Author's notes :
Thanks for your wonderful comments on my previous fic! I really appreciate it. :3
Please R&R! Please remember that English still isn't my first language, though I'm trying to improve my skills.
This fic should have 3 or 4 chapters when it's done.
I enjoyed writing about Robin and Zoro a lot, and I hope they're not too OOC.
I don't own these characters, they're Oda's.
This takes place between Skypiea and Water Seven.
Nico Robin closed her book, put it on the table, and stretched on her chair. She was in the small tangerine orchard, at the ship's back, enjoying a sunny afternoon. They were leaving the vicinity of an autumn island, and the weather was gradually getting warmer. The sky was an endless patch of blue among the trees, above her head. An azure drape over a grove, in the middle of the ocean.
It felt safe.
Nami was a few feet away from her, on a deckchair, sunbathing lazily in the sun. Aside from the sound of the waves and the occasional creaking of the ship, she could hear Luffy, Usopp and Chopper's voices ; she didn't know what they had come up with this time, but they sure seemed like they were having a good time. From the open hatch in the cabin's wall, she could hear Sanji whistling, while moving around the kitchen.
Robin smiled. This atmosphere was so peaceful, relaxing, and so different from everything she had known before that she sometimes wondered if all this was real.
Life had never been easy on her, and even thought the years spent with Baroque Works were certainly not the worse she had to experience, it lacked the playful friendliness she had found within the sundry crew who had accepted her on board.
Most of the time, she felt like she had belonged with them for years.
As somewhat faint sound caught her attention, she turned to this new noise's origin. Roronoa Zoro was sitting, his back resting on the ship's railing, and was obviously deep asleep. His head was leaning down on his chest, his mouth slightly open, and he was snoring faintly. Robin could see he had a few wild spikes in his hair, on the back, where his head had been resting on the wooden planks behind him, when he first sat there. He often looked funny when he woke up after a nap. Sleepy-eyed, still fuzzy, drowsy, not really back from where his slumber had taken him.
Robin chuckled. Zoro was a collected, focused mind, never losing track of his purpose. He was grouchy most of the time, his occasional smiles were mostly sarcastic sneers, and she thought he took life way too seriously in general. But when he was asleep – which he usually did in sight of anyone, even complete strangers, with what almost looked like innocence and complete trust that nothing would harm him, he let the mask down.
Robin thought he looked most endearing when he was asleep.
She smiled wistfully.
She had successfully earned her other nakamas' trust, first by reading their various personalities and skillfully coaxing them into letting her join the crew – truth be told, she wasn't above a little bribery when needed, and she certainly had needed that in order to survive on the seas for the past twenty years. Then, she had gradually proven she was worth their trust.
And they now trusted her entirely. All of them, except one.
She could feel, from her first day on board, that he would be the hardest to tame. After all this time, Zoro was still suspicious.
Luffy had accepted her right away. He was inherently generous, would trust about anybody, unless they hurt someone he cared about, and was prone to grant forgiveness in the same fashion he did everything else : without much thinking.
Sanji had accepted her closely behind his captain. She chuckled. Sanji was such a darling. She wasn't used to being lavished with attention, and his behavior was a nice change, even though he would overdo it on a regular basis.
The others had all learned to trust her after a while. Chopper was a bit shy, and Usopp was scared at first, but she knew they'd forget about it if she was nice to them. Nami wasn't much harder – Robin knew these jewels, snatched from Crocodile after his demise, would come in handy, somehow.
She closed her eyes, enjoying the afternoon sunlight on her face.
Which left her with Zoro, a single stain on the immaculate cloth decorating her new-found home's dinner table. And it bothered her tremendously.
She was good at reading people, and she had soon noticed that the grouchy exterior was only some kind of hard, deceiving polish. Would one scratch it to check what was hidden behind the cover, they'd find a deeply caring nature. He'd never admit it – the man was proud, indeed – but she had seen how nice he was to Chopper, who was the youngest on board, as well as the most sensitive. So, Zoro was fond of kids, and even had a soft spot for them. Also, he was very kind to his crew-mates – covering it all with grumpy retorts. He didn't laugh often, but she had seen him smile at the silly stories Usopp would utter when he thought nobody was looking. He would always follow Luffy on his whims, even if they were unreasonable – which they were. Often. Or actually, most of the time. He would bear patiently with Nami's fits, even though he usually complained about it. And of course, he'd never waste an occasion to make fun of the cook, but it seemed more of an affectionate behavior to Robin. Like some kind of weird, twisted, yet fond attention. She smiled, wondering if any of these two even realized that this was their way to show the other that they cared about him. Not that they would admit it to anyone, anyway.
He could even be nice to her on occasions. He'd listen to her when she talked about history or archeology – all grunts and snorts, but still listening, and even asking for details. Moreover, he had stood up for her when Enel had attacked her. She was badly hurt by the lightning power, back then, but she wasn't unconscious yet when he caught her, before she could fall down, and growled at Enel for attacking a mere woman. Not that she was that vulnerable, but she had really been in danger back then.
She knew Zoro couldn't care less if she was a man, or even a penguin, for that matter. Zoro never underestimated her, but he was nice, just like that. He couldn't help it, and would never leave a vulnerable person without trying to protect them, even if he didn't trust them. He was almost worse than Luffy, in that regard.
She had thought that, maybe, after what had happened in Skypiea, he'd soften a bit in that regard. But she was wrong about that – and she wasn't used to being wrong. After all this time, even though she hadn't shown any sign of ill will, and actually did her best to prove she didn't have any, Zoro was still wary of her.
Actually, it wasn't as if nothing had changed. Before the whole Skypiea business, Zoro would always keep an eye on her. She could feel his gaze upon her once in a while, and when it happened, she generally turned to him and smiled. She wanted him to know that she was aware of what he was doing, and that it didn't disturb her the least. It wasn't out of spite that she did it, no, but she liked having the upper-hand, especially when it came to handsome young men. And when she started understanding what the wary, gruff demeanor was hiding, she started enjoying the teasing a little bit too much. Before she knew it, it had all started to get out of hand – and somewhat naughty. Zoro was a challenge, and she loved challenges, especially when they were that good-looking.
Gradually, his behavior had changed. He first started looking at her more often, when she had thought this habit would disappear after some time. And he looked even more wary of her than before, which she thought was only natural, but was still a bit disappointed with. She had done her best to prove him she deserved his respect, if not his trust, but the teasing might have ruined it all, and she was to blame for that. She sighed.
She glanced at him from the corner of her eyes when she noticed he was stirring in his sleep. He soon yawned, stretched, and opened a sleepy eye, which fell on her right away. When he noticed she was looking at him, she could almost hear him snort from afar. He looked so much like a grumpy bear who had been awakened in the middle of a long winter hibernation that she couldn't suppress a slight chuckle. When he saw that she was laughing at him, he frowned and crossed his arms on his chest.
"Nami-saaaan, Robin-chaaaan, I made some snacks, and they're made with the special secret love ingredient!" Sanji, the usual cigarette stuck in a corner of his mouth, was approaching the place where the girls were resting in the sun, a tray covered with small dishes, filled with what looked like ice-cream and fruit salad, on his hand. "Would you like some salade de fruit, Robin-chan?"
Robin turned to the cook with her best smile, which seemed to delight him tremendously.
"Of course, Mr Cook. This attention of yours is more than welcome. You are so nice."
Suddenly feeling an ominous gaze behind her, Robin turned towards its source, and found herself once again peering at Zoro, who was... what was he doing? Robin's eyes widened slightly.
Zoro was staring at Sanji, his jaw pale from clenching his teeth, murder intent in his eyes. This was unusual. He'd usually look at the cook with mild spite, at the most. What had Sanji done to him to incite such a killing look?
She turned back to Sanji, apparently unaware of the threat a few feet behind him. His face beaming, bowing excessively, the cook was putting a dish in front of her, on the table.
"It's my pleasure, Mademoiselle." He spoke softly.
Back to looking at Zoro, she witnessed him clench his fists, jump on his feet, and walk – his pace so fast he was almost running – towards the oblivious cook, now turning to Nami and asking her if she would like to taste his love in a ramekin.
Sanji wasn't startled – maybe he wasn't that oblivious after all – and turned slowly to the swordsman.
"What is it, stupid marimo?"
Zoro, his fists clenched at his sides, opened his mouth, but closed it before even saying a word, and finally let out a single short grunt. Sanji, not unsettled, raised a curly eyebrow. "What's wrong with you? If you have something to say, just spit it out, and stop wasting my time." He sneered. "Also, stop growling like that. It makes the whipped cream turn sour."
Zoro was fuming now, but he still wasn't answering, and that was very unusual. He was never speechless when it came to his fights with the cook. But now, he seemed to be struggling to find the proper words to use, and was obviously failing. He even was slightly gasping from what seemed to be nervous tension. That's when Robin noticed a faint red hue steadily taking hold of his cheekbones. She could barely trust her own eyes.
Zoro was blushing.
Sanji smiled wider. "Eh, what's the matter, dumb-ass? Don't tell me... no need to be bashful about it. Just come get some."
Obviously, he was referring to his afternoon snacks, but he way he said that, with a low, seductive voice, definitely had a sexual undertone – then again, that kind of teasing towards the swordsman was to be expected. However, it seemed to deeply unsettle Zoro, who was now pursing his lips, and blushing furiously.
"You...!" He spat out with difficulty at Sanji.
He suddenly started for the front of the ship, and left them, aghast.
"Huh... what does that mean?" Sanji turned to Nami and Robin. "Any idea?"
Nami looked dumbfounded. "That's the first time I see him acting like that."
They both turned to Robin, who shrugged absentmindedly, still smiling. Her mind was running fast, reminiscing what she had just witnessed, and adding two and two.
Zoro was looking at her often. Zoro was aggravated by what he saw when looking at her. Zoro had tried protecting her from Enel despite his mistrust. Zoro got upset when Sanji was giving her attention. Zoro was fuming when she paid compliments to the cook. And when the latter had innocently told him to "come get some" while she was around, he had nearly thrown a fit.
Zoro had been blushing. Her heart almost jumped at the memory.
She had never seen him getting this upset over Sanji talking to anyone, not even Nami, and his attentions towards her were even more flamboyant than towards Robin herself. Was that... jealousy? Was it possible that, after all this time, this reaction was the direct consequence of her actions?
Robin suddenly burst into a frantic laughter, to Sanji and Nami's surprise, since it was so unusual for her to be laughing out loud.
"Haha, Robin-chan, you're right! This is funny." Sanji was laughing as well now, and Nami soon joined them.
But Robin wasn't laughing at Zoro. She was laughing at herself, somewhat nervously, now that she realized she might have succeeded far more efficiently than she expected.
She had only wanted to fit. Zoro was resisting her, so she had settled on winning him over. Then, she had started to find this teasing game amusing – even an archeologist intent on learning about the true history, feeding her brain intellectual delicacies only, needed the occasional distraction. She had become accustomed to having his attention, and even got to find it strangely comforting. However, she had never thought that he, who was almost ten years younger than she was, could even get anywhere close to feeling that way about her.
She didn't know what to make of it all, yet. She rubbed her forehead with a finger.
"Robin-chan, are you feeling unwell?" She could hear Sanji's concern.
She turned to the cook, now merely chuckling. She could see Nami in his back, eying her with a suspicious look on her face. Uh-oh.
She took a big breath, and sighed.
"To be honest, I have a slight headache now. I'm not used to laughing like that." She smiled. 'I think I'm gonna lie down for a bit."
"As you wish, Robin-chan! If you need anything, just ask."
She smiled at the cook, stood up, and went to the room she shared with Nami. She laid on her bed.
There, silly girl, you've really done it this time, she thought, sighing. She had to be honest with herself, now that things had gotten out of control. She did like him. He was nice. He was handsome. He was also very young. And above everything else, he probably hated her for all the teasing she subjected him to. Yet, his earlier behavior was most likely due to jealousy, because she was giving attention to another equally handsome male, whom he felt was his rival in several domains. Indeed, jealousy, and inner conflict. If he was attracted to her, but still felt suspicious – which he did, definitely – he'd flush and stutter and... Yes, she could totally picture him running away from the source of his torment, unable to come up with a solution.
So, how did she think he felt about her? Lust? Most likely. She was confident enough that her looks could earn herself suitors, or at least, they had in the past. It wouldn't be the first time a man would make passes at her. However, she wasn't conceited enough to think Zoro felt more than sexual attraction towards her, at this point. Especially with all the mistrust and former enemy issue.
Though, she thought, in Zoro's case, jealousy wouldn't suddenly sprout out from lust. Then, maybe he did like her a bit. It would explain the jealousy, and even more, the inner conflict she'd clearly witnessed today.
The situation was complicated. In addition to everything else, Zoro was her nakama, and any attempt to push their relationship further could potentially lead to a big bad mess. She knew she could withstand a attempted romance ending badly – she had done it before – or even a purely physical relationship of sorts, but could he? He was so young. She sighed again.
What to do now? Did she want to turn the situation over as soon as possible, so that they wouldn't have to bear with the consequences? Wasn't it too late for that already? Wasn't that last thought only an excuse, so she could just give into this opportunity, and take advantage of it? She hugged her pillow. She had to admit that she didn't really want to stop what she had triggered. She was already having so much fun, and she thought this would potentially lead to interesting moments.
She chuckled. She had just had a really, really naughty idea.