A/N: This isn't meant to be shipping, just friendship and family, but see this as you wish all the same! (If there were couples, I suppose they could be ZoLu, SanLu, RoLu, RoSan, or even ZoSan. Take your pick.)
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece. FUNimation, Eiichiro Oda, and anyone else affiliated does.
Sleepless at Sea
It's the middle of the night when Luffy wakes, and he's not sure why exactly. He knows nothing's wrong—Zoro would have been up in a flash, warning them with swords in hand and that predatory look in his eye—and he's not really hungry or anything. He's not totally sure what to do.
At first, he tries for a few minutes to go back to sleep. He rolls over, curls into a ball, changes positions so many times and so often that the hammock starts to swing, but it soon becomes clear that nothing's going to work. He's just not tired anymore. So, with a deep breath and inaudible sigh, he swings his legs over the edge of the hammock and hops down to the floor as quietly as he can, tiptoeing up the stairs and out the door to keep from waking his crewmates.
When he reaches the deck, the first thing he does is step up to the railing and take a giant gulp of salty sea air. The breeze is a little aggressive tonight, so he's thankful for the thousandth time that Nami had the good sense to attach a string to his hat. Still, he reaches up to hold it in place for sentimentality and habit's sake before walking over to perch on his favorite spot on the Going Merry.
He's not sure why he's always loved the figurehead so much. It's really cool and the perfect size for him, sure, and it's actually saved them from and survived so many crazy things that it's insane…but it's a bit more complicated than that. It's just, when he's sitting there, the wind seems to hit his face just the right way, and the view is better than any other on the whole ship as far as he's concerned. And…he feels free there, like his dream of finding the One Piece and becoming King of the Pirates is just that much closer.
Somehow, and it might sound strange, but…he's grateful to it.
"Having trouble sleeping, captain?" a soft voice calls from above.
Luffy twists around halfway to see Robin smiling down at him from the crow's nest. He beams. "Robin! I forgot it was your turn to keep watch tonight!"
He stretches until he can grab the yard, and then changes direction while pulling himself up to land flat on his feet in the crow's nest. Robin's smile only grows.
"Have a seat," she offers, not even bothering to hide her amused chuckle. He plops down right beside her, though he's mindful of the reading lamp near the mast. The small light flickers, and it's only then that Robin remembers that the breeze is stronger up here, a little colder, and she disentangles herself from her thick blanket. She holds it out to him. "Are you cold, captain? I'm warm enough by now."
The seventeen-year-old shakes his head and grins impishly. "No, I'm fine, but thanks. I appreciate it."
Robin smiles and nods, letting it fall behind her and over her shoulders again. Luffy's eyes are closed when she looks next, the grin on his face surprisingly gentle and serene, and he suddenly looks very little like the recklessly righteous cannonball he portrays and very much like the seventeen-year-old child-captain he truly is. She's never seen him look this young before, and it makes her wonder what she really knows about him at all. But then, that leads to dangerous thoughts, so she pushes all of it away for now.
She almost turns back to her reading when he gives an excited cry. "Wow! Robin, look!" He grabs her arm gently and points up at the stars, pushing back his hat a bit to get a better view. His beam is almost blinding. "They're so bright tonight! Awesome!"
The woman obliges and looks up. Her eyes widen. "You're right. They are brighter than usual. I must have been so absorbed in my reading that I didn't even notice."
"They're nothing like that cool meteor shower you showed us a few weeks ago, but they're still pretty great!" Luffy gushes, toothy grin and all, and the twenty-eight-year-old laughs warmly.
"I'm glad you enjoyed it. I suppose this makes us even, then," she says, and his grin widens.
They watch the stars together until, by Robin's estimates, the sun will be coming up in a little under three hours. She suggests that Luffy head back to bed if he wants to have any energy tomorrow, but the captain protests and pouts like a five-year-old, insisting he's still not tired.
She winks. "All right, captain. You win." Her amusement is becoming harder and harder to hide. "After all, according to Mr. Swordsman, the captain's orders are absolute. Isn't that right?"
The trademark enthusiasm comes back in a flash. "You bet!" he shouts, throwing a fist in the air and nearly kicking over her reading lamp, but he catches it just in time. He apologizes, and then catches sight of all the different things she's brought up with her. "Hey, Robin, what is all this stuff anyway?"
"Just some things to keep me occupied. A few books on archaeology, ancient civilizations, and even some folk tales that could prove useful in the future. I also have some maps so I can keep track of the books' specified locations in case we come across any of them. I'd like to be able to warn you and the others of any potential dangers."
Luffy nods seriously, arms crossed casually over his chest. "I get it." For the next few minutes, her captain's attention seems devoted to the stars again, but then he glances at her out of the corner of his eye. "Robin?"
She peers up from her book. "Yes?"
"Will you tell me a story?"
The woman blinks at him, surprised. "A story?"
The Straw Hats captain nods emphatically, lips set into a firm line and face almost laughably serious. "Mm hmm! Ace always used to tell me stories when I couldn't fall asleep," he brightens tenfold at his big brother's mention, "and I figured with all the reading you do, you'd know some really good ones!"
Robin grins. "I see. Ace is your elder brother, right? Nami and Chopper filled me in on your unexpected reunion with him in Alabasta. He sounds like a great man. I'd like to meet him someday."
If Luffy's face could split in two, it would have by now. "You'd love him! He's the best!"
She nods. "Well, in that case, I'd be honored, captain." He cheers, and her smile grows. "What kind of story would you like to hear?"
Her captain is holding his ankles and rocking back and forth in excitement, beaming all the while. "That's easy! One about pirates, treasure, and loads of adventure!"
Robin sets her book in her lap and smiles, feeling warmer than she has all night. "All right, captain. I do know one that I think you'll like…"
Around two hours later, it's just before sunrise when Robin hears noise down on deck. She shifts a bit to get a better look and relaxes when she sees it's only Sanji. He must be up to start on breakfast. Still, when he doesn't go to the galley right away, but instead pokes around on deck as if looking for something, she grows curious. He sets to climbing the rigging up to her, and she settles down again to read a few more lines of her book. She'll know what he wants soon enough.
He's talking before she can even see his blond head, and he sounds exasperated and anxious at once. "Robin, have you seen—?"
The words die on his lips as he makes it to the top, throwing an arm over the side and pulling himself up, the cigarette nearly falling from his mouth. To say the least, he never expected to find Luffy curled up with Robin, snoring loudly as he rests his head on her shoulder. Even so, a warm smile makes its way onto the cook's face, and he sighs in relief, hanging his head a bit and closing his eyes.
"That's good. Moss-head was starting to get on my nerves with all his silent worrying," he says, running a hand through his hair, and though he scowls, it's obvious he doesn't really mean it.
"I should have expected as much from Mr. Swordsman, knowing how close he is to Luffy. I apologize. It seems our captain couldn't sleep last night, so he wandered out here, and I invited him up. We didn't mean to make anyone worry."
But Sanji just shakes his head, blue eyes softening as they drift back to Luffy's peaceful face. "You don't have anything to be sorry for. As long as our captain's safe, then as far as I'm concerned, no harm done. I'm sure Zoro would say the same." Robin's expression turns tender at the cook's, and she smiles. "He wasn't too much trouble, I hope? You know how he can be…"
She merely laughs lovingly, glancing down at her captain with just the same expression. "Not at all. He kept me company and showed me the stars, and a little while ago, he asked for a story to help him sleep. He told me Ace's always knocked him right out if they were exciting enough," by now, she's utterly beaming, "and I'd say I found a winner."
Sanji, for his part, is stunned speechless. Maybe it's just the morning light and early hour playing tricks on him, but he's sure there's something different about her here, good different. She seems...happier, freer, less chained down by the misdeeds of her past. He peers down at Luffy again and can't help the gentle grin that slips onto his face. To think that the kid's insomnia could do all that… Then again, when he thinks back on what his child-captain has done for them all, and on a far bigger scale, well…it doesn't seem far-fetched in the slightest.
Reaching over, the cook brushes back a few stray tendrils of black hair usually kept in check by the straw hat that had fallen to Luffy's chest at some point in the night.
"That's our captain for you…" he concedes, a tender lilt to his voice that only shows itself at times like this. "Brings peace and smiles wherever he goes…"
Robin feels as if her chest is about to burst. She never knew it was possible to be this happy.
"He certainly does."
A/N: This is the first thing I've written in a while and my first ever One Piece fanfic, so I'm a little nervous, but please be honest in your reviews! I did my best, and I really love this series, so I'd appreciate any feedback you have!
Thanks so much for reading!