Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece or any of its characters.
Love Means Many Things
The words "I love you" were something that confused him.
He wondered what it meant. He understood what it meant to love and love someone. But for someone to say "I love you" to another person, that was what confused him.
When he was younger, not yet abandoned by his herd, he could clearly remember how he saw two reindeer rubbing heads together gently, snorting the words through the frosty air. His family did that as well, to each other and to other members of the herd.
But not to him.
While drifting from town to town, he overheard a young girl and boy saying it to each other. The girl was blushing and the boy was holding her hand. But when he went to ask them, they began screaming and the people threw rocks at him, so he had no choice but to flee.
Doctor Hiriluk once said that to him, but he died before Chopper could ask him what it meant. Doctor Kureha never said it to him and when he mentioned it to her, she simply knuckled his head and told him to get on with his work.
Asking Luffy about it, the rubber boy cheerfully replied how Ace, his brother, and his mother-like figure Makino would always say it to him, whether tucking him to bed or waving goodbye to him for the night. Then, he went to Usopp and the sniper immediately began a story about a brave prince riding to save the beautiful princess from the evil dragon. Once he slayed the dragon and got to her tower, it was the first words she said to him. Finally, he found Robin and repeated the question to her. She smiled and explained that it was a way for someone to show that they care for someone else.
Now understanding, he went to the first person he could think of to say the words to.
" Zoro! Zoro!"
The swordsman barely even moved when the little doctor ran towards him, stopping breathlessly in front of him. " What is it, Chopper?" he asked without even opening his eyes.
Taking a deep breath, he shouted the words as loud as he could. " I love you, Zoro!"
Upon hearing those words, Zoro's eyes snapped open in surprise. Nami poked her head out of her cabin, jaw dropping, not knowing whether to smile or to gasp. Sanji's hearty laughter from the kitchen could be heard throughout the whole ship. Robin wisely said nothing, though her smile was very pronounced behind her book. Zoro angrily yelled back at Sanji to be quiet and glared at the giggling Luffy and Usopp in the corner. And he looked awfully upset and annoyed when his gaze turned back to Chopper.
Head drooping, Chopper bowed his head in shame. Was it something he shouldn't have said? But from what he saw, those other people liked it when those words are said. Could it be that Zoro was one of the those people who didn't liked hearing the words "I love you"?
" I'm sorry, Zoro," he quickly muttered, blinking back unshed tears. " I didn't know you didn't like those words."
The swordsman's gaze softened a little. " Don't be," Zoro gruffly said, patting him on the head just the way he liked it. He giggled before leaving, a smile right back on his face.
And maybe - just maybe, he could feel a little smile from Zoro as well.