed both his hands through his hair. He took a few deep breaths trying to get himself under control and looked everywhere in the garage but at Usopp.
"I know… I know that you never want to see me again, but I had to see you and tell you that I'm so sorry. I was just… I was so drunk—you were so drunk."
A very, very different feeling had started to build in Usopp's gut, but he didn't know what it was or really how to deal with it. All that mattered to him at that moment was trying to understand what Sanji meant. Why was he apologizing? Did he think it was his fault or something? How could that even… how did that even work?
"Sanji…" Usopp said as he dared to push off the panel and take a step closer. "What are you sorry for?"
Sanji moaned softly and laced his hands together at the back of his neck. His eyes were shut tight and he hunched over slightly.
"All of it of course! I didn't mean to… I never wanted you to know and there's just… there's just no excuse for what I did and I can't believe you haven't called the cops on me yet!"
Usopp tensed. Holy shit what?
"I'm a horrible friend. I'm the worst friend in history, Usopp… fuck I'm so sorry!"
Confused, upset, and strangely excited, Usopp moved away from the panel and crossed the empty space between them. When he was at arm's distance, he stopped and stood shaking, his hands in fists at his sides. Tears had started to cloud his own vision but he tried to blink them away as he tried to get answers.
"Sanji, listen to me. You have to explain what you're talking about. I don't… I don't remember what happened, besides that I woke up in your bed and I was n… um, naked."
Sanji looked at him for a moment without speaking. The tears had stopped but his eyes were still red rimmed and filled with anguish. He lowered his hands to brace himself on the car and took a shaky breath.
"I was really drunk, and you were… being really friendly. I don't know how it ended up the way it did but you suggested we go back to my place and so we left and I thought we were going to sleep it off but… somehow… there was just something about you that night and I couldn't…" Sanji's lips trembled and fresh tears trickled down his cheeks.
"I couldn't stop myself… and I r… I ra…" his words trailed off as his shoulders started to shake.
Usopp's heart gave up trying to break through his rib cage and just stopped entirely.
"Sanji, you didn't rape me."
The cook's eyes squeezed shut. "No, Usopp, you don't understand. You don't remember so—"
"—No!" Usopp took another step forward and brought himself only inches from where Sanji was standing. "No, you don't understand, there's no way you could rape me!"
Sanji's mouth turned up into a snarl as anger started to seep into his despair. He reached out, grabbing Usopp by the arms and growled desperately, "Stop trying to make this okay! It's not okay and I can't keep pretending that—"
"—Shut up! Just shut up, Sanji I love you!"
Frozen, barely breathing, Sanji's grip on Usopp's arms might have actually gotten tighter. Usopp's words felt like they had been said by someone else. It was strange, surreal, but at least they had finally been said. Sanji's eyes widened and his breath halted as he stared down into Usopp's face. He searched Usopp's eyes for the truth; for comfort; for everything to be all right.
"Say that again…" he whispered.
"I love you, goddamnit," Usopp said, his voice trembling, "I love you so much. There's no way that if you started something that night, or if I started it, or whatever, that I didn't want it. All I've ever wanted was for you to kiss me, or even just hold my hand or—"
Sanji's hands on his jaw cut him off and when the cook's lips came down on his, Usopp forgot how to think. Everything was suddenly just Sanji, and Sanji kissing him. Nothing else mattered. It was only soft lips and gentle but desperate tongues, a soft moan into his mouth, and a warm body against his holding him so tightly that Usopp felt he was never going to need anything else.
"I'm so sorry…" Sanji murmured again.
Usopp's hands twisted into the back of Sanji's shirt. "Don't be, it's okay."
Sanji shook his head. "No, I mean I'm sorry I was stupid and didn't come see you sooner."
Usopp shrugged. "How could you have known? How could either of us known? I'm sorry for disappearing and not just staying and talking to you that morning."
Brushing his nose against Usopp's, Sanji ran his hands over dark dreadlocks. He tilted his head down to kiss Usopp's cheek. "Let's start over."
Usopp nodded. "Yeah, okay."
Sanji's arms around him felt so good. The pain and the embarrassment of the last week disappeared as Sanji kissed the top of his head. As he pressed his face into the cook's neck he pushed all the fear and anguish and everything else that had been plaguing him for what had seemed like forever aside and floated only on the knowledge that Sanji had felt the same—maybe even worse. The two stayed like that for several long minutes, just holding each other and soaking each other in. Then Sanji's lips found the shell of Usopp's ear and Usopp nipped Sanji's jaw in retaliation.
When the door opened, the kiss was starting to get a little hot and heavy. Probably the reason why it took Usopp a moment to realize what was happening.
"Oh," Chopper's smile was wide as he leaned against the door frame. "Okay, everything makes sense now."
"You need something, Chopper?" Sanji's grin was positively evil.
Chopper shook his head. "Nope, I'll just leave you two to it. I'll call you later, Usopp."
Usopp answered with a muffled "okay" into Sanji's shirt. The blush was hot on his face but he couldn't stop himself from chuckling when the door closed, leaving them alone once again.
"Let's get out of here," he said.
"Okay," Sanji replied. "You want to go to my place?"
Usopp nodded. "Let's just… go slow this time though. Okay?"
He felt Sanji smile against his forehead. "That's fine with me. We can watch a movie, I'll make you dinner."
Usopp pulled back excitedly. "Yes! Yes, let's do that! That's a great plan!"
Sanji smiled and slipped his hand through Usopp's. They left the garage and headed towards the bus stop together. When they were standing under the street lamp, the cool breeze tickling their bare arms and the sound of frogs and crickets chirping in the distance, Sanji pulled Usopp close and whispered softly into his ear.
"Hm?" Usopp replied, his eyes slipping closed.
"I love you too."
Usopp would never admit aloud that at that moment his knees got weak, but he was sure Sanji would never tell a soul.