Seeing the sword deemed Hawkins enough of a challenge for Zoro to take note of. As a pirate captain with the third-highest bounty among the Eleven, it surely reflected some level of strength, which he wanted to witness first-hand. While Luffy was boisterous and reckless and Kid a short-tempered, violent man, Basil Hawkins did not appear to be any of those things, instead wielding an elusive air that bordered on apathetic.
The incident with Bonney had been annoying and if only for curiosity's sake, he still had some time to kill before meeting up with the crew anyway. Why pass up the opportunity while they were here?
There had to be some reason for that bounty after all, whether it was a misunderstanding or not. It wasn't just the itch for a fight in his blood, he told himself. It had nothing to do with what he witnessed involving the Celestial Dragon and the economic disparities of the Archipelago. No, Zoro was simply curious.
An indifferent gaze watched him in turn, nothing that so much harbored a hint or reaction while Zoro unsheathed his swords, one in each hand. It wasn't familiarity he noted in that blank expression, but Zoro found himself disliking it.
“Just wanna see somethin’, if ya don't mind indulging me," he grinned, sharp as his blades.
"You think it's interesting to challenge me for the sake of indulgence?" Hawkins didn't budge, hand still lax by his hip where his sword remained sheathed.
Zoro noted the strange pommel.
“Yeah? You must be real fun at parties, ain't ya?"
Hawkins didn't miss a beat, moving closer when he replied, “I don’t really care what you think.”
Zoro’s smirk deepened and absently wet his lower lip when Hawkins' gloved hand finally reached for his sword. "C'mon, show me something interesting."
“Well, I guess I'd like to see something interesting as well," Hawkins eventually said.
Zoro fell into position, preparing his own move but stopped short when the other pirate didn't draw his sword. "You gonna draw your blade?"
Whether Hawkins found amusement in that was hard to tell, although he did draw his sword from his sheath. Zoro rose a brow in disbelief at the passive stance Hawkins took afterward.
"Are you worried about me, Roronoa?" Amusement was evident in Hawkins' voice then, even though there was not a hint of it on his face. "I'm armed. Now, if you please."
Zoro stared him down, skeptical, but there was nothing joking about the scarlet depths that returned his gaze.
As he lunged forward, blades singing through the air to slash near the other’s chest and expecting a parry, he realized why those eyes seemed so familiar. They were flat and humorless, too serious to be anything else. There was no clash of blades.
The blow landed.
Zoro looked back to see Hawkins' reaction, surprised when he saw the pirate simply laying on the ground and no change in expression to speak of after the dust had settled. It was anticlimactic.
He frowned as he moved closer for a better look; it was like Hawkins didn’t even notice the attack at all. In spite of being forced back to the ground from the pressure of his swords, the captain rose without so much as a single scratch, unscathed. That expression was as infuriatingly calm as ever.
“What the hell—”
He stared hard as a thick silence stretched between them. Just what kind of Devil Fruit power was that?
Hawkins didn’t react to Zoro’s exclamation, simply lifting his arm again as something more bizarre happened. His sleeve trembled and something parted, began to crawl straight out of his arm crawl out of his arm— what the hell?
The straw that took the shape of a doll emerged completely before dropping to the ground, now lying motionless by Hawkins' feet. Zoro's mind jumped into overdrive, redirecting the situation. Hawkins had redirected his attack— that was the only plausible explanation— and those dolls had something to do with it. A Devil Fruit that seemed to deflect both attacks and damage alike; it sounded unstoppable, but Zoro knew better.
Hawkins moved again, which prompted him back into position and more than ready to retaliate, but the pirate simply dropped his arm. He regarded Zoro with the slightest tilt of his head. His eyes seemed to glow.
“I think I've seen what I needed to see. Hopefully it was satisfying for you,” he said, far too politely one would expect from a pirate and for that reason, Zoro found it irksome.
Hopefully, it was satisfying?
"I gotta say I'm disappointed, Hawkins," Zoro drawled. He didn't return his swords to their scabbards and didn't bother to hide his scowl when Hawkins did. "That last round, if you can even call it that, left me a bit wanting."
The look that crossed Hawkins' face then was the only change in expression Zoro could find since encountering the pirate captain. He smiled. It was the faintest thing and gone in a flash, but his gaze had sharpened on it like a beacon.
"I would apologize for leaving you wanting, albeit a bit, but—" Hawkins turned to leave before he realized, leaving Zoro dumbfounded.
“Oi, oi! We’re not done here.”
He could figure out the rest of Hawkins’ Devil Fruit power with more time. Zoro was close enough and wanted to keep going but more than that, Hawkins' expression annoyed him. That lack of expression—
Hawkins paused long enough in his departure, as though he was considering it, before offering Zoro one last glance.
“See you in the New World, Roronoa.”