Ship of Fools

By Aoikami Sarah

Note: ZoroxRobin. One-shot. Post Skypeia.

Robin was tired.

Not as tired as she had been a few months ago. Then she slept for at least two days onboard the Going Merry waiting for the Straw Hats to return. She slept and waited for the man responsible for keeping her alive to own up to his folly. Lying on what she discovered was the Navigator's bed Robin stared at the ceiling and cursed her fate. She should be dead. Everything that had happened so far had gone against her dream. Even when she at last found one of the legendary Ponegryph, it hadn't been the True History and then it was destroyed. She would have been content to be crushed to death beside it just to end the pain of having her dreams continually bashed to pieces. But this fool wouldn't accept that; this dreamer beyond any she had ever known.

The fool's ship bobbed along as it sailed peacefully away from Jaya. The timbers creaked and groaned perhaps a little more lately. Having been swallowed by a whale, shot at with giant metal spikes and dropped out of the sky among other injuries, it was entitled to a little complaining.

Robin didn't complain. Her injuries were not as serious as some of the rest of the crew's, or even the ship's were. She had been electrocuted fairly badly, but a few good days of sleep would see her good as new.

In the middle of the afternoon, the ship was quiet. Most of the crew slept in their chambers, but Robin chose to have a lie-down on her favorite deckchair under the hazy sunshine. Her head rolled to the right and she watched the horizon swing from side to side. A sigh escaped her lips. She was alive again.

The door to the men's bunks opened. The top hinge was broken and made it difficult not to make a lot of noise when using it. The swordsman cursed and tried to carefully close it without disturbing Robin. "It's alright, Kenshi-san," she said, turning to face him. "I'm awake."

Zoro frowned and let the door drop back into place. "Whatever," he grumbled and strode across the deck to the bow. He kept his weights in two strongboxes lashed to the port and starboard sides of the deck. Robin watched him with the same interest she showed the horizon a moment ago as he put the dumbbells together and got ready for his workout. Each iron disc weighed 200 lbs. There were six of them, total. He started by bringing them out to the middle and affixing just four of them to the bar. Taking off his shirt, he bent at the knees and prepared to grasp the training device.

Robin lifted up a book she was pretending to read and blocked her view as the swordsman noticed he was being stared at. She flipped the page and heard the tell-tale clink of the weights as he stepped into his rather extreme katas. After about a half hour of this, the sound stopped, but rather than taking a break, the swordsman put the two remaining weights on and went back at it.

Robin sighed again. The captain wasn't the only person onboard whose persistence boggled her mind. These fools had defeated Baroque Works. They'd sailed to the Sky! She wondered if there was anything that could truly stop these young men. Having re-read the same paragraph three times over already, Robin got up and went to the galley.

Zoro clenched his teeth harder when he saw Robin emerge from the Galley with a cup of coffee in one hand and a pitcher of water in the other. As if in answer to his prayers, she made her way carefully over to him.

"That for me?" he asked, the sweat nearly pouring off of him.

"Indeed," she answered. Robin lowered her eyes and two arms sprouted from the deck. She placed the coffee cup in the upper hand and used her own arms to hand the swordsman the heavy pitcher. "In lieu of the sleeping Doctor who would undoubtedly recommend you re-hydrate." She took the coffee cup and the extra arms disappeared in a flourish of pink flower petals.

Zoro carefully placed the massive weight in the middle of the deck and took the water from her. "Thanks," he said quickly and downed the entire contents. Robin sipped her coffee slowly.

"I've been meaning to thank you, actually," she said, regarding him with cool eyes. "For that nice catch."

Zoro cocked a brow at her. "For the what?"

She giggled and leaned against the starboard side of the ship. Zoro looked to the weights then back at the strange woman. "When Eneru shocked me, I was conscious just long enough to know it was you who caught me as I fell. Thank you." Zoro narrowed his eyes at her. "What? Is it so hard to believe that I could actually be grateful for a considerate gesture?"

"Everything you say sounds condescending and fake," he said flatly.

Her lips straightened, but she didn't frown. "I can see that," she admitted. "Especially because you don't trust me, but I assure you that my appreciation is genuine."

The ship creaked in the silence that followed. Zoro regarded her with mild disdain before shrugging and bending to pick up his training tool again.

They were alone. She could tell him all manners of things and no one else would ever know. Robin closed her eyes for a moment, breathed a quiet sigh and started to head back to the galley with her now empty coffee cup.

"Why is that?" his voice caught her by surprise. She stopped and looked back over her shoulder. "Why do you try to sound like you're up to something?" Zoro was taking the weights off of the pole. He didn't look up as he spoke. "I've heard you when you're dead serious. It's different. It's like you want us to not trust you…"

Robin couldn't help but gasp. She turned and went back to her post, leaning against the side of the ship. "That's a silly thing to say," she said and swung the empty coffee mug from her finger. "Why would I do something like that?"

"Beats the shit out of me," Zoro said, lugging two of the discs to their place in the starboard strong box. The ship rolled a bit as he did so. "You want to seem like you're still untrustworthy. Maybe you don't want to be one of us."

Robin clenched her teeth. "That's not right."

"No, it's not. Especially after what we went through together up there," Zoro said and gestured to the sky as he removed two more weights. "You might have had your own agenda about those ruins or whatever but when things got hairy you were right there beside us. You didn't have to be, but you were. Just like how I was there to catch you." He put the last of the weights away with a dull clang. "So cut it out. You're a Straw Hat Pirate, now."

Robin stared at him with intense eyes. "So it seems…"

"You might not get this, having been in Baroque Works and all, but that's the way it is with Nakama." Zoro picked up a towel and patted himself down. "I didn't get that either until I met that lunatic we call 'captain'. He's got this weird way of making people loyal to him and to each other. I've never seen anything like it."

"He's a fool," Robin said quietly, turning her head to watch the waves.

"Oh yeah?" Zoro asked, putting his shirt back on. He made a face and took a few steps toward the cabins as if he had found the argument too stupid to continue. Instead, he stopped and walked over to the still mysterious, older woman. "Maybe he's a fool. You said when you stowed away after we left Arabasta that you wanted to join us because Luffy had saved your life and all you wanted to do was die, right?" Zoro folded his arms, a bit frustrated that she wasn't looking at him. "Every one of us has a dream. Nami wants to map the world. Chopper wants to be a great doctor. Usopp wants to be brave or something. That asshole cook wants to find some legendary ocean. I want to send my name to the heavens as the greatest swordsman of my time. Luffy wants to be… no. Luffy will be the Pirate King. So, what's your dream, Robin?"

Startled yet again, her head snapped around and she stared at him incredulously. "I will rediscover the lost century: the True History."

The corners of Zoro's mouth curled up a bit at this. He stepped up to the woman who was a good three inches taller than he and stared into her dark, blue eyes. "Even if Luffy didn't know that, he believes in other people's dreams, even if they're the enemy at the time. If that makes him a fool then you better get wise," he said, the grin growing. "You're riding on a whole ship of them."

Robin stared intensely at the swordsman. He was generally a man of few words so she let them sink in for a moment before reacting. Her eyes softened. For the first time in a long time, Robin smiled a genuine smile – a toothy grin that could compete with even the captain's. Zoro gave a scoff of a chuckle at this, smirked and turned to go. He was surprised to feel her grasp his arm and gently pull him back. The taller woman bowed slightly and pressed her lips against his. It happened so quickly, he didn't have time to think to pull away before she released him.

"Thank you," she said, smiled again and started toward the galley with her empty coffee cup. Zoro grasped her arm, pulled her toward him and as if to say 'oh yeah?' he kissed her roughly.

"You're welcome," he said quietly as he let her go. Robin stood, stunned once again and watched him cross the deck to the main mast. He glanced over his shoulder at her before climbing up to the crow's nest. Robin looked right to the bow and left toward the stern. All was quiet except for the purr of the waves and soft groaning of the Going Merry as it sailed along away from Jaya and toward the next adventure.

"A ship full of fools," she muttered quietly at the base of the mast, looking up. She shrugged. "When in Rome…" she said and climbed after him.