The Best Worst Meal

Late afternoon sunshine beamed through the portholes, casting a golden glow on the galley and creating an incongruous halo around Zoro's fuzzy green head. Zoro leaned against the counter separating the cooking area from the dining table, arms folded across his chest, causing his white shirt to strain at the sleeves from his muscles. The tails of the green bandana wrapped around his bicep twitched with every breath he took. The expression on his squared mug warred between stoicism and impatience.

"Well?" Zoro prompted after an inordinate amount of time staring. "Aren't you going to try it?" 

Sanji sat at the head of the dining table, his blue shirtsleeves rolled up and his tie loosened in deference to the warmth in the galley. His blue eyes were focused on the bowl placed in front of him. The hang of his blond hair prevented Zoro from seeing the horrified expression in Sanji's gaze.

Thick, vomit-colored gloop filled the bowl, with bits of what Sanji presumed were meat and vegetables mixed in it. A fly floated on a carrot holding a piece of white cheese as an SOS flag. The spoon Sanji had stuck in the stew stood upright on its own. Not only did Sanji not want to try it, he wanted to run screaming from the room after he'd beaten Zoro to a pulp for creating this monstrosity in Sanji's galley. 

"Of course I'm going to try it," Sanji said, exactly opposite his feelings. He wouldn't let the marimo win whatever this dare or bet or meal was about. 

Forcing away his trepidation, Sanji pulled the spoon with a slurping-pop from the stew, scooped a small amount from the bowl, held his breath, and tasted it. It was putrid

Sanji dropped the spoon, closed his watering eyes, and tried not to gag. He gulped down the drink Zoro had set out with the stew. Once he was certain he wasn't going to add his stomach's contents to the bowl, he turned his head and gave Zoro a withering look. "That is the worst thing I have ever tasted." 

"Ha!"   Zoro's laugh was punctuated by a grin.   "I knew you'd be honest about it." 

"Why would I lie about food?" Sanji's gaze narrowed. "Did someone put you up to this?"

Zoro shook his head as he cleared the bowl and spoon from the table. He carried them around the counter to the sink. Sanji followed, noting that at least Zoro hadn't left a huge mess preparing the disgusting dish.

"So why'd you make it?   And who gave you permission to use my galley?" Sanji asked, leaning against the prep counter near the sink.   He pulled a cigarette from the pack in his shirt pocket and dug for his lighter. 

Zoro shrugged, the movement causing his three earrings to glint in the sunlight. "Robin suggested it, since it's been about a year since we started this thing between us." 

Sanji paused mid-light of his cigarette. His heart did a funny flip-flop-squeeze at the response. He blamed it on indigestion.

They'd never acknowledged that they had a thing going. It simply was, and otherwise ignored. Sanji hid behind the lighting of his cigarette as he wrapped his mind around the implication of Zoro's answer. Zoro scrubbed harder at the bowl than necessary. Pink tinted the outer shells of his ears.

 Sanji exhaled a cloud of smoke, and committed, "Best worst meal I've had in a while." 

"Hn," was Zoro's response, but Sanji could see the loosening of Zoro's shoulders and the beginning of a smile. 

Sanji kicked him in the back, sending him face-first into the dirty dish water. "Don't use my galley again." 

Zoro reared back, sputtering and dripping. "Why you--" He grabbed for Sanji and a fight ensued, and if there was more groping than usual, neither of them commented on it. 

Sanji eventually left the galley to finish smoking his cigarette, calling over his shoulder, "This place better be spotless when I return." 

"Yeah, yeah," Zoro said after him. 

Sanji waited until the door swung shut behind him to smile.