Usopp blinks slowly, eyes aching from crying so much, but he can’t get Zoro’s… whatever happened to Zoro out of his mind. It was just so unexpected; one minute, Zoro was walking through the village, holding hands with an insistent Luffy and looking rather jumpy, and the next – Marines were there and tried to arrest them all. And poor Zoro got manhandled and when they used his poor coordination as an excuse to snatch his swords, he… snapped.
It was one of the most agonising things Usopp has ever seen. Zoro screamed and lashed out, but his movements were groggy and he fell over. The Marines started mocking him but he didn’t – couldn’t – fight back, and Zoro, the strong, brave Zoro… broke down sobbing. Luffy ran to comfort him, but Zoro lashed out, accidentally punching Luffy across the face. He just curled in on himself and cried and when the noise just got louder he started thumping his head against the ground hard enough to hurt, and he looked so… broken. And, powerless to help Zoro or even make the onlookers go away, Usopp started crying too. Just what was going on?
That happened over an hour ago, and Usopp has only just stopped crying. When Zoro stopped his breakdown, he fell asleep, and Nami ordered Usopp and Luffy to take him back to the ship. Nami, using a combination of violence, skilled dodging and flirting, managed to keep the Marine’s distracted for long enough for the two boys to get away, and they heaved Zoro onto the Going Merry. Usopp was just lying Zoro down on a futon when Nami appeared, and she and Luffy quickly sailed away. And, since then, Usopp, Luffy and Nami have stood around their sleeping boyfriend, hating to see the bruises on his head and his red eyes, terrified and confused.
When Zoro finally wakes up, he groans, flushes red and clasps his swords to his chest. Nobody expects an explanation right now, but Zoro sighs and mumbles in a weak, stilted voice that sounds wrong, “I… m-meltdown. S-Sorry.”
He doesn’t look at them, and Usopp realises he feels ashamed. Now, he has no idea what ‘meltdown’ means, but he shakes his head too hard and says, “No, you don’t need to be sorry.”
“Usopp’s right,” Luffy says. “I don’t know what happened, but it was the Marine’s fault. It’s okay, Zoro.”
Nami stares down at Zoro, thinking hard. “Zoro, are you autistic?”
Zoro flinches. “Uh…”
“Autistic?” Luffy says, confused.
“Oh, I know what that is,” Usopp says, glad to understand. A kid about his age was diagnosed with autism, and the kid’s mom made the other kids in the village learn what autism is to support her son. “Is that true, Zoro?”
Nami continues to study Zoro, who continues to lie there, hugging his swords.
She slaps herself on the forehead. “Sorry, that’s way too personal.”
“But… we’re queerplat—”
“I know we’re together, Luffy,” Nami says, cutting him off. “But… asking Zoro that was too much. You don’t have to answer, Zoro. I was being invasive.”
Luffy looks confused, but doesn’t argue.
“No…” Zoro says, rubbing his swollen eyes with the back of his hand. “I… ‘m autistic. Fine to’ve asked.”
“That’s good,” Nami says. “And… thank you for telling us.”
“S’okay,” Zoro mumbles.
“So… that was a ‘meltdown’?” Usopp asks.
Zoro tries to nod, but it must give him a headache. He groans, screwing his eyes up.
“Luffy, go get some water,” Nami says.
Usopp expects Luffy to moan, but he slinks off to do just that.
“Y-Yeah,” Zoro says. “Haven’t had one… in years… happen when I’m o-overwhelmed. S-Sorry you—”
“Don’t apologise,” Usopp says, rubbing at his own sore eyes. “It’s okay, really. Hey… are there any things we can do to help it not happen again?”
“Y-Yeah… a few… but… later,” Zoro mumbles, yawning.
By the time Luffy returns, Zoro has fallen back asleep. Usopp looks at Nami and Luffy, still upset that Zoro had to go through something so horrible, but he knows all three of them are glad Zoro trusts them. And they hope they can help him never have another meltdown again.