Hullo! I has made you a new oneshawt~! ... Okay, I was just biding my time, really. But, it is for you. And my stats. But mostly you.
Anywho, this story is set sometime soon after Logue Town, I think, but before Robin and even before Vivi. It had to be very early on to make sense for Sanji to still be wondering why Zoro drinks so much and so often. ;P Also, this could be read as either friendship or pre-slash, so I didn't want to list it as romance if you didn't want to read it as such.
So, yeah. Enjoy.
There he went again. Downing another bottle at barely past noon. Sanji stared him down, but Zoro never looked up. He always just sat and drank. Sure, he exercised, and sure, he interacted with the crew, but more than anything else, he drank. Anything and everything, if it was alcoholic, Zoro drank it, and Sanji had no idea why.
At the restaurant, he had seen many a drunk stumble in and out, each with different reasons and a disorienting willingness to share them, but he had never heard Zoro's. There were plenty of people who just drank for fun, for a buzz, sure, but none of those people knocked back anonymous drinks like Zoro did. Everyone Sanji had ever seen drink like that was drowning their sorrows, no matter how ridiculous they sometimes were.
The matter of Zoro's tragic past should have been an answer. It was cut and dried, completely logical, but it seemed too far off. The way Sanji understood it, it was all very sad, but it seemed to him that Zoro shouldn't still be grieving someone that he knew for a short time as a child. He himself had grieved for years for the people who had been his family aboard the Orbit, none of whom he had ever seen after the fact. But that was a lot of people, and that was as much his fault as Kuina's death was Zoro's fault. There should be no self-hatred, and thus no need to grieve so often or for so long.
He couldn't very well ask. Obviously he could try, but he didn't think Zoro would answer him. They were not on a friend level yet, if they ever would be, and even if they were it may still be crossing some lines to ask. If the reason was invisible but profound, Sanji would be stepping on a land mine.
Speculations could be made, of course. It could be that he was mourning his love life, or lack thereof. Many men had stopped at the restaurant in their travels to dwell in their empty-bed blues. He'd never taken Zoro for the type to be hung up on love, but in the short time he'd known the swordsman, he'd been surprised by him at least a few times.
Another of the prevalent "reasons" he'd witnessed over the years was trauma. They didn't get a lot of first-hand victims, but ex-Marines would sit at the bar for hours on end, nursing something strong and staring into space. They never said much: not when they ordered, not when they paid, not when they left. Apart from the uniform haircut and haunted look, that sounded exactly like Zoro to him: secretive, broody, high alcohol tolerance. Maybe he'd been affected by all the things he'd done and seen. Sanji didn't think that was the case.
Perhaps he just liked to party hard. Sanji didn't really like or believe that option, since Zoro was the least fun-loving person he'd ever met, even below the old man. But it was always a possibility that he might just enjoy the buzz. If Sanji had ever seen Zoro well and truly drunk, he couldn't remember, but it stood to reason that he would become more fun or have more fun. The cook hoped that wasn't it, for the dignity of his rival.
Something that was maybe a bit more believable was that Zoro missed his old life. Sanji couldn't imagine Zoro actually had many friends or any family, but there was always something to miss at home. He would buy that as a reason for occasional alcohol consumption. He would not call Zoro's alcohol consumption "occasional."
The cook was having trouble thinking of things now. He thought maybe pain could be a reason, but that seemed like reaching. Zoro had been slashed across the chest with the biggest sword Sanji had ever seen a normal-sized human wield, yes. But Sanji would like to believe that his chosen rival wasn't drowning his physical pain all the time. For some hidden reason, he would like to believe Zoro toughed it out and even occasionally poured alcohol on his healing wound just for fun. That was perhaps his least favorite reason so far, just because it made him think weird things.
A more absurd thought was that Zoro had some kind of brain damage, some compulsion to drink. Sanji speculated that maybe the swordsman had been kidnapped as a child or been submitted to some other stability-ruining event. But it was more likely and more favorable that he was just searching out a buzz.
The man in question kept walking in and out of the kitchen, carting his beloved bottle. It took nothing short of Sanji's best effort, even as an extremely patient man, to keep from kicking his skull in and hiding things with even the very slightest traces of possible alcohol content.
He refrained, of course, but he came close to snapping. Very close. When Zoro parked himself at the table while Sanji was still washing dishes, the urge to just fucking kill someone was barely contained by his sanity, which was having quite a time of things. He felt like he had to do something about it before the issue snowballed and during a fight or some shit he just kicked and kicked and kicked until Zoro was too damn tired to drink, during which time Sanji would throw out all but his most treasured cooking wine.
"Oi, shit cook. You got somethin' to say to me?" Zoro grunted, interrupting his thoughts.
As a matter of fact, he did have something to say. However, Sanji could not guarantee he wouldn't say it with his foot. Without any positive thoughts in his accessible brain capacity, Sanji kept his mouth shut and dropped another plate loudly into the drying rack.
He heard the swish of liquid in a bottle, and then Zoro spoke again. "I'm serious. Whatever it is that's got you all aggressive, say it. Ask it. State it. Just stop being so damn annoying about it."
And there it was.
The punch line. The straw that broke the camel's back. The fucking icing on the fucking cake.
Sanji threw his sponge into the sink and soapy water splattered everywhere as he spun around. "I'm annoying? Me? The chef who's minding his own business, and not doing anything out of the ordinary? Not the guy sitting at the table drinking without permission and for no apparent reason, all the damn time? Not him? Not you?" he snapped, striding over to the table and slamming his hands down on it with only the faintest realization that he was overreacting.
The swordsman raised his eyebrows. He waited in the relative silence while Sanji cooled down, and then he laughed through his nose. "That's what was bothering you?" he asked, leaning forward on his elbows.
Sanji was appalled. "Obviously! You are such a crude animal, constantly nursing on some kind of alcohol! I, as a gentleman and as your nakama, am fucking pissed!"
A silence fell for the second time in as many minutes. Zoro had placed his bottle down by his left elbow at some point and was sliding forward in a way that suggested he'd forgotten it was there. The damn swordsman even started to grin. Sanji almost told him to snap out of it and pay attention to his bottle, but the cook decided he'd allow that waste if it got knocked over. He thought perhaps his first course of action should have something to do with Zoro's odd reaction to his outburst. He hadn't figured out what that would be yet.
"Pissed, huh?" Zoro questioned, with a hollow recreation of his often-used tone of arrogance and a stupid grin on his face. Sanji didn't like where this was going. "Over drinking? Over me drinking?"
The cook glared at him. "Obviously. But we wouldn't have a problem if drinking, sleeping and exercising weren't your only activities!"
Zoro's face got very suddenly serious. "Do you really want to know?" he asked, standing up and leaning until he was within Sanji's personal space, breathing his personal air, staring at him with the intense gaze that Sanji could never look away from.
The cook found himself swallowing. "Would I ask if I didn't?" Sanji responded with a raised eyebrow of his own. His pulse quickened and thoughts he'd never thought before started flitting about his mind in speculation about what great secret he was about to hear. Somewhere along the line, something had been thrown off. The conversation did not have the same angry feeling he had originally intended. He could not bring himself to mind.
Zoro looked around the kitchen, his grin faltering. "You can't tell anyone," he whispered, taking on the grumbly-grunt tone Sanji was used to, even after such a short time.
He was far too intrigued for his own preferences. "I won't," Sanji promised, sounding breathless to his own ears.
Zoro leaned in even closer, staring unwaveringly into Sanji's eyes, and whispered, "The real reason is… I just like the taste."
Sanji blinked. "Excuse me?" He hadn't considered that option. Ever. For anyone. "That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard! You have got to be joking! If that really is your reason, then fucking make something up, because that's-!"
The swordsman cut him off with a loud "or," and he raised one hand. His face looked a little red, his voice a little hesitant. Sanji hardly had time to wonder where Zoro's shit-eating confidence had gone before Zoro continued. "Or maybe… I wanted attention."
"Attention? What the hell? Are you pulling my leg with these reasons?! Why the fuck would-" And then he stopped. And he thought. He had been on an angry tangent and he'd gotten carried away. He had been prepared and eager to shout at Zoro, so much so that he forgot to really listen to and process what he was yelling at Zoro about. But when he did think about it, his face flushed. "Whose?" he asked carefully, fighting the urge to avert his eyes.
Zoro coughed. He cast his eyes down at his bottle and picked it up brusquely. "No one's. I was messing with you," he answered stiffly, cheeks ablaze. Sanji did not believe him.
"Not a very good liar, are you?" Sanji mumbled, bemused.
"Who says I'm lying?!" Zoro snapped indignantly, slamming the bottle back down on the table and glaring a challenge at the cook. It was somewhat sullied by his blush.
Sanji felt fuzzy in the head. There was no other way he could think of to describe it. He just wasn't quite right, not exactly normal. Nothing he would usually do occurred to him, so he just went with the strange whims dancing around his cranium at the thought of Zoro having an eye for him. Some small voice in the back of his consciousness whispered to him that it was conceited to think that Zoro had an eye for him, but he told that voice to shut up.
He picked up the bottle off the table and brought it to his lips; Zoro looked surprised at that. "It's not such a bad thing," Sanji uttered as his pride yanked on the reins to no avail, and he took a swig from the bottle. "Wanting attention, that is."
Zoro stared at him. "Really?" he asked suspiciously. His eyes darted down at the bottle in Sanji's hand, then back up again.
"Really," Sanji confirmed, internally searching for the sore remains of his own ego and masculinity. Somewhere in his entirely competitive, skirt-chasing soul, something changed. Something that had been annoyed and confused and always at the end of its rope with Zoro. It was just a small alteration, but he felt it. Things were going to be different.
Aaaaand, that is the end. xD How mushy it became. Or maybe that's just my thought on it. ;P It did turn out comedic, somehow, even though I'd intended it to be serious. Oh, well. I'll quash that joy with my next upcoming oneshot. Maybe. xD Anyway! Tell me what you think and I'll CONSIDER writing up one of the other nice oneshot ideas I have for this couple that will be more established than this little pre-slash nugget.