It's three in the morning, and Sanji had planned to be tipsy on good wine with a girl in each arm. Instead he had an arm limply slung over Zoro's shoulder as Zoro hauled his bleeding ass towards what he supposed was their hotel. When he had imagined how his twenty-second birthday would go down, Zoro as his only company for the night was not on the top of the list. Not even in top five. Or top one hundred for that matter.

Sanji lolled his head to rest on Zoro's shoulder. His suit was stained with blood, and Sanji kept blinking his eyes for some reason. They were walking on a street he didn't recognize, in a district he wasn't used to going. It was the sort of neighborhood that didn't question a bleeding man limping on the street.

Figures Zoro would wander into such neighborhoods. He probably fit in perfectly, like moss in its natural habitat. They had passed by many bars and brothels, a seedy motel here and there, but Zoro stormed past them all. "Oi, where are we going?"


"Hey fucktard-"

"Stop talking."

Sanji closed his eyes, letting Zoro practically carry him. Zoro didn't take them back to the hotel Nami had checked them into the day before. It was a luxurious place, going there covered in blood would not had been wise, not to mention it would have attracted too much attention, which they did not need any more of.

Going back to the ship was out of question. They had docked on the island because the ship needed repairs, so for all intents and purposes they were stuck. Sanji said nothing as Zoro led them into a bar and Inn, nothing when Zoro got keys to a room from a gruff bartender after they communicated in silence - probably by using their furrowed eyebrows. Sanji groaned in pain when Zoro hauled him up the stairs. Why did the rooms have to be upstairs?

His arm tightened around Zoro's neck when he tried to balance Sanji in one arm while trying to open the door with his free hand. Once the door creaked open on rusty hinges, Sanji expected to get tossed on the bed, already mentally preparing himself for sleep. Zoro stalked past the bedroom and led him into the bathroom, sitting him down on the sink.

His hands went to the buttons of his shirt, quickly undoing them and Sanji's fingers wrapped around his wrist so suddenly, his own reflexes surprised him. He ignored the way his hands shook as they held Zoro's in place.

"Oi." The last time they had done this, he had been drunk beyond measure, enough alcohol in his system to numb him, enough for it to be okay to sleep with a man. He could still remember the heat he felt, the warmth radiating from Zoro's body, the way his hands felt on his skin, his tongue in his mouth. He felt a flush spread over his cheeks.

Zoro looked impatient. "I'm checking your wounds," he said carefully, like Sanji was someone who needed to be talked down - maybe he did. "I'm not doing anything."

He nodded slowly, his hand unwrapping from around Zoro's wrist. He sat there like a child being taken care of their parent, still and unmoving as Zoro finished unbuttoning his way down the length of his shirt. Sanji hissed when Zoro peeled his shirt from his side where it had stuck on him from all the blood. Zoro cursed under his breath, not even looking at him as he stomped off. Sanji flinched violently when he heard the door slam shut after him.

Sanji sat there, not knowing what had happened. He twisted around as best he could, looking at himself in the broken bathroom mirror behind him from over his shoulder. He was paler, skin ghostly and white and he could see the wound marring his side: it was deep, the skin around it turning black like he was beginning to rot from the inside.

Cold fingers circled around the swollen flesh, and Sanji could barely recognize his own reflection. He looked like a zombified version of himself. He wondered if Zoro was coming back.

Sanji flinched again when Zoro pushed the door open and stepped inside the bathroom, wearing a frown that made Sanji feel like he was that much closer to death. Sanji stared at him with wide eyes before the other broke eye contact, sighing. He set the bottle of vodka and ashtray with a needle next to Sanji's thigh.

The cook stared down at the alcohol. "I like to get wasted on my birthday as much as the next guy, but I don't think now is the time."

"It's for you, stupid."

"Like I said-"

Zoro held up the vodka to him, inches from his lips. "Drink." Sanji blinked slowly. Zoro sighed like he was releasing a thousand breaths in one go, looking weary all of a sudden. "This is going to hurt."


He grabbed the bottle, and after a quick breath tilted his head back, and downed as much as his throat would allow. How could Zoro drink this stuff?

"I'm rea-"

He didn't manage to finish his sentence before Zoro's fingers were inside him. Sanji screamed in pain, trashing in Zoro's one hand as he held him still. He screamed, the burn in his throat not from the alcohol, his entire body running hot and cold, hot and cold, like his blood was a running faucet that couldn't make up it's mind - until it finally settled on overwhelming heat, his body on fire, burning and burning.

"SON OF A BITCH! FUCKING MARIMO CUNT! YOU DIRTY MOTHERFUCKING SON OF A WHORE!" he kept yelling and cursing, his fists beating strong shoulders, yanking on short hair, but Zoro didn't react, his brows furrowed as his fingers worked on grabbing the source of his pain.
Finally, after what seemed far too long, Zoro pulled his fingers out, dropping the bullet into the ashtray. Sanji panted like he had ran for a year nonstop, his body feeling cold and empty. He shook from the sudden coldness, fighting back sobs from the unspeakable pain.

Zoro showed no compassion as he poured the alcohol over his wound. He knew it was for his own good, the best way to keep the wound from becoming infected, yet Sanji still tried to kick him away but Zoro just put up with the pain. Sanji didn't know if the strength behind his legs had been weakened because of the pain or if Zoro was just that good at handling his kicks, but he eventually settled down by the look of utter determination on his crewmate's handsome face.

Though Zoro had been almost cold and indifferent in the way he had taken care of Sanji so far, his fingers became gentle when they gingerly worked on stitching his wound. Sanji watched him, and not for the first time that night, amazed by the concentration and focus the other man possessed.

His touches were soft, and he went from watching the needle to searching Sanji's face for signs of pain. Sanji kept his face as neutral as possible, trying to control and even his breathing, as if the slightest hitch in his breath would shatter the fragile atmosphere they were in.

The way he was touching him only served to remind Sanji of the night they had spent together, of the intense look in Zoro's eye while they fucked, of the way Zoro gently held onto his hand through it, of the way he came shouting his name, squeezing his hand as he orgasmed.

Finally, Zoro finished stitching his side, setting the needle in the ashtray along with the bullet. Sanji let out a sigh, his body weary and in need for a nap, or maybe some food. He barely heard the water beginning to run. When he opened his eyes Zoro was kneeling in front of the tub, his hand under the faucet - to test the temperature he assumed.

Zoro kneeled there until the tub was three quarters full, then stood, wiping his wet fingers on his black pant leg. He placed a warm palm on
Sanji's shoulder. "Can you stand and undress yourself?"

"Shut up," Sanji said, standing on shaking legs.

He didn't put up a fight when Zoro placed his arm around his broad shoulder when Sanji needed help kicking his trousers off. When he was left in nothing but his skin, Zoro lifted him up and placed him inside the tub. The water was a little on the warm side, but it was better than being cold.
He expected Zoro to get up and leave him alone then to wash himself, but Zoro kneeled in front of the tub again, unwrapping the small Inn soap and lathering it up to wash Sanji's backside with tender fingers.

The water turned pink and bubbly from his blood and the soap, and Sanji didn't dare to look up, his eyes on the water at the gap between his thighs as he sat quietly, Zoro's grim silence heavy in the tiny bathroom.

Sanji sat in the tub naked, feeling small and vulnerable. He was twenty-two, had been for four hours now, he shouldn't have to feel so uncomfortable anymore goddamnit. If Zoro was bickering about something, teasing him that he was a terrible fighter for not being able to dodge bullets like Zoro did, if Zoro was berating him for being a second-rate fighter and pirate, he would know how to handle that.

He was used to their fighting, he could easily fall into their quarrels that had become second nature to them both. But this, Zoro's sullen silence, his gentle fingers on his head as he washed his hair; that, he couldn't handle. His body shook from his own confusion, shaking more when Zoro poured water over his head to rinse out the shampoo.

"Why are you doing this?" he asked.

Zoro scooped water in his palm, bringing the water to Sanji's arm and letting the water trickle down his bicep, taking soap and dried blood with it.
"You know why," he said.

Behind closed eyes, he could hear the water droplets falling into the collected water sloshing in the tub; he could feel his pain more intensely. Behind the black lids of his eyes, he could see the look on Zoro's face that morning when they had woken up tangled together, and Sanji had tried to convince them both it had been a drunken mistake.

For weeks he had been trying to forget the look on Zoro's face, the look of betrayal and hurt when Sanji told him it didn't mean anything. It had been easy enough to blame the alcohol, easy to convince Zoro it wouldn't happen again.

The first week had been the easiest. Zoro had stayed out of his way by training more, and Sanji was free to forget, free of guilt, free to put all his
focus on Nami and Robin, free to convince himself that he was completely straight.

By the second week though he started seeking Zoro's company, missing the way he used to fight with him over just about anything. By the third week he couldn't touch himself in the shower without visualizing images of Zoro's naked body, of what an incredible night it had been.

He opened his eyes and Zoro stared back at him, a blank look on his face. He had always been better at guarding his emotions than Sanji, but that morning he had slipped. It was too late to convince himself that Zoro walked around completely indifferent to human emotions. That morning had been the mistake, not the night they had spent together.

At least the crease on his forehead was gone, his brows not so furrowed anymore, which was good. He looked even more handsome, younger too when he wasn't frowning as much. Sanji wanted to make him laugh all of a sudden, like his deep throaty chuckles would break the awkwardness between them. Sanji leaned in, their lips brushing, and Sanji's breath quickened.

He stopped himself from moving forward, anxious because Zoro hadn't moved an inch. He reminded himself that this was what he wanted, had always wanted. He closed his eyes, then leaned in to close the distance between them, crashing their lips together in a bruising kiss, water spilling over the side of the tub when he did.

"Thanks," he said when he pulled back, voice low because he still felt afraid to break whatever quiet spell they were in. He had fucked things up the last time; he didn't want to do it again. "For taking care of me."

Zoro looked shocked, mouth agape, water from the tub all over his shirt, and it would have been comical in another situation, but not then. It made Sanji feel even more uncomfortable. "I'm not doing this to get a kiss out of you," Zoro said in a measured tone that, Sanji'd learned, meant the swordsman was unsure about something.

"I know," he said quickly. "I kissed you because I wanted to."

A whine escaped his throat when Zoro pulled back instead of leaning forward to kiss him, like Sanji sort of hoped he would do. Zoro stood and frowned down at him, "You need to get dried up, or else you're going to get all pruney and gross in there."

Sanji threw water at him.

Zoro flipped him off, then hauled him out of the tub and set him on his feet, water dripping on the floor. Zoro was the one who dried him, and Sanji would have felt silly if not for the intimate way Zoro was doing it. He finished drying his hair, then messed it up until Sanji batted his hand away.

When they stepped out of the bathroom, Sanji realized the room had only one bed. Zoro seemed to notice too, fidgeting next to him. "I can get my own room."

"It's okay," Sanji found himself saying. "We shared a bunk on the ship before. No big deal."
Sanji winced when he sat down, then managed to get the pain under control as he settled down on the mattress. Zoro left to the bathroom and reemerged with the bottle of vodka. He sat next to Sanji on the mattress, and handed it to him.

"Trying to get me drunk?"

"It's so you can sleep."

"I can sleep," Sanji said.

"Trust me, you'll wake up in a few hours in pain. Drink up for uninterrupted sleep."

Sanji grabbed the bottle by the neck and drank until there was only an inch or two left at the bottom. He passed it to Zoro, who drank it quickly in one gulp. Sanji rested his head on Zoro's shoulder, feeling the weight of the entire day fall on him.

Tanned fingers twitched between them before Zoro lifted his hand and placed it on Sanji's naked thigh. Sanji stared at the difference in their complexion before he closed his eyes. "'M tired."

"Then sleep."

"What if the marines track us down?"

"I'll stay up."

"Psh, you sleep way more than me. No way you'll stay up the entire night."

"Go to sleep Sanji."

He did.

Sanji woke up, the side of the bed where Zoro had been empty. He sat up, frowning. Zoro was gone. Had been gone for some time, he could tell that much, his side of the bed was cold.

The pain in his side kept him from being irritated with the swordsman. Well, really irritated anyways. If that fucker got lost, he was on his own because Sanji wouldn't bother with finding and dragging him back this time. He threw off the covers, a chill running up his spine when his bare feet touched the cold floor. He stood, the pain in his side lessened considerably from just a few hours ago. He walked into the bathroom and found his bloody shirt on the floor, along with his trousers and underwear.

He carefully lowered himself to settle his weight on his haunches, grabbing his shirt. He held onto the side of the sink to help himself up. He took a moment to let the pain wash away then inspected the bloodied garment. There was a hole where the bullet had gone through; pretty much the entire left side covered a deep crimson red. He turned on the faucet and held the cloth under the running water. He rubbed at the stains, the white porcelain sink turning dark pink from his blood.

The shirt could be saved if taken to a cleaner. He let it hang from the shower rod to dry, and rinsed his mouth with water. He wished he could brush his teeth or have a fresh set of clothes.

He had just managed to get back in bed when Zoro came back, a plastic bag that smelled like food in hand, staring at him. "Oh. You're up."
Sanji brought the blanket to his chest. "It's cold in here."

Zoro removed the swords form his hip, setting them against the wall, kicking off his boots before sitting on the bed next to him, handing him food.

"I went out to check on the others. Franky says it'll be another two days until we can leave. Until then we just have to lay low. Thankfully the marines have only spotted us – just our fucking luck –, and Luffy. But that's because that kid can't stay out of trouble. Nami gave us some money, enough for two days so we can crash here without worry."

Sanji nodded as he ate, stuffing food inside his mouth like a starving man. He hadn't realized how hungry he was until Zoro came in with food. But Zoro wasn't eating anything; he just sat there quietly. "Aren't you going to eat?"

"Already ate."

Sanji took a few bites, Zoro staring straight ahead at nothing. "You know, I should kick your ass for leaving me alone."

"You can defend yourself." He said "Plus, I told the guy in the front that he never saw us come in last night. I also told him he wasn't allowed up here."

"I've seen how you convince people to do stuff for you," said Sanji, fixing Zoro with a look. The swordsman probably threatened him into submission.

Zoro spared him a deadly grin. Sanji sighed and finished his meal, setting the empty box aside on the nightstand. Zoro dug into the other plastic bag, taking out spare clothing for Sanji, and some medication. He must have told Chopper about what happened. "I would have gone to the hotel to get your luggage, but the marines were there so say goodbye to your clothes, eyebrows. I did get you another shirt on the ship though. Be grateful shit cook."

Sanji grabbed the shirt rather than the medication first, inspecting it. "You got me a t-shirt."

"Glad your eyes still work."

"I was wearing dress slacks," Sanji said, looking at Zoro with furrowed brows. "It won't match."

"I'll let you know when I start to care," he said, but pulled a pair of jeans and Sanji's only pair of sneakers out nonetheless.

Normally, he would have been glad at the idea of clothes. He considered just changing right then and there, but Sanji didn't want to. He leaned over, placing his hand on Zoro's thigh, kissing Zoro's lips. "You're an asshole," he whispered. "But thank you."

He pressed his lips to Zoro's unmoving ones. Sanji flinched when Zoro's hand wrapped around his wrist, nothing gentle like before, but enough to make him wince and pull back. "What are you doing, cook?"

He panicked, the pain of rejection swell in his chest, but he didn't- wouldn't -allow himself to show it. "Kissing you, stupid. You know, the thing people do when-"


Sanji looked down, the look in Zoro's eyes making him hesitate. He hated when Zoro made him feel like he did at that moment. "Because I want to."

Zoro sighed, letting go of Sanji who brought his bruised wrist back, rubbing at it awkwardly as they sat in silence. Zoro sighed again, looking weary. "What are you playing at, cook? You were the one who said you didn't feel anything for me. You said it was a mistake, now you're kissing me," he said, his voice low, a little dangerous.

Sanji felt hurt, even though he knew Zoro's words weren't without their merit. He knew he was confusing him, but it wasn't on purpose. Zoro had to know that. "Zoro, I, what I said before, it wasn't true-"

"Then why say them?" Zoro snapped. "Why tell me to stay away from you? If you want to kiss me like you say you do, why push me away before?"

"I was confused. I don't mean to hurt you, or to confuse you."

The swordsman sat still, unnervingly so, and Sanji held his breath. "You think this is funny?" he asked.


"I want you, I've wanted you, so badly, and I had you, and the next morning you just pushed me away. Now you say you want to kiss me, do you think it's funny to play around like this?"

"No, and I'm sorry for what I did, but I'm here now, saying I want you, and I'm sitting here naked, and you're still holding back," Sanji looked into his eyes. "I want you Zoro."

For a few silent moments, Sanji didn't breath. Zoro hadn't uttered a word, just sat there looking at him with piercing eyes, but Sanji didn't back away from his studying gaze. He held eye contact, until Zoro sighed again. Sanji half expected rejection, and maybe it had been too long to hold off talking to Zoro. Maybe he had pissed him off to the point of driving him away.

But Zoro moved closer to Sanji, his breath hot on Sanji's chin, and Sanji felt a shiver of excitement running up his spine. He remembered the thorough way Zoro kissed. His lashes fluttered shut when a tanned hand moved to cup his cheek, sighing when Zoro's lips were on his own. They moved slowly, as if testing Sanji, seeing how far he could go as if Sanji was going to back away from him anytime soon.

Sanji didn't give him reason to believe that, his hands gripping the front of Zoro's shirt, pulling him in, holding onto him like he was afraid Zoro would disappear. His mouth parted, letting Zoro's wet tongue inside. Zoro started to kiss harder, his hand on Sanji's cheeks slipping up to grab his hair, running his fingers through his blonde strands. Sanji couldn't help the small noises he was making, felt a blush spreading on his cheeks because Christ, that was embarrassing.

He gripped Zoro's shirt, pulling him until Zoro was over him, never breaking the kiss as Zoro settled his knees on either side of him. Right now, Sanji needed Zoro's larger body over his, wanted to feel him cover him, wanted to feel the warmth he had been missing for more than month. Sanji hugged his neck tight, moving his lips to the shell of Zoro's ear. "It's my birthday."

"I know," Zoro said, kissing his jaw, where a hint of stubble was growing. "You slept through half of it."

"I demand birthday sex," he said, throwing his hips up, rubbing himself on Zoro. He had gotten hard just remembering the last time. It didn't help that he was completely naked under Zoro.

Zoro grinned into the skin of his neck, kissing just under his ear. "Wouldn't want to break you, fragile cook."

Sanji bit his shoulder, hard, enough to bruise, because weakened state or not, he was not fragile. Zoro kissed him on the lips, small lips, breaking them in a noisey smack. "Your side-"

"I'll be fine," he said, kissing Zoro's neck. "Or just work around it, asshole."

Zoro nodded, kissing down his chest, holding his sides in tender hands, his lips kissing around his wound, touches so soft Sanji almost thought he imagined them. His eyelashes fluttered when Zoro's thumbs ghosted over his hardened nipples, and Sanji had to stop himself from arching into the touch.

The other man's touches were as tentative as ever, but he could sense his control start to crumble, his breath starting to speed up. His fingers closing around his hip just a fraction tighter. Sanji grabbed him by the hair, pulling him until their lips met again. He ran his fingers gently through Zoro's sweat soaked hair, kissing until they were breathless.

He let go of Zoro's hair, his fingers nimbly unzipping Zoro's black pants, trying to get them off hurriedly. When he wasn't fast enough, Zoro sat up, yanking his pants and underwear down to mid thigh, settling back over Sanji in a rough, burning kiss.

With his pants out of the way, he could feel his hardness on his stomach, could feel every vein when Zoro rolled his hips. He moaned low in his throat, positioning himself so it was easier for Zoro to buck his hips into him, spreading his thighs wider to fit him between them.

He shuddered when Zoro gripped both their erections in his big hand. Sanji's mind was stuttering over the fact that he was doing this with Zoro.
He had wanted him, had jerked off to thoughts of him. He couldn't understand why he couldn't just say it before. He had had him before, only this time he couldn't blame the alcohol for his decisions.

Sanji's legs went weak, quivering, moaning wantonly as Zoro stroked them both. Zoro bit his lower lip, smirking into Sanji's mouth when he gasped. Sanji's hands went from Zoro's tanned broad shoulders down to his ass, gripping the paler flesh there, kneading his ass in his hands, pulling him closer.

Sanji was done wasting time, done pretending that he didn't want this, done lying to himself. He held onto Zoro, not planning on letting him slip away anytime soon. He wanted Zoro, his body, his lips, god, his smile. He wanted to be the one to make Zoro laugh, to scream when he came uncontrollably, he wanted it all.

He wanted Zoro like he had him those weeks ago, when Zoro gave him everything he wanted, Sanji's mouth numbed by alcohol, made him free to tell how he was driving him crazy, how good he was making him feel.

He surrendered to Zoro's touch, craving it, crawling while Zoro's body moved over his. Little licks of pleasure tickled up Sanji's spine, turning the kiss into teeth as their hot bodies moved. Thick droplets of pre-come fell on his belly, the muscles in his thighs were beginning to tremble. "Oh god, I'm leaking so much," he gasped, gripping Zoro's shirt in a tight fist. "I'm so close."

Judging from the way Zoro had his brows knitted together, the way he was breathing, he was close too. His hands traveled under Zoro's shirt, could feel the taunt muscles there, tight with tension, his body begging for release.

Deft fingers mapped out Zoro's scars, over the dips and groves of the muscular curves of his back, to the front where his heart hammered in his chest. He looked down at Zoro's hand, their erections dark red, flushed together in his hand, fingers covered in pre-come. Zoro's thumb pulled back the foreskin on Sanji's cock, pressing his thumb to his head. Sanji trembled, his body had been begging him for Zoro's touch, had been craving the other man.

His muscles tightened, taken aback when his wet orgasm spilled between them, wave after wave of pleasure so intense Sanji nearly blacked out.
When he came back down, his world spinning, only able to see the last bits of Zoro's orgasm, the face he made when he reached his own climax, a guttural noise pouring from his lips.

Zoro settled on his side, the mattress springs whining under his weight. Sanji couldn't move, utterly boneless on the mattress. Zoro did that, Zoro pushed there, to such an incredible release; it left him gasping for air, trying to fill his lungs with air. His chest rose and fell, breathless, feeling the sweat on his skin beginning to dry.

Sanji placed his hands over his abdomen, staring at the ceiling through blonde bangs. "You know," he said. "It's still my birthday for another eight hours."

Zoro chuckled beside him. "Kinky cook."

"You're the kinky one. You had me naked for nearly half a day. You only offered me clothes when you came back," he looked over at Zoro. "Don't think I don't know what game you're playing."

Zoro grinned, a blush starting to spread on his cheeks. "You weren't supposed to catch on."

"You forget who you're dealing with."

The other man chuckled, smiling in a carefree way Sanji had only seen just a few times during their travels. It was a good look on the other man. Sanji rolled over, slinging a leg over Zoro's hip. Zoro kissed his temple. "Happy birthday, pervert cook."

Maybe his birthday wasn't so bad after all.