A short story based upon something canonical in the series that actually supports one of my favorite fan-paired couples, Robin and Zoro. I'm not much for romance fanfics, but I figured it could work for me if I approached it from a somewhat different angle. The events of this story are based upon Episode 180 of the Anime, nearing the climax of the Skypiea Arc.
She was not his nakama, and she never had been. As far as the swordsman was concerned, she was still an enemy. There was nothing she had done to redeem herself in his mind since she had casually strolled out on deck, as if all the events, all of the transgressions, her transgressions, of Alabasta had been undone. Luffy said it was okay, said she was okay, but none on the crew knew exactly when he had made that judgment. What had she done to convince their Captain, when they had been alone in the ruins below Alubarna?
Not that he didn't have faith in Luffy. Certainly not. Otherwise he wouldn't have come this far with the straw-hat, but Luffy was hopelessly naïve, and she was definitely a user, a manipulator. That much had been evident from the deft way she had won over everyone else, working against their affections and having them pretty much all on her side in under ten minutes. She hadn't tried to get to him, and that showed that she was smart, at least. She recognized an iron will when she saw one.
And that was another problem. She was smart. Too smart. She apparently knew things that no other living soul did, and kept that knowledge private. To a manipulator like her, it was possibly the most powerful thing to posses. She would always have leverage, somehow. She always seemed to have some sort of tidbit of information to help out the crew, but she always left the swordsman with a feeling that she wasn't telling everything. Definitely the case with the whole Montblanc Norland thing.
She hadn't reformed at all, either. At least not that the swordsman could see. Even now, as they stood: him, her, and that wild-haired Shandian, facing down this impossibly powerful man-god Enel, she was falling back on her old ways. Enel threatened with his maniacal plan, a plot to blow this island out of the sky with everyone on it, but was willing to take them, winners of the survival game, with him. Her response to this madness? Manipulation, again. She tried applying some of that secret knowledge of hers on Enel, tried to get him to divert his wrath out of necessity of saving… something. A golden bell, or something, but the swordsman wasn't sure. Details like this did not concern him. But either way, here she was again, many days after she was supposedly reformed, trying to manipulate her way out of another situation.
When it came down to it, that was another thing that bothered the swordsman. She had a great physical power, bestowed on her by the devil's fruit. Strong enough certainly to carve her own path in life with her power, much as the swordsman had done with his. But she chose not to use that power to boldly forge her way of life, continuously relying on her words, her secret knowledge, her manipulations. A schemer, he would have called her, but it didn't seem to be the right word.
Anyway it seemed that now her game was up. Enel, at least, was able to see right through her manipulations. There was a man willing to use his power to carve his own path, at least. It didn't stop him from being a dangerous, murderous maniac, but it at least gave him a somewhat ennobling quality. He apparently had some cunning of his own, having guessed at the secret knowledge that she was trying to use to manipulate him. He knew where the bell was, and he was angry that she had tried to obstruct his plans so needlessly. To exact his anger, of course, he used his power. She was standing in between the swordsman and the Shandian, and he had been standing square in front of her, which helped facilitate her danger. He just pointed his finger square at her face, and called forth his power. His divine power, he called it, but the swordsman didn't believe that any more than he believed her little claims and schemes. The finger pointing at her face surged with pent-up electrical energy, and it was unleashed all at once. An attack as quick as, well, lightning. He saw her doom mirrored in her own eyes, which had grown wide with fear. Another despicable emotion. And her eyes became filled with a reflection of the lightning that was about to strike her down. It struck her full-on in the head, as time seemed to slow. Slicing through her face with unmatched ferocity, as her body began to crumple against its onslaught, no doubt knocked out by the shock of it all.
But it gave the swordsman no satisfaction to see her fall, to watch her agonizingly slow descent from her proud, standing pose to inevitably come to land on the white cobblestones of the ruins. It didn't make much sense, really. With all the ways that he resented her, it should have given him at least some grim satisfaction, especially she was getting taken down specifically for trying to manipulate someone. Time continued to flow by at a sluggish pace, as the lightning continued to graze her head, which had now fallen along with her collapsing body. But no, in the end, he didn't get any satisfaction out of watching this woman getting what should have been her due comeuppance.
Woman. Now there was a way in which he rarely thought about her. But she was certainly a woman. Tall, voluptuous, and curvaceous. Always provocatively dressed. Her raven hair and tan skin gave her a distinct duskiness that only increased her allure. Not that he really flipped for that sort of thing, at least, not like that damn love-cook. But she really was all woman. A woman who was falling. Chivalry wasn't really the swordsman's thing, and he had no reason to help her, an enemy. But it just didn't sit right with him.
She wasn't really an enemy anymore, though. She had shed that role in the swordsman's mind, at some point, though exactly when he could not say. Friend, nakama, enemy, user, manipulator, woman. Somehow Nico Robin was actually all of these things to the swordsman, and yet something more than any of them. And she was falling. He had to do something about it.
He moved his swords out of their combat-ready position, moving them so that they would not interfere with what he needed. Time resumed its normal speed, and Robin continued to fall, but the Swordsman, Roronoa Zoro, was faster than that. He leapt forward and grabbed her before her stricken body hit the cobblestones of the ruins of Old Shandra. What could motivate him to show compassion, to go out of his way to help, someone that he had once called enemy? He could not think of the appropriate words, and so grunted out something at the maniacal bastard who had struck her down. Something inadequate to express his feelings, but something that was closest to what his confused mind could develop:
"She's a woman!"
Love it? Hate it? Review it! I don't do one-shots too much, but this was an idea I was batting around for a long time, to fulfill my desire to do a Zoro-Robin fic that was somewhat grounded in canon.