On their way back from a book store, Robin convinces Chopper to stop for a drink
Chopper's pile of new books was precariously balanced in his tiny arms. The top of the pile extended well past the brim of his pink top hat. Robin wasn't sure how he could see, but he kept walking forward, and was managing to not bump into anything.
"No, Robin, that's all right," Chopper said. It was pretty clear, though, that Chopper was struggling under his heavy load.
Robin looked across the street and spied a small cafÃ©. If she could convince Chopper to stop off in there for a drink, she could surreptiously take some of his books into her own pile.
"How about a drink?" she asked, sprouting a free hand to point at the cafÃ©.
"OK!" Chopper agreed cheerfully. They walked across the street, taking care not to drop any of their precious cargo. They took seats at a small table outside the cafÃ©, and ordered their drinks. Robin asked for a large coffee, black, while Chopper opted for an iced tea.
As Chopper drank his tea-he had to hold the glass in two hands, and tilt it all the way back so that it covered his face-Robin quietly grabbed books from his pile and passed them along a chain of sprouted arms and then finally placed them on top of her stack. With any luck, he wouldn't notice the discrepancy until they were back at the boat. He was sweet, but proud and very stubborn when it came to that sort of thing.
Chopper began coughing as a bit of liquid went down the wrong way.
"Slow down, Doctor-san," she said, smiling as she took a sip of her coffee. "There's no need to drink it that quickly."
"Sorry, Robin," Chopper said, grinning abashedly. Robin laughed softly, and took another sip of coffee.
As they talked, Robin reflected on how they were behaving. It had taken her a long tome to recognize what was happening between them. She probably never would have if Nami had not pointed it out to her. Of course, they had always got along well. They were both academics, and Chopper's childish naivetÃ© offset her quiet cynicism almost perfectly. And yes, they spent more time together than most of the crew-but that was just a function of Robin's isolated nature and Chopper's natural curiosity.
But gradually, things had changed. Although she still called him 'Doctor-san' in place of his name, it was now less a way of isolating herself from him, and more an endearing pet name. She found herself seeking out his company more and more, and had on more than one occasion stayed up into the wee hours of the morning speaking with him. As time went on, she found herself drawn to him.
As for his feelings for her...well, she had always been bad at judging that sort of thing. Her childhood hadn't allowed for it. But she was well aware of the fact that her physical assets were more than sufficient, having use them to her own benefit many a time during her life in the criminal underworld, and she got the feeling that he felt something towards her. After all, he was always following her around, wasn't he?
They seemed like such an odd couple. She was a mature woman, nearly in her thirties. He was a reindeer, not even yet an adult, with a body the size of an eight year-old child. The only thing they had in common was their education. But the more she thought about it, the more she wanted to give it a try. She'd lived out twenty-nine years of her life, but she'd never really been in a romantic relationship. She'd been on various people's arms throughout her life, and occasionally in their beds, but it had never been because she wanted to be. They had always had something that she wanted.
Now she found herself falling in love for the first time. She wasn't sure of what would happen from this point on. She didn't have any experience in the matter. Fortunately, neither did Chopper, so he probably wouldn't be too hard on her. For the first time, she found herself actually excited about what the future might hold.
The sea is vast, Saulo's final words echoed through her head. Some day, without a doubt, Nakama who will protect you will appear!
After twenty long years, those nakama he had spoken to had finally appeared. And one of them, if she was very lucky, may turn out to be something more.