Improtant pre-story notes: All One Piece characters, places, situations, et cetera are the property of Eiichiro Oda. This story is rated M for adult language and later adult content. This story takes place during the two-year time skip between chapters 597 and 598, so if you don't care much for spoilers and the like, I suggest you don't read.


Prologue

In the sky, the sun was high enough that it merely caught glimpses of itself in the mirror of the ocean, and small clouds ambled along. A light breeze whispered encouragement to the waves, and they pushed playfully against the sides of the small, dark boat that drifted in the water.

Mihawk was settled comfortably in his chair, the wide brim of his hat low enough so that light from above could not harass him and high enough so that he could watch the horizon. The wind tugged gently at both the feather in the man's cap and at the hem of his coat. Kokuto Yoru rested on his lap, glimmering in the sun as he ran a tattered cleaning cloth along its blade. As the shichibukai worked, a small, rare smiled touched upon his lips.

There was still treasure to be found in the East Blue, by the look of things. Mihawk gave a grunt of the mildest surprise: apparently a rival could be found in the same ocean where he lost the last one. Unfortunately, the boy was still in the rough; however, that could be easily remedied by time on the Grand Line: the pirate's graveyard's legacy has always been to weed out the weak and empower the strong.

The shichibukai wondered at what kind of gem young Roronora would be cut into by the years.

Yoru flashed in the sun, proving itself free of blood and flesh. Mihawk set the gore-stained cleaning cloth aside and raised his famous blade for a more critical inspection. The black blade was as immaculate as the day it was forged, except for a miniscule streak of blood. The shichibukai stared at the sanguine crust on his sword for a second while he silently considered how to deal with it. Finally, he licked his thumb and rubbed vigorously at the stain, softening the blood enough that he could flake it off with a fingernail.

Once he was finished, Mihawk wondered at how to dispose of what had transferred to his fingers. An insignificant amount of consideration went into the gesture as he removed the blood from his fingertips with his tongue. It was an old habit, one the shichibukai knew he should break, but his curiosity for the taste of young Roronora's blood, despite how crusted the substance was, was overwhelming. The salt on his hands overpowered the meager flecks, and only the fleeting, metallic pang of the blood reached him. Ever so slightly did Mihawk's left eye twitch in irritation, but only the best-trained set of eyes would have seen the movement.

Finally, the shichibukai was content with the state of his blade. By practiced hands, Yoru was replaced in its sheath with only the faintest ring of metal and Kogatana was plucked off of its master's lap to be cleaned. The smaller blade was crystallized in organic rust, and for a second time that day Mihawk found himself with another's lifeblood in his mouth.

Disappointment descended on the shichibukai as the tang of iron filled his mouth. The scab on his blade tasted like any other—like metal starting to go bad. Kogatana was removed from its master's mouth and cleaned off with the splotched rag before being returned to its sheath around Mihawk's neck.

Unimpressive though the taste was, the swordsman was not disheartened. The child had been amazing, armed with determination that was surprisingly rare in the age of piracy. His captain seemed to be too, and if there were two of them, more were bound to be drawn in. The shichibukai found himself starting to warm up to the thought of a whole crew as spirited as those boys.

From the distance came the cry of a gull, weak and lonely on the light wind. Mihawk tilted his head up just a little higher and his eyes locked on to the horizon. Even to him, the border of sea and sky was hazy. However, he could make out the faintest hint of land.

A cloud drifted lazily in front of the sun, dimming the world as the shichibukai crossed his legs and folded his hands lightly in his lap. His head bowed slightly, and within five minutes he was asleep.

Mihawk dreamed pleasantly, but when he woke, he couldn't remember what had been the subject of his dreams.


AN: Yesh, is short, and yesh, not much going on right here/right now. This prologue is meant to be a small little bit, a small tasting of Mihawk's first impression of Zoro. More to come, obviously.

As I am,

Lady Spritzy