Maybe it was the hair; that seemingly endless bounty of bright blue hair, cascading over thin shoulders. Or maybe it was the way her lips pursed up in that petulant glare, framed in a beautiful determined face. Maybe it was her attitude; the fearless, stubborn, foolish drive, the spirit of a tiger locked up in a little mouse with a big mouth and long blue hair. She would get up, again and again, no matter how many times she got knocked down, and keep on picking fights she couldn’t win. Hair or lips or attitude, as she stood on a building top of Rainbase, Nico Robin stared down the defiant princess and felt something very strange happen.
Something clenched inside her; a quick, tight squeeze, and she took a tiny breathe in sharply. Her heart began pounding, and she could only stare for a moment. For a moment everything around Robin seemed to fade out, she could barely even hear the noise of the raging battle around her. All she seemed able to focus on was the princess who knelt before her. Vivi, who was beautiful and fearless and unwilling to retreat, staring down Robin, Nico Robin who was feared, cruel, and had spent her entire life running. Vivi was different, Vivi was ready to die, to lay down her life for that silly country of hers. Her greatest strength was her complete and utter disregard for her own safety. Not Robin. No….dying was the one thing she could not do. On Vivi’s shoulders sat the weight of her people’s safety, she was their only hope for survival and happiness. But Robin’s shoulders bore the weight of her people’s memory, of their legacy, their past, their only future. She wasn’t their champion, she was their survivor, and it was there, in that one sheer opposite, that they were defined. Two women with great burdens. One with long blue hair.
As a resounding crack of Alabasta’s bird guardian’s spine broke the silence that only Robin heard, a slow smirk of satisfaction inched across her face. Vivi’s glaring eyes were hazing with tears, and her lower lip trembled as she watched her friend fall like a stone.
“Pell!” she wailed. The shimmering gave way to full tears, falling haphazardly from her big doey eyes, and the squeeze came again, this time clutching Robin’s whole stomach. Her hand lashed out like lightening and fisted a handful of the long blue hair that blew around the tearful princess. Crocodile had ordered the girl brought to him, but Robin could have dragged her by an elbow. She didn’t have to grab Vivi’s ponytail. She just really wanted to.
Partially, Robin realized that her decision had been influenced by Vivi. After all, it was her that she had been half expecting….half hoping to see as she came out into the blinding sunlight that morning. She wouldn’t have minded borrowing her clothes either, instead of whoevers she’d found. But then, if Vivi had come to join them, these strange and flamboyant pirates, she wouldn’t have unpacked yet certainly. She would be up on deck, crying with her beloved friends and laughing at her insane decision. Laughing and crying and brushing her hair from her face, and sitting in the sun as if it would make a difference to her pale skin.
Robin knew all that, and she knew exactly how the little princess had felt about her country. Heavens, who couldn’t know by now? Princess Vivi of Alabasta would surely never forsake her long estranged people for a ragtag team of seafarers. But still….when she’d overheard….when they had offered to take Vivi with them….and hadn’t they grown so close on their adventures together? Nico Robin had nowhere to go, no safe haven left to guard herself, her body, the precious vessel of Ohara’s legacy, and she knew there was nothing left in Alabasta. Then along came the Strawhats, loud and powerful and heading somewhere. Anywhere. She knew exactly why she had followed them….but she was still disappointed to look around, casually of course, so casually, and in all the array of colorful hairs see not one shade of blue.
And she knew why else, maybe, she had followed them.
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