So, it's the most-intriguing-time-skip-group this time!
Mihawk and Zoro might be a little OOC, please excuse that.
One Piece belongs to the Magnificent Oda-sensei!
"Your reunion draws near, Roronoa." Mihawk commented casually over his wine.
The three were sitting at the grand dining table for dinner, the two 'guests' seated close to their unwilling host.
Zoro's only reply was a soft grunt. He had been surrounded by an increasing aura of excited tension for the past few weeks, as the awaited date drew near, and Mihawk had been scolding him more than usual at their training sessions for being inattentive. The master swordsman had provided a small sailing vessel and provisions to get his student to the Archipelago, but it had been a constant source of teasing for Perona that Zoro should have left months ago if he intended to actually get there in time to meet his crewmates.
"I told you!" he would snarl back, "I have a vivre card to guide me back to the island, there's no way I'd get lost!"
"And yet, you'll find a way." She would reply with her signature laugh.
No one could really blame her, though. Even after nearly two years, she was still forced to go looking for the young swordsman if he didn't return at a reasonable hour. Many sleepless nights had been spent in such a way and she would find herself thinking that, if not for the circumstance, the nightly flights around the enchantingly creepy island would have been delightful.
Mihawk set his glass down with a faint sigh. "I must confess my worry over the journey. It would be a waste of all my effort if you were to drown in a whirlpool. Or crash the ship against some rocks. Or merely sail on and on, somehow missing any islands at all until you run out of food and water and-"
"That's enough!" Zoro shouted indignantly, glaring at his master with a red face. Perona was making very unladylike noises over her plate and shaking with poorly suppressed laughter. "You're just as bad as Perona! I have a vivre card, I'll be sure to check it frequently and stay on course."
"And you know you have to sail in the same direction it's moving towards-"
"I KNOW!" Zoro started shoveling the food in his mouth, eager to get away from the two's ceaseless teasing and do some more weight training.
"Don't worry, Hawk-chan, I'm going with him." Perona stated calmly once she had regained control.
There was a beat of shocked silence before Zoro choked on his mouthful and started pounding himself on the chest, even Mihawk looked at the girl in mild surprise.
She quirked an eyebrow. "Of course. There's no way this idiot will make it to Sabaody on time by himself, can you imagine how embarrassing that would be?"
"Well, yes, but it's not exactly your concern."
"Not my concern?! I've been stitching him together these last two years! All that work, I'm going to make sure he's handed off safely so I know it wasn't in vain!"
Mihawk smirked. "If that's how you feel you should just join their crew."
Perona shuddered at the suggestion, but Zoro had finally finished coughing. "Like hell!" He exclaimed, her constant nagging being one of the things he was looking forward to leaving behind.
"Oh, relax, I'd rather shred my wardrobe than join you and Strawhat. Besides, that awful Longnose is on your crew." She shuddered again.
"Who, Usopp? Does it matter, I'm sure I'm not the only one that's learned Haki so your ghosts wouldn't work anyway."
She cringed at a memory and gritted her teeth. "That's not why." But refused to elaborate.
Zoro got to his feet, radiating a silent threat. "You're not coming with me."
Completely unimpressed, Perona took a delicate bite from her plate. "I am. Don't worry, I don't expect you to thank me." Finishing her meal, she summoned her ghosts who proceeded to stack all the plates and cups and float out of the room to the kitchen. She gave a proud smirk over the new turn her powers had taken over the last two years and she floated out of her chair, turning in mid-air to look back at the two swordsmen. "I'm going to start packing, you should do the same. It will take at least two weeks to get to Sabaody, even in good weather." And left the men to their reactions.
Mihawk hid a small smile by taking a long drink from his glass as Zoro tried to find his voice, still gaping furiously at the doorframe. Desperate, he turned to his master.
"Aren't you going to say anything?!"
Mihawk lifted a brow, having schooled his expression, and leveled his student with a look of utter disdain.
"She- She can't come with me! She's far too weak!"
"I'm sure she can take care of herself."
Zoro blinked at the statement, he briefly wondered if Perona knew the greatest swordsman in the world thought so highly of her, or appreciated it. Probably not. "But… If she goes with me there won't be anyone here to cook or-" Zoro cringed internally at the desperate words, even as he said them.
Mihawk leveled a glare at the attempt, never mind it implied he couldn't take care of himself. "If you do not want her to go with you then figure out how to dissuade her on your own. Do not expect you can manipulate me into doing it for you." He got up, taking his glass and half-full wine bottle with him.
"You don't care if she leaves?" He almost didn't care for the response; truly, he'd made an effort to distance himself from these two over the years.
Not slowing his pace, Mihawk replied. "You both are your own people, you can do what you choose. I have always taken that into account." And left.
Zoro was left to wonder who exactly was the least attached of the three.
Perona flitted around the room, picking up objects as she went down a mental checklist that only made sense to her.
Finally, after pausing in mid-air for over two minutes, she rushed over to her vanity table and scooped up Kumacy, holding him to her chest. She deliberated putting him in her suitcase but decided to keep him out and near at hand.
She peeked at her door, expecting the Short Fused Swordsman to come charging in and demand she change her mind. Not that she would.
She wasn't really sure why she was so determined to see him off to his crew, but she was. She had spent two years with the blockhead; she felt it was her responsibility to ensure his safety. She giggled to herself, thinking of Zoro's imagined reaction to those words. She had to admit that watching the overly serious man freak out was one of the perks to this decision, though. And the fact that she was the one to cause it made it all the sweeter.
She stood back from her full suitcase and looked at the other two piled nearby, and nodded. This should be enough for a couple weeks, she thought, a month if I find someplace to wash my clothes. Nonetheless, Perona went through her room again to check for anything she might have forgotten. Coming to her wardrobe she once again looked over the remaining clothes and determined that they would be better off staying behind, despite how much she loved them. As soon as I get back I'm going to wear this one! She thought with a smile, fingering the fabric.
The smile slowly slid from her face as she though about that statement. So… I'm really coming back…
She hadn't really thought about what she would do after dropping the dork off, but now that she was… She sat down heavily on the edge of her bed, pulling Kumacy back into a hug, and stared at the floor with a frown on her face.
Perona doesn't hear the door open, or the person stomp up to her bed, but after a minute of being unnoticed her visitor loudly clears his throat. She starts so badly she unconsciously sends out a negative hollow at the person.
"Shit!" Zoro swears as the ghost effortlessly passes through him, a faint feeling of unease telling him he almost hadn't activated his Haki in time, and he glares at the pink-haired girl who is blinking at him in surprise. "What the hell, Perona?!"
"Oh. Sorry, you startled me." She answers monotonously, obviously not very sorry at all.
Zoro grumbles to himself as he watches the ghost fade. "Well, if this is what happens when she's surprised, he's probably right."
"Nothing! I didn't say anything." He stands there awkwardly.
Seeming to come out of her thoughts, she looks at him and realizes he's standing in her room. "What do you want, anyway? I'm going with you; you can't stop me!"
He just glares at her for a minute before looking away and scratching the back of his head. "I know! You're so freakin' stubborn, I don't know why I thought I could change your mind." She smiles gleefully at the admission and he yells at her for it.
"Well, at least you understand!" She sits up primly, basking in her victory.
"So, how are you getting back here?"
Zoro looks at her like she's stupid. "Here. This island. How will you return? We were both sent here by Kuma and we've barely left since, so how are you planning to get back once I'm gone?"
She stares at him, almost in amazement at the insight, but all that comes out of her mouth is an indignant, "What do you mean, once you're gone?! It'll be easier to travel once I don't have you nagging me, I think!"
Zoro was about to retort but she didn't give him the chance.
"And why would I want to come back here anyway?! There aren't any servants, it's uncute, and Mihawk makes me do everything ("No, he doesn't! We share-")! And it smells! Why would I want to come back here when I've been in muscle-y swordsman Hell for the last two years?! It's not like- It's not like-"
And she burst into tears.
Zoro literally jumped back as Perona's wails filled the room and stared at her in alarm. But once it was clear she wasn't going to suddenly attack him with her Hollows and she was truly in distress, well, then he felt much worse.
"Wh-What are you crying for?! You've been complaining about this place since you got here! Aren't you happy you're leaving?!"
She finally stopped crying to send him a ferocious glare, but tears still trickled down her cheeks. "DO YOU THINK I'D BE CRYING IF I WAS HAPPY TO LEAVE, YOU IDIOT?!" She bolted to her feet, sending Zoro back a step, and held fists firmly at her sides. "All I've done since I've been here is make sure you stayed alive, and try to make this place more livable. I think I've done a damn good job at both considering the resistance I've gotten!" She turned her glare down to the floor, for which he was grateful, and it lowered to a frown. "But… I'm not like you, Zoro! I don't have anywhere to go back to. My only option disappeared at the end of the war…" She sniffed and turned to get a tissue from her vanity table.
"Then just come back here, what's the problem?!"
She snorted derisively, congestion making it louder than she'd care to admit. "Didn't you hear me?! There's no reason for me to be here once you leave! Mihawk won't need anyone to-"
"He never needed anyone to do anything!" Zoro shouted. "I don't know what he would have done without a medic, he probably would have gone easier on me! Or I would have died from infection, and then where would I be?! I wouldn't have gotten nearly as strong as I am!"
Perona just stared at him in disbelief; even considering death just prompted him to regret how much stronger he could have been… "You're an idiot." She blew her nose.
He frowned at her. "All I'm saying is that if you want to come back, just do it. I doubt he'll stop you."
She became silent for a moment. "But… you're right. I'll need an Eternal Pose to get back."
"Last I saw, I think Mihawk was on his way to his rooms."
Aghast, "What, just ask him for it?!"
"What were you going to do, steal it?"
"Well, no…" She nodded to herself. "Ok! I'll go!"
Zoro shook his head. "I can't believe I had to talk you into this, I don't even want you going with me."
"Keep telling yourself that, sweetheart, but I know you'll miss us." She retorted with a sly grin.
He glared in annoyance but quickly changed tactics. "You know, you're probably right. Why would he want you back here? All you seem to be good at is playing doctor, making stuffed animals, and determining the cuteness factor of a-"
What shall I do?
Mihawk picked up a Den Den-faxed military report and casually leafed through it. It was the latest in a growing pile that dominated a corner of the library. Usually he would throw it aside after a quick glance, seeing as how busy he had been over the last two years, with the occasional exception. But now that it looked like the island would become deserted again he supposed he could spare the Marines a bit more time.
He released a quiet sigh. I must be getting soft… Or bored, more likely.
"What do you want, Perona?"
A faint squeak was heard overhead before the devil fruit user's head and shoulders melted through the ceiling. She pouted. "How did you know I wanted to talk to you?"
"Though invisible, your ghosts have been watching me for the last ten minutes. And you kept pacing overhead. But it was more effective than waiting outside the door, so well done." He took a seat in one of the winged armchairs, taking the military report with him. Perona descended into the room and touched down to the floor. After a few minutes of silence Mihawk looked up with a slightly exasperated expression. "It's unbecoming to show such indecision, Perona."
She colored at the admonition but, as expected, acquired courage through her anger. She thrust out her open palm. "I need the eternal pose for Kuraigana." She stated imperiously.
He gave her a long look, one she refused to look away from even when it stretched long after normal terms. Finally, he nodded.
She sighed quietly as he averted his piercing gaze but shifted questioningly as he reached into his pocket. Her eyes widened in surprise when he pulled out an eternal pose in black casing and proffered it to her. She quickly stumbled forward to take it.
He went back to his reading so she took it as a dismissal, but before she reached the door: "Put it in the lower office in the west wing, when you return. There is a display cabinet with various other eternal poses."
Her eyes widened in understanding. "Oh, so that's where they are! Sure!" She was halfway out the door when a thought struck her. "But… then why did you have this one in your pocket?"
She thought back and it had been at least a week since he had been off the island.
Mihawk didn't answer.
A smile slowly grew on Perona's face.
It seems all I'm capable of writing is fluff.
Ah, I'm glad I finally finished this. It's been on my computer for months! I'm really satisfied with it though. I did take a little liberty with Perona's powers, though; the wiki page said it was a mistake that perona's body appeared solid in the anime (when her had bent upon contact with Zoro), but I think it would make sense that her powers would have evolved like anyone else's. So, she can now move physical objects, like a poltergheist, and uses that same principle to sort of 'possess' her own body to make it float and become immaterial. …I don't know. Don't read into it too much.
I'm not sure whether or not I'll write a sequel, but I'll keep the possibility open in this case. It would have to be without Mihawk and I'm not sure it would be interesting enough in that case.
Ever since they reunited and I saw that Perona had accompanied Zoro (when I saw he was actually the first to show up I was like WHAT HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!) I had to wonder how/why she would go with him. And of course he wouldn't be happy about it. As for Perona and Mihawk's fairly informal exchanges, the 3D2Y Special seemed to hint at that so I figured I'd take it a bit further.
And am I the only one that finds it adorable how hard Perona tries to be ladylike then turns around with that scathing-deep tone? Once confortable with someone, I can totally see her snorting while she laughs and being unintentionally goofy X3
This was partly inspired by 2Y2Y by LavenderSkies, although that is a romance and this is not, it's really good!
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this, perhaps you'd like to check out my other fics? ;)