A/N: Right, so this is another piece I'm unanoning from the opfanforall. It's been tweaked a tad, but is more or less the same piece. To my knowledge, the song included is public domain. If anybody knows otherwise, please let me know, because I can remove the lyrics without damaging the story itself too awfully.
Warnings: None, really. This piece is very, very much Gen.
Spoilers: Characters from up to Thriller Bark. Otherwise, nothing really.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters herein, for lo, I am not Eiichiro Oda. I also don't own the lullaby, but it has been sung to me many a time. It is called "Dancing Bears," and was originally written by Rose Fyleman. I think there are several versions of the lyrics, but this is how my family sings it.
Lay Your Weary Head to Rest
The idea of a Zoro unable to sleep was so alien to the Straw Hat Pirates that no one even noticed for almost a week. It wasn't until Zoro, always so proud of his exquisite control, accidentally cut himself during a fight with an opposing pirate crew that the seriousness of the situation hit.
"A whole week, Zoro?" Chopper chastised the swordsman as he wrapped bandages around the freshly stitched gash on Zoro's thigh. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I was hoping it would just go away on its own."
"How's that working out for you, idiot?" Sanji scoffed. The whole crew had gathered in the infirmary after the battle. Zoro didn't rise to the cook's baiting, and that in and of itself showed how very, very tired he was.
"Well, we obviously have to do something!" Nami frowned. "Zoro's no good to us in a fight if he can't even function!" Zoro's self-inflicted cut was the only injury he had sustained this time.
"Yosh!" Luffy slammed his closed right fist onto his left palm, face set in a determined expression. "Zoro needs to get some sleep! Captain's orders!"
Said swordsman snorted and rolled his eyes. "If only it was that easy..."
Everyone tried to help, and Zoro knew they all meant well, but after a while, he almost wished they had never found out about the whole thing.
Luffy suggested meat, was reminded that meat was his solution to all problems, and changed his suggestion to booze. As if Zoro hadn't already tried that! Then, in his supreme act of captainly kindness, he offered to let his first mate wear the Hat. Zoro declined.
After Chopper had suggested the insomnia might be due to stress, Nami had offered to let the swordsman use some special bath salts she had purchased several islands ago. Of course, he was expected to pay her back, plus interest. Again, he declined-significantly less politely.
Usopp shared a long story that, at least as far as Zoro could interpret through the usual exaggerations and additions, suggested a mug of warm milk might do the trick.
Sanji had insisted that a nice herbal tea might be even better.
Zoro grudgingly tried both without success.
Chopper had offered to prepare sleeping medication, but Zoro preferred to use drugs only as a last resort. He didn't like the lack of control they entailed, and Chopper's tranquilizers tended to leave him with a lingering groggy feeling and a bad taste in his mouth when he woke.
Robin had offered a massage, but again, Zoro had declined. He had come to trust the former assassin, at least to a certain extent, but the devil fruit produced extra parts freaked him out. That, and Sanji almost gave himself an aneurism in protest.
Franky composed a song about sleeplessness with an accompanying dance. Zoro was fairly certain he had been mentally scarred for life.
He thanked everyone for their efforts, then asked them to kindly just leave him the hell alone. He found a relatively secluded spot on the deck to sulk.
The light footsteps that approached from behind were still not quite familiar.
"What do you want, Brook?" Zoro grumbled without turning around or showing any other acknowledgement.
"Simply to offer a little insight of my own. I know what it is to be unable to close my eyes in sleep, though of course I have none. Skull jo-" he cut himself off at a death glare from Zoro.
"Are you done?"
"Not quite." The skeleton sat down on the deck nearby. "Senses are tied to memory, you know."
"Is there a point to this?"
"I thought that perhaps if you could recall a lullaby from childhood, it might help you to find rest."
Zoro opened his mouth to say that this was the stupidest thing he had ever heard but rubbed his sore eyes and sighed. Why not? He might as well give this a shot, too.
"I can't remember very clearly. There was this song that had something to do with dancing bears. Do you know it?"
Brook gave a slight nod. "I think I may. Please, lie back and close your eyes."
Zoro complied, and a soft soothing voice filled the air.
In the evening, when the moon is bright,
(Whump, Whump, Whump!)
All the bears are dancing in its light,
(Thump, Thump, Thump!)
In a solemn ring they go,
Very stiff and very slow,
Singing in a bearish sort of sound,
(Grump, Grump, Grump!)
As they circle round and round and round,
(Whump, Whump, Whump!)
Zoro felt himself beginning to drift as the second verse started. A contented sigh escaped him.
In the field beneath the cabbage rows,
(Hush, Hush, Hush!)
All the mice are dancing on their toes,
(Tush, Tush, Tush!)
If a cat should chance to roam,
They would all go scampering home,
To their holes they'd scurry in a trice,
(Rush, Rush, Rush!)
Pray be very wary little mice,
(Hush, Hush, Hush!)
Brook observed the now deeply sleeping swordsman. The usual angry lines on his face had been smoothed away, and a slight smile quirked the edges of his mouth. A short time later, a familiar snore filled the silence.
"Sleep well," the musician whispered in parting. "Yo ho ho ho..." He rose and headed off to find the others.
Zoro slept peacefully at last.