Zoro was asleep in the crow's nest, sprawled on the curved, cushioned bench seat around the exterior wall. He'd been sleeping a lot, recovering from his grievous wounds that put him as close to death as he'd ever been. It hadn't seemed like it at the time - Zoro had still be standing and conscious when Sanji had found him - but when he'd collapsed into Sanji's arms after falsely claiming that nothing had happened, Sanji knew he'd almost lost Zoro.
Sanji sat on the floor with his back against the bench. He rested his wrists on his bent knees and watched the clouds drift past the Thousand Sunny through the open window. A cigarette burned between his fingers, its smoke curling upward. The ashtray beside him overflowed with spent butts and ash.
Sanji was in love with Zoro. It wasn't exactly news to him, but it made the situation that more painful to bear. They'd been together for a while now, fighting and fucking and pretending not to enjoy each other's company in between. They never spoke about feelings, but Sanji knew they were there. He could tell by the way Zoro touched him outside of sex, or when he was gifted one of Zoro's rare smiles. He knew how he happy and warm he felt when Zoro was around.
Sanji wanted desperately to take away Zoro's pain, to bring it onto himself. He didn't know what Kuma had done, only that Zoro was hurt more seriously than he'd ever been. Sanji had tried to make that sacrifice himself, when Zoro had pleaded to take Luffy's place as Kuma's prize. To lose Zoro like that, to know he would no longer be in this world, would have killed Sanji. Sanji had stepped between Zoro and Kuma, intending to be the one Kuma took, but it hadn't worked. He had failed.
Because Zoro loved him, too.
Zoro had slammed the hilt of his katana into Sanji's damaged ribs, taking him out with the blow. Grief, not anger, had come with the pain before Sanji had passed out. He'd known why Zoro had done it without having to be told. And when he'd come to, Zoro's name had been on his lips and his heart felt like it had been torn from his chest.
Sanji took a drag on the cigarette, holding the smoke in before exhaling slowly. He glanced over at Zoro's bandaged form, reminding himself that Zoro wasn't dead. In a week or two, Zoro would be back to his usual self, ready to take on whatever the Grand Line threw at them. In the meantime, he'd eat and sleep and fight with Chopper about keeping the bandages in place. Sanji had nothing to fear anymore.
It didn't stop him from doing so.
Sanji turned his attention back to the sky. Sunset painted the undersides of the clouds in vivid oranges and reds. A lone bird circled in the distance, barely visible from where he sat. Soon, he'd have to go down and finish fixing dinner, but not quite yet.
Sanji felt the brush of familiar fingers on the nape of his neck. He looked over. Zoro was watching him through half-lidded eyes, a small frown turning down the corners of his lips. He moved his hand, using it to brush Sanji's hair away from his face, exposing Sanji bare. Sanji hated when Zoro did it, but this time he didn't comment or pull away. Neither of them said anything, but then again they didn't have to - it was written in their expressions for the world to see.
Zoro let Sanji''s hair fall back over one eye, traced his fingertips along Sanji's jaw, and let his hand finally rest on Sanji's shoulder. He closed his eyes again, exhaling softly.
Sanji brought his cigarette to his lips as he returned his gaze to the window. Behind him on the bench seat, Zoro slipped back into sleep.