Disclaimer: Eiichiro Oda owns One Piece and all it's characters. I just wrote the story is all.
It's a strange tradition they have. It started shortly before the whole Water 7 incident and continued promptly afterward.
Slowly but surely, she had earned the trust of each crew member aboard. Even though all of them except for Zoro had been friendly from almost the beginning, she had thought trust wouldn't be given away so freely. She came to find out that it really was, and all that happened to it as time went on was that it fortified itself. Zoro's trust had come on so gradually that neither of them had realized it was there until sudden realization. No words had needed to be spoken. Said trust was given its due thought through a look at each other and a nod. Then they continued on as before.
This in mind, Robin now had the trust of every crew member and wasn't planning on throwing it away. Yet there was still that detached sort of feeling she felt around them, as if she were still too different. Not wanting to linger on it in her room with such things in her head, she went down to the kitchen to escape her room's atmosphere. As she stepped into the darkness of the kitchen and sent out an extra hand to find matches for the lanterns, she apologized to the cook in her mind. She knew that he probably wouldn't mind her being in here, but he generally liked to come back to a spotless workplace. As she put the kettle for tea on the stove, she silently promised that she'd keep the place clean.
She settled onto her seat at the table, a cup of chamomile tea in her hand and a plate of gingerbread cookies next to her. Her favorites concerning desserts were very simple, and she loved the maelstrom of spices inside those cookies. She opened her book again and kept reading, the feeling of detachment not nearly as strong now that she was in a place where the crew usually gathered during the day.
Then she heard footsteps. Who was it? She turned her head and saw green hair catch the light of the candles.
He paused for a moment, yawning and scratching his head. "...What are you doing up?" he drawled in a tired voice.
"I didn't feel sleepy," she replied simply with a polite smile, turning back to her book.
He gave her a grunt and then went towards the cabinet, glasses clinking. Then he came back into view and put a cup on the counter, pouring in some sake. Robin shook her head very slightly. No matter what time it was, he would always drink sake. She spoke up in order to keep her smile from turning into a grin of amusement.
"Is keeping watch going well?" she asked calmly, moving her eyes to the next page in her book.
"It's just the same as before. Nothing happens," he said, yawning again before taking another swig from his cup.
"Most things always seem to happen during the daytime on this ship, unless of course it's a party."
He snickered for a moment, acknowledging the truth in her statement. The crew really did like to party. Any excuse to throw one was valid, no matter how small the excuse was. Both of them looked outside the windows for a moment. The light inside the kitchen was dim enough to allow a great view of the night time. The feeling of detachment slowly crept back into her mind, which made it hard to keep a complacent face.
He must have seen this, because he spoke up again. "Heh. It's not every day that something bothers you." He said this just barely turning to look at her for a moment, then swirling the sake in his cup and taking another sip.
She didn't let her slight surprise show. Maybe she would have been more shocked at his noticing if she'd only been with the crew for a few weeks. But by now, she knew that the swordsman was more perceptive than the others thought. It was no use lying, but she wouldn't tell him everything.
"I simply think about the events leading up to now," she said, turning back to her book. He took this as a satisfactory answer, giving her a nod, downing the last of his sake and putting the bottle back.
"Well, goodnight," he said, giving a casual wave over his shoulder before exiting the kitchen.
She raised an eyebrow as he left. A small part of her had wanted him or even expected him to ask something more. If it had been, say, Nami instead, the conversation would have gotten a little further. But maybe he knew the same thing she did about this. Getting too deep into it would be extensive, and although she had the crew's trust she still didn't trust them completely. There was a part of her she had yet to give up; a small bit of emotion she was afraid to surrender because it would hurt too much if she were betrayed.
Still, it had felt nice to have given up this little piece of information. She continued reading her book, finished her tea along with a few cookies, and went to bed.
About a week later, the urge to go to the kitchen came again. The detachment was still there, and she wanted to be rid of it at least for a few hours. In the light of a few candles she could mull over these thoughts without the entire crew coming after her about it. Zoro was on watch that night, but she was sure she would be alone to think this through.
Not 10 minutes after she sat down, she saw the silhouette of the swordsman enter the kitchen.
"You again?" he asked, though not in an accusatory manner.
"Yes swordsman-san, me again," she said with a smile, and continued on her book.
After a few moments of silence, the clinking of a glass and the sound of sake being poured, he spoke up. "Still the same?"
"Somewhat," she said simply, though still smiling. "You drink sake at so late an hour?"
He looked into his glass thoughtfully, then looked out the window. "I train late, so I come and take some while ero-cook isn't here to catch me."
A few more moments of silence.
"...Plus its quiet." It felt like he was going to continue, so she looked up at him. "When it's night time I can appreciate the silence."
She nodded, looking to the side thoughtfully. "...You certainly can."
"That the reason you come down here?"
"Yes, it is." She put down her book and took up her tea, looking at it for a moment. "This crew...is interesting. There have been many crews where people are even more energetic than Luffy, but it's different on this ship."
"There are people more energetic than Luffy?" he asked, raising an eyebrow with a grin.
Robin smiled and breathed out a chuckle. "It's surprising, but true. There are many people who are pirates and many have a lot of energy. Once the day ends though, their ships become too quiet, and it's almost stifling. But here, it's peaceful."
He looked at her for a moment, studying her. She was older than him, so of course she'd know about these things. But she sounded like she had lived for a thousand years while saying this to him. Even after all this time, she was not easy to predict or figure out. But what trust they'd established was there, and that was good enough. He breathed out a chuckle, and after another drink of sake he bid her goodnight, and she bid him the same.
2 days after, she went down to the kitchen again. This time Zoro didn't come. Well, not immediately. She almost expected him to come, but then figured that him not coming made sense. He probably wanted to avoid disturbing her because it would be awkward. But she did give her detachment its due thought, forgetting her book, tea and cookies entirely until she was exhausted. And still no closer to an answer or a clear cure for such a feeling.
Right when she closed her book and got up to leave, the door to the kitchen opened and Zoro walked in sleepily.
"This is going to become a habit for you, isn't it?" he asked, his voice heavy with tiredness.
She chuckled. "Swordsman-san, if you're tired you should sleep."
"Haven't had any sake yet," he said simply back. He went about grabbing a bottle from the cabinet, and she poured her cup of tea down the drain. This time, he sat at the table near where she had been sitting and took a drink.
"Still the same?"
"Still the same."
"Hmph," he said, thoughtful. He was going to say something else, but then his stomach grumbled, and he raised an eyebrow at himself. Robin still had her back turned but allowed herself a small smile of amusement, extending some extra hands to hold out the plate of untouched gingerbread cookies as she washed her teacup.
He cautiously took the plate and grabbed a cookie, biting into it.
"These taste weird. What did you put in them?"
"I didn't make them; cook-san did. And it's probably because you just drank the sake."
He stared at the cookie thoughtfully, then ate the rest and took another. Robin picked up her book and headed for the door.
"Good night, swordsman-san." It felt a little odd that she was the one leaving instead, but it really didn't amount to much in retrospect. After all, she was just some random archeologist aboard the ship, even if she was their friend.
She kept going to the kitchen on and off. Sometimes he came, sometimes he didn't. The conversation was usually the same, although they said more with their glances and expressions than words could amount to.
One night she came when he wasn't on watch, ensuring she would be alone. She sat with a book about historic places of the world in front of her, but it remained unopened. The tea went cold, and the cookies started to go stale. The detachment had slowly transformed into the feeling of belonging, but to a certain point. Her emotions had been almost completely surrendered to the Strawhats, but there was still the subject of her bounty to consider. She had been labeled a monster of a child after Ohara was destroyed.
...Ohara. She ran her fingers over the cover of the book in front of her. Inside that book there was information about ancient civilizations, and it reminded her of her old home. The incident of Ohara had been erased almost completely from history, save for a few people who had known some of its scholars.
How she missed her home.
And yet, as much as she desired for history to rewind itself and take a different course, she was satisfied with her current situation. The crew was more than just a crew, and she was more than just an archeologist to them. She was a helper, a reliable crew member, and even a friend. She actually had fun with them, and the lonely feeling she had been afraid of disappeared whenever she saw just one of them smile. She knew she wasn't completely out of the woods though. The government had made it one of their top priorities to hunt her down. Her freedom would never be fully granted. But she had come to the conclusion that no matter what, even if she had to give herself over to the government, she would do anything to protect her nakama.
Suddenly, she heard the door open. Her head shot up and she saw the swordsman saunter past her in his usual tired manner, studying her for a moment before he disappeared behind the cabinet
"Evening," he said as he rummaged around for his favorite drink.
"Evening, swordsman-san," she said, trying arrange a polite smile on her face. She watched him pour sake into a glass and take a sip, but then bring his glass and the bottle towards the table and sit opposite of her. She offered him the plate of cookies and he took one, watching him discreetly but carefully. Was there something he wanted? His face winced at the odd taste of the gingerbread and sake for a moment, but then he returned to normal and looked at her.
"Still the same?"
She thought for a moment. "...Not exactly."
"Reached a solution?"
"More a realization," she replied, taking a sip of her cold tea.
"...Care to share?"
She looked at him for a over the rim of her teacup. He was sitting there waiting with his usual look, but his eyes were searching for something. It was true that she was part of the crew now, and everyone at some point or another had gotten to know her in a little, personal way. Maybe this was his personal way?
She looked back down, forcing herself to swallow the cold, very sweet liquid and put the cup back on its saucer. "I merely realized I have a place on this ship."
He kept looking, eyebrow ever so slightly raised. She couldn't shake the feeling that he wasn't convinced. She tried not to look suspicious as she hoped he wouldn't ask further.
"I see," he said simply. "You realized this just now?"
"Maybe not just now. But gradually."
"That's usually how things go here," he said, scratching his head and then munching on another cookie.
"Yes. I've realized that too," she said with a smile, opening her book.
After a few minutes of mindlessly reading the words, she decided that if she didn't get some rest soon, she would tire herself out with all these emotions swirling around in her head. She got up, poured her tea down the sink and made for the door, all actions under the watchful eye of the swordsman.
She stopped and turned towards him. Usually he didn't call her by name. He gave her a long sideways glance. He looked like he was about to say something, most likely a question, but he merely turned his attention away from her and said a casual "Sleep well."
"Thank you," she said, meaning it in more than just one way. Despite all appearances and actions, Zoro cared for his nakama in his own way. "Sleep well, swordsman-san." She exited the kitchen and caught a glimpse of him staring down at his sake. He looked like he was thinking hard about something.
They neared Water 7, which didn't allow her time to go to the kitchen because everyone was busy preparing to make landfall. And then, the incident of the CP9. She surrendered herself, just as she had predicted, but now for the sake of her nakama. She was taken to Enies Lobby, where she supposed she would meet death. But they would be safe. They wouldn't be attacked because of her presence, and they would be free to fulfill their dreams so long as they stayed away from her. She'd miss their laughter, their smiles and those gingerbread cookies at night, but her nakama would be free. To die for them would be her greatest honor.
Maybe she should have seen it coming, but it still surprised her. Loud shakes and rumbles could be heard, and when she saw the sunlight again the entire crew was standing in front of the building where she was being held. Each looked angry and determined. She shouted and yelled at them, furious in her own way for them coming to rescue her. She'd wanted them to stay safe. Luffy yelled back, basically saying that they treasured her and that her life was worth more than beli or the government. Luffy ordered a person she guessed was Usopp to burn the government flag. They declared war to get her back. She meant the world to them. She looked into each of their eyes and saw different things. Some were encouragements, others were declarations that she'd come out of this alive. His eyes begged a question:
"Why the heck hadn't you told us?"
He looked angry, which was a given. A tiny part of his expression even suggested hurt, which she was sure every member felt. But it was hard to imagine such a feeling in a person like the swordsman.
Luffy shouted that he hadn't heard her say she wanted to live.
She had thought wishing for such a thing was forbidden. The wish to live and be happy; all she had ever wanted in the first place. Them being there, risking their lives and fighting hundreds of enemies with the navy breathing down their necks. It was all proof that she could be safe with them. She would have to let go of everything she had previously believed in. ...But she could do it.
"I WANT TO LIVE! TAKE ME OUT TO THE SEA WITH YOU!"
And they fought so hard for her. They were all so wounded but still had the strength to stand up and embrace her afterward. When they were safely out of range of the government facility, they at last got to talk with her. It was slow at first. They were cautious about it because it hurt so much for her to talk, but she felt like she was able to now. Slowly but surely, the last layers of her personality were peeled away. She began to be able to laugh openly with them, or smile genuinely at their jokes and not feel as if it were all temporary. Once in a while, she even cried with them.
About 2 weeks later, she finally felt content enough to venture to the kitchen again. She brought the history book she hadn't finished with her. She made a fresh cup of chamomile tea and warmed up some gingerbread cookies. For the first time in her life, she felt truly at peace as she sat in the dim light, reading with a smile on her face.
She was reading so intently and happily that she hadn't noticed the door open. Zoro walked through it in his usual tired fashion, staring at her for a moment. She hadn't noticed. He went to the cabinet to get a bottle of sake and a cup, barely restraining the amused smile he felt coming. He came back and it was only when he set the bottle down on the table and sat across from her that she looked up.
"Zoro-san," she said, her expression normal but her eyes surprised.
"Ha! The book's that interesting huh?" he said with a smirk. She called the crew by their names now. He rather liked that.
"Yes, it is," she said, bookmarking the page. "It's the history of the world."
"Minus the void history; what you dream of finding," he said, taking up a gingerbread cookie.
She smiled. He was talking as if she hadn't left for a day. "Yes," she said, taking a sip of her tea and then continuing on. She felt his questions coming, but even though it would be a little painful she would be ready.
At length he spoke. "Why didn't you tell any of us?" He sounded casual, but he looking bent on finding out and he wasn't taking anything discreet for an answer.
She looked at him for a moment, then sighed and slowly closed her book. "...It was because of my perspective."
He furrowed his eyebrows for a moment. "You're perspective?"
"Yes. I thought that I wouldn't stop being hunted. Running for a long time did that to me, and death seemed the only solution. I thought that happiness was never permanent. And yet, I always felt it here with the crew. So I thought that if I ever got captured, to perish for my nakama would be my greatest honor."
He studied her, not touching his full cup of sake. He too was willing to give up his life for his nakama, but thinking about her previous wish sent shivers down his spine. She continued on.
"But I realized something. Even though I am still hunted, I'm not how once I was. I have people willing to hang onto me even after I left and said I didn't want to come back. I realized that I am no longer alone." She stared out the window with a fond, slightly sad look on her face.
"...Good," he said, closing his eyes and downing his sake to avoid her slightly surprised look. By the time he put his cup down, she had returned her expression to normal, and continued looking out the window.
He spoke again after a few silent moments. "I heard something from Iceberg-san. You had mentioned your home, Ohara. What happened to it?"
She kept staring out the window. "...It's a long story."
His usual scowl softened slightly for a moment. He poured himself more sake. "Sorry."
She turned to him for a moment and smiled. "It's alright, Zoro-san." She turned back towards the window. "One day perhaps I will be able to talk about it."
"Take your time," he said gently, pondering the night with her.
After that, she made a habit of coming to the kitchen, and it appeared he did to. Without fail, she would enjoy the stillness of the night alone, and then enjoy it with the company of the swordsman later. Sometimes he'd even be there before her, a plate of gingerbread cookies already out.
It got to be that they could talk about various things other than what had happened. The incident was given due attention, but then melted away to reveal the bright future ahead. Sometimes they just sat in silence, admiring the night outside. They once even sat outside to take in the quiet and the stars. Other times he'd ponder her books with her and ask her questions about them. The night she had brought a book about swords was one night where he was particularly enthusiastic. It was highly amusing for her to see him smile almost like a kid at Christmas as he looked through legends about samurai and swords.
She had many happy moments with the crew during the day, as happiness seemed to follow them everywhere. It was something her sore heart welcomed readily. But she always looked forward gingerbread, chamomile tea, and the scent of sake at night.
*snort* Oh boy! Robin and Zoro moments! 8D
I feel kind of derpy for putting this up, but I do want an honest opinion about this. There was really no extremely graceful way to write this, however I at least want to know whether these guys were in character or not. (Robin maybe, but Zoro was probably a bit OOC). Tell me whatever you wish (flame it if you like) so long as it's conducive to some form of critiquing. Let me know if the point is clear or if it's just tripping all over itself. XD
If at all possible, I hope you enjoyed reading it!