Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece or any of its characters.
Spanning Across Time
The Marine and the Pirate Hunter
Luffy peered interestedly over the balcony, not listening to his commanding officer sternly lecturing him about responsibility and how by confronting and arresting Sir Crocodile, he effectively left the World Government reeling with the lack of one of their Shichibukai. While it was notable that what Crocodile was orchestrating, particularly wanting to overthrow the World Government, could not be ignored, the way Luffy went about it deserved a severe punishment and suspension.
As his commanding officer was irritably mumbling how Vice Admiral Garp managed to worm his grandson out of the suspension at least, Luffy was far more interested in the man who was dragging in someone.
The four marines at the gate squeaked in alarm as the infamous pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro strolled past them without so much as a curt nod, his three swords hung at his hip and his golden earrings tinkling lightly.
He came and went as he pleased. Roronoa was no pirate but he was no ally of the marines either. He did as he wanted, bringing in pirates and other criminals as long as he received their bounty and left with the money he needed. And since he was helping to capture pirates and not disturbing the peace, the marines let him go about his business quietly.
Luffy was now leaning over the balcony edge, barely containing his glee as Zoro headed into the Marine building. With an excited whoop, he flew past his spluttering commanding officer and bounced down the stairs to come face to face with Zoro himself.
" Yo!" he grinned, raising a hand in greeting.
Zoro didn't return his smile. " Here's Daz Bones, also known as Mr 1 in Baroque Works." He ceremoniously dropped his unconscious captive in front of Luffy. " He was causing some trouble." His mouth quirked in Luffy's direction. " Thanks to you, no less."
" They were bothering Vivi," Luffy said as if it was all the explanation he needed.
The swordsman made a sound in his throat, like a snort. If Zoro noticed that Luffy was talking so casually about helping the princess of Alabasta, he didn't show it. " I'll come back for the bounty when you have it ready," he coolly said, making motions to leave.
" But you just got here!" Luffy exclaimed, itching to talk. He had heard all about Roronoa Zoro and his exploits were spread and widely discussed with mounted fear and trepidation throughout the marine base and around the area. " You're really strong," he was saying conversationally. " You should join the marines."
Zoro scowled. Was this kid for real? " Not interested," he shortly said.
" Why not?" Luffy whined, tugging at Zoro's arm. " There are lots of meat here and lots of fun adventures waiting for us. It will be great. Wanna join my crew?"
The rest of the marines stared agape that a marine captain was chattering animatedly to one of the fiercest bounty hunters in the world. Zoro for his part looked increasingly annoyed and any attempts to pry the boy from his arm didn't work.
Irritated at Luffy's childish reasons for why he should join the marines, Zoro glared at the boy. It would have terrified a lesser man but Luffy remained unfazed. " Go bother someone else," he growled.
He finally wrenched himself from Luffy's grip and hurried to leave, half expecting that the marine captain would stop him, demand again that he should stay and join the marines and any answer aside from the one he wanted would fall on deaf ears.
But Luffy didn't stop him or urge him to join. He simply let him go.
" I'll be here, if you change your mind!" Luffy cheerfully called to his retreating back.
The swordsman gave him only one reply over his shoulder as he departed from the marine base.
" Maybe in another lifetime."
I love the theme "(number) times that _ and one time _".
This alternate world idea came from what would have happened if Luffy became a marine and Zoro remained a pirate hunter.