Yes, I know that I said I'd be disappearing for a week, and yes, I know that it's actually been two weeks and I still haven't updated Kakashi's Sister. Sorree! But this idea got stuck in my head, kinda like when there's a question you wanted to ask someone but you didn't ask it and then it's niggling at the back of your mind for the rest of the day. 'Cept this "niggling" has been going on for weeks...
But yeah, anyway, I've fallen in-love with the ZoLu pairing and this is what I've done with it. Hope you all enjoy, and review if you have the time!
Disclaimer: One Piece is full of the awesomeness that I was not born with. So, umm... yeah.
A knock on his door reminded Chopper that he wasn't the only one on the ship. The little reindeer-doctor took a glance at his herb-grinding, half wondering if they were ground down enough, and half wondering who was at the door.
Whoever it was couldn't be telling him it was time for dinner or breakfast - it was too late for dinner (hadn't that been an hour ago?) and too early for breakfast (had it even passed midnight?)…
So whoever had come to his room was obviously after some kind of medical advice or treatment. But as Chopper pushed the roll-bowl away with a somewhat contented "hmm", he doubted that anyone had hurt themselves on the ship, unless of course Luffy'd fallen overboard again. Though he wasn't sure why that would give anyone the need to come here…
"Come in!" the red-top-hatted tanuki-like creature replied eventually, almost hesitantly. He wondered who it would be. Luffy? Perhaps Brook needed some advice on how to fix any broken bones? Nami? Robin? Maybe Sanji had sliced himself with one of his knives - although that was really unlikely… maybe it was-
The reindeer knew for a fact that if he wasn't sure about the crew and his protection, he would have 'hidden' behind the desk he'd been working at moments before. Even then, Chopper took a step back from surprise. "Zoro? Why are you in here?"
But then again… from the way the green-haired swordsman was standing by the door, hovering as if unsure whether to come in or not, his hand on the handle as if ready to slam it closed, his eyes averted from anywhere but Chopper as if not wanting to meet his eyes… the little reindeer knew that, yes, it probably was something to do with the swordsman, rather than something else.
Hm. Chopper had never seen the so called 'marimo' like this before. Nervous? Of what? Being laughed at? If Chopper was correct in thinking so, Zoro was normally a proud person who didn't like asking for help-
"Do you need anything?"
It looked like Zoro jumped, but that couldn't be right. The swordsman was only ever surprised by Luffy, who was completely unpredictable anyway. Finally the swordsman relented, relaxing a bit from his stiff posture. "Yeah…"
It was close to annoying, how he was only giving one or two word answers. Chopper almost rolled eyes, but had too much respect for the powerful swordsman. The reindeer just nodded slightly, a small smile forming as he encouraged Zoro to carry on.
This time Zoro definitely jolted, as if to pull himself together. "Do you have… anything for, um… mouth ulcers…?"
This time it was a struggle not to roll his eyes or to laugh. Was he so nervous and unsure because he wanted something to help him with mouth ulcers? Was that even a plausible reason? But then again… wasn't Zoro normally tolerant with pain? So did this mean that these ulcers were hurting him that much, to actually push him to get something done about them?
The struggle stopped and Chopper's mouth yet again formed a thin line. So, it was that serious for the swordsman… that was why.
"Yeah, just wait there for a minute, I'll find it now." Chopper assured him with a short smile before turning around to his shelves and growing large to reach the higher ones. Pulling down a small glass jar with a gel-like substance inside, the reindeer-man shrunk back down to his usual size and walked over to his crew mate, handing him the jar.
"It's got a minty taste, and it should work. Don't use too much of it at once or your mouth will go completely numb."
Zoro looked down at the jar with a small amount of surprise written all over his face and then at Chopper gratefully. "Thanks Chopper. I'll see you in the morning."
"Yeah." perhaps it would get better for Zoro. But what the reindeer really wanted to know was what was causing the swordsman to get these mouth ulcers, because no one could bite the inside of their mouth by accident that painfully, could they?
This had been going on for ages. He couldn't even remember how long, but what he definitely knew was that it hadn't been this bad when it had started as a slight interest.
Slight interest meant spending more time with him, talking to him a little more than necessary. Perhaps watching him for a little longer than usual, and hesitating to linger on his body when they knocked into each other by 'accident'.
But of course, as things go, slight interest became a bigger interest. This meant hanging around him more than anyone else, even though half the time it was spent in silence or wacky jokes that hardly made any sense. Urges to run a hand through his hair, to feel if it was as soft as it looked.
And then, it turned into a quiet obsession. Watching him as much as possible, still trying and somewhat failing to go unnoticed. Even through dinner he was cute in the way he was desperate to eat. Sometimes at night he would lie awake, watching his sleeping body, and when sleep came dreams were ridden with the boy, laughing at something that probably wasn't even funny or something else along the lines. Maybe not hanging around him as much, but still quite a lot. Touches definitely lingered, although he was sure that the idiotic boy hadn't noticed. Urges to run a hand through his hair were almost impossible to ignore.
Finally, denial. Zoro didn't want to have these feelings, not now. He. Was. Not. Gay. That's what he was telling himself.
But even so, his body was arguing with him right now as the swordsman forced his eyes away from his captain. It's not like it was wrong…
Zoro bit the inside of his cheek to stop the thoughts with pain, knowing that he'd end up with more ulcers later. It was a good thing that Chopper had given him a jar…
Luffy's voice… provided that they hadn't reached an island yet (but still Zoro checked from his sitting place in the crows nest of the thousand sunny, just in case), this probably meant that the idiot wanted to play a game of some kind…
Hopefully not including him.
"Chopper! Brook! Franky! Usopp! Come on! Let's play a game!"
Well, it was still early… the sun had only risen about two hours ago, so he probably though that Zoro was till asleep at his post…
"Zoro! You too!"
Great. Maybe if he ignored his captain Luffy would think he was asleep…
"Come down here! I can see you!"
Or not. "No way! I'm going back to sleep!"
The black-haired boy with a straw hat pouted. "Zoro, you're being boring…" he grinned and flexed his arm, as if about to stretch up to the highest point on the ship. "Don't make me come up there!"
The green-haired swordsman narrowed his eyes and huffed, getting up. Him coming up there probably meant something along the lines of getting thrown back down, or being grabbed and taken down. The first would hurt, and the second… for his own sake, Zoro could not let that happen… touching was something he'd crossed off his list too. No touching…
"Whatever…" he grumbled as he started to climb down the ladder that lead to deck. What had he ever done to deserve this?
Chopper was bored. He had been going on and on with his medical supplies for hours, until most of his herbs were fully ready for any kind of treatment. There was simply nothing else to do.
So the little reindeer was elated when Luffy called to him and the others. It was time for another game! …Which would probably lead to some silly situation in the need of help. In a way, Chopper supposed that Sanji was lucky. Because he was the cook, Luffy gave him a break and said that he didn't have to play the games unless he wanted to. And the girls were off-limits anyway ("This is a man's game!"), they wouldn't play even if it was captain's orders.
So that left the other five crewmates. As Chopper hopped out of his room and closed the door, he spotted Franky jumping into the scene, yelling "SUPER!" and Brook walking in with his usual cup of tea. The reindeer smiled and joined them in heading towards the main deck, wondering which of the usual two games they'd play today. Hide and seek or touch? Either would be a good laugh.
The door from the kitchen burst open and Usopp leapt out with a heroic pose (why had he been in there?), claiming "It is I, the great captain Usopp! All shall bow down before me in fear!"
Chopper's eyes sparkled. "Really?"
"Stop lying, Usopp…" Sanji's somewhat annoyed voice came from inside the kitchen, slightly muffled by the sizzling of frying food.
The reindeer's face dropped. "You were lying?"
Usopp's face became sheepish as he laughed it off. "Haha… well…" he suddenly pointed towards their captain with nervous eagerness. "Anyway! Luffy's waiting! Let's go!"
As the long-nosed man walked off in the direction of the straw hat crew captain, Chopper crossed his arms and huffed half-heartedly. Why did he always believe the liar's lies? He sighed and shook his head with a small smile on his face, shifting his red top-hat around his horns and running towards the rest of his crew.
When he got there, Luffy was laughing madly at something that Brook had said. No doubt that it had been another one of his skull jokes - which of course Luffy found hilarious anyway. The boned musician raised his hat and bowed slightly, his jawbone dropped in his usual "Yohoho!" and his walking-stick-sword waving in the air. Franky was talking to Usopp with interest, probably about some way to make a new weapon or vehicle for the thousand sunny.
And Zoro… was standing to the side of the group, looking annoyed and calm, as usual. But there was something different about him, Chopper mused, trying to figure out what it was.
Noticing that everyone was here, Luffy spoke up. "Let's play touch!"
Zoro's fist tightened noticeably. His knuckles were white, and was that a light blush on his cheeks? Chopper blinked and then looked again, thinking that surely Zoro, of all people, never blushed. Right?
At the second look, the reindeer saw the swordsman let out a deep breath and unclench his fist, only to tighten it again when Luffy turned to him.
"Zoro! You're it!"
The actual word 'touch' could leave a lot to imagination. To a child, it would definitely mean that of a game, running around… to perhaps an older person, it could leave many straying idea's to a perverted mind.
Which was exactly how Zoro felt right now as Luffy's words echoed in his mind. "You're it!"
He was doomed. That was the only way to put it. Maybe this was just a bad day, maybe it was a bad week, maybe it was a bad month - either way, things weren't going well. He felt his nails digging into his palms and forced them to relax, keeping his face calm but irritated. "Why do I have to play?"
Luffy pouted his puppy-dog pout, almost making the green-haired man melt under the intensity. "But Zoro…" if only the idiot knew what he was doing to him…
The swordsman mentally shook himself and looked away from that cute face, his own face in a bad-tempered frown. "Fine." he muttered, forcing his tone to a calm one. This was so much harder than he had imagined…
The care-free grin came back and Luffy's round face seemed to glow. "Yay! Okay, everyone run!"
Franky grinned smugly at him for a few second before running off towards the sleeping rooms. Usopp cowered under Zoro's icy look and ran off to the other end of the ship. Brook, Chopper and Luffy, on the other hand, ran off in laughter and excitement. Zoro sighed. This was going to be a long day…
It was sort of puzzling how Zoro was acting, the captain pondered to himself quietly, hiding on the ceiling of the guy's room, above Zoro's usual hammock. He narrowed his big eyes slightly, although it was more in curiosity rather than anger or distrust. What was up with the best-to-be-swordsman?
He was usually calm and collected, slept a lot on deck, made a lot of badass comments, argued with Sanji, threatened Usopp when the long-nosed liar and Chopper tried to prank him, and had lately hung around with him a lot.
But at the moment - or rather, in the past few days - he was more irritated and calm rather than content, he slept more up in the crow's nest and in the boy's room than up on deck, as if suddenly bothered by the way that Luffy would sometimes accidentally fly into him after swinging around on deck, growled out insults to everyone else in a less than carefree way, and he was actually getting so scary and snappy that Usopp and Brook stayed well away from him, Chopper only going near when telling the green-haired swordsman something about dinner or medical advice.
Arguments with their favourite cook still continued (although sometimes it was a bit more heated), but what Luffy had noticed the most was how Zoro was avoiding him. As much as possible.
Even at dinner! The only time today that normally would have annoyed the hell out of the swordsman was when Luffy stole some of his food at lunchtime, but for once the so-called marimo-head had completely ignored him, just closing his eyes and grabbing another chicken leg from the pile in the middle of the table.
Luffy remembered seeing Nami blink at the swordsman at the same time that he did, but she hadn't said anything and it hadn't really bothered the captain at the time. But that was when food was involved. Now…
"I thought this was a freakin' game of touch, not hide and seek…"
Luffy's eyes widened at the sound of his first mate's voice, grumbling down the corridor. Suddenly bored, Luffy stretched over to the door and looked around the side with a grin on his face, only to see Zoro stiffen as he saw the simple-minded boy. Said boy frowned slightly.
"Oi, Zoro… you're not playing properly. Do you even know the rules of this game?"
The swordsman growled and slapped his hand to his face in a gesture of complete frustration. Luffy laughed. "Jeez Zoro, you really are an idiot!" another growl of frustration. Oh well.
"In touch you're meant to chase people - I'm sure we've played this game before…"
Zoro again stiffened at Luffy's choice of words. So many possible implications…
Urgh! Snap out of it! This was Luffy for god damn's sake! The idiot couldn't be implying things on purpose… no. Definitely not. But Zoro was having control problems right now - they were alone, in a corridor, with no-one else around them (hence "they were alone"). Luffy was grinning his silly-but-amused grin and laughing like an idiot, his eyes closed and luckily not seeing what the green-haired swordsman was going through. He was made out of rubber, imagine what-
No! He had decided before, that was not going to happen! No way in hell! But…
This whole situation was way too confusing and coincidental…
The swordsman removed his hand from his face and looked at his captain with a slightly confused expression. What had he been saying?
Luffy shook his head disapprovingly. "Zoro, you're meant to listen when other people speak!"
Zoro was really hating how his captain was making him seem stupid right now, as if he needed everything explained to him. Perhaps he needed some kind of god to re-tell him how men were made for women and women made for men, rather than men made for men or the other way around, but the day that he took lectures from Luffy to heart was the day that he stopped drinking alcohol for the rest of his life.
That definitely wasn't going to happen any time soon.
What he really wanted to do right now was to tell the idiot to shut up and stop lecturing him, but decided not to in case of something else slipping out. Something was seriously playing with his mind, and he really didn't like it.
"I said that if you're not going to play properly, you should just touch me so everyone who wants to play can carry on."
Why did he have to put it that way? Why not just another, more innocent way? This was way too much…
"Shut up, idiot." Zoro muttered, covering his eyes again with his hand so that he didn't have to look at Luffy's innocent face, grinning one minute and frowning the next. He was so easy to read.
"Oi, Zoro, that's mean! You're the one who cant even play touch!" the swordsman could hear the pout and the frown in his idiot's voice…
It was at that time that Zoro gave up building the wall that told him he was straight. There weren't enough women in the world right now that could seduce him out of this situation. It was completely inevitable, how Luffy was suddenly up against a wall with the breath knocked out of him, and how the swordsman was pinning him there, his warm breath on his captains confused face.
Luffy's eyes were filled with confusion, curiosity, worry and a small amount of fear when he locked eyes with Zoro, seeing complete lust inside them. It was almost scary how demanding he seemed…
The captain was cut off by rough lips on his, pressing him even closer into the wall. For a second they seemed to melt into each other, a perfect fit-
And then Luffy was free again. He almost slid to the floor from the sudden ability to move, but his quick 'pull-yourself-together' and the wall behind him that he had been pinned up against only seconds before helped him in staying up. What had that been? It was so sudden, and the lust in Zoro's eyes had been so powerful… the rubber-man stood up straighter, hardly making a sound. He somehow knew that this wasn't the time for jokes or silly questions.
The softest growl Luffy had ever heard came from less than two metres away, where Zoro was now standing, his back facing the confused captain and his head against the wall, one hand dug into his hair and the other a whitened fist against the wooden wall.
The straw hat took a step towards the swordsman, sadness, confusion and pity overtaking him. "Zoro…"
The green-haired man's fist tightened even more, if it was possible. "Don't talk to me, Luffy!" it was said through gritted teeth and shallow breath, as if he was struggling to keep control.
As usual, this made Luffy do the complete opposite of what Zoro told him. He took another two steps and he was directly behind the swordsman, raising his hand to touch his first mate's back. When they came into contact, Zoro flinched and Luffy quickly moved his hand away. The green-haired man growled softly again. "Leave me alone!"
The black-haired boy's eyes closed tightly. He hated to see his crewmates angry, sad or struggling in something. Especially when it was his fault. Without even thinking about it, Luffy wrapped his arms around Zoro's stomach and rested his head on the swordsman's back, feeling the body in front of him stiffen.
"Luffy-!" he gasped forcefully, a weak attempt to get the idiotic boy away from him. Said boy would have none of it.
"How long?" his voice was demanding, and Zoro could practically hear the 'Answer the question, captain's order!' behind it. He let out a deep breath that rattled his whole body. Luffy behind him tightened his grip, only causing more discomfort to the swordsman's mind.
"I… don't know…" he said, breathing heavily. He knew what the idiot was talking about. It also proved that he wasn't as much of an idiot as they all thought he was. "A while…"
Behind him, Luffy sighed and nuzzled his head into Zoro's muscled back, catching the swordsman off-guard, yet somehow also causing him to relax. He groaned quietly as his captain muttered, "Idiot… you should have said something."
Zoro stiffened again as he turned in Luffy's grip to face him with a pissed-off expression. "Damnit, Luffy! Stop lecturing me like you're the smart one!"
The captain grinned at the expression on the swordsman's face when he realised again just how close they were, and how he looked away with the lightest of blushes on his face. It was cute. Luffy locked the picture away in his mind for later - he'd have to find it again on his first mate's face at some point…
"That's more like the usual Zoro!" he said childishly, fake-mocking the green-haired man in a way that he knew wouldn't be tolerated.
Zoro's face turned back to Luffy's in an instant, the blush a little darker but otherwise ignored, his pissed expression considerably worse. "Oi-"
He was cut off by the other's lips catching his in a soft, meat-tasting kiss.
Chopper and the others were pretty annoyed when they found out that they weren't playing touch anymore (and that they'd been running around, laughing for three hours without being told so). It was a little disappointing - usually their little games of touch or hide-and-seek would last a few hours, rather than ending in less than half an hour (and not even telling the rest of the players that it had done so).
On the bright side, later the next day, Zoro showed up to give back the jar of mouth-ulcer treatment. It seemed that whatever had been bothering the swordsman so much had stopped being bothersome. And what was even better was that Zoro hadn't even used half of the gel.
It was a poor apology, but it was enough, the reindeer supposed as he headed down to the kitchen for lunch. He also noted that throughout the whole meal, Zoro seemed to be more normal. For one thing, he actually yelled and got annoyed when Luffy stole his food directly from his plate. That was definitely more normal, seeing as it had totally freaked out everyone who noticed when Zoro had just ignored him the night before. Luffy had even grinned and laughed at the green-haired swordsman when he had reacted, causing him to get even madder and stand up, threatening to wring their captain's neck.
Sanji had put his own foot down then, telling Zoro off for threatening the captain in such a way. Zoro had huffed and sat back down, a sulky frown on his face and a quiet muttering of "Stupid shitty love-cook…"
Sanji either hadn't, or pretended that he hadn't heard and had walked off back to the cooker, where more food was waiting to be brought over.
And for another thing, Chopper hadn't seen Zoro tighten his fist all day. Again, it was almost strange, but then again…
Nothing was ever normal in a strange crew like the straw hats.
Whatcha think? The ending's really cheesy and I couldn't think of a better title... but I think it's pretty good. Drop a review to tell me what you think of my musings! And my poor attempt at humour XD