A/N: Gah! The last chapter. And I finished it before midnight.
I've updated this story twice in two days -so if you haven't read chapter 13, I advise you go do so before proceeding.
I'm so tired that I'm not going to bother reading through this and checking for mistakes -my apologies for any mistakes in spelling, grammar, etc. Or homophones. When I'm tired, I tend to throw in homophones...
I really enjoyed writing this chapter. Like, a lot. I'm not sure if you're aware or not, but I love scenes with intense emotion. And though this all, I've really come to like writing from Zoro's perspective.
Also, I'd like to remind people I read the manga, not watch the anime, so when I say Robin's eyes are brown -they are to me! So... rawr.
Anyway, alas, each story must end, and I really hope that you enjoy the final chapter. I think we can start looking forward to Freak Show. Suki (for those of you that don't know, Brooke's love interest[see "Down Under" and "To Hit a Funny Bone"]) will be joining us once again! And hopefully I'll be able to get a few one-shots up. And there's possibly a collab coming -if my partner in crime and I would actually decide on all the details.
Big plans, big plans... So little time. But I really want to become as active as I once was on this site! So stay tuned! :D
Last thing -some of your reviews really make me smile, and I really, really, really regret not having the time to reply, the way I used to. I used to set aside an hour -sometimes two -to reply to all the reviews as thoughtfully as I could (working with whatever you gave me). But I just want to let you know how awesome all of you guys are. It's great to be flipping through my email on my phone and read the reviews you leave me -and during a long day at work, it really gives me a boost of energy. So thank you so much for being so witty and kind. You all rock :)
I lifted her into my arms despite Chopper's protests, and began carrying her away from the bloody mess she'd been lying on. I needed to get her out of there. Needed to get her to the safety of Thousand Sunny. Needed her to pull through. Needed her to smile, laugh and say 'I got careless.'
"Zoro, I need to check her out, before we move her," Chopper said behind me.
"Let's get her off the ship quickly," Sanji, for once, was on my side. "The place is hectic. We need to go –there are other Marine ships out there. We need to secure her safety."
Chopper hesitated briefly before nodding. He glanced at Nami, who stood over a lifeless Mari. In the haze of that moment, I couldn't tell whether or not she was dead or simply unconscious. All I know is that Luffy was holding her back as tears rolled down her face.
"Let's go," I said to the two of them, trying to hide the jumble of emotions lying just beneath the surface. I wanted to attack. I wanted to break something. I wanted to curl up beside Robin and just hold her hand, praying she'll be okay.
Nami took one final look at Mari before nodding, wiping the tears that streamed down her face. "This way."
"Wait, Zoro," Sanji grabbed my arm as I began running after Nami.
"What?" I barked at him.
"Let me take her to the infirmary –I run faster. I'll her there quickly," he told me.
I hesitated only briefly. I wanted her safe and better as soon as possible –and he was quicker than me.
"Do you know the way?" Nami asked him.
"I do," Chopper said, climbing onto Sanji's shoulder as he gently took Robin from me. "Let's go, Sanji."
Sanji took off, carrying the two of them with ease.
"Let's get going," Nami nudged me forward, although I didn't need it. I began chasing after Sanji, but after he turned the second corner he was gone.
"This way," Nami began leading us.
"Did you kill her?" I asked bluntly.
"I wish." was all she said in reply.
"You should have," was my response.
Surprisingly, we ran into few Marines along the way, though I chalked it up to everybody else taking care of them on the way down. I kept wanting to run faster, but could only keep pace with Nami as she knew the way and I didn't. Although I had confidence in my sense of direction, I didn't want to take a chance of getting lost right then.
It seemed to take forever to burst into the open air on the deck of the ship. No longer having to rely on Nami, I rushed on ahead, leaping clean over the distance between the Marine ship and Sunny, landing on lawn deck. I rushed up to the kitchen, using it as a short cut to get to the infirmary. Sanji didn't say a word as he sat at the table, watching me
"How's she doing?" I threw the door open.
"She's lost a lot of blood," Chopper began, glancing up at me as he worked. "But that's minor in the long run. It would have been worse –if not for the vest Franky designed. She probably would have been hit in the heart, but the knife had glided off of it and above it. It ripped through some tissue, but it's also minor, for the most part…"
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"N-nothing," Chopper said, diverting his eyes away.
"Liar," I snapped. "Tell me."
"There's the possibility that the tissue might not heal properly…"
"Meaning she might not be able to use her left hand as well as she used to," Chopper looked up at me. "It's a small chance, but a chance we have to mind. We need to make sure it heels properly, so that Robin can… be Robin again."
I nodded, "And our child?"
"So long as we can get that blood into Robin, the baby will be fine. Send Usopp in –he has the same blood type as her," Chopper said, getting the tubes and machines ready.
I strolled to the door that lead immediately onto the deck, threw it open much like I had through the kitchen and shouted, "Oi –Usopp!"
"That was –never mind," Chopper shook his head slightly as he continued with what he was doing.
Usopp appeared quickly, showing up through the kitchen.
"We need your blood," I told him bluntly. He paled slightly, but when he saw Robin lying there, he simply nodded.
"Zoro, she'll be fine. You can go and grab a bite to eat. Or –"
I cut Chopper off, "I'll stay."
He didn't seem surprised, "Fine."
I swallowed, my throat feeling incredibly dry. I pried my eyes open slowly, staring at the wooden ceiling overhead and wondering, momentarily, where I was, and what had happened. Slowly, my sense of being came back to me, and I gasped as pain ripped through my body.
"Robin," a hand squeezed mine tightly, and I glanced over to see Zoro there beside me, I took in my surroundings. The infirmary. Injured. Dagger. Mari. It all came back to me. "Robin?"
"Th-thirsty," I tried to wet my lips, but ultimately failed. My mouth was so dry.
"I'll get you something to drink," he told me, bending down to kiss my cheek. As he left, I realized Chopper was also in the room.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Pained," I rose my right hand to my left shoulder, looking down as I toughed the bandages. My throat constricted tightly and painfully as I spoke, "That woman –"
"Stabbed you –but Nami got her," Chopper attempted at gentle humor.
"The baby –"
"-is fine. Healthy, even. We've been keeping fluids going through you while you've been out. Usopp donated blood. We stitched up and bandaged the injury… Just be careful not too move it too brashly. If it doesn't heal properly, you increase the chance of it acting up in the future. You might be unable to lift your arm higher than your shoulder, or your ability to grip things with your left hand… We can't be sure how great of an effect it will be."
"So don't do anything irrational," I chuckled lightly. "Well, I've been moved back to square one."
Zoro came back in, holding a glass of water. He sat down beside me on the small bed, handing it to me carefully. He brushed a long strand of hair behind my ear, and I could see tears beading in his eyes, "I love you."
"Can we have a moment alone?" I asked Chopper, who was already beginning to shift from one foot to the other awkwardly as he watched us. And I understood why. Zoro usually left sweet sentiments for when the two of us were alone.
"Mm," he nodded, scurrying to the kitchen.
The moment the door shut behind him, Zoro had his arms wrapped around me –gently, so not to injure me further.
"I don't remember ever being so scared in my life," he murmured against my ear.
I closed my eyes as a shiver rushed through me. He kissed my forehead, pushing the hair out of the way with a strong, tender hand, then rested his chin on top of my head.
"I love you," he murmured.
"I love you, too," I told him, feeling tears well up underneath my eyelids. "I'm sorry."
"What's there to be sorry about?' he mumbled, kissing my forehead again.
"For always leaving you with an imposter," I lifted my good arm around him, pulling my face into his chest.
"It's okay," he told me, beginning to run his fingers through my hair. "It's okay."
"No, it's not," I pulled away to look at him, but he looked away, his face a little red. "I could have just sat down with you and talked about it –"
"I wouldn't have listened," he admitted. "Not back then. Beside," he said, as I began to respond, "I understand why you did it now. I had a lot of time to think while waiting for you to wake up."
I began crying all over again. I'm not even sure I could chalk it up to my pregnant emotions. Zoro pulled me into a slightly tighter embrace, still worried about hurting me, and I cried into his arms.
Then suddenly I froze, going rigid.
"What's wrong?" he pulled away, looking at my intently with puffy eyes.
"The baby just…" my voice drifted off as it happened again. Suddenly I was grinning, taking his wrist in my hand and directing his hand over my stomach, "There."
"What are –" he stopped mid sentence as he felt it. He placed both hands on my stomach, and I watched as one of the toughest men I knew was reduced to child-like behavior as he continued to feel the baby moving inside of my belly.
"He's going to be strong," I rested a hand on the top my stomach, gazing at Zoro. "Just like his father."
"No," Zoro pulled me down for a full kiss on the lips. "Like his mother."
"Check mate," I smiled as I beat Nami in a game of Chess. We sat in the aquarium, around the small counter that surrounded the main mast. Above us, there was a loud explosion –one of many. Nami and I didn't even flinch.
"How's the arm doing?" Nami asked, knocking over her king. "I'm done playing for now."
"Done losing?" I flashed her a grin, gathering up the pieces to put them away. "And my arm's good. It doesn't hurt." For the most part.
"That's good," she smiled as she rested her elbow on the counter. "It's been a few months, and Chopper said it should be good now, but you never know."
"No, you don't," I agreed, drumming my fingers on the counter, wondering what would keep me occupied next. Then, "-Oh!" A contraction. I'd had a few before the game of chess, but that one had taken me by surprise, a little bit stronger than the others. But I didn't really pay them any mind –I had the same sort of contractions for the past few weeks. Chopper assured me they were nothing.
"What?" Nami asked, anxiousness on her face instantly.
"Nothing," I said, frowning slightly. "I'm fine." And it was true. "I guess if we're done playing chess, I'll read."
"Mm," she nodded. "I'll go grab my book and join you down here."
"You can't lose in reading," I rolled my eyes at her.
She flashed a grin over her shoulder as she opened the door. With it open, everything was louder –gun shots, shouting. Through the doorway, I saw Luffy get thrown into the railing of the lawn deck, breaking it and going overboard. Just as the door closed, I saw a rubbery arm stretch up and beyond the vision of the doorway.
I took a deep breath, getting up to go and grab my book. I still had three weeks until I was due. Which was great, because my back and feet were killing me. I waddled –yes, waddled –over to the bench to pick up my book.
And halfway there, my water broke.
I stood there, not really sure of what to do, since Chopper was with everyone else, having fun in a battle with some unknown pirate crew. I lowered myself into a sitting position on the bench, placing a hand on my stomach as pain hit home. Letting out a pained breath, I closed my eyes.
"Robin, are you okay?" Nami re-entered the room. I opened my eyes to see her hurrying towards me, and as I opened my mouth to warn her, saw her slip on where I had been standing when my water broke.
I wrinkled my nose slightly in disgust.
"Wha-?" Nami looked momentarily confused. Then it clicked, "Is this –?"
Before I could say a word, she was up, heading for the door. She threw it open and –"Oi! Chopper~!"
"What's wrong?" Zoro was there first. He peered at me through the doorway.
"Robin's water –"
Zoro turned and placed his hands around his mouth –"OI! CHOPPER!"
Then he hurried to me, kneeling down by my side. "Are you in pain?"
I didn't have a chance to speak, as Chopper burst into the room.
"Franky –Coup de Burst!" Nami shouted behind the door. "Luffy –you –"
She was cut off as the door closed.
"Water broke," I told him.
"Contractions?" he asked.
"They haven't felt any different than the others," I told him.
"To be safe, let's move you over to the –"
Nami popped her head in. "Warning –"
"Covered," Zoro told her –which was true. Since he'd heard her shout at Franky, he had me braced gently for the Coup de Burst.
Copper held on to one of the stools as gravity seemed to shift, wanting to fling us towards the stern as Sunny flew through the air. This was what we as nakama had agreed on. If we were fighting when I went into labor, we'd use Coup de Burst to get away. It was the quickest and easiest way. Otherwise, we seldom used it.
The ship landed, roughly. It'd been so long that I'd nearly forgotten how it felt. Neither Chopper nor Zoro said a word. I didn't speak either.
"Ah," I said, after a moment of silence.
"Another contraction?" Chopper asked.
I pressed against the underside of my belly, where it was hard, trying to edge the pain away. I nodded.
"We're clear!" Usopp poked his head into the room.
"Let's get her to the infirmary," Chopper said to Zoro, ignoring Usopp.
"Just ignore me then," Usopp muttered, holding the door open for us to pass through.
"Shut up, Usopp," Nami said from up above. "Infirmary's prepared, Chopper!"
Zoro looked at me, and I smiled as he helped me up the stairs. Go figure; I was the one about to go into labor, and he was the one that was white as a sheet.
Robin went into labor fifteen hours ago.
This time, Chopper wouldn't let me sit with her there in the infirmary, forcing me to sit outside of the door with the rest of the crew. I leaned against the wall, right next to the door, looking at my nakama. Sanji perched slightly on the table, playing with his lighter as he debated going out for another cigarette. Luffy bounced slightly in his seat. Franky and Usopp were sleeping on the bench right next to each other. Brooke and Harumi sat silently, not knowing what else to do –it wasn't quite yet the moment for festivities such as music and drinks.
Nami was in the infirmary with Robin, lending a helping hand. I don't know what she could do exactly. Pass Chopper… stuff, I guess. Every once in a while she would poke her head out to tell us how things were progressing, but that had stopped ages ago.
"I'm surprised you haven't taken a nap," Usopp said suddenly to me.
"I'm not tired," I mutter, not even sparing him a glance. Instead I stare at the floor in front of me, listening to the sounds on the other side of the door.
I took a deep breath as Robin's screaming filled the air. I wanted to leap in there, but I'd attempted that once before, and Nami had swiftly kicked me out.
"She's okay," Franky tried to reassure me. "She's in good hands."
"The best," Brooke chipped in.
"I think Zoro knows that better than anybody," Sanji muttered, getting to his feet, defeated with the idea of a cigarette.
"What does that mean, love-cook?" I snarled.
"Sleep on it, marimo," was all he called back.
If I could sleep, I would, but not while Robin was going through so much pain. And who could sleep through all that screaming any way. I would stay up as long as Robin stayed up –and that was that.
We sat there for an hour more, listening to Robin's screams. To distract me, I cleaned my swords. For the hundredth time.
"Yohoho! Those have to be the cleanest swords on the Grand Line," Brooke chuckled. "Not that my eyesight can be considered reliable! Yohoho."
"Shishishi," Luffy laughed in his sleep.
"If I were captain, we'd never hear another skull joke again," Usopp said wistfully.
"Yes, well, if you were captain, all of us would have jumped overboard long ago," Sanji sighed as he came back in. He looked around at us, then walked over to Harumi, who had dozed off and was positioned quite uncomfortably. "I'll move her to the ladies quarters."
We all only nodded.
"Don't do anything to her," Franky said as he neared the door.
Sanji just sighed as he left. We were all tired. We'd been up since early morning the previous day.
"Seventy-two," Usopp sighed as Robin let out another string of cusses. "She's sworn seventy two times. A hundred and twenty six individual words." A pause. "Hundred and twenty eight."
"Seventy-five," Luffy raised his head, "And a hundred-forty-one words."
"You were sleeping," Usopp said in his defense. "You must have dreamt the other three times."
"I was only resting my eyes," Luffy sighed, rolling his head down to the table again.
"Go to sleep if you're tired," Franky muttered.
"I want to see Robin's baby," Luffy whined like a child.
"If it's a boy, are you going to teach him to be a kick-ass swordsman?" Franky asked.
"Of course," I couldn't help but smile a little bit. The thought that had brought me through most of Robin's mood swings was the thought of being able to teach my son how to be a man. That, and the face that I loved her.
"That's super," Franky said, giving a robotic yawn.
"I'll teach him how to shoot," Usopp said happily.
"You're not going any where near my son," I told him.
"You'll teach him how to lie," I growled.
"Shh," I said suddenly. "Do you hear that?"
Everyone shut up. Silence. We waited a minute. Two. No screaming came.
"Do you think –?"
As if on cue, Nami opened the door slightly, slipping out and looking at me there on the ground. She wiped her brow with the back of her hand, and she smiled, "Go on in."
Everyone else made a move to get up.
"Just Zoro," Nami snapped at everybody.
"But Nami~," Luffy whined.
I got to my feet, placing on the doorknob as Nami walked towards Luffy.
"She's exhausted, let her rest. You can see the baby first thing in the morning," she was saying.
I took a deep breath, then entered the room.
Robin sat up on the bed, cradling our child in her arms. She smiled up at me, her hair plastered to her face with sweat. Chopper finished putting things away, then flashed a tired grin as he left the room.
She looked okay, despite all the yelling and screaming. I slowly let a smile slip onto my lips.
"Hey," she greeted as I came near.
"Hey," I replied, sitting down beside her on the bed. I placed a quick kiss on her temple, then looked down at the bundle in her arms. Through an opening in the folds of the blanket, a tiny face poked through.
"Isn't she beautiful?" Robin whispered, glancing up at me.
A daughter –not a son.
"Want to hold your daughter?" she asked, speaking quietly. Before I could answer, she was already passing the bundle to me.
"How?" I asked, panicking slightly as I took the blanketed baby in my hands.
"Here," she adjusted my arms around the small creature, until I was cradling the baby comfortably. "Perfect."
"Perfect," I echoed, looking down at the tiny face. I couldn't help the tears that rose to my eyes. I can't describe the feeling –but it was overwhelming. It swelled inside of me, warming me all the way to my fingertips. A tear slipped over the edge, falling down my cheek all the way down to my chin. I would have wiped it away, but I was scared of moving my arms while holding our daughter.
But Robin's soft hands came up and gently wiped them away, and she placed a kiss on my cheek. I glanced at her, but she said nothing, only smiled gently –with so much love.
I'm an idiot –of course that's what this feeling was.
"Our beautiful baby girl," Robin yawned, leaning back onto the pillows behind her. "We need to think of a name, Zoro."
"A name for a girl," I repeated. All the names I had come up with were boy names.
The baby opened her eyes, revealing a beautiful brown colour, much like Robin's. My mind was instantly sent to one of the books Robin had read to me.
"Dartania," I said loudly, looking over at Robin, whose eyes were closed.
"D'Artagnan?" she repeated, opening her eyes lazily.
"Dartania," I repeated firmly.
She closed her eyes again. Robin was silent for a long time before smiling and nodding as she looked at me. "Dartania. I like it."
I smiled as I looked down at my precious daughter. My heart felt like it was in my throat. I swallowed hard.
"Can I show her to the crew?" I asked, glancing at Robin again.
She didn't reply. I heard a quiet snore escape her lips.
I got up, moving to the door carefully. Then, tentatively, I reached out with one hand and opened the door. Despite Nami trying to dismiss them to sleep, everybody was still in the kitchen –even Sanji had come back. Chopper had gone to bed, but Nami sat at the table beside Luffy, looking pissed off –exhausted, I'm sure.
"Is that the baby?" Usopp jumped to his feet.
"Shh," I closed the door silently. "Robin fell asleep."
"Did you name her?" Nami asked as Luffy leapt to her feet.
I nodded, grinning a little. "Dartania."
"D'Artagnan?" she asked, just like Robin. "Like –the musketeer?"
"What's a musketeer?" Luffy asked, peering over my shoulder. "I thought this was a baby."
"Never mind, Luffy," Nami was clearly too tired to bother explaining it to him.
"Not d'Artagnan," I told her. "Dartania."
"It's unique. And pretty. I like it," she said, smiling as she laid her head down on the table. Everyone else crowded me. "Good name."
"She's so small," Luffy murmured, hanging over my shoulder.
"She's a wee babe," Franky said, grinning when he saw her. "She looks a lot like Robin."
"She'll be quite the lady," Brooke agreed.
"She's beautiful –which is a surprise, coming from you, shitty swordsman," Sanji chuckled.
As they ooed and awed over her, it was clear to see Dartania's discomfort. She let out a small cry, and I didn't know what to do to make her stop.
"Everyone, back off," Nami sighed as she got up, pushing everyone away from me. "It's time to sleep."
"Yeah, yeah," they all muttered, shuffling towards the door, sparing another glance at my daughter.
"So I guess your plans of teaching your 'son' the ways of the sword kinda fell apart, huh?"
My thoughts flew to Kuina. "They didn't fall apart. They've just been altered."
Usopp looked at me questionably as he also moved towards the door.
"Instead of a great swordsman, I'll be training a great swordswoman."
And who knows…
Maybe one day she'll be a better blade-wielder than me.