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Nami never realized how valuable Robin was as a nakama after she had joined the crew. True, everyone else was just as important to the Strawhat crew, but Robin felt very important to Nami for some reason. Unlike the rest of the crew, the insane Luffy, the sloth-like Zoro, the lustful Sanji, the cowardly Usopp, and the naive Chopper, Nico Robin kept her head in many tense situations.
Even the way Robin looked could be described as peaceful. Her jet-black hair never stuck out. Her brown eyes seemed as peaceful as the ocean in a calm belt. Then there was her smile, gentle, subtle, and elegant. Even Robin's body seemed sculpted to fit her. Noticing Robin's hourglass figure, Nami noticed the way the archaeologist's outfits always complimented her body type. Revealing and risqué, Nami wondered what kept the archaeologist in great shape.
It was hard to imagine what would happen if Robin hadn't joined the crew. Then again, it was a bit hard to imagine anyone one person leaving the crew. Still, there was always that moment that Nami thought to herself, what if? What if she had lost someone she barely knew and couldn't see her again? What if Robin wasn't there anymore? Who else would she be able to talk to without someone screaming for food or mercy? Then and there, the navigator made a promise to herself. She wanted to get to know Robin as a true nakama.
The sun beat down on the Going Merry as Nami passed the Strawhat crew doing their usual routine. Luffy was up to his usual antics, running around and making a fool of himself. Zoro was asleep on the deck snoring away. Sanji was cooking his dishes with heart-shaped eyes, pining for the affection of the two women on board. Usopp weaved another one of his fables which the gullible Chopper ate up immediately. (This time, Usopp was once a great explorer who uncovered an island entirely made of candy).Finally, there was Robin, sitting quietly by herself.
Nami smiled, seeing someone actually reading a book in the crew. As she walked by, she noticed the outfit Robin wore. The archeologist covered herself with a pair of purple pants matched with a purple shirt that revealed a small amount of cleavage, which made Nami blush and hesitate before finally opening her mouth. She shook such thoughts from her mind as she finally greeted her nakama with a smile.
"Hey, Robin!" Nami waved.
As if caught dead in her own plan, Nami made a true effort in order to understand the older woman before her. "I couldn't help notice you were reading a book. What's it about?"
"History." She replied. Nami didn't quite like the response she received. While it was genuine and very polite, a part of her felt the icness of her crewmate.
"Um...Mind expanding a bit?"
"Ancient History." Again, Robin's cold attitude prevented any sort of real conversation. Nami stumbled around for something to say. A part of her wanted to walk away from Robin for being so impersonal, but another told Nami to stay. She knew that a former agent of Baroque Works and right hand woman to Crocodile would keep a part of herself hidden away. So, in return, Nami had to open up a little of herself in order to truly gain Robin's trust. The navigator composed herself and tried again once more.
Putting on another smile, she sat by Robin. "You know, I've always wanted to know about history. It might help me chart out the some hidden islands."
The older woman put down her book and looked at Nami. "Navigator-san,"
"Call me Nami."
"Very well, Nami-san." Nami cheered a little inside, having gone past formalities in just a moment.
"What is this about, exactly?" The archaeologist asked the same question Nami had asked herself on multiple occasions. In truth, Nami just wanted to talk to Robin. Not because she was different from everyone else on board, but because...she seemed special to Nami. However, this seemed a bit extreme coming from her mouth, so she quickly made up an excuse.
"I...I know it's tough letting your guard down when you've had it up for so long. And I know Luffy isn't the easiest person to talk to."
"Oi! Sanji!" The two women turned around to find their captain banging on the door. "I need more meat to make a fort for myself!"
"Okay, maybe he's impossible to talk to. But, I just wanted to let you know that if you want someone sane to listen to your thoughts, I'm here for you. Who knows? I might even tell you a little about myself."
The older woman stared into Nami's chocolate eyes, not once breaking her gaze. Nami wondered what ran through Robin's mind. Anyone like her might have been hesitant to trust someone so easily, but it wasn't as if this was their first time talking. For a brief moment, the navigator felt afraid Robin was plotting some sort of diabolical scheme against her. However, when the archaeologist offered her hand in friendship, Nami felt relieved.
"That seems fair, Nami-san." Robin said while smiling. "I'll tell you a bit about myself if you tell me a bit about you."
Nami noticed the smile once again. The same small grin she always wore, made appearances frequently whenever she noticed something shocking, odd or even terrifying. That smile always seemed to stare Nami back as if that was all Robin could do. It was then; Nami realized that the smile Nico Robin wore so frequently wasn't so much as her constant calmness as it was a barrier, a shield to her true feelings. Hesitantly, Nami took Robin's hand and shook it.
"It's a deal."
"Of course, Nami-san."
By the end of the conversation, Nami hadn't been sure what had changed between the two of them other than the fact Robin called her by a different title. It seemed like a turn in the right direction, but it wasn't nearly enough to justify an actual bond between the two of them. Nami really wanted to connect with Robin like she did with Vivi or Nojiko. Even if they didn't talk on a daily basis, she wanted to have one good conversation with her. After all, Robin was an important nakama to Nami. She just wondered if Robin felt the same way.
Nami adjusted her legs as she reached for the orange fruit before her. She balanced herself on the branch as her fingertips brushed the bumpy skin of her goal. Finally, she pulled the tangerine from the tree and added it to its sister. Since both of them were about the same size, she could pass one without fear of showing Robin up. As she slid down the tree, she noticed two sets of very hungry eyes stare at Nami, envious of the fruit she had just plucked.
"Oi, Nami!" Luffy cried out with his gluttonous eyes. "Can I have some of your tangerines? Please? Please!"
"Please, Nami..." Usopp said in a low whisper while sinking to the floor. "I'm dying of scurvy. I can only survive if you give me your delicious tangerines."
"Get lost!" The navigator shouted to the both of them. She wasn't about to lose her offering to Robin over a few idiots. "I'm not giving you these tangerines, so can just ask for more! If you're dying of scurvy, ask Sanji for some limes."
"But..." Usopp said, fumbling over his words. "This is a special type of scurvy. It can only be cured by super delicious tangerines fresh from the tree!"
"Besides," Luffy said pointing to the fruit Nami held in her hand. "Why do you need two for? Are you giving it to someone?" Nami hesitated to answer the question. If the crew had found out that she was giving the fruit to Robin, chances are they might over think it. They could've assumed that there more to the relationship that meets the eye. But, it was a simple gesture of friendship. It was silly to think that a simple tangerine meant anything more than a conversation starter.
"None of your business!" She pouted as she carried the pair of fruits with her. She grumbled to herself about how abrasive her captain was, making a big deal out of a pair of fruit. Nothing was going on between the two of them. It was simply a gesture of friendship.
Finally, she caught Robin leaning against the rail of Merry, staring at the vast ocean before them. It was here she noticed how calm and serene Robin looked against the landscape. Wearing her purple shirt and a pair of dark purple pants, the archaeologist's figure gave a sort of aura around her. Though the ship moved at a steady enough pace, time seemed to pause for a moment when it came to Robin. Her midnight hair glistened in the sunlight. The seagulls cawed peacefully. Nami wouldn't have been surprised if they were singing for Robin. When Nami noticed she had been staring at her nakama for an extended period, she shook herself awake and called out the older woman.
"Catch!" Nami cried as she tossed a fruit into the air. Robin caught sight of this and used her Hana Hana powers to grow a limb on the rail to catch it.
"A tangerine?" Robin said, turning around. "What for?"
The navigator smiled. She had prepared herself for that question for a long time. "They just remind me of my home, Coco Village. I grew up with a woman named Bellemare and she had this grove which I always used to steal from."
"Is that where those trees came from?" Robin nodded to the grove, which Nami had taken the tangerines.
"You bet!" She replied. "I used to get in all sorts of trouble. Bellemare scolded me so hard; I thought my ears would fall out. For a while, I thought she hated me. But, what I didn't know was that she actually saved me."
"How?" Robin asked. Nami smiled seeing how she finally captured her attention.
"Bellemare used to be a marine. I was actually saved from a storm and she adopted me. I never realized that underneath all of that discipline was someone who really cared for me. It took a while, but...I actually managed to understand her. She was really patient with me and I finally trusted her."
Something Nami hadn't counted on was how talking about Bellemare actually brought back old memories. She chuckled to herself, remembering Bellemare's smile with a cigarette sticking out. She remembered how she cooked fresh tangerines for her and Nojiko to eat. It had been a while before she had actually thought back to the time when she was a child. But, when Robin had cleared her throat, she was brought back to reality. She looked at Robin and smiled.
"So, where did you grow up?"
"Ohara." Once again, Robin did not divulge any information other than the obvious. Nami started to get a bit irritable with her female counterpart, but did not let it bother her. She remained calm and asked another question.
"What was it like?"
The archaeologist stared out to sea. "Very beautiful. There were many researchers there that I learned from."
The bonding felt more like an interrogation. Robin had been so careful on what information she leaked out that it, that it was similar to cracking a safe, a very beautiful, mysterious safe that required much more patience than an ordinary thief possessed. Somehow, even as Robin gave more information, Nami still didn't know anything about who Robin was. All she knew was that she grew up in a place called Ohara. She wanted to know what type of person Robin was underneath the exterior. Somehow, there was someone she could really talk to and bond with. She just needed the right moment.
"Excuse me, Nami-san." The older woman said. "I have to check on a book. Thank you for the gift." Nami waited by the rail, only to notice that Robin failed to take her gift with her. The navigator sighed, having accomplished nothing.
She put the two oranges together. At least the fruit wasn't alone.