The ship was oddly quiet for once

Bee Stings and Garlic Kisses

Spoilers/Notes: A very small spoiler for Robin's past. Very small, but it's there. This takes place before Water 7-Enies Lobby, as a certain character didn't seem too keen on being written this time. Pairing is Robin/Zoro, rating is PG.

Disclaimer: None of the characters mentioned here belong to me.


The ship was oddly quiet for once. They had set anchor at an island not too long ago, and Nami and Sanji had set out to find some food. Chopper had run off after them with Usopp, leaving only Luffy, Zoro, and Robin left onboard. The silence following the four's departure was unexpected, and Robin leaned back in her chair enjoying the call of the gulls off shore. Her book fell to her lap, a single finger marking her place, as she closed her eyes to feel the breeze on her skin.

It was going to be a good day. She could already tell.

A bee buzzed in front of her face. She swatted at it with a hana hana hand and watched it fly off to the other side of the deck to investigate something else. It had been a while since she had seen a bee; they hadn't been too fond of the hot weather in Alabasta. But she did remember being stung by one once when she was still living on Ohara. It had been very painful, and one of the female archeologists had tended to young Robin's wound as she cried and cried.

The soothing sound of the ocean waters slapping the sides of the ship floated through the silence. Not for the first time, Robin wondered where her captain was. She knew he hadn't gone to shore (which was bizarre itself), but she had no idea what he was up to now. It was a bit unnerving, to say the least. Zoro, at least, was sleeping at the stern. His snoring was the only thing to be heard over the water.

Robin took a last glance over the deck and picked up her book again. Her eyes quickly picked up where they had left off. The pages were smooth under her delicate fingers as she traced the line of words. Just as she was being absorbed by reading, though, a short and pained screech startled her quickly from her chair. She heard the scream again, this time followed by a string of curses and a loud bang.

"Damn bee!"

It was Zoro. How strange. "Kenshi-san," Robin called out, her heart slowing it's raced pace as the adrenaline seeped from her body. Her initial reaction of fear had been nothing but instinct. "Are you all right?"

After a moment, he appeared before her, flushed and angry. A hand was pressed defensively to his left cheek. "Damn bee," he muttered again with a dark glance behind him. The insect was obviously dead now.

Robin put down her book on the small table by the chair and took a step forward. "Did it sting you?"

When he gave a terse nod, she reached out to pull his hand from his face. His skin was already red and starting to swell; the stinger was still stuck in his flesh. "Here," Robin said, tugging at his arm and pointing to the seat she had just vacated. "Let me take care of that for you."

"I'm fine," Zoro spat irritably. "I can handle it myself."

"I don't care. Sit."

They stared at each other for a tense second, daring the other to back down. Finally Zoro recognized defeat and sat heavily in the chair, sighing in annoyance. Robin gave him a half smile and put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"What's goin' on?" Luffy dropped down from the ship's rigging and landed next to them, flashing a brilliant grin their way as he straightened. "Ooh, Zoro, your face is all red! What did you do now?"

"He got stung by a bee," Robin explained patiently. She grabbed Zoro's fist with a hana hana hand to keep him from acting out at Luffy's ignorant behavior. "Could you do me a favor, Captain?"

The rubber man looked at his newest nakama and smiled at her again. "What kind of favor?"

Feeling his temper rise, Robin tightened her grip on Zoro's wrist. He was getting impatient, and she was inwardly surprised when he didn't fight off her hold. "Would you please go to the kitchen and get some meat tenderizer? I'm sure Sanji has some. A wet hand towel would be helpful as well."

Luffy nodded and stretched his hands to the mast to give himself a proper propelling force. His skin made a snapping sound when he lifted his feet from the deck and flew through the air. Just as he was about to disappear through the door into the kitchen, Robin called out after him. "And a knife too, if you wouldn't mind!"

"Wh-what?" Zoro stared at her, aghast. "A knife? Are you crazy, woman? Do you want to kill me?"

"A butter knife, not a chopping knife," she continued, ignoring the swordsman completely. They both heard Luffy's muffled response through the clatter and mess he was making in Sanji's kitchen. Someone would have to clean that up. Robin turned back to Zoro and knelt before him to take a closer look at the wound. Sakura petals floated briefly around them as she released his wrist and he pulled it away from her almost immediately.

"Do you know what you're doing?" he asked, eying her skeptically. "I mean, you're not a doctor or anything."

"Our doctor is not here at the moment," she snapped, not even meeting his stare as her fingers hovered over the inflamed skin she was currently inspecting. Heat seemed to be radiating from him; she was sure he was in more pain than he was letting on. "Would you rather do this yourself, then?"

He was quiet for a moment, taken aback by her soft words. Finally, he looked away. "No."

Robin made no response, instead choosing to press her cool fingers to his cheek around the stinger. He tensed painfully at her touch and took in a short gasp of air. "Try to relax," she told him, putting her other hand on his upper arm to steady him. "If you tense too much, your heart will only move the poison through your body and it will hurt even more."

Zoro's retort was lost as Luffy came running back to them. "Here you go, Robin. Everything you asked for!" He dropped the items he was carrying on the table beside the forgotten book.

"Thank you," Robin said, smiling up at him before looking at what was now scattered on the table before her. The dull butter knife glinted in the afternoon sun as she picked it up first.

Zoro, who had been trying to calm himself down, lost it again when he saw the knife so close to his face and shrank away from her. "What the hell are you gonna do with that?"

"Remove the stinger." Robin moved her hand from his arm and put it behind his neck to bring him closer again. "Please don't flinch like that. You're only making this more difficult." She waited until she felt him settle down under her steel grip and lightly brushed the edge of the knife at an angle over his cheek. The stinger budged slightly, so she ran the knife against it again. This time it came free and she set the utensil back down to push the black needle away with her fingers.

"Would you please hand me the wet towel?" she asked Luffy, not looking away from Zoro's face. He appeared to be in less pain now that the cause had been removed. The rubber man dropped the towel into her outstretched hand. "Thank you."

Luffy just grinned again. "Man, Zoro, this is funny! Wait until everyone else sees your face!"

"Shut it, bastard!"

Robin restrained the green-haired man with more hana hana hands to hold him still, but kept her mouth shut this time as she gently rinsed his skin clean of the small bit of blood that had escaped with the stinger. When she though about it, Luffy was right. This was quite amusing. Zoro, one of the most powerful swordsmen in the world, stopped by a measly bee. No wonder he was so disinclined to accept help.

In a brief surge of compassion, Robin turned to her captain again. "Why don't you go straighten up the mess in the kitchen?" she suggested softly, raising an eyebrow. "Sanji might not make you a big meal tonight if his things are left out of order."

Luffy stared at her thoughtfully, and she knew that he was very aware of what she was trying to do. For all his goofy antics, the boy was not as dim as many took him to be. "Okay," he said as he stood up. He adjusted his hat on his head, turning away without another word.

The woman watched him go into the kitchen and turned her attention back to the patient still sitting in her chair. More sakura petals erupted as she released him from restraint once again. Her eyes were kind as she said, "At least he won't bother you during your recovery."

"Recovery, huh?" Zoro actually chuckled at this and tried unsuccessfully to catch her elusive gaze. "Thanks for…you know."

She grinned, continuing to wipe the rest of the infected area with the towel. "Thanks for what? For treating your life-threatening wound or saving your pride?"

Zoro was silent at that, and she took it as a small victory. The towel was dropped to the deck with a wet plop as she reached for the meat tenderizer to shake some into her hand. Its grains rubbed against her fingers as she massaged the powder onto the sting. She could feel him relaxing as the various spices sucked up the venom, and for some reason she found she was able to relax as well.

"You can wash this off in a few minutes," she told him as she finished rubbing it all in. She wiped her fingers off on the towel and dropped it again. "I'm all done, though you might want to have Chopper look at it when he returns. After all, it's been a while since I've had to treat a bee sting."

He reached up and gingerly touched his cheek. "No, I think you did an okay job."

Robin shook her head, amused, and busied herself by gathering the assortment of first-aid materials. "Don't rub all that off or I'll have to put more on."

"Is that so?" Defiantly, he stood and waited until she was watching before he ran his fingers across the wound, dragging off more of the tenderizer.

Robin gasped angrily and stood as well. "What are you doing? You're going to aggravate it! Stop!"

"Make me," Zoro said slowly, clearly wanting her to do something.

And so she did. When he reached up to smear the rest off, she snatched his wrist and pulled it back sharply. She did the same to his other wrist to prevent him from trying to get around her threat. As soon as she had, though, Zoro pulled his arms back to his body, bringing her with them until she tripped into his chest. Their arms were pinned between them, neither willing to let go.

Robin leaned toward him menacingly. "Don't even try it," she warned irately.

"Try what?" Zoro asked, faking innocence as he leaned in too.

"You know very well what I'm talking about." Her whispered voice was lined with forced hostility. "Now please let me go."

"You say 'please' too much." This was an unexpected response, and Zoro used his momentary advantage by pulling one wrist from her grasp and putting his hand behind her head to pull her face closer to his. He could feel her heated breath against his skin, feel her eyelashes against his nose. They both stopped struggling, knowing the game was over.

Robin smiled and closed her eyes, letting her lips hover mere millimeters from his reach. "You're welcome, by the way."

His fist clenched in her hair, the silky threads cool in his fingers. Without another word, he closed the small distance between them and captured her tempting lips with his own. Just as he began to push her down into the chair, though, a loud crack brought them quickly back to their surroundings.

"Stop it, both of you!"

Robin and Zoro looked at each other, horrified that they had been caught. But it was Nami's voice, and she was still on the shore. The more present danger – Luffy – poked his head out of the kitchen and bounded over to the railing of the ship. Robin quickly scrambled to her feet. Zoro followed suit, standing behind her to peer over her shoulder.

"Oi, Nami!" Luffy called, hanging himself a bit too far over the railing for comfort. His hat slipped forward and he reached up to right it. "What'cha doing? Did you bring me any meat?"

"You shut up, too!" was her scathing answer.

Sanji, now sporting a bright bruise on his forehead, was following her like a puppy. Chopper and Usopp, on the other hand, looked downright terrified as they shuffled back to the safety of their home as quickly as possible.

Zoro shook his head and looked away. "I wonder what happened this time?"

Robin, knowing he was merely thinking out loud, shrugged. "Does it matter?"

"No, not really."

The woman grinned and glanced back at him. "Go wash your face, Kenshi-san. You smell like garlic." Her grin turned evil. "Taste like it, too."