Fandom: One Piece
Pairing: Zoro x Sanji
Summary: Zoro becomes familiar with the newest crew member.
Disclaimer: One Piece is owned and created by Oda Eiichiro.
Notes: Written for the "Innocence" Challenge, and completed in just over three hours, spread over five days.
"Some people have a large circle of friends while others have only friends that they like."
Part I: Edges
“Zoro! ZORO! Go help Sanji with the dishes.”
I made some loud snoring noises.
“You’re not fooling anyone, Zoro!” A sandaled foot bumped my thigh over and over again.
I cracked an eye open. “When am I supposed to get some sleep around here?”
“When you actually do some work, that’s when. Now go on!”
Ahh, Nami. There was just no arguing with the woman. Cleaning up couldn’t be any worse than listening to Nami’s complaints all day long. I ducked my head and wandered into the cabin. Sanji turned, his curly eyebrows climbing underneath his shaggy hair when he saw it was me.
“You? How did I end up being so lucky?” he warily said.
“Thank Nami, not me,” I replied, picking up a wet dish and a towel.
I thought it would take hours to finish Luffy’s mountain of dirty plates, but Sanji flipped dishes in the sink with one hand, then washed and tossed the clean ones into the other side. His lean body rocked with the ship as he hummed a ditty, swirling his washcloth, flipping the dish, swishing and sploshing.
“It’s nice to have help for a change,” he said after a while.
I just shrugged, pulling a plate out of the sink. “This isn’t a difficult job; you could do it by yourself.”
A sniff, a huff, a thick cloud of cheap cigarette smoke. “I could, but who wants to work alone in a kitchen all the time?”
I considered the tiny stove, fridge, and sink. “You call this a kitchen?”
“Of course it’s a kitchen. But unless you have nice ingredients and tools, messes to clean up, and people working together, it’s not a good kitchen. It’s not alive.”
He absently ran a wet hand along the counter, giving me a queer look and a little smile. My fingers stopped whatever they were doing.
“And this kitchen’s all mine, now,” he added softly.
With a tiny shake, he turned to the sink, and began washing with greater vigor. I kept up up the pace, but cleaning was a lot less interesting than watching the sunlight sift through Sanji’s long bangs, or his narrow shoulders flex together as he dipped into the sink again and again.
“Zoro! Are you drying dishes, or sleeping on your feet?”
His sharp eyes flashed into mine and my fingers clenched. Something made a tinkling noise and bounced off my boots.
“Now look what you’ve done!” His mouth dropped wide open, but the cigarette was still balanced perfectly on his lower lip. How did he do that?
Snatching the towel away from me, he tore off a strip of fabric and looked over my now-bleeding hand. “Gotta get the shards out,” he muttered.
I started to pull away, but he held my fingers still with one hand while plucking glass out of my palm with the other. His hands were swollen and pruny from loving the soapy water, but the nicks in his nails and skin still bumped hard and rubbery over my thick callouses. He led me to the sink and held my hand under the cool running water, giving my fingers a light squeeze. I inhaled his aftershave of pepper, oregano, honey, all sorts of warm, welcoming kitchen smells. He dried my hand with a towel and wrapped the cloth around it, trying it off with an extra-hard snap.
“Ow!” I snatched my hand away. “That hurt, you!”
“Next time, be more careful.” With a flourish, he presented me a broom and duster. “Unless you want to wield a sword with a hook, that is.”
I adjusted Sanji’s makeshift bandage and started sweeping.
Part II: Spinning
The swords danced, and I followed.
It didn’t matter if every last Marine on earth roamed the deck. They picked the wrong ship this time.
Ussop’s voice cracked high above as loud explosions boomed to my right. They were swarming around the cook, too many for even him to take on.
I rushed through the mob, swords carving a crude path. A sharp edge lashed my arm, bullets grazed my neck, but all I saw was the spot where he should be.
If Sanji were hurt....
I was almost there when I heard the snarl, throwing myself down on the deck as Marines, weapons, and body fluids flew everywhere, a solid tornado with a whirling figure at the center. My swords were soaked with blood, handles with my own sweat. The blades wanted more. I wanted more. Just be where those long legs weren’t, enemies blurring behind the soft screech of death-loving metal doing its work while he kept the Marines off my back.
But it was over all too soon. Marines: Zero. Pirates: Two. I wiped the swords clean on a dead man’s shirt and sheathed them with a satisfying chink. He pulled out a cigarette with steady fingers, leaning slightly back and cupping an elbow in one hand as he puffed away.
With an effort, I pulled the black silk kerchief off my head. The heavy material was always touching me, a part of me. The cloth grew limp as it lost my heat, laying thick and flat in my hand.
The sleek square was drenched with blood on one side, sweat on the other. What would it look like, wrapped tight around Sanji’s slender, bony wrists? Or feel like, that pale, soft skin trembling as he jerked against the fabric, trying to free himself but not really wanting to?
He wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right there with me. Only me. I’d make sure of that.
I cleared my throat. Where to begin? What to say? “Ehhh, Sanji...”
Pale brows and eyes swept in my direction.
“Zoro, where are you...oh, Sanji-kun!”
He whipped around, all hearts and smiles. “Nami-san! NAMI-SAN!”
And away he rushed, lost in his little-boy excitement. He launched himself over the railing, and half the ocean could hear his high-pitched voice no-we-weren’t-injured-and-you-should-hav
The seagulls’ loud cries floated over the water; they looked through the garbage bobbing on the surface as my left hand dropped down to the triple hilts, so smooth and familiar, things I’d always known. The birds landed on the flotsam; they ate whatever disgusting bits they could find as my right hand fisted and pressed my soggy, stained kerchief tight and hard against my lips.
Part III: Centered
The grog was especially bitter tonight.
Celebrations always brought out the best in him, and the worst in me. So many pretty little things, flirting with a sophisticated man who loved women, wine, and song, in that order. He reveled in the attention, loved it, became a different person with a satiny smooth voice and “Honey....” this and “Darling....” that and a rush of endearments that could make anyone swoon.
But those women never saw anything other than what he showed them. They never saw him pouring over maps with Nami, congratulating Ussop on his latest failed experiment, struggling mightily to feed Luffy’s bottomless stomach.
Or standing alone on the prow, smoking as he quietly regarded the endless blue sea....
I needed more liquor.
He drank more than I ever guessed his flyweight body could stand. Hours passed before I finally pried him away from the passed-out women. How to get him to the ship was the problem. Flopping him over my back would serve the drunken idiot right, but my shirt would never survive a wasted cook being jostled upside-down. And after a few steps, I discovered piggy-backing didn’t work either; I couldn’t move when his long legs tangled with my swords.
So I bundled him up and carried him like a child.
“I can do it marself.....” he protested.
“I want to get back before morning,” I grumbled. “Quiet you, and no telling anyone I did this.”
“They wouldn’t believe me anyway. Since when does Roronoa Zoro rescue anybody, let alone a lady-loving cook?” he teased.
Sanji was drunk.
Sanji was drunk.
Sanji was drunk.
After a while his head rested heavily against my chest. Slow, heavy pounding thumped deep inside my ribcage and echoed in my ears. How could he not hear it? He relaxed in my grasp, and I swallowed and stared hard at the stars, picking a bright purple one to look at as I walked.
“Zoooorrrrroooo....” His gentle breath fluttered my earrings, and a hand crept down my shoulder to rest on the sheer black material, fingers rubbing back and forth through the cloth down to my skin. The heat from his flushed cheeks bathed my neck.
I stopped, everything tight and unmoving except for my eyes, which slid over the purple star, its faint white companions, the distant horizon, the dirt road....and onto his soft, trusting face and pleading gaze.
I grunted a response.
“Did you...someone...find Nami-san?”
The harsh moonlight bounced off his pale, sunken forehead. I closed my eyes. “Luffy or Ussop took care of her, I’m sure.”
He sighed in relief. “Nami-san....if she’s all alone....”
His voice dissolved into sweet nothings, then incoherent words, and I watched over him until he drifted off again, making those soft shushing noises I knew so well. Shifting his weight in my arms, I started walking again.
It was going to be a long way home.