Chapter 36: "Let Me... Join Your Crew"

"Looks like the Navy has stopped following us," Zoro noted, looking behind them and seeing nothing but water.

"Hmm," Luffy whined, long and loud.

"Hmm." The rest of the crew, sans Zoro, echoed.

"We did shake them off, right?" Zoro asked, wondering if he was missing something.

"Hmm." The reply was the same from all of them.

"You know... What's with those indifferent replies...?" Zoro asked in irritation.

"I miss her!" The crew crowed out in unison, all of them dangling over the edge of the upper deck.

"Don't be whiny!" Zoro barked out.

"If you wanted her to stay with us that badly, you should have taken her by force!" He continued, arms crossed over his chest and an eyebrow raised as he eyed the pitiful-looking group.

"Ahh! You're such a savage!" Chopper cried.

"You're the worst!" Nami agreed, tears falling down her face as well.

"Moss head," Sanji muttered, displeased.

"Three-sword style..." Luffy muttered, inadvertently taking on some of Sanjis dispassion as he said this.

"Hey, wait, Luffy. 'Three-sword style' isn't an insult." Usopp told him, sweatdropping.

"Four-sword style." Luffy corrected.

"The number doesn't matter. Listen, you know nato, right? You see, if you call-" Luffy wasn't listening to Usopp anymore, because, through the cloud of sadness and longing, Luffy felt the familiar emotions of someone he still wasn't entirely sure of.

"Looks like we finally made it off the island!" The woman's voice was new to the ship, yet no one batted an eye, more than a little exhausted and too much on their minds.

"Yeah," Zoro said, rubbing the back of his head as he started walking away. Watching the interaction closely, Luffy said nothing.

"Good job." She complimented. At this point, everyone else realized that Nico Robin was on their ship once more, her ever-present air of calm masking the flood of emotions that were inside of her.

Luffy had noticed the minute she'd hidden away on their ship- she had very distinct emotions, after all; he would have had to be pretty distracted not to notice- but after everything he'd seen and felt from her, he hadn't done anything about it. She had no more darkness in her, and while she hadn't been in the open for him to check her color, he could feel that she had no ill intent behind her stowing away.

Honestly, Luffy had no idea what she was planning on doing. Whether it was hitching a ride or having a conversation, there was no way for him to know, but what he did know was that she wasn't a threat anymore.

"Here to avenge your organization?! Bring it on!" Zoro yelled, grabbing at his swords defensively at the sight of her.

"Why are you here?!" Nami screamed, holding her head where she'd hit it on the railing in her surprise.

"Enemy attack...! Enemy attack...!" Usopp said, mimicking the sound of a siren as he spoke through a megaphone, amplifying his voice. Chopper ran back and forth along the railing as the sniper did so, screaming all the while.

With the surprise out of the way, they were quick to circle the mysterious woman, all of them pointing weapons at her except for Sanji and Chopper who watched from the stairs.

"Who is she?" Chopper asked, clueless seeing as he hadn't met her before.

"Who cares?! She's that beautiful lady!" Sanji cooed, hearts in his eyes as he did so. Luffy only continued watching on silently.

"Didn't I tell you before not to point such dangerous objects at me?" Robin asks, still smiling as she knocks the weapons away with disembodied hands.

"How long have you been on this ship?" Nami asks, unnerved.

"All this time..." Robin answers truthfully, still visibly at ease despite the tension Luffy could feel inside of her. As she grabbed one of their folding chairs she turned to look toward Luffy now, still smiling.

"Monkey D. Luffy... You haven't forgotten what you did to me, have you?" She asks, continuing to move across the deck as if the conversation weren't all that serious.

"Luffy! What'd you do to that beautiful lady, you bastard?! I'm asking you what you did to her!" Sanji demands to know, shaking the captain angrily in the hopes of getting answers.

Meanwhile, from behind the mast, Usopp continues using the megaphone to tell Robin to get off the ship.

"Hey, I didn't do anything! I don't think..." Luffy says, confused now because, even though he couldn't remember doing anything to her, she hadn't been lying when she was speaking.

"Yes, you did. What you did to me was unbearable. Take responsibility." She replied easily, sitting in the folding chair and relaxing. Her words prompted more yelling from Sanji and more announcements like phrases from Usopp.

"You don't make sense! What do you want me to do?!" Luffy asks in a mixture of confusion and annoyance at being shook around so much when he'd done nothing wrong.

"Let me... join your crew." She said, leaning forward to rest her elbow on her knee, her chin on her palm.

"What?!" The entire crew shouts in surprise. After explaining to them how Luffy had saved her life, she relaxed back in the chair again, a smile still ever-present on her face.

"You made me live than when I wanted to die. That's your crime. There's no place for me to go or go back to. So let me stay on this ship." Despite her deceptively calm appearance, Luffy felt her growing caution and anxiety growing as she made her demands.

Looking at the aura that had confused him since he'd first seen it, Luffy saw that, while there was still some muted grey clinging to the center of it, the rest was nearly entirely made of the light lilac purple from before. It hadn't lightened much more since the last time he'd seen it, but the retreating grey was still pleasing to see nonetheless.

"I see... Then I guess we have no choice... okay." Luffy agrees, pleased with what he'd seen and felt.

"Luffy!" The crew besides Chopper and Sanji scream. Sanji didn't care one bit that she'd once been their enemy and Chopper didn't know her to begin with so he held no ill will toward her.

"Don't worry. She isn't a bad person." Luffy reassured, smiling brightly to them. This made them falter in a mixture of surprise and confusion.

"What? But I thought you said she was a bad person." Usopp said, not understanding how that worked.

While the crew was starting to get the hang of Luffys abilities, they still didn't know all that much about them, and while he'd been pretty accurate in judging characters based off of their colors, this sudden change was confusing.

"She was. She's not anymore though." Luffy told them, looking back at Robin and skimming his eyes over the aura once more to confirm his words, even if he was the only one who could see it.

"How does that work?" Usopp continued to ask curiously, all but forgetting that Robin was there.

"Ah, well, she had the bad feelings, and I thought she had a black color, but then I realized it was actually a really dark purple, which is weird, but now it's a light purple, kind of like the shirt she's wearing right now, and the darkness is gone too. So she's not a bad person anymore." Luffy explains, pointing as he spoke to first her aura- despite the fact that the crew still couldn't see it- and then to her shirt which was indeed a light lilac that mimicked her aura well.

"Besides, she hasn't lied or anything. She doesn't have any bad feelings. She's good." Luffy said, uninterested now that things were settled in his mind.

Sanji was happy to take Luffys words as gospel as he started singing and swaying, hearts still alight in his eyes as he did so. The rest of the crew continued to remain skeptical, however, despite their captain's explanation.

Despite Luffys strangely easy acceptance of the woman, Usopp took it upon himself to interrogate her, setting up a table and a light and dragging 'Lie-Detector-Luffy' to sit beside him while Robin sat across from him.

"Alright, now here's how this'll work. I'll ask the questions, you'll answer, and Luffy will tell us if your lying or not." Usopp said, leaning forward with his hands pressed to the table in a move to look intimidating. Around them, the crew listened on in interest, because with Luffy able to feel lies, they would be able to get some actual answers here.

Robin remained calm in her appearance, her smile still not fading as she sat amicably in her chair. Despite this, Luffy could feel that she was confused as well as a little unnerved as she glanced over to Luffy as if gauging whether there was any basis to believe Luffy could in fact tell whether she was lying or not.

The questions started out easy enough. Name, age, occupation. They found out that the woman was an archeologist who came from a long line of archeologists. She willingly told them that at eight she became a wanted criminal and that she's been hiding from the world for 20 years since then. This garnered sympathy points from Usopp who stared at her in disbelief, but Luffy could feel Nami and Zoro's unwillingness to fall for Robin's attempts at getting easy support.

The interrogation continued on, Usopp's attempts at intimidation stopping as they started having more of a chat than an interrogation. When the question of what she was good at came up she replied, without hesitation, assassination. Balking, Usopp turned to look at Luffy to see whether he would confirm this new information.

"She's not lying," Luffy said, mostly uninterested. While he was still a little cautious around Robin- he still didn't know how much she knew about the facility- he also wasn't all that interested in her past. All he cared about was whether she would continue to remain good, and seeing as she was a part of his crew now, he would do his best to ensure she did.

"Ack! Luffy! This investigation has concluded that she's too dangerous!" Usopp cried out, pushing his chair away from the table in fear. Despite the sniper's yell, the sound of Chopper's laughter showed them that the woman was tickling the reindeer with her disembodied hands, proving said words otherwise.

"She's fine," Luffy said with a shrug, his mind starting to wander as he tried to determine whether Sanji would be making food soon.

Maybe if he asked he would make something.

"She was the vice president of a crime syndicate until just recently. How are we gonna let such a woman join us?" Nami demanded to know, arms crossed over her chest as she eyed Robin skeptically. While she was learning to trust in Luffy's abilities, she still couldn't understand how he was alright with letting her join them so easily.

"If you pull any weird stunts, I'll kick you out!" Nami told Robin firmly, meaning the words she was saying as she leaned forward, closer to the mysterious woman.

"Of course, I'll keep that in mind. I just remembered..." Robin says in response, pulling out a bag and placing it on the table.

"I brought some of Crocodile's jewelry with me..." Namis emotions changed immediately from caution and distrust to acceptance and greed as she flew forward, eyeing the pouch with stars in her eyes.

"Wow! I love you, sister!" She cried happily, Luffy feeling that Robin was pleased with this outcome.

"Hey..." Zoro and Usopp were deadpan as they witnessed the switch in Namis mood.

While his crew continued debating amongst themselves whether they should trust Robin or not, Luffy continued to lose himself in his thoughts.

Now that Alabasta was behind them, that meant they would be heading to their next adventure. Whatever that was, he didn't know yet. Before that though, he knew there were a few things he should do, such as calling Whiskey about everything that had happened.

He had a doctor of his own now in Chopper, but the relationship between them was still brand new, and while Luffy trusted him like he trusted the rest of the crew- well, his trust in Robin wasn't as strong as it was in the others, but she was one of them now so soon it would be- the fact that Chopper was a doctor at all made it harder to approach him.

Besides, he'd been telling Whiskey about his problems for years now, and to have to start over with a different doctor was daunting.

Thoughts and feelings still whirring inside of him, Luffy stood from the table and started to head toward the men's room, barely even noticing Sanji as he slid down the railing with a plate of food in his hand. Despite his previous hunger, Luffy was too lost in his turmoil of confiding in Chopper over Whiskey to even pay it a passing glance.

His departure was enough to catch Usopps attention though, the sniper not wanting to be left alone with Robin lest she start lying to them, or even go straight for the kill. While Zoro and Sanji were strong, Sanji wasn't going to lift a finger against the woman, and they'd seen Robin disarm Zoro multiple times now.

"Wait, where are you going, Luffy?" Usopp asked nervously, getting ready to go follow Luffy instead of staying out here with Robin.

"Huh? Oh, I'm gonna go call the Moby." Luffy said, snapping out of his thoughts long enough to stop and reply. This caught everyone's attention, any conversations that had been happening ceasing immediately.

"The Moby? Why?" Sanji asked. Around him, his crew was mostly emitting a mass of confusion with a few smaller emotions peeking out of it. From Chopper he could feel a brief understanding and then a determination, from Nami and Usopp there was worry and even the smallest hint of fear, from Sanji and Zoro there was some apprehension, and from Robin there was interest.

"I just have to talk about some stuff," Luffy said vaguely, not even pausing in his journey to the hatch that would lead him to the men's room. It was obvious that the crew had more questions about that, but Luffy didn't give them a chance to ask them as he hopped down into the room, shutting the hatch closed above him.

He had grabbed the mini den den on his way and as he moved to sit on one of the couches in the room he dialed the number, the ringing fading in the background as he tried working through his thoughts again now that he was alone.

"Hello? Who's this?" Forcefully putting his thoughts on hold, Luffy felt his smile return as the familiar- though muted- emotions of Vista filled the air.

"Yo, Vista! It's Luffy." Luffy answered with ease, used to identifying himself whenever he called.

"Ah, Luffy! Whiskey?" Luffy wasn't surprised that everyone seemed to know why he was calling. After all, every time he'd called it had been for Whiskey, so it made sense to assume so.

"Mm." Luffy hummed in affirmation, settling back on the couch as he heard the faint sound of footsteps echoing through the snail.

"How have things been then, hm? Anything new or exciting happen?" Vista asks conversationally as he walks. Luffy smiles at that, because the last time he'd called was on their way to Alabasta, right after they'd gotten Chopper to join, and since then so much had happened.

"Yeah! I fought a warlord, Crocodile, cause he stole Vivi's country. I beat him up and got the country back for her though. Oh, and I have another new crew member too! She's an archapolo- no, elko- uh, she likes history. And her color's weird! I thought it was black when I first met her, but it got lighter and it turns out it was actually purple. It still is, but it's a light purple now and it looks like it's going to turn blue eventually." Luffy said, rambling through a very short version of his adventure.

"Wow, you sure don't do anything by halves Luffy, that's for sure! Purple, you said? Any ideas what that means?" The mustached man asks curiously. The commanders had heard about the time Ace's had turned yellow and everyone had had fun trying to think of different meanings for it, but no one could be sure what it meant. To have another mystery color was sure to induce speculation once more.

"Mm... No. I think it was something bad at first. She had dark feelings when I met her, but they slowly went away, and now they're gone completely. The color felt... wrong. But I don't think it was bad person bad, it was more like sad bad." Luffy said, having a hard time describing the impression that Robin's aura gave him. He wasn't lying in saying that the color just felt wrong. Negative. It didn't give him the impression that it was showcasing Robin as a bad person as he had first thought, but it felt negative in general. Like depressing emotions.

"Huh. Well just be careful. If she had the bad feelings then you should probably keep an eye on her for a while. You know, just in case." Vista warned, Luffy feeling that the commander was concerned for his well being which was understandable.

"I am. She doesn't want to hurt us right now. She's mostly been cautious and stuff, but she doesn't feel like she's planning to hurt us." Luffy said, his eyes glancing up toward the hatch that led to the deck. He could hear his crew moving around above him, and occasionally some of the louder voices would drift down into the room with him.

"I trust your judgment Luffy. In any case, it seems its time for us to say adieu." Vista said, the footsteps stopping and suggesting that the commander had reached Whiskey now. Smiling softer than before, Luffy nodded.

"Right. Bye Vista!" Luffy chirped happily, very nearly waving despite the fact that the snail didn't have arms to mimic the gesture with.

"Goodbye Luffy. Stay safe!" With that, the snail was handed over to Whiskey, the snail's face changing to match the nurse's expression.

"Luffy, so good to hear from you again." She greeted good-naturedly with a hint of amusement. Still smiling, Luffy gave a greeting of his own.

"Hi Whiskey! Guess what? I beat up a warlord and I got a new crewmember, oh, and I even helped Chopper with doctor stuff a few days ago!" Luffy told the nurse cheerily despite knowing that soon much heavier topics were going to be discussed.

"Oh yeah? Well, that's wonderful! How did that go?" Whiskey asked, focusing on the fact that Luffy had helped Chopper for now.

"It was good. I had to crush these plants in this bowl until they were pastey. It was easy." Luffy told her, thinking back to the little project Chopper had given him.

"I'm sure it was a big help for him. Was someone hurt?" She asks, continuing the conversation on easily despite not knowing completely why Luffy was calling her just yet.

"Yeah, it was right after my crew fought a bunch of bad guys. They were hurt after that so Chopper helped them get better." He answered, having heard the tales of his crew's fights while they were healing.

"I'm glad they're doing better. What about you then? You said you fought a warlord?" Whiskey continues to question.

"Yup! He stole Vivi's country from her, so I beat him up so she could get it back. I didn't really get hurt, but he poisoned me and it made my leg and arm numb. It didn't hurt though, and I drank the medicine for it right after, and everything's fine now. Chopper said it didn't hurt me either." Luffy said before the nurse could worry, knowing that she wasn't comfortable with him getting poisoned even though he was resistant to it.

"That's good. Everyone here knows that you can handle yourself, but we do worry you know." Whiskey told him with a hint of teasing to her tone, a smirk lighting up the snail's face. The rubber teen found himself smiling back, knowing the words to be true. He felt it every time he called them after all.

"So, I get the feeling that there's more to this call. Is there anything you wanted to specifically talk about?" Whiskey asks, shifting gears completely and trying to get right to the heart of why Luffy called her. Hearing this, the smile faltered and Luffy took a deep breath, fidgeting slightly on the couch. He held the snail closer to him, closing in more on himself as if to protect himself from what was to come.

"Well... I met up with Ace, and he told me he was hunting Haru down..." Luffy began, eyebrows furrowing in memory. It was difficult to say Harus name aloud, only having thought the name since hearing he was alive, but it was necessary so that Whiskey knew who he was talking about.

"He said he got a tip that Haru was nearby and he was going to go find the guy who'd said so. He traveled with us a while until we found them, and the guy told us that Haru had told him to tell people they'd met so that Ace or Sabo or I would go after them..." Luffy continued. Sensing that Luffy was going to continue, Whiskey didn't say anything and instead remained silent.

"Haru had been in Alabasta too, but then he went West, I think. Ace left after that, and I was thinking about that a lot. That he was nearby and that he was sending bounty hunters after us and stuff and Ace was going after him alone. After Ace left we went after Crocodile and we ended up falling in this hole that led to a cage and it made me all tense and stressed. We were locked in with a marine too, and he kept asking what I knew about the government and..." Stopping in his rambling, Luffy took a deep breath before he got himself too worked up.

"Eventually Crocodile tried to drown us by flooding the room and I had a flashback I think. About the facility and the tanks. Vivi and Sanji saved us though, and I was fine when we got out cause I was distracted, but then I saw my new crewmember again. She was a bad guy at first, and we met her before Chopper joined. She knows about facilities too. I don't know how much she knows yet, but she was asking me questions about it too, and so was Crocodile. After my first fight with Crocodile, I had to wait a night before I could go after him again." Luffy said, still pushing on through the retelling- though rushed as it was.

"My crew and I were separated cause I fought Crocodile alone so there wasn't anyone around except for me and one of Vivi's friends, but he was sleeping. It was night and all I could think about was everything that had happened and that Haru was probably close by and everyone was so curious about the facility and I went to the roof and ended up having an anxiety attack, but I remembered the threes and two. I was fine again cause I was fighting Crocodile, and then I was helping my crew get better, but then I ended up getting stuck. Zoro used the smelly stuff again, and then we were leaving Alabasta and escaping from marines, but now we're safe and I keep worrying about stuff and I can't stop." Luffy said, more annoyed with himself that he couldn't stop worrying.

He wished it could be like before the facility. When he didn't worry about anything longer than he could see it. Once it was out of his sight, it was out of his mind and any worries he'd had would disappear. Ever since the facility though, he'd been stuck with PTSD and anxiety attacks and phobias and worries.

"It sounds like you've been through a lot in a very short amount of time, which would explain not only your anxiety attack but you're getting stuck as well. I know it's frustrating, but after being faced with so many triggers it only makes sense that you would have such a strong reaction to it." Whiskey started gently after being sure Luffy was done. Now it was the rubber teen's turn to listen and he felt the tension in his shoulders lessen now that he didn't have to talk for a minute.

"Everyone has something they worry about. Whether they feel a lot of worry about that specific thing, or just a little bit differs depending on circumstances. In your case, you worry strongly and about many different things. That's alright. It's normal, especially after everything you've gone through. Remember though, you've come so far, and I'm really proud of you. It used to be that you couldn't even leave your brother's sides without checking their waves constantly, remember?" She asks, continuing once Luffy nodded to confirm that he did.

"You worried so strongly over them that it was a struggle to get you to eat. After some time though, as well as plenty of sessions and other methods, you were able to diminish that worry. Now you worry about them, but you can go days without checking their waves, right?" She questions, getting yet another nod in return.

"This will be just like that. You've got a lot of worries, rightly so. One of your strongest triggers is nearby, and not only that, but it seems people are getting curious enough about the facility to ask you outright about it. This would naturally make you more worried. It's going to be difficult, and I'll be honest with you Luffy, you may wind up getting to the point that you have another anxiety attack, but just remember that it'll pass. Everything passes eventually. You've got the support of not only your crew but us as well. If something should happen, we would all band together to come help you." She reminds him, and even though Luffys heard this sentiment from not only the nurse but those on the Moby as well, it's still reassuring to hear it again.

"Talking about your worries can definitely help. It was useful for you before and I'd imagine it would be again. I know this is going to be difficult, but I think it would truly help if you started telling some of your worries to your new doctor. Chopper." Whiskey said, her tone still as soft, gentle, and even as ever. The soothing tone made the anxiety-inducing suggestion just slightly more bearable, though it still made Luffy squirm regardless.

"I'm not saying you have to tell him everything all at once. I'm not even saying you have to tell him about Haru. But maybe you can start telling him smaller worries. Maybe things such as, 'I'm worried it's going to rain today' or, 'I'm worried that dinners going to be later than normal.' Small stuff. Eventually, you can work up to bigger things. Bigger worries. Do you think that would be something you could do?" Whiskey asks. Though Luffy had struggled with the idea of confiding in Chopper before, this seemed to be an easy enough task. He expressed worries like those to other people all the time. Doing it purposefully shouldn't be all that hard.

"Mm. I can do that." Luffy affirms, determination filling him. The snail smiles at his tone, nodding.

"Then try that out. If you still need to talk with me, that's alright, but I do think it'd be easier for you if you had Chopper as someone you could rely on for things like this. If you wanted, you could even try a mock session with him." She offered, piquing Luffys curiosity.

"A mock session? What's that?" He asked in confusion.

"Well, it's like our sessions, but not. Not as serious. Remember when we first started doing these? Our first session was short and we didn't talk much, if at all, about the facility. I just asked you some questions and you responded with yes's or no's. It would be more like that. You could talk to him about something; anything. Food for example. The two of you could sit down somewhere alone and have a conversation about food like you would have one of these sessions. Just to see how it feels to talk to Chopper. To get used to it. Sort of like a trial run." She explained, only making Luffy more interested in the idea.

"You said that your new crewmate used to be a bad person, right? And that you met her before Chopper?" Whiskey asks suddenly.

"Yeah. They didn't meet until she joined I don't think. He doesn't really know who she is." Luffy said, thinking back to earlier when Chopper had sat indifferently off to the side as everyone interrogated Robin.

"Well, there's the perfect start then. Talk to him about her. Maybe tell him about what you've learned about her, or maybe tell him something you find interesting about her. You don't have to get too detailed about it or tell him she knows about the facility, but seeing as he knows a little about it now as well, that could be a topic you discuss. Your new crewmate is a neutral topic, something that's happening currently. He wouldn't have much of an opinion of her yet and because of that it would also be easier on his part to learn how to control his emotions when talking with you." She finished. Thinking over her words for a minute, the room fell silent. It seemed the crew had settled down above him as he couldn't hear them moving around or talking and it was almost as if the Merry herself were trying to be quiet so that Luffy could think.

"Ok. Yeah, I'll try that too." Luffy said eventually which earned another smile and a burst of muted pride from the snail.

"That's fantastic. You've truly come so far Luffy. Before you do the mock trial, would you mind letting me speak to Chopper? I'd like to let him know what to expect and give him some things of his own to work on while you two speak." The nurse explained, which Luffy was fine with.

"Sure. I can get him now if you want." Luffy offered.

"Could you? Do you need to talk about anything else first?" She asked just in case, not wanting Luffy to stop because he felt she was ending the conversation.

"Nope. Thanks, Whiskey!" Luffy said, feeling much better with this new plan in place to start talking about small things with Chopper.

"Of course Luffy. I'll talk to you again sometime." She said, waiting patiently as Luffy left the room to go get his reindeer doctor.

It wasn't hard to find him at all as he popped his head out of the hatch. Most of his crew was still on deck, but they were lounging around now. Zoro was napping against the railing, Nami was on one of the folding chairs reading a newspaper, Usopp and Chopper were talking amongst themselves, and Robin was in a folding chair of her own, though she was visibly distanced from the crew.

"Chopper, Whiskey wants to talk to you," Luffy called as he climbed out of the room and onto the deck. Conversation with Usopp halting, Chopper looked over in surprise.

"Me? A-alright." Chopper said, getting to his feet and trotting over to the hatch.

"She's still on the snail," Luffy told him, gesturing to where Chopper could just barely see the waiting den den inside the men's room.

"Right." Chopper said with a nod, steeling himself before entering the room himself and closing the hatch behind him.

Feeling lighter after his talk with Whiskey, Luffy took the time to quickly recheck Robin. While she'd had no indication of going back to feeling the darkness, he was going to constantly check up on her just in case. After all, she had only just gotten rid of the oily feeling, he wouldn't be too surprised if it popped back up at some point and he wanted to be ready for it if it did.

Finding that she still had no hints of darkness though, Luffy felt the small bits of tension that had built up release in a puff of breath. Her aura was still the light purple it was earlier and she still felt rather calm, yet on guard at the same time. A lot of her emotions were contradictory, and it made it hard for Luffy to get a good understanding of the woman, but he tried not to think too much about it.

It didn't help that she knew something about facilities though.

He knew that was something he needed to talk with her about, but there was a bout of anxiety that was cropping up in him, telling him that the talk could be put off, but he knew if he listened to it he would end up putting it off indefinitely to the point that he'd never ask.

Taking a deep breath, Luffy walked over to the lounging woman, seeing as she noticed his approach and turned her attention to him.

"What can I do for you, Sencho-san?" She asks evenly, a small smile on her face despite the caution she was currently experiencing. Taking a quick glance around the deck, Luffy noticed that everyone else was just out of hearing range if he spoke quietly, and he'd really rather talk to Robin out here instead of inside.

Deciding to just go for it, Luffy sits on the deck beside Robin's chair, not looking at the woman and instead looking to the sky.

"When we first met, you mentioned the facility." Luffy starts, voice soft to keep the others from eavesdropping. Sensing the seriousness of the conversation, Robin shifts her position, looking to Luffy who still wouldn't look her way.

"Yes, I did." She agrees, and Luffy has to build up the courage to ask the next question, knowing that it could change his willingness to allow Robin to be a part of the crew.

"How do you know about facilities?" He finally asks after a measure of silence.

If she says that she worked for a facility if she says that she still works for a facility, if she tries lying or deceiving him, Luffy's going to have to tell her to leave. He can't risk having anyone who'd worked at a facility on his crew- that'd be worse than having someone with darkness on the crew.

Robin takes her time, thinking over a good response before sitting up from her lounging position to face Luffy entirely.

"I came across one during my travels. Entirely coincidental." She answers finally. Luffy finally removes his eyes from the sky and turns to scrutinize the archeologist, looking for any hints of deception. He doesn't find any though, and her emotions tell him that she's being truthful which relieves him.

"How much do you know?" He asks next, still watching her. She tilts her head slightly and gives a small, almost rueful smile.

"As I said when we met, not much, yet more than most. I happened upon a facility on complete accident while looking for shelter. It was in a cave system that I was using to avoid the people on the island, and when I found it I used my abilities to take a peek inside." She tells him readily, not hiding it from him now that she was a part of the crew. She had taken his hint and was talking quietly to avoid being overheard, but Luffy still couldn't help glancing to see if the crew were looking their way.

"I will admit, I was not... prepared for what I saw inside. I had theorized that the strange hideout in the cave was being used as a bandits base or even a secret mining operation. However, when I looked inside I saw children in cells instead and people in lab coats injecting syringes into them. I had no idea what it was, but I wanted no part of it and decided it best to leave before anyone took notice of me." She continues. Luffy makes sure to focus entirely on her emotions as she does, yet still feels no lies.

"I have no idea what it was that they were doing, what their goal was, or even who they were. I believe the government has something to do with it seeing as they're hunting down children who've escaped from facilities, but that's entirely guesswork. I assume you know much more than I do, having been in a facility yourself." The two fall silent as Luffy digs through her every emotion, just waiting to pick up on any deception or clue that she's being disingenuous. When he doesn't find any he lets out a heavy sigh and leans back against the railing.

"I take it my answers satisfy you." She says with a small smile, sitting back in her chair as well as the tension around them slowly dissipates.

"Mm." Luffy hums, turning his head up to the sky and closing his eyes, basking in the warm sunlight.

"If I may ask, how is it that you know I told the truth? How can you be certain that I don't know more than I'm letting on?" She asks carefully, and as Luffy's coming to find is normal with the woman, she looks much calmer than she feels. Peeking an eye open, Luffy finds that a small smile of his own has formed on his face in response.

"I can feel it. You haven't lied and you don't know anymore, just like you said. You haven't lied at all since you've been here." Luffy tells her, his attention shifting to Chopper as the doctor climbs out of the hatch, his conversation with Whiskey over now.

"Feel it? Is this a part of your devil fruit?" She asks, only the barest sign of confusion on her face as her emotions become tumultuous and prickly. Her anxiety had ratcheted up a notch and she was becoming more and more cautious. Luffy couldn't help but be impressed once more that none of this showed outwardly.

"No, not my devil fruit." He answered carefully, silently debating with himself on whether or not he wanted to tell her all about his abilities and where he'd gotten them. While he'd readily told the rest of his crew about them, Robin was not only brand new, but she was someone he wasn't quite sure he could trust with that sort of information just yet for multiple reasons.

After all, she already knew a little bit about facilities, and while he knew she hadn't lied so far, he wouldn't put it past her to have managed to keep something else a secret. He was going to try his best to trust her and put her past behind him, but right this second he wasn't sure if he could do that or not.

"Hm, it seems you're full of more mysteries than I first believed." She said with a grin, unaware of Luffy's inner battle with himself. Blinking his heavy thoughts away, Luffy plastered on his cheerful smile and laughed.

"Shishishi, I don't know what you're talking about. Ne, Usopp, let's go fishing!" And with that, the excitable captain was rushing off to go join his sniper at the railing, leaving the archeologist to blink after him, still internally unsettled.


Robin is officially a part of the crew now and we're going to be moving on to Konoro Town next!

I've got a lot of work to be getting to, so as much as I want to leave a longer authors note, I really don't have the time to. Sorry about that! As always though, thank you all for the support! You all are the best and I can't wait to get into the next arc!

See you all in two weeks!