Disclaimer: To my chagrin, I had never owned One Piece before. Then again, if I did...I would never had came up with such an awesome opening!
"I won't let anyone stop me." These words were true. I will not let common sense or self-preservation prevent me from protecting this young crew. Neither will any outside influences hinder me. I don't need nor seek their anger, when they find out the truth.
Wait, why when? Isn't it if?
Trying to figure out my mind's thinking, I resisted running my fingers through my hair. Giving a mental sigh, my shoulders drooped slightly. Who am I kidding? If the crew can rescue a whole village and defeat a cruel ruler for a crewmate's sake, I'm quite certain that they the truth will fall upon their ears eventually. It might be days, months or years but the truth will be uncovered and spreaded.
While I am glad that they would find my cold-bloodiness horrifying, I'm let down that none of them took me seriously. I did mention to them about my specialty in the past.
It's not like you let them come close to you…. My inner voice interrupted the self-pity bout that I was falling into.
After a short silence, the delusions start trickling in. They are desperately trying to understand this absurd situation. With confused expressions, Captain-san took the lead.
"What are you doing? Do you mean what you're saying?" I find myself sighing quietly again. It seems I had been doing it a lot for today.
I briefly ponder on the words that I had spoken to them since I had joined. When had I not been serious when I spoke to them? I was also genuine when I offer my slightly horrifying observations.
As for the former sentence, I am still not fully positive about my actions. Which is a rare issue, all on its own. However, even if I can't comprehend my actions, there isn't any wrongness about continuing it. Despite being a methodical person, there are times that I trust my well-honed instincts in making decisions.
And yes, this is one of the times.
"Robin, what's wrong with you? Are you really our enemy now?" If not for all the eyes and attention upon me, I would have giggled merrily. Chopper is a doctor through and through. Even the way he questioned could be used in a medical examination.
I wonder if he had knew the whole story, what would be his diagnosis? Will he have drawn the same conclusion as mine? There is nothing 'wrong' about me physically or mentally. The problem laid somewhere else. It is the fact that I had let the Strawhats burrow and nest in my heart. That was the part that went wrong.
An assassin can never form ties with anyone. Not even the one who taught him. The reason is simple, without ties, there will be no weakness that the enemy can exploit. This unspoken rule is double reinforced for me. By being an assassin as well as a fugitive, I cannot let anyone get close to me. I should start to betray and leave them as soon as the first sign of trouble appears.
Theoretically, that is.
If only plans worked out the way you want in reality. Instead, not only had I not leave, I also went on and chose them over me. Logically, it doesn't make any sense. Then again, the methods used to deal with the Strawhats hardly are. They don't behave or react like most people. They don't even do things the normal way!
If being an enemy will let them dislodge their noses from my trail, let them heal faster and cut all links to me. By all means, they can regard me as one. I will bear it, once more. I am never hurtful about the deeds that I had did till now but this simple act of having the label branded upon me, is different. It makes my spirits dropped, makes me hesitate and pushes a knife into my heart.
Standing there was all I could do after I heard all of their accusations. Instead of fighting back the mental pain, I let it flow over me. At least, pain, I can stand. It does good, covering the guilt and desire of spilling the beans. Yet, a small part of me, still yearn to see them smiling. To see their reactions, had I concluded the CP9 possible to beat. If everything was a joke and I replied no to Chopper's last question.
Luffy will reach up and fiddle with his straw hat before turning to me with a big grin. Proclaiming proudly that he knew I wouldn't have went over so easily.
Chopper will pump the air excitedly as I approach them and run forward to hug me. He will look up with undisguised happiness and chatter happily, "Robin, glad to have you back!"
Nami will heave a big sigh of relief before scolding me for giving her such a big scare. She would also threaten to fine me if I ever pull off such a prank again.
Zoro will give a small smile at my return and probably offer a fake snarky remark.
Underneath my cloak, my left hand moved and gripped my upper right arm tightly, wanting to stop the trembling that is starting to affect me. To stop it before it becomes visible. As if sensing my resolve was wavering, Lucci broke in and diverted their attention. This, I'm grateful to him.
Lucci's interference reminded me of the matter at hand and the resolve I made. Pushing back the words that were at the tip of my tongue, I made a half turn and faced the window. It is not the wisest escape route but it is a manageable one.
Listening to Lucci laying out the unspoken plans, I wanted to object vehemently. This is going against our agreement! It's fine if it was escaping a burning mansion but having them get past four members to escape, is downright impossible!
On a closer examination, Lucci know that I can melt into the shadows at any time. He won't try something so foolhardy, right? Or would he? I simply don't have enough information to see the route that he will take.
It's an understatement if I say I'm feeling very disturbed now. Distress isn't even near the degree of the level. The very fact that I am here, trying to convince myself that a cold-blooded assassin won't double-cross me. The whole situation and thoughts were just laughable.
Yet, I'm helpless. Helpless like I had never ever been, during the run for twenty years. In every situation that I had ever been, there were alternatives. Unfavorable but possible options, one that I can take if I was backed into a corner.
Unfortunately, the time to make choices has passed. It ditched me and ran to a colder man. A man who can push his close friend of five years, closer to the edge of the cliff. Someone, who never questions his definition of Justice. A person that never waver from the path that he was placed on.
I had to trust him. Trust his word and looking from all angles, it is a foolish decision. The choice is out of my hands though. It is a conclusion that was borne out of necessity.
Is it too much to hope that the Strawhats will leave the matter as it is? I groaned uncharacteristically, when Luffy refuses to let me go. I think if someone was to ask me which animal resembles the Strawhats, my immediate answer will be Bulldog. A stubborn bulldog which refuses to release his grip on a deformed bone, even if other perfectly shaped bones surrounds it.
I wish, for just once that they will stop haunting me. Their pleading is hard to listen to. It chips constantly at the wall that was hastily built.
Unable to take anymore battering at my defenses, I chose to make a move first. Bringing up my cowl to avoid the recognition outside, I interacted familiarly with Lucci to let that unspoken message be transmitted. I'm one of them now.
I bade farewell to the Strawhats yet again and started walking to the window. Without me there, hopefully, the CP9 won't be so eager to hurt the Strawhats and will focus more on finding Franky.
A desperate last attempt by Iceburg went unheard amidst the chaos. I might have burden the poor dying man by letting the cat out of the bag but what is done is done. I cannot go back in time to reverse it.
Behind me, sounds of fighting and surprise could be heard. Shaking my head imperceptibly, I wondered why does Captain-san not learn. It's practically impossible to defeat CP9 at their level of skill now. Not only had the CP9 learnt all of the skills necessary to toughen their body, they also possessed the cold-blood required of all assassins.
Not wanting to turn my head, I listened intently to the battle. A frustrated yell from Captain-san, when he couldn't seem to inflict any damage on his opponent. A command from Swordsman-san, as he noticed that Rankyaku is a slicing attack. A shout of wonder from Doctor-san, seeing that Blueno seemingly floated in the air. A shriek of fear from Navigator-san, when Rankyaku impacted. The chinks of metal as Swordsman-san challenged Kaku.
I heard enough to know that they were still alive from the first skirmish with the CP9. I took the first few steps to reach out to the window. I know that they won't give up but perhaps with me out of their reach, they will back off. Maybe.
Opening the window, it is fitting that the night air is cold. After all, it is the temperature that I was most accustomed with. I drew in the familiar air to rebuild my tattered defenses.
Placing my hand at the windowsill to boost myself up, I flinched as I hear the desperation of Luffy's voice. Listening to the words that he spoke, I sighed inaudibly and turned around to firmly state my last words.
"No, we are finished. We will never see each other again." A note of finality seeped into my words.
Zoro's words came as a surprise and I lingered at the windowsill, torn between the warmth of the crew and the coldness of the night. Luffy's determined battle cry snapped me out of my indecisiveness and I faced the window yet again. Wanting to be on my way before the CP9 withdrew their mercy.
Hopping on the ledge, I gasped as the sounds of pierced flesh travelled to me. I gritted my teeth and my hands curled up, why are they still here? Don't they understand the simple fact that I'm leaving? That I don't wish to be a part of them anymore and they will get hurt if they insist on following me? How did I end up with such naïve friends bent on hunting me down? I could only hope fervently that, that is the extent of the injuries they will face tonight. Casually looking at the town in front of me, I took a ragged deep breath, counting to ten and then releasing it.
I really despise this feeling of helplessness.
Unfortunately for Captain-san, Rob Lucci isn't as passive as the other members. I listened and interpreted that he had moved and intercepted Catain-san's headlong charge. Perhaps, he knew or sensed that this boy out of all the other Strawhats is the one who is most capable of swaying my resolve. After all, how can he hold the Captain position if he isn't the one who fires our determination?
"Go, Nico Robin" An underlying threat accompanied the command that Lucci gave. The threat rings clear in my ears. Go or I won't be responsible for my actions.
Taking one step into nothingness, which reflects my heart's state perfectly, I let myself go…
Sprouting a line of hands to land on the ground safely, I glanced around for a grasp of the situation. Indeed, it doesn't take long for the shipwrights to notice the added presence and head towards me.
Grimacing slightly, I prepared to flee the scene. After witnessing and participating in the brutality that happened in Iceburg's bedroom, I don't feel like causing more injuries for today.
While running, I used my devil fruit power to slow them down. I might not want to inflict more damage but neither did I turn to a pacifist. I do spare a moment to stop and glance around for my two 'guards'. I wasn't worried that they will not find me. I mean, how can they not, when I have this group of people out for my blood? I'm more concerned that they will harm these shipwrights.
Deciding to slip away before the 'guards' decide that they need to intervene, I sprouted hands on each person to cover their eyes and slipped behind some foliage that were close by. I release my hold quickly before they could harm me.
Striding through the town with the two silent 'bodyguards', I'm slightly curious as to the whereabouts of Cook-san and Long Nose-kun. They aren't back at the room meaning that they had other matters to attend to.
Sa- Cook-san, I can sort of understand. Seeing that he is the type to walk the path that he chose and obeys only when he sees the point of it. Whereas Long Nose-kun, he is the type to tag along with the majority of the crew. Unless, they had a huge disagreement. I instantly dismissed the thought. It will be very coincidental that the crew will lose two of their members in this town.
A question interrupts me from my musing. Looking up at the shorter guard on my right, I inquired monotonously, "I'm sorry, I didn't catch it. Can you repeat the question?"
Flinching slightly from my tone. He repeats it, "I was jus wondering if ya knew that we're suppose ta head ta the station."
I gave him an affirmative nod before adding frostily, "And this is the quickest way to it or don't you believe me?"
He sweats a bit before accepting my statement. Looking flustered for the moment, he attempts to cover it by muttering, "Eh, ok." However, the increased distance between us gave him away.
Turning my attention back to the road in front, I am wickedly glad to find out that I haven't lost my touch in intimidation. Needless to say, the rest of the journey was awfully silent.
The silence made my mind drift to places, which I disliked. I couldn't stop fretting about the situation back at the mansion. Have the CP9 left or they felt that leaving the Strawhats in a burning mansion isn't enough?
Was Zor- Swordsman-san condition critical after receiving the multiple Shigun from Kaku? Is Captain-san fine after Lucci dealt with him? Will Doctor-san and Nam-Navigator-san survive in the roomful of masters?
Nami laid with her back against the wall, in a fetus posture, a heap of broken bones and skin on the floor. Her Climatact is held loosely in her grip, with the metal bent in different angles. Blood is slowly oozing out to form a huge puddle around her body.
Clumps of brown fur matted with blood can be seen near Nami's body. Chopper's lifeless body is not far from Nami's. His Guard Point didn't manage to withstand their Rankyaku attack and it was significantly smaller than usual. Due to the loss of fur, that their razor-sharp assault caused.
Wado Ichimonji, the white katana that Zoro usually carries around is seen in Kaku's possession. While the said owner is struggling to get up, despite the red fluid flowing from the many finger holes. Using Sandai Kitetsu to prop himself up, he grips Yubashiri tightly before shifting his balance to attack. Suddenly, a white hilt is buried deep into his heart before he could even utter a word.
A bleeding and panting Luffy can only stare wordlessly as he sees his second mate dying in front of him. A second later, he snaps out of it and his expression change to a berserk one. Charging at Lucci, he punches wildly. His despair grew, as none of them seem to connect. His relentless strikes grew slower and slower until it came to a stop. Looking up with tears in his lifeless eyes, he gave up his hold over life.
And the tattered straw hat floats peacefully in the air. Only to be shattered as it was snatched out of the air roughly by a pair of unfamiliar hands.
The vivid scene of their death hit me so suddenly, that I stopped in my tracks. A shudder ran through me and I moved my hands quickly to stifle a sob. I kept my head down as I wrestled for control over my body. A few escaped tears, ran down my face and I wiped them away slowly.
"They aren't dead! It's just a figment of your overactive imagination." I snarled silently to myself. Shuffling and nervous footsteps reminded me that I had an audience.
Regaining my control, I straighten my posture and continued striding. Hearing no footsteps trailing behind me, I turned around and spoke icily. "Are you following or do I have to drag you along?" I questioned, not waiting for an answer as I continued my walk.
Arriving at the station, I was slightly startled at the number of Marine personnel. I understand that they, unlike pirates, don't need to hide away but such a large number of people will still draw attention. Then again, it isn't like there is anyone around to bear witness to this. With the guards trawling behind, I made my way to the center of the square. I ignored the whispers as I stood there, waiting for someone to approach me.
While observing, I found it ironic that the Marine was dressing like the Mafia. The hat, clothing, shades and its two colour scheme, I would like to question the person who thought up of this attire. In a way, it's fitting. Since they were kidnapping Franky and using force to get their way.
Hearing someone's footsteps making his or her way to me, I stared at nothing in particular, keeping my gaze forward. A rough voice floated to my ear, informing me that the speaker is a guy who is past his prime.
"You finally gave up after twenty years on the run, eh? Smart move." Somehow, one of his words prompted me of the vision that I had earlier. A slightly troubled expression was present on my face as I tried to logically tear down that disconcerting scene.
Look closely to find out the points that defy reality, then rest well knowing that the vision isn't true. My analysis begun to resemble a Rubic Cube and my attention was split as I tried to solve the puzzle.
A spoken command towed me back to my current situation. As soon as I figured where I was heading to, I switched my focus back to the problem. Although I was amused that they not only they have to look like the Mafia, they have to act like them too.
After the two of them checked the whole cabin, the shorter guy grinned maliciously before drawling, "Ya better stay here, for ya own good." The last word was spoken mockingly.
Ignoring him, I glanced around my surroundings and habitually noted down the exit points. The taller of the two, lead me to the middle of the cabin and indicated for me to sit. Taking the window seat as a small rebellious act, I waited till they were about to reach the doorway before breaking the comfortable silence.
I spoke quietly. "I sincerely hope that when you go to sleep in the night," I paused for effect, "You wouldn't freak out as a disembodied hand, for lack of better word, appears."
The both of them froze at the doorway before gulping visibly. After exchanging a look between the two of them, they opted for a brisk walk away from me. I raised an eyebrow at their actions. I didn't meant to scare them that badly.
Being left alone with my thoughts isn't something that I'm a stranger to. However, it's the first time that I am solitary with very unpleasant thoughts. I can't make head or tails of the situation.
It's been a long time since I was so….unsure, in a path that I had chosen to walk. Propping my head on my left palm, I stared out at the reflective glass. I hoped for it to show my true self. It is unluckily, lost like so many of the objects that I was unable to find over the years. Somehow, after hiding it under many masks, I had lost touch with it.
Though, after careful thinking, this isn't the first time in years for such unsure-ness. As a matter of fact, everymoment spent as a Strawhats crewmember was filled with it. I was never certain of the way to act around them.
When I was first rescued, I had thought that Luffy is a reasonable person and that if I asked him nicely to put me down, he would obey. Who knew that his answer would be a negative one?
My lips quirked slightly, as I recalled my enormous astonishment at being refused. It was gratifying to know that there was still someone out there who could throw me off my assumptions. That soft smile grew a tad deeper as the next memory came to mind…
The method that I used to self-invite myself into their crew… I wasn't 100% confident that it will work. On the other hand, neither did I expect him to accept my enrolment so calmly or turn to his crewmates to grin and placate them with a simple " Don't worry. She's not a bad person! "
My palm, moved to my forehead as I leaned onto the support that it provides. Tears started to well in my eyes and I shut my eyelids in an effort to prevent them from escaping. My smile couldn't wipe itself away in the face of such silly tactic, coming from the Captain nonetheless.
Another treasured memory floated by, gracing me with it's locked emotions. The discovery that the Rio Poneglyph isn't lost in an unknown location, rather, it was at the same island as this crew's goal. Till now, I wasn't convinced if it is a piece of good news or an ill omen.
The crew, which made it possible for me…
During the Aokiji incident, which every single one of them was willing to protect me against an unstoppable foe. They stood so fearlessly, in front of me, between danger and me. For the first time, I felt so safe amongst a group of people that I collaborated for an ulterior motive.
The fact, that all of their sleeping forms could be spotted in the darkness of the cabin, which I laid recovering at. The ridiculous notion, as worried as they were, they could not head back to their own respective quarters without knowing either of our condition.
Once I opened the door after I recovered, the happiness and relief that jumped out and greeted me momentarily stunned me. It was evident. All of them were very worried about me. Which is rare to find in the seas, the world to be exact, nowadays…
My hand starts to tremble as suppressed feelings are surfacing. A sense of belonging wells up, as more memories are unlocked and was re-lived. How could I be so blind to their many invites for a true friendship? One with no strings attached at all.
Sensing the rumble of the train and hearing the piercing whistle of the conductor, all my emotions were wiped clean. Except, for one. An overwhelming emotion of loss…
My shoulders quivered as I cried silently into the darkness of my palm. Knowing that this train is leaving behind the friends that I finally truly found. Understanding that the last moment, which I will be genuinely happy, is lost to the clutches of time.
And hating myself so harshly, for being the cause of such separation…
Author Note: A BIG THANK YOU for all the readers that stuck along this long and bumpy journey (: Yes, thank YOU! Haha, I never expect that I would write a fanfic of 12.4k words! It's like the only story, I had ever written, that contained so many words!
A shoutout goes to my reviewers: Rea (For being such a constant reviewer :D), Tracer (whom, I can't reply personally as you aren't registered), ruby890( for that odd review out from nowhere xD), Tare-chan (Who reviewed despite having much more pressing matter at the next day ^^) , Andara (For reading it, even though English isn't your first language (I think so?)), (For writing such awesome ZoRo stories ^^)
Thank you to all alerts and favs too :P BlindingDarkness1 for faving it since the last chapter~
As for this delayed chapter, well... I never expected to add so many scenes... Apparently, the writing bug caught me and the scenes just flowed out. I had life interfering my writing in the past three days, so I only just wrote finish my ending. Unfortunately, I'm not satisfied with it, so I might be changing it later.
So, this is a kinda fresh from the oven chapter... And it doesn't have that many revisions compared to the others. Forgive me if Robin seemed ooc in this lil chapter D: I refuse to hold on to this chapter any longer because I will not be home for the next day and I can't bring my laptop along.
It's like 3.40am at my side now, I'll leave the last chapter here. With a long A/N. I might come back for a continuation sometime in the future. It won't be the near one though. I'll be working on my next story.. So keep an eye out for it ;)
In case, anyone is wondering, the reason I had Robin switching nicknames and their names at times... is because I want to show that she couldn't help but call them by their given names. Thus, abolishing the distance placed between them by using the nicknames. Also, the latest opening (14).. Is so awesome! It sums up the current situation so nicely. I suggest all of you to take a look! It does contain spoilers if you aren't up to date with the anime!