A/N: This is an addition/internalization for episode 237, after the fight between Luffy and Usopp. My take on Zoro's perspective for the moment when Luffy has jumped to another chimney and he, Sanji and Chopper are waiting on the roof. It's meant to be Zoro/Luffy, but in a light way. I was experimenting with repetition and image to try to get at Zoro's voice; I hope it was successful. Enjoy.
Zoro is not a complicated person. He doesn't believe in complication. Things are one way or they are the other way. Zoro prefers things his way. His way is straightforward and gets him what he wants as quickly as possible. He likes it that way. It's simple. Uncomplicated.
Luffy is not a complicated person, either. Most people would say that Luffy is simple-minded, but Zoro knows his captain is just simple, and he prefers that. Complications just make messes, and Zoro hates a mess, if he has to be in it. Luffy likes messes but he hates complications. Nami would say this is because Luffy has the brain of a toadstool and he can't process complicated things. Zoro knows it's because complications just bite.
Today is complicated.
Today Zoro is sitting on a rooftop in the lower city of Water 7, leaning back against the chimney of a hotel in which they are staying but in which no one is resting, his eyes closed and his swords leaned against his shoulder, but he is not sleeping. Zoro likes to sleep but doing two things at once is complicated and he hates that, and right now he's doing something else. Right now he's waiting. He's waiting and watching the back of an unbuttoned red shirt flickering in the soft afternoon breeze on the top of a chimney twenty feet away, where Luffy is sitting by himself, watching the ocean.
The rooftop is quiet, except for the call of the white and gray gulls dipping over their heads and the sigh of the wind through lines of laundry strung between the windows in the alleys that border their hotel on all sides. Zoro is quiet, because he's waiting, and waiting can't be done without listening. He's listening for any sound from the back on a chimney twenty feet away, a back he isn't watching, not even looking at more than once an hour, when his eyes crack open to check that Luffy is still sitting by himself, watching the ocean, his hat tipped down to hide his eyes. Zoro doesn't check on his captain more than once an hour because any more often than that and it wouldn't be waiting for Luffy anymore, it would be asking something, and today the first mate has nothing to ask his captain at all, because asking isn't how it works—it's just about waiting.
Zoro leans into the brick wall of the chimney and rolls his shoulders. The red clay chafes through his thin white shirt. He doesn't move or get up, or remind himself what the crow's nest on the Merry felt like, the sanded planks and the smell of bleached oakwood, the white layer of salt caked between the grooves of the grain. A memory like that would be complicated and Zoro doesn't believe in complication. Complication pisses him off.
It's too soon to look at Luffy again, so Zoro only opens one eye, giving the roof a slow, sweeping survey. He's not looking at his captain, but he doesn't have to—the way Chopper is hanging onto the railing and the looseness of their worthless cook's arms as he smokes another cigarette tell the swordsman that Luffy hasn't changed. These two aren't good at waiting—they'll be the first to move.
Zoro knows Luffy is refusing to feel those eyes watching him. Those eyes are complicated, and Luffy hates complicated, too.
Things have never been complicated between Zoro and Luffy. There's nothing simpler than how they met and there's nothing simpler, in Zoro's mind, than a captain and first mate. A captain and a first mate are simple to each other. Luffy and Zoro are simple to each other, too. But it's not the same kind of simple, and that's why today is complicated, and that's what pisses Zoro off.
Sanji takes a drag of his cigarette and drops his hand, the embers lingering by his leg. Zoro closes his eyes again.
Today is complicated because Usopp is an idiot. Because Merry is a good ship. Because Luffy is a stubborn son of a bitch when he has to be but he has to be, and he's right, and Zoro will never let him say he isn't. Today is complicated because Luffy was crying when he pulled his hat down to hide his eyes and walked away from Usopp's body, and told his first mate that it was heavy, so heavy. Today is complicated because his first mate's answer was that's the burden of being a captain, and that's what Zoro wants to have said to his captain, but maybe not what he wants to say to Luffy. Because as a first mate, his captain's tears don't exist—but Luffy's tears do exist for Zoro.
That's the burden of being a captain is what he said, when Luffy pulled his hat down—the hat that has stayed down, now, as Luffy watches the ocean, his red shirt flickering in the soft afternoon breeze. Zoro won't change what he said. But if Luffy would come back from the chimney and talk to him straight, simple, he would say something else, too—two things. You were right. Don't cry. Zoro would say that to Luffy, if Luffy would come back from his fucking complicated chimney and sit down next to Zoro, like it's just a day, any day. But it's not any day, because Luffy's been the captain since they woke up yesterday and he can't say those things to his captain, simple as that. And what pisses Zoro off is that his captain might be Luffy again if Sanji and Chopper would just leave, if it were just the two of them and things were simple again, captain to first mate, Luffy to Zoro. Zoro can still feel the words he couldn't say yesterday hanging around in his chest, the words that might push that hat up again, the one that is pulled down over Luffy's eyes as he watches the ocean, alone on a chimney twenty feet away—and he hates that feeling, the unsaid words. It feels like indigestion, or seasickness. It feels like complication.
So Zoro is waiting. Waiting for Sanji to get his sorry ass out of this space, waiting for Chopper to shut up about the complicated things that keep Luffy from talking to Zoro. Waiting for Luffy to come back to his side of the roof and sit down next to Zoro, and let his head fall onto Zoro's shoulder, soft and simple, his black hair flickering light as an afternoon breeze against the swordsman's skin. Then he can say it. But for now, he's waiting. And in the end, he couldn't care less, because as long as it's just waiting, it will be okay—Zoro hates complications but he doesn't mind waiting, because he knows his captain well enough to know that Luffy will always come back, when he's ready to push the hat up out of his eyes—and Zoro's a stubborn son of a bitch when he has to be.
Waiting… well, there's nothing simpler than that.