Summary: Usopp sees the first indications of the strengthening bond between Zoro and Robin and isn't sure how to deal with it. Rated T to be safe. Pre-timeskip. Even though this is "Friendship&Mystery," there is Romance tossed in depending on how you want to interpret what I'm writing.

[EDIT: Because I decided to make this story longer, there is/will be a summary change. However, it is altered only to reference the expanded dimensions of the plot. The concept is still the same.

New Summary: Usopp sees the first indications of the strengthening bond between Zoro and Robin and begins to think that there may be more to the relationship than there is. Usopp hasn't mentioned his thoughts to anyone though, and it's now up to Zoro to convince his crewmate that nothing is going on before Usopp opens his mouth in front of everyone. Pre-timeskip. Rated T to be safe.]


The Strawhats were once again in the center of a battle. Luffy had created–not for the first or last time–some small sort of misunderstanding which immediately blew out of proportion, plunging the small town into a chaotic fit.

Was probably something to do with meat or piracy, Zoro was sure.

"Gah!" another group of townspeople yelled as the former pirate hunter slashed away with the flat edge of his katana.

No matter, Zoro's feral grin spread wider around Wado Ichimonji. It wasn't like he was about to complain about a little warmup. He just wished this was more of a challenge. He'd have to hit the weight room later for the real workout.

He sliced his way through the crowded alley, fighting off stubborn citizens when an explosion of heat hit his face. Zoro looked up.

"Kaen Boshi!"

"Oh, Usopp. Nice one!"

"Of course it was! You being a baka as usual and not checking the rooftops. Of course, the Great Captain Usopp is always amazing– did I ever tell you about the time that I– Oi! Listen to me when I'm talking to you!"

Zoro was already a block away. In the wrong direction.

"Of course he is," Usopp slapped a palm to his face. Well, the Great Captain Usopp had taken to the rooftops to avoid getting hu– I mean~ to be sneakier! He could spare a moment or two to rescue a distressed friend! Our brave warrior slid down a clothesline and ran down the center of the swordsman's path of destruction. "Zoro-kun~ Over here! The ship is the other way!"

Something large shook the ground behind the sniper, causing him to stumble. Usopp froze and slowly looked over his shoulder, stared, "AAAAiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee-!"

"What now!" Zoro snapped.

"…-iiiiieeeEEEE– Oof!"

"Why the hell do you always have to knock me to the ground!" Zoro couldn't understand half the sounds that tumbled out of the blubbering coward, but he could comprehend what the two figures behind Usopp were: interesting. Zoro shoved the sniper off to the side and examined the opponents. One was large and heavy-set, swinging an overly-muscular arm. His companion was a shorter, stouter man with beady eyes, waddling quickly to keep up with the larger's strides.

"I. am the great. the only. Boxing King!" bellowed the 'Big One,' as Zoro mentally dubbed him. The townspeople cheered in the background.

"'Boxing King,' eh?"

"Aha-ahaha-haha! Zoro, I don't like the look on yo– why are you sheathing your swords?"

"So I can fight with my fists."

"Zoro, NO! How can you say that so calmly? We have to get back to Sunny! Like right now! And I want to be in one piece (hah) when we get back! Listen to me–haaahh! he's not listening to me–"

~~~~(5 minutes later)~~~~

"Kenshi-san. Sniper-san. So this is where you have been.

"Ahh! Robin, SAVE US!"

"What the hell, Usopp! I don't need any saving!"

Robin was perched delicately on the edge of a rooftop, her legs crossed casually."Ufu! What seems to be the matter?"

Usopp was positively scandalized that she could even ask that and he told Robin so while screeching at the top of his lungs.

"I am. the great. the one and only– "

"Yeah, yeah, we get it already!" Usopp shook his fist at the Boxing King before careening out of the way of the 'small one' who was bearing a little hammer.

"I hate to break up your fun–"

"Oi, oi. In what way is this fun?"

"–but we really should be getting back to the Sunny."

"Hey, Zoro! Let's go back!" Usopp jumped at this brighter prospect. "Let's– Will you stop that!"

The 'Small One' had tried to hammer Usopp again. A crater appeared where his weapon fell.

Seriously? Usopp sweat-dropped. "Persistent bastard, take a load of this: Tamago Boshi!"

A fowl smell pervaded the air and the 'small one' huddled into a ball and began to cry like a baby.

"Geh. Usopp!" Zoro crinkled his nose.

Robin giggled, "It is a rather pungent odor."

"Mwahahaha! Serves you right…Zoro look out!"

"Tch!" Zoro rolled out of the way as a building was destroyed with a single punch.

"It would seem as if the smaller one's distress greatly affects the bigger one's attacks."

"Thank you~ for stating the obvious!" Usopp stomped his foot at Robin. "And you aren't helping!"

The archaeologist simply smiled. "Gomen, I thought you were handling this quite well on your own."

Ah– Well, of course, Usopp yelled gleefully. He had, after all, saved an entire other-world from an UFO armada. Zoro was simply following his superior orders. Or at least, Usopp glared at the back of a green head, someone was supposed to leave with him for the ship ten minutes ago, but no~ the stupid musclehead with a brain as dead as a rock–"

"Oi!" Zoro interjected.

"–couldn't seem to get it around his thought process that..."

"Kenshi-san, we really should be going."

"…" Zoro seemed like he was mulling over his options.

Robin opened her mouth, "Zo- "

Suddenly there was a flurry of movement. Some of the townspeople had woken up and tried to move in on the three Strawhats. Robin gave them a taste of her clutch and, in the end, Zoro had whipped out his swords and quickly ended his duel with the large opponent. He earned a small graze wound on his cheek from a flying bullet–barely a kick in the shin to him–but it delayed him from stopping the Small One's counterattack. Apparently, the little dude had some knowledge of pressure points and went for the kill. Luckily, Usopp shifted at the last second but still hit the ground. He saw Zoro cut down the tiny man, thought, Did Robin almost call Zoro by his name? and promptly passed out.


Author's note: I'm not quite done with the other plots I promised those who've read my stories, but I've made it a personal goal to publish at least something at least once a month. So far, I'm doing fine with that. Hopefully I can keep this up. This has the potential to become longer than 2-3 chapters but I don't know where I'm going with this story quite yet.

Thanks for reading!