He heard the word coming out of his mouth before he remembered what it meant. It came out in no more than a whisper of a breath, but he heard it.
Right… cursing, words, language, English… it was coming back to him now. Why had he forgotten?
Fuck. He repeated it inside his mind, because at the moment it was all he knew. And when you've woken up in the middle of somewhere between pouring and cats n' dogs rain against a brick wall in what appears to be an ally, cursing is not a bad thing to have.
Where…? He held his palm against his aching head as he tried to look around. The rain hit his eyelids hard and made it even harder to keep them open. How did he get here? Where is here?
What…? What was he doing before hand? He could hardly remember doing anything, ever… no, there was no hardly. He'd never done anything. Ever.
He looked at his hand… it was soaked to the bone and the fingers pruned to the base… but he could tell by how large and rough-looking it was that he was probably a man. He put his hand to his face, mouth, lips, nose, eyes, hair… short hair… and earrings. Was he a woman?
He looked down at his chest. No, definitely a man… muscular, though he didn't at the moment feel incredibly strong. His joints were sore, they shook when he tried to move and his knees felt weak underneath him when he stood. How long had he been lying there, passed out?
With one last glimmer of hope he felt up and down his body, searching for pockets, lumps, any sign of anything that might give him a clue to his identity. He froze when he found something attached to his side… more than one something, three something.
He looked down, and it only took him a moment to recognize them as hilts of three katana attached by the strange fashion choice that was a haramaki at his waist. He jerked his hand away from them, away from the obscurity of them.
Who the hell am I?
He was wet, and it was raining, but once he was on his feet and moving, he found that he wasn't tired anymore. The aching in his head and neck subsided quickly, and that alone put him more at ease.
He wasn't sure where to go. He didn't know where he was, but at least he knew what things were, all though he had no memory of how he'd learned it. That was a private home and that was a store, over there was a hotel, some more stores, and beside him a pub.
Though he didn't have the slightest idea who he was, he considered the idea that he may have been an alcoholic. Because of all the options before him, the pub looked the most like home.
When he walked in he didn't notice a single glance shot his way. It was raining, after all, and he probably wasn't the first person to come in soaked to the bone.
He still felt a little funny. He didn't even know what he looked like… what would people think of him? Was he attractive? Did he care… was he or had he ever been the type to care about that sort of thing?
Must not have been. Because when he spotted a mirror at the far end of the room, he decided to skip checking himself out to check out a tall glass of… well, whatever he liked best.
He sat at the counter and then the realization a horrible problem flooded into his gut. He didn't have any money! He'd checked earlier for identification and there was absolutely nothing anywhere.
"What can I get you?" The bartender seemed bored, and asked with no enthusiasm or expression.
He looked into the man's waiting eyes and could do nothing but shake his head "no", and then watch the bartender snort and roll his eyes as he moved onto the next customer. He was slightly annoyed but didn't let it bother him, his empty pockets were a much bigger problem than a dickheaded bartender.
"I don't normally do this, but you look like you could use some help." A voice sounded next to him, and at first he couldn't fathom that she might've been speaking to him. But gradually, in the silence that followed, he wondered if perhaps she was, and turned his head.
Next to him sat a raven-haired woman wearing a small, amused smile as she regarded him. "Yes, I'm talking to you." She added.
"You mean…" He spoke, and he gagged on the realization that this was the first time he was hearing his own voice. It was deep, course, not what he was expecting… almost scary.
"I mean I'd like to buy you a drink, if you don't mind."
"Oh." He said, wide-eyed. "Thank you." He then paused, and squinted. "Do you…" He tried to consider how he should word it. "Do I know you?"
"Do I look familiar?" She asked.
He paused, then shook his head. "No…" She didn't know him.
"So, what would you like?" She asked. He considered, looked at what she was holding, and thought about what he thought sounded good. He didn't know… he could come up with a few names, but were any his favorite?
"Whatever you have." He pointed to her glass. "Thanks." He said again, just to make sure he did.
"No problem." She then proceeded to call the bartender, who walked over with as much passion for his job as ever (which was none) and soon after brought him his drink.
There was silence between them for a while, and he liked that. He expected maybe she would want to talk, or maybe even that she might have been trying to pick him up. But he was glad that she'd just been kind enough to buy him a drink so they could sit in silence. Whatever he was drinking, it was good.
But soon, sipping turned to gulping, and gulping turned to chugging… and then it was gone.
She laughed as he looked into the empty glass, amused by the despair in his eyes.
"You're a heavy drinker, I see."
"I guess." He mumbled.
"I'm a manager at an antique store down the block." She said. "Want to see if I can afford you?"
He looked at her, then at the counter and set down his glass. "Not really." He was sure, positive that he could drink her to empty pockets if she let him. He didn't like the idea of having that on his conscience. Even just the one was starting to bother him. "This'll hold me."
"You've got a good heart." She said. "What's your name?"
He cringed at the question, and it almost hurt to not know the answer. It was like… he was important. Very important, to himself, maybe, or something about him was and the fact that he didn't know what was so important scared the shit out of him. …Was he a narcissist?
"I…" What could he say?
"I'm Avra." She introduced.
He forced a smile. "Nice to meet you." That's what you're supposed to say… but then you're supposed to say something else…
"I…" He stopped. "I…" His mouth was open, just hanging open but he couldn't make anything come out. Why couldn't he just tell her he couldn't remember… was that really so horrible?
"Well." She said after waiting long enough. "I'm going to buy you a few more, then. Just until you feel compelled to tell me your name."
"No!" He practically erupted from his seat. She stayed calm, watched him, as if calculating, despite the fact that he had watched drops of water from his hair land on her dress. "I mean… it's not that. I'm fine. Please just carry on." He turned away from the counter, and disappeared back outside without a backward glance.
She frowned thoughtfully as the doors to the pub swang shut. It couldn't be…
He lived here, right? How else would he have gotten here? Why would a completely new human be carrying three swords around? He had to be someone, and that meant someone had to know him so someone would have to recognize him. Maybe he had family, or friends, or coworkers or something. All he had to do was find someone who knew him. They could tell him where he lived and who he was at least, give him a name… maybe some history, just until his memory returned.
But it was nighttime. How late was it…? Maybe he'd have to find some place to sleep, just for tonight.
The Motel? No, that would take cash… no way they'd put him up for free, not everyone was so generous. He could knock on doors… but… he quickly decided he wasn't the knock on doors for help sort of guy. In fact, when he looked up at the sky and realized it had stopped raining, the most appealing option seemed to be a stone arch in front of an unlabelled structure. It was wide on the bottom, wide enough that he could comfortably lean against it. The ground underneath the arch would have been dry, too.
Good enough, and better than asking.
"Hellooooooo… earth to green-haired-person…"
A voice? Speech? Maybe.
"Is he dead?"
"Dead people don't snore."
More than one voice. Were they talking about him? Did he have green hair…? Did he snore?
"Maybe he's hungry." One voice was high, and kind of annoying, it made him cringe a little as he tried his best to ignore.
"…Normally I'd say no, but you might be right. I think he's a hobo."
"Hobo! A homeless person!" The other voice was… probably a woman's? He didn't know, it was if nothing else, fierce… and also annoying. "You'd better hope this brain problem of yours is part of the memory loss or you have a serious problem! It's already creepy enough that you're all stretchy!"
"Shut up." He finally spoke up.
"Ah!" A sound of realization from the male but also annoying voice. "Did he speak?" He looked at the redhead next to him. "Or was that you?"
"Of course that wasn't me!" She shouted, and he dodged her as she tried to karate chop his face. "I don't sound like a guy!"
"Oooh, I see…"
"You're just now realizing?" She barked.
He finally gave in and cracked one eye open. Who were they and what the hell were they doing here? They couldn't have known him… they would have said his name by now, or addressed him as something other than "green-haired-guy…" did he really have green hair? The fuck's up with that?
"What do you want?" He asked.
The woman snorted. She was tall, or it looked like it from his angle. Long legs, bear up until an orange skirt with brown heels on her feet. Nice body, still annoying.
"You're sleeping right in the entrance to the place we work at." She huffed. "I should ask what you want."
"Are you hungry?" The man had dark hair, and wore a hat made of straw. Furthermore he was crouched in front of him, looking straight at his eyes, looking for an answer to his question.
He regarded the man for a few moments, his unwavering, curious gaze, and closed his eyes again.
"I'm sleeping here."
"This is obvious." She sighed. "Look, a better question would be, since you apparently are broke and pathetic enough to sleep in random doorways, are you interested in a job?"
He cracked an eye open. "Job?" …No, wait, he probably had a job. Once he found someone he knew and found out who he was, he could go back to that job. Whatever it was. Maybe it involved swords, that would be kind of cool. "No."
"Look." She crouched in front of him as well. "My name is Agatha. I've been working at this factory for less than a month and I've already made it to the position of a superviser. I'm amazing, and if you need a job, we're hiring, and I can give you one. God knows with arms the size of yours, we could use you."
He continued to frown at her, and then his eyes shifted to the man, who was now picking his nose.
"This is Monkey. He's on the bottom of the food chain." She introduced, almost unwillingly. "He's only been working here a short while, manages to all but destroy everything he touches, and he hasn't lost his job yet. I'm telling you, if you need a job, we'll hire."
"I don't need a job." He said. "I have one."
"Really?" She stood up straight again, arms crossed. "What is your job, then?"
"Don't know yet." He shrugged, and she laughed.
"Fine, if you're too good to work here, you can continue to sleep on the streets. Not, however, in this spot." She nudged his foot with hers. "So get packing."
She scoffed at the mistaken pronunciation, but didn't correct him. "What?"
"Look at those." Monkey poked the swords attached to his hip with the same finger he'd used to pick his nose. The man looked extremely offended by it and scooted away, scoffing at him.
"Are these real katana?" She crouched again, and blinked at them in disbelief. "…why don't you just sell them if you're broke enough to sleep on the streets?"
He looked down at them. "No…" He said. The thought hadn't even crossed his mind. He needed money, but… "…these are important." He didn't have the slightest idea as to why.
Agatha shuddered. "They give me the creeps." She backed off. "Or… that one does." She huffed, and glared at one of the swords that gave off a particularly morbid aura.
He was starting to notice that too… they all had certain feelings to them, all felt like they had their own special attachment.
"Anyway, like I said, you can't-." She was cut off by an extremely loud growling sound, like a dying animal.
"I knew it! He was hungry!" Monkey pointed to his face, and he fought the urge to swat the hand away. So he was hungry, so what? He'd find out who he was sooner or later and then eat.
"Let's get food!" Monkey sprung to his feet and through his fists into the air. "I'm hungry too!"
Agatha rolled her eyes. "You're always hungry…" She then regarded the green-haired ball of pathetic mess on the floor in front of her. "You're lucky I dragged this idiot in here early. Come on, I'm going to feed you once, but you'll owe me."
His stomach growled again, and he opened his mouth to protest, but was finding it surprisingly difficult to turn down someone offering him food. He wondered just how long it had been since he'd eaten.
"Come on! Food!" Monkey had him by the arm and was dragging him to his feet before he could get a word out. Agatha was already walking away, apparently expecting them to follow.
"Oi, oi… calm down… I…" He felt tired still… or maybe it was weak? Maybe he was starving a little.
"By the way!" Monkey stopped, and turned to him. "What's your name?"
He looked at the simple, sincere pair of eyes in front of him, and was able to answer. "I don't… know…" He said.
Monkey frowned, stayed still, and just looked at him. "Hmmm…" He stayed like that just long enough for it to get slightly awkward, before he grinned, tilted his head, and said "We'll call you Zojo."
"What?" He sneered. "You can't just name-," He was cut off be by a laugh and a yank to his wrist as he was pulled along to catch up to the woman.
"Agattthyyyy!" He called out, and she scoffed, and whipped around.
"I keep telling you it's AgathA with an A!"
He didn't have the strength to care about what this woman would have asked in return once a hot meal was set in front of him. Had he known her better, he might've rethought that decision, but despite the tiny smirk she wore as he looked down at the steaming plate before him, he gave in, and dug in.
"So." She began once the plate was half empty, and his face thoroughly stuffed. "What's your name?"
God damn it, that question again. Always with that question.
He took his time swallowing to answer. "I don't know." He said, followed by a huff. He was going to explain further, but then she interrupted.
"You don't know? How can you not know your own-" She stopped, eyes suddenly wide with realization. "You mean…"
"He's like us!" Monkey finally got a word out between gulps of food. "He said he couldn't remember his name, or what his job was." He took another four or five… or maybe six bites… they happened to fast to count, and said behind a mouthful of food. "named 'm Zojo."
"That's impossible. We woke up weeks ago… we were together. How can you be having the same problem in a completely different side of town over a month later?"
"What?" He nearly spit out his food. "You mean this shit is going around?"
"Well, yeah…" She said. "I've been trying to find out who I actually am since I got here… or woke up here. But I've also had to make a living, so I gave myself… and him" she pointed at the guy next to her. "names, and we got jobs at the factory until our memories return."
He looked at Monkey. "Well, the name fits…" He said, and continued to watch the man inhale another plateful of food. "How the hell can you be eating that much more than me! I have no idea how long it's been since I last ate anything!"
Monkey paused his consumption long enough to laugh obnoxiously, but didn't reply or explain himself.
He looked back to Agatha. "So you're saying it could be weeks before I remember who I am?" He scoffed. "What about the people here? Don't any of them remember who you are?"
"No one seems to know us. It's a pretty big island, and a pretty big town… but no one recognizes me or the village idiot. And that's surprising with the amount of attention he draws."
He sighed, and looked down at his hands. They were shaking, only slightly, and he curled them into fists to hide it. "Damn it." He shut his eyes. "I need a drink."
"Maybe you should rethink that job offer." She said. "I doubt you'll be finding out where you actually work for a very long time."
He shook his head. "Do either of you ever feel like you're missing something important?"
"What do you mean?" She said, interested, and Monkey was staring at him as he chewed.
"Really important?" He said. "Like before all this happened, you were supposed to be doing something… but you have no idea what it was? It's like…" he stopped, he couldn't go on. He didn't want to tell two strangers about it. How could he describe feeling like his entire life was gone, when his entire life was gone, but not in the way he meant. It was as if, even though he had knowledge, he knew how to read, speak, write… he could probably do anything he wanted. All of it was so trivial and meaningless because there was something, just one thing missing, one thing that meant everything, and it scared the hell out of him.
"Sort of." Agatha agreed. "I mean, I'm sure I was someone important before this. I woke up with a ton of money on me, and I mean a ton, like my pockets were bulging. I don't know what kind of idiot I must've been to carry around that much cash, but maybe I was saving it from someone. Either way, I was rich, and—,"
"That's not what I mean." He interrupted, and felt bad after when the surprised, offended look came over her.
"What about you." He looked to Monkey, who was still chewing.
He seemed to think about it for a long time. "Not really." He said, then smiled, and laughed.
"You're an actual idiot, aren't you?"
He continued to laugh. "I don't know!" Then he slowly stopped. "But hey, don't freak out about it! Maybe this could be something fun! Like an adventure!" He crossed his arms. "Whoever we were, I think we're still them, and we'll find out how eventually."
He huffed. "How the hell do you know that?"
"I don't. But I do know that there's this." He took his hat off his head, and held it out across the table.
"What is that?"
"He says it's the most important thing in the world." Agatha explained, boredly. "He doesn't ever say why, but he won't let anyone touch it and we spend a whole day and skipped work trying to get it back after a strong wind blew it off his head."
"It's just a feeling." Monkey said. "It's got to be something left over from the other me. I'm sure your feeling is the same."
He thought about it. "…Maybe, but that doesn't make this feel like an adventure or whatever. More like hell. I mean, how do I know someone wasn't in danger? What if we were trying to save someone, and then—,"
"Is that what it feels like?" Monkey interrupted.
"No. I mean, not exactly."
"Why worry, then?" He shrugged. "Things will work out. Just stay alive."
There was a pause, but then he felt a smile quirk at the edge of his lips, and the smile turned into a chuckle, and then a laugh, a loud laugh that drew the attention of some of the other restaurant patrons.
"Now everyone's being obnoxious." Agatha sighed. "Anyway, what was that name you said you gave him?" She looked to Monkey.
"Why that?" Agatha crinkled her nose. "It's… weird, hard to say… honestly it sort of sounds like a girl's name."
"I don't know, it just came to me." Monkey shrugged, and happily got back to eating.
"Whatever." She sighed. "Do you accept it?" She looked to the man across the table from her. "Or is there something else you'd prefer to be called?"
He thought it over for just a moment, then shook his head. "No." He nodded. "It's fine for now."
A/n- Good news. I already have the second chapter to this one written, and will update for sure by next week, and hopefully bi-weekly after that. I'm trying to stay a chapter ahead… and moreover I want to try and make finishing and keeping up with this story a responsibility as opposed to a past time.
Also… this is probably going to be a lot of plot. But there will be heavy ZoSan focus… and yes, for a while the characters won't actually be called Zoro and Sanji but I hope that doesn't bother anyone too much.
Kind of going out on a limb here with this idea. Nervous, unsure. Let me know what you think please!