Just made a quick edit as I realised, and xy pointed out, Kuina thought female swordsman weren't as good and I feel quite silly now. Also, shall I do another chapter? Yes no?
Also! I have a livejournal now. So I'm going to start posting stuff on there as well. carefreewishes dot livejournal dot com
Just replace the dots with . and get rid of the spaces. :-)
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece.
Zoro wasn't sure when the rest of the crew realised that the swordsman wanted to be left alone. It might've been when it took less time than usual for him to snap at Franky to kindly shut the fuck up. It could've been when he walked away from Chopper without turning back to give an apology for leaving so rudely, ignoring Nami's demands to know why he was being such an asshole today.
It took him about two more steps to realise he really didn't care.
He didn't care that Franky's day was no longer 'super'.
He didn't care that Chopper was staring at his back with sad watery eyes, or that Nami had just raised his debt by an ungodly amount.
Okay, he kind of felt bad that he'd made Chopper sad, but the sea witch could fuck off.
The only person he felt like he could even stand to be around today was Luffy, but the selfish want to be near someone who at least knew what today meant to the swordsman was quickly stamped down. He wasn't going to make Luffy feel down just because he couldn't handle this by himself without getting so drunk he couldn't stand anymore.
It was the anniversary of Kuina's death, and Zoro would be lying to himself if he said it didn't hurt.
Because, fuck, it hurt.
It always hurt. It was the one day of the year he just couldn't deal with. Yeah, he'd only been seven or so when she died, and yeah, he spent most of the time she'd been alive trying to beat her in a fight, or angry because he couldn't beat her and she was just so smug about that fact.
But she had still died, and it still tore him up inside when he woke up on this day each year, and realised he'd gone another damn year without hearing her spout absolute bullshit about how he'd get better than her just because she was a girl.
It had been over ten years since she died, and he still had to stop and sit down, because he just remembered that she was gone, and he was never going to get the chance to beat her in a fight and that fact hit him so hard in the chest he couldn't remember how to breathe.
So every year, Zoro let himself have one day. This one day where he mourned the loss of his friend, the person who made him who he was. He never let himself think about if she'd be proud of who he was, because he was scared the answer would be no, and he just couldn't deal with that.
He'd give himself today to miss Kuina, and then tomorrow...
Well tomorrow he'd suck it up and apologize to Chopper and Franky for being rude. The sea witch wasn't getting an apology from him until she got rid of that damn debt that shouldn't even exist in the first place.
"What are you doing in here, marimo? Dinner isn't ready for another hour."
"Sake." Was all Zoro offered in reply, trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice, and failing miserably.
If there was anyone he didn't want to be around today, it was Sanji. The love-cook was one of his best friends, in a 'knock-him-unconcious-via-sword-hilt-so-the-idiot-doesn't-try-doing-something-stupid-like-dying' kind of way. But best friend or no, the basis of their friendship was the rivalry they shared. And he just couldn't bring himself fight with Sanji today. It reminded him too much of another rival he longed to fight, just one more time.
"You might as well turn around now then 'cause I'm not having you drinking yourself into a fuckin' stupor and then wasting good food." Sanji moved away from the counter then, putting himself in-between the swordsman and the fridge, knowing all too well that although it took a ridiculous amount of alcohol to get the green haired man drunk, if he did somehow manage to get himself enough, he wouldn't bother eating the food Sanji had prepared. And that was just rude.
Who is he to stop us?
Not for the first time that day, Zoro found Sandai Kitetsu calling out to him, the dark beating feeling as if it was reaching to him, wrapping it's cold, murky aura around the swordsman, trying to pull him into the darkness too, and not for the first time that day, Zoro shifts so his fingertips were resting on Wadō's hilt, using it to ground himself, stepping away from the cursed sword's dangerous but so alluring hum.
But for the first time that day, it doesn't work, and Zoro can feel the first prick of fear at his heart before Kitetsu called out to him again, the beating getting louder and wilder, becoming warmer, and Zoro's fingers move to Kitetsu's hilt before he can truly understand what's going on.
Just cut him down, Zoro, he's in the way. He's blocking your path.
"No." Sanji eyed the swordsman carefully. He'd heard his Nami-swan shouting at the brute for something, but he'd put it down to Zoro simply being Zoro. But now, now he wasn't too sure, and the dark gleam that was steadily making its way into the green haired pirate's eyes set him on edge.
What would Kuina think? Allowing yourself to be ordered around by a weakling like him, she'd think you were pathetic, wouldn't she?
"Get the fuck out of my way, Sanji." Zoro snarled, his voice raising as he took another step forward, only to be pushed back roughly by the cook, who quickly lost his shocked expression at hearing his real name instead of an insult, and replaced it with one of rage, his previous concerns slipping from his mind.
"I said no. You deaf as well as stupid? Fuckin' moron."
The warm, soothing beating that came from Wadō Ichimonji and the cooler, but still soothing thrum that came from Shūsui were drowned out, and it was all he could do to keep himself from shaking. Kitetsu's erratic pounding pulsed through his veins, setting his blood alight and smothering the two other sword's heartbeats until it was a strain for Zoro to even hear a faint thrum, or to feel Wadō's soothing presence.
It was a losing battle, and for the first time since he'd got the sword, Zoro found himself powerless to stop it. He couldn't block out Kitetsu's whining; his body was listening, listening and reacting. Despite his mind's weakening protests.
He didn't know what was going on, but at the same time he knew that Kitetsu had finally pulled him in, and had wrapped its deformed aura around the swordsman. He couldn't feel anything, but at the same time, he heard and felt everything. He felt the blood run though his veins, and he heard the harsh breathing of the angry cook.
What would Kuina think, Zoro?
But more than that, he could feel the need to hurt something that was taking over all of his senses, replacing his vision with a vivid red, moving his hand of its own accord.
Would she be proud?
What broke the swordsman was the fact he didn't know if the bloodlust was purely Kitetsu's dark influence, or whether it was his, something he had hidden down deep within him that was being forced to the top.
Prove you're the best, Zoro. Cut him down.
He hadn't even realised he'd lunged for the cook before he felt himself being thrown to the floor, pain erupting over his body when a weight landed on him; The noise from their argument must've drawn at least one member of the crew to the kitchen. He was still seeing red when Luffy's voice called out, throwing him a lifeline amongst the sea of bloodlust and destruction, and the small part of Zoro's subconscious that Kitetsu hadn't managed to get to and distort, had never been more grateful to the rubber man.
His vision bled back with his captain's calm voice reached him, colours returning to his world. There were more words shared, but Zoro was too busy trying to regain control of his heartbeat to hear them, and then the weight was off him, and he was being moved gently into a chair, firm hands gripping his shoulders.
"Zoro?" Luffy's voice reached him again, but it was a question this time, and Zoro could hear the other unspoken questions he'd been asked.
Are you okay?
Why did you do it?
Who's in control now?
For all he came across as just an idiot who loved meat just a bit too much, and trusted people far too quickly, Luffy was more observant that he let on, and he knew all about the sword's curse, about how it was constantly there, playing in the back of Zoro's mind, waiting for an opening to distort his first mate's reality, to quench its thirst.
And Luffy was certain he felt something inside him break just a little when wordlessly, Zoro simply resheathed Kitetsu, pulled the two remaining swords from his haramaki and held them out to him, tired black eyes finally opening to meet his own.
"Not today." The swordsman's breath seemed to leave his body in those two words, and he slumped in the chair, his eyes trained on Luffy, giving him the answers he wanted.
You know why.
I don't know anymore.
The room was silent for a few painstaking minutes before Luffy gave the green haired swordsman a firm nod, taking the swords and gently resting Wadō and Shūsui on the table; close enough for them to still be in Zoro's line of vision, but not so that he could reach for them before someone had him immobilised again.
You're strong, Zoro. You'll get through this.
He kept Kitetsu in his grasp.
He stepped away after he held the swordsman's gaze for a few seconds longer, trying to get his feelings across, and headed into the storeroom, a quick search uncovering what he was looking for.
He stood back in front of his first mate, not looking away from his form, even when Usopp started to protest – because giving the guy who just tried to kill their cook alcohol didn't seem like the best idea in the world – only to be broken off by a shake of Robin's head.
Zoro looked up when the sake bottle was held in front of him, Luffy's gaze meeting his again carefully. Taking it silently, the swordsman stood, a broken shudder running through him when he found himself in his captain's embrace, his gratitude and affection for the younger teen growing once again as he was allowed to step back with a nod.
"... I'm sorry." His voice broke the silence as he faced the cook, guilt twisting up in his stomach when he saw the injury he'd inflicted, and once the cook gave him a numb nod, and one last look at Luffy, who just gave him a small, but confident smile, he turned on his heel and left the room without another room.
Even if Zoro didn't know anymore, Luffy did. Luffy still had faith in him. And that was enough for now.
Once the swordsman's footsteps had disappeared upstairs, and the quiet 'click' of a door being shut and locked was heard, Luffy turned to face the rest of his crew, trying to ignore the knot that formed in his stomach when he saw the blood running freely from the cut on Sanji's jaw that Chopper was trying to fix while wiping the tears from his own eyes.
It was a nasty wound, not enough to seriously harm the cook apart from jaw ache for a few weeks, but Luffy couldn't help but think, if Zoro had lost it with anyone other than Sanji, with anyone with reflexes just a tiny bit slower than Sanji's, someone who hadn't been able to slow down and deflect the blade at the last moment, he'd have one less crewmate to sail with.
When Usopp had shouted at him to get in the kitchen right now because Zoro had just tried to kill Sanji, he didn't believe it at first, because why on earth would Zoro want to kill Sanji? They were nakama. But then he'd heard Nami's desperate call for him to hurry up, and he realised that it wasn't one of Usopp's tales. His first mate had just tried to kill their cook.
When he'd reached the kitchen, he had stopped dead in the doorway. Sanji was on the floor, bleeding from a deep cut to his jaw, leaning backwards on his hands as he stared at Zoro with something close to pure shock, and although he knew the cook would deny it later, fear. And when Luffy turned his gaze to the pinned swordsman, thrashing under Franky's body, he knew why.
Luffy tried to think of the last time he'd seen Zoro this out of control, this desperate to kill someone, and he realised he couldn't. He couldn't deny that out of all the crew, bar maybe Robin, Zoro was the most likely to kill an enemy instead of just incapacitating them. People didn't call him a demon for no reason. But Zoro never lost control like this. Never.
He tried to ignore the nervous feeling in his gut that told him the fact that the only sheath to not house a sword was the blood red one had something to do with Zoro's outburst.
Briefly, Luffy wondered if the shocked look was from the fact Zoro had attacked him with the intention to kill, or the fact that Zoro had apologised.
He glanced down at the sword he held in his hand, a frown forming. Out of the three of the blades, Kitetsu was the one that concerned Luffy the most. It didn't hold any of the warmth of Shūsui, or the love of Wadō. It was cold.
He knew Wadō's origins, how Kuina had died, and Zoro inherited the sword, and how Zoro had won Shūsui from Ryuma back at Thriller Bark.
But he knew about Kitetsu too. Zoro had informed him as soon as they had met up in Loguetown; about how his luck was stronger than the blade's curse.
It was only a few weeks later that Zoro had informed him he could hear the sword calling out to him, that he could feel the sword waiting for him to lose concentration in a battle and take over, change a battle to protect and survive, to a battle to kill.
He shoved down the thought that maybe, just maybe, Zoro's luck had finally run out, and that maybe the sword didn't have to wait anymore.
The rest of the crew knew about Kitetsu too. They'd inquired about all Zoro's blades over dinner once, and he had reluctantly told them. He'd missed Kuina and the fact that the curse had a bigger effect on him than he was letting on out of his story, simply telling them that the owner of the dojo Zoro had trained in had given it to him, and that it was just the basic curse; killed those who own it.
Later, he had confided to Luffy that he wasn't comfortable letting them know that much about his life just yet. A curse was a curse, and it was probably a good idea for them all to know about it to some extent, but Kuina was none of their damn business as far as the swordsman was concerned. It had filled Luffy with joy to know that he was important enough to know such a fact.
And it was with that in mind, that for once the captain picked his next words carefully, frown still playing on his lips as he turned, facing his crew again.
"A long time ago," He started, making sure to look all of them in the eye as he spoke, his gaze landing on Sanji in an attempt to get across he was trying to explain Zoro's previous behaviour.
"A long time ago, Zoro had a friend. He had a nakama, and they died. Today is the anniversary of that, and Zoro...Well, he really misses them," Luffy took another pause then, looking over at the white sheath of Wadō before he turned back to the crew. "So he's going to want to be alone today."
"Kitetsu got to him, didn't it?" It made sense that Sanji would be the first one to understand the situation after Luffy. So when he finally spoke up, understanding, and the faintest trace of sadness for the swordsman whose grief had allowed for the blade to take over, even for the briefest amount of time, Luffy wasn't surprised.
Luffy nodded, turning his gaze back down to the blade, disgust building up when he realised the pain over Kuina's death had been the perfect opportunity for the blade to mess with his crewmate. But more than that, he felt a wave of sadness rush over him, because he knew, even this wasn't going to persuade Zoro to get rid of the sword.
"Yeah... Yeah it did."