A fanfiction by Velkyn Karma

Summary: Santoryuu has a few other advantages, although it's funny how often nobody sees them coming. Completely random story-set pondering. Set pre-timeskip. One-shot, complete.

Note: Sorry folks, been kind of out of the OP mood of late. With the return of the characters in the manga, though, comes the return of my interest :) While browsing through my story notes I found this thing is silly and totally stupid, but maybe you'll enjoy it anyway.

Warnings: Rated T for a little violence but not bad, really. And don't expect this to be great, 'cause it isn't, haha.

Disclaimer: I do not own, or pretend to own, One Piece or any of its subsequent characters, plots or other ideas. That right belongs solely to Eiichiro Oda. The only thing that belongs to me here is the concept for the story.

"Dogs never bite me. Just humans."

~Marilyn Monroe

Usopp wiggles furiously against the metal handcuffs, but while they aren't clapped on painfully tight they are annoyingly firm, and there's definitely no way he can slide his wrists out of them. Especially not with them behind his back like this. He sighs in frustration and looks around the cell he's currently stuck in, muttering a little sullenly under his breath.

At least he's not alone. It'd be a lot scarier to be captured in a huge marine base by himself. That might also be a bad thing, he thinks a little sheepishly; after all, with some of the others stuck here with him, that's less rescuers on the outside that will come to start a jailbreak.

There is some comfort in listening to Nami swear at the pair of guards outside, though. She's pacing back and forth at the bars, demanding, cajoling, and wheedling for the young soldiers to hand over the keys and let them leave (she tried seduction too, earlier, but while the men blushed they didn't move from their posts). The soldiers are still in place, though, stiff-backed with their muskets resting against their shoulders, and they could be made out of stone for all Usopp knows, except that he'd seen them move and talk earlier.

The sniper glances over at Zoro next, sitting up against one wall with his head down, and feels maybe the tiniest pang of guilt for getting the swordsman in jail with them. It was sort of his fault—well, his and Nami's. Maybe she won't admit to it, but Usopp is definitely not letting her get away guilt-free out of this. But really, he hadn't expected them to get caught so quickly, or used as hostages with guns to their heads against Zoro, either. Their swordsman had been plowing through the ranks of enemies with his flashing swords, but as soon as he saw his nakama threatened at gunpoint he'd dropped his weapons and submitted to being captured himself.

The sniper's one comfort is that the others are still out there. Not everybody had been in the battle, after all; they'd landed on an island with a huge marine base, but the city was huge as well, and the whole crew had split up earlier to run all their errands. As soon as Luffy and the others hear that they'd been captured they'd break their way in, rescue their nakama, and head right back out again.

Yeah. No problems.

But it's already been an hour, and Usopp is starting to get a little impatient and a lot worried. How long would it take them to realize three of their nakama were missing? Surely not this long, right?

The sound of shouting voices reaches his ears, and Usopp perks up from where he's sitting against the back wall of the cell, listening hard. But the sounds aren't of screeching marines calling for backup as Luffy and Sanji and the others plow straight through them. Instead it sounds like some high-ranking military official yelling at somebody further down the ladder. Still, information doesn't hurt, and after another moment of hard listening Usopp can make out what they're saying.

"—make excellent bait, Strawhat Luffy is supposed to be obsessively protective of the rest of his crew. We'll split them up and transfer them to three different heavily fortified bases immediately, then lay an ambush. Wherever he goes, we'll have him."

"Sir," the second voice says anxiously, "I would advise against splitting them up. Roronoa Zoro is in the group and we only managed to capture him because he was complying to our demands when we had hostages. I think he might become very violent if we endanger them again—"

The two soldiers come into view at the prison cell's entrance, with two other marines in tow, and Usopp is just in time to see the one wearing the heavy white Justice-emblazoned coat of a captain make a scoffing noise and glare at the prisoners with obvious distaste. His eyes flicker to Nami—who has stopped pacing at their arrival, and takes a few steps backward in surprise—to Usopp, who quails under his angry look, and finally to Zoro, who is busily not paying attention to their arrival and taking a nap (of course). The officer shakes his head.

"You're all idiots," he says, raising his voice angrily. "The prisoners are cuffed and subdued! There is nothing to be afraid of! All I see is a girl, a gangly kid, and a sleeping moron. Now hurry up and remove the first prisoner so we can begin transport, or I'll have every single one of you court-martialed!"

The two following soldiers and the lower-ranking officer—a lieutenant, Usopp thinks—hastily run to unlock the cage while the guards level their guns at the prisoners to keep any ideas of escape out of their minds. Usopp is not terribly inclined to try running for it with a musket pointed straight at his ribcage, and obediently remains sitting at the back of the cell, although he's sweating profusely now. If they get split up, Luffy might not ever find them, and even if he did, he'd be walking into a trap...this was bad, very bad!

Nami tries to stumble backwards and find some measure of defense in the corner of the cell, and nearly trips over Zoro's boot in the process (the bastard is still snoring, Usopp notes in bewilderment; how can he possibly sleep at a time like this?) The guards shift their guns warningly, and she freezes at the click of metal, swallowing. The other soldiers enter the cell and make for her, probably thinking her the easiest to subdue. This is bad, so bad; they have no way to defend themselves, not with his Kabuto and Zoro's swords and Nami's Clima Tact taken away, and they really are going to get split up—

Zoro's eyes abruptly snap open as the lieutenant steps past him to reach out for Nami, and in a rush of speed he is suddenly on his feet. Before the guards can even react by aiming and firing at him, the swordsman has lunged forward and, with a sharp grunt, sinks his teeth straight into the lower officer's arm.

Nami and Usopp both jump in surprise as the lieutenant screams, and to their shock they can both see blood spurting from the wound. The man thrashes and hits Zoro about the head several times with his free hand, but Zoro hangs on gamely, digging in still further, and is impossible to dislodge. He twists his head and shoulders sharply to the side, the movement abrupt and savage, like a wolf worrying its prey, and there's a sickening crack that comes from further up the officer's arm. The man starts screaming all the harder.

The whole cell block is in chaos now. The captain is yelling at the top of his lungs, the bitten officer is still yelling in pain, the soldiers have joined in beating on Zoro in an attempt to get him to let go, and the guards are shakily trying to find some way to subdue Zoro with their guns without hitting their fellow marines. None of them seem to make much progress, and Usopp and Nami watch in amazement as Zoro effectively takes protecting his crew to a whole new level, without the use of his swords or even his hands.

At last, Zoro is finally convinced to release the poor marine, although it still seems to be of his own volition rather than because they finally kicked and punched him enough to make him let go. He twists his head again with a sharp jerk, and the lieutenant, still screeching bloody murder, crashes into one of the other marines and sends them both sprawling to the ground. The other marine helps them both out, and they both escort the officer out of the cell hastily, slamming the door closed. They run for the exit, but not before Usopp can catch a glimpse of the man's arm hanging limp and dripping blood everywhere. The captain glares at them furiously before disappearing down the hallway in a swirl of white cloth as well.

Usopp is aware that his jaw is dropping now, and he's staring at Zoro like he's never seen him before, and he's pretty sure Nami is doing almost the same thing. The navigator voices what they're both thinking: "Dammit, Zoro, what the hell was that?"

Zoro blinks and glances over at the two of them, then shrugs. "Not splitting us up," he says, by way of explanation. "Like hell I'd allow it, Luffy'd be pissed if I did." He blinks a little blood out of one eye—he's a little bruised, but the only notable injury he's taken seems to be a slight cut on the side of his head—and then abruptly grimaces and spits. More dark liquid hits the floor, and he adds with a tone of disgust, "I don't think that guy's taken a bath in a week. Ugh."

Usopp and Nami exchange glances, which clearly say holy shit, did that really just happen? and Usopp thinks with bewilderment that Zoro's santoryu style apparently has a few other advantages, like making it possible to kill people with your teeth while not using a sword. But then they both turn back to the swordsman, and Nami says almost gratefully, "Yeah, well...thanks for that."

Zoro merely shrugs, sits back down against the side of the cell, and goes back to sleep as if nothing ever happened.

Another hour passes in relative silence, with absolutely no hint of surprised yells from a rescue attempt. Usopp is pretty sure Luffy must have gotten distracted by dinner, and Sanji by girls, otherwise they would have known that three of their nakama were missing by now. He is sure. That had to be it, right? It wasn't as though they could take down Luffy at this place, especially not if he was in a raging temper over the capture of his friends, and anyway Usopp is sure they would have heard the marines gloating about it already.

Usopp thinks he might like to talk to stave off the boredom, but Zoro is still asleep (he'd be inclined to call him a lazy bastard if the swordsman hadn't just saved them an hour previously, and the fact that there is still blood around his lips only serves as a potent reminder), and Nami is still busy cursing the guards, and there isn't really much to chat about anyway. So he sits in the cell in complete boredom, whistling tunelessly to himself, trying to come up with some sort of game or interesting gimmick to keep himself entertained until they get rescued, since he doesn't think there's a way to break out of here.

Until at last a clattering does start up on the stairs, and Usopp perks up happily at first, expecting Luffy and the others to come tearing down the steps and breaking open their cell. Unfortunately, he realizes after a moment, it isn't; instead, a dozen rank-and-file marines walk into view on the other side of the bars, led at the front by one of the marines who'd attempted to dislodge Zoro from their lieutenant an hour before. The lieutenant, Usopp notes with interest, is nowhere to be seen, nor is the captain.

"Oh, no," Nami groans. "Not again." And she glares through the bars in exasperation while Usopp nods in agreement.

Zoro still appears to be sleeping, although Usopp knows by now this is probably not the case, seeing as he went from 'sleep' to 'arm-breaking teeth attack' in under three seconds last time.

"Remember," the leading marine says warningly, "he's dangerous. Don't let his act fool you. He's quite clever and equally ruthless." And he hands a box over to the other group of marines before moving to unlock the cell door.

Clever? Nami mouths, with a snort of amusement and disbelief, and despite the unfortunate situation Usopp can't help but snicker.

But the marines don't move for either Nami or himself, this time. This time, all twelve of them crowd into the fairly large cell and head straight for Zoro, bringing the box with them. Usopp frowns in confusion and exchanges another glance with Nami, but she shrugs and looks just as puzzled by this maneuver as the sniper, so they turn to watch. Whatever's going on, Zoro proved earlier that he could clearly handle it. With his teeth. Damn it, how did Usopp ever meet someone as crazy as Zoro again?

As before, Zoro waits for one to get in range before his eyes snap open and he lunges at the nearest marine. The man had clearly been forewarned about the nature of Zoro's attack, but this doesn't save him any, and he shrieks in surprise as, once again, the swordless swordsman manages to clamp his powerful jaws around the man's forearm. He gives a sharp twist with his neck and body and Usopp hears the same sickening crack-snap that he'd heard on the lieutenant an hour ago, and winces in almost-sympathy despite himself.

Zoro moves to bodily check another of the marines out of the way while releasing the first marine's arm and lunging for a third, and then Usopp's vision is obscured as the remaining marines pile onto their swordsman crazily, rather like in that sport they'd seen a few islands back—football, was it?—when all the players threw themselves on the ball holder. In moments there's a mound of marines squirming and shouting as they attempt to pin Zoro down on the ground (or at least this is what Usopp thinks they're trying to do; it's a bit hard to tell), and he can make out a few shouts of "look out, watch his teeth!" and "dammit, hold his head still," and "hand it over here, quickly!" There's also a lot of pained screaming, and if Usopp had to guess he thinks Zoro is still probably dishing it out pretty good, even while being forced down by a dozen marines. Although some of the yelling is probably courtesy of himself and Nami, who are helpfully kicking any marine limbs that come their way.

At last, a good five minutes later, the marines finally withdraw, hastily picking themselves up from the ground and scrambling back towards the cell door with looks of obvious fright on their faces. Many of them are nursing bloody bites, unresponsive arms, and limp on bruised and beaten legs, and Usopp whistles at the amount of damage Zoro managed to do even while flattened to the ground, just by thrashing and biting. The leading marine shakily locks the cage and gives the trembling marines permission to go to the infirmary, and looking grateful, exhausted, and still more than a little terrified at what they'd just witnessed, the dozen men make their slow, limping way out of the prison block.

Usopp blinks in surprise and turns his attention to Zoro, who is sprawled out flat on his side, with his back to them. There's a lot of blood all around him, although for once Usopp is actually inclined to think that most of it isn't Zoro's (a rarity, but on occasion known to happen), and instead belongs to all the marines he'd been savaging. He definitely looks a bit banged up after having a dozen men tackling him at once and holding him down, and now his legs are cuffed together as well. But to be perfectly honest, Usopp's seen him worse off after merely sparring with Sanji over some stupid argument or insult. He'd be fine.

Although Usopp is a little puzzled when he listens to Zoro's breathing, which sounds shallow and raspy, even though he can see Zoro's sides heaving up and down with way too much effort for that little amount of noise. Deciding that maybe Zoro got hit worse than he thought, he asks tentatively, "Hey, alright?"

The only response is a disjointed growling noise, which is completely unintelligible, and after a valiant few seconds to try and decode it Usopp gives up and says lamely, "Er...come again?"

The grumbling noise is repeated, and then Zoro's side heaves in what is unmistakably a sigh even if it doesn't really sound like one, seeing as it comes out rather shallow and muffled. Usopp is now getting really worried—maybe Zoro got punched in the chest, or something, and is having breathing problems?—but then, with another grumble, Zoro heaves himself into a sit and slowly shuffles to turn around and face them.

Nami sees it first, and bites her lip to keep from laughing outright; as it is, her shoulders tremble with barely contained laughter, and an undignified snort escapes through her nose. Usopp sees it seconds later, and hastily tries to suppress the urge to release a bark of laughter as well.

He fails pretty miserably at this, and Zoro gives him a baleful look, and emits another disjointed, muffled growl that is probably a swear—but doesn't come out as one, because of the contraption now bound around the lower half of his face. Clearly a hastily but still well-built construction of leather and metal, it has a number of thick hide straps that wrap around the back of Zoro's head, over his nose, and under his jaw, tying a metal plate snugly over his mouth and keeping the jaw firmly clamped shut. And no matter how many positively livid glares Zoro manages to throw with his eyes, there is no way in hell it can even slightly lessen the absurdity of the object attached firmly to his face.

"They muzzled you," Usopp finally manages to chortle, after a few moments. "I don't even believe it!"

"You look ridiculous, Zoro," Nami adds, still barely containing her laughter.

Zoro shoots them both furious looks and tries to say something that is probably none too friendly or polite, but the fact that his jaw is tied shut and his mouth is covered makes it impossible for anything more than an unintelligible growl to escape him. He shakes his head furiously, trying to dislodge the item, but the straps are very definitely in place and are not going anywhere, and after a moment the swordsman droops in defeat.

They laugh at him for a few minutes more, but then the seriousness of the situation starts to settle in, and Usopp frowns a little. In retrospect, it's actually a pretty smart move on the part of the marines. He supposes they'd been a bit stupid to not consider that Roronoa Zoro, the guy famous for using a third sword in his teeth, wouldn't also have an absurdly lethal bite force just from training to use the weapon that way, but apparently they learned quickly on this island and had immediately moved to counter that extra weapon. With Zoro...muzzled...and his ankles cuffed as well, he was now pretty much effectively bound like they were. And if the marines tried to come back again to split the three of them up for their original plan, they might actually succeed.

"What're we gonna do if they come back?" Nami says suddenly, showing that she too had been thinking along the same lines as Usopp.

"Not sure," Usopp answers with a grimace. "Especially if they pile on Zoro like they did before."

"Maybe we can help him get that thing off," Nami says, and Zoro looks up hopefully—clearly, he is not pleased with this new form of confinement, which probably seems like a personal assault against his own sword style. His breathing rasps a little faster—Usopp looks on pityingly, understanding why Zoro's breath had been so unusual earlier, as it is probably quite difficult to breath with that contraption on one's face—and he looks expectantly at the two, waiting.

They try all number of things. At their suggestions, Zoro tries dragging his head against the cell walls to dislodge the leather straps, or wear them down, or damage the metal, but nothing helps. In the end they're forced to order him to stop before he ends up cracking his own head open with his absurd strength (which probably would loosen the muzzle's grip, but it's probably not worth giving him brain damage, even though there's probably not much left to damage anyway). They try to pull the obnoxious thing off next, back to back with Zoro so their own bound hands can have access. But the thing is tied on too tightly and with too many straps to dislodge, and locked with a metal clasp at the back of his head requiring a key, and they have nothing to cut them off with either. The guards outside dissuade them from attempting anything further by pointing their muskets and warning them away, and Zoro makes a defeated snarling noise and shakes his head in frustration against the restraint again as he sits back down in the center of the cell.

So in the end they are forced to merely wait, for another hour and a half, for something eventful to happen. Zoro is positively mopey, giving sullen glares through the bars at the guards, and reminds Usopp of a reproachful dog after it has been severely reprimanded (it's probably just the muzzle making him compare Zoro to a dog, and part of Usopp feels bad, but the other part still thinks it's kind of hilarious).

For his part, and probably Nami's as well, Usopp is more than a little nervous with the wait. If that captain and those marines come back now and decide to split them up, there's not much they'll be able to do to stop it at gunpoint. Zoro will probably still try anyway, but there's only so much that he can do when his only real option left is to head-butt his opponents, and even that is pushing it. If they don't get rescued soon, they will probably be deeply and royally screwed.

As if in answer to his worst nightmares, Usopp can suddenly hear the captain from earlier, voice rising steadily louder as he comes ever closer. "What do you mean the three Straw-hats haven't been transported to the ships for delivery yet? I gave that order hours ago. Certainly you can't have let one measly bite keep you from doing your duty!"

"Sir," comes another voice—Usopp recognizes this one as the marine who'd led the others earlier, when they'd muzzled Zoro— "the prisoners are still proving to be somewhat, ah, challenging, sir."

"Challenging how," the captain snaps. "Didn't I order you to muzzle the damn biter already?"

"Well, yes, sir," the other voice says, with a distinct tremor Usopp can hear even from here in the cell, "but he put up quite a fight doing even that, sir, and we've got seven men being treated in the infirmary for various injuries. Human bites can be particularly dangerous because of infection sir, and if I may say so, the physical power of the bites were far beyond what a normal human should be capable of, Lieutenant Pandel's arm was dislocated and the bone at the site of the bite fractured—"

"I don't give a damn if he bit bloody Lieutenant Pandel's arm clean off," the captain yells. "He's a damn Straw Hat, of course he's going to be dangerous, but we need to capture those damn pirates, and I will not have my ambush plan put in jeopardy! Move those pirates at once and recall the man is no longer a threat. Act like a damned adult already!"

"I...sir, protocol requires more than one officer to transport each prisoner," the other man states tentatively.

"Then find another man!"

"It's just that I c-can't, sir," the marine trembles (Usopp almost feels sorry for him). "The ensigns heard about the injuries and refuse to try and subdue the Strawhat prisoners for transportation. They're afraid to enter the cellblock."

Usopp laughs, and Nami grins, and even Zoro looks a little less sullen although it's a bit hard to tell, seeing as he can't actually see if the swordsman is smirking or not. The captain roars angrily and finally yells at the top of his lungs, "Then get real marines, not pathetic ensigns! What are you, an idiot?"

"Sir," the other man says weakly, "the other marines are occupied with an attack in the city. Last I checked, the fight was working its way here to the base, so all hands have been called to prepare for battle..."

"Who the hell is attacking us now?" the captain yells in frustration, although Usopp already has a pretty good guess as to the answer, and is proven right seconds later when the other marine speaks up again.

"It seems that Straw Hat Luffy has discovered that we've captured a few of his men," the man offers meekly. "Incidentally sir, you were right, it seems he is obsessively protective of his crew..."

The captain swears, and right on time the entire base seems to rumble and quake as something large and extremely angry (judging from the tremors) smashes into its sides. Usopp grins delightedly and tries very hard not to think of Luffy knocking the whole damn building down on them, and instead just imagines the dramatic rescue, just in time.

"Fine!" the captain snarls, and he and the other marine finally sweep into view. "I'll help you transport them myself. Idiots, all of you idiots—if you had just moved them when I ordered two hours ago, this wouldn't be happening! Now let's move for the harbor—"

"Sir," the marine says in exasperation, "We can't go to the harbor, Straw-Hat's pirate ship blocking the way, and they've already destroyed two of our warships."

The captain looks thoroughly fed up now and quite furious. He snatches one of the guns from an astonished guard, levels it straight at Zoro's head, and screeches, "This is all your damn fault, Roronoa Zoro, you and your stupid...stupid...biting! Dammit to all hell, and who the hell ever heard of a man fighting with his bloody teeth? And I'll tell you another thing, your sword style is damn stupid, who ever heard of a sword used in the damn mouth—"

Usopp squawks—Zoro is good but there's no way he'll survive a bullet to the brain—and Nami yells frantically for the captain to knock it off, and Zoro himself just glares hatefully at the captain, clearly not pleased that his sword style is being mocked. But before anything else can happen a pair of hands sprout from the man's back and another pair from his chest; they snatch the gun away and twist his head with a sharp crack, and the man collapses completely. A rubber fist smashes into the guard that is still armed, and a black blur hurtles into the room to take down the remaining two marines, and suddenly Usopp finds himself sighing in relief as Luffy, Sanji and Robin materialize out of the gloomy hallway into their line of sight.

"We'll have you out in just a minute, Nami-swaaaaan," Sanji croons delightedly, as Robin produces a ring of keys from the captain's voluminous cloak via her many hands. Luffy is grinning cheerfully now that his nakama are rescued, and as far as he's concerned it's probably been a grand old adventure for them all. The cell doors are unlocked in a trice, and Nami and Usopp gratefully rub their sore wrists and stretch their arms in front of them as their hands are finally freed from the manacles.

Zoro, however, produces a bit more of a problem: firstly, because none of the keys on the ring Robin procured match the lock on the muzzle, at the back of his head, and secondly, because as soon as Sanji catches sight of the swordsman, he lets out a harsh bark of glee and doubles over with hyena-like yips of laughter, promptly causing Zoro to attempt to strangle him.

It takes them several minutes to separate the two from the unexpected sparring match (Nami has a lot to do with this) and Usopp privately thinks Sanji is damn lucky he wasn't around earlier, before Zoro was muzzled, or the match might've gotten a little more dangerous. Although he figures Zoro probably won't actually try to—what had he done?—fracture and dislocate bone just by biting to his crew mates, but hey, it never hurts to be safe, right?

"I'm afraid we'll have to cut it off, Swordsman-san," Robin finally says, with a vague hint of a smirk that definitely says she finds the situation a bit amusing as well. Zoro gives another muffled sigh and tries to speak, which once again comes out as little more than an unintelligible mumble, which sets Sanji to laughing yet again, and Luffy chuckling as well. Another flurried mini-battle begins, during which Luffy is smashed into a wall somehow before Nami can break it up, but in the end Zoro ends up merely gesturing to his hip instead, where his swords ought to be.

"Of course, we would cut them with your swords, if we had them," Robin says smoothly, translating. "Unfortunately we have not seen them yet, and they do not appear to be kept here. I believe I heard mention of an armory two levels down, if you would like to try searching there for your missing weapons," she adds, looking around at Usopp and Nami as well, "but I am afraid it might be a few minutes more, Swordsman-san, before we can cut it off of your head."

Zoro looks distinctly sullen about this.

Then he dashes down the hallway before the others can stop him, clearly desperate to get a hold of his swords and get the muzzle off his face. Sanji swears and leaps after him, yelling that he's already heading in the wrong direction, and after pulling Luffy out of the stone wall where he's been embedded Usopp follows, with Robin and Nami in tow.

Usopp imagines it will probably be even longer than Robin anticipated before they manage to find something sharp enough to cut the muzzle off, the way Zoro is going—which is to say very fast, and in completely the wrong direction. But he imagines that when it finally does happen, and Zoro is able to use all three swords once again, there is going to be hell to pay—and the marines will learn just how un-stupid santoryuu really is.

Fun fact: I did a lot of research on bite force for even this little snippit (I'm a research-a-holic, so sue me). The average human male bite strength is about 170 pounds-per-inch, but Zoro would obviously be significantly higher than this since he can maintain constant bite pressure on a katana while using it to slice through resisting objects like, oh, people for example. I always wondered how he managed this...

So I looked at some other animals to compare. Dog bite force tends to be in the 200's-300's (a pitbull has a bite strength of 238psi for example) and additionally, dog biting and grappling is dangerous and impressive not just because of the bite strength, but because they have the neck muscles and the body mass to shake/worry whatever they're biting afterwards to hold and damage it. Which Zoro also seems to have going for him, now doesn't he? :P

As always, feel free to tell me what you think, although don't take this fic too seriously :)