It was always like this. Insults would fly first then feet and swords. Most days the damned moss-head would use only one sword, but today he had two. This made things even more difficult.
"Only thing you're good at is taking up space Marimo."
"Oh yeah? Well at least I look good while doing it Curtly-brow!"
"What'd you say?!"
"You heard me."
His voice was calm, monotone, despite the slashing swords. His movements were fluid, graceful even, if that was possible for him. His eyes tracked every movement, his body tensed to move at a seconds notice.
Landing square, one leg came up quickly, knee hitting my chest before kicking forward. My heel hit the idiot's swords, crossed in a defensive "X" in front of him. A growl passed my lips as he smiled.
"You're slow today."
"Shaddup!" I dropped to my side, hand hitting the deck for support as I kicked out with my other leg. I was hoping to catch him off guard.
It didn't work. He jumped over my leg and right onto my back, pinning my legs and twisting my arm back. Pain shot into my shoulder. "Ow ow ow! Not my arm!" Why was he being so rough today? Something wasn't right. Eyes closed, I desperately tried to think of a way I could get him off me.
His weight shifted and the pressure on my arm grew. Wincing, I grit my teeth against the pain. If he broke my arm, that would be it. I would be useless to Luffy. The Pirate King would have no use for a lame cook.
My eyes flew open, despite the pain, at the laugh. It was down right evil. I had heard it before...right before he sliced someone, right before he achieved victory.
"That's right Sanji," he said. That cold monotone voice was downright sinister. "Beg." he was right against my ear, I could feel his breath as he spoke. "Beg me to let you go." He laughed again.
"Go to hell Zoro." I growled, trying to fight the pain worsening in my shoulder.
"Your call," the fucking shithead turned my wrist a bit more. Something popped in my wrist and the pain that shot through my shoulder brought tears to my eyes.
"Alright, alright," I panted. "Just don't break my wrist!" Instantly the pain stopped and the weight of his body was gone. Rolling to my side, I grabbed my wrist in my other hand. The sheen click of him sheathing his swords sounded and I just lay there on the deck, holding my wrist as he simply walked quietly away.
It was obvious who had won today...but why was he acting so different today? The throbbing in my wrist started to catch my attention.
Standing, I lit a cigarette and held my arm against my chest. I would have to go see Chopper in a minute.
The doctor's look of concern was always the same, only today he sighed as he dug a roll of tape from his supplies. "You two need to stop this."
"Yeah, I know," my wrist had a sprain and was laid out on the table for Chopper to wrap. "Its seems more habit now than anything. He was different today though. I mean, look, he actually hurt me."
"Interesting..." Chopper carefully wrapped the tape around my wrist, then cut it. "You can use it as long as you're careful. No fancy pan flips for a few days."
"Thanks Chopper," I grinned. "What do you want for dinner as a 'thank you?'"
Luffy didn't fight me as I told him it was his night for dishes. He simply nodded and went about gathering the dishes from a now empty table. He was quiet for a minute as I pulled a cookbook down, along with a pencil and paper, off the frig to start on the next morning's meal.
Luckily the wrist Zoro hurt was not my writing hand, but turning the pages of my book took a little effort.
"What happened?" Luffy never turned to look at me, just calmly continued to wash the dishes.
"Hmm?" I looked up for a second, then to my wrist. "Zoro won today."
"I see." Luffy was being a little too serious for his normal self. "He hurt you."
"Its just a sprain. Chopper says in a few days I will be fine." I started scribbling a list of items I would need from the storage areas.
"Did he do it on purpose?" he set a plate down on the stack of clean dishes and picked up a pot. "You guys seem to be in trouble lately. Always at each others throats, barely talking unless you're fighting."
I stopped. Setting down the pencil, I thought back. Something definitely was off, but when did it start? Everyone had been stressed recently with all the crap we had been put through...Usopp and Luffy's fight, the Merry and Robin. "He's been acting strange for a while now. Waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat and out of breath. Sometimes he just doesn't seem like...him."
"You know him better than the rest of us." Luffy never turned to look at me. Just kept up with the dishes, only answering when I say something.
"I...I thought I did." I was quiet a minute. With everything we had gone through, everything we had talked about, I really thought I knew Roronoa Zoro. As of late, I wasn't as sure. "I'm...I"m not sure if he hurt me on purpose or not."
Luffy made some weird Luffy sound, set the plate down he had been holding and quietly walked to the door, leaving me all alone. The dishes were done and I had to finish prepping for breakfast. Not sure what was going through my Captain's head, but I had a pretty good idea. He was off to seek out that shit swordsman.
Turns out I was wrong. I found Zoro is his usual spot, up in the gym and the place we had decided would be our get away on the Sunny. The scene before me as I climbed through the hatch was familiar. The weights had been moved aside and bedding we had moved up there laid out. Zoro was sitting on the bench, near the pillows, removing his boots. The scars from Little Garden were still red, not yet faded like the one on his chest from Mihawk. Kicking off my shoes, I took my suit jacket off and draped it over a set of weights.
The padded floor felt cool on my bare feet and I curled my toes into it, almost subconsciously. I had removed my tie, shirt and belt before he moved from his seat to the bed. He never spoke, not that he talked a lot anyways, but this silence, even though familiar, had an air to it I can not quite pick up.
Moving to lie down next to him, I shut the lights off. The darkness only seemed to make things worse. I knew he was there and though I would never say I was afraid of him, there was most certainly something eery about him tonight. I undid my pants and lay down. Instantly he was there, his body warm against my own. His hand slid under my boxers,coming to rest on my hip as he nuzzled into my neck.
"I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me today. I never meant to hurt you. It...it was almost like I couldn't control my own actions." his voice was slightly muffled and I could feel his breath against my collarbone. I didn't move. This was the Zoro I knew. Calm, cool and unbreakable by day, affectionate and vulnerable by night.
"Roronoa Zoro..." I said quietly.
"Roronoa Sanji." He murmured back, kissing my neck.
"Don't play that game with me right now." Without thinking, I hit his shoulder with my hand. Pain shot up my wrist and I sucked in a sharp breath through clenched teeth. He stopped and I could sense him look up. I grabbed my wrist with my good hand and tried to focus on anything but the pain. The throbbing hurt so much. "You really hurt me today." I growled. "There was no reason for it."
"I know," Zoro said quietly, almost sounding ashamed of himself. "I could see what I was doing to you. I could see that I was hurting you, but I couldn't stop it."
"Couldn't stop?" I snapped at him. "I said to leave my arm alone."
"I know you did." I felt his head come to rest on my chest. My eyes were finally starting to adjust to the darkness and I was beginning to make out shadows. His voice vibrated through my chest. "I don't understand what came over me. I had you pinned and this possession came over me. You were mine and I was going to prove it."
"By breaking my wrist?" my eyebrows lowered. "Some way to prove it."
"It was a dominance feeling. I needed to prove I was stronger than you..." he took a deep breath. "Sanji, you have to believe me when I say that it wasn't me today. Even my meditations have been off recently and I haven't found an answer yet."
"Its not a reason to almost break my wrist. What then? You know I need my hands. There's a reason I fight with my legs. How else am I supposed to cook for everyone?" I sighed. I knew he knew this. We had talked about the differences in our upper and lower body strengths. His was upper, mine lower. It was no secret.
"Bare with me, Sanji. Please." His hand went to the base of my neck, fingers drifting across my hair line. I unwillingly trembled at his touch. "I'm trying to figure this out." His mouth was at my neck again. His breath hot against my skin.
"You don't even know what it is..." I breathed as he lightly kissed up my neck, tongue outlining my ear. I gasped as he pressed his body closer to mine. "...Zoro."
"Hmm?" the slight hum of his response was enough to send a shudder through my whole body. Moving my head, exposing more of my neck to him, I brought one leg over his, locking both of his legs in between mine. His first hand left my hip and slid up my chest to the other side of my neck as he shifted slightly, leaning on the arm that had been in my hair. "Sanji..." he kissed my cheek as I brought a hand up and into his short cut hair.
Our lips met for a brief moment. "You know I love you." And met again. I held him against me with my hand, forcing my way into his mouth with my tongue. Not that he really argued with me, opening his mouth, meeting my tongue with his. He grunted as I tightened my grip on his hair, but that was all, letting me have the control of our kiss. A long moment passed, us locked together, tongues fighting out a viscous battle in our mouths.
Finally, I pulled back. "I know. I love you too." I never was good at staying mad at him for long.
I woke up alone. Well alone in the bed, that was normal, I was never really alone. Zoro sat cross legged a few paces away, eyes closed, in the middle of a morning meditation. It was still dark, the first rays of a far off sunrise just giving enough light to make out shadows and outlines.
His back was to me and as I watched his shoulders rise and fall steadily, the night's event drifted back to me.
I woke in his arms, the arm under me wrapped across my chest, clutching at my shoulder, his other arm over my hips, hand digging in between my leg and the bed. This was normal, but the grip that held me to him and the heat from his body were not. His chest felt way too hot against my back and his fingers dug into my flesh to the point of pain. That must have been what woke me.
"Oi, Marimo..." I had said quietly, elbowing him in the chest. "Let go."
He made a grunting sound, as if in pain, but I knew I hadn't hit him that hard and he mumbled something. I couldn't hear what, even though I could feel his breath on my neck. Quick short breaths, not the steady ones of sleep.
I was fully awake now. "Hey, shithead." Managing to get out of his grip, I leaned over him and shook him by the shoulder. "Wake up Zoro. Its a bad dream." Pushing him from his side to his back, his head whipped back and forth as if fighting something. "Come on, damn you. Wake up!" I reached back and swung forward, slapping him against the cheek. No sooner did my hand meet his face, did his eyes fly open and he grabbed me by the upper arms, flipping us over, pinning me to the bed. The strength of his upper body came crashing down onto my upper arms as he straddled my waist, his full weight baring down on me.
His eyes were wide, but he didn't seem to see me. It was like he was staring through me, not at me. For a moment I panicked. There wasn't much I could do with his full weight on me like this.
Then he said it. Breathed the word so lightly I almost didn't catch it. He said it again as his eyes flicked to his katana a few feet away. "...Asura..."
My eyes went wide and I could feel the color drain from my face. Curling my toes, I kicked up, hitting him right at the base of his skull, knocking him forward onto my chest. My breath caught at the sudden amount of weight, but I had managed to knock him back out. Pushing him off me, I took a deep breath. That explained a lot.
It took some time for me to fall back to sleep again.
The sun was a bit brighter. I would have to get up soon to start breakfast. Sitting up, I noticed the bruises forming on my arms. This wasn't going to help his mood any. Despite his gruff nature, he wouldn't hurt anything he cared about. And knowing that he once again hurt me...
"Hey, crap swordsman," most people found our relationship on the stranger side of things. Actually had someone ask me once: 'If you love him, why did you call him names like that?' I don't know. We just do. Zoro took a deep breath and looked over his shoulder to me. He didn't say anything and didn't have to. "Do you remember last night?" A small smile crossed his lips as he nodded.
"Of course I do ya shit cook."
"No, not that." I stood up and stretched. My wrist didn't hurt as much today, but stretching really didn't help it any. Walking over to him, I pushed his head forward. "Yeah I left a bruise. Sorry."
He turned fully around now and looked up at me. "What are you talking abo-" he stopped. "You're arms."
Picking up my suit jacket I grabbed my new lighter and a cigarette. Lighting it, I inhaled deeply and looked towards the ceiling as I exhaled. "You don't remember." His face met mine as I looked back down. His eyes were hard, not out of anger, but concern. Me waking up with bruises he didn't remember putting there confused him greatly, I could tell. "Yeah this is your fault, ya shitty Marimo."
His eyebrows lowered. "My fault?"
"Yup," I smiled past my cigarette. "I think I have an idea as to why you have been acting so off lately too. It came to me as you attempted to kill me last night."
"Kill...you?" he spoke slowly as if he didn't comprehend the words coming out of my mouth. "Sanji I would never..."
"Oh but you did." I grinned. Playing this off was harder than I thought. He touched my arm lightly as if not wanting to cause any more pain to me than he already had. The look of worry on his face bothered me. "Asura." I said flatly. His eyes flicked to mine as if to ask 'What did you say?' "Yup. You said that last night as you pinned me down. I had to knock you out. That's where this came from." I placed my hand against his neck. Something seemed to click in those green eyes. He made a face and turned from me.
"You gotta go start breakfast you lousy cook."
"You love my cooking..." I said calmly. He sat back down and I knew he closed his eyes from the way he took a deep breath. "So that's it huh?" I grabbed my pants and pulled them on quickly, then picked up my jacket, flipping it over my shoulder. Walking over to him, I dropped to my knees and brought my hand to his neck, pulling his head forward till our foreheads touched. He didn't open his eyes, but I knew he wouldn't. He was ashamed of the reason as to why he had hurt me. "Zoro..." I said quietly. It was normally him, not me that had the compassion. It was weird, he was so different when we were alone, not daring to show anyone else how tender he could be. "Don't do this alone. I'm here." He opened one eye. "Let me help you."
"Go make breakfast."
I stood without another word. Grabbing my shoes, I threw open the hatch and jumped down, leaving that shithead to himself.