Edna's random paranoia amuses me. I like her. :D Although with her looks, her kids must be ugly as all hell, the poor dears.

This is a response to the challenge at the onepieceyaoi100 community on LiveJournal. The subject? Drunkenness. Oh, the fun to be had.

Any Other Reason
Simplicity is best when explaining Luffy. Sense is optional. Heart is mandatory.
by Alena
May 9th, 2004

"Don't you ever think about it?" the barmaid asked suddenly. Zoro blinked and turned to look at her, his reaction time sluggish due to the alcohol.

"Think about what?" he replied, completely nonplussed. The heavyset woman stared at him incredulously, swiping helter-skelter black hair out of her muddy brown eyes.

"The fact that you – a pirate hunter – are the first mate on a pirate ship?" her voice was quick, clipped, as if she expected him to suddenly jump up, go nuts, and destroy half the bar. Dimly, he realized that was probably the reason for the prompt service. Being feared had its perks.

"Never really thought about it," he said unworriedly, draining another mug. The barmaid, whose named was Edna, raised a bushy eyebrow, quite obviously skeptical.

"How can you not think about it?"

Zoro shrugged, trying to follow the conversation despite his intoxication. "I asked Luffy once, an' he said something about how it would look bad if he had anyone else." He shrugged again. "You just don't argue with Luffy. It's painful, an' you won't win."

Edna refilled his mug, which was doomed to be swiftly emptied again.

"Is he really that dangerous?" she asked in a hushed voice, glancing about nervously as though she expected a crazed Luffy to spring out of the nearest shadow. Zoro snorted.

"Only if you get him mad." He glanced over at her, and realized faintly that she looked scared. Of something.

"If he's that bad, then why do you stay with him?" Her imagination was already working at hyperspeed – oh Lord, that scar! Had his captain done that? – and she could see all the abuse… Really, Zoro seemed humane; maybe the captain was holding his family hostage and forcing him to work for Luffy…!

Or… or perhaps it was worse. What if this Luffy was using some kind of control over Zoro by way of fear, or pain, or… or maybe…

Zoro eyed his now-empty mug distastefully. "I'm a man of my word—"

She knew it!

"—but it's'not jus' that." She refilled his mug, her hands trembling slightly. No wonder the poor boy drank so much! "Luffy's… Luffy. I go where he goes, an' I stay with him no matter what, an' that's how it's always gonna be. Pirate hunter or not, I don't need any other reason than that."

Edna blinked, not understanding, but sensing something deeper than drunken words; the sudden warmth that had invaded Zoro's slurred speech surprised her. It was a sudden gentleness behind the intimidating front, like a lion retracting his claws.

Brainwashing. Had to be.

Resisting the motherly urge to pet his head (she had three children of her own, and if anything like this happened to them…), she asked hesitantly,

"But… how did you end up on his ship in the first place?" Zoro's head, which had been drooping, snapped up in response to her voice.

"Well, tha' involved a lot a' men an' force an'…"—he searched for a word—"bondage, I guess. An'—"

Edna squeaked in terror, her sympathy outweighed by her overactive imagination, and ran off to serve elsewhere. Zoro blinked as she left, and noticed that she hadn't refilled his drink, not realizing that he'd probably just scarred her for life.

All in a day's work for a pirate.