A/N: About time I did this. Honestly, looking back at it now, the original story kinda sucks. I'm not too disappointed with it, it's just that I feel like it could have been a lot better. I really liked the premise for the story when I wrote it, and still do, but I don't think I did it justice. Here's attempt number two! As a refresher, this story is loosely based off of canon, in particular the party scene in Water 7 after they rescue Robin from Enies Lobby. Hopefully this turns out a lot better and with any luck my writing will have vastly improved.
It was an impressive scene. What had originally started as a simple party between the Straw Hat crew and members of the Galley-La company had exploded into a massive party donning hundreds of people living in Water 7. Toasts were made, songs were sung, food was eaten, and merriment was had by all. All but one, that is.
Nico Robin was leaning against a wall on the outskirts of the area where the party was being held. She held a glass of wine in her hand, however the wine was a façade so that she would look like she was celebrating with everybody else. It wasn't that she was happy or excited, certainly not. Robin could not find words to describe the happiness she felt that she was back with her nakama again; the only problem was that the happiness she felt was slowly being overshadowed by another emotion, fear.
The archeologist feared for her nakama. She feared the consequences of the actions that they had taken in their conquest to save her. Most of all, she feared the man who, not too long ago, had finally decided that she needed to die. The same man who had taken Saul from her and the same man who had nearly taken her captain from her. Ao Kiji.
Robin was certain that, even now, the admiral was out there looking for her. He had found her once already, and the raven haired archeologist was sure that he would find her again. And when he did, she was sure that her nakama would try to save her, as she would do for them, and that they would fall victim to him as before when they did so. The thought pained her so much that she couldn't enjoy herself even though she wanted nothing more than to immerse herself in the wonderful festivities with everybody.
The raven haired archeologist wistfully looked around for her nakama to see what they were up to. Even if she couldn't enjoy herself, Robin would at least take pleasure in the knowledge that they were.
The first strawhat Robin was able to spot was the most rambunctious one of them all, Luffy. A piece of meat in one hand and a mug of ale in the other, Robin knew very well that he was having the most fun of everyone and she watched as he laughed heartily at something. The rubber captain's head flew forwards and where Luffy's head used to be a there was a fist instead. That answered where the navigator of the crew was and Robin could tell that the two were once again in a one-sided argument over nothing.
Not too far away from the duo was Sanji. He was busy at work cooking for the endless masses of people that continued to stream in. Robin knew the cook dearly enjoyed his role and that he wouldn't give it up for anything, especially when it brought beautiful women to him. In fact, the blonde haired cook was surrounded by multiple ladies who had been awestruck by the quality of his cooking and he seemed like at the very least he was going to die a happier man.
The archeologist watched as Sanji handed two fresh plates of food downwards to Chopper. The doctor eagerly took the food and hurried over to where the two giants were. In response to the reindeer's arrival, one of the giants lowered down a man wearing a mask to the ground who had been standing on the giant's shoulder. Robin saw the trademark nose of Usopp as the sniper took one of the plates of food from Chopper, giving him a thumbs-up before presumably beginning a ridiculous story about food that the doctor would no doubt believe.
The only one left to find now was the green haired swordsman of the crew, Zoro. Robin keenly looked for the man, hoping to catch the reserved and impassive strawhat actually having fun. With any luck, she would see him doing something embarrassing so she could give him a hard time about it later, but it was unlikely.
While looking for the swordsman, Robin subconsciously raised her wine glass to her lips. Startled by the movement, the raven haired archeologist looked down at the glass, and then took a sip, returning her gaze to the search.
Before she could locate Zoro, Robin was interrupted by a voice she instantly recognized, one she never wanted to hear again.
To most people, it would be nothing more than an ordinary voice. But to her, it was the voice of a cold man who had all but helped to ruin her life, sparing it at the end not for her, but for the friend he took from her. It was the voice of admiral Ao Kiji.
A distance away, the crewmember of the Straw Hat pirates that Robin was unable to locate finished his drink. Slamming the wooden mug onto the table with a resounding thud and exhaling loudly in satisfaction, Zoro looked to his competitor. Paulie had foolishly challenged the green haired swordsman to a drinking competition and had now paid the price for it. Nearly passed out on the table, Paulie simply groaned in defeat at the swordsman, waving him off with one of his arms clumsily while supporting himself with the other.
Satisfied with his victory, Zoro decided to refill his mug with some more rum and began to stand up, instead almost losing his balance and falling over. The swordsman had let himself get drunker than he usually did, but he had decided this case to be an exception considering the crew had just rescued Robin from what many would consider impossible odds.
Zoro walked over to where Sanji was and presented his empty mug to the blonde haired cook. Somehow the gesture managed to divert the crewmate's attention from the swarm of girls that were surrounding him, possibly because he thought it was another. Upon realizing that the person who was holding the mug wasn't a beautiful woman, in fact far from it, any interest the cook had instantly disappeared. His eyes half closed and the cook wore a dismissive look on his face, Sanji then recognized the identity of the person and replaced the dismissive look with an annoyed and challenging one.
"Oh, it's you Marimo. The hell do you want? Can't you see I'm busy? Get your own damn drink, you lazy bastard."
Zoro didn't react at all to the scoffing, instead gesturing back to where the barrels of alcohol were.
"Last time I filled up the last remaining barrel over there ran out. Have we gotten any more yet?"
Sanji looked over to where the swordsman had indicated, nodding at his assessment.
"Not yet, it's on its way. I actually have one small barrel of rum from the ship that's higher quality than anything these guys will bring. It's from when Robin joined our crew; she brought it from Crocodile's personal storage. Say what you will about the guy, he had a great taste."
Zoro crossed his arms and looked around for the barrel of rum in question.
"That's true, it's always a special night when we open one of those things, that's for sure. Think I could get some? Don't really feel like waiting for the other stuff, especially when I know we have some of Crocodile's stuff here."
Sanji reached up to the cigarette in his mouth and took a drag, taking it out and tapping out the ash onto the ground. Exhaling the smoke, the blonde haired cook shrugged.
"Sure, why not? I was going to save it for later, but I guess now is as good a time as any. Here, hand me your mug."
Complying with the cook's request, Zoro handed over his empty mug and watched happily as Sanji brought out a small barrel from under a table, uncorking it and pouring some of its contents into the cup. Taking it back when the cook had finished, Zoro took a swig of his new beverage and found it to be some of the best he had ever tasted. It had a particularly sweet and caramel-like flavor with a hint of spice in it, enough to excite the throat but not enough to hurt.
"How is it?" the cook asked with interest before pouring the contents into a mug of his own.
"Awesome, see for yourself," Zoro responded with a grin.
Sanji took a swill from his mug and his face instantly lit up.
"You aren't kidding! This shitty stuff is pretty damn good. Oi, make sure to thank Robin. I'd do it myself but I'm a little busy with everything over here."
Zoro closed his eyes and smirked at the blonde haired chef, lowering his head slightly as if he was looking at the cook's feet. The swordsman took his mug, in his left hand, and raised it towards Sanji, who returned the smile before clacking his mug against the swordsman's. Zoro walked off afterwards, slouched forward a slight bit with his free hand sitting in his pocket.
"Oh, and make sure to tell her to come over and get some food. I made something super special for her that's sure to win her heart!"
Zoro took his right hand out of his pocket and waved it halfheartedly without turning back.
"You'd better, you bastard, or else you'll have the bottom of my shoe meeting the front of your face."
Zoro continued to walk away, completely ignoring the last comments much to the cook's chagrin. The conversation did bring up a good point, though, where was Robin? The green haired swordsman looked around for the archeologist and he spotted her standing alone against a wall.
Normally Zoro would have just left her alone there since he understood her pleasure in solitude; even he did it sometimes during a party. However, whether it was the alcohol in his system or a feeling that he had, the swordsman decided to walk over to the raven haired archeologist.
As he was drawing near, Zoro noticed a look on her face that he hadn't expected to see for a long while, least of all tonight.
He knew it was fear since she wore the same expression when she was in cuffs around the members of CP9. She was willing to give up her life to keep him and the rest of the crew safe, and the thought of her death had scared the archeologist to the bone, whether she realized at the time or not.
Pressing himself against the wall, Zoro stealthily approached Robin in an attempt to discover what had her on edge. As he neared, Zoro could hear a faint but somewhat familiar voice talking to his nakama.
Recognition of the voice's origin suddenly hit Zoro and he cursed himself for not realizing it earlier. If it really was who he thought it was, things were about to get bad really quick and the swordsman was hardly in any condition to fight an admiral.
Unable to put the mug of rum down without making a noise that would give him away, Zoro awkwardly steadied his best blade, Wado Ichimonji, as best as he could and unhitched the blade silently. Pressing himself harder against the wall, Zoro tried to listen in on the conversation to discover what it was about and to find out where Ao Kiji was.
The green haired swordsman was able to roughly gauge the admiral's location and overheard what little of he could of the conversation. It didn't sound that threatening, however the swordsman wasn't about to let his guard down in case things turned for the worse.
"One more thing, Pirate Hunter Zoro, I know you're standing there. Feel free to hitch your blade at any point. I have no intention of attacking any of your crew at the moment. I only dropped by to talk to Nico Robin one more time before I headed off."
Startled by the change in conversation, Robin looked over to where she heard a surprised grunt to see Zoro. He looked extremely nervous and had his hand on his katana, though the archeologist found it strange that he also had a mug in his hand. The green haired swordsman made eye contact with Robin, and only after she nodded to him did he stay his blade, although reluctantly.
"That's better. One last question, were you really planning on fighting me as you are? The last time we fought had less than desirable results from you, and I think you being drunk would only make those results worse."
"Tch, does it really matter?" Zoro spat out.
"Heh. No, I guess it doesn't. Well, I'll be going, and remember what I said, Nico Robin. Remember it well."
With that, the admiral's presence disappeared and a wave of relief overcame the two strawhats. Robin still had many questions she wanted to ask the admiral, but the questions could wait. She just wanted to enjoy herself now.
"Oi, you alright?" Zoro pointedly asked.
Robin looked to the green haired swordsman and lightly nodded, a warm smile on her face.
"How much of the conversation did you hear?"
"Not really sure, I think I came in towards the end. I kind of got the gist of what he was saying, though."
Robin thought a little to herself with her hand on her chin, afterwards crossing her arms.
"If you don't mind me asking, Kenshi-san, what are you doing out here, anyways? It seems unlike you, I expected you to be in a drinking contest or something."
Zoro laughed lightly.
"Well, I had just won one before coming over here."
Robin chuckled as well to the swordsman's response.
"Well that would explain the mug. Still, why did you come?"
Zoro stiffened up. He actually didn't know why he had come over. It certainly wasn't because Sanji had asked him to.
"Well… uhh… I saw you standing here alone and—"
"You decided to come over and keep me company?" Robin teased the swordsman. "How cute, Kenshi-san."
Zoro grunted in embarrassment and took a swig of the rum in his hand to hide his face which had become slightly redder than it had been before. Scratching the back of his head, Zoro turned his head to the side and looked towards the party to avoid the archeologist's glance.
"Really, though, are you alright?"
The repeating of the question startled the raven haired archeologist. Looking into her glass, Robin began thinking what had just happened. Her biggest fear, Ao Kiji, had just told her that he was going to leave her alone if she kept going the way she was, with her nakama. Now, one of those nakama was alone with her on the outskirts of a party, both with a drink in their hand and both comfortable in their combined isolation. Robin felt one of the greatest smiles she'd ever known appear on her face and she looked back to the swordsman whose face had a deepening red appearing, though she couldn't tell if it was from the alcohol or not.
"I feel great, Zoro."
Robin took a large drink from her glass of wine and heard a surprised grunt from her companion. The raven haired archeologist looked inquisitively over to the swordsman.
"What is it?"
"Oh… it's that you… it's nothing."
The answer didn't satisfy the archeologist.
"No, really, was it from me drinking that much?" She pointed to Zoro's mug and let out a small giggle. "I need to catch up after all."
"All right then." Zoro said, laughing heartily in response.
Zoro presented his mug to the archeologist.
Robin tapped the edge of her glass against the swordsman's mug and they both downed the rest of their drinks together, exhaling loudly in satisfaction afterwards.
Zoro pushed himself off of the wall and gestured to the party.
"Come on, let's go back. Sanji said he cooked you up something amazing"
Robin followed suit, smiling the whole time.
Ending note: Holy crap, this turned out a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would. I'm thoroughly satisfied with how this turned out and I feel like it's much better than the first. I took out the whole 'am I your nakama' thing because it honestly didn't feel like a conversation the two would have. The scenario felt forced and as a result came out awkward and a little out of context. PLEASE let me know what you guys think, even if you didn't read the first part. I'm really interested to see how much I've progressed and only you guys can tell me that. Lastly, did it feel like it was in character? Sort of feels like I've been deviating more and more from staying in character lately, but I can't tell.