((From the Livejournal OP fan-for-all; prompt was "Zoro asks Usopp to tell him a story".))


Usopp never should have agreed to go exploring with Zoro. Especially when he got caught up in one of his stories - Zoro, of course, was ignoring him and his tall tales - and didn't notice which way they were going, until the sky began to turn red with the approach of night and he had no idea where the Thousand Sunny was.

"We're not lost, are we?" Usopp nervously asked, seeing monsters who would just love to get a bite of the brave Captain Usopp - he wasn't scared, not at all, what a silly question - in every shadow.

"Of course not!" Zoro answered, crossly. "Anyways, how big could this island be?"

Usopp wisely decided to say nothing. The swordsman could get rather disagreeable when his sense of direction (or lack of such) was mentioned, and he and his swords were the only thing between a living sniper on one hand, and Usopp-burgers with a side order of Sogeking-fries on the other. Instead, he busied himself with observing as many landmarks as possible in the gathering dark.

We just passed a rock that looks like a duck, there's a tree with huge roots in the distance by the hill, that tree looks like a horse, there's a clearing, I can see the first few stars through it, maybe I can figure out what direction we're heading in, what side of the island did we even land on, that's Nami's business, maybe if -

Zoro only noticed that Usopp wasn't looking at where he was going the split second before Usopp tripped on a root. He yelped, fell, and vanished from sight.

Normally, whenever he hurt himself he was quite vocal, but he was silent. Deathly silent, in fact.

Zoro dashed over to where he last saw him, and noted that the ground suddenly dropped off. That would account for the disappearance at least. He looked down to see Usopp - chest still moving, thank the gods he didn't believe in - but otherwise still.

"Are you all right?" he called.

No response. And his head was bleeding.

Worried, Zoro climbed down to take a better look and give what help he could. At the least he could stop the bleeding.

"I wish Chopper was here," he muttered. He thought for a second about going to look for the reindeer, but he couldn't leave Usopp alone like that; he didn't even mentally touch on that it would take him way too long to find Chopper, and even after that, he might not even be able to find Usopp again.

After doing everything he could, he sighed and leaned back. It was out of his hands now.

"Zoro?" said a weak voice, but unmistakably Usopp's. "Wh-whar harppened?"

He spun around. "You're awake! You fell down a hill and hit your head."

"Oh," Usopp yawned. "That was - that was rather stupid..." His eyes closed and his head fell forward. "I thnk rr'll get srrm sllp nrr..." [I think I'll get some sleep now...]

Zoro's experience with wounds lay in inflicting them, not treating them; he could bandage his own injuries, but that was about it. However, he'd heard of people who got hit on the head, went to sleep, and never woke up...

"Hey, wake up!" he commanded.

Usopp stirred slightly and half-opened his eyes. "Hrr whm?" he blearily said. "Br 'm trr'd..." [Huh what? But I'm tired...]

"You can't go to sleep," Zoro started to say, but knew that it would be a lost cause. He had to find another way to keep the other conscious.

"Tell me about the time you -" he wildly searched his memory for how Usopp had started a story, "- the time you defeated a Sea King armed with only a - a palm tree."

"Two Sea Kings," Usopp sleepily corrected. Zoro's face stayed impassive, but inside he sighed with relief. "And the tree was bitten in half, so I only had the roots..." He drifted off, and his eyelids sank lower. "Rrr trrl yrr lrrtrr..." [I'll tell you later.]

The swordsman barely contained his panic. Usopp couldn't die; not there, not right in front of him while he watched powerlessly. "No!" he said. "I need to know now."

Usopp's head nodded up. "Yeah?"

"So where was the rest of your crew of -"

"Eight hundred," he filled in. "My crew's nine hundred."

"- your crew of nine hundred, while you fought the Sea Kings?"

"Oh," Usopp waved a hand (Zoro couldn't help noticing the hand was shaking), "they were off burying all the treasure we got when..." He stopped and stared off into the distance, his eyes glazing over.

"Where did you get the treasure from?"

"We defeated a dragon to rescue a... we rescued a village from a dragon, and the villagers gave us the hoard as a reward... there were chests of gold and rubies and old armour from knights that had tried and failed to kill it, and chests of gold... We got all of that once we killed the dragon..."

"What was the dragon like?"

Time vanished for Zoro. There was only the endless stories, each one making less sense than the previous.

"What happened next?"

He built a fire as the sun went down, periodically prompting Usopp to stay awake.

"How many were there?"

He thought back to all the times he'd wished that the other would shut up and leave him some peace.

"Describe it to me."

Now, the silence was what he dreaded.