Yo! Roan here with an attempt at a one shot! The base of this idea developed from my attraction to the Zoro/Nami pairing and my never ending quest to pry into how people think. Hopefully it comes across as I planned! If not well then I hope at least its good to read!
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What Drives Us
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Dinner was quiet. Meal times were always quiet in the large dining hall of the castle as it was what Dragule Mihawk liked. Zoro, whether out of respect, or just exhaustion never uttered a sound while he ate his meal. Even Perona who was normally very full of fervor and spunk made a habit of remaining speechless around a table where the food was being generously offered to her by a man quite often refered to as the best swordsman on the seas.
This night seemed no different.
As time ticked on, The ghosts would drift to and from the kitchen to bring more food or return plates. Long before Zoro had finished eating, Mihawk had satiated his hunger and took to a drink of red wine. He'd swirl the drink in his glass far more often then he'd sip from it giving way to the possibility that he was far more intent upon thinking then he was on drinking.
Yellow eyes gave stare to the flickering flames of a dying fire as he wondered to himself. Such a strange situation he found himself in these days. Not only was he training a young man who laid claim to taking his head but he was housing him and feeding him as well. If that situation wasn't odd enough he found that he was actually enjoying himself. Never once had he even considered taking on an apprentice and at first the idea to him was revolting. Mihawk had long since become comfortable with his alone-ness and he had no want for a sniveling trainee to interrupt it. Imagine his surprise at how wrong he'd been.
Despite the initial begging to be trained Roronoa Zoro had turned out to be exceptional. He did what he was told without hesitation or complaint. In fact the young swordsman hardly spoke at all. He seemed to harbour no doubts, no second thoughts and no reservations. No matter how wounded, how ill or how badly he'd lose Zoro would always stand back up and simply try again with all of his strength and will. Such passion Mihawk had never seen.
As a new log hit the fire and the flames did stir so did the edge of the Shichibukai's lips. This experience had become more then just a training session - it had become thrilling. He found it a challenge to find new ways to combat the boys will power. He found he derived joy in trying to beat down the flame that drove Roronoa's passion to become better; stronger. Stranger yet he was beginning to develop a small sense of respect for the younger swordsman that grew in minuscule amounts every time he was unable to break him.
All this lead Mihawk to the question that he pondered now.
What was it that drove Roronoa Zoro?
There were obvious things. The boy made no qualms about stating that he intended to be the best swordsman in the world. Further more his dedication to his captain certainly seemed like it would also be a strong factor. But was that all? Dreams were easy to break and time could whiddle down any alligience so he was certain there was more. He supposed it was possible that Zoro was just simply that driven but if that were the case; would that drive stay? Was it possible that in a few years it would leave him entirely? If such were the case Mihawk had no interest in continuing with the training. To push a man so gifted only to have him give up later was just not an option. This in mind his eyes so sharp and demanding turned very slowly to rest upon his young apprentice
Everything in the room stopped. Ghosts no longer moved about, Perona stopped any and all muttering and Zoro stopped eating. The shift of Mihawks intense gaze was enough to make most men cower. For Zoro the pressure was certainly intimidating but far from something that could incapacitate him - though it was enough to make his meal end. Slowly he'd lift his head up and with a face that could have been carved from stone stated simply. "What?"
There was no immediate response to the question - only the continuing gaze, unwavering in it's resolve. For what seemed like hours Mihawk continue the contemplative glower, never pausing even when he'd take a sip of his red wine. After only a minute or so irritation would start to taint Zoro's brow. He suddenly felt like what he assumed prey would feel like under the intent gaze of a predator contemplating it's hunger. It wasn't a feeling he was used to nor was it one he liked. Therefore he'd repeat himself. "Oi. I said What?"
Amusement found it's way to Mihawk. The Shichibukai released a very subtle chuckle before once more sipping his wine. He was kind enough to break the intensity from his gaze temporarily to take glance at the fire but shortly he would return it to his young protege. "You're curious to me, Roronoa."
A heavy silence weighed in the air. Zoro looked perplexed, Perona looked like she was in the crossroads between wonder and horror and Mihawk was very unsubtly staring at the other male. That feeling of being prey once more curled up Zoro's back, making him feel increasingly uncomfortable. The hair at the nape of his neck would begin to stand and the new scar shutting his right eye would throb. "...What?"
Another chuckle. the boy was holding himself well but Mihawk could feel his subconsciously squirm. This was good. It meant that he had the entirety of the younger man's attention. Such would be required for his next question. "Why are you here?"
Zoro scoffed. "To get stronger."
The irritation in the young swordsman became more apparent. "What's with all the questions old man? I told you why I'm here. To get stronger so I can help Luffy in the New World."
"To become the World's Greatest Swordsman"
A pause and then a very insistant. "And?"
Zoro's patience gave to a short growl. "And what? Those are my reasons!"
"Hm." Once more Mihawk would begin to swirl his drink, never once glancing away from the other man. Perhaps that's all there was too it then. Perhaps he was simply that dedicated to his cause. Something, however, deep within Dragule's mind stirring from the area in which life experience was kept something was telling him no. There was more to this. Another approach perhaps. "There are two types of Swordsman Roronoa."
He'd pause to make sure he still had full attention. When he was certain he did, he'd continue. "One's who dominate. and one's who Protect. You protect. Your style would suggest other wise but in essence you are a protector. So I ask, who do you protect?"
In response Zoro would frown; the ever present air of aggitation around him growing. "Dominate? Protect? Tch. What are you trying at? I protect my Captain and my Nakama."
"Is that all?"
Suddenly hands collided with the wooden table filling the room with a loud dramatic 'BANG'. Now half standing, Zoro get a snort. "Not your business!"
Mihawk shook his head slightly. Though he'd discovered the man always became aggrivated at any personal inquiry, he found that this time around Zoro was being far less patient then normal. He'd managed to strike a nerve - though he was unsure how. Regardless , it meant he'd been accurate on his assumption. Unwavering he'd press forward, very obviously not threatened by the outburst. "It is. I need to know what drives you Roronoa."
A sneer began to coil across Zoro's lips. "What the hell for?"
"Because." Slowly the wine glass would be placed down. The Shichibukai leaned forward to place elbows upon the table while lacing his fingers together to ball comfortably in front of his face. "I won't continue to train you unless I do." He watched as first shock then anger crossed Zoro's features. Remaining entirely calm and focused Mihawk simply continued to speak. "A man with burning dreams and ambitions is nothing but a torch fighting a storm. Eventually the storm will be too great, the flame will die, and all that is left is something burnt out."
The room succumbed to quiet once more, interrupted only by the crackle of the fire beyond. A moment would pass heavy before the speech would continue.
"What fuels your fire Roronoa? I need to know there is something that inspires you...Something that fills you with fervour, with passion. I need to know that your flame will not die or there is no point in teaching you."
Further silence. The once enraged look on Zoro's face had slowly fallen back to one of stone. He remained unmoving and unspeaking, only returned the solid gaze as though a statue.
"Hm." Mihawk took a moment to contemplate. "Perhaps revenge?"
"Very well. Is it power you seek?"
Very abruptly a loud sigh of discontent echoed from the forgotten end of the table. Perona found the need at that exact moment o give her two cents to the situation. "You idiot! He's a man! He'd gawk about revenge or power! It's a girl!"
Had Mihawk been qeak minded enough to look at Perona during her out burst he would have missed the brief break in the steeled expression on the younger Swordsman face. The reaction was miniscule, but it had been there without mistake.
As if on cue Zoro rounded on Perona, ire thick in his barotone. "Oi woman! Who asked for your stupid opinion?!"
Looking bored she would reply. "Oh please. If I wasn't right you wouldn't be getting mad. Besides someone has to take care of you. You'd get too lost on your own."
"I don't get lost! I have a great sense of direction!"
"Circles is NOT a direction. Get your navigator to point that out to you next time." Obviously uninterested in the conversation any longer She'd stand then slowly float away. "This conversation is sooo not cute. I'm leaving. Stupid men..."
A second reaction was caught. The moment said 'navigator was mentioned another flinch and perhaps the gritting of teeth occurred both actions caught by the Hawk's watchful eye. so that was it then. The boy hadn't been lying after all. He was doing this for his captain and his Nakama. It just seemed more for a specific one. Honestly Mihawk was a bit surprised. He'd thought the boy too bull headed to find the passion in affection. Perhaps it was simply something he wasn't fully aware of. In the end he was still a man however and great deals of inspiration could be found in wishing to protect the ones you care for most. Even more for someone you love.
"I don't walk in circles woman!" Zoro cursed after Perona before slumping back down in his seat. With arms firmly crossed, he muttered to himself in a preoccupied manner seeming now unaware of the gaze he was still pinned under.
"Hm... " Mihawk spoke, tearing Zoro from his contemplation. "The Navigator then?"
Zoro reeled at the words and reacted with an anger that was more forced and desperate then normal. "It's not like that! That stupid witch -" He was cut off.
"Say what you'd like to me Roronoa but lying to yourself will only hinder your progress. Men need someone to protect. It's part of what drives us to strength. Many great men find their force from the women they adore. Though it is very often their greatest undoing as well." He'd finish the rest of his wine before slowly standing. He felt pleasure in the silence he'd forced from the younger man and revelled in it for the few steps it took him to reach the door. "You have one night to contemplate. If by dawn you can tell me what drives you Roronoa Zoro then by that dawn we will begin training again. If you cannot then I will no longer keep you and you may leave." With that he was gone.
A thick scowl stained Zoro's features. "What the hell was all that?" He muttered aloud to himself while trying to absorb the odd events that had just occured. He'd been on this island for nearly a year now. Since the first night of that year he'd never once been questioned in his motives nor had he ever questioned Mihawk's methods. So this seemed very out of the ordinary. Why did Mihawk so suddenly desire to know these things? Asking him about his hopes, dreams and ambitions? Hadn't he already made that clear from the beginning? And how had the conversation turned so sharply from that to Nami?
Zoro gave a disgruntaled snort and shook his head. To say she was unrelated was a lie. His dream was to become the greatest swordsman not only for the title but also to protect his nakama. To protect them and help them all accomplish their dreams. He would be there to help Luffy become the Pirate King, to help that shitty love-cook find All Blue and yes even help Nami to finish her map of the world. So how was it that she was his drive? And what had Mihawk even meant by drive? How was it different then dreams or ambition?
No longer interested in what remained of his meal the swordsman left the table. He began to wander the halls of the castle as he pondered the matter at hand with little to no success. He had til dawn to sort out the entire thing and give the Shichibukai an answer but how was he supposed to answer a question he didn't really understand? The thought of lying never once crossed his mind it would be pointless and cowardly. No, he'd have to figure it out or risk losing out on the best training he'd ever received.
The slice through his eye began to throb once more; the pain ignited by his aggrivation. Wasn't a dream and ambition and a personal drive? Wasn't wanting something so much you'd do anything to achieve it the purest form of push a man could have? How could any feelings one person have for another be stronger then that? Why was it they assumed he had any feelings for the Navigator beyond friendship? and why was he even thinking about all of this?!
Only vaguely aware that he had managed to 'find' his way onto the castles peaked roof, Zoro let out a growl. With his one seeing eye he'd look up to the clear sky as though it were some connecting portal between one person to another. For the few moments he stared he felt his blood begin to pump faster. Senses heighten as the agitation boiled forcing him to release a heated snap into the night air. "You're not even here and you're causing me problems witch!"
Huffing slightly, the swordsman continued to glower at the stars. His posture was rigid and prepared as though he expected retaliation both verbal and physical. Time passed however and nothing came. A time longer and still nothing. Slowly he let his head give way to slump only to have his body follow suit. Soon he was sitting on the sloped surface staring sightlessly ahead feeling more desolate then he had in a long time.
The lack of return to his fire made him feel unfulfilled. The swordsman felt lonely; almost detached being greeted with nothing but a cool breeze. Another time he'd have found it humorous that when he was on the Sunny with the other's he just wanted peace and quiet. Now that he had it he longed for nothing more then Luffy's stupid comments, Chopper's giddy laugh, Usopp's outrageous story's and all the other commotion. Most of all however he missed exchanges with that damn witch.
Always she was yelling at him. Calling him lazy and slow. Stupid and boorish. She demanded that he do silly things - stupid things that he'd never in his right mind consider doing. Even so she'd always manage to get him to do them. Why? Because regardless of formality's he was never entirely in his right mind about her. Sick really but the more they belittled one another the worse it became. Ever sharp comment and every barbed reply kept his attention like nothing else. She heated his blood just by being near him; filled his life fire, with severity ...She filled him with Passion.
Like a moth drawn to a deadly flame he'd drift to her - always knowing there would be a fight and a demand. He would always take the bait and always submit like a fool falling into the arms of an enchantment.
There was a reason he called her a witch.
Very slowly he'd shake his head. Honestly he felt guilty. His Nakama were all family to him. They'd been through so much together. So much hope risen, tears shed, battles won and even lost. They should all be equally as important to him. Never one above the others but that wasn't the truth. When ever there was trouble the first one he'd think of was Nami. Her safety would have to be confirmed before anything else. If she was threatened he would be there standing guard, stern and tall; strong and true. There was a time when Zoro could remember such not being the truth but that time was long behind him.
"Damn it woman. Get out of my head."
His tone held heavy notes of resignation before he'd give an inaudible sigh. He was sure sometime long before he'd tried to fight her off. Somewhere along the way true disinterest gave way to intrigue which rolled through to enthrall. Even as he sat there cool and alone he was plagued with thoughts. 'What was she doing? Is she alright? Is she safe?" He felt as though he was being murdered by uncertainty.
All he could do was trust her. Trust she wouldn't do anything stupid in two years. Trust she'd stay out of trouble and push through til they would all meet again. And on that day he would be strong enough to prevent this ever happening again. Every waking second away he'd spend strengthing and improving his skills so that in the New World his nakama would never be forced a similar tragedy. Never again would he be so wounded he couldn't defend them. defend their dreams or defend her.
Roronoa Zoro would stand once more on the tiled roofing. From his sash he'd draw forth Wado and hold it up to the stars as though swearing an oath. "Never again." The wind flitted passed him, cool and taunting forcing steel into the resolve of his voice. "I WILL become stronger...You'd better stay alive Nami...and everyone."
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When Mihawk exited his castle in the morning he greated first by the fledling licks of sunlight tainting the low horizon and secondly by the howls of wounded baboons. The screams were accompanied by the clash of steel and smell of blood none to far from his door step. A few dozen strides took him to the location of battle where he would find Zoro with only one sword drawn, circled by what remained of the baboon horde. The Shichibukai's entrace halted all movement from the monkey's as immediately they began to tremble in fear. He payed them no mind as he approached the younger swordsman a curious look in such serious eyes.
"You're making a lot of noise this morning."
"You were taking to long."
Mihawk merely continued to look at him without hint of amusement. "Do you have an answer for me?"
"Tch." Slowly Zoro scratched at the side of his jaw, giving final contemplation to the matter. This last amount of thought was short lived as he almost immediate offered. "I've got your answer."
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Two years always seemed like such a longer time. Yet in retrospect always seemed like no time at all. When one thought about how long they were all away from one another it felt like eternity but when one thought about how that time was spent, a few blinks and they were over. It seemed however that once surround by the warm company of friends, Those two years felt like nothing but a dream. So was how Zoro felt about those years as the Thousand Sunny began it's decent into the sea. So intense and so important yet so miniscle in comparison to the time that was ahead of them all together. he'd never admit it out loud or even in his facade but he was happy listening to the chaotic chatter around him.
To his left Usopp was wowing Luffy and Brook with one of his epic tales while to his right Chopper fretted over the love-cook and his ridiculas nose bleed. Further away he could hear Robin, Nami and Franky all conversing about what they had done and though he could follow none of it, He felt relief. Everyone was here, everyone was safe and he intended to keep it that way.
A several casual steps would carry him across the deck and up to where the mikan trees grew. The citrusy smell invaded his sensing causing a subtle smirk to tug at his lips. Strange to find that he missed a smell so much why not indulge? As he recalled this was a great place to take a nap. Preparing to sit and enjoy the soft grass and alluring scent Zoro would give pause as he heard foot steps approaching.
Not only his head but his body would turn to face the one who approached him. He was greeted by the visage of a young woman. For a moment their eyes locked. Silence took them both as they merely stared at one another, held in place by mere presence. The wind rose and tousseled them both giving pull at his green yukata and her mikan hair. He was the first to stir but she was the first to speak, filling his ears with a voice so familiar.
"Trying to sleep already? You really are lazy."
Stoic and cool the swordsman stared ahead at the orange haired woman before him. Her hair was much longer now and she'd developed more but to him her essence was in that cocky stance, that baiting tone and those daring eyes. Without hesitation he latched on to the lure. "What's it to you witch?"
"Nothing other then these are my trees and you could be doing something useful"
He watched as that coy smirk played across perfect lips. He listened to how she changed her honey voice to hold just enough venom to spark a reaction. His blood began to heat, the ire began to rise and the stone look upon his face began to crack with fire long since dormant. "There ain't nothing to do you damn woman! We're under the ocean!"
Just like that the spark re-ignited. He felt complete once again
"There's plenty to do! Do you think ships just magically clean and take care of themselves!?"
"I'm not your damn maid!"
"Well you have to do something other then sleep and lift weights all day!"
"Putting up with you is a full time job Witch!"
The impact of her fist on the top of his head was still as sharp a pain as ever. Even after two years of training it was still enough to knock the man flat on his ass. This time however, he didn't find that he minded so much. Though he rubbed his head a smirk he could not contain began to spread upon his face. Even as he tried to glare up at the woman, the smile remained - though coy. He found his expression mirrored upon her own from where she leaned over to meet his eyes. "Stupid woman." He'd press though his tone was mild and amused.
"Idiot." She'd reply in much the same manner
Just like that, he once more felt at peace. No longer desolate or without direction. Here among his nakama he felt secure and needed. Here with her he felt driven and at home.
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Ba da! Done! So the deal is, I don't usually Beta read. I skim for blatant errors and the just upload it. Why? Because I have tiny amounts of free time so I'd rather throw out raw material then nothing at all. After all its just for the fun of it right?
Anyway in Zoro's perspective because - most of what I read is from Nami's so I was like Zoro-bro. Your turn! Besides I relate better to him.
Anyway! Read and review please! Thanks!
-Roan, out! -com static-