Luffy's Clothes Choice: Yellow scarf and blue shorts with a white and dark blue cloud pattern from One Piece Movie 10 – One Piece Film: Strong World.

Zoro's Clothes Choice: An orange jacket with a velvet X on each side of it and circuits running down the sleeves from One Piece Opening 9 – Jungle P.

Nami's Clothes Choice: A orange tank top with a blue star in the center and black pants from One Piece Opening 8 – Crazy Rainbow.

Usopp's Clothes Choice: A long-sleeved black shirt, with his goggles on a forest green cap worn backwards, and white pantsOne Piece Opening 11 – Share The World.

Sanji's Clothes Choice: A light blue hoodie with the bottom portion decorated with a dark blue ocean wave pattern and black pants from the end of Thriller Bark Arc.

Chopper's Clothes Choice: Black and white stripes short-sleeved shirt and dark gray pants from One Piece Opening 11 – Share The World.

Robin's Clothes Choice: A white shirt with dark purple leather pants and shoes from the end of the Alabasta Arc. In other words, the outfit she wore when she first joined the crew.

Franky's Clothes Choice: A maroon leather jacket with a white fur collar from One Piece Opening 12 – Kaze wo Sagashite.

Brook's Clothes Choice: A long-sleeved, lime-green shirt with black polka dots, orange collar and cuffs, light violet pants and cravat tie, black shoes with a golden buckle on each, and black top hat from One Piece Opening 11 – Share The World.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"This ship has charm. Is it always this lively?"

"Yeah, it usually is." – Episode 130

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"Good morning, guys!" Luffy exclaimed with a huge grin, stretching his arms in the air and hopping down his bunk bed, clad only in shorts and his torso exposed.

"Morning, Luffy," Usopp greeted with a yawn as he treaded to the door with Franky and Brook. "We're heading to the kitchen for breakfast."

"Okay, I'll go, too!" He sprinted to his friends until Zoro—who he was brushing his teeth by the basin—gripped his wrist. "Ugh, Zoro, let go! I wanna eat!"

Spitting the toothpaste in the basin, the swordsman turned the faucet on to rinse his mouth. "You just got up, idiot, so brush your teeth and get dressed."

His captain pouted, going over to his locker and pulling out a yellow scarf. Once he wrapped it securely around his neck, he sauntered over to the sink, grabbed his toothbrush and began to clean his teeth as Zoro strode for the door. "Hey, Zoro?"

The first mate halted and glanced over his shoulder. "Yeah?"

"Are you okay?"

"...What makes you ask that?" There was a hint of something in his tone akin to concern.

Luffy pondered about his response for a moment. He wanted to know if Zoro was feeling better for the last couple of days. Something happened that made Zoro quit isolating himself in the crow's nest and away from his friends. It was almost like having the old Zoro back, but then again...it wasn't. Yes, he took his naps and train on the deck, ate with the crew, and fought with Sanji over petty matters, but Luffy could tell that something was bothering his buddy. Zoro spoke to his crew again, but his answers were short and curt. It was like he was there, but it was also like he wasn't.

"Uh, I don't know," the Devil Fruit user finally replied, grinning sheepishly. "Forget it, the words just slipped out, that's all."

"All right, then." The green-haired man stalked out of the bedroom and decided not to inquire why his best friend just lied to him. He's been with the raven-haired man long enough to know that he was terrible liar.

Luffy sighed in relief, a frown plastered on his youthful face. As much as he desired to spend time with Zoro, he knew Zoro would only push him away. Once he was done cleaning his mouth, Luffy pursed his lips and took this opportunity to cried out, "Zooorrroooo! I miss you! Please go back to normal soon!"

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"All right, Zoro, careful next time, okay? You've been getting hurt a lot lately, so please don't over do it," Chopper instructed the older man that sat beside him at the dinner table, happy that the wound in his thigh was now completely healed.

"Sure thing, Chopper," Zoro answered noncommittally, biting down a large chunk of his pancakes.

"FOOD!" The door the kitchen slammed open and the captain took his seat at the top of the table and began munching down on his plate of pancakes and sausages.

While the Straw Hats were going about their usual noisy antics during breakfast, Nami kept silent and shifted her eyes back and forth between Zoro and Robin, the latter who was still in a daze. At least three days has passed since the whole 'Nami misunderstanding', and when Nami learned the truth from Franky about the ex-bounty hunter and the historian. She hasn't spoken to Zoro, or try to bring the topic up with Robin. She didn't like it her place to butt in, but she wanted to help alleviate the awkwardness between her companions.

"I'll be in the crow's nest if anyone needs me." Zoro rose from his chair and ambled out of the galley, and Nami noticed a pair of azure orbs was glued on his back until he disappeared.

"I'm going, too," Chopper declared, hopping his seat with his empty plate and handing it to the chef at the sink. Trotting over the chair at the very end of the table, the reindeer yanked on the Brook's fancy sleeve to get his attention. "Brook, can you help me carry my herbs out to the upper deck? With the weather so nice today, I want to dry them."

"It'll be my pleasure, Chopper," the musician agreed, taking the Zoan user's hoof in his bony palm and strolling to the sick bay.

"Hey, Usopp! Wanna fish me today?" Luffy questioned, rubbing his now-bloated stomach with his hands.

"Sorry, Luffy, but Franky and I are working on this new invention," the sniper declined with an excited smile. "When it's done, you'll be the first person we'll show it to."

"Awesome!"

"Actually, Long Nose, I have something else I have to do today," the blue-haired man stated. "It won't take me long, but have fun with Straw Hat until I'm done. I don't want you to work on our super project without me."

"Cool! Let's go, then!" He dashed for the door, grasping the sharpshooter by his long nose and dragging him out to the deck while ignoring the latter's painful cries to stop. Once they were gone, Robin pardoned herself from the table and ascended up the ladder to the third deck to tend her flowerbed. When Sanji went to the storage room behind the mast to get more ingredients, the shipwright decided it was time for him to go.

"Well, I'm off," Franky exhaled a sigh and exited the kitchen to the grassy deck.

"Uh, wait, Franky!" Nami chased after him and grasped his gigantic arms to halt him. "I want to talk to you about Zoro and Robin."

Knowing his was coming, he perched himself comfortably on the railing and folded his arms. "I told you everything I knew, Nami-sis."

"I know, but..."

"Have you apologized to Zoro-bro for meddling yet, or talk to Nico Robin about what you know?"

The orange-haired woman shook her head. "I want to, but I don't know how to approach them about it. And what was that back in the kitchen? You don't do anything but help Usopp make inventions all day."

"Oh, that. Well, I'm going to talk with Zoro-bro after he gets out of the crow's nest. Give him some advice and stuff."

"What?!" Nami screeched angrily, jabbing an accusing finger on his torso. "What happened to all that crap about not butting in with Zoro?! You hypocrite!"

"Calm down, I'm not meddling, I promise Nico Robin I wouldn't. I'm just going to give some friendly advice to Zoro-bro," the carpenter clarified. "While I do that, why don't you talk to her?"

Nami contemplated for a moment. "Oh, all right. Fair enough, but you're going to have to use something drastic to get Zoro to talk. You know how stubborn he is."

He grinned reassuringly. "Ah, don't worry about it, Nami-sis! I'm a guy, so I can relate to Zoro-bro more than you could. He'll talk, I'm sure of it. You can super leave it to me!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

In the bathhouse, Zoro turned the knob and cranked the temperature of the sprinkling water from hot to scalding. He bent his head low to his chest, welcoming the pounding spray on his taut muscles. As the searing water sluiced over his shoulders and down his naked back, steam thick as a fog roiled around him, enveloping from head to toe. Bracing his hands against the wall, he shut his eyes and let the vision of a smiling Kuina engulfed his mind. However, the image didn't last long since it was quickly replaced by Robin's lovely countenance.

Damn it, I can't stop thinking about her! Zoro cursed in his thoughts. I have to forget Robin for the next few days. That time is almost coming up and it'd be disgraceful if I think about her and not Kuina on—

"Whew! It's worst than a sauna in here!" The door to bathroom opened and entered an unwanted visitor. "First you feel the need to trap yourself in the crow's nest, and now you want to boil yourself alive?"

"What the hell are you doing in here, Franky?!" Zoro yelled at the mechanic, incredibly embarrassed and pissed of at the intrusion. "Get out!"

"No need to get so flustered, bro," he said with a teasing smirk. "We're both men, after all."

"THAT'S NOT THE ISSUE, YOU PERVERT!"

"Oh, thank you!"

"THAT WASN'T A COMPLIMENT!"

Serious now, Franky leaned against the doorway and flipped his foggy sunglasses on his forehead. "Sorry to bother you in the middle of shower, but I was hoping to have a word with you."

The green-haired man's expression was comical. "Now?! Really, Franky, really?"

"I'll cut to the chase, then: What's up with you, man?"

Through the steam, he saw the fist mate flinched mildly. "I don't know what you mean."

"It's no use lying to me, bro. You know what I mean."

Zoro grunted in exasperation. "Why do I have feeling you're going to enlighten me?"

"About you and Nico Robin, what's up with two? To be honest, I've known about you two for a while now. It wasn't hard to notice you two staring at each other every time you guys thought no one was looking. But that isn't what I came to tell you. She told me almost everything that went down between you two, and what I want to know is why you aren't together with her yet. You like her, don't ya? Why not go for it?"

"Because I have a promise to keep before I could do anything with anyone, and because..." the swordsman trailed off, his tone quiet and soft. "I don't want to hurt her."

After a lengthy silence, Franky muttered, "Damn. You really care about her, don't you?"

No answer. Instead, he merely twisted the shower faucet and stopped the water.

The mechanic stared at him with disapproving disgust. "Look, I won't tell anyone, and I won't stick my nose in your business, but..."

"But?"

"I think what you're doing now is hurting her more than anything else ever could."

Zoro absorbed the truth of that information with an intense frown. "I can't, Franky. I just can't."

"Yeah, Nami-sis told me that you said the exact same thing to her. So, what're you gonna do? You're pretending that the bubbling romance between you and Nico Robin isn't there? Ignore it, the tension? Yow know that's wrong and dangerous, because all hell is going to break loose sooner or later. In my opinion, I think you're just making excuses. Sure, I don't know the reasons behind your decisions, but choosing to keep yourself away from her isn't a good thing. You say you don't want to hurt, but you're already doing that not jut to her but yourself, too. If you don't want to hurt Nico Robin, then take responsibility and make her happy. See where your relationship with her takes you before you give up something you haven't even started, you copout. Right now, both you and Nico Robin are acting like a bunch of idiots."

"If you're trying to make me feel better about all of this, feel free to stop anytime."

The older man chuckled faintly. "I didn't expect you to any super heart-to-heart talks with other guys, so this me, showing you that I care."

"I'm touched, now get the hell out."

"Hope you'll take my advice." Franky saluted the green-haired man and climbed down the ladder back to the library. Once he was down, the cyborg exhaled a tired sigh and scratched the back of his head frustration. "How much longer will it take him to wake up?"

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Meanwhile, in the ladies' bedroom, Nami rubbed the sides of her teacup filled with lukewarm Earl Grey tea. She and Robin were having afternoon tea with some freshly baked heart-shaped chocolate macaroons with fruits decorated beautifully with whip cream on the top and middle—courtesy of Sanji, of course.

"Your tea is going to get cold." Robin's voice snapped the younger woman out of her trance.

"Oh, yeah..." Nami took a tiny sip of tea before she set it down on the table that stood between the sofas. "Um, Robin... Can I tell you something?"

"Of course, you can tell me anything, Nami" Her best friend flashed a feigned smile that made the thief's heart clenched.

Poor girl. Not being able to be with the man you want must be really painful for her. "Well, I really don't know how to tell you this, so I'm just going to come right out and say it. Robin, Franky told me about you and Zoro."

Robin's blue orbs expanded broadly, her mouth agape by the frank confession. When she collected herself after a few moments, her façade dropped and her countenance become sorrowful.

"I see..."

Nami pressed her palms together in an apologetic gesture. "I'm sorry, it's just that after the whole misunderstanding between me and Zoro, I demanded Franky to tell me everything he knew."

A phantom appendage blossomed on the cartographer's shoulder, lightly patting her crown forgivingly. "It's all right. I knew you'd find out eventually. You're a clever girl, after all."

"So...you're not mad?'

"Of course not."

The orange-haired woman beamed. "Thanks so much, Robin! And don't worry, I won't tell anyone."

"I'll appreciate that."

"I know I shouldn't be asking this, but is there anything you haven't told Franky that you might want to tell me?"

Robin diverted her eyes from her companion, perusing on whether or not to tell her the truth. It was true that she kept the things from the cyborg, like how she and Zoro made love and anything that contained Kuina. Now that Nami knew about her and the swordsman, the archeologist decided might as well tell someone about her one-night stand with the first mate. Besides, it'd be nice to talk about it with a fellow girl. "There are some things that I can't tell you since it's not my place to, but I suppose I could tell you this: I slept with Zoro."

Nami's eyeballs looked like they were about to fall from their sockets at the news. "What?! Really?!"

"Yes, it's the night we got caught in the storm and took shelter in a hut."

"The day after he started acting so weird!" Nami concluded with a snap of her fingers.

Robin's cheeks flushed mildly. "Yes, it's the exact reason why he's been avoiding me. You must know Zoro's reasoning behind it, don't you?"

"Never mind that!" Her volume rose with each word, excitement shimmering in her coppery irises. "You and Zoro had sex? Was it your first time?"

The raven-haired beauty's visage flared a darker shade of crimson. "Yes to both."

"I'm so happy for you!" Nami jumped from her sofa to Robin's and embraced the older woman in congratulations. When she recoiled, there was mischievous glint shining in her irises. "So...how was he?"

"Nami!"

"What? I'm just curious!"

"Well..."

"Oh, come on! We're both girls here, give me details!" Nami squealed, extremely exuberant. "I'll keep it to myself, I swear!"

"It was amazing..." A content smile blossomed on the historian's lips as she recalled those ardor and sweet moments that she shared with Zoro. "He was so gentle and passionate. We were both scared at first, but the way he touched me made it obvious that he really cares for me. Zoro was trying his best not to use too much force to hurt me, and I thought it was sweet and considerate of him. You don't meet many men like that in a lifetime."

The cartographer grinned merrily. "Wow, you must really like Zoro."

"Mmm, I do, but with the way the things are now, I don't think we'll ever be able to—" Robin's sentence was left unsaid as the orange-haired woman pressed a stern finger on her friend's mouth.

"Don't say stuff like that, Robin," she asserted. "Zoro's an idiot, so you have to talk to him and make it clear where both of you stand. Have you talked to Zoro since you guys slept together?"

"Yes, but we always end up fighting. That, and with Zoro walking away."

"Then try again, but this time, don't let him get away. Avoiding each other is only going to make the situation worse. If you two like each so much, then you should be together."

The historian contemplated on the young lady's words. Nami was right; she needed to know where she and the first mate stand before things worsen between them. But how could she? She'd been upset with Zoro for jilting her and erecting a wall to separate her from him. Angry that he was running from her without giving their newfound love a shot, because his noble reasoning for refusing her based on something that happened in the past. However, the desire to speak to him again overwhelmed her. She hated how distant he acted around her, treating like she didn't exist. His actions not only affected her but the whole crew, so it was time they settle their issue once and for all.

Determination shimmering in her cobalt hues, Robin declared, "You're right, Nami. I have to know where I stand with him, but I don't know how to approach him about it."

The thief patted her comrade's back in encouragement. "Don't worry, I know you can do it, Robin! And if you need help, then just tell me."

"Thank you, Nami."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

When the crew arrived at the next island in the afternoon, Zoro took off into town without bothering to listen to Nami and her orders of splitting the Straw Hats into teams to restock their provisions. It was quite odd. Normally, Luffy was the one that wandered off first.

Robin was grouped with Chopper and Franky, their team in charge of purchasing more medical supplies and tools they needed. By sundown, all of the Straw Hats returned home, with Zoro being the last. That wasn't shocking to anyone, however, as the swordsman boarded the Sunny, the expressions on his companions' countenance was one of bewilderment and curiosity. It wasn't the fact that Zoro actually managed to find his way back to their home before one of them was told to fetch him; it was the astonishing fact that Zoro came back with a large bag in hand and not his regular mug of booze. Just like how much Luffy loved meat, Zoro was obsessed with drinking alcohol. He would, on all occasions when they go to an island, buy sake or rum and bring a bottle of it back with him at the end of the day.

Agitated with the way his shipmates were staring at him, Zoro quizzed, "What's with those looks?"

"What's this?" Luffy questioned, sliding in front of the first mate and reaching out a hand to snatch it.

Zoro smacked his palm away before his rubbery fingers could graze it. "None of your business, Luffy. Don't go digging around in this bag."

He stalked to the men's quarters after that, leaving his friends bewildered. Robin studied him throughout the evening, noting how focused his mind was on something. She didn't know what was going with him, but it seemed important to him, judging how he spent his time at dinner polishing the Wadō Ichimonji than eating. He didn't even try to stop the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit user from stealing his food and yell at him for it.

When his plate was empty, Zoro left the kitchen and went to start his guard duty for tonight. It was then that Robin bloomed an eye outside the galley door to see him carry a miniature shrine up to the crow's nest.

Strange. Why would Zoro need a shrine?

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"Good morning, guys!" Luffy greeted his buddies the next morning. As usual, his friends all said the same thing to him, except for Sanji, who was already in the kitchen preparing a scrumptious breakfast; Chopper, who sleeps in the sick bay since he considered it to be his own personal room; and, of course, Zoro, who was... Well, that was anyone's guess. "Where's Zoro?"

"Don't know. He was up before anyone else was," Franky informed.

"Huh? Oh, then he must in the kitchen." Luffy galloped to the kitchen in a heartbeat. Bursting past the door, he swiftly greeted his the rest of his crew, and glanced around to once again see that his first mate was not there. He swiveled to his chef for answers. "Hey, Sanji, have you seen Zoro?"

"Moss-head? Nah, haven't seen him since I woke up."

"I saw Zoro at the front of the ship," Nami chimed. "I was coming out from the bathhouse when I saw on the third deck. He's sitting on the bench by the helm. It's kinda weird; he was just sitting there and staring at the clouds."

"That's not like him," Usopp pointed out, occupying the seat across from her. "Maybe he's sleeping?"

"Probably."

"I'll go get him," Luffy volunteered, swallowing down the remnants of his meal. "Sanji, seconds!"

"Yeah, yeah. Just get that dumbass before his food gets cold." The martial artist watched as him rushed out of the kitchen to fetch their missing crewmate. Sauntering from his spot behind the counter to pick Luffy's plate from the table, the blond-haired man let out a sigh. "So, what's up with Luffy? He's acting more annoying than usual lately, especially with Zoro."

"Luffy is trying to get Zoro to talk to him," Brook replied matter-of-factly. "I've seen him attempting to speak with Zoro since he left the crow's nest. Not that I have eyes to see with, anyway! Yohohoho!"

"Brook's right," the sharpshooter said, poking at one of his sausages on his plate. "It's obvious Luffy's trying to figure out what's wrong with Zoro. I want to know, too, since I'm pretty curious myself."

"Then you can help me!" the raven-haired man told him, entering the kitchen with a wide grin on his face. "I have a plan I wanna try."

"Hey, where's Zoro?" inquired Chopper, noting that the green-haired man wasn't anywhere near the Devil Fruit user.

"Zoro said he wasn't hungry," Luffy answered with a frown. "Anyway, I know what to do to make Zoro happy again!"

"Do tell," Nami prompted, her tone half bored.

"I'm gonna make him play with me!"

The crew sweat-dropped at the childish scheme. "You think that's going to work?"

"Yup! Zoro gives in after I ask him a lot!"

"Your so-called brilliant plan is to irritate him?" Sanji mused. "All that's gonna do is make him chase you around the ship."

"Yeah, I know, that's part of the plan. It'll be like playing tag! Trust me, it's gonna work! We'll have the old Zoro back in no time!"

"Oh, then I'll help, too!" the young reindeer chimed eagerly.

Brook raised of his hand. "Me as well!"

"How about you, Usopp?" Luffy asked the long-nosed sniper.

"Uh, I think I'll sit this one out," he responded with a frightened expression. "I have the 'don't-wanna-get-killed-by-Zoro' disease."

"All right! Come on, Chopper, Brook!" And with that, the lively trio skipped out of the kitchen.

"They're dead," Franky stated casually, taking a swig of cola.

No one could argue against that. "Yeah."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Zoro stared at the drifting clouds in the clear blue skies, his left palm gripping the Wadō Ichimonji's hilt in his lap. He almost couldn't believe that it's been over eight years since his 2001st duel with Kuina happened on this very day. Unconsciously, his grasp around the Wadō's hilt tightened so much that his knuckles turned white. He unsheathed the blade from its scabbard, the beautiful metal gleaming in the sunlight as he lifted it toward the heavens.

Can you see me, Kuina? Zoro grinned broadly as he pictured her spirit smiling down at him. It's been a while, hasn't it?

Since his dear friend passed on, it's been tradition for the swordsman to pay his respects to her on the day they made their promise and the day she died. It was a pattern he done for the last eight years. On the day that their vow was made, he'd gaze at the sky and think about her. And tomorrow, he will do it again while he pray for his deceased rival. He did this for her and himself, needing to feel her presence and know that she was watching over him like a guardian angel. It was his way of seeing to his old friend after so much time has gone by, and though others may think it's crazy for talking to someone who'd died, those two days meant the world for him.

Though she gone was physically, her spirit and dreams were with him—in the Wadō Ichimonji. Her father and his sensei, Koshiro, entrusted the sword to him after Kuina died, his exact words being this: "I leave her spirit and her dreams in your hands."

A warm breeze wafted through him as Zoro put his beloved sword back in its sheath, inhaling the crisp air as he averted his eyes from the Ichimonji and to the sky. Two seconds later, he found his view blocked by his best friend's youthful face hovering above his face and nearly giving him a heart attack.

"Luffy, what the hell are you doing?" Zoro pushed the raven-haired man's face from his, stumbling off the bench to see that he was standing behind him with Chopper and Brook. "What do you guys want?"

"We want you to play us, Zoro," he answered with a dopey grin.

"I'm busy."

The captain pouted. "You liar. You weren't doing anything, you were just cloud-watching. C'mon, Zoro, play with us!"

"No."

"What're you doing, anyway?"

"That isn't any of your concern," Zoro muttered in frustration. There was no way in hell was he going to tell any of his crewmates what he was really doing. He'd always pay his respects to Kuina alone, and that wasn't going to change just because he was in a crew. "Luffy, you, Chopper and Brook can play with each other, can't you? Leave me alone, got it? Today isn't a good day for me."

Luffy sighed deeply. "You leave me no choice, then."

Zoro raised a puzzled eyebrow, crossing his arms over his torso. "What do you mean by th—HEY! GIVE THAT BACK!"

Snatching the Wadō Ichimonji from the green-haired man's palm, Luffy ran like the wind with the doctor and skeleton in tow. "IF YOU WANT IT BACK, YOU HAVE TO COME AND GET IT!"

Zoro chased after the idiots in full throttle; pondering on a hundred different ways he was going to kill them for taking his sword. "LUFFY! GIVE MY SWORD BACK BEFORE I SLICE YOU INTO A MILLION PIECES!"

The Devil Fruit user laughed as he made it to the second floor, right outside the kitchen. With Zoro right behind him, there wasn't much room to go anywhere, so he tossed the sword over the railing and gave it to Chopper. The swordsman's eyes bugged out when he saw this, shooting an agitated glare in his best friend before he leaped over the railing to start pursue the reindeer.

"CHOPPER! DON'T MAKE ME STAB YOU!"

"ZORO'S SCARY! ZORO'S SCARY! ZORO'S SCARY!" the poor doctor cried as Zoro hunted the Zoan user with a predatory expression etched on his countenance.

"Excuse me!" Brook came to Chopper's rescue by grabbing the Ichimonji from his hooves and jumping off the ship, chuckling as he ran on the water. "Yohohoho!"

"BROOK! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" Zoro yelled furiously.

"But I'm already dead! Yohohoh—OUCH!" The musician fell into the ocean as Zoro jumped into the water to save his precious sword and his annoying, drowning shipmate. It was his responsibility, after all, since he was the one who threw one of Franky's cola bottles at Brook's skull, the cyborg coming on the deck from the kitchen to see what was the ruckus about.

"You're such a pain in the ass!" The first mate tugged the skeleton by the scuff of his neck back on the Sunny. Stomping over to the two troublemakers, his menacing figure leered over down as Luffy and Chopper cuddled together in fear. "As for the two of you..."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"—and if you dumbasses do something like that ever again, I'm going to tie you guys to the mast and throw you overboard, got it?" Zoro completed his tirade to his captain and his accomplices, the trio now covered in dark bruises and swelling bumps that they received for irking the ex-bounty hunter.

Luffy, Chopper and Brook nodded numbly. "Yes, sir."

"Good." With nothing more to say or do, Zoro stalked back to the front of the ship.

Once the enraged demon was out of sight, Franky, who's been watching the scolding from the sidelines, shook his head in disbelief. "So, what now, Captain?"

"Back to square one!" Figures. Luffy never did give up easily.

The shipwright exhaled a fatigued sigh. "It's your funeral, Straw Hat."

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"All right, everyone, we've docked at port. Since it's noon, everyone should come back to the ship before sundown. Remember to be careful and don't draw attention," Nami ordered as the crew gathered around her for their tasks. It was mid-afternoon by the time the Straw Hat Pirates laid anchored at the next island. "I already handed out your allowances, so use them to get rations. Sanji, take Usopp and Brook to buy food. Robin, Zoro and Chopper are with you for medicine. Franky, Luffy, you're staying with me on the Sunny. Everyone got that? You can do whatever you want with the leftovers."

Tuning out Luffy's wining, Nami directed her gaze at a solemn Robin and Zoro. She paired them together in hopes of them sorting out their relationship. They needed to talk—they have to. Nami could only hope that her plan doesn't go to waste.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"Robin, look! A bookstore!" Chopper cheered with glee, dashing inside the shop without waiting for the historian and the ex-bounty hunter to catch up.

"He's lively today, don't you think?" Robin smiled at Zoro, attempting to engage in a simple conversation. It's been over an hour since they set out to collect supplies, and he only spoken one word to her throughout the whole day. He wouldn't even spare a single glance at her. Besides his usual aloofness, the first mate appeared to be deep in thought about something...or someone.

Zoro's only reply was a grunt as they stood in front of the bookshop. The raven-haired beauty took a step forward towards the entrance, but then paused when she noticed that he made no move to follow.

"You're not coming in?"

"No."

Robin wondered if she should take this opportunity to speak with him, but when she heard Chopper's enthusiastic voice calling her from inside, the archeologist decided it was best for another time. She strode in and found Chopper flipping erratically through an archeology text.

"Robin, look! I found this for you, I thought you might like it." The young doctor held the tome in his hooves.

She smiled, accepting the book gratefully. "Thank you, Chopper. You seemed rather absorbed in it, did you see anything you like?"

"Yeah, the book talks about an ancient civilization that had lots of strange herbs and tools to make medicine."

"Oh? Perhaps we can read it together, then."

"I'd like that." Chopper spun around to the bookshelf he was at and pulled out a reddish-brown leather book. "I also found something Zoro might like. This one is about swords and techniques. Do you think he'll like it?"

"I'm sure he will."

The reindeer let out a relieved breath. "That's good, I wanna apologize for bothering Zoro earlier today. I hope he still isn't angry with me."

"Well, shall I get him for you? He's waiting right outside."

"Really? Thank you!" Chopper beamed as Robin chuckled faintly. Pivoting her heel, she strolled over to the door, opened it, and poked her head outside. Immediately, she saw that Zoro was gone.

He'd left her behind without saying a word.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Zoro knew he was in for a long and loud ranting from Nami when he decided to sneak off into town to purchase a few things without telling his companions. By the time he was done, the sun was nearly below the horizon and he was now going back to the ship as he reviewed the materials in his shopping bag. He had to make sure he didn't leave anything out, because tomorrow was an important day for him—the day that Kuina died. A proper mourning ritual can't be done without the correct items to go along with it, after all.

"Incense sticks, food offerings, flowers, sake. I think that's every—"

"ZOROOOO!" a familiar, incredibly noisy pirate called from a distance. "WHERE ARE YOUUUU?!"

"Luffy." Zoro scrubbed a hand over his face in exasperation as he spotted him scanning in the middle of the street, oblivious to the fact that bystanders was looking at him oddly. He was drawing attention to himself as usual. "Hey, Luffy, I'm over here!"

The rubber-man locked onto him, and grinned broadly. "Found you!"

The distance between then closed as Zoro sauntered over to his captain, their gait falling into synch as they journeyed back to the Sunny.

"Hey, what's in the bag?" Luffy inquired curiously. "And how come you disappeared when you were out with Robin and Chopper? Chopper's been worried that you got kidnapped or something. I was kinda worried, too. I thought you might've run away."

The swordsman scoffed. "Don't be an idiot, I wouldn't leave you and the others behind. I just had to get some stuff. What made you think I would run away?"

"Well, it's just that... You don't seem like yourself lately. You've been grumpier and really quiet. It's like you don't like being around me or any of the guys anymore."

"That's your imagination. I have a lot of my mind right now, so I need time to myself." Zoro hated lying to his best friend, but there was no way he could tell Luffy what was going on with him at the moment.

"Really?" Luffy folded his arms over his torso and titled his head to the side in doubt. "That's all?"

"Yes, Captain."

"So you still like me, right?"

"Right."

"Awesome!" Luffy's grin widened as they boarded the Sunny. Hearing the two men on deck, the others exited the kitchen and gathered around them.

"Zoro, there you are!" Nami planted her hands firmly, a stern frown etched on her visage. "Where have you been? Robin and Chopper told me you ditched them in town! You're such a jerk! Tell someone before disappearing like that!"

"Yeah, whatever." Zoro strolled past her and straight to the men's quarters. However, a blur of blond came springing into his path.

"Hey, crappy swordsman, don't talk to Nami like that." Sanji stood in front of him. Zoro merely glared at the cook before brushing past him in a brusque manner.

"Hey, Zoro, you never told me what's in the bag!" Luffy hollered at him, but the entrance to the boys' room was already shut.

"What's up with that moss-head?" Sanji grumbled, lighting a cigarette. He knew Zoro long enough that he would never pass a chance for a fight with him. "He's acting weird."

Nami shrugged her shoulders in boredom. "Just forget it, guys."

The captain rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I wonder what Zoro got in that bag, though."

As the crew walked to the kitchen for dinner, Robin couldn't help but wonder the same thing.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

The next morning, Zoro roused from his slumber at the same time as the sun. Today was the day, so after he was done with his daily training, he'll pay his respects to Kuina. It was hard to believe that it's been over eight long years since she passed away from this life. How long has it been since he last prayed at her grave in Shimotsuki Village? Well, no matter. What was important that he took this time to remember Kuina and pray for her happiness in the afterlife.

Tiptoeing to the balcony at the rear of the ship, Zoro placed the shrine down, set up the offerings on it, and sat down. He knew his crewmates will wonder where he was and will search for him, but if they were smart, they'll read atmosphere around him and leave him be.

Before he could clasp his hands in prayer, the door from the aquarium swung open and stepped out another unwelcome visitor. Pissed off, he swiveled around, mouth parted and ready to spill threats and other obscenities to the person. However, the sight of Nico Robin's gentle expression made Zoro froze.

What was she doing here? And why?

"I'm sorry to disturb you, but I couldn't help noticing that you seemed...troubled lately," she explained. "Are you all right?"

He grunted, twisting his head back to the shrine. She was the last person he wanted to be alone with, today of all days. "Leave, now."

Instead of obeying him, the archeologist knelt beside him, her thin and delicate fingers caressing the smooth surface of the wooden shrine. Blue orbs turned to him, seeking answers to the question that raced through her mind all day. "This is an altar for praying to the deceased relatives and loved ones, correct? I've read books about these types of shrines."

Much to her surprise, he nodded at her. "Yeah."

"Who's it for?" Robin pressed on her, the volume of her tone dropping to a low whisper.

"A old friend." Why was she asking him this? And more importantly, why was he telling her?

"For her...that girl, Kuina," Robin concluded, the bitterness in her voice shocking even her.

Zoro detected the emotion laced in her words, but he ignored it. "Yeah, it's the anniversary of her death. I pray at her grave since the day she passed away, and since I'm not in my hometown, I bought this altar for Kuina."

Robin smiled sadly. "That's thoughtful and sweet of you. She's lucky to have such a devoted man thinking about her so often and going through all this trouble to pay his respects to her."

"It's not a big deal."

"Others would think differently." Robin studied the flowers decorated on the altar, recognizing them as Casablanca lilies—the flowers of purity. Beautiful and fragile, much like her tender heart and the feelings she carried for the man next to her.

When a moment of silence passed, Zoro found his courage to talk to her again. "Look, I'd appreciate it if you—"

"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone," the raven-haired beauty assuaged as she rose to her full height. "I'll keep the others way from this spot, so you can do want you want to do."

He arched an eyebrow suspiciously. "Why?"

"Because I'd do anything to help you." Simple words, but they were imbued with so much ardent emotions that reflected in her shimmering irises. Astonishment emerged on his features before she left the balcony.

True to her word, she kept the crew from getting anywhere close to him for the rest of the day. Even when Luffy searched for him to announce that dinner was ready, Robin stopped the rubber-man from disturbing Zoro. Zoro couldn't express his thanks to her earlier today, and as he gazed at the luminous full moon late at night, an idea sprung to his mind.

It was midnight already, so the anniversary of Kuina's death was over with. Luckily, the crew was tucked in bed and asleep, so now was the perfect chance to give Robin a token of his appreciation. It was the least he could do, after all.

I'll catch up with you another time, Kuina. Zoro spared one last glance at the heavens before grasping a certain gift from the altar and treaded towards the woman's quarters.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

The sound of crashing waves awakened Robin from her slumber, the rays of the rising suns pouring through the single window in the girls' bedroom. Drowsily, she popped herself on her elbows and examined her surroundings, cobalt eyes landing on her sleeping roommate. Nami was on her side, a greedy smile played on her lips that told Robin that the thief was having a beautiful dream of money. As her optics drifted around the room, something caught her attention.

In the middle of her bed was a single Casablanca lily.

Heart soaring with happiness, Robin lifted the flower to her nose and inhaled its sweet aroma as her lips curved into a delighted smile.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

"You don't have to worry, because I won't tell anyone." – Episode 318

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

A/N: Hiya, folks! Hope I didn't keep you waiting too long. :) Been caught up with school and other stuff. Only two more weeks of school before I graduate, so please be patient a little longer, everyone. Once I'm done, I'll try to update more frequently. Sorry if this chapter has a lot of mistakes. I was in a rush. Two projects for my English are due at the beginning of May, so my schedule has been tight, but I wanted to keep my promise for this month.

Oh, and good news, folks! If you haven't yet, it's been announced that One Piece will air on Toonami on May 18, which also happens to be the day of graduation ceremony! :) They have decided to start at Davy Back Fight Arc (also called the Long Ring Long Land Arc). Remember to support the One Piece series by buying the DVDs and by watching episodes on OnePieceOfficial, Neon Alley, or Toonami.