One Piece is the property of Eiichiro Oda. Author's notes are at the bottom.

If one walked across the deck of the Thousand Sunny on a still, moonlit night, the array of noises this person would hear almost seemed to form a symphony. And that was the Straw Hat archaeologist's favourite part of being part of such a crew: the way that these noises seemed to form a haphazard symphony that only a mother, or a member of the Straw Hat Pirates, could love.

Especially on a night like that one, the wee hours of the fourth day of July. Nami's birthday celebration on the previous day left empty barrels and cups and decorations strewn across the deck, and the memories of the lively bash resonated off them, making Robin smile. These things bounced off one another, clacking and rustling lightly, providing the beat, in a way. She walked past the door to the men's quarters, hearing six variations of snores and snorts, and she had been part of this crew to place each one to a face.

But the seventh was missing... Zoro must have been awake.

That was okay for Robin. She wasn't worried; the man's directional sense wasn't so poor that he could wander off the ship, and, if he had, he'd be making quite the scene to arouse everyone from their sleep. It was this that was so intriguing about the swordsman - to Robin, at least. She'd never met someone who so stubbornly persisted in believing that his knack for getting lost was everyone else's fault. Really, Roronoa Zoro was intriguing as a whole - persistence, alcoholism, green hair and all.

Yes, that was the reason she would provide to anyone who asked why she had such a thing for him.

She looked to the observation room, wondering if the journey back upstairs was worth seeing the swordsman. The image of Zoro lifting weights, being completely in his element, was alluring to her; she longed to see him in this seemingly unshakable zone. If she could be conceited for a moment, she was alluring enough to distract even the most goal-oriented of men - this fact was proved through her partnership with Crocodile. Then again, they were two different men, one of which had piqued Robin's interest from the start.

She decided to take the trek, climbing the ropes on the mast barefoot. Standing at the foot of the ladder, Robin grinned and stared up through the entrance. Her voice projected perfectly and quietly enough as she asked, "Are you up there, Zoro-san?"

Up in the crow's nest, Zoro's nostrils flared and he growled quietly. He set his dumbbell back down onto the rack before he could put it to use and hissed, "What do you want?"

"Company. You're not the only one who can't sleep, sometimes." Robin replied simply. "Are you busy?"

For you, all the time in the world. What other tactics do you have up your sleeve? Zoro thought. Recently, Robin developed a tendency to linger near him; her gaze, her presence, her penetrating and flirtatious stares... they were all pointing to something almost too obvious for Zoro. Too obvious to confront her about. "Uh... well, no. Just finishing up some training."

Robin had already lifted herself up and onto the floor of the crow's nest from the ladder by the time Zoro answered. She dusted off her purple flannel shorts in which she often slept, taking a seat on the bench in a spot not too far from the swordsman. She straightened out her sweater and asked, "Were you leaving?"

No, he wasn't. But that didn't mean he could afford to waste time. In fact, he had been planning to break into the refrigerator for a late-night swig of sake before the Straw Hat chef got suspicious and made a scene. "Did you need something?"

Robin crossed her right leg over her left, leaning over in order to reveal just a hint of cleavage. "Like I said, I just wanted some company." When Zoro stared at her blankly, she continued, "Your company, specifically."

The younger pirate's heartbeat increased greatly in speed. To Zoro's mind, she needn't say another word to get her message across; he knew what she wanted, and he would be damned if he would pass up the opportunity to partake in such an endeavour. He arched an eyebrow. "What for?"

"To pick your brain." Robin shrugged, leaning back against the bench. "To get to know the man behind the muscle, you could say."

Zoro couldn't refrain from making a sour face. "Why?"

"I can't be curious?" Robin inquired coolly. "You intrigue me. Surely, a man with such determination and raw skill must have a secret to being so well put together."

Zoro had always been fairly weak when it came to people who stroked his ego, especially someone as attractive as Robin. He arched an eyebrow and let out a chuckle, taking a seat on the floor across from her after setting his swords down beside him. "Well... ask away."

"What drives you, Zoro?"

"... what do you mean?"

The archaeologist cleared her throat. "Wanting to become the world's best swordsman is quite the aspiration. Of course, that's not to say that it's unrealistic, especially for someone as skilled as yourself. There must be a reason why you so stubbornly persist, as the rest of us do."

As Zoro usually did when he got to thinking about Kuina, he placed Wado Ichimonji in his lap and unsheathed it. "I made a promise to a childhood friend. This... this is her sword. Her father allowed me to have it."

"Did she pass away?" The woman inquired softly.

Zoro nodded slowly, sheathing the sword once again. "I like to think that her soul is embodied in this sword. I, uh... it sounds crazy, I know, but I still talk to her sometimes."

"It's not crazy at all, Zoro-san. I often talk to my mother when I'm unsure about something." Robin reassured the swordsman. "I think it's sweet that you have a spiritual connection with your friend. However..."

The swordsman cocked an eyebrow. "However what?"

"There's something unsettling about all of this. All this bloodshed for such a goal. Theoretically speaking, Zoro, you should be dead."

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about, woman," Zoro hissed. "I would give my life if it meant I would become the world's greatest swordsman, and that's none of your business."

"I am just saying that I don't think your late friend would have wanted you to constantly challenge death as you-"

Zoro lunged, drawing two of his swords. The archaeologist's only warning was the sound of metal scraping against sheathes and, yet, she remained unmoving. He saw red as he pressed Wado to Robin's throat and pierced the wood of the bench beside her head with Kitetsu, the blade grazing her scalp just slightly. He saw something flash in her eyes but for a moment as he barked, "You know absolutely nothing about Kuina, you ignorant skank! You don't know anything about me! I ought to murder you right now!"

Robin, though paralyzed from shock, felt as if she'd accomplished something: finding the first mate's weak spot and unintentionally toying with it before he lost his patience. Time seemed to freeze, then, with the exception of their chests rising and falling in unison.

"Zoro? Robin? Are you up here?" The quiet clacking of hooves on the ladder preceded the timid arrival of the Straw Hat crew's doctor. "I heard yelling, is everything...?"

The reindeer's gigantic eyes widened with confusion and fear once he witnessed the scene before him. Chopper must have been so terrified, Robin realized when she watched his bottom lip tremble and his eyes pool with tears. She didn't need to look to Zoro for him to withdraw his weapons, but she watched him bite his bottom lip once he realized that he had drawn blood with Kitetsu. She smiled reassuringly at the doctor and whispered, "Chopper, it's fine. Go back to bed, sweetheart."

Chopper was deaf to Robin's speech once he saw the blood that dripped slowly from the blade. "Y-You're bleeding! Robin!"

Robin knelt before the reindeer as he approached her, shaking her head. "Chopper, dear, I'm fine. I promise-"

"Get out." Zoro ordered darkly, his back facing the pair. "Now."

With a brief glance at the swordsman, the archaeologist stood and offered her hand to the currently fretting reindeer. "Come, Chopper. I'll make you some hot chocolate, okay?"

Chopper was jumping on the spot now, trying to reach Robin's head. "No! Robin, you're hurt! It could be infected! Who knows where that sword has been! Please, let me help you!"

"Listen to her, Chopper." Zoro advised softly, but with an air of urgency. "Leave."

Chopper wiped his tears and nodded slowly. Robin captured one of his hooves in her hand, leading him to the ladder and allowing the doctor to descend first. The air was heavy and smelled of something intense, and Robin broke the silence, staring at the ground. "I appear to have... stepped on some toes. I was out of line, and I'm sorry."

"Just get out of here, alright?! God..." Zoro seated himself on the bench and ran his hands through his hair. "Just... fuck off."

Robin folded her arms, her face sour at Zoro's inability to accept her apology. At any rate, it was probably better to leave now before he killed her for real this time.

And though she maintained her composure with Chopper, she could still hear the rapid unsheathing of Zoro's swords in the back of her mind.

The incident with Zoro left an awkward portion of Robin's hair chopped off, so she asked Nami to cut off the rest of her bangs in the morning. She would only specify how this hairstyle came to be if Nami asked her, which the navigator wasted no time doing.

"Oh, my God," Nami cooed softly as she tested the heat of the curling iron on the palm of her hand. "Did you get, like, really drunk yesterday and cut your hair? Don't worry; Nojiko downed a fifth of vodka once - shaved half her head. It was hilarious, but she made it work."

Robin offered a chuckle. "N-No... nothing like that."

Nami captured Robin's freshly fringed hair inside the metal contraption, curling it cautiously so not to make contact with her skin. "So what was it?"

The older female sighed quietly and clenched her teeth. "Don't... overreact, okay?"

"Of course."

Robin closed her eyes, her eyebrows furrowing at the memory. "Zoro and I were talking about a childhood friend of his that passed away. I said something... offensive to him and-"

"I'll kill him!" Nami roared and, in her excitement, the heat of the curling iron pressed onto Robin's forehead. The archaeologist yelped, and Nami was too fired up to apologize. "How dare he?! I'll murder him!"

"Nami-chan, you- ugh..." Robin rubbed her temples. "Anyway, Chopper came up to the crow's nest, he saw Zoro holding a sword to my throat, he panicked, and he's been worrying about me for hours. Zoro... we haven't spoken since then. Perhaps that's for the better."

Nami made a pensive sound, resuming her hair-curling efforts. "Then... do you still like him?"

"I never liked him in the way that you're insinuating. That's childish, is what it is. Childish and foolish, to boot, as I would never jeopardize this crew's relationship for some little crush." Robin quipped, more to herself than to Nami. "And, yet... I'm still unsure."

"It makes sense to be," the navigator replied quietly. "Oh, poor Chopper. He loves you guys. It must have been like... watching mom and dad fight or something. Is he still shaken up?"

"I plan to check up on him before breakfast. Are we done yet?" Robin inquired impatiently. She was dying to get some ointment and a bandage for the burn on her forehead.

Nami moved back and away from Robin, smiling at the archaeologist in the mirror as she admired Robin's new bangs. "Damn, I'm good. Once I draw my map of the world, I'm starting a hairdressing business."

Robin giggled softly. "It's quite nostalgic, isn't it? My hair."

"Really takes me back, yeah." Nami sighed. She then flipped her bright orange hair dramatically and added, "But I am not cutting my hair ever again."

Just then, the Straw Hat crew's chef cooed from outside the door. "Ladies? Are you decent?"

"Like he cares," Nami snorted. "Yes, Sanji-kun."

The blond strolled into the room, already smiling wide at the two females. "Breakfast is ready, my angels!"

Robin rose from the elaborate and all-around girly chair and smiled at Sanji. "Thank you for letting us know, Sanji-kun."

Like a groom seeing a bride in her wedding dress, Sanji gasped and covered his mouth with his hands. "Oh! Robin-chan! Your new hairstyle is divine! It reminds me of the days when I first laid eyes on you and I knew that we were meant to be!"

"See?" Robin murmured to Nami. "Nostalgic."

The two females giggled as Sanji led the both of them to the dining room, rambling on and on about the selection of food available to them that morning. On the way, Robin noticed Chopper hobbling along the deck, nibbling on an orange as he made his way to the dining hall.

"Good morning," he greeted, walking side-by-side with Robin. "Are you feeling better?"

"Very much so," Robin answered, though she still didn't take the memory very well. "But I'm sure I'll feel much better once I've eaten, don't you think?"

Chopper giggled. "Yeah! I'm starving."

Robin decided to forgo on telling the doctor about the burn; he was already worried about her and he didn't need another reason to be. Nami leaned over and whispered, "Swordsman approaching at nine o'clock."

Robin told herself that she wasn't going to look. She wasn't going to make any awkward eye contact with him and make everything worse. It became more difficult to do so when he went out of his way to match her stride and nearly collide with her at the door.

"Sorry," Zoro mumbled.

Robin could sense the deeper meaning in his words, as if he was apologizing for something else. She shook her head. "After you."

Zoro blinked at her as if she had spoken a foreign language. He then opened his mouth and his inhale was cut off by Sanji, who barked, "Out of the way, you shithead belly-warmer freak. The ladies need their morning nutrition."

And then something miraculous happened: Zoro didn't retort. He simply gave the chef a dirty look and stepped into the dining room. It was very rare that Zoro kept his mouth shut when Sanji instigated an argument, and it was then that Robin knew that the previous night's events had taken their toll on him.

Interestingly enough, Sanji mumbled, "What's wrong with that marimo fuck?"

"I can't really say..." Robin whispered, desperately trying to convince herself not to pry. Prying didn't work out for her with Zoro before, and it wouldn't now.

Franky caught sight of Robin as she entered the dining hall, exclaiming, "Oww, Robin! Super haircut!"

Robin giggled as Franky's sentiments were shared around the table. She sat in the chair that Sanji pulled out for her, muttering a word of thanks before addressing the crew, saying, "I'm glad you all like it. It was Nami's doing."

Chopper seated himself across from Robin and smiled. "You look pretty."

"Thank you, sweetheart. It isn't too young for me, then?" She gestured to her hair.

"Too young? What do you mean? How old are you, Robin?" The doctor creased his brow in confusion.

"Never ask a lady her age, Chopper," Robin winked. "Should you do so, you won't fare so well when you're older."

Nami chuckled at Robin's right, but her laughter faded as she watched Zoro seat himself to the archaeologist's left. She leaned over to Robin and whispered, "Is he obsessed with you or something?"

Robin shrugged slightly and folded her hands in her lap, waiting patiently to be served. Zoro was quick to whisper to her, asking, "So, we're just not going to talk about this?"

"We've nothing to talk about. I apologized, you told me to leave, and that was the end of it." Robin gave Sanji a curt nod as he placed her breakfast on the table before her. "I've achieved my closure."

Zoro scowled and turned his attention to his food. "Bitch."

A bit more theatrically than she herself would have liked, Robin snapped, "You have my full attention now. What more could you possibly have to say, Zoro?"

"I didn't think we'd have to discuss this in front of everyone else." Zoro hissed, his eye darting between the alarmed crew and Robin.

Robin stared Zoro in the face as she retorted, "I don't know how idiotic you would have to be to think that I'd want to be alone with you after what happened. I don't want another sword to my throat, thanks."

All noise in the dining hall, from the clinking of cutlery against dishes to the mindless morning chatter, ceased at her words. Still fuming, Robin looked down and jabbed just slightly at her breakfast. She ate slowly, only able to scoop a forkful of hash browns before Sanji slammed his hands onto the table and quite literally growled. "Did you threaten my Robin-chan, you motherfucking bastard?"

"So what if I did?! Get off my balls!" Zoro stood. "You should have heard her, running her mouth like she owns the place!"

Sanji growled and leaned in. "How dare you speak about her like that?! I ought to fucking fry your disrespectful ass!"

"Just leave it alone, Sanji-kun." Robin gave Zoro a pointed stare. "He's not worth it."

Sanji's mood had never shifted so quickly before. He addressed Robin, still shaking and stammering with anger, saying, "B-But, darling, any... any barbarian who has the-the audacity to-"

"Let it be. It's not his fault he can't control his anger." Robin explained calmly as Zoro bristled at her side. "Some people are just less mature than others."

The swordsman exhaled sharply and hissed a curse, storming out of the dining room. Yet, he had to admit that he really did want her forgiveness, because he couldn't stop thinking about her. He never could. At least, not since the flirting game began. Every time she'd toss a grin at him or wink at him as they passed one another, maybe even bite her bottom lip when she watched him lift weights on the deck, Zoro would have to make a quick escape to the bathroom to shove his hand down his pants and moan her name. And every time he ended up with unshakable guilt as he cleaned up his mess, he was left to ponder his relationship with Robin.

First and foremost, Zoro was a swordsman. A brilliant and skilled swordsman, at that, and he was going to be the best one there ever was. Save for Kuina, on whom he had the smallest of crushes, there was no place for any kind of romantic feelings in Zoro's life. Often, he asked himself: if this was so true, why did his heart stop every time he saw Robin? Why did he always embarrass himself in front of her? Why was he so weak to her gaze, her voice, her touch? Most of all, why couldn't he stop thinking about her? She was always on his mind, whether he was fantasizing about holding her hand and kissing her or imagining himself throwing her up against a wall and fucking her senseless.

Classifying these feelings as love scared the hell out of Zoro. Ever since he first watched Sanji make an ass of himself in front of anything with a pair of breasts, falling in love was something Zoro promised himself that he would never do. Not if it looked like that. No one had ever taught him about true love; how was he supposed to spot it?

All Zoro knew was that himself and Robin had unfinished business on more than one front, and he would achieve his closure whether she liked it or not.

In light of the fact that Sanji promised to murder the swordsman for real this time, the cook had been confined to the infirmary for the remainder of the day, where he was sure not to cause any trouble until he cooled down. When he protested, claiming that the crew would starve without him, Robin and Nami offered to take care of the meals for the rest of the day with the book of recipes that Sanji had been putting together as of late.

"Maybe someone should check on him," Nami suggested vaguely as herself and Robin cleared the table after a simple dinner of meat lasagna and garlic bread. "Make sure he isn't doing anything destructive."

"Oh, he'll be fine," Robin gave a nod and a tight smile. "Sanji-kun will eventually start to believe that raising his voice around a lady is threatening and, perhaps, he'll become just a bit more patient in terms of his temper."

The younger female gathered some used napkins into a garbage bin at which she stared pointedly. "I was talking about Zoro. You really put him on the spot, you know."

"I put him on the spot?" Robin scoffed quietly, transporting the remainder of the dirty dishes to the sink. "That stubborn mule never listens to reason. Getting through that thick skull of his is a goddamn mission that I'm not willing to accept. And you can quote me on that."

The navigator rolled her eyes. "And you say he's the stubborn one."

With a sour face, Robin left the dining room. She didn't need Nami's criticism, Sanji's constant doting, Chopper's questions, or, most of all, Zoro's bullshit. And that's what it was to her: bullshit. She was tired of his finicky actions: one second, he was playing along with the flirting game, and the next, he'd avoid her like she was a walking plague. Their relationship stopped being a pleasurable, seductive chase and started to get very, very tedious.

She would be lying if she said that Zoro didn't intrigue her. Since day one, since she first appeared to the Straw Hat Pirates on the Going Merry as Miss All Sunday. The muscular, broad-shouldered, green-haired swordsman caught and kept her interest for years. Somehow, over the two-year separation, she finally clued in that, perhaps, it was time to make her move. Not necessarily to have a serious relationship with him - not that he wasn't partner material - but to get to know just how he could treat a lady if the opportunity presented itself. Besides, she hadn't been touched by a man in ages, and she was a human being with needs. Long story short, Roronoa Zoro was an attractive man on whom Robin set her sights. At the same time, Roronoa Zoro was a confused young man with whom she couldn't be bothered.

"Oi, woman."

In the time it took Robin to consider this coincidence as she paused just before ascending the staircase with the intent of tending to her flowers, Zoro emerged from his position on the wall, illuminated only by the sunset. She stated, "I see that you've calmed down a bit."

"Yeah, I could say the same to you." Zoro stood before her, folding his arms across his chest. "Look... I probably overreacted. I just... I didn't mean to scare you or threaten you or whatever."

"Hold on," Robin interrupted slyly. "Who said I was threatened or scared? Surprised, maybe."

The first mate grit his teeth. "I'm trying to apologize."

"Well, your apologies sure could use some work." Robin quipped. "You sound like a massive prick."

"And you're a colossal bitch. You don't see me complaining."

"You're impossible."

"My thoughts exactly."

They turned away from each other, breathing deeply. Where Robin was irritated beyond belief, Zoro was pensive. He knew he couldn't win an argument with such a sharp-tongued, intelligent woman - perhaps this was what he liked about her - but that didn't mean he couldn't try and solve their problem. Without looking at her, Zoro tried, "We're nakama. And we've still got a long way to go, but, we've made... progress. You know. I've stopped being so..."

"Cynical?" Robin offered quietly.

Zoro nodded. "Sure. And you aren't as..."

"Sneaky?" The female looked at Zoro as he digested her conclusion. She offered a smile, which miraculously turned his head. With a crinkle of her nose, at which Zoro chuckled, Robin mused, "I guess we're not so different after all, then."

"Guess not." Zoro smirked. Let's take this up a notch. "But... I'm not such a shameless flirt as yourself. Tell me, is it a gift or a curse?"

Robin blushed and quickly covered it up with a smile. "So, you noticed?"

"Hell, yeah." He licked his lips, his heart thundering in his ears. Flirting back was fun and exhilarating, especially when he had Robin's full attention. "From what I've gathered, it's every guy's dream. Having a hot older woman be into you."

This is what Robin had been searching for: this flirtatious exchange leading up to something more. She entertained his fantasy, replying, "Not that I prey on younger men, but, if there's one thing that I like about them, it's their imagination. They know what they want... and how badly they want it."

It was true. Zoro knew just what he wanted to do to her the moment they met, and the thought of being able to do just that drove him insane. The aching below his waist proved it. There was no telling how many nights he'd spent picturing her writhing beneath him, gripping him, scratching him, screaming his name...

Noticing that Zoro had become much quieter, but much more interested in staring at her and her body, she continued, "Then again, I can't speak for all of them. Rather, I should just ask you."

"Hm?" Zoro uttered.

His unspoken curiosity was answered once Robin sauntered closer to him, laying a hand on his chest. Her whisper was just barely audible as she leaned in, her breath tickling his ear. "How badly do you want me?"

In an instant, Zoro lost all self-control. He grabbed her hips, his lips crashing onto hers almost instantly. She jumped slightly, barely getting any time to adjust before Zoro breathed, "Fuck, I want you. So fucking bad."

"Where should we do this?" Robin asked breathlessly. It was a foolish and greedy idea, but this affair was exciting for Robin. The concept of finally getting what she wanted was satisfying, not to mention, she'd almost never seen Zoro look so determined.

If "right here, right now" wasn't such an idiotic suggestion, Zoro would have chosen it. "Observation room."

Wordlessly, Zoro grabbed Robin's hand and quickly quit the space. Every second wasted on traveling without any touching was painful for Zoro, and he didn't hesitate to throw Robin up against the wall once they arrived. He stared at her hungrily, watching her chest heave and her desperate eyes plead.

And, yet, the first thing he said to her was, "I like your hair."

Robin blinked. "What?"

"Your hair. I like it." Zoro repeated. "It's cute, I think."

Involuntarily, Robin reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. "Thanks."

"Yeah..." The swordsman said absently. Out of nowhere, a surge of emotion for this woman arose within Zoro as he kissed her with every last bit of passion he could muster. "You're beautiful."

Robin placed a finger over his lips gently, then ran her fingers through his hair. She shook her head and smiled. "Stop talking."

"He told me to tell him I love him."

Robin confessed this to Nami the next afternoon after a round of heavy interrogation from the navigator. Nami knew that something was up when Robin missed breakfast and stumbled into the room she shared with Nami with hickeys littering her skin. She peppered the archaeologist with question after question until she confessed in their room over a cup of coffee and Nami's choice whiskey.

"He told you what?" Nami snorted as she walked from the dresser to her bed. She raised her glass to her lips, crossing her legs on her bed and facing Robin as she sat on hers. "See? I knew he was just like Sanji-kun deep down."

"I don't know!" Robin sighed and shrugged. "We were just laying there, he looked at me, and... said it."

Crinkling her nose, Nami asked, "What did he mean?"

"I still don't know," Robin put on a pensive expression. "I asked him why, and all he said was, 'Then lie to me'."

"Ooh. Brooding swordsman alert. I always knew he liked you, you know."

Robin delicately cradled her mug in her hands. "Liked, perhaps, but... love?"

"Well... he's known you for years. Maybe he's had feelings for you since you met. Besides, I'll never forget that one conversation at Skypiea. Remember?" Nami chuckled before dropping her voice to imitate Robin's. "'Mind if I tag along... kenshi-san?'" She dropped her voice even lower, flexing her non-existent muscles, imitating Zoro. "'As long as you don't... slow me down.'"

"That's irrelevant!" Robin giggled.

"And when you were shocked by Eneru and Zoro caught you before you even touched the ground? The boy loves you, Robin." A sincere smile crossed Nami's face. "And, even though you could do so much better... you should give him a chance."

"I suppose." Robin said through a smile.

Nami smirked. "Anyway, onto the important stuff... was he good? With that sore throat of yours, I deserve to know what it was like."

"So I'm a screamer. What of it?" Robin accused sheepishly. "What do you want to know, anyway?"

Nami leaped the gap between Robin's bed and hers, perching herself at the archaeologist's side. "Well, was he good? Was he at least big? Did he know what he was doing? Did he eat out?"

"Christ, Nami."

As the two girls chattered, Zoro paced back and forth on the deck of the Sunny. He hadn't spoken to Robin since the previous night, and that was his own fault; what was he to say to her? Compliment her on her lovemaking skills? Tell her that he hoped they could do it again sometime? One thing he definitely had to do was explain himself for bringing up the concept of love to someone who hadn't shown feelings any deeper than lust for him. From the moment he kissed her, it was confirmed that he was in love with her, and there was no denying it. Hearing the same from her would validate the fact that he was trying at all. He felt downright cheap having sex with her and not telling her how he felt.

That would be his first order of business that afternoon. Zoro looked to the women's quarters and sighed, making his way up the stairs. He could already hear their conversation from outside, they were so loud.

"Well, I couldn't exactly measure it." Robin was saying as she laughed. "It felt pretty good, though."

Zoro blushed. Was this normally what they discussed?

Nami spoke next. "Well, did you... you know..."

"Oh, won't you just say it?"

"You know! Did you blow him?"

"Nami, that's disgusting. The man bathes twice a month."

The swordsman scowled. He didn't think his shower schedule was any of their business. He blushed even deeper when Nami suggested, "Perhaps you should shower with him sometime, no? Wash off all that filth."

"Stop!" Robin chuckled.

"Like you haven't thought of it," Nami retorted. "I'm gonna go get something to eat? You coming with?"

"I'm alright. Thank you."

"Suit yourself."

With barely enough time to scramble away from the door so not to look like a pervert, Zoro was left standing directly in front of the door as Nami opened it. The navigator jumped just slightly, arched an eyebrow, and called out to Robin, "Your boyfriend's here."

"He is not my boyfriend, Nami." Robin hissed. She came to the door, grinning and tossing Zoro a flirtatious wave. Cheekily, she inquired, "Slept well, I hope?"

"Is that a trick question?" The swordsman smirked.

"Ew," Nami complained, pushing past Zoro and quitting the room as quickly as possible.

Zoro and Robin stared after Nami, then turned back to one another and began to laugh. Robin chuckled, "Would you like to come in?"

"Sure," Zoro walked in, studying the girls' room. It was quaint. Almost cute. Turning back to Robin, he captured her hands in his. "I, uhm... I need to talk to you about something."

Robin nodded. "Go ahead. I'm all ears."

"Right. Uh... well, I know that what I said last night was way out of left field. I wanted to explain myself."

The archaeologist's interest peaked indefinitely. It was as if he'd read her mind. "Of course. Would you like to sit?"

"No, I... I just want to make this as brief as possible." Mainly because he felt like he was going to throw up, he was so nervous. "To be honest, Robin... I've been so hot and cold towards you because I just didn't know how to tell you this. I've never felt this way about anybody before, and it freaks me out."

I know what you mean, Robin thought. She reached out to stroke his face. "You can tell me, Zoro."

"I'm falling in love with you." Zoro blurted out. Once the bulk of his confession was out of the way, he began to elaborate. "Not a day goes by that I don't think about you. You're the most amazing woman I've ever met - apart from Kuina, of course - and I think that you and I could be really, really good for each other, even though I'm just some idiot and you're the smartest, most intelligent, beautiful person on the fucking planet. And I really need to know how you feel."

Strangely enough, Robin had been expecting this. She let Zoro pull her in close. "We're nakama, right?"

"With benefits."

"Yes, yes, of course." Robin waved a hand at him as he massaged her sides. "I just don't want to do anything that might... jeopardize the unity of our crew. I mean, we're like family here. Why... why rock the boat, you know?"

Zoro could pinpoint the exact moment when his heart broke after realizing what Robin was saying. He let go of her and stepped backward, more embarrassed than angry with her. He was hurt and he felt cheated; she led him on, only to ruin every bit of hope he had that, yes, this could work. This is why he had always told himself that getting involved with women was stupid. It only resulted in heartbreak and utter crap. He shook his head and shrugged. "You know what? This was a... a stupid idea. I'm sorry to have wasted your time."

"But that doesn't mean we can't change that." Robin continued with a smile. "Challenge the norm, perhaps."

Now Zoro was embarrassed. "So..."

Robin blushed deeply. "I'm saying I like you, you drama queen. Don't make me spell it out for you."

The male let out a laugh that was a mixture of relief and pure chagrin. "Oh."

"Yes. 'Oh'." Robin held Zoro's hands this time, maintaining eye contact with him as she slurred, "And about last night..."

"Insane." Zoro laughed.

"I know," Robin agreed. "But I have to ask... that wasn't your first time, was it? Couldn't have been."

Zoro's blush told the whole story. "Well... I-I mean-"

"I must say, you fooled me. You seemed rather experienced and, for that, I commend you." Robin's fingertips found Zoro's cheek again. "What do you know? The best sex I've ever had was with my first virgin."

"Who am I being compared to?"

Very seriously, Robin looked Zoro in the eye and said, "Well... all of Baroque Works, obviously."

Zoro gaped. "Holy shit!"

"I'm only joking, Zoro." The woman laughed. "Crocodile and I had our... encounters."

"Of course, of course." Zoro pulled Robin in close again, his hands settling with a firm grip on her behind. "I'm gonna make you forget all about him."

"And just how-"

Zoro kissed her before she could offer her cheeky reply. Instinctively, Robin used a Devil Fruit arm to lock the door. He pinned her to the bed, groping her eagerly. He slowed down, moving to kiss her neck. Robin breathed, "What about Nami?"

Impatiently, the swordsman answered, "She'll survive for the next few hours. You're so sexy..."

His calloused fingertips raced up her torso beneath her t-shirt and his hand clamped onto her breast, massaging gently. The female closed her eyes and her lips parted. "Oh, Zoro..."

"You have got to be shitting me!" Nami's shrill voice sounded from outside as she tugged on the door.

"Don't come in, Nami!" Robin warned. She stripped Zoro of his shirt. "We're in the middle of something!"

"Do not touch my bed! I can't believe I'm being denied access to my own room! What the hell is wrong with you people?! Ooh, you're gonna owe me so much, Robin! Don't touch my stuff, either!"

"Shut up!" Zoro complained.

"I will murder you!"

Robin chuckled and murmured, "She seems upset."

"S'nothing new." Zoro paused, staring down at Robin. He brushed her fringed hair out of her face with a goofy smile. "You're beautiful."

No longer taken aback by such comments from Zoro, the female kissed him gently, innocently; quite the change of pace compared to the past day. Her fingers found a home running through his hair once more. "You are much too sweet."

Pressing his forehead to hers, Zoro whispered, "And I love you."

"Soon, I will, too." Robin whispered back.

Even then, as their relationship grew, she was still unable to define the thing she had for Zoro. She also realized that there was no need to do so in the first place; this thing didn't need a label to come to fruition. Zoro was all it needed and, even though she refused to admit it, Zoro became all she needed.

At 6,356 words, this is my longest update so far. Longest in more ways than one; I have been writing this since the third of January, and this idea has been in my mind since before I started this drabble collection. You have no idea how happy I am that I'm finally done with this chapter, and with this prompt! They've been nagging me for ages!

Forgive me if there are some mistakes with regards to the architecture of the Thousand Sunny. I spent a lot of time trying to perfect it with the blueprints and watching videos from the actual Thousand Sunny ship in Nagasaki, so I hope I didn't totally butcher the whole thing.

Also, new cover art! Credit, sans spaces, can be found here: www . zerochan 1223043

Anyway, thanks for reading. :')

- Angela