Robin sipped her tea, inwardly cursing as her hand shook when she placed the cup back on the saucer. She tried to take a deep breath without letting on that she was doing so. It would not do to lose her composure in a carriage with a strange man who worked for the most wanted man in the world.
Still, Robin's mind worked frantically and her emotions were going haywire. What was her captain going through at this very moment? He'd lost a brother right before his eyes, one that he was very devoted to. Robin didn't have any siblings herself, but she knew the sting and ache of loss all to well. She should be there with him at this very moment, to provide comfort and any help that she could.
She thought of Luffy's face, right before she'd been sent flying away by Kuma. All their other crew mates were already gone, the two remaining having only wild guesses as to their fate. She'd never seen him like that, in her whole time being with the crew. He usually exuded happy self-assurance and convinced the people around him that, despite his silly, at times devoid of intelligence actions, he could accomplish whatever he set his mind to. The disbelief and desperation etched on his features as his Nakama disappeared one by one had been enough to fill her with dread; if Luffy had lost hope, how could she hold on to her own?
Still, when she had found herself deposited safely on a winter island, she had been immensely relieved. Despite her own predicament, she had known that she would do all in her power to return to Sabaody Archipelago, and that her crew mates would do the same. She'd also had good reason to think they had landed safely on islands of their own - considering that the world was 95% water, it was statistically unlikely that she would have landed on solid ground if she'd been sent out at random, and based on several of Kuma's comments, it seemed as though he had been trying to help them, in his own twisted way.
So when she'd gone with the men from the Revolutionary Army, she'd been in no particular rush, having faith that her Nakama would all be alright. She'd wanted to spend some time at least with the organization - she'd admired their work for years, and shared their hatred of the World Government.
But now... Not just an hour ago, she had been laughing to herself that she doubted Luffy would be able to stay out of trouble. And he hadn't, in a way that was not at all comical.
Simply looking at the pictures in the newspaper was enough to break her heart. The blood, the dumbstruck look on Luffy's face. The fact that it was reported that he'd gone into a catatonic state after seeing his brother die. Someone like Luffy, who was so simple and put so much value into the lives of his Nakama, should not have had to go through such an ordeal, but at the very least, he should not have to go through it alone.
Robin thought back to all the months she had spent in the Strawhat Crew: the incredible things they'd seen and done together, the simple joys they'd enjoyed together. Facing down Admirals and Shichibukai, saving one another's lives, getting closer and closer to their dreams, all the while taking time to laugh, walk down beaches and eat well-cooked meals. She remembered what her life had been before them, and how they'd given her meaning and happiness.
She thought of Luffy, and his determination to bring her back to his crew even when she'd seemingly betrayed him, his willingness to take on the world for her. She thought of his bravery and spirit, and how they simply had not been enough for him this time.
She wanted nothing more in the world than to be with him, that very instant, so she could return to him all the happiness he had brought her.
Clenching her fist, Robin resolved herself; she needed to leave the Revolutionaries as soon as possible. She had a captain to support.
It was lucky that Robin saw the next news story involving Luffy before she got the chance to set out for Sabaody Archipelago.
A single look at Luffy's tattoo told her what she needed to know. She breathed a sigh of relief at all the new article implied. Luffy was healing, emotionally and physically, able to pay tribute to his brother and declare war on the World Government - again - and send a message to his Nakama.
Yes, my captain, Robin thought, looking at the words sprawled on his arm. After what he had gone through, it made so much sense for him to want to get stronger, for him to want them all to get stronger. If they couldn't even make it to the New World without being defeated, how would they ever accomplish their dreams? How would Zoro become the strongest swordsman if his crew could not carry him everywhere? How could Nami draw a map of islands she was unable to reach? Usopp could hardly be considered a Brave Warrior of the Sea if he couldn't traverse the entirety of it, and besides, she was fairly sure Elbaf was in the New World. Sanji needed to look everywhere for All Blue, after all, and Chopper would need to catalogue diseases unique to every sea. Robin herself had the Poneglyphs leading her to that dangerous ocean, and Franky needed to stay with the dream ship he had built as it traversed the world. Brooke was taking a route around the circumference of the globe that would reunite him with his precious Laboon.
Most importantly of all, the One Piece was out there somewhere, and their captain was going to become the Pirate King. They had to be able to face any challenge.
And Robin didn't like to think of it, but she was sure Luffy was afraid of anything like what had happened at Sabaody happening again - or what had happened to Ace.
It won't, Robin thought, staring at a picture of Luffy. I will do anything in my power to prevent something like that from happening to you again. I will protect you, my beloved captain, and all our other crew mates as well.
In her heart, Robin knew that out there somewhere, her friends were all making the same vow, or they would as soon as they saw the message. She wished she was with them - it was going to be a long two years - but she comforted herself with the knowledge that, when she saw them again, they would all have grown in strength. Nami and Usopp, she hoped, will have grown into power and confidence - all she hoped for Chopper was that he would not be damnably, painfully young. (If it was up to her, he would never enter battle, despite his pride.) She imagined Franky making all sorts of modifications to his own body, since he would not have Sunny to work on, and Brooke learning all sorts of new techniques and songs. Zoro, she had no doubt, would devote every minute to becoming exactly the swordsman Luffy needed, and Sanji, not to be outdone even when separated from his rival, would do the same.
When they saw Luffy again - well. Robin was going to have plenty of time to worry about the long-term effects of his ordeal, but she knew he was going to have become stronger, so strong that no one he loved was ever going to slip away from him again.
Robin was going to miss them all, but for now, she needed to focus on getting stronger and better herself. She was not going to waste a second with the Revolutionaries - she was going to learn everything about the World Government and the movements of pirates, plus any miscellaneous knowledge she could pick up. If Chopper could experiment with the usage of his Devil Fruit, so could she - perhaps the limitations she thought there was to it were not as set in stone as she thought.
By the time she met her crew mates again, Robin was going to be the best version of herself possible.
Besides she was looking forward to meeting Luffy's father.
Robin looked out across the sea, and smiled a little. If she was to be separated from her second family for two years, she was going to make the most of the time she had.
Until I see you again, she thought, feeling a small ache in her chest, and turned around to speak to a nearby Revolutionary.
AN/ Thank you all so much for reading, reviewing, and favoriting! You're all the best! Hope you had as much fun reading as I had writing.