A/N: Hi! Sorry its been so long since I last updated. I'd like to thank NinjaSheik for reminding me to update. Enjoy!

Rejecting Freedom

Chapter 18

Remembering the Past

I had just begun to get to the first blade the book described when I felt a drop of rain on my skin. My gaze went to the sky and sea in a moment, wondering if this was a simple downpour or something I would need to inform Nami about. The clouds were not greenish or a dark color, from what I could tell and the sea was still calm, with the winds not changing much at all so I doubted that it was going to be problematic.

My gaze then went to the crow's nest of the Sunny, quickly noting the lights were off and I began to gather my items with the intent of going there. It wouldn't do for my book to get ruined by the rain after all and I wasn't planning on getting soaked in my chair. Climbing the ladder to the crow's nest was quite simple, although I had to form another hand in order to carry all my items and clutch onto the planks so I could climb.

I entered into the room itself moments before I began to hear the loud taps of the rain starting to come down in large droplets. I placed my items on a nearby bench and looked outside to find the rain sheeting down quickly enough to make visibility difficult. I sighed lightly at the downpour before pouring myself a cup of coffee and taking a sip, my gaze on the world outside. One disadvantage of the crow's nest, I had to admit, was that you had to pay attention outside and it made it difficult to read on watch. I had left the trapdoor open, however, meaning that if there was danger, I would likely hear it but there was still the danger of the rain blocking out the noises of invaders. Hopefully such a thing wouldn't be a problem tonight.

I opened the container of snacks Sanji had given me and I was delighted to find a stash of sugar cookies. Although I wasn't much of one for sugary snacks or sugar that much at all, I did enjoy sugar cookies. I bit into one with a light smile, keeping mind of the crumbs to insure none fell to the floor. I doubted the swordsman would be very happy to find them in his space, going by the rather large weights scattered around the room. Once I was finished with the cookie, I took another sip of my coffee and went back to my book.

I made it through three more of the katana before I began to hear a scrabbling noise outside, although it was barely noticeable through the pounding of the rain. I quickly made an eye appear on the ladder outside and checked the deck of the ship. I crossed my arms, tensing when I found a figure on deck. I waited to see if it was one of the crew, however, before attacking. A few moments later, the recognizable figure of the swordsman appeared, yawning and clearly grumbling to himself. I let the eye disappear and returned to my book.

I heard the sounds of him coming up the ladder before I had even finished the page I was on. When he came into the room, his gaze went towards me, or more specifically my light, which he gave an odd glance towards. I looked up from my book for a moment.

"You're up quite late," I commented. He yawned before taking off his shirt and wringing it out, the water from it hitting the floor loudly.

"Luffy was being noisy," he told me simply. I turned my attention back to my book, content with the answer and continued reading. I heard the sound of his footsteps walking towards me before I felt him sit on the bench nearby with another yawn. I took a sip of my coffee. "Why are you up here?" he inquired. I marked my page with my finger and looked up.

"The rain made it so I couldn't keep watch on deck," I replied. "This seemed like the next best place," He nodded before leaning against the wall, looking quite tired. I wondered what type of noise the captain had been making for him to leave the cabin as he had, considering he often slept through all of the captain's activities during the day. I placed my book down beside me and took another sip of coffee. I took another cookie as well before offering the container towards the swordsman.

"Cookie?" I inquired. He eyed it for a moment, almost suspiciously before grabbing one.

"Thanks," he murmured. I sent him a light smile before setting the container back down, gaze now drifting off to the storm outside. The storm seemed to be getting quite vicious outside, enough that I wondered if Nami's help would be needed tonight after all. But as long as the sails were down and the ocean stayed calm, the situation would likely be good until morning. A bolt of lightning shot through the sky a few moments later, the sound of the thunder loud enough to block out all noises.

"I wonder if we're getting close to the Florian Triangle," I mused quietly. "The weather is supposed to be quite interesting near it," A glance at the swordsman found him with his eyes closed, seemingly relaxed. I smiled lightly at the thought of him falling asleep so quickly since he had napped all afternoon but with the intense workouts he did on a daily basis, his body had to be strained. My hand strayed near my book.

"Isn't it always odd on this ocean?" Zoro's voice mumbled. My hand went away from my book as I sent him a side glance, noting that he hadn't moved in the least, not even to open one eye.

"I suppose it is," I replied with a touch of humor. "But it makes every day exciting," He made a noise of agreement. I sensed he didn't seem to be in the talking mood and I picked up my book, gently opening it back up to the page I had ended on.

"Are you hoping we'll find a ghost ship?" his voice suddenly sounded out. I frowned at the page of my book, wondering if it would do me any good to start reading now. I left it open on my lap and sent a glance towards him, frowning at the fact that he was still lounged with closed eyes.

"Of course," I told him. "Skeletons are fascinating to study," He smiled lightly at those words.

"Ever heard of any ghost ships with good katana on them?" he inquired, seeming interested. My gaze went towards the katana at his side, knowing that one of them had been rusted into nothing at Enies Lobbies. I wondered why he still wore that katana since it wouldn't do him any good in a fight. I could understand keeping it for historic purposes, such as the way I had kept my hat but he didn't strike me as someone who would do such a thing.

"Hmmmm, I can't recall any," I murmured back. My gaze towards the book in my lap, recognizing the possible uses it had in this conversation. A feeling of nervousness rose up in me, an unusual emotion for me, considering I didn't typically care what others thought of what I did. If I did, my spirit would have been crushed when I was a child. While I did my best to suppress the odd emotion, part of me waited for the swordsman's reply but he remained silent long enough that he seemed to have fallen asleep or simply lost interest in the conversation.

I turned my attention back to my book and began reading, my interest quickly sucked back into the words. The current katana had been very great and had been passed down from swordsman to swordsman in the country it belonged to. The book seemed to focus on the excellence of the blade, considering it didn't need to be fixed through all of this time and it seemed to keep its edge fairly well. I examined the illustration of the katana careful, noting the hilt pattern and curve of the blade so I would be able to compare it to Zoro's at a later time.

"Looks like a pretty decent katana," the swordsman commented. I blinked in surprise, startled by the sudden sound of his voice. My stomach knotted up slightly as I stared at the page, my body for some reason refusing to look at the swordsman. I forced the feeling away, not wanting to let it affect me and turned towards him, noticing his change of position. Both eyes were open now and quite alert, body tilted towards the book and gaze focused on the illustration.

"It has an amazing history," I replied calmly, my voice more relaxed than my mood. He grunted in response, clearly showing that he didn't care so much about the katana's history. He continued to lean over towards the book, gaze fixated on the picture. I smiled lightly at his interest and moved the book out of my lap so he could get a better look. I was surprised when his gaze moved from the illustration and began to scan the words since I had never seen him read anything except his wanted poster with such interest. When he finished the page, he moved away from the book, his face thoughtful.

"I'm surprised you're reading an interesting book," he told me. I was unsure whether or not to take his words as an insult before settling on simply taking it as his personality. I smiled lightly and set the book down in between us, marking my spot carefully before taking a sip of coffee.

"I'm sure that's all a matter of opinion, Mr. Swordsman," I said lightly. His gaze drifted down towards the book before he reached down and gently picked up the book, turning the cover around in the light to read the title. I watched calmly, knowing that he wouldn't injure its pages, even when he cracked it open and shuffled through the pages.

"Can I borrow this when you're done?" he questioned. I stared at him for a few moments, surprised that he would ask such a thing. Even if the book was about katana, I couldn't imagine him being interested in the historical aspects in the book. He shot a glance at me when I stayed silent. "I won't let happen anything happen to it," he assured me, mistaking my silence for worry. I quickly covered with a light smile.

"I'm surprised that you're interested in it," I told him truthfully. He gave me an unreadable gaze before his gaze drifted down to his katana. I placed my head on my hand with a light smile and watched while he seemed to flounder for a response. When he looked at me again, it was clear he had been thinking about something and I doubted my earlier thoughts that he had been looking for an answer.

"If I'm going to look for katana, might as well look for a famous one, right?" he inquired. My gaze went down to the book.

"I suppose I can finish that book later," I murmured. "Why don't you read it first?" He seemed surprised by my response before staring at me, as if trying to figure out what I was thinking. I simply hoped he wouldn't be able to read my thoughts since I doubted he would like them. If he was unable to use his full strength in a fight because he was missing a katana, it would put the crew at more risk, not to mention Zoro himself. It shouldn't have been a worry in my head but it was anyways since I never enjoyed seeing of the crew getting injured.

"Thanks," he finally said and set the book down next to him. I smiled, knowing that most would have argued that I should read it first. I found it quite refreshing that he hadn't done such a thing. I picked up my coffee and took a sip, my gaze going outside to check the weather. The storm seemed to be settling down now, although the rain was still sheeting down considerably. I wondered if it would stop before the sun rose, since I didn't want to get wet when going to wake the cook for breakfast in a few hours. I was also thinking about going down to the library to grab a new book.

The room was silent for a few moments before Zoro sighed lightly and walked over to his weights, grabbing one of the smaller ones and beginning to work out, saying his count quietly. My gaze stayed on the world outside, watching the rain fall. After a few moments, my neck felt strained and I brought my feet up to the bench so I could lean against the window, the coolness of it feeling good.

As my body relaxed, I began to feel tired, no doubt an after effect of waking up last night with very little quality sleep. I yawned widely, my eyes trying to flutter shut. I forced myself to stay awake and reached down to pour myself another cup of coffee, just in time for another yawn. I sipped at it quietly while noting the rain seemed to be stopping outside, patches of the stars showing in the sky now. The cup of coffee didn't seem to be having an effect on my sleepiness however, my eyes shutting as I leaned back against the window, the cup now empty.

I quickly decided to rest my eyes, at least for a few moments, knowing that such a thing usually helped beat away the exhaustion for a little while. So I dozed, my mind alert enough to concentrate on the sounds around me and the feeling of the window against my cheek although it kept trying to slip away into the silence of sleep. Before I could prevent it, that feeling swept across me and I began to half-sleep, senses failing slightly.

My mind finally woke back up at the feeling of something light being put on top of me and I opened my eyes in time to see the swordsman retreating back to his spot in the middle of the floor. I blinked away the fog in my mind, looking down at one of Zoro's larger workout towels draped across me although by the smell it was obviously clean. His gaze rose towards my face a few moments later and he quickly realized I was awake again.

"If you want to sleep, I'll keep an eye on things," he told me softly. I forced a smile to my lips and shook my head although part of me dearly wished to take advantage of his offer. Even so, I knew that he hadn't slept much in the last few days and I'd feel guilty sleeping while he didn't.

"That's not necessary, Mr. Swordsman," I murmured back, sitting up slowly, gaze going back to the world outside. The rain had stopped now or we had passed through it and my window was no longer as cool, both in part because the temperature outside was now closer to the temperature in the room and my own body heat warming it up. I appraised his condition, noting he seemed tired as well. "I had plenty of sleep last night,"

He gave me a disbelieving look in response. "I thought you were up all night talking to Franky," he commented. I blinked in surprise, since I had assumed he hadn't noticed I had been on deck until he came down from the crow's nest in the morning. Perhaps he slacked less during watch than I had originally thought. Even so, he usually seemed to make a point of showing up when I read on deck, even if it was a light comment.

"I had a few hours of sleep beforehand," I responded. He gave me an unreadable glance and returned to lifting.

"Why were you up so late anyways?" he inquired. "You acted so tired when we were playing that last game," I kept my face composed as the memories of the dream rose up.

"I woke up and was unable to go back to sleep," I replied simply. He eyed me, as if he believed I was lying to him but seemed to accept my answer.

"Why was Franky up?" he asked. I smiled lightly, half glad that he hadn't tried to dig more into the reasons I couldn't sleep.

"I believe he was up working on a secret project for the crew," I told him. "It will be interesting to see what it was," Zoro's expression didn't change, to my surprise. In my mind, he should have been interested in what Franky was creating now since it would surely be something unique and thoughtful.

"Yeah, I guess so," the swordsman mumbled back. I frowned at his response since it seemed out of character as well. I wondered if he wasn't getting along with the shipwright for some reason, although I could think of none. He had seemed as happy as the rest of the crew about him joining the crew. Even so, I quickly decided not to probe at the matter further. My gaze went out the window, noting the fact that all the stars were visible in the sky now. I sipped at my coffee, unsure of what to say or if I should question the swordsman to see if he had issue with the shipwright.

"Looks like it stopped raining," he commented after a few moments of silence. I smiled lightly at the fact he had just now noticed such a thing. Or perhaps he was simply trying to keep the conversation going, which I was fine with. I always enjoyed my chats with the swordsman, even if I seemed to better off with spurts of silence than he was at times.

"Seems so," I replied. I thought briefly about going outside but for some reason, the thought wasn't very attractive, probably because everything on deck would be wet. In any case, I was content where I was and I could depend on Zoro to help listen for intruders. "I believe I'll stay up here for the rest of the night, if you don't mind. A wet seat isn't very enjoyable," He shrugged as if he couldn't care what I did.

"Do what you want," he told me in a bland tone. I noted slowly that he seemed almost pleased by my decision since his body language was relaxed and his expression was calm. I glanced down at the book beside me before deciding reading it wouldn't have much of a point right now. My gaze went to the blades at the swordsman's side, wondering if I could satisfy my curiosity about the swordsman with the time I had left on watch.

"May I ask you a personal question, Mr. Swordsman?" I inquired lightly. He gave me a suspicious look before replying.

"What is it?" he shot back, his expression reminding me of a trapped animal that wasn't sure if the aggressor was going to rip it into bloody shreds or not. I knew that he probably wasn't going to reply to my questions now since it seemed that his protective barriers were up but I still decided to ask anyways. It wouldn't be too much of a loss to me if he said no, if only because I knew that he was the one crewmember who might not ever share any of his history with me.

"I'm quite curious about the origins of the katana you carry and whether they have some historical significance," I commented, carefully avoiding a direct question. I had a feeling that if I tried to pry into his history, I would learn nothing at all. I still began to sense his barriers were up at my comment, however, as he placed down his weights and gave me a flat stare.

"Why?" he asked, tone suspicious, as if he believed I was going to use the information against him somehow. I smiled a fake smile lightly at his reaction, unsure how to answer. Part of me wished to lie and tell him that it was just general curiosity but at the same time, I was certain that he would see through my lie and I wouldn't find out any information. The truth would be best in this situation.

"I've heard the rest of the crew's stories and I'm curious about what yours is. I find that a person's history helps determine how they react to things and may be used to understand them better," I murmured. His gaze narrowed and I began to think he was simply going to reject my inquiry and leave the area. And while such a thing would be a pity, I knew that he wasn't one to enjoy someone prying into his past.

"What do you want to know?" he asked, his voice still wary. I stared at him in surprise for a moment, still expecting him to reject my request.

"How did you receive the katana you currently carry?" I inquired lightly as I leaned forward, placing my elbow on my knee and my hand on my face in interest. I was still surprised that he'd even open up a little bit but if he was willing to, I wasn't about to let such an opportunity slip between my fingers. He gave me an even look before standing up and walking over to sit next to me. He pulled out all three of his blades and set them on his lap.

"I found both Yubashiri and Sandai Kitetsu in Loguetown," he told me before picking up one of the blades. My gaze examined the sheath slowly and then moved to the hilt so I could remember the details for later before he unsheathed the blade. My gaze moved to his face, taking in his small grin, which was a surprise. It almost seemed as though he was…eager to share the information and that alone was confusing. "This is Sandai Kitetsu,"

I stared at the blade for a few moments, something about the name sounding familiar. I quickly narrowed down the familiar part to Kitetsu, which seemed to remind me of a famous name. My gaze went to the book of blades nearby before my mind recognized where I had heard it before. "Kitetsu. The maker of fine but cursed blades that always take the life of their owner," I murmured. "You're brave to carry such a blade,"

He shrugged and placed the blade back into its sheath, not seeming to be fazed by my comment. "I tested my luck against the blade already and won. If it wants to challenge me again then it can," I smiled lightly at the comment. The swordsman was one of the only people I had met other than Luffy who seemed eager for a fight. I didn't exactly understand it myself but I had been in more than enough fights in my life and didn't enjoy the thought of bloodshed. He placed the blade back into his lap and picked up the one that had been rusted away in Enies Lobbies.

"The owner of the shop gave me Yubashiri for taking Sandai Kitetsu off his hands," he told me before unsheathing what remained of the blade. It was a pity to see one of the blades the swordsman had treasured so much to be reduced to such a splintered form. A glance at his face showed that his grin was gone, replaced with a face I was unable to read.

"Is there a reason you still carry a broken blade?" I inquired in an attempt to satisfy as much of my curiosity as I could while he was still talking. He sheathed the remains of the blade.

"I want to find a decent place to put it to rest," he replied. My head tilted slightly. His comment was rather unusual, reminding me more of someone who had lost a companion rather than simply a blade. I knew that he was cared deeply for the katana he carried but I hadn't realized that he cared for them to such an extent.

"How interesting. You treat the blade as if it was something that was living and died," I commented. "Is there are particular reason for that?"

He gave me a flat look that almost showed annoyance or possible anger. "Katana aren't just tools. They have their own personalities and desires. If you don't respect that, you don't deserve to carry them," he growled. I smiled. In some ways, what he said reminded me of how I felt about history. Learning history was a tool to learn more about yourself and others and it was to be respected rather than simply analyzed without feelings. My respect for him also grew with his statement, knowing that he truly loved what he did and wasn't one of the swordsmen who simply used their skills to be strong.

"And what about the white hilted blade. Where did you receive it?" I inquired. He set down Yubashiri and picked up the white one. I noted that his hold on this blade was more careful and almost reverent, which supported the idea that it was the one that was most important to him. He waited to speak for so long, however, that I began to believe that he wasn't going to tell me anything about the blade at all.

"Wadō Ichimonji belonged to a friend. We promised each other than one of us would become the greatest swordsman in the world," he murmured. Something in his tone spoke of grief and I didn't question his words further, knowing that something bad had probably happened to this friend. Part of me truly wished to know what had happened and how he had receive the blade but I held back, if only because I would rather gain the information because he trusted me enough to share it. In addition, I still wanted to learn more about him and I was afraid such a question would make him close off.

"I see," I said softly. "Is that where your goal originated?"

"Yeah," he replied. His gaze left the katana and moved to my face. "Is there anything else you wanted to know about them? I don't know anything about their history," I found his directness interesting because it was something that would normally speak of annoyance but his tone had been soft when he had said it. Once I again, I was left unsure of what he was feeling at the moment or why he had decided to share such information with me now.

"A pity," I told him. I considered trying to dig more into his history before deciding that I should pry too much at one time. It might be better to leave some questions unanswered until he trusted me enough to tell me without making me feel as though I was pulling it out of him. "I think that's enough for now. Thank you for sharing this with me," He shrugged.

"That kind of stuff doesn't matter to me. It's all in the past," he grumbled before placing Wadō Ichimonji back into his lap gently. His gaze went out the window for a moment before he let out a loud yawn. "Eh, I probably should try to get some sleep,"

I nodded. "I'm sure Luffy has quieted down by now," I murmured and reached over to pick up the katana book to give to him so he could take it with him. When I turned back, his eyes were closed, making it clear to me he was planning on sleeping there. I smiled in amusement and cracked open the book to the page I had left off on and began to read.

I only made it through a few pages before I felt a light pressure on my shoulder. I looked up from my book to find the swordsman's head on my shoulder. I considered for a moment moving him as I was unsure of how to react to the contact before deciding against it. I knew that he hadn't had much sleep lately due to his intense training schedule and I didn't want to risk waking him. So I simply turned my attention back to my book and continued to read, even if part of my mind couldn't seem to get away from the awareness of the Zoro's head on my shoulder.

I blinked sleepily at the sight of the sun starting to rise over the ocean in the distance, the water so calm that you couldn't even tell it had stormed the night before. My gaze drifted down to the dozing swordsman in my lap, knowing that I needed to go wake up the cook soon and I doubted I would be able to move without him waking. Perhaps it would have been best to have woken him when he had first leaned on my shoulder or when he had began to migrate downwards as the night had continued but I would have felt guilty doing so.

I sighed lightly before closing my eyes and crossing my arms, allowing an eye to appear in the men's room. I then made an arm appear next to the chef and shook him awake gently. As soon as it was obvious he was awake, I let both disappear. I let my arms fall to my side and leaned back. Now that the cook was awake, I needed to get some sleep, at least before breakfast. Within moments, I was sliding into the calm of sleep.

"…better than being a shitty Marimo," Sanji's voice called out. I woke up quickly and found the cook and swordsman of the crew having one of their normal sparring matches in the small space of the crew's nest. A small smile came to my lips. It was a rather interesting way to be woken up in the morning.

"Doesn't mean much coming from you, swirly brow!" came the retort as the two men struggled to gain the upper hand. I glanced out the window to find the sun higher in the sky. It was probably around breakfast time since Sanji had appeared, something he wouldn't do if the food wasn't ready yet. I rose to my feet slowly. Neither boy seemed to notice my presence so I intervened in their fight.

"Is breakfast ready, Mr. Cook?" I inquired calmly. The fight broke off as the cook's eyes turned into hearts and he noodled over to me. Zoro simply rolled his eyes at the other man and made his way to the trapdoor.

"Yes, Robin-chan!" he bubbled. My gaze followed the swordsman's head disappearing through the trapdoor for some reason before I turned my attention to the doting cook with a light smile.

"Good," I murmured. I grabbed my thermos of coffee, sugar cookie container and light and headed towards the trapdoor. Sanji appeared by my side to take the coffee and container from me. I let him have them without protest before I made my way down.

The rest of the crew were waiting in the dining area when we entered. I took a seat next to Nami and Franky at the table. I noted that Zoro had been forced to take a seat next to Luffy, which was a truly dangerous place at breakfast time, especially since Luffy wouldn't have been able to get into food last night.

"How did you sleep, Nami?" I inquired lightly. She smiled at me.

"Pretty well. I was a little worried about the storm last night but we seem to have gone the right direction," she commented. "How was watch?

"Quiet. I was hoping we were getting close to the Florian Triangle but it seems as though that wasn't the case," I replied. "I'm simply glad the water seems calm today," Sanji came over and placed the special food for Nami and I in front of us, which seemed to be some type of berry dish today. "Thank you," I murmured to him before taking a small bite as he bubbled about my politeness.

"What are your plans for today, Robin?" Nami inquired. I thought about her question for a few moments. I considered getting some more sleep this morning but I was reluctant to sleep for fear of nightmares.

"I'm unsure. I thought I might find an interesting book to read or possibly garden for a little while," I murmured. "Is there something you'd like to do?"

"Well, I was hoping to work on my Water 7 map today so I was hoping I could get you to distract the troublemakers," she told me. I smiled. Such a task could be troublesome at times but it was something I could handle without too much difficulty.

"Perhaps I could get them to help me garden today," I suggested. She gave me a look that made it apparent she thought the idea was crazy. I thought it was a good idea over all however, if only because I was sure if I could get Luffy to focus on it, the others would follow suit.

"I could look after them for you, Nami-sis," Franky cut in. "I have a super idea of something to do today!" Nami's eyes narrowed.

"Is it something that will keep them calm and quiet?" she inquired. He stared at her evenly for a moment as if he wasn't sure if she had really asked that. In a way, I agreed. It seemed almost like an impossible task to perform because the rest of the crew was so high spirited.

"If they get too loud, I can always quiet them down," I told her. Franky sent me a grateful look and Nami let out a loud sigh.

"Fine. Just make sure they don't break anything," she told him. He grinned and took a bite of the food in front of him.

"Sure thing. I'll keep them outside, too," he assured her. She nodded. I was rather eager to see what he had planned for the day. It would also be interesting to see how well the shipwright was able to keep the others in line. I had a feeling that it would turn out to be a very entertaining day.

A/N: Hope everyone enjoyed and reviews are always welcome. Thanks for reading!