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As Zoro just barely managed to prevent the witch from burning their ships down in her attempt to cook, Zoro knew that, to save the lives (and stomachs) of himself and his new captain, he'd have to bite the bullet and use one of the skills he hated: Cooking.

"Just forget it, witch; I'll cook." He grumbled, shouldering her aside relatively gently. 

"You can cook?" She asked, incredulous as she looked him up and down.

"You can't?" He asked in return, tone laced with a liberal amount of mocking scorn as he salvaged what the witch had ruined and finished the rest of the dish.

She flushed a little. 

"Well…! I've never needed to. Usually I just stop at restaurants or get ready-made food." She admitted a bit angrily.

"Really? I usually dine and dash!" Luffy exclaimed completely shamelessly, laughing.

Zoro shot them both looks that stated very clearly how highly he didn't think of them for that.

"You're both horrible, shameful people." He deadpanned, not really caring, but feeling the need to mock them all the same.

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After getting the Going Merry and a new crewmate, Zoro had hoped that he'd no longer have to cook. Usopp even knew how to cook, even if it was simpler stuff than Zoro could! 

But no. Of course things wouldn't be so simple. 

"Zoro's a better cook, so Zoro should be my swordsman and my cook!" Luffy exclaimed with glee. 

Zoro tensed up, shoulders hunching as he gritted his teeth. 

"No." He bit out, banging things around with more force than strictly necessary, "You try making that official, and I'll ensure you never eat again by removing your stomach with my swords."

Luffy pouted, then grinned. 

"Okay! Then we'll just have to find an even better cook!" He agreed, pounding a fist into the palm of his other hand.

Zoro grunted and let himself relax a little.

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"WHY ARE THERE SPIDERS IN THE TREASURE CHEST?!?!?!" The witch screeched.

"To keep the thieves out." Zoro stated. It should've been obvious.

"TREASURE CHESTS ARE FOR TREASURE, YOU IDIOT!!!" She screeched at him, slamming a fist into the top of his head and sending him crashing to the floor.

Zoro rose slowly, cradling his newly injured head.

"Yeah, which means they're the first place any thief would check to steal ours!" Zoro insisted, glaring at her. He gestured at her, "Case in point!"

She seethed, then sighed, rubbing her temples. 

"I… guess that almost makes sense…" She admitted through gritted teeth, "BUT WHY SPIDERS?!"

Zoro shrugged.

"I found some egg sacks and needed to put 'em somewhere." He said reasonably.

The witch, apparently, disagreed.

"YOU COULD'VE JUST SQUASHED THEM!!!" 

"That would be cruel!" Zoro said, jerking back slightly and staring at the woman with offense written all over his face. 

The witch and Usopp stared at him in disbelief, and even Luffy gave him an odd look for that.

"...Screw you guys." Zoro grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest and turning away, definitely not sulking, "Spiders are cool…"

At least Usopp agreed with him…

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"Why the FUCK are the spices all under the damn sink?!" The cook demanded as he explored the galley, opening all the cupboards and cabinets, "Why are the cooking knives in the side cabinet?! Why is the soap in one of the upper cupboards? ARE THESE TEETH?! WHY THE FUCK ARE THERE TEETH IN THIS DRAWER?!"

"Zoro, why are there teeth in that drawer…?" Usopp asked quietly, leaning in towards Zoro and hiding his mouth from Sanji. 

"It felt like the right place for them." Zoro answered with a decisive nod, arms crossed.

"Who the hell made all these placement choices?!" The cook raged, almost tearing his hair out, much to Zoro's amusement.

"Who d'you think was using this kitchen?" Zoro asked, amused. 

"Nami-san?!" He sounded betrayed. 

"Hell no! Last time we let her near the stove, she burned water." Zoro exclaimed.

"Oi! Don't talk about Nami-san like that! I'm sure she's far better at cooking than any of you idiots!" The cook denied, glaring. 

"Uh, no. No, Zoro's right: She set a pot of water on fire. We're still not sure how." Usopp very nervously contradicted, hiding behind Zoro with a squeak at the cook's glare.

"Nami's food is scary…" Luffy remarked miserably.

"She tried to put out an oil fire with water." Zoro stated flatly.

"It went WOOSH!!!" Luffy exclaimed, throwing his arms up in the air, touching the ceiling. 

That drew a wince from the cook.

"Okay, so Nami-san didn't do the cooking." He allowed, "So then who did?"

"Doesn't matter: You're the cook now. Organize things as you please." Zoro interrupted before anyone could say anything, leaving immediately after. 

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"Oh, fuck." Zoro said, looking at the date circled on the calendar, and how very close it was to arriving.

Nami's birthday. 

The witch would never let him live down forgetting to get her a gift, and she'd charge him through the nose for the offense! But there was no saying how long it'd be before they reached the next island! Zoro needed a gift NOW.

He fretted for a while, then remembered the little sewing kit he had on his person. He thought of all the spare rags and cloths they had laying about, and a plan formed.

Now, how to pull it off without getting caught? 

He took the night watch for the next few days, using the time to clean a number of different colors of cloth and free them of stains. He ensured they were all similar in texture, and began sewing.

A little embroidery, here and there, to add detail, and… Done!

He thought it looked pretty good, himself! Now to find a box and wrap it…

The day arrived. She opened his gift, and pulled out the tiny little calico cat plush he'd crafted for her by hand. It held a gold coin under one paw, and was holding up it's other paw. It had on a red collar with a little bell sewn onto it.

"Oh, it's cute! And so soft! I love it!" Nami exclaimed, smiling, "Thanks, Zoro!"

The others all exclaimed happily over it, too. Even the cook had nothing bad to say about it. 

Zoro rubbed the back of his head, cheeks warming despite his best efforts.

"Figured I couldn't go wrong getting you a lucky cat." He muttered, feeling weirdly shy under all the positive attention.

"It's perfect! Thank you!" Nami said happily.

"Happy birthday, witch."

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That started a tradition of Zoro handcrafting gifts for his nakama. He stitched together little plushies for the younger members and for the ladies, but the cook had him stumped. What could he make for him? 

And then the answer came to him while he wandered the latest island: Zoro could embroider a shirt for him! 

The cook loved brightly patterned shirts, and he loved fish! 

So Zoro bought a plain blue button up shirt in the cook's size. The color matched the cook's eyes, not that Zoro noticed such things. Nope! Not at all!

Then he borrowed the book of fish from all over the world. It had illustrations he could work from.

He set to work, carefully and steadily embroidering the shirt with carefully detailed fish from all over the world. It was the All Blue of shirts.

Getting all the right colors of thread was a real hassle, but Zoro felt that the end result was worth it. It looked… Pretty darn good, for a prissy shirt with a bunch of fish on it.

He wrapped it up and put it in a box.

He gave the book back to the cook. 

"You should cook this one when we find your All Blue." He said, pointing to one particular fish that he'd thought looked interesting while flipping through it for references.

The cook blinked at him.

"You… really think we'll find it?" He asked, and Zoro's nose wrinkled while his upper lip curled back in a minor sneer.

""You really think we'll find it?"" Zoro mocked with a roll of his eyes, disguising his reassurance as derision, "'Course we'll find your shitty ocean, dartbrow. The hell's that defeatist talk about?"

The cook smiled at him, and Zoro's heart did a weird flippy thing at the sight. 

Maybe he should see Chopper about that? It didn't seem healthy. 

"Guess you're not as much of a shithead as I'd thought, ya mossy bastard." The cook remarked, tone surprisingly warm, considering he was speaking to Zoro.

Zoro's heart did that flippy thing again, and he was definitely going to see Chopper later, because that wasn't normal.

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Chopper said his heart was fine, but to keep track of what caused the sensation and inform him immediately if something changed.

Zoro still had no idea what the feeling was, but at least it wasn't a bad thing.

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The cook's birthday arrived.

"Where the hell did you get this from?" The cook asked upon opening the gift, gaping at the sheer level of detail that had gone into it.

"Dunno. Just saw it and got it." Zoro said with a shrug, not looking at the cook.

"I don't recall seeing anything that looked like that on any of the islands we've been to, and I looked through all the clothes stores." Nami mentioned, narrowing her eyes at Zoro.

Zoro sweated internally, but outwardly kept his cool. 

"Guess you weren't looking hard enough." He dismissed. 

"Come to think of it, I believe I saw you in a number of textile shops looking at colors of thread not far off from the colors on these fish." Robin noted. 

"And didn't you point out this particular fish to me when you returned my book, Marimo?" Sanji asked, pointing to the embroidered version of the fish in question.

"Uhhh…"

"Oh, yeah, Zoro sews!" Luffy said, cheerfully outing Zoro without a second thought.

Zoro choked on his own spit.

"Luffy!" He protested, glaring at his captain in betrayal. 

"Oh. Was it a secret? Oops!" Luffy clapped his hands over his mouth, but didn't look very sorry about it. 

Zoro wrapped his hands around his shitty captain's neck and began throttling him.

"Did you also make all the stuffed animals you gave us, Zoro?" Chopper asked, looking sweetly up at Zoro with those big, trusting eyes, and Zoro was a Weak Man. 

He gritted his teeth, and nodded slowly, almost physically pained by the admission. 

His nakama gaped at him.

"You mean you've had this incredible talent the whole time and never told us?!" Nami demanded, aghast at the missed opportunities to sell out even more of Zoro's skills, Zoro bet. 

"We could sell this kind of quality work for so much money!!" She cried out.

Yup. Zoro called it.

"I'm not gonna spend all my time makin' things for you to sell, witch." Zoro stated with a sharp glare at her, shutting down the idea before it could really gain momentum. 

"Of course I wouldn't have you doing nothing but that, Zoro!" Nami protested, "But you could make a few extra things, and then we could have an extra way to make money when we need it!"

That sounded fairly reasonable to Zoro, so he grunted irritably and gave a grudging nod. Mostly to keep up appearances. 

"Fine. I guess I enjoy the challenge of doing such delicate work enough that it wouldn't be too much of a hassle t' make things more often." He grumbled, huffing and acting put upon.

He began haggling with the witch, eventually agreeing to a deal of the profits from the things he made getting subtracted from his debt, with allowances of a 10% fee for the witch being the one doing the selling, and subtraction of the costs for supplies from what Zoro "earned" (in exchange for the witch charging no interest on money loaned specifically for sewing and embroidery supplies). Zoro figured it was a pretty good deal, overall.

Much later on, as the partying was winding down, Sanji approached and leaned against the rail beside Zoro, smoking a cigarette. 

"It really is a damn nice shirt." The cook said, turning and shooting Zoro a smile that made his heart flip and his face feel warm. His heart was beating really fast. 

Was he sick?

Then the cook leaned in and kissed him softly on the cheek, and Zoro froze, face burning.

"Thanks, Marimo." And with that, the cook sauntered off, leaving Zoro reeling.

Zoro slowly sank to the ground, placing his burning face into his hands as he tried to figure out what the fuck just happened there.

He wasn't mad, though.

Honestly… He wouldn't mind maybe doing that again. Or maybe more.

Something to think about some other day, he figured.

Right now he just wanted to sleep off all this confusion.