In Dreams

Chapter 5


In Zoro’s opinion, Sanji looked stunning at any time, wearing anything, of any color, except when he was drunk with Nami-love.

And since, at this particular moment, said man was standing outside the stables bathed in moonlight, wearing nothing but black from head to toe, and Nami was no where to be found, Zoro would admit that he looked very delicious indeed.

He had to keep himself from licking his lips too much, in fact.

But he could tell that the other man was anxious, weary even, upon his approach.

“Good. Let’s get this on with then.” The cook said, mounting a chestnut mare. Zoro only smiled, and mounted a horse he was not familiar with, but since it was the one Sanji had prepared for him, he didn’t have much choice.

They took the service road off the palace grounds. No one bothered to look in that particular direction from the castle anyway, since only carts and servants with horses went to and fro on this road. When they reached the gates, Zoro motioned for Sanji not to speak, and approached the two sleeping guards, still mounted.

“Oi.” He said loudly.

The guard on the right stirred and started when he saw the two courtiers on their horses.

“Eh… ah… Sir?”

“We’ll be needing through this gate tonight, good gentlemen.” Zoro smiled, his voice low, threatening. “We’ll also be returning through this gate at some point. And if you’d like to keep your jobs, and your heads, you’ll keep your mouth shut. We might just forget that you decided to indulge in beauty sleep while on duty.”

The one conscious guard straightened up immediately and saluted the swordsman. “Of course, my lords. Peter…. PETER!” The second guard woke with a start.

“What!” He said, obviously annoyed at having been woken.

“Open that damn gates you fool!”

Peter caught site of the two gentlemen, and jumped into action, fumbling with the keys but managing to open the wrought iron gates.

Zoro didn’t need a lighted way to know where he was going. Unfortunately, the horse that normally accompanied him to the tavern was in the stables, and this one hadn’t a clue where to go. It was also easily spooked, apparently.

“Will you control that damn beast? Do you even know where you’re going?” Sanji said, more than a little surprised that Zoro was having such trouble riding.

“If a certain idiot would have bothered to saddle my horse, this would not be a problem. Unfortunately, aforementioned idiot saddled the worst trained horse he could find!” Zoro snapped, nerves already frayed to begin with.

“Well pardon me. I haven’t the slightest inkling what your horse looks like. I didn’t even know a buffoon like you knew how to ride.”

Zoro’s horse reared up again, neighing loudly, at nothing apparently. Zoro growled in frustration, tightening his hold on the reigns.

/I have no hope of getting there at this rate./

Zoro eyed Sanji’s horse, noticing how much calmer it seemed than his own. The swordsman smiled, an evil, lecherous smile that he hoped Sanji couldn’t see through the dark.



“I’m leaving this idiotic excuse for a horse here. We’ll retrieve it on the way back. I’ll tie it to a tree.” Zoro said, as if it were the most common thing in the world.

“Are you stupid? It will get stolen!”

“Then good riddance! I refuse to believe His Majesty would keep an animal like that in his stables anyway.”

Somewhere deep inside the palace walls, Monsieur Usopp was having a dream that two men were stealing his horse, and tying it to a tree somewhere.

But meanwhile, on a dark road, two noblemen where arguing about how to continue their journey.

“Then you intend to walk the rest of the way?” Sanji said, knowing that Zoro was probably capable, but not wanting to waste that much time.

Zoro dismounted and led the horse to the side of the rode, to the line of trees. He found a branch low enough to tie the reigns to.

“No, I’m not walking. I’m riding with you.”

Sanji gulped. “You most certainly are no-“

But Zoro had already grabbed the horn of the saddle, replaced his own foot in the stirrup, and swung himself up behind the man, grabbing hold of the reigns. This effectively pushed the cook forward, the swordsman settling nicely between a rather firm rear and the back of the saddle.

Zoro could honestly say he wouldn’t rather be anywhere in the world. But before he could allow himself to get much more comfortable, he dug his heels into the gut of the beast and they were off at a full gallop.

“Careful with my horse, swordsman!” Sanji yelped/growled.

Zoro laughed, loving the feel of Sanji’s warm body against his, and the wind in his face. This was the closest he’d been to the other man before. His arms were wrapped around Sanji’s upper body, under the guise of holding the reigns. His head was just above the cook’s left shoulder, the blond fragrant hair tickling his right ear. Zoro could smell the other man. Waves and waves of him, spices, tobacco, and something that he knew was only Sanji. It was heaven, and his blood was pumping furiously.

“Horses are meant to be ridden, shitty cook.” He managed to reply without sounding too husky.

Sanji, on the other hand, was not enjoying himself in the least.

He just wasn’t a touchy feeling person. Unless, of course, it had something to do with Nami, or women in general. But even then, a peck on the hand, an offered arm, that was it.

But now he was practically spooning with another man on a horse. Not even spooning. It couldn’t be called that. They were on a horse, and their bodies, consequently, were moving with the horse, in thrusting, pulsing movements.

And he was blushing again, damn it.

His personal space boundary had been shattered, and now he couldn’t get a good grip on anything. He’d never ridden two people on a horse before. He had no where to put his feet, and Zoro had taken the reigns. If his memory served him correctly, Zoro was supposed to be holding him, and he was supposed to have his feet in the stirrups, holding the reigns.

But apparently that wasn’t how it was going.

And his crotch was getting imperiously close to being racked by the horn of the saddle.

And he just wasn’t going to let that happen.

“Stop! Zoro! Wait! STOP!” Sanji shouted.

Zoro frowned, put pulled on the reigns, bringing the horse to an eventual stop.

“What now?”

Sanji was breathless, but extremely happy to have stopped the horse before he was castrated. But that quickly turned to anger. Sanji tried to turn around to face the other man, but only ended up grabbing Zoro’s right thigh with his right hand to pull himself around. So now he had his hand on the other man’s thigh, and his own face was a mere inch or two away from the Zoro’s.

Thankfully, he knew it was too dark to see that insolent crimson stain on his cheeks.

“Y-you can’t just do that! F-first of all…” Sanji found his mouth had suddenly gone dry. He could feel Zoro’s warm breath wash over his face. The man was obviously breathing heavily, panting almost. He couldn’t help but look into Zoro’s eyes as he spoke to him, but he was startled by the absolute ebony of them. Maybe it was because it was already dark out, but the moon was shining in them, making them look like two pools of midnight endlessness. His hand was still on Zoro’s thigh. He heard himself think that for a thigh, it was unusually hot. It was hard as well. Hot and hard.

His thigh was. Not his-

“First of all what?” Zoro said petulantly. “I know how to ride a horse, cook. You-“

Sanji yanked his hand back and turned around again.

I hold the reigns. Second of all, my feet are in the stirrups. If you insist on both of us riding on the same horse, at least follow the rules so I can avoid falling off and/or losing my manhood!”

Sanji’s timing couldn’t have been better and Zoro was only thankful that the chef hadn’t thought of looking down at Zoro’s thigh, or else his eye’s might have been drawn to the semi hard on he was now sporting. The cook had put his hand on his thigh and kept it there for an eternity. And the way he head been looking in his eyes… Not to mention Zoro’s excitement at their close proximity to begin with.

/You’re a swordsman damn it. Control yourself/

Not wanting to speak for fear of how his voice would sound, he complied without complaint. He relinquished the reigns and pulled his feet out of the stirrups. And if not for his current state of excitement, he might have simply wrapped his arms around the other man’s waist. But it seemed to Zoro that if Sanji discovered his new… physical condition, it might upset the man. So Zoro settled for putting his hands on either side of Sanji’s waist, and kept his crotch as far away from Sanji’s backside as was physically possible. Which was not easy.

But they managed to reach the town without much incident after that. Zoro directed Sanji through the back alleys to his tavern, and Francois happened to be standing in the back already. Zoro dismounted hurriedly, thankful to be rid of the awkwardness.

Sanji looked around the dark alley, not happy about the particular smells or sounds coming from the area. He noticed a decent looking young man pouring what smelled like sour milk out of a bucket onto the ground behind a lively building. Zoro seemed to recognize him.


“Ah, Monsieur Zoro! I was not expecting to see you tonight.” The man Zoro was speaking to looked around Zoro and at Sanji, smiling kindly. Sanji felt his insides warm a little, and couldn’t help but like this man already. He smiled in return. He dismounted to give the man a proper greeting.

“Ah, this is Monsieur Sanji du Cuire. Sanji, this is my good friend, Francois. His father owns and runs this tavern.”

Francois laughed, and moved to take Sanji’s hand. “Owns? Yes. Runs? Not so much.”

Sanji returned the handshake and bowed slightly. “I take it that you do that job then?”

“But of course. To the best of my limited abilities, that is. Can I do something for your gentlemen tonight?”

“Can you give us a booth near the back?” Zoro said, beginning to tie the reigns to the barred window in the back.

“Oh, leave that Zoro. I’ll take care of it. Just pick one of the empty booths. It’s a little full tonight, but I had a feeling.” With that, Francois took the reigns from Zoro and ushered both the gentlemen inside with a few shoo’s.

Sanji didn’t look around too much once he was inside. They went through the dingy kitchen and through the doors that led to the bar. Zoro got a couple of hollers of recognition which he returned enthusiastically. Then he led Sanji around the bar to the “back” of the room where several curtained booths sat behind many tables. They took the one at the end.

“People know you here?” Sanji said, once he sat down.

“Yes, but they don’t know you, so don’t worry on it. And if they have any questions, they know better than to ask me, or bring it up at all.”

The change in Zoro’s speech hadn’t gone unnoticed by Sanji. The swordsman also seemed more… relaxed somehow. A little less like he was sitting on something uncomfortable. Despite his hatred for the man, Sanji had done a lot of observing on his part. He had to. It was crucial, back then, that he scope out his competition. But he never got past the muscle headed, sea weed haired, infuriating exterior. He did know that Zoro hadn’t always been nobility. And sometimes he could tell that Zoro would rather be elsewhere than the castle. No matter how much he impressed other people, Sanji could tell he didn’t belong there. It was similar to how he felt at times. A little trapped, slightly suffocated, and usually frustrated. Not that anyone was allowed to let that show. But the countenance of people who had that disposition was similar. And now Sanji was sure. This Zoro was a lot calmer, a bit cruder, and much more comfortable in his surroundings.

Sanji opened his mouth, hoping to get straight to the point and leave, but a slight knock outside their booth and suddenly Francois popped his head through the curtain.

“Anything to drink?”

“You know me.” Zoro grunted.

“And for Monsieur Cuire?”

“Ah… whatever Monsieur Zoro is having will be good enough for me, I’m sure.” Sanji said as eloquently as he could muster. He hadn’t thought they would order drinks at all.

Francois smiled. “Have you eaten yet? Margaret came over with Papa’s dinner and brought too much as usual. Don’t tell me that palace food filled you up, Zoro. You know she’ll have fits if she thinks you’re not eating well enough.”

Zoro chuckled. Sanji was slightly surprised to hear amusement in the form of anything but a guffaw come out of the swordsman’s mouth, but the sound settled nicely with him. It was like warm air washing over him.

“Well, as long as it’s not her chicken and dumplings-“

Francois gasped. “I’m telling her you said that. But no, it’s actually spatzle with bacon and cheese. And there’s enough for both of you.”

Sanji was about to decline but Zoro interrupted.

“I could never turn down your sister’s cooking, even if it is chicken and dumplings.”

Sanji no longer had the chance to protest, and Francois had already left to retrieve their food. His brow creased, and he sat back, arms crossed.

“Monsieur, I did not originally plan to-“

“Yes yes. Business and all. But I’m hungry. And since you are the one who called me out at my inconvenience, the least you can do is allow me a good meal.” Zoro said, grinning at Sanji’s indignance. “And since I can tell I’m not going to like what you have to say, let me eat first, so you don’t ruin my appetite.”

Sanji glared, not really quite sure how to reply to that. Now that he had to wait for the buffoon to finish eating, and he was going to be forced to eat what he was sure was terrible food, he didn’t know how to fill in the gaps of conversation. He hated eating in silence, but awkward company dictated otherwise.

“So what did you think?” Zoro said suddenly.

Sanji looked up from the spot he was staring at on the table. “Think of what?”

“Fencing. This morning.” Zoro managed to find a lovely bit of stain on the curtain to stare at. But he couldn’t help but ask. He was sure he’d get nothing but insults and snide remarks from the man about his match that morning, but he had to ask.

Sanji had to think for a moment. He wasn’t expecting Zoro to make an effort towards conversation.

“Well… I mean… you were, that is to say, I’ve never watched many fencing matches. And even though I’ve been at the palace for so long I’ve never watched one of yours. But I could tell that you trumped- oh what was his name-DuMond-“

“DuPont.” Zoro corrected.

“Ah yes. The man should just give it up. Compared to you- I mean, well, he doesn’t look like he’s built for that sort of thing, does he?” Sanji was deliberately trying to avoid complimenting the other man. He didn’t like the idea of admitting that Zoro was a brilliant, masterful, graceful… what was he saying again?

“It was interesting.” Sanji finished, frustrated with himself.

Zoro wasn’t entirely satisfied with that answer either. “What do you mean DuPont isn’t built for fencing? He’s a former champion. He obviously must have some talent at it.”

Sanji tried not to roll his eyes. It was something his adopted father Zeff, had managed to kick, literally, out of his habits when he was 11.

“You’re better than him.”

Zoro look puzzled. “Well, I beat him, didn’t I? That’s stating the obvious.”

“You’re very good!” Sanji huffed. “I mean to say, because of your skill, you made him look as if he were new to fencing. You looked like you knew what you were doing, obviously. It was probably one of the shortest matches I have ever seen.”

Zoro was much more satisfied with that, and he tried, with little success to stop from grinning like an idiot. Instead, he propped both elbows up on the table and rested his chin on his thumbs, his fingers interweaved, as is he were praying. In fact, he was trying to hide the blush he knew was coming. Once again he found that brilliant stain on the curtain.

And thankfully, it was then that Francois poked his head through again, along with two arms laden with large plates. Whoever this “Papa” man was, he must be entirely huge, if the amount of food on their two plates combined were left overs.

“Here you are. Ah, here’s Margaret with the drinks. Let me know if you need anything.” Francois said, bowing himself away. The next moment a pretty, busty, freckled, blue-eyed red head popped her head in, accompanied with two mugs of what Sanji guessed to be ale.

“Zoro! Francois told me that you really liked my chicken and dumplings I brought over last time! You are so sweet!” She set the drinks down, her cleavage practically pouring out of her dress. She grabbed Zoro’s ears and kissed him twice on both cheeks.

“Margaret!” Zoro yelped.

“Oh don’t be shy! You know I had plenty of plans to marry you before-“

“Margaret!” Zoro said loudly. “I have not introduced you yet! This is Monsieur Sanji du Cuire. He’s a chef. Perhaps he can give you a few tips.”

The fiery red head immediately turned her attention to Sanji.

“Oh! A friend of Zoro’s! Enchante!” She grabbed Sanji’s ears as well and kissed both his cheeks. Sanji was quite surprised but hadn’t forgotten his manners. He took Margaret’s hand and held it to his lips.

“Enchante mademoiselle! Such a beautiful flower in such a dark place. How refreshing.” He said in the silkiest voice he could muster. He could see Margaret visibly blush.

“Oh my. Zoro, where did your friend get all his manners, and why has he not given some to you?” She giggled. Sanji returned her hand to her.

“Let me know if you need anything boys.” And with that she disappeared.

Zoro glared at Sanji. “She’s married.”

This time, Sanji did roll his eyes. “Simply because she’s a married woman does not mean she should not be treated like a diamond. All women should-“

Zoro held up his hand. “Spare me. I’m about to eat.”

With that, he took up his fork and tucked into his plate.

Sanji didn’t bother to try and take the argument any further. But if he was going to get Zoro to fall in love with Nami, he was going to have to teach the man better manners, at least. He picked up his fork and surveyed his food. It smelled fine, didn’t look poisonous. He deemed it was safe for his delicate palate.

After they had finished eating, which, by the way, Sanji found it had been a very decent meal, Margaret’s husband was lucky indeed, they pushed their plates aside and Zoro looked at Sanji expectantly.

Sanji sighed, suddenly finding himself faced with harsh realization, and knowing he wasn’t quite ready for it. But he was already here. He had already been through too much awkwardness and difficulty to get here with this man.

“Zoro… during dinner last night, Nami said something that I am sure she did not mean for me to-“

“She already told me that you know. If you have brought me all the way out here tonight to talk about that-“

“No! I don’t care. I mean, I do- no no no, not like- I- you… Oh hell. Marry the woman, damn it! I know you prefer m- not women, but don’t you see? She loves you! She will only be happy with you! I have had to put aside my own selfish feelings for her because I cannot make her happy! But you, you can! And she’s beautiful! She can bear your children, make you happy, love you for the rest of your life! What is wrong with that!” Sanji said, his fists balled tightly, his throat constricted. He couldn’t bring himself to look the other man in the face. He knew he was begging. Begging for him to love the woman he loved. There wasn’t a damn thing right about this situation.

Zoro sat back, dumbfounded. The man had brought Zoro here to beg him to marry Nami? He wanted to laugh. He wanted to pick his jaw up off the floor. He wanted to punch the idiot and grab his face and kiss him at the same time. He was just too stunned to be disappointed, but he knew his shock would wear eventually.


“What is wrong with that? Did you ask me what is wrong with that?” Zoro said suddenly.

Sanji looked at Zoro and blinked. “Y-yes. What is wrong with it?”

Zoro’s head tilted to the side as he considered the other man. “What’s wrong with it is that it’s not true. Three things. Number one was that she can bear my children. Number two was that she could make me happy. Number three was that she could love me for the rest of my life. Two out of three Monsieur. She can bear my children and love me as hard and as long as she wants. But she will never make me happy. And I? I have the power to make her happy? No, I do not. I. Do. Not. Love. Her.”

“But-“ Sanji began to interject.

“She would not settle for anything less, I am afraid.” Zoro continued. “She knows I could never love her, thus I can never make her happy. Sanji, she can never love you, and I think you realize that because of that, she could never make you happy. You two… simply do not understand. You love her blindly, she loves me blindly. Blind love never made anyone happy. You cannot make me fall in love with her.”

“But if you would just try-“

“Try to do what, exactly? Go against what is natural to me? Against my own fundamental nature?”

“But surely, Zoro, you have not always been…”

“Gay, Sanji? I have not always been attracted to other men?” Zoro was angry now. In his opinion the night had been perfect up until this moment. But of course it wasn’t to last. “If you must know, since becoming aware of my own sexuality, I have always preferred men. I have never been attracted to a woman. What you are telling me is like telling a fish to grow legs, live out of water, and breathe air! It is not possible. And if that is not what you are asking me to do, you are then asking me to lie. I will not lie to her Sanji. She means the world to me, believe it or not, and I would not feign love for her and ruin the rest of our lives! Not for your sake, not for hers!”

Sanji stared at Zoro. “If you would just try, Zoro. I am begging you-“

“If Nami thought that I was in love with you, and knew that she could not make me happy, but you could, and she asked you to fall in love with me, would you?” Zoro didn’t want to ask the question. He knew what Sanji’s answer would be, and he didn’t want to hear it. But he had to get his point across. This had to end before it got anymore out of hand than it already did.

Sanji felt the blood drain from his chest, even as his heart pounded painfully.


“Hypothetical situation, Sanji. Would you do it?”

“I… well… I am not-“

“To make her happy.”

“That is not a fair question, Zoro-“

“How is that not fair? It’s exactly what you’re asking me to do! You were going to say, “I am not gay”. Well I am not a heterosexual! The situation is identical. And your answer?”

Sanji did not want to give in. But he had no more straws to grasp at. Briefly Sanji wondered what married life with Zoro would be like. Several strange images flashed through his mind that he preferred not to explore any further.


“As I thought.” Zoro said, hoping he didn’t hear disappointment in his own voice. Sanji looked at him, confused.

“Then what do I do, Zoro. I cannot let her go on like this-“

Zoro sighed and ran his hand through his hair. Sanji briefly wondered again if it was soft.

“Nami and I actually spoke at length on this subject today. Perhaps some of my more brash and callous behavior has not made things any easier on her. But I think I was able to make her understand that I love her, but not in the way she will ever want me to. Much like she did with you…” Zoro flinched. He hadn’t meant to let that slip.

“She told you about that?” Sanji said, crestfallen.

“Not at length. Moreover she told me that you knew. I think things will be better from now on.” Zoro folded his arms again and frowned. “I do not enjoy being at odds with you, Monsieur. From the beginning I have never been a real threat to you. And I cannot make Nami happy, and you now know that it is not out of spite that I am unable to do so. I have her best interests at heart. I do not wish for anymore confrontations.”

Sanji thought that sounded like a mix of an apology, and an offer of friendship. He was shocked, to say the least. He was sad, disappointed, and moreover, he had failed. But Zoro had said that he spoke with Nami about it, and perhaps things were better for her now. Perhaps things would be better for him. Perhaps he still did have a chance with her, if she knew Zoro was not an option. Sanji gave a half hearted smile.

“I do not wish for any more confrontations either. And I am grateful that you spoke with Mademoiselle Nami. I feel better knowing that she has you as a friend. She is lucky.”

Zoro’s insides warmed at that. The evening had been up and down. Zoro hoped that from now on, his emotions would be drawn out into the open so often.

They both got up to leave, but Zoro stopped him at the bar.

“I intend to stay for a while. Would you be able to manage your way back?”

Sanji nodded, slightly disappointed not to have the man’s company on his return. Once their positions had been readjusted, Sanji found he liked riding with two on a horse.

“Francois, can you give him a lamp to guide by?” Zoro said to the barkeep.

“Of course. Monsieur, follow me this way.” Francois said, motioning to the kitchen.

“Ah, Zoro. Thank you for coming out here. I appreciate your time.” Sanji said, and nodded his head to the other man. Zoro just nodded in return. Sanji found he was also disappointed with that farewell.

A little confused with all his disappointment, he followed Francois back into the kitchen, where the other man was digging around.

“Ah, found it. And a light… yes. There we are. Alright, follow me!” He again followed the friendly man out the back door and around the side where he found his horse tied up.

“I gave her plenty of water, so she should be fine. Let me light this for you…. ah there we are.” Sanji mounted the horse as Francois untied it and handed the lamp to Sanji.

“Are you sure you can find your way back?”

“Of course.”

“Good. It was a pleasure to finally meet you, Monsieur Cuire. Zoro talks of you a lot. I think perhaps he has a great liking for you, which is rare, because he usually detests other courtiers.” Francois said, smiling.

Sanji was surprised and highly pleased to hear that, though he could not think of a good reason that Zoro might like him.

“Ah, well, that is Zoro, is it not? I hope to come back soon. Please tell Margaret her food was superb.”

Francois bowed and said, “Of course.”

And with that, Sanji was off.


Chapter 4 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Zoro/Sanji ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 6



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