A series of Zoro- and Luffy-centric oneshots.
Title: To Be or Not to Be
Summery: Luffy, now Pirate King, returns to Windmill Village and introduces his family to the crew. Someone has a few things to say to Zoro.
AN: The first of many, I'm not sure what really prompted this little piece. I just know that I have a lot of ideas floating around while I plan my multi-chapter fic, and figured this would be a nice place to get them all out. I'll have no shots under one thousand words, and most will explore the relationship between Luffy and Zoro in a take-it-as-you-will kind-of way. As a friend once put it, they are my always-BROTP, sometimes-OTP of you squint, but I'm never obvious about it. So, these are going under the label Nakamaship.
"We're comin' up on an island, guys!" Usopp's voice hailed down from the observation deck, somehow reaching every corner of the ship in his excitement. Barely a moment's pause later, two enthusiastic arms stretched from the kitchen door all the way to Sunny's figurehead, snapping back as Luffy whooped and hollered his way to the ship's special perch.
"I see it! We're almost there!" The little King practically bounced in place, and, had be not known his captain better, Zoro might have thought he would go tumbling into the ocean in his enthusiasm. "We're almost home!"
After finally achieving their foremost goal, the Strawhat Pirates had decided they ought to take a break from their adventure—Indeed, Raftel had been at the very end of the New World, and by passing the island they had managed to loop around the whole world, reentering the East Blue from the South. After careful planning on their navigator's part, a route had been set out, and a course laid for a loop around the crew's home islands. That is, those they would be able to visit while so close. The first and farthest so happened to be the Dawn Island belt, and immediately Luffy's eyes had been set on Windmill Village. Though most of what made the place home had left years ago—his brothers, his mentor—they had heard of Garp's post-retirement relocation, and, for the first time, both would be meeting not as a Marine and Pirate, but as kin, through and through.
Dawn Island wasn't big enough to have a proper harbor, but Franky made due with grounding his massive ship alongside one of the land's many rocksides. No one seemed to mind, too happy with the stretchy grin on their captain's face. As they approached the shoreline, it seemed that the entire village had turned up for the event after spotting the Thousand Sunny on the horizon, all lined up to see the Pirate King and his crew. There were murmurs through the crowd as they gathered on deck to help tie off, and Nami felt a small spike of worry that no one seemed to recognize the boy watching them.
Suddenly, however, a booming shout rang from somewhere farther back, out of sight, and the villagers scampered to the side. "Hey, kid!" The massive, grey-haired man barked, "Why've you kept me waitin' so long?" With that, he beamed, breaking out into a laughter that mirrored Luffy's own.
"Gramps!" In an instant, Luffy had launched himself off the ship, tackling his grandfather to the ground.
Garp hit the earth with a grunt, but didn't lose his smile. "'Bout time you got here, kid! I was wonderin' when you'd grace your old man with your presence." Though their visit was unplanned and unexpected, the former Vice Admiral took it all in stride. They had last seen each other in less-than-wonderful circumstances, but it seemed that time had healed all visible wounds. Not wanting to interrupt as the village surged toward their prodigal son, ice broken, the other eight members made their way ashore in a peaceful quiet, absorbing their surroundings and trying to piece together the last pieces of the perpetual puzzle that was Monkey D. Luffy.
Not long after, a feast was declared and a bonfire built to celebrate not only Luffy's return, but his achievements, as well. Most of the villagers had disappeared to lend their hands to the preparations, crew introductions to the masses already made. Franky and Robin found themselves roped into constructing the massive log structure to be burned when the sun fell, extra arms and massive strength much-appreciated for the project. A gang of children had dragged Usopp off for story-telling, the town's part-time physician had whisked Chopper away to teach him more than the basic first-aide he had to rely on, and Brooke had taken to instructing the young man in charge of the piano at Party's Bar while Sanji spoke with the building's chef. Rather quickly, Luffy's home had become their own—or, perhaps, the young man's family had simply adopted in their new members with ease. Any friend of their boy's was a friend of Windmill's, after all.
As the day wore on and the crowd dwindled, Luffy, Zoro, and Nami found themselves yet again in Garp's company as they simply watched the town go about its business. It was peaceful, the calm normalcy of this kind of daily life. Although, no pirate present wished to trade in what they had for all the wealth in the world.
A short, old man had sidled himself up beside the group at some point without their noticing, watching alternately the civilians and companions in silence for a while—that is, until his cane came down with all the force of a Marine on Luffy's sandled foot. One less-than-manly, pained yelp later saw the black-haired boy hopping around with a scowl on his face, ready to hit whoever had hurt him as the other three watched on, amused. Quietly, Zoro tilted his white-hilted sword back into its sheath where he ad been prepared to draw at Luffy's outburst, an action that didn't go unnoticed by the two older men present.
"Oi, oi! What was that for, old man?" Luffy whined as the ancient mayor knocked his cane again, this time across his head.
"That's for goin' so long without so much as a letter back to us. Did y'know how worried we all were when you set sail in that rickety wooden thing after your brother? And without bein' able to swim, no less!" He huffed, scratching at the white mustache hanging limply from his lip. "Thought you were dead 'til we saw that first poster of yours, brat."
With all the maturity he could muster, Luffy stuck his tongue out in Woop Slap's general direction.
Suddenly, the sound of a small child laughing reached their ears from the other side, and Garp couldn't help but chuckle as his grandson's eyes widened. "Makino?" Luffy blinked at the approaching woman and the little redheaded baby in her arms, before he burst out laughing and launched himself toward her. "Makino!"
Before he could take mother and child to the ground, however, a meaty arm shot out from the side and caught him by his neck. Once again, a small click of metal could be heard from Zoro's direction, but Nami just shook her head an stepped up to greet the dark-haired newcomer, completely ignoring her captain with a roll of her eyes and a small chuckle.
"What's the big idea?" Luffy pouted, swinging limply from Dadan's grip. "I was just goin' to say hi!"
"Without greetin' me first, brat?" The massive woman gave a wet scowl as she enveloped her captive in a beat hug—which quickly became a group tackle as more dark-clad men and women began emerging from behind buildings and the surrounding trees. "I ought t'kill you for leavin' us in the dark like that!"
Zoro felt his eyebrows raise at the strange scene—two dozen, gruff-looking characters bawling in one emotional huddle around a laughing boy who suddenly seemed so very small and young. An unexpected hand clapped the swordsman on his back, nearly sending him forward, and Zoro couldn't help but scowl up at the grinning Garp still beside him. "Who'd have thought that kid would grow up to be King of the Pirates?" He laughed.
Zoro scowled, crossing his arms at no one in particular. "I did."
At the gruff reply, Garp blinked, before his smile came back in full force. "'Course y'did." Somehow, the comment seemed genuinely sincere.
Suddenly, something smacked the back of Zoro's leg, "Oi! And what're you supposed to be, then?" It was the old man who has first hit Luffy, now having turned his cane on the swordsman. Both eyed each other warily, while Garp's laughter erupted.
There was a thud from the side, and all three men glanced over just in time to see Luffy slink out from underneath the legs of his emotional attackers, before bouncing upright. "He's Zoro!" He proclaimed with a grin, as if that explained everything. Unfortunately, his outburst had alerted the bandits to his escape, and suddenly the Strawhat captain found himself being chased across the village, a watery Dadan hot on his heels.
"Haven't you been payin' attention to the papers, old man?" Garp bellowed, clapping the boy on the back yet again. "There here's Pirate Hunter Roronoa Zoro, master of that absurd three-sword style Chiken's kid is always tryin' to pull off." Woop Slap grunted, still staring down the taller individual. Zoro stared back, more confused than intimidated by the scrawny mayor.
"Didn't ask who he was, Garp—I asked what he was. Clean out your ears." He crossed his arms, letting the rock-hard and dangerous cane hang over one wrinkly wrist. "So, what're you supposed to be?"
"Uh..." How does one answer a question like that?
"You keepin' an eye on our boy?"
"And makin' sure he doesn't get himself into too much trouble?"
"Are y'there for him when he needs someone to watch his sorry ass?"
"Even when he doesn't know it?"
There was a pause as the old mayor studied him a bit more, and Zoro only blinked lazily back. If this was some sort of test, he'd sure as hell pass it—whether they let him or not.
"So let me ask again, then—what're you supposed to be?"
"Zoro." He didn't particularly care what he was supposed to be, and he was pretty damn positive that his captain didn't care, either, as long as he just was.