Zoro was feeling a bit delirious when she first met the future pirate king. She had been stripped of her swords and tied up to a post in the middle of the marine compound, out in the baking sun. She had lost all feeling in her arms and sweat was constantly pouring down her face from the heat. She had a wild look about her already, her narrow eyes and rough appearance giving her the nickname “The Demon”.
She was going to endure this unrighteous punishment, see it out to the end. Not that she would ever tell anyone outright, but she had been captured while saving a young girl from one of the marines. They made a promise with her however, and she only had to endure one month tied to a post.
It was there, as her muscles were cramping from the strained pose, that she caught sight of a man watching her from atop the surrounding barricade. The man had a young face, perhaps he was an older teen like herself, and wore a straw hat on his head. He was talking to someone else on his side of the wall, but Zoro couldn’t quite catch the conversation. She had the feeling like she was being mocked, however.
As the man jumped the barricade and lazily made his way over, Zoro read his expression. There was a look in the man’s eyes, bright and expecting.
“I’m Luffy and I’m going to be the pirate king!” The man announced, sticking out his hand towards Zoro for a shake. Zoro just stared at the idiot.
“…little tied up here, Pirate King.” Zoro replied as she jerked her chin towards the ropes.
“Oh right! Huh, you must not be very strong if you’re all tied up like that.” Luffy mused, tilting his head to the side. Zoro twitched.
“I’m going to be the world’s strongest swordsman.” Zoro growled, gripping her hands into fists. The movement of her muscles made the ropes groan from strain. Luffy’s face brightened once more.
“Perfect. Welcome abroad, first mate!” Luffy congratulated, once again raising his hand. He caught on quicker this time though, and instead patted Zoro’s head. Zoro snapped her teeth, trying to bite Luffy’s hand off.
“What the hell are you going on about?! I didn’t agree to nothin’!” She snarled back at the man, who was cracking his knuckles and looking at the marine base beside them.
“I won’t settle for less than the best.” Luffy’s arm suddenly shot forward, stretching easily ten times longer than any arm or body part should. “Oh yeah, it’s a trap, they’re just going to kill you tomorrow.” He grabbed the top window with his stretched-out arm and shot forward, crashing into the building, as Zoro’s jaw dropped in shock.
“What the actual hell…” Zoro muttered, as she watched the building get tore from the inside out from random explosions here and there, as well as the occasionally flying marine. It was a trap? They weren’t going to keep their word? Weren’t they supposed to be the law? Zoro felt her anger slowly rise through her chest. She watched the chaos ensue, her anticipation building.
After some time, the human rubber band had returned with her swords in his hands.
“Catch!” Luffy called, tossing them towards the bound swordswoman. She tried her best, snapping her teeth, but was instead struck in the face with the scabbards of her swords. Luffy winced.
“Oops, sorry.. uh… I got this!” Luffy replied, picking up one of Zoro’s swords. Zoro strained her hand, pulling away from the rope as much as possible to give him a better angle to cut the rope. She waited. The cut didn’t come. She looked up horrified to see Luffy brandishing the sword towards the oncoming marines.
“Ah! No! Me! Cut me free!” Zoro yelled at the man, who was slashing madly in the air in the general direction of the marines.
“Oh right.” Luffy turned abruptly and swung at Zoro’s ropes. His cut went a bit further than he intended, slicing through part of Zoro’s shirt. Luffy’s eyes widened and he paused, the lightbulb going off in his head.
“You’re a g—” He started, pointing at her, but her dark glare cut him off.
“Not another word…” She warned, swiftly pulling her green haramaki over one shoulder, so it draped to cover the exposed skin. Luffy nodded and moved his hand across his mouth, mocking a zipper.
“Looks like I’ve won yet again.” Kuino leaned against his practice sword, looking down at the fallen young Zoro.
“It was just a lucky hit!” Zoro replied, pushing herself off the ground and rubbing her sore leg. Kuino laughed.
“Just give it up. It’s so pitiful to see you fail again and again. You’re a girl, you can’t compete against a men’s strength.” He told her, nudging at her with the tip of the practice sword. She slapped it away.
“Gender has nothing to do with it! I’ll show you! I’ll be the greatest swordsman ever!” She yelled, tears streaming down her face.
“Then why’s it called swords-MAN? Huh?” Kuino teased, prodding at her again.
Now free from her bindings, Zoro picked up her swords, placing the third one between her teeth, instantly stopping the oncoming swords of the marines. She spun on her heel, knocking them back with force as she finally stood up straight, looking down at the rubber man. Luffy whistled in appreciation as he took in the scared marines, scrambling to get to their feet.
“Pass!” Luffy shouted, waving his hands out.
“I didn’t ask for your opinion.” Zoro replied, turning her eyes to the remaining marines. “But I repay my debts, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be on the right side of the law anymore. Whatever. Just don’t get in the way of my dream.” Zoro then dashed towards the marines, making quick work of them, while Luffy cheered her on. He stepped in when the big boss appeared, also defeating the man quite easily. Zoro crossed her arms, watching and clearly impressed by the man’s abilities.
As the boss dropped, unconscious, Luffy and Zoro turned to each other. Luffy’s goofy grin reappeared and he offered his hand once more.
“What do you say, eh, first mate?” He questioned, and Zoro found herself smirking as well.
“Sounds good, Captain.” Zoro replied, taking the man’s hand and giving it a sturdy shake, before collapsing to the ground. Luffy gasped and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her quickly.
“Did you already die!?” He asked, as her head hit the ground with every shake.
“Mmm.. hungry..” She muttered.