Robin was suddenly assaulted with blinding lights that did little to ease his throbbing headache. He tried to sit up but his body began to ache, causing him to lie back down abruptly. He heard a high-pitched shriek that sounded like it came from a young child. "You shouldn't be moving yet!"
He turned his head and saw a small animal rushing towards him. Despite the fact that he or she was an animal, he or she seemed to be capable of speaking in his language. "I must be delirious... I'm seeing a talking baby bear... no more bear meat before bed Fredrick," he muttered and tried to close his eyes.
Before he could complete this simple task, the delusion began screaming. "I'm not a bear! I'm a reindeer, you stupid human!" Robin stumbled back in shock, crashing against the wall, causing his shoulder to wince. The pain flashed to his brain, a small groan escaping his lips. He gripped his arm and grimaced. The reindeer jumped up onto the bed and rushed to him. "Hold still, you're not well." He (Robin assumed it was a he, though he was by no means an expert of identifying the gender of a talking reindeer) gave Robin a pill and some water, which he eyed cautiously, but swallowed after some coaxing from the animal.
"So where am I? And who are you?" Robin asked, trying to discern his location. His eyes were unfocused and the room was spinning, making it impossible for him to figure out where he was. He recalled intense pain and shooting lightning into the arm of a man made of water, but that was about it.
"You're on the Thousand Sunny. It’s the ship of the Straw Hat Pirates. I'm the ship's Doctor, Tony Tony Chopper," he answered, laying a wet cloth on top of his forehead to cool him down.
"Isn't that the ship that stretchy kid owns?" Robin asked, trying hard to recall the captain's name.
"Oh, you remember Luffy. Good." Chopper exclaimed happily, grabbing a strange instrument Lissa once used. Robin thought it was a stethoscope, but its exact purpose eluded him. "Can you remember what happened before you passed out?"
Robin nodded. "I met the other Robin... that happened right?" he asked looking for confirmation that this wasn't a dream. "It all feels like I'm asleep... like some big delirious hallucination."
"It's no hallucination," Chopper assured, putting part of the stethoscope into his right ear, and then the other in his left. “Granted, you’ve suffered injuries that might make a normal person see such things… you’re not a normal person…are you?”
It wasn’t a question. The little reindeer had probably heard about him shooting lightning out of his hands. The Baku guy seemed surprised… it must not be common here. Wherever here was. So he chose to move onto his pressing question.
"So you really are a talking reindeer? Even if I'm awake… no, because of that, a talking reindeer still doesn't make sense. Are you some kind of Taguel?" Robin thought back to something Ricken had told him about Panne, there were other kinds of Taugels… birds and foxes, if memory served, which it didn’t seem to be doing right now. But he had assumed Luffy was some kind of Taugel too. Robin realized just how little he knew about the Taguel and resolved to learn more once he returned.
"No. I ate the Human Human Fruit." Chopper explained, which only confused Robin more. Like, how could food grant the ability to speak? And why was the word human used twice?
"What is that?" he asked, swallowing another pill the doctor gave him. This one went down easier, as his sluggishness had worn off, though he still couldn’t shake the feeling of unease.
"It's a Devil Fruit with the power to let the user into the thing the fruit's power has. So I became more humanoid and can talk now." Chopper shrugged, causing Robin to believe that this was a common occurrence here. So lightning bolts were strange, but talking reindeer weren’t?
"Devil Fruit?" Robin asked. “Okay, you’re going to have to start from the beginning, because all you’re doing is confusing me more.”
"It's a mystical fruit that bestows strange powers on those that eat them. Our Captain Luffy, ate the Gum Gum Fruit, so he became a Rubber Man. That's why he's so stretchy." Chopper explained, running the flat end of the stethoscope along his chest, asking him to take a deep breath occasionally.
"What about that green haired guy... Zoro... was that his name?" the tactician asked, shuddering at the thought of that monster swordsman.
"Yeah Zoro, he's our swordsman," Chopper affirmed casually, clearly used to Zoro, though Robin wasn’t quite sure how.
"What kinda fruit did he eat? The Monster Monster fruit?" Robin chuckled, half in terror, half at the idea that he might actually have eaten that fruit. “His power was unbelievable.”
"He didn't eat a Devil Fruit," Chopper refuted, shaking his head.
"What!" Robin shot up again, and his pain shot through his stomach. He winced and laid back down. ‘He’s naturally that strong? What kind of training must he have done?’
"You've got to stop doing that!" Chopper grabbed some kind of cream and pulled the blanket back. Chopper began spreading the cream on Robin's bare stomach. Robin was a bit confused at why he wasn’t wearing his usual robes, but then again, hopefully, this doctor knew what was best. Robin sighed at the relief from the pain.
"This feels so much better. I take it you don't have any staves?" Robin asked, noticing the lack of healing staffs or other items Lissa and Maribelle kept handy.
"Staves?" Chopper asked with a confused look on his face. "What are those?"
"It's a magical healing tool we have in Ylisse... You lift them up and a light shines and your stamina is restored. I honestly don’t know exactly how they work… I guess they don't have them wherever in the world we are now," Robin explained, trying to phrase it properly. Magic was a complicated sensation even to those familiar with it.
Robin thought for a moment. ‘My clothes came with me, so did my sword, my ring, and tomes… maybe…’
Turning to the reindeer, Robin spoke, "There might be some in my bag... my weapons came with me... did you find any bags that might have been mine?"
Chopper nodded and left the room. A few moments later he returned with a large brown bag that was nearly as large as he was. He placed it on the ground with a plop and smiled. "So you can use magic!?" he asked, a fascinated sparkle in his eyes.
Robin smiled, glad to see such innocence. All the children from the future had seen more carnage than he had imagined possible… and it had changed them, broke them, molded them. Innocence was in short supply in his army. "Can you pass me the tome near the bottom? It's red and has ancient lettering on it."
Chopper nearly dove head first into the bag. After a moment, he stuck his head out producing the book. "Is this it?"
Robin nodded and took the book from the reindeer's eager hands. He opened it up and smiled. "Great spirits of the sky, impart to me your power." He paused, seeing the suspense building in Chopper's eyes. "Shine your light down from Heaven!" As he finished speaking, a few feet above Chopper's head, small, glittering, specs of light began twinkling down.
Chopper's eyes widened at the sight and began trying to collect them, which failed. "It's like snow! I haven't seen snow since I was back home on Drum Island.” He smiled, his face aglow with youthful delight.
Robin chuckled at the young doctor's innocence. "I originally got this tome to show Laurent. He's a friend of mine who loves these little odd spells. I'm glad you liked it since he never got to see it."
"Why didn't you show him?" Chopper asked, then after a moment, lowered his head. "I'm sorry I didn't think that he might have died. I'm really sorry..."
"No...” Robin cut him off, waving his hand as if to banish the thought like it was somehow in the air. “He didn't die... I did," Robin revealed solemnly, realizing if he didn’t explain it seriously, he wouldn’t be taken seriously.
"What?" Chopper howled in shock and then, ran back to his desk, trying to hide behind it. Despite this, he ended up leaving his body out in Robin’s line of sight instead of hiding. "Are you a zombie!?" He cried in shock, noticeably trembling.
Robin paused, not expecting that reaction, and laughed. "Do I look like a zombie? Heart’s still beating…" He paused touching his chest. “At least I think so.”
Chopper slowly edged out behind his desk. "Well... no... I didn't see any fatal marks or decomposed tissue..." He came closer to Robin, grabbing his stethoscope. Putting it against Robin's chest, he waited. After hearing a heartbeat, he sighed in relief. "So... tell me how you died."
Robin disclosed the entire story to Chopper, from when he had first woken up in that field, to his joining of the Shepherds, their battle with Plegia, his marriage to Lissa during the two years of peace, their later battle with Valm, the arrival of their future children, Owain and Morgan, and the final battle with his future counterpart, the Fell Dragon Grima.
His headache returned towards the end, but Chopper gave him some medicine that gave him the clarity to recall the events of that battle, down to the last detail.
"So I killed him... and thus myself," Robin finished, wiping tears from his eyes that had formed sometime during his story.
Chopper was crying too, and his nose was spilling out snot as well. He grabbed a tissue, blew into it violently, and turned to Robin. "That's so sad...You're so brave!" he cried. He jumped onto the bed and threw his short arms around Robin, hugging him.
Before Robin could react, or even decide how to react, a whimpering voice interrupted them.
"So sad!" the voice cried, deep and masculine.
"Who said that?!" Robin yelled, trying to reach for a sword from his bag, instinctively pulling Chopper behind him, scanning the room.
"Franky, you idiot! I told you to be quiet!” Luffy’s voice scolded, and Luffy, Usopp, and another, larger man all came tumbling out of the closet. Luffy picked his head up and smiled goofily. "Hiya Robin!"
"Were you guys listening to my conversation?" Robin asked in shock, though part of him wasn’t that surprised. He had met Luffy and he did seem fairly unpredictable. Usopp was, as far as he knew, just a coward, a liar, and a braggart who occasionally shot exploding pellets. The only one Robin didn’t recognize, presumably Franky, he had no clue about, except for the fact that he eavesdropped and cried quite easily apparently.
"We wanted to see if you were feeling better, but Chopper made us leave." Luffy pouted, looking at Chopper, only to quickly look away. It was almost funny, but Luffy looked like he was trying to be serious, though it seemed to be a difficult task.
"I didn't mean hide in the closet. I thought you had left!" Chopper shrieked, looking around as if to see if anyone else was hidden here. He picked up a couple boxes before deciding there weren’t.
"I'm so sorry brother! You've been through so much." The man that Robin presumed was Franky wailed loudly, tears falling like a waterfall from his eyes.
He had lighter blue hair than Baku's, dark sunglasses, bulky arms, a red unbuttoned shirt that sported yellow trees and a metal nose that Robin had to try hard not to stare at. Unfortunately, that only drew the tactician’s eyes to the speedo Franky was wearing in place of any pants. Robin quickly settled on staring at his nose.
Franky came forward, clearly trying to give him a hug, but Chopper stopped him, enlarging his body until he was as tall as the towering Franky. "He's still injured."
"Oh, sorry," Franky apologized, stepping back and raising his hands in mock surrender.
“But the… Chopper, how did?” Robin sighed, wondering why he bothered. “Never mind, I’m not surprised anymore. So that’s something you can do. Cool.” He turned to Franky. “And what about you, big guy?”
"The name’s Franky, the builder and shipwright of the Thousand Sunny." He beamed with pride and flipped up his sunglasses revealing his eyes, which exuded confidence. "You already met Luffy, our captain, and Usopp, our sniper." Usopp gave a thumbs up and Luffy gave him a big grin.
"We've got other members. Once you're feeling better I'll introduce you to them." Luffy chuckled and began counting on his fingers. "Let’s see… we've got a cook, and a navigator too. Oh, Zoro wants to talk to you!"
"The monster?" Robin asked dreadfully. He doubted there was another Zoro… but there were currently two Robins on the ship, so he could hope.
"He's not really that bad when you get to know him. He's just very protective," Usopp defended, shattering Robin’s hope of multiple Zoros. "I did tell him you were our enemy after all."
"Fine... but make him leave his swords outside," Robin demanded, feeling that he could take him without his swords even in this condition, he hoped. “That’s reasonable right?”
Usopp nodded and exited. Moments later he returned with the green-haired swordsman in tow. Zoro kept his gaze down, but Robin could tell he was looking at him out of the corner of his eye. He stood in front of the tactician, who had risen from his sitting position with some unneeded help from Chopper, who had insisted on assisting.
“Is there something you wish to discuss with me?” Robin asked, trying to sound as respectful as possible, in case Zoro still wanted to cut him up. He watched as the swordsman gripped his hand tightly and looked away. For a few moments, he didn’t speak.
Just as Robin began to reach for his sword, Zoro dropped to his knees in prostration. "I want to apologize for attacking you, and thank you for saving our captain."
Robin blinked a couple of times, thinking if he did this hallucination would go away. It didn’t. “What?”
“I mistakenly attacked you, even though you had done nothing to warrant it. And even then you still defended my captain. You had every right to turn against us… but you still fought to defend us though we were outnumbered and outman. Please accept my apology!” Zoro repeated, keeping his head down, his tone was apologetic but also very emotional. Robin could tell he felt very strong remorse about his actions. He could even see the swordsman’s hand trembling slightly.
“No, it’s okay…” Robin stuttered, not having expected the swordsman to apologize. Sure Zoro had attacked him, but regardless, to think the pirate would humble himself like this. In a way, it reminded Robin of Emmeryn. And if the thought of her wasn’t enough for him to forgive the swordsman, then he hadn’t learned anything from the previous Exalt. “You were just doing what you thought was right.”
Zoro shook his head, but at least he raised it to look at Robin. “No, it’s unforgivable. Luffy has already accepted you. That means I attacked my own comrade, and that is inexcusable.”
“Wait a minute, Luffy has accepted me?” Robin turned to the rubber man. “What does he mean?” He asked accusingly.
Luffy laughed nonchalantly as he patted Robin on the back. “You seem cool, so I’m letting you join my crew.”
Robin was a bit taken back. They had just met, sure they had fought together[AD1] [AD2] , and Robin himself could attest to the strength of bonds formed by battle, but they had only fought together for a few brief moments! “Luffy… do you always ask random people to join your crew?”
“Yeah kinda…” Franky affirmed, raising his head and smirking as[AD3] [AD4] if recalling an event. “Heck, we were enemies and I still joined up. It was the same with Nico Robin.”
“Seriously?” Robin asked then shook his head. “No, it doesn’t matter.” He turned to the captain. “I’m sorry Luffy, but I already have somewhere I belong… someone… somewhere I need to get back to.”
“It won’t be that easy… I was dead set against joining, but that idiot wouldn’t have it any other way,” Zoro recounted smugly, seemingly having deemed his apology appropriate and risen from his place on the ground.
Luffy looked at him intently, his gaze serious, an almost ludicrous contrast to his previous childishness. “Okay… I understand.”
Robin sighed, relieved. “Thank you, I thought you might make it difficult but I’m glad that…”
“BUT UNTIL YOU RETURN TO YOUR FRIENDS YOU WILL BE A MEMBER OF MY CREW!” Luffy interrupted, throwing his arms skyward, his usual loudness and obnoxiousness returning. After finishing his exclamation, he stared Robin square in the face, without a hint of emotion. Almost like he hadn’t just had a childish outburst.
“I take that back,” Robin sighed. He thought for a moment, weighing his options. Returning home was the goal, there was no questioning that. But if he did end up staying for an extended period of time, these people seemed like good friends to have. “Look… if I agree to your terms will you take me to my home in Ylisse?”
Luffy cocked his head in confusion. “Ylisse? Where’s that?” His [AD5] eyes widened and his smiled brightened. “OOH OOH! Does it have tasty food? Like that Elephant Ear plant?”
“That’s Yautia, dumbass,” Zoro scolded, smacking Luffy hard on the back of his head. “And could you not think about food all the time.”
As Luffy whined and rubbed the back of his neck, Robin decided to try and move the conversation along. If he didn’t, he might never get home. “It’s the country bordering Regina Ferox and Plegia… does that ring any bells?” Robin explained.
“Okay, you’ve even lost me,” Zoro admitted, shrugging his shoulders. “And I’m not an idiot like our captain.” He was clearly trying to be interested, but it seemed like this talk was far too dull for the swordsman.
“Yes, you are!” Ussop yelled, his tongue shooting out and forking comically. “You got lost four times on your way here! You kept grumbling about finding him.”
“Really!?” Robin snickered, trying to hold back laughter. Somehow, the idea of the ‘monster’ he feared having to double back several times, with increasing frustration, seemed so unbelievable that it couldn’t be anything else but humorous.
“Oh yeah Usopp! Then you tell me where this Ylisse is[AD6] .” Zoro demanded, clearly looking for payback for his quip a few moments earlier.
Usopp chuckled confidently. His voice changed entirely from the previous anxious whine, to a charismatic and confident tone. “Oh, dear Zoro… this is mere child’s play for me. Sit down and I’ll explain where Yisle is!”
“It’s pronounced Ylisse.” Robin interrupted. “Eey-Lee-Suh, not Yh-Is-Uhl.” Robin sounded out. He didn’t really expect any of them to know. His standards for those that hid inside closets listening to other people’s conversations wasn’t particularly high. Granted, his wife did that once, and he got glued to his bed for not checking, but she had claimed it was ‘absolutely necessary’. Granted, it did let him find a booby trap an assassin had placed on his bed, so he wasn’t complaining.
Usopp gasped lightly and began speaking in a panic, his confidence shattered. “I knew that! Now for where it is…well, that’s simple… it’s uh… well, you see… to put it simply it’s…. well, it’s hard to describe exactly… Say, Franky, how would you describe it?”
“You don’t know do you,” Zoro accused smugly.
“No,” Usopp cried, dropping to the ground. He pounded his fist against the wood in frustration as tears poured out of his eyes and snot ran down his nose.
“Chopper, Franky… what about you two?” Zoro asked, ignoring Usopp who was busy groveling in shame.
The two shrugged their shoulders. “Can’t say I’ve heard of it. Sorry brother,” Franky apologized.
“Well if none of us know, there’s no way our dumbass cook knows… that leaves Robin and Nami.” Zoro thought, rubbing his chin in contemplation. “I doubt that Nami knows anything though.”
At that moment, the door opened and a blonde man in a black suit with a tray entered. “Hey Chopper, I brought food for the sick.” He set the tray down on the bed and Robin could see a bowl on with steam rising from it. He turned his attention to the man who was lighting up a cigarette at the moment.
The man’s curly blonde hair covered one eye and Robin wondered if he could even see out of it. The blonde had a blue shirt under his suit. The suit had six buttons on the chest, and several lining his wrist. He had a black tie, shoes, and pants to match his suit.
The blonde noticed Robin’s gaze and took out his cigarette. “Go on, help yourself to the soup. It’ll make you feel better. It’s my very own version of minestrone soup.”
Robin grabbed the tray, sat down on the bed, put it on his lap, and looked at the soup. It had an orange broth and was filled with various vegetables ranging in color. He took a spoonful and the taste seeped into his mouth. It was thick and hearty, but also refreshing and soothing. Gulping down more and more mouthfuls, he quickly finished the rest of it.
Zoro chuckled and the blonde shot him a look and growled, “Something funny moss head?”
“We were just talking about you Sanji, and then you showed up, just like a dog.” Zoro insulted, pressing his head up against the blonde threateningly.
Robin saw the two bickering and decided to join in to get on Zoro’s good side, hoping the cook wouldn’t be too offended by his teasing. If possible he’d like to have more of his food. “Oh… so this is the dumbass cook you mentioned?” He phrased it innocently, but his intentions were anything but.
“I see you’ve already gotten to him.” The cook spat at Zoro. He bent down and gave the tactician a glare. He spoke in a creepy tone that threatened great and unspeakable pain. “My name is Sanji. I’m the cook here. Nice to meet you.” He extended a hand and Robin shook it hesitantly.
Sanji tried to squeeze his arm, but Robin responded with a tight grip in retaliation, resulting in a contest that ended with neither of them winning. The cook clearly wasn’t anyway near Zoro’s level if he was on equal footing with Robin, even in his condition.
‘Perhaps he is just a cook,’ Robin thought, relived he wouldn’t need to worry about the blonde. The crew already seemed insane enough as is.
“At least his cooking is nice.” Robin noted, muttering under his breath.
Luffy cheered, jumping off the barrel he had been resting on. “Well you’re going to have to like it since you’ll be eating it for a while.”
“Wait… he’s staying!?” Sanji screamed, the cigarette falling out of his open mouth.
“Yup! He’s joining our crew!” Luffy exclaimed happily, nodding vigorously.
“Only until I get home,” Robin reminded, rolling his eyes, already becoming accustomed to Luffy’s antics.
Sanji grabbed Luffy’s shirt and shook him. “Dumbass! Consult me with important things! You think I like being left out of the loop?!”
“What’s the matter Sanji?” Luffy asked innocently. “You were fine with Robin and Franky joining,” he pointed out.
“That’s different! Robin was a beautiful woman! I couldn’t abandon her. And we needed Franky to keep the Sunny afloat! We don’t need this guy, besides… I don’t want him anywhere near my precious Nami-Swan!” Sanji complained, his true intentions revealed.
“Huh?” Usopp looked in surprise. He turned, looking at Robin and then back at Sanji. “That’s what you’re worried about?”
“It might seem trivial to you, but it’s important to me! I’m the only normal guy on the ship… Luffy is a total idiot! Zoro is a brute who’s as smart as Luffy! Usopp you’re a sissy coward! Chopper is a reindeer and Franky is a cyborg! But if we get another person… who turns out to be even somewhat normal… Nami might use him to make me feel jealous!” Sanji cried, dropping to the floor. At some point, he stopped wailing, grabbed his cigarette and rose again.
“Trust me crap-cook… that won’t happen.” Zoro scoffed, though Sanji either ignored him or was too engrossed in his worries to notice the snide remark.
“And then she might fall in love with him for real after all his scheming to make my life a living hell! I can already see him and Zoro planning together.” Sanji complained, shaking Luffy faster and faster. Luffy didn’t seem to mind, or even notice.
“It’s fine.” Robin reassured, standing and approaching the cook. “I won’t being stealing Nami away from you…Usopp?”
“Its Sanji shit for brains! Usopp is the scrawny weakling!” He yelled, literally bursting into flame, though his cigarette remained unscorched. Robin shot back a little in surprise, but the other crew members seemed unfazed. He had a lot to learn.
“I’m right here Sanji.” Usopp complained, but quietly so as to avoid a beat down from the angered Sanji. The cook didn’t seem to notice.
Robin chuckled, patting Sanji on the shoulder overly friendly like. “Regardless Usanji, there’s no way I’d do something as ruinous as pursue another woman.” The first time had been an accident, it truly was, his brain was still slightly muddled even if Chopper had helped him and he was drained from all the stress. But seeing how it touched a nerve and how Sanji reacted, he decided some light teasing was just what the doctor ordered… not that Chopper had said anything about it. He was kind of hiding from them at the moment, waiting for the tension to drop.
“Usanji!? Why you little…” Sanji paused, his flames extinguishing as he thought for a moment. “You said, another woman… does that mean… YOU’RE MARRIED!?” Sanji roared, the flames reigniting, bigger, brighter, and hotter than before.
Robin chuckled again, and raising his right hand, showed off his ring finger, as well as the glistening stone and golden bangle on it. “Yep, for about a year and a half now. We even have two kids.”
“Two kids… a year and a half… Hold on! There’s no way! You can’t be that much older than me! You have got to be lying!” Sanji accused, gripping Robin’s shoulder menacingly.
“Well in all fairness I don’t actually know how old I am… We think I’m around twenty or so though.” Robin admitted, shrugging casually, though he figured something like that would be par for the course with these pirates. “Lissa and I got married a few months after she and her brother found me, and that was about two years ago. I already told the others, you missed the story.”
“You got married within a few months!” The cigarette fell out of his mouth and he started whimpering. “Nami and I have been on the same ship for six months and my love still hasn’t reached her.”
“Heh, better luck next time, crap-cook." Zoro snickered, leaning back on the wall casual as always. It wouldn’t surprise Robin if he decided to nap in that position.
"Shut up! I don't want to be mocked about love by you of all people!" Sanji screamed, finally addressing the comments the swordsman was making. Despite this, Zoro didn’t move from his relaxed position.
“Clear out of here everyone! He needs his rest!” Chopper yelled, his body rapidly expanding once again until he was significantly more muscular and humanoid and towered above the others.
They grumbled, but left, each shooting him a look. Zoro, a faint nod of approval, Luffy, a childish grin, Ussop, a look of concern, Sanji, a disgusting scowl. Robin waited for Franky to do come into his view, but as he began to look around he realized Franky was no longer in the room.
“Hey, what happened to Franky?” Robin asked Chopper, setting back down now that the others had left.
“He slipped out earlier.” Chopper stated, shrinking down to his normal size. “I think he went to get Nami and Robin. See if they knew where your home is.”
“I see,” Robin said, and immediately afterwards a knock was heard at the door. “That must be them.”
“That must be them… Come in!” Chopper called, setting down his clipboard and the door opened.
“So what role will you be fulfilling as a part of my crew?” Luffy asked, having entered from the outside, instead of the expected girls.
“GO AWAY LUFFY!” Chopper screamed, which did little to discourage the pirate.
“Do you specialize in anything?” Luffy asked as he casually strolled in. Chopper sighed and turned back to his clipboard, leaving his captain to himself.
“I’m a tactician,” Robin stated, wondering if Luffy even knew what that was.
“What’s that?” Luffy asked, cocking his head in confusion. “You make clothes?”
“That’s a tailor.” Robin sighed, having unfortunately predicted this. “A tactician is a strategist, they tell the fighters when, where, who, and how to attack. Their job is to make sure no one dies.” He explained simply, hoping Luffy would be able to follow.
“I kinda just kick the ass of whoever is pissing me off… but not dying sounds good.” Luffy gave his trademark toothy grin and laugh and extended his hand to Robin. “Welcome aboard tactician.”
Robin couldn’t help but smile as well. “For as long as it lasts… captain.”
Another knock was heard at the door and Chopper turned towards it “This better not be Sanji or Zoro. Come in!”
The door was opened and a girl with short orange hair, a blue and white shirt, a short yellow skirt and a slender build entered, followed by a taller, more curvaceous, darker skinned woman with black hair and a black jacket that exposed her cleavage. The second woman’s jacket also doubled as a skirt and covered her hips and a little below. Almost all of her legs were covered by ridiculously long black stockings.
“You and that cook seem to favor darker colors.” Robin noted though he was unsure what significance that had.
“I used to travel around Alabasta as an agent of Baroque Works. Alabasta was quite hot, as it is a desert. So now that I’m out on the open waters, I feel cold unless I wear more heat absorbing clothes. Unfortunately, they’re usually quite skintight.” The taller girl explained, stretching out her clothes to show how tight they were. “I’m Nico Robin. We've met before.”
The orange hair girl stepped in front of Nico Robin and waved. “My name’s Nami. It’s nice to meet you.”
Robin nodded and shook each of their hands. “I’m Robin, but I’m sure Luffy or one of the others have already filled you in.”
“You seem awful chipper Nami,” Chopper noted in surprise. He handed Robin another pill which the tactician swallowed.
“Did you see all the treasure he brought with him?! I’ll make a fortune just off of the gold bars!” Nami grinned, her eyes sparkling as she clenched her fist in triumph.
“You confiscated my bullion!?” Robin exclaimed in outrage, raising his hands in disbelief. “Those are the funds of the Shepherds, the official Militia of Ylisse!”
“Who cares, it’s mine now.” She smirked and stuck her tongue out at him. “Consider it payment for trespassing on our ship in the first place.”
“Aren’t we supposed to be comrades?” Robin asked, more than a little concerned about the sneaky tactics of Nami. Between Zoro, Sanji, and Nami, he might have trouble making it home.
“Yes, but we weren’t at the time,” Nami teased and plopped down on the bed next to him. The bed bounced slightly, pushing her sleeve up, revealing a tattoo on her left shoulder and arm.
‘Wait a minute… orange hair… thief… snooty attitude… tattoo on her arm…’ “Do you have a brother named Brady!?” Robin asked Nami who gave him a confused look.
“Um… no. What’s up with that odd question?” Nami asked curiously, hoping to avoid the subject of why his money was now hers. It simply was and she didn’t feel the need to reaffirm that.
Robin shifted his body so he faced her and began explaining, a spark of nostalgia flowing through his brain. “You are just like the combination of this married couple I know… Gaius and Maribelle…” He paused and began counting on his fingers. “Let’s see… orange hair, thief, tattoo, snooty attitude…”
“I am not snooty!” Nami yelled, punching Robin on the head. “Besides, I’m not a thief! I merely confiscated it for the greater purposes of our crew!”
“Oww! That actually hurt! You punch as hard as Sully.” Robin whimpered in pain. He doubted her words but decided it was a bad idea to tell her that. Any more damage to his head and Chopper would have to give him even more pills, and Robin was sure he was nearing the healthy limit.
“Agh! Nami stopping hurting my patient!” Chopper screamed, grabbing an ice pack and handing it to Robin, who pressed it down onto the lump forming on his head.
“Sorry…” Nami sighed. “We got off on the wrong foot. Let’s start over… thanks for the gold.”
“You’re welcome,” Robin moaned, realizing that in the long run, the gold was basically worthless. The war was over, and they had a royal treasury back at the palace. It wasn’t like they were particularly strapped for cash. Even if his bullion had some value in this world, Nami could probably make better use of it than he could. They would be working together after all.
“So Franky tells me you’re from Ylisse.” Nami divulged casually, ignoring the sweltering bruise on his head.
“You’ve heard of it!?” Robin asked hopefully, all the negative emotions he had felt at the girl melting away as he cheered. “So I can go home after all!”
“No, but Robin has,” Nami refuted and pointed at the archeologist, who nodded.
“The Halidom of Ylisse… yes, I know of it… there were books of Ylisse and the other two back in Ohara.” The archeologist looked down despondently.
“That’s great…” He said, but noticed her expression and paused. “Wait… other two… What do you mean by that?”
“Have you ever heard of Hoshido or Nohr?” She asked quietly, not looking him in the eye. Robin knew this couldn’t be a good sign.
“The mythical kingdoms… yeah… why?” The tactician asked, fearing the worst. Everyone knew of the two mythical kingdoms, they were legends. While they were little more than Fairy Tales, Miriel and Laurent had spent an entire afternoon cramming every fact, myth, legend, rumor, theory, and speculation that they knew that pertained to the kingdoms into his brain. He locked himself in solitude in the library for a week after that just to recover.
Nico Robin hesitated but began. “When I was studying to be an archeologist back on Ohara, and learning how to read the poneglyphs…”
He shot her a confused look, but she waved it off. “Long story… I’ll explain later. Back then… I read up on other cultures… and found about three legendary kingdoms… Hoshido… Nohr… and…” She hesitated and Robin realized the next kingdom.
“Ylisse.” The tactician finished for her, dreading her response. “My home,” he whimpered.
Nico Robin nodded. “If you truly do come from Ylisse… then you are in a world where your world is little more than a fairytale.”
“Oh… I see,” the male Robin muttered despondently, his head hanging. Perhaps he really had died, this might have been hell… it would explain his headaches and the monstrous strength of Zoro and Nami. Maybe his good deeds in his past life had gotten him into some less devastating version of hell. ‘Probably not.’
“But at least, it exists! That’s got to mean something! You’re here so that means it’s real! I mean, you got here somehow, right? So maybe you’ll figure out a way back!” Nami said hopefully, trying to raise the mood of the two Robin’s.
“I got here after dying by killing my future self. I doubt I’ll be able to repeat that event. Even then I might just be sent to another world. There’s no guarantee I’d be sent back to my home.” The Ylissean Robin said dispiritedly. He chuckled lightly and raised his eyes to the ceiling. “I wonder how many other worlds are out there.”
“Tactician… have you heard of a place called Valm?” Nico Robin asked, using her habit of addressing one by their title as a familiar nickname.
The tactician’s head shot up. “Of course… did you come across that in your studies?”
Nico Robin shook her and bite her lip. “No… I met someone from Valm.”
Robin shot up out of bed and sprang to the dark-skinned woman, grabbing her collar threateningly. “I swear to whatever god this world is governed by, you better not be screwing with me. I won’t stand for it. Not now. I will not let you trample on my hope.”
Nami gasped and began to move, but Nico Robin held her hand out to her friend, stopping any movements she would have taken. Then, turning to the man she stared him down, unflinchingly. “I assure you I am not. I know you don’t believe me right now, but let me explain.”
Robin locked eyes with the woman for several seconds, and eventually was satisfied, releasing her collar. “Okay… now explain what you mean.”
“In order to do that, I need to tell you about my past,” she informed solemnly, having taken a seat near Robin’s bed. The tactician had hesitated, but then resumed his spot on the bed.
“Robin!” Nami cried out, shooting off of the bed in surprise. “Are you really going to tell him your story?”
“What do you mean, Nami? It’s no secret. Not anymore. All you need to do is look in a history book, though all you’ll get is the World Government’s side of the story,” Robin scoffed lightly, so quietly, in fact, Robin wasn’t entirely positive he didn’t just imagine it.
“That’s not what I meant.” Nami refuted, grabbing the other woman’s shoulder. “I mean, we just met him. When push comes to shove, can we really trust him?”
“Nami! Listen to yourself.” Robin scolded, sounding angrier than he’d ever imagined the docile woman could sound. “Robin is our new crewmate, Luffy said so himself.”
Nami dropped back down onto the bed and pouted slightly. “Luffy is an idiot. He’d let a monkey join our crew if it could juggle properly. His judgment usually isn’t great either.”
“But regardless, he is our captain.” Robin looked at Nami crossly, the two having seemingly forgotten about the tactician. “Do you think he made a mistake with me?”
“What?! No of course not. That’s not what I meant, Robin,” Nami swore defensively. “You’re basically family.”
“And what makes you so sure the same won’t come of this Robin?” She asked, slowly painting the navigator into a corner. “Besides, it sounds like he just wants to get home. I don’t see how he could use this information against me anyways.” She looked back at the tactician who was equal parts surprised this new girl was defending him so vehemently and confused at how this crew had managed to survive so long with members like this.
Granted, it wasn’t like his army had a shred of normalcy, what with a millennium old dragon child wrestling a wyvern, a compulsive stalker that could very possibly kill faster than someone could prepare bear meat, two different giant bunny monsters, a very effeminate male priest, a knight that hung naked posters of his charge throughout a town, a princess that put any castle jester to shame (who also happened to be his wife), a prince that abandoned his home to fight, a woman fearing master swordsman that once woke up surrounded by statues of women, and the woman who would be crazy enough to fill the tent of a woman fearing expert swordsman with statues of women. But they all had some kind of common goal, protecting their homes. The Straw Hats didn’t look like they shared any common interests. Not that Robin knew much about them, they just had an air of disunity.
“Alright, I’m listening.” Robin announced and the two females stopped arguing. Nami sighed, but opposed no further, sitting down again besides the male Robin.
Nico Robin coughed lightly and began to speak.
“After the nightmare ended, I fled inland, hoping to stay under the navy’s eye until I could find the Rio Poneglyph and discover what had truly happened during the Void Century.” She shook her head, as though repulsed at a nauseating memory. “It didn’t go that well. I still haven’t found it.”
“I’m sorry… I bet you wish you could forget…” Robin laughed at the sudden irony. “It’s funny. I wish I could remember my past… but I wonder if at one point I wished I could forget it… and then I did. What kind of terrible things must’ve happened after my mother stole me away.” Robin wondered aloud, trying and failing to unearth any memories. He didn’t try to hit his head with anything heavy and dangerous, Morgan proved that that was a bad idea.
“No… despite all my suffering… I vowed never to forget.” Nico Robin answered firmly and the tactician could hear the conviction in her voice. “I went from village to village, working and staying wherever I could. Sometimes I would sleep in a stable if I was unlucky. A few times I joined a pirate crew, but that never lasted long. Regardless of what I did, it always ended the same. People would realize I had a bounty and would try to capture me. Or they would find out about my Devil Fruit, and retaliate in fear. Sometimes other pirates would come after me. I had no friends and never a sense of safety. I could trust no one. Until he showed up.”
Nico Robin gave a little smile, fondly recalling one of the few happy memories she had of her past. God knows she didn’t have many. “After I had been running for about three years, and was being chased out of another town, he followed me… telling me he couldn’t bear to see a lady so mistreated, and swore to stay by my side and protect me. I’ll never forget his kindness.”
She looked at Robin with a smile. “I’m hoping that if I help you, maybe in some way… it will repay his kindness. I couldn’t not help you… not after all he did for me.”
“Him?” The white haired warrior asked, still in shock from the horrifying tale of genocide this woman had, for the most part, calmly retold. Sure, he could tell it still deeply hurt her, but she was able to work past it. Probably due to this ‘him’ she spoke off.
“Yes… him.” Nico Robin answered smiling.