Author: Santoryuu Soccer

Pairing: Zoro x Robin

Chapter words: 2,300 approx.

Oh man. This chapter is just... BLEH. I mean, I had originally planned out some very well thought-out and critical ideas for this chapter, but I, more or less, screwed myself over. This chapter is mediocre at best, and I feel as though I just cannot amend it anymore. It is literally flooded with OOCness and pressing repetitions. I am definitely considering on re-writing or heavily editing this piece later on, but for now, I have to get out more chapters for you, readers ;D. Please enjoy regardless.


Similar Aspirations

The small dinghy rocked silently on the calm waters of the grand line. The storm had disappeared as quick as it had appeared, and now, not even a glimmer of a darkened cloud was visible. Zoro squeezed the water out of his soaked shirt, and tossed it to the end of the boat.

"I let my guard down," he said irritatedly, and ran a hand through his moist hair. He shifted in his position, allowing his cramping legs to fan out a bit more.

After grabbing Robin, he had dragged her to the surface without really much trouble, but then, when they both thought they were safe, he managed to get lost on the way to the boat that stood directly in front of them. They had wandered in circles around the boat for at least ten freezing minutes, and when he finally raised his head above water to see where they were, the storm had suddenly disappeared. The weather had shifted from disastrous to unbelievably calm within mere seconds, the black clouds replaced by white, and the bright cracks of sunlight were already seeping through. But, even though she may be dying from hypothermia at the moment, he had found one of his nakama in the end, at least, and hadn't made the trip to the bridge in vain.

Zoro craned his head to her direction, and then slightly relaxed when he saw her alert. He had only now remembered that she hadn't even uttered a single word since his coming, and seeing that her eyes were cast off into the distance, in the very least, meant that she wasn't dead. He picked up his dry jacket and somewhat hesitated before pushing it to her direction, his head turned in the other, bottom lip sticking out. "You'll catch a cold."

Robin smiled, "Thank you, Swordsman-san, but 'people who catch colds have weak hearts,' neh?"

Zoro flinched slightly when the memory came back to him. He had told her the exact same thing, and now she was using it against him. The woman was always doing such things. "Even the best will stumble."

"That's not what you had said before, Swordsman-san."

"A man's words may change, but his ambition is set in stone."

"I see." Robin said, and took his worn down jacket from him. "In that case, I will take up your offer."

Robin held back a shiver when the besetting scent of steel reached her nose. It was somewhat nostalgic for her, and, somehow, she felt secure with his jacket.

She turned her head to his direction. "Are we on course?"

The swordsman reached into his pocket and pulled out the familiar vivre card and placed it on his palm. "Yeah," he said and scratched his head, "but the others--"

"Oh, you need not worry about that. They're not stupid people, they will remember eventually."

"Yeah, it'll just take the stupid-ass cook twice as long," Zoro grunted. He leaned back a little and shut his eyes. Before, when he said that there was only room for two on the boat, he wasn't joking, not that he ever really did. There was hardly enough room to shift, much less stretch or sleep in the boat without knocking the woman clean off.

"Swordsman-san?"

Zoro cracked open an eye, a bit irritated. It was something all of the Straw Hats were fully familiar with, most especially the cook, who bothered him much more than anyone else in the crew. They all knew not to screw with him while he was trying to sleep; Nami, even, seemed to back off a bit more about his debts while talking to him when he was in that state. Hell, even Luffy was beginning to catch on, and that, Zoro had to admit, was pretty rare. Well, all except one. It never seem to affect a certain woman in their crew. Not in the least.

"If I recall correctly from going through the crew's journals, that scar you bear was from Hawk-Eye Mihawk, the infamous Shichibukai and swordsman, was is not?" Robin said, tilting her head slightly to his torso.

Zoro didn't look down, nor reply.

"Why, even when you knew you were to lose, did you challenge that man?" Robin rested her chin on her palm. "I've been curious for quite some time, as the journal lacked many details on that fight, and that fight alone. Aside from it, everything else in there seemed perfectly explained and covered, but your incident was rather blatant and, if I didn't know better, incomplete."

"It's my dream kill that man, and Nami wasn't there when it happened," he shrugged.

"Becoming the strongest swordsman in the world; do you not think that will be difficult?"

"I decided long ago," he said," It doesn't matter what anyone else says."

"I see..." Robin smiled and looked down. You and I are the same, was what she wanted to say, but she laughed at herself at simply the thought of it. How ridiculous of her.

Zoro, upon noticing her sudden change, tilted his head toward the sky slightly, and mumbled under his breath, "I guess we're the same after all."

It was barely audible, and Zoro turned his head away and closed his eyes once more, unknowing of the woman's smile that followed.


Rayleigh leaned back on his chair and rested his legs onto the table. There were several empty bottles of rum laying around him, and the reek of smoke was heavy in the air. There was a newspaper in the man's hands. The headline's had never been so large, but this was definitely a worthy title for the occasion: "The War of the New Era Ends". There was large picture underneath all the writing – a grinning boy with a strawhat amidst the chaos of the battlefield alongside Whitebeard.

Rayleigh set the newspaper down and took another drink.

"You bet it on 'a new era', eh, Shanks?"


The little boat jumped as the swordsman woke with a start. His brows were furrowed and there were streaks of sweat plastered on his face. He clutched his chest tightly with an uncertain hand, and a drop of blood seeped through the corners of his mouth. He quickly wiped it away with the back of his hand, and swallowed the similar liquid that swished disgustingly inside his mouth.

"Shit, I over slept..." he grunted when his mouth was cleared.

"You slept for a mere twenty minutes," Robin smiled, peering over her book, "You didn't honestly think that I would believe that, right, Swordsman-san?"

Zoro looked at her, a somewhat menacing air around him, but lips curled upwards and a brow raised intriguingly on his face when he got a hold of himself.

"I may have had a nightmare," he smirked, "I forgot."

Of course he didn't expect her to believe that either, nor himself. Even though she had formerly stated herself that her specialty lay in the assassination area when she first joined the crew, it really didn't take long for him to notice her strength within manipulation and interrogation – actually, it struck him when she produced the sack of jewels from Crocodile to Nami, although that may not have been all that impressive...

And he, himself, fully knew what kind of nightmare it was – after all that would only be expected after witnessing it on a daily course. The same exact nightmare that haunted his subconscious at night, and his conscious in the day. It was the reason behind his weak frame and mind, and was the ultimate barrier that separated him from his nakama now – literally.

The dream itself was, really none other than, the accident in Thriller Bark and Sabaody Archipelago. It generally shifted between the two incidents in one dream, but they seemed to grow in intensity every occurring moment, and it even began having direct physical effects on him. In the last moments in Sabaody, everything seemingly slowed down as the cyborg's hand crashed into his side. He had caught the ghastly expressions of his nakama just as he blew away, and the image burned a permanent mark into his brain. The same scene playing over and over and over was just too much to bear- even for him, who was said to have a heart of stone amongst bounty hunters and pirates.

When he first joined Luffy, he told himself that he would never become a burden to the crew, that he would never become a hassle for them, and yet, at his final moments, he dragged them all down with him. If only he were stronger, if only he were to finish the cyborg at Thriller Bark... his Nakama would have been possibly already moving on from Fishman island and setting into the New World – together. But instead, he failed them, only able to save his captain, pathetically on his knees and giving his full trust to the Shichibukai on their lives, and now, they were all separated. All because he became a burden.

=-=

Whatever was going through the swordsman's mind, he was good at concealing it, Robin noted. Not that she hadn't noticed before already, but this time around, she was positive something was on his mind, and she had an idea of what, but he, as always, wasn't showing any form of discomfort or weakness at all.

She watched him pick up his shirt, wipe the sweat from his face, and then cross his legs slightly cautious, making sure not to kick her overboard. He went into, what it seemed to her, a meditation position, and Robin watched him secretly, pretending to follow her book and occasionally turning the page, but her heart nowhere near the actual act of reading. His rising chest steadied quickly and a strange wave of peacefulness washed over her as she observed him in silence. His face was, what was now, in the pirate era, hard to find among men, and she felt as if she could stare at it for an eternity without feeling as much as a bore coming in. In fact, she had no idea how much time had passed already, and when the swordsman finally shifter, she darted her eyes back to her book nonchalantly.

"You haven't turned the page for a while," he said, cracking an eye to her direction.

"Yes, I find this page quite interesting, in fact," she smiled.

"'You didn't honestly think that I would believe that, right, archeologist-san?'"

He was going to beat the woman at her own game, well, tried at least. It didn't sound nearly as good when his voice cracked at 'archeologist-san', and he barely just choked out the rest of the word. His face turned bright red, and he cleared his throat loudly upon hearing Robin's laughter coming from his side.

"That was rather impressive, Swordsman-san," Robin smiled.

Zoro grunted.

"If you don't mind me asking," she said, "what was it you were doing just now?"

"Mah..." Zoro stopped and scratched his head. He was about to explain the whole story, but then decided against it when he realized that it would take too long. "'Haki training', I guess..."

"Haki?" Robin jolted and called out a bit louder than intended. "So you do possess it, after all. Along with Captain-san, and Cook-san, I had originally noticed that you three had abnormal fighting styles and even began hinting Haki-styled techniques during the time in Enies Lobby."

She smiled slightly, "To think that you are already at the stage of perfecting it this early in your life."

"Haki..." Zoro muttered that word again.

"Can't say I understand it, but that witch managed to teach me how to draw the power out," Zoro said, then added irritatedly, "At a damned high price."

Robin's lips curled slightly as an idea came to her. She would have to thank the revolutionist in the prison later on. "Swordsman-san, what do you say we make a pit stop at a near-by island I recognize?"

Zoro raised an eyebrow slightly. "If you can get us there without getting us lost."

How ironic, Robin thought.

"To purchase some extra supplies, and," she said, "To test your Haki."


See? Did I not tell you? Please give me your honest reviews for this chapter. The only reason I pushed myself to finish this is because I recently just recieved some reviews the re-inspired me ;D, so thank you to those people and all my revieweres. Submit any FAQ or questions you may have via review or PM. Thank you for reading and bearing with all that crap.

FAQ:

Q: "Where do you get the idea that Zoro is training in Haki? I thought only Luffy had it." – TVMaster200

A: Ah, I had a similar question in my previous ZoRo fanfic as well. Good question I must say, however, prepare yourself for a gigantic answer, haha.

Now, to begin, I understand that there has been no direct proof of his Haki possession, and I have also stated earlier that I may make up somethings just to push the story along the interesting side (despite myself being a very strict on no-OOCness and completely-follow-plot person).

But I know that's not your question. "Where do you get the idea". Okay, okay, I know I just said 'no direct proof' of him having Haki, but, honestly, I think there's more than enough hints that support the fact that he does or will.

First, I think it's safe to assume that there will be stronger enemies with Devil Fruits in the New World. It's also safe to think that amongst those DF users, there will be many with Logia fruits; honestly, Oda has used most, if not all, of the Paramecium DFs.

Now, the only so-far known weaknesses of Logia DF users are: 1) Their natural element weakness (lighting is weak against rubber), 2) Water/Seastone, and 3) Haki. We've all seen Rayleigh counter Kizaru's attack, right? Now, think; do you honestly think, the future Pirate King's first mate will not possess Haki? Being the strongest swordsman in the world and, as Oda even mentioned once, on par with the soon-to-be Pirate King, and not being able to hit any of the enemies in the New World? I think that's the biggest and most obvious point, because, you have to admit, that's pretty ridiculous. Now, I realize that there's always the possibility that he may learn some other technique that Oda has yet to reveal to us that would allow him to hit Logia users, and I won't go against that, but for now, I think I'll just stick with the Haki idea.

As for why I think he may be training in Haki on that island... Hmm, I'm actually not quite sure. I think I just felt that it fit with Perona's Devil Fruit. Also, since all of the Straw Hats are going to gain some sort of power-up (Franky: Mechanical upgrade, Chopper: Possibly flying point [Due to his current residence], Nami: Weather techniques, Sanji: ???, Robin: She's with the Revolutionary army right now, so we don't know what'll result from that, Usopp: Survival and sharp shooting, Brook: Errr, this is actually quite hard to predict, despite his settings) I thought his location was perfect for it. Also Zoro seems to have that darkness thing going on around him.

Some more hints of his Haki possession:

Zoro's Asura attacks. Haki in literal translation is 'spirit power' or 'ambition'. Using Haki is the only known possible explanation for his nine arms illusion.

Zoro's stare in the anime on Sabaody Archipelago. He scares the shit out of the bounty hunters with a single look.

Zoro's ability to hear the 'Breath of all things'. Doesn't that sound awfully like some deceased Pirate King's ability? In the manga, also on Sabaody Archipelago, when Robin asks about the Poneglyph and how Roger was able to read them, Rayleigh replies with: 'Roger was able to hear the voice of all things'. Now, I'm not sure if this is a real connection, but I'm merely listing the hints for now.