Put me down!
Summary: After Marineford, Zoro returns to the rest of the crew injured, and has to be carried around by the rest of the crew. Presented as a series of light-hearted, connected drabbles. An unanon from the One Piece fanforall.
Rating: K+ for some swearing.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to the OP at op_fanforall2 for their cute and nakamashippy prompt!
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece.
It was only to be expected that the first of Luffy's nakama would be the last to return. Even with the Vivrecard pointing him in the direction of Rayleigh and the Thousand Sunny, Zoro somehow managed to take the long way round.
It was equally expected that during his aimless jaunt around the Grand Line their injury-magnet of a swordsman would pick up some severe injuries, and that he would brush them off as nothing of consequence. Even if said injuries consisted of two broken legs that he should never have been walking on in the first place.
Least unexpected of all was Chopper's insistence on a check-up even while everyone was busy hugging and welcoming Zoro back, and his freak-out when he realized that the lack of visible blood really was too good to be true. From his initial "Ahhh! Your legs are broken! Call a doctor!" to when he transformed into Heavy Point, hoisted the protesting swordsman over a shoulder and carried him bodily off into the infirmary, it was all to be expected from a doctor whose worst patient had been without medical attention for three whole months, who knew what infections he'd picked up, and no, pink-haired witches do not count as qualified medical personnel, and how could you not even notice that your legs were broken?
The others just shrugged and laughed as the door closed on the squabbling pair, just glad that Zoro was back again, and that with the greatest doctor on the Grand Line taking care of him, he'd be back to rights in no time.
"Chopper, enough already. I'm pretty sure you ran that test twice before," Zoro sighed.
"Things may have changed!"
"Not in the last two hours. Can I get up now?"
"No! The casts haven't dried yet, and they won't for the rest of the day! Until tomorrow you can't put any weight on your legs!"
"Then how am I supposed to walk?"
"You're not supposed to walk, bastard!"
Zoro looked longingly towards the door and freedom. "But I want to be outside," he said, immediately cringing at how whiny it came out.
"There's a window."
"But I was looking forward to taking a nap on deck!"
"You can sleep even more comfortably in here."
Damn. What kind of argument would actually persuade Chopper to let him go?
"But...I want to be with the others. I miss them." Okay, that came out a lot soppier than he'd intended.
But it had the desired effect. Chopper's eyes were suspiciously shiny as he looked up at Zoro. "We really missed you too, Zoro! Okay, you can go out. But only if you promise me not to put any weight on your legs until your casts have dried!"
"Fine. But how am I supposed to get around in that case?"
The door swung open and they looked around to see their curly-haired sniper at the door. "No problem, Zoro! Just leave it to Captain Usopp!" he said, thumbing his chest.
Zoro arched an eyebrow as he swung his legs down from the bed. "I dunno, Usopp..." Usopp didn't exactly have a very good record at carrying people.
"Hey, I carried you before on Sabaody, didn't I?" "Carried" wasn't exactly the word Zoro would have used, but he sighed.
"Okay. Thanks, Usopp." He awkwardly let himself be heaved up over a thin shoulder that dug painfully into his armpit and half-carried, half-dragged out of the room.
"Oh look! Zoro's out!" was the first thing he heard, from an over-excited Luffy.
The second thing he heard was snuffled laughter from the shit cook.
"Oi. What's so funny?" Zoro growled, belatedly realising that this wasn't exactly the most dignified of positions.
"Nothing!" Sanji giggled as Zoro's bottom lip stuck out in an even more prominent pout.
"It's no laughing matter, Sanji!" Chopper said authoritatively. "Zoro's not supposed to put any weight on his legs until the cast hardens!"
"Oi, Usopp. Let me down." Injured or not, he wasn't so weak he needed Chopper to defend him, Zoro decided.
"Captain Usopp never lets anyone down, Zoro!"
"Right, Zoro?" Chopper asked, his usually hero-worshippy eyes glinting dangerously at the swordsman.
"Huh? Er...what were you saying?"
"Zoro, you promised!"
"It's okay, Chopper, we'll make sure he doesn't go anywhere. Not if he doesn't want his debt to go up by another 20 percent."
"What the hell? You witch!"
"Don't worry, Zoro-bro, I'll build you the most amazing wheelchair ever!"
"I don't need a fucking wheelchair! Usopp, put me down!"
"I wouldn't be so mean as to put you down, Zoro! Waaaaaaaaaaah!" Usopp suddenly stumbled, and if Robin hadn't extended a net of arms to catch them in time, they could have both fallen. She laid them down in a sitting position as Chopper busily checked to see that they were both okay and the casts weren't damaged.
"Usopp, what happened?"
"It felt faintly like haki," Robin observed, "but colder somehow."
"'Fess up, Zoro, what did you do?" Usopp demanded.
"A little something I learned from your pink-haired friend," Zoro smirked, gratified but a little surprised that it had actually worked on Usopp. Maybe he wasn't feeling quite so negative today...
"Pink hair? Coby?" Luffy inquired.
"No, not Coby. That witch from Thriller Bark."
"You were sent to her?"
"I don't wanna talk about it." Which meant, of course, that he spent the next half-hour doing exactly that.
It was only when Brook finished telling the story of the great panties tribute that Zoro noticed that Sanji was absent from the proceedings. "So where'd the shit cook wind up?" he asked off-handedly.
"Sanji? Well, um..." Everyone seemed to be looking to someone else to explain, and there were a few muffled sniggers that left Zoro mystified.
"You haven't seen his new bounty poster yet, have you?" Nami asked cautiously.
"No, did his bounty go up?"
"Yeah, all of ours did as a matter of fact, but...the Marines got a new photo for it."
"Wouldn't he be happy about that? He was always moaning about his last poster, even though it looked exactly like him."
"Yes, well...maybe you should just look at it."
"But Cook-san tore up all the posters we had and burned them in the oven, Nami-chan," Robin said.
"That bad, huh?" Zoro looked over at Luffy, Chopper and Usopp, who were doubled over in silent giggles, and arched an eyebrow. It wasn't like those three to actually try and be quiet. There was only one possible explanation...
"If you louts want any lunch, you better stop laughing and get into the galley right now," snarled a voice behind him.
...and that was it.
"Yahoooooooooooo! Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeat! C'mon, Zoro!" Luffy said, tugging at Zoro's sleeve.
"Zoro's not allowed to walk on his own, remember, Luffy?" Nami reminded him, and Zoro scowled at her for being her usual bossy self.
"Oh yeah! Yosh, Zoro, I'll carry you there!" And before Zoro could protest, he felt a hand grab the back of his shirt and he was bodily catapulted in the direction of the galley.
Usopp and the others cringed at the crash, then looked with some concern at the swordsman-shaped hole next to the galley door. "Anyone else here think maybe it's safer to just let Zoro walk?"
Nami and Robin
He'd tried to endure it. Really he had. And his endurance was considered something legendary. But he had to give in. It hurt his pride, but he couldn't bear it any longer.
Zoro really, really needed to get to the bathroom. Now.
Which would be more embarrassing, Zoro wondered. Crawling, or asking for help?
Neither particularly appealed, but if no one was around to see it...
He took a cautious peek around the deck and, satisfied that the coast was clear, he flipped over onto his front, raised himself up on both arms and began to make his way to the bathroom, hand over hand.
Until a hand grabbed him by the back of his shirt and lifted him up by the scruff of his neck.
"Oi! Leggo!" he protested, his feet unsuccessfully scrambling for purchase.
"Ahem. Just where do you think you're going?"
Of course, it just had to be the bossy witch who'd caught him red-handed. "I wasn't walking!" he said defensively.
"No, but presumably at some point whatever you're going to do is going to require you to stand on your own two legs, so you're as good as guilty."
"Whatever, witch." At this point, he figured, it didn't really matter how much his debt to Nami was anymore, because whatever astronomical sum it was, he wasn't going to be able to pay it.
"Well, to celebrate your return, I'll give you one free pass for now."
Wow, that was a surprise - Nami, turning down money?
"I'll even take you where you need to go. So where were you off to?"
Nami promptly released her hold on his collar and he fell to the deck. "Oi! Don't just let go of people without a warning!"
"I'm not going to carry you to the bathroom!"
"That's why I was trying to go myself!"
"Why don't you get one of the guys to take you? Where arethey, anyway?"
"I dunno, they're all below deck somewhere."
"I'll go call one of them."
"That's all right, Nami-chan, I'll take him," came Robin's cool voice.
"ROBIN!" Nami said protestingly, and before Zoro could collect his wits enough to register his own indignation, he felt himself get turned over by a pair of disembodied hands and a sudden sensation of growth. He looked down and his eyes popped out when he saw he was "standing" on two slim legs that were not his own, his own two injured legs dangling uselessly in front of him.
"Oh, good idea, Robin! Very dignified," Nami said approvingly.
"How is having two extra legs growing out of my butt DIGNIFIED? And what are these things doing here?"
"I need to be able to see where my legs are taking you, Swordsman-san," Robin replied calmly.
Zoro took a deep, shuddering breath, and decided that if he was going to be subjected to being carried to the bathroom by one of the crew, this was the least humiliating of all the available options. Maybe. "Fine. So long as you close your eyes when...y'know..."
"I understand, Swordsman-san," Robin said seriously, but there was an amused spark dancing in her eyes, and Zoro shot a distrustful look at her.
"Oh, come on, Zoro, you trust Robin, don't you?" Nami said placatingly.
"Yeah," he said gruffly, "I trust her." But he was damn well gonna check for extra eyes and ears and any other unnecessary body parts before he went.
Brook observed solemnly as Zoro cast his fifth yearning gaze in as many minutes up towards the crow's nest, where his weights and training gear were stored. The swordsman - well, he was a swordsman too, but he knew that his own skills were insignificant in comparison with Zoro's - was clearly impatient to get back to training once more.
"Hm? What is it, Brook?"
"If you like, I can carry you up to the crow's nest," Brook offered.
"That's okay, Brook," Zoro said hastily. He was sure he was at least twice as heavy as Brook, and he didn't particularly want to crush the man's skeletal frame.
"But I insist, Zoro-san! After all, you carry the cares of the whole crew on your shoulders. It's now my turn."
"The cares of all the whole crew...?" Zoro repeated, his brow furrowed suspiciously, and Brook recollected that he was sworn to secrecy about what had happened at Thriller Bark.
"Ah, no, it's nothing. But please, allow me the honour of carrying you up to the crow's nest."
Brook looked so eager to be of service that Zoro could hardly say no, though he did ponder how with an immobile "face" apart from his jaw Brook managed to be so expressive. "Okay then," he said grudgingly.
Brook knelt down in front of Zoro, and as he did so his body gave a most alarming creak.
"Er, Brook, I'm not sure this is such a good idea..."
"It's fine, Zoro-san," Brook insisted, and somehow between the two of them they managed to maneuver Zoro into position so that when Brook stood up, Zoro was riding on his back.
"Argh, Brook, your hips are really bony!" Zoro groaned. And he'd thought Usopp's shoulder was bad enough.
"That's why they call me 'Dead Bones' Brook, after all! Yohohohoho!"
They proceeded up the mast with equal measures of caution and creaking. It was the longest, boniest piggy-back ride Zoro had ever endured, and he silently questioned what he'd ever done to deserve such cooperative nakama. And all this, because of two shitty broken legs.
Zoro made up his mind about two things then and there. One, to get stronger so he'd never be subjected to such tender mercies from his crewmates again. Two, that he was not letting Brook carry him back down, no matter what.
Sanji poked his head up into through the hatch in the crow's nest. "Oi, marimo. Nami-san sent me to bring you down."
"Still training," Zoro grunted. He was lying on the floor, bench-pressing what looked to be at least two tonnes of weights, and Sanji silently gave thanks to Franky for building the Thousand Sunny as sturdy as he had before snapping:
"I need to start dinner, so it's either now or after Luffy's eaten your share."
Zoro was about to snap back something along the lines of a "so-what", when Sanji added in an embarrassed mumble, "Besides, I've something to show you."
Well, if the cook so desperately wanted to do a show-and-tell, Zoro decided he could make allowances. Besides, he was a little winded from the first real work-out he'd done in a while, though he would never admit it. "Fine." He let the weights down and allowed Sanji to pick him up in a fireman's carry.
This time it was Zoro's turn to be grateful, first that Sanji at least had some flesh on his bones, and second that Sanji was going about it all in a no-nonsense kind of way, as if trying to minimize the embarrassment on both sides.
Sanji slid easily down the mast and carried Zoro into the galley, depositing him wordlessly onto a bar-stool. No complaints about having to interrupt his schedule to carry Zoro down, no jibes about hapless marimos. "What's up with you, dartbrow? You're acting weird," Zoro objected.
"Shut up, and you have to promise not to laugh when I show you this...thing," Sanji said.
Zoro shrugged his acceptance of the terms and tried to ignore the pink in Sanji's cheeks as he pulled out a sheet of paper hidden behind the spice rack and handed it to Zoro.
Zoro stared at it for a moment, brain imploding as he struggled to comprehend its contents, regretting making the promise not to laugh and wondering whether asking "what the fuck are you wearing in this picture, and why do you look like you're enjoying it?" counted as breaking it.
He was leaning towards no, when an image appeared in his mind, quite unbidden, of himself, sewn into a gigantic stuffed teddy bear suit, and he shuddered at the thought of that image appearing on his own bounty poster. There but for the grace of marine photographers and whatever gave the cook such shitty bad luck go I. He'd carefully glossed over his stint as a replacement for Bearsy while telling the others about his adventure, and though he certainly wasn't about to admit it to the cook now, he could be magnanimous in the face of this unfortunate wanted poster.
"So your bounty went up twenty-two thousand beli. So what?" he shrugged.
A look of relief spread across Sanji's face.
"Besides, you got stronger, didn't you? You learned something." Everyone seemed to have, making Zoro wonder what exactly Kuma had in mind when he asked them where they wanted to go.
Sanji didn't reply for some time as he turned to the burner and lit it on fire, feeding the paper to the flames, sweeping the last ashes away with a vindictive thoroughness. Finally he admitted, "Yeah. Yeah, I learned something."
He spent the next half-hour showing Zoro exactly what.
Franky finally emerged from his workshop at midnight, flush with the excitement that came with finishing a really ingenious blueprint for a SUPA gadget. He was sure Zoro would be thrilled by his plans for the cola-powered wheelchair. It would turn on a dime, jump up and down whole flights of stairs, and even have three special slots to store his swords. And the others had come up with some pretty good ideas during their brainstorming session in the afternoon - Chopper had suggested a built-in health monitoring system, Usopp came up with the idea of little missiles that could be fired with the touch of a button, Sanji had wanted a dinner tray, Brook a jukebox and Luffy, predictably, a fridge for meat.
He was a little startled when he found it was dark and all the stars were out, and that the whole ship was quiet. It looked like everyone had gone to bed, with the exception of a green-haired swordsman snoozing on deck, his arm curled protectively around his three swords.
Franky approached cautiously, knowing as everyone did that Zoro could be exceedingly grumpy when woken from a nap. "Zoro-bro, you awake?" His only reply was a gentle snore. It looked like the plans would have to wait. In fact, now that he thought about it...
Franky bent down and prodded one of the casts with one thick finger. It had already hardened. The wheelchair wouldn't have to be built after all.
Oh well. The blueprints would keep, and they would still be super after a few months or years. And knowing this crew, a wheelchair would probably come in handy someday. It was hard to believe the amount of trouble the crew of the Thousand Sunny attracted, but Franky imagined it was just the same on the ship that Tom built for Gold Roger.
A chilly gust swept over the deck and Franky's leg hairs stood on end. Really, Zoro-bro shouldn't be sleeping outside in this weather. As he did in all weather - Franky had even caught him sleeping outside in a snowstorm once. Why the man didn't sleep in the perfectly well-appointed sleeping quarters he'd so carefully designed, Franky could never fathom.
He slid his arms under Zoro and hoisted him up, careful not to arouse the wrath of a sleepy swordsman. Zoro looked a bit grumpy even now, his stern countenance not relaxing even as he slept.
But then Zoro shifted a little in Franky's arms, presumably to get more comfortable, because suddenly a blissful smile spread across his face, one that Franky had never seen before. Zoro rarely smiled, and when he did it was either goofy or scary. And even then there was always that slight furrow in his forehead, like he was always worrying about something - probably worrying about them.
But now even that furrow was gone, and Zoro looked impossibly young, just like a boy -
And Franky reminded himself that this man, who threw himself so recklessly into danger for the sake of his nakama and his pride, really was a mere boy, barely out of his teens. Franky didn't think about his age much since he never really acted his age, but every once in a while some crazy antic would remind him that most of his crewmates, even his captain, were young enough they could almost be his kids.
Franky nudged the door to the boys' quarters open and laid Zoro down in his hammock, feeling unexpectedly paternal. Somehow these kids brought out a protective instinct in him, even though he knew they were so strong they hardly needed his protection. He rummaged around in the closet for a blanket - since Zoro had been gone so long, it had been washed and stored away. He tiptoed back and threw the blanket over the sleeping boy - no, man, dammit, Zoro-bro was a man.
But it was hard to think that way right now, especially when Zoro snuggled under the blanket and mumbled something in his sleep that sounded a lot like "Good night, dad."
"G'night, Zoro," Franky blubbered, and scurried away to his hammock, insisting to himself that it was just dust in his eyes.
Zoro blinked up at the dark ceiling. So it wasn't raining after all. Damn, and that had been such a good dream too. He lay there for a few moments, trying with regret to recapture the lost dream.
But then his sensitive ears caught the sound of his nakama's even breathing, from Chopper's high-pitched snuffle to Brook's low rumble, and he smiled to himself in the dark. It may have been a good dream, but the reality was even better.
He turned over in his hammock, pulled the blanket up to his chin, and was instantly asleep. That night, surrounded for the first time in weeks by his nakama, Zoro slept like a baby.
Sanji's okama bounty poster thing isn't mine, it's practically canon over at op_fanforall so I just appropriated the idea. What Sanji learned on Kamabakka is left as an exercise for the reader.
As for the last bit, I've always wanted to write something about Franky being the "father" in the Strawhat family (according to Oda in an SBS), so this was as good a place as any. Hope you enjoyed. Let me know what you thought!