Disclaimer: One Piece is the property of Eiichiro Oda.
Electrifying are her azure eyes. Tonight, they are cold, empty, just like her mother's in her earliest memory. She exhales as the azure is eclipsed by bark, dry and loose soil. She blinks, her eyes, foreign to having coloured discs laid upon them, tearing up at the contact.
She is adorned in diamonds and a flattering, knee-length thulian dress, a large black bow sewn into the fabric above her burdensome breasts. Her hair, obsidian and pin straight, falls around her slender, pale shoulders, save for the locks that are piled at the crown of her head. "Ratted", she'd heard it called in her short time in the land of the free and the home of the brave. To her thirty-year-old mind, the term "pompadour" was more beautiful, classier.
Her last cocktail party must have been ages ago, if one could call her orientation a cocktail party. She met him that day. The man who would be her husband. He was a doctor, a surgeon; one look into his eyes, and she knew that he had seen death. That he had caused death, manipulated it in several ways beneficial to himself. She harbours a certain fear of him, mixed with a fatal curiosity.
"Goddamn it- Georgia!"
She jolts horribly upon realizing to whom he had been speaking and, clearly, he's in a bit of a mood; he had advanced aggressively into her space, grasping her jaw in one of his calloused hands and twisting her head suddenly. The sprain in her neck is relentless as he jerks her head within his unforgiving grasp, hissing, "Listen to me when I speak to you! Think a little, yeah?!"
"Let me alone," she whispers in her soft accent, watching the froth bubble away from the corners of his mouth. Truly animalistic behaviour isn't uncommon in times like this. "I must have forgotten. Perhaps we can pretend some more, yes? That I'm hard of hearing?"
He clenches his jaw, shakes his head lightly. Withdrawing from the woman, he passes her a pair of glittering diamond earrings from the nightstand. He seethes as a reply to her muttered thanks, placing his hands on either side of her chair. Laboriously, he reminds her, "We met in Roskilde and came to New York from Roskilde in 1952. We have been living here for six years. That same year, you secured an editing job for the New York Times and I an apprenticeship at Dr. Coleman's practice. We are Jonathan and Georgia Fletcher. Understand?"
"You have missed a minor detail," she mumbles. She watches the panic set in like a wave across his face, relishing this, before replying hotly. "We are simply assuming the roles of Jonathan and Georgia Fletcher. Did you forget that?"
"Keep your voice down! I ought to cut out your tongue and tell them that you're mute," the Jonathan character hisses. "Get up. We're going to be late."
Gathering her coat, she takes one last look In the mirror, expecting azure. Expecting a familiarity that existed outside of her mind. An ache for home, for a different kind of red, white and blue, arises within her.
He offers her his hand after placing his coat over his torso. "Come, Georgia."
With a forged smile, she accepts his hand. Forged, like everything else. You're wrong. We met in the Lubyanka Building in Moscow when we were appointed by the KGB to gain intelligence on the American government. You are Law Tsarapkin. I am Robin Nikonov.
I will never be Georgia Fletcher.
A wealthy Italian man who went only by the alias of Hawkeye, alluding to his yellow, hawk-like eyes, had been rumored of an illicit relationship with his adopted daughter, Perona.
"Or is she his fiancée?" Robin whispers to Law as she enters Hawkeye's grand and boastful mansion, her husband at her side with a seemingly affectionate arm around her waist.
"She looks old enough to be both. Those Ital'yanskiy girls, they're timeless."
Robin can't help but chuckle, casting a sweeping glance across the room. Primping was not spared by a single person in that room. They stand in their high heels and designer tuxedos, chatting idly about the sophisticated colour scheme and about Bobby Fischer being a "miracle boy". They don't have much to talk about, Robin discovers, as she cringes with every pause in conversation she hears.
"May I... take your coat?"
The pair - Robin, especially - is presented with a pair of eyes. Eyes that spell death and heartless savagery to both Soviets and Americans alike. Slanted, dark, narrow. If she isn't mistaken, a Japanese man was asking for her coat. Having had her father taken from her in one of the wars, Robin is inclined to hate these eyes, this man, until she looks beyond his accented speech. He doesn't present himself as hateful or impish, not like the propaganda posters with which she'd grown up. He seems sincere, kind.
"Give the man your coat, Georgia," Law urges softly.
The female obeys, handing the butler the clothing item with a curt smile and nod. An interesting surprise follows; the man blinks, raises his eyebrows, then his facial features settle into a warm smile. As he scurries away to the closet after gathering Law's coat as well, Robin immediately understands. If she had come to America as the enemy, a communist, a Soviet, and she were greeted with such a small display of kindness, it would be a miraculous thing. Unheard of, really.
The man of the hour, the coveted Hawkeye, sweeps up to his newest guests, preceded by the scent of a foreign cologne that makes Robin cringe. Perona is fastened to his arm like a cufflink. "I see that you've met Mr. Roronoa. I wish he hadn't been so quick to disappear; I wish to introduce him to each of our guests formally. Jonathan, Georgia."
"And he works here of his own accord?" Law's accent seems to retreat down his throat, as if it had never existed. The man before him dives in to kiss both of Law's and Robin's cheeks, muttering "bella, bella" as he greets the woman accordingly.
"It's a tragic story, really."
"Luttuoso," contributes the doe-eyed beauty with her hair in ringlets, clinging to Hawkeye. "Mournful."
"The internment camps claimed his family, sadly. He'd been wandering around our neighborhood, asking for work. Perona and I took him in as our own." There is a glint of something proud in those yellow eyes. "Please, come! Socialize. Are you hungry? There is caviale in the kitchen."
Caviar. Robin vividly remembers the first time that she tried the thousand-dollar delicacy. She also vividly remembers being scolded by her mother for spilling some on her brand new dress. Her mother never lived to see her become a proper eater, but this was fate. Robin and her mother were wealthy during the age of communism. This was the only thing for which she would never forgive Russia.
"... camps were unusual and cruel, unlike anything I'd ever seen, but don't tell my army buddies that. Gahahaha..."
Robin's keen and curious ears are the cause of her head turning to witness a tall, burly fellow adorned in medals and a neatly ironed army uniform engaging in idle conversation with the Roronoa boy. He is blissfully unaware of the disapproving and uncomfortable stares that are being cast upon him as he chats with the butler, further arousing Robin's interest. An unidentifiable alarm goes off in her head, like a warning, telling her that this man is one of the government's dogs who took part in the slaying of the sons of Russia. She should stay clear; if she cannot remember her own name, how will she maintain her composure before one of the American government's precursors of international terror?
A strangely sobering thought arises in her mind: this is the risk she faces every day in this country. Every time she exits the house, she runs the risk of raising suspicion, getting both herself and Law caught. And isn't everyone suspicious of everyone on this planet? There was no clear way to identify an enemy posing as an ally. No one would be the wiser.
Trying her own hand at masking her accent, Robin purred, "Jonathan, dear, I think I would like to partake in some of that caviar."
She departs from her partner's side, succeeding in catching the soldier's eye as she sweeps across the room. It is not long before the handsome stranger approaches her with a glass of wine from the tray that had been precariously balanced upon the butler's fingertips. Delicately, he places a hand onto her lower back, presenting her with the glass. "For you."
"Charming," flirts Robin, her eyes scanning the crab cakes and generously topped bruschetta. "Did they teach you that in the army?"
"My mother had always been a bit of a drill sergeant, what with the commands and shouting." The stranger jokes airily, smiling at her musical titter. "Franky Chalmers."
"Georgia Fletcher." The name is sour on her tongue. She watches as he takes her unoccupied hand, kissing her knuckles through her black silk gloves. "I am glad to make the acquaintance of a brave man such as yourself."
"And I, you... your husband seems like a real ray o' sunshine.'
"Oh, definitely. He's quite the character." Robin laughs loudly, reaching for an unfamiliar hors d'oeuvres and taking a cautious bite. She can picture him standing against a wall, scowling, spying on her in a more intense way than he did the government.
"I've met Yeomen Warders with more character." Franky snorts, beaming at the laughing woman before him.
Smiling warmly, recovering from her laughing fit, the undercover Russian admits, "You're nothing like what I thought you'd be. I had always thought that American soldiers would be more serious after having seen such relentless bloodshed."
"Well, carpe diem, I always say. It would be dishonest to tell you that some of the things I've seen in my time didn't affect me..." He wrings his hands, his eyes distant, seeming bothered and reminiscent. "Knowing that I was a part of getting the Jewish people out of those camps was happy, but... having to see those things..."
"Such reckless imprisonment, I know." Robin whispers with a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. "You've done well... perhaps a toast is in order."
"No, no, I don't-"
"May I propose a toast, ladies and gentlemen?" Her voice carries over the chatter and a hush falls over the crowd. She raises her glass, glancing at Franky with an impish grin. "To the brave Franky Chalmers, who fought relentlessly and bravely for... our country."
She chokes on the last two words, picturing her mother spitting on her from heaven.
"D'you flatter your husband like that?" The blushing soldier inquires.
"Nothing wrong with saluting an honest American." Honest American! Dostatochno! It's an oxymoron! her mother would exclaim.
"You're quite the charmer. But, seriously... a girl like you with a drag like him?" He advances on her person slowly. "It'd be a shame to miss out on a good time because of someone like that, don't you think?" She is blindsided when he pulls her close and whispers, "Want to go for a ride?"
The female goes rigid in his grasp, not paralyzed by his "charm" as she is surprised by this polar change. She feels betrayed, scammed. The late Mrs. Nikonov would bark, What did I tell you? She spits, "May I ask you something?"
She withdraws from him, eyebrows furrowed. "Have you no shame?"
With a blush in his cheeks, he scratches the back of his head. "Well, when you've spent more time choking chickens than you have eating them-"
"And how do you do it, hmm?" The liquid in her glass swirls about as she idly moves her hand. "How do you look a man in the eyes and shoot him, point-blank through the forehead? You've no shame. Please, share."
Franky stirs where he stands, lips twisted. "I've never given much thought as to how, so I couldn't tell you. It is not easy."
Perhaps she expected a sarcastic answer having to do with simply pulling the trigger. Her heart and mind blossom with a bitter curiosity. She presses, "But surely they encourage you to kill? It's the army and, why, you're a soldier! A damned soldier."
"No amount of training can rid a man of his conscience."
"No amount of conscience can rid a man of his subconscious! His ability to be manipulated by all the racist propaganda with which we are bombarded every second of every day!" Taking an indignant sip of her wine, Robin swallows thickly. "'Destroy the non-Americans!' 'Duck and cover, hide from the Commies!'"
He doesn't choose to hiss at her for making a scene. Instead, he grits his teeth, replies cooly. "I'm not weak enough to succumb to brainwashing."
"Then why? Why do you fight, if not to eradicate the enemy?" Robin accuses sharply. "If not to herald their dead bodies as a trophy? As one of your shiny medals?!"
"It wasn't.." Franky catches himself raising his voice, drawing the attention of those around him towards the debating pair, including the attention of one Jonathan Fletcher. With imploring eyes, wild and insistent as if they hold the key to happiness, he leans into Robin. "It wasn't some trivial medal that prompted me to enlist."
"Then what was it?" His eyes hypnotize her into a state of true wonder. Her eyes drop to his lips, parted slightly in anticipation of telling the truth. "Spit it out, then."
"If it weren't for the generosity of America, I would have nothing to live for. I don't do it for fame or glory or fortune." Franky's speech is quick, hushed.
Robin's lips have loosened on accord of the poison in her grasp. "You are an enigma of a man."
"A word, Georgia." Law does not hesitate to yank her away, not much unlike the way in which a hurricane sweeps up the roof of a home. Hopelessly, Franky's eyes follow hers, maintaining the stare as if it were an apology. He stares, the answer on his lips, until they disappear through the front door.
"You're a real bright one. You're incapable of remembering your own name, and you're going to run your mouth like that to one of the men who has mercilessly killed so many others? Those of our kind, no less!" Law's eyes, grey and penetrating, dart across Robin's sour face as he scolds her. "There's alcohol on your breath. Is this how stupid you act when you drink?"
"What would you rather have me do? Avoid him like a goddamned plague? If you knew any better, you know that I was simply fulfilling my duty of fitting in, much like you inquired of me. Much like they inquired of me!" But this challenge she fired back had been false; her desperation regarding finding someone to blame for this miserable life she'd been forced into by the KGB, by the Soviet Union itself, possessed her. In a single moment, he had both defied and confirmed the image of the selfish American, a concept with which Robin had been raised. "Must you be so quick to scold me?"
Law, having little patience for those who challenged him, mutters about Robin's stupidity and grabs her forearm, gruffly informing her that they were to leave. And, for once, she does not protest. Her foul mood persists throughout the following week, nagging at her every second. Had Franky kept sweet-talking her - and she hated to admit this - there was no telling what she might have revealed.
A sealed plain envelope addressed to her makes its way onto her desk at work through the secretary who, as she placed the note before the March 1958 calendar, claimed that a kind fellow dropped by and implored that she read it. This was when she began to fret, her hands shaking slightly as she unveils the enclosed note. It is on stationary paper with the texture of a party invitation, leading her to believe that it must be a thank you card from Hawkeye. But to receive such a card at work...?
You may be wondering from whom this letter is being sent, and for what purpose it is being so urgently delivered. Lately, there has been talk of you. Lately, you have been accused of possessing a certain hatred for America.
Had she truly said too much at the get-together at which she accused America of brainwashing its citizens? Fretting about her carelessness, her hands shake wildly and she drops the note on her desk, breathing hard. Her eyes dart across the room in search of the silhouette of any "kind fellow" who may have been keeping an eye on her, unbeknownst to her. Spies from the Soviet Union had been stationed all over the country, meaning that there had to be at least twice the amount of FBI agents giving chase. Had the spier become the spied?
Law had always told her not to worry so much. "Or you'll give yourself an ulcer." Hence, she continued to read.
I have made my best efforts to quell such erroneous remarks. A woman such as yourself with an unimpeachable intelligence and grace does not deserve to be shamed in such a way.
Either the note is a trap, or it could be from a friend... of which she had none. In training, they'd often put her through several pressing trials in order to ensure that she was able to handle them accordingly. Perhaps this is a note from Law, assuming yet another role to make sure that her judgement remains sharp. "Ye of little faith," Robin mutters as she reads attentively.
And, yet, I must take the blame upon my own shoulders. Had I not provoked you with such selfish advances, I might not have caused such a ruckus. Please accept this apology, in the event that we cannot meet again in order for me to request your forgiveness face-to-face.
Immediately recognizing from whom this letter was sent, she rolls her eyes. Who had he asked about her place of work, about her shifts? Frankly, it is a poor attempt at seducing her into thinking that he's intelligent enough to take a hint - the hint being her wedding ring. Who had he paid to write this letter? His vocabulary did not expand much past "Yeomen Warders" and, yet, it was as if he used a thesaurus or a college professor as his guide while writing this note.
I hadn't the chance to finish my conversation with you before you departed. As I said, my enlistment had much less to do with any amount of senseless propaganda and more to do with my morals, my conscience. She has been good to me, this America. What other way to pay her back than to defend her? It was not hatred that sent me overseas, but it was love, Georgia. Love for my home. For what other reason should one leave behind their life and relocate with no certainties?
For what other reason should one leave behind their life and relocate with no certainties? The remainder of the letter is a mystery to Robin as she places it back inside its envelope, folding her hands, each one gripping the other. She would be damned if she had to admit that Franky Chalmers, the man who was desperate to hit on a married woman, taught her a lesson. A true motive. This is what is missing from the foundation of her mission in America. In her job description, if one could don it with such a simple name, she was to gain intelligence on the American government. For the sake of the Soviet Union, they must one-up the Americans in this arms race. Such a mission pales in comparison to that with which Franklin presented her in the letter before her. He hadn't a single ulterior motive, while Robin's entire existence as Georgia Fletcher was fallacious.
It is this that makes her wonder as she stares outside the tall, clear window in a wistful fashion - can she be rightfully angry for assuming that his faithfulness to America was all a façade to win her affection when he'd fallen for Georgia Fletcher? It is ironic and hypocritical. Her purpose in the United States of America is no more pure than the Cold War itself. She'd seen how children of such tender ages tug at their mother's skirts and ask, "When?", and all that would follow was the colour draining from the mother's face when she shushed her child, for she herself did not know the answer. So much fear and uncertainty had been instilled in these people, and for what reward? For what reward are honest people such as Franky manipulated into believing that a nuclear war is nigh?
"You are an enigma of a man," whispers Robin. "For you have made an enigma out of me."
Originally inspired by a FRobin Cold War AU on Tumblr, I submitted this piece for a writing contest in which - you guessed it - I did not place, nor was I published. Even so, I'm glad to be able to share this with you guys! I'm still very proud of it and I consider it one of my best pieces. This took a lot of research, but don't hesitate to point out any historical inaccuracies.
Plus, I've never written a Lawbin or FRobin before, so it was a nice change, as I'm experiencing a bit of a writer's block with Treinta.