He was angry. Who was this man and what did he have to do with Robin-chan?
He turned to her, eyes combing her face for answers. And for the first time, the archaeologist's expression betrayed her; he knew that something was wrong--that this man had something to do with the past Robin did not speak about.
This man had hurt Robin.
He felt his legs tense as his hands balled into fists. His teeth bit down hard into the cigarette he held between his lips.
Words continued to spill from the newcomer's lips--all lies and false accusations. He couldn't stand to listen to it any more. His lips began to move, and the words came reflexively:
"You bastard! Don't you dare say things like that! What did Robin-chan ever do to you?"
He had not expected a response, but still the man continued to speak, delivering answers the cook didn't want to believe.
Doubt danced inside his chest, and for a moment he was not entirely sure that this man was really telling lies.
He turned and looked at her again, trying to will her to speak, to defend herself against this man's attacks.
But no words came; there was no intrepid defense. Silence filled the space between the Straw Hat Pirates and the air lingered with raw doubt.
She had kept so many secrets and this man had offered so many answers; how could he believe her?
It was Luffy's voice that finally shattered the quiet, that suddenly broke apart his fears.
"Shut up, you!" the captain shouted. "What happened in the past doesn't matter!"
And he knew that Luffy was right. Whatever mistakes she had made in the past, they weren't important. All that mattered was the Robin they knew here and now. The Robin that loved the books she read and the songs he hummed. The Robin that had shared morning coffee with him and games of chess with Chopper.
The Robin that he loved.
"I see," the man smiled. "You have already earned the trust of these people."
And when the fought finally broke out, Sanji was the first to move, his long legs propelling him towards the man with a desperate sense of urgency. When he leaped, he flew higher than he thought possible. When he kicked, his legs moved with a force unknown to him before.
No matter what had happened in her past, Sanji would protect her.