This asshole came in at the same time every night. Entering in the same shitty way he always did, the fucker, rudely kicked the door open so he didn't have to use his precious hands for anything other than texting. Zoro scowled at him, knowing he'd be scrubbing yet another damn scuff mark off the door. The shitty customer went straight back to the beverage station without bothering to look up from his fucking phone even once. It was a shame, but even though Zoro wished really, really hard, the bastard never tripped.
Zoro's left eyebrow twitched in irritation and he drummed his fingers impatiently against the register while he watched the idiot's every move. Just like always, the fucker started to make himself a small cup of coffee by grabbing a handful of sugar packets and dumping them onto the counter. For some reason he always put the cream and sugar in first before going over and taking the fucking lids off the coffee carafes to peer inside - presumably to judge which brew was less shitty. Then he would finally, FINALLY pour the coffee into his damn cup. Rolling his eyes, Zoro knew what was coming next. He watched the bastard raise the coffee to his lips for a sip, make a sour expression, fucking pour out some of the brew into the goddamn trashcan instead of the nearby sink, and then proceed to add more of whatever he had apparently decided that his damn coffee needed. Sometimes he would go through this whole ritual several times before he finally came up to the register. Zoro figured by now that this guy owed them money for at least twenty small coffees' worth of hot liquid poured straight into the garbage - and that was just for the last month.
Seeing the guy finish up his coffee routine, Zoro wordlessly pulled out two packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes and slapped them on the counter before adding two books of matches to the pile. Zoro waited impassively while the shitty customer set down his coffee near the register and rubbed his hand through his stupid, asymmetrical emo-haircut. Honestly, who styled their hair so that they had long bangs covering half their face? Also the fact that it was super blonde made it even worse. His face was shitty to look at too - it was probably the reason the guy covered half of it. There were dark circles under the one eye that Zoro could see properly, and tonight he looked just as wrung-out as usual.
Zoro resumed tapping his fingers; keeping time to the clock in his head as the blonde fucker flicked through the contents of his wallet. He was rewarded with a flash of irritation on the customer's face as the fucker's eyes flicked from his wallet, to Zoro's fingers, and back again. He stopped tapping before the guy got mad. He didn't feel like getting cussed out by anyone today.
The blonde sighed as he inspected the contents of his wallet before looking at him again with that tired, blue eye. "Better make it three packs."
Zoro nodded curtly before re-totaling the transaction and grabbing the other pack of Luckies. "That's twenty-seven and fifty-three." Zoro's voice was flat and unimpressed as he watched the customer dig out a few bills from among a sea of receipts.
When the blonde finally held out his money, Zoro glanced over the bills and rubbed them between his fingers to check for extras. "Out of thirty dollars?"
The blonde nodded, and Zoro punched the last key, experiencing a small feeling of satisfaction at the opening ding of the register drawer. "Here's your change. Have a good night." Zoro handed over the two dollars and forty-seven cents, and watched the dumbass leave with his stupid hairstyle.
It was just like every other night.
Zoro didn't even need to look at his clock; he knew by now that the blonde always came in around two hours before Zoro's shift ended. That meant Zoro had two more fucking hours of little old ladies giving his hair and his piercings dirty looks, sloppy-ass drunks cracking explicit jokes, and fat bitches who didn't seem to own shirts that would actually contain their flabby boobs. Zoro hated this job, but right now working at this store was the best way he had to pay his bills.
One day he would be out of this place. He had dreams and plans that he refused to abandon. However, until life began to work in his favor once more, Zoro had to resign himself to the soul numbing repetition of a forty-plus hour work week as a shitty cashier.
Suddenly, the shitty blonde came stomping back into the store, and all at once the usual routine for the night was upended. Zoro eyed the customer cautiously as he approached the counter, red and angry. "Do you have a set of fucking jumper cables?"
Zoro blinked, trying to remember if he still had a set of cables in his trunk, and apparently the idiot blonde took that as an indication that he hadn't been heard. "My car is dead. I need a jump."
"I have a set. Wait a minute."
Zoro locked his register, wandered to the office and stuck his head inside the doorway. "Luffy, this guy needs help getting his car started. Can you watch the register?"
Tilting back the brim of his obnoxiously yellow ball-cap - the one that had a thick red stripe running off-center from bill to back - Luffy chuckled, "That sounds like fun! Don't worry. I'll protect the money, Zoro!"
Zoro rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Just don't let anyone walk out without paying, or Nami will cut you apart and eat you for breakfast with a side of toast."
"Toast! I want the toast too! Give me some! It's not fair if Nami gets it all!"
"THERE'S NO TOAST!" Zoro took a breath to calm himself, and rubbed at his forehead. "There are some mints in the drawer up front. You can eat those."
"Shishishishishi!" Luffy ran up to the front, already drooling, and Zoro was already regretting all of this as he followed the blonde back outside.
"It must be rough to have a coworker like that."
"That's the owner." Zoro's deadpan manner was only betrayed by the tortured twitch of one eye.
The blonde looked at him with a wide blue eye. "You're shitting me!" Zoro slowly shook his head and the blonde peered back over his shoulder at the store, "Damn. I didn't realize. I had always thought he was some idiot teenager the manager hired as a favor to someone."
Zoro snorted as he dug his keys from his black jeans. "Nope. That guy is the actual owner."
The conversation died and lay there somewhat awkwardly as Zoro hunted through the trunk of his crappy pontiac. He stifled his irritation with the blonde hovering uncomfortably over his shoulder and focused on finding the damn cables. Finally, he dragged the much-needed equipment from a dark corner and turned back to his customer. "Where are you parked?"
His eyebrows shot to his hairline when the blonde pointed out a sleek, blue jaguar. "Nice car."
"Thanks." The blonde jogged over to his car and opened the trunk. He turned and shouted so Zoro could hear him clearly, "The battery is in the back so jusjt pull up to here!"
Zoro nodded and ducked into his own vehicle. He carefully pulled up behind the other vehicle; creeping the last few feet before hurriedly applying his brakes. The last thing he needed was to scratch or dent a car worth more than his yearly salary.
It didn't take too long for the two men to set everything up and make the first attempt to resuscitate the jaguar's battery. Unfortunately, it became apparent after an increasing amount of time and several tries, that the blue luxury vehicle wasn't going anywhere, anytime soon. They both reentered the store, feeling agitated and messy. Leaving the blonde to his own devices, Zoro went to wash his hands, drying them casually on his yellow work apron. His irritation faded into a feeling of just plain tired as he he looked at the clock; still one hour and fifteen minutes to go. He scratched the fingers of one hand through his short, green hair in a self-soothing gesture, and strolled unhurriedly back out to the register.
"Shishishishishi! So cool!" Zoro raised an eyebrow. The emo-blonde and Luffy were both leaning on the countertop, apparently now all buddy-buddy. Luffy beamed a massive smile in his direction and Zoro unintentionally flinched. "Hey, Zoro! Guess what? Sanji is a really great cook!"
"Chef." The blonde quickly interjected.
"…and he'll bring me some muffins!"
Zoro rolled his eyes. No wonder Luffy was being friendly. "Good for you."
Luffy pranced away from the counter, letting Zoro reclaim his space. "Since Sanji has to wait for the tow truck, it's okay for him to drink as much coffee as he likes!"
Zoro gritted his teeth. Oh boy, Nami had better not find out about this! "Are you sure?"
"Yup!" Luffy stopped and turned eager, dark eyes on his new friend, "Can you make meat muffins?"
Sanji appeared to choke. "Er… sure."
Luffy vanished with a bound and left the two men standing in silence. Zoro scowled at the countertop, his fingers restlessly fussing with a loose penny on top of the cash drawer. "Um." Zoro's dark eyes snapped up to meet the customer's blue-eyed gaze, "I guess I'll take your owner up on his offer and grab another coffee?"
"Go ahead." Zoro sighed and stared dully after Sanji's retreating form. The thought of more liquid in the trash - where it was most definitely not supposed to go - made him grind his teeth in frustration. Was it really that fucking difficult to walk three steps to the shitty sink?
A few other customers came up to the counter and thankfully gave him something else to do as Zoro did his best not to watch that damn annoying coffee ritual. After precisely eight minutes of fucking around with his drink, the shitty blonde apparently felt, mistakenly, that Zoro wanted his company. Not for the first time, Zoro wished he could just walk away and fuck off into the back room for the rest of his shitty shift, but leaving the register to Luffy was just trouble waiting to happen. Nami would put his head on a pike if there was another incident like the infamous 'coupon caper'.
There was more uncomfortable silence, as Sanji leaned on Zoro's counter and stared out the dark window into the night. The blonde squirmed around like a child, shifting from foot to foot, before apparently caving in to some misguided need to try and make small talk. "So, Zoro... Do you like working here?"
"No." Zoro's answer was as sharp and direct as his glare.
More awkward hanging about nearly made Zoro snap and plead with the customer to go fuck with another cashier in another convenience store. He gritted his teeth when the fucker turned to ask what would no doubt be a stupid question, "Do you dye your hair yourself?"
Fucking hell, this guy was the shitty worst! "No. I don't dye my hair!"
Sanji turned fully to stare, "I'm not stupid. Of course you get your hair dyed! I just thought that it looked pretty well done."
"I don't dye my hair." Zoro spat out each word from between his tightly clenched teeth.
"Prove it. There's no way your hair is really green!"
With that, Zoro's tenuous hold on his temper snapped. "It's none of your damn business anyway! I don't have to prove anything to you! Why do you wear your shitty hair like a depressed teenager?"
"Fuck you! It's called style! Something you obviously don't know anything about! Shitty moss-man!"
"Uh, someone called for a tow?" Both men jerked back from snarling in each other's faces and refocused matching scowls on the poor tow-truck driver.
"That's me." Sanji pushed off the counter and followed the driver outside. Before he left, he flipped Zoro off and sneered from the doorway, "This isn't over, shitty cashier!"
That did it! Next time he saw the blonde, Zoro was going to stuff that asshole into the garbage compactor and use the smelly machine to smash the shit out of him! Zoro didn't even bother trying to hide the murderous anger in his expression as a jittery teen came to the counter with a soda. The clock read eleven thirty-two and that meant there was still another half hour that he would be fucking stuck here. Zoro growled as he scanned the can of cola and the pimply teen nearly pissed himself. "That's one dollar and nine."
He spent the rest of his shift fuming. Where did that prick get off treating him like shit when he'd only tried to help? And he'd been nosy as hell too! Why the fuck did people care about his hair color so much?! Green is a very natural color!
When the next cashier finally came in to relieve him, Zoro nearly bolted from the register. Luffy snickered in the office as he watched Zoro struggle into his beat-up jacket while trying to clock out at the same time. Usopp scratched his curly, black hair and wondered what on earth had gotten into his coworker as Zoro cursed and struggled with his jacket zipper. "Hey Luffy? Did something happen?"
"Nah. Zoro just called Sanji some funny names, and Sanji screams real loud when he's mad!"
"Uh… who's Sanji?"
"A fucking one-eyed jackass, that's who!" Zoro glared at his coworkers, making Usopp cringe and Luffy chuckle harder before he stormed out of the store. He was going to give that fucker a piece of his mind when he came in tomorrow night!
He was going to make that bastard sorry he'd messed with a guy like him!
The next day Zoro felt almost cheerful as he imagined finally putting that asshole in his place. He didn't notice how the dark grin on his face was making half his clients nearly piss themselves; he was too busy fantasizing about what he would say to that damn blonde to cut him down. As it got later he watched eagerly for that blue jaguar, but the usual time ticked by and Zoro started to wonder if the fucker wasn't coming... "Maybe he hasn't gotten his car fixed yet?"
Luffy stopped by the register on his way to do... whatever; his finger grossly digging around in his nose, "Who are you talking about?"
"That blondie. He hasn't come yet."
"Hmmm." Luffy grinned before slapping Zoro's shoulder with the hand he'd been using to pick his nose, "Don't worry! He'll come for sure!"
Zoro snarled and flinched away from Luffy's contaminated touch, "I'm not worried! I'm going to give that bastard a piece of my min...d."
Sanji appeared so suddenly that Zoro actually startled a little, and he stared wide-eyed as he shuffled past them to the coffee without giving Zoro so much as a glance. Self-absorbed shithead... Zoro scowled and crossed his arms. Goddammit. He'd been SO close to going a day without seeing this fucker!
"SANJIIII!" Luffy abandoned their conversation and bounded over to the blonde by the coffee.
Zoro's mood soured as he watched Luffy chatting animatedly to the visibly uninterested blonde. Suddenly he just didn't feel like dealing with this anymore. Fuck telling the guy off - he hadn't glanced once in Zoro's direction and obviously didn't give a shit about how he'd been an ass yesterday.
Putting up the closed sign on his register, Zoro walked out from behind the counter. Luffy could deal with the rest of the customers. Zoro was going to put soda on the cooler shelves where no one would talk to him or piss him off, and if Luffy set the damn store on fire he honestly didn't give a fuck.
"Hey!" Zoro looked back to see the blonde bastard standing by the closed register frowning at him, "What the hell? Aren't you going to take care of my purchase?!"
Zoro smirked. Like hell was he going to go over there and serve that fucker! He watched the fury grow on the blonde's face with satisfaction as he opened the cooler door and stepped inside. Unable to resist, Zoro stuck his arm out where he knew the asshole could see it and flipped him off quickly before strolling to the far aisle of the cooler with a spring in his step.
Feeling that he'd properly given that jerkoff a taste of his own medicine, Zoro stocked the cooler cheerfully until the end of his shift. Seeing that it was time to go on his old watch, Zoro grabbed the boxes he'd emptied to throw them out back. Luffy called out to him on his way to the delivery door, "Zoro!"
Well he was probably in trouble, but it had been worth it to get that guy back even a little. Luffy grinned at him, "You missed something funny! Sanji was all red and he was talking funny too! He used bad words I've never heard before!" Zoro grinned at that while Luffy tapped his chin thoughtfully, "I wonder if he was upset because of his job? He told me that a bad person caused trouble today and he had a hard time fixing stuff."
So the rich fucker had to deal shitty work stuff too? Well then he had even less of an excuse to be the fucking asswipe that he was yesterday! He should know what it's like to work this kind of a job! Zoro snorted, "Serves him right."
Luffy just shrugged and smiled before going back to unwrapping straws and shoving them together with one end squeezed into another to make ugly necklaces and bracelets. Zoro rolled his eyes and left him to it. As he threw out the trash and then clocked out for the night, Zoro really hoped that the fucker would be too pissed at him to come back.
Of course he couldn't ever get that kind of luck.
The next day was one of those days where he just couldn't catch a break. He'd skipped breakfast because he hadn't gone grocery shopping yet that week, and consequently he'd felt sick all through his first job. He'd fucking managed to hurt himself too because he'd hadn't been paying attention to what he was doing, and now he had a nice dark bruise on his side the size of a dinner plate. Plus he ended up being a few minutes late for his shift at the Sunny Mart. He hated being late.
As soon as he was clocked in for his shift and had put on his work apron, the inventory manager, Nami called him into the office, "Zoro, you're a friend and you've worked here a long time, but you need to improve your attitude. I just got a complaint this morning from a regular customer who said that you have him the finger last night?!"
Zoro slouched in his metal folding chair and grumbled, "He's a dick."
Nami scowled, "I don't like him either - he's a total creep. BUT that doesn't mean we can treat him badly! I'm not asking you to be sweet to him or anything, but you MUST be professional. Okay?"
"Fine." Zoro growled out the word from between gritted teeth. He didn't need this shit. He had more than his share of problems at home... Especially with the shitty grocery store prices going up again.
"You okay? You look kind of sick...?" Nami reached out, her forehead wrinkled in concern, but Zoro avoided her touch and stood abruptly. His problems were his own and he didn't need any help. He had everything under control.
"I'm fine. I'll go check and see if we have any chips that need to go out on the shelf." He paused in the office doorway, "Is Luffy coming in tonight?"
"No he needed the night off so I'm working a double." Nami pouted.
"Oh, okay." Zoro sighed. Whenever Luffy worked he would let Zoro take home some of the expired food, but it seemed that he wouldn't be eating today. He would rather swallow glass than give Nami the idea that he needed that kind of 'charity'. He was only okay with Luffy giving him food because the crazy fucker ate the rest of it himself.
Zoro dragged his feet over to the coffee and made himself a cup with lots of creamer. Creamer was kind of like food, right? Either way the coffee was sure to help him feel less tired and maybe help distract him from the ache in his side.
The next seven hours were excruciating. Nami was bitchy - obviously unhappy about working a double, and she didn't stop nagging him about tasks all day. Of course it was a fucking Friday night too, so they were fucking busy as hell - and many of the customers were shitty teenagers glued to their damn phones. Zoro HATED when people couldn't stop being on their phones long enough to complete a simple transaction; especially when they took forever digging around in their wallets with one hand because they weren't paying attention... By the time that blonde bastard showed up, Zoro was feeling positively homicidal.
Instead of going back to fuck around with the coffee like usual, the motherfucker made a beeline for Zoro. He was wearing this infuriating smirk as he sidled up to the counter, and Zoro carefully schooled his face into a blank expression as he crossed his arms to keep himself from strangling the bastard on sight, "Can I help you?"
"Oh? So you're going to actually do your job today? Your manager must have talked to you." The blonde shook his head, "It's a shame that such a sweet, capable woman would have to work with a shitty caveman like you!"
Zoro gritted his teeth, "I'm sorry, but if you're not going to actually BUY anything then I need to ask you to step away from the register so I can assist other customers."
Looking around at the empty store first, the blonde turned back to Zoro with a malicious glint in his eye, "There's no one here..."
Zoro rolled his eyes and turned his back on the annoying prick, opening the storage drawer to rummage through the boxes of cigarettes and see what he could fit on the shelves. The blonde watched him in silence for a few moments, leaning on the counter, "Hey...?" Zoro grunted but refused to look at the blonde, "Are you feeling okay?"
Startled, Zoro turned and scowled, "Why?!"
The blonde replied with a shrug, "Nevermind. Can I get two packs of cigarettes?"
Zoro put the usual brand on the counter and grabbed the matches too, "No coffee?"
"I don't have any paperwork to do tonight so I can actually go to bed early for once."
"Must be nice." Zoro took the jerk's money and dropped his change on the counter - not caring when a few coins rolled off onto the floor, "Oops."
The blonde scooped it up and glared, "Asshole."
"Whatever. Go to some other shitty store for a change, would you?"
"Fuck you! I'll be here tomorrow! Hopefully they'll finally fire your ass and I'll get some decent service!"
Zoro smirked, "Not likely."
"How long have you worked here anyway? Can't get promoted? Or don't you qualify?" The blonde sneered, "Or maybe you're just too dumb?"
Barely resisting the urge to punch the blonde in his stupid face, Zoro snarled, "Not all of us are born rich assholes! I don't have to be a genius to know that a pathetic prick like you couldn't handle my job!"
His words seemed to really bother the shitty blonde, and he growled before stomping out the door, "You know jack shit about me... Fuck you!"
The blonde FINALLY left in a huff, and Zoro kicked the wooden shelving under his register, wanting to scream and curse. He HATED that guy! Next time he saw him coming he was going to lock the damn doors!
The last few hours of the shift crawled by, and Zoro was still pissed about that shitty blonde. He'd just taken things too far when he'd started to insult Zoro's job and his intelligence. There was nothing wrong with working in a convenience store! It wasn't like he had glamorous job offers beating down his door, and his jobs paid the bills... Most of the bills anyway.
He was still fuming when Usopp came in to relieve him. He bid his coworkers a curt goodbye before storming out of the store. On his way home, Zoro exceeded the speed limit and blew through a few stop signs before he calmed himself down. It wouldn't do him any good to think about brutal murder without the actual person present anyway. Refusing to let emo-blonde fuck up his thoughts any longer, Zoro put his blinker on and pulled into his apartment lot. He took the stairs instead of the creaky old elevator, and jogged up to the fifth floor. It felt good to exercise. He was sweating lightly and panting by the time he reached his landing, and the dull ache in his side had worsened to sharp pain. It wasn't anything he couldn't sleep off though.
He counted the room numbers as he passed the apartment doors; room five-oh-eleven, room five-oh-twelve -Zoro knocked on the door and stepped back. It didn't take long for him to hear the heavy footsteps headed his way. The door flew open, and a giant of a man grinned down at him. "Hey bro! Come right in!"
Zoro returned the smile, "Thanks for looking after him again, Franky. He wasn't any trouble was he?"
Franky shook his shaved head, "He's a super good kid, Zoro. He fell asleep trying to wait for you though."
His smile grew as he entered the small living room with Franky at his heels. A small boy with fluffy brown hair was snuggled around a pillow on the couch, fast asleep. Zoro moved to gently shake one thin shoulder. "Come on. It's time to go."
Zoro laughed and simply scooped up the child, pillow and all. "We'll give it back tomorrow, okay?"
Franky nodded, "Super okay by me! Goodnight, Zoro. Goodnight, Tony!"
Sleepy brown eyes peeked over Zoro's shoulder. "G'night."
Zoro balanced his burden expertly as he closed Franky's door after him, and dug in his jeans for his own apartment key. His door was one over from Franky's, and Zoro shifted Tony in his arms so he could better access the lock. The bolt clicked, and Zoro maneuvered them inside.
"I want to sleep with you."
Zoro sighed as he tossed his keys toward a table that was invisible in the dark, and stumbled out of his sneakers. "You're too old for that." He made the mistake of looking down into watery brown eyes and a pouting expression. He caved instantly. "Fine, but you have to make sure you brush your teeth, okay?"
Tony nodded eagerly and wriggled out of his arms. Zoro rubbed his aching side and listened to the pattering of small feet as Tony scurried around in his bedroom; the manipulative little shit didn't even seem tired anymore. Zoro smiled and yawned, going about the business of shedding his uniform and locating his favorite pajama pants. He slept on the pullout couch in the living room so Tony could have his own space in the little two-room apartment. As a consequence, his clothes were piled messily in various corners and it was annoying to find anything. He was too tired to really care about finding a shirt, so he just pulled on sweats, brushed his teeth, and stumbled to the couch - yanking it out and flopping onto the shitty mattress. Grumbling, he reached blindly over the edge of the 'bed' and found his pillow and blanket. Finally ready to sleep, he flipped on the tv, turning the sound down low, and after a few minutes he heard his son trot out from the bathroom. Tony crawled over him - getting a bony knee in his tender side - until he was in place to curl against his back.
"Mmm, goodnight Chopper, buddy."
The warm, affectionate rumble had Tony snuggling closer under the blanket. They both fell asleep quickly. The comfort of each other's warmth allowing them to feel relaxed and secure.