Oops. I had to split up the last chapter. I think it just works better this way. Worry not, friends, there is lovin' in this one, and also in the last one. Now, a request: I would prefer you to keep your top and bottom comments to yourself, if you don't mind, because that's pretty much the dumbest argument in the history of arguments. This is the way it is and I'm not changing it. ZoroxSanji in the next chapter for all you sticklers out there.

Again, thank you all for your comments and reviews! I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to write a few words, be it praise or critique. You're all awesome! Please enjoy this almost!last chapter!

Chapter 15

The house Sanji chose was another tall, Spanish style, with a red brick wall and a gate of thick, black bars. It was secure, locked up as tight as a prison, but with the power out a quick climb over the gate made entry relatively easy. Zoro drove the truck in and they closed the gate behind them and reinforced it with a chain and an extra padlock from the bed. Sanji rummaged around in the back for water and a few other supplies before they climbed the front steps and unlocked the door.

"Holy shit…" Zoro murmured as they entered. The space was wide and high. A large staircase greeted them in the foyer and led straight up to a railed balcony. A Chinese tapestry covered the full length of the wall to their left, depicting a small army of soldiers defending their city from a ruby-red dragon.

Whistling through his teeth, Sanji set the provisions by the door and pulled his knife from his belt. He motioned to the first floor and Zoro nodded.

"I'll take the upstairs."

Clearing the second and third floors was quick work. Everything was in place with no sign of anyone having been around after being evacuated, if, of course, that was in fact what had happened. The study was neat and organized and the master bedroom seemed almost unlived in, besides the bed being unmade. There were no other bedrooms besides a guest on the third floor and most of what Zoro saw was Spartan. There were no flowers, no decorative pillows or curtains, which lead Zoro to believe that this place was probably home to a single man. For some reason that made the swordsman care a little less that they were intruding.

Downstairs Sanji was already elbows deep in the pantry. When Zoro entered the kitchen, he was pelted with several packages suddenly. After being struck in the chest and face, Zoro batted them away with a huff.

"What the hell, cook?"

Sanji's grin was shit-eating. He held up one of the packages for Zoro to see and the swordsman couldn't help but laugh out loud.

It was ramen.

"Are you fucking serious?" Zoro bent to collect the other packages Sanji had tossed at him. "I haven't had ramen in… hell, forever."

Eight packages of ramen made it to the counter and Sanji rummaged until he found an assortment of spices and what looked like an unopened bottle of soy sauce.

"How are you going to cook this?" Zoro asked.

Grin still wide enough to almost be obnoxious, Sanji moved to the stove and pulled out his lighter. He fiddled with the knobs and after a few quiet clicking noises, the burner roared to life.

"Mm," the swordsman hummed, "gas. That's lucky."

After scribbling on his notepad, Sanji slid it across the counter for Zoro to read.

There's a big fireplace in the living room. See if you can find some wood and maybe a lantern or some candles for me in here. I got about ten more minutes of natural light.

Zoro saluted, "Yes sir."

The living room was spacious, with a high ceiling and dark brown, texture plush carpet. The couches were indeed big enough to accommodate four or five people easily, so Zoro returned to the upstairs and grabbed a few pillows and a couple blankets from the master bedroom. When he returned, he made no claim and just tossed the bedding on one of the cushions haphazardly before going to find wood and kindling for the large fireplace. There were full length windows along the east wall of the living room but luckily the blinds were down and made of a heavy vinyl so they were shielded from anyone or anything that might be outside. There would be smoke from the chimney, but that would be hard to see at night, especially since most of the property was surrounded by palm trees.

It didn't take long, there was wood in the garage and old newspapers by the pantry door. A quick flick of Sanji's lighter and the living room was suddenly warm. The gentle light banished even the thought of the cold, eerie space it had been only moments before.

Zoro sat on the floor a few feet from the fireplace and shrugged out of his coat. He unbuckled his harness and laid the leather straps on the floor beside him, along with his sword. The thought of taking off his shoes crossed his mind but it was interrupted by Sanji coming through the door with a flourish and two large, steaming bowls in his hands. Zoro's stomach growled so loud he could hear it over the crackle of the fire, but he ignored it and took the bowl from Sanji with an enthusiastic "thank you." The smell was something divine.

Sanji set his own bowl down on the floor, along with a few bottles of water and his notepad, but turned and headed back into the kitchen. Zoro watched the doorway, starving, but interested in what else the cook had in store for them.

He was not disappointed.

Sanji returned with a bottle of sake, rice wine, and two pairs of lacquered chopsticks. Zoro grinned as Sanji sat across from him and handed over a set of chopsticks and held up the bottle for the swordsman to read.

"Wow, Daiginjo," Zoro whistled, "that's high end."

Sanji scribbled, So served cold then?

Zoro shrugged, taking the chopsticks and weaving them into the ramen. "Usually cold, yeah, but it doesn't matter. Tastes great either way."

The moment the noodles hit Zoro's tongue, the swordsman was bombarded by flavor and heat and that amazing, familiar texture. Memories of home rushed at him, filling him with nostalgia and warmth and old happiness. It was bittersweet, but not unwelcome. He slurped the noodles and swallowed, lifting his eyes to Sanji, who had busied himself with pouring sake into a glass.

"This is really good," Zoro murmured.

Sanji nodded in thanks, and passed him the cup.

At first, they ate in silence, too hungry and too focused on their food for any real conversation. Then as the noodles disappeared and Zoro began to sip as his sake, Sanji's notepad came up with a few words in that same neat, all capitol, scrawl.

Why were you in America during Dead Day?

Zoro paused, mildly startled, his glass of sake halfway to his lips. Was this happening? Was Sanji really asking him a personal question?

Clearing his throat, Zoro spoke softly, "I was here for a tournament. It was an international championship in New York. We got through two out of the three days but then… everything happened."

Sanji's pen scratched frantically at the paper.

Do you have family back home? Do you know what happened over there?

Zoro shook his head, "I had friends but not any family, well, besides my sensei. But he was here with me for the tournament." He paused to take a long swallow of sake before sighing. "One of the last news reports I heard before the blackout was that there had been some kind of massive air strike. There's not much of Japan left."

It took several moments for Zoro to pull his gaze from out of his glass and back up to Sanji. When he did, he was met with sad, tired eyes. They were eyes that had seen as much, if not more, as him and understood what he was feeling. Maybe not completely but it was enough.

The cook's hand hovered over the paper, his pen at the ready. He seemed hesitant, unsure, as if he was worried that what he wanted to write was going to be unacceptable.

"It's okay," Zoro said, his voice almost a whisper, "you can ask me whatever you want."

Sanji's eyes found his again.


Zoro met his stare as he reached for the bottle.

"I think it's only fair."

Taking a breath, Sanji nodded, and before his pen returned to the paper, he adjusted his scarf. Zoro wasn't sure if the move had been unconscious or not.

Why were you alone when you found us?

"Ah well, it's not really…" Zoro shrugged, "The tournament was postponed on the third day 'cause everyone thought it was some sort of rabies outbreak or severe flu or something. Sensei and the other fighters I was with stayed in the hotel waiting for word that we could leave, but then stuff started happening. The news was crazy; we didn't know what to do. And then the power went out."

Sanji nodded, everyone remembered the national blackout.

"After that it's just sort of a blur of getting what we needed and trying to stay alive. We went from town to town, camp to camp. We lost my team members over the first couple weeks. They were scared, they were… stupid."

What about your sensei? What happened to him?

Zoro ran a hand over his face as flashes of blood and torn flesh danced behind his eyelids. Bones like bleached wood lay cracked and broken, drying brittle against a harsh wind. He had never told anyone what had happened to him. He had never wanted to tell anyone, he hadn't trusted anyone enough.

But this was Sanji. He knew the most horrible parts of Sanji's past, and in knowing them, they had seemed to grow a little closer. What could Zoro do if not tell Sanji about himself? Zoro knew he could trust Sanji.

"Sensei… Mihawk, was a force of nature. He was a Spanish noble, a cousin or second cousin to some important family that had relocated to Japan to learn and to teach swordsmanship. He was the definition of a natural. He knew and understood probably every form and every style on the planet. I met him when I was sixteen, alone and dumb and on my own. I offered everything I had—including my blood—for him to teach me." Zoro paused for a moment, laughing softly. "He worked my hands to the bone. I ended up in the hospital more times than I can remember, but it was worth it. I kept at it because I knew if he taught me I could be better than him. I could be the best."

To his surprise, the corners of Sanji's mouth turned up into a small smile and he nodded. Again there was that understanding, that intrinsic connection that pulled Zoro in.

He was your savior. Your teacher and your father all rolled into one.

Zoro read the words and his chest tightened. He nodded, "Yeah…"

Putting the notepad back in his lap, Sanji smiled and nodded again, his eyes lost for a moment in his own memory.

Taking a breath, Zoro felt a pleasant shiver roll gently down his spine. But then his thoughts returned to his story and when he continued, he was quiet. "It was just the two of us for a long time. We didn't understand what had happened. Neither one of us were doctors, we didn't understand any medical shit, so this plague, this… outbreak—curse—whatever you want to call it, made no sense. We didn't know how it worked or how to deal with it. So we just went with what we could figure out. You destroy the brain, they stop moving. You get bit, you die. That was it. We didn't understand that you can get it in other ways, not just the bite."

Sanji was watching him again, intently, his eyes focused and waiting.

"It had been weeks since we'd seen anything else besides kyonshi—sorry, dead people, undead—and the first contact we had with anyone who could actually speak was a small group of farmers outside a town in Iowa, or maybe South Dakota, I can't remember. They were looking for supplies, so we helped them. It was a family, a father, a few teenage kids and an uncle. They looked so tired and worn down we couldn't just pass them by. They took us back to their farm, shared some of their food, and let us sleep in the barn.

"That night, the uncle and two of the boys came and tried to get us in our sleep. They had shotguns and a cattle prod. They took us to the slaughter house and tried to feed us to their kyonshi mother and little sister. It wasn't even a fight really, they were weak and sick and had no training. We tried to take their weapons without hurting them but we couldn't. We killed them, and then we killed the two kyonshi in the slaughterhouse."

Zoro's gaze had fallen to the floor as he told his story, and when he heard the scratching of Sanji's pen on the paper he looked up.

You probably saved a few people doing that. Who knows how many they had lured that way already.

"Yeah," Zoro murmured, "I tell myself that sometimes."

It's the fucking truth.

Zoro shrugged, not wishing to go down that particular road of self-loathing yet again.

So your sensei?

"This is where it gets a little hazy. The other man, the father of the teenagers, came at us from the upper level. It was dark, we couldn't have known, couldn't have really prepared. He threw this thick metal slab down on us, knocked me out cold, and crushed sensei's arm. When I came to, sensei had pulled himself free and had killed the father, but when the slab had fallen on us he had fallen on his knife. It wasn't a bad cut, we stitched it up at the house, packed up, and we were on our way. It would have been fine but that knife happened to be the same knife we had just used to kill the kyonshi."

Sanji's sharp exhale was enough to let Zoro know the cook understood where this was going.

Zoro's chest hurt, his cheeks were hot as he remembered those long, terrible, three days. The coughing and the blood, the vomiting, the soft whimpers during the night. It was a nightmare that would never go away, not as long as he lived.

"I can't tell you why a bite works as fast as it does, and I can't tell you why being stabbed with a blade doused with deadie blood takes longer, it just does. It takes more than three days I can tell you that. At first we just thought he was sick. He threw up everything and he got really pale, but he still could walk, he still had his wits. How were we supposed to know? I mean the farmer's family was all sick too, we just thought he caught it." He fell quiet for a moment, set his glass down and reached for the bottle Sanji held out for him. Taking a long swallow Zoro wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "I was stupid, and maybe I didn't want to see it. That second night he started coughing up blood. He told me I should probably kill him, but I couldn't. I mean he was my sensei… he was still my sensei. When I woke up the next morning, he wasn't in his bed roll. I searched for him and found him about a mile down the road. He was rabid, sort of feral—insane. He came at me, attacked me, screaming that I should have killed him.

"I paid for my cowardice. He opened me up from shoulder to hip, and I laid there for a day while crows picked at his bones."

Zoro didn't realize he had trailed off until Sanji's hand slid over his jaw. Startled, Zoro pulled himself from the darkness of that familiar, spiraling nightmare and looked up. He focused on Sanji's face, let Sanji's bright blue eyes ground him where he sat. He didn't want to remember that last day, his sensei's last few hours. He didn't want to remember the anger or the pain and the blood and the biting wind as it tore at his wound.

Sanji's calloused thumb slid over his jaw once before he retreated to write in his notebook.

How did you survive?

Zoro shrugged again, "Military. They found me, patched me up and sent me on my way. Turns out I was near a small base. That's when I learned there were still communications and small communities around."

What did you mean by cowardice?

Zoro felt that same rage and despair creeping back into him. "I had never been scared of anything before. Nothing, not even when I was little. But that last day, that third day that sensei started to cough blood… when he told me I should probably kill him… I mean I knew deep down what was happening, but all I could think about was how scared I was to be left alone. I knew, after he died, it was possible I would be the last person alive."

The cook watched him for a moment, and then again, that pen returned to the paper. After writing a few words, Sanji pulled the page from the book and placed it in Zoro's hand.

You aren't alone anymore.

Studying the words, Zoro's heart started beating hard against the cage of his ribs. There was no way Sanji didn't understand what he was doing; there was no way he didn't realize how he was affecting the swordsman. These little things he would do, the little gestures, the gentle reassurances and support that bordered so close to a deeper intimacy, they couldn't be misunderstanding. Zoro couldn't be misinterpreting them, could he?

"Sanji…" Zoro whispered.

When Sanji's eyes found his, when they looked at him with all of that kindness and caring and respect Zoro's breath caught. He felt his strength returning, the rage and the loneliness and the despair he had felt for so long melted away. He looked at Sanji then and realized that he was indeed, not alone.

"I think love you."

Sanji seemed neither startled nor surprised. The corner of his mouth turned up into a gentle smile as he brought his hand back up to run his fingers across Zoro's cheek. The swordsman relaxed into the caress, placing the bottle on the floor. He closed his eyes, letting Sanji's touch tooth him. He breathed out a deep sigh, harsh, as if he had been holding his breath for a long, long time.

He felt Sanji's other hand on his opposite cheek; the cook's gentle fingers ran over his rough skin and slid down to cup his jaw. It had been so long since someone had touched him like this and Zoro's skin was so sensitive. A shiver rolled down his spine, it was similar to the one he had felt earlier, but this time it was much more intense.

Feeling warm breath ghost across his lips, Zoro opened his eyes. He found the cook watching him, waiting, and so Zoro tilted his head and pressed his lips against Sanji's. They were cool and soft, chapped as he had expected, but they were perfect.

Immediately, Sanji responded. He pushed his hands up into Zoro's hair, pulling the swordsman closer. He slid his lips over Zoro's, coaxing the swordsman to open for him, and then gently pressed inside. His tongue rolled gently, pulling a moan from deep in Zoro's throat. The swordsman felt electrified, dizzy with desire and sudden, powerful emotion. He loved the way Sanji kissed, forceful but still explorative, gentle but completely in control.

He felt Sanji shift, pulling himself closer. Hands ran down Zoro's front and slid out over his hips. Sanji's thumbs pressed slow circles into the muscles just inside and above the swordsman's knees. Zoro's breath caught and he shivered yet again. He leaned in, lifting his hands to touch soft, blond hair.

It was in the heat of the moment and Zoro wasn't thinking. His hands were mapping out the lines of Sanji's cheeks, tracing the curve of his jaw while the cook's mouth plundered him. Zoro didn't think, he just wanted to touch and to be touched, he never meant to slide underneath that scarf. He never meant for the pads of his thumbs to brush against scarred, gnarled flesh.

Sanji jerked away, pushing at Zoro's chest. The swordsman froze for a moment, his breath heavy and his eyes blinking wildly.

"I'm sorry. I didn't…"

The cook kept Zoro at a distance with one hand, and pressed the scarf against his throat with the other. His breath was also labored, his face was flushed and bright, but his eyes were shining and, to Zoro's horror, were slowly filling with tears.

"Sanji…" Zoro murmured, doubt and regret and something close to fear started trickling back in, filling Zoro's gut and tightening his chest.

Heaving a frustrated sigh and wiping at his eyes, Sanji grabbed for his notepad and pen. He scribbled furiously, stopping only once to push his bangs from his eyes.

I love you so much Zoro I'm fucking stupid with it. I've never wanted anyone more in my entire life but I know as soon as you see what's underneath this scarf you'll be disgusted and never want to touch me again. It's my curse that I have to live with for killing all those innocent people but if you saw it and it made you not want me anymore I'd rather that we just never—

Zoro placed his hand over Sanji's, interrupting his frantic writing. The cook took a few deep breaths and closed his eyes, his hand turned upwards like he was going to grasp Zoro's, but then he stopped and pulled away. He pushed at the scarf around his neck; pulled it tighter around his hidden scars.

"Do you really think I won't want you if I see your wounds?" Zoro asked.

Sanji nodded.

Zoro's heart was breaking for the cook. There was so much sadness, such a deep and profound loneliness buried under so many layers of bravery and kindness and everything else. What could he do? What could he say?

Huffing again softly, Sanji set down his notepad and stood. He wrung his hands out like he would shake off water and ran his fingers through his hair. Then without a motion or even a glance in Zoro's direction, he moved to the couch and sat, resting his elbows on his knees and putting his forehead in his palms.

Zoro wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, but sitting around was not something he was very good at. He stood as well, and slowly made his way over to the couch. He gaged the situation as best he could and felt that Sanji wouldn't push him away again if he came closer, so he sat on the edge of the coffee table, his knees only a few inches from the cook's.

"What you said," Zoro murmured, "about how your scars were a curse you had to live with for killing those people…"

Sanji laced his fingers together underneath his chin and nodded.

"I can understand that. I thought that my scars were penance for not helping my sensei when I should have."

Eyes dry and jaw set, Sanji leveled Zoro with a questioning frown.

Zoro continued, "I know a thing or two about terrible scars."

Hands steady, Zoro took hold of the bottom of his sweater and t-shirt. He took a breath and slowly pulled them over his head in one smooth motion. He heard Sanji hiss and move forward on the couch cushions, but he didn't look at the other man. He let it sink in, the scar, the gnarled flesh, the uneven tilt of his chest. No one but Zoro himself had seen it since the day the military had stapled it shut because the swordsman had been sure the sight of it would turn someone's stomach.

"I thought this was my curse too."

When he looked up, Sanji was focused on the jagged line across his chest. The cook's eyes and face were a mixture of shock and sadness, but there was no horror, no fear, no disgust and it calmed something deep in Zoro's soul. He had known he could show this to Sanji, like he had known so many other things about the cook without really knowing how or why.

Without another thought, Zoro reached out and took Sanji's hand. He carefully took that calloused palm and pulled it up to place it on his chest, right on the gnarled flesh directly over his heart. Sanji let out a breath that was more like a sob than anything else and ran his thumb over a knotted staple mark. The movement was electric, sending shocks of sensation coursing through the swordsman's body. Zoro wasn't even sure how that was possible. How could the dead skin of a scar feel so alive?

"Sanji…" Zoro whispered. The cook looked up again into his eyes. They sat face to face, only the air that they breathed between them.

"It's not a curse. It's only a reminder of mistakes so they won't be repeated."

Sanji's eyes flashed as he held Zoro's gaze. An infinite number of moments passed as the two men watched each other, breathed each other in. Sanji's hand was so warm, so strong and real; his eyes were so bright, his lips looked so soft and Zoro now knew they felt so amazing. Time seemed a fantasy as Zoro watched and waited for what Sanji would do. The world outside, the horrors of the reality they lived in, the pain or memory, and the terror of being alone, all seemed so far away and unimportant. Nothing mattered but Sanji. For that unmeasurable space of time as Zoro sat with that warm palm on his skin, those blue eyes boring into his, his world was Sanji.

And then the cook moved. His hand came away and slowly reached for his scarf. He hesitated, fingers frozen. Zoro held his breath and waited, not moving, not even breathing. He did not want to break the moment and cause Sanji to flee again.

Pale fingers pulled slowly at the grey-blue cotton, tugging it gently away from a pale neck. Sanji unwound the scarf and pulled the end from beneath the collar of his sweater. He unbuttoned the collar and pulled the fabric away to reveal the lower part of his throat and the top of his shoulder. He sat, unmoving, waiting, his eyes never leaving Zoro's face.

It was terrible, horrific. How Sanji had lived through it was something that Zoro would never understand. The flesh was more than gnarled, it was twisted, mangled. There were clear, defined bite marks along his collar and up across his Adam's apple. Obviously human, terrifying. A significant chunk of the muscle where neck and shoulder meet was missing. The two ends had been pulled together and patched but it did not make any sense how. There were ridges and pockets, knots where more than a few stitches had been required. Nothing was even, nothing was smooth.

It was now clear why Sanji hid himself. To any normal person, this would be too much. This mess of flesh and old wounds would overwhelm or terrify even the kindest souls; the bravest of hearts.

However, Zoro was not any normal person. He was not the kindest soul, nor did he have the bravest of hearts. He was just Zoro, scarred and smitten by a stupid cook who was so like him it was unbelievable.

Zoro thought the scars were almost beautiful.

Again, he moved without thinking. Zoro reached up and slid his hand over the skin just above where the scar started, right below Sanji's jawline. The cook flinched slightly but let him. Zoro felt compelled, not only to touch with his fingers but with his whole body, everything. He moved closer and leaned in, bumping the underside of Sanji's chin, urging the blond to lift his head.

Sanji knew what he was doing and dug his fingers into the swordsman's hair. The grip was firm and rough, but even as he groaned when his head was yanked back, Zoro could tell the grip was less inhibiting and more for simple support. Sanji wasn't stopping him.

He leaned in further as Sanji's other hand dug into his bare shoulder. The cook's body trembled, but if it was from fear or excitement, Zoro didn't know.

Zoro's lips ghosted over twisted skin and Sanji growled, breath harsh and uneven through his nose. The hand in Zoro's hair gripped harder, but still did not pull him away.

Zoro's lips touched skin, he kissed a knotted rise of scar tissue, and for a moment, Sanji's breathing ceased.

Suddenly everything was easy.

Sanji pushed him back, but only far enough to find Zoro's mouth with his lips and tongue. The cook kissed him with such a fever that for a moment the swordsman was too overwhelmed to even reciprocate. He caught up, however, sliding his hands over Sanji's jaw, pushing his fingers again through blond hair. He kissed back, hungry, starving, wanting nothing more than to just melt into Sanji's touch, his kiss.

Hands gripped his thighs and Zoro found himself being dragged off the coffee table and into waiting arms. He placed a knee on either side of the cook's muscled hips and grabbed the back of the couch for leverage as Sanji effectively stole his breath away. Warm hands and even warmer lips covered the length of his scar. The electric sensation returned, powerful enough to bow his back. Zoro let his head fall forward and he panted, moaned into Sanji's soft hair.

Sanji sat up straighter, pushing Zoro back slightly. When the swordsman felt the button on his jeans come undone and his zipper slide down he moved his hands from the back of the couch to the cook's shoulders. He looked down and met Sanji's eyes as the blond slid inside and palmed his cock. The swordsman let out a breath and lifted himself up on his knees to make room. Sanji's hand wrapped around him and pumped him one, twice, and Zoro's eyes slid closed. It was almost too much, too much sensation. Zoro's conscious narrowed, focused on the feel of Sanji's hand around him, jerking him off in such perfect, precise movements. Zoro clenched his jaw against a wail that built up in his throat. It had been too long and he wasn't going to last.

"Wait," he managed to whisper.

Sanji didn't stop, in fact he might have tightened his grip. His tongue came out and he licked a warm line up Zoro's skin just below his chin as a playful taunt.

Zoro shuddered uncontrollably and a trembling chuckle escaped through his teeth.

"No, I mean it," he murmured, "wait."

Zoro's fingers took Sanji's wrist and pulled the touch from around his length. The cook's eyes were questioning, but they were no less trusting. Moving from Sanji's lap, Zoro spread himself out on his stomach across the couch's cushions, his back to the blond. After getting comfortable, resting on his elbows he turned and looked at Sanji over his shoulder.

"Come here."

Sanji's mouth dropped open slightly at the invitation. His eyes darkened and his face took on a hungry, almost predatory look. Moving immediately, without hesitation or any hint of insecurity, he came over the swordsman, hovered directly above him and breathed soft kisses along the thicker man's muscled back. Zoro turned and let his head drop between his arms. Hands ran over his skin, caressed the planes of his lower back before slipping over the top of his jeans.

Lifting his hips, Zoro hissed at the sensation. He had not been exposed like this in a long time. Those hands ran over the curve of his ass, fingers dipped into that sensitive place at the top of his thighs. He lowered one leg to the floor and bent the other slightly at the knee to open himself. It was exhilarating, alarming, giving himself over to someone like this, but he was happy to do it. It was Sanji after all. For Sanji, he would do anything.

He felt Sanji's weight over him and gentle fingers brush through his hair. Turning, he looked up into Sanji's face, blinked slowly at the intensity of those blue eyes.

Then Sanji opened his mouth and whispered, "Zoro…"

The sound was strange, hollow without the voice behind it, but it was still his name, said in a whisper of air and breath—Sanji's air and breath—and Zoro's heart sang to hear it.

Closing his eyes, Zoro relaxed completely, giving the last bit of himself he had to give.

"Love you…" he breathed.

He felt the cook's lips on his shoulder, and then the pressure as Sanji pushed into him. At first it was nothing, and then it stung. Pressure built up as his muscles rejecting the intrusion. He groaned and tried to change his position, but Sanji was already there. The cook was expert, he pulled back gently, spitting on his fingers and pushing back in slowly. The pressure was still great, but the sting lessened and the pain was almost nothing. The cook did this for another handful of long moments, slowly fucking into Zoro with all the gentleness and caring that the swordsman had seen over and over.

Finally, the pressure gave way and with each slow push inside, Zoro could feel the pleasure building. He moaned softly into his arms and reached down to jerk himself back to hardness. Weight came down over him again and Sanji's lips left a few trembling kisses over the back of his neck. The couch dipped by his head as the cook braced himself on his hand and Zoro felt the heat of Sanji's thighs settle against his hot skin. The last coherent thought the swordsman had was how there was no way he was going to be this gentle and this fucking perfect when he took Sanji, but he was going to try.

He heard Sanji's voiceless moan against his ear and shuddered again. The cook rocked his hips and Zoro arched up to meet him. He pumped his cock slowly, lost in the feel of Sanji sliding in and out of him, of the hot pulses of pleasure riding through him. Stars danced behind his eyelids as Sanji's pace quickened. The cook's hips were shockingly strong and pounded into him with such a force that Zoro was too overcome to reciprocate. He felt the pressure and the euphoria of climax creeping up on him, tightening in his loins and so he let his head fall. He felt Sanji's weight come down on him fully, felt fingers slide over his scalp. The cook's lips were by his ear, whispering voiceless praises as he pulled mercilessly at the swordsman's hair.

"Love you… love you… Zoro…

He was surrounded, Sanji's arms around him, fingers curled into his hair, the cook's weight pressing him down, that amazing cock pounding into him over and over, those lips, so sweet and soft, whispering those unbelievable things. Zoro was done for. He opened his eyes, lifted his head and found Sanji's mouth. He kissed the cook sloppily, passion overtaking him. He pumped his cock furiously, riding out an orgasm that hit him suddenly and so powerfully he wasn't prepared for it. Pleasure clouded Zoro's senses, filled his body, his mind, and his heart.

Sanji held him tightly as he thrust another handful of times, violently, erratically, and then he buried his face into Zoro's neck and cried out soundlessly, shuddering and shaking, his cock pulsing deep inside Zoro's sated body.

They stayed that way for a long time, breath ragged and bodies heated. Zoro felt Sanji's thumb running circles over his skin, a gentle and intimate touch that sent more feeling coursing through his heart than was rational. Finally, the cook lifted himself and kissed down Zoro's spine. They separated and pulled up their jeans and underwear before settling down next to each other across the cushions. Zoro watched Sanji's eyelashes flutter across his cheeks, and the way the flush of his pale skin revealed a spattering a small, light freckles across this nose.

Lifting his hand Zoro ran a finger across the collection and smiled softly.

He was so goddamn perfect. Was he even real?

Sanji's eyes opened and regarded Zoro for a moment before he returned the smile. They lay like that for another hour or so before the fatigue of their bodies overtook them and they finally slept.

The morning came too soon for Zoro and he woke with stiffness in his jaw and a dull ache in his lower body. Sanji was not beside him and the swordsman almost fell off the couch in his haste to search the living room. However, his worry was for not, the cook was sitting by the cool fireplace wrapped in a blanket and sipping from a steaming mug.

Sitting up, Zoro ignored the scream of pain from unmentionable places and reached for his sweater and t-shirt. "Morning," he yawned as he pulled his clothes on and stumbled over to join Sanji by the fireplace.

At first, the swordsman was worried that things would be awkward, but Sanji banished those fears immediately by pulling him close and kissing him softly on the lips. He then poured what looked like coffee from a kettle into a second mug. The swordsman fought down feelings of giddy happiness and accepted the mug with a grateful "thanks."

They ate a breakfast of canned soup and crackers that were only slightly stale, and then packed up the truck and headed out. When they were out on the road, Zoro pulled out the walkie and radioed to Ace and Brook.

"Hey, this is Zoro. Ace, you there?"

For several long moments there was nothing.

"Out of range maybe?" Zoro looked at Sanji who merely shrugged. "Do we have a meet up place or were we just going to head straight back to the compound?"

Sanji kept one eye on the road while he wrote on his notepad.

At the end of runs there's a place Ace and I usually meet up at near Crestfalls. We can wait for them there.

Zoro nodded, "Sounds good."

They drove for about an hour, meeting no one and, besides the given of crumbling buildings, saw nothing but grey skyline and brown, dead grass. When they drove past a sign declaring "Crestfalls! A great place for a quiet family vacation!" Sanji slowed. He leaned over the wheel, squinting out at the road and the piles of debris along the side of the road.

"Something wrong?" Zoro asked.

Sanji braked and grabbed his notebook. This is where we usually meet. I know this place pretty well. A lot of groups use these crossways as a fallback spot but something's off with it right now. All this shit piled up on the sides of the road is new. I've never seen it before.

Looking out at the scene before them, Zoro focused on the piles and the placement and felt a small tug of apprehension start to twist in his gut.

"You think this is some kind of tra—"

Before he could finish, two men appeared at the windows sporting large hunting rifles. Another two came around and stood in front, the barrels of identical semi-automatics pointed at the truck's front tires.

Zoro's jaw clenched in frustration, "Shit." He should have seen it coming.

The man on the passenger side tapped on the glass and motioned to Zoro.

"Get out of the truck. No sudden movements or your friend's dead."