AN: The meaning of this story is probably unclear, since I still need to work on my reading comprehension and literary skills. It's also my first story with an actual dark tone... I think.
The title's symbol is very shallow, as I was unable to come up with anything more deep than that.
Oh, and this isn't meant to be a ZoRo story. It can be though, if you want it to be.
Grass in the Wind
The rain pounded mercilessly upon the city, which was nothing but a vague image among a thousand. Everything was wet. The buildings were wet, the cars were wet, the signs were wet, the citizens were wet, the dogs and cats were wet, and everything was wet. And yet, like stubborn ant soldiers, the people continued to march along the streets clutching umbrellas or soggy newspapers above their ducked heads, unidentifiable among the crowds. It was a rather morose scene.
There was one man in particular who was not very important, by his standards anyways. He lived in an apartment, had a job as a lifeguard at the indoor pool, and refused to chop off his poorly dyed hair which was a vivid shade of grass. On that gloomy day, the pool had decided to close early because no one really wanted to swim in that kind of weather even though the building protected them from the elements. But, oh well, people did what people did.
"Damn it…" the man muttered as a wet piece of paper stuck to his shoe. He scraped it off against the sidewalk. He shivered, as he had chosen the wrong day to wear shorts. How was he supposed to know that he wouldn't be stuck in the nice heated building until the evening when the rain was surely to let up?
"Of all the days…" he continued cursing under his breath. Zoro sneezed.
"You look like you're about to catch hypothermia." A soft voice called from the alley he was passing by. Zoro turned around, nearly slipping on the wet ground. Rainwater trickled down his face, making it hard to see. Beyond the curtains of rain, Zoro glimpsed a lithe figure leaning against the side of the brick building, sheltered from the rain by the wall. "Why don't you stay here until you warm up? It's dry where I am."
Zoro squinted his eyes. It was a woman, taller than he was. He considered continuing walking. It was probably some prostitute, planning to knock him out and steal whatever he had on him. Not that he had anything in his pockets, anyways. Zoro shrugged. He was sure that he would be able to overpower the woman if he needed to. He skidded across the concrete, nearly knocking over a couple other passerbies and crashed into the side of the building clumsily. Laughter like the tinkling of delicate glass bells met his ears.
"What's so funny?" Zoro grumbled, wiping the water out of his eyes. His thin T-shirt was soaked through and his shorts were heavy with water. His sandals felt like the skin of a seal.
"Nothing." The woman stepped back to give him room to squeeze into the dry space beside her. The alley was just about three feet wide across, not even enough room to sit down. The ground was covered with what looked like compost, but it was better than being out in the rain. The woman was right. It was dry in that little space.
"Whatever." Zoro grunted. He wrung out the corner of his shirt and glanced over to the woman who had spoken to him.
She certainly didn't look like a prostitute. Her face had no makeup and bore faint traces of Asian decent, accentuated by her neatly trimmed black hair. The only thing off about her Chinese- or was it Japanese or Korean- appearance was her electric blue eyes. Most of her body was hidden by a dark purple jacket and black sweats.
"So, what're you doing here?" Zoro asked. It was certainly odd that a pretty young woman like her would be randomly hanging around in an alleyway not even suitable for cats.
"Waiting." She said simply. The woman held out a hand. "I'm Robin."
"Zoro." Zoro ignored the hand. She let it fall back to her side. "When do you think the rain is going to stop?"
"Soon, I hope. The weather is really dampening my business." Robin looked out beyond the rain, observing the crowds of people dashing back and forth below a canopy of umbrellas brushing against one another.
"Business? What kind of business do you do here?" Zoro asked incredulously.
Robin held a finger to her lips, smiling enigmatically. "That's a secret."
"Hm." Zoro didn't care much about what she did. All he wanted to do was get back to his apartment and have a relaxing bottle of whiskey to warm up his insides, and maybe convince Sanji to make him a sandwich. "Hey, do you have any booze with you?"
"Would this suffice?" Robin pulled out a water bottle half filled with wine from inside her jacket.
"Did you drug it?" Zoro asked suspiciously. Robin laughed.
"No, I'm not that type of person. Maybe I am, but that, I am not." Robin said.
"That makes no sense. Keep the wine." Zoro said.
"Suit yourself." Robin took a swig from the bottle as if to prove a point and put it back in her jacket. "So where are you from, Zoro?"
Zoro didn't want to share his personal information with some woman who hung out between buildings and drank wine in the rain. But he spoke. Maybe some water had leaked into his head. "I live in an apartment a few blocks down from here. How about you?"
"I don't live anywhere."
"Yes and no."
"Enough with the riddles."
"I'm sorry." Robin said with a tone of mockery hidden beneath her friendliness. Her eyes twinkled mischievously.
Zoro stretched. "Well, I'm going to go now. Nice meeting you."
Just as he was about to reenter the rain, a hunched over figure knocked him into the wall as it rushed into the alley.
"Oi! Watch it, you bastard!" Zoro barked. The figure ignored him and took off its hood, revealing itself to be a man with tangled up hair and a face smeared with dirt.
"Do you have any? Come on, come on, I have cash." The man said impatiently to Robin, fanning out crumbled bills with trembling fingers.
"How much?" Robin asked coldly, reaching into her jacket.
"Half a pound, one thousand. Come on, hurry up, Nico!" the man said, glancing nervously behind him. He took no notice of Zoro, who was watching the two in mixed horror and surprise.
"Half a pound, one and a half thousand." Robin said.
"You've gotta be kidding me!"
"One thousand six hundred."
"One thousand seven hundred."
"That's unfair! I need it!"
"One thousand eight hundred."
"Fine, fine, here!" the man shoved a thick stack of bills in Robin's outstretched hands. The bills were quickly replaced with a bag of what appeared to be ground up tea leaves which the man hurried out away into the rain with, disappearing into the rushing crowds.
"You-" Zoro choked, half his body in the rain.
"Surprised?" Robin smiled grimly.
"You're a drug dealer!" Zoro looked at the woman in disbelief. Whenever he watched cop shows, the drug dealers were always shady guys in skull caps and leather jackets who spoke in street slang and cussed every other sentence. They certainly weren't young women who were well-groomed and well-mannered such as Robin.
"It's a living." Robin shrugged, counting out the money she had earned. She placed it carefully in her jacket and looked up, staring straight at Zoro with her startlingly blue eyes. "Are you going to report me?"
Zoro hesitated. "Should I?"
"If you wish to, then you may." Robin said calmly. Zoro stepped back into the alley.
"What if I want to?"
"Go ahead. Turn me in."
"You don't care?"
"No. I've lived my life to my fullest, and it wasn't enough. I think I'm ready for death." Robin looked up to the stormy grey clouds hovering above the city.
"Oi, oi, don't get all suicidal like that." Zoro said awkwardly, inching closer to her. "Just because you're an illegal drug peddler doesn't mean you'll get the death sentence."
"Oh, but I'm not just a drug dealer. I'm also a murderer." Robin said as if she were discussing the brand of shoes she wore. "I have a special talent, you see, snapping necks and dislocating joints."
Zoro's blood froze. How could he be so ignorant? He should have continued on his way when he had the chance. Zoro remembered reading stories of all sorts of insane criminals, murderers, rapists, who seemed perfectly normal before they snapped without warning. He balled up his fists, ready to fight back. Robin noticed his subtle movement.
"You don't need to worry. I have no mental illness. Just a lack of conscience and knowledge of right from wrong, I guess."
"So you don't care about other peoples' lives?" Zoro growled, glaring at the woman who was taking the topic much too lightly.
"I do care, but not enough. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and all I'm doing is surviving." Robin said, watching a crowd of teens shrieking and giggling as they fought over an umbrella playfully in the rain.
"So you survive by killing others?" Zoro's voice rose.
"In a sense, yes."
"What the hell is your problem, you psycho?!?" Zoro shoved Robin against the wall, one hand on her neck. His nose barely brushed against hers, seeing as how the alleyway was very cramped and limited in space.
"Must we get violent, Zoro? I was just beginning to take a liking to you." Robin smiled.
"That's it! I'm turning you in to the authorities!" Zoro prepared to drag her out of the alley.
"And what good would that do for you, Zoro?"
Zoro stopped. "What do you mean?"
"Would you gain anything from turning me in?"
"I would be doing good for a whole lot of other innocent people, that's for sure! Not everyone is as self-centered as you." Zoro spat, tightening his grip on her neck. "Criminal scum like you don't deserve to mingle with the public, Nico!"
For some reason, he felt a twinge of regret the minute the sentence slipped from his mouth. He could see a sort of fire ignite and flare in Robin's eyes.
"You have no idea how many people have said that to me." Robin said quietly, her voice barely audible above the pounding of the relentless rain. "Do you know why I do the things I do? No. So what right do you have to judge me for my actions?"
"I have every right. The law is a witness." Zoro said.
"Oh? Is it?" Robin raised an eyebrow. "Let me tell you why I…"
Above the tallest skyscrapers of the city, a slight incision appeared in the endless blanket of rainclouds smothering the landscape. The slightest pinprick of light slithered down the sky, coming to rest on the wet concrete between the busy feet of pedestrians. No one noticed it. The rain blocked out everything else. The sliver of light was nothing but a single drop of oil in a vast ocean, yet it continued holding up despite its weakness.
Zoro stepped out of the alley, slightly dazed. He walked down the street, brushing past faceless people hidden behind emotionless masks and indifference. It took him another hour to find his way back to his apartment but he managed.
"Yo. Where were you?" Sanji, his roommate greeted him as Zoro stepped inside.
Zoro shook his head. "I'm taking a shower."
"You'd better. Your skin is nearly blue."
Sanji shook his head as he watched Zoro stumble to the bathroom. "Che. Idiot. I'm not paying for his hospital bills."
That night, Zoro couldn't sleep at all. The rain was still rapping against his window, begging to be let in. The faint sound of Sanji's snoring came from the adjacent room and the soft rumble of cars drifted up through the walls. He turned over in his bed.
"I wonder where Nico is…"
The next day Zoro sat in his lifeguard chair, watching the swimmers splashing and laughing in the pool, their joyful sounds echoing against the walls. The sun shone through the wall to ceiling windows. Puddles sat along the ground outside, disturbed by the feet of pedestrians and the wheels of vehicles.
"Whaaa! Luffy!" a curly-haired boy shrieked, floating on an inflatable donut. Zoro sighed. Luffy and Usopp were regular visitors to the pool and were the main reasons he was absolutely necessary to the place. Zoro leapt into the water, blowing his whistle. Minutes later he had the drowning and flailing boy on solid ground. The boy vomited a mouthful of water and sat up, grinning.
"Whatever, Luffy. Don't drown again, you hear?" Zoro climbed back up to his post.
"Okay! I promise!"
Of course, he knew that Luffy wouldn't keep his promise.
The rest of the day proved to be uneventful. Luffy's routine drowning was the only highlight of Zoro's shift and he left the pool in a rather irritated mood. Zoro hated being restless.
The clouds were now completely gone, allowing the sun to embrace the glowing city with its fiery tendrils of light. The only traces of the rain were the puddles and the buildings embellished with beads of water.
Zoro turned around. Some distance away in the street, cars were swerving onto the sidewalk. A figure was sprinting down the damp road. A policeman waving a gun was chasing a good thirty feet behind the figure. People were coming out of buildings, blinking like bears just awoken from hibernation.
"Stop, dammit!" the policeman yelled again. The two running people were close enough for Zoro to see their faces.
Robin's electric blue eyes were calm. They were calm as she half sprinted, half skidded down the road. They were calm as the policeman fired off a warning shot. They were calm as she noticed Zoro staring at her in horror.
"Nico!" Zoro bellowed. There was a loud bang, silencing the city, silencing the panic of emotions running across Zoro's face. As she passed by him, Robin collapsed onto the cement, rolling along before she came to a stop. Blood was pouring out of an open wound on her leg. Zoro ran to her. The cop had stopped and was panting heavily, dragging his feet along. There was time.
"You idiot." Zoro muttered, brushing dark hair away from the face that was looking up at him as if he had been right alongside her all along.
"Hello, Zoro." Robin smiled weakly.
"You idiot!" Zoro repeated. Robin's blood was staining his jeans. He didn't care. His face was scrunched up, scrunched up in sorrow for a woman he didn't even know. "How could you get caught?"
"I was ready my whole life. But who will miss me? I'm naught but a single blade of grass in a field of plants."
"This isn't the time for your damn poetry!" Zoro gritted his teeth.
"Who will miss me?" Robin asked softly, looking up to the clear blue skies.
Robin looked at him in pained amusement. "I don't know you. You don't even know me. You don't know anything about me."
"I know enough! I know that you don't deserve this!" Zoro didn't cry. He never cried. "You don't deserve this, Robin!"
"Move aside." The cop had reached them. Zoro didn't move.
"You'll never see me again." Robin said only loud enough for Zoro to hear.
"It was enough."
"I said, move! Please say here, sir. We'll need to question you." the cop brushed past Zoro and knelt down beside Robin. He expertly wrapped her wounded leg in gauze and flipped her over on her stomach. Robin's hands were snapped together with a pair of handcuffs.
"What did she do?" Zoro demanded.
"Illegal drug peddling and a possible count of three first degree murders. We've got a serious case here." The cop answered without looking at Zoro. He held up a walkie-talkie to his mouth. "I need an escort, location Seven Street. I need one, now!" He clipped the device back to his belt. "I didn't mean to shoot her, but she needed to be stopped. Robin Nico's had several run-ins with the law. She'll be locked up for the rest of her life, and if the evidence is heavy enough, maybe a trip to death row."
"And what good would that do for you?" Zoro asked, his voice coated with fury.
"Excuse me, son?" the cop looked up.
"What good would that do for you?" Zoro yelled. He ran away, stumbling over his feet and his eyes squeezed shut. He didn't look back once. Zoro realized how stupid he had sounded. He had sounded so selfish.
Robin's electric blue eyes were calm as two policemen hauled her in the back of a cop car. They were calm as she watched a man she hardly knew run away. They were calm as the car drove away, away to her fate.
Zoro slowed to a walk as he neared his apartment. His breathing was ragged and uneven and he was vaguely aware of the fact that the cops would come after him to question him about his brief conversation with the criminal known as Robin Nico. But he wouldn't have anything to tell them about her. Who was he, to care about what happened to that woman? It wasn't as if he knew her at all.
Above the earth, the sun slowly warmed the city with its gentle gaze, completely unaware of the single blade of grass that had been wrenched from its roots and thrown to the wind.
AN: Reviews will be greatly appreciated.