Pirating Dreams: Nico Robin III

Robin stood in the crow's nest, sipping her coffee and watching the stars.

It had been a week after they had come down from Skypiea and it was her turn at watch. The stars seemed to sparkle brightly in ice cold sky, and she huddled in her blanket, thankful that the besotted cook had prepared a coffee-filled thermos.

She refilled her cup with coffee, flavored with cinnamon, and took another sip, wrapping her hands around the warmed cup. It was nights like this that she felt the most alone in the world. When everyone went to bed and she had just the cold wind and stars for company.

Sometimes, one of the crew couldn't sleep and would wake up, wander around a bit and come chit chat for a while. They would relate something trivial, like a dream they had awakened from or something small that had happened to them over the course of the day. They were feeling more at home with her, now that they understood her a little better. Now that they trusted her more. She understood why they were nervous of her, although she was still astonished that most of them just took Sench-san's assessment of her. "She's not as bad as you think," he had said, immediately accepting her. Most of the others had made token protestations, but if Luffy said she was okay, she must be okay. He was not the most forgiving, although Mr. 8's reappearance, whole and sound, possibly saved her. More so than her digging him out of the sand. The "Uncle Curly" incident was one he had stuck to as an indication of her evil ways. That she had left Ingram alive hadn't so much surprised him so much as made him forget she had blown up Ingram in the first place.

But, perhaps, the person who bothered her most of all was Kenshi-san. The green-haired boy had proven himself an amazing fighter, more so than Robin thought. Her original thoughts about Zoro were centered on her respect for his wariness. An innate sense that he understood her better than almost anyone else on the crew, with possibly one exception: Sencho-san. But Luffy could read minds sometimes. He had an unerring ability to pinpoint someone's weaknesses and verbalize a highly effective taunt. It was innate, and not even training, that allowed him to do that. Zoro was nearly as good, but his love for Luffy seemed unreal to Robin. She had never seen anything quite like it. Perhaps, she thought, I've just always backed the wrong horse?

She had asked Miss Navigator in a quiet moment if Zoro and Luffy were a couple, but Nami smirked at her, and then started laughing. "I don't think I'll answer," she said, eyes brimming with laughter.

Robin had no idea, but the intimacy between the two was intense. She'd only seen old couples read each other that well. It made her... jealous.

She sighed into her quickly cooling coffee. Why would she be jealous? She was so much older that sometimes their antics surprised her. Like dancing around the campfire and inviting the sky wolves to get down and boogie with them, that had surprised her. Most of the time it wasn't really that it even surprised her so much as she had never been so carefree in her life. Even as a child, she often had had to behave and sit still.

But, Kenshi-san sometimes surprised her with his own maturity. Or, maybe, his own desperation to grow up? She wasn't sure anymore. Sometimes, the sour taste of age made her sad and want to beat all of the crew to within an INCH of death. They made her feel even older than her 28 years. No small feat, considering the pirates she had hooked up with over the years. All of them made her feel stupid and young; this crew made her feel old and cynical. It was mildly depressing. Sometimes, Kenshi-san would catch her with that emotion playing over her face just briefly. It was almost like magic. She would have a 10-second lapse in her facial control, and that would be the 10 seconds he would be staring right at her.

He took the time to sit near her and talk. She suspected he was trying to keep an eye on her, but then he had apparently caught her when Eneru had hit her with that lightening bolt. Navigator-san made a BIG deal out of it in private. "Oh, he just throws me around like any of the other guys. YOU he caught. He even got mad. I think he likes you."

At 28, Robin was hardly dead, hardly immune to the charms of the younger man. But she could choose when she was willing to entertain those thoughts. She was hardly a virgin, waiting nervously for Mr. Right. Twenty years of being passed from pirate group to pirate group sometimes meant giving up more than just her wealth of knowledge. Well, it had. The last 5-10 years had given her enough experience and knowledge to pick and choose bed partners. Being an excellent assassin is a good thing when you are a beautiful woman on a pirate ship.

But Zoro-kun (as she sometimes thought of him despite herself) was a good man, almost completely. He had a sense of humor, but it was like tickling sharks: you had to know exactly the right spot. She could make the others laugh for days using her powers in completely random and stupid ways. With Zoro-kun, the humor had to be just right. He was honorable, and it wasn't just his version of honor. He protected his friends and crewmates with every ounce of his strength, and he was a good person. A truly good person. Not the most intelligent, but he was the most intuitive. Well, Sencho was beyond Kenshi-san's intuition now and again, but his was a supernatural intuition, she suspected. Not entirely unexpected from a man of D.

Robin sipped, the still-warm liquid leaving a heated path down her throat. She pulled the blanket closer, again grateful for Cook-san. She could just bed that one and take care of her needs, she thought, but it was like having sex with a pet. Like a dog or cat, because he was damned useful, but having him become too attached was problematic. And he would.

She could use Sencho or Usopp, but that seemed more trouble than it was worth. Those two were definitely boys. Chopper was both too young and it was too kinky for her, although she was all for Zoans having sex. She also knew that Kenshi-san and Cook-san sometimes took advantage of the shore leave to work out their needs. Sometimes, she wanted to go with them, but she didn't think they'd let her, plus Cook-san would just hit on her all night. She'd have to kill him to get laid.

She suddenly realized she was coldly determining who she would bed on the ship, and chuckled into her chest. None of them. Although she had needs, she would be touching none of them.

"What are you chuckling at?"

Robin started and looked up to find Kenshi-san regarding her with amusement and holding another thermos. She smiled her pleasant smile and shook her head, unwilling to share that her needs were getting ahead of her. Working as Ms. All-Sunday had given her rights to have occasional lovers. Sometimes, she'd purposely visit Daz, although neither found any comfort in the other. It was a need and they worked it out. Although Daz had his definite kinks that he made her work with. She'd never be able to look at motor oil the exact same way ever again.

"Nothing," she finally said, settling in a little more. "Just amusing myself."

Zoro's arched his eyebrow at her, and she sipped her coffee trying to hide her desire to laugh out loud. "Can I join you," he said finally.

She nodded, moving over slightly. He was wearing his usual outfit, with the green haramaki, and he tried not to shiver in the air. What had pulled him out here? Maybe that she was sitting outside, feeling lonely. Had he figured it out? On this ship, it was hard to feel lonely, yet she seemed to manage it the most easily of all.

He settled in beside her, and he could feel her warmth through the blanket. She smiled that painfully polite smile and said, "Would you like to share the blanket?"

He debated internally and nodded. If he said no, her feelings might get hurt. With Nami, he didn't really care. That girl was oblivious to a lot of stuff, but Robin was more sensitive in a lot of ways, more prone to shying away, sadder, unable to quite get over her past. In Skypiea, she had done her best, and she had been amazing, standing up to that lightening guy, standing there with the others, while Nami hid and then manipulated in a typical-Nami fashion

He was surprised to find he liked Robin.

She opened up the blanket and he took half, surprised by how small she was. She took up very little room, but she radiated quite a bit of heat. "You're quite warm in there," he said, settling back in. The blanket wasn't quite big enough for the amount of space, and the gap between them let air in, freeing the warmth.

"This might work better if you hold me," Robin said suddenly, and heat flared over his face. When had he held a girl like that? Never, really. He nodded and she scooted closer until he could wrap his arms around her. She was, he realized, even smaller than he thought she was. She resolutely pulled the gap in the blanket closed and sighed happily. "I like the cold, but I like it outside the blanket," she said with a faint smile. A real smile.

Robin always knew that Kenshi-san was large, but she never quite realized that she was so small in comparison. It turned her on, and she stifled it. Even worse, maybe, was that he smelled like a guy, of his own sweat and whatever Cook-san used to do laundry. Crocodile always smelled like the heavy scents he favored. It was heavy, musky oils that he massaged into his hair and skin.

"Like the Egyptians," he used to say, randomly touching the thighs of the young girls he paid to groom him.

The faint smell of sleep clung to Kenshi-san. Now that she was snuggled up against him, she could smell it on his skin, on the nape of his neck. It made her want to lick it.

How long since she had had sex? How long since she had entertained the prospect with some eagerness, perhaps some apprehension? But, she thought, he may not want to get involved with such an old lady? Crushed by the thought, she stomped on her libido.

Zoro was having some problems breathing. The cold air burned a bit, but he suspected it was her soft perfume that did it. It wasn't blatant like Nami's perfume, especially the one the stupid Cook bought her in Alabasta. Faintly, it smelled of wood, but underneath it was the scent of Robin's own heat that wafted up from the blanket. It was delicate and the combination teased his senses.

In comparison, Nami was flamboyant and loud. One understood the importance of quiet. One understood how to make good maps and that was it.

"So, why did you come up here," she asked. Her eyes were strange, fluctuating between ice and sea blue. He was sure she didn't know they reflected her emotions as well as they did.  Now, they were dark, stormy. Something was hiding behind the storm, something he didn't recognize, but the flavor of sadness was always there.

"I thought you might need some company. And maybe some fresh coffee," he said, brandishing the thermos in one hand. She smiled and pulled out the one she already had.

"Cook-san already made me quite a bit, but thank you."

He laughed. "Oh I didn't make it. I took what was in there and added something I found in Skypiea." He grinned evilly. "You should just taste this. It'll warm you up."

She arched her own brow at him and took the thermos. He waited as she dumped her coffee out over the orange trees, and poured the new brew into her cup. Steam curled from the lip, the scent of something rich tickling her nose. Cinnamon lingered, and she thought it was just the same coffee that Cook-san had made. She took a sip, and the taste of whiskey burned her throat. She gasped and choked to his amusement.

"You managed to find whiskey... in the middle of everything?"

He smirked. "There's always time for good booze."

She chuckled. "I can't believe you."

He leaned over her and took her cup. She said nothing as he took a sip. "Not too bad, if I say so myself," he murmured, handing the cup back.

She took it back without a word, feeling vaguely embarrassed, although she was unsure why. It wasn't the first time she had shared a drink with Kenshi-san, but it was the first time that she was so intimately aware of it.

He shivered slightly, and let slip a small chuckle.

"What?" She had never heard him chuckle like that. Generally it was a mocking laugh, or his guffaw of delight. This was different.

"I was just thinking about something." His eyes were bright, and the smile lurked in the corner of his mouth.

"Can't share?"

The smile spread slightly, and he shook his head. "Nah. It's not worth it."

"I see." She shut up and sipped her coffee.

"It's not very interesting," he said slowly.

"Certainly if you say so."

The wind blew, making them huddle together. The Going Merry creaked beneath them. The sea foamed against the ship, lapping at the sides gently.

"I was training in the Drum Kingdom and I've never been so cold in my life," he said finally, after the long pause.

"Oh, is it that cold now?"

"Not really. But I just find it amusing to think of it. I got a great coat off of some guys there."

"The black and white one in the closet?"

He frowned. "Is it black and white? I don't remember. It was just very warm and fun to get."

"That's a strange way to say that."

"Hmph. You had to be there."

She chuckled and snuggled in. Zoro shifted slightly, somewhat uncomfortable. He was no virgin, but this was conversation, not "the business." He was uncertain how to handle this.

"Kenshi-san?" Robin asked hesitantly, "Do you trust me yet?"

He found himself holding his breath. Did he? He released his breath, watching it plume long and slow in the cold air, and disappear on the wind. "Luffy trusts you," he said finally. He trusted Luffy's instincts completely. "That's enough for me."

"Liar," she said under her breath so he wouldn't hear her. But he did.

"Did you just call me a liar," he asked, affronted.

"Yes, yes I did." She pulled her knees up tighter and huddled. "You still don't trust me."

He tried to think of something to say, something smart and witty, the right thing to say, like Nami or Sanji, maybe even Usopp, but Zoro wasn't built for soothing emotions. He pulled her chin out of the blanket and looked into her eyes, trying to communicate with her like he did so often with Luffy. But she was a closed door, her eyes were shut against him and the only thing he knew how to do was attack.

Tentatively, he leaned in and kissed her, just touching lips. Her eyes fluttered and closed, and he sensed her wanting to tell him things she was afraid to say.

She felt the heat of his lips against her cold ones. She wanted to cry, although she wasn't sure why. His tongue delicately probed and she let him in, tasting whiskey.

His hand, still warm from the cup, gently stroked her jaw, slipping behind her ear and curling into her hair.

Robin nearly froze, but Zoro didn't try anything more, just gentle lips and the intimate touch of his fingers in her hair.

Unable to hold herself back any more, Robin broke the kiss and leaned her head against his. "I—I can't do this," she whispered, reigning in her libido with what felt like superhuman strength. "I—I don't think I'm strong enough to do this."

Zoro sighed. Robin was technically a bit taller than he was. She was definitely older and probably more experienced. But he had never started something he didn't mean to finish, and he wasn't about to start now. "Robin," he said quietly, "Let me be strong enough for you."

Robin opened her eyes, and found herself looking down into his eyes. Embarrassment flooded her, and she hid it with her patented smile. "Zoro, aren't you strong enough for everyone else?"

Zoro pulled her closer and lightly kissed her, his lips playing against hers, pulling her closer to him. "Maybe," he said, "But you need someone to be strong for you."

"No," she whispered, tearing her eyes away from his. "I'm strong enough to support myself."

He pulled her eyes back, pulling her chin towards him with his fingertips, and asked, "But are you strong enough to trust us to be strong for you?"

Staring into his eyes, she couldn't help herself. She started chuckling, the real Robin seeping through. "Just so you know," she said, "That made no sense."

A knot of frustration popped into existence on his head, and a tense frown knitted his brow. "Give me a sword," he snapped, "this talking shit doesn't work for me."

Robin covered her mouth with her hand, ignoring Zoro's indignation. "I'm sorry," she choked, her eyes sparkling with amusement. "But that really made no sense to me."

Annoyance had long since settled and was making tea on Zoro's face. When she grinned at him in pure amusement, his face relaxed and slowly he began to smile. "I'm glad to see you're smiling."

Surprise lit up her eyes, and she shifted slightly away from him. "I do it so often nowadays, I didn't think it would be so special."

Zoro leaned into the space she created, still holding her chin, and said, "You're smiling just for me."

More surprise. Robin was unused to being surprised, and, although she knew Zoro watched her a lot, she didn't realize it was quite that closely. He was pushing her, wanting to touch her, and she felt her libido trying to break free.

"I may not be able to stop myself," she said in a small pleading voice. His face was so close, the heat of his body radiating, converging over her, the touch of his breath on her face, her lips, enticing.

"Good," he said, pulling her into his arms, kissing her deeply.

Her coffee forgotten, the cup tumbled to the other side of the crow's nest, rattling against the side, the coffee dripping through the slats. Zoro pushed Robin down to the floor of the nest, pulling the blanket over them in a smooth move. Robin wrapped her arms around him, enjoying the feel of his body, the hard muscles of his neck and back.

She arched her back as Zoro's hands found their way under her black sweater, the calluses on his palms tickling the soft skin of her waist and chest. She shivered under his palms, and he grinned into his kiss, rubbing his thumb over the thin cloth of her bra.

His reward was a hollow sigh of release, and she wrapped her thighs around his waist, a sense of desperate connection flaring between them.

And then came, "Robin-chan! Are you okay?"

Both Robin and Zoro froze as Sanji's voice reached them. Holding perfectly still, Robin called out, "I'm fine!"

They held their breath and Sanji called up, "I'm bringing you up a snack, Robin-chan! A snack of love!"

"That idiot," Zoro growled.

Regret and desire curled between them, a heavy moment that made Robin want to cry. Zoro passed her a look that meant it wasn't over, and kissed her again, deeply. Robin kissed him back urgently, and he tried not to preen with male pride.

He sat back, helping her up, and adjusted the blanket. As he handed her the cup and ignored thermos, Sanji pulled himself over the side.

"Zoro!" He snarled, appalled. "Are you bothering Robin-chan?"

Zoro smirked at him, and pulled himself over the side of the nest. "If you can call it that."

"What?" Horror etched itself over Sanji's face, and he cried, "What the hell did you do to Robin-chan?" He knelt next to Robin, handing her the delicate plate with heart-shaped finger sandwiches. "Did he say something to you?"

Robin tried to stop chuckling, but she couldn't. Sanji rained obscenities down at the nonchalant Zoro, who ignored them all. As Zoro made it to the cabin door, he paused to look up at Sanji and grin knowingly before stepping inside.

Taken aback, Sanji curled his hand into a fist and shook it at him. "You—I don't know what that means, but you better not bother Robin-chan!"

Behind him, Robin chuckled into her coffee and thought, and a new different adventure begins.