Luffy's Clothes: Normal red vest with yellow buttons and blue shorts with white fur hemmed at the bottom.

Zoro's Clothes: Pale green shirt with jagged brown stripes from One Piece Opening 9—Jungle P.

Nami's Clothes: Navy blue tank top with "GOLD" written in yellow in the center, white pants with a brown belt, and high-heeled light brown gladiator sandals from the Long Ring Long Island Arc.

Usopp's Clothes: Normal brown overalls with a white sash with no shirt underneath.

Sanji's Clothes Normal black, double-breasted suit with a black tie and pants and a long-sleeved, buttoned light blue shirt underneath.

Chopper's Clothes: Normal maroon shorts.

Robin's Clothes: A sleeveless yellow shirt with ivy patterns, purple pants reaching to her calves with a simple belt, purple low-heeled Mary Jane shoes, and a gold armband with white strings attached and the letter N on it from the Skypiea Arc.

Franky's Clothes: Yellow shirt with violet bull-like markings on each side of the front and on the back from the Thriller Bark Arc.

Brook's Clothes: Normal black suit with a dark blue cravat tie and black top hat.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"All you do is charge around like a clumsy bull, with no regard for the weight of the history that you've destroyed!" – Episode 174

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"Lunch is ready!" Sanji announced as he poked his head out the kitchen doorway and saw the eager, hungry smiles blooming on his crew's faces. Despite the earlier declaration that their captain made about getting the island's treasure, he quickly decided that they would go search for it after everyone has eaten, claiming, "You can't go on an adventure on an empty stomach!"

"FOOD!" Luffy drooled with excitement as he dashed into the galley. "FOOD! FOOD! FOOD!"

"Watch it, Luffy!" The cook stumbled back when he was nearly run over by his friend. "And don't you dare think about snatching anything from girls' plates, you hear me?!"

"Hmmm-mmm!" The gluttonous pirate nodded absent-mindedly, his mouth already stuffed with food. Sanji sighed and shook his head in exasperation. He knew Luffy didn't hear a single thing he said. Returning to his spot at the stove, the blond-haired man watched as the rest of his comrades entered the room that he considered his personal haven, and noticed that the stupid swordsman, the gorgeous Robin, and the beautiful Nami had changed their outfits from earlier.

Switching the purple top and shorts from earlier in the day, the cartographer was now wearing the same stylish outfit when they participated in that ridiculous Davy Back Fight, and the archeologist was sporting the clothes that she donned when they were in Skypiea. As for the ex-bounty hunter, he threw on an opened pale green shirt with brown jagged stripes.

"This smells great," Nami complimented as soon as she sat down at the table and eyed her delicious meal—almond-crusted fish with steamed, heart-shaped vegetables which he specially prepared for his two lovely angels, a bowl of spicy soup, and two crusty rolls.

Feeling as if his heart was about to burst from his chest, the martial artist skidded over to the orange-haired woman's side. "Thank you so much, Nami, my sweet! I do aim to please you, after all!"

"Sanji! Sanji! Can I have some more?" Luffy inquired, holding out his clear plate that he finished within minutes, which wasn't a big surprise to any of the Straw Hats. That guy's stomach was like a bottomless pit.

Sanji shook his head in refusal. "Forget it. Until we get more cash, we have to make sure to divide our rations evenly for the next two weeks."

"Aww! But I'm hungry!"

"When are you not hung—Hey, I thought I told you not to steal from Robin's plate!" He fumed when he saw the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit user stretched his arm, grabbed one of the rolls on Robin's plate and shoved it into his mouth.

"It's all right," the raven-haired beauty assured him with a glorious smile that could melt the heart of any man in the world.

"You're so kind, Robin, my love," Sanji swooned lovingly. Twirling behind the counter, he took out a silver cocktail shaker and several other bottles from one of the cabinets.

"What're you doing, Sanji?" Chopper asked curiously, watching the chef put three ounces of vodka, one ounce of Crème de cassis, a little blackberry liqueur, and ice into the shaker.

"A cocktail drink I learned from the old geezer when I was still at the Baratie," he answered, clapping the metal cap on the bottom and proceeded to shake the ingredients vigorously. "It's called Black Dahlia. It's an alcohol beverage, so you're too young to have it, Chopper."

When he was done, he twisted the cap off and placed two cocktail glasses on the counter. Pouring the cold, blood-colored liquid into the two glasses, the cook placed them on a tray next to plate with a special dessert—chocolate-covered tangerine slices. Sliding smoothly to the ladies, he bowed deeply and presented the tray to them. "Here you are, Mademoiselles, please enjoy."

"Thanks." Nami beamed as she plopped one chocolate tangerine slice into her mouth. Sanji could've died in happiness when he saw how the navigator's almond hues glittered at the taste. "Wow, this is the best!"

"Mmm, this drink is also very delicious." Robin added, sipping the cocktail daintily.

The blond-haired man's lips broke into a lovesick grin. "I am not worthy of such praise! My heart is beating so fast from your generous words!"

But, of course, his fantasy was interrupted by a gruffly snort of irritation from the moss-head swordsman. "Good, then maybe it would explode."

A vein popped on the Sanji's forehead at the insult. "What was that?"

Zoro snorted, irritated. "I told you to shut up. No one wants to hear you squealing like a girl."




Before they could exchange blows, Nami reached over the table and crashed their heads against each other. They collapsed on the floor in pain as she glowered at them. "Put a cork in it, you two! Finish eating so we can hurry up and get that treasure."

"Anything you say, Nami-swan!" Sanji complied like an obedient puppy.

"Tch, I'm done. I'll be waiting on the deck." The first mate stood up the wooden floor, rubbing the sore bump on as his head as he exited the kitchen. As the remaining Straw Hat crew finished up their meal, everyone failed to notice the pair of cerulean irises locked on Zoro as he took off.

You never cease to amuse to me, do you, Swordsman?

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"OKAY, MEN! LET'S HEAD OUT!" Luffy hollered, pumping his fists energetically in the air. Gathered on the deck, Zoro merely shook his head at his best friend's never-ending cheerfulness for adventures as he saw Nami gripped the back of Luffy's vest to stop him from leaving the Thousand Sunny.

"Cool your heels for a second, Luffy." The thief swiveled to the blue-haired shipwright. "All right, Franky. We're heading off now, so make sure you keep an eye out for trouble with Usopp and Brook."

"You can super leave it to me, Nami-sis," Franky said, striking his usual flamboyant pose.

"We know the drill already, Nami. Let's just go," Luffy complained impatiently.

"Okay, okay, fine. C'mon, we're off." She pushed the ecstatic boy off the ship as the others followed them into town. "What path do we take, Robin?"

Unfolding the map in her palms, the other female pirate swept her eyes over the map. "Well, first we have to go the outskirts of the town and there should be a straight dirt road leading us into the mountain."

"Sounds simple enough."

"Keep in mind that the dangerous part of this adventure is that the mountain is very steep."

"Hah! Don't worry about it, Robin. I can get us there!" Luffy boasted, a board grin spreading across his face. "It'll be a piece of cake."

The raven-haired beauty chuckled at his confidence. "Of course, Captain."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"We're here!" Luffy cheered as the crew stopped in front of a huge wall of rock.

"So, how're we going to climb up?" inquired Zoro, his arms crossed over his torso.

"Those pirates weren't kidding when they said the mountain was steep," Nami commented, hovering a hand above her eyes to block the sun so she can see where the top was. "That's at least thirty-five feet high. We can't climb up there; I don't see rocks we can use as footholds. They look too weak to support us."

"No sweat, Nami, leave it to me! One, two..." Luffy started, stretching his arms behind his shipmates as the other one expanded to the edge of the mountaintop.

"Wait, Luffy, don't—"

"THREE!" His arm closed around his companions like a serpent strangling its prey with its tail, smashing them together into a tight ball before he allowed himself to be pull up into the air by his other arm.

Everyone but Robin screamed as they begin fly upwards while their captain kept laughing until they reached top. The Devil Fruit user's arm unwounded from his friends as they all pummeled facedown onto the rocky surface as he landed perfectly on his sandals-clad feet.

"Shishishi, that was fun! Let's do it again," Luffy laughed from the thrill.

"ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Nami, Sanji and Chopper roared at him angrily, all three of them delivering a good punch on the raven-haired boy's head. "YOU COULD'VE KILLED US!"

"OW!" he yelped in pain, placing his straw hat to cover bumps that emerged on his crown. "But I didn't, did I? Besides, I got us to the top."

"You moron! Robin could've used her powers to get up here gently!" Nami yelled, yanking firmly on his cheek and pinching it so hard that his skin was turning pink.

"Oh, well, why didn't you say so?" Luffy quizzed dumbly, unfazed by the painful stretching.

"You didn't give us a chance to!"

While Nami and the others were chewing out their captain, Zoro dusted himself off as Robin observed the narrow area. There was little space to walk on the ledge there were only, looking only capable of allowing a few individuals be here. Her cobalt orbs skittered to see a zigzag path that could lead them higher up to the ruins.

"According to the map, if follow this road, it should take us to more mountaintops until we reach the ruins," Robin chimed, scanning over the map.

The cartographer simpered in anticipation at the thought of getting her hands on that beautiful, expensive jewel. "C'mon, guys! Let's get that treasure!"

"Not so fast, you sneaky wench!" a voice shouted out.

The orange-haired woman instantly muttered a curse under her breath, recognizing the source of that sound. Taking a defensive position, the crew pivoted around to see the pirate group that Nami stole from coming up from the edge of the mountaintop. Judging by the way the rival pirate crew's members kept falling off the edge, the Straw Hats guessed that their enemies were stupidly trying to climb up the mountain with their bare hands.

The enemies' leader—the fat and bald-headed man—brandished at flintlock from his trousers, aiming it directly at the Cat Burglar. "Give us our map back, bitch!"

"Hey, asshole! Watch your mouth! That's no way to talk to a lady!" Sanji glared furiously, enraged that someone insulted his dear Nami. "I won't forgive any who points a gun at a woman!"

"Sanji, wait!" Nami grasped his arm before he could move. "Fighting these guys will be a waste of time. Let's just run for it. Besides, this place is too cramped."

"Nami's right. If we were to fight here, all of us might fall off," Zoro agreed, his dark optics peering over the adversary's shoulder to see more of his crew attempting to get to the top. "It's not helping the fact that more of Fatso's buddies are trying to get here. This ledge to is too small to hold so many people. We'll be hitting each other in the face if we fight."

Luffy cracked his knuckles. "Just give me one minute, I can take care of these guys."

"We're leaving, Captain, come on!" Grabbing the back of Luffy's vest, the chef sprinted quickly as he and the others made a run for the rocky path.

"AFTER THEM!" the enemy commanded to his troops, dashing after the Straw Hats.

Over the ruckus of being chased by another pirate crew that was hell-bent on killing them, Robin could hear the familiar sound of waves lapping over the shores.

"Another wall," Chopper noted as they arrived on a slightly wider area with another barrier of rock blocking their view. From up here, they could see glistening blue sea. The young doctor squinted his eyes to see if there was a way to get to the higher ledge. "It looks like we might take a while to get there."

"Hold on right there, you bastards!" Terrific. Another problem they didn't need right now. This treasure hunt becoming more difficult than it really needs to be. Still, the raven-haired beauty had to hand it to their enemies. "Give us our map back and drop dead!"

"Not gonna happen!" Luffy turned to Nami, seeking approval. "Nami, can we fight now?"

"Sure, have at it," she allowed. "Just make it quick, okay?"

"Okay! This'll take five minutes!"

"Me, Robin, and Chopper will get the sapphire while you hold them off." The navigator scooped the little reindeer in her arms and rushed to where Robin was. The historian was already jumping up on her Flower-Flower legs she sprouted on the rocky barrier and was close on getting to the top. She just needed to hop on two more and then she—


"Robin, watch out!" Chopper cried as soon as the gunshot was heard. The enemies' leader fired his gun at Robin to prevent her from proceeding up the mountain. The bullet buzzed through the air at lightning speed, and the archeologist was lucky she able to dodge it in time. However, her concentration was broken and her phantoms legs dispersed into flower petals as she fell backwards into the ocean. "Robin!"

"Zoro, get Robin!" the Straw Hats' captain ordered, knowing that Zoro was the one standing closest to the edge of the cliff. Luffy sent a good punch at the one who harmed his friend, fury causing his face to resemble that of a madman's. No one—absolutely no one—gets away from hurting one of his crewmates like that. "Me and Sanji will take these guys! Hurry, get to Robin!"

The first mate didn't need a command to act. He was overwhelmed with rage and shock like the rest of his crewmembers at what he'd witnessed. An intense, achingly familiar sensation welled inside the swordsman when he saw that the bullet aimed towards the beautiful archeologist. The bullet missed, but it was now causing her to fall to her death. His handsome face was distorted in anguish as the memories of that time came to mind. How can anyone do it? Attack a woman who couldn't even defend herself from her aggressor?

That arrogant, self-proclaimed prick Eneru from Skypiea did the same thing to Robin. It was memory Zoro would rather forget than recalled. He remembered cradling her electrocuted body in his arm that he used to catch her from hitting the hard ground after the false God had shocked her with his lightning powers, the powerful fury that flooded in him at the sight of the fallen, defenseless woman.

He didn't know what happened back then. Back then, he never fully acknowledged her as a comrade. So, why? Why did he caught and fought for her so vigorously after Eneru nearly killed her? When it happened, his body moved on its own, and the only thing that he felt back then was pure, animalistic rage. He wanted to kill the fake God for injuring a woman—for hurting Robin.

Which brings him back to where he was now. His body acted on its own without his or his captain's command. He was running to the edge of the cliff before Luffy could even open his mouth.

By the time he made it to the edge, Robin had fallen past him. His fingers only grazed her outstretched hand before she descended to the sea. There was only one thing left that Zoro could do that can possibly save his crewmate's life.

Without a second of hesitation, the green-haired man plunged into the ocean after her.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Paralyzed with utter shock, Chopper remained frozen in Nami's arms. Looking up, he saw that the orange-haired woman's mouth was gaped at disbelief at the reckless stunt Zoro just committed.

"Zoro!" Nami called, snapping out of her trance. Hurrying over to the edge of the cliff, Chopper peered over the ledge along with the orange-haired woman, searching frantically for two friends in the sea. "Zoro, where are you? Robin, Zoro!"

Minutes passed, and when there wasn't a response, the Zoan Devil Fruit user burst into tears. He didn't want to believe that two of his comrades were dead; he knew that he should have more faith in both in them. Zoro and Robin were both strong people—demons, some would dub them—but his emotions overwhelmed him and he couldn't stop tears from flowing down his furry cheeks in rivulets. "Zoro! Robin! Please don't be dead! You can't be! Please say something!"

"Hey! Quit with the waterworks and save it for when we're actually dead!" rebuked a deep and annoyed voice.

"Look, Chopper! They're alive," Nami breathed, pointing a finger downwards to where the swordsman was dangling on a rock while holding onto Robin's hand with the other. "Zoro, how's Robin? Is she okay?"

"Yeah, we're fi—Argh!"

"ZORO!" Chopper cried when he saw this idol's fingers loosened on the rock that was preventing him from pummeling into the ocean. Pivoting his head to the right, the reindeer saw of the enemy's crewmates holding a flintlock fired the bullet at Zoro. It only grazed the swordsman's bicep, just above from where his bandanna was tied to, but he was at his limit.

"Damn it! Can't...hold on!" Zoro gritted his teeth together. His onyx optics rooted down at the archeologist's blue ones before he felt his fingers slipped off the rock and they dropped down into the sea.


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Coldness. Desperation. Anger.

Those were the only things that were burning inside Zoro when splashed into the icy depths of the ocean. The murky water was making difficult for him to see as he spun in several directions to see where the raven-haired beauty was. Their hands came apart when they fell, which meant he he'd better find her soon. This isn't good; Robin has Devil Fruit powers. She can't swim. Where is she?

To his great luck, he found her helpless body several feet away from his location. With no time to waste, Zoro went over to her, gathered her unconscious form in his arms, and swam to the surface.

Clutching the female tightly to his chest, the swordsman surveyed his surroundings. He could see the mountains that belonged to the island, but he knew that wasn't the same cliff that he and Robin dropped from. If it was, then Luffy and the others could be seen at the top. Damn, they must've have been carried far by the rough waves. Zoro didn't have a clue where the heck they were now. However, he's been lost before, and he always managed find his way to his chosen destination.


The only thing he did know was that he have to get to shore before ocean wash them further out to sea. He glanced at the woman in his arms, his dark hues softening at the sight of her vulnerable state. He had to make sure they get to shore as soon as possible. With that thought in mind, he made his way to the beach

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Usopp knew there was something wrong when Luffy, Sanji, Nami, and a teary Chopper came back to the Thousand Sunny without Zoro or Robin in tow by sundown. As soon as they got on board, the weeping reindeer jumped out of the thief's arms and into his.

"What's wrong, Chopper?" he asked worriedly, stroking the top of the Zoan Devil Fruit's hat repeatedly to soothe his nerves. The sniper glanced up at Nami for an answer. Her eyes were puffed and bright red from crying; her pretty face was ruined by the streaks of dried tears. Luffy and Sanji's countenances were solemn, and dirt coated their clothes that told him the story that there was a fight.

Franky stood behind him, his large arms crossed over his muscular torso. Usopp couldn't see what emotion he gave away since the cyborg's sunglasses were drawn over his eyes. "Tell us what happened, Straw Hat."

The captain and the cook related the events that took place during the expedition in the kitchen while Nami sat down on the couch silently with a tired Chopper, who had cried himself to sleep. The he, the mechanic, and Brook all listened to the recounts of the day with careful ears, absorbing the information until the last word was said.

"We have to go after them," Franky declared fervently.

"Yeah," Luffy concurred with the same determination blazing his dark hues.

"Hold on it, you two," Sanji interjected, lighting up a cigarette in his mouth. "I'm worried as much as the next person, but let's get real for a minute here. It's already nightfall, so we don't stand a chance of finding them in the dark. And besides, you seriously think a dive off a mountain is going to kill them? If I know that stupid swordsman, he's alive and he's got Robin with him. They'll come back here as soon as they can, and it's not like those good-for-nothing pirate punks are going to find them after we beat their asses. I bet those bastards are off the island by now."

"No way! I'm going to look for Zoro and Robin right now," argued the captain.

"Wait, Luffy," Usopp spoke up. "Sanji's right. Zoro wouldn't die by falling into the sea. He's been through worst stuff than that. This is Zoro we're talking about. He and Robin are probably safe and sound right now."

"I don't care, I'm going after them!" Luffy asserted sternly, dashing for the door. He never got to go through it, though, because Franky and Sanji assaulted him from behind and tackled him to the floor.

"You idiot! Listen to reason!" the cook chided over the Devil Fruit user's protests to let them go. "What're you gonna do? Search the entire island by yourself? You don't even have the map since it fell into the ocean with Robin! It's too dark to go looking for her."

Usopp sweat-dropped at the martial artist's lack of concern for their second missing shipmate. "Hey, hey, shouldn't you be worrying about Zoro, too?"

While he and Brook helped Sanji and Franky keep Luffy on the Sunny, Nami looked at the stupid scene with a blank expression and sighed. She was exhausted from today, and there was no point in getting involved with this disagreement. In an hour or two, Luffy will quit being stubborn and wait until dawn to search for their comrades. She could only hope that they were all right.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

It was nightfall that Zoro was able to get to the isolated shore with Robin. Naturally, she was still unconscious and weak from being exposed to the sea. His knees lumped onto the sand, and he gently lowered Robin's delicate frame in front of him.

Ignoring the stinging sensation of his wound, Zoro pressed his ear against her chest to make sure she was still breathing. He nearly died from panic when he realized that she wasn't breathing properly. He quickly administered CPR his companion, his mouth meeting hers as he breathed his oxygen into her lungs. Pulling away, he was awash in relief when he saw Robin coughed up the seawater that was caught in her throat, but she soundly fell back asleep.

"Robin. Hey, wake up." He patted her cheek softly, but she didn't stir. Being out in the ocean took a real toll on her, so Zoro guessed that she wouldn't be waking up anytime soon. Great. What the hell was he supposed to do now? Lug her all the way back to the Sunny when he didn't even know where he was? Not to mention that he was losing more blood as the time goes by.

Stripping off his shirt, the swordsman threw it on the beach and undid the tie on his bandanna and retied over his laceration. It wasn't a real bandage, but it'll have to do. Wringing the water out from his shirt next, he spotted an old but durable hut built around a giant tree. It'd be best if he and Robin were to take shelter for the night, and then set out in the morning. Donning his shirt once again, he heaved Robin his arms and he treaded for it.

Kicking the door to the hut open, he entered and shut it. The inside was small and slightly rusty, but it was better than staying out in the cold night air. Returning back to his crewmate, he noticed how violently she was shivering against him, her cheeks flushed bright pink.

"Damn it." Zoro laid her down on the wooden floor, his palm slipping under bangs to touch her forehead. "She feels too cold, and there's nothing in this place to make a fire with."

There was no way he could allow her to freeze to death from hypothermia. Murmuring out a curse for what he's about to do, Zoro removed Robin's wet clothes one by one while trying his best to not look at her curvaceous hips, voluptuous breasts or anything for that matter. Embarrassing as this was, he knew he had to use his own body to heat up hers and she had to be nude for it to happen. Her garbs on to the side, he put his shirt securely over Robin's shoulders, pressed her against him in a warm embrace, and slowly positioned her in a kneeling position as he leaned against the wall of the hut.

Zoro kept his eyes upwards, not wanting to become like that perverted cook by getting arouse by the sight of a beautiful woman's naked body—although the red splotches on his cheeks remained. It wasn't until Robin involuntarily rubbed her soft form on his muscular one that he decided to look at her flushed visage. Bathed in the moon's silver glow that seeped in through the cracks on the roof, he realized how truly beautiful Robin was for the first time since they met.

"What the hell am I thinking?" He caught himself before he let his mind wander any further. "This is Robin I'm thinking about here—a woman who's nine years older than I am, and my friend. She isn't supposed to be anything more than that. So why...?"

He felt another movement from the slumbering raven-haired beauty, who was now shifting her fragile frame to move closer to his strong warmth. As she stirred, she began to mutter in her sleep, a pleased smile blossoming on her rosebuds-like lips. "Mmm, Zoro..."

The green-haired man almost gasped, absolutely stunned. Was she dreaming of him? And since did she start using his given name and not 'Swordsman'? After Enies Lobby, the archeologist found a sense of belonging among the Straw Hats and started addressing most the their crew with their given names rather than nicknames. It was Robin's sign, an example of how much she felt at home with them. The only one she hasn't called by their name was Zoro.

So, why was she...?

Okaaay... This is getting too weird now, but... As the ex-bounty hunter stared bleary at woman cuddled in his arms contentedly, he couldn't deny the fact that having her against him was strangely nice. It felt...right. Before sleep enveloped him, his tightened his hold over Robin as if he couldn't bear to let her go.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Comfortable. Safe. Warm.

Facing hardships for twenty years, wanted by the World Government and striving for survival, Robin never thought she would ever feel as protected and happy as she did right now. The cocoon of heat that was wrapped around her felt like a sweet and tender embrace from a lover. At first, the historian thought was dreaming of this blissful sensation, but then reality began sinking itself into her mind.

Drowsily, she blinked multiple times until her line of vision cleared. And much to her astonishment, the first thing she saw was the peaceful face of a certain bare-chested swordsman, who was snoring lightly against a wall made out of...wood? Where was she?

Memories of yesterday flashed in her mind, recalling every event that took place the day before. The last she remembered as falling into the ocean with Zoro's hand entwined with hers and then...nothing.

"Holy crap!" the green-haired man's sudden outburst brought her to snap out of inkling. When her azure orbs landed on his crimson countenance and noted that his eyes were avoiding her, Robin finally realized that she was without her clothes and draped in merely Zoro's shirt. She was completely exposed to the man in front of her, her voluminous breasts pushing against his scarred, well-defined torso and her fingers splayed across his hard muscles.

Robin's smooth cheeks heated as she inched away from the ex-bounty hunter, closing the front of his shirt to hide her chest. "Swordsman, wh—Are you all right?"

Putting his own embarrassment on a pause for a moment, he directed his gaze to where the beautiful raven-haired woman was staring at worriedly. She was looking at the spot where he tied his bandanna over his wound. The bleeding stopped, but the bandanna now has bloodstains.

"Just put your clothes back on and I'll explain everything properly," he responded speedily, rising up from the floor and to the door. Robin let out a small squeak and squirmed uncomfortably; her concern for him made her forget she was completely exposed. Peeking over his shoulder, an amused smile slid across his face at the sight of her flushed cheeks. She looked...cute. "And quit worrying, I didn't do anything to you, if that's what you're thinking."

And with those words said, he exited the hut to give her some privacy.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"I see," Robin nodded in understanding as Zoro finished his explanation. After she changed back into her clothes, they headed for the ruins on top of the mountain. The treasure map was lost at sea when she fell off the cliff, but thanks to her brilliant mind, Robin memorized the layouts of the island. "You think the others are okay?"

Zoro shrugged. "Probably, yeah. Although, I bet Luffy is going crazy trying to look for us. They're probably at the Sunny since they can't get the treasure without the map."

"True." She chuckled at the thought of the rubbery boy throwing a tantrum and driving Nami insane while looking for her and the first mate. Speaking of which... The archeologist glanced to her partner, the image of waking in his strong but tender arms and surrounded by his comforting warmth came rushing back to her. As they continue their gait up the mountain, their hands brushed ever so slightly against one another that sent a tingle of what felt like electricity through her body...and she liked it. A lot.

Averting her eyes shyly, Robin cleared her throat. "Swordsman, I never got the chance to thank you for what you did—saving me and all."

She saw Zoro froze at the last part for split second before he regained his composure, and Robin had to wonder if he was feeling the same fidgety emotion that she was. He knew she was referring to him keeping her warm last night with his god-like body. "Uh, no problem. We're crewmates, after all. Don't mention it."

Just crewmates? Robin didn't know why, but it suddenly felt that all the air inside of her was punched right out when he said that. Still, she smiled gratefully at the swordsman. "Well, thank you."

"You're welcome."

His modesty was adorable, Robin thought, as she saw him turning his head in another direction to avoid her seeing the blush on his face. A wave of admiration—much like the sensation she felt she heard of his noble self-sacrifice at Thriller Bark by eavesdropping on Sanji and those two men from Rolling Pirates—flooded her entire being from within. She greatly respected Zoro for his honor and kindness, traits that were very hard to find these days in men—especially in pirates. Most men she came across by, like the Straw Hats' chef, would not shy away from drooling all over the tiniest bit of visible skin from her slim and sexy figure. However, Zoro didn't and she couldn't help but admire him for it. For someone who was known as the 'Demon of the East Blue', the he was actually quite shy and innocent.

The raven-haired beauty giggled lightly with that in mind, which made her companion look at her in bewilderment. "What's so funny?"

"Oh, it's nothing."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"We're here." Robin's azure irises gleamed happily as they stepped foot onto the grounds of their destination. She loved coming to places like this, how they came alive and the overwhelming vibes that crawled up her spine at the sense of history.

"Great," Zoro drawled, unimpressed by the treasure site.

"Hmm..." The raven-haired beauty scanned the area with keen eyes until they spotted an ancient temple that was broken from the outside, the remains scattering around it. By the entrance, there was a Buddha-like statue on each side. "This temple must be where the sapphire is hidden."

"Yeah, so let's hurry up and get it."

"Wait, let me study these relics for a moment," Robin replied as she knelt down to the side one of the broken rocks engraved with writing, her delicate fingertips tracing over it with care.

"What for? Can't we just hurry up and get the damn gemstone?" Zoro huffed in annoyance. "All I see here are shabby, worthless rocks."

He immediately regretted what he said when Robin pivoted her head to glared at him angrily. It saddened and irked the archeologist when someone did not appreciate history like she did. Why must people disrespect what their ancestors had held so sacred? She could never comprehend for why others would do such a thing. To her, history was the most irreplaceable and valuable treasure in the world, and anyone thinking otherwise was doomed to suffer her wrath.

Zoro gulped when he saw the evil glint in her eye. I'm so screwed.

Clambering from her couching position, Robin stared at him with a contemplating expression. How can she make him understand the worth of history like she does? She couldn't tolerate people with any regard for history, but a part of her knew that he must have a sense of the same feeling buried deep within him. All she needed was to root it out of him.

Her solution clicked in her brain as she zeroed on the Wadō Ichimonji that Zoro's hand was resting on. Folding her arms under her breasts, Robin retorted, "Swordsman, even the smallest piece of something, no matter how broken or old, tells an unspoken tale of unimaginable importance. Therefore, I ask that you do not refer to these magnificent ruins as 'worthless'. How would you react if someone tells you that your swords were nothing more than pieces of steel?"

That did the trick, and the she smirked at the offended scowl that crossed his visage. "Hey, do not call my swords worthless! All of them have great importance, especially the Wadō Ichimonji."

"Only if you realize what I'm trying to say." Robin smiled, pleased by his reaction and newfound realization of the value of history. He knew he would relate to her point of view after he being pushed in the right direction. Perhaps his directional skills weren't the only thing that could use a good fixing.

"Okay, I get it. Geez, you didn't have to go that far..." he mumbled gruffly.

The raven-haired beauty laughed, her hand covering her mouth in a poor attempt to keep them from pouring forth. "I'm sorry, Swordsman, but it seemed like the only logical way to get you to understand what I'm saying."

"It's all right. I guess I deserved it, so sorry," he apologized with a mild sigh.

"Apology accepted." She beamed at him, her eyes diverting back to the pure white hilt of his most prized sword. Would it be wrong of her to bring the subject up again? Her curiosity was still thriving to learn more about him through the Wadō Ichimonji. She made him upset at her abrupt questions of the sword last time, and she did not want to experience guilt again. However, her inquisitiveness could not be quenched until she obtained the knowledge she sought. "Swordsman, what makes your swords important? What history do they hold?"

Zoro raised a quizzical eyebrow at her. "Why are you so interested in my swords?"

"I'm interested in you and your history. You don't have to answer me if you don't want to," she answered politely.

"No, I'll tell you." He brandished Wadō from its scabbard and held in front of him with a proud smirk tugging on the corners of his mouth. "The Wadō Ichimonji is a legendary sword, one of the twenty-one O Wazamono—the Great Grade Swords. Shūsui, the sword I got from Thriller Bark, is also one of them. As for the Kitetsu—known as Kitetsu The Third—is a cursed sword I got back in Loguetown for free. It's said that whoever wields the blade will send their owners to a horrible death. But its so-called 'curse' couldn't beat out my good luck."

"Amazing." Robin awed at the Wadō's beautiful craftsmanship. "But what's it to you, Swordsman? It occurred to me that your Wadō Ichimonji means more to you that its status."

Then it happened again. The flash of sadness shimmering in Zoro's dark orbs, and Robin felt remorse tightening her chest. Why does asking about that sword upset him so much? Surprisingly, instead of getting mad, a bittersweet smirk appeared on his countenance as he sheathed his sword back in its scabbard and his left hand gripping the pure white hilt. "This sword...carries my dream."

After that, he strolled right past Robin and towards the temple, failing to see the puzzled expression she now wore. Although subtle as that information was, she knew that small answer meant the world to the green-haired man.

"Swordsman, wait for me." She swiftly followed her companion, who paused in front of the entrance to the temple and glared with an annoyed expression at the use of the nickname.

"Quit calling me that. Call me by my name. You're my friend, after all, and I'm yours," he frowned. Relief flooded the historian when she saw his usual scowl upon his handsome face, the swordsman gotten over what just transpired between them only seconds ago.

"All right, then, Zoro," she replied coyly, letting his name roll off her tongue in a seductive purr that would have send a man to his knees. "Shall we get that treasure?"


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"So, which way?" Zoro questioned when they came upon a fork in the road. The temple's interior was just like any other kind of temple he'd seen before: Old and dusty with cobwebs and other insects skittering about the damaged hallways. The place was disgusting, and gave him the creeps.

"Don't know. Flip a coin, perhaps?" Robin suggested with light humor.

"Aren't you supposed to be all-knowing?"

"I'm an archeologist, Zoro, not God."

The younger man grunted at the mention of the divine being. Being an atheist, he held onto his own beliefs that no such being exist. "What God?"

"In any case, we have to choose a path to go on." A hand cupped her cheek as she titled her head to the side in cogitation. "According to what I found on the ruins outside, this temple was built as long time ago by the earlier habitants of the island to pray to their god, which explains why there were statues by the entrance. I'm guessing that bandit that left the sapphire here must have used this temple as storage to hide his treasure before the pirates came. Before he died, he must have loved that jewel among all his other treasure to keep up here to keep the pirates that killed him from getting it. The way that mountains were shaped must indicated that either the paths that lead here withered over time, which stopped the people of the island from coming here, or that the bandit must have destroyed it to the shape it is now."

"Impressive deduction." Zoro complimented, shooting her one of his boyish smile that made her heart feel like leaping out her chest. That sudden surge of the emotion confused her, though. Why did these intense bursts of joy keep fluttering within her since this morning? Never before had she experience this kind of sentiment for her fellow crewmate, and it only made it harder for her to remain casual in his presence.

"Thank you," she simpered before concentrating at the task in hand. There were more important things to worry about than her perplexing feelings right now. "I think we should go right hallway."

"How come?"

"It's just what my instincts are telling me."

"Okay, then we go right."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"All that trouble for this damn gemstone. It's no bigger than a rock."

"No matter what condition or size something is, it always has value, remember?"

"Yeah, yeah. I know."

Robin looked at Zoro as he tossed the crystal blue jewel up and down in the air as they wandered back to the Thousand Sunny. Taking the route that she proposed, they found the sapphire buried in a tomb that was enclosed with a corpse, their prize entwined in its decayed fingers. Robin inferred that the corpse must have belonged to the keeper of the shrine and requested to be encased inside of it when he died. When the bandit came, he must have thought no one would look for the gem in a coffin and keep it hidden there until they'd discovered it.

With that adventure done, Robin could peacefully relax and enjoyed how the cool, crisp breeze wafted in the air and through her ebony hair. In spite of all the problems she and her comrade had to face along the way, she was delighted to spend some time with him alone. She knew that a real connection was now built between them, and it grow even stronger in the near future.

Oh, that reminded Robin of something she wanted to say to him before they rejoin their crew. "Zoro, I want to apologize for my prying earlier."

The young man brushed the apology off with a faint shrug of his shoulders. "Eh, don't worry about it. It's fine, but consider yourself lucky. Talking about my swords isn't something I usually do, so you better keep quiet."

The older woman smirked teasingly. "Oh, is that so? Does that make me special to you, Zoro?"

His cheeks flushed faintly at her flirty inquiry. "I only did to make us even since I saw you when you were...indecent. I just figured I owe you."

A lie, but one that made her pleased and happy within as she hummed a jolly tune and sashayed ahead of him. Twisting her head to offer him a charming and flirty smirk, she coquettishly quipped, "I didn't mind."

Robin laughed in amusement when his visage darkened into fifty shades of scarlet.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

As expected, as soon as they came in view of the Sunny, Zoro found himself being tackled onto the deck by Luffy and Chopper, tears streaming down their cheeks at the sight of the swordsman. While the ex-bounty hunter was desperately trying to remove his friends off him, Sanji dashed to Robin's side and fawned over her with concern laced in his frantic voice. Usopp, Franky, and Brook stood on the sidelines and whooped in glee, satisfied that they were alive. When the excitement passed, Zoro gave the sapphire to Nami—who was more overjoyed of seeing the gem than seeing her two shipmates back safe and sound—and climbed up to the crow's nest to train, not knowing that a pair of azure irises lingered on him until he disappeared.

Robin, on the other hand, chose to surround herself by her crewmates after the ordeal, although she couldn't keep her eyes off the green-haired man as he stalked into the crow's nest. Even though he didn't show it, she knew that he felt that something has changed between them like she did. Although she preferred to have a souvenir of their time together as a memento of their breakthrough, Robin knew she would never forget what happened on this day between her and Zoro. Their time together will live on through their memories, and it was one that she would cherish forever.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"What you have carelessly destroyed were priceless treasures, relics so rare it would be next to impossible to measure their actual worth. It's true that history may repeat itself, but people can't go back in time. A stupid brute like you wouldn't understand that."

"I-I understand. Please, please...I'm sorry... Won't you forgive me?"

"That's out of the question." – Episode 174

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

A/N: Boring chapter, I know. Anyway, Merry Christmas, everyone, and a Happy New Year! As promised, one chapter a month. :) Remember to support the One Piece series by buying the DVDs and by watching episodes on OnePieceOfficial or Neon Alley. One Piece Season Four Voyage Three was released on Dec. 18 and is now available for order at local online stores.