Title: Crawl of Time
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece.
Aboard the Thousand Sunny
Over twenty years ago
Sanji and the shitty swordsman were tucked away in a dark corner of a secluded part of the Sunny, deep in the bowels of the ship. They were in the sweltering climate of a summer island and it was ungodly hot—too hot to do this sort of thing—but it was so hard to find a place to sneak away alone, and neither of them could hold out until they made port again.
Slick with sweat, their bare skin burned as they pressed against each other, lost in mind-numbingly pleasurable sensations.
Every time Sanji screwed around with the swordsman, he always felt like the time around him distorted and he could no longer tell how many minutes or hours had gone by. And for some really stupid reason, he never seemed to care until suddenly, they were left panting next to each other, the cook feeling breathless and exhausted, and he realized that the sun was already coming up.
Right now, though, as they frantically lurched their bodies back and forth, desperate to reach that climatic moment when they both briefly lost their senses, Sanji once again was not even the slightest bit concerned with the passage of time. There was a hysterical pressure building in the lower part of his abdomen, and all he could think about was just how much longer he could hold back until it finally erupted.
For a moment, he tried to focus on the green-haired man who was staring forward at him, with an expression so intense, he could barely tell if the other man was enjoying it or not, until a deep cry erupted from his throat accompanied by fingernails digging into his flesh that made a tremor run up and down Sanji's spine.
Zoro ran a rough hand, slippery from sweat, through Sanji's hair, forcefully tugging at the strands. The cook clutched onto the other man's broad shoulders a bit more tightly, bringing his smoldering body closer to him as he felt himself starting to lose control. No matter how hard he tried, there was no way he could hold back the explosion building within himself any longer.
Fisherman 9, the artificial island in the center of All Blue
Sanji awoke with a shout—probably not unlike the cry of ecstasy he had surely let out all those years ago, when the events of the dream had taken place. It was such an old memory, and yet his body still seemed to remember the burning details that had left him barely able to control himself all those years ago.
He sat up, sighing heavily as he wiped his forehead with his wrist. He was unsurprised to find he was dripping in sweat; it had been an intense dream, after all.
More of those shitty dreams, he thought dolefully. It had been awhile, but it still left him feeling like a wrench had been thrown inside of his chest. All these shitty memories that his mind wouldn't let him forget. But it was a dull, distant ache that he would push out of his mind shortly. With another sigh, he sluggishly pulled himself out of bed.
As he had predicted, the tightness in his chest began to dissipate as soon as Sanji began getting ready, although the memory of slick skin and a haunting, deep voice still lingered uncomfortably near.
Sanji's morning routine was repetitious, simple and efficient. It was the same actions he had repeated every morning for the last eighteen years or so, with little deviation.
What a worthless mind, that can't stop thinking about shitty things that happened so long ago, he thought, as he absentmindedly smoothed back his hair. So much had changed since then...
Sure, his hair still had a tinge of blonde left in it, but the vibrant yellow had turned into something far more muted, and snow-white hair intermingled with the lackluster gold strands. It was only slightly longer than it used to be. It didn't fit him quite as well, but it made styling it a little less work; this way, he did not need to spend so much time on it. Somewhere along the way, it had just become too troublesome.
Same with his goatee; it was now a color more resemblant of salt-and-pepper, and he had stopped sculpting it so carefully long ago. And shape-wise, it was just a simple, tidy rectangle; nothing fancy, but he had to look at least a little bit suave, after all. Even if most days, he found himself wondering if it really mattered, anyway.
His face was getting pretty well-weathered, but he had spent a lot of his life on a ship, so that was to be expected. When he was younger, he never would have imagined the deep lines that would appear around his mouth. Or the wrinkles etched along his conspicuously tired eyes... Ah, but that deadened look in his eyes, he was certain, was probably unrelated to age.
By the time he was through getting ready, he had finally cast off the memory of the dream. Next, he had to set out for the market. If he did everything the same way as he had the day before, it was sure to be a good one; and if he didn't prepare to open his restaurant properly, he wouldn't be able to please his customers.
When he had first opened his restaurant, Trois Bleu, the artificial island in the center of All Blue known as Fisherman 9 was nothing but a small fishing district, barely inhabited by anyone. Although it was the most convenient island in All Blue for travelers to reach, only a few lived there, and even fewer came to visit—just some fishing boats, normally.
But despite all of the warnings that no customers would come, Sanji started a restaurant. He didn't really care if no one came, to be honest; if he wound up living his life in a shabby old shack of a restaurant with only the occasional fisherman stopping in, that was satisfactory. There was nothing else he had to do; nowhere else he had to go.
Yet, by a decade later, the island had undergone an amazing transformation.
And eighteen years later, no one would ever guess that the New World mecca for fresh seafood and fine cuisine used to be a shitty, barren little place no one would have given a second glance.
As Sanji put on his suit coat, he paused for a moment to open the top drawer of the dresser in his bedroom. For a moment, he simply stared inside of it, frowning slightly, his brow deeply furrowed. Then, he pulled a black, cloth-like item out, and quickly tucked it in an inside pocket.
Closing the drawer and quickly exiting the bedroom, he spared one more thought for his feverish dream... Something must be wrong with me, he thought to himself, still having dreams like that about a person who's been dead for twenty years.
Sanji's restaurant, Trois Bleu
Same day, late afternoon
No matter how many times he repeated the scenario, waiting to open his restaurant was always the most excruciatingly slow part of Sanji's day. After spending his morning shopping and doing the prep work for the meals they would serve for dinner that night, he and his staff had completed the finishing touches, and now they were simply waiting for it to be time to open and for the customers to start flooding in.
He set three steaming plates of food in front of his waitress and his two cooks, who were seated together around a small table in the back. The cook didn't really like to start them off working on an empty stomach, and it was a good opportunity for him to make sure his sharpness for putting together meals never dulled; especially since these days, most of his time was spent at the front of the restaurant, instead of in the kitchen.
As they ate, Sanji took a seat at his desk in the back corner of the room, going over menial paperwork as he sipped on a cup of tea.
"I can't believe it!" Planchet, the youngest of the two cooks, cried out suddenly. "Did you guys hear about this?" He held up the newspaper for the other two seated at the table to see. Sanji glanced up indifferently, adjusting a pair of reading glasses balanced on his nose, before returning to his papers.
"People have been talking about it all day, of course I've heard about it," Mouston, the other cook, sniffed disdainfully.
"What's it say, Planchet?" the young woman seated at the table, Kitty, asked curiously, as she squinted at the text.
"Somebody actually defeated Hawk-Eyes!" Planchet exclaimed.
Sanji froze momentarily, his eyes flitting toward the newspaper.
Kitty pressed a finger on her lips. "Hawk-Eyes... I feel like I've heard that name."
"Of course you've heard of him," Mouston scoffed. "He's Dracule Mihawk."
"Oh, yes, him!" Kitty said, snapping her fingers.
"Yeah, him!" Planchet exclaimed, waving a hand animatedly as he spoke. "He's one of the strongest men in the world and he uses an enormous sword..."
"He was one of the strongest men in the world, but he's nothing but an old geezer now. It was only a matter of time before somebody one-upped him," Mouston interjected, shrugging as he took a bite of seared fish.
"What do you mean it's not surprising? He's been the strongest swordsman for as long as I can remember!" Planchet argued.
Sanji started slightly as the words strongest swordsman; an involuntary reaction from not hearing such a phrase spoken for so many years now, when he used to hear it so often. He felt the hair on the back of his neck raise.
As his staff continued chatting, Sanji kept glancing at the paper, struggling to make out what was on the front page, while trying to feign disinterest. But the curiosity was overwhelming... He had to know who it was, what man had snatched up the dream that would have belonged to that shitty swordsman, if only the past had been a little less cruel.
"See, there's a picture of Hawk-Eyes right after the battle here," Planchet added, setting the paper down and sliding it across the table, so that Sanji could no longer see it.
"His eye is sliced open!" Kitty cried out in horror, averting her gaze. "Why would they put a picture of that? It's too gruesome to show in the paper..."
"Tch, what an insult," Mouston smirked. "He took the eye from Hawk-Eyes."
"I want to see the guy who defeated him though," Planchet said, snatching the paper back and flipping through the pages to see if there was another picture. "Ah, here he is! … Too bad though, it's not from after his fight with Hawk-Eyes, it's just an old picture of him."
Planchet held up the picture for everyone to see. This time, Sanji did not try to feign indifference, as he stared at the photo. He'd seen him in the papers before... He was a nitouryuu user who always kept his face almost completely covered, and wore a ridiculous, feathered black headdress.
"His name is Isshin," Planchet went on. "The article says that he's been increasing in fame over the past 10 years or so. Under the old system, he would've probably had around a 100 million beli bounty!"
"That sounds high, but was it a lot for bounties?" Kitty asked.
Planchet turned to face Sanji. "Is it, boss?"
Sanji nodded slowly, twirling a pencil in between his fingers thoughtfully. "Yeah, it's certainly not a small amount."
"I thought so!" the energetic young man exclaimed. "But you were a pirate, too, weren't you, boss? Was your bounty that high?"
Suddenly, Mouston slammed a hand down on the table, making the plates rattle. "What the hell is your problem? You know the boss doesn't like to talk about being a—"
"Ah, I'm sorry!" Planchet apologized before the other young man could finish his sentence. "I wasn't thinking." He turned toward Sanji. "I apologize, I didn't mean to pry."
Sanji exhaled slowly. "I don't mind if you ask a question. I just don't like telling tales about it, that's all. I'm not interested in story-telling." After a pause, he smirked slightly as he pulled off his reading glasses. "Yeah, my bounty was higher than that."
"That's impressive! I guess I expect no less of our boss, though," Planchet smiled brightly.
"If the boss had a higher bounty, then I bet he could've defeated Hawk-Eyes," Mouston declared boldly.
Sanji turned his gaze to his other chef. "I could've put up a good fight... But I don't know if I could have ever defeated him," he replied matter-of-factly.
"But the bounty—"
"It's meaningless to use bounty to determine strength," Sanji cut him off. "Hawk-Eyes was strong, and old men with that kind of strength don't tend to get weaker." He averted his gaze to the pencil in his hands once again, studying it as he paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. "If anything, they turn into fearsome monsters, who would seem nearly invincible to most."
"That so..." Mouston said, a bead of sweat noticeably trickling down his forehead.
Sanji nodded. Then he abruptly set down his pencil and rose to his feet. "Now come on, everyone. Hurry up and finish eating. It's only fifteen minutes till opening time."
With that, Sanji exited the room and made his way toward the kitchen. Between his incredibly vivid dream and the news of Hawk-Eyes' defeat, he suddenly felt like he was going to need a drink before the evening was over.
A hotel room on a random island in the New World
Over twenty years ago
The first time it had happened, the two men had somehow drunkenly caroused their way into an inn. Sanji had a vague recollection of the elderly innkeeper giving them a dark look of disapproval, but he took their money and wordlessly slid them a key to a room at the far back.
Sanji hadn't known what to expect, exactly; he was considerably far worse off than the swordsman, and had long since stopped thinking of the consequences. It was awkward and cumbersome, but the two men sloppily fumbled through it, and even beyond the inebriated veil that snuffed out most of his memories of that night, he never quite forgot the sounds of their loud and completely uninhibited voices, crying out in unison.
When he woke up the next morning, head and body seemingly competing over what hurt more, he was staring at the swordsman's snoring face for a full minute before the realization of what they had done hit him.
He couldn't quite recall why their argument over drink after endless drink had someone lead to them barely being able to rip themselves away from each other by the end of the night.
That realization thundering to the forefront of his already throbbing cranium was probably the worst feeling he had ever felt in his life. He felt ill, desperately uncertain of what to do with himself. What this meant about him. How the hell he was supposed to cram this new event in his definition of himself.
And even worse, from what he could remember of what they did, it also might have been the best damn thing he had ever felt in his life.
Well, however he felt about it over time, whatever nearly-debilitating identity crisis it might have caused for him for awhile afterward, it sure as hell wasn't the last time it happened.
The alleyway of a shitty island in the New World
Many weeks later—over twenty years ago
"You suck, shit-cook," Zoro exhaled, as he tried to catch his breath. He was laying with his back on the ground, panting heavily.
Sanji was collapsed against a wall nearby. "It's your shitty timing that got us into this mess."
After they rested for a few minutes, Sanji finally felt his heart rate start to relax. It had been a strenuous battle, and it had been damn long. Still, the euphoric sensation of the endorphins charging his body had not totally left him, so he was feeling pretty good.
"Now that this mess is over, we're probably going to stay here a few days," Sanji said.
"Ah, I don't see why we wouldn't," Zoro panted back at him.
"When we were headed here, we passed an inn," Sanji mentioned suddenly.
He wasn't sure why he said it, or what he was hoping for; they had had one sloppy, drunken night together before. They hadn't mentioned it again. But for some reason, the energy swimming through his veins made him feel horny. And shit, if it was the marimo, there wouldn't be need for social pleasantries or tenderness or even conversation, probably. Still, if he had thought about it half a second longer, he probably would have stifled the idiotic words tumbling out of his mouth.
"Ah, let's go there."
The reply was surprising—but it was the lack of pause between his comment and the response that nearly made his heart come to a screeching halt.
"I didn't say I wanted to go with you!" Sanji barked reflexively, trying to cover his embarrassment.
"Then why the hell bring it up, you damn dartboard-brow?" Zoro replied, scowling.
A seedy hotel
A short while later—over twenty years ago
As the door to the dingy hotel room clicked closed behind him, a slight panic started to rise in Sanji's chest.
How the hell am I supposed to do this sober? he thought, realizing he didn't quite recall a lot of the details from their last encounter. He swallowed hard as he stared at the swordsman, who was already starting to remove some of his clothes.
How the hell did we start last time, anyway? he tried to remember. The evening was mostly a blur though, and he wasn't even sure who the hell had started it; he just knew that at some point, a dominant tongue was crammed into his mouth, and powerful hands were groping below his waist, and he was clutching back, desperately wanting to feel him, too.
Suddenly Sanji felt a pull in his trousers, and a wave of heat seemed to rush through his lower abdomen and groin. He inhaled sharply.
"What?" Zoro asked, suddenly right next to him, his face to close that Sanji could feel his breath on his face.
The urge became more powerful, and the answer to the question no longer seemed that hard (likely because now, other things were). It didn't need to be thought about or planned. His instinct was already kicking in and shit, did he want it.
...And oh shit, did he get it.
When they were done, Sanji found his conscience being gradually pulled back into reality, until finally he realized it was just him lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling, with a snoring swordsman next to him.
What the hell do I do now? he wondered; sharing the bed with him seemed a little strange, but the thought of getting up and leaving seemed wrong, too.
Even though they had been all over each other a little while ago, it was a different matter to feel the swordsman's thigh resting against him, with an elbow just touching his ribs. He wasn't grabbing at him or anything, but there was contact; the bed wasn't large enough to allow anything otherwise, unless they both laid right at the edge. And clearly, Zoro wasn't doing that.
Maybe Sanji wouldn't have worried so much about it, though, if he had known that wouldn't be the extent of their touching. Like how once he finally drifted to sleep, they would unconsciously roll even nearer to one another.
And just how much he would loathe himself in the morning—all the while, craving more and more.