Luffy's Clothes Choice: Orange vest with yellow buttons and red shorts with white fur hemmed at the bottom from the Thriller Bark Arc.

Zoro's Clothes Choice: Unzipped black jacket with crossed skulls on each side with a velvet shirt underneath, yellow pants with a black belt, and black boots from One Piece Opening 12 – Kaze wo Sagashite/Red shirt with a single yellow button and pale green pants from One Piece Opening 9 – Jungle P.

Nami's Clothes Choice: Pink dress with embroidered edges with gray high-heeled gladiator sandals /Light blue tank top with a dark blue bubble pattern at the collar and denim shorts with a black belt from One Piece Opening 9 – Jungle P.

Usopp's Clothes Choice: Long-sleeved black shirt and white pants with pink stripes from One Piece 3D: Straw Hat Case.

Sanji's Clothes Choice: Black vest with yellow buttons and black tie over an orange, pinstriped shirt from the Water Seven Arc.

Chopper's Clothes Choice: White shirt, blue tie and shorts from One Piece 3D: Straw Hat Case.

Robin's Clothes Choice: Open faded purple camp shirt with white polka dots, a tight teal corset underneath, blue jeans with a brown belt, and sandals with a two-inch heel and a teal strap from One Piece Opening 12 – Kaze wo Sagashite/Short-sleeved green blouse with pink lining and dark pink polka dots that is tied up in a knot in front, white pants, and black heels from One Piece Opening 9 – Jungle P.

Franky's Clothes Choice: Blue shirt with dark blue, pink, and red floral pattern from One Piece Opening 11 – Share The World.

Brook's Clothes Choice: Deep V-line red shirt with two yellow stripes on the sides, blue pants, and gray shoes from One Piece 3D: Straw Hat Case.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"If you ask a group of pirates to back off in front of a treasure, then you'd better have some good explanation. Otherwise, there's no way they'll back off. " – Episode 322

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Zoro jolted up in his bed sharply, a thin sheet of sweat coated his skin as he took in deep, measured breaths for air. It's been a week since the Straw Hats left that island—a week since that intimate moment between Zoro and Robin happened. After that, the swordsman began to have dreams every night since then. Tonight was no different, and it solely focused on one person:

Nico Robin.

"Damn it, what the hell is wrong with me?" Zoro asked himself in a quiet whisper. He didn't want to wake his crewmates, after all. "I'm losing my freaking mind."

The dreams were innocent and short—always more or less the same from each other—but it frustrated Zoro to no end. In the dreams, he was with Robin and they were talking about trivial things, and she give him one of her mysterious smiles before capturing his lips with hers in a smoldering kiss.

"Stop thinking about it," the first mate muttered, snorting at the idiotic state he was in over meaningless dreams. However, he wanted—needed—them to stop right now. Why was he even having them, anyway? Why were his feelings for Robin seemed so much...stronger than before? Why couldn't he get that annoying woman off his mind? The emotions he was feeling for Robin...what are they, exactly? He never felt these feelings before, and it confused him. Was it...attraction?

"No!" he instantly exclaimed when the thought struck him. "That can't be it, there's no way..."

Sure, Robin's an extremely attractive woman, he realized that after...the incident on the island. Before that, he'd never once saw Robin as a woman, only as a comrade. But so what if he saw her as a woman now? That didn't mean anything, right? The last adventure just messed with his mind, that's all. He needed time so he can straightened himself out. After he does that, there shouldn't be any problems left for him to worry about between him and Robin. Nodding stubbornly at his conclusion, the green-haired man settled back into bed as he silently crushed the part of his brain that told him to stop making excuses.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

After smoothing the wrinkles of her faded purple camp shirt, Robin stared at herself in the mirror the next morning with an almost void expression.

"What's wrong with me lately?" she questioned. After that last adventure, the archeologist felt...odd—especially when she was near Zoro. No matter how she pondered about it, she couldn't find the answer. Her chest felt heavy and heat flooded to her cheeks whenever her cerulean irises landed on Zoro. It has been a week already, and she still felt that way.

What was she feeling and why? Why couldn't she focus on anything whenever Zoro was around her? Why did her heart beat so painfully every time she thought about waking up in his arms that morning? Why were her irises drawn to him when he entered the same room? Why did it feel like her chest was being squeezed so tightly when...she dreamt of him?

"No use stressing over it," Robin sighed. Checking her appearance once more, the female Devil Fruit user strode out of the women's quarters and to the kitchen for breakfast.

As usual, the first one to greet her was the lovey-dovey cook. "Good morning, Robin, my dear! Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, very much so." The archeologist offered him a polite smile as she took the vacant seat next to Franky and across from Nami. Inhaling the aromatic smell of today's breakfast, she saw that it consisted of a bowl of fresh-cut fruit, herbed basil and cheddar biscuits, crème brûlée toast, and smoked moose-meat with cheese. As for drinks, crystal juice glasses were filled to the top of their sparkling rims and porcelain cups of steaming dark roast coffee, much to Robin's delight. She loved a cup of hot coffee in the morning, and she relished in the smell of its fragrant scent.

"Does anyone know where Zoro is?" Luffy inquired his crew after he swallowed the rest of his meal down. Scanning the galley, Robin noted that the ex-bounty hunter was nowhere to be seen. A frown spread on her features as she felt a wave of disappointment awash her. "I couldn't find him when I woke up this morning."

"Did you check the crow's nest, Luffy?" Nami suggested in a bored tone. "That workout fanatic's always in there."

"Who's always where?" As if on cue, Zoro walked in—dressed in a black sweater with skulls, a velvet-colored shirt underneath, and yellow pants. It was nice change to what he normally wears, and Robin noted that he looked rather...cute.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Her blue orbs never left him, and a faint tint of pink flushed her cheeks as she watched him take a seat on the red rubber bench at the counter—directly behind her. Her heart was throbbing so rapidly the rhythmic sound vibrated in her ears loudly. Inhaling a deep breath, she tried desperately to remain calm, allowing the flush to disappear from her countenance. Luckily, no one observed how Robin has acting.

Except for one comrade, that is.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"All right, guys, listen up," the navigator proclaimed once breakfast was finished. "I want to remind all you that just because we got our hands on that sapphire doesn't mean that our food and water problem is fixed yet. We left the previous island a week ago, so we should be at the next one tomorrow. Even when we restock on our rations, I want everyone—and this goes especially to you, Luffy—to be considerate of our food supply."

"How come, Nami?" Luffy quizzed. "If we're going to be at the next island soon, can't we have a big feast?"

A vein of exasperation popped on her forehead. "No, you dope! Even if we sell that sapphire on the next island to get more cash to replenish our food supply, we're going to be broke again if you keep making us have gigantic feasts every day. Use your head for once, Captain."

"Fine, whatever," the rubber-man pouted before he pivoted to Usopp, Chopper, and Brook. "Let's go fishing, guys!"

With that, the quartet dashed out of the kitchen. One by one, the rest of the Straw Hats exited the kitchen to start their day. Nami and Robin went to the upper deck to tend to their personal plants—the orange-haired woman's tangerine trees and the historian's flowerbed; Sanji followed their lead a few minutes later to go to the library to find a cook book; Franky and Zoro sauntered to the main deck, the swordsman stalking off into the crow's nest to train, and the cyborg to the Solider Dock System to work on one of his inventions.

Normalcy was a luxury among pirates, especially among the Straw Hat Pirates. It was nice to enjoy a peaceful day without fighting or some sort of craziness to worry about. However, normalcy could never vanish among the Straw Hats, therefore something interesting was bound to happen sooner or later on the Thousand Sunny. And today, it will start with someone going up to the third deck with a certain motive.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"Yo, Nico Robin."

Robin drifted her eyes from the book she was reading to the shipwright, his gigantic form blocking the sunlight from her view.

"Yes, Franky?" She cocked her head to the side curiously. It was weird that he would seek her out when he was working on of his machines.

"You wanna help me with a super invention?" he beamed at her with a board grin, a sneaky glint in his hues that caused suspicion to rise within Robin. Since when did Franky want her help with an invention?

Desiring to know, she nodded and stood from the lawn chair she was relaxing in. "Sure."

Nami poked her head from behind her tangerine trees to see the pair traveled down to the kitchen. "Franky, you better not messed up my Waver anymore!"

Ignoring the thief, the carpenter and the raven-haired beauty promenaded to the grassy lawn with and to the spot where several tools and a partially built piano laid. Swiveling to the Devil Fruit, he handed her a blueprint with designs.

"I'm building a piano for the aquarium for Brook. Hold this up for me, I don't the wind to blow it off somewhere."

The instructions he gave Robin puzzled her even more. Why would Franky go to the trouble to ask her to hold up a single blueprint when he could have gotten Usopp to do it?

"Franky, what's the real reason why you asked me to come here?" she inquired, not beating around the bush. The carpenter looked at her with a slightly surprise expression before he let out a low whistle and jovial laugh.

"I guess I can get anything past you, huh?" he snickered sheepishly as he sat down and began working. "Well, I wanted to talk to you about something."

Robin lowered herself right across from him. "About what?"

"You were acting super fidgety this morning, I'm kinda worried about you." Hearing this, Robin gasped slightly, but regained her composure swiftly as Franky continued. "And now that I think about it, you've been acting that way for a week now. You okay? You sick or something?"

"I'm fine. It's nothing to worry about, truly," Robin assured.

The blue-haired man frowned, a clear indication that he didn't believe her. "You don't have to lie to me. I'm a super listener! Tell me what's wrong."

"I'm touched by your concern, but I'm perfectly fi—"

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Robin stopped her sentence midway at the sudden hammering of heart inside her chest. Glancing behind her, she saw Zoro leaped down from the crow's nest and onto the deck. It was then that her azure irises drank in the sight of him, and his naked, chiseled torso. He practically emanated pure sexuality. He had the body of fierce warrior—and one that could pleasure a woman in bed for hours.

"Hey, Zoro-bro!" Franky waved, getting no response in return. Instead, the swordsman's dark eyes flickered to the archeologist, a tint of scarlet coloring his cheeks before he rushed to the dining room for a drink. The cyborg raised a bewildered eyebrow, and he turned to the woman across from him. Robin's eyes never left the bare-chested Zoro until he disappeared into the kitchen, her visage shining with a crimson hue. Studying the shimmer of those ocean-blue irises and how her cheeks were tinged with a bright shade of pink, everything clicked in Franky's brain.

Robin and Zoro...are in love with each other.

Franky could cry out in joy at the newfound revelation, but he decided against it since it was glaringly obvious that there was inner confliction and confusion stirring between the lovebirds. What he needed to do right now was to get answers of the situation to help his crewmates.

"What's going on between you and Zoro-bro?" he quizzed innocently.

"W-What do you mean?" Robin jumped faintly at the question.

"It's not only you, you know. Zoro-bro's been acting the same way as you since we left the last island. What happened between you two, when you were all alone?"

The memory of waking up in the Zoro's arms and her skin against him made blood the blush worse. Her heart was beating too erratically, and Robin wouldn't surprise if her companion could hear it too. "Nothing happened, Franky. It's true that Zoro saved me, but that was it."

The cyborg shot her a look that told her that he knew she was lying, but he decided that it would be better if she was left in her denial and let her figure out her feelings for herself. "You sure? You're super flustered whenever Zoro-bro is around."

"It's nothing. Please don't worry about it. Excuse me, I'm going to get a drink."

Robin offered him a kind smile and promenaded in the direction of the galley with her head hung low. Just when she was about to enter, another person strolled right out and collided with her.

Zoro.

"Watch it!" he exclaimed, his palms grasping Robin's shoulders before he realized who'd bumped in to. When he did, his face reddened immediately. They gazed at each other with desire and need, their bodies jammed to each other so firmly that Robin's voluptuous breasts looked like that were about to break out of the entrapments that her corset provided. Franky stared at the scene with anticipation, honestly believing that they were going to kiss. However, Zoro roughly shoved Robin aside and stomped back to the crow's nest. "Sorry."

Franky sighed at them, Zoro for running away and Robin for letting him to do it. "So not super."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

This is getting too damn weird. Zoro thought back in the crow's nest. What in the hell is going on with me?

Zoro's heart proceeded to beat quickly inside his sternum; the scarlet splotches on his countenance were still visible. It took all of his willpower not to look down at her soft mounds of flesh, and to pushed her apart from him. And why can't he stop his stupid heart from thumping so fast whenever he was by that infuriating woman?

It's official; I'm losing my mind, the green-haired man groaned in frustration, plopping down to take a seat on the circular couch in his gym. With a scowl, Zoro focused on meditation.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

I'm so sick of dealing with their idiotic fights. Nami's eyebrow twitched in annoyance due to battle going on before her.

Dinner was going on smoothly that night until the chaos erupted. The crew were joking around and laughing at each other's words and antics, except Zoro. After twenty minutes past, Sanji inquired where he was since his food was getting cold. The cook hated wasting food, so to prevent throwing away the meal he prepared, he headed for the door with a plate in hand just as Zoro showed up. As the panel opened and smacked the chef square in the face, the plate was knocked out of the blond-haired man's palms and shattered to the floor.

Which brought Nami and the other back to the current situation.

Sanji freaked out when he recovered, crying like a baby at the broken glass and food splattered on his precious floor. Zoro apologized in a nonchalant tone, which only fueled the martial artist's anger. Like always, the two began fighting over whose fault it was.

"KNOCK IT OFF, YOU MORONS!" the cartographer screamed, punching them with all the strength she could muster in her petite body. "Enough fighting, it doesn't solve anything! Zoro, you broke the plate, so as punishment—"

"How the hell is that my fault?!"

"—you have to wash the dishes tonight! There, you two are even, so shut up!"

Sanji smirked in satisfaction.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Washing dishes was certainly not the swordsman's forte. When dinner was done and the table was cleared, all of the glasses and plates piled on the counter for Zoro to clean. He tried to get Nami to lift his 'punishment' to no avail. He was forced to follow her orders, much to his dismay. Rolling up the sleeves on his sweater, the ex-bounty hunter complained as he poorly tried to do clean the dishes.

"That damn woman..." he cursed grouchily. Occupied with his mumbling, he failed to hear the sound of the door open and a person walked it. Probably just Nami or Sanji checking up on him, he assumed.

"You're not getting them clean, you know." Her sultry, teasing, feminine tone reached his ears, and Zoro whipped around to see Robin leaning over the counter, unconsciously granting him a nice view of her cleavage. Fortunately, he was too surprised to focus anywhere else but her beautiful visage.

"What do you want?" Zoro pivoted his back to her, his blatant attitude hinting that her very presence was a nuisance.

Unperturbed by his rude remark, the archeologist came to his side, dipped her hands into the soapy water of the basin, and grabbed a sponge.

Her action perplexed the swordsman. "What are you doing?"

"Assisting you, seeing as you're having a difficult time doing the dishes by yourself." Her sensual lips curved into an amused smile.

"Don't bother, you'll get your shirt wet," he told her as she began to scrubbed one dirty plate over the water.

A suggestive light shone in her azure orbs that nearly stole the first mate's breath. "I'll just take it off, then."

And he consequently died when her generous bust jiggled as she removed the camp shirt from her frame and laid it on the table. Why does she always have to wear provocative and skimpy clothes?

Ripping his eyes from the tempting sight of his companion, Zoro cleared the lump that was caught in his throat as they both carried on with the dishes. "You don't have to help me. That stupid playboy and devil girl is gonna blow a fuse if he finds out."

"I know that, but it'll be faster if two people are doing it," Robin replied. "It can be our little secret, agreed?"

"Whatever," he grumbled.

She chuckled quietly, one hand diving into the sink again to fetch another filthy dish in the water. When her palm lowered down on top of the green-haired man's, and both pirates gasped at the shock of the touch. At the electrifying contact, tingles of pleasure throughout their nerves while their hearts thudding inside their torsos quicker.

"I'm sorry." Robin yanked her hand out first, water splashing onto the floor. She recoiled to put space between them, but as her heels slid on the wet floor, she slipped and started to fall backwards. Moving on impulse, Zoro wrapped an arm around her waist to catch her, but he also slipped and his eyelids closed as they both landed on the kitchen floor together.

When his eyes fluttered open after the impact, the first thing he saw was the kiss.

Blue orbs widened in sync with his at the sensation of soft, sweet lips on each other. The emotion in their hues was one of surprise and pleasure as the blush darkened on their features. Though by mistake, the kiss itself was shy and chaste and they revealed in it until Zoro reared off of her. He averted his optics elsewhere as he stood; his face was as red as a tomato as heat rushed down to his groin. It was his first kiss, and now understood what he was feeling towards the raven-haired beauty.

He desired her.

But no, Zoro knew that what happened was an accident. There was no way that the Robin would give consent to a real kiss, and why would she? She was nine years older than he was, and though she may treat as an equal, his mind told him that she could ever see him as a kid.

Oh, boy, was he ever wrong.

Robin breathed heavily, her breasts bouncing up and down enticingly with every gasp of air. That kiss was...amazing. Breathtaking and pleasurable, and she glad that her first kiss was with Zoro. One kiss, that's all it took for her to confirmed her feelings for the swordsman. She was, after all, compelled by something to come to the kitchen to be alone with him and figure out her feelings for him. Now, she knew what it was: Desire.

There was no way she could deny it now. She yearned for Zoro, liked him—maybe even more than that. She knew that he felt the bombardment of the crackling sparks igniting between them. If that was the case, why did he retreat?

"Sorry about that. Here." He offered his hand and pulled her to her feet.

"Thank y—"

"You should change you clothes, they're wet," the ex-bounty hunter interjected, swiveling his back to her. "I'll finish here, you should go before you catch a cold or something."

"A-All right." Her voice was shaky and anxious, the urge to twist him around and smashed their mouths together crossed her mind, but she decided to ignore it and take his advice. The back of outfit was wet of falling onto the wet floor, and it was only matter of time until someone came in and caught them together.

Casting one last gaze at the swordsman, Robin grabbed her camp shirt from the table and strode to the women's quarters.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"ZORO! ZORO! WAKE UP! WE'RE AT THE NEXT ISLAND!" Luffy called him the next morning from the deck.

Zoro yawned as his eyes flickered open, bleakly and tired from waking up after a long slumber. Surveying the men's quarters, he saw that other beds were empty, meaning that the others were already awake.

"Zoro, c'mon! We're at an Autumn Island!"

"I heard you the first time, Luffy! I'll be right there!" he yelled back, jumping off his bunk and onto the floor. Changing into a red shirt and pale green pants, Zoro paced to the main deck to meet his friends, and spotted the crew peering at town from the side of the ship. The town looked like a small village frequented by lowlife punks, and nearly all of them carrying swords strapped to their backs. Otherwise, it seemed like a decent place, in Zoro's opinion.

"Good morning," greeted a melodious, sweet. Spinning around, he saw Robin with that damned mysterious smile that annoyed the hell out of him gracing her visage.

Zoro blinked at her twice in bewilderment, slightly impressed she had the courage to speak to him so casually, like last night didn't happened. He expected this, though, since he understood that Robin was the type of person that wouldn't let an accident bother her.

After pondering about that incident in the kitchen for hours, Zoro came to a decision that he never allowed the archeologist to learn of his feelings for her, knowing it was for the best for the both of them. Robin could never see him in that way, and isn't like he will profess his undying love to her like that idiot cook does fifty times a day. He was not the type of guy to get involved with a woman, especially one that was older than he was. Women were distractions to him and his goals. And besides, there was an even bigger reason why he couldn't afford anyone to find how he felt toward the female pirate.

As long as his emotions didn't cause problems for him, his relationship with Robin should be fine. Zoro decided that nothing would ever change between them, whether or not he wanted it to. It wasn't right or fair to act on his feelings for Robin. It wouldn't be honorable to her—to his dream.

Zoro pivoted his head in a different direction. "Morning."

"All right, guys. Time to get to work," Nami announced. Like Robin, she was also sporting a different outfit today, which consisted of a light blue tank top with a dark blue, bubble pattern at the collar and denim shorts with a belt. "Let's split into two groups, okay? One to take the sapphire to exchange it for money, and another to guard the Sunny."

"Excellent idea!" Sanji exclaimed ecstatically. "Nami, Robin, you're with me. The rest of you guys can—"

"Objection!" Brook protested. "I want to accompany the beautiful young ladies as well!"

Zoro exhaled an exasperated sigh. "I don't care how we split up, as long as I don't have to be with that idiot cook."

"Okay, okay! How about this?" the thief inserted before Sanji would respond to Zoro's insult. "Me, Luffy, Robin, Zoro, and Franky on one team. Usopp, Sanji, Chopper, and Brook on the other. Sound good?"

"Hey, wait a minute, Nami! Isn't most of the muscle on your side?" Usopp accused with a pointed finger. "This town looks dangerous, I don't wanna be left on the Sunny with little protection! Why do you have to get all the big guns?"

"Hey, I'm a defenseless girl. I'm the one who's going to take the sapphire in town. What happened if someone tries to steal it? I'm going to need more protection than you."

"Nami, let's just go. Our captain is already taking off without us," the first mate told her, jabbing a finger to where the raven-haired boy was prancing in the streets. Nami chased after him as the rest of her group followed suit, leaving behind a shouting Usopp, a depressed Sanji, and the others onboard the Sunny.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU WON'T EXCHANGE OUR JEWEL FOR MONEY?!"

Luffy plugged his fingers in his ears to block out the sound of his screaming navigator, sitting atop on a nearby barrel with Franky and Zoro by his side. The captain wondered what was going on in the exchange shop that Nami and Robin went inside to get Berries in return for the gemstone.

"Hey, Zoro," Luffy began, seeking an answer from his best friend, but stopped when he noticed swordsman's attention was fixated in the direction of their female crewmembers.

Luffy's expression shifted from curiosity to flabbergast as the orange-haired woman stomped back to the men with Robin in agitation. "This sucks!"

"What's up, Nami-sis?" Franky asked.

"It turns out this town we're in doesn't take any kind of valuables in exchange for it," Robin answered.

"How come?"

"This island is known as Sword Island. You've noticed that the townspeople are carrying swords, right? According to what I heard, there's a large block made out of some hard mineral in the town's square where the people go to compete for money, along with many other contests. This town is all about swords, and if we want to earn money, then we need to enter competitions."

"Which is where you come in, Zoro," Nami added with a sly smirk. "You're a swordsman, so you're going to win competitions and earn us some cash."

"I usually don't go along with your stupid money schemes, but I'll make an exception in this case," Zoro stated, his left gripping the Wadō Ichimonji's hilt with a manic-like grin. "I'm interested to see what this town has to bring to the table."

"Awesome, let's check it out," Luffy whooped with excitement. "To the town's square!"

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Franky eyed Robin and Zoro relentlessly as they ambled to the square, hoping to see a sign of their obvious attraction to one another. He knew Zoro was staring at the raven-haired beauty when she was in that shop with Nami when he thought no one was looking at him.

The cyborg thought something happened last night between them after he spotted the archeologist sneakily went in the kitchen to be with Zoro, but he couldn't decipher if that something was a good thing or bad. Currently, the two lovebirds were striding next to each other, but Zoro refused to acknowledge Robin's presence. Just went on between those two that made them like this? Why was he acting like she didn't exist when she was so close to him?

Super weird, Franky perused. His inklings were cut off at the sound of a sword slicing through a hard object that was soon drowned out by people cheering. The carpenter tore his irises from his buddies to see that they were standing in front of a huge crowd. In the center of the throng was a huge piece of gray rock that he deduced to be stone that was covered in slashes created by swordsmen that were fighting in this contest.

A man with a curly moustache and bald head—the referee—was measuring the size of the freshly made cut in the hard mineral with a ruler, announcing the length to the rowdy townsfolk and gestured to a middle-age guy with long brown hair and stubble next to him.

"I get it. Whoever can chip that piece of rock the best is the winner. It's a test of strength," Zoro remarked, brandishing his pure-white sword from its sheath. "Looks simple enough."

"Is there anyone else who like to take the challenge?" the referee inquired the crowd.

"I will," Zoro declared, stepping forward with confidence. "This so-called challenge is nothing more than child's play. Cutting through something like this and only making a small dent in it proves that aren't any real opponents here."

"You cocky bastard!" the man next to him seethed in anger at the insult, almost drawing his sword out if several others didn't hold him back.

Ignoring the enraged competitor, Zoro smirked and charged swiftly forward with Wadō in his grip. "Single Sword Style: Lion's Strike!

Moving so quickly that no one could track him, Zoro appeared behind the rock with his sword sheathed in a matter of seconds. As soon as they heard a click, the next thing the crowd witnessed was the large piece of rock being sliced in two.

While Franky and his buddies wore proud smiles, the rest of the townspeople were stunned, their eyes popped out of their sockets in astonishment at the skill that Zoro had demonstrated. Minutes passed of awe silence until the crowd burst into appraisement for Zoro.

"That was amazing!"

"Did you see that?! That guy cut through the thing like it was fruit!"

In the mist of the din, the referee strolled up to Zoro and handed him a hefty bag of money. After thanking him, the Straw Hats' swordsman sauntered back to his crew.

"Here's the prize I earned. One bag with 500,000 Berries in total."

"Great work, Zoro!" Nami's almond eyes sparkled with her usual greed, her fingers reaching out to take the bag.

However, Zoro hid behind his back. "Hold it. Before I give you the money I won, you have to promise me that this settles my debt with you, got it?"

"Yeah, yeah, just give it to me!"

Satisfied, the ex-bounty hunter snickered and gave her the bag. "Here you go, then."

"Don't be grateful just yet. You have to win more contests for us to buy more supplies," Nami reminded. "Me and Luffy are going to start shopping and then go back to the Sunny. Franky and Robin, stay with Zoro so he won't get lost."

"All right, Nami-sis." Franky waved as the navigator dragged Luffy out of sight.

"Well, we should get going." Robin smiled at Zoro.

"Yeah, whatever," he grumbled as they marched in another direction.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Robin observed contest after contest with admiration as Zoro conquered every one in the town easily. His skills were god-like to the citizens, and it wasn't long until the townsfolk began asking his identity and if they would like to spend time with them. Zoro had become quite the idol in this rough village for his incredible swordsmanship.

Throughout the day, Robin concluded that this small town wasn't very high traffic to pirates, which meant they were ignorant to who he was. This town looked rundown, judging from the cracks and holes in most of the homes she'd seen. She couldn't even find a bookstore or a place to find to read the newspaper.

Near sundown, a elderly man dressed in a plain yellow kimono, who turned out to be the mayor, invited Zoro to a party at the best tavern in town as way to show him how impressed the people were by him. Zoro was going to decline, but when he heard that they were serving alcohol, he immediately accepted. The mayor even allowed Zoro to bring the rest of his friends.

By nightfall, all of the Straw Hat Pirates were dancing and partying inside a well-furnished bar. Zoro, meanwhile, was being pampered by food and questions from most of the townspeople, to the swordsman's dismay. Robin chuckled faintly at the sight, sympathizing with the swordsman's desire for solitude.

Desire... A wistful smile blossomed on her countenance as she stared at Zoro from afar, who was joining in a toast that Luffy started to celebrate for his crewmate's hard work. After last night, Robin felt more serene that she ever felt before once she realized her feelings for Zoro. She wanted nothing more to be with him right now, but she knew that it was impossible at the moment.

She understood that last night made things a bit awkward for him to be around her, but Robin knew that it had the same affect on him like it did her. She will wait for him make the first move, needing assurance that he felt the exact same way she did for him and not like all the other men that merely approached her for one thing: Sex.

Over her twenty years of running and hiding from the World Government by joining vicious pirate crews, she was used to men coming up to her for their own perverse desires. Her beauty allured unwanted men, and though she would use their lust as an advantage to get what she wanted, she never allowed any of them to touch in an intimate way. Robin considered her virginity to be the most pure thing about her, which was natural for all women.

The sound of squealing snapped the historian out of her musings and directed her optics to the group of flirty, pretty women that was surrounding Zoro from his spot at the counter. Robin frowned bitterly; irked at the scene those girls shamelessly flirting with him. In spite of Zoro's attempts to brush the women off, the surge of jealousy made her think of sprouting her Flower-Flower appendages and crawl their eyes out.

"You okay, Nico Robin?" a friendly voice questioned her by her side. Franky joined her against the wall she was leaning against, a bottle of cola one hand as he lifted his sunglasses up to study her.

"I'm fine," she lied.

Seeing the evident jealousy reflecting in her orbs, Franky declared, "You can go over there, you know. You super like Zoro-bro, don't you? You've been staring at him a lot."

Crossing her arms over her chest, Robin closed her eyes and spoke in a forced, firm tone to hide her true emotion. She didn't want anyone to see her with such an obvious emotion written across her face in contrast to her usual calm façade. "You're jumping to conclusions."

The flamboyant pirate grinned teasingly. "Am I, or do I detect a bit of jealousy?"

"Franky, I'm not jealous. I have no reason to be."

He let out a tired sigh at her denial. "Sure, whatever you say."

"Is there anything you want?" Robin kept her irises stonily glued on Zoro, who was now pushing away the group of girls and stalking out of the bar. Where was he going?

"Just wanna give you a piece of advice."

"Oh? And what is that?"

"Just to take your own words back at Water Seven to heart, that's all," the shipwright said as he roved to where the rest of their crewmates were. Without turning around to her, Robin could hear the smirk in his voice. "If you see the treasure you want, then don't let it go without a good reason. So, what're you waiting for? You're a pirate, aren't ya? Go after the treasure you want."

"Thank you, Franky." Nodding gratefully, Robin left the bar in hot pursuit of Zoro.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

The night breeze cool the agitated swordsman's mind as he wandered aimlessly through the streets, allowing his legs to take him anywhere just as long as he get away from the tavern. He had enough with the townsfolk coming up to him and prying into his business, especially those crazy girls that were trying to invite him to 'play' with them. Zoro snorted at their futile efforts into taking him to bed. Like he'll ever do that with a bunch of lunatic women that were only interested in his sculpted body and skills.

Pausing in his tracks, Zoro directed his eyes to the building in front of him, a sense of nostalgia washing over him. A dojo, like where he trained with Kuina back in his hometown, Shimotsuki Village. In the courtyard, he saw practice dummies as he stepped up to one with a melancholy half-smile.

"This sure brings back memories," he remarked, recollection of his 2001st duel with his childhood friend came rushing back to him. Even though she was dead, Zoro could still feel her presence—her spirit—with him because of the Wadō Ichimonji. It's always been like that for him since his dear friend died, knowing that Kuina would forever watch over him until he achieved both their dream to the become the world's greatest swordsman.

The sound of light footsteps behind the first mate hooked him out his trip down memory lane and back to reality. This presence...was familiar. Swiveling to the source, Zoro nearly called Kuina's name until he saw the beautiful face of the Straw Hats' female Devil Fruit user smiling at him.

She sat on the patio of the dojo, a book in lap and rested her elbows on her knees. "Hello, Zoro."

"What're you doing here, Robin?" he quizzed gruffly, hoping that he make her skittered away if he was rude to her. He didn't want her to see the faint blush on his cheeks whenever they were alone together.

Naturally, she remained unaffected by his coarse personality. "You really ought to be nicer to women, or else you're going to end up a heartbreaker. Girls have feelings, too, so you shouldn't blow every girl you met off like you did earlier."

"I'm steering clear of all women at the moment. Trust me, it's in the best interests of women everywhere," he responded. The main reason why he can't have Robin knowing of his true feelings for her was because of his fear of hurting his loved ones. It was bad for any woman to be close with him since they were only going to end up hurt. He learned that lesson when Kuina died the next day after their promise—the only woman he had ever cared about died because of him and his stupid competitive edge. If they hadn't dueled that night, then Kuina would had never have to get a sharpening stone from her family's storehouse and fell down the stairs. If he weren't for him, she would still be alive...

"You can't decide that for everyone, it's quite unfair to those who want that from you."

"What are you going here?" he repeated in order to change the subject.

"I could ask you the same thing. I saw you left the party, so I followed you."

"I wanted some peace and quiet."

"I can understand that," she concurred, gesturing to the book in her lap. "May I stay here?"

Zoro arched an eyebrow at her odd request. Why was she asking for permission? "Sure, do whatever you want. Doesn't matter to me."

She beamed at him. "Thank you. I didn't want to intrude on your personal space, seeing as you had enough of that tonight."

"If it's you, then I don't mind." The words slipped right out his mouth before he could chain them up. The pair froze, awestruck by the reverence imbued within that sentence. Zoro gulped nervously at the tiny mistake, wondering how the raven-haired beauty would react.

Instead of a playful tease that he'd expected, she simpered at him with flushed cheeks. Damn, why the hell does she always to look so mesmerizing? "I'm glad to hear that, Zoro."

"Uh-huh..." He pivoted his back in anxiety as a peaceful silence swamped them.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Zoro insisted that she should get back to the crew after an hour, telling her that it was getting late and the others would be searching for them. Robin reluctantly agreed, worrying that she may had overextended herself, but he assuaged her by saying that he will be right behind her. He said he needed a moment alone for himself at the dojo, so she complied.

The wind wafted through her, causing goosebumps to form on her skin. The Devil Fruit user shivered, wrapping her arms around herself to preserve heat. It was getting really cold, but Robin should expect as much from an Autumn Island. However, the cold air wasn't the only thing that made chills run up her spine.

The townsfolk that didn't attend the party at the tavern were strewed in the alleys and streets, bottles of rum and other alcohol littering the ground. They were all swordsmen, all of which that were jealous of Zoro's popularity in their hometown. Their dirty eyes trailed over her partial-exposed frame, lust blazing in them as the sight of the beautiful woman.

"You there!" shouted a slurred voice from behind her. "Come here and play with us a bit."

Robin ignored them, not wanting to waste them dealing with foolish, drunk men. They weren't worth the trouble.

"Hey, I'm talkin' to you!"

A hand grabbed her shoulder, but Robin hastily slapped it off her. She whipped her head to the punks behind her, counting at least seven of them slithering up to her. It wasn't long until they created a circle around her, snaring the female pirate it their trap.

She glared icily. "Excuse me, but I would appreciate it if you let me through."

The drunken men cackled hoarsely and one of them hooted, "You're a tough babe! How 'bout you come with hang out with us? We'll show you a good time."

The historian's mouth twisted in distaste, her nose scrunching up in disgust at what he was trying to imply. "I sincerely doubt it. Now, if you men would excuse me, I have friends I hav—"

A scrawny arm enveloped her body from behind, the other one gripping her left wrist in the air as the rotten stench of alcohol caused her cringed in revulsion.

"What're you doing?!" Robin demanded furiously, wriggling to get free.

"You're just as uptight as you look," the pervert whispered in her ear, and the urge to vomit almost overwhelmed her.

"What?"

"You need to loosen up some," her aggressor continued in a lewd tone. "I doubt your pathetic crush wants to touch a frigid block of ice."

Azure irises narrowed. "My crush?"

"It's almost cute that you're saving your virginity for Roronoa Zoro."

"That's enough!" Enraged, Robin broke free of the man restraining her and crossed her arms over her chest and palms facing upwards. "You people should have backed off when you had the chance. Treinta Fleur: Clutch!"

Appendages emerged from the ground and on the bodies on the punks that were trying to rape her. As soon as she curled her fingers in, the sound of backs snapping in half echoed in the air. Her copy limbs dispersed into flower petals as the men slumped to the ground in pain just as Zoro came speeding to her.

"Robin!" He surveyed the area before looking at her. "Are you all right? What happened?"

"Nothing I couldn't handle. These drunkards were merely trying to take advantage of me."

A dark, mad expression crossed his features, Zoro's palm grasping onto his Shusui. "They tried to do what?"

"I'm all right, please don't worry," she told him softly, laying a gentle hand on his forearm to sooth his anger. She smiled, flattered by his concern that made butterflies fluttered in her stomach. "We should we go."

He relented at her calm touch and nodded. "Yeah."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"Man, that was an awesome party!" Luffy exclaimed as he and the crew boarded the Sunny the next morning after the Straw Hats had breakfast. "The food was tasty, too!"

"Yohohoho!" Brook chuckled happily. "I agree! It was so much fun, I thought my heart would burst from all of the excitement! But I don't have a heart! Yohohoho!"

"It wasn't that great," mumbled the blond-haired cook, slouching in despair behind Usopp and Nami.

"You only say that because all the girls liked Zoro and not you," the sniper pointed out matter-of-factly.

"Well, it wasn't fair that idiotic moss-head got all the girls and I didn't!"

"Stop whining about it, Curly Cook. What's done is done, no use complaining about it now," Franky chimed as he went to the helm with Robin and Nami. "Where to next, Nami-sis?"

Nami checked the Log Pose tied to her wrist before answering, "Head port this time."

"Right!"

"If anyone needs me, I'll be in the library working on maps. Call me down when it's time for lunch," she informed as she walked away.

"Franky," Robin tapped his shoulder to get his attention. "Thank you for yesterday. It really helped me."

The cyborg grinned at her brightly. "That so? Good to hear, then! Were you able to get your 'treasure'?"

She giggled, amused. "Not quite yet, but I think I'm close."

"Super!" The energetic carpenter struck his usual pose, leaning on one leg to the side and connected his wrists to form a blue star. "Keep at it, Nico Robin."

"Thank you very much."

"Just remember, as pirates, getting treasure isn't easy, " Franky advised, casting a knowing glance to Zoro, who was now in the middle of a typical brawl with Sanji on the main deck. "He's kinda stubborn, you know."

"That's all right. I like challenges. And besides, I'm not too worried." Robin smiled warmly, strolling over to the railing to peer down at the object of her desire. "The one thing I wanted out of life from someone...doesn't seem so far out of reach anymore. I have a feeling I'll get my 'treasure' in no time at all."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"The one thing I always wanted in life...doesn't seem so far out of reach anymore." – Episode 164

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

A/N: I know, lame and I'm cutting it close, right? Well, school is damping my free time, and although I'm still technically keeping my promise to update once a month, I would like to have more time to revise and proofread my chapters. School is making me depressed, but don't worry. I'll defiantly keep my promise to update once a month! :) Sorry if there were a lot of mistakes in the chapter, I was rushing again. Nothing's exciting happening right now, but I hope everyone enjoyed this.

Remember to support the One Piece series by buying the DVDs and by watching episodes on OnePieceOfficial or Neon Alley. And yes, I did borrow some quotes from One Piece Unlimited Cruise 1: The Treasure Beneath The Waves.