Zoro was annoyed with Sanji.
That, in itself, wasn’t usual. He’d been annoyed with Sanji since the moment they’d met, and it had formed the basis for their entire relationship. Of course, there was also trust, admiration, and loyalty involved – except for when Sanji had run off to deal with a problem without bringing the crew with him, which had actually hurt Zoro and he’d refused to go along to help after the fact because of it – but overall, annoyance was their default bond.
But recently, Zoro’s annoyance with Sanji had reached an all time high. So much so that it was bleeding over into anger and distracting him from more important things, like training and naps. And it was all that shitty cook’s fault. Every time Yamato joined them in the castle’s private onsen, or changed in front of them, Sanji’s nose would bleed like he was dying or the fool would pass out. It was dumb, and irritating, and Zoro wanted him to stop already. Yamato was a guy like the rest of them. It wasn’t his fault he was born with lady parts. Chopper had fur, Franky had modifications, and Brook didn’t even have a body. That didn’t make them any less male, and neither did Yamato’s bits.
Zoro was getting annoyed just thinking about it, and he stalked into the male crew’s temporary quarters in the castle. Eight single beds lined the walls, four on each side. Two settees flanked a circular fireplace in the center of the room. Heavy curtains hung over the tall windows that looked out onto the courtyard. Colorful throw rugs covered the hardwood floors.
Zoro’s normal clothing was piled atop his boots on a stool beside his bed. He currently wore the local Wano garb of a black, green, and white yukata and sandals. Luffy had indicated they’d be leaving tomorrow, and the rest of the crew was out having one last night with their new friends. Zoro had money hidden in the toe of his boot and he planned to drink as much as he could tonight. Stupid Sanji.
The jackass himself entered the room, kicking the door shut behind him. He, too, wore a yukata in yellow with white piping and sandals. He flicked his spent cigarette into the lit fireplace. “What’re you doing here, marimo?”
Zoro scowled, itching for a fight. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Sanji gave him a sideways look. “It means what it means. I thought you’d be knee deep in sake by now.”
“Gotta get money, don’t I?”
“Whatever.” Sanji walked over to his own bed, loosening the stays on his yukata as he went. “Let the door hit you on the way out.”
As the yukata fell from Sanji’s shoulders to pool at his waist, Zoro spotted a dark mark on one of the lapels. He inhaled sharply. “Is that blood?”
“Hm?” Sanji glanced at Zoro, then at the spot Zoro was staring at. He scratched the spot with his fingernail. “Maybe.”
Zoro saw red.
The attack was swift and merciless, not playing this time, and Sanji barely leapt out of the way when two of Zoro’s blades sliced at the offending stain. The cut fabric floated to the floor, and Sanji cursed. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“You are what’s wrong with me.” Zoro pressed his attack, katana flashing in the firelight. He went after Sanji like he hadn’t ever in the past, chasing him around the central fireplace. One of the beds was cut in half. A settee slid across the room to block the doorway. The slashed curtains heaped onto the floor. Sanji flipped and dodged and used air-steps to move out of the way, but didn’t engage. “Fight me, damn it!”
“No.” Sanji blocked with a solid smack of a katana against the sole of his sandal. “Not until you tell me why you’re fighting like you want to truly hurt me.”
“I do want to hurt you, you goddamned, selfish, stupid love-cook!”
Sanji abruptly stopped, and blond locks scattered to the floor as a blade sheered off hair near his ear. He extended his arms, chin lifted in defiance, leaving himself fully open. “Go ahead, then. Do it.”
Firelight flicked shadows across Sanji’s bare skin, with the upper portion of the yukata draped around his waist. Scars from past battles carved shiny lines on his chest and arms. His lips were compressed in a thin line, one of his narrowed eyes hidden by a swath of hair.
The red haze faded from Zoro’s vision, and self-recrimination replaced the fury that had been fueling him. What the hell was wrong with him? His loss of control was deplorable. He slid the two katanas back in their sheathes, his face hot with shame. He dropped his gaze, and mumbled, “Sorry.”
Sanji let out a hiss of vexation. He lowered his arms. “What’s got into you?”
Zoro shrugged, staring at the blond hairs sprinkled on the hardwood floor. “This place.” Yamato. You. “I’ll be glad to leave.”
Sanji closed the distance between them, put his hand beneath Zoro’s chin, and lifted it so they were eye to eye. “Tell me,” Sanji demanded.
It was stupid. Zoro was stupid. Everything was stupid. “It’s nothing.”
Sanji gritted his teeth, and pinched Zoro’s chin. “Zoro...”
“Fine. Fuck. It’s your fucking nosebleeds, all right?”
“What?” Sanji looked at him in confusion. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Everything, you dumbass curlicue.” Zoro could feel himself getting angry again. His jaw tightened and his hands curled into fists. “Why the hell do you keep getting nosebleeds over Yamato? It’s stupid. You’re stupid. And annoying! You shouldn’t be getting nosebleeds because of him. He’s a guy. You don’t get nosebleeds over guys. And if you do get a nosebleed over a guy, that guy should be me, damn it!”
Sanji’s eyes widened, and the hand under Zoro’s chin twitched. “You...”
Zoro jerked his chin away, and he folded his arms over his chest. Irritation with Sanji mixed with embarrassment over what he’d unintentionally admitted. “Yeah, what of it?”
Sanji continued to stare at him, eyes wide. “How long?”
“How long what?”
“How long have you wanted it to be you?”
Zoro averted his gaze. The fire cracked in the fireplace. Moonlight refracted in the tall pane window that was no longer covered by curtains. He thought about not answering, but the truth was in the air now. “Since Sky Island,” he admitted gruffly. He’d been physically attracted to Sanji since the idiot had first worn cutoffs. Those pale, hairy-assed legs, exposed to the world below the knee.
“Since...” Sanji trailed off, and then he cursed in a myriad of colorful ways before saying, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Zoro’s brow furrowed in confusion, and he looked back at Sanji. “Wait… what?”
“You stupid oaf, all this time…” Sanji shook his head, grabbed Zoro by the lapels, and kissed him.
Zoro had been expecting anger, outrage, or disgust.Or worse, pity. Not the feel of Sanji’s chapped lips against his own. He stared crossed-eyed at Sanji, stunned.
Sanji pulled back and smirked at him with amusement. “You know, this works better with participation.”
“What? I...” Zoro scowled, realizing Sanji was teasing him. “Shut up.”
Sanji laughed, a clear, surprisingly husky sound that Zoro rarely heard. His hands came up to enmesh in Zoro’s short, green hair. A dare glinted in his eyes. “Why don’t you kiss me like you want to give me a nosebleed?”
Zoro’s gaze narrowed at the challenge, even as his heartbeat sped up. Uncertainty tickled Zoro’s mind as his arms came around Sanji, but Sanji didn’t sidestep or push him away. Sanji really meant it. Zoro’s calloused palms rested against the bare skin of Sanji’s back. “Rotten pervert,” he murmured, before re-capturing Sanji’s lips with his own.
Fireworks flashed behind Zoro’s closed eyelids and in his chest. He didn’t know if it was the kiss or actually happening outside. He also didn’t care. Sanji kissed like he fought, all passion and intensity and heat. Zoro’s body felt like a powder keg and Sanji had lit the fuse. Flames licked every nerve ending, and at any moment he might explode.
The chamber door banging against the fight-relocated settee interrupted the kiss. “Hey, why’s the door blocked?” Usopp said from the hall.
Zoro drew back reluctantly, and rubbed his tingling lips together. Sanji’s nose wasn’t bleeding, but he did appear dazed. Usopp pounded on the door. “Hello, anyone in there?”
“Yeah, coming!” Sanji called with a roughened voice. He stepped away from Zoro, his hands flustering through his blond hair. His cheeks sported a rosy hue. He tugged the yukata back over his shoulders as he headed for the door.
Zoro pulled at the collar of his own yukata, feeling overheated and ruffled. He and Sanji had kissed. They had actually kissed. It wasn’t Zoro’s imagination or fevered dream. It had really happened. Panic fluttered in Zoro’s belly. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do next. Pretend that it didn’t happen? Admit that he liked it? A lot? That he wanted to do it again, and soon?
With one foot propped on the arm of the settee blocking the door, Sanji shot Zoro a smoldering smile. “Meet me at the private onsen in twenty minutes.”
Kaboom. Zoro’s insides burst into flame.
Sanji kicked the settee out of the way and yanked open the door, causing Usopp to stumble into the crew’s quarters. He brushed off Usopp’s questions, and with a final, salacious glance at Zoro, ducked out of the room.
Usopp surveyed the partially destroyed bedchamber, shook his head, and then asked Zoro, “Did you know your nose is bleeding?”