It had taken me a while to think of Zoro/Nami story. I fall in and out of love with those two and had been in the mood to write something about them. Finally got something out. Err.
One thing I will say is, don't expect too much romance. Since it is about Zoro's time on Kuraigana Island, Mihawk and Perona will also get their share of the spotlight; so don't expect too many Zoro/Nami moments.
Being stuck on Kuraigana Island with Mihawk wasn't the worst thing that could happen to him. Sure the old man got on his nerves, with his long silences and piercing stares, it was unnerving more than anything but in the end it could be worst. At least he would get training from old Hawk eyes.
Perona, he supposed, could be worst as well. Sure, she talked without reserve, only pausing once in a while to breathe, before continuing about things no one cared about the way only a spoiled person would. She was irritable from time to time, but he found them both tolerable.
When it came to Kuraigana Island, he had a whole different opinion. The place was something out someone's nightmare. It was always dark; it was more likely to see Mihawk smile than the sun to come out. The sun it seemed, never shined on the island. It was like the land was cursed. All the trees were bare and naked from any leaves, pathetic little things with wicked crooked branches like an old man's bony fingers. Everything else seemed to be dead or on the verge of dying. Even the fucking hills looked malicious, the tops spiralling inward, which he didn't know mountains could do that.
The entire place was filled with ruins like he had stumbled inside a world that existed inside one of Robin's books; expect he was no explorer looking for ancient artefacts. The castle Mihawk lived in was pretty run down. He didn't exactly care in what shape he kept the place in, just the fact that inside the castle was almost as dark as the outside. It was just plain creepy inside. The way Mihawk kept the place was the way a vampire would. Only candles illuminated the place, dark rugs and rich furniture gave life to the place. It didn't really help that the man's ship was the shape of a goddamn coffin. At that point, he was surprised the fucker didn't sleep in a coffin as well.
All in all, the place wasn't that entertaining. Whenever he didn't train, which he couldn't do all day -even his stamina wouldn't allow it - he either read one of Mihawk's newspapers or took walks around the island. Perona of course, always followed him. He knew it was out of boredom rather than actual likeness and friendship. One, he wasn't cute, (her words) and secondly, he wasn't chatty. (His opinion.)
Perona, who was currently flying above him, had a devil looking umbrella perched on her left shoulder- it served no purpose since it blocked no sun- occasionally twirling it around so the devil's head spun round and round as if it were investigating the island. He never did ask her to join him on his walks because he knew he didn't need to. He didn't need to because, as she had said, she was bored.
"Can't we go back inside?" she asked.
"And do what?" he questioned. "You'll be bored inside too."
She huffed, but otherwise didn't argue with him. They had tried doing other things together but they didn't exactly have the same hobbies. She was shit when it came to drinking. He couldn't play along with her games and anything he did wasn't cute, something he was thankful for. She didn't fancy taking naps. In short, any activities they could have done together would be useless so walks were the preferred form of entertainment.
Back on the ship he had gotten used to constant noise, the constant companionship. There was always something to do or someone to talk to. Well, talk to him because he never was much of a talker. He even bonded with the shit cook. That is, whenever they weren't trying to slaughter each other. Before that he was used to silence and being alone for long periods of time. He had to admit he preferred one-on-one interactions as to being around huge crowds, but as it were, being on the ship with Luffy forced him to being social, despite what the others thought.
It was pretty bad enough he had to attend parties and was obligated to celebrate any occasion Luffy deemed worthy, the only reason he ever went along was because there was booze involved. While the ship had made him comfortable with the idea of people being within twenty feet of him, he couldn't deny his solitary nature. Which was why every time they were on land he went on walks, to be off on his own and have a clear head. He was used to taking walks alone, but being around Perona wasn't as bad because it was just one person, not like on the ship where he had to deal with eight different people and eight different personalities.
Zoro was just thankful the ship was smaller than average. It was the reason he hated when Luffy asked just about anyone to join. He liked it small thank you very much. Though he did miss them all. Even if Franky cried too much and the cook was loud and annoying, even if long nose and Luffy were children and Chopper was naïve and clung to his face and nearly suffocated him, even if Robin was creepy and Brook peed on him that one time he didn't make it in time to the bathroom.
The one person he surprisingly missed the most was Nami. She got on his nerves and always knew how to piss him off with her constant nagging and bitch slapping, not mention she always blackmailed him due to his never-ending increasing dept, but he missed her. He liked to think he missed her in a different way that Sanji might miss her, but he knew he missed her for the same reason as the shit cook.
She was beautiful, he will admit. Any man could see that, even him, even if he never showed it. While her looks did contribute to why he liked her, he knew that even if she were hideous he would still like her. She understood his quiet nature and never forced him to talk. Robin did too, but Nami was the bossy sort, while she made him do other things for her, she never forced him to be social. Once in a while they would go into an island together and she mostly took care of handling the conversations, and unlike Perona she never got mad if he never responded. Nami also did count his grunts as a response, something Perona didn't do. There was a sort of silent understanding between the two of them that he appreciated.
"You're lost again," Perona huffed.
"I'm talking a walk. I'm not lost."
"We've gone around this tree like three times. You're so lost."
Who the hell did she think she is? She was the lost one. He had a pretty good sense of direction. He had no idea what she was on about. Though everyone seemed to have a different opinion. The ones who nagged him the most about it were the cook and Nami. Nami was a navigator, sure his skills didn't compete with hers, so her he could understand. The cook was just an asshole, plain and simple. He sighed as he remembered the way Nami always teased him about his sense of direction. Strangely enough he missed their banter.
Overhead, he heard Perona go on and on about him being delusional. Scowling, he looked up and noticed, not for the first time, she was wearing a skirt. Make fun of him will she?
"Nice panties!" he yelled.
She stopped mid-float to look down and inspect herself until it dawned on her. Zoro almost laughed at her expression, that was, until she sent a negative hallow his way.
"Fuck," he muttered.
After some debate whether the coffin ship was safe or not, they had ended up sailing on it around the island. It was mostly Perona who was suspicious about getting in the floating coffin. Zoro couldn't care less, but he could see why she was worried. The old thing didn't look like it could survive a strong wave much less a storm.
What really convinced Perona to shut the hell up and get in was because if she didn't, she would be on the island alone. Zoro and Mihawk liked to think it was because she came to her senses and knew she was in safe and capable hands, but with Perona it wasn't the case.
Mihawk had gotten tired of Perona's bitching about being bored and had taken them sailing. Zoro was having a better time than he expected. He was more comfortable on land, spending most of his time on it, but after a few months of not being on the Sunny, he found that he missed the ocean. Closing his eyes, he felt the cool breeze on his face. He took in a deep breath, smelling the salty ocean. A nostalgic feeling overcame him.
When he opened his eyes he was grinning madly. He cast his line again, feeling pretty good that he would catch some fish. He had already caught two so far and he was aiming to get another one to have a complete dinner. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that Mihawk was lying on his back with his arms behind his head, taking a nap. Perona was sitting on one corner of the ship, looking upset.
He cocked an eyebrow in her direction. She caught it, and tangled her fingers in her frizzy hair. "Look what the ocean air is doing to my hair!"
His eyes went to her long pink hair, noticing how it was getting a little funny looking.
"I hate having long hair," she stated. Her lips twisted when her thin fingers ran in her hair as she dragged her hand from scalp to the end of the frizzy mess.
"Then cut it stupid." He scoffed. She was always complaining about it, he didn't know why she didn't cut it.
"No!" Perona gave him a look. "Besides, I look bad with short hair."
He decided not to take a stab at her looks. It wouldn't end well and he wasn't in the mood to argue. Especially since he was having such a good time. His eyes went back to his task, looking out at the ocean, waiting. It had been a while since he'd been fishing, the last time he could remember was when he had been a child and had gone to the river with Kuina.
From the corner of his eye he could see Perona struggle to untangle her hair. Surely it must be easier to have your hair short, maybe not like his, but like Nami's hair. She sort of always liked girls with short hair; he supposed it had to do with Kuina, her and her boyish haircut. Though Nami's hair was longer than Kuina's he had liked the look on her. One of the times they had been sitting out on the deck together she had turned to him as she ran her fingers through her hair, much like Perona was doing at the moment.
"Hey Zoro, do you think I should grow out my hair?"
When she had asked him he didn't want to admit that he liked her short hair so he had shrugged. Even though he preferred that look didn't mean she wouldn't look good with long hair.
"Come on, tell me what you think," Nami egged him on.
"How the shit should I know?"
He remembered the way she had frowned at him, saying he was useless when it came to advice. They had argued for some time but either way she had grinned at him, touched the part where her hair ended and said she would think about it.
"Hey!" Perona called, "you're spacing out again!" Zoro turned to look at her, remembering that he was in the coffin boat with her. "I was talking to you," she said.
"When aren't you talking?" he asked, turning his attention back to water.
"Shut up, are you gonna listen this time?" she asked with an air of irritation.
Zoro was expecting her to send a negative hallow, maybe even whine, certainly not what she said next. "You miss her, don't you?"
He kept calm and didn't panic like he thought he would, instead he asked casually, "Who are we talking about?"
"Your navigator," Perona said, scooting closer to him. "I see the way you look at her wanted poster."
"You're the one that's retarded!" she exclaimed, "can't tell left from right. Retarded," she insisted.
"You're retarded," he said. "Can't tell a plastic cockroach from a real one."
"Meanie!" she cried, slapping him. Of course it hurt way less than when Nami slapped him. Satisfied after that, she continued. "You like her, don't you?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about." He felt a tug on the line, so he reeled it in. "I think you need sunlight or something, all this darkness is getting to you, I can tell."
"Shut up, you're the green plant that needs sunlight."
Ah. Another fish. He was getting excited for dinner. "Sure thing ghost girl."
"Only Mihawk calls me that!" she argued.
"Shut up," Mihawk suddenly snapped. They turned to see he was still in the same position Zoro had seen him last. With the hat over his eyes they could never tell if he was napping or wide-awake. "You two kids gonna pipe down and let me sleep?"
Perona crossed her arms under her chest. "He caught another fish. Can we go back now?"
Mihawk sat up, moving the hat back so it settled on his head, away from his face. He leaned forward to inspect the fish. "Nice work Roronoa, did your girlfriend teach you to fish?"
Zoro sighed. "Not you too old man."
Surrounding the castle were some trees that actually had a few leaves hanging from the branches. Not many, but the yellowing and orange leaves were the only thing of colour around. It was fall. Besides winter, it was probably the only notable season on the island, since it never felt like summer. The few leaves on the lonely thin branches were gently falling to the ground. He sighed.
Sometimes his training was so unbearably dull. Mihawk was a great teacher; his skill in fighting was evident in his skill in teaching. The thing that bothered Zoro about the man was that he tended to make Zoro train in a way that could only be described as boring. His training for the day was to go outside and cut whatever leaf decided to fall down into twelve pieces before it hit the ground. So far he could only do ten slices.
Bending over the latest leaf, he counted. Still ten. He sighed, running a hand through his green hair. It was the densest thing he had ever done, but it was strenuous. He stood, holding Wadō in hand he waited for the next leaf to fall. That was another part of his training; he had to wait for the leaf to fall. It was forbidden of him to hit the tree until the leaves fell. Mihawk was trying to teach him to be patient and wait, the callous man.
Perona sat by a nearby boulder with her knees pressed to her chest and her skinny arms wrapped around her legs. She rested her chin on her knees, watching Zoro train. Before she would train with him, sending her hallows at him or at some poor animal -just for shits and giggles- but soon after the hallows no longer affected him she claimed him no fun and moved on. Now she only watched him as he saw one leaf fall from a branch and fall in his direction.
"What's the story with the white sword?" she asked.
He waited until he cut the leaf before answering her. "It was a friend's of mine."
"The one that died?"
"Yeah," he said, bending over to see the damage. He was now at eleven. "Her." He touched the smallest piece, pressing it against the ground and lifting his finger, grinning as he saw it stuck to his finger. He stood and flicked it away and looked at the tree, waiting.
Perona shifted on the boulder. "You said she was young when she died?"
"You think about her a lot?"
He nodded, deciding to not talk anymore. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her shift again. What she was thinking, he hadn't the slightest idea, but decided to let her keep asking questions. It was the sort of dull activity that helped him train with less of an agitated mind.
"What are you gonna do when you defeat Mihawk?"
He shrugged. "I'll find out when it happens."
"Your crew, you all have goals, right?"
"Your navigator, what's her goal?"
He stopped looking at the tree, his eyes unfocused as he thought about her question. Zoro knew Perona's goal, weird as it might be. Making a cute kingdom or something. If that wasn't the definition of hell he didn't know what was. He knew all of the crew's dreams and goals, some weirder than the others, like cook who wanted to find some puddle with some fish but he didn't judge.
Nami's dream, he knew. He supposed everyone who was there in Arlong Park knew of her aspirations. Anyone could what her ambitions were from the way she was always bent over maps. He of course never understood what she was on about when she told him things about map reading. Zoro navigated himself by the clouds, but according to her that wasn't a correct method to get around.
Even though she offend teased him about his lack of sense of direction, he did enjoy talking to her about it. Her eyes would gleam in a different way and even her facial expression changed when she talked about anything having to do with her goal, maybe not the same glee when they talked money, but close enough.
"To make a map," he looked at Perona. "She wants to make a map of the world."
"Of the whole world?" she asked. "That's silly."
He shrugged, hitting the side of the thick tree, sending another stray falling his way. "I don't think so."
When he woke, Perona was sitting on a little wooden chair near his bed. Her head was lolling up and down as she tried to keep herself awake. She looked tired, probably hadn't been sleeping well. From the way her head was falling, he could tell she was fighting sleep.
He sighed. The bandages around his eye felt heavy and his head felt numb. Dumb accident. It was mostly his fault, he got too cocky and it cost him. Well. It could have been worst, but still, he just lost a fucking eye. He still had hope that maybe it was just a scar- that he could live with- and that he would still be able to see.
Perona was now asleep. He didn't want to wake her, after all, it was his fault she was sleep deprived anyways. With that, he nestled his head deeper into his pillow, staring at the ceiling. The way she was staying by his side was just too nostalgic a sight. It only reminded him of that one time back in Thriller Bark.
That move had landed his ass in bed for three days, but still, he had woken up with Nami by his side. That time when he had come to, he had been happy just to realize he was alive. Then he looked over and was happy for a whole other reason. The crew was safe, they were all alive and well, and he had survived. It was great just to be able to see them again, that time he had sacrificed himself he was sure he was a goner and had braced himself for the worst. Waking up to the sounds of his nosey crew, laughing and celebrating would have annoyed him any other time, but that time, he was happy.
Then, he had noticed the one crew member who wasn't being loud and partying. Her eyelids had been heavy, barely opened but when she noticed that he was awake her eyes went wide and he was lost by the look in them. The look of relief in her brown eyes and something that he couldn't quite place. Zoro had wanted to say something but that time she had beat him to it.
"Oh thank god!" she cried, smiling. "You're up."
Everything was a blur after that; she had hugged him while he stayed frozen. After that she had called Chopper over so he could check on him. The doctor got to work right away and when Zoro looked over, Nami was fast asleep. Chopper must have noticed from the way he looked at her sleeping form because he spoke up then.
"She had stayed up," Chopper said, a tired smile on his face. "She was really worried."
Lying in bed now, with Perona a few feet away, he couldn't help but miss her. He sighed, digging his head deeper into his pillow and closed his eye for a second. When he opened it he was met with Perona's face a few inches from his. Everything was too magnified, her thick black makeup that went around her huge eyes, the colour of her eye, she was too damn close.
"What do you want?" he asked, staring at her face.
She looked upset. "I stay up all night watching out for you, and this is how you thank me?" Perona leaned back so she wasn't hovering over him and crossed her arms over her chest. "Asshole."
"You should take it easy with the training," she began. He felt another round of her scolding so he braced himself. "With a slice like that he could have taken half your face off."
He laid there limply, vaguely listening to her. She seemed to take on the role of Chopper from time to time. Though she knew shit about wrapping his wounds, always putting way more bandages than needed, she did know how to lecture him about taking it easy. He wondered how the little guy was doing.
"Don't you value your life at all!" She yelled at the top of her voice before pointing an accusing finger at him. "And don't even think about getting up anything soon. You need to heal!"
Turning his head towards her he said, "I'm ok."
"Please, you look like shit."
"I just woke up," he said hoarsely. "Of course I look like shit."
"Just how many more scars are you planning to add to your collection?"
"No one is laughing!" she yelled.
When he didn't answer her she sat in her chair finally. They were silent for some time, just musing on their thoughts. Finally he looked at her, lolling his head on his shoulder to look at her, "I'm ok." Reaching out his arm, he touched her arm. "Alright?"
While he thought her annoying, he had come to care for her like a younger sister. An annoying as shit younger sister, but nonetheless a sister, especially since she threw a fit every time he was thrown in bed. Because she truly cared or because she hated watching him and tending to his wounds, he didn't know. Either way, he had come to have a sort of relationship with her.
"Whatever." She sighed, rubbing her eyes, looking out the huge window that was to the side of his bed. Grey clouds loomed over the ruins of the island. Perona looked at him. "I suppose you're hungry."
He grinned weakly. "A little."
"I'll get you something."
She stood up form her chair and was at the door when he spoke.
She turned around, looking at him expectedly.
She stood silently for the briefest of moment, looking at him, chewing on her lower lip. "Hmph." She turned back around, her pale hand going for the doorknob. "Took you long enough."
He rolled his eyes as she walked out of the room. When he no longer heard her footsteps outside he stood unsteadily, like toddler barely learning how to walk. His face throbbed, and his head hurt like he had woken up to the worst possible hangover. He decided it was better to go on and ignore the pain. He wouldn't let an injury affect him to the point where he couldn't walk to the bathroom.
When he finally made it, he took a piss. First thing's first. Afterwards, he stood over the sink and slowly removed the bandages around his head. It took him a while; part of it was because Perona wrapped his head one too many times, like she was planning on shipping his head overseas. Also, some of the blood had dried around it and made it sticky and painful to remove. Judging from how greasy his hair was, he guessed he had been out for a day or two. Already he was an expert on this kind of thing.
When he was done unwrapping the present that was his head he let the bandages fall to the ground. There was still a large patch over his half of his face. He took a moment to look at himself. He looked like shit. His face, for once, was pale. No doubt the blood loss was the cause. Slowly, he brought his hands to his face and removed the patch from over his eye.
For a while, he was scared to look at himself. When he manned up and saw his reflection, he saw a thick nasty scar running over his eye. It slid right down the middle of his goddamn eye; all like Mihawk had planned it. The scar was thick and fresh looking, the skin around it raw and sensitive. Comparing it the other half of his face, it looked like a raw slab of meat. Slightly bloated on that side as well he noted.
He tried to open his eye and felt panicked when he couldn't. His heartbeat elevating in his chest, pumping faster as he realized it probably would never open again. Zoro closed his other eye and his heart beat faster when all he saw was pitch black. He forced himself to relax. Inhale. Exhale. Breath slowly. Relax. It wasn't the end of the world. It was just an eye. He had a spare. It was fine.
Opening his one and only good eye, he saw himself again. He would be ok. Letting out a shaky breath, he repeated that over and over again. He would be ok. He would be ok.
Gripping the side of the sink, he looked down a moment before inspecting his face again. He stared at his injury. He wondered, not for the first time, if the rest of the crew was ok, more specifically, the women. They were both strong women and could hold against their own, but Zoro knew there were ruthless men out there who really didn't give a shit if their opponent was a woman. He clearly remembered when Enel had hurt Robin. Men like him did not take pity on women.
He didn't mean to think they were weak, but it was just in a man's nature to worry about women. Maybe not the way the love cook worried about them, but he did worry to an extent. It was a dangerous place for a woman.
Not for the first time he wondered if Robin and Nami were ok. If the rest of the crew was hurt. Those thoughts were bound to come up in his mind, especially looking at himself, seeing in what state his face was in. Morbid thoughts about grotesque things happening to his crew plagued his mind so he shook his head, ridding himself of such ideas.
Though a part of him worried for them, he knew they were stronger than they thought, all of them. He was sure they were ok. They all had to be in order to survive all the shit they went through and Luffy's crazy antics. It was a strong crew, and he believed in all of them. He wouldn't have offered his life for them if he didn't believe in them.
Feeling a little better, he risked another look at himself. He sighed at the sight of his face. Bringing a hand to his puffy face, his fingers touched the scar. It stung to the touch, but he couldn't help leaving his fingers where his eye had once been. While he wasn't exactly self-conscience when it came to his looks but to not care about losing an eye was pushing it.
No doubt when they were all reunited they would ask him. Or maybe not, sometimes they were thoughtful. Luffy, he didn't give a shit about. He could lose a limb and Luffy would still look at him the same without batting an eyelash. The rest, well, they would accept him. But fuck if the cook would crack jokes about him having one eye. He supposed that's what he deserved for making fun of the cook and his supposed lack of one eye.
Even so, he had to wonder what Nami would think. She wouldn't be disgusted or physically repulsed, he knew, but he knew she would worry. He briefly thought of her surrogate father of sorts, Genzo. Zoro was sure even if he jumped through a wood chipper he would have less scars than that man. The fact that she accepted a man like him as a father figure calmed him some. Surely she wouldn't mind if he was a little more roughed up than the last time she saw him. At least, he hoped so.
His reflection frowned back at him. Truth was, he really didn't know what Nami would think. One thing he didn't know about her was her type in men. The fact that she never reacted to Sanji did wonders to his self-esteem, especially knowing he didn't have to be a flailing idiot to win her over. The only time she did mention something to him about his looks was when she mentioned his eyes.
The both of them had been lazily hanging around on the deck. He was leaning against the mast, trying to take a nap while she picked tangerines from her trees. That time, like others before, she had caught him staring at her.
Smirking from over her shoulder, having caught him, she asked, "What?"
"You were looking at me."
"I didn't say anything."
She chuckled, "with you, it's what you're not saying."
He stayed silent.
She shifted the basket that held her precious tangerines to her hip as she made her way over to him. When she was standing before him she smiled. "Why do you look at me like that?"
"Exactly," she said. "Like what?"
He had allowed a grin on his face as he looked into her brown eyes. "Nothing."
"Uh-huh," she said, unconvinced. Nami didn't move, rather, she had stood there and looked at his face.
Then it was his turn to ask. "What?"
"Just looking at your eyes," she smiled. "They look a little different today." She bent at the waist, getting closer to his face. "I didn't know they were grey. I always thought they were black." Straightening, she threw him a smile. "I kind of like them."
His one remaining eye stared back at him. Staring at himself, one eye gone because of his stupid pride thinking he could take on Mihawk and come out scratch free, well, he now looked different. He knew the woman well enough to know she wouldn't think him any different for something like a scar but he still had to wonder what she would say when she saw him again.
They hadn't celebrated his twentieth birthday because he hadn't told them it was his birthday. He hated celebrating anyways. They did however celebrate his twenty-first birthday.
He hadn't really told Perona, she just bugged him until he snapped and told her the date when she realized that they had never known when his birthday was. One thing about Perona was that she loved celebrating. It meant she could decorate the ugly and un-cute castle, (her words) and bake cute cakes, (her words) and share presents. (Also her words.)
Mihawk mostly went along like any man trying to have peace in his own home and to get rid of her pestering him until he caved and let her defile his castle as he so put it. Perona liked throwing parties, even if it was only for three and she did a good job of it mostly. They had celebrated hers and Mihawk every year, and every birthday she made a ridiculous monstrosity of a cake, three tiers high, all pink frosting and pink everything, whatever else it was that went on cakes. Zoro didn't really know, or care since he hated sweets to begin with.
Sitting with the blind over his eyes he pretty much knew what to expect, so when she took off his black bandana he wasn't really surprised to see pink balloons decorating the castle, presents on the table, gift wrapped in pink, everything in sight was fucking pink. He scowled at the stupid pink cake. It was a thing form his nightmares, something the cook would bake-maybe less pink, but still- twenty-one pink candles sitting on top of the preposterous looking cake.
Still, Mihawk threw him an expecting look when Perona smiled at him, so he pretended to act surprised and grateful for all her hard work. He might have overdone because Mihawk made a face but otherwise ignored him, turning his attention to Perona as she sang the birthday song loudly and off tune.
Zoro was forced to blow out the hot pink candles after making a wish, which he didn't because that was stupid. If he wanted something, he would get it, not wish for it.
Despite being forced to eat a gigantic slice of the sugary cake, he did have a good time. After he finished eating the cake Mihawk was chosen to give Zoro his present first.
"I know I'm doing you more harm than good by supporting your alcoholic ways," Mihawk began, "but here's your present."
He jerked his head to the side of the room. Mihawk bought him gallons of booze; kegs of beer and bottles of sake littered the long dining table. It was enough for an entire castle full of men; truth was he was the only drinking. Zoro would have been fine with just the booze but Mihawk had also given him a black overcoat.
He handed it over like he was happy to dispose of it. "Happy birthday boy."
Something new to wear he supposed. He shrugged and put it on, finding it fit nicely. Perona's gifts consisted of a teddy bear -which was absurd- and a cute red stash. (Her words.)
"To go with your unforgivably ugly coat," she said.
Apparently her and Mihawk went shopping together. He thanked her nonetheless, even for the stupid teddy bear and humoured the girl by wearing the sash around his waist.
By then he was used to thanking people for presents he didn't want. On his nineteenth birthday Franky had gotten him a green Speedo and the cook had given him a dirty magazine, (to educate himself) with and Nami had elbowed his ribs until he caved in and thanked them both for the wonderful and truly thoughtful presents.
Rude and bossy as the girl might be from time to time, she always made sure he was polite to others.
When the light shone for the brief moment of all of two seconds, he saw the skinny trees being pushed by the wind as the storm continued. Zoro sat in front of the large window, watching as the rain came pouring down and hearing the thunder roar. Mihawk sat a few feet behind him in his lush red trimmed chair, reading his newspaper, never batting an eye whenever the thunder rolled. Perona was in the room with them for the pure and simple reason of not wanting to be in her room alone because the storm scared her.
If it were up to Zoro he would go out and train. Mihawk told him not to be a suicidal idiot. Deciding to humour the old man, he obeyed. Not that he ever listened to anyone other than himself. Thunder rolled again and Perona shrieked, annoying both the men. The light from the thunder revealed millions of leaves flying and whirling through the night sky. The island looked darker and gloomier than ever. The sound of the wind roared and filled the house. It was chilly inside the castle stonewalls and only the fireplace kept them warm.
After some time the storm settled and quieted some. Soon only the pouring rain was heard and the occasional turn of the page from Mihawk's newspaper. By that time Perona had fallen asleep, her head resting in Zoro's lap. He let out a sigh.
"The storm will pass boy," Mihawk said offhandedly. "You can train again when there's no chance of thunder striking you down."
"I would have been ok."
"Don't be stupid boy. Think for once." He turned the page, no emotion in his tone when he spoke.
Though he didn't quite appreciate the implications of Mihawk saying think for once, he choose to ignore it. Instead, Zoro looked down at his hands, making a tight fist then slowly uncoiling his fingers, looking at his thickened hands. They had gotten more calloused over the year and his fingers were thicker. His body had overall gotten bulkier.
"I need to train."
His swords were away from him, leaning against the wall. Not used in two days now because of the storm. Mihawk had forbid him from training inside because he feared him wrecking his things and the possibility of him breaking something.
"I told you to mediate."
"For two days straight?" Zoro asked.
Mihawk turned another page. "Better than looking out the window."
Zoro thought about it. He could do that but he yearned to go outside and train.
He had weights, and he could meditate. But he wanted to wield his sword more than anything. Sandai Kitetsu seemed to want to be used as well, because of that; he was itching for the blade to be in his hands. Mihawk must have sensed it, taking his attention away from his newspaper to look at him for a while. The unnerving stare he did with those piecing yellow eyes, a weaker man would be scared of that look but it just pissed Zoro off.
"Learn to relax boy," he said finally, his yellow eyes going back to his paper.
"I want to train." He looked at his hands again. "I need to use my hands."
"A swordsman fights with his brains, not his hands Roronoa."
He sighed. It was the same shit his sensei used to tell him.
"Brute strength isn't everything," Mihawk said. "You can't chuck houses every time you're in a sticky situation."
Zoro regretted telling Mihawk about his fight with Daz Bones.
"Learn to strategize Zoro. A good fighter knows strength isn't everything." He heard him turning another page. "It's how you apply it."
They fell silent again.
"Oh, and Roronoa?"
"The girl is drooling on your lap."
For dinner, Mihawk outdid himself. He was always a pretty good cook but he had made a little extra effort for dinner. The three of them knew he would be leaving tomorrow in order to meet Luffy again. It was strange for Zoro to think that tonight was the last dinner he would have with the two of them. He had gotten used to their company, even enjoyed it, having been with just them for the past two years.
Funny enough, even thought they all knew he would leave the next day, they had avoided that subject like most people avoided talking about whether to put grandpa in the home. Dinner went on like it normally would, carefully avoiding the subject of Zoro's departure.
Despite their efforts, it was made clear that they were aware of that fact, Mihawk had gone and broke out one of his fancy wines, the one's he thought he hid well from Zoro. Truth was he respected him enough to pretend he never found them.
Tomorrow, Zoro would be on his way to reunite with his crew again. He would get to see his crazy captain, the long nose, the little otter, the Speedo wearing cyborg, the dark girl, and the singing skeleton. Yes, he had even missed the shit cook. He had missed them all and wanted to see them again but he was the most excited about seeing Nami again.
It was early in the morning when he rose from sleep. He wasted no time in getting ready, part excitement and part wanting to get the hell out of there after two years. He dressed in the coat Mihawk had given him, adding the red slash and retrieving his swords, placing them on his hip.
He spared looking at his room a last time before exiting, shutting the down behind him. The place where his room was located was in the back so he had to walk past Mihawk and Perona's bedroom to make it out of the castle. He was careful not to make a sound as he walked past their rooms.
Zoro wasn't exactly good with goodbyes and didn't need to make anything dramatic before he left. He would most likely run into them again anyways. He turned back just once, looking at their closed bedroom doors and headed to the front. They would understand anyways, it wasn't exactly like they would make a big deal, not Mihawk at least. Perona would probably nag that he didn't say goodbye but there wasn't time for that. He needed to be with his captain again, to be with the crew that he missed.
Stepping outside, he was greeted by the cool morning air. Of course it was still dark outside but even so, he could see there on the steps, Mihawk and Perona. They were dressed up, Perona in one of her long dresses and boots, Mihawk in one of those ruffly shirts he always wore and a large crucifix that would have been the envy of any pope. Funny, he thought vampires hated crosses.
"Thinking of leaving without saying goodbye Roronoa?" Mihawk asked.
He hadn't been able to think of anything. Finally, he let out a sigh, grinning at him. He supposed he did owe it to the man to at least say goodbye. Mihawk was the polite sort anyway, even if he was a serious motherfucker. So there was no getting out of it he realized.
Perona was at his side in an instant, looking like she had something to say. "So typical of you Zoro! Can't even say goodbye to me."
He looked down at her. "Goodbye. Happy?"
"No." She looked at him, twirling her umbrella in hand. "Plus, you don't have to say goodbye yet, I'm taking you there anyways."
"What?" he exclaimed.
"Save it Roronoa," Mihawk cut in. "With your sense of direction you need all the help you can get." He looked at Perona, "You should be thankful she offered to take you."
Zoro sighed. Well, that was that. They saved him a dramatic goodbye. And now he had assurance that he would make it on time.
The first time he saw her after two years, he hadn't been able to properly greet her. He had been with Luffy and the shit cook when she spotted them and waved, her arm going over her head as she greeted them.
The only thing that had gone through his mind at the time was that she looked different. Not just the fact that her hair was now longer, or that she was clearly more developed. There was something about her that seemed more confident; she had the air of a woman now.
When things had settled down and they had got the chance to be alone, she had wrapped her arms around his neck in greeting.
"You look buffer," she said, a smile playing on her lips.
"You look," he looked down where her chest was pressed against his own, "bigger too."
She laughed, "Shut up."
They grinned at each other, holding each other close, Zoro's hands going to her exposed middle. They stood there for some time, just looking at one another. Nami looked at his one eye, a grey the colour of fog in the mountains, looking at his face and his tan complexion. Zoro looked at her long hair, seeing the way it framed her face and the colour of her eyes.
Finally, Nami asked him, "Where were you for the past two years?"
"In hell," he said, grinning. "Stuck on Kuraigana Island with the ghost girl and Hawk eyes."
"Ghost girl? You mean Perona?"
"That explains why she held off the marines." She smiled at Zoro, the mischievous sort of way that did things to Zoro. He recognized that look; the same playful look in her eyes whenever she was about to tease him. "Play nice with her, did we?"
"Don't say that," he said. "Don't even think it."
She only laughed. He had missed that playfulness in her and seeing the gleam in her eye whenever she laughed. He held her a little tighter. "And you?"
Her smile was still playing on her lips. One arm around his neck detangled itself and she rested her elbow on his shoulder as she pointed her index finger skyward. He looked up to where she was pointing; the only thing in the sky was puffy white clouds. A knowing grin played on his lips and he looked down at her. "Your favourite."
"Shut up." She playfully smacked his head.
He ignored it. "I heard you gave Usopp a boob hug."
"Are you jealous?"
"Should I be?"
"Maybe. He looks better now. Buffer too. You might have some competition."
He chuckled, smiling at her. His hand went from her torso to touch her long hair. Running his fingers through her hair, he said, "You grew it."
She touched his closed eye. "What happened?" she asked, ignoring his statement.
His hand went to her hand, closing his fingers around her hand, bringing it down so it was away form his face. "Nothing really. Dumb accident."
She gave him a look. "Be careful next time then." She lifted off her heels, balancing on her toes and kissed his scar, feeling her soft lips on his closed eye. She leaned back and gave him that same playful look. "Dummy."
He looked into her eyes for a moment, and Nami felt uncomfortable for a few moments under that gaze, thinking she might have done something stupid with that kiss until he bent his head and kissed her on the lips.
When they parted, she giggled.
"What?" he asked.
"Took you long enough." She said, then added, "dummy."
I know Zoro was already 19 when he joined the crew, but this is a fanfiction, I can make shit up.
Anyways, thank you for reading you wonderful human being.