The ship is quiet as Usopp stumbles from his bunk to the kitchen, desperate for a glass of water. He had woken up to one of Luffy’s grubby hands smushed against his face and needed a drink to wash out the taste of whatever snack Luffy had eaten before bed. Still groggy, he wobbles to the kitchen door and pushes it open.
Too tired to turn on the lights, Usopp wanders around the room, waving his arms out in front of him, feeling his way to the cabinet. Okay. There’s the wall. The counter. Zoro. The sink. Wait… Zoro? Usopp feels around a little to figure out what the hell is so squishy.
“Ow. Hey, cook what the fuck? Why are you groping me like that?” An angry voice sounds from right in front of him.
“ I’m groping you? Pfft. Says the ape with his hands around my ass cheeks. What are you even talking about, mosshead?” Another gruff voice sounds from Usopp’s left.
Wait a minute.
Before the fear in Usopp’s body can catch up to his brain, he hears a fwsh. A lighter sits in Sanji’s hand a few inches away from his face. The three look at each other with wide eyes. The silence looms over Usopp, and he feels vaguely like he’s about to die.
“Usopp?!” Comes the simultaneous response.
“Uh...GOTTA GO, BYE!” Usopp screams as he stumbles backwards, tripping over the bench by the table. He flips onto his back and groans as he hears the two argue from the counter.
“Ugh, put me down you overgrown shrubbery, let me go!”
“Ah, just leave him, who cares, it’s just Usopp.”
Just Usopp? He can’t help but feel a little offended at the sentiment, but his fear of an ass kicking in overwhelms everything else. Usopp rolls over, jumping up to run out the kitchen door. Just before he can make it to his salvation, Sanji is in front of him, his eyes wild and his hair messy from what are undoubtedly Zoro’s man hands .
Usopp suppresses a shudder. He does not need to be thinking about whatever the hell Zoro and Sanji get up to in the middle of the night.
Sanji’s wearing nothing but a t-shirt and his boxers, and Usopp prays to God that he has the strength to not look down and stare at the hearts that line his crewmate’s underwear. The look in Sanji’s eyes tells Usopp he’s thinking the same thing.
“UH. HEY. SANJI. SORRY ABOUT INTERRUPTING YOUR ZORO. I MEAN WALKING IN ON YOUR BOOB. I MEAN KITCHEN. I MEAN I REALLY SHOULD BE GOING, SORRY!” He stutters out, stepping backwards to protect himself from a kick to the face.
But, as Usopp’s life is cursed and doomed for torture, he stumbles backward right into Zoro’s chest. He runs forward with a shriek, all while Zoro laughs at him.
“You back for more already, Usopp?” Zoro says between laughs.
“SHUT UP MOSSHEAD, I’LL KICK YOUR ASS,” Sanji shouts as Usopp begins. “NOPE SORRY I HAVE CAN’T BE IN THE KITCHEN PAST MIDNIGHT DISEASE. I THINK IT'S FATAL. GOTTA GO, SEE YA, BYE!”
With that, Usopp pushes past Sanji through the door, letting out more apologies as he runs back to his bunk. Despite the intense feeling of dread and terror he just faced, he is happy for those two. Took them long enough.
Luffy is pretty sure he can see a bird on the horizon. Or, wait, is it a pigeon? No, those are the same things. Maybe. He looks down from where he sits perched on the crows nest (isn’t that a bird too?) to see his swordsman and his cook arguing. He sees Zoro get up in Sanji’s face, and like any good captain, he extends his arms down to intervene.
He lands with a crash--just a minor miscalculation. He lays on top of them laughing. Zoro pushes him off and he rolls over Sanji’s head, only to get kicked away.
“Hey guys! Whatcha talking about? Dinner? Is it dinner time?”
“Luffy, it’s 2:00 in the afternoon. We literally had lunch an hour ago.”
“Oh. Okay, I guess,” Luffy pouts a little, scratching his head, but then he remembers a question Usopp told him to ask them and perks back up, “Oh hey, are you guys gay?”
Both Sanji and Zoro pause at this, staring at him blinking.
“Usopp said you are,” he says, point blank, a finger up his nose.
He’s met with more wide eyes and radio silence.
“Can you still cook if you’re gay, Sanji? I’m hungry.”
Sanji seems to snap out of whatever trance he’s in, and stomps over to where Luffy still lays on his back on the deck.
“Don’t ask stupid questions like that you rubber bastard! Where in the world did Usopp get that idea, huh? And why is he going around telling everyone?” Sanji demands, pulling Luffy up and grabbing him by the neck. Zoro is laughing to himself in the background.
“Well, I dunno, he said he has ‘can’t talk about gay stuff disease’, so I was wondering—” Luffy is about to finish his sentence when he is unceremoniously punted off of the deck and into the water below. He thinks it's pretty funny, all things considered.
Through the muffled sounds of his drowning he can almost make out what the two of them are saying. Something about how you can’t just kick all of your problems into the ocean.
He’s about to take a little underwater nap when he feels an arm around his shoulders drag him up to the surface. He coughs up some water and laughs, a grin stretched across his face and his arms wrapped around Zoro’s chest.
“I’m glad being gay didn’t take away your ability to swim, Zoro!”
Zoro grabs his head and shoves his face in the water for a minute. “I’m ten seconds away from throwing your gum gum ass back in, you rubber weirdo.”
Luffy reaches up to ruffle his hair. “As if you can even count that high, Zo--”
He’s cut off again as Zoro hurls him back onto the ship, and he lands, dazed and confused, face first by Sanji’s feet. A few seconds later, Zoro hops out of the water to join them.
“So, Sanji, you never answered my question! Can you still cook if you’re gay?” Luffy reaaaaally doesn’t want to have to go looking for another cook. It was hard enough convincing Sanji to join. Besides, no one can cook quite like his chef can. He starts drooling at the mere thought.
Sanji lights a cigarette and sighs. “This is your captain, huh?” He gestures towards Zoro who shakes his head in shame. Luffy’s thinking of asking for some octopus tonight. Or maybe some sea king meat. No, some ham? Or maybe all three? All of this thinking is making his stomach growl.
“You can’t put all the blame on me for this. Besides, if he wasn’t my captain, we wouldn’t have ever met, love cook,” Zoro shrugs.
Luffy sees Sanji’s face get as red as an uncooked slab of meat. He looks away, but doesn’t look mad. Luffy is quite familiar with Sanji’s mad face, and this isn’t it. There’s something softer there, that he can’t really place. Unless...
“So you are gay!” He exclaims, beaming at the two of them with a thumbs up.
Sanji stomps on his head. “So you do know what gay means then, you ass.”
Luffy shakes his head. “Not really. I just know you two love each other!
His eyes go wide. Luffy definitely just figured out why the world government is always after them. It couldn’t possibly be because he made that sniper guy burn down their flag. Or that he broke in and out of prison. Or that he beat multiple warlords half to death. No, it had to be because of the gay stuff.
“WOAH, guys! Do you think that's why your bounties went up? Usopp told me the world government is afraid of homes! You know,‘home of phobic’” He looks up thoughtfully with a hand under his chin.
“I dunno why they’re scared of homes though. You guys don’t even look like houses, and you’re not even that scary!” Luffy laughs, clutching his stomach. That’s a pretty stupid thing to be afraid of!
Sanji groans and buries his head in his hands. “Oh my God. This is the guy I’m following to the ends of the earth. I’ve made a big mistake, I’m definitely going to die out in the middle of the ocean with no one but ol’ mosshead over here.”
Zoro grins and wraps an arm around Sanji’s shoulders. “Pfft, you wish you could die with me, curly. I’m gonna live forever.”
Luffy is pretty sure he can count on both hands and a foot the amount of times Zoro’s almost died in the past year, but the thought is put on hold as he sees Sanji drag Zoro away towards the kitchen.
“Oh! Dinner already? I knew you could still cook! Usopp said you do some stuff different when you’re gay, but cooking is for everyone!” Luffy exclaims, clapping his hands together in joy. He loves his friends.
Nami is going to kill Luffy. Maybe she’ll throw him overboard or wring out his rubbery neck. It isn’t necessarily mutiny if the captain deserves it, right? She gave the moron one job. All she needed was some sketching paper and Luffy took it upon himself to spend every single beri she gave him on anything but. While she’s at it, she might just kill Usopp too. She should’ve known that sending him with Luffy would result in disaster. What kind of idiot even needs a beetle farm ? Apparently the future king of the pirates does, that’s who.
She’s marching towards the bedrooms, looking for a certain rubber idiot to beat up when she hears a commotion coming from the kitchen. It sounds like a bunch of pots and pans clanging together.
That’s odd. Sanji never drops anything in there. The kitchen is like his sacred sanctuary or something. She’s surprised he even lets Zoro sleep in there, the way he’s always going on about the sanctity of a chef’s kitchen.
Speaking of Zoro...Nami peeks her head around the corner in an attempt to see what caused the commotion. A little spying never hurt anybody. Certainly not her, since she was the best at it. It’s not being nosy, it’s espionage.
“Zoro. Don’t. Move.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice, cook.”
“Don’t you see it? That--that fucking thing right there.”
“Are you blind? I know you only have the one eye but look down, moron. Over there! Oh God, I think it’s moving. Oh Jesus fucking Christ--ZORO HELP ME--” Sanji lets out another inhuman shriek, racing to stand on a chair behind Zoro, who looks dazed and confused as usual. He must have just woken up.
“Calm down, what are you--oh you mean that little thing?” Zoro points to a beetle sitting on the counter.
“Little? Mosshead, that thing is fucking huge. I can feel its beady little eyes staring into my soul. I think it wants me dead. I might pass out.”
Nami covers her mouth, struggling to hold in a laugh. Sanji looks utterly ridiculous, cowering behind Zoro, wide-eyed and white-knuckling his boyfriend’s sleeves. Nami bets if she walked in there right now Sanji would fall all over himself trying to regain his dignity. Better to stay hidden and let it play out. This is just starting to get good. Nami can see the potential of this blackmail material forming in the back of her mind.
“Quit your whining, you big baby. Let a real man show you how it’s done,” Zoro says confidently, standing up to brandish his swords. He has an evil glint in his eye, a demonic smile gracing his face as if he’s about to cut a marine ship in half.
Nami has to back away for a moment to hide the sound of her laugh as Sanji lets out another screech. This won’t end well. She thinks about stepping in to protect the Sunny from any damage, but this is much more entertaining.
“No! You can’t just cut it, you fucking gorilla!”
Zoro turns around, sword already in his mouth. “Huh? Why not?”
“Because,” Sanji says as if it's completely obvious, “I’m telling you, those things are evil. You kill it and it’ll come back to haunt me--”
“I’m gonna cut it.”
“PLEASE--” Sanji stomps his foot and grabs onto Zoro’s shoulders. “Please, god, just take it outside. It can fly, it’ll survive, just get it away from me, please if you love me you’ll take that thing out of here.”
Nami sees Zoro hesitate, and then drop his shoulders in reluctant assent. Huh, interesting. Looks like somebody has a weak spot for a certain playboy chef. The blackmail just keeps getting juicier and juicier.
Zoro sheathes his swords and slowly walks over to the counter, grabbing the beetle before it can fly away, turning back towards Sanji.
“This what you wanted?” He brandishes the bug towards Sanji’s face, and Nami can see it go from pale to red hot in a matter of seconds. He jumps back a few feet, holding up his leg in a fighting stance. She can just make out the beginnings of a flame under his foot.
“Zoro. Roronoa Zoro. If you do not take that goddammed monstrosity out of my kitchen right this minute, I will burn it, and you, and me, along with this entire fucking kitchen down to the ground. The All Blue be damned, I’d rather die than have that thing anywhere near me.”
Zoro laughs as if his boyfriend didn’t just threaten him with murder. “Alright, alright, no need to get all suicidal on me, Mr. Prince. I’ll take the fucker outside, don’t worry your pretty little head.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere, moss for brains,” Sanji says as he lowers his leg, still on the defense. He lights a cigarette as Zoro opens the window to toss the bug overboard. With all his screaming about the bug being sliced to pieces, Sanji sure seems to have no issue with it drowning.
Nami ducks back into the shadows, not quite ready to give up her hiding place just yet. She hears Zoro’s heavy boots tread back towards Sanji, so she peeks back out.
“Happy now, lover boy?” Zoro asks, now standing in front of Sanji.
Nami wrinkles her nose. Man, for being a rough and tough swordsman, Zoro sure does love his cutesy nicknames.
Sanji scoffs, looking up and away, but the light blush on his face betrays the annoyed sound.
“Yeah, yeah, you’re my knight in shining armor. Whatever would I do without you? Now come on, mossball, wash your hands. I still need you to taste this soup.”
“Don’t know why I need to wash ‘em, but whatever you say, your highness.”
Zoro scrubs his arms at the sink, and Nami is surprised by how easily he complies. She’s pretty sure she’s never seen him use soap in his life.
“C’mere. How’s this?” Sanji holds up the spoon to Zoro’s lips, his hand hovering below his chin. Zoro takes the bite with all the grace of a neanderthal.
Zoro hums, nodding his head once.“S’ good.”
Sanji puts the spoon down with a huff. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”
Nami doesn’t really know what Sanji expected from Zoro. It’s not like the oaf has any sort of refined palate.
Zoro laughs, wrapping his arms around Sanji’s waist, pulling him close.
“Everything you make is good. I would never eat nothing else.” He says it so easily, and Nami feels strangely warm in her chest. She’s starting to think that this maybe isn’t just about Zoro’s lame opinions.
Sanji laughs too, bopping him on the forehead with the spoon. “It’s ‘anything’ else, not nothing else, you moron. Haven’t you heard of a double negative?”
Zoro leans down to put his forehead to Sanji’s. “All I see here are positives, love cook.”
Nami feels strangely like she’s interrupting something.
Weird. She’s never felt guilty for spying before, but something about catching those two in a moment like this feels wrong. Like this is a side of the two only meant for them to see.
Nami looks for a second longer as Sanji trails his fingers along Zoro’s face to pull him in for a kiss. Zoro reciprocates with a hand on Sanji’s cheek. Both gentler than she’s ever seen them. Nami quickly turns around, quietly stepping away from the kitchen door. She can’t even remember what she was so angry about before. As much as those morons annoy her, she can’t help but feel happy for them--they were nakama after all.
Chopper climbs up his step stool that sits in front of the sink, moving to turn on the hot water. He scrubs his hooves until he’s satisfied that they’re clean. Grabbing his medical kit, he walks over to the medical bed to check on Zoro. He anxiously scrambles to the door, thinking back to the state the swordsman was in when Sanji carried him onto the Sunny.
Sanji had brought Zoro to him covered in blood with a sword sticking out of his torso. As scary as it was, Chopper was able to determine Zoro’s injuries to be non-fatal,. That, combined with Zoro’s freakishly quick healing abilities reassured Chopper that the swordsman would be alright. Sanji, on the other hand, was an irritable ball of stress, hovering over Chopper until he had to call for backup and have Nami make Sanji leave. Humans are weird. Zoro’s life was never in any real danger; it was just a flesh wound, so he doesn’t know what had Sanji quite so worked up.
Chopper soundlessly pushes the door open, careful not to disturb Zoro. As much as the swordsman loves to nap, it’s like he refuses to rest whenever he’s hurt. Chopper thinks he might have to tie him to the bed just so he’ll sit down and heal. When he peers inside, he’s not surprised to see Sanji at Zoro’s bedside. He moves to tell them that he needs to change Zoro’s bandages, but he stays quiet when he hears the two of them start to argue. He moves to hide behind his chair, ducking down to listen in.
“Will you calm down? I told you I’m fine, cook,” Zoro says with a glare.
Sanji returns the look with even more fire in his eyes. “Calm down? How the fuck am I supposed to calm down when you nearly died today, Zoro. No, really, I want to hear your answer, because it won’t make any fucking sense.” Chopper can see him tug at his bangs in frustration. He looks like he might cry. He’ll have to remember to add this to Sanji’s medical chart. Maybe he has some form of anxiety?
“Please, as if you have any room to talk, captain self sacrifice. Like I said, I’m gonna be okay, so what’s the big deal? I’ve been through it all, a little internal bleeding isn’t going to stop me.”
Sanji’s shoulders slump and he looks down at his hands, like all of the fire he had felt before had been turned to ash. “Zoro, you don’t get it,” he says, his voice shaking just like his hands. “I promised to protect you and I failed. I could’ve done something, anything, but I wasn’t fast enough. Wasn’t strong enough. I fucking failed you, Zoro. And what if it had been worse than this? What if you had--you know? It should have been me.”
“Stop,” Zoro says suddenly, his hand grabbing Sanji’s wrist. His voice grows softer. “Stop, Sanji. I don’t get why you’re always putting your worth below mine.”
Chopper feels like he should probably leave them alone. Zoro is being well taken care of for the time being, but he’s scared that if he moves, they’ll notice him and catch him eavesdropping. It sounds like they need to have this conversation, so Chopper thinks it’s probably best to stay where he is.
Sanji’s eyes are fixated on Zoro’s hand. “Because it is, Zoro. You don’t understand. I’ve always been this way. Never good enough. Never--just never worth anything. I’m trying so hard to make it up to you, to make myself worthy of what we have, but here I go again, fucking failing like the loser that I am.” Even in the dimly lit room Chopper can see Sanji’s shoulders shake, unable to meet Zoro’s gaze as he holds back his own sobs. He feels like he could cry just watching them, and he thinks about intervening until Zoro speaks up.
“Is that what this is about? Sanji--no, look at me, c’mon,” Zoro says, tilting Sanji’s head up to his own, gently brushing his bangs and tears from his face. “I hate it when you say shit like that. There’s nothing to make up for. I’ve already forgiven you. The whole crew has. You’ve made it up to me since the day I first met your stupid scrawny ass. I don’t need you to try and prove to me what I already know and feel.”
Sanji looks away, barely able to meet Zoro’s gaze. “I don’t know. Feels like it's not enough.”
Zoro rubs his thumb across Sanji’s cheek. “It’s enough for me. You’re more than enough, moron. For someone so smart you’re really fucking dense sometimes you know that? You act like you’re not worthy of our love when you’re the life and soul of this whole fucking crew.”
“Who wakes up at the asscrack of dawn each morning to spend over an hour making breakfast personally tailored to everyone’s needs?”
“Now you’re getting it. Who does all of our laundry? Tucks Chopper into bed at night? Fishes Luffy’s ass out of the ocean? Goes out of his way to make all of these fucking snacks without asking? Who fights like it's his last day on earth to protect them all?”
“Okay, okay. I get it,” Sanji sniffs and wipes at his eyes.
Zoro stabs a finger towards Sanji’s chest. “It’s you. And you know what? I don’t even need all of that shit to know I love you. I love you for who you are and that’s good enough for me, always has been.”
Chopper isn’t sure how Sanji will react to this. He stares intently at them from behind his chair, waiting for him to blow up.
“Zoro. I love you. I don’t think I could ever love myself the way that I love you, but--I mean, if you really think I’m worth it. I’ll try. For you.”
Zoro smiles, a grin stretched across his face. “That’s more like it. Now come here you idiot cook.” He pulls him in for a hug, kissing the side of Sanji’s head. He doesn’t stop there, though. Zoro continues to plant tiny, sweet kisses all over Sanji’s, making the cook blush as pink as a cherry blossom. Zoro only stops when interrupted by a sharp intake of breath and a grunt of pain.
He grabs at his side, “Fuck. I think my ribs are broken. Shit hurts.”
“That’s because they are broken you fucking moron. Now stop being all sweet on me, we don’t know when Chopper’s gonna come in here to change your bandages.”
“You could change them for me,” Zoro says with a sly smile. “Kinda hot right?”
Having read many books on human anatomy, Chopper can only imagine in horror at what will happen next. Knowing Sanji would sooner kill himself than let Zoro’s injuries get worse, he figures it’s safe to leave for now. He slips out the door as Sanji smacks Zoro on the head, muttering something about idiotic houseplants.
When Chopper comes back to check on Zoro an hour later, he makes sure to knock this time. He gets a low grunt in response, so he takes that as an invitation.
Zoro is awake and sitting up in the bed, but Sanji is curled up next to him, an arm slung across Zoro’s legs. Zoro holds a finger up to his lips, signaling for Chopper to be quiet.
Chopper takes the hint and asks all of his perfunctory questions at a whisper. Sanji stays asleep the entire time, only moving to wiggle closer to Zoro, who starts petting Sanji’s head.
“Don’t even know what had the dumb cook so worked up earlier. I’m honestly fine, a few cracked ribs and a single stab wound is nothing,” Zoro says quietly to Chopper.
Chopper puts a hand to his head and sighs. “Zoro, are you sure you didn’t get hit in the head too? Because what you just said is completely idiotic. You big dummy.”
Zoro smiles at him. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t. But you’re a great doctor, I’m sure you could fix me right up.”
Chopper wiggles where he stands, clapping his hands together. “You don’t have to flatter me like that you bastard!”
Zoro yawns, laying back down. “Goodnight, buddy,” he says quietly, stretching his arms behind his head. Chopper swears he hears a faint cracking noise.
“Zoro, you moron!!! You’re going to put these bandages on right now,” Chopper screams, rushing to fish them out of his bag.
Even in the ensuing scuffle, Sanji stays tucked around his waist, a content sigh in his sleep. Chopper supposed their happiness is all he could really ask for. (Besides the constant near death experiences—but he loves them either way).
Robin is waiting for Chopper to finish browsing the small bookstore they’re in. She rather enjoys spending time with the little reindeer on supply runs. He’s very sweet and makes for nice company, so it’s become somewhat of a habit to go shopping together when Nami gives them their allowances. She loves the way his little eyes light up whenever he finds a new text to add to his collection. He seems rather engrossed in whatever he found today, so Robin decides to wander the area a bit.
“I’m going to walk down to some of the food vendors, if that’s alright with you, little doctor,” Robin says, bending down to where Chopper sits with a comically large book in his lap.
“Okay, Robin! I’ll catch up later! Did you know that wearing a face covering can actually prevent the spread of respiratory diseases?”
“How fascinating. Don’t wander off, okay? I’ll be back in a moment,” Robin says, patting him on the head before exiting the quiet bookstore. Making her way down the sidewalk, she takes a moment to gaze at the passerby, until she hears some familiar voices.
“No, mosshead, I said we’re going this way,” the cook exclaims, clearly exasperated.
“Well, maybe if you didn’t give me such shitty directions, I wouldn’t be getting lost already—not that I’m lost anyway, shitty eyebrows.”
“Right, sure, whatever you say you moronic houseplant.”
The swordsman and the cook are heading her way and seem to be shopping for provisions, quite loudly, in fact.
Robin ducks into an alleyway, curious as to what they could possibly be arguing about (as if she had to guess). She glances over her shoulder to see the cook with his arm tightly grasped around the swordsman’s arm, and she smiles to herself.
“Cut it out with the death grip asshole, you’re cutting off my circulation,” the swordsman complains, clearly making no effort to remove the cook’s hand from his bicep.
“Better you lose an arm than to get lost out here, we’d have to find a new swordsman. And how could we ever find someone as both stupid and talented as you?”
The swordsman scoffs. “You couldn’t. Anyways, I’m starting to feel like you just wanted an excuse to hold onto my arm, oh prince of eyebrows.”
Sanji’s cheeks turn cherry red, despite it being noticeably cool outside. He seems lost for words, which is surprising for a man who recites poetry one minute and a string of curse words the next.
“I—you, uh, I’m,” Sanji sputters, eliciting a laugh from Zoro. This time the embarrassment fades to indignant frustration.
“Well, excuse me , mosshead! Is it a crime to want to hold my shitty boyfriend’s arm in public? Just because we’re pirates doesn’t mean every little fucking thing we do is illegal , asshole.”
Zoro concedes, holding his arms up with a sigh. “Careful there, you might get the marines called on us for public displays of affection, eyebrows.”
“And that’s why my bounty is higher than yours, mosshead. You’re bad at flirting and being a pirate. So suck on that, moron.”
Zoro opens his mouth with a sly look in his eyes, and Sanji quickly covers his face with one hand.
“ Don’t you dare .”
The friendly banter has developed into something a little more affectionate, with less bite, although there wasn’t much to begin with. Robin is a little endeared with how quickly the cook’s demeanor changes when he’s the one being romanced, if you could even call the swordsman’s awkward attempt at flirting romance.
It’s obvious that Sanji isn’t used to being on the receiving side of affection. Robin wonders if that might be why he fruitlessly pursues women the way that he does. It’s superficial, obnoxious, and his chances never get any better, so there’s no chance for real rejection.
Robin thinks that the cook may be a bit more sensitive than he lets on, and the swordsman has always been able to rile him up, only now it’s with affection instead of frustration.
She watches them amble along the street and observes how truly at ease they both look. Robin doesn’t think either of them would ever admit it, but she sees how their shoulders drop as they let their guard down and how they both lean a bit inwards, as if drawn to the other unconsciously.
Both of them are so focused on keeping everyone safe all of the time, always the first ones to fight and the last ones to back down, besides Luffy anyway. It pleases Robin to see them both so content.
Something catches the cook’s eye and he stops walking, pulling the swordsman to a stop as well.
“Oh shit, a spice shop? Let’s go in here. I’ve been dying to take a look at the local spices” the cook says, dragging the swordsman by the one arm not loaded down with shopping bags. They stop at the entry way as he gives the other a knowing look.
“Listen, Zoro. Are you listening? I know basic comprehension is a challenge for you, but stay here while I go in real quick. Don’t. Move. From. This. Spot.”
The cook enters the shop, leaving Zoro standing outside in charge of the rest of their items. The swordsman huffs and crosses his arms, tapping his foot impatiently.
Robin notices the way the swordsman’s good eye keeps flickering behind him. He looks nervous in a way she can’t quite place. Robin can tell he’s up to something, so she maintains her hiding spot as the cook makes his way into the shop. Once the door closes, she sees the swordsman run over to a stall, and then run over to the one next to it as he realizes he’s already gone the wrong way.
The stall he stands at is filled with flowers blooming in beautiful arrays of color. The swordsman’s green head blends right in with the various plants that hang from the sign and sit on the countertop. He stands awkwardly, hands moving nervously over the swords at his hip.
Robin can’t help but laugh to herself at the sight. She’s seen Zoro stand before monsters three times his size, the glint of murder in his eyes unwavering, but he seems so uncomfortable standing before the elderly woman that owns the flower shop. Maybe there’s more to him than he lets on. Delighted by the revelation, she secretly places an ear next to the stall to listen in on their conversation.
“You really think he’ll like these? ‘M not really...good at this sort of thing,” Zoro says awkwardly, as if the words are being forced out of his mouth at sword point.
“Of course, dear. Now hurry along, don’t keep him waiting!”
“Yes ma’am. Thanks. Again. ‘Preciate it.” The swordsman bows quickly, thanking the old woman again.
A giant bouquet of flowers appears in the swordsman’s hands. He looks around nervously for the cook once more and promptly heads off in the opposite direction of the spice shop, his confidence misguided but still sincere.
Robin sprouts some hands to quietly direct him in the right direction. The swordsman arrives at the spice shop just as the cook steps out of the doorway.
Sanji looks at his purchases with joy. “You won’t believe the haul I just found! I can use this one for the salmon glaze. OH! and this one would pair so nicely with some octopus..or maybe something freshwater?”
The cook taps his finger against his chin, clearly excited, “I can’t wait to experiment--wait, but you haven’t seen this one yet!”
Unable to get a word in, Zoro unceremoniously thrusts the bouquet he had hidden behind his back in Sanji’s face. Some of the flowers had gotten crushed in his grip.
“For you, I mean, if you want ‘em, ” The swordsman mumbles, cheeks flaming red as he looks somewhere off to the side, a hand rubbing at the back of his neck.
Sanji drops his bag at his feet, his eyes wide and face vulnerable in a way Robin has yet to see grace his features. It’s only flowers, and he buys them for Robin all of the time, but he looks genuinely shocked. As if having such an open display of affection for him has never even crossed his mind. Robin’s heart warms at the thought.
“Zoro...these are. For me?”
“I don’t see anyone else standing there. C’mon take em already, don’t tell me I got the wrong ones.”
Sanji grabs the flowers, his face growing a darker shade of red the longer he stares. Robin can almost make out the slight shake of his hands. Her mind drifts back to when they had landed on Skypeia, and the cook had nervously shoved a flower into her hands, bashful in a way not unlike this moment. This time, his blush feels even more authentic.
“No,” he says softly, almost a whisper lost to the breeze. “I love them. Zoro, you didn’t have to do this.”
“Course I did. Don’t ask okay? You didn’t do nothin’, I just...wanted you to have something nice and I know you like all that romantic stuff. You deserve it.”
Robin can’t help but feel a little shocked at the swordsman’s forthcoming. She’s sure the cook feels the same way, at the way his thumb swipes against one of the flower’s petals, his eyes glazed over in thought. He seems to be lost in a different world, and Robin can’t help but imagine what his life was like before they all came together.
Robin sees the cook shake himself out of whatever train of thought he was having and focus his gaze on the swordsman. His eyes are narrowed, like he’s just come to a decision and there’s no way he’s changing his mind.
“We’re leaving. Let’s go,” Sanji is tugging at the swordsman’s arm, but his feet are firmly planted.
Zoro looks down at his hand in confusion, some writing scribbled upon his palm. “Wait, didn’t you need, uhh...a time?”
“You mean thyme. God you’re so--come on, I think we still have a good hour before anyone else comes back to Sunny.” Sanji says, grabbing Zoro by the arm and practically dragging him from the marketplace to where their ship is docked.
She can practically see the moment the dots connect in the swordsman’s brain, as he runs faster.
“Sometimes playing pack mule really has its perks,” Zoro says with a crooked grin.
“God, please just shut your stupid sexy mouth for once,” Sanji is walking even faster now.
Robin lets a soft smile stretch across her face. She feels happy for them in a way she never thought she’d be able to for other people. It’s comforting, knowing she’s finally found a place where she truly belongs.
Her train of thought is interrupted as a little hoof tugs on the hem of her shirt.
“Robin? I’m all done at the store!” the little reindeer says with a big grin. He looks over at his crewmates in the midst of simultaneously flirting and running--not an easy feat.
“What are those two up to?”
She pats him on the head. “Nothing for you to worry about, little doctor. Do you want to go look at that candy stall with me? I think I still have a few berries left,” she says, brandishing a few coins from her pocket.
Chopper’s eyes widen, comically large. “Robin!!! You’re the best!! Oh, do you think they’ll have any cotton candy?”
She laughs. “They just might.”
Damn, these funky little pirates sure know how to party. Even his super enhanced cyborg body is worn out. Franky can’t help but smile to himself as he saunters away from the dance circle to where Robin is lounging. He spins Usopp towards Luffy with a ‘super!’, and pulls up his shades to send her a wink.
“Hey mamas, what’s shakin’?” He says, pulling up a chair to sit beside her. She gives him a small smile, and he has half a mind to weep and start serenading her with a love song.
“Just people watching,” Robin explains, slyly pointing over to where their swordsman sits, leaning against the mast. The dude has a half empty bottle of sake in hand and is surrounded by even more empty ones. His eye seems to be trained on something--no, someone. He follows Robin’s gaze to where the cook is dancing, suit jacket slung over his shoulder and the buttons on his dress shirt almost completely undone.
Franky honestly doesn’t know how he can stand to wear that many layers at once. Or pants for that matter. He’s yet to see the guy let loose like this, usually uptight and fretting around, even at parties. Franky’s pretty sure he saw him finish off a whole bottle of wine earlier, egged on by Luffy who bet him he couldn’t do it.
Robin laughs to herself. “Do you see what I see?”
He looks again to see that the cook has finally noticed the swordsman. Sanji is slowly making his way over to Zoro, a smirk stretched across his face. His cheeks are flushed red and his breathing is heavy from dancing.
“Isn’t this fascinating?” Robin asks, patting his thigh. Franky shrugs.
“Yow! Sure would explain why bro asked me if there was any room on the Sunny to build an extra bedroom. Think they’d like a cola cannon? Or, wait, a water bed, but filled with cola?” He’s itching to pull out his notepad and sketch schematics for the room already. And besides, the two did seem pretty happy together.
Robin materializes a hand to hold a finger to his lips. “Watch.”
He holds his hands up in surrender. “You don’t gotta tell me twice, babe. I can respect a girl boss at work! Especially when you do that,” he says beaming. He might have to install some fans in his chest--shit is on fire.
Back by the mast, the two seem to be arguing--if you could even call it that. They fight like an old married couple, all bark and no bite.
“Hey. Mosshead,” Sanji says, swaying a little where he stands. He rests a hand on the top of Zoro’s head for balance.“Come dance with me, please? Come onnn, you know you wanna.”
Zoro scoffs, but it lacks any real irritation. “No way, you’re drunk! Look at you, you can barely stand. C’mere,” Zoro reaches for Sanji’s arm as he says so, and the cook immediately collapses on top of him.
Franky’s eyes widen, looking over at Robin. “Damn, you see that, babe? Bro seems pretty comfortable laying on top of a guy he claims to hate, don’t you think?”
Robin shushes him again, turning back to the two. Franky is surprised he hasn’t heard an uproar from the swordsman, and even more surprised to see him manhandle the cook until his head rests in Zoro’s lap. Maybe he needs to get his eyes checked, but from here it looks like Zoro is running his hands through Sanji’s hair.
Sanji looks up from where he rests in the swordsman’s lap, his face red even under the moonlight. “Well, hello, mon petit chou ,” he swoons, reaching up to caress Zoro’s cheek.
“The fuck did you just call me?” Zoro asks, confused, gently taking Sanji’s wrist and tangling their fingers together
“You’re so uncultured. My sweet, grumpy little cabbage. My dumb little celery stalk. My--” Sanji stops, the rest of his words muffled by Zoro’s hand covering his mouth.
Franky sees Zoro jerk his hand away, wiping it on his pants with a frown.
“Gross! Did you just lick my hand? You little goblin!”
Sanji bursts out laughing. It’s a full laugh, one that comes bubbling out of his chest in peals of laughter. He kicks his feet a little too, like he just can’t help it. Sanji’s eyes are closed, but Franky can see the tiny little smile that graces Zoro’s face as he watches the cook laugh and laugh. Franky doesn’t think he’s ever seen the dude look that fond of anything or anyone. Except maybe a good bottle of booze.
Sanji’s laughter dies out and he pats the swordsman on the cheek, smiling like a maniac. ”You should have expected those consequences, silly marimo.”
Unphased, Zoro continues to run his hands through Sanji’s hair. “I did the crime, so guess I gotta do the time. But you know, if you really wanna get back at me, ya’ could do somethin’ else. If you want,” he says, trying and failing miserably to sound nonchalant.
“Oh, really? But marimo, you’re so far,” Sanji whines, reaching his hands up to brush over his lips. “Can’t reach. You’re gonna have to meet me down here.”
Zoro’s smug grin grows even wider. “Happy to oblige,” he says, leaning down to kiss Sanji on the lips.
Franky can feel himself on the verge of tears. The two seem so at ease, so unaware of the chaos around them in their little bubble. He looks over at Robin, who doesn’t seem to be nearly as emotionally invested as he is.
Zoro’s eye widens, and Franky can practically see the lightbulb go off over his head. The swordsman can barely contain his laughter.
“Mmm, you know what they say, chef’s kiss,” he says with a dopey grin on his face, and he snaps his fingers together.
Sanji pulls back, looking only slightly offended.
“Really, moss brain? That’s what you interrupted our kiss for?”
“Yeah, it was funny!”
Sanji shakes his head, trying his best to hold back a grin, and uses Zoro’s legs to prop himself up and turn to face the swordsman.
“You’re such a moron. Kiss me again,” he demands, cupping Zoro’s cheeks with both of his hands.
Zoro wraps both arms around him, pulling Sanji flush against him. He maneuvers Sanji so that he’s now sitting in Zoro’s lap.
“Slow down there, Romeo, let’s go somewhere a little more private,” Zoro says, helping him to his feet. Franky watches them disappear into the bedrooms, taking note to make sure everyone stays out on deck just a little longer. Gotta uphold the Bro Code, ya know?
He turns to Robin, holding a hand out to her. “Wanna dance with me, pretty lady? All this romance really gets me going!”
Robin takes his hand as he pulls her to her feet. “Why not? We all die someday, might as well dance before our tragic demise.”
“You’re such a freak, I love it! Let’s go baby, feelin’ super!” He says pulling her onto the dance floor for the rest of the night.
Brook yawns as he heads towards the crows nest to take over watch for the rest of the night. It’s chilly tonight, they must be nearing a winter island. The cold breeze chills Brook down to his bones. Get it, because he’s a skeleton. Skull joke! Yohohoho!
Brook climbs his way up to the top, where Sanji is keeping watch. As he gets closer, Brook hears soft humming coming from the room. It gets louder as he approaches the hatch. When he finally pops his head through, he spots Sanji and Zoro sitting together, tucked in the corner watching the window.
They don’t even notice his arrival. Sanji seems to be the one humming. It’s a tune Brook hasn’t heard before, but the melody sounds similar to songs he knows that originated in the North Blue. Sanji’s humming is quite nice, albeit a little raspy.
Zoro’s head is resting in Sanji’s lap, arms stretching around the cook’s torso in a sort of embrace. Sanji has his chin in his hand, peering out the window at the night sky. The moon is bright tonight, and it casts a soft blue light into the room. One of Sanji’s hands is resting on the side of Zoro’s face, thumb smoothing back and forth.
Brook feels a little awkward realizing he hasn’t announced his presence yet. He had been so entranced by the music, he hardly noticed that he’d been staring in silence. Clearing his throat, he knocks on the wood, waving hello when Sanji whips his head around to face him with a startled jump.
“Brook! You scared the shit out of me,” Sanji says, quickly lessening the volume of his voice so as to not disturb Zoro. Surprisingly, he doesn’t wake up, just burrows his face into Sanji’s lap with a grumble. Sanji sets a hand back down onto his head and twirls a piece of Zoro’s hair around in his fingers.
“My apologies, really, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Brook says, bowing his head. “I was just so taken by that beautiful song you were humming--mind if I ask what it’s called?” His fingers are itching to pull out his violin and play, the rhythm still playing in his head.
Sanji groans. “You heard that?” He looks embarrassed as he nervously runs his hands through Zoro’s hair. It reminds Brook rolling through the grass.
“Oh no, no need to be embarrassed, really, it was quite lovely! I’d love to learn to play--maybe we could do some sort of duet?”
Sanji is silent for a long moment before lighting a cigarette, and for a moment Brook fears he may set fire to Zoro’s hair. He blows out some smoke and shakes his head. “I don’t know about all that, singing isn’t really my thing. Besides, this song is, well, it’s a little personal, I guess.”
The look in his eyes is one Brook knows all too well, the same far off stare he finds plastered on his own face some days. He thinks of his old crew, the way they sang along with him, the way they would beg him to play the same old song as if it never got old. If he still had a heart--and sometimes it feels as if he still does, achingly so--then he’s sure it would be breaking all over again.
Brook is quiet for a moment before he responds. “I see. You could tell me about it, if you’d like. I understand far more than you probably realize.”
Sanji adjusts the blanket a little, tucking Zoro further in as the swordsman shivers in his lap a little. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes I’m afraid though, you know? Like saying it will speak the pain further into existence. It really pisses ol’ mosshead here off, that’s for sure.”
The question is at the tip of Brook’s tongue, but he drops it. He can only assume what their relationship entails. He feels as though he’s intruded on some private moment, but is grateful to be let in nonetheless.
“Of course. Take your time,” he says, finally sitting down across from the two. He watches the sky from the window as Sanji seems to go through every phase of internal struggle in his own head.
“Well. Okay. Fuck. I don’t even know the name of this song--it’s kinda stupid that I’m so upset about it, really. I barely even know the words. Or if I’m singing it right. But the memory is so clear in my head, I just can’t get over it,” Sanji explains, the words tumbling out in a jumbled rush as he continues on. He runs his hands through his hair and heaves a breath, obviously trying to build up to his story.
“So, my family--you know the ones. Not really my family, I guess, I mean, Zoro tells me not to refer to them like that. The people I grew up around? You remember, I’m sure,” Sanji says, looking over at Brook, eyes flickering down.
Brook nods, flashes of horrendously colored outfits and horrific grins coming to mind. Sanji hadn’t said much then, and Brook hadn’t felt the need to ask. He had seen well enough.
“Yeah, so, I guess if it wasn’t clear enough, they were—still are...bad? Horrible? Awful? Traumatizing? You know, all of the above,” Sanji says with a wave of his hand. It’s as if he’s talking about the weather instead of some painful childhood memory.
“And I didn’t have anyone growing up. Nothing to keep me going. Except…” He trails off for a moment, his eyes focused on a memory. Sanji traces lines across the hand Zoro has draped across his knee mindlessly, like it's keeping him grounded in the present. Brook stays quiet still, thinking back to nights spent alone in the dark listening to the waves that pounded the side of the ship.
“Except,” Sanji continues, his voice gravelly. “Well, except my mother. She was everything that they weren’t, you know? Everything in that godforsaken place was so dark, and she was so bright. She was like the sun. She had the biggest smile, even in her eyes. She was on her deathbed and she still smiled at me like it was the happiest day of her life,” Sanji continues, the words coming out much slower this time.
He has a sad smile on his face, and even in the dark Brook can just make out his watery eyes. Zoro’s soft snores fill the lull in conversation. Sanji shakes his shoulder until he stops.
Zoro tightens his arms around Sanji on reflex,”Mmpfh, ‘m tryin’ to sleep here y’know.”
He presses a sweet, sleepy kiss to Sanji’s thigh and settles down again, nudging even closer to Sanji’s stomach. Brook thinks he might actually be in danger of suffocating, but to each their own. He thinks Sanji might reach over and slap him for interrupting, but he seems comforted by the gesture, his voice growing calmer and more confident as he speaks again.
For a moment, Brook feels as though he’s been brought back in time. Flashes of old memories of his crew, of his captain, playing out in waves. He thinks of holding his hand, swearing his devotion and engraving his captain’s words in his heart. Brook can see it here with the way they embrace each other, saw it back in Thriller Bark when the two pledged their lives for one another--willing to die to save the other.
He always suspected something, even back then, but now, in this special moment so soft and sincere, he can see their unbreakable bond with his own eyes. He looks out to the waves and thinks of his old captain. He doesn’t feel so alone now, knowing that his beloved crewmates get to have a love he always yearned for.
“Don’t worry about him, he always sleeps like that, the freak,” Sanji explains. Despite the insult, he gently rubs Zoro’s back, pulling the blanket up to cover his arms again.
“Anyway, where was I? Oh right, my shitty life--well, past tense shitty. Present tense, not so bad, usually,” Sanji says, already lighting another cigarette.
“So, okay I got kind of off track. Anyway, I would bring her food all the time. I wasn’t great by any means--pretty sure I gave her the nastiest shit, I barely knew how to hold a knife. But no matter how gross or unappetizing it was, she always ate it with the biggest smile on her face.”
“I didn’t know you’ve been cooking for that long. We really do have the greatest cook on the Grand Line, don’t we?” Brook still remembers when he first set foot on the Sunny, the way it felt to be fed and warm and surrounded by people once again. He suddenly feels even more grateful of each meal they have, the way he has his own spot at the table and a full plate.
Sanji smiles at him, a wide grin that covers his whole face. “You flatter me, Mr. Skeleton. You know, my mom, she used to say the same thing. Would tell me I was the greatest chef in the world as she ate a pile of mush,” Sanji continues, taking another drag off of his cigarette.
“I just wish she could have tried some of my food now, see how far I’ve come,” Sanji continues, his voice growing softer, a wistful look on his face.
“I’m sure she would be so proud of you.”
Sanji looks down at Zoro, a soft smile gracing his face. “I sure hope so,” he continues, his voice distant.
“So, I take it she was the one who taught you the song?” Brook asks.
“Oh! Right, sorry, got carried away for a minute,” Sanji continues, gaze still fixated on the gentle rise and fall of Zoro’s back. One of his hands idly traces miscellaneous shapes into the fabric of the blanket covering Zoro.
“I used to have to sneak out to bring her any food. My brothers would have beat the shit out of me if they saw me doing something like that. My fath--Judge, I mean, would have locked me away immediately. I’d go late at night, usually, hide the box under my shirt. She’d eat, and then when she was done I’d crawl into bed next to her. She’d hold me and sing me this song--it’s a lullaby, really, until I fell asleep.”
Brook is reminded of his time spent with Laboon, laughing and dancing. He often played lullabies for the little whale long after everyone else went to sleep. Those are some of his best memories, and he has no doubt that Sanji feels the same. It’s clear that he misses his mother dearly.
“That is a wonderful story. Your mother sounds like she was a wonderful woman. I’d love to honor her memory by playing the lullaby. Would you teach it to me?” Brook asks.
Sanji looks touched in a way Brook has never seen from him before.
“Wow--I mean, sure. You don’t have to do that, Brook. Really, it’s not a big deal,” Sanji says, suddenly embarrassed.
“No, really it’d be my honor. And I am the Strawhat musician, aren’t I?”
Sanji shakes his head and laughs. “You make a fair point. Fine, just look away. And don’t go around telling everyone about this, you hear? I’ll kick your bony ass into next Tuesday.”
Despite an intense fear for his life, the two spend the next hour together, converting the hum of a sweet memory into beautiful notes from Brook’s violin. As he plays, the skeleton can’t help but quietly cry. Even with his tears, his hands stay steady as he listens to Sanji quietly sing his mother’s lullaby.
After Brook has learned the song sufficiently enough to be satisfied, he sets his violin to the side and goes back to watching the waves. The sea and the room are quiet, yet peaceful. He’s thankful for the calm seas, it’s not like they did much watching of anything on their scheduled watch.
Sanji looks half asleep as he looks over at Brook. “Thanks, Brook. It means a lot,” he says, his eyelids drooping and his cheeks red. “Really wish she could’ve met you. All of you. Ya know, my real family. Sure she would’ve loved you all. Probably would’ve laughed at your stupid bone jokes.”
Brook holds up a finger. “Ah, you mean skull jokes.”
Sanji flips him his own finger of the middle variety, and Brook holds up his arms in surrender. Looking over at the clock on the wall, he’s shocked to see his watch is nearly over.
“Well, I think it’s time you two get some rest. You must barely be able to keep your eyes open! I’d be in the same boat if I had any eyes! Skull joke! Yohohoho!”
Sanji nods his assent, yawning and scrubbing a hand over his face. He nudges Zoro in an attempt to wake him up.
“Oi, moss for brains, let’s go sleep in an actual bed now. If you don’t get up in the next five seconds, I will dump you on the floor, you shitty houseplant!”
Zoro grumbles, but slowly makes his way to a sitting position, stretching and rubbing at his eyes. He glances over at Sanji and immediately frowns.
“You okay, cook?” Zoro asks.
“I’m fine, let’s go to sleep. Some of us have to cook breakfast in the morning, you know,” Sanji grumbles as he starts to make his way down to the ship’s deck. Zoro watches him as he leaves, turning to Brook just as the cook is out of earshot.
“Thanks for all that, Brook. It means a lot to him. More than he’ll let on,” Zoro says, a thoughtful look in his eyes. He waves to Brook as he makes his way down as well. “Goodnight, see you at breakfast.”
Brook shoots him a wave, a warm feeling crashing into his chest. Even alone, he’s never felt more at home. He finally found his family, after all these years.
Sanji + Zoro
Sanji slowly opens his eyes as the sunlight streaming through the window hits his face. They had left it open in the middle of the night, and the morning breeze makes him shiver a little. He turns to move closer to Zoro, warming his hands on his back. He feels at ease in a way he never really has before, suddenly struck with the strange realization he wants to stay in bed for once in his life.
Their sleeping arrangements are fairly new. Franky had built it for them as a show of his “bro code”, or whatever that meant. Zoro said he would sleep on the floor as long as Sanji slept next to him, but no way in hell would he pass up the chance for his own room with a king sized bed. Falling asleep in Zoro’s arms each night is just an added bonus--though he’d never admit that out loud.
This morning is no different, he muses, his eyes trailing over Zoro’s sleeping face. His chest rises and falls in a gentle rhythm. He feels like this has always been his forever, right where he’s meant to be. Something Sanji feels so secure in, it almost terrifies him. He’s never had this sense of safety before, this feeling of devotion that he knows deep in his heart and soul goes both ways. He never thought he could be worthy of such a love, a foundation so solid and unwavering.
Sanji has always been so scared of not being enough. Always going the extra mile to prove his worth, to mean something to someone else. Sometimes he still feels undeserving. He can’t help but see the irony in having gone to heaven in the clouds themselves when heaven is right in bed beside him, snoring and drooling in his sleep.
For once, he can’t even bring himself to get out of bed. Normally the minute Sanji’s eyes open he’s wide awake, itching to start breakfast. But today, his eyes feel heavy in a dreamy way, content to pull Zoro closer so that his nose is tucked under Sanji’s chin, running his hands through soft hair.
“Mrrph, ‘s morning already?” Zoro mumbles against Sanji’s collar bone.
He’s got an arm slung across Sanji’s waist to keep him close, in case Sanji tries to get up and make breakfast. Ever since they got this bed, Zoro has been even worse about keeping Sanji in bed too late in the mornings, always pouting and grumbling and clinging to Sanji like a lonely octopus.
“Mhm, I’m gonna have to start breakfast soon, moss brain.”
Zoro’s arm only tightens in response and he shoves his face further into Sanji’s neck.
Dating Zoro has been everything Sanji expected while also nothing like he ever imagined. They still fight and bicker as always. Zoro still calls Sanji a shit cook and insults his eyebrows and Sanji still calls Zoro an assortment of moss related insults. But, Zoro is affectionate, much more so than Sanji would have ever thought to expect from the swordsman. Zoro is almost… clingy in the way he touches Sanji.
If you had told Sanji when he first joined the strawhats that the man next in line for the world's greatest swordsman loves eskimo kisses, he would have eaten his shoe.
There are so many unexpected little nuances to their relationship, Sanji can’t help but feel like he’s daydreaming. Zoro is fierce, his name feared across the Grand Line--marines and pirates alike cower in his wake. Sanji can only laugh at the juxtaposition between the great Pirate Hunter Zoro and just plain old mosshead.
They’ll never know the way Zoro’s lips downturn in a pout when Sanji stops playing with his hair mid nap. No one will bear witness to nights spent under the stars, the way Zoro looks at him, practically begging Sanji to spend the evening keeping watch, curled under a blanket, hands fastened together as they talk long into the next morning. Sanji doesn’t even think Zoro does it on purpose, he just naturally looks like a lost puppy if Sanji tries to decline.
Zoro even follows him around like a lost dog, always underfoot and silently pleading for his attention. Zoro’s boots knock against his ankles as he makes his way around the kitchen preparing dinner, scooting closer to him as they sit down to eat, shoulders and knees bumping together in a clatter of knives and forks and rubber arms.
Zoro hands out his affection just like he does anything else, straightforward and to the point. It’s like he doesn’t even think about it, like it’s second nature to kiss Sanji goodbye every time they part or pull him in by his tie for a kiss during post-fight celebrations.
Zoro is partial to Sanji’s hands. He likes to tangle their fingers together whenever possible, always tracing the bones of his fingers down to his wrists. He’ll kiss each of Sanji’s knuckles at night, when it’s just the two of them. Sanji doesn’t think his other crew mates would expect Zoro to be so gentle, but he handles Sanji with the same grace and care he handles his swords. Zoro treats sanji not like glass, like something breakable, but like something he holds in utmost respect. Something that deserves to be cherished.
Sanji is so lost in thought, he hasn’t noticed the way Zoro has scooted back, studying his face. He takes a moment to brush Sanji’s bangs back, holding them away from his eyes. It makes Sanji feel vulnerable, having someone see his entire face, but he’s safe with Zoro. It feels nice to be seen by only Zoro, like a secret only they share.
“You okay in there, curly? Thought I lost you for a minute there.” Zoro looks a bit concerned, and he rubs circles into Sanji’s cheeks with his thumb. “What’s on your mind?”
“Oh? Uh, just thinking, is all.” Sanji mutters. He can feel his cheeks turning pink, which might as well be a confession.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, mosshead, like I said I gotta start breakfast, so get your gorilla arms off of me.” He turns to slip out of bed, but Zoro pulls him into his chest.
“No way am I letting you off that easy. What were you thinking about, huh? I know that face, don’t lie to me,” Sanji can practically hear the smirk in his voice.
Sanji sputters. “Excuse me? I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Clearly the algae has seeped into your brain and it’s making you delusional. I don’t make faces , you bastard.”
“Oh yes you do, love cook. I could see that dreamy look on your face from miles away.”
Zoro manhandles Sanji so he’s laying on top of him, a self-satisfied smile stretched across his face. Sanji lets him, but only because he’s not ready to get out of bed yet. Not because he likes the feeling of Zoro’s hands holding his waist. Nothing to do with Zoro or his obnoxiously large muscles. He props his head up on his hands and frowns down at Zoro. Appearances to keep up and all.
“No, don’t tell me, let me guess. Were you daydreaming about me?” Zoro says teasingly. Unfortunately, he takes the following silence as a reply and laughs. Sanji would kick him if his heart wasn’t already about to burst with the easy way Zoro laughs underneath him.
“You were! I knew it. You gonna tell me ‘bout it, or what?” Zoro asks, holding Sanji down as he flounders against his chest.
“No way. This is classified information, not for the likes of lowly houseplants like you to hear,” Sanji grumbles. “Besides, I don’t even remember what I was thinking about, so I guess you’ll never know.”
Zoro, the smug bastard, just shrugs. “That’s fine. How ‘bout I just guess then?”
The tips of Sanji’s ears are red. “And just how do you plan on doing that?”
Zoro’s eyes are sparkling as his grin stretches ear to ear. Sanji wonders if they’ve reached a summer island--the room is growing warmer with each passing second.
“Well, I mean I could try a couple things, you know, to jog your memory,” Zoro says flippantly. “Could you have been thinking about this?” he asks, pressing a kiss to Sanji’s forehead. “Or this?” He asks again, pressing two more kisses to each of his cheeks. Zoro kisses him all over, soft and sweet, until Sanji is sure he’s melted in his arms.
Fondness swells in Sanji’s chest and he can feel the big smile on his face at Zoro’s attention. He never knew love could be like this. He only ever read about it in books as a child, but those were all fairytales. This though, this was real, and it was his and there’s no way he could ever give this up now that he has it. He thinks he’d probably go toe to toe with a celestial dragon for this. Sanji shifts, taking Zoro with him so that they’re both laying on their sides, facing each other.
“So, did I guess right? Can I at least have a hint?” Zoro asks with a very convincing pout.
A whole series of emotions are welling in Sanji’s chest, his carefully built walls always crumbling within seconds of being in Zoro’s embrace. He suddenly wants to tell him everything, confess every feeling bouncing around in his heart until his lungs don’t work anymore.
“Of course it was you, Zoro. It’s always you. I just--well, being around you feels like everything all at once. Like I’m alive and breathing and it’s so raw and real and amazing. I really thought I could never have this. Have you. You’re loud and obnoxious and stupid and frustrating but you’re so kind and loyal and beautiful and everything I could’ve ever asked for. I’ve always hated my life but I would go through it all again and again ten times over just so I could end up here with you.” Sanji is almost out of breath with the way the words keep tumbling out of his mouth, the aching of his heart translated into his own love confession here in the early morning in Zoro’s arms.
Zoro’s eye is wide in surprise, like he didn’t expect the confession, but his expression quickly morphs into a happy one.
Sanji’s face is on fire. He looks away from Zoro, embarrassed at the admission, but he doesn’t regret it. Zoro’s hands are swiping up and down Sanji’s back in long, soothing strokes.
“I know, Sanj, I know you. I’m not that good at all the mushy words and shit like you are, but, I love you too,” Zoro says, his voice soft like summer rain. It washes away all of Sanji’s troubles, all of his heartache. He lets himself melt further into Zoro’s arms, feel at peace in his embrace, like the rest of the world isn’t so bad when Sanji can see the sun paint streaks of light across Zoro’s cheeks.
Zoro takes one of Sanji’s hands and tangles their fingers together. He brings their clasped hands up to his mouth and kisses the back of Sanji’s hand once, twice, three times.
Sanji uses his other hand to sneak between Zoro’s cheek and the pillow he’s using, stroking a thumb across his cheekbone. He watches Zoro watch him, content to just let his eyes travel all over Zoro’s face. He knows the look on his face is completely smitten, but Zoro looks the same way. It fills Sanji with a deep sense of satisfaction, to know that they are equals in all things, even this.
Zoro scoots even closer so that their noses or touching. Sanji almost goes cross-eyed trying to hold eye contact with him, so he switches tactics. He plants a kiss on Zoro’s cheekbone, traveling down across his jaw. Zoro tilts his mouth towards Sanji’s hoping for a kiss but Sanji just moves to the other side of his face, avoiding his mouth.
“Oh shit, cook, don’t move. I think there’s something on your face. Is that a bug?”
Sanji’s eyes go wide. “No, fucking way. Please tell me you’re joking. Zoro, I swear--”
Zoro cuts him off with a kiss to his lips, sighing contently as he holds the back of Sanji’s head, pressing them closer, hair twisted in his fingers.
“Huh, think I got it.”
“You asshole! I’m fucking leaving,” Sanji moves to get out of bed, bur Zoro latches on to him like some kind of human koala. His fingers brush against Sanji’s ribs, which happen to be unfortunately ticklish. A surprised giggle escapes him before he can stop it and he shoves Zoro’s hands away. They stare at each other in a beat of silence, a slow smile stretching across Zoro’s face. Not good.
“Aw, Sanj, don’t be like that. C’mere, it’s still so early. Lemme hold you, come on, please? Don’t make me beg for it,” Zoro whines, still holding tightly to Sanji’s waist, fingers inching toward Sanji’s ribs again.
Sanji twists away from him, which only seems to tighten Zoro’s grip. “Stop it asshole,” he giggles, unable to hold in his fits of laughter anymore. Sanji hopes to let this piece of information glide right over Zoro’s head, but the demonic glint in his eye says otherwise.
“Roronoa Zoro, don’t you fucking dare, I’m warning you, I--”
Before he can finish, Zoro’s hands are already at Sanji’s sides, tickling him until he can barely breathe between peals of laughter. Using this new upperhand to his advantage, Zoro takes the opportunity to pull Sanji back into bed, laying across him as Sanji continues to laugh, tears forming in the corners of his eyes.
“Okay, okay fine! Five more minutes and then I really do have to go make breakfast, you overgrown mossball,” Sanji concedes breathlessly, a smile stuck on his face.
“That’s barely enough time! This isn’t fair,” Zoro gripes, but the grumbling of his stomach says otherwise.
Sanji gives him an all knowing look, raising an eyebrow in his direction. “As you were saying?”
Zoro rolls his eye in reply. “Shut up. These are my five minutes, remember? I earned these in battle. Now be quiet and let me hold you, or else.”
Sanji doesn’t even have the heart to pretend to be annoyed. “Yeah, yeah, come here you big oaf.”
Breakfast may have been a little late that morning, but the warmth in Sanji’s chest as he kisses Zoro’s cheek over a plate of bacon and eggs surrounded by his crew made it all worth while.