The Babbling Truth

Zoro sat at the galley table with the others, shoveling dinner into his mouth. Luffy kept repeating: "Meat, meat, meat," between every bite. Every few mouthfuls, Franky would stand, pose, and shout: "Yeow, great food, cook bro!" A black and blue Sanji hovered around the table, constantly asking if the food was all right or if anyone needed more. Brook was still missing his jaw, so he was the only one beside Zoro who'd been affected by the devil's fruit user who was quiet.

They'd arrived at Triumph Island earlier in the day and had promptly gotten involved in the fight between the mountain dwellers and the valley villages. It hadn't lasted long, but the mountain folks had had a devil's fruit user who'd cursed half of the Strawhat crew with blabbing the truth that was forefront in their minds. Luffy, Zoro, Sanji, Franky, and Brook had been cursed, and it had been chaos ever since. So far, only Zoro and Luffy hadn't gotten into any trouble with the girls.

Across the table, Chopper and Usopp were having a quiet conversation. Nami and Robin were attempting the same, but Sanji kept interrupting them every thirty seconds until a hand sprouted from Sanji's cheek and clamped over his mouth.

"Perhaps someone at the other end of the table needs something, Sanji-san," Robin said with false sweetness.

Sanji took the hint with a muffled, "Mms, Mmn-pn!"

The hand stayed over his mouth until he reached Zoro's end of the long table. Brook sat beside Zoro, hand pillowed in his afro, sulking silently. Zoro shoveled food into his mouth without care or interest in anything going on around him. Sanji stopped near Zoro's shoulder, eyeing Zoro's plate. "Do you want any more, marimo?" he asked, with obvious reluctance.

"No," Zoro said.

"Did you like it?" Sanji said. It was a question he always asked everyone. Zoro inevitably answered the same way after every meal. Today was no different.

Zoro shrugged. "It's okay."

"'Okay'? 'Okay'?!" Sanji was abruptly furious. "How can it be just 'okay'?! You say that every time! You have to tell the truth and you say it's 'okay'?!"

"What do you want me to say?" Zoro said.

"I want you to say that you liked it, for once!"

Zoro wiggled a finger in his ear from the shouting. "It's food." Food was food to him. It either tasted bad or it tasted okay. He ate it, either way.

Sanji kicked him in the head. "Shitty swordsman."

"Oi!" Zoro glared at Sanji. "What's your problem?"

"You are my problem," Sanji said.

"What did I do?" Zoro said.

"You said my food was 'okay'!"

"It is okay!"

"It should be more than 'okay'!"

"It's only food!"

The others at the table ignored them. Their fighting wasn't anything new, or that entertaining anymore. Even Brook didn't bother raising his head to watch.

Sanji glowered at Zoro, arms crossed over his chest. "It's not 'only food'. It's a carefully prepared meal to meet everyone's special dietary needs and fully balanced to make sure none of you get sick. And it's supposed to taste good."

"Fine. It tastes good," Zoro said. Sanji kicked him in the head again, the bastard. "Oi!"

"Don't repeat what I say without meaning it, asshole."

Zoro rubbed his head and scowled. "I don't say things I don't mean, dartbrow."

"Then why didn't you say the food was good to begin with?!"

"Because it's only food." Zoro blocked the incoming kick this time. He was glad Franky had made seats that swiveled. "Stop kicking me."

"Then stop saying things that deserve to get you kicked," Sanji said. He lowered his foot to the floor and gestured at Zoro's plate. "Finish your food."

Zoro turned his chair back to facing the table, grumbling, "You're lucky I love you, cook."

Conversation abruptly stopped and jaws dropped. Nami handed Brook back his own jaw so he could drop it, as well. Zoro's face flamed and began stuffing food into his mouth so he couldn't speak. Damned devil's fruit user.

"Ha-ha-ha! Zoro loves Sanji!" Luffy was first to break the stunned silence. He tore another hunk of meat off the bone and spoke around it. "Hey, Sanji, do you love Zoro, too?"

Before Sanji could stop himself, he blurted, "Of course I do, but no one's supposed to know it."

Jaws dropped further, falling off the table and hitting the floor. Robin giggled behind her hand. Zoro swung his head around to stare at Sanji, who was now as red as Luffy's shirt. Zoro quickly swallowed the food in his mouth. "You do?"

"Yes. Stupid marimo." Sanji yanked his tie loose and unbuttoned the collar of his shirt. "Now look what you did."

"What I did?" Zoro said. He was still reeling from the double confession.

"You had to tell everyone you loved me, and now they know I love you, too," Sanji said, sounding angry.

Zoro tried to figure out why this was a bad thing. "Why is this a bad thing?"

"Because now I want to kiss you and I'm not going to do that in front of them!"

Zoro looked at their audience. Luffy cackled, Robin appeared amused, and the others still stared in shock. He was in agreement with Sanji. "Yeah. Okay. I get that."

"Good. Now get out of here. I have to stay until they finish, but I can't keep looking at you without telling everyone exactly what I want to do to you. So go before I do," Sanji said.

With those words, images sprang into Zoro's mind that were graphic in nature, and he shoved a big piece of meat into his mouth before he spilled exactly what he'd been thinking due to the curse. Sanji yanked off his tie and stuffed it in his mouth. His heated gaze practically burned a hole in Zoro, and Zoro tore from the galley.

Later, Sanji told Zoro exactly what he'd been thinking about doing to Zoro. Then, he did them all.

Zoro was pretty damned glad he'd thought the food had been okay. He hated to imagine what would have happened if it had been bad.