The shopping district of Sabaody Archipelago was colorful and noisy, full of people and merchandise. Robin skillfully blended into the crowd, attracting no attention whatsoever. It was a valuable skill she had learned living in the constant fear of being captured by the marines and being thrown into prison or killed. Nowadays she didn't feel that much at risk; she was strong, and even if she was captured, she trusted her crewmates would do all that was in their power to save her.
She had gone for a walk on her own while miss navigator went through all the clothing stores she could find, fishing for bargains. While Robin was unmeasurably thankful for everyone who spent their days with her, sometimes she would start feeling claustrophobic, like the breath would be crushed out of her if she didn't get some distance between her and the other Straw Hats - another memento from her dark past. So the archeologist wandered the streets of the peculiar town alone.
To be honest, being socialmade her tired. She'd learned to find happiness in small things, like a book that had tiny bits of information on things she hadn't known about, or a week without anyone recognizing her on the street - and now she had crewmates, friends. Nine of them. It was rather overwhelming, and the longer she was on the same ship with them, with a complete lack of privacy, the more she felt like she was being squished against the walls of Sunny-go. Visiting islands was always a relief, because there she got the chance to get her necessary dose of loneliness.
"One coffee ice cream, please", she said, stopping at a small ice cream stall on a less crowded street. There were empty benches by the next building, and after paying to the man at the stand with her share of the small allowance Nami had given each of the Straw Hats, she sat on one of them, pulled her brimmed hat to cover her face, and took a book out of her bag. It was an old manuscript in a writing system she still had trouble understanding, told about the folk stories of Jaya, and was a fascinating read. The best way to relax was certainly to sit in a corner where no one's eyes wandered with something to read.
The air around the gigantic mangroves was humid and had a nice, green scent, though it was bothered by the smells from different food stalls along the streets. The noise from the crowds nearby was nicely muffled and the small lane she was on felt like a secret harbor in the middle of the street. Robin really was alone. A wave of relaxation swept over her, letting all the small tensions that had been building up loose one by one, and allowing her to feel like herself again. Companions were great, but at the end of the day, the archeologist needed the feeling of separation she was used to having. She needed her independence in order to enjoy traveling with her crewmates.
Someone sat on the other edge of the bench, and Robin instantly became more aware of her surroundings without letting it show. She stole a glance at the other person through another pair of eyes planted in the wall of the opposite building; it was a young man who was planning on hitting on her by the look of things. Nothing to worry about, but her peace had been disturbed. Without unnecessarily hurrying, she finished the paragraph she'd been reading, closed the book and walked away. Being antisocial in a place like this was bound to fail.
Slipping through the crowds again, she spotted a second-hand bookshop along the street, and walking to it she saw that as expected, it was isolated. Sabaody Archipelago was a place where pirates gathered, and pirates interested in books, especially old books, were a minority. She stepped through the open door with strings of shells hanging from its frame into the shadowy store, filled with the smell of paper and bookshelves so high Robin would've needed a few extra hands to reach the topmost ones.
"Hello there", an old man behind the counter said apathetically. "Are you looking for anything specific?"
"Yes, actually, if you can help me - I'm looking for history books", she said, smiling at the shopkeeper. He seemed unlikely to be very learned, more the story lover type, at least based on the books he had chosen to place near the entrance.
"Hmm", the man said, shaking the worst weariness off. "Let me show you." He led Robin to a shelf in the back of the store and left her to inspect the books. As expected, they were mostly very basic, but there were also some pretty rare individuals, which was no wonder at the halfway point of the Grand Line. The architect picked out a collection of legends about the New World. It seemed somewhat scientifically reliable, though it had been written by someone who'd never actually gone farther than Sabaody Archipelago. Maybe it would be of help when the Straw Hats' journey continued again.
Leaving the shop, Robin decided to go back to Nami. She had no more money, and the navigator had probably done her shopping by now too. Indeed, she was sitting with big shopping bags by her feet in the cafe they had agreed to meet.
"I heard some pirates have caused uproar nearby", she said with a pained expression when they were waiting for Robin's coffee.
"That sounds like our crew", the archeologist said with her usual smile. "I hope no one has broken the law and gotten shot by the marines."
"Don't paint such dark scenarios with a happy face!" miss navigator exclaimed, losing her cool.
Robin smiled at her some more