An Early Birthday Gift





"Give me the keys to the fridge," Zoro demanded, clumping into the galley. It was late. Most of the crew were getting ready for bed. The Thousand Sunny's sails had been raised for the night.   Chopper was in the crow's nest, on watch. They'd left their last port of call yesterday in a rush, but so far it hadn't appeared like anyone was following them.

Sanji didn't look up from the last of the dishes he was washing. A cigarette dangled from the corner of his mouth. "No."

"I'm not Luffy."   Zoro stopped in front of the long counter that divided the galley's cooking and dining area. Sanji stood in the middle on the cooking side, at the large dish sink. Overhead cabinets ran the length of the counter. Recessed pot lights shone down, illuminating the area. "I'm also not someone you can boss around."

Sanji snorted, rinsed a dish with clear water, and set it on the drying rack. "My galley, my rules."

"Give me the damned keys already, aho-cook," Zoro said, shoving his open hand in front of Sanji's face. 

Sanji looked at the calloused, scarred palm for a moment, then lifted his gaze. Zoro's lips were thinned in irritation and a muscle ticked in his square jaw. Black eyes narrowed when Sanji arched a brow. 

Sanji wanted to finish his dishes, have a glass of wine, and go to bed, not fight with Zoro. He wiped his hand on a towel and fished the keys out of his pocket. "Don't steal any of the berry pies. They're for tomorrow." 

Zoro snatched the keys.   "Yeah, yeah." 

Sanji watched as Zoro unlocked the padlock on the refrigerator door and caught the keys that came winging his way. He took a final drag on his cigarette and stubbed it out. He returned to the dishes, half-watching the stretch of Zoro's trousers as Zoro bent and dug through the very back and bottom of the refrigerator.   Zoro emerged with the tip of his nose and his cheeks pink from the cold, with a chilled bottle of sake in one hand and a small, plain box in the other. Sanji didn't recognize the box, and he knew everything in his refrigerator. 

Zoro juggled his prizes, closed the refrigerator, and relocked it. Sanji expected him to leave. Instead, Zoro walked back over to Sanji and dropped the box beside the sink.   "Happy birthday." 

Sanji blinked several times. "My birthday isn't for another month." 

"I know. That sea-witch said we won't be stopping for a while." Zoro uncorked the sake. "She said you'd find it pretty quickly, too, so I should just give it to you." 

"Don't call Nami-san that." Sanji's response was pretty automatic and lacked the heft of his shoe to Zoro's head.   The box was distracting him from defending his lady's honor. "What is it?" 

"Open it and see, dumbass." 

Sanji glared at him.   Zoro rolled his eyes and took a swig of sake. He leaned an elbow against the counter as if he were at a tavern bar. 

Sanji choose to annoy Zoro by finishing the dishes first. Zoro's smirk indicated he knew what Sanji was doing and didn't care.   He continued to drink his sake as the ship rolled with the waves. A light patter of rain tapped against the portholes. The soft clack of the dishes accompanied the companionable quiet.   The push and pull of their magnetic attraction didn't always lead to a fight. 

When the last dish was put away, the sink cleaned, and hands dried, Sanji reached for the box. He untied the twine holding it closed and removed the wax paper under the lid. Nestled inside were ten, small chocolate rum balls.

A smile curved Sanji's lips. He plucked one of the rum balls from the package and popped it into his mouth. It was a sophisticated taste, the sweetness of the rich chocolate mixing with the more bitter flavor of the rum. It was not something he would make for the others. 

Zoro's eyes were alight with happiness and a hint of mischief. "You like?" 

"Yes," Sanji said. He took another from the box.   "They won't get me drunk, though." 

"They won't?" 

Zoro sounded so bummed it made Sanji laugh. "Idiot marimo," Sanji said, reaching across the counter to press the sweet against Zoro's lips. Zoro ate it readily. Sanji chuckled softly at the wrinkle of Zoro's nose at the taste. "Come on. The survey room will be empty at this hour." 

Zoro brightened considerably, and Sanji shook his head with fondness. He was in love with such a moron. Sanji took the box, snagged a glass and a bottle of wine, and followed Zoro out of the galley and into the night.