Title: Bond

Characters: Roronoa Zoro, Monkey D. Luffy

Genre: Friendship (or, better yet, nakama-ship)

Summary: The Mugiwara captain and first mate have a bond like no other.

He has more faith in him than he would care to admit.

Sometimes he wonders why he follows an idiot for a captain, someone whose childish ways had gotten them into as many troubles as he could remember. Luffy is loud, shallow, overly enthusiastic about anything, and in more than one circumstance just plain stupid. He finds the weirdest enemies to fight, even weirder people for friends, and he possesses such a weird optimism to be the Pirate King it sometimes drives the people around him mad.

Yet every time someone hurts someone he loves, the Mugiwara captain does not hesitate to teach that moron a lesson he will never forget. He will not just stand there and watch one of his nakama suffer, so he defeated Arlong because he made Nami cry, and he saved Alabasta from Crocodile because he knows how important that kingdom is for Vivi. And he will fight countless battles just to protect the people he cares about so much, and he will always, always win in the end, because aside from his superhuman strength, Luffy possesses an inert determination to succeed not for himself but for those he believes in, who, in turn, believe in him as well.

He will never let his nakama down.

And yet, despite all his abilities and passion for just about everything, the Mugiwara captain also feels burned out once in a while, or at the very least tired and discouraged. He may possess a devil fruit's power, but deep inside he is still human—a child, to be exact. And during those times when Luffy appears so down he could no longer smile as widely as he used to, that is when the first mate does his first and most important job—to look out for the captain.

He isn't exactly the best listener, but Luffy rarely shares his insecurities with other people anyway. So he would do the thing he does best—sit beside the captain and keep quiet, while Luffy looks out into the sea, until slowly and quietly all his fears and doubts begin to vanish and he returns to his old, super-enthusiastic self. They exchange no word, but the bond between them is enough to reassure the captain that Zoro will always be there to watch his back, so he has nothing to fear.

As long as Zoro is there, Luffy will be able to lead the crew to the best of his abilities, because he knows that his first mate has his back, ready to support him any time he needs it.

021412: Six years after it was first published, this chapter has finally been edited. Hoorah for procrastination. No grave changes, just glaring errors that needed to be scraped out or revised. Amazing how I can spot so many things to correct, six years after I reread my work.