Disclaimer: … I now disclaim this disclaimer! Mystoftime- out!
The Bloody Truth
The world must've felt some pity and granted a way to lessen Zoro's utter misery by showing him the back door. Literally.
Knapsack, however annoying, had brought him to the bar's smaller, back door rather than bringing him around the front. Where, without doubt, his sudden appearance would've drawn attention, whether he was a man or a woman.
Though usually this consisted of a few suspicious, fearful glares, apart from the bar's drunks who ignored just about everything that walked through the door. But this time… heads were turned.
And he didn't have to get into a physical argument to do so.
Amazing what women have at their disposal, Zoro remarked sourly to himself as he stalked past the many staring eyes strewn across the bar.
He made a beeline for the bar to his left and took a seat with his back to the gawking men. With their source of staring temporarily out of view the silence that had resulted dissolved back into caches of loud, boisterous conversation. Zoro was sure to ignore the glances that were occasionally thrown his way.
"Well, hello darling! What can I do for you today?" the bartender made his way to where the swordsman was sitting. As he got closer, his squinty eyes widened and a grin appeared beneath his ginger beard. He stopped in front of Zoro and leaned against the counter. "Now, what in the world is a girl like you doing in a place like this?"
Zoro crossed his arms over his chest as casually as he could, glaring all the while. Maybe he would get a drink here after all… "Are you Skully?"
The man blinked in surprise, and then a pleased expression lighted up his grungy face. "The one and only! I'm surprised you guessed right. It's not often the manager of a bar works behind the counter, but in this joint… it's not easy to find replacements."
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes- he didn't ask for the man's life story- Zoro pressed forward, "Then, do you have the latest bounties here?"
"Uh, yeah…" Skully cast him a dubious glance, his smile fading.
"Can I see them?" the swordsman tried not to snap, fingering the hilts of his katana.
Skully's jaw was working as though he wasn't sure how to respond to a young, attractive woman wanting to know about dangerous criminals. However, a trio of twenty-something guys were also listening in on the conversation (or rather peeking at the exotic guest) and their words reminded Zoro just how clueless and incapable he was concerning women's charm, and threats wouldn't work here.
"Hey you!" one of the men took a swig of beer and slammed it on the counter. Several heads bobbed up to see what was happening in the back.
In a second, Zoro narrowed his gaze at the young man, expecting confrontation, but of a different kind.
He leered at the swordsman. "Yeah, you. Who do you think you are barging in and making demands?"
Zoro didn't sense fight in the loud man, only talk and turned his attention back on the manager doubling as bartender.
"The bounty posters? If you don't give them to me I can get them myself."
Zoro smirked with a spark of satisfaction as he caught a flash of fear among the uncertainty in Skully's eyes. It might've been that smile that convinced Skully to shuffle around behind the bar, his gaze going over Zoro's features one last time, but it was also that smile that set the fuse to his right.
Now, the swordsman had already reached a wild guess that the trio of men was drunk or at least considerably tipsy, with their noisy ringleader being considerably drunk. So, he wasn't all too surprised when glass was knocked against hard wood and stools were pushed back in a raucous clatter.
He watched the golden liquid spill over the edge with a tinge of sorrow. It was never a good thing to see good booze go to waste.
"Oi! Hold it!" the blonde-haired leader shouted, startling Skully. His head peeked over the counter, holding a sore spot where it had collided with the underside, just in time for a glass to come hurtling towards him.
It missed the poor man by an inch and he ducked and yelped as it shattered against the wall behind him.
One of the men at the counter held another bottle and grinned, "There's more where that came from."
Zoro didn't move; he hadn't even flinched when the glass broke and he tapped his swords absentmindedly. His uncaring figure only seemed to enrage the drunkards even further.
Their leader stumbled over the upturned chairs towards Zoro, all eyes in the bar on the scene, a deviation from the norm of a bar fight. "Now listen here, you little slut. You may have a rack and you may not be too sore on the eyes, but no man in hell should be ordered around by the likes of you!"
There were muttered agreements by his goons and the bar patrons, though some reluctant nods, but most sharing the common opinion that girls were for looks- possessions to be won.
Despite the verbal abuse, Zoro was just growing impatient. The sole reason he was still in Skully's Bar was he wanted alcohol, bounty posters and, only recently, information. He would've preferred to get it and go, without a fuss and return to his old body before he was missed from the Sunny. However, things never seemed to go his way, and definitely not today.
Then, why was he sitting here, without beating the crap out of these guys who had no freaking clue who they were talking to? Sure, he looked different, but if the three katana weren't a dead giveaway, what was? Drunks surpassed reason it appeared. Honestly, Zoro wanted a good bloody battle, but he didn't up and put forth effort for worthless piles of shit like this, especially when he was unused to this feminine form.
He fought because he wanted to, not because he was goaded into a bar skirmish. But, when that stubbly guy went too far…
"You hear me? Do you need me to repeat myself you dumb bitch-?"
As soon as the man's breath hit the back of his neck and his hand touched his shoulder, Zoro snapped. Within moments, he swiveled on the stool, unsheathed his sword and bared Shuusui's blade.
The drunken leader paled with the point of a sword at his throat, poised right over a pulsing artery. If possible, he seemed even weaker as the keen blade nicked the skin and drew a bead of blood.
Zoro's cold, emotionless eyes, unchanged despite his new body, bore into the man and even his two friends quailed.
"Had enough? Because I sure have."
He withdrew his sword and readied himself to leave the bar when chaos ensued.
For a moment, the occupants of the bar had held their breath, before letting it out in one great whoosh. That whoosh erupted into a cacophony of shouts as the two other men- seeing their pal pushed around- leapt to arms.
Now, let me paint a picture for you. Bars have few restrictions, if any, but they do have certain tendencies and when it comes down to it when one skirmish breaks out, no matter how small… the whole place goes to hell. And the occupants' blood had already reached boiling by the scene revolving around a woman of all things.
While the rest of the establishment dissolved into thrown punches, cursing and even guns or knives drawn, whether they had a reason or not, Zoro still had his own problem to deal with. One of the goons helped the leader up after he'd collapsed from fright as the second charged, glinting saber in hand.
It was a simple matter for an experienced swordsman such as Zoro to dodge a rage-fueled, drunken charge, even with this body, and he was quickly discovering that women could be very light on their feet. Yet as he sidestepped out of the way and brought Shuusui biting down into the man's shoulder, slicing through muscle and tendon, the second man had settled his companion- and had no intention of fighting fair.
For the second time that day, a sake bottle targeting the swordsman's head came hurtling towards him. There was no time to move.
Two halves of the same glass bottle collided with the floor, sending tinkling shards skittering in all directions. Those who had seen the metallic blur as the stranger sliced it in two in midair stared with wide, unfocused eyes. The greasy grin of the unfortunate man who had thrown the bottle slid off his face just as realization kicked in.
The same thought was running through all their minds, who the hell is this woman?
Zoro straightened out of his strike quickly. He didn't always fight fair either. But inside, his frustration was growing, so much for laying low…
Figuring he might as well take advantage of the bad luck that was constantly tailing him that day, and of the chaos in the bar, he grabbed the front of the shirt of the man who had not only dared poke an irritated beast, yet was also the only one left of the trio still conscious. Zoro thrust his face in his and he seemed torn between an uneasy smile and a fearful cringe. He managed to do both and Zoro mentally shrugged.
If his flawless, female face likened him to the visage of an angel to this poor excuse of a human being- so be it… as long as that angel was vengeful.
"Have you seen a man with an eye patch around here lately? Skinny, sells sake, around this high?" Zoro demonstrated the height with the hand that wasn't gripping the man's shirt.
"W-well there are a lot of people with eye patches around here-" he started until he was choked off by the glare Zoro gave him.
"I need to find this man. Now."
"You can try taking the underground tunnel…"
"Where is it?"
The man flailed best he could, waving his hands in surrender. "There might be one nearby-" Zoro's grip tightened. "I don't know! J-just please don't kill me!"
His terrified squeak convinced Zoro more than anything that he was telling the truth. Usually he didn't do intimidation so excessively, but it had been the only way to get information- especially when he wasn't exactly being taken seriously of late. At least, it was the only way he could think of.
Once the guy was free he scrambled backward and covered his head pathetically, as one would when a beating was expected and long overdue.
Zoro didn't oblige. Letting his fingers brush his katana and finding three hilts, he swiped the bounty posters scattered across the counter where Skully had dropped them, tucked them into his ill-fitting haramaki, forsook getting a drink-he didn't really trust one right now anyways- and forced his way through the tangle of sweaty, bleeding men in order to duck out the front door.
Fresh air hit him like a battering ram and he drank it in greedily, trying to ignore how abnormally fast his heart was beating. The more logical, less bloodthirsty part of the swordsman's brain was urging him to try to keep up, ugh, womanly appearances and allow for a different tactic. Somehow, as he began striding as far away from Skully's Bar as possible, Zoro guessed he wouldn't know which for sure until the last minute.
Within minutes, he was thoroughly lost. And he couldn't help being silently grateful that his crewmates weren't present to point this out. Although the directions given to him were sorely lacking and, in all honesty, there were none. Zoro was using the red tinged sun to the west and hoping it would lead him to the alleys where vendors like the man that had sold his sake dwelled in the company of rats.
Why not? Since he is a rat himself, Zoro cursed angrily.
He was getting nowhere and he knew it.
Same streets, same darkened paths littered with debris, same shifty business deals being made between shifty men and the occasional woman, and, most annoying, the same street urchins attempting to pickpocket or tattered men looking for valuables… and possibly something more. Zoro almost sympathized with Nami when there were those many times where she practically begged-blackmailed- him or another male crewmember to accompany her in town or to assist during an adventure.
It truly was a dangerous ordeal for a young woman to travel alone in slums like this, and worse. She didn't even have to be attractive, though often the victims were, to be robbed, harmed or both.
Yet, the key thing to remember was almost. The swordsman almost sympathized with Nami… before the countless occasions where she dangled his obscenely large debt to her to make him perform all manner of duties that the ero-cook would do for free. So, why didn't she make him do it? He was certainly willing, nearly drooling over the chance to please Nami in the slightest.
Zoro swiftly came upon a very plausible reason. She enjoys torturing people. And after that, another one: the navigator might find anyone, even Zoro, who she obviously shared an argumentative, and often violent, relationship with, more useful in providing to her needs, preferable even. The curly-cook did fuss enough over everything. In some ways, Zoro seriously questioned why Nami hadn't thrown Sanji overboard during one of her moods yet. If it so happened, he would gladly help- if he didn't decide to do so before then.
In the midst of his inner venting session, Zoro had neglected to watch where he was going and the corner of his boot, which was currently a couple sizes too large, caught on a loose stone in the street. His balance was severely compromised in an instant and his arms pin wheeled as he tried to regain control with this body and a differing center of gravity. He managed to catch himself on the wall, but, while he thought his right arm and shoulder would support his body and halt the fall, he plunged through it instead.
Hard stone enveloped first his hand, then his forearm up to the elbow and he pitched forward, his entire body following suit as a solid inexplicably gained the qualities of a liquid and he tumbled right into… a small, circular room. Zoro instinctually grasped for his swords and leapt to the balls of his feet, reacting to these new and sudden surroundings.
His thoughts were working overtime.
One of those few things he was certain about the way the world worked, as surely as he knew steel sliced flesh, combat brought about a surge of unrestrained enjoyment, and Luffy loved meat; had decided to suddenly up and change. Saying: "Oh! It looks like we're not making Roronoa suffer enough mind- bending twists in a single day! Let's make walls that you have to go straight through!"
If that wasn't the universe mocking him, Zoro didn't know what was and his mind still tried to process that he'd been sucked into a room, through stone.
The swordsman may have stood there, bewildered and uncomfortable, for much longer, when he picked up the distinct sound of a pebble on stone before a plip as it landed in some body of water. Whatever could be down there, and not just water, could be ultimately capable of ending his life. However, Zoro was used to straddling the fence between the two, life and death, and hardly thought of such possibilities. No matter what, it might get him closer to strangling the sake vendor that had got him into this whole damned mess, and it was surely better than languishing here, in a small room letting the gears in his head try to figure out such conundrums as liquid walls.
In short, Zoro went in the direction he heard the pebble.
It led him down a steep winding staircase, several stones missing in places so he had to jump to the next available step, along more stone boundaries that seemed to close in on him the farther he went. Little observations quickly suggested that this place was not only old, but well used, the steps worn by hundreds of feet delving into the earth. And, Zoro discovered, when he noticed the glint of metal near the bottom of the stairs near the edge, a bell attached to a piece of string, used quite recently. The bell was shiny and the thin ribbon, bright red. It might've been part of someone's assemble or plain décor, yet now it was down here.
Where no one would find its location or realize it was missing, and where dark water lapped at the bottom most stone step in a dark that was nearly complete… but for a pale glow of light coming from up ahead.
Zoro, as any aboveground creature would, was drawn to that light, because where there was light down here there was people and where there was people... there were bastards that sold magicked sake to unsuspecting victims.
He tromped through the foot of murky water hurriedly and in a very unladylike fashion. But screw that! The swordsman thought. He didn't give a flying damn about any of those feminine worries. He was never going to be able to manipulate men with a simple flutter of eyelashes and a pursing of soft, supple lips to charm his way anywhere or to anyone. If he ever even tried… Zoro would have to relinquish all his pride as a man and be utterly, truly desperate.
Unfortunately, he was getting pretty damned close.
His oversized boots squelched as he reached the end of the body of stagnant water and a sandbar that quickly evened out into a stone path. Following this path, Zoro soon came upon a chamber on his left, occupied by two lanterns and some very drunk men. They sat perched on barrels, swaying to the music of a tipsy fiddler or, having given up on nuances such as standing, slumped and lying on the dusty ground, spirits gripped tight.
A little man with an eye patch Zoro did not see and, having long ago assumed he must be in the underground tunnel mentioned by the man in the bar, thoroughly intended to move on, though his hand never strayed from his katana.
And rightly so, since one man that was either too wasted to care or not wasted enough sighted a young woman with shoulder-length green hair. Of all things Zoro expected to happen in a haven for drunkards and society's outcasts to be suddenly hugged from behind was definitely not one of them.
Why should he have? No one hugged Zoro. Period. Well… pardoning Luffy and Chopper because they were too innocent to care how much the swordsman was irritated by gestures of affection. Not to mention, this went beyond that.
Overnight stubble tickled Zoro's cheek as the fellow leaned forward and slurred, the stink of gin on his breath, "Hullo, pretty lass~!" Although, it was considerably distorted and sounded more like: "Hullo, pwetty ass."
Either way, the swordsman wasn't taking chances, and the man didn't have one. All it took was a solid thunk to the head with the hilt of Wado Ichimonji and he dropped like a stone.
The other men continued to sway and mumble the words of the song the fiddler played without pause.
Can't hold their liquor.
Zoro's lip curled in distaste. He couldn't even ask the ones that were still conscious if they'd seen the vendor. But, he could use the man's coat.
It was too big and a few buttons were missing, but Zoro was satisfied when it covered his chest and concealed the rest of his upper body. Any more horny men and the water would run red his frustration was becoming so great.
That's when a crash and a shout further on made his head turn and, without a thought he pelted down the path towards the source.
Said source turned out to be a stolen box of food supplies and spilled sake. Go figure. A man standing over a damaged barrel was quite red in the face as he yelled and pointed his finger at a quickly receding figure.
"There's the thief! Catch 'em quick and I'll give ya a free mug!"
So it looked as if there were vendors down here- and they made some good business.
The narrow path had opened up into a long chamber stretching on into the distance. Various stalls were lined on both sides, the majority selling alcohol of some type or another. Normally, Zoro would be very keen on this, but he was actually more interested in the red-faced man.
Seeing his cry go noticed and a group of men hightail after the culprit with a reward in mind, he was now grumbling while he rolled the useless barrel away.
Zoro discovered the coat had a hood and brought it up to cover his head, shading most of his face, and strode up to the disgruntled vendor.
"Do you know a vendor with an eye patch?"
His head jerked up and he peered at the swordsman with distrustful eyes. Trust didn't seem too widespread underground where everyone was ragging for any money they could get their hands on.
"Who wants to know?"
"Ah… um…" Zoro tried to make his voice sound deeper. "An old friend. We used to make sake together."
As the man considered Zoro's explanation, thinking as deeply as he was capable, looking back, the swordsman wished he had something a little closer to the truth. Rivals would've sounded more believable as far as underground business went.
Thankfully, idiots were also plentiful. "Old Patchy is at it again huh? Messing with stuff that shouldn't be messed with- pfft!" He spat on the ground and looked otherwise displeased. "You might find him if you keep going. He usually haunts the- who the hell do you think you are-?"
Seconds passed in which someone carrying a heavy load bumped into Zoro, the hood fell revealing a woman's face, the vendor realized, and his cry was cut off by a sword at his throat, its wielder abruptly standing behind him. Zoro was finally getting somewhere and he was not about to let something as simple as (temporarily) being a girl stop him.
"Where is he?" he demanded, eager not only to find his target, but escape watching eyes.
The vendor gulped and apparently decided he wanted to keep his blood inside his body while his words poured out in a rush, "Take a left when the path starts to narrow again and keep going until you come to a storage room. He should be in there!" His eyes bulged when the blade pressed into his skin, but then the menacing aura it exuded was gone- and so was Zoro.
He was lucky there weren't any other side paths winding throughout the system. People bustled along the underground tunnel, men and the occasional woman, seemingly never-ending until… they suddenly dwindled and Zoro found himself alone, and with no idea where to go.
He hadn't seen any paths leading off the main one and now he was suffering for it.
Zoro slammed his fists onto the side of the tunnel, causing fine, white dust to rain down. The actual tunnel was carved from pale, white sandstone and it gave some of itself easily under the swordsman's aggravation. He was so close! So close to being him again, yet just that much wouldn't be granted.
Hating the perverted men, hating the eye patch, sake vendor, hating his woman's body, hating even the sake that had got him into this mess as much as its seller, he launched into a stream of loud and creative cursing.
A cactus might as well have pricked him. Zoro drew his sword instantly, and its point hovered right over the heart… of a young child. She was dressed in a cloak and rags, her voice the only clue to her gender with a hood concealing her face. Beside her sat a brown and white mutt that began barking as soon as it saw the danger the sword presented to its presumed mistress.
The child didn't flinch however, and Zoro thought he saw the glimpse of a smile among the shadows of her features.
"Missus," she repeated. "Are you lost?"
For several seconds, he debated the pros and cons of admitting his need for a guide. "Yes…" he finally heaved a sigh.
His sword was sheathed and the mutt stopped barking. It sat on its haunches and stared up at the swordsman, panting with its tongue out.
Distracted, until Zoro felt a small hand grab his own, "Come with me."
Zoro didn't question how the child knew he was currently a 'missus', though it irked him to no end, the coat's hood was still down from before. But, he did need to tell her where he was going.
"I'm looking for a man," Zoro started and the girl inclined her head to show she was listening. "A vendor with an eye patch who sells sake. I heard he might be around here."
"Oh… he got to you, too." Her voice sounded immensely sad and it set the gears turning.
"Too?" he meant to just think the question, but then she replied in that same mournful tone.
"Yes." Her hand that wasn't holding his rose and pointed to the mutt trotting beside them. "My little brother."
As if he could somehow understand the words, the brown and white dog's head drooped and its tail stopped wagging. Zoro gradually put two and two together. His frown deepened when he realized he hadn't been the only one experimented upon. But how had the man ensnared this boy? And who, or what, was he?
They resumed walking, though the swordsman wasn't finished asking questions. "Is he some sort of magician?"
The child lifted her head and he felt the sharpness of her gaze. It cut into his skin like daggers and he nearly recoiled. The enchanted dog similarly flinched and seemed to move closer to Zoro.
"No," she replied sharply. Then she paused and when she continued, her voice was soft and dull like earlier. "He is a man of science, or at least that's what he calls himself. No one in the market here believes his experiments work though."
Zoro ground his teeth and he glared at the delicate, woman's hand held by the girl. "They do."
If seeing his reflection as one of a beautiful girl wasn't evidence enough... She nodded, but did not say anything.
It wasn't much longer before the path ahead grew wider until, right before the stalls crowded the sides again and where it was still narrow, it forked to the right- the left if he'd been going the way the vendor in the market described.
He allowed the girl to lead him onto the smaller passageway, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. The feeling slowly spread throughout his body, and he shivered when a stray breeze tore through the threadbare coat. It fluttered, exposing more skin than he would've liked and he drew its edges closer.
Yet, the sense of the forbidden rose until the child stopped, released his hand and stooped to pick up a crate filled with foodstuff, primarily exotic herbs and spices that would fetch a pretty penny anywhere- and it was oddly familiar.
Hadn't there been cries of a thief and hadn't that thief taken off with such a crate? Zoro also vaguely remembered seeing similar spices at the stall the victimized vendor ran.
"Did you steal that?" the words escaped his lips without permission, but he couldn't stave his need to know.
She said nothing and began transferring some of the spice packets underneath her cloak, finding the crate too bulky and heavy to be worth lugging around.
This did not help dispel Zoro's suspicion and he glanced at the mutt cowering behind his legs. When the girl crouched down, she extended a hand to stroke his brown and white head. However, instead of letting his sister touch him, he backed away with a growl that trailed off into a frightened whimper. Zoro didn't miss the distaste rolling off the child after being rejected and, as his well-attuned senses told him, dislike bordering on loathing that would hardly exist between kin.
That her brother would be treated so beneath her respect…
"Who are you?"
Zoro didn't hesitate wording it as a demand. Her back remained towards him, but the speed of her unpacking picked up.
He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around, slamming her into the wall. "Tell me!"
The force and speed with which he'd gotten hold of the girl caused her to cry out and… for her cloak to slip from her head.
His eyes widened, not believing the black material covering her right eye. The leather eye patch he'd seen on an old man hours previously.
"You!" Zoro snarled and the girl seemed to shimmer and melt away before his furious gaze. A sneering, graying man stood in her place. And, though he had made the connection, his surprise was enough that his grip loosened and before he knew it, the cause of all his troubles ducked underneath his arms and was running down the sandstone corridor.
Zoro raced after him, forcing his legs to go as fast as they could and still faster, uncaring of this body's limits. The mutt sprinted along, barking excitedly.
I would be excited too, Zoro decided as they rounded a bend. At least I'm still human… There! That must be the storage room! A door stood ajar right ahead and they pelted through to find they were in a large space filled with barrels of alcohol on all sides. Or at least that's what they looked like, Zoro wasn't sure what other atrocities the one-eyed vendor had hidden.
He lost no haste finding the man, who was hunched over a table, chuckling to himself. He barely noticed the shadow looming over him, yelped and began running down a row of corked barrels, but Zoro was hot in his heels. His hand caught the hood of his cloak and yanked him back as he scrabbled at the cloth hindering his escape. The swordsman pinned him against the barrels and drew Wado Ichimonji.
"Turn me back. Now."
The man cackled and his ugly face twisted into an even uglier smile. "What are you talking back? Didn't you like your sake?"
Too angry to speak, Zoro growled.
"Come on! You're much prettier now!"
A katana was embedded in the wood within an inch of the man's remaining eye. "I'm sure you want to keep that eye so talk!"
His roar was practically drowned out by an outburst of hysterical laughter. "Didn't you hear? There is no antidote! It's not poison so why should there be? Ahahahaha!"
Zoro pried Wado Ichimonji free of the barrel and a line of wine spurted from the hole. Just as swiftly, he impaled it in another barrel, snagging the vendor's cloak and drawing a trickle of blood from the side of his neck.
"You're so scary!" his cackle was accompanied by raucous barking as the dog joined in the chaos. The man's hand slid inside his cloak and withdrew something from a pocket.
A metal barrel shone in the bare light coming from outside, a far cry from the lanterns in most areas down underground. Zoro got his katana free, letting a stream of beer join the leaking wine earlier, and struck like a snake, but the man was already aiming and pulling the trigger.
Yet, not at the swordsman- he aimed up high.
The shot hit a barrel sticking out overhead and liquor poured down in a waterfall, the aftershock setting off a chain reaction that jarred more barrels loose so they came crashing to the ground. Sake, wine, beer, gin and all manner of spirits spilled over and sent Wado Ichimonji skidding off into a growing puddle, torn from Zoro's grip. He barely had time to escape from the brunt of the liquor and raced towards his katana underneath the constant shower.
A couple times he tripped, sending him to his knees, but he recovered and splashed within reach of Wado Ichimonji. Weapon in hand, the swordsman sprinted in search of 'Old Patchy.'
The vendor hadn't made it far. He was slipping, arms spinning madly, along the edge of the rows, his age catching up to him as well as his actions. Blood spread out beneath his gray hair and as far as Zoro could tell the pistol had also been lost.
But he did notice Zoro pursuing and laughed again.
"Sake! Ahahaha! Plain ol' sake!"
Even as he fell and didn't get up before Zoro stood above him he was consumed by chortles.
Zoro forsake his katana, sheathing Wado Ichimonji, and clutched his throat. "Where is it? Change me back, you damn bastard!"
Fists began flying and with each spurt of blood and crack of bone left by Zoro's enraged attacks, the one-eyed vendor coughed out words.
"Haha! Have you… ack! … Learned your… cough… lesson?" Zoro let out a cry of despair and fury and his punches fell harder.
Though his voice grew weaker and the mirth lessened, the man with the eye patch's last words were delivered with a strength and solemnity that stunned him.
"Have you learned the truth?"
He halted in his brutal attack and did not resume, left staring at an unmoving body and a smile full of bloodstained teeth. A sense of utter hopelessness descended on Zoro. Was he going to be forever stuck this way? Forced to be a woman for the rest of his life?
Hanging his head, for once he was left without an ounce of fight in him. It had bled out, like this sorry son of a bitch had.
Then he noticed his face, reflected in a puddle of sake, funny enough. It was distorted, but what stared back at him was the rough, stern face of a man with short, green hair. It was hard to believe, but… he was back! And he felt like shouting to the sky!
Suddenly, he heard the sound of something to his left and turning his head, he expected to see a dog shaking the alcohol out of its fur. Instead, he saw a little boy with black hair getting to his feet. He saw Zoro and gave him a shaky smile, then bolted out of the storage room the way they had come.
Later on, Zoro figured that the sake that had spilled on them had turned them back to their original forms, and it could've very well been the case. For now, however, all he cared about was that he was himself again and that he could finally go home.
He discovered the second way out of the underground tunnel fairly quickly, a short pathway that sloped up before exiting onto a corner of two streets near the shore.
Needless to say, he was glad he didn't have far to walk to reach the Thousand Sunny.
It was early evening, the sun going out in a final burst of light and Zoro climbed onto the deck just as the last wisps disappeared beneath the sea. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
His thoughts kept on returning to what the vendor had said. "Have you learned the truth?" The truth? What the hell did he mean by that? That being a woman sucked? Zoro would vouch for that.
Maybe that appearance wasn't everything- he could certainly kick ass no matter what he looked like…
Whatever, he didn't really give a damn as long as everything was back to the way it should be.
Setting his sights for the mast where he often had his naps, Zoro ignored the greetings of any crewmates. The only thing he wanted was to sleep-
"Nami-swan~! You look so beautiful in that low-cut bikini~!" The sound of the ero-cook's voice grated on the swordsman's nerves as usual, but this time was a little different.
Zoro glanced at a scene where Sanji was truly dancing around the navigator, who was indeed scantily clad in a tiny swimsuit that had the cook so love struck that blood was leaking from his nose.
"Sanji…" Nami started, a warning glinting in her gaze as the cook got a little too adoring and a little too excited.
Of course that meant he was a little too oblivious as well, "Is there anything I can get you, Nami-swan~? Anything at all-"
Zoro's fist hit Sanji full in the face and he was punched to the ground before he had any idea what had happened. Blood oozed from his bruised and broken face as he cradled it and he still didn't know what had really happened.
Both he and Nami stared after Zoro, wide-eyed and thoroughly taken aback as he stalked off to finally take his nap.
"I hate perverts," he muttered under his breath.
Now, that was the bloody truth.
Author's Note: Agh! I'm so sorry everyone! I've been gone for what? A couple months? Ahh! I'm so, so sorry! But… I didn't know how to finish this two-shot! I really wasn't motivated at all. TT TT Yet, now I have and I must say- I'm never doing a gender-bender again. It's incredibly difficult to write one that isn't always focusing on the gender-bender part and this part doesn't have so much mentions of Zoro's feminineness because I think I established that in the first part. Anyways, sorry for the wait and I hope you enjoy! Please review!
Oh and as far as what I'll write next, if you could look at my story ideas on my profile and give me your input that would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much for reading!