Timeframe: Post series
Spoilers: None, this is pure speculation on my part
Summary: Finding One Piece wasn't the end of the adventure, but the beginning of another
AN: So…fifty chapters. That's quite a lot, and I've come a long way since starting this in 2012. To those of you who have been with me since the beginning, thanks for sticking with me. To those who started later, thanks for coming along for the ride. Did I think I would make it this far when I started? No way. But I can say that I'm ready to move on to my next project. It's been a blast exploring such an awesome character, and I hope you've enjoyed reading as much as I have writing.
My Q&A after the chapter. The answers got a little lengthy, so sorry about that. Thanks to those who submitted questions, if I missed one just PM me and I'll get it answered and add it to the end. As always, please leave a review if you feel so inclined.
Robin put down her quill and massaged the cramp that was starting to form in her hand. A quick glance at the clock told her it was past six o'clock. After nearly ten hours of writing and research her body was telling her that it was time to stop for the day.
It wasn't bad for a woman pushing sixty.
Robin dismissed three of the clones who aided her with her work, leaving one to tidy her desk. Rubbing her eyes, Robin smiled. With her Devil Fruit her productivity was triple that of a normal individual. There were still those in the Historical Society who thought she was some sort of demon because of the sheer volume of research she submitted each year for peer review.
The world was finally being faced with the truth. The research she had been forced to keep secret was slowly but surely being presented to the public. There was heated controversy over her findings, but Robin's dream was now a reality.
The door to her study opened, and a young woman let herself in. Lien was one of Robin's most promising students, although she disapproved with Robin's work habits. Glancing at the stacks of paper and open books, she sighed. "I knew I'd find you in here, Professor. Come outside for a little bit. It's not healthy to stay cooped up all day."
"And it's not polite not to knock," Robin answered primly, although she was already standing. One of her knees cracked in protest, and Robin grimaced.
"It's difficult to take you seriously when you've got an ink smudge on your nose," Lien said, arching an eyebrow.
"I'm surprised it's only one." Tucking a notebook under her arm, Robin gave the room one last once-over. Everything seemed in order, and she released her last clone into a poof of cherry blossoms.
"There's food downstairs. I can bring some up for you if you'd like."
"No, thank you. There are some things I want to review before tomorrow."
Lien frowned. "What are you working on? You've been holed up in here all week."
"It's something very important to me. Perhaps the most important thing I've ever written," Robin said, tucking a strand of short, grey hair behind an ear. "Do you know what it's like, Lien, when a project possesses your soul? When you can't stop obsessing over even the most minute of details, not even to sleep or eat?"
Robin sighed wistfully. "Perhaps you will someday. Until then, don't worry about little old me. I'll be back giving lectures soon enough."
"Not before you go gallivanting into the Grand Line again," Lien accused. "I know that look in your eye. Something's up, and I want to know what."
Robin's lips curled into an amused smile. Out of the Straw Hat Pirates, she was the only one not to have a proper home to return to. Instead she settled in the East Blue, where travel between several of her former crew was convenient. She made the occasional foray into the Grand Line to conduct research and to visit friends who lived there, but her days of exploring were over. It was time for a new chapter in her life, which included making sure her not insignificant repository of knowledge made it to the next generation.
First she had written her treatise on the Void Century. Then there had been a five volume set on the history of Ohara. Awaiting publication was a more personal biography of the Oharan archeologists, with special emphasis on the generation slaughtered during the Buster Call. Between each of these were several smaller projects, including papers on the Sky Islands and Ryuugu Territories. Robin was satisfied with her work thus far, but there was one more book she felt she had to write.
"It is the historian's duty to figure these things out for themselves," Robin said. "But whatever you may think, I'm not going to gallivant anywhere. I'm much too old."
Lien snorted. "I've seen you singlehandedly fend off pirate attacks."
Robin's smile widened. "Not recently." Seeing that her student remained unconvinced, Robin continued in a more serious tone, "I have no plans to the Grand Line planned, truly. You would know if I did."
"Then what are you doing?" Lien asked. "I haven't seen you like this since you were preparing to debate that jerk from Mariejois about the validity of your findings."
"Do you remember the trip I took last year?"
"Yeah. You were researching…" Lien's voice trailed off and her brow furrowed in confusion. "What was it you were researching again? I don't think you ever said."
"That was because I didn't want anyone to know in case nothing came of it." Robin opened the drawer of her desk and pulled out a notebook. "Luckily they were very accommodating to my silly little idea and were willing to give the information I need."
"Who was very accommodating?" Lien asked, exasperated.
"The Straw Hats, of course. I'm going to chronicle the journey of Monkey D. Luffy from East Blue to Raftel."
There was a beat of stunned silence, and Lien gaped at her. "You can't do that!"
"Why not?" Robin asked. "I'm hardly the first to write about pirates, and my crew gave me permission to chronicle their stories."
"But…but he's the Pirate King."
"And I'm his historian," Robin said simply. "Honestly, I'm surprised you're upset. Compared scandals of my previous works, this is positively tame."
"It's not the same," Lien said, twitching with agitation. "You're going to indict yourself for piracy! Your reputation will be ruined! Then what?"
Robin laughed. "Everyone knows I was a pirate. I had a bounty for decades."
"Allegedly!" Lien exclaimed. "All charges were dropped and your bounty rescinded!"
"Lien," Robin said, setting the notebook down. She had shrunk some in her age, but was more than capable of peering down at her student. She remembered all those years ago when Professor Clover tried to teach her the very same lesson she was giving now. "I appreciate what you're trying to do, but the matter is settled. History isn't something you box away simply because it is unpleasant. I admit, I have committed terrible crimes in the name of survival. It is well in the Government's right to try and hold me accountable for my actions, although they would be in for a fight. Come, look at what I've got so far."
Reluctantly, Lien approached desk. Flipping the notebook open to the first page, Robin traced a letter of her spindly handwriting. "They each gave me an interview, some more thorough than others. It is unfortunate Zoro was recruited first. He has a terrible memory for dates, although digging into local newspaper archives turned up a few gems."
"In addition, many of the crew were more than happy to lend me a few items of memorabilia for the time being. Nami offered her log book, Usopp his sketches, Chopper his medical records." Robin opened her desk draw a second time, and after some rummaging produced three books. Opening one, she pulled out a sheet of loose paper and laid it out to see. "Then Franky recreated a few of his drafts for the Sunny. Perhaps with more time I could come up with the design for the Going Merry as well."
Though she tried to hide it, a spark of interest flickered in Lien's eyes. Robin smiled knowingly and flipped to the back of the log book. Secured firmly was a grainy photograph taken some thirty years ago, shortly after they had reached Raftel. It was a treasure in and of itself, as there were few surviving pictures of the second Pirate King.
"They each offer a unique perspective, from Sanji's surprising ability for stealth and guile to Brook's memories of the pre-Roger Era. I want to preserve that, as much as I can."
"Are you going to tell the secret of One Piece?" Lien asked.
Robin thought about it for a moment. "No…the adventure was what was most important to Luffy. Did I ever tell you about the time we met Silvers Rayleigh at Saboady?"
"Once or twice," Lien said wryly.
"He wouldn't have liked the surprise spoiled. I'll respect his wishes."
"You miss him," Lien noted sympathetically.
"Every day, but he died as he lived: with a smile on his face. Not many can say the same." Robin sighed and gathered her materials. "Are you appeased?"
"I suppose. It just seems risky. I can't think a more divisive figure in modern history."
"This one won't be going to the publishers," Robin said. "I'll only make a few copies. Those who want to know the truth will be able to find it. Otherwise…" she shrugged, "I suppose they'll have to make do with Usopp's Fables."
"The story book?" Lien giggled.
"It is surprisingly accurate for a book that tells of goldfish so big their feces are mistaken for an island," Robin said.
It took several minutes for Lien to stop laughing. Eventually she managed, and after wiping away tears of mirth shook her head. "Okay, I can get on board with this. I've just got one final question."
"And what's that?" Robin asked.
"Why are you telling me this and showing me your materials? You guys uncovered a lot of unsavory stuff back in the day. I'm sure there are still a few people out there who would kill to keep their secrets."
"Isn't it obvious?" Robin said, eyebrows disappearing underneath her bangs. "I want you to help me."
"M-me? Help you?" Lien's face flushed scarlet. "But I'm barely qualified! I just passed my exam last year! Surely you want someone more experienced for something like this."
"Please keep your voice down. As you said, secrecy is of utmost importance. And, more pointedly, no, I don't want anyone else." Robin snapped the notebook closed. "You've shown yourself to be a dedicated student of history, Lien. What other qualifications are there?"
If possible, her blush deepened. "I-I don't know what to say, Professor. Thank you." She bowed deeply. "I…I would be honored to assist you in your research."
Robin smiled. It seemed she had picked rightly. With Lien as her protégée, she could restart the chain that was broken the day the Buster Call destroyed Ohara. The Tree of Knowledge was lost, but libraries could be rebuilt and knowledge rediscovered. What truly mattered was that there were still those who hungered for the truth.
"Knowledge is found in the past," Robin said, quoting the words that marked the beginning of her journey so many years ago. "History is an asset to humanity, but we must work to pass it on to the next generation, lest it is forgotten. It is our duty to hear and protect the voices of the past. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Professor," Lien said.
Robin put her hand on her student's shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Good. Now go get some rest. Time will not wait; we'll begin at dawn."
Q: Are you retiring from fanfiction?
A: I don't know if you can retire from something you're not being paid for, but in any case the answer is no. I want to finish Outcast, and I have...let me look here...27 song/character combo ideas for Sea Shanties for potential one shots. There are also several started projects that may or may not get finished, including an AU fic for Brook set in the real world where he can see ghosts, a Robin-centric fic where the crew gets captured and she has to do the rescuing, four kind-of-but-not-really connected stories for Koala, Otohime, Hancock, and Fisher Tiger looking into the culture of the Celestial Dragons/racism in One Piece, a high school AU where the challenge is to make each chapter 500 words or less (it's also RobinxFranky, so I have the extra challenge of writing romance), plus an epic AU universe that probably won't get written, but the idea is there's a "nail" in the backstory of each Straw Hat so that they never meet Luffy. That's a fic for the eight crewmembers plus a ninth featuring Luffy with a whole new crew of (canon) characters. Plus I should probably finish Worst Nightmares, maybe Magnum Opus (wouldn't count on that one), the Matilda fic looking into Miss Honey's backstory that's partially started, and random one shots on my computer, plus whatever other crazy stuff I come up with in the interim.
Like I said, knowing me a lot of this won't get finished, but ending Life's Chapters here lets me at least concentrate on other things.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: I don't really know; it's not something I have to think about, really. A lot of times I'm filling in my own head canon, and a lot of times I get an idea in the middle of the night. For example, chapter 27 was written around the summary "The four times Robin didn't take revenge, and the one time she did", and chapter 23 was literally written around Clover shouting "To the library!" (the Avatar reference was unintentional). Outcast was born of an unused idea for chapter 34 (Elsa didn't quite meet my "Genius Girl" standard) and Sea Shanties was a thought-experiment gone horribly wrong (I say that jokingly). Other times I'm filling in a hole left by canon, like when did Robin get her DF and how did she meet Crocodile? Sometimes I'm inspired from real life, like in chapter 42 when I began writing during the fall season. Sometimes when I start writing the focus of a story shifts pretty drastically.
For example, the working title for chapter 49 was "The Anatomy of a Smile", and it was meant to compare/contrast how Koala and Robin both hide their emotions different ways and for different reasons, with the mission acting more as a backdrop. The last slave escaped CP0 on his own (he was a dude originally) and they found him in the jungle - after dealing with dog-sized mosquitos, the tiger equivalent of a hiking bear, quicksand, etc. - where he died of his injuries. Once I started the "mission" aspect of the story overtook the "introspection" part, and I found it wasn't feasible to drastically change locations in a one shot. By changing the focus (and the ending) I was able to write a plausible way of how Koala and Robin met, plus show why Robin was so intimidated by CP0 at Dressrosa. In my head, the comparison between Robin and Koala hiding their emotions still takes place, but only after the chapter ends when they're trying to deal with the trauma they endured on their first mission together, which leads to them becoming friends.
Of course, sometimes this lack of plotting bites me in the butt. Chapter 42 sat unfinished for two years because I didn't know where I was going with it, and looking back now the last couple of paragraphs (while good paragraphs) don't match the tone of the rest of the story very well at all.
Q: How do you think the Hana Hana no mi can be creatively utilized with Rokushiki, both with and without Haki?
A: Oh boy. Generally I leave the attack/DF-type stuff up to Oda, because it's really not my forte, but I'll answer as best I can.
I think the true strength of the Hana-Hana fruit with rokushiki would have to be offensively, especially with the shigan (and maybe the secret move Lucci pulled on Luffy whose name I can't recall). I think it would especially, especially be helpful for a stealth-based fighter, like CP9. Imagine shigan-ing someone without actually being in the room or remotely rankyaku-ing a load-bearing wall/pillar to make a house fall on an assassination target. Using arms like Kumadori did his hair would help make sure the attacks actually hit if the need arose.
At the same time, I can't imagine the cloned arms/legs would be able to strike as hard. In the real world, the strength of a punch or a kick doesn't really come from the arm/leg that is striking; various muscle groups throughout the body are used for torque and speed (I really know nothing about fighting, so forgive my lack of technical insight, lol). When writing, especially for something like One Piece, it's important to mix a little bit of realism with the crazy fantasy to help make it relatable to the audience.
Plus there's the weakness that whatever injury a clone has, the real body takes as well and vice versa. Haki would negate that some, but it would be important to keep in mind.
In conclusion: One Piece-logic states that the hana-hana would be insanely helpful for a stealth-based fighter, while real world-logic states that it might not be so good in a one-on-one/physical fight.
Q: Why do you think Kuzan helped Robin, if even indirectly? Was it just for Saul, or was there another reason?
A: His friendship with Saul was part of it, but I think the biggest turning point was when Sakazuki destroyed the evacuation ship. Kuzan also had to have heard most, if not all, of Saul's final speech to Robin. It's easier to fight when we dehumanize our enemies, and that's exactly what the World Government did to the archeologists when they labeled them as "Demons". Sometime during the Buster Call Kuzan realized that Robin was nothing more than a little girl who wanted her mother.
Q: What is your view on Robin's sexuality?
A: First things first, I don't particularly care to focus on sex in my writing because thats not my jam, so this isn't something I think about much, but here's how I see it:
In her teens and early twenties, I could see Robin as using sex as another tool in her toolbox, and not being picky about partners, because her main priority was survival. However, sex is very much a double-edged weapon, and by the time she met Crocodile she stopped using it in favor of what I call her Miss All Sunday persona, in which she uses her looks to her advantage but has basically adopted a "look but don't touch" policy.
There are a couple reasons for this: A) Disease. It's hard to search for the Void Century when you've got the One Piece equivalent of the clap. B) Pirates. I can't imagine Robin trying to spend a night with Kuro or someone like him. Remember, one of the reasons Robin was attracted to the Straw Hats is because they weren't evil scumbags. C) Emotional involvement. Casual sex is rarely casual, and it's very easy to see a younger Robin who doesn't really understand relationships being hurt by one.
I do think that Franky and Robin compliment each other well, but even that gets weird after the time skip because Franky is more cyborg than human at this point. Even so, I think that any relationship featuring Robin would have to move pretty slowly because of how messed up her past is.