This is for ocean-view-luffy because she is teh awesome and has encouraged me so much. I hope for her sake that it doesn't suck.

I probably shouldn't have started another multichapter fic while I'm still writing Occupation, but I couldn't resist.

Note: Mary Sue can cry all she wants, she can't have Zoro. And she's not going to be a major element in this story, so OC haters, read on.

Warnings for blood (this chapter), yaoi (later chapters), and who knows what else. Eh… this chapter is a little sadistic in one part… later ones won't be so much. If they are, I'll warn you.

Oooh, I'm excited! I had a really fun plot idea for this one! –happy dance-

Sadly, I don't own One Piece.

Until I Die

by -the-pyro-pirate-

Ch. 1

Prologue: At the Five Roads

The wind blew dust across the road in wavy, rust-colored streaks that curled and disappeared into the heat almost as soon as they began. Outlines of indistinct shapes melted through the scorched air beneath a hard blue sky. There were only a few houses, a square, whitewashed inn, and a grove of tall, parched trees. Five red dirt roads led from the barren hills to the door of the inn, and from inside could be heard coarse laughter and shouts, the only sound other than that of the relentless wind.

Somebody walked slowly, calmly along one of the roads, his golden earrings chiming in the wind. He glanced at the inn and climbed the steps.

The splintery oak half-doors swung open under his hand, and he stepped into the dim, loud room, blinking as his eyes adjusted. There really weren't that many people in there, considering the amount of noise they were making. The stranger didn't look at anyone, but stared straight ahead as he sat on a stool at the bar and slid some money over to the bartender.

A plate of meat and potatoes appeared in front of him. He shoveled the food into his mouth, closing his eyes in silent appreciation of his first nourishment in a week. Soon the plate was clean. More coins changed hands, and the old bartender produced a dusty bottle of sake and set it on the counter. The stranger twisted the cap off and drank, clear liquid dripping from his chin.

"That was good," he said quietly. The old man nodded in thanks. "I'd like to stay here overnight, but I've got business elsewhere." The stranger stood to leave. He left as silently as he had come, and the doors swung back into place.

Outside, the wind made the three long katana at his waist clatter against each other. He was still for a moment, feeling it snap at his ankles and ruffle his green hair. He tilted his face up to meet the harsh, pale sun.

The noise from the inn stopped, and the half-doors creaked open and shut as somebody came out. The stranger didn't move. He could feel the ten or so louts from inside fanning out behind him, hear their hoarse, sake-heavy breath and the shuffle of cheaply booted feet as they settled into fighting stances.

Then, surprisingly, one walked into his field of vision, stopping only a few feet from him. The stranger's tan face was blank as he continued to stare at the sun. He didn't flinch when a wad of spit landed next to one of his feet.

"You're Roronoa Zoro." The speaker was tall and bulky, with an enormous cutlass at his waist. "We heard you was comin' this way." A ripple of chuckles spread through the half-circle of men behind the stranger.

The stranger's eyes narrowed slightly as he felt one of the men behind him shift his feet to leap. Zoro half-drew a katana, made an imperceptible movement, and the man was collapsed in the dirt as blood puddled from his chest. The sword slid back into its scabbard with a sshk as its master carefully tied his black armband on his head, where the dark cloth shaded his eyes from the sun.

The leader of the bandits shrugged, resigned. "So that's how it is. We figured you wasn't going to be killed easy, not after what you did to our nakama in the city. All right, boys, take him out."

The louts closed in on Zoro, who didn't make a move. Blades hissed through the air as their masters whooped and yelled, running toward the impassive swordsman. The wind died down and the air stilled, echoing with the bandits' wild cries.

A feral smile split Zoro's features. His three blades flashed in the sun, and he was holding three of them off with one blade as he slit their throats with the sword in his mouth. He leapt to another, put a blade through his heart, and moved on, here, there, everywhere, spattered with crimson blood. In a minute it was over.

The leader of the bandits was just visible behind one of the sad, tall trees. The wind picked up again, pointing Zoro to his quivering form. The bandit tried to climb, anything to escape the three-sworded figure that wavered in the heat. Zoro tilted his head, and salt blood ran down the white-handled katana's handle into his mouth. He advanced on the tree.

The bandit scrabbled at the bark, wearing his desperate fingers raw, but he was weak with fear and couldn't climb. Zoro grinned around his sword handle. He tensed to spring, and a thin blue arrow blossomed bloodily in the bandit's chest. The dead man slumped to the ground as a thin blonde woman slipped down from a nearby tree. She ran over to the dead man, produced a short sword, and hacked his head off with a few efficient strokes.

Zoro frowned. "Whose kill was that?"

"Mine. He had a bounty, and I'm a bounty hunter. Fair's fair."

"I'll kill you." Zoro's voice was quiet and hard.

"I'd like to see you try, Roronoa. I won't ever lose."

Zoro shrugged. "See if I care. Prepare yourself."

The woman slipped the head into a sack and set it next to one of the thin, pale tree trunks. A crimson blotch seeped into the dust beneath it.

"Winner gets the head and the bounty it carries," she announced. She cast off her bow and quiver, set down the short sword, and drew a long-handled axe from her brown leather belt. "You can't win here. I've mastered five weapons, killed sixty-three people, and defeated a former Marine captain. My name is Ganta Min. It's the last you'll ever hear. Tell your pals in the underworld about it."

Zoro didn't answer. Time to deflate that ballooning ego, bitch. Try me. You'll end up in the dust with my sword through your neck. He'd killed… he couldn't even remember how many. This woman was…a total dumbass, completely out of her league. I bet she screams nice and loud when she gets hurt, though. Loud and long. Zoro chuckled softly. He was getting quite a bit of business today. He tilted his tan face up again to watch the thin green leaves flutter in the wind.

Min raised the axe above her head and gave a loud war whoop as she charged. Zoro's hand flickered and he parried, sidestepping so that the overeager amateur's axe thunked into the tree, firmly lodged in the trunk. Min raised a hand to the back of her neck and brought it back in front of her to look at. Her palm ran red with blood. She tasted it and shuddered, then traced the nape of her neck once again. Her eyes flashed.

"What is this, Roronoa? Some kind of sick game?"

"You're marked, Ganta. One of mine now. Nothing left but blood," Zoro answered lazily. The Z he had cut lightly into her neck had sent tingles running down his spine. His swords were quivering with anticipation at his side. He drew them all. The sun shone brighter, paler in the sky as he bit down on Wadou Ichimonji's bleached handle. He walked slowly and insolently over to stand directly in front of the seething woman. "Your dreams are dead. Whatever they are, I'm sure they involved living. Make your peace before the fun starts."

"You asshole. I'm the one who'll walk away! I'll never lose. Never. I have to avenge my sister's death, and that's a nobler motive than you'll ever have. You've got no right to brand me, and you've got no honor," she snapped. Zoro quirked an eyebrow and made a long, shallow cut down one of her arms with Yubashiri's eager edge. She blocked it much too late, her hand slipping on the axe as the blood from her neck ran down her arm. She flinched. There we go, thought Zoro. Not such a big shot now, are you, amateur? It's going to be fun making you bleed.

He brought Sandai Kitetsu around in a silvery figure eight, leaving a multitude of tiny gashes all over Min's face and body. She raised the axe and took a wild swing at his head. He stepped easily under the blade until they were face to face, a mere inch from each other. As she brought back the axe to wound his back, he slashed behind him with Kitetsu, neatly severing the gleaming axehead so that it thumped uselessly to the ground, raising a small, rust-colored cloud of dust. He grinned around Kitetsu's handle into Min's wide, scared eyes.

"Noble doesn't matter. Keeping your word matters. Nothing else, and nobody," he said softly. She opened her mouth to speak and then gave a rasping choke before her head fell off of her neck to land beside the sack, rolling a little. Zoro sighed and took crimson-slick Wadou from his mouth. It had been over too soon, and now he was covered with blood, too. He would have to find a stream to wash his clothes in before he reached the city. They probably wouldn't let him through the gates looking like this.

He cast a glance at the two heads lying in the dirt. That bandit hadn't had a bounty. He was sure of it. Amateur should've checked her facts before walking into this. He sheathed his katana and walked out from under the trees, back into the full, harsh sun and the whispering wind. He still had several hours of walking before he reached Danis,

Well, there you go. It's the Prologue! Yay! Sorry for the lack of Luffy, but he'll definitely show up soon.

does the review dance- pleeeease?