AN: This story will contain random scenes from the Straw Hat pirate's travels on the Grand Line. Set in the future, will almost certainly be AU at some point. This is how I imagine that the story might turn out. Thanks for reading, leave a review if you have the time and inclination.
Somewhere in the Grand Line, the greatest and most fearsome sea in the world, a small band of pirates had anchored off of an uninhabited island. That island, which had remained peaceful for over 800 years had suddenly been enveloped in the kind of noisy rambunctious goings on that pirates were well known for causing.
The sniper and the doctor ran in terror from various overgrown animals that commonly prowled islands in the Grand Line. The swordsman got lost, repeatedly, as he begrudgingly carried out the navigator's instructions to find food on behalf of the cook. The navigator and the archaeologist explored the ruins of the fallen outpost that appeared to have belonged to some great civilization of the past as they tried to avoid the constant pestering of the cook. The shipwright mostly stayed on the pirate's modest vessel so he could lovingly maintain the ship that he had built especially for this voyage to the end of the world.
The captain created noisy chaos wherever he went. First, by experimenting with some strange plants by eating them, which caused the doctor several moments of terror. Then further ruckus was raised by his disturbing a nest of giant beaver that had made their home in the spring island's temperate weather. That was in addition to his normal antics, which got him kicked out of the kitchen, out of the gunnery, and eventually off of the ship by a nerve wracked cook, sniper, and shipwright. Now he was rambling along behind the two members of the crew who were investigating the old ruins, but so far whatever annoyance he might cause acceptable in light of the benefits of having him close at hand in case they ran into trouble.
"Luffy-kun, be careful over there," Nico Robin said gently. Straw Hat Pirate Captain Monkey D. Luffy had found an interesting crack in an ancient wall and was trying to drag something out of it.
"Oi, Nami, do you have something shiny?" Luffy asked as if he didn't hear Robin.
"What are you talking about?" Nami asked. She had only agreed to accompany Robin on this trip out into the ruins because she hoped to find something valuable left over from the fallen outpost.
"I need something shiny to swap," Luffy said. He held up a small ornate mirror, which was miraculously unbroken, set inside a beautifully designed frame of jewel adorned gold.
"Oh Luffy-kun," Nami said, her voice gushing sweetness as she rushed over to the tiny treasure. "Did you get that for me?"
"Sure," Luffy replied, but then he frowned. "We've got to leave something shiny though."
"Why is that Captain-kun?" Robin asked. Nami was too busy fawning over the mirror to take notice herself.
"That's the rules," Luffy replied, as if it should be obvious. He pointed to something inside the wall. "If you want to take something you've got to leave something in exchange."
Robin looked to where he was pointing, her eyes widening slightly as she realized what he meant. The mirror had come from the nest of a giant packrat that was living in a collapsed room behind the wall.
"Here, use this," Robin said quickly as she took out a small mirror of her own that could be purchased cheaply at most any port.
"Ah, thank you Robin," Luffy said. He stretched his arm slightly to place the offering back inside the rat's nest, laughing all the while as Nami continued to sway back and forth in excitement over the other mirror. "Exploring, let's go explore!"
Robin chuckled and smiled slightly as Luffy went bounding off, though he seemed to remember to be careful of her precious historical ruins.
"Are you coming Navigator-san?" Robin asked. Nami looked up, eyes glowing with the thought of more profit.
"Of course Robin-sama," Nami said, her voice still sticky sweet. "Say, do these writings say anything about a hidden treasure?"
"No," Robin replied, "But at an outpost of this size one might expect to find such a thing."
"What are we waiting for then?" Nami said excitedly. "Exploring, let's go explore!"
This time Robin laughed out loud as she watched the navigator go off enthusiastically in the same direction as their captain had gone. She moved off after them, picking her way through the rubble strewn ruins carefully to avoid damaging them as much as to keep from losing her footing.
Nearly four hours later Nami sat down on a cracked slab of rock wall that had fallen over in the distant past. She was somewhat exhausted from hiking around all day visiting the places Robin wanted to see and from not finding another scrap of treasure.
"I'm hungry," Luffy said, predictably. "I'm going to find Sanji."
"Okay," Robin replied, still engrossed in her research. "We'll follow you shortly."
"Uh, Robin, are you sure that's safe?" Nami asked nervously. It was starting to get late and who knew what kind of monsters might come out.
"It's all right," Robin said. "We've been on this island for some time now. If there were something here capable of threatening us we would have been aware of it by now."
"The oceans in the South are warm…" Luffy's voice echoed through the ruins as he headed back toward their ship, Thousand Sunny, singing one of his favorite songs.
"Now that you mention it," Nami said, her voice carrying thoughtful inflection. "We have been on this island a bit longer than we normally stay in a single place."
"Captain-kun is giving me time to examine these ruins more closely," Robin replied. "This outpost fell during the void century after all."
"He told you that?" Nami asked, surprised.
"No," Robin said, "Not really, but I mentioned that I wished we had time to study this place closely when we first arrived."
Nami thought back and realized that Luffy had inquired about the ruins several times during the past week. She had thought that he was just bored at the time.
"I thought it was just one of his whims," Nami said softly. Another memory appeared, unbidden, of Ao Kiji lazily mentioning that Luffy enjoyed acting dumb. "Though, he is much more intelligent than he pretends to be."
"That much is certain," Robin agreed.
"Say, Robin," Nami asked slowly. "What do you think of him?"
"Luffy-kun is a very complex person," Robin replied casually. Upon seeing Nami's slightly shocked expression she arched an eyebrow. "Is that a surprising response?"
"Uh, oh, no, of course not," Nami said hastily.
"He hides behind a jovial carefree exterior, but his true self is forced to emerge when he does battle," Robin said seriously. "I recognized it first in the sands of Arabasta when I saw him realize Crocodile's weakness even though he was on the verge of death."
"His true self," Nami repeated unconsciously. She remembered something Luffy had told her once about that first duel with Crocodile. "Is that why you helped him then?"
"Yes," Robin replied. "I knew that, even in that state, he could win. He had the will to win, the will of a fearsome warrior, the will that he keeps hidden normally."
"Nah, nah, you're exaggerating things now Robin-chan," Nami said lightly. "Sure, Luffy isn't the kind of person who would lose to anyone, but he isn't scary like most of the strong people we've met."
"That's the part he keeps hidden, right Navigator-san?" Robin replied.
"You really think…?" Nami said hesitantly.
"Who knows," Robin said, shrugging. "It's just a feeling I've had that's grown stronger since Luffy met Dragon and learned that technique."
After crossing the Red Line Luffy had finally been able to meet his father, the infamous revolutionary Dragon. The encounter hadn't been more noteworthy than Luffy's reunion with his grandfather, the Marine Vice Admiral Garp, except that Dragon had instructed Luffy in a technique that he insisted would be absolutely vital for the survival of the Straw Hat pirates in the New World.
"Luffy-kun doesn't want his nakama to fear his power, the power he uses to protect those he cares about," Robin continued. The two women walked in silence for a minute as they emerged from the edge of the ruins.
"Garp and now Dragon," Nami said, interrupting the silence. "Luffy certainly has an interesting family. Who would have imagined that two such important and strong people would have been his direct relatives…"
"Do you remember the story I told you about the giant I knew when I was a small girl?" Robin asked.
"You mean, Saulo?" Nami replied.
"Yes, Jaguar D. Saulo, a Vice Admiral like Garp," Robin said. "I haven't uncovered the connection, but out of all the men I have encountered, all those who carry the name of D have without exception been seemingly destined for importance and power. Even if some of them become pirates or even revolutionaries like Dragon."
"I suppose that's why the World Government is so determined to capture Luffy-kun," Nami said ruefully. Ever since they had passed into the New World the Marines and the World Government they served had redoubled their efforts to capture the Straw Hat pirates.
"I should apologize again for causing you all such trouble," Robin said. They stopped at the edge of the forest and sat down.
"Eh, Robin, you're still going on about that?" Nami said playfully. "You know you're no trouble at all compared to those other guys."
"Even if you say that, look at our situation from the point of view of the World Government," Robin said. "After failing to prevent the meeting of Straw Hat Luffy and Revolutionary Dragon everything has been thrown into obscurity for the Marine high command. Is the Straw Hat collaborating in the destabilization of the world powers? Did the Straw Hat use Nico Robin to pass control of the ancient weapons to Dragon or does he intend to harness their power for himself?"
Nami's face tensed with anxiety as she considered all the possibilities. A clever person in her own right, nonetheless she had not seriously contemplated on such matters, though in her defense navigating the Grand Line was always a mentally taxing enterprise, especially in the New World.
"Luffy-kun is in a unique and unappealing position thanks to my troublesome presence on his crew," Robin continued. "He is the man who destroyed the judiciary island for the sake of a single crewmember, an act for which I am eternally grateful. He is now in serious contention to potentially seize One Piece, the ancient weapons, the truth of the void history, and in so doing plunge the world into chaos. That is what the World Government fears, a Pirate King armed with the true history and the lost weapons."
Nami made a frustrated noise. "Then, on top of all that, the idiot had to go and blab about Shanks in every tavern at every port city we've landed at since crossing the Red Line," Nami said.
Luffy had been eager to find his friend and idol, the person who inspired him to become a pirate, ever since they entered the New World. Toward that end he had been inquiring as to the whereabouts of the legendary Red Hair pirate. Unsurprisingly, the Marines had gotten wind of Luffy's connection with Red Hair and had set out to prevent them from meeting. So far Nami suspected that they had been successful since she had been forced to divert the Thousand Sunny's direction several times to avoid Marine patrols. It was rumored that Marine Headquarters had even dispatched an Admiral with orders to prevent contact and then there was always the bothersome presence of Smoker lurking in the background.
Robin sighed wistfully and looked out over the sea toward the setting sun. "I'm sorry Navigator-san," she said suddenly, "I seem to have rambled on unexpectedly."
"Ah, no, that's okay. I mean, I'm glad to hear your perspective," Nami said. She glanced over at the raven haired woman. "But you seem to have put a lot of thought into this subject."
"Yes," Robin said, cheerful again. "I'm quite interested in Luffy-kun."
"Ah, by that do you mean?" Nami asked, suddenly uneasy.
"What do you think Navigator-san," Robin continued, smiling broadly at Nami. "What do you think Luffy-kun's interest is?"
"Wait, wait," Nami said quickly. "This is Luffy we're talking about here. I mean, uh…"
"Yes, Navigator-san," Robin prompted, smiling broadly. Nami laughed nervously.
"You can't be serious Robin-chan," Nami said, her voice suddenly much too jovial and dismissive. "Luffy is loud and has no attention span and eats other people's food and…and…"
"And acts selflessly, a brave adventurer full of innocence and mirth who puts the lives and happiness of his nakama in front of everything else," Robin finished for her. "Most desirable characteristics, wouldn't you agree?"
Nami's face twitched slightly and then hardened noticeably. Robin could see the bright haired young woman tremble slightly.
"I…I…" Nami sputtered, searching for words. Unbidden, memories of Luffy's struggle against Arlong replayed in her mind. As joyous as his triumph had been, Nami had been even more enamored to the young pirate by the aftermath of that event. He was her friend and ever since that day she had considered him her best friend. She had never imagined that a pirate would not only save her, but not attempt to take advantage of her in exchange. "What do you know?"
"Navigator-san?" Robin asked quizzically.
"I really…" Nami began. Her voice rose and she turned away from Robin, her legs trying to break into a run. "Just stay away from him."
Robin sat smiling as she watched Nami's retreating back as she retreated swiftly toward the ship.
"Oi, oi, wasn't that a bit harsh," Zoro's voice asked as he emerged from the dense underbrush of the forest.
"Mr. Swordsman," Robin said pleasantly. "Don't you know it is impolite to listen to other people's conversations?"
"Eh, I don't care about things like that," Zoro replied. He had gotten lost again, but there was no need to voice that little detail aloud. Instead he leaned against a nearby tree and appraised the situation further, though he hated thinking about such bothersome things. "You did that on purpose didn't you?"
"Who knows?" Robin replied, her smile widening.
"He wouldn't be happy with anyone else you know," Zoro said in a matter of fact tone.
"Neither would she," Robin replied.