J here! Yeah, I know. I shouldn't upload new, random fics when "A Viking and her Cat" is already more delayed than it should, but I apologize. There are two reasons as for why it is delayed; it is the last few weeks of my last year before high school, and I'm in a bit of a freaking crazy-ass-huge rush of projects that are supposed to be finished within the next week, so it might be delayed for just a bit more. School has to come first. And still, I'm spending my precious time to write this "little" idea down. This fic is the second reason why it is so delayed. It was a plot-bunny that hit me in the face one week ago, and I merged it with an idea that I've been thinking of making something out of. So, this is the result, a femZoro! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece. It would not be as epic if it had been me writing it. And no one would get the jokes.
No clouds in the sky today; just one more annoyance factor. It left the sun free to its relentless attempts of frying me alive. And then there was the issue of food and water, of course. My stomach was complaining nonstop and the fry-level heat that the sun was so insistent on exposing me to didn't exactly make it any better.
But that wasn't enough to defeat me. Far from it. I shot a challenging glare at the sky. Was this all it had? I closed my eyes with an annoyed sigh. There was really no more than one way to spend time in this situation. So I took a nap. Only nine more days, then I'd be set free from this accursed pole, and then… That bastard son wouldn't know what hit him.
I woke up to the sound of hurried steps approaching from the other side of the wall. Sounded like two persons. The first on that I spotted was a young teenage boy. He appeared to be around fifteen, but I got the feeling he was about my age, maybe a year younger. He had short, unruly black hair with a strawhat perched upon his head and a scar below his left eye. He had big, clear eyes and a rater goofy, while neutral expression. I didn't see all that much of him, since he was only hanging on the wall. Then I noticed the surprising amount of muscle that adorned his rather thin frame. Strange, he didn't exactly look like a fighter. But I could tell that there definitely was a lot more to this guy than it seemed. And then the next guy appeared. What was I, a zoo animal? The guy was short and skinny. Practically skin and bones, but had a somewhat chubby face, somehow. Pink hair. Glasses. Definite lack of confidence in his eyes, which was confirmed by his reaction upon seeing me. It was the usual one; terror. The strawhat guy however, paid next to no attention to his younger friend's panicking and simply maintained eye contact with me, which was a feat that was kinda impressive in itself these days. I smirked inwardly. This guy was kinda interesting.
I was, however, snapped out of my thoughts as a new person made her entrance. A more familiar character. It was that child again. She came here every once in a while, sneaking in some food, although I had tried several times to stop her. If someone spotted her, she'd be in deep shit.
The four-eyes freaked out once more, thinking that I'd kill the girl. Who made up all of these rumors? I mean, what would I gain from killing a little girl? Seriously.
She jumped down from the wall that she had just climbed over and scurried over, holding out two rice balls. Completely spherical, no seaweed. Looked kinda odd. Still, to my starving eyes, she could just as well have held out a gourmet buffet. But I knew I couldn't take them, for her sake.
"I made you rice balls, onii-san!"
I groaned inwardly. It was damn hard to resist, but I refused for her sake.
"Don't want them." I kept my voice low. It was a habit of mine, one that I had for a good reason. "Get lost kid, or you might end up dead."
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the strawhat kid smirk. But I paid little attention to him. The girl looked at me with round, innocent eyes.
"But you haven't eaten anything for days. And I made them just for you…"
I almost groaned out loud. Kids. Why didn't she get it? "Get the hell out or you're dead."
"Now, now, you shouldn't pick on kids, Roronoa Zoro."
Oh, great. Here comes the pot-headed loony. And with his servant-marines in tow too, it seemed. Somehow, he completely failed to notice the two teens that were peeking over the wall. Instead, he turned his attention to the little girl and her rice balls. That she'd made for me. Somehow, that thought pissed me off even more. And then he had the nerve to not only spit out, but stomp at the rice balls when he found them sweet. What a waste. And then he ordered one of the marines to throw the girl over the wall. Luckily, I saw that the boy with the strawhat caught her, so it seemed that she was fine. So I turned my attention back to the idiot daddy's boy.
"So, you're still alive, eh? Clinging on for dear life?"
I grunted at him in annoyance. "Remember your promise."
He just laughed. Idiot. "Yes, I know. Survive one month and I'll let you go."
I snorted as he turned. "Only nine more days!"
He didn't answer, just left. When they'd gone off I turned my head back to the wall, only to find that the strawhat guy was standing right in front of me. It seemed that all these days of starvation had dulled my senses.
"Still here?" Because I had to ask. "If you're just standing around, someone will call 'daddy'."
He just shrugged, unconcerned. He was either brave or just stupid. Or just plain clueless. "Maybe," he said, then shot me a peculiar grin. "I'm looking for people to join my pirate crew."
That caught my ear. So, he was a pirate huh? Didn't seem much like one. "Pirates? Are you really willingly lowering yourself to the level of a petty criminal? Stupid."
I watched as his expression turned serious. "What's so wrong with being a pirate?"
I could bring up a pretty long list of what was wrong with it and why it was stupid to be one, but I got the feeling that if it got to an argument, it was not one I would win. And I didn't have the energy to argue anyway. So I just snorted.
"Whatever. So, are you going to ask me to become a pirate in exchange for untying me?"
He reached up and adjusted his hat a bit while giving me a small smile. "I haven't decided yet. People are saying that you are evil, after all."
I snorted again before smirking. I seriously wanted to know who started these rumors. "Evil, maybe. In any case, I refuse. I have my own goal. I'll be fine without your help. That bastard son promised to let me go if I survived for one month. I will survive, and fulfill my promise."
I hadn't intended to say that much, but I didn't regret it.
He just chuckled. "Oh yeah? If it were me, I'd starve to death in a week!"
Well, at least he was honest. "There is a big difference between you and I. You'll have to look for pirate aspirants elsewhere."
He simply shot me a curious smile and turned to leave. He would be back. It was as clear to me as if he had told me out loud, just not with words. He was a strange guy. But then I remembered something and stopped him. "Hey."
He halted and turned his head to me with a questioning glance. "Yes?"
I nodded towards the now muddy and stomped at rice balls. "Could you pick those up?"
He gave me a look before picking them up and looking at them questioningly. "You're going to eat these? They're more mud balls than rice balls now."
Well, that was easy for him to say, but it had been five days since my last meal, and that was only half a sandwich that the little girl from before had managed to sneak out. After a while, one wasn't so picky anymore, so I opened my mouth. "Shut it and bring them over here. All of them."
They weren't exactly the best meal I'd ever had, but after almost a month of starvation, they did actually taste damn good. Even despite the mud. Made me cough a bit though. Which made the kid raise an eyebrow.
"I warned you. Do you want to die before your time?"
I ignored his comment while fighting to swallow. When I had downed it, I asked him to pass on a message for me, as I couldn't tell her in person. "When you meet that kid, tell her it was good. Thanks for the food."
He just gave me a knowing smile of approval, which puzzled me, before leaving. Strange guy, that. Seemed like a pretty good guy, though. Pity he was a pirate.
Soon I was woken up from yet another nap when the strawhat guy returned, and now it seemed that he had made up his mind. He had that look in his eyes. And he had finally decided to introduce himself.
"Hi, my name's Luffy! Want to join my pirate crew?"
I blinked. Did he have short-term memory loss or something? "I already told you that I'm not joining."
He just frowned, pouting slightly, attaining a childishly stubborn expression that made me somewhat doubt my earlier estimation of his age. "I've already decided that you are my nakama!"
Ok, that ticked me off a bit, and I was wondering if I had overestimated him. "Don't go deciding those things yourself!"
I almost flinched at my own voice. Damn, it was quite difficult to conceal my real voice while yelling. Well, at least he was the only on in the vicinity. To my relief, he didn't react at all. Hopefully, he hadn't noticed, but something made me doubt it.
Completely ignoring my (loud) objection, he came with a question instead. "You can use swords, I hear?"
I raised an eyebrow. If he had to ask about it, he obviously wasn't too updated on things. "Yeah, but that bastard son took them. He took the swords that are more precious than my life."
This caught his attention. "Ok, I'll get them back for you."
Really? Hah, as if he could. But of course, there'd be a catch. He turned back to me with a smirk.
"But if you want them back, you'll have to join my pirate crew!"
The bastard. "That's blackmail!" You know what I said about him seeming nothing like a pirate? Scratch that. And he seemed to have no worries regarding infiltrating the base either as he rushed off pretty much immediately. Seriously, what was it with that guy?
Some time later, only about four minutes was my bet, the little pink haired guy with glasses came. Lots of visitors today. Well, as long as he wasn't trying to turn me pirate, I didn't really carte. He looked around, probably searching for Luffy.
"He went into the base," I told him.
He didn't seem all that surprised. "He went into the base? He's insane!"
I had to agree. "True. Who the hell is he anyway?"
I didn't get any answer, but it wasn't as if I was expecting one. That kind of question rarely gets answered, for some reason. No, instead he started to untie my ropes.
"Hey, what are you doing? You'll be killed if you help me."
He just frowned. "They can't treat you like this; it's below the marines' dignity!"
So, he was a marine soul.
"I am going to become a righteous marine, just like Luffy is going to become the King of the Pirates!"
Ok, I admit. That kinda caught me off guard. "King of the Pirates? Does he even realize what that means?"
And once again, I had to mentally beat myself up for yelling. I really had to refrain from doing that. Luckily, he didn't seem to notice, but simply chuckled.
"I know, I was surprised too, at first. But he is serious. That's just how he is."
I was silent for a moment. The guy had certainly earned a bit of my respect. I felt a certain similarity with the strawhat wearing teen. Dream-wise, I mean.
But the, out of nowhere the pinkette got shot in the shoulder and collapsed. The bullet had come from the roof of the base. I shot a glare at the marines that were here. And I could swear that I could see the commander glaring back.
Four-eyes soon regained consciousness, though, and he made it fairly obvious that he had never experienced real battle before, from the way he was screaming. I just pointed out that he was alive and that he should leave. The marines would be coming down in any second now, but he refused as he sat up, shaking.
"No, I have to free you!"
I sighed at his stupidity. "They'll let me go in a month, just focus on saving your own ass."
Apparently, he had a different opinion. "They lied to you! They'll never let you go; you will be executed in three days!"
That sort of annoyed me. There was no way I had endured this long for naught. "But that bastard son did promise to let me go if I survived for one month!"
But he just stood up and adjusted his glasses. "He had never intended to keep that promise. That was why Luffy hit him in the face, because he spat on you who took the promise seriously!"
I blinked. He had done that? Why? He didn't even know me. Now it suddenly made sense of sorts why he was so keen on recruiting me. Still, why? It didn't make sense.
"The marine is already your enemy," four-eyes went on. "I beg you! Help Luffy when I've untied your ropes. He saved my life! I'm not asking you to become a pirate, but Luffy is really strong! If you two work together, you might be able to get away from here!"
Somehow, I doubted that he would need my help, but if he did, I found that I wouldn't mind. He had protected me, in a way, and he was attempting to get my swords back. So why shouldn't I help him in return?
However, things didn't really work out that way, as the marines were already here, guns loaded, all pointing towards us. And I was tied up, without my swords. Couldn't do a shit.
"Stop it right there!" one called out. Probably a sergeant or something. "You will both be executed here and now for mutiny against Commander Morgan!" (AN: You know, it always bothered me that they use the word 'mutiny'. I mean, it's not like they were ever a part of the marine and Coby didn't join until afterwards, so how could they commit mutiny? It doesn't make any sense.)
Then the commander himself strode forward, acting all high and mighty. I didn't doubt the fact that I could probably cut him up in a matter of seconds, if I had my swords at hand and wasn't tied down. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
He issued an order about surrounding the base to prevent Luffy from escaping. So, at least he had managed to get inside the base without much problem, but right now, that didn't really feel too relevant. And as all crooks, Morgan had to say a few 'superior' words to his 'victim' before striking.
"You three are amusing. Were you planning a coup d'état, or what?" I briefly wondered what the hell we'd gain from that. But he had more to say. "Roronoa Zoro, I have heard rumors about you. But before my power, your strength is equal no none."
Right, this guy had an annoyingly large ego, and I was itching pretty bad to cut him up. But when he issued t horded that always precedes the order to fire, my mind was filled with different thoughts. I had never felt like that before. It was a simple realization. A realization so simple and terrifying that little else could fit in my mind. It was a bothersome one.
I was going to die, and there was not a damn thing I could do about it.
That is, if no miracle occurred, which was something unreasonable to wish for. Because miracles didn't just happen.
No. I couldn't die here, not now! I still had things to do!
But, the bullets never hit. Because someone had leaped in the way. A certain someone clad in a red vest, blue shorts and an old, worn-out strawhat. I could feel my heart skip a beat. Because someone that I didn't even know had just offered his life to protect me. But his wide grin remained.
And I soon saw why he smiled so confidently.
Because he hadn't just died protecting me. Because the bullets simply bounced back. I was so weirded out that I couldn't even speak for a few seconds. The marines seemed to be just as stunned as I were, and four-eyes had fainted from the shock. Apparently, this was new to him as well. And Luffy just laughed. And he had my swords too, tied to his back.
Somehow, I gathered enough air to at least yell again. For the third time that day. But I didn't really care anymore. It seemed somewhat less significant in the situation. "Just who the hell are you?"
He just gave me a wide grin, accompanied by a pair of eyes, burning with a flame of ambition more intense than anything I had ever seen before.
"I am the man who is going to become the King of the Pirates!"
And for some reason, I found that I didn't doubt him. It might have been because of his voice, his confidence or because of the flame in his eyes when he said it, which one didn't matter. I felt very inclined to believe that it was true. It was strange. He was strange. All too strange.
But soon the moment was gone and his goofier grin was back as he held out my swords.
"I didn't know which one was yours, so I took them all."
Yup, definitely clueless. "They're all mine. I fight with Santoryuu."
I saw understanding and a hint of amusement flash briefly by in his eyes before he turned to the marines. "If you fight with me now against these marines, you will be considered a criminal. If you don't, you'll be executed. So, what'll you do?"
I chuckled. Bastard. But I found myself actually enjoying the idea. Why not? So I gave him a snicker and my answer.
"Are you the son of the Devil? Well, if the alternative is to die, then fine. I'll become a pirate with you, then!"
This sent him into a fit of joy, as he threw his fists into the air and cheered, while doing a little happy-dance. I could understand his joy, sure, I felt it too, but this was hardly the time and place for rejoicing. And at least he seemed to understand this as well when I asked him to untie my ropes instead. Unfortunately, he wasn't that good with knots. And the marines had recovered from their shock and were charging us, swords swinging. This caused me to grow rather impatient. But then I felt the ropes around my right arm loosen and drop.
"There, one down!"
And the marines were almost upon us.
"Well, give me my swords then, stupid!"
He did, and in the blink of an eye, I had cut myself loose and was now blocking all of the incoming swords. While facing the other way. Just another day at work. After voicing a minor threat to the marines to prevent them from moving, it was a good time to let my new captain know of what he had signed up for.
"I will become a pirate, just like I promised, but I am fighting for my own sake. I will become the Greatest Swordsman in the world! And since I've ended up on the wrong side of the law I can just as well become a pirate. If I become feared or admired doesn't matter, but my name shall ring in every corner of the world! If you do something that will force me to leave my path, then you will end your life on my blade!"
His eyes showed no surprise, only understanding, as if he already knew this. Hell, it wouldn't surprise me if he did. Somehow. It was a gut feeling, and they tend to be rather accurate.
"Sounds good! The world's Greatest Swordsman is the least one would expect as the first mate of the King of the Pirates!"
I returned the grin. And so, the contract was sealed. The connection established. It had been a long time since I last traveled with company. And even though that came with certain… complications, it felt refreshing. Assuring. Heartwarming, in a strange, unfamiliar sort of way. But it felt good. Even despite the fact that we were standing in the middle of a battlefield.
Because there wasn't any danger present anymore. And when Luffy told me to duck, I didn't question it, I just ducked.
But when his leg stretched out and knocked all of the present marines over, I really had to ask just what that was.
And he just smiled that peculiar smile of his and said, "I'm a rubberman!"
Which explained a few things. I'd heard stories about the Devil's fruits, but I'd always thought them nothing more than a crazy legend. Until now. I mentally shrugged. Better get used to it quickly, so I turned to the marines instead. There was still some clean up to do.
When Luffy had beaten Morgan up, there was a reason as to why he left his back wide open. It was a sort of confirmation. A test, one could say. He gave me no hint, no sign. Not even the faintest gesture. Because it simply wasn't necessary.
Because he didn't leave his back open.
When the supposedly unconscious Morgan stood up once again, his axe never reached Luffy's head.
Because I didn't let him.
And even though Luffy didn't see me cut the guy down, as his focus was in the opposite direction, he knew.
"That was nothing, Captain."
It was as simple as that.
But I have to say that it was damn good to eat a good, proper meal afterwards. Didn't know how many servings I took; I lost count after five. How Luffy could eat even more than me, as much as more than twice my amount, was beyond me, especially as he was so skinny.
Four-eyes had been offered food too, and now I had finally got to know that his name was Coby. Calling him four-eyes all the time was getting mildly frustrating.
The little girl who had brought the rice balls earlier, whose name was Rika, apparently, was expressing her admiration of my newfound captain, which for some reason brought my mind to a different matter. "So, where are we going next?"
He got that determined spark in his usually goofy eyes again. "To the Grand Line!"
Which sounded reasonable. And fun. But not to Coby, apparently.
"Won't you ever stop being crazy? You can't go to the Grand Line with only the two of you, that's suicide! Don't you get it? All of the greatest pirates in the world roam those seas!"
But I didn't see the problem. Rather, that sounded very appealing indeed. "But if one's after the One Piece, that is the place to go. Sounds good!"
Coby shot me a look before turning his outrage at me, full force. "'Good'? Are you crazy too, Zoro?"
The dialogue kept going in that fashion for a while. I didn't pay all that much attention until Coby came with a remark that threw me off a bit.
"But Zoro-san, I have to say that you are a lot skinnier than I had imagined."
I was drinking some beer as he said this and I had to struggle a bit to prevent it from going down the wrong pipe. Let's just say that if the remark had come from anyone who I didn't consider a friend, well, let's just say that he wouldn't have been able to walk for some time. Like a few months. But this case was different. So I swallowed the beer and decided to cough up a somewhat natural response.
"I get that a lot."
'And all other who said it ended up in the hospital for weeks' I mentally added to myself.
And then the marines came. Good marines, those. They stuck to their code, but they still tried their best to show us what gratitude they could offer.
And so, we departed, and I think I got one more point of insight in the character of my captain. He was a peculiar person, and I got the feeling that things would get really interesting from this point and onwards.
I mean, a whole marine division saluting us upon departing, I could only imagine how the journey itself would turn out.
"Hm?" I opened an eye lazily and faced Luffy. Barely ten minutes had passed since we had left the shore. He couldn't be bored already, surely? But, no, that was not it.
"Why do you hide the fact that you are a girl?"
My eyes widened. This came as something of a surprise. My first thought was to ask myself when my wall had cracked, when he had figured me out. But then I burst out laughing. Of course he had known!
Luffy, however, did not get why I was laughing. "What's so funny?"
My laughing faded to a chuckle as I rubbed my temples in amusement. Normally, someone seeing through my façade was disastrous and would end with me killing the guy, but for some reason, knowing that my captain had seen through me at once felt strangely… relieving. It could be refreshing to have someone to share my secret with, with whom I could just stop acting around and truly relax.
But Luffy was getting mildly annoyed that I wasn't answering, so I stopped laughing and gave him a small smile. "Because people think that women are weaker than men, and I hate to be underestimated."
I could see as understanding took over annoyance, but then he frowned, bothered. "That's weird."
I raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
The annoyance in his eyes was back. "Yeah. Why would they do that? Girls can be really strong too!"
I gave him one of my rare, wholehearted smiles as a warm feeling spread in my chest. I knew that I now had a place that I could truly call home, where I wouldn't need to keep my guard up.
At least for now. I wasn't sure how things would turn out as more people joined us, but for now I just settled down for a nap.
Without any trouble on my mind, for once.
And that's it for now, folks! I hope you enjoyed it! And, yeah, I know I made Zoro's gender pretty damn vague until the very end, but that was my intention. And if things wasn't all that much different this chapter, then I'll ask you to wait until future chapters. I can only say that I will definitely enjoy writing them.
Oh, and see what I did there? I wrote Ruffy with L, this whole chapter! Happy now? :3
And it will take a while until there will be romance. For now, I will settle for nakamaship. Because I don't get much space to write Luffy/Zoro nakamaship in A Viking, so I do that here.
In any case, I hope I did a good job, and please tell me what you think about the fic, if you feel like it and all that, and I'll see you all next time.
And for all of you who are also reading A Viking and Fireborne, I'm working on it. I will update next week, promise! Hopefully both!