Title: Even You
Fandom: One Piece
Theme: 2. News; Letter
Disclaimer: One Piece belongs to Eiichiro Oda, not me.
Every now and then Nico Robin would receive a letter.
The mailbird would land aboard the rail of the Going Merry and cock its large, rumped head, his dark eyes searching the ship for any sign of the archaeologist. If he found none, he would promptly hop down to the deck, navy captain's hat and brown backpack bouncing against his feathers with every step of the foot.
The mailbird would always avoid the others, quickly hopping aside if he noticed them approaching. But if there was any crew member he was most frightened of, it was Monkey D. Luffy. The first time he had arrived aboard the ship, the young captain dedicated an entire morning to chasing him with cries of, "Meshi~! Meshi~!"
But it would always find her and through trial and error, he became accustomed to where the woman could be located during specific times of the day. In the mornings, she was usually making coffee in the common room. In the afternoons, she could be found reading a book in a folding chair aboard the deck of the ship. At night, she could be found in the crow's nest, keeping watch over the Going Merry.
Zoro would always watch her as she pulled the parchment from the mailbird's leather backpack. Robin knew quite well that the swordsman did not approve. His expression always made that quite obvious. Dark eyes narrowed in suspicion would follow her movements, straining to catch sight of the words scribed on the paper. And when he found that he could see nothing, he would offer the woman a reproachful frown. Why would a woman who claimed to have no one continue to receive letters every week?
He didn't understand, but he never bothered to ask.
Robin would always read her messages with unrelenting speed, then promptly tear the page into pieces and dispose of them in the sea. The mailbird would always regard her actions with the same quizzical expression. "No reply today," she would smile, and she would place a few beli in his pouch for his troubles.
"Hey, did that big bird come today~?!" Luffy cried, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the noonday sun as his eyes scoured the sky for some hint of the creature.
"Not today," Robin replied, flicking another page of her text.
Disappointment etched itself on Monkey D. Luffy's face, across furrowed brow and disapproving frown. "But he always comes today!" He had another day of chases planned for the poor mailbird. Those plans had been completely dashed!
"Perhaps he will come tomorrow." Robin raised her eyes for only a moment; it was only she and Luffy on the deck. How unusual! She had grown accustomed to Zoro's eyes watching her. Where had he gone?
"Ano sa," Luffy began, folding his arms behind his head. "What do you get in those letters, anyway?" He turned to face his archaeologist, eyes wide with curiosity.
Her lips tightened.
"Ano sa," he repeated, his voice louder, firmer this time. "Zoro worries about you."
Her eyebrows rose at this suggestion, but she said nothing.
"He really wants you to become nakama," Luffy continued and Robin struggled to control her emotions. "He doesn't know what you get in those letters, but he doesn't think it's good."
"Zoro doesn't know what you get in those letters, but he doesn't think it's good," Luffy continued, plopping down in front of Robin. "He really wants you to become nakama."
Robin struggled to control the surprise that was slowly lighting up her face.
Luffy let loose a giggle, his trademark grin growing with every word. "Silly, huh?" he laughed. "I told him that you're already nakama, but he just doesn't listen!"
Slowly, yet surely, a smile tugged on the ends of Robin's lips. Becoming 'nakama' to a man as stubborn, as suspicious, as unrelenting as the swordsman seemed like a distant possibility. Perhaps the others had easily accepted her, but even weeks later, the swordsman still treated her as though she were a stranger. Gaining Roronoa Zoro's trust would be quite the challenge.
Robin loved challenges.
Night had fallen across the Going Merry and traced a bath across the sea. One after another, stars slowly dotted the sky: a process Robin watched with much interest, even after twenty-eight years. In the crow's nest, the stars somehow seemed closer, as if she could reach out and grab them.
When she was a child, she would raise her arm up to the night sky and snap her hands shut. Her mother would simply shake her head and ask what her daughter was doing. Robin always had the same answer:
Her father would laugh, loud and hard, and her mother's lips would tug into an amused smile. Not once did they tell her that it was impossible for her to capture those night diamonds, but in time she learned that stars could not be abducted so easily; they could only be admired from a safe distance. Her hands found themselves busy in other ways at night. Robin smiled at the memory and reached for her thermos and she refilled her mug with fresh coffee. Her hands curled around the warm cup and she turned her gaze back up at the night sky, eyes entertained by the light of the cosmos.
The sound of sturdy footsteps drew her eyes to the ladder and she watched as Zoro stepped over and into the crow's nest. " Yo," he murmured--a greeting Robin was long accustomed to.
Silence filled the space between Robin and Zoro, and the swordsman leaned on the crow's nest railing, his eyes drawn to the night skies. Robin watched the swordsman with curiosity. Surely he has a purpose here.
"Mr. Captain told me," she says finally, her words soliciting a quirk of the brow from the swordsman. Her hand fell down to her waist, and she tugged a slip of paper from her pocket. The woman stood, and wordlessly, she offered the parchment to Zoro.
Eyes twinkling with amusement, she watched as Zoro carefully unfolded the paper. And as she suspected, his eyes widened in surprise. The letters she had been receiving were not what she was sure he suspected.
In his hands, he held--not a letter from a former employer, or even a lover--but a small catalog of recently-published books. A small illustration of each title was drawn in the margin, and scribed next to each was the title, the author, a short summary, and the price (shipping and handling not included).
Robin allowed herself the pleasure of enjoying the swordsman befuddled look for a moment more before finally offering him a sufficient explanation. "Before I traveled so frequently, I was their best customer," she said, calmly tugging the paper from his hands. "I still receive their catalog."
Deft fingertips quickly tore the parchment into strips and Robin cast the shreds like ticker tape over the immense sea. She turned to Zoro, searching for some shift in expression, but there was none. He wore the same stoic mask he favored whenever the archaeologist was near.
Robin was sick of that accessory.
"After many years of study, I discovered," she began, pulling closer to the swordsman. "...that perhaps the easiest path to an answer is a question."
She expected the man to pull away, as he always did. He did not like her being near him, and he made that quite clear in his actions. Only a few weeks before, he refused to accept a blanket she offered, simply because she was the one making the delivery.
But he didn't flinch as she anticipated, nor did he waver as the woman drew closer.
A tiny success.
"Would you like to share a drink?" she asked, gesturing to the thermos resting at her feet. "Mr. Cook insisted that I take it up with me during my watch."
Zoro's eyebrows furrowed, as if in deep contemplation. Hesitance crossed his face for only a moment, and he nodded slowly. "Okay."
A smile. "Good," she replied, and she knelt down to pour the swordsman a beverage. "I didn't expect to have any guests tonight," she admitted. "...so I only brought one mug." Smoke rose from the cup as coffee filled the glass, and she offered the mug to Zoro. He accepted it, indulging himself in a long sip, before joining the historian on the floor of the crow's nest.
"It's good." He nodded towards the glass.
Robin nodded in agreement and silence filled the void between them again.
"You must really care for your nakama." A struggle to continue the conversation.
"Hm?" Zoro looked up from his coffee.
"I have been a member of countless crews, and until now, never have I seen one that so closely resembled a family."
"Yeah," Zoro said, his lips curling into a smile. "We're nakama."
Zoro shifted uncomfortable where he sat and he climbed to his feet, leaving only an empty mug behind. Robin looked up and tried to catch the man's gaze, but it was cast out at the sea.
Zoro heaved himself over the crow's nest and leapt down to the deck below. The floorboards reverberated under his weight and Robin sprung to her feet, almond eyes scouring the ship for some sign of the swordsman.
But as quickly as he appeared, Zoro was gone.