Chapter 1: Foreword
Hello everyone! Welcome to my oneshot collection for One Piece, Love on the High Seas! It includes a variety of stories, from passionate romances to tales of friendship, and I hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. If you have migrated here from Cuddle Corner, thank you for sticking with me; if you are new, welcome and enjoy what I have here! In either case, happy reading!
I do take prompts/pairing and story requests (in fact, I love them, so please feel free to request!). However, there are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind:
- If a prompt is submitted, I do not guarantee that I will agree to write it. If I feel uncomfortable at the prompt or otherwise feel like I do not possess enough information to adequately complete the prompt, it is my right to politely refuse to take the prompt. If the prompt is from a series that I have not read/seen, it is likely that I will place the prompt on hold until I have done so. If the prompt is from an anime filler arc, I may refuse or require a short explanation of the filler arc to provide me with enough detail to complete the prompt. Please respect my choice as an author to refuse prompts.
- Most of the stories I write are male/female, mostly because this is what I am comfortable writing. However, if you wish to suggest a female/female or male/male prompt, please feel free to do so. I don't discriminate against such pairings and will most likely write them if requested, it is just unlikely that I will do so spontaneously. Again, please respect my decision as the author to refuse to write a pairing if I cannot draw appropriate inspiration.
- Finally, this is not a place for smut. I respect people who read and/or write it, but I am not one of those people, so please do not request anything that is NSFW.
Below is also a list of my other oneshot collections. Please do stop by if any of them pique your interest! Is there a fandom you love not represented? Please recommend it to me! I love new things to read.
- The Bonds that We Hold Dear (Naruto)
- Tales of Connected Souls (Bleach)
- Tales from the Four Tribes (Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra)
- Equivalent Exchange: My Life for Yours (Fullmetal Alchemist)
- Love Burning Bright (Blue Exorcist)
- Tales of the Dawning Sun (Yona of the Dawn)
- Love on a Fairy's Wing (Fairy Tail)
- Tales of Resonating Souls (Soul Eater)
- Tales from Ouran High (Ouran High School Host Club)
Chapter 2: Index
Chapter 1: Mettle as a Wife (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 2: The Man I Know and Love (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 3: Truth or Dare (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 4: She's Not You (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 5: The Man I Know and Love Part II (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 6: The Epiphany (Luffy/Hancock)
Chapter 7: My Knight in Shining Armor (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 8: The Man I Know and Love Part III (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 9: A Lovely New Assistant (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 10: A Daring Rescue (Luffy/Smoothie)
Chapter 11: A Present for Nami (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 12: Some Sound Advice (Ace/Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 13: A Bond of Trust (Luffy/Nami/Sabo)
Chapter 14: The Fated Reunion (Luffy/Nami/Shanks)
Chapter 15: War-Torn (Luffy/Nami/Shanks)
Chapter 16: A Bond of Trust Part II (Luffy/Nami/Sabo)
Chapter 17: Feverish (Luffy/Nami/Shanks)
Chapter 18: Fire and Water (Nami/Sanji)
Chapter 19: Sunrise (Nami/Sanji)
Chapter 20: Natural (Luffy/Nami)
Chapter 21: Milk, Cookies, and Confessions of Love (Luffy/Nami)
Chapter 22: Something Like That (Luffy/Nami)
Chapter 23: Look at All Those Choppers! (Tony Tony Chopper)
Chapter 24: Desert Ghost (Nami/Ace/Sabo)
Chapter 25: Just Another Day in Crazy Land (Law/Chopper)
Chapter 26: Not the Same (Luffy/Hancock)
Chapter 27: On My Heart and Soul (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 28: A Dream of the Stars Upon Earth (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 29: A Present for Nami Part II (Sanji/Nami)
Chapter 30: The Tale of Carina (Carina)
Chapter 3: Mettle As A Wife
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Nami nervously glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall, watching anxiously as the second hand slowly tick-tick-ticked its way around the round surface. As she shifted uncomfortably in the wooden chair, her fingers twiddling and her anxiety rising, she wondered if she had somehow confused the time that Sanji would arrive home, or that he had decided to work late without calling her, or if something unforeseen had arisen to keep him. Sighing forlornly, she slumped down in the chair and pouted at the perfectly set table, complete with her finest dishes and a beautiful centerpiece with a burning candle. Tonight, I wanted to surprise him with dinner, she moped.
Ever since they had been married, Sanji, being a cook by trade, made a habit of cooking dinner when he arrived home from his restaurant. Nami was a meteorologist specializing in ocean weather current and predicting hurricanes, and although it was an intense job, she often arrived home earlier than he did most nights. There was no rhyme or reason to why he insisted on cooking for her, more than he enjoyed both cooking and doting on her, but for once she had decided to treat the man she loved. But it looks like that isn’t the case, she whined silently as she got up to stir the pot of soup still simmering on the stove top.
She had broken into Sanji's recipe book to find something she, a novice at best, was capable of making, but had found the challenge trying. All she had managed to find was a simple beef stew, and to her displeasure it wasn’t romantic in the slightest. Yet, it was all she could do, and so she had slaved away over it to try and replicate his design to the best of her ability. She wasn’t sure how it had come out, in all honesty, and part of her worried that Sanji would take offense to her attempting to best his work. He loves me. He would never… Right?
She jumped violently when she heard the door unlock and her husband step into the entryway down the hall, so much so that she flung the ladle and sent soup all over the walls. Scrambling and screaming mentally, she hastily wiped it away with a dishtowel while praying her husband stuck to the habit of taking his time removing his shoes and chef’s jacket. When he finally wandered into the kitchen, she was just finishing up, and she whirled around while flinging the soiled rag aside to beam nervously at him.
“What’s all this?” he asked with a mildly confused expression, unsure whether to stare at her, the set table, or the pot of soup on the stove. Nami discreetly switched off the heat on the stove before bobbing over to him, indicating for him to sit down. Actually, she grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him into the chair, making him all the more perplexed.
“I made dinner!” she cried happily, hovering beside him in an attempt to gauge his reaction. “You always treat me, Sanji, so I decided to treat you! That’s okay, right?” Thankfully, Sanji returned her bright smile with one of his own and rose out of the seat to peck her on the cheek, making her blush with delight.
“Of course it is. That makes me happy,” he responded, leaning back in the chair and motioning for her to go about her business. Positively giddy, Nami grabbed his bowl and filled it with rice and stew, bringing it over to him carefully.
“Dinner is served!” she announced theatrically as she set it down in front of him.
“Beef stew?” he asked her, and his tone was hard to read so for an instant she thought he was disappointed. Then he grinned widely and grabbed a spoon to begin shoveling it into his mouth. “I love it!” he cried through mouthfuls.
“Really?!” she gasped, happiness welling up inside her like a balloon. “Oh, I’m so happy! Have some more!” she demanded and snatched the bowl away as soon as he was finished to refill it. He began eating it with gusto again, and as she basked in the praise she bobbed back over to the stove to fix herself a plate. Sanji noticed this and jumped up from the table, laughing nervously as he sidled to her side and took the bowl from her.
“No, no, what are you doing?” he asked her. She glanced up at him, her turn to be perplexed.
“Um… I’m eating?” she answered with a cocked eyebrow. He’s acting suspicious now.
“But I don’t want you to eat it! I’m selfish; it’s so good, I want it to myself!” he grinned and promptly inhaled the entire bowl of her stew. What…? She thought in utter bewilderment, then gasped in horror. He doesn’t want me to eat it because it’s bad!
“No! I wanna taste it!” she snapped and snatched the ladle off the counter to dip it into the pot. Sanji yelped and grabbed the giant stainless steel pot, ripping it away from her and taking off across the house. “Hey! Sanji!” she shouted as she took off after him. She chased him into the living room, climbing over the couch to vault of the cushions and latch onto his back, wrapping her legs around his middle so her arms were free to reach towards the pot.
“Ahh! Nami! I’ll fall!” he cried as he became dangerously unbalanced, the stew sloshing around in the pot and onto his clothes and the floor.
“I don’t care!” she shouted angrily as she struggled to get a scoop of the stew out. “It’s my creation! I wanna taste it!” Somehow, she managed to finally get a ladleful of the stew, and before he could do anything about it, she shoved the whole thing into her mouth. She instantly spat it out and began coughing. It’s terrible! She wailed silently, tears coming to her eyes at both her failure and the abhorrent taste. Having lost, Sanji sighed and set the pot down onto the coffee table, while Nami just clung helplessly onto his back. She buried her face into his neck, sniffling.
“Nami…?” he murmured softly.
“I just wanted to make a good dinner for you…” she sniffed miserably. “I can’t even do that… I’m a failure as a wife.” Sanji exhaled deeply and walked over to the couch, setting her down before crouching down in front of her. She avoided his gaze, staring miserably at her lap.
“Nami. Look at me,” he commanded, and when she would not obey, he put a finger under her chin to lift her face. Her teary eyes met his, and she found them to be a mixture of amusement and love. “Do you really think I gauge your mettle as a wife on your cooking?” he chuckled.
“No…” she mumbled in defeat, her shoulders slumping. He reached up to put his hands on her upper arrms.
“No,” he confirmed. “So what if you can’t cook? That’s what I do for you. There are plenty of other things you do for me,” he told her gently.
“Like what?” she snapped. She was slightly irritated at making such a fool of herself, and damn it, she hated when he was right. He didn’t get angry at her, though; he just laughed.
“Well, you always eat all my cooking. That makes me, as a chef, happy,” he began.
“That’s really not helping,” she huffed, but he raised one of his hands to place a finger over her lips.
“I wasn’t finished. You always set my clothes out for me in the morning,” he continued. That’s true. I get up earlier than he does. Sanji loves to sleep; if I didn’t set out his clothes, he would be late all the time… His list didn’t end there, though. “You do all the shopping, too, and you’re always so careful to make sure that you buy the right things.”
“Well… I wouldn’t want you to have to cancel a meal because you didn’t have the right stuff…” she admitted warily, rubbing her hands together nervously.
“That’s right, and a lot of times you always buy extra things for me,” he nodded. She smiled lightly. I just can’t help it. I’ll be walking through the aisles and I’ll see something that he might like, and I just can’t help but get it because I know he'll be happy! “You always make sure the kitchen is so clean, too.” Sanji hated a dirty kitchen; she knew that, and so she tried to keep it tidy and clean for him every day. Am I really so useful? She thought, feeling her self-doubt fading little by little.
“Those are all things you can do, though,” she protested with a frown. Sanji smiled lovingly and poked her nose.
“True. But there’s something you do that only you can do,” he smiled. Something about that smile, so gentle and full of love, made her heart race. “Nami, you are always here waiting for me. You get me through the roughest of days, because I know when I come home, you’ll welcome me with open arms.” Nami blinked, then blushed and shifted shyly on the couch.
“Yeah… That’s true…” she admitted quietly.
“Please, don’t ever doubt yourself. You’re my wife, and you’re the best wife I could ever have. I wouldn’t want anyone else,” he smiled as he gently stroked her hair.
“Even one that could cook?” she asked.
“Even one that could cook,” he nodded, and then he leaned forward to kiss her softly on the mouth. Nami closed her eyes, accepting his love like he accepted her. I don’t have to worry about anything, she thought blissfully. Sanji loves me, no matter what. I’ll do things for him that only I can do… I’ll make him the happiest man alive.
Chapter 4: The Man I Know and Love
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested by: farrah87 (Ao3)
Nami lingered in the spacious bathroom after the other girls had left, sitting at a mirror brushing her long, tangerine-orange hair. As she rhythmically drew the brush through the luscious waves, her body moved robotically; in truth, she was not sitting there for the sake of her own vanity. Her heart was troubled, trying to piece itself together after the heartbreak she had experienced when Luffy had attempted to retrieve Sanji from the carriage of the Germa 66. Sighing deeply, she set down the hand brush and looked down at the tiled floor, still covered in bathwater and soap bubbles.
He looked so terrifying, she thought with a shudder as she recalled the expression of pure rage that had distorted the face of the man she held dear to her heart, the man who had so many times before fought alongside her and the rest of the Straw Hat crew, and had sworn his undying love to her time and time again. A wry smile formed on her lips. “Not that he ever means it,” she mumbled as she rose from the small stool to begin pulling on her clothes. Though she told herself that, she could not hide the fact that after all this time, he had somehow worked his way into her heart, slipping past what she once thought was an impenetrable wall.
After getting dressed, she exited the bathroom and proceeded down the hallway of the spacious manor-slash-fortress. The meeting with Bege, the formidable pirate who had stolen Sanji right from under them and major figure in Big Mom's crew who was now supposedly allying with them to take the psychotic woman down, was within the next thirty minutes. She walked purposefully down the hall, but as she turned the corner, her steps faltered and her breath caught in her throat. There, standing a few yards away, was the man they had all be fighting so desperately to recover from the clutches of Big Mom.
“Sanji,” she breathed, almost reflexively. At the sound of her voice, the blonde-haired man lifted his head to glance over his shoulder. His eyes lit up with childlike happiness when he noticed it was her.
“Nami~” he cried blissfully, but for once Nami stayed where she was, gazing at him with apprehension. Though Luffy had explained the situation fully, there was still some part of her that could not forget the outrage of his expression, the harshness of his words as he savagely beat Luffy right in front of her own eyes. And then there's her, she thought, feeling like a dagger pierced through her heart as the image of the cute, seemingly innocent Pudding flashed into her mind. Though Sanji now know her true intentions, did it matter? He had a weakness for beautiful women, and there was no questioning the girl's appeal- when it came down to it, would he choose her regardless of the danger? Would he freeze? She bit down on her bottom lip as Sanji's expression gradually phased from elated to perplexed. “Nami? What is it?” he asked.
“I told you that I hadn’t forgiven you yet, and that I put it on hold for the sake of getting out of here,” she told him with more sharpness in her voice than she had intended. Sanji flinched visibly at the harshness of her tone, and he cast his gaze guiltily to the floor. Nami's emotions were now bubbling on the surface, and she could contain them no longer. She balled up her fists as her hands began to shake violently. “You beat Luffy to a bloody mess. He went through hell trying to get you out, you know that?” she snapped at him. “All of us did! And you have the gall to say those things to us?” she cried angrily. As she stood there, quivering, she was astonished to find tears pouring down her cheeks. “I was so afraid, Sanji. I was afraid we would lose you forever… But I was more afraid that you really thought those terrible things about us… Part of me still is…” she whimpered, reaching up to angrily wipe away the tears, but they flowed freely despite her attempts to cease them. Sanji just stared down at the ground, his shoulders hunched with guilt. Nami continued to cry for a few minutes before he worked up the courage to venture closer, stopping right in front of her. Half-angry and half-sad, she just puffed out her cheeks in defiance as he gazed down at her with a complex expression.
“I’m not going to say that I did it the right way,” he sighed deeply, avoiding meeting her eyes. “They put me between a rock and a hard place. They threatened the Baratie, and they threatened all of you, and I just couldn’t handle the pressure of having all that blood on my hands if I messed up.” He looked down at his hands miserably. “They even threatened to blow off my hands if I tried to escape… Everywhere I looked, I was cornered, and I thought that the only way out, the only way to keep everyone safe, was to just go along with it.” He closed his eyes as he heaved a deep sigh. “Of course, that was before I knew Pudding was a murderous psychopath.”
Nami stiffened at the mention of the girl's name, and she saw the brief smile that formed on Sanji's face as he recalled the beautiful woman.
“What if she wasn’t?” she asked quietly, and he raised his eyebrows at her. “Sanji… If Luffy had decided to make the deal with Bege still, and Pudding was innocent in all of this…” She trailed off, her bottom lip beginning to quiver at the fear of what he would say in response to her. “Would you have abandoned us?” she finished with a small whisper. Sanji remained silent for a long time before she felt him gently cup her chin in his hand to lift up her face. Normally, she would shun such actions and cast them aside as playful gestures, but when her eyes met his she became frozen with the intensity of feeling that burned within his eyes.
“Of course I wouldn’t,” he told her firmly, his eyebrows narrowing as he regarded her intently. “My home is the Thousand Sunny, and my family is the Straw Hats.” His expression softened as he smiled down at her, and she shuddered slightly as she felt his hand slide from below her chin to gently rest against her cheek, his fingertips gently brushing her lingering tears away. “And most importantly, the only woman that can ever really have my heart is you, Nami,” he purred. Nami's heart skipped a beat. This time, it felt real, like he was truly professing his feelings to her.
“Do you mean that?” she asked him quietly, reflexively leaning into the hand that was caressing her.
“Every word of it,” he nodded with a smile. Nami felt the warm feeling of happiness bubbling up inside her as she stared up at him in relief. I had nothing to worry about after all… He's still the Sanji I know and love, she thought as a smile spread over her lips. As she remained absorbed by her flooding emotions, she did not notice that Sanji's face had drawn close until their lips were centimeters apart.
“San-" she began to protest, but could not finish as his lips enclosed her own in a passionate kiss. Nami's chest tightened as her breath was stolen by the heat of their lips moving against hers, and her body tensed up before relaxing as she melted under the intensity of the love she felt radiating from the small action. They lingered there in the hallway for only a few precious moments, but in those seconds Nami felt as if more words passed between the two of them than they had ever shared in all the time they had known one another. She felt loneliness pervade her as he pulled back, and she fought the urge to reach out and pull him in for another. He smirked down at her, pleased with himself, and then promptly turned on his heel, his cape fluttering as he began walking briskly over the tiled floor. Nami was left breathless with her heart pounding and her lips still tingling with the feeling of Sanji's kiss.
“Come on,” he laughed back at her. “We wouldn’t want to be late to the tea party, now would we?” Nami blinked as reality slowly returned to her, and she stamped her feet angrily before she marched after him.
“Sanji! You hopeless flirt!” she huffed, and his laughter echoed off the stone walls, mingling with the furious clicking of her shoes. Still, even as she seethed with annoyance, her heart still fluttered like she was floating on air.
She knew now that the man before her was indeed the man she had fallen in love with, and that was enough.
Chapter 5: Truth or Dare
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested By: Snow3bunny (Ao3)
“What are you idiots doing?” Nami sighed and shook her head as she leaned against the wooden railing overlooking the main deck of the Thousand Sunny, where the entirety of the crew was currently sitting down in a circle around an empty rum bottle most likely consumed by Zoro earlier in the day. She had been in her navigator's study examining their current course to determine the safest and fastest course to Fishman Island, their current destination. It was the Thousand Sunny's maiden voyage, and a lot could go wrong with a ship you did not know well; the other members of the crew, however, did not seem to share this sentiment, as it was their raucous laughter that had pulled her from her calculations and caused her to migrate out of the interior of the ship to investigate the source of their merriment. “Whatever it is, can you keep it down? I’m trying to make sure we reach Fishman Island, thank you very much,” she huffed as she crossed her arms and regarded the strange display with distaste.
“Nami!” Luffy shouted excitedly as his navigator lightly reprimanded them. “We're playing spin-the-bottle! Come join us!” he insisted as he bounced up and down excitedly while pointing at the empty rim bottle lying on its side. Nami's eyebrow crept up at the mention of the game, which was all but foreign to her.
“Spin-the-bottle?” she echoed and walked down the steps to the main deck of the ship, admittedly curious about the strange game.
“Yeah!” Chopper squealed with his tiny reindeer hooves in the air. “Sanji showed it to us. He says they used to play it on his cooking ship all the time!” he explained while giving the cook a big smile.
“This doesn't involve taking off my clothes, does it?” Nami snorted as she stopped short of the group situated in a circle, crossing her arms as she glared doubtfully at the blonde, lascivious cook.
“Of course not! I am a man of class,” Sanji pouted as his shoulders slumped. Yeah, you've got class, all right. You’re a ‘class'ic pervert! She thought with a huff, but a playful smile was forming on her lips.
“All right, then. What does this game involve?” she inquired as she gestured for them to make room for her in the circle. She squeezed her way in between Luffy and Zoro, tucking her legs beneath her as she regarded the seemingly unassuming bottle. There doesn’t seem to be anything special about it.
“It's quite simple,” Robin mused and gestured lazily to the rum bottle. “A person spins the bottle, and whomever it lands on is given the option of ‘truth’ or ‘dare.’ Truth involves responding honestly to a question, while dare means completing a task. Both are decided by the person who spun the bottle. We each take turns,” she explained matter-of-factly. Nami nodded in understanding, leaning back slightly as she held her feet with her hands.
“Okay, I get it. Let's get on with it, then!” she beamed, suddenly excited. Who doesn’t love the idea of making someone reveal their innermost secrets or making them do ridiculous things? Sticking out her tongue slightly, she reached forward and gave the bottle a whirl. It made a humming sound as the air moved over the opening, and it slowly came to a stop with the open end pointing at Usopp. Perfect! I can date Usopp to do something fun! Or make him tell me something embarrassing! She thought devilishly as she rubbed her hands together. “All right, Usopp! Truth or dare?” she demanded.
“I’m gonna go with truth. Your ideas of a dare frighten me,” the spineless sniper whimpered immediately, and admittedly, Nami was slightly disappointed.
“All right, then,” she sighed and cocked her head to the side slightly as she tried to formulate a good question to make Usopp squirm. A mischievous smile wormed its way onto her lips, and she heard Usopp swallow anxiously. “Okay, Usopp. At what age did you stop wetting the bed?” she asked, and the sniper immediately turned red all the way up to his ears. At his mortified reaction, the circle of pirates immediately burst into raucous laughter.
“Come on, Usopp, answer the question!” Luffy guffawed, grinning eagerly.
“I never wet the bed! I am a brave warrior of the sea!” Usopp insisted haughtily, but covered bashfully when another round of laughter broke out among the group.
“Be honest!” Franky grinned and nudged him with a large metal elbow, and Usopp squeaked as it dug slightly into his ribs.
“O-okay… I was twelve,” Usopp mumbled as he hung his head in shame, and they all exploded into giggles.
“Twelve? No way!” Luffy cackled as he rolled onto his back holding his stomach and kicking his legs as laughter wracked his rubbery body.
“I knew you were a coward, Usopp, but I didn’t know you were a baby, too!” Zoro scoffed playfully. Usopp snorted defiantly and crossed his arms with a huff.
“Laugh all you want! I’m going to show all of you!” he said primly as he turned his long nose up into the air. After the giggles settled down, it was Zoro's turn to spin, and he did so readily. The glass rattled against the wooden surface of the boat before coming to rest on Luffy, who naturally chose a dare.
“Okay. I dare you to climb the mast… But upside-down,” Zoro grinned stupidly and gestured to the mast with a thumb.
“Piece of cake!” Luffy grinned assertively and promptly hopped to his feet to run over to the tall wooden structure. With a grunt, he ducked down to position himself in a hand-stand.
“And no using your Devil Fruit powers!” Sanji laughed as an afterthought.
“Please! I’m no cheat!” Luffy growled at them before hopping up onto the mast and wrapping his arms and legs around the massive wooden post. Grunting with effort, he began to slowly ascend the mast in a strange shimmy-like motion. He made it about halfway up before he lost his grip and came tumbling down, landing roughly at the bottom of the post. “Owwww… My head…” he whined as he rubbed it tenderly, while the rest of the group cackled with laughter.
“You okay, Luffy?” Chopper cried as he hopped to his feet. “Someone get the doctor! Wait! I am the doctor!” he wailed as he ran around in circles in a panic. Meanwhile, Luffy was sitting up, seemingly unharmed.
“Ugh… That's a lot harder than it looks,” he whined as he glanced up the post with a squint. “All right! Who's turn is it?” he asked as he scooted on his behind back into the circle eagerly.
“Looks like it's Robin,” Zoro answered. With a small smile, the quiet archaeologist reached forward and gave the bottle a spin. Nami's eyes widened as the mouth of the bottle came to rest pointing directly at her, and she suddenly grew nervous as to what Robin would do in either situation. Truth is a safer option, probably, she decided.
“Well? Truth or dare, Nami?” Robin asked calmly.
“Truth! Ask me anything! I’m an open book,” Nami boasted, but the bravado was mostly to hide her anxiety. Robin chuckled and leaned back slightly on her hands as she regarded the navigator with calculating eyes.
“All right, then. Tell us about your first kiss,” Robin demanded. A chorus of “ooohs" traveled through the circle, and all eyes came to land on the navigator. Suddenly, her heart was pounding violently. Wait! Do they think I’ve actually done stuff like that? She thought in a panic.
“Out with it, Namiiiii!” Luffy urged and poked at her arm with a snicker. “When was it? Who was it?” His incessant urging did little to ease her nervousness, and she swallowed nervously as she glanced down at her lap.
Come on… It's not that big of a deal to say that I’ve never kissed anybody, right? She thought as she bit down on her lower lip.
“Is it that scandalous?” Zoro mused as he rested a hand on the hilt of one of his swords. “Or maybe she's done it so many times she's having trouble remembering?” That last comment set Nami's rage aflame. They think I’m some kind of… kind of… whore! She realized in anger, and she balled up her fists as she began to shake violently. Tears forming in the corners of her eyes as they continued to prod at her, she abruptly jumped to her feet, head down and shoulders slumped.
“I hate this stupid game!” she shouted before whipping around and stalking up the stairs to return to her study. They all shouted at her to wait, but she ignoring them, slamming the door shut behind her before collapsing onto her bed with a miserable sob. She buried her face into her pillow. It's so dumb she thought bitterly. I don’t know what hurts more… The fact that not ever kissing someone is so unbearable, or the fact that they all think that I do those kinds of things frivolously, she moped as she hugged her pillow tightly. Is it strange that I don’t? That I want to wait for someone special…? She thought as she rolled onto her back and held an arm over her eyes as the tears flowed freely. At that thought, a certain blonde-haired cook popped into her mind, and that just made her heart constrict with pain. Does he think… I’m like that, too? Is that why he's always making advances on me? Does he think I’m easy? She thought as her bottom lip quivered. Considering the prevailing opinions of the crew, she thought that it must be true, and despite her best efforts her tough exterior dissolved, and she was left sobbing miserably.
She awoke to the sound of loud knocking on her door. She had fallen asleep curled up under the blankets cuddling her pillow for comfort, and the surface was still damp with tears. She sat up and rubbed her puffy eyes, and her fingers came away wet with salty water. She glanced at the door as the knocking came once more. “One minute!” she called as she threw the covers off herself and walked over to the mirror to straighten out her hair and try and erase the tear stains on her cheeks before answering the door. She cracked it slightly to try and hide her disheveled appearance. “What is it? I’m busy,” he stated as she pulled the door open, but she fell silent when she realized it was Sanji standing in the doorway, his hands in his pockets and a cigarette in his mouth. She felt her chest tighten, and she dropped her gaze slightly. “Oh. It's you,” she said quietly.
To his credit, he didn’t comment on how upset she obviously looked, but instead smiled sweetly and extended a hand to her.
“I was wondering if you could give me some help in the kitchen?” he inquired hopefully. “You're the only one around here who can peel a potato worth a damn,” he joked light-heartedly, but even though he was doing his best to act normal, she could feel the underlying tension in his tone and see the stiffness in his body. She stood in the threshold of the doorway, considering refusing his offer and crawling back into bed to mope some more. There's no sense in brooding over something so pointless, she thought with a small sigh and nodded before opening the door all the way.
“Okay. I can take a break,” she said despite the fact that she was almost certain that Sanji knew that all she had been doing was crying. He continued to hold his hand out for her, and she blushed slightly as she reluctantly took it and allowing him to lead her further into the ship to the kitchen. As she plodded along after him, she was keenly aware of the feeling of his hand wrapped around hers. Sanji's hand… It's so big and reassuring, she thought dreamily, then a jolt of pain shot through her heart. But… I'll never really get to hold his hand for real, she thought miserably, and the gloom settled over her once more. Sanji, seemingly oblivious to her despondent mood, brought her into the kitchen, which was already filled with the smells of delicious food and the steam of many things cooking on the stove and in the oven. He released her hand as he walked over to stir something in a simmering pot, and Nami was half-disappointed and half-grateful. She sat down at the small wooden table where a bag of potatoes was already sitting ready to be peeled. She pulled over an empty pot to collect the peelings and sat down to begin working.
The silence settled between them as she peeled the potatoes and Sanji flitted from spot to spot stirring this and tasting that. However, though Nami normally enjoyed the quiet, she found Sanji's lack of talkativeness unsettling and bordering on unbearable. She knew he wanted to ask her something, but he was too polite to do so, and the suspense was killing her. Besides, there was her lingering fear of what he truly thought of her, and she was dying to know the truth. Soon she felt like she was going to burst, and to channel the nervous energy she began ripping furiously at the potatoes with the peeler. Suddenly, it slipped and carved into the side of her finger, making her screech in pain and drop the starchy vegetable, already splattered with her blood.
“Nami?!” Sanji cried in alarm in response to her yelp, and he came rushing to her aid as she held her finger. Thankfully it was only a shallow cut, but it was still bleeding profusely.
“Ow… I just cut my finger, that's all,” she whimpered as he crouched down in front of her. He reached up to take her hand and pull it closer to his face to investigate, and she obediently allowed him to do so despite her blushing. He sighed lightly in relief.
“It looks a lot worse than it is. Wait here. I’ll get a bandage,” he instructed before riding to his feet and walking over to one of the counters to rummage around for a roll of bandages. He returned a short minute later with the bandages and a strip of cloth, which he pressed to her hand to absorb the blood. As he worked intently on her wound, Nami's heart felt like it was tightening up so much it was twisting into knots, and finally she could no longer stand the pressure.
“Sanji… Do you think I’m a…” she trailed off as she searched for a proper way to refer to whatever the rest of the crew thought her as. He glanced up at her with a small frown, then smiled coyly.
“A virgin?” he finished with a slightly smug smile, and she turned bright pink as he put it so bluntly. Her reaction affirmed his question, and he chuckled lightly under his breath as he glanced down at her hand and began to slowly wind bandages around her injured finger. “I thought that was what had you so upset,” he mused quietly as he continued to work on treating her wound. Nami bit down on her lip, but that didn’t stop it from quivering.
“Well? Do you?” she asked insistently. He sighed deeply and tied off the bandage, looking up at her. Her breath caught in her throat as he looked her dead in the eyes.
“Of course I do, Nami. I’ve always thought so,” he smiled softly up at her. Nami stared at him for a minute, and then all the tension that she had been holding in her body suddenly relaxed, and she exhaled deeply before slumping back in the chair. So he doesn’t think that of me… She thought with a relieved smile. “For the record, most of the others were only teasing. We certainly don’t think you get around,” he mused with a raised eyebrow, and she went slightly red in embarrassment upon realizing she had overreacted. “What made you so upset?” he asked her curiously.
“I… I've never actually kissed a man,” she admitted hesitantly, looking down at her hand, which was slowly turning the bandage a slight shade of pink as the wound attempted to clot. “They all seemed to think I thought nothing of it, and it just seemed so embarrassing that I had never kissed anyone,” she sighed. “And then I thought that maybe they think that they thought me as someone… easy… that was even worse.” She glanced down at him doubtfully. “They really don’t think that?”
“No,” he reassured before rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “Though it is surprising. I would have thought you would have kissed someone by now,” he remarked.
“I-I just take things like that seriously!” she cried and balled up her fists angrily, then winced as pain shot up her arm from the burning wound on her hand. She released the fist quickly to find that the bandage was rapidly turning red, as her action had reopened the wound. “Ow…” she whined. Sanji smirked slightly before taking her hand in his gently.
“It's never going to heal like that. Here, let me give it a kiss to make it go faster,” he grinned teasingly, and before she could even protest, he leaned down to gently press his lips to the bandages. She went dark red, her mouth opening and closing as she struggled to formulate words, while he just grinned triumphantly up at her. Her lips pressed together in a thin line as she glared down at him.
“Oh, you think you’re smooth, do you?” she snapped.
“As a matter of fact, I pride myself in my ability to woo the ladies,” he smirked playfully as she ripped her hand away from him lest its trembling give away her exhilaration. Her finger tingled slightly as the feeling of his little kiss lingered.
“Well, this is one lady you will not be wooing!” she huffed and looked away from him. He chuckled before suddenly standing at his full height and looking down at her thoughtfully. “What is it?” she asked nervously under his intense stare.
“Why, Nami, I think you're hurt somewhere else, too,” he drowned, and she gasped as she began looking over her hand for another cut. She could not locate one, and she glanced up at him in confusion.
“Where? I don’t see anything,” she blinked, and her eyebrows knitted together as he gave her a slightly alluring smirk. Now, what is he up to…?
“That's because you aren’t looking in the right place,” he purred as he leaned down over her, and her heart began to race as his face began dangerously close. “It's right… here,” he murmured as her gently brushed his fingertips over her bottom lip, and she realized that she had bit down so hard on her lip earlier that she had actually drawn blood. Her mind went blank as his eyes gazed intently into her own with a passionate fire blazing in their dark depths that she had never seen. “I should kiss that to make it better, too,” he smiled coyly, and she sat still as stone as he closed the distance between them to gently press his lips against her own. At first her mind raced with incoherent thoughts before slowly settling on him, the contours of his face and the highlights of his hair, and her body slowly relaxed as she melted into the kiss. His lips lingered for a while before slowly drawing away, and as he pulled back, Nami almost felt like a part of her was leaving. She soon came to her senses, however, and let out an affronted gasp.
“Sanji! You scoundrel!” she shrieked as she grabbed a handful of the potato skins and threw them into his face. The flirtatious cook just laughed heartily as he pulled the skins out of his hair.
“Didn’t take long for you to get back to normal,” he mused as he dropped the potato skins back into the bucket, and she looked up at him through narrowed eyes. He did all that to make me feel better? She realized, and despite her embarrassment, she smiled. This guy… He continued to chuckle as he brushed potato skins off his broad shoulders. “I invite you into my kitchen, and you make it a mess. What am I going to do with you, Nami?” he mused. She threateningly picked up the bucket.
“Well, then, don’t be such a tease!” she shouted at him, and he laughed again before waving a hand and retreating to the safety of the stove.
“I never tease,” he called over to her. “Now finish those potatoes before Luffy starts whining about how hungry he is,” he instructed with a wink. Nami stuck out her tongue at him, but as she set down the bucket and returned to work, she couldn’t ignore the bubbly, happy feeling floating around in her chest, and the lingering feeling of Sanji's kiss.
Her first kiss.
But that was going to be a secret, for now…
Chapter 6: She's Not You
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Nami and Sanji
Requested by: Ella (Ao3)
As she clutched onto Jinbe's back while they raced through Big Mom's fortress in a desperate effort to escape, Nami again lamented the fact that Luffy had taken off without warning. Honestly, she had begun to expect it at this point, as her captain was incorrigibly reckless and irreparably stubborn, but that did not ease the strain on Nami's nerves. Still, she had better things to worry about that the whereabouts of her captain- like the fact that her life was in imminent danger. She screamed as a javelin sailed over her head, so close that it sheared through a few strands of her tangerine-colored hair before colliding roughly with the stone wall.
“Jinbe! We've got company!” she screamed as she glanced over her shoulder to find a squadron of armed guards chasing them down the hallway. Before the large fish-man could respond, suddenly the entire world heaved and the air became alive with light and deafening sound. Nami shrieked as she lost her grip on Jinbe's back and sailed through the air, landing roughly on her rump several yards away. She groaned and tenderly rubbed her behind, already feeling the bruises beginning to form. However, she did not have time to nurse her wounds. As she peered through the settling dust, she could hear the guards shouting at each other just over the sound of her ringing ears. Apparently, a stray cannonball had blasted through the fortress wall and disrupted the pursuit, and that had caused the explosion.
“Find them!” one shouted, and Nami's heart began to pound as she heard the furious shuffling of feet heading rapidly in her direction. She scrambled to her feet and took off in haste, unable to locate her companion; shouting his name would reveal her position, and so she was forced to flee in an attempt to hide. Running was no longer her desired tactic, but unlike a majority of her companions, she knew better than to try to take on an entire castle. Her heart jumping into her throat, she raced down the stone hallway as fast as her feet could take her.
“She must have gone this way! Split up! Search every room!” commanded another one of the soldiers just as Nami turned the corner and wrenched a door open. She ducked inside and latched the door, then pulled a heavy chair in front of it for good measure. Thankfully, she had chosen a room that was unoccupied- a bedroom, complete with a canopy bed and a nice vanity and a walk-in closet. Too bad she didn’t have the luxury of time to enjoy it. She clamped her hands over her mouth to contain the frightened squeak that threatened to slip out as someone began banging violently on the door.
“This is the palace guard! Open up!” the soldier shouted as he jiggled the doorknob. Nami realized that her only option would be to somehow talk her way out of it, so she swallowed nervously to steel her resolve before crying out in fright.
“You can't fool me! You're one of those Straw Hats!” she wailed, keeping her distance from the door to make it sound as if she was cowering on the other side of the room. “I won't let you in! You lawless rogues!”
“Ma'am, we are the palace guard pursuing one of the Straw Hat pirates. Please open the door so that we may search your room and make sure no one is hiding there,” came the exasperated reply.
“No!” Nami shrieked in response and pulled off one of her shoes to throw it at the door, making the soldier beyond cry out. “I am no fool! You had better get out of here right now before I call Mama! She'll stomp you all flat!” she shouted, and that threat seemed to spook the soldier. He spluttered some apologies before hurrying on his way, and after a brief period of silence, she breathed a deep sigh of relief. “Phew. It looks like I’m safe, for now.” But how was she supposed to find Jinbe? As she pondered the dilemma, she jumped when the door abruptly shook violently.
“In here!” came the same voice from earlier. Apparently suspicious, the guard had returned with reinforcements. The door lurched again, and the large chair jerked forward under the pressure. With seconds to act, Nami had no choice but to dive into the large closet. She pulled the doors shut just as the door splintered and the chair flew across the room, slamming into the wall and causing dust to rain down on top of her as she buried herself in the lavish dresses and shoes the closet contained. She held her hand over her mouth as she attempted to keep her breathing quiet, listening to the guards search the room outside. The thumping sounds grew dreadfully closer, and Nami pressed against the back wall, hoping that the thick clothing would be enough to shield her from the unwelcome eyes. She managed to keep from jumping as the door to the closet lurched open.
“She has to be in here somewhere!” a voice growled in the entryway of the closet. Through the gap in a pair of ball gowns, Nami could see a massive individual standing there, blocking out all the light from the bedroom. He was holding a savage-looking battle axe and wearing a scowl. Terrified that her rapidly beating heart would reveal her presence, she just stood frozen in the back of the closet while the knight squeezed his bulk into the closet and began pushing his weapon through the closet in an attempt to locate anyone who could be hiding there. Nami's eyes went wide as the blade brushed against her side just enough to slice slightly through her shirt. Thankfully, the knight did not detect her and continued prodding around before grunting and looking over his shoulder. “The closet is clear! She must have slipped out one of the windows!” he called to his comrades gruffly before shoving himself back out the exit. Not breathing, Nami continued to stand silently, hidden amongst the clothes, while she listened.
A long period of silence passed before she allowed herself to finally release the breath she had been holding. Her arms fell to her side, and she realized that her knees had begun to shake violently out of fear.
“That was too close,” she whispered.
“Close indeed,” growled a voice, and Nari squeaked as the point of a spear embedded itself into the wall beside her, tearing through the ball gown beside her and sending fabric fluttering to the floor. She was now exposed. Hidden in the shadows of the closet entryway stood a small knight. “I knew you were in here. You can't hide from me,” he cackled, and Nami cried out in protest as he jumped forward to grab her by her hair and jerk her roughly out of the closet. Tears stinging her eyes, she gritted her teeth as he shoved her to the ground and placed the point of the spear to her throat. “You Straw Hat scum. Big Mom said we can't kill you, but surely if your death is an accident, it shouldn't matter, right? After all, it's Straw Hat Luffy that she really wants.”
Nami just glared up at him, shaking in frustration. She had lost her Climatact and was essentially defenseless. Why does it always end up this way? She thought as tears began to roll down her cheeks and she dug her fingers into the lush fibers of the rug she was kneeling on. She was desperately wracking her brain for some way to fight back or escape, but he was standing between her in the exit, and any move she made would result with a spear through her neck. “Aw, are you crying? You pathetic girl. Don't worry. I'll give you a swift end, okay?” he crooned cruelly.
“How about I give you a swift end?” a familiar voice jeered suddenly, and before the soldier could react, a booted foot slammed savagely into the side of his head with such force that he went flying across the room and crashed through the glass window, plummeting out of side. Nari gulped as the spear tip barely nicked her throat, and she trembled as she felt the blood running down her neck, a testament to how close she had come to death. “Asshole,” sighed her rescuer, and Nami slowly lifted her gaze to see none other than the man they had been searching so desperately for.
“S-sanji,” she stammered dumbly. The blonde-haired cook sniffed in disdain at the shattered window before crouching down in front of her with a broad smile.
“Looks like I got here just in time!” he grinned, as if he had not abandoned them and ridiculed them earlier, as if nothing had happened at all and it was just like before. “Are you okay, my dear Nami?” he asked as he raised a hand to inspect the cut on her neck. Anger flared inside of her, wrenching her out of her startled state, and she slapped his hand away.
“I am just fine, Prince Sanji,” she snapped at him. Who did he think he was, parading in to her rescue and smiling like that like nothing had ever happened? He had beaten Luffy to a pulp and said such cruel things to them, which Nami could not easily forgive, regardless of her strong desire to. With a huff, she stood up and stalked across the room to peer out of the destroyed room into the hallway. There seemed to be no one around, for now, at least. The door was splintered beyond repair, so she could not close it, so she headed across the hallway into an undamaged room and went to close the door.
“Wait, Nami!” Sanji cried, slamming his hand against the heavy wooden door to keep it from closing. She glared up at him, pooling as much contempt into her gaze as she could.
“What are you doing? I don’t need your help, Prince Sanji,” she spat acidly and went to push the door closed, but even though she was pressing her entire weight against it, he was definitely stronger than her. He shouldered his way into the room so that Nami fell against the door as his weight suddenly vanished, and she shot him another glare before latching the door shut and stomping away from him.
“Nami, come on. It's not like I wanted to say those things,” he protested as she began looking around the room, pretending to be interested in the decór. That comment set her teeth to grinding. “Nami, my family was holding the Baratie hostage. If I made any indication that I was going to go against the plan, they would have been dead, just like that,” he sighed and snapped his fingers. “Now, it's different. My marriage to Pudding is a sham. They were planning to kill me all along, so there is nothing holding me to it. Then, I just said those things because I had to,” he insisted. Unable to contain her rage, she began to shake, and despite her desire to simply ignore him, she whirled on him angrily.
“Because you had to?” she shrieked at him. “Look, I know all about the whole plot Big Mom has going and your little family conflict, so don't try and make that excuse. You could have covered your ass without beating up Luffy and saying those awful things!” she snapped at him and turned her back to him so that he wouldn’t see her begin to cry. The truth was, she didn’t even want to be mad at him. She was so overjoyed to see him safe and alive, and more importantly aware of the dire danger he was in. Still, she was stubborn, and was going to make it clear that she was most displeased with him. “You said that we meant nothing to you,” she whispered, unable to keep the sob from slipping out. “I thought you abandoned us…” she murmured, and despite herself, a glimmer of her true feelings shone through. “I-I thought you abandoned me for Pudding.”
Nami couldn’t deny that she felt something for him. After all, how could she not after all this time? Of course, she had never told him anything of the sort, half because she could never find the right time and half because she was afraid of his flirtatious nature. He was always projecting his affections on her, but there was no denying he was a skirt-chasing fool. That was enough to hold her back, and enough to make her fear that the charming Emperor's daughter was wily and beautiful enough to steal the man's heart right out of her hands. As she sniffled and wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands, she gasped slightly when Sanji suddenly hugged her from behind.
“Oh, Nami. You've got some wild thoughts in that pretty head of yours,” he smiled in her ear, and she tried to keep a defiant look on her face as her heart fluttered. “Pudding? Sure, she's something to look at, but you wanna know something?” he whispered, and the feeling of his lips against her ear sent a shiver up her spine. “She's not you.”
“You're just saying that,” she choked out, puffing out her cheeks. Still, she did not break free of the hug, but grabbed onto the arms wrapped around her middle. Part of her didn’t want him to ever let go.
“No, I mean it,” he purred, then sighed deeply to lean his head against hers. “I’m sorry… I made you cry,” he said sorrowfully. “I was just trying to look out for everyone, but I suppose I didn’t go about the right way of doing it… I was just backed into a corner. I didn’t see any way out but marrying Pudding to keep everyone safe. I even went so far to act so cruelly to you and Luffy when all you were trying to do was save me,” he frowned. He squeezed her tightly. “I’m so sorry, Nami,” he murmured. At his blatant apology, the last bit of defiant anger left inside of her melted away.
“I forgive you, you stupid fool,” she sighed deeply and lifted a hand to lightly punch him in the side of the head. “You had just better not do anything so stupid again. I mean it,” she told him firmly, making him laugh. She found a smile forming on her face. She really did like his laugh.
“I promise. I’ll never make you cry again,” he swore solemnly, and then did something she did not expect. In a bold move, he grabbed her by the chin and turned her face to kiss her full on the lips. Nami’s face felt like it ignited in a fierce fire, but she found that she could not pull away. As he angled his head and kissed her deeply, her eyes fluttered closed and she felt herself grow weak. All she could think about in those precious moments was him, how much she loved him, so much that it hurt. When he broke away, she actually felt sad. “Still think I feel anything for anyone but you?” he asked with a smug smile, but as she gazed up into his eyes, she found her love matched.
“No,” she blushed, smiling bashfully. Ugh. The things this man does to me, she thought in mild shame and tried to sort out her muddled mind. As he went in for another kiss, she gasped and clapped her hand over his mouth. “Luffy!”
“What about him?” he muttered, his voice muffled by her hand. He was obviously irritated that he had been interrupted.
“He's waiting for you, of course!” she snapped and pulled her hand back and stomped back to the door to unlatch the lock and wrench it open. In her anger at Sanji, she had completely forgotten about the feverish chase after their captain. Jinbe had likely headed on without her. As much as she would like to continue on with her tender moment with Sanji, there were more important matters at hand. “We have to go now! He could starve to death waiting for you!” she cried as she glanced back at him. “Of course, there's an entire army between us and him.”
“Let them come. I’ll send them flying,” he grinned as he kicked at the air emphatically before walking over to her side and looping his arm and hers. “Shall we, Nami, dear?” he asked goofily.
“Sure, Prince Sanji,” she responding, but her tone was not one of hostility anymore, but teasing. His face scrunched up in distaste.
“Please don't call me that,” he whined as he pulled her out of the doorway, but she just giggled in response.
“Oh, but you still deserve some punishment for the way you acted. Maybe a year or two,” she joked, and received a loud groan of despair in response.
Sanji… I’m glad you’re back, she thought happily as they rushed down the hallway, speeding to their waiting captain and a likely battle ahead. Still, with Sanji by her side, she finally had hope for the future again. No matter what, I won't let him go again. Big Mom can come at me with her entire army, if she wants, but this time, I’ll fight with everything I have.
Because he chose me.
Chapter 7: The Man I Know and Love Part II
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested By: YonaWon (Ao3)
Nami stood in one of the expansive suite rooms that made up the large bulk of Bege's Devil Fruit castle fortress, her hands resting on the stone windowsill as she stared out of the towering glass window. Outside, the sky was a brilliant blue, with a few fluffy white clouds trailing idly by. To any normal person, watching the little fluffy ships sail across the calm blue expanse of sea above would probably provide some measure of peace, or relief; Nami just found it painfully ironic. The serene sky gave no hint of the coming storm.
During the meeting with Bege, they plotted the downfall of the relentless and ruthless Big Mom. It was a rather straightforward plan: the sham wedding would proceed, and at the instant that Pudding was to deliver Sanji a swift end, the attack plan would commence and hopefully they could dispatch Big Mom before she ever realized what was happening. It was a dangerous, risky plan for sure, all hinging on Sanji's ability to keep his cool during the wedding and good old-fashioned timing.
The entire idea of it made Nami sick to her stomach.
She glanced over her shoulder as she heard the vaulted wooden door open. She bit down on her lip as she felt her heart constrict in pain, but she quickly erased any evidence of emotion from her expression as Sanji closed the door behind him and looked up at her with that wide, goofy smile of his. Is he not worried? She thought as she turned her head and resumed gazing out of the window, struggling to contain her pervading sadness.
“Nami? You're not still mad at me, are you?” the cook asked with a wan sigh, but Nami shook her head in answer. The anger had dissipated after their passionate kiss in the hallway prior to the meeting with their new ally. She heard him mumble in confusion before his footsteps softly approached, but she cast her eyes to the stonework on the windowsill, inspecting the chips in in the stone and its coloration in an effort to keep from falling completely apart. Why is the world so cruel? A breath caught in her throat as he gently rested a hand on her elbow. “Nami. Look at me,” he said firmly, but as he turned her body she turned her head, refusing to look at him.
She couldn't bear to. They had gone through so much, sacrificed so much, to get this man back, and as soon as everything had finally become right again and Sanji had even kissed her, she had to watch him walk towards probable death? She had to watch him stand at the altar with that other woman, who desired nothing more than to murder him in cold blood? No. She could not. Despite her best efforts to hide them, the tears began to spill from her eyes. She thought she had cried enough earlier, but apparently she still had plenty to shed. “Nami,” Sanji insisted, his voice greatly pained. “Why won't you look at me?”
“I can't watch you go,” she admitted with a small voice thick with emotion. “What if something goes wrong, Sanji?” she whispered frightfully. The murder plot had terrified her before, but knowing that Sanji was still walking straight into it was even worse. She felt his hand shift from her elbow to underneath her chin, and this time she allowed him to make her look at him. With a gentle touch, he turned her face to look at him. He was frowning deeply down at her.
“Nami. Nothing will go wrong,” he murmured. The confidence in his tone did little to quell her fears. “Do you really think I will allow Pudding to murder me?” At the mention of the treacherous girl's name, a flutter of doubt burned in Nami's belly. The feeling of Sanji's kiss resurfaced on her lips, but now that she had had time to think clearly, had that really meant as much as she thought it had? After all, he has simply turned and walked away with that nonchalant air about him, as if kissing her was as natural as any other action. Had the intense passion and love she had felt really been reciprocated? Or was the affection one-sided after all? The doubt must have made its way onto his face, because frown lines etched their way further in Sanji's own. “You still don't trust me,” he remarked, the disappointment clear in his tone. Guilt flashed through her, but she could not bring herself to deny it.
“I can't help it, Sanji,” she sniffed as she reached up and wiped at her eyes with the backs of her hands. How was it this man could reduce her to this, a sobbing, blubbering mess? He makes me so weak. “After all, she's so beautiful… So charming… It's just so hard to believe. It's no secret that you’re fond of pretty women. How can I believe it when you tell me I’m the only one, when you do the things you do and say the things you say? How can I believe that when you're standing in front of her in that wedding dress, looking into her eyes supposedly pretending to love her, that you won't have doubts?” she asked him miserably. His face contorted with guilt, indicating that her harsh words had indeed struck a nerve.
“I suppose being a hopeless flirt is not helping my situation here,” he groaned and ran a hand through his hair with an uncomfortable frown, looking up at the ceiling as he searched for the words to appease the emotional female. He glanced back down at her, and though she was upset, the way he smiled softly at her still made her heart grow wings and flutter hopelessly. “It's true. Pudding's beautiful,” he admitted, and as her lips grew taut with displeasure, he hastily added, “but I don't care. I told you once, there is only one woman who holds my heart, and that is you.” His hand rose to her cheek, caressing it softly. When she remained unconvinced, he smirked. “Fine. If I can't tell you, then I’ll show you,” he mused, and she gasped as he grabbed her chin firmly and jerked her face forward to pull her into a kiss.
The first kiss was nothing compared to this one. This time, there was no doubt left in her mind. As their lips moved in a rhythm, her heartbeat joined in, pounding furiously in her chest as the passion bubbled inside of her. Sanji's hand migrated to the back of her head, gently cupping it as he angled his head, while the other slid to the small of her back to pull their bodies together. Nami placed her hands on his chest, and she could feel his heartbeat too, thumping almost as fast as hers. Words unspoken passed between them like a raging current, and she knew then that everything he had said had been true. I’ll never doubt again, she thought as her heart swelled with love for the dashing cook, and she found the strength to kiss him back with all the love and passion burning inside of her. Nami wasn't sure how much time passed, but when they finally broke apart, they were breathless. Sanji's mouth curled into a smug smirk. “Believe me now?”
“Yes,” she sighed and slid her hands up his chest to wrap her arms loosely around his neck. “I want to hear you say it,” she added as an afterthought, referring to the thing left unsaid. She stared up into his eyes through her lashes, a faint blush tainting her cheeks. “Just so there's no doubt at all.” Sanji laughed heartily before leaning down to press his forehead against hers, smiling lovingly. Their lips were inches apart, and Nami had to squash the urge to kiss him once more.
“Fine. I love you, Nami,” he murmured. His voice was a soft purr, alluring and sensual, and it set Nami's heart to fluttering again. “Even when I’m standing there, at that altar, with Pudding in front of me, it won't be any less true.”
“It better be,” she sniffed, her usual defiance finally beginning to return. “Else you'll be on the receiving end of some hurt.” Sanji laughed at that, and angled his head to softly press his lips to hers once more. Though it was short, Nami savored the taste and the feeling, and grew sad when he pulled away.
“I have to go,” he whispered with a tiny smile, but his voice betrayed a hint of sadness. It seemed he didn’t want to go as much as Nami lamented him leaving.
“I love you,” she whispered and closed her eyes as she hugged him tightly. Sanji hugged her back, sighing gently as he rested his chin on top of her head.
“Don't act like this is goodbye,” he frowned and rubbed her back gently. “You'll see. I’ll come out of all this safe and sound,” he reassured her before pulling back and resting his hands on her shoulders. Again, he had that tone of confidence, and this time she willed herself to believe in him. Sanji will come back to me. At the end of all this, everything will be right again… We'll sail to meet Zoro and the others and will be one step closer to the end of our journey. She returned his smile, reluctantly letting him go.
“Okay. Go give them a performance they'll never forget,” she told him and lightly punched him in the shoulder. He smirked at her and gave her one last peck on the cheek before turning on his heel and striding across the room, all business as he prepared for the showdown that would define if they all lived, or perished at the hands of the murderous Emperor. Nami watched with mixed feelings as the man she knew and loved exited the room, and a hand rose to her heart as it cringed with pain.
I’ll believe in all of us, she told herself firmly. We've always managed to triumph no matter how high the odds were stacked against us.
I’ll believe… in Sanji…
Chapter 8: The Epiphany
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Monkey D. Luffy and Boa Hancock
Requested by: killercroc (FanFiction)
Luffy breathed in deeply as he sat on the massive bulkhead of his sheep, savoring the salty spray of the sea. He then snickered, howling the to the wind as he threw his arms wide.
“I’m the King of the Pirates!” he shrieked in delight, banging his feet against the ship. Though it had been quite some time since he had, at long last, acquired the title, it still made him positively giddy. It had taken a long time, and it had been a long, painful road, but he had done it. He continued to bask in his success, laughing and making a racket, until he attracted the attention of his navigator.
“Luffy!” Nami sighed as she walked out of her study into the deck of the ship and put her hands primly on her hips. Luffy glanced over his shoulder, blinking, and then snickered slightly and obediently hopped down from the prow of the ship. “Good grief. I’m trying to make sure we make it to Amazon Lily in one piece, and your incessant banging doesn't help!” she complained as he hopped up on a barrel and began swinging his feet. He ignored her rant, picking his teeth, until she mentioned their destination.
“Oh! How close are we?” he beamed, perking up at the mention of the island filled with tough women. It was a particularly enjoyable location for him, as he had spent two years training intensively on the island after the decisive battle with the Navy, and it was home to his good friend Boa Hancock- not to mention, the food was mouthwatering. He grinned dreamily as visions of steaming, juicy tracts of meant danced in his head, and he didn’t even bother listened to Nami's conjectures and calculations. He was snapped out of his fantasies as Sanji, who was leaning against the side of the ship smoking a cigarette, frowned and released a plume of thick white smoke before speaking up.
“Amazon Lily? Isn’t that the island that Boa Hancock lives?” he asked. Luffy was the only one who had visited the primal jungle kingdom, but his friends were familiar with the proud woman who served as Luffy's benefactor. “The one who is totally head over heels with our knucklehead?” he added with a slight sniff of disdain, and Luffy cocked his head to the side in confusion.
“Huh? What do you mean, Sanji? She's just my really good friend,” he blinked. He liked Hancock a lot; she was very good to him in helping him storm Impel Down and supported him greatly in his quest to achieve his dream. Plus, she always fed him well when he was around. Both Nami and Sanji sighed deeply, pinching the bridges of their noses as they tried to level with him. Suddenly bored with the conversation, Luffy's attention lapsed once more, and he whined loudly as his stomach grumbled. “Sanji, is it lunch time yet? I’m hungry!” he complained as he beat his feet on the side of the barrel angrily.
“That's it!” Nami exclaimed, snapping her fingers as an idea bloomed in her bright mind. Luffy stared at her with wide eyes, not sure what she was quite so excited about. “Luffy, think of it this way. You know how much you looooove food, right?” she asked him, speaking to him like he was a young child. A grin split Luffy's face as the mention of his favorite thing on the earth.
“Yeah! I love food! Especially meat! It's my favorite! Sanji, are we having meat?” he babbled excitedly, but his attention was drawn back to the orange-haired navigator as she snapped her fingers repeatedly in front of his face.
“Focus, Luffy,” she demanded. “Hancock thinks of you like you think of food,” she explained simply, and that statement got the gears turning in his head. Hancock… Thinks of me as food? No, no, she likes me as much as I like food, he realized, frowning deeply as he considered the strange analogy. Now that he thought about it, Hancock always got this starry-eyed, funny look on her face whenever she looked at him and she was always so eager to please him. She gets really sad when I say no to going on walks and stuff. He suddenly got the insane vision of him going to chomp down on a particularly appetizing plate of meat and it suddenly screaming rejections, making him shudder slightly. He crossed his arms and tilted his head to the side, his face screwed up in concentration as he attempted to understand the strange analogy.
“I’m not sure that I really get it,” he whined.
“Oh, forget it. It's pointless,” Nami sighed and rolled her eyes, throwing up her arms and slapping them to her sides in a motion of indicating her abandonment of the situation. Luffy continued to contemplate the puzzle of the beautiful woman and food all the way to the island of Amazon Lily.
As they docked in the port, the woman in question was there to meet them, flanked by her two gigantic sisters. She waved excitedly as Luffy hopped down onto the dock, holding his straw hat to his head as he took in the majesty of the island. He appreciated its wildness, its untamed growth of jungle, because it was simply ripe with adventure. While his companions prepared for their stay at the island, Luffy snickered and ran right up to the warlord, grabbing her by the wrist and pulling her down the dock.
“Come on, Hancock! Let's go explore!” he howled with laughter as he took off into the island with the woman in tow. His crew mates shouted objections after him, but he ignored them, too caught up in his own excitement. He had no chosen Hancock as a partner aside from the reason that she was simply the only own available, but she wasn't objecting. Her face had turned bright pink and she was holding a hand to her cheek, stammering and avoiding eye contact.
“Oh, Luffy, I would love to explore the jungle with you!” she sighed as he tugged her off the dock and into the loamy soil on the outskirts of the jungle.
“Great! Let's go!” the pirate captain cried and pulled her into the jungle. He let her go when they were well within the jungle, and he held his hat to his head as he looked around in wonder. The jungle looked pretty much the same as the last time he had been there, with towering trees and a forest floor thick with undergrowth, but he was determined to take down a wild animal or two for dinner and explore the areas he had not had a chance to in the two-year time span he had resided on the island. He raised an eyebrow when Hancock abruptly hugged his arm, propping her chin on his shoulder as she gazed up at him with sparkling eyes.
“I’ve missed you very much, Luffy,” she smiled up at him. I am to Hancock like food is to me, he recalled, unsure of how to respond to the situation without much context. He thought of how long it felt since he had had his last meal, and he frowned when he realized that it seemed like a lifetime ago. He then grinned brightly down at her.
“Yeah! It's been forever since we last saw each other, huh? I really didn't think about it!” he cackled, then looked around with curious eyes, eager to explore the jungle. He shook off the Amazonian empress to stomp over to a well-sized stick and began poking it around in the bushes, hoping to scare some critter or another out in the open. He picked up the only thing he stirred up, a small, wriggling snake, then snorted and flung it into the bushes since it did not amuse him. He grabbed Hancock by the hand again and began pulling her along through the thick bushes and blooming flowers, whistling loudly as he searched the forest for something entertaining. He was pretty much unaware of the woman's swooning. He stooped beside a small river, poking his stick in the water in an attempt to disturb the minnows swimming around in it.
“I’m really glad you decided to stop here,” Hancock told him as she sat down on a rock beside him, her hands resting primly on her lap as she regarded him with a bright red, happy face. “It meant so much to me to hear you were coming…” Food. Hancock. Food? He pondered with a frown. He glanced over at her, and suddenly instead of Hancock he was staring at a rice ball. What the heck? He blinked and marched over to investigate the phantasm, and sniffed the strangely giant rice ball experimentally to make sure it wasn't real. He heard Hancock squeal, and he blinked, and then she was sitting there in front of him and his face was in her black hair. Nope. Not a rice ball, just Hancock. How weird, he concluded with a shrug and straightened up, pointing down the river with his stick.
“Let's follow the river!” he shouted, and he rested the stick on his shoulder as he marched determinedly along the riverbank. Hancock followed behind, holding her face as she mumbled some nonsense to herself. Luffy glanced back at her occasionally to make sure she was following- and not a rice ball in disguise. Maybe Nami's weird explanation got to my head, he frowned and rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he continued his journey along the small river. The trees began to grow thinner, less packed together, and large patches of sunlight splashed over the ground. He could hear the waves and smell the salty spray of the sea, indicating that they had approached the shore. His eyes widened as the forest abruptly fell away and he was walking one solid stone. “Cooooool! I haven’t been here before!” he grinned as he looked around excitedly. His eyes fell on an opening in the rocky ground, leading below the surface of the earth and even below sea level. “A caaaaaave! Come on, Hancock!” he cried and dragged the woman over to the entrance. “Helloooooooooo?” he called into the dark, snickering as he heard his voice bouncing off the stone walls.
“Be careful, Luffy. That cave is made of sea stone,” Hancock warned as she stood beside him. He shrugged; he could care less what it was made of. He just wanted to know if there was treasure in it.
“Bombs away!” he cried and jumped into the cave with a howl, clamping his hat to his head as he fell into the cave. The bottom was just a few yards down, and he landed securely on the sandy floor. He looked up at the light shining above, where Hancock was still standing. “Come onnnnn!” he whined impatiently, and the woman pouted at him before picking her way down the wall. She gasped as he foot suddenly slipped and lost her grip, and she shrieked as she fell into open air. “Uh-oh,” he blinked, and stretched out his arms to pluck her out of the air and pull her safely to her chest. Holding her like a groom would his bride, he looked down at her. “You're pretty clumsy!” he laughed.
“Oh, Luffy… You caught me!” she breathed, and even in the dark she could see her blushing. Hancock thinks of me like food, so I should think of her like food? I wouldn’t want my food to get hurt, he thought as he set her down. Or dirty. To that end, he brushed her off with his hands, as she had gotten dusty from slipping on the loose sediment, and her body went rigid. He whipped around when he was finished, eager to explore, but when he walked a bit and looked back she was still standing stock-still.
“Hey! You coming or what?” he whined, and that was enough to pull her out of whatever stupor she was in and send her scurrying after him. He waited until she was beside him before continuing onward into the dank cave. It ran underneath the surface of the island, leading inland, but just barely. Several sections of the roof were open to the jungle above, and vines and tree roots hugged the walls while all sorts of mushrooms and molds grew in the dank conditions. Luffy tried to catch a crab as it scuttled away, but the crustacean squirmed into a crack and out of his grasp. As he straightened up, disappointed at the loss of his potential dinner, he blinked as the cave suddenly shuddered slightly.
“Luffy! Look out!” Hancock screamed, and he glanced up in time to see a sizable section of the rock roof breaking free and plummeting toward him. He let out an oof! as it cracked into his head, and the force of the blow sent him sprawling out on the floor. He groaned as he tenderly rubbed his head, feeling a sizable lump in his black hair. He blinked when Hancock suddenly leaned over him, her face flushed and her expression worried. “Luffy! Are you all right?” she cried.
“I’m not sure,” he drowned. Hancock looked funny. Had her hair always been that shiny and silky? She had pretty eyes, too. She didn’t seem that different, but Luffy still felt like it was the first time he was seeing her. As he stared at her, he felt strangely happy. I like Hancock, he thought giddily, but somehow it wasn’t in the same context as before. He was happy they were alone, in the cave, and the others weren’t around to bother them. Hancock continued to frown down at him, and he grew strangely embarrassed as she ran a hand through his hair to check his head.
“Oh! You have a bump,” she fretted. “You poor thing… Let's get back. I’ll prepare a nice big feast for you. A little meat and a party should do the trick!” she decided, sitting up. Yeah! A feast! He thought with a grin, the thought of meat tantalizing. He then frowned, falling deep in thought.
“No,” Luffy refused suddenly, and she looked down in him in terror.
“Oh, my God. You’re dying. Stay here! I’ll go get your ship's doctor she shrieked and moved to take off, but he grabbed her wrist so she wouldn’t leave. She looked down at him, eyes wide.
“That's not what I meant,” he explained. He wasn’t sure why, but a party just didn’t sound appealing to him right now. Nami would be there, and Sanji, and Zoro, and everyone else, and that just got in the way. “I just wanna eat with you,” he told her, and her mouth slowly fell open and something between a wheeze and a squeal slipped out of her. She placed a hand over her heart, bright red.
“Oh! Just m-me?” she stammered, and he nodded fiercely. Yeah… Dinner with Hancock… That sounds really nice. At his affirmation, she exclaimed excitedly and clapped her hands together. “Okay! A private dinner between us! Definitely! Oh, I’m so excited!” she gushed. Seeing her so happy made Luffy happy.
I think I finally get that stupid analogy, he thought with a snicker. With the promise of food on the horizon, he hopped up and exited with Hancock out of the cave, pulling her back through the jungle.
This time, he made a point to hold her hand.
Chapter 9: My Knight in Shining Armor
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested By: YonaWon (Ao3)
Nami frowned slightly as she stood this way and that in front of her body-length mirror, her lips pursed as her gaze drifted across her body. After giving herself a thorough check-over, she determined that somehow she had escaped the craziness on Punk Hazard completely unscathed, which was an uncommon occurrence. Nami had a tough personality, but she was not naïve enough to think that her body was caught up with the program; she was dainty compared to the tough men she traveled with, and though she certainly did not straddle the doorway to death as they did, she still found herself in several scuffles on a regular basis and ended up beat up frequently. This time I don’t even have a scratch! She thought with a mildly awed expression. I guess I have Sanji to thank for that.
Normally she did have the suave, lascivious cook to thank for saving her behind, but in this case it was quite more literal. On the bizarre island filled with even more bizarre individuals, Nami and Sanji had fallen victim to a strange body-swapping occurrence. As her mind recalled the odd feeling of being inside his body, acutely aware of how sturdy his body felt and his muscles flexing as she moved, she went pink.
“Stop that! It's indecent!” she scolded herself aloud and slapped her cheeks, leaving them an even darker shade of pink. Pushing the maddeningly attractive man to the back of her mind, she huffed and hastily strode out of her bedroom to investigate what the rest of the crew was up to. As she walked over to the banister of the upper deck and leaned over to gaze out onto the main deck, she saw that the crew was up to their usual antics despite having been through a rough fight not hours ago. Luffy was sitting on a barrel, perched on a barrel and loudly demanding food from a very irritated Sanji, who was smoking a cigarette and barking rebuked at the immature captain. Usopp had a fishing pole and had a line cast in the water, and little Chopper was standing Hind him bouncing up and down with mixed feelings of excitement and concern. Robin was lounging in a chair, deeply absorbed in one of the dusty tomes she kept within reach, while Brooke was at the front of the boat humming as he stared out at the sea; Franky was sitting down beside Zoro, who was fast asleep as usual. It was a welcome site to see everything back to normal after a harrowing experience. Well, mostly back to normal.
During their jaunt to Punk Hazard, the Straw Hats had somehow managed to pick up a trio of unlikely guests. Two were from the samurai island of Wano- the feisty samurai Kin'emon and his small son Momonosuke, whom they had rescued on Punk Hazard. The other was someone they had already met, the young pirate captain Trafalgar Law. Foul-mouthed and gruff, he was an enemy-turned-ally that Luffy was oddly fond of and had already given him the label of “friend"- though Law was not happy to oblige. The samurai man and his son were readily sparring on the deck, while Law was sitting with his sword propped against his shoulder as he half-listened to Luffy whine. He didn’t appreciate it when the Straw Hat captain attempted to drag him into the conversation.
“Everything is as it should be,” Nami laughed quietly as she observed the scene before she turned on her heel and walked to her work room to prepare their next route. Law had said something about Dressrosa kingdom, while Momonosuke and his father were intent on returning to Wano; the navigator had to figure out the best way to accomplish both tasks in the shortest amount of time, and thus planning would be necessary. She sat down in front of her navigational charts to ponder the course of action, and before she knew it time was rapidly wasting away, until she glanced out her small window to find that the ocean was dyed gold with the setting sun. She then suddenly realized how stiff she was, and rose from the chair to stretch her arms above her head. “Ahh, much better,” she sighed before walking over to the window. What a pretty sunset, she thought with a small smile. She decided to wander back outside to get a better look at it, promptly leaving the room and walking over to the balustrade of the boat and leaning against the finished wood as she gazed out at the open sea. A smile naturally found its way onto her lips.
It's beautiful… The sun was a semicircle of blazing yellow light, turning the once-blue sky a canvas of golden and red light, with the darkness of the night sky rapidly descending like a great curtain as the sun sunk below the horizon. The calm sea reflected the golden light spilling forth, and glittered as waves gently shifted back and forth. Nami rested her arms on the sturdy wood and set her head on top, gazing out at the sea. Though she had been through countless perils with the rowdy pirate crew, she found the never had she regretted the decision to follow Luffy on his quest to become King of the Pirates. Sunsets on the water put those on land to shame, and as long as she was a pirate, she could see them anytime she wished. I can't think of a better life, she thought wistfully.
“Oh! Nami! I was wondering if you had fallen asleep in there,” called a teasing voice, and the tangerine-haired girl glanced over her shoulder to see Sanji sauntering over to her with a cigarette banging from his mouth and a smirk playing over his lips. As soon as her eyes fell on it, she blushed, immediately recalling her inappropriate thoughts earlier that day. Oh, crap, she thought and hastily turned her face back to the setting sun, hoping the glow of the fading light would mask her blush.
“I’ve been busy planning our next move. I came out to watch the sunset,” she explained simply. She hoped her nonchalance would keep him from taking too close a look at her.
“You do girly things like that?” he asked her with a small laugh, making her temper flare.
“What's wrong with appreciating the sunset?” she snapped hotly and whipped around to face him, bristling like an enraged cat. He just seemed to find the outburst amusing, laughing heartily before glancing out at the water. He smiled as the sun continued to drift below the horizon.
“Nothing. It is pretty, I suppose,” he relented with a chuckle, and then he glanced back at her. “All you all right, though? I’m afraid I might have overdone it while I was in your body,” he frowned down at her, causing her turn to pink once more and turn away.
“Oh, um… Actually, I seem to be completely unhurt… You did a good job, um, taking care of my body,” she answered awkwardly. Oh my God, that sounds so wrong, she groaned inwardly, but Sanji seemed to overlook her discomfort.
“I’m relieved! I would never forgive myself if you got hurt, Nami~” he beamed brightly.
“What about you? I mean, I- or, you- took that hard hit from Caesar,” she asked in turn, and in response, he grinned stupidly.
“What, me? It would take a lot more than that to hurt me,” he snorted proudly. Confident, aren't we? She thought with a raised eyebrow, then gulped when he turned to her and stood a little closer to her. “But you’re concerned about me, Nami? I’m flattered,” he grinned at her, and that dazzling smile of her sent her heart beating rapidly in her chance. Damn him, she thought in mortification and hastily scooched away.
“D-Don't read too much into it! Of course I get concerned when all you loonies go around getting beat up all the time! Normal people would be dead after all the things you guys put yourself through!” she huffed and crossed her arms, turning her face away. She blinked when Sanji did not respond with another teasing remark, just silence, and in confusion she glanced back over her shoulder to see him gazing at her with a somewhat sad look. “What's that look for?”
“I just… I never stopped to think about it. How much stronger Luffy and Zoro and I are, and how reckless we can be… We really do end up dragging you into some dangerous situations,” he answered sadly, and suddenly Nami felt guilty for her thoughtless comment.
“No,” she interrupted before he could go on. “I mean, you do, but… You know, I want to get dragged into those kinds of situations. I mean, of course I don’t, but- ugh, how do I explain this?” she muttered in frustration as she struggled to put the odd feeling into words. “What I’m trying to say is, just because I end up in danger doesn’t mean I resent it. Even though we go through some pretty dangerous things and rough times, I still don't regret them. It's an adventure, you know? And I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she explained after a moment of pondering. She looked back up at Sanji, whose sad expression had turned blank. Did I make it worse? She wondered in mild fear, but then was relieved as he smiled softly at her.
“You know, Nami, you act all tough, but on the inside, you really are just a girl,” he mused, and though it seemed he was trying to make a compliment, Nami just stamped her foot in frustration.
“’Just a girl’? I give you my heartfelt feelings and that's what you say? Jeez, Sanji, and I thought you were good with women!” she cried before shoving him roughly away and stomping up the stairs toward her work room. She could hear Sanji babbling behind her attempting to explain herself, but she was too busy trying to keep up the mad act to listen. Really, she wasn’t angry; somehow, she liked the idea that Sanji thought of her as a girl. Perhaps it was just that shameless side of her. Smiling to herself, she stalked into her work room, but allowed Sanji to muscle his way in after her.
“Come on, Nami, you know I didn’t mean it like that!” he whined as he stood against the back wall while she sat at her desk and pretended to pore over her collection of maps and ocean current charts. “Namiiiiii,” he whined pathetically, and she rolled her eyes at how childish he sounded. I’ll tease him a little longer, she thought in amusement and wrote some fake notes down. Suddenly, she froze as she felt Sanji's sturdy arms wrapped around her, and her face became afire with blushing. “Please, Nami, say you forgive me,” he purred in her ear, and Nami was upset to find that the tables had so suddenly turned. Her pen fell from her hand as it began to shake slightly. Oh… She was so in shock that she was quite unsure what to think, so all she could do was comply in the hope that he would let her go and keep her heart from bursting through her ribcage.
“I-I forgive you,” she stammered quickly, and exhaled deeply as she felt his arms slide out from around her. That small, shameless part of her burned with the urge to pull them back, to stay wrapped in his embrace, but she hurriedly quashed it. She bit down on her lip, attempting to control her blushing before glancing over her shoulder to see that Sanji was grinning like an idiot, and she once again felt annoyed with his endless games. “Proud of yourself, are you?” she snorted. Only he can make me go so topsy-turvy… One minute he has me all in a tizzy and the next I can't stand him! I can never tell what he's thinking! She thought grumpily. “I don't appreciate you teasing me, Sanji,” she huffed.
“I never tease,” he refuted playfully, but she just turned back to her charts with a short. “So, what is our plan?” he inquired.
“Dressrosa Kingdom,” she remarked as she looked down at the map, finally settling on a decision. “I think that is the best course of action. I’m still not really sure what Law wants to accomplish there, by confronting this Warlord. After we'll head to Wano so Kin'emon and Momonosuke can return home. It’s further away, and there are a few islands we have to pass through first. Probably gonna end up in another dangerous situation,” she mused as she leaned back in the chair and regarded the map with a small smile. That's what I get for following a reckless, foolhardy captain like Luffy, she thought in amusement. Still… I said I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I meant it.
“Hey… Nami?” Sanji suddenly said, and she frowned. There was something strange in his voice. Sanji was normally so confident, but now, he sounded almost… Unsure. She found that suddenly she was afraid to turn around and look at him, scared she would find that sad look on his face again. I keep saying things that make him feel guilty, she thought miserably.
“Yeah? What is it?” she responded hesitantly.
“You’re not gonna look at me?” he asked, and she could hear the frown in his voice. No. No, because I’m afraid of what I might find and what I might do, she thought as she chewed on her lip and shrugged it off as if she was busy. She cried out in alarm as she heard him quickly close the distance between them and grab her chair, lifting it clear off the ground with her in it to spin her around and plop her back down so that she was facing him. Shocked and shamefully impressed with his brute strength, she kept her gaze on her lap as her face burned. Sanji was intent that she look at him, however, and she gasped as his hand slid under her chin and lifted her face up. As soon as their eyes met, she was immediately electrified, unable to do anything but stare up at him with her mouth slightly ajar. He did have that sad look, but there was something else too, something she could not place. “Nami, you know that I’ll always protect you, don't you?” That comment threw her for a loop.
“Wh-what makes you say that all of a sudden?” she squeaked in surprise. It unnerved her, and flattered her, too. The idea of Sanji being her knight in shining armor certainly appealed to that secret side of her heart, the side that she kept hidden even from herself- the side that loved this annoyingly and undeniably handsome and strong man. Still, she had to keep up the innocent act, because part of her was afraid that it was a one-sided affection. Sanji loved women in general, after all, and who was to say that it was just harmless flirting like always? “Y-you're not making sense. What makes you think I need- or want- protection?”
“There you go with that tough act again,” he said teasingly. “Nami, I know you are certainly capable of holding your own, but you and I both know that there are some situations that will come along that you can't. I told you before that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if you were hurt… So, I’ll always be your shield.”
“I don't understand,” Nami responded dumbly. She wasn’t used to this side of Sanji- so serious, looking at her with that unidentifiable flame burning in his eyes. She found once more that her heart was beating faster than it should, and she had a strange afraid-elated feeling in the face of this new development. Was it possible that Sanji felt something for her after all? Why else would he make such a bold declaration? Then again, it was just the kind of chivalrous thing he would say to put Nami at ease and put a flirty remark in. I’m so confused… “Why are you saying this? I already told you that the danger doesn’t bother me.”
“It bothers me, Nami,” he responded quickly. “I know you chose this life and you don't regret it, but the thought that you’re in danger all the time because of all our stupid recklessness…” he sighed and hung his head sadly, confusing her even more. “I don’t like it.”
“You’re not answering my question. Why do you care so much?” she asked before she could stop herself, though she already knew the answer.
“Silly Nami. So smart, but so dumb at the same time,” he mused softly as he looked down at her, sitting in the chair wringing the fabric of her pants with her hands as she anticipating the answer. “Because I love you, of course.”
Sanji said it so often, but this time, she knew that it was more than a passing flirtatious remark. She knew he meant it. She wasn’t sure why, but suddenly a few tears were spilling from her eyes, and she hastily lifted her hands to wipe her wet cheeks.
“I-I'm sorry. I don’t know why,” she stammered with a nervous laugh. She wasn’t sure why that had been her immediate reaction, and she was sure that Sanji didn’t appreciate it, but thankfully he seemed unbothered. He crouched down in front of her, smiling warmly as he took her hands and pulled them away from her face.
“Don't worry, Nami. It's okay to cry when you’re happy,” he chuckled and reached up to finish brushing away the tears. Her lips quivered as she smiled, because she realized that she was happy. Sanji loves me, she thought giddily. She laughed softly as she rested her hands on her lap and smiled down at him, quite unsure of what to do or say. Sanji knew, though. Without missing a beat, his hand rested against her cheek, and she could not help but lean her face against it, admiring the chef's soft hands. His pride and joy, she thought absently, becoming distracted to the fact that his face was moving in close. By the time she noticed, his lips were already on hers, and she immediately melting under the soft kiss. Her mind flew elsewhere, unable to form any cohesive thoughts aside from those concerning the man kissing her- how nice it felt, how handsome he was, things like that. Her eyes drifted shut as she savored the feeling of him, and her heart sung with joy. My knight in shining armor, she thought. I can live with that…
“Sanji,” she whispered as he drew back, and her voice was full of longing. That shameless part of her had surfaced and overtaken her, and wanted him to just keep kissing her. He found that quite amusing, and smirked at her. When she regained control of herself, she blushed darkly, causing him to smirk more.
“You’re cute,” he laughed.
“Don’t tease me,” she whined and crossed her arms, the romantic mood killed by his incessant games.
“I never tease,” he repeated playfully, but despite his insistence he reached out and placed his hands on her hips, hoping to further get a rise out of her. “I mean everything I do,” he grinned as she squirmed at his touch, trying to squash the rising feelings inside of her.
“I don’t think this is how a knight is supposed to act,” she snorted, trying to seem unbothered by his hands curled around her middle.
“I don’t think princesses are supposed to go around kissing knights,” he refuted with a snicker, and Nami could not help but smile being referred to as a princess. As the romantic mood between them began to bubble once more, their faces began to gravitate together as if drawn by magnets, but before they could meet the ship suddenly rang with a loud, demanding voice.
“Sanjiiiiiii! Where are youuuuu? I’m starving!” Luffy shouted outside, and they could hear him stomping around the deck as he searched for the ship's cook. “Cook me some food before I kick your ass!” he demanded loudly.
“Curse that rubber man and his bottomless pit,” Sanji muttered under his breath as he stood up and walked over to the door to throw it open. “Shut up! I’ll cook when I’m good and ready, dammit!”
“No! Nooooooow!” Luffy screamed and catapulted himself across the deck to land in front of the door and cling to Sanji's leg. “I’m so hungry!”
“Ugh! Fine! If that what it takes to get you to stop whining!” Sanji groaned and shook his leg in an attempt to dislodge the immature captain. Luffy was not going to let go unless Sanji wandered down to the kitchen, and Nami smiled wistfully as she realized that she and Sanji weren’t going to have any more romantic development for the night. He glanced back at her and gave her a wink, and then mouthed, “See you later,” making her sit up straight and turn pink. “All right, come on, you buffoon,” he sighed and walked out of the room, one leg dragging as Luffy remained resolutely stuck to him. Nami watched him go with a small smile.
My knight in shining armor, she thought again, a hand rising to her heart.
I know you’ll protect me, Sanji.
Chapter 10: The Man I Know and Love Part III
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested by: YonaWon (Ao3)
Nami breathed in deeply as she stood with her hands resting against the smooth railing of the Thousand Sunny, her eyes closed as the salty aroma of the endless sea filled her nose. It's over… We're free… she thought blissfully, so overcome with relief that a few tears slipped from her eyes and went rolling down her cheeks. We're safe. At least, they were for the moment. Luffy's brazen siege of her kingdom in the attempt to recover Sanji had slighted her immensely, and she was an Emperor- she was not going to take that bold challenge go unanswered. Most likely, she was already in pursuit, and would follow them all the way to Wano where another Emperor was waiting. They had barely managed to escape from one Emperor; Nami could not imagine facing off against two, and rumor of Luffy's reckless actions had already spread, so who knew if the others would rise up to quash the force that was rapidly growing. Luffy was the force on the seas to be reckoned with. His bounty had been increased to a whopping 150 billion Berries, and as a result of his daring escape and association with the Germa 66, Sanji's had increased as well. The Straw Hats would soon find that they had more enemies than friends.
Still, she thought as she glanced over her shoulder down to the deck of the ship, where Luffy, covered in thick bandages, was dozing in the sunlight. I have faith in my captain, as goofy and unassuming as he is. Somehow, he had brought them through the raid of Whole Cake Island relatively unharmed- that fact spoke volumes. Though the days before them were uncertain, Nami believed that the darkness would pass.
Nami's gaze flicked across the large deck of the ship as movement flashed in her peripheral vision, and a blush immediately rose to her cheeks when she noticed that it was the suave cook they had nearly killed themselves to rescue- the man that had finally proclaimed his love to her, a love that Nami had gladly accepted and reciprocated. However, the entire idea was still new to her, and every time that she saw him she thought of the passionate kisses, once in the hallway and again in Bege's castle fortress, and that sent her heart to beating furiously in her chest. “I told you once, there is only one woman who holds my heart, and that is you,” his voice echoed in her head, making her blush further. As she gazed at him with emotions bubbling up inside of her, Sanji glanced up as he strode across the deck, and his expression melted into a smile when he saw her. Wherever he was heading, he abandoned the endeavor and lightly hopped up the steps to join her on the upper deck, while Nami, embarrassed for him to see her blushing, turned her face back to the sparkling sea.
“What're you thinking about?” he asked her as he slid up beside her, his hands resting casually in his pants pockets. With the chaos of the previous days, the small notion that was the familiarity of his posture was almost comforting.
“I’m just relieved,” she answered honestly as she glanced down at her hands that were clutching the wooden banister. “We went through so much, and for a little while there, in the back of my mind, I was afraid that we really weren't going to make it… But we did. We escaped Big Mom. We got you back,” she smiled and looked up at him happily. He's safe… Without thinking, she pressed up against him, their arms brushing gently together; though it had been an unconscious action, the corners of Sanji's mouth tugged up into a smirk, and then the next thing she knew he had slipped his arm around her waist. “Sanji, wait,” she gasped and hurriedly whipped around to look back down at the deck, where her captain was still softly snoring. “The rest of the crew doesn't know about us yet!” she fretted and tried to worm her way out of his grasp, but as she turned to the side, his hands migrated to her hips and pulled her body up against his. Her face turned bright red as their bodies met, but Sanji was all-smiles, grinning like an idiot at her obvious mortification. “Sanjiiiiii!” she whined, but not too loudly so as not to attract attention.
“Why do I have to hide it?” he asked her with a suddenly serious expression. “I love you, Nami. I want everyone to know it.” Naturally, this made her feel slightly guilty, but she still could not handle the stress of the entire crew becoming aware of their recent romantic involvement. He leaned forward to kiss her, but she pressed her hand against his mouth, which he did not appreciate. His dark eyes narrowed with a mixture of disappointment and irritation, and he reached up to pry her slim fingers from his mouth.
“That's the second time you’ve done this to me,” he whined loudly, then looked down at her hand, which he was still gently holding. Then, with a smug smirk, he pulled his hand to his mouth and softly kissed her knuckles, once, twice, a third time. As nice as it felt, she could not fully enjoy it, as she kept frantically glancing around at the various entrances onto the deck and to where Luffy still lay dozing lest one of the crew members stumble across them embroiled in the romantic gesture. Sanji didn't take lightly to that, either, and stopped affectionately smooching her hand to glance up at her crossly.
“Can't we just go in my room to do this?” she complained with another furtive look over the ship, attempting to pull her arm back. Sanji's grip held steady.
“No. Why are you acting like this? Are you embarrassed of me?” he asked, and when she looked back at him, his face had turned from irritated to extremely sad. Nami immediately felt guilty for the way that she had been acting. Why am I so embarrassed? I put my life on the line to save him from Big Mom and all her murderous followers… This is a man I know and love. I shouldn't be embarrassed of him, and I shouldn't be embarrassed of him showing that he loves me, and me showing that I love him… she thought, a smile spreading slowly across her lips.
“No. Of course I’m not, Sanji,” she sighed and reached up with her free hand to gently cup his cheek. “I’m sorry. It's just so natural for you, but for me… This is all new. I just get so into my head,” she explained and looked down at their joined hands. “… Let's tell them,” she decided abruptly, and even Sanji seemed surprised at her sudden boldness.
“Are you sure?” he blinked with an unsure look. “I don't want to force you into anything, Nami. If you're really that uncomfortable, I don't mind hiding it for a while,” he frowned. He's so sweet and considerate, she thought with a small giggle before she adjusted her fingers so that their hands were entwined.
“No, Sanji, you're right. Why should I hide the fact that I love you?” she smiled brightly, and she laughed again as a goofy grin slowly spread across his face. She gasped as he suddenly sprung forward to steal a quick, passionate kiss from her, before whirling about to pull her down the steps onto the main deck of the ship. Despite her conviction only a few moments ago, his suddenness threw her off guard, and she internally panicked as he bustled her down onto the deck and slammed his foot down loudly onto the wooden planks right in front of Luffy's face.
“Get up, Luffy, you’ve slept enough! I have an announcement!” Sanji shouted. Luffy merely groaned with a flutter of his eyelids, slowly lifting his head as a dribble of drool flowed from his mouth.
“Nggh? Is it dinnertime yet?” the pirate captain mumbled sleepily as he gazed sleepily up at the cook, who just snorted and crossed his arms.
“No, it is not dinnertime. I have something to tell everyone,” he reiterated. Perhaps part of his plan, the ruckus attracted the rest of the Straw Hat crew that had made the journey to Whole Cake island from the bowels of the Thousand Sunny.
“An announcement? What is it?” Carrot quipped as she scurried out of the lower desks, her nose twitching as her eyes sparkled with curiosity. Chopper tottered out after her, his little reindeer hooves clicking against the wood as he walked.
“What's all this about?” Brooke asked as he strode out onto the deck with his long, bony legs. Nami just hid behind Sanji, her face bright pink as she stressed; Sanji, on the other hand, was calm as he cleared his thought dramatically before pulling Nami out into the spotlight, throwing his arm around her shoulders and grinning dramatically.
“Nami is my girlfriend~” he crowed proudly. He was practically radiating happiness as he stood with his arm around her, while she was blushing from head to toe, her gaze trained on the wood grains beneath her feet. This is so embarrassing! Did he have to make such a show of it? She thought in mortification and peered out of the corners of her eyes at him. He looked positively ecstatic, though, to be able to show her off, that she took a deep breath to quiet her doubts and lifted her head to smile just as happily.
“Really? That's the big announcement? I thought you were announcing dinner!” Luffy whined as he flopped onto his back and held his belly in protest. “Meat! I want meat!” So much for that, Nami sighed to herself. Luffy's insatiable appetite never ceased to amaze. Thankfully, the rest of them were more excited about the recent development.
“Wow! I’m so excited for you, Nami!” Carrot cried as she darted forward to clutch her hands, her eyes literally sparkling as she stared at the girl with a mixture of excitement and pride.
“Oh, how wonderful! I shall sing a song~” Brooke cried and whipped out a violin (from where, Nami really wasn't sure), drawing the bow across the strings as he sang some love song or another while Sanji very grumpily told him to knock it off. Chopper was running around in a circle squealing with glee.
“I think I’m gonna die of happiness! Someone get a doctor! Wait- I am the doctor!” he shrieked and froze when he came to that realization. As they all reacted positively, Nami began to feel a lot more at ease. I’m… Sanji's girlfriend. Hearing herself say it made her surprisingly giddy, and bold; with a bright smile, she wound her arms around Sanji's, gazing up at him with all the love that she felt in that moment. Noticing her stare, he looked down, and as their eyes met she could see that her love was reciprocated completely. The man I know and love, she thought, and without any shame at all she stood up on her tip-toes to lightly press her lips to his. Though he was obviously surprised at first, he soon relaxed into it and gladly returned her affectionate action.
“Grooooooooss!” Luffy whined, utterly destroying the loving atmosphere between them. Both she and Sanji shot him irritated glares, but the immature captain just pouted as he looked up at them. “I don't care! Make me food!” he cried and lunged forward to grab onto Sanji's leg, like a young child throwing a tantrum. “I’m huuuuuuunnnngryyyyy!”
“Get off!” Sanji cried back as he tried to shake him off, but if their long adventure had proven anything, is was two things: Luffy could not be dissuaded when he set to his mind to something, and his stomach was almost as much of a force to be reckoned with as he was himself. After a few minutes of unsuccessfully trying to pry the hungry man off of him, Sanji finally relented with a deep sigh and a roll of his eyes. “Fine, fine! I’ll cook you some food! Geez, you're such a pain!” he complained, and at the promise off food the rubber man finally relinquished his hold on Sanji's leg.
“I'll join you!” Nami cried as he began to walk off toward the kitchen, and since he was already falling into that acute sense of focus that he had when cooking, he just waved a hand in acknowledgement. The rest of the crew began to chatter about some ridiculous thing or another as Nami walked briskly after the long-legged man, following him into his beloved kitchen. As soon as she closed the door behind her, however, Sanjo dropped his act and cornered her against the door with a sudden and passionate kiss. Nami was helpless as he pulled her into his arms and stole her breath away; she just allowed it to happen, obediently moving her mouth against his as he pushed the kiss deeper. After a few minutes of hot, heavy kissing, he retreated, but only slightly.
“Sorry. I just had to finish what you started,” he teased with a smug smirk, his face close enough that his lips brushed against hers with every word. Her heart was still hammering in her chest, so fiercely that she couldn't focus on trying to speak. She just stared dumbly at him with a face flushed from emotion and exertion. Sanji leaned forward to lightly kiss her on the nose, and the simple touch stirred her from her stupor. However, before she could react, he chuckled lightly and pulled away from her to walk into the heart of the kitchen, rolling up his sleeves as he prepared to get right to work. “So, are you gonna stand there and look pretty or are you going to help me? Not that I mind you standing there and looking pretty,” he winked at her with a cheeky grin. Nami rolled her eyes and bounced across the kitchen to join him, and soon the kitchen became filled with the aroma of lovely-smelling food as well as elated laughter.
I love him so much… I hope things can stay like this for a long, long time…
Chapter 11: A Lovely New Assistant
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested By: farrah87
Sanji narrowed his eyes slightly as he stood in the doorway of his kitchen, the cigarette perched between his teeth trailing smoke into his mildly puzzled face as he slowly and deliberately scanned his dark eyes across his workspace. Something is definitely off… That doesn't go there, and I never put that there… As he perused the scene, noticing intricate, tiny details that gradually pieced together the puzzle in his mind: during his absence, someone had definitely been in his kitchen.
It wasn't to be unexpected. After all, he had been in Big Mom's captivity for quite a long time; someone had to cook for the crew while he was away. The question was, who?
“All right! Which one of you assholes messed with my kitchen?” he roared as he whipped around, chomping down on the end of his cigarette angrily as he dramatically stomped his foot against the deck of the ship. All the crewmembers, who had been lounging about on deck goofing off as usual, turned to look at him with surprised eyes while he was practically a raging inferno of anger. They had messed up his system, disturbed the sanctity that was his place to make art, dammit, and he was gonna make sure that they had hell to pay.
“Oh, that would be Nami!” Carrot chirped, and immediately the fire that was his race fizzled out into a pathetic sizzle in a skillet. As he deflated like a balloon, blinking as he processed what the cute rabbit girl had just so happily revealed, the rest of the crew buzzed with recognition.
“That's right! Nami made such yummy food!” Chopper squealed and threw his little reindeer paws in the air. “Not anything like Luffy's food. Blegh!” Sanji’s thought process screeched to a halt like a record scratch, and his eye spasmed repeatedly as he stiffly turned on the captain, who was laughing like the idiot he was.
“Yeah! I almost burned down the shi- Gwak!” Sanji interrupted his sentence as he grabbed ahold of his throat and proceeded to throttle the life out of him, absolutely enraged that the moron would even think about stepping into his beloved kitchen. The rest of the crew just cowered together like frightened sheep watching a wolf devour one of their brethren, while Luffy was a mere shredded corpse in Sanji's hands, wriggling his arms about and gasping for breath. Sanji dropped him on the door to death, mumbling under his breath before taking another puff of his cigarette and looking thoughtfully up at the door that led to Nami's work study. As Luffy drooled stupidly, unconscious, an image was forming in his mind.
Nami is handy in the kitchen, they say… It's always a chore cooking for all these morons alone. Plus… A pink blaze spread across his cheeks, and he nearly swooned imagining it. Nami in a cute little pink apron! He could just see it, her innocently turning to glance over her shoulder with her eyes sparkling shyly and her face red as she held out a spoon for Sanji to taste her handiwork. He squealed with delight, clapping his hands together as his heart thumped right out of his chest, and then raced up the steps of the ship to pound on her door. When it opened, however, he magically regained his gentlemanly composure.
“Hello, Nami,” he grinned at her, and then bristled when she sharply answered “No" and slammed the door in his face. Frowning miserably at such a brusque refusal, he hesitantly knocking on the door again, more softly this time. “Nami, I wanted to know if you would help me in the kitchen,” he called hopefully. There was a period of silence, and he was afraid that she was ignoring him, until the door opened again and she was standing there with a doubtful look on her face.
“You never ask me for help with the cooking. What gives?” Oh, she’s so cute when she’s stubborn! He thought, completely in the thralls of pure love, before he grinned widely and put his hands on his hips to bend down slightly and bring his face a little closer to hers. Her face flushed, whether from embarrassment or anger, and he hoped it was the latter.
“They tell me you cooked while I was gone, and were good at it! I can always use a hand. Please, Nami?” he asked her, flashing her his millionaire smile, and her face turned a nice shade of magenta. She looked down at her feet, muttered something under her breath, and then nodded firmly. Victorious, he spun around to dash down the stairs, ridiculous fantasies already racing through his mind while Nami just followed behind looking like she regretted it already. However, as he raced into the kitchen and put on his apron, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. All right! Time to get serious! When he turned fo greet the beautiful navigator as she walked in, his expression was that of a pure professional about to get to work. “Here, Nami. You'll need this,” he told her and handed her an apron. She walked over and took it from him, tying it about her waist, and his professionalism was momentarily betrayed by his lead underside screaming in delight. She's so cute!
“All right. What would you like me to do?”
“Cut those carrots, please,” he ordered, turning his face away to force himself to compose. Come on, Sanji, you're at work here. As she walked to the table and began to do as instructed, he watched her out of the corners of his eyes, going about his own business. A silence settled between them, and oddly, it was tense. Nami just stared at the table, chopping the carrots into slices, and there was a hardness to her expression that he could not place. After five minutes of brutal silence, she lowered the knife, staring at the carrot before her with eyes swimming with emotion. “Nami?” he asked aloud, turning to her, and she visibly jerked, as if roused from thought. Blushing, she hastily sliced the carrot and then carried the cutting board over to him, not meeting his eyes. Suspicious now, he watched her intently as he took the board from her and slid the carrots into the pot of stew that he was brewing.
“You baked the cake with Pudding, right?” she asked abruptly. Sanji's eyebrow shot up his forehead. Where did that come from? “Did you… enjoy that?” A pink hue had risen to her cheeks, which were slightly puffed out as she consciously avoided his confused stare. Is… is Nami jealous of Pudding? He realized, a smile slowly forming on his lips. He had never seen Nami jealous before, especially not over him. It made him positively elated. Smirking as a plan hatched in his mind, he turned around to stir the pot of stew nonchalantly.
“Pudding is quite a cook herself. It was nice working with someone of her caliber,” he remarked casually. “Could you start on the onions next, please?” he added with a point to the stack of them on the counter, and she looked up at him, her eyes wide as she tried to read what was going on in his mind. She is so jealous! He thought giddily, watching as she quietly walked over to the onions and began to peel and cut them. “Oh, yes, Pudding looked so cute in her little apron~” he chimed casually, watching her out of his peripheral vision, and Nami's face flushed darkly. It was then that he felt bad at the little game he was playing, as her expression grew dismally sad. “… But, you know,” he continued lowly, setting down the spoon on the counter and casually walking up behind her, “she definitely wasn't as cute as you.” At his sudden appearance over her shoulder, she gasped and whipped around, and if his reflexes hadn't been what they were the knife she was using would’ve cleaved straight through his blonde hair. She bit down on her lip as she glared up at him, cheeks red, and then roughly thrust the cutting board into his hands.
“Here! The onions are done!” she snapped and jumped up, stalking over to the counter to grab a bigger knife and begin roughly sawing at a hunk of meat. She muttered under her breath, her face as red as the raw meat she was carving into, and Sanji watched her carefully as he dumped the vegetables into his stew. Are those tears in the corners of her eyes? Great, now I’ve done it. You had to be cute, Sanji. Still mumbling, she cursed as her long tangerine hair got in her way, and she grabbed a fistful of it to hold it to the back of her head; unfortunately, this made it difficult for her to cut the meat. As she was about ready to stab the slab of meat on frustration, Sanji quietly walked up behind her and gently took the waves of tangerine hair into his hands, holding up her hair for her.
“Here. This should make it easy, right?” he asked. She glared at him with blue eyes like the sea they sailed on, then snorted and went back to sawing at the meat angrily. Jeez. I hope she isn't pretending that's me, he grimaced as she hacked at it without mercy. Ugh, think, Sanji. You caused this mess. She thinks you like Pudding better! How can I prove that I don't? As he pondered the miserable grave he dug for himself, his fingers curled into her luscious locks, his eyes could not help but be attracted to that shining orange hair- and then her slim neck beyond. He focused on it, feeling a heat rising up inside of him, and before he even realized it he had leaned down and gently planted a kiss on the nape of her neck. He expected her to whip around, screeching obscenities and hacking at him with the knife, but instead she froze. He could feel the muscles of her neck stiffen under his mouth as he gently kissed her again.
“S-Sanji…” she murmured, and there was a fear in her voice, but an excitement, too, an excitement that made his blood get going. His gaze flicked upwards, his black eyes locking with her own, and she watched him apprehensively as he moved his face a little to softly kiss the side of her neck. Her head twitched in response, tilting as if to give him access to that beautiful, smooth, milky skin, and the lids of her eyes drifted down slightly and her mouth parted. Sanji loved that look on her face, that look of scared ecstasy, and he bunched all of her hair in one hand to slide his other one under her chin, tilting it upwards as he traced his lips across the groove of her neck. She let out a little gasp, and that sound made every nerve in his body sing with electricity. His eyes still locked in hers, hungry, feral, his lips migrated slowly up her neck and across her chin until at last they reached their prize, sliding over her own with a quiet but fierce passion. As he kissed her, she melted against him, trembling slightly. The entire time their eyes remained open, and in the depths of her rich brown eyes he could see everything.
When he pulled back she was breathless, shaking, and staring up at him with a mixture of helplessness and desire. It took her for a moment for her to gather her thoughts, so Sanji just held her, his arm around her waist while the other was still tangled in that beautiful orange hair. “I-I thought… Pudding…” she mumbled incoherently, but he guessed her intentions well enough.
“Pudding? Don't make me laugh. She's a pretty woman, but that's all; my heart always belonged to you, Nami.” Her face relaxed a little, her mouth curling into a small smile, but he could still see the doubt there. “I shouldn't have said those things. I was just so overjoyed at the thought that you were jealous,” he admitted, and he was truly apologetic. Truly, he shouldn't have been cruel like that. He leaned down over her, bring his mouth close to hers again, and murmured against her lips, “Can you forgive me, Nami? For all the hurt I’ve put you through? I won't ever make you doubt again,” he vowed. He kept staring into her eyes, all that time, and watched as they flooded with happy tears. Choked up, all she could do was nod, and he smiled as he softly kissed her once more, more deeply and gently this time.
Nami… That whole time, all I could ever think about was you. He pulled his face back to bury it into her neck, breathing in the scent of tangerines that she carried. “I missed you,” he mumbled. He really had. Though he had always played it off, he loved Nami, with every fiber of his being; he always knew that his past would catch up to him, and so he lied, to everyone and himself, pretending to be a playboy with no conception of love. It had been hard, heartbreaking sometimes, and he had come so close to just abandoning the façade and giving in to the love he felt for the intelligent, beautiful navigator; but he had resisted, fearful of what his family might do if they ever learned of the girl. Now, though…
Now, he was free to do as he pleased with no fear at all.
He hadn't spoken it aloud, but Nami heard him. She reached up with her hands, sliding her slim, perfect fingers through his golden locks with a gentle smile.
“I missed you, too. You had better not leave again,” she warned him. He nodded, lifting his head to smile serenely down at her. “Now. We had better get down to business, okay? Luffy will start pounding on the door if we don't feed him soon,” she joked. As much as Sanji would just like to stand there and hold her and kiss her all day, he had a job to do, as a chef. Bending down to give her one last pack on the cheek, he then retreated and returned to his position at the stove, occasionally barking orders to Nami. He couldn’t help but watch her the entire time, appreciating just how adorable she looked cooking in an apron alongside him and occasionally holding her hair up with one hand.
Looks like I have a lovely new assistant, he mused to himself, because occasionally she would catch his gaze, and her face would melt into the most loving, happy smile he had ever seen her wear…
Chapter 12: A Daring Rescue
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff
Characters: Monkey D. Luffy and Charlotte Smoothie
Requested By: camdawg (Fanfiction)
Luffy sat perched on the bulkhead of his ship, swinging his legs back and forth as he held his hat to his head lest it be blown away by the considerable breeze rolling off the gently frothing waves. He softly hummed a tune to himself, enjoying the kiss of salt against his skin and the smell of the sea wafting up his nose. Though he very much enjoyed riveting adventures, sometimes just sitting at the head of his ship enjoying the sea was pretty nice, too. He watched an albatross coast the trade winds above his head, its wings occasionally flapping once before settling back into a steady glide.
“Luffy! Get down here!”
The pirate captain turned his head when he heard his navigator yelling at him, and there she was, standing on the deck of the ship with her hands on her hips. He screwed up his face in disgust, anticipating that the navigator was going to yell at him; however, she held up one of her hands to show that she was holding an envelope. “There's a letter addressed to you!” This definitely garnered his interest, and he hopped down from the bulkhead to stride across the deck and snatch up the letter. “Hey-!” Ignoring her protests, he ripped open the envelope and unfolded the paper inside, eyes wide with curiosity.
“It's from Chiffon!” he cried when he read the name written at the bottom of the letter.
“Chiffon?” Sanji gasped from the second level of the deck. He hopped over the railing to land beside him, peering over his shoulder to confirm that the daughter of Big Mom was in fact the sender. “Why would she send a letter to you?” Luffy shrugged in response; he certainly didn't know why the woman would send him a letter. Due to the commotion that they were making, the rest of the crew had gathered around, and were all clamoring for him to read the contents aloud.
“All right, all right! Be quiet!” he snapped in irritation before clearing his throat and bringing the letter close to his face to read the swirly, cursive handwriting. “’Dear Straw Hat Luffy,’” he started, “This is Charlotte Chiffon, Lola's twin sister.’” Luffy only vaguely remembered both of the women, truthfully, but he remembered Chiffon more due to her close association with Bege, who he rather liked. “’I am writing to ask for your help. The World Government demanded that Mama give up one of her children as punishment for the trouble that the failed wedding caused. Mama has handed over Smoothie and she is going to be imprisoned in Impel Down. I know this is a lot to ask, but please save Smoothie.’” As he read the letter, a ripple of shocked gasps spread through his crewmates.
“She wants us to save one of Big Mom's pirates?” Brooke frowned, or frowned as much as his old bone face would allow.
“It's more than that! She wants us to save her sister!” Chopper squeaked, waving his little reindeer hooves.
“But she's our enemy! Besides, we need to meet up with Zoro and the others at Wano,” Nami asserted. She had that cross look on her face again, with her hands primly on her hips.
“It’s not Big Mom that's asking, though. It's Chiffon, and she is pretty much why we made it off that island,” Sanji pointed out patiently. Luffy ignored the banter of his crew, arguing that they should or shouldn't save the woman, while he just stared hard at the rest of the letter. The ship is currently headed for Impel Down. If you turned around now, you could easily intercept the ship. Please, Luffy. You are the only one I can ask to do this. I know that it's wrong of me, after all Big Mom did to Sanji and the rest of you, but Smoothie is my sister, and all of us siblings care very much about her. You’re the strongest pirate I know, and you always do the right thing.
“Quiet!” he barked suddenly, and the angry squabbling around him immediately ceased. A large grin spread across his face, and he snickered quietly as he crushed the letter in his fist. “Nami! Set sail for Impel Down! We're gonna catch that ship and set Smoothie free!” he cried, throwing his hands in the air happily. Though sitting on his ship staring at the sea was always nice, he just loved an adventure. His crew mates looked at him with doubt, but did not openly object; instead, they began scurrying about, adjusting sails and turning the rudder to adjust the course to the infamous pirate prison. Luffy did a spin of glee before hopping back up onto the bulkhead of his ship, watching the waves slap against the front of the ship and throw up glittering white foam. Look out, Charlotte Smoothie! The Straw Hats are on their way!
Luffy grew more impatient as the day went on, pacing the deck and letting out annoying, wheedling whines whenever one of his crewmates came close enough to here him. There really wasn't much to do besides wait for the ship to appear on the horizon, and Luffy hated waiting. After hours of this, he climbed back onto his favorite perch with a long sigh, holding up his head in his hands as he stared through lidded eyes at the horizon. The sky was beginning to turn a rich golden color as the sun slowly sank into the sea, and its light splashed over the waves, sparkling like the stars slowly appearing with the inky blackness of night. Bored, he watched the blazing ball of fire slowly sink into the water. Then, he suddenly jumped up with an excited shout, pointing at the sunset. “I see it! I see it!” Sure enough, a black speck had appeared in the yellow sun, and was slowly forming the shadowy silhouette of a ship. “Full speed aheaaaaad!” he crowed, spinning around. He then cried out as he lost his balance and pin-wheeled his arms desperately to keep from plummeting into the ocean.
His crewmates were scrambling around the deck again, this time to coax more speed out of the Thousand Sunny. Luffy hopped down onto the wooden deck, watching the sails unfurl and catch the wind and hearing the ropes scream as they shot through the pulley mechanisms. The tension in the air was high, and he could feel his blood beginning to simmer with the rush of battle. He snickered happily as he looked back at the horizon; the shadowy ship was rapidly growing largely, forming the image of an impressive Navy vessel. It was a much larger ship than the Thousand Sunny, and so it was an easy feat to outrun it. Luffy cried out as the water suddenly exploded beside the ship, indicative that a cannonball had been launched at them. “Whoa!” he cackled happily.
“They're shooting at us! They're shooting at us!” Chopper shrieked as he ran in circles with tears streaming down his furry little face. Carrot was attempting to console him, to no avail.
“We're coming on fast, Luffy! I need you to take care of those cannonballs so I can pull close enough for you and Sanji to be able to reach it!” Nami called down to him from where she was tightly gripping the wheel, holding it steady as they rapidly approached the enemy ship. As she spoke, another cannonball screamed overhead, and he quickly inflated himself to send it rocketing harmlessly back into the sea. The ship was about one hundred yards away now, and he could see little shadowy figures scuttling hither and thither, and hear the disembodied shouts of Navy men drifting on the ocean breeze. Rapidly, the Thousand Sunny closed in on its prey, until the ship was coasting in the wake trail of the formidable ship. The small pirate vessel bounced up and down in the swell, the waves crashing against the hull and sending salty droplets raining down on them. Nami was struggling to hold the wheel steady, her slim arms shaking with the strain. “That's it! I can't get it any closer! It's up to you now!” she called down to them.
“Chopper! Carrot! Brook! You wanna go?” Luffy cried with delight as he hopped up onto the balustrade and prepared to wind up his arm for the throw. Chopper was sitting in a puddle of his own tears and crying, with Carrot kneeling down beside him and patting his little reindeer head. He shook it emphatically at the captain’s prompting. Before the other two could answer, there came a series of angry shouts, and Luffy turned to see that the Navy soldiers were swinging on ropes to bridge the gap between the two boats. “Whoa!” he shouted, ducking down to avoid being decapitated by a saber. The soldier landed on the deck only to find himself at the business end of Brook's sword.
“Go! We'll take care of things here!” he called, and so Luffy did as bid, stretching out his arm to grab ahold of the sizable mast. Holding a hand to his hat, he sprang over the gap, while Sanji used his special technique to bridge the gap with a series of powerful jumps. They landed on the deck of the ship, falling right into a brawl with low-ranking military personnel. It was kind of pitiful, and boring, because he and Sanji had them scattered across the deck groaning and bleeding in a matter of seconds. Luffy grabbed one by the front of his shirt and held him up, shaking him a little.
“Hey! Where's Smoothie?” he demanded. The man, barely conscious, lolled his head and muttered something unintelligible before passing out, much to his disappointment. Luffy dropped him and proceeded to another, who informed him that Smoothie was contained within the bowels of the ship. Luffy wasted no time kicking the doors leading to the lower levels of the ship right off its hinges, sending the reinforcements that were in their way tumbling back down the steps. He plunked down the steps, punching anyone who made the mistake of coming too close, while Sanji took care of any stragglers he had ignored. For a ship that was bearing a daughter of Big Mom, Luffy was disappointed at the level fo security; there was no super-powerful lieutenant or captain to be found- in fact, he had knocked him out upon landing. “This is too easy!” he whined to Sanji as a rather brave soul sprang out from behind a barrel with a loaded rifle.
“Stop whining. Let’s just get Smoothie-" he paused to deliver a swift kick to the man's head and send him crashing through the wall- “before they get out a distress signal.”
“Ooh! You think they’ll call Smoker?” he grinned as he continued merrily strolling along the hallway and down another set of stairs.
“I hope the hell not!” came the irritated refute, and Luffy just puffed out his cheeks. He was in the mood for a good fight. Still, he didn't find one, and reached the brig of the ship with relative ease. The keys, which he had swiped from the jail keeper after relieving him of his consciousness, swung around his index finger as he approached the large cell in which the long-legged woman was contained. She had her eyes closed with her arms crossed, and he was fairly certain that she was asleep; however, as he stopped in front of the bars, her eyes snapped open to stare levelly at him.
“What are you doing here, Straw Hat Luffy?” she inquired calmly. Her silvery hair shone dimly in the dark, settled around her body like some kind of luxurious coat.
“I’m here to rescue you, duh.” Though she kept up her unbothered demeanor, he could see her eyes widen slightly in surprise. “Chiffon asked me to,” he clarified as he inserted the key in the lock and turned it, then pushed the door open. “I don't really care about you either way, but she's a friend, and my friend asked me for help. Simple as that.” He walked into the cell, preparing to unlock the chains that bound her, but Sanji grabbed him by the wrist.
“Hold it, Luffy. How can we trust that she won't hand us over to Big Mom?”
“Couldn't you have brought that up before we stormed the ship?” he whined as he pursed his lips at him. “Besides, you think I’m just gonna let her beat me up and hand me over? Come on, Sanji,” he snorted and rolled his eyes. He looked back over at Smoothie, who was just calmly sitting there, chained to the chair and gazing levelly down at him.
“What do you intend to do with me?” she asked suddenly. Luffy blinked, then cocked his head to the side. He hadn't really thought about what he was going to do with Smoothie once he rescued her. He couldn't just deliver her to Big Mom, because he certainly didn't have the manpower to take the Emperor on again so soon. He didn't have time to take her to another island, because he had already wasted enough time and needed to get underway back to Wano immediately. He sat there for a moment, thinking, then grinned at her.
“Wanna join my crew?”
“Oh, good grief,” Sanji muttered and turned away his a hand over his face, but Luffy thought it was a fantastic idea. What little he had seen of her showed that she was a capable woman, and besides, he didn't have a Long-Leg tribe in his crew yet. She would be a perfect addition.
“Aw,” he pouted glumly and tapped his foot as he tried to think of an alternative. “Well, then, I guess you’ll be my hostage,” he decided with equal glee. He had never had a hostage before. It was certainly a very pirate-y thing to do.
“How is that any different from my situation now?” she smirked lightly at him, staring at him in amusement through the one eye not covered by her silvery hair. She had Luffy stumped for a minute.
“Well, for one, the food is better,” he grinned with a look at Sanji, who was giving him an extremely pained expression. “And I’m not gonna lock you in Impel Down. I’ve been there. It's not a very fun place,” he added as he scrunched up his nose, remembering the vile place. Smoothie continued to give him that level stare, gauging his truthfulness, before she dipped her head in a small nod.
“All right. I won't make any attempt to attack you if you release me,” she promised. Luffy grinned in glee and set to unlocking the couple of padlocks on her person, while Sanji was shaking his head and muttering about how asinine the entire thing was. As the chains fell off of her, landing with heavy thunks against the thick wood, Smoothie rubbed her wrists and stretched her arms and legs to relieve the stiffness; then, she stood, stooping over as her head brushed against the short ceiling of the cell. Sanji stiffened, obviously expecting the woman to retaliate, but the woman just looked down at the pirate captain. “Thank you.”
“No problem! Come on, hostage!” Luffy laughed as he chucked the keys aside and strolled out of the cell. A few straggling soldiers attacked them on the way up, but they were relatively unbothered as they made it out onto the deck. Luffy could see the Thousand Sunny still sailing in the wake of the large Navy ship, with a couple of Navy officers swimming in the foamy froth after being thrown off the ship by his crewmates. “Let's get outta here,” he grinned and promptly wound his arm tightly around Smoothie's waist, while he stretched the other to latch onto his ship's mast. When the three of them landed securely on the deck, Nami wrenched the wheel and pulled out of the wake, and the sails caught the wind to bear them speedily away from the Navy ship. Luffy released Smoothie and made to head to his favorite napping spot.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Nami cried, taking the steps two at a time on her way down from the wheel, which was now being managed by Brook. “What are we going to do with her?” she demanded and pointed at the fifteen-foot-tall woman.
“She's my hostage.”
“If she’s your hostage, why don't you lock her up?” Luffy screwed up his face in distaste.
“That isn't very nice, Nami.” The navigator stamped her foot and pulled at her tangerine hair, then exhaled deeply and composed herself. She threw up her arms in defeat, shaking her head as she turned to head back up the stairs to her chart room.
“All right, all right. I’m setting course for Wano. This had better not bite us in the butt later, Luffy!” she called down, and he winced as she slammed the door shut. Why is she so grumpy? He pouted. He strolled back over to the mast and settled himself at the base, tipping his hat forward to cover his eyes before settling his arms beside his head. Just as he was about to close his eyes, a pair of feet clad in ornate boots appeared in the thin space beneath the brim of his straw hat, and he looked up to see Smoothie standing over him.
“What? I’m taking a nap.”
“I thought I was your hostage?” she blinked down at him. Though she kept her face as blank as ever, he could see the minute traces of confusion there.
“What do you expect me to do? Lock you up, beat you within an inch of your life?” he snorted. How dumb. “Chiffon asked me to rescue you, and I did. Now you’re my hostage and I can treat you however I want, and I don't wanna treat you badly,” he shrugged.
“I didn't ask to be rescued.” Luffy sat up with a sigh and returned his hat to its proper position, confident that he wasn't going to get his nap with the woman's incessant pestering. He crossed his arms, craning his neck to overcome her towering height.
“So what, you were just okay with Big Mom selling you out like that? For such a big, bad Emperor, she sure let the military push her around,” he mocked. Her face flushed a light shade of pink, and he raised an eyebrow as she crouched down so that they were face-to-face.
“Don’t insult Mama like that!” she snapped and jabbed her index finger into his chest. Luffy held his ground, keeping his arms crossed as he glared right back into her eyes.
“I’ll insult her all I want. I don't respect anyone who can just callously give up their family like that!” he retorted hotly. He hadn't really liked the giantess to begin with, considering her treatment of Sanji, but he definitely didn't like her now. He would have died rather than give up Ace to the military- in fact, he had nearly died doing just that. “She doesn't give a damn about you or any of your siblings. She doesn't deserve your respect either!” he asserted firmly. Smoothie's face slowly drained of color, and he was shocked to see her expression actually grow sad. She fell back slightly to sit on the deck, her long legs tucked underneath her and her silvery hair glowing in the moonlight as it framed her hourglass shape.
“She gave me up…” she murmured. Finally, she's getting it. He watched her for a minute, and was shocked to see that a thin river of tears was mow running down one of her cheeks. She put up such an emotionless front that he hadn't expected such a reaction from her. I guess she can feel after all. He scooted a little closer to her, dipping his head to look at her since her gaze was trained on the boards below.
“Hey. There's no need to cry. You'll have lots of fun as my hostage!” he reassured her brightly. “Sanji makes amazing food, you know. Wait until you meet the rest of my crew, too! They’re all waiting at Wano! We do a lot of cool things together, like seeing who can catch the biggest fish or kill the biggest game so Sanji can make it for dinner! We play a bunch of cool games, too, while we're sailing, and Zoro is always really funny the more alcohol he drinks. We have a running bet to see how much alcohol it takes to get him drunk! So far he can drink five bottle of rum! Five!” he told her ecstatically. “Plus, we make friends everywhere we go! I have a whole armada, you know, with all my friends!” he bragged, sitting back up to gloat. He heard Smoothie giggle a little, and he smiled widely at her when she looked up with a tiny smile. He thought she had a rather nice smile.
“You aren't too bad after all,” she mused.
“Duh! Are you just figuring that out?” he snickered as he rocked back and forth slightly, holding his feet. He had his eyes closed as he laughed, so he didn't see Smoothie leaning forward until her lips gently pressed against his cheek and his eyes snapped open in shock. “Uh,” he blinked as she pulled back, smirking slightly as she stared at him alluringly. He just rubbed his cheek, not quite sure what to do, and smiled bashfully at her. Her hair looks pretty in the moonlight, he thought, though he wasn't sure where that thought came from.
“I think this is going to be a lot of fun,” she chuckled before rising to her towering height and striding away. Luffy leaned forward to watch her climb up the steps to join a very confused Carrot at the helm, and they engaged in avid conversation about Carrot's origins. He watched them for a minute, then snickered to himself and settled himself back down for his nap.
I knew this was a good idea. I think this is gonna be a lot of fun, too! He thought gleefully, the image of the strange new addition to their ship dancing in his mind with the light of the moon…
Chapter 13: A Present for Nami
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff, Friendship Fluff
Characters: Sanji, Charlotte Chiffon, Charlotte Pudding
Requested By: farrah87 (Ao3)
Sanji exhaled deeply as he paused to glance up at the blazing blue sky above his head and run the back of his hand across his forehead to wipe away the thin sheen of sweat that had accumulated there. I hope everyone is hanging in there. We're almost done! He hoped as he glanced back down at the deck of the ship, which was bustling with activity as the cooks under Chiffon's command frantically ran hither and thither. In order to appease Big Mom's murderous rage, he had been assisting the twenty-second daughter of the Emperor in baking an exact replica of the wedding cake for the last several hours. They were so close to finishing, but with no news of how the rest of the crew was doing, he was admittedly anxious. I just have to have faith.
“Sanji!” The Straw Hat pirate turned as his name was abruptly caused, just in time to see the pink-haired, brawny pirate wife tottering toward him. “It's nearly ready! Here! Taste it!” she insisted as she held out a fork with a bit of the sponge iced cake on the end. Sanji did as bid, and as the sweet taste spread over his tongue, he could not help but grin devilishly.
“It's absolutely divine, Chiffon! This cake will stop Big Mom right in her tracks! I guarantee it!” As he smirked triumphantly, the cooks cheered happily, and the crew began scrambling around once more to set course for the island they were meeting the rest of Sanji's crewmates. Sanji approached the towering wedding cake, occasionally barking orders at the cooks who were providing finishing touches to the icing. He could see Pudding hovering off to the side out of the corners of his eyes, staring hard at him. Cute. Too bad my heart belongs to another woman, he thought wryly. The image of the beautiful, tangerine-haired navigator flashed into his mind for a brief moment. He wondered if she was all right. Before his mind could descend into frightening scenarios, he hastily bent his thoughts on the cake. I can’t worry about her… I have to believe that Luffy will protect her- all of them, but especially her.
“Sanji, I have a question for you!” Chiffon chirped at him suddenly, and he turned once more to face the large woman. “What is Nami's favorite kind of cake?” Sanji had to admit that he was surprised that she would ask so suddenly about the woman, especially when he had just been thinking about her.
“Why would you ask about her?” Pudding snapped grumpily. At the mention of the other woman, the caramel-haired baking expert had rushed to Sanji’s side, glaring daggers at the clueless Chiffon. She still kept her distance from him, though, her fingers twitching anxiously as she watched to see how he would react. Sanji smirked lightly and looked back at Bege's wife, sliding his hands into his pockets.
“Yeah, Chiffon, what’s up with this all of a sudden?” he agreed.
“Nami is Lola's friend, yes? I’ve heard a lot about the good things she did for her,” she explained with a big smile. “So, Nami is my friend too. I just want to bake a small cake for her, to thank her for helping Lola so much.” It sounded like a good enough reason to Sanji, so he pulled out one hand to rub his chin thoughtfully.
“Hmm, I see. Well, Nami loves tangerines, for sure, but she also likes fruits in general. She partial to berries, though- especially strawberries. Those are her favorite. As for cakes, angel food cake is definitely her top choice, but strawberry cake and vanilla cake are close seconds. She prefers whipped frosting over creamy frosting,” he babbled, and as he continued to talk about her, a smile naturally formed onto his face. It had taken a lot of trial and error, and careful observation, to discern what her food preferences were, and he could just see that little smile on her face as she sat bent over her work desk nibbling at some confection or another he had prepared for her. She always hid in her office when he made something just for her, but she left the door cracked to let the sea breeze in, and he would always peer into her room to see her reaction for just a brief moment. She would always bring him the plate when she was done with a simple “thank you,” but when she turned around there would be a flash of happiness on her face that Sanji always managed to catch.
“You like Nami, don't you?” Sanji was snapped out of his fantasizing by Chiffon’s amused question, and he looked back to her to see her smiling knowingly. He could feel Pudding bristling next to him, quaking with rage, but he wasn't going to lie for her sake.
“I don’t just like her. I love her!” he confirmed with a big, happy grin. Sanji really did, though he had played it off all this time- mostly because he knew that his past would eventually catch up to him one day. Now that everything was out in the open, though, why did he have to hide it?
“Sanji, what about me?” Pudding pouted beside him, her face taking on that dark, murderous shadow he had seen many times over the strange roller-coaster ride that was his captivity in Big Mom's empire. He looked down at her, and, not missing a beat, flashed her an alluring smile.
“Oh, but you’re beautiful, Pudding,” he told her smoothly, and she squealed and clapped her hands to her cheeks, gushing over the compliment. That ought to appease her for the moment, he thought with a slight chuckle. Pudding had turned out to be not that bad after all- more than anything, he just felt bad for her. All her life, she had been told she was a three-eyed monster, and a tool. Though Sanji admittedly felt nothing romantic for the girl, he always wanted to make women feel beautiful and worth something, and Pudding was no exception- despite her murderous alter ego. As the girl scampered away to swoon, Sanji looked back at Chiffon. “I love Nami,” he repeated, “but I don't know how she feels about me.” Pudding ceased her loud squealing, perking up at the admission. Obviously she was thinking she had some kind of chance with him, or something.
“You haven't told her yet?” Chiffon asked him with a deep frown, and he shook his head with a small sigh. He glanced over the side of the boat out at the sea, where the waves were writhing, as if mirroring the maelstrom that was their situation, rapidly spiraling out of control. The sea always reminded him of her. In the two years he had been training, in the brief moments of respite he would stand on the shore with his boots off and his pants legs rolled up, ankle-deep in the surf and watching the waves roll in and out; he would wonder where she was, what she was doing, if she was safe. He had thought of her even more while he was prisoner in the vast castle complex of Big Mom. He could tell himself that he felt something for Pudding and would be able to live with marrying her all day, but when night fell and he would lay in his bed, alone with his thoughts, his mind was bent on her. Her smile, her beautiful tangerine hair, her robust confidence and brazen personality- everything he loved about her, and he would regret never telling her, for being such a coward. I should have said something, he would think. Now it's too late.
Things were different now, though. There was a pretty good chance that he could escape Big Mom's clutches. What would he do now? All his life, he had lived expecting this to be the end, and now his future was uncertain. Chiffon patiently watched him think, then chortled loudly, bringing him back to the present. “Would you like to help me bake the cake for Nami?”
“Of course.” Sanji never missed an excuse to cook something. He glanced over at Pudding, who was mumbling under her breath about winning Sanji or something along those lines. “Pudding? Would you like to join us?”
“Absolutely not! I won't make anything for that woman!” she snapped hotly, her caramel pigtails whipping about as she shook her head wildly. He chuckled at her blatant refusal and shrugged, accompanying Chiffon across the deck. Naturally, Pudding stood there for a few minutes, fuming, before stomping after him. She hovered over his shoulder as he assisted Chiffon, alternating between gushing over his cooking prowess and hissing about the fact that he was making something for another woman. Within half an hour, they had a little two-tier cake, angel food cake with tangerine whipped frosting garnished with a couple of tangerine slices.
“Oh! It’s perfect!” Chiffon cried in elation.
“It isn't anything special,” Pudding retorted with her cheeks puffed out defiantly, her slim arms crossed with displeasure. One of the cooks brought them a box, and they carefully put the cake inside and tied it shut with string.
“Make sure you get this to Nami, Sanji, safe and sound!” Chiffon told him as he took the box and carefully slipped it into one of the pockets on the inside of his coat. It made an obvious bulge, but it was the safest place he could think to keep it in the coming chaos.
“I will, Chiffon,” he assured her. One of the cooks started yelling that the island was in sight, and he walked over to the side of the boat, placing his hands on the wooden railing as he watched it slowly approach. His friends were out there. Nami was out there.
I have to deliver this present safely to Nami for Chiffon… He glanced over his shoulder at the large woman, who was grinning mischievously at him while Pudding sulked beside her. Use this present to tell her how you feel, she was telling him. Sanji looked back at the swirling ocean, at the island rapidly growing larger on the horizon, at the battle he had yet to fight, at his uncertain future…
I’m coming, Nami.
Chapter 14: Some Sound Advice
Category: Friendship Fluff, Mild Romantic Fluff
Characters: Portgas D. Ace, Sanji, and Nami
Requested By: Scarlett (Ao3)
“Stop playing with your food, dammit! I worked hard to make that!”
Ace jumped slightly as Sanji abruptly stormed out of the kitchen to whack Usopp and Luffy savagely over their heads as punishment for foolishly playing in the wet rice that he had prepared. He blinked in mild confusion as the blonde-haired cook continued to berate them angrily, while the sniper was splayed out on the deck apparently unconscious and Luffy was just rubbing the back of his head with a defiant pout, cheeks puffed out like a child. Man. Pops doesn't allow that kind of talk… But Luffy just lets his crew knock him around and all that? He thought, then smiled slightly. He really hasn't changed at all… he thought in amusement as Luffy and Sanji continued to squabble for a few minutes. When Usopp came to, he yelped pathetically as Sanji abruptly grabbed both of them by the backs of their shirts and dragged them to their feet. “Make yourselves useful and wash the dishes, will you? I have to pack lunches for the desert!” he huffed before whirling about to stomp back into the kitchen.
“I can help you,” Ace called to the young cook, beginning to rise from his position on the deck. He was quite bored, to be honest; he never did well with just sitting around, and he wanted to be useful. He frowned when Sanji turned around and brusquely refused.
“Don't be ridiculous. You’re a guest,” he sniffed at him as he rolled up his sleeves with a small smirk before he put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it. He breathed in deeply, inhaling the thin white smoke, before exhaling the foggy substance and smiling at him. “I’m not opposed to people watching me work, though. Besides, you can keep an eye on those loons.” As he shot an irritated glare at his little brother, Ace was once again shocked at how disrespectfully he spoke of his captain. He really doesn't keep a tight ship, does he? He thought with a slightly raised eyebrow as he followed Sanji into the kitchen. Luffy and Usopp were in the corner, mumbling in irritation as they prepared to start the chore assigned to them, and Sanji ignored them as he strolled over to a table that already had various ingredients piled neatly about it. As Ace pulled up a chair, flipped it backwards, and sat down with his chin propped up on the back and his arms hanging down, he watched with interest as Sanji began to expertly arrange the little lunch boxes.
“Wow. You certainly know what you're doing,” Ace whistled, impressed. He jerked back a little when Sanji snatched up a fork, stabbed a sausage, and abruptly thrust it in his face with a big grin, obviously wanting Ace to sample his handiwork. He shrugged, not having any reason not to, and took the fork from him to chomp down on the meat product. His eyebrows shot up his forehead as soon as the spicy sausage landed on his tongue. “Whoa! This is great!” he cried with his mouth full, almost wishing he had refused because he definitely wanted more. Sanji smirked at the praise and resumed what he was doing.
“I just take pride in my work, that's all,” he shrugged nonchalantly, but from the way that he was smirking, Ace could tell that he was pleased. Sanji glanced over in the corner to see what the other boys were doing, then his pleased expression immediately morphed into onto of intense annoyance. “You idiots! That’s the bucket of mop water! Why the hell are you washing the dishes with that?” he snapped, pinching the bridge of his nose as he struggled to remain calm. Of course, Luffy and Usopp just snapped back, with Luffy going so far as to stick his tongue out at the bereaved cook. Before Ace could comment, the door to the kitchen was suddenly thrown open with almost enough force to take it off its hinges, making them all fall silent and look in shock at the entrance.
“All of you! There's a storm coming!” Nami cried, striding across the kitchen to grab Usopp and Luffy hy their collars to forcibly drag them back across the room and out the door, barking orders the entire time. Luffy was crowing excitedly, happy that something interesting was finally happening, while Usopp was shaking in his boots and going on about how they were all going to die. When Nami stuck her head back in, tangerine hair swinging wildly, and snapped at Sanji to assist, the cook happily darted out of the room to do her bidding.
“Ace, I need your help with the sails,” she ordered him before vanishing back out the door. How can be so sure that there's going to be a storm? He wondered as he walked out of the kitchen, holding his hat to his head. There wasn't even a breeze, but sure enough, the crew was scrambling about at Nami's beck and call, tying this down and securing this sail and whatnot. He stood there for a moment, staring out at the calm blue sky mirroring the calm blue sea, until Nami screeched at him to get his butt moving. Disgruntled, he obediently went to changing the sails as she asked, climbing easily up the mast to prop himself on the main sail and let it down. By the time the cloth billowed out, catching the light wind produced by the sea, a stain of gray clouds was spreading across the horizon. Ace cried out as a sudden gale ripped across the ship, and if he hadn't grabbed onto the mast, it would have knocked him right down to the deck below. The roiling gray clouds were rapidly eclipsing the natural blue of the sky, and he could see sheets of rain pouring into the writhing waves even at this distance. Occasionally, flashes of white illuminated the dark mass. It was rapidly approaching them.
“Uh, Nami? Those clouds are really close!” he heard Usopp squeal in fright, but Nami was at the wheel, spinning it around to catch the wind. Ace jerked forward, thankfully still holding tightly onto the mast, as the sail caught the fierce wind and sent the ship streaming through the water. The boat rocked violently in the large waves, and a cold rain began to spill down on them as the edge of the storm brushed over them, but then they were surging forward, leaving the maelstrom behind. The crew below erupted into cheers, praising Nami's weather-predicting skills, while Ace just sat up in the sails, staring down at the girl curiously. How did she know?
The rest of the morning went by uneventfully, and by the time the sun was at its highest point, they had landed in the desert and were trekking through the dunes with Vivi at the lead. The little reindeer, Chopper, was plodding along ahead of Ace, his little pink tongue hanging out of his mouth as he panted heavily in exhaustion.
“It's so hot,” he moped miserably.
“Oh, yes. It can get up to fifty degrees Celsius in the desert. That's why you have to wear plenty of clothing, because sunburn is a very real problem,” Vivi smiled at him over her shoulder. Ace still didn't really understand what was going on in Alabasta, and what Crocodile was up to; not that it was really his concern. He had to find Blackbeard, and so he couldn't concern himself with the goings-on of island countries. Still, he felt bad for the princess, and was glad that his brother was willing to help her. Bratty as he is, he has a good heart, he thought with a smile with a sidelong glance at his brother. He raised his eyebrows as Nami suddenly hit the boy in question over his head.
“Luffy! Stop drinking all your water!” she scolded him angrily as Luffy spit the straw to his water canister out of his mouth and did his signature pout. “The desert is dangerous. Even you could die,” she tutted before continuing onward. Ace trotted across the sand to fall in pace with her, admittedly staring at her with curiosity. He had never met a woman who was so no-nonsense and could easily take charge, especially over a bunch of rowdy men like the Straw Hats- and then there was the business with that storm. He just walked alongside her for a moment, trying to think of something to say, but before he could she suddenly looked up at him with a small smile and friendly eyes.
“So, what's it like seeing Luffy after all this time?”
“Heh. He hasn't changed at all,” he laughed, glancing back at his brother, who was still sulking. “Still, in some ways, he's come a long way. He's certainly a lot stronger than when I last saw him,” he mused before turning back to him. “So how did you fall in with all these clowns?” She looked at him quizzically, and he smiled sheepishly at him. “Oh, come on. I’ve been watching these guys all day. They would definitely fall apart without you!” Truthfully, he was beginning to wonder if Luffy was merely the captain for show, and Nami was actually the mastermind of the pirate crew. The girl blushed pink under his praise.
“Their heads are full of air most of the time, but they get down to business when they need to,” she shrugged with a small smile. He could tell by the look on her face, the way she was gazing off at the desert with her face relaxed in happiness, that she really thought highly of them. I’m glad Luffy has capable friends like her. It makes me worry less.
“So, how did you know that storm was coming?” he asked her. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It came up out of nowhere, but you knew it was coming well in enough time to get away!” Once more, she blushed, looking a mixture of satisfied and embarrassed.
“I’ve been studying weather patterns and navigation since I was very small. It's just a matter of reading the barometric pressure and wind patterns,” she answered. She made it sound so simple, but it was still like magic to him. He continued to gaze at her in pure reverence, while she just flushed and tried to make light of her talents. As they trekked onward through the desert, they talked animatedly about a lot of things, and by the end of it all Ace was truly impressed by the remarkable girl. She was tough, smart, and resourceful, and he wasn't going to make light of that just because she was a woman; if anything, it was more impressive, because she had a lot to compete with, considering the kind of men that made up the pirate crew.
By the time the sun was setting, they had reached a complex of cliffs and canyons, which would provide them some shelter from the harshness of the desert night. The temperature had already dropped significantly, so much so that Chopper was shivering violently with chattering teeth and attempting to curl himself up into a ball. The managed to scrounge up some dead limbs, and Ace used his powers to get them a nice fire going, which certainly improved matters. Which the raucous pirate crew sat around the roaring flame, snickering and cutting up while Sanji distributed food, Ace stood several yards away, gazing out at the rolling dunes that glowed white under the moonlight with his arms crossed. I came here looking for Blackbeard… But I haven't heard anything about him. Could it be possible that it's a dead lead? He wondered. He was pulled out of his thoughts when he heard the soft crunch of feet on sandy crystals, and he turned to see Sanji standing behind him, holding out a bowl of stew with an oddly unreadable expression on his face.
“Thanks,” Ace said, taking the stew and intending to go back to his quiet contemplation, but to his shock the crew stomped around and planted himself in front of him with his hands on his hips and his cigarette clenched in his teeth. His face was uncomfortably close, and Ace was beginning to get the idea that Sanji was irritated with him for some reason. “Can I help you?” he frowned at him, not one to be intimidated.
“What the hell is your game with Nami?” he demanded hotly. Ace blinked in confusion, not having expected a question about the navigator whom he had befriended.
“I don't follow.”
“Don't play dumb! You’ve been staring at her all day, and getting awful close, yeah?” he hissed angrily, keeping his voice low and glancing up at the girl who was sitting by the fire, oblivious to the confrontation. Ace glanced over his shoulder at her, then back at Sanji, who's face was beginning to turn pink. What the…? Oh. Oh. Once he pieced it together in his head, he began to laugh, because frankly, it was a ridiculous accusation. Sanji didn't think it was very funny, though. “Why the hell are you laughing?” he snapped quietly, looking in a panic at the rest of the crew around the fire. They didn't seem very interested in the side confrontation.
“Sanji, I don't like Nami or anything,” he mused once he had finished laughing. Sanji blinked at him in shock, apparently finding that hard to believe. “I just think she's a remarkable woman. I like talking to her. She's pretty sure, but I’m not the type to fall in love in one day,” he smirked before putting a spoonful of the stew in his mouth. “Mm, this is good. You really are a good cook.”
“Thank y- no, wait, wait, wait, so you don't like Nami?” he sputtered, and when Ace shook his head in affirmation, he sighed heavily in relief, his shoulders sagging as he sat down in a sitting position in front of Ace. “Thank goodness.” It was Ace's turn to play interrogator.
“So, you do?” he smirked coyly as he settled down in front of him, looking at him levelly. He had expected Sanji to adamantly deny it, but instead his face lit up with happiness, not unlike a little boy.
“Oh, yes! I love Nami! She's so beautiful and smart and amazing~” he sighed happily. Ace could swear that hearts were dancing in the dashing cook's eyes as he clasped his hands together and held them next to his face, gushing over the pretty navigator.
“You say that a lot, but to me you just look like a hopeless flirt,” he pointed out. Sanji really did flirt a lot, with every woman he saw, so he found it pretty hard to believe that the feelings were exclusively. Sanji glared at him angrily, jaw set in defiance.
“No! I do feel very strongly about Nami!” he insisted. He did look believable. He was staring right into Ace’s eyes, and the man could see a blazing fire in those dark depths. His posture was rigid, too, and his jaw was clenched defiantly. All right, so you like her.
“So, why don't you tell her?” he asked. Sanji's attitude immediately did a one-eighty. He slumped down sadly, avoiding Ace’s gaze and shifting around uncomfortably. “What? Scared she might refuse you?” he chuckled. He didn't pin Sanji as one to be so easily deterred, but hey, everybody had things that shook them.
“No, not necessarily…” he mumbled. The cook's gaze slid back to the campfire, and he was shocked to find that the man was staring at Luffy now, not Nami.
Ace started laughing again.
“Luffy? Please! That moron has two things on his mind- food, and becoming Pirate King. I don't think he even has enough brains to know what it means to love a woman,” he hooted with laughter. Sanji didn't appreciate being made fun of, and just pouted childishly at him; when he regained himself, Ace sighed slightly and clapped him on the shoulder with a smile. “Whatever your reasons are, I don't think you have anything to worry about. There's no need to be jealous. But you know, if you keep quiet about it and she never knows, there's nothing to stop her from falling for somebody else,” he pointed out. Sanji's shoulders hunched miserably and he looked down at his lap, drawing patterns in the sand.
“I know… I just don't want to get her involved in… something bad,” he muttered evasively. Ace didn't push it. Some people had a past that they were afraid of, and he wasn't one to judge about that. If anything, it just showed how deeply the cook actually cared about the woman. “I would never want to put Nami in danger… So I try to seem like I’m just some hopeless flirt. Nami is the one I really care about, though… But every time I think about telling her how I really feel, I think about what could happen,” he groaned. Whoa. He's really conflicted.
“I’m not one to tell you what to do,” he shrugged, finishing off the stew and setting the bowl aside, glancing up to look at the starry black sky above. “Tell her, don't tell her- that's your choice. But at the end of the days, you’re the one who has to live with regrets and wonder what would’ve happened if you did this or didn't do that,” he explained before looking down at him with a small smile. “Between you and me, though, she's quite fond of you,” he winked, and Sanji went pink. It wasn't a lie, either. The cook had often come up in conversation with the navigator, and she got this certain sparkle in her eyes whenever she talked about him. Even when she seemed to be berating him for his flirtatious nature, she had this hidden smile in her mouth. It was obvious to Ace the she definitely felt more for the cook that she liked to let on.
“Really?” he whispered, leaning forward.
“Really!” Sanji leaned back again, wiggling the cigarette in his teeth as he looked over at Nami again. Ace was amused by the positively giddy expression on his face. They’re all good guys… I’m glad Luffy found people like them, he thought once more. He raised an eyebrow when Sanji suddenly jumped up, grinning widely.
“That's it! Once we save Vivi's country, I’m gonna tell Nami how I really feel! For real, no holding back!” he swore, pulling his cigarette out of his mouth the beam gratefully down at him. “You know, you really aren’t that bad, Ace!”
“What? You’re just figuring that out?” he sputtered, but was smiling widely. Luffy, having finally taken notice of the conversation, began whining at him to come join them by the fire. “All right, all right, I’m coming,” he called and pulled himself to his feet, throwing an arm around Sanji's shoulders before guiding him over to the fire. As he fell in to the raucous conversation, he noticed Sanji sticking closer to Nami more than usual. She didn't seem to mind too much, either.
I didn’t mean to be a matchmaker, but… I’m glad for them. I hope it works out, he smiled as he lounged against a rock. He was almost sorry he wouldn't be able to stick around and see what happened.
I’m on a different path than Luffy. I wonder who will be Pirate King? Him or Pops? He thought as he looked at his little brother, who was stomping around the fire doing some rowdy impression or another. With friends like this, he's got a chance for sure.
Chapter 15: A Bond of Trust
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff, Friendship Fluff
Characters: Nami and Mokey. D. Luffy
Requested by: snow3bunny (Ao3)
“Nami! Wait! What about heading to Zou?” Sanji shouted after her as Nami strode steadfastly through the battle-torn streets of Dressrosa. The various factions of the Straw Hat Pirates and their ally Trafalgar Law had certainly made a mess of things in their efforts to escape Doflamingo and Admiral Fujitora. Buildings were reduced to crumbling stone and bent metal, overturned carts and abandoned goods littered the sandy streets, and here and there a lingering civilian stared wide-eyed at the carnage, having nowhere to escape the bitter war that had suddenly erupted in their home. Everything the Straw Hats had known about the ruthless pirate leader was a lie; he had been playing them like a fiddle the entire time, and they were now ensnared in whatever trap he had set for them, wiggling like flies trapped in a spider's web. “Nami! Wait up- ow, damn it!” Sanji cursed as he tripped over a large section of concrete, fumbling around it in his feverish pursuit of the navigator. Nami had no interest in heading to Zou on the Thousand Sunny; the others could handle it. Now, her captain needed her.
“Luffy is in trouble! This operation is a monumental failure, and if we don't get ourselves together we're gonna end up dead!” she snapped at him over her shoulder, vaulting herself over a rather large section of collapsed wall and landing in the sandy road with a huff before continuing on her way. She had no idea where she was going, really; she had no idea where Luffy was, or what he was doing now. It was illogical for her to have abandoned the ship as she did and stomp off into the battlefield looking for him. Something had possessed her, though. As the plan had unraveled around them, she felt this overwhelming need to rush to his side. Nami was not strong, she knew that; she barely held a candle to the powerful men she sailed with. Still, she knew she could do something to be of use, something to help her captain in the battle to come… More than anything, though, she just had to know that he was safe. She continued plodding along, her Climatact clutched tightly in her hand, and her mind was so bent on finding the captain that she was not aware of the danger around her.
“Nami! Look out!” Sanji shouted, but she could barely hear him over the sound of rumbling earth and creaking stone. Shadow fell over her, and she whipped around to find in horror that the building beside her had sustained heavy damage and was currently collapsing, with an entire side wall groaning and falling right in her direction. Sanji immediately moved to jump up and destroy the wall with a well-delivered kick, but was unable to do so as a neighboring building succumbed to the stress and sent him scurrying in the opposite direction to avoid being crushed himself. With a shriek, she whirled about and made a mad dash for the edge of the shadow, unable to hear anything but the blood roaring in her ears and the crashing of glass and rock. I’m not gonna make it! She thought, and threw herself on the ground covering her head, praying that somehow she escaped unscathed.
Suddenly, the sounds of the crumbling building were replaced by the unmistakable roar of rushing flames, and Nami peered out of her fingers to see the bright red and gold flare of fire blast over her head and rocket into the wall. The heat was so intense that it practically seared her skin as the wall exploded, sending bits of glass and rubble raining down on her. She cried out and covered her head once more, the debris slicing through the skin on her arms and legs, but that was certainly preferable to being squished flat. Once the earth stopped shaking, she sat up and looked to the ruined building, which was now just a pile of rocks and dust with a few lingering flames flickering about. What was that? It was almost as if… No, but he’s dead! She thought wildly, and whirled about when she heard footsteps crunching on glass and gravel, presumably her rescuer.
“Phew! That was a close one. Good thing I came along, huh?” the stranger grinned at her, the bright pink scar on his face stretching as he smiled. His wavy blonde hair was partially concealed by a large black hat with a pair of goggles resting on the brim, and the black cloak he was wearing fluttered slightly in the breeze. He looks like Luffy and Ace, she thought in mild delirium, struck. “I think I’m getting used to these new powers.”
“Nami! Are you okay?” she heard Sanji shouting from a distance away, and she turned to see him clambering over the rubble, slipping and sliding through the loose stone that had formed a wall between them and prevented her rescue. Once he was safely on the sandy ground, he trotted over to her, looking at the stranger warily. “Thanks for your help, but who are you?” The young man opened his mouth to answer, but went stiff as a girl's angry shriek drifted out from a nearby alleyway.
“Sabo! You can’t just run off like that! We've got a job to do, ya know?” the girl snapped as she stomped out of the alley. She wore a hat too, a puffy one, and her hair was a blondish-gold color that curled upward at the ends; her pretty features were disfigured in a scowl, and she stalked over to the man and promptly whacked him in the back of the head.
“Ow… Koala… I saw this girl was in trouble! Don't hit me!” he whined, and as he pouted Nami thought that he resembled her captain even more.
“Nami!” The navigator turned back to the entrance of the alleyway to find, to her surprise, Robin strolling out of it, apparently accompanying the two strangers. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you on the Thousand Sunny?”
“Robin? You know these two? Oh! That must mean you're part of Luffy's crew too!” Sabo grinned cheekily.
“Wait! You know Luffy?” Sanji gasped, raising his golden eyebrows.
“Yeah! I’m his big brother! Well, his other big brother, besides Ace,” he cackled and put his hands on his hips and puffed out his chest. Wow, now everything makes sense, Nami thought begrudgingly. Her eye twitched in annoyance at the ridiculousness of the situation; somehow, she had stumbled upon another member of Luffy's family that none of them knew about who had somehow acquired the late Ace's powers. After a minute of absorbing the information, it clicked in her mind.
“Wait! If you have the Flame Flame Fruit powers, that means Luffy lost in the Coliseum!”
“Eh, not exactly. Luffy went to go tend to Doflamingo, and I fought in his place. I’m the only one in the world he would be okay with having Ace's powers, after all,” Sabo mused. Nami breathed a small sigh of relief, glad that her captain was not lying on a stretcher somewhere, or worse, beaten to the brink of death. Still, it was only a small measure; he was still fending off against a Warlord of the Sea, after all, and the limited encounters she had with the chaotic man had proved he was ruthless and borderline insane.
“So… You don't know where he is now?” she asked with a small sigh. Back to square one, it seems. Sabo shook his head sadly, then slid his hand into his pockets.
“Ah! I’ve been rude. We haven't had proper introductions. I’m Sabo, and this is my partner, Koala,” he told them with a cheeky grin.
“Hiya!” the girl chirped with a giggle.
“I’m Nami, Luffy's navigator, and this is Sanji, our cook,” she explained. “We came looking for him. Everything's gone south… Our crew is all split up on and off the island, and Luffy is going to need some back-up.” Sabo nodded knowingly, then smiled at her.
“It does me good to see Luffy has good friends that are worried about him! I don't know where he is now, but we know where he's gonna be- Doflamingo's palace… But, you know, he may not want you to come after him, Nami,” he pointed out. “Doflamingo is a pretty dangerous dude, and if he’s the Luffy I remember, he's gonna wanna take him down one-on-one.” Nami's shoulders slumped slightly in disappointment. He was right, of course; even if she showed up, Luffy would just tell her to find somewhere safe to hide until it was all over. Still… I… I have to know if he's safe. I have to see him, she thought resolutely, and tightened her grip on her weapon.
“I don’t care! I’m gonna find him, and he can tell me himself if he wants me to go!” she snorted haughtily. The others blinked at her in surprise, especially Sanji and Robin; they knew she was steadfast, but she was also the most logical of their merry band of fools and it was unlike her to do something so glaringly reckless. Before anyone could say anything else, however, the air around them suddenly echoed with the voice of the man they were all looking for, in some way or another.
“Hello, citizens of Dressrosa, Coliseum contestants, and Straw Hat Pirates,” the flamboyant man cackled in the sky. Nami whirled around, looking at the roofs of buildings to try and discern where it was coming from, but he was nowhere to be found; no doubt, he must be using some kind of special ability to project his voice throughout the kingdom. “A certain someone has entered this little kingdom of mine, whom I have a little offer for… Some of you know her very well,” he chortled, and the crazed yet calm tone of his voice deeply unsettled Nami. I don't like this! “I know you can hear me, Nami.” The orange-haired girl stiffened, her eyes locked on the blazing blue sky where the man’s voice danced. “I have a little… Proposition. Come to my palace in Dressrosa and turn yourself over to me. Be my navigator… and my woman. In exchange, I will leave the rest of the Straw Hats in peace, and I’ll even leave Dressrosa and allow the kingdom to be free…” Her heart hammered in her throat like a war drum, pulsing with the sound of his smug words, and she clenched her fists so tightly that her knuckles glared white. “I think that's pretty fair, considering how much you all have caused trouble for me. You have one hour. If you refuse, then I’ll proceed to slaughter each and every one of your friends, and then I’ll come for you.” He then laughed cruelly for a minute, his maniacal giggled bouncing through the war-torn ruins of his kingdom, before the air fell silent. Nami could not tear her gaze from the sky, and she imagined him staring down at her, watching with amusement as she reeled with the heavy decision she had to make.
“That bastard! I’m gonna rearrange his face!” Sanji fumed and stamped his foot, sending crackers rippling through the street in his ire. He whirled on Nami, batting his eyes. “I’ll protect you from that evil man, Nami! Don't you worry!” For once, she ignored his flirtatious promises. She was too busy trembling.
I have to turn myself over? She thought wildly. Suddenly, it was hard to breathe, and as she placed a hand over her chest she stumbled backwards. Her legs turned to jelly, and Sanji caught her as she fell backwards, easing her down into a sitting position on the ground. I have to turn myself over, or he'll kill everyone else? She had faith in them, sure, but look at how much had gone wrong so far… They were scattered throughout the kingdom, facing off against Doflamingo's dangerous lackeys, and hadn't even managed to reach the Warlord. Who knew what was happening now? Her crewmates could be lying somewhere, bleeding and helpless, and Nami was the only thing that kept Doflamingo from giving the kill order. She knew what he wanted- the same thing Arlong had wanted, her impeccable navigating skills, but he also wanted something of a more nefarious nature. If Nami accepted, she would be a prisoner again, but her sentence would be much worse this time.
If she refused, her friends would die.
“I have to go to the palace.” Sanji, who had been kneeling next to her, jumped to his feet.
“You aren't going to give yourself up, are you, Nami? Don't let him get in your head! He might not even do what he says!” he objected.
“Maybe I can work out another deal,” she offered weakly. Even as she said it, she did not herself believe it to be true; Doflamingo was not likely the type to be bargained with. Still, she knew for a fact that he was a man to carry out his threats, and she just had to pray that he did the same with his promises. She rose from the dust, her resolve bringing breath back to her lungs, but Sabo stepped in front of her.
“Whoa, Sanji's right. You can't trust Doflamingo. Besides, it's not over yet! Luffy could still be-"
“We don't even know where Luffy is!” she screeched with much more volume and anger than she meant to. The fear and anxiety had taken control of her now. She hugged the Climatact to her chest, as if that would disguise her violently quaking body. “Don't you see? Everything is falling apart,” she whispered. Her friends were scattered to the wind. Doflamingo had the upper hand. He had the army, he had the power, he even had the Marines behind him. They had a chance, but it was a fool's chance, and it was now gone. They had tried their best. Now, it was up to Nami to keep them from being utterly destroyed. “If there’s a chance I can save everyone… If there's a chance I can save Luffy… I have to go.”
“Nami…” Sanji frowned at her, but was seemingly no longer in a mood to argue with her. She took a deep breath, steeling her nerve, and went to set off down the road again until she heard another voice echoing through the sky.
This time, it was her captain’s voice.
“Namiiiiiii! Can you hear me?” he shouted. Unlike Doflamingo's voice, which seemed to be everywhere at once, she could distinctly hear his voice coming from the direction of the palace. “You don't come near this palace, ya hear? You are my navigator! Ain't no way in hell I’m gonna let a snake like Doflamingo have you!” As he addressed her, she felt her heart swell with happiness, and her bottom lip quivered as tears flooded her eyes. “Just trust me, okay? I’m gonna kick his ass! Ya hear that, Doflamingo? I’m gonna kick your ass! I’m gonna kick it twice as hard now! Just you wait!” His voice abruptly vanished, as he had probably riled himself up and stormed off to do just as he had asserted. Nami, left in the streets below, bowed her head as the tears streamed down her cheeks.
Trust you, huh? Okay… I will, Luffy… I will… She reached up with a hand to wipe her cheeks, trying to collect herself, and looked up when she felt a hand on the top of her head. She glanced up, expecting it to be Sanji, but it was actually Sabo.
“Don’t worry! We'll keep you safe! After all, somebody's gotta protect Luffy's girlfriend!” he snickered. She went pink, going stiff as a board.
“Eh? I’m not his girlfriend!” she cried, making Sabo blink in confusion.
“You're not? But he made this huge deal about you, and you made such a huge deal about him.”
“We’re friends! Good friends! That’s it!” she asserted and turned away so they could not see her bright red face. Jeez. Me and Luffy? Talk about asinine, she thought as she ground her teeth. Still, she could not help but think of the way her heart had warmed as he proclaimed that he would fight for her. Luffy… I believe in you.
I trust you, Luffy… I’ll stay safe, just like you asked. Just promise me that you'll come back safe to us… to me.
Chapter 16: The Fated Reunion
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff, Friendship Fluff
Characters: Monkey D. Luffy, Nami, Shanks
Requested By: Scarlet (Ao3)
Nami gasped as the Thousand Sunny abruptly heaved, and she was thrown from her bed in her navigator’s quarters in a tangle of sheets. Fumbling in the dark as she attempted to disentangle herself from her bedsheets and stagger over the door, she could hear the drumming of the rain against the wooden ship, and the sloshing of the waves against the wooden hull; she twisted the doorknob, and the was all it took for the wild wind whirling outside to wrench it open, nearly throwing it off its hinged and sending Nami tumbling onto her behind in the room. Rain sprayed across the dry wooden boards and soaked into the pretty rugs she had purchased for her humble home, and the papers on her desk went swirling through the air as the wind whisked them about. She crawled across the floor, unable to stand under the force of the gale, and pulled herself to her feet using the balustrade of the ship. As the lightning flashed overhead, it illuminated the sky above swirling with thick black clouds and the sea below frothing with foam as the waves writhed. The sails snapped in the wind, wrenched from their holdings in several places by its sharp fingers, and water was sloshing all over the deck as it spilled over the banisters. She moved to scream for the rest of the crew, but the words were ripped from her as the boat heaved again and she went sliding across the slick wood, landing roughly against the other side of the boat. If she had been fully standing, she no doubt would have gone overboard.
“What's goin- Whoa! What a storm!” Luffy cried as he stormed out from below decks, holding his hat to his head as the wind tried desperately to carry it away. He dipped his head back down to yell into the bowels of the ship and rouse his crew before hopping over the banister and landing next to Nami. “Nami! How are we gonna get outta here?”
“I’m working on it!” she grunted, pulling herself up once more to peer off into the horizon. It was dark, and hard to tell where the edge of the storm was; as she was attempted to calculate their escape, the boat tipped precariously once more, and she and Luffy went flailing head-over-heels towards the opposite side. Nami once again landed securely against the thick wood, but Luffy had been standing upright, sending him careening over the edge. She felt her heart stop when she heard the splash below, and without even thinking she vaulted herself over the side of the boat to dive into the water. It felt like knives pricking her skin as she met the cold water, but she swam through it nonetheless, grabbing her captain by the front of his shirt to drag him back up to the surface. He was impossibly heavy, and with the waves constantly swelling above her, she was afraid she would not make it; just as her lungs had begun to burn, her head broke the surface, and she sucked in as much air as she could before she focused on getting his head above the water. He coughed and hacked, still stubbornly holding onto his hat.
“This isn't good,” he frowned as they floundered alongside the Thousand Sunny. Nami groped at the side of the boat, trying to find a hold, then screamed as a wave crashed down upon them and pushed them back beneath the surface. She fought her way back with Luffy in tow, and when her tangerine head popped above the water she was alarmed to find that the ship was now several yards away, and the current of the swells were carrying them further away by the minute. She tried screaming for her crewmates, but the wind tore the words from her throat, filling it instead with the bitter salt water. All she could do was helplessly cling to Luffy as the rocking ship grew rapidly farther away, and they were carried into the storm and into the night…
When Nami awoke, she thought for a moment that she may be dead. She was lying on her back on a beach, the gentle waves playfully lapping at her feet while the hot sand warmed her chilled body. The sky above her was brilliantly blue, the only remainder of the violent storm fluffy white clouds moseying along peacefully. The sun was bright, spilling its rays over the near-drowned navigator. However, she knew she was not dead from the pulsing in her muscles and the dryness in her throat. She blinked a few times, trying to find the will to sit herself up, and gradually became aware of the fact that she was not alone. She turned her head to see Luffy sprawled out beside her, and her arm was slung over his chest with her fingers still tightly clutching the fabric of his shirt. She instantly panicked, afraid that he might not have made it, but was quickly cooled by the cold flush of relief when she saw the rise and fall of his chest. His sleeping habit nearly gave me a heart attack! She thought with a slight groan, and she finally forced herself to sit up. It hurt, as her muscles were stiff from a night being soaked in cold seawater and fighting the fierce waves.
“Luffy. Wake up,” she said as she leaned down to shake his shoulders. Her voice was hoarse from her raw throat, likely from swallowing a healthy amount of saltwater. She coughed, trying to clear her throat, and her voice was much stronger when she repeated the statement. He groaned as she shook him, and lazily swatted at her hand.
“I don't wanna,” he muttered and rolled onto his side. At the very least, he's not hurt, she thought wryly before wrenching him back over and shaking him more violently. “Okay! Okay! I’m up! Leave me alone!” he cried and bolted upright, glaring at her grumpily. He was none to happy to be woken up from his nap. After a minute, his drowsiness was gone and he hopped to his feet to look out at the ocean. “Whoa! The storm carried us to this island, huh? I wonder if the Thousand Sunny can find us,” he snickered. As always, joyful despite the completely hopeless situation, she thought and rolled her eyes. Luffy whirled on his heel, throwing sand as he marched up the beach. “C'mon, Nami, let's go find some food! I’m starving!” Nami could argue that they needed to try to signal their comrades somehow, but she knew that once he had food on his mind there was going to be no stopping him until he was satiated, so instead she got up and marched after him. The island was covered in a dense jungle, no doubt containing some sort of beast or another that Luffy would grapple with, and she groaned.
“Man, this sucks,” she muttered as she plunged into the green with her captain. Luffy flitted about like a little bird, poking sticks into bushes and holes and overturning rocks to see what sort of critters were about. Nami was looking for more practical things, like berries and nuts, and wasn't really paying attention to him. As she walked along the path, eyes swiveling about, she gasped lightly as she bumped into his back. Luffy had planted himself right in front of her, and was staring resolutely into the jungle with his hands coiled into fists. “Luffy…?”
“There’s someone with a really strong Haki headed this way. Just stay behind me.” Nami’s heart rate accelerated, not only from the threat of danger, but the idea that he was so intent on protecting her. Nervously, she peered over his shoulder, listening to the rustling of bushes and snapping of twigs that was rapidly approaching. Luffy went stiff, and she unconsciously grabbed onto his arm, as the stranger stepped out into the open. It was a red-haired man, with three parallel scars across his face and one of his arms missing. “Shanks!” Luffy gasped in shock. This is Red-Haired Shanks? Nami thought, raising her eyebrows at the equally surprised pirate lord.
“Luffy? What are you doing here?”
“What are you doing here?” he shot back, ignoring his question completely and pointing an accusing finger at him. “I’ve been sailing all over the Grand Line, and you’re holed up on some hole-in-the-wall island? What gives?” he whined, obviously disappointed that the man he looked up to was not out on the seas plundering and making even more of a name for himself. Shanks laughed heartily, his shoulders shaking as he regarded Luffy happily.
“I’m too old for all that tomfoolery. I prefer to just sit and watch as the younger kids go at it. Speaking of which, I’ve heard you've amassed yourself quite a bounty,” he mused, dark eyes glittering with happiness and pride. Luffy snickered and sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. Nami could feel his body shaking, and she realized with a small gasp that she was still clinging to him. She hastily let go and scurried out from behind him, bringing herself to Shanks' attention. “Oh? Who is this?”
“This is my navigator, Nami! We got swept off our ship during a storm and wound up here,” he grinned and grabbed her around the shoulders to pull her close to him. Nami blushed, suddenly put on the spot, and waved sheepishly at Luffy's idol.
“That so? Well, it looks like you've had a rough time of it, haven't you? You still haven't lost your magnet for trouble, Luffy!” he chuckled before turning around and waving for them to follow. “Come on. I’m sure you’re hungry.”
“Fooooood!” Luffy crowed and threw his hands in the air, then dove into the underbrush after the pirate captain. Nami hurried after them, clambering through the knee-high grasses and bushes and brambles. Shanks and Luffy were embroiled in fervent conversation about his adventures, and his laughter echoed through the empty forest. She had to smile despite their circumstances. He seems so happy. She had never seen such a bright smile on his face; it was practically blinding, and his eyes sparkled with joy as he conversed with the legendary man. Suddenly, the jungle fell away to reveal a large clearing, which was stuffed to capacity with brawny men gathered around a roaring fire, over which a large boat was roasting. Luffy's mouth dropped to the loamy forest floor when he saw the meat, and he squealed with delight, catching the attention of all the pirates gathered around.
“Look sharp, lads, I brought ya a present!” Shanks chortled, and all the men erupted into shouts and cheers when they realized just who was standing there. Nami hung back as Luffy was bombarded by the men he knew from childhood, and they clapped him on the back and dragged him into the center of the campsite to shower him in affection and ale. Nami watched with a warm smile, but part of her felt in pain. I feel… Out of place. She didn't know these men, or this part of Luffy's life, and that slightly hurt, though she didn't know why. She watched with a bittersweet feeling as they gushed over the up-and-coming pirate captain, until suddenly Luffy shouted at them all to be quiet.
“I wanna introduce you to my navigator! Nami, come here!” he smiled and beckoned her over, and her cheeks took on a pink haze as he suddenly addressed her. Shyly, she walked over to the pirate crew and introduced herself while Luffy sang her praises. It made her feel nice, to be appreciated, but also that Luffy was including her.
The day deepened, the sun traveling across the sky, and the two Straw Hats settled into Shanks' crew, listening to Luffy relate his various adventures. Of course, when lunchtime came, Luffy fell onto the meat with gusto, and they became more enamored with how much food he could put away. Nami watched in amusement from a log, nibbling at her own, much more human-sized piece of meat. She glanced up as Shanks suddenly stretched out beside her with a long sigh, a tankard of ale in his hand and a smile on his face as he watched Luffy interacting with his men.
“So, how did you and Luffy meet? More importantly, how'd he rope in a smart girl like you?”
“Right, he hasn't told that particular story yet,” she mused. “It's kind of a long story.”
“Well, time is something I happen to have in abundance,” he smirked up at her. “Come on, tell me, I wanna know!” Listening to him childishly plead with her, she could tell where Luffy had acquired some of his quirks. She slipped down from the log to settle into the soft grass, getting herself comfortable.
“Well, it all started with Captain Buggy.”
“Whoa! You guys tangled with Buggy? Man, me and him go way back!” he interrupted with a stupid grin. “Sorry, it's just a name I haven’t heard in a while. We were apprentices on a ship together! We got into all sorts of trouble together!” Nami giggled, amused by his enthusiasm.
“That's all right.” She told him about her first encounter with Luffy, how they had defeated Buggy together and moved on to recruit Sanji and Usopp. By the time she got around to her abandoning them at the Baratie to head back to Arlong, the crew had become aware that she was telling the tale and gathered around to listen. Luffy was still stuffing his face. She became a little self-conscious with the large audience, but continued nonetheless. She proceeded on, telling them of her servitude to Arlong and his ruthless hold on her village, and how Luffy and the others had fought valiantly to free her and her village. “After that, I just couldn't let him go, now could I?” she chuckled. “I knew he was going to get into all sorts of trouble, and he needed a good navigator to steer him in the right direction!”
“And a damn good navigator she is!” Luffy suddenly crowed, and his foot came down on the log right between herself and Shanks. She had been so involved in the story that she had not noticed he had stopped eating, finally, and had circled around to sit behind them and listen. “Nami's a lifesaver! Ya know, she’s the one who fixes my hat when it gets torn,” he beamed as he pulled it off and flipped it in his hands.
“Oh! So you're Luffy's girlfriend?” Shanks grinned, and she short-circuited for a second, bright red and sputtering.
“No! Why the hell would you ask something like that?”
“Well, that’s something a girlfriend would do.”
“That’s something anyone would do!” she shot back and crossed her arms, fuming and embarrassed. It didn't help that everyone in the clearing started laughing, even Luffy, who probably didn't even get what was going on.
“Hehe, Luffy, Nami sure is cute,” Shanks mused.
“Yeah, I guess she is,” he responded nonchalantly and plopped his hat back on his head, and while Nami’s heart stopped and all the blood rushed to her face, he looked around with a frown. “Is there any more food?”
After another hour or so, one of the scouts Shanks had posted around came to report that a ship was nearing the island. Luffy and Nami reasoned that it was their crew finally coming to collect them, and bade their farewells to their host and his merry companions. Shanks accompanied them to the beach, and Luffy suddenly stopped and pulled off his hat to hold it out to him. “You said the next time we met that I could return this.” Nami stared at him in shock, completely floored that he would so willingly give up his prized possession; Shanks was equally shocked, and stared at the hat for a moment before smiling warmly.
“No. It's not time for that yet, Luffy,” he asserted. Luffy blinked in confusion, but obediently replaced the hat back on top of his head. Shanks looked him up and down for a moment, then smiled warmly and plopped his hand on top of his head. “You've really grown strong, Luffy.”
“Hehe!” he grinned cheekily. “I’m gonna get even stronger, until I’m the King of the Pirates!” He then looked to Nami beside him. “Though, I'm only as strong as I am because of all my friends! Right, Nami!”
“Mhmm!” she nodded encouragingly, then blinked when Shanks gave her the same treatment, ruffling her tangerine hair.
“You take care of Luffy now, you hear?” Nami nodded vigorously. Luffy was a handful, but she felt up to the task. They both turned when they heard Sanji shouting at them over the crashing of the waves. They had pulled out the rowboat to come claim them, since there was no dock of any kind. “Well, there's your cue. Next time, Luffy, I hope I can meet your whole crew!” he smiled to his young protégé.
“Me too! You'll really like ‘em!” he snickered. Shanks gave them a dip of his head before whirling about, his black cloak billowing in the sea breeze as he plunged back into the jungle. As he vanished, Luffy's shoulders slumped slightly. “Man… I was hoping that Shanks could meet everybody. I’ve been looking forward to seeing him again for so long, and I didn't even give the hat back,” he moped.
“You’ll see each other again! Next time, you'll be Pirate King!” she told him encouragingly, and he turned to grin at her.
“Hehe! You're right, Nami!” he smiled and then whipped about to shout at Sanji. “Row faster, slow poke! I’m hungry!” Nami chuckled as Sanji yelled back some curse. Well, I guess everything turned out all right after all, she thought as she gazed out at the glittering waves and the ship beyond. It was the ship that bore them all toward the future, to grand adventures laced with triumphs and struggles, to things unknown. Though it was frightening, it was exciting, too. She looked out of the corner of her eyes at Luffy, who was waving and grinning.
I can face a lot of things now, thanks to you. You make me brave. You make me strong… she thought with a small smile.
I’m not scared of the future, because I know you'll be by my side…
Chapter 17: War-Torn
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff
Characters: Nami and Shanks
Requested By: Lee03na (Ao3)
Nami clutched her Climatact tightly in her hand as she peered over the concrete edge of the platform, her hazel eyes wide as they swept over the utter carnage that had erupted at the site the Marines had chosen for Portgas D. Ace's televised execution. Pirate crews of Whitebeard's alliance clashed feverishly with the Marine soldiers, and the iron stench of blood mingled with blood-curdling screams in the air. Nami's hands quivered slightly as the fear took hold of her, and she considered scurrying back to her little boat and sailing all the way back to Weatheria where she had come from. No, she asserted, stilling her shaking body as she steeled her nerve. Luffy is in there! I have to help him!
After they had been separated on the Shabody Archipelago, Nami had landed on an island far away, a little settlement called Weatheria that studied weather patterns, much like herself. She had learned of Ace's impending execution via the newspapers, and knew that once Luffy caught wind of it, he would storm in for the rescue. Nami knew not if he was alone or had acquired himself some allies; she only knew that he was here, somewhere in the war-torn pavilion- and he likely needed Nami's help. With a grunt, she vaulted herself over the edge of the concrete and dove into the fray.
Most of the pirates and Marines were too busy grappling with each other to notice the petite navigator picking her way through the battle. She skirted her way through the skirmishes, stepping over the bodies strewn about as she craned her head, searching for her captain's signature straw hat. There was so much activity, the flashing of steel against steel, explosions from cannonballs and the sound of gunfire, yells and screams and writhing bodies, that it was difficult for Nami to make sense of it all. Truthfully, there was little chance she would find him at all amongst the chaos, and she considered once more heading back for her boat to wait it out.
That is, until she heard Luffy wailing.
It was the most heartbreaking sound that she had ever heard, rising above the din of battle to complete the dismal symphony. She had never heard such a sound from her captain, and she knew instantly that something had to be very wrong. As he continue to scream in agony, Nami raced toward the sound, shoving her way through the endless sea of people until she stumbled out into the open. There, Luffy was kneeling over the dead body of his brother, while a Marine official- the seeming killer- laughed at his agony. Abruptly, Luffy's voice died, and Nami gasped when he fell backward with his eyes rolled back into his head. The pain had been too much and he had lost consciousness.
“What a noble sacrifice,” the military man tutted as he prodded Ace in the back with the toe of his boot. His face was disfigured into a grotesque sneer, and he pulled of his hat to run a hand through his dark hair while he chomped on his cigar. “Now, time to end you, Straw Hat Luffy!” His arms suddenly burst with light, coating themselves with thick lava, and he raised his arm behind his hand to strike. With speed she did not know she possessed, Nami rushed forward to grab Luffy by the back of his shirt, pulling him into her and rolling away. Nami could feel the heat sear across her back as the admiral's fist collided with the concrete, melting it into a puddle, but she ignored the slight burn to scramble to her feet, panting as she held the unconscious boy to her chest with her Climatact held out protectively in front of her. Nami was no fool; she knew she was no match for this man, but she simply could not allow Luffy to die. The man sniffed as he pulled his lava-clad fist from the ground, shaking off half-melted clumps of stone, and turned to her with disdain. “Well, well, it’s my lucky day. I get the Straw Hat and his navigator.”
“Stay back!” she barked, though her voice lacked the bite it needed. It was small, weak, shaky. The man only laughed at her, his shoulders shaking as he guffawed. “I mean it!” She took a few wary steps backwards, her eyes frantically searching the surrounding area for some sort of escape route, for someone who would help her; but everyone else was too embroiled in their own battles, and the girl was on her own. She adjusted Luffy in her grasp, listening to him wheeze. He was still crying, even in his sleep. Nami couldn't keep her own tears from flooding her eyes. Why did everything have to turn out this way? Ace is… And Luffy and I…!
“Just give it up, girl. Surrender, and I’ll make sure you don't suffer,” the admiral huffed, and the lava hissed as he curled his hand into a fist. Nami did the only thing that she thought she could do; she turned her body, shielding Luffy's with her own, hoping beyond hope that a miracle was around the corner. Luffy! I’m so sorry! She thought as she felt the air hissing with heat as the admiral bore down on her with the intent to kill, but the searing pain never came; Nami gasped as she was suddenly grabbed and lurched backwards, out of harm's way. She glanced up to see that a gigantic fishman had pulled her and her captain to safety, within the riotous battlefield where the admiral could not see them.
“Who are you?” she cried in confusion.
“I am Luffy's friend, Jinbe. Give him to me! I can get him out of here!” Nami didn't know the stranger, but the fact that he had bothered to save them was good enough for her to comply. She gently handed over the unconscious Luffy, watching miserably as the blue fishman bundled her friend into his arms and vanished into the crowd. Be safe, Luffy. We'll meet again soon, she thought, her bottom lip quivering. It was all so sad, everything around her, and it was almost too much to take; however, Nami did not have the time to dwell on that. She whipped about when she heard shouts, finding that the admiral was forcing his way across the carnage toward her. Luffy was safe now, but she was still very much in danger. As she saw the admiral's hat peeking over the heads of the various pirates and soldiers, Nami took off into the battlefield, ducking swinging swords and fists as she fled. Many times she would have to screech to a halt and race off in another direction, finding her path blocked by too feverish a scuffle or a towering block of debris. It was chaos, pure chaos, and soon she found herself dissolving into it; her heart pounded like a drum inside of her, a war drum that beat to the tune of the symphony of screams around her. She slipped in thick puddles of blood across the ground, and it splashed up her legs, stinking of iron and death. The bodies were everywhere, staring at her with glassy eyes. It was too much, too much. Suddenly, she collapsed with a sob, clamping her hands over her ears, but she could still hear the screaming, the pain, the fear. Why? Why is this happening? She thought wildly. Ace was dead, Luffy was gone; it was a bloodbath, a useless bloodbath. Had all honor expired? It was just malice, bloodlust, hatred, and Nami could stand it no longer.
“Stop it!” A scream unlike anything she had ever borne erupted from her, rippling across the crowd and freezing them in their tracks with its volume and emotive force. Nami wasn't sure when she started crying, but the tears flowed in thick rivers down her cheeks, and her chest heaved as she fought for breath. “That's enough! No more!” she begged them as she wrapped her arms around herself, shivering. Though it was silent now, she could still hear the screaming echoing in her mind, the pain, the hurt, the fear. “No more,” she whimpered, more to herself now. They were all staring at her, in shock and confusion. Who was this little girl who had stopped them short? Nami looked up, looked all of them in the eyes, and silently pleaded for them to end this war, this useless war that accomplished nothing. They stared back, war-torn, weary…
“Have you never seen war, little girl?” Nami gasped at the voice in front of her, and sat on her knees on the ground, frozen, as the admiral pushed his way out of the crowd. “What's the matter? Is it too much for you?” he mocked with a disdainful sniff. Nami quivered before him. The bloodlust was heavy in his eyes, and she knew that her plea would go unheard, and the battle would begin again, and the screaming, and the bleeding, and the dying. “You are a poor excuse for a pirate. I almost feel sorry for you,” he tutted, and she jumped as he suddenly whipped out his sword and pointed it directly at her throat. The sharp point rested against her soft flesh, rigid; he had not a tremor in his hand as he prepared to slay the defenseless girl. “This world is not for soft people like you.” Nami's eyes flashed with the light as he pulled the sword back, the sunlight streaming across its silver surface. I’m going to die. That was okay. She had come here what she came to do. She saved Luffy, and that was enough. I wish, though…
I wish I had been able to see him become Pirate King.
The air whistled with the ringing of steel, and Nami watched as the sword cut the wind, heading straight for her. Before it could strike her, though, it crashed into another sword above her head, with enough sparks to send sparks raining down on her. She gasped, looking up, to see a red-haired man standing behind her, sword in hand and a smirk on his face.
“That's quite enough, Akainu. I didn't know the Marines were in the business of slaughtering little girls,” he tutted, but despite his playful tone, his eyes were as hard as the iron he held in his hand.
“It's Shanks,” someone whispered in the crowd. Shanks? The Red-Haired Shanks? She thought wildly. That was the last person she had expected to come to her rescue.
“This little girl happens to be a ruthless pirate. She's Straw Hat Luffy's navigator. I am doing my job as a Marine. By killing this pirate, I make the seas a safer place,” Akainu shrugged. Nami looked at him in incredulity. Ruthless? I’m sitting here, in a puddle of tears and virtually unarmed, and you call me ruthless? That struck a chord in her, and suddenly she found her voice again.
“You're a joke!” she shrieked angrily. “How dare you pretend to be some kind of savior! You're not in the business to save anybody!” she yelled. Her voice carried across the battlefield, thick with emotion. “Where were the Marines when Arlong took my island captive, killed my mother, and held me and my family captive for eight years? Eight years! You swear to protect the people, yet you turn a blind eye to ruthless pirates like him! And what about all your soldiers?” For effect, Nami gestured around the battlefield, at all the discarded bodies and those in the process of dying. “They're dying! And for what? You've done what you came here to do! Ace is dead!” she shrieked. She turned her eyes on Akainu, glaring. “You pretend to have honor, yet you have none! You think nothing of killing a boy broken by grief, or a girl begging for the bloodshed to end!” She hung her head, shaking. “Luffy has more honor than all of you put together! Luffy is the one who saved my village, and he's been saving all the people you've abandoned! Luffy would never hurt anyone who couldn't fight anymore, or someone who was begging for peace! Pirates? Marines? What's the difference? Shouldn't we focus more on being human? Fighting for our family, our friends, for what's right? Tell me now, what are all of you fighting for right now?” Silence hung in the air after her question, and she sniffed. “That's what I thought. It's time for this war to end,” she whispered, her shoulders sagging. She was suddenly exhausted, from the adrenaline and emotion.
“She doesn't seen very ruthless to me, Akainu,” Shanks snorted, pulling back his sword. Nami noticed that he still held it in front of her, like a barrier to protect her should the admiral still attempt to claim her life. “She's right. Look around you. Don't you think you've spilled enough blood today?” he asked with narrowed eyes. “There is nothing else to accomplish here.” The admiral gazed at him levelly, perhaps weighing the risks; then, he whipped about, his white cloak billowing in the wind.
“Very well. The war at Marineford is over. Let us go our separate ways in peace… For now.” With that, he gathered his marines, and headed for their ships with the dead and dying in tow. Nami exhaled deeply in relief, finally realizing that she had been quivering the entire time. In anger, in fear- she did not know. Perhaps both. She stared at the ground, which was rust-colored with drying blood, and wondered what would happen now. Luffy was really hurt… I don't know where Jinbe took him. I don't know where to go now… she thought miserably. She heard clothing shift beside her, and she glanced out of the corner of her eyes as Shanks knelt down beside her and plopped a hand on the top of her head, gently ruffling her tangerine hair.
“That was very brave of you. What’s your name?”
“N-Nami,” she answered with a slight sniff, reaching up to rub the tears from her eyes. The danger was over, but yet she could not force the tears to stop. “I’m Luffy's navigator.”
“Yes, so Akainu said. Where is Luffy now?”
“He was taken away from Marineford. Somewhere safe.” She glanced out into the battlefield, which had thinned now. She could see across the pavilion where Ace's body still lay. Shanks followed her gaze, narrowing his eyes when they fell upon the body, and sighed slightly.
“Too many have died today,” he muttered before standing up and sheathing his sword. “All right, men, you know what to do.” Shanks' crew shouted acknowledgement before heading off in the direction of the deceased pirate lieutenant, but also in another; Nami peered around them to see yet another dead man, with a beard white like snow; no doubt, it was the captain that Ace so revered, Captain Whitebeard. “We're going to give them a proper burial. It's the least they deserve. They were good men,” Shanks told her, his empty sleeve fluttering as a breeze swept across the pavilion, littered with discarded weapons and crumbled concrete. Nami glanced up at him.
“May I come with you? I… I want to be there for Ace, in Luffy's stead,” she asked. He looked surprised for a moment, then smiled warmly and nodded in approval. Nami, finally finding that her strength had returned, stood up and followed the older pirate crew over to Ace's body. Someone was softly crying over it; when she got closer, she recognized him as Garp, the Marine whom Luffy regarded as a grandfather. That’s right. Ace was his family too. She watched respectfully for a moment as the old man collected himself, and when he finally straightened up, his eyes fell on her.
“Hmmph. So Luffy got away, did he?” he grunted. Nami nodded, and he exhaled deeply and turned his back. “Good… That’s good. This was something he should have never had to see,” he murmured. It must be hard, being a Marine and the people close to you being your sworn enemies… His heart must be torn apart.
“Mr. Garp,” she said as he moved to walk away. “I promise, I’ll take care of Luffy. You can count on me.” The old man turned back to her, and she could see that he was on the verge of tears again. He reached out and clapped his large hand on her shoulder with a small smile.
“Mm. I’ll hold you to that,” he said, and then grinned slightly. “And don't call me ‘Mister'! ‘Grandpa' is just fine!” he laughed before releasing her and whirling about to be on his way. Nami blinked, mildly surprised, and could say nothing as he walked off across the pavilion to join his comrades at their ships. Soon enough, Nami was en route as well, accompanying Shanks and his crew to put Ace and Whitebeard to rest like they deserved. She stood at the edge of the boat, her hands on the railing as she gazed at the rapidly retreating structure of Marineford. Though it was now over, and things had not turned out as badly as they could have, Nami could not help but be guilt-ridden. She sighed deeply, as she had been for several minutes now, and gazed sadly out at the sloshing waves.
“It pains me to see such a sad expression on a young girl's face.” Nami glanced over her shoulder to see Shanks standing there, while his crew mulled about but were obviously watching out of the corners of her eyes. Nami could keep it to herself, but for some reason she felt like she could trust Shanks and his men with her feelings.
“I just wonder… If I had gotten there sooner, could all of this have been prevented?” she admitted quietly. She turned to face him, holding her hands behind her back as she hung her head so he could not see the tears brimming in her eyes. It seemed she still had tears left to shed. “Luffy… I’ve never seen him like that. It was… the most heartbreaking thing…” She could still hear him, screaming to the point that he lost consciousness. “I can't imagine how much pain he was in, watching Ace die right in front of him… He loved Ace so much… And he died to save him. Luffy… Luffy must feel so guilty, and so weak… And none of us can even be there for him. I just… I just wish I could have done something, because seeing him like that… It was so awful.” The tears were rolling down her cheeks now and splashing down onto the wooden surface of the boat. When she lifted her head, Shanks was gazing at her sadly, while the rest of the men were staring.
“You just gonna sit there and let her cry like that? Cheer her up, men!” Someone suddenly shouted, and Nami jumped as they all began scrambling across the boat, trying to find pretty things for her and running over to give her kind words. It was clear that they were not used to having a woman on board, and the simple act of them trying so hard to make her happy cheered her up a little. She could not help but smile as they gathered around her to ease her mind, ensuring that it wasn't her fault and she did the best she could. After it got excessive, Shanks ran them off to go about their duties on the ship, tossing his red hair and looking at her apologetically.
“Sorry about them. They aren't used to such a cute girl being around.”
“It's okay,” she laughed. “It's almost like I have a boat full of dads. I kinda know now why Luffy is so attached to you all.” Shanks smiled at that, and crossed the deck to lean against the railing beside her, his one hand resting on the smooth finished wood. “… They are right, though. You did the best you could. Luffy isn't going to blame you for what happened.”
“So what will you do? Luffy isn't going to take this quietly,” he asked her with a curious expression. Nami crossed her arms, smiling slightly.
“No. He'll probably do something drastic, like declare war on the government,” she mused. “But he's going to want to get stronger… Much stronger. And that means I have to get stronger, too. After the burial, I’m going to head back to Weatheria. Whenever Luffy is ready for us, we'll meet again at Shabody Archipelago,” she decided. She didn’t know when that would be, but she knew the day would come. The crew was scattered to the four winds, but Luffy would find a way to let them know.
In a world torn apart by war, they would find a way to keep going- and Nami was going to support her captain, no matter what.
“Hehe. You like Luffy a lot, don't you?” Shanks snickered, and she rounded on him with pink cheeks.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing~” he chimed and went strolling off across the deck, still laughing. Nami ran after him, bleating protests like a little lamb, but he must have thought her cute and didn’t take her seriously, as he kept laughing at her.
“Hey! I’m talking to you! Shanks!”
“If you don't get it, I can’t help you!”
“This isn't funny!”
“On the contrary, it's quite funny.”
After a while, Nami abandoned the effort and stomped back to her spot to gaze at the ocean. She couldn't see Marineford anymore, only the gently rolling waves of the sea. Luffy… Wherever you are now, I hope you’re safe… And I hope you're going to be okay, she thought as she rested her cheek in her hand. I’m going to get stronger.
Next time, things won't go this way. Next time, I’ll be there for you.
You won’t fight this war alone.
Chapter 18: A Bond of Trust Part II
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Luffy, Nami, and Sabo
Requested By: YonaWon (Ao3)
Nami's head was tilted slightly to the side as she gazed down at the sleeping Luffy, whose head was currently propped in her lap. It was quite amazing how peacefully he could sleep after such a harrowing battle, and though she had witnessed it many times Nami could still not help but be surprised; though he was wrapped head-to-toe in thick, white bandages, concealing deep wounds as well as countless scratches, he was breathing deeply and loudly, a bit of drool dripping from his open mouth. Once the battle is done, he doesn't have a care in the world. Nami smiled gently and reached down to softly run her fingers through his hair; though they had cleaned his body, Luffy's hair was still matted with dried blood and sweat, clumping thickly together until Nami's slim fingers teased the strands apart. He fought hard.
He fought hard for her. She could still hear his voice ringing in the brilliant blue sky, ensuring that he would protect her from the villainous Doflamingo. He had succeeded in that, after an intense struggle on all their parts, and now they were currently hiding in a safe house while they waited for the battered crew to recover before heading onward to Zou, to rejoin the rest of their crew that had already departed. As she continued to rhythmically stroke his messy hair, her smile softened. Thank you, Luffy.
Nami glanced up as the door to the small structure opened and Sabo walked in, pulling off his top hat to expose his fluffy, wavy blonde hair. A ring of greetings went around the room as the renegade strolled across the wooden floorboards with a cheerful smile.
“Did you bring any booze?” Zoro yawned, cracking his one good eye open to smirk at him.
“Sorry. No alcohol,” Sabo chuckled, and the bitter swordsman grumbled under his breath before rolling over and drifting back off to sleep to continue nursing his wounds. The scarred but happy man looked to his sleeping younger brother, then raised his eyebrows when he realized his head was cradled into Nami's thighs while the navigator continuously stroked his hair. “Does he do this all the time?” he sputtered and pointed at the unconscious captain.
“Yeah, he always sleeps for a long time after he fights,” Nami answered simply.
“N-no, I meant like that!” Nami then realized that he was referring to the way that he was sleeping. Nami supposed that it may be alarming to find such an immensely powerful man like Luffy passed out in the lap of a woman. Now that she thought about it, it was a pretty compromising position for herself, too. A faint haze of rosy pink blossomed upon her cheeks, but she could not bring herself to move him. He looked so peaceful, lying there pillowed by her lap. It doesn't mean anything. I just want him to be comfortable, she thought stubbornly.
“He needed a pillow,” she mumbled. Sabo looked highly uncomfortable with the situation but squatted down beside the sleeping captain anyway, looking him over with an approving grin.
“Do you want us to wake him up?” Robin offered.
“No… I just wanted to see how he was doing,” he refused as he tilted his head to the side slightly, his eyes continuing to search him over. “He's grown strong… He really could do it- be King of the Pirates.”
“Of course he will! We're gonna make sure of it!” Sanji snapped at him, making Sabo grin.
“I’m glad Luffy has such good friends,” he beamed and then looked at Nami with a knowing smile, “and such a good girlfriend, too!” Nami's face immediately blazed fiery red, and her fingers halted in the middle of Luffy's hair to glare at him with puffed-out cheeks.
“He’s not my boyfriend!” Why does he keep saying that? She thought wildly as her blushed painted her face from her ears to her neck.
“I dunno, Nami. You two look pretty chummy to me,” Zoro sneered at her, his eye twinkling with amusement. Nami's blush spread down to her trembling fingers still wound in Luffy's matted, thick hair.
“Shut up and go back to sleep, Zoro!” She hissed and snapped her head around to face him.
“Yeah, Zoro! You love me, right, Nami, dear?” Sanji barked at the swordsman, then swooned dramatically, clasping his hands together as hearts practically danced in his eyes as he gazed at the navigator.
“I’m not in love with anybody!” she insisted. Is no one listening to me?! Nami's entire body was red now, burning like a flame. I'm so embarrassed! All she wanted to do was care for her captain. Why did everybody have to make fun of her for it? She looked down at him, sleeping so peacefully, as she bit down on her lip. She didn't feel anything like that for her captain… right?
“All right, all right, if you say so!” Sabo chuckled, smirking widely as Nami continued to pout. They stopped teasing her, at least. Suddenly, Luffy mumbled loudly in his sleep, causing them all to glance at the captain.
“Nami…” he murmured, his face screwing up slightly as he whispered her name. Nami felt her heart somersault in her chest, and she curled her fingers into his hair by reflex. He's dreaming about me? Something about that fact sent her heart fluttering like a fledgling bird, and she felt happy about it. Though she didn't realize it, a soft smile was forming on her lips, and she leaned down slightly over him. “Nami… I won't let him have you…” Ah. He's dreaming about Doflamingo. He had been so angry at the Warlord's bold claims on her, his intent to make her his in more ways than one. “Just trust me, okay?” Nami had, and he had delivered. “I won't let you go… You're mine…” he mumbled, his expression turning more desperate. I'm… his? Nami’s mind couldn't wrap around the utterance, but her heart could, as it began to beat furiously within her ribcage. Before she could even think of reacting, Luffy's eyes snapped open to stare directly up at her, bright and lucid. Nami froze as her eyes locked with his, leaving her helpless to his next action.
He raised his bandaged hand to slide it to the back of her head, sliding his fingers into her waves of tangerine hair not unlike her own, still entwined with his matted locks; then, with a slight jerk, he pulled Nami's face down to his so that he could press his mouth to hers. It was not just a simple, short kiss, either; he moved his mouth against hers, drawing her lips into the current for several seconds and bringing her eyes closed. Nami's heart beat like a drum alongside the singing of her soul as a feeling she had never known burst inside of her. Nami wasn't sure if she should call it happiness, affection, or even something as deep as love; nevertheless, she savored it. After about ten seconds, Luffy pulled back slightly, their lips still barely brushing. Nami's eyelashes fluttered open to see Luffy smiling gently up at her, his eyelids already drifting closed as sleep began to claim him once more. “You’re mine, understand?” he murmured again, her lips tingling with the sensation of his own drifting over hers.
“Yes, Luffy.” The answer came out of her effortlessly, naturally, like she had known that all along. His smile widened at that, and then his head flopped back and his eyes closed as he fell once more back into deep sleep. As his hand slid through the strands of her hair, falling back to the floor, she caught it without thinking. I understand. The bandages felt rough against the soft skin of her palm; beneath those bandages were wounds that he had earned fighting for her. It was then that Nami really realized what that meant.
It took a few seconds for the euphoria to wear off, and when it did she comprehended that she had kissed Luffy in front of everyone. Her head snapped up and she covered her mouth with her hand, and all hell broke loose.
“Wake him back up! I’m gonna kick his ass! How dare he kiss Nami!” Sanji fumed, jumping up to point angrily at the snoozing captain while he stamped his foot thunderously against the wooden floor. He then released a strangled gasp and grabbed his side, where a stitch had busted to spill bright red blood across his bandages. He flopped down next to Zoro, who was cackling.
“Damn! I never would've expected that in a million years! What a show!” he howled and slapped his leg, until his laugh abruptly switched to pained groans as he ended up in the same situation as their cook.
“Stop moving around like that, dammit, now I have to fix your bandages!” Law growled. He could care less about the kiss, thankfully. Robin was just smirking, like she had expected something like that to happen sooner or later.
“I knew it! Nami is Luffy’s girlfriend!” Sabo beamed with delight. Nami buried her red face into her hands, and though she was thoroughly embarrassed, she could not help but smile.
Luffy… I guess I do feel something for you, after all. Her heart was still like a cloud, floating on air on a wind of budding love. Nami wasn't sure what was going to happen now, or if Luffy would even remember what had happened when he awoke- but to Nami, that didn't matter. She knew now.
I'll trust in these feelings, too- yours, and mine. I know they'll lead to something wonderful on the horizon…
“You gonna give him a goodnight kiss every time now, Nami?”
“Shaddup, kelp-head, or I'll stomp you into a pancake! Nami, dear, you didn't really enjoy that kiss, did you?”
“Nami, take good care of Luffy, okay? <3”
If she could survive the incessant teasing, of course.
Chapter 19: Feverish
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff
Characters: Monkey D. Luffy, Nami, and Red-Haired Shanks
Requested By: Scarlet (Ao3)
Nami groaned heavily as she tapped the end of her pen repeatedly against the sleek wooden surface of the bar counter, her irritated gaze fixed on the dismal calculations of the crew's financial accounts. She sipped at her beverage as she quickly ran over the sums in her head, validating that they were indeed quite miserable excuses for pirates. We're going to be flat broke at this rate! She thought sourly and flipped the accounting book shut before downing the remainder of her drink. She motioned for the bartender to refill her, then laid her head down against the smooth varnished wood, enjoying the coolness against her forehead, which was currently hot to the touch.
Due to the stress of the entire Big Mom disaster, Nami had developed a small fever from exhaustion, or so Chopper had said. The ship was lacking in provisions, and so they had stopped on a small island to restock; though the little reindeer had been adamant she remain on the ship under strict bedrest, Nami had been in no mood to laze about in bed, and so she had compromised with the doctor for a change in locale. He had permitted her to stay in a bar near the docks while the rest of the crew went about their business, and to basically abstain from doing anything too strenuous. Nami was sure that the fever was nothing to worry about, but to spare herself the annoyance of sending Chopper into a meltdown she had done as bid, even going as far as to order a water from the bar rather than alcohol. Though I could use some booze after running these numbers, she thought bitterly. The idea that they were all out spending more money certainly didn't improve her mood.
“I had better figure out a budget before these fools make us bankrupt. Imagine a broke Pirate King,” she snorted and flipped open the accounting book again, scribbling numbers across the lined pages with a growing satisfied smile. She became so absorbed in her work that she momentarily forgot her exhausted, vulnerable state, and also failed to notice when a large group of raucous, rowdy men came pouring into the bar to settle themselves at the available tables and cram themselves at the few seats remaining on the bar. Nami only glanced out of the corners of her eyes as one of them settled into the open stool next to her; he was a red-haired man, with three parallel scars across his eye and one of his arms missing, leaving a flopping black sleeve. He was an attractive man, not that Nami really cared. When he cast her a sidelong glance and smirked at her, she blushed faintly and returned to her calculations. She didn't want to give the impression that she was interested, after all. The men continued to laugh heartily and talk loudly as they guzzled down ale while the petite navigator dutifully went about her work.
“Namiiiiii!” a squeaky voice called within the cacophony, and Nami turned around to see tiny little Chopper scampering through the many pairs of legs traversing the beer-soaked floor, panting heavily while toting a little vial in his front hooves. After a tough time navigating the constantly shifting maze, he appeared at her feet wheezing loudly. “Your medicine!” he puffed and held up the vial for her to take. “This should help bring down the fever.” He clambered up into the stool on the other side of her when a rather drunk man vacated his seat to stumble to the bathroom, his little back legs flailing as he struggled to pull himself onto the little stool. Once he did, he plopped down with a contented sigh. It was then that he noticed the sums she was currently working. “Nami! You shouldn't be working right now!”
“Oh, Chopper, I'm fine,” she tutted as she unscrewed the cap of the vial and downed it in one go, screwing up her face at its bitter taste. “How long will this take to work?” she asked and passed the empty vial back to the concerned reindeer, who tucked it into his pouch for safekeeping.
“About thirty minutes,” he answered, then frowned deeply at her. Though he was trying to seem stern, with his puffed-out cheeks and narrowed eyebrows over his big, bright eyes, he looked more cute than anything. “Nami, you really need to take it easy. You remember the last time you had a fever, right? When we first met? That was really serious! Plus, Luffy is worried about you, you know! Imagine what it would be like if you collapsed!”
Nami was about to respond that that particular fever had been the result of being bitten by a disease-carrying bug and she doubted that it was that serious, but when he mentioned her captain worrying over her, all words died in her throat. He's worried about me…? For some reason, that warmed her heart. She looked back down at her calculations, then slowly closed the thin book. She didn't want to give her captain cause to worry, after all…
The hair on the back of her neck began to tingle, and she glanced out of the corners of her eyes again to see the red-haired man gazing intently at her. Thinking he may be working up the courage to flirt with her, she hastily returned her attention to their resident doctor. It was then that she realized just how tired she was; working on the sums had taken more out of her than she had realized. She slumped against the wood, panting slightly, and raised a hand to her face. She was startled to find a thin sheen of sweat coating her skin, and the heat radiating from her had intensified. “Nami!” Chopper squeaked and shuffled forward to feel her forehead. “You’re burning up! We need to get you back to the ship. You need rest!” he insisted. Nami was so tired that she was inclined to agree. She nodded wearily and set a few bills on the bar and turned in her seat to stand up, but froze when a familiar cackle echoed through the already noisy bar.
“Well, well, well! What do we have here?” Nami’s mouth almost dropped open when she saw who had sidled into the door. Zappa?! What is he doing here? Nami had encountered the silver-haired marine before they had landed in Big Mom's country, when they had infiltrated the Marine base to acquire much-needed provisions. The crazy man had fallen in love with Nami on sight and harassed her thoroughly in her time at the base, and Nami had been glad to leave him behind. She would have never dreamed that she would see him again, yet here he was, sneering at her like the first time they had met. “Nami! It must be fate for us to meet again!” he announced and strode right over to her, grabbing her by the hands and bringing his face close. Nami recoiled visibly, turning her face and scowling. “Marry me!”
“In your dreams, creep!” she spat and shoved him violently away. This was a bad idea on her part, considering her weakened state, and the swift action sent a cold rush flushing through her body. Her mind went fuzzy and her vision fogged as she danced dangerously close to unconsciousness, and she clutched the edge of the bar for support as her legs gave out beneath her. She was barely away of Chopper springing off the chair and running out the bar screaming, “I gotta go get Luffy!” As she reeled, her breath coming in ragged gasps while she struggled to stay awake, Zappa advanced on her again.
“That's not ladylike,” he tutted, and firmly grabbed her wrists. She gasped in pain as his fingers curled around her small wrists, practically crunching the bone beneath, and she could not resist in her feeble state. As his evil grin widened, Nami feared the worst, until Zappa let out a strangled cry. The sharp edge of a sword had been placed against his throat.
“If I didn't know any better, I would say the young lady isn't the least bit interested,” purred the handsome, scarred stranger as he turned the blade against Zappa's neck, causing a trickle of blood to appear and stream down to stain his white Marine uniform. The Marine, though in a dangerous position, did not quail; instead, he jumped back and drew his own silver blade. Immediately the bar burst with hostility, as every member of the rowdy crew drew blades and guns to point them threatening at the daring Marine. “That was rather bold of you,” he snorted before turning to Nami, who was still clinging to the bar and light-headed. “Miss, are you all right? You’re very pale.”
“I feel faint,” she stammered, and the taller man gently took her elbow to support her while her legs could not. Begrudgingly, Zappa sheathed his sword, and only after the man waved his hand dismissively did his underlings put away their weapons and return to their drinking. Conversation resumed, but it was quieter now; many pairs of eyes still rested on the angry Marine, who was still staring adamantly at the ill navigator. Nami was afraid he would make yet another pass at her, with the feral look in his eyes, until the door to the bar was literally kicked off of its hinges.
“Oi! You!” Luffy shouted, his face bright red with pure fury, and pointed at Zappa. “Who the hell do you think you are? Don't you ever touch my navigator again!” he snapped. Nami was a bit startled at the sheer amount of rage her captain was exuding; it was rolling off him in waves, not unlike the intense fever gripping her body, and seeing him that angry for her made her feel a bit faint for an entirely different reason. With a grunt, he extended his hand across the bar to wind it firmly around her waist, pulling her through the crowd of people. She landed against his chest, red-faced and breathless, and Luffy just glared at Zappa with murderous hate. “Nami is mine, got it?” Nami had never heard him refer to her in such a way, and it made her heart race for some reason. What is this feeling? All the excitement certainly didn't help her poor condition, and she slumped against him as another wave of dizziness washed over her; her head landed against his chest, and in her delirium she wondered if it had always been that muscular. It feels nice… As she swooned, Luffy became aware of her weakened state and glanced down at her.
All the anger had vanished. He was smiling kindly at her, something soft hiding in the edge of his expression that she could not place. He gently reached up to sweep a strand of her orange hair from her flushed, clammy face, and in his eyes she could see genuine concern. “Nami, you work too hard. I hate to see you this way,” he sighed quietly. The way he was speaking to her was so unlike him, gentle and loving, lacking all the harsh bite he had used on Zappa only moments ago. It wasn't the Luffy she knew, boisterous and loud, but for some reason she didn't mind. Actually, it made her feel special, that she was the only one he had talked to in such a way. That she was the only one he cared so deeply for. He put a hand on her forehead, feeling the volcanic heat pouring off her skin. “You’re really sick.”
“I'm sorry. I don't mean to make you worry.” He gave her a lop-sided smile, his hand drifting down to cup her cheek. If she were in a normal state of mind, she would have recognized the touch as blatantly affectionate, but trapped in the thrall of the fever she was more concerned with how nice his cool hand felt against her burning flesh.
“Nah. It's my job to worry about you,” he smiled down at her. Nami smiled weakly back, her heart singing with happiness. Why was she so happy? She wasn't really sure, but she knew that Luffy was making her feel this way somehow. He came to make sure I was okay…
“Are you finished?” Zappa spat. He had regained some of his courage and drawn his sword, grimacing with disgust as he watched Luffy be so intimate with the object of his affections. “I want Nami to marry me! I’ll fight you for her, Straw Hat!” He snapped. Luffy clenched his teeth, the anger resurging, and pulled off his signature Straw Hat to set it on Nami's head. He turned to carefully set her in a sitting position against the wall, making sure as she was as comfortable as could be.
“Sit tight and watch my hat for me. Chopper is gonna get you patched up,” he ordered before turning back to Zappa and rolling his shoulders. “Normally I would tell a pest like you to beat it, but you've really pissed me off!” he snapped. The red-haired man and his crew made no move to interfere, perhaps recognizing that Luffy's pride would prevent it anyway. As the two sprang at each other and began to tear apart the bar in their little spat, flinging tables and chairs and smashing glasses, Nami hung her head and focused on keeping herself awake. She was so tired, but Luffy was fighting for her, so the least she could do was stay awake. Chopper, who had been huddled in the doorway, scampered over to her now that the situation was less precarious for him and set about applying a cool rag to her forehead and giving her another dose of the medication in an attempt to lower her fever.
By the time Nami's fever had receded enough for her senses to return, Zappa was lying in the street among the shattered pieces of the bar wall covered head-to-toe in bruises and bleeding from a busted nose. She vaguely heard Luffy apologize to the bar owner and promise to pay for the damage, to which Nami smirked. So much for that budget. She raised her head when Luffy returned to her side, and he leaned down with a small huff to pluck the straw hat from her head and place it back on his own. “Thanks,” he grinned, and then plopped down beside her. He barely had a scratch on him. It had been child's play for him to handle Zappa. “Man, I could go for some meat right now.” That was to be expected of Luffy, and she giggled. Then, he did something totally unexpected- he wrapped his arm firmly around his shoulders and pulled her close to him, looking at her worriedly. “Are you better now, Nami?”
“Yes, much better.” Though she was still feverish, she was of more sound mind. Though, she was beginning to flush again, and not from illness; he was holding her so closely, so personally, that it was making her heart race. That foreign feeling was washing over her again. Was it joy? Partly, but there was something deeper to it, something she dare not name…
“Good! Promise me you'll be more careful, Nami,” he frowned at her, tilting his head to the side to look at her with his wide eyes. Were they always that adorable? “I worry about you. You work really hard. Sometimes you need to take a break.” Nami looked shyly down at her lap, flattered by his level of concern for her. Before she could answer, a shadow fell over them, and they both looked up to see the red-haired man.
“So, I see our little Luffy has gotten himself a girlfriend.” So many things raced through her mind in that moment. How did he know Luffy? Who was this guy? And Luffy's girlfriend?
“Shanks!” Luffy cried with delight, grinning from ear to ear. Nami was floored. This is Shanks? I see why they nicknamed him “Red Hair.” It was like the color of fire. “I didn't even realize you were here! I was too busy kicking that loser's ass,” he huffed disdainfully with a nod to the unconscious Marine captain. “I have so much to tell you!”
“I'm sure you do,” Shanks mused, one hand resting on the hilt of the sword at his hip. “Why don't you grab a seat? We want to hear all about your journey.” The bar erupted into happy cheers and alcohol went flying around as they toasted to their reunion with the young boy. Nami was content to just sit on the floor and let Luffy have his fun. She knew how much Shanks and his crew meant to him, after all, and she didn't want to ruin his long-awaited reunion.
“Nah. I'll sit here with Nami, if you don't mind.” At such a blunt statement, Nami went pink, and even Chopped gasped and looked at Luffy with surprise. He was perfectly calm, though, like it was a reasonable thing to say, with his arm still slung nonchalantly about her shoulders.
“So Nami really is Luffy's girlfriend. Nice to meet you! I wish we could have met under better circumstances, when you were well,” Shanks beamed down at her.
“I'm not his girlfriend! I’m just his navigator!” she insisted hotly, burning now from embarrassment. The bar erupted into amused laughter.
“There's no need to be shy, darlin'!”
“Yeah! Tell us how a cute girl like you ended up with our little idiot!”
“Got any pretty friends, sweetheart? It’s not often we see girls as cute as you!”
“Hey! I'm not an idiot!” Luffy protested, apparently not concerned at all that the entire crew thought they were an item. Nami hid her feverish face in her hands, not sure whether to be embarrassed or shamelessly delighted.
Deep down, she wondered if being thought of as Luffy's girlfriend was really that bad at all. Maybe it was the fever still wreaking havoc on her body- or maybe, just maybe, she cared for Luffy as much as he seemed to care about her.
Nami didn't know what these feelings were, but maybe they led not only to happiness, but love, too…
Chapter 20: Fire and Water
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested By: Lee03na (Ao3)
Nami's hands tightened around the balustrade as she spotted the familiar silhouette of sails and a wooden bow upon the horizon, and the tears dripped from her eyes as the frightened breath she had been holding slipped from her mouth. Behind them, the murderous Big Mom on her blazing fiery familiar had halted right in the middle of whatever deadly attack she was going to unleash, and was currently sniffing the air while drool pooled into her mouth; even farther than that lie her entire armada. For hours, they had been embroiled in a feverish game of cat-and-mouse, and only a few short minutes ago Nami had been convinced that their desperate effort had been for naught. As that ship sailed upon the horizon, however, hope burst once more in Nami's heart.
“Everyone!” She gasped as the shadowy ship rapidly came into focus. “It’s a ship, and it has a cake on board! It's Sanji!” Cheers erupted from the bedraggled crew, while the unconscious Carrot still snoozed on, tired from her exertion from the night before. Their shrieks of delight traveled across the swirling sea, and Nami thought that among the din she could hear the wayward cook calling her name.
Nami glanced up as the rushing of flames roared overhead just in time to see the cackling Emperor scream overhead like a meteor plummeting to Earth, rocketing toward Bege's ship, which had already whipped around to sail full-speed to the southwest. Nami's heart momentarily sunk, as she was afraid that Sanji would be trapped on the likely doomed vessel, until her expert eyes spotted a rapidly approaching object skimming just above the roiling waves heading right for them. By the time she had rapidly descended the steps down to the main deck, Sanji and Pudding had already landed on the wooden deck on a flying carpet.
“Yo! I’m back!” Sanji announced with a smug grin, a cigarette already clenched between his teeth. Nami should have been prideful, should have let him know how utterly stupid he was for subjecting them to this entire ordeal, but the moment she heard his voice such notions flew to the back of her mind. All she could think about was how glad she was to see him, how utterly elated she was that he was finally home. Along with Brook, she flung herself at him, wrapping her arms firmly around his neck like she never wanted to let him go again.
Maybe part of her didn't.
“Sanji! I’m so glad you’re all right! I thought we weren't going to make it for a moment; thank you!” she exclaimed happily. The tears came to her eyes without her knowing, and when she pulled back to look up at him they were spilling over her cheeks while her bottom lip quivered uncontrollably. She had her fingers curled into the fabric of the fancy tuxedo shirt that he was still wearing, subconsciously convincing herself that he was really here and was not a figment of her imagination. He's back. He's really home. Sanji gawked at her for a moment, in utter shock that she would ever display such affection for him, before all the blood rushed to his face and steam practically blasted from his ears.
“Namiiiiiiii!” he squealed, and before she could even react he had shoved Brook to the side to wrap her into a tight embrace, burying his face into her tangerine hair. Nami froze, still stiffly clutching onto the soft fabric of his tuxedo jacket, while her mind struggled to comprehend the complex emotions writhing inside of her; part of her wanted to act as she normally did, to brusquely refute him, but part of her wanted to melt into him, letting him hold her for the rest of time, to keep her safe like he had always promised… Her eyes began to drift shut slightly, her fingers curling further into the jacket, while her mind began to drift into a fog of some unknown feeling. Sanji… You came back to me… Don't leave again, she began to beg. Sanji… I…
Then, it was like a switch flipped in her head and she realized what exactly was happening. With pink cheeks, she jerked out of his grasp and placed a few good feet between herself and the lascivious man. What just happened to me?
After the love-struck cook finally came to his senses, the captainless crew exchanged information about their respective experiences. Sanji explained that Bege had agreed to sail the cake farther away and draw off both Big Mom and the massive fleet to give the Straw Hats a chance to retrieve Luffy, who was currently trapped on Cacao island still embroiled in his fight with Dogtooth. They were currently three hours away from Cacao Island with a time of arrival at 1 a.m., but they had no idea when or where Luffy was going to emerge from the mirror world. Most likely, Big Mom's army had laid a trap for him, and he would walk right out of one intense battle to land in another. Nami bit down nervously on her bottom lip as she wrapped her arms around herself to stave off the chill traveling up from her spine. Even as powerful as Luffy is… There's no way he can fight off an entire army after just getting out of an intense battle like that! Worse, they had not escaped the entire fleet, as a smaller one was still in active pursuit of the Thousand Sunny.
“There's no time. I’m going to have to go to Cacao Island and get him,” Sanji frowned deeply. Nami felt a scream of opposition rising in her throat and intense fear clench her heart in its cold, sharp claws. No! He just escaped…! Though she wanted nothing more than to plead for him to stay, that there must be some other way, but she knew deep down that there was not. Instead, she just clamped down on her bottom lip to keep her objections from escaping; they rang around in her head like a dismal symphony. I want you to stay… Please don't go, Sanji… What if you don't come back? As she stared at him with a trembling mouth and tears threatening to appear in her eyes once more, unconsciously committing his form to memory, he turned his back to her to walk toward the magic carpet. Had his shoulders always been that broad? That back so strong? Sanji! Don't go! Her fingers twitched with the need to grab the hem of his jacket like the weak little girl she was and beg him to stay. She wasn't sure what had come over her, why seeing him leave now frightened her so, but she could not think about anything else. Sanji…!
Somehow, he heard her.
He stopped a few steps away from the flying carpet, and Nami could see his shoulders hunch slightly as he pondered something; then, he whirled around to walk back over to her, giving a sidelong glance to Jinbe and the others. “I almost forgot. Make sure you guys take care of Nami, okay?” Though Nami would normally purse her lips and disregard his flirtatiousness, when his gaze flickered back to settle on her, the heat dwelling within his gaze made her mind melt into butter. Her heart began to flutter in her chest like a baby bird on its first clumsy flight. She was utterly helpless as he stopped in front of her, his head cocked to the side slightly as he regarded her with a soft smile. “I don't know what I would do if something happened to her,” he whispered, every word accelerating the feverish pace of her heartbeat. Despite her best efforts, her desperate pleas forced themselves past the barrier of her quivering lips, and she timidly reached forward to gently clutch the hem of his tuxedo jacket.
“Is there no other way?” she asked quietly, softly, where only he could hear her weakness. He didn't answer her, only slipped his hand around hers and trailed his thumb across the top of hers that was just barely trembling; then, with a sudden movement, he snatched her by the wrist and jerked her roughly by the arm so that she lost her balance and fell into him. Before she could even think about reacting, he had placed his index finger underneath her chin to tilt her face upwards, and as her startled eyes locked with his she saw that heat had burst into the intense flame of desire. Its warmth crossed the few centimeters between them, burning her cheeks and seeping into her entire body to wrap its flickering hands around her feeble heart, warming her in a way she never knew possible. Utterly helpless to its intensity, she could do nothing as his lips swept down to cover her own. At the moment their mouths met, Nami felt something burst inside of her, like a dam that had borne the weight of floodwaters finally giving way to spill the writhing waves across the land; it was so powerful that it made her knees weak and she had to clutch onto him to keep herself from being swept away by the fire and water. She was unable to stop herself from moving her lips in sync with his, dancing along to the melody of the natural forces roiling inside of her. It lasted mere seconds, but to Nami she was trapped in the maelstrom for an eternity. When their lips finally parted, she unconsciously ran her tongue across the surface of her bottom lip, tasting the sweetness left behind by his. This action did not go unnoticed by the flirtatious cook, as a satisfied grin appeared on his face, one that Nami realized once she finally came to her senses.
“Take care of her!” Sanji insisted to the completely floored crew members before whirling on his feet to stride back over to the flying carpet as if nothing had happened. Pudding was fuming, all three of her eyes wide as she spat acidic insults to him, then hunched over and shot the carpet off the boat at unnecessary speed. It was then that the crew managed to voice their confused screams and run around Nami in circles or shake her vigorously, but the navigator was watching it all through a foggy window, too entranced in the dream-like state of budding love.
Sanji kissed me. He had always acted so nonchalant, and she had written off his proclamations of love as hopeless flirting. After all, he acted that way with every female that fell across his path. He kissed me. As much as she wanted to write this off as such, she could not; she could feel that love for her now, true love- that immense wave of fire that kissed the very depth of her soul and awoken something that she had not known had been sleeping within her. The flames of his passion had breathed flickering embers inside of her, nurturing her empty hearth into a gently burning candle of affection. Sanji loves me.
Do I… Do I love Sanji?
Even nearly three hours later, Sanji was still grinning. Nami had such a cute look on her face! He thought with a devilish snicker, then peered around the corner once more with a small frown. An entire army of Big Mom’s soldiers had gathered around what he had surmised to be the only remaining mirror within the kingdom, waiting to ensnare Luffy within their trap when he came stumbling out of his harrowing fight. It should be soon, now… If he isn’t able to escape them immediately, we’ll be screwed…! He exhaled deeply and leaned back, tapping his foot slightly. He then smiled suddenly. “Pudding… We'll have to say goodbye soon,” he remarked and turned around to continue, then recoiled slightly in shock. “Why are you sitting all the way over there?!” She was perched on a box, biting down on her lip as she stared intently at the cobblestone alleyway path. He smiled slightly in bemusement and leaned back against the slightly cold stone wall. “You know, we met under pretty strange circumstances,” he remarked as he thought back on the strange roller coaster that had been their relationship. “We have to part ways soon, so I thought that I should thank you for everything you've done, Pudding,” he beamed and held out a hand for her. Pudding, at his prompting, stood up to look at him with a red face and a stressed expression, before she whipped around and screamed, “Shut up!” He could only chuckle. Typical Pudding… Can't express her emotions at all. As she hid her face, he smirked slightly. “I get it. We are enemies, after all. Though, with the wedding being a trap and a big show, I’m still glad that my fiancé was you, Pudding.” He meant that, too. Though he felt no romantic attraction to her- his heart did truly belong to Nami, after all- he wanted the best for her. It was then that she began to completely break down into ugly tears, startling him enough to jump up from his crouching position and run over to her. “Hey! Don't cry! I wasn't trying to make fun of you or anything!” Abruptly, she dried her tears and looked at him with a determined expression.
“Sanji… I have one last request of you.” Sanji was just relieved that she had stopped crying, and though he should have been keeping an eye out for his captain, he momentarily forgot the notion in lieu of humoring her request. Pudding scampered over to him, gazing up at him with those pretty eyes of hers, before she fell against him and clutched tightly onto his shirt. He raised his eyebrows slightly, quite surprised at her sudden display of affection. He was even more floored when she stood up on her tip-toes to firmly but lovingly press her lips against his. It was not like the way he had kissed Nami- the feeling was not quite strong enough- but strong enough that the words she could not speak were heard by him. It was her final goodbye, her gratitude, that she could not voice. As SanjI lay in a daze, having not expected such a thing from her, she jerkily pulled back and released him to hurry back down the alleyway. By the time he had blinked himself back into reality, she had vanished around the corner.
“Pudding?” he called as loudly as he dare with the nearby soldiers, but he could not chase after her. He stared at the darkness with complicated feelings, thinking about what she had told him in the sad, final kiss.
Thank you for everything… And love her well. She didn't need to say it aloud for him to know. She knew he loved Nami, not her, and she had come to terms with that. Her last request had been for him to give her the love she could never have. It was a noble thing.
I will, Pudding. I hope you find someone to love you, too. With that settled, he returned to his post waiting for his captain. All he had to do was rescue Luffy and return to the Thousand Sunny- return to Nami, at last.
Nami sat at her desk, hunched over slightly as she pored over her navigational charts ensuring that they were on the quickest, most efficient route to Wano. The sun was beginning to rise, golden light pouring in through the gap of her slightly open door along with the fresh, salty sea breeze. Nami often worked with the door open, as the scent of the ocean helped her concentrate. Though she once may have been loathe to admit it, she was born to be a pirate; she simply loved the sea, the ocean waves and the swirling currents and the salt dancing on the wind.
They had successfully escaped Big Mom's clutches with Pekoms as the only casualty. Their captain, though severely beaten, had been safely brought back by Sanji and was currently in the care of their spastic doctor. Jinbe had separated from them to aid his crew in ensuring their escape from the gigantic murderous Emperor. Now, they were sailing the open ocean heading towards Wano, where the great rendezvous would occur.
With a small yawn, Nami set down her pen and leaned back to stretch her arms above her head to quell her complaining back muscles, lowering a hand to rub her eyes. Somehow, her fingers drifted down to her lips, tracing across the soft surface where Sanji had kissed her. Even now, hours later, she could feel the ghost of his mouth against hers, the whispers of his love speaking to her trembling heart. The corner of her mouth twitched and she hurriedly lowered her hand, staring unseeing at the charts spread out across the wooden surface of her desk. Sanji had been on the ship for quite a while now, but she had been unable to bring herself to face him. That little fire smoldered inside of her, but she was unsettled by it. Nami knew nothing of love, and the intensity of emotion she had felt in that moment almost frightened her; even more, she was admittedly terrified at the possibility that it had all been one-sided on her part, that it had been yet another groundless flirtation and Sanji didn't care that deeply for her at all. The thought of that was almost unbearable.
It took Nami a few moments to notice that she felt the sea breeze more strongly than normal, and when she turned, she stiffened when she found that the door had been pushed all the way open, and Sanji was standing in the threshold. All of her thoughts ceased and she gawked dumbly at him.
“Have you been up all night?” he asked. He was still dressed in his cloak and tuxedo. Nami noticed for the first time how attractive he was in such an outfit, and as the blush began to rise to her cheeks, she hastily averted her gaze to her navigational charts.
“I've just been going over my charts. It's important that we get to Wano as quickly as possible,” she answered. Sanji did not answer. She heard the door click shut and the fall of his boots across the wooden floor, but she could not bring herself to look up; she could bring herself to do nothing but stare at the charts, her heart ramming against her ribcage. He stopped beside her, close enough for her to feel his body heat, or maybe it was just herself heating up as the little fire flickered brighter inside of her. She tilted her head up slightly of her own volition as his hand slid under her chin to turn her toward him, and she gazed up at him with widened eyes as he traced his thumb across the bags that had formed beneath them.
“You should go to sleep.” There was no way Nami could sleep now; as her doubts and fears writhed inside her like prowling beasts that she struggled to contain, their jaws dripping adrenaline that shot into her veins. He was looking at her like that again, that smoldering look that added flames to her newborn fire. Was she imagining it? She must be. After three years, all they had been through, why now would he suddenly be in love with her? It couldn't possibly be true. Yet, as he continues to slowly trace his thumb across her wearied face, that glimmer of hope fluttered inside of her, a delicate butterfly with wings of fragile glass. If it were not true it would shatter.
“What did it mean?” she sputtered suddenly. His eyebrows crept up his forehead as her expression morphed from a startled deer to a firm wolf. “The kiss… What did it mean?” He was acting like it never happened. Did that mean it meant nothing? Her little butterfly began to falter as the thoughts crept into her mind, but she still stared resolutely up at him, hoping, hoping, hoping.
“Oh. That.” He tugged up on her face, bringing her effortlessly into a standing position so that their faces were centimeters apart. His lips curled into a smug smirk as his free hand settled on the small of her back, slowly bringing her body up against his. If he felt her rapid gasps of breath, her heart hammering in her chest, her body trembling like a leaf upon that whirling salt breeze, he said nothing. “If I tell you, will you go to sleep?”
“Yes!” She had no pride now to refuse any demands; she just had to know, know how he felt about her once and for all. His smirk widened, and he cocked his head to the side slightly.
“It means I love you, Nami.” As if the words were not enough, he sought to prove it further; in moments, his mouth had found hers, and that little butterfly of hope dove into her flickering flame to ignite it into a bursting inferno. Her knees immediately failed at the surge of heat within her, but Sanji firmly held her aloft. Not that Nami could focus on that, though- she was too busy at the mercy of his sugary-sweet lips pouring over hers. Their mouths mixed together like swirling ocean currents, engaged in a perfect harmonic dance. All of her thoughts were swept away by the rapidly rising tide, leaving only that roaring flame of her desire. Her shaking hands curled into his tuxedo jacket, the only way to ground herself against the intense storm, and allowed him to take control.
The kiss rapidly deepened, stealing Nami's breath away and drawing a soft mmmmm from her. While his one hand still held her firmly by the small of her back, the other slid across her neck, over her shoulder, and into her tangerine hair to caress to salt-kissed waves, twirling his fingers around the orange strands. His lips pushed against hers with more insistence, begging for hers to part, and when she finally obliged him his tongue immediately jumped to entwine his hers. Nami's mind weakened against the pull of the tide, unable to cope with the strong sweetness bursting inside her mouth; it felt like pure honey being dripped across her tongue as it tangled with his. Her already weakened legs wobbled, barely able to hold her weight, and she dug her fingers into his shirt in a feeble effort to support herself. Sanji responded by reaching down to jerk her upwards, wrapping her legs around his middle while his head tilted backwards to continue kissing her passionately, their lips not breaking contact for a moment. He staggered slightly as she took the lead, her draconic fire bearing back against the tsunami of helplessness, and she released his clothes to cup his face as she kissed him back with all the force she could muster.
She knew now. She knew she loved him, too.
After a minute, Sanji carried her over to the bed and fell backwards onto it, bringing her down on top of him. Nami was not sure how much time actually passed, but at some point the wave receded and the fire sputtered out, and they broke apart. Their faces still close, they gazed into each others eyes as they breathed heavily. Nami's mind eventually returned to her, just as Sanji reached up to once again sweep his thumb over the dark circles beneath her eyes. “Will you sleep now?” he murmured breathily.
“Only if you stay with me,” she answered and slumped off him to curl up at his side, settling within the crook of his arm with her head laying across her chest. She could feel his heartbeat, rapid within his broad, muscular chest, and it soothed her as the drowsiness finally claimed her. As her eyes drooped, Sanji gently ran his fingers through her hair, from the roots down to the curled ends.
“Did you love Pudding, Sanji?” She couldn’t help but ask. Sanji may have proclaimed his undying love for her but that didn’t make her forget his blatant flirtatiousness with other women. He snorted with laughter.
“Of course not. She's not a bad kisser, though. Not as good as you, naturally, but still not bad.” She glanced up at him with an irritated expression, her cheeks puffed out, while he smirked smugly.
“Get out of my bed!” She wasn't really angry with him; though knowing he had kissed Pudding irked her, his reaction had been enough to appease any doubts she possessed. Still, she had to keep up her stubborn appearance. Sanji apparently saw through that façade and laughed heartily, wrapping her in a strong embrace and burying his face in her hair.
“Go to sleep!” Nami rolled her eyes but obediently snuggled into him, closing her eyes and listening to his breathing and gradually slowing heartbeat. Lulled by the sounds of the man she loved, Nami drifted off into a content sleep.
Chapter 21: Sunrise
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Nami and Sanji
Requested by: farrah87 (Ao3)
As Nami arched her back and stretched her arms over her head to alleviate the stiffness in her muscles, a long yawn overtook the features of her tired face. As her hand drifted down to rub her eye, below which hung dark bags, she looked down at her handiwork, a full account of the Straw Hat Pirates’ current financial status. Nami attended to this duty often, because the boys were notorious for spending their money frivolously, and it would be a damn shame for them to be known as broke pirates. This was something Nami could not allow and so she was the manager of their finances, and probably the reason they were not currently swimming in debt or the equivalent of pirate hobos. Nami grimaced as her muscles, sore from being forced to remain in a sitting position for hours on end, continued to whine loudly at her; the accounting was close to finish, so she acquiesced and rose from the wooden chair. She hunched over for a moment, her joints locking as if they had turned to stone, before she was able to straighten out with a series of audible creaks and cracks. If I had sat there much longer, I might have become an old lady! She thought with a frown as she strode out of her navigator’s quarters.
Nami approached the balustrade that overlooked the deck, curling her fingers around it and closing her eyes as the salty sea breeze kissed her skin and played with her hair, like little fairies enamored with a princess’ beauty. When they opened, her brown eyes were gazing up at the brilliant blanket of stars above her head; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky tonight, and so they shone down upon her in all their brilliance, turning her tangerine hair a lustrous shade of gold. As she breathed in deeply, the scent of salt and seawater came with the air, and filled her with an acute sense of ease. Ease was something that Nami had not had of late, as the Straw Hat pirates had only finished tangling with the murderous Emperor Big Mom less than a day ago. Nami’s body still bore healing wounds, as did the rest of the crew. Naturally, Luffy had taken the brunt of most of it and was sleeping it off belowdecks, more bandages than anything else. Even now, Nami’s nerves were still on edge; the Emperor undoubtedly would not let the transgression past, and they likely had an army behind them as they headed to Wano, where another Emperor ruled. The sense of calm was soon eclipsed by concern, and she ripped her gaze from the stars and walked to the side of the ship to instead stare at the sea.
The sea had always calmed Nami even in the most stressful of times. When she had been Arlong’s prisoner, even with the weight of her entire village upon her small back, she would cast her eyes to the rolling waves and their rhythm would carry away all her worries. It was no different now. Her entire body relaxed and a smile naturally formed on her lips as her eyes beheld the starlight glittering upon the rolling waves, and her ears were graced by the ever-present melody of sloshing water and creaking wood and fluttering sails. Nami was born to be on the sea, that much was certain; it was like seawater was in her blood, resonating with the waves and aching when she was parted from it for too long. Nami’s eyelashes fluttered as golden light began to spill over the horizon, as the sun was rising from its nightly slumber to bring warmth and light to the world. Nami watched as the stars began to blink out one by one and the black sky was dyed with red. As the sun appeared, Nami found herself thinking that its hue matched that of Sanji’s hair.
“You’re up awfully early.” Nami glanced over her shoulder as she was addressed to find Sanji standing a few feet behind her, which startled her greatly, and she blushed with mortification at the thought he had heard her whisper his name. Though he had likely just awoken himself, a lit cigarette was already in his mouth, sending smoke swirling about his face, which was cast in an orange glow by the small fire. “Do you always wake up to watch the sunrise?” he asked as he walked over to stand beside her, leaning against the balustrade with one arm hanging over lazily. If he had heard her, he made no comment, and she tried to seem unperturbed as she glanced up at him.
“No. I stayed up late doing the books, and just happened to come out at the right time.”
“You’ve been up all night?!” he exclaimed in shock. “Nami, you can’t do that! It’s bad for a woman’s complexion, you know. Not that anything could ever take away from your beauty~” Nami puffed out her cheeks and looked back at the ocean, where the golden sunlight spilling like paint through the blue water. Normally she ignored his flirtatiousness, but ever since the incident with Pudding and the rest of the Charlotte family, it irked her. It mad her more irritated because she didn’t know why. “Really, Nami, are you all right?” His sudden question made her forget her silent annoyance, and she looked up at him with quizzical eyes.
“Yes, why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, you know, you were treated pretty roughly by Big Mom and all that,” he frowned, and she looked down when he suddenly took her hands. Around her wrists were ringed bruises from the chains that had held her, and she flushed as he gently traced his thumbs across the ugly, blue-black mosaics. It had been a terrible time, particularly for her mental state; the venomous things that Sanji had said stained her mind like ink. She knew that Sanji had never meant it, and was only saying those things to protect both himself and the people he loved, but she could not scrub the mark from the fabric of her mind. It clung stubbornly, glued by one thing: Pudding. Nami knew not why the woman and Sanji’s apparent affections for her bothered her so. Even now, when he had left her behind and committed to staying with the Straw Hats, some part of her was afraid that Sanji had met the love of his life, and regretted the decision. Would the day come that it would be too much for him to bear, and he would abandon them of his own volition? “Hey. Nami.”
“What?” The word betrayed her, laced with acidity, and he stared at her quizzically as the blood rushed to her face. He abandoned whatever he was going to say to her and replaced it with a more pertinent query.
“Are you… mad at me?”
“Yes! No! I don’t know!” she growled and whipped her hands free of him to cross her arms and turn her back. Her tired state left her with less control of her emotions, and they stampeded through her heart and mind, leaving her logic in shambles. The anger passed as quickly as it came, dissolving into acute sadness and guilt. If Sanji loved Pudding, then it was not her place to stand in his way; she wanted him to be happy, after all, and if he was happier wed to the woman than with the Straw Hats, she should respect that. Why, then, did it make her feel so impossibly lonely? Sanji still stood behind her, probably short-circuiting as he debated what the proper response was, before he timidly reached out to touch her shoulder. Rather than resist, Nami allowed him to turn her around to face him, and he cocked his head to the side as he looked at her in concern.
“Nami, what’s going on?” he demanded. Nami didn’t answer because she didn’t know herself; instead, she abandoned herself to her frustration and began to cry. Her heart hurt more than her body ever could. She was so conflicted, trapped in a maelstrom of self-pity and guilt. The incident had been exponentially rougher on Sanji, yet all she could think about was herself. As her shoulders shook lightly and her bottom lip quivered, Sanji stared at her with wide eyes and a perplexed expression. His hand twitched on her shoulder, then rose and froze mid-way in the air; when it was clear that Nami was not going to slap it away, he gently laid his fingers across her cheek, carrying her flowing tears away with it. Nami felt warmth bloom across her cheek at the simple touch, and was overcome by the fierce desire to feel more; unable to think logically, she grabbed Sanji’s hand and adamantly laid it back across her cheek, and her eyes flickered up to meet his while she struggled to voice the storm in her heart.
“Sanji, I’m afraid.” There, it was in the open. The words hung in the air, suspended by strings, until the silence was slashed by his answer.
“What are you afraid of?” Big Mom. That you love Pudding. That you’re going to leave us. That everything will fall apart. That you love Pudding. That you meant what you said. That Big Mom will come for us again. That you love Pudding. So many things Nami was scared of, but that most of all. He had to love her; he had been so willing to marry her, and still treated her kindly despite her role in the plot to murder him, and was so insistent that she was kind deep down. Part of her knew that that was just how Sanji was and had nothing to do with love or anything of the sort, but the fact that the possibility existed overtook everything, making her illogical and rash. There was an overwhelming fear that eclipsed all that, though.
Nami was afraid that she was in love with Sanji, and wasn’t loved in return. That was what the root of it all was. As she just continued to cry in silence, Sanji waited patiently for her answer. Sanji really was so kind. She wanted that kindness to be hers, hers alone, and the thought that Pudding would get it instead of her broke her. Her eyes rocketed around in their sockets, looking at him, then the sky, then the deck, then the sea; it felt like a bubble was inside of her, straining to burst, but it was so large that she could not force it out through her throat. The tears flowed faster down her face as her cheeks turned red with frustration and fear. I can’t… My throat feels like it’s closing up…! I-! “Nami, you don’t have to be afraid. I’ll protect you, no matter what.” As he uttered those words, the balloon that was Nami’s tension deflated, and she looked up at him with a shocked expression. He was smiling warmly down at her, and his blue eyes were filled with something intense she had never seen, and whatever it was washed over her like a soothing stream and calmed her distress. Suddenly she was able to speak again.
“You won’t leave me?”
“Is that what this is about. Nami, why ever would I leave you?” he asked with a slight chuckle, shaking his head as if it were a ridiculous notion. It seemed like the thought had not crossed his mind, but her anxiety was still not alleviated fully. She pushed her cheek against the hand that was still held there, feeling his palm, soft against her skin, not roughened by fighting.
“Because… you love Pudding…” she mumbled. Sanji’s eyebrows shot up to the roots of his hair, and his blue eyes widened as they met her uncertain brown ones. Nami did not know what he was going to do next, and everything depended on that reaction.
He began laughing.
“Oh, Nami! You sure do have some ridiculous notions in your head!” he snorted. That was not what she had been expecting, and it was her turn to have raised eyebrows and a confused look as he doubled over against the balustrade of the ship, cackling like she had just told him the funniest joke he had ever heard. He still held his hand against her face, and she could feel it shake with every cackle that wracked his body. It took him a minute to settle down into the occasional snicker, and when he looked up at her, he was grinning in amusement, but that something was still in his eyes. “Nami, I am not in love with Pudding, not in the slightest.” Though it was what she had wanted to hear, Nami suddenly felt extremely embarrassed at how off-base she had been, so much so that she almost wanted it to be true.
“But-! What about all that stuff with her?” she insisted stubbornly. Sanji straightened up with another snicker, and for a moment her mind was overtaken how much taller he was than her and how it was oddly nice, the way he was looking down at her. That’s not the issue here!
“Nami, I just did what I had to do in the moment, okay? I only love one woman and that isn’t Pudding.” Nami was about to deliver another retort until her mind processed what had exactly come out of his mouth, and she looked dumbly up at him when she comprehended the sentence.
“Who, then?” He gave her a lop-sided smile and pulled his cigarette out of his mouth, tossing it into the waves, which were now all bathed in the glowing sunlight. So were she and Sanji; his hair shone with all the sun’s brilliance, catching the light, and it made his face glow as he scrunched it up in an elated smile.
“You, Nami. For a smart girl, you sure are dense.” Her mind rang with the simple truth. Sanji loves me. She wasn’t sure, in that moment or all the moments looking back upon it, if it was the dawning sun or that simple utterance that warmed her, but warmed she was. She felt happiness bubble up inside her and spread across every cell in her body, making them sing with a tune she had never felt before. She began crying again, but it wasn’t from sadness or frustration this time, but overwhelming relief and joy. She raised her hands to wipe the tears away, but Sanji caught them, still smiling that brilliant smile. “It’s okay, Nami. You can cry when you’re happy, you know? Plus, I always thought you looked cute when you cry.”
“You’re a jerk,” she sniffed. Her voice was thick with the force of emotion she was feeling. She puffed out her cheeks defiantly at him.
“You look cute when you do that, too,” he remarked, and her eyes widened as he grabbed her face with a hand, pushing into her cheeks to deflate them and forcefully purse her lips. He laughed as she narrowed her eyes, his name distorted as she tried to complain, and he just continued squishing her cheeks despite her repeated squeaks to stop. Because of his teasing, she was able to calm down a little, her overwhelming tsunami of loving feelings settling into a flow not unlike that of the waves below. “Better now?” he grinned as he let her face go.
“You really are a jerk,” she sighed and closed her eyes. It turns out that it was just what he had been waiting for, for no sooner than her eyelashes met did he jump forward to kiss her on the mouth. Nami went stiff as their lips met, having not expected it, but then melted against him as every muscle in her body seemed to turn to jelly. Sanji’s sturdy frame supported her, and his arms wound around her, and her fingers curled into the fabric of his shirt as she anchored herself to him. Nami had never kissed anyone before, and under most circumstances she would have been nervous, but a fog of elation had descended over her mind and prevented her from even thinking of that. All she could think of was they way his lips moved over her own, soft, sensual. She didn’t even mind that she could still smell the cigarette smoke on his mouth; somehow it soothed her, because it was the scent that belonged to him and made her feel safe and wanted. Her body jumped as he pulled her against him, like he could not get enough of her. Her nerves sparked with electricity as their middles touched, so closely that she could feel his muscles flexing beneath his shirt as he began to kiss her more fervently. With every movement Nami descended more and more, like she was sinking beneath the waves into an abyss of love and passion. As her hands drifted over his shoulders to tangle into his blonde hair, bringing his head down as she kissed him back with equal intensity, his settled at her waist.
Sanji turned her body to press her against the railing of the ship, one of his knees pushing between her legs as he bent her slightly over the wood. As Nami’s head tilted back, his tongue swept slowly across her bottom lip, begging for entry; she unashamedly complied, and as it entered her mouth to eagerly tangle with her own, she thought she was going to be swept away by the current that he was for sure. The taste of him got her drunk in an instant, and her mind was hazy as she struggled to stay afloat in the sea of their passion. Nami didn’t doubt at all now that his heart belonged to her and her only, and that he felt the same way about her; she knew it all from the way he held her, the way he kissed her, like he never, ever wanted to let her go. Basked in the warmth and light from the rising sun, Nami relished that kiss, that moment, that confession of their love.
When they finally broke apart, the sun had risen fully into the blue sky and they were panting, their faces each shining with a thin sheen of perspiration. She smiled weakly as his hand swept over her cheek again, this time to tuck a strand of her golden hair behind her ear. She realized then that she had never voiced her feelings, and even though it was probably unneeded at this point, she wanted to anyway.
“I love you, Sanji.” That sweet smile appeared on his face again, and instead of replying, he wordlessly pulled her into a hug. Nami sighed deeply as she hugged him back and buried her face into his shoulder.
“Y’know, Nami… I’m afraid too,” she heard him mumble into her hair.
“Of what?” she responded without moving. He shifted his head to bury it further into her tangerine locks, so far that she felt his lips moving against her scalp.
“I’m afraid… I won’t be able to protect you. There’s no doubt that some serious fighting is going to go down in Wano. I… don’t want to lose you, especially not now.” Nami smiled into him, hugging him tighter. For Sanji to admit that he was afraid of something admittedly made her happy, because it meant he really was willing to pour out his heart and soul to her.
“Well, I’m not afraid. You’ve never let me down before, Sanji. I believe in you one hundred percent!” she told him confidently. She really wasn’t. Sanji had washed all her fears away, and she knew now that she was safe with him, forever and always. She wanted him to know she felt that way; more than that, she wanted him to know that she was willing to give herself over to him, to rely on him completely, which was the hardest thing for her to ever do. “You can’t lose, because I’m counting on you.” She felt him smile, and he squeezed her so tightly that she felt her lungs constrict. She didn’t complain, though.
“Yeah. I won’t let you down, Nami.”
“Good, and when you’re done whooping ass, I’ll be waiting for you with open arms! Just leave some for me to kick, okay? I’m not a damsel in distress.” This time, she lifted her head to smile cheekily at him. He snorted in laughter and lifted his head out of her hair, smiling as brilliantly as the dawning sun. Nami wasn’t able to do the same for him, but she knew that she could support him from the sidelines, to be there for him to return to. She could protect herself well enough too, after all.
“You’re so independent, Nami. That’s what I love about you.” She grinned up at him at the compliment, and again, he leaned down to kiss her. It was softer than before, but somehow more passionate, like he was taking more care to voice all his unspoken feelings to her rather than it being a desperate display of passion. Nami’s eyes drifted shut again, accepting his love.
Nami had no room for fear anymore, when she was being filled up with all those other emotions instead. She had no need for fear anymore, not with the man she loved and who loved her holding her so tightly, and she knew he would never, ever let her go… Smiling into the kiss, Nami looked happily upon the dawn of a new sea, a sea of love that she and Sanji would sail together, out into the sun on the horizon…
Chapter 22: Natural
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff
Characters: Luffy and Nami
Requested by: farrah87 (Ao3)
As the watering can hung limply in her hand, dispensing the last of its precious drops to her beloved, well-tended tangerine trees, Nami used her other hand to shield her eyes as she cast her gaze to the sky above. It was a wonderfully clear day, with the cloudless blue expanse above home to a blistering sun- not that it was saying much, since the weather on the Grand Line could literally change at the drop of the hat. Still, feeling the sun’s warm rays basking over her and, more importantly, giving precious life to her tangerine trees, made Nami feel content. She shook the last few drops of water from the emptied tin can before setting in its place beside the wooden box that held her small grove, and walked to the banister to look down upon the deck below.
Their most recent venture to the secret laboratory on Punk Hazard had landed them several new temporary visitors to their trusty ship- Trafalgar Law, a recently named Warlord of the Sea and the newest target of Luffy’s friendship crusade, and Momonosuke and his retainer Kine’mon, residents of the island of Wano who were relying on the Straw Hats to bring them home. Luffy has always had a habit of picking up strays, she thought wryly as she leaned her cheek in her hand and stared down at the carpeted deck below. Zoro was snoozing, Sanji was cooking, Luffy was sitting at the head of the ship impatiently awaiting the appearance of his newest adventure on the horizon; though their captain had a magnet for disaster, Nami could bear the turmoil for all the calm, peaceful days upon the sea such as this one. Her eyes drifted to the waves lapping at the sides of the ship, finding the gently melody of sloshing water as soothing as always.
She must have been day-dreaming for quite a few minutes, because when Luffy started calling her name, he had already vacated his favorite spot at the figurehead and was standing in the middle of the deck flapping his arms like a deranged bird.
“Nami! Come down, come down! We’re gonna play a game!”
It was one of his favorite ways to pass the time, because a boisterous thing such as himself could never be still. By the time Nami had made it down to the deck, the rest of the crew had spilled out onto the lawn and was arranged in a circle around a cup full of popsicle sticks. Nami settled in between Luffy and Sanji. “It’s called the Pirate King’s Game!” Her captain grinned excitedly at her. Most of his excitement probably only stemmed from the game’s name.
“It’s very simple,” Robin, apparently the one who had mentioned the game, began from her seat across Nami. “Each one of these sticks has a number written on it, except for one, which has a crown. The person who gets the crown will give an command to a random number to do something, whether it be just an act or to do something to someone else. For example, if I had the crown, I could say, ‘Number Two, stand on your head for ten seconds,’ or, ‘Number Five, hold hands with Number Three until the next round,’” she explained matter-of-factly. For such a serious, calm person, Robin had an extensive amount of knowledge about party games, Nami noticed. “Now, we do have a minor,” she added with a sidelong glance at Momonosuke, “so be sure not to suggest anything too adult.” The little boy blinked in confusion as a haze of pink rushed across his chubby cheeks. Luffy giggled excitedly next to her and wriggled in delight.
“This is gonna be awesome! I’m gonna be Pirate King first, I’m tellin’ ya!”
“This is ridiculous. I’m not doing this,” Law muttered and moved to stand up, but Luffy flung himself out on his belly to wrap his arms around his legs. “Let go!!”
“Pleeeeeeeease play, Trafalguy? Pleeeeeeeease? Please? Please, please, please, please!” Luffy repeatedly begged Law to stay while the irritated warlord attempted to pry his leg free of Luffy’s iron grip. After a few minutes the grumpy boy gave up, plopping back down with a huff to cross his arms and glare at the cup of popsicle sticks with a vein sticking out on his forehead. Luffy crowed in victory and returned to his sitting position. “Let’s go, let’s go!” he demanded impatiently. Robin obligingly swirled the cup of popsicle sticks to randomize them, and when she set it back down on the lawn, the Straw Hats and their three guests leaned forward to each pluck a popsicle stick from the container. Nami was mildly disappointed to find that she had a number instead of a crawn scrawled in black ink at the end of the wooden stick.
“Ohh! I got the crown! I’m the Pirate King!” Chopper squealed and held it proudly above his fluffy horned head. He smiled happily as he pondered what his orders would be, while Luffy hung his head and moped. “Okay! I want Number Four to ballroom dance with Number Seven.”
“Nami-swaaaaaan, you must be Number Seven, right~?” Sanji cried as hearts danced in his eyes, and with almost too much amusement she shook her head and showed him that her number was instead two. The hearts beating in his irises snapped in half, and before he could jump to the next object of his affections, Robin, Zoro coughed quietly and turned his popsicle stick to show that it was he who would be Sanji’s ballroom partner. Sanji stared at him for a solid few seconds before his face blazed red and he clamped down on the cigarette in his mouth. “Hell no! I’m not dancing with Shitty Marimo!”
“Y-you mean… You won’t do it? But… It’s the rules…” Chopper whimpered and clutched the popsicle stick close to his chest as his eyes swam with tears. Zoro glanced over at the distraught reindeer before standing up and giving Sanji a death glare.
“Get up. Or are you not man enough to go through with a dare?” Chopper really is Zoro’s ultimate weakness… And Zoro getting the better of him is Sanji’s! Nami thought with a slight smirk as Sanji cursed under his breath and stood up stiffly, his hands shoved in his pockets and his shoulders hunched up to his ears. Brook began loudly humming a romantic tune as the two stomped a few feet away and assumed a waltz position, but were standing far too far apart.
“Do it right, boys,” Robin called with an amused smile, and the two men both cursed profusely under their breath before getting nearly chest-to-chest. They argued heatedly for a minute about who would lead, and a very disgruntled Sanji was forced to act as the woman. It didn’t go well, because Zoro did not know how to dance in the slightest and was just clumsily shambling the cook around. Nami had to cover her mouth as a snort of laughter threatened to spill. Luffy and Usopp weren’t even trying to be polite; they were cackling like idiots, holding their bellies as they rolled around kicking their legs. Kine’mon has a hand over young Momonosuke’s eyes while the young boy darted about trying to see, and Law looked halfway between being sick and being tired.
“Stop laughing, you morons! Just wait what happens when I’m the Pirate King!” Sanji snapped angrily, his shoulders bristling like a cat’s.
“Just shut up. You’re being undignified,” Zoro sighed, then clumsily stepped on Sanji’s foot as he turned about. The cook yowled before glaring acidly at him with grinding teeth, and if Nami didn’t know better he had cat ears flattened to his blonde hair.
“You’re the undignified one! This is why I should have le- Stop stepping on my goddamn foot!” Chopper watched them continue to prance about with his little cute giggles before releasing them from their grim fate. They immediately sprang apart and rejoined the circle, with Zoro trying to seem unperturbed but obviously stiff and Sanji fuming so hot they could have fried an egg on his head. They replaced their sticks and Robin shuffled them before they proceeded to the second round.
“Oh! I-I’m the Pirate King!” Momonosuke gasped with wide eyes. He turned pink, uncomfortable as he was suddenly put in the spotlight, and stared down at the crown on the stick as he bit his lip. “U-Um… Number Two has to give Number Six a hug?” he decided on finally.
“Ah! That’s me! Number Two!” Chopper squealed and jumped up, looking around with a big smile. “Who’s Number Six? Nami?”
Their responses were “Nope,” and “Nah,” respectively. Chopper’s shoulders sagged a little bit with each refusal, until he had named all but one individual in the circle… Trafalgar Law. Chopper began to sweat profusely and laugh nervously as he looked at the Warlord, who had remained silent and was sitting there with his arms crossed and eyes closed. Nami had to admit that she felt bad for the little reindeer, but to his credit, he carefully plodded over to Law.
“I’m, uh… Gonna hug you now… Okay?” he squeaked, his voice an octave higher than normal. As Law cracked an eye open to look down at him with all his normal intensity, Chopper cried out in fright and began to quiver in front of him, shaking like a leaf in the wind. As his teeth rattled and he struggled to retain his bravery, he stiffly shuffled forward, Law’s sharp gaze on him all the while. In a sudden burst of energy, Chopper jumped up into his lap and wrapped his little reindeer arms around Law’s middle, held it for a second, and then leaped off and zoomed back to his seat, screaming all the while. He then collapsed against the lawn panting heavily, going pale as his soul threatened to leave his body. “I… I did it…”
“Hey, Trafalguy, Chopper’s super cuddly, isn’t he?”
“Shut up, Strawhat.”
Oh? Is that a blush I see? Nami thought with a hand to her mouth as Law looked away with the faintest haze of pink to his cheeks. Even the Surgeon of Death can’t resist Chopper’s cuteness, it seems!
The third round had everyone energized, but yet again, the title of Pirate King eluded Luffy. He melted to the ground in a disappointed puddle, groaning as Robin announced that she had assumed the title.
“All right, then. Number Three has to give Number Eight a kiss.”
“Eh? I’m Number Eight!” Nami cried in a panic. Sanji wailed in dismay and slammed his head against the deck of the ship, overly distraught that he was not the one to kiss the navigator. He then looked up through his tears at Robin.
“We don’t mean a real kiss, right?”
“It doesn’t have to be. It can be on the cheek, or on the forehead,” the historian shrugged, leaning back on her hands. Nami clutched the stick in her hands nervously as her gaze flitted about the circle of pirates. Oh, dear God, I hope it’s not Law! The tattooed man was just watching lazily in disinterest, which made her sigh in relief.
“So, I just gotta give Nami a kiss, right?” Nami whipped around to look at Luffy, who was holding the matching stick and looking at her with a scarily blank look on his face. Her face blazed red, not sure how she felt about her clueless, airhead captain kissing her, but she quickly gathered her wits and exhaled sharply.
“Okay, Luffy. Just one on the che-“ She was interrupted as Luffy grabbed her underneath the chin and yanked her forward to kiss her full on the mouth. The world seemed to freeze for a moment, even the wind holding its breath as their lips met; Nami was unable to do anything but sit there captured in the kiss, as Luffy’s deadly serious eyes bored through her own and his mouth slid rhythmically across hers in a passionate waltz, awaking something within her that she had never known was there. Then the world exploded. Sanji had jumped to his feet and was screaming, Chopper was running around in circles thinking that their captain had gone mad, Zoro was cackling like an idiot while Usopp shrieked and pulled at his thick, curly hair, Robin seemed quite pleased at the turn of events and Franky struck his signature pose, Brook was singing a love song while Carrot swooned at the apparent declaration of love, Kine’mon once again covered Momonosuke’s face while clamoring that it was inappropriate to do in front of the young prince who was peering through his fingers with wide eyes, and Law was staring in silence with his mouth hanging open, totally floored. In all the chaos, Luffy delicately pulled back and slid his hand from Nami’s chin, and she just gazed into his eyes in quiet wonder.
“What the hell are you doing to my Nami-swaaaaaaan?” Sanji howled as he yanked Luffy by the front of his shirt.
“It was a dare, Sanji. All I did was kiss her.” He acted so casual about it, but when he glanced out of the corners of his eyes at her, he gave her a wink, which made Nami’s heart pound fiercely in her chest like a war drum. He… He meant to do that…
“All you did was-? Graaaaaaaah!” Sanji released him as he instantly went into depressive mode and collapsed onto the deck. “My dreams… They’re crushed… I wanted Nami’s first kiss…” At his utterance, Nami realized that Luffy had indeed stolen her first kiss, and she raised a hand to her lips with a fierce blush.
“What’s the big deal? Let’s get back to the game!” Luffy demanded hotly and flung his popsicle stick back into the cup. Nami looked at him, still blushing, and he looked at her with that satisfied smirk of his. It was definitely true. He wasn’t playing it down. Luffy had done exactly what he had wanted to do, and he felt so naturally about it that he didn’t feel like he owed anyone an explanation. Nami was unsure of what to do with the new information that her captain had feelings for her, but from the way her heart was beating and the flood of happiness running through her veins that brought a small smile to her face, she knew at least that it was not unwelcome. As the other participants settled down and rejoined the game, Nami slid a little closer to him. He didn’t look at her, but slid his hand across the carpeted deck to grab her hand and wind his fingers around hers. Electricity traveled like a shockwave up her arm, and her fingers twitched to curl around his as she looked at him out of the corners of her eyes.
You’re mine now and I don’t care who knows, his playful gaze seemed to be saying. Nami flushed but did not retract her hand nor try to hide what was happening- because somehow, it felt natural to her too.
Chapter 23: Milk, Cookies, and Confessions of Love
Category: Friendship Fluff, Mild Romantic Fluff
Characters: Luffy and Nami
Requested by: flaky-bun (Tumblr)
Nami’s eyelashes fluttered for a few moments before opening to reveal the nut-brown irises within. She sleepily gazed upwards at the stone ceiling, her mind still adrift in the fog of unconsciousness, and rubbed her eyes as the realized that she could not see well. As she rapidly ascended into the waking world, she realized that it was because it was still well into the night; the castle tower room was awash with the gloom, only barely lit by the soft moonlight streaming into from the window. She sat up in the bed, stretching her arms above her head before letting them fall limply back down to her side. She considered curling back up to try and return to sleep, but she knew there was little for it; because of her fever from the illness she caught in Little Garden, her sleep rhythm had become rather disrupted, as she slept and woke in odd intervals. All traces of drowsiness were gone from her system. Resigning herself to her fate, she elected to wander down to the kitchen to make herself a glass of warm milk, figuring that a walk in her still-fragile state would tire her out. She slipped the sheets off her legs and swung them off the bed, shuddering as the cold stone met her bare feet. She rose quietly, as Sanji and Luffy were snoring in hospital beds nearby; despite her Dr. Kureha’s insistence that she be in her own room since she was, after all, a lady, the two stubborn boys insisted on being right at her side. Though Nami had very loudly voiced her objections, on the inside, it actually warmed her; the fact that they worried so much that they could not even stay in a separate room spoke volumes about how close they all were.
Instead of making her way to the bedroom door, she stole over to the window to peer through the cold glass; the snow was still falling steadily outside, and the frost had formed icy fern-like patterns on the window. She could still see the landscape of white outside, though, stretching across the horizon beneath an inky black sky full of gray, wispy clouds. Clustered in the white snow far below the mountain was a sprinkling of golden lights where the rest of her crew was currently awaiting her return. I hope all of them are okay… Zoro, Vivi, Usopp. The cold had seeped into her bones already, though she had only been out of bed for a minute or so, as she shuddered violently and her breath fogged in front of her face. She retreated from the window and snatched a small blanket from the end of her bed, throwing it around her shoulders and instantly warmed by the thick fibers. She curled her fingers into the fabric as she walked to the door, quite ready for her milk now, and her bare feet made gentle slap-slap noises against the bare stone. As she passed between Luffy and Sanji’s beds, she took care to be quite; she didn’t want to wake them. Annoyance aside, Sanji was still very much healing and needed his rest, and Luffy had tuckered himself out chasing the little reindeer, Tony Tony Chopper, around the castle begging for him to join his crew. As she thought about it, she chuckled despite her need to be quiet; Luffy threw his friendship at everyone he found interesting, regardless of whether they wanted to be on the receiving end or not. It was inevitable that the reindeer would join them; she knew it.
“Nami?” The navigator froze as the sleepy call echoed in the silent room, and she hunched her back as she slowly glanced over her shoulder. It seemed that her giggle had awoken her captain after all, as he was sitting up in bed sleeping rubbing his eyes and smacking his lips. “Is it morning? ‘S pretty dark…” he mumbled as he looked around, his eyelids still heavy with sleep. Nami scurried over to the bed with a shhhhhh, not wanting Luffy to awaken the second sleeping crew member. He stared at her dumbly as she held a finger to her lips and rushed to his bedside; she could see the gears struggling to turn in his feeble mind. You really have to wonder about his intelligence sometimes… He had his moments of clarity, and then most times, he just seemed like a dunce. Nami liked that about him, though; he was his honest self. He neither wore a mask nor put up a front, not for anyone, and it was something she deeply admired about him, even if he came off as an idiot sometimes. She smiled sweetly as he whispered, “It’s not morning, is it?”
“No, it’s still nighttime. I just got up to go get some warm milk. Do you want to come with me?” Nami knew she should offer, because Luffy was going to come with her anyway wanting to know what she was doing. At the promise of a beverage, which was arguably akin to food, Luffy nodded eagerly and hopped out of the bed with a happy cry. As Sanji grumbled something and turned on his side, Nami hissed at her captain to be quiet, and with wide eyes he clapped his hands over his mouth. His sleepy eyes had brightened into his usual, happy ones. He kept his mouth covered as he followed Nami out of the bedroom, and as he watched her gently shut the door behind her.
“All right, you can talk now, just not too loud, okay? Chopper and Dr. Kureha are sleeping somewhere in here, too,” she instructed firmly as she gathered the displaced blanket around her shoulders again. He dropped his hands, but seemed eager on continuing his silent vigil, and only nodded vehemently. Nami thus set off down the castle hallways, Luffy plodding along behind. Rays of moonlight streamed in lines across the stone floor, spilling in from the evenly placed windows that framed the white world outside. Every so often, the wind whirled beyond the glass, scratching at it with eager fingers as it tried to creep into any available crevice and invade the castle to rob it of its warmth. The castle really wasn’t the best insulated, and several wisps of chilled air managed to worm their way inside, dropping the temperature considerably; even with the blanket, Nami just barely shivered.
“Nami? Are you cold?” Luffy whispered over her shoulder. She looked up and nearly jumped a foot in the air when she realized how close he was; one wrong move and she could have kissed him. Her face flushed red, bringing a little heat to the chilled skin, as she reminded herself that Luffy had no regard for personal space.
“It is a little chilly in here, but I’m okay,” she answered honestly and moved to begin walking again. However, she instead found Luffy’s lanky arms wrapping around her middle, and his chin plopping down on her shoulder. “What are you doing?!”
“I’m warming you up.” Luffy also has no regard for appropriate behavior, she thought with a grimace, but made no move to shake him off, because though she was loathe to admit it, she could feel his body heat spreading across her back already, chasing away the ice that had crystallized on her bones. She exhaled deeply and slithered out of the blanket to throw it over his head, and felt as he wriggled about to settle it over himself and pull the soft blanket around the both of them. “Hehe, it’s soft!” he snickered as he rubbed his cheek against it. You’re the one who’s soft… in the head. With his arms still around her, he pointed forward and grunted, “Onward, to food!” Nami had no idea that he intended to walk in an embrace, but it honestly wasn’t shocking, either. Luffy wasn’t going to take no for an answer; together, they waddled forward together like a pair of penguins, shuffling down the hall with the blanket swishing about, and Nami was glad that no one else in the castle was awake to see such foolishness. She didn’t mind that much, though. Wrapped in Luffy’s arms with him pressed against her, she didn’t feel the chill, icy air touch her any more.
They made it to the kitchen without event, and though it wasn’t necessary any longer Luffy still clung to Nami as she went about making them two mugs of warm milk. She poured some into a silver kettle and set it on the doctor’s stove, the set about locating some cookies or other sweet snack that would do well with the warm, creamy beverage. As she rifled through the cabinets, peering at various boxes and jars, she became increasingly aware of the repeated puffs of his breath against her neck; he seemed not to mind, though, his black eyes searching the various contents as Nami searched for a snack. “Ooh! Look, Nami! Chocolate cookies!” he grinned when Nami pulled down a box of them, and since that was what he obviously wanted, she waddled with him over to the counter to arrange them on a plate.
“Please don’t get crumbs on me,” she sighed deeply as he snatched one up and stuffed it into his mouth. He grunted affirmation through a mouthful of crumbly cookie, and with a bemused smile and the realization that she was indeed going to become a crumb-cake, she carried the plate over to the table and set it down. By this time the milk had warmed up, and she retrieved the kettle to pour the steaming concoction into two mugs. At this point Luffy decided it was the appropriate time to release her, and he grabbed the mug in two hands greedily. “Luffy, it’s still too ho-“ He was already guzzling it, and he recoiled with a screech.
“Ow! Isth hawt!” he whined as he stuck out his tongue and fanned it.
“I told you,” she sighed as she settled into a chair, delicately blowing on the top of the milk before daintily sipping it. The top layer was the perfect temperature, and it filled her body with its warmth; she sank down into the chair with a contented sigh. Luffy hopped into a chair beside her, sitting on it like a bird perched on a branch, and held the half-drained cup of milk in his hands as he watched her with a blank expression. After a few minutes, she became uncomfortably with his persistent stare, and she flushed while she asked, “What? Do you want something else?”
“No,” he shrugged as he stretched his arm to retrieve another cookie and munch on it thoughtfully. “I was just thinking about how bad it would have been if we didn’t find you a doctor, Nami.” Her eyes widened slightly at his serious and slightly sad tone. It was very rare that Luffy showed any emotion outside of rage and glee, and with a tilt of her head she scooched the chair closer.
“Luffy, what do you mean?”
“You were really sick, Nami,” he murmured. His gaze dropped to the off-white, creamy milk in his cup, watching as streams of foamy goodness swirled about within. “I shoulda been more responsible… I’m no good as a captain if I can’t take care of my crew, y’know? First you got sick, and then Sanji nearly died in the avalanche because I couldn’t react fast enough…” Nami wondered for a moment if the milk or cookies had been a little past their due date, because she would have never imagined Luffy getting so blue. He despondently gazed down into the mug, seemingly unable to look up at her now. He feels guilty… “I got… kinda scared that if I kept up like this, you guys wouldn’t wanna be in my crew anymore,” he admitted as he sunk down into the chair, his skinny legs falling over the side as his shoulders slumped and his face saddened. Nami immediately reached out to cup her hands around his own, about to say something, when he added in a faint whisper, “Especially you, Nami…” Her cheeks flushed red, but she decided to address the addendum later. He needed her reassurance now.
“Luffy,” she said firmly, and when he wouldn’t look up at her, she raised a hand to his face to make him. “Don’t ever doubt yourself. None of this is because you were irresponsible or weak. Sometimes bad things happen, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.” Nami knew that better than anyone. It was no one’s fault that Arlong decided to target her island; it had just been bad luck. She smiled softly at him, the man who had saved her and her island and swept her away on this amazing, long, whirlwind adventure. “What matters is what you do with that bad thing, whether you decide to let it defeat you, or do all you can to fight it- and you’re a fighter, Luffy. That’s why we’ll never, ever abandon you, especially me. My youth is all yours!” she promised. He gazed at her with that steady pout, but as she spoke the light returned to his eyes and the smile to his lips.
“Mmm-hmm. Not just me, everybody on this crew and everybody who joins later. We’ll follow you wherever you go.”
“Thanks, Nami!” he grinned widely and jumped forward to hug her. Nami stiffened as the hot milk sloshed over the cup and over her arm, stinging her a little bit, but she bore the pain to hug him back. “Man, I was so worried!” he snickered as he pulled back, and Nami discreetly rubbed off the milk before he could notice. “I don’t know what I would do if my trusty navigator ever left me!”
“Get lost, I imagine,” she mused as she leaned her cheek in her hand.
“Nah, that’s Zoro’s thing. But I wouldn’t get very far, that’s for sure,” he chuckled as he rocked back and forth in the chair. It was then that she realized he had abandoned the mug to the table and was holding her hands. She tried to pull back, but he adamantly clung to them. “Nuh-uh. They’re warm,” he protested, and then to her astonishment, pulled them up to his face to hold them against his cheeks. “Ahh, much better…”
“You mean to tell me you’re the one who’s cold now? What about your milk?” She sputtered, turning her face to try and hide her raging blush.
“Not warm enough.” That sent her heart to pounding, and she just allowed her steadfast captain to use her hands as cheek-warmers, knowing that he would refuse any attempts to do otherwise. Oh, brother, this guy… Almost as bad as Sanji! “Hey, Nami?”
“Y-yeah?” she asked as she turned back to him, almost afraid of what he wanted. She jerked up in her chair when he suddenly leaned forward across the chairs to plant a kiss on the end of her nose, pulling her arms as her hands were still plastered over his cheeks. She gawked at him in pure amazement, thinking that for sure those cookies must have been bad because he had just kissed her, for crying out loud, while he grinned stupidly a few centimeters from her face. “What the hell was that?!”
“I just wanted to try it, that’s all. It felt nice, didn’t it?” Nami swallowed and hunched her shoulders as she was the one to avert her gaze this time, flushing red at the shameful realization that she had enjoyed it.
“Y-yeah,” she murmured shyly. It’s the cookies, definitely… We’re both out of our minds, we gotta be! I mean, me and Luffy? Come on! No way… Though her thoughts were bent on denying it, she could not deny the way her heart was fluttering in her chest, sending butterflies of joy flapping through her body. “Wh-what brought that on…?”
“My youth is yours too, okay?” She looked at him out of the corners of her eyes, finding him with that serious stare again. In his own weird way, he was professing his feelings to her, though if it was as serious as love or a child-like crush, she wasn’t entirely sure. Despite the uncertainty, Nami was certain of one thing: she didn’t terribly mind it. With a sweet smile, she leaned forward to press her forehead against his, and she watched as he smiled giddily.
“So, wanna go catch that reindeer?”
Chapter 24: Something Like That
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff
Characters: Luffy and Nami
Requested By: Star_dress03 (Ao3)
“Land! It’s laaaaaaaaaand~!”
Upon hearing her captain’s excited cheers and laughter drifting up from the figurehead of the ship, Nami dropped the last of the tangerines that she had been plucking from her meticulously-tended citrus trees and strolled over the railing that fenced in the private garden that Franky had constructed on the top level of the ship to peer out at the horizon. Sure enough, there was a rapidly growing smug on the clear blue horizon, marking the divide between the sapphire sea and the comparably lighter, cloudless sky. Luffy was hopping up and down on the lion that marked the front of the Thousand Sunny, and she gasped and leaned over the railing as he suddenly slipped on the lion’s smooth mane and went falling off the side. She breathed a sigh of relief as his hand shot up to wrap several times around the figurehead and pull himself back up, and then shook her head. Excitable as always.
By the time that Nami had dropped off the tangerines in the kitchen for Sanji to use in one of his delectable creations and made her way onto the main deck, the rest of the crew had gathered to marvel at the very large island that they were rapidly approaching. Even from the considerable distance, they could tell that it was smothered in greenery, home to a massive forest; this got Luffy, Sanji, and Zoro’s blood boiling, because a forest meant beasts to hunt and competition, while the more level-headed of them like herself, Chopper, and Usopp considered the unfavorable outcome of becoming lunch themselves.
After the excitement at Fishman Island (honestly, why would she describe it in such a way, because there was excitement of some sort at every island they went to thanks to their captain’s uncanny ability to attract trouble), they were following the log pose to the next stop; apparently it was the forested island that had appeared before them. Judging from its appearance, the island was most likely uninhabited, and there was no telling how long it would be before the log pose adjusted and calculated their course to the next item on the agenda. There was nothing for it, though; Luffy would not stay put, and there would be an expedition to the island and likely some sort of commotion because of it.
“All right, settle down, all of you,” Nami cried over the din of the rowdy boys arguing who would bring home dinner and Chopper bleating in the background to Robin about possible medicinal herbs and Brook singing at the top of his lungs. “Someone has to stay on the ship. There’s no telling if there’s someone else on this island with us, and we can’t let the Sunny be vulnerable.” They debated it for a minute before Franky and Ussop decided they would stay behind since they had a few cosmetic repairs to make to the Thousand Sunny. Thus, the rest of them piled out of the ship once it was docked and took the smaller boat to the island.
“This is awesome!” Luffy screeched with all the breath in his lungs as soon as his flip-flops hit the crystalline white sand. Nami scowled in displeasure as a few tropical birds burst from the canopy of the forest and went flapping off, startled by his outburst. That meant that any predators in the vicinity would also be alerted to their presence.
“Luffy, quiet down, will you? I was just saying that we don’t know who else is here!”
“Lighten up, Nami,” Zoro purred in amusement as he strolled in the sand past her, one of his katanas propped against his shoulder and a smirk on his lips. He then looked to his left where the little reindeer was waddling along the beach, his hooves sinking deep into the sand though he was small and light. “C’mon, Chopper, let’s go catch dinner!” The reindeer jump-ed as he was addressed and nervously twiddled his front hooves while he looked shyly at the ground.
“Oh… I was going to go looking for medicinal herbs with Robin and Brook,” he refused quietly, sweating. Zoro stared at him for a second with his good eye, making Chopper even more nervous, before he shrugged and went tromping up the shore.
“Wait, Zoro, I’m coming too!” Luffy howled and raced after him, holding a hand on his hat to keep it from flying away while he guffawed in glee. Nami exhaled deeply, wondering if she should babysit the two hopeless losers or do the sensible thing and join the herb-hunting party. She felt someone brush up against her shoulder, and she didn’t even have to turn her head to know it was Sanji, wiggling about with his hands clasped together while hearts beat in his eyes.
“Nami-swan, look at what I found you~!” he crooned while holding a tropical flower out to her. Normally Nami didn’t cater to his voracious flirting, but the flower was beautiful, a white hibiscus with hints of orange within the middle that quite matched the shade of her hair. She smiled serenely and tilted her head, giving him permission, and with a squeal he tucked the flower against her ear before melting into a puddle of lovey-dovey mush. Nami smirked and ran her fingers across the soft petals before continuing up the beach, deciding to tail Luffy and Zoro just in case they got into trouble. “Robin, why don’t we all go together? This island is big, so we may get lost easily,” she called over to the archaeologist, who was carrying little Chopper across the sand after witnessing his struggle.
“Good idea, Nami,” she answered. Eventually Sanji recovered and ran after Zoro, screaming something about how he wouldn’t let the “kelp-head” beat him and would “bring home the biggest beast for Nami-swan.” Nami and the others continued at a much more leisurely pace, following the obvious trail of broken branches and disturbed forest floor that the rowdy boys left behind. Now that he was free of the swallowing sand, Chopper flitted through the decaying leaves, consulting a small book of medicinal herbs while he inspected the plants growing in the undergrowth. The rest of them assisted, with Nami and Robin actually trying to find things that looked like they would be useful while Brook pointed at pretty much everything and shouted, “Ohohoho, is this it?”
The island was definitely wild, similar to Little Garden, which Nami had contracted a deadly fever. The plants were clustered together; the trees fought one another for light, as the branches above Nami’s head were a densely interwoven tapestry of green. The world wasn’t just green, though; colorful fruits hung from the branches, and the various discarded pits littered about meant that their ever-hungry captain had sampled them as he tromped along. On the forest floor, the short bushes and ferns utilized other dyes, muted reds and blues, to try and collect the precious light waves the trees above did not use. Here and there, brilliant flowers like the one Nami wore had burst into bloom, attracting butterflies outfitted in similar brilliance. The jungle air was alive with the voices of hundreds of birds, all competing for the spotlight.
However, unlike the home of the giant warriors and massive beasts, this island possessed signs of previous life; as Nami poked through the various bushes, she could see crumbling stone, and through breaks in the towering trees, well-constructed stairways and arches of stone stood the test of time and endured the ever-encroaching presence of trawling ivy and other plants the grew in the cracks. As they delved deeper into the jungle, this became much more apparent, with the trees being replaced in many places with half-fallen temples and the remains of houses.
“It reminds me of the ruins in Skypeia,” Robin remarked when she noticed Nami staring at them.
“Yeah, you’re right. I wonder where all the people went?” she wondered aloud. Civilizations simply did not vanish, as their adventure to Skypeia had proven; something must have happened to them, but Nami could glean nothing from the silent stone. When they reached what they determined to be the core of the city on the island, pretty much all of the forest was gone, replaced with a concentric collection of stone buildings in various states of disrepair. Robin’s interest had been piqued, and she announced her intent to investigate the ruins further. Nami elected to join her, while Chopper and Brooke remained on the outskirts of the jungle to continue hunting for useful medicine. Nami followed the archaeologist into the ruins, listening to her various explanations of architecture and deductions. Just as the others were amazed by her skill of analyzing weather patterns, Nami was equally enthralled by Robin’s investigative powers. While Nami just saw rocks, Robin saw people, events, importance.
After an hour or so of trekking around the deserted city, Nami was beginning to feel the strain.
“Robin, I’m going to go sit over there, okay? I’ll catch up to you in a minute,” she sighed as she meandered over to a set of steps that looked sturdy enough to support her and plopped down.
“All right. I won’t go too far,” the other woman answered before walking into the maze of ruins with naught more than a dismissive wave. With a deep exhale, Nami leaned back against the small temple’s steps, tilted her head back as she tried to ignore the pain in her aching feet. I wonder what trouble those three have gotten into, she thought with a wry smile. Surely, Sanji, Zoro, and Luffy were on the trail of some massive creature or another, all arguing about who was going to bring it home as their prize. As much as they played around, though, they were all reliable, especially Luffy; time and time again, he had saved them and many others. Though he could be a headache sometimes, Nami definitely didn’t regret joining him on his journey. After all, it led to moments like this; surrounded by the ghost of the ancient civilization, with the tropical air and the sounds of the forest thick around her, Nami felt at peace. She never would have been able to see something so grand if she was still stuck under Arlong’s thumb. Closing her eyes with a contented smile, Nami laid further back against the stone.
With a sickening crack and a shuffling sound, the stone behind her crumbled away and swallowed both her and her alarmed scream.
Nami went tumbling head-over-heels down a sharp incline, and through her thick tangerine hair and her limbs she could see the light vanish as the stone crumbled down and enclosed the hole she had just made. She landed at the base of the hill roughly on her back, her head smacking against cold, well-packed earth; she lay there for a moment, groaning, before opening her eyes. It didn’t do much good, because there was no light to be had.
“Crap,” she grumbled and slowly stood up, waving her arms about as she tried to find a wall. Squinting as she tried to glean something from the blackness, she slowly shuffled about, turning in a circle. “Hello? Robin, can you hear me?” Her voice echoed about her, indicating that she had fallen into quite a large cavern. After a few minutes of struggling, her hand met the rough, uneven surface of hewn stone, and she used this to shuffle along in one direction. With her luck, she was going in a huge circle, or the path would lead to a dead-end. “Help! I’m down here!” The only answer she got was her own voice calling back to her. Alone in the dark, Nami began to grow nervous; she had watched the hole she had entered be swallowed up by collapsing stone, so it wasn’t like they could find her quickly. She felt like the cavern was absorbing her words, preventing them from reaching the world above. Tears began to sting the corners of her eyes. “Luffy! Hello? I need help! Luffy!” she wailed miserably.
Suddenly, as she turned what she felt to be a corner, light blazed in the distance. Without thinking, Nami rushed toward it, too scared in that moment to wonder what lay within it. The circle of brightness grew rapidly larger as Nami dashed toward it, and then it enveloped her, warm and welcoming.
“Huh?” Luffy asked as he looked up from his perch on the carcass of a wild boar, chewing on about his tenth piece of weird fruit that he had found as Robin, who had appeared from the undergrowth, came to deliver them news. “Nami’s gone missing?”
“Nooooo! Not my Nami-swan! I’m coming for you, Nami!” Sanji wailed and shot off in the direction that Robin had come from, then zoomed back wheezing, “Where did you say you lost her, Robin?” Luffy slid off the boar and grabbed it by its leg to drag it along behind him as the swordsman, the frantic cook, and himself accompanied the archaeologist back to the last place Nami had been. All they found was a half-collapsed temple.
“She was sitting here. Ten minutes later, I came back and she had vanished,” Robin reported. Chopper and Brook had also joined them from their expedition within the forest for medicine, and they all surrounded the building in a semi-circle, puzzled. “I didn’t hear any commotion or disturbance. It’s like she just disappeared into thin air.”
“Maybe the building ate her,” Luffy responded, feeling like it was perfectly sensible given the circumstances. Sanji shot up to his side so fast that his hair ruffled and his hat nearly flew off his head.
“You idiot! Buildings don’t eat people!” Luffy plugged his ear as Sanji very rudely screeched into it, and made a sour face while looking at the building.
“Hey, what’s that?” he asked and pointed to a very odd-looking thing sticking out of the displaced stones. Robin walked up to the stone to pluck a bedraggled hibiscus flower from between two stone bricks.
“Luffy may be right.”
“What?” Everybody else screamed in unison.
“Not literally, of course. It looks like the structure isn’t the sturdiest, and this temple may have once had an entrance. The bricks could have shifted and Nami fell into the cavern within, and the entrance closed up. Either that or it collapsed on top of her.”
“Waaaaah! Don’t say that, Robin!” Sanji wailed as tears began to pour down his cheeks, distraught at the idea of the navigator’s untimely end. Luffy blinked and stared hard at the crumbling building, then wound his arm up to deliver a savage punch to it. The bricks exploded into the air upon his impact, and while everyone screamed and ran for cover as they rained down, Luffy could feeling his stretchy arm ricocheting through a cavern hidden behind the temple. He yanked his arm back hard, delivering a second blow to the already assaulted structure, and he blew the rest of it to pieces, revealing a rather large entrance into the ground.
“Told ya! It ate her!” he snickered at Sanji while pointing at the hole.
“Are you trying to kill us, you idiot?” he just snapped back, and Luffy’s shoulders sagged, not sure why he wasn’t grateful to him for solving the problem of Nami’s disappearance. Zoro, meanwhile, was crouched at the edge of the hole, listening for an echo after dropping a brick down.
“It goes down pretty far, but it’s an incline she could’ve rolled down and escaped without much harm,” he reported while picking at his teeth with his fingernail. Luffy marched up to the hole, quite exciting that something interesting was happening (hunting on this island was pretty boring, he had been dismayed to find, because the animals were all regular-sized), and grinned widely as he peered down into the dark abyss.
“Yo, Nami? You down there?” he hollered, giggling at the sound of his own voice bouncing around the tunnel. His face then went blank as he felt an alarmingly strong presence rocketing up the tunnel towards them, and he only had just enough time to throw himself into a backbend as Nami came exploding out of the tunnel, her fist poised to strike Luffy in the chin in a savage uppercut. She was so exceptionally fast that he actually felt her knuckles brush against him, leaving a minute stinging sensation at the edge of his chin. He flipped backwards, one hand holding his hat while the other slapped against the ground, and vaulted himself a good distance from the navigator while she turned her attention on Zoro.
“Nami, what the hell-?” he growled as he grabbed one of his blades out and used the scabbard to block her Climatact. As they met, wind whirled around them from the force of their respective impacts, buffeting the bewildered Straw Hat crew. Nami said nothing as she pushed against Zoro, her face strangely blank and her strength absurdly abnormal; Zoro was actually sliding backwards in the loamy soil, gritting his teeth as his arms shook with the force of Nami’s strength. “What the hell is going on?!”
“Trenta fleur!” Calm and collected as ever, Robin crossed her arms in her familiar stance and hands burst from the ground where Nami was standing; the navigator was too quick, however. She vanished with a shimmer to reappear behind Robin, swinging her Climatact with crushing power at the startled woman. Luffy, who had been standing there watching this entire time, surged forward, Armament Haki coating his hand as he grabbed ahold of the navigator’s weapon just as it was going to strike Robin’s skull. Robin hopped away, a thin sheen of sweat on her face as she left the fight to her captain. The Climatact shuddered in Luffy’s grip as Nami tried to force it free, but he wasn’t budging.
“Nami, what are you doing, attacking everybody like this?” he demanded hotly with narrowed eyes. She just stared at him, her normally bright brown eyes glazed over like she was unconscious and her expression hard and emotionless as stone. Without so much as a word, her leg flew up to collide with Luffy’s chin, and again he had to throw himself backwards to avoid suffering a severe blow; in the process, he let go of the Climatact, and Nami hopped away from him.
“Nami-swan! Snap out of i- Whoa!” As Sanji tried to beseech her, she directed her attention to him, and he used his Sky Jump to leap out of the way of her Climatact. He hopped lightly into the sky, far above Nami’s head where he thought he was out of her reach; however, much to their collective shock, as Nami crouched down the earth buckled beneath her, and then she rocketed upwards, jumping to Sanji’s level. All he could do was cross his arms in a block to shield himself as Nami struck him with her Climatact, so hard that a mini-shockwave was generated at the site of impact, and in less than a second he had crashed back down to the earth like a meteor. He reeled in the crater his body had made, woozy and holding his head, then gasped as Nami landed in front of him and held the rod above her head to deliver a finishing blow with that same, lifeless expression. “Nami-!”
“Hold it!” Luffy growled as he wrapped his arms around her Climatact as she swung it down. He planted his feet firmly in the ground against the force, still sliding a few feet but managing to dissipate the massive energy the woman had placed in her swing and allowing Sanji to scramble away. Luffy gritted his teeth as Nami looked over her shoulder at him. Nami wasn’t aware of anything she was doing, he knew that much, but with all of them pulling their punches it was going to be hard to stop the destructive force that she had become. He gasped as she dropped the Climatact and suddenly appeared in his face, her fist flying with her. As he whipped his head to avoid it, his black hair swirled and the hat flew off his head in the buffeting gale that followed her blow. I’ve got no choice! He thought as he unwound his hands from her discarded weapon and jumped back before she could follow-up the attack. He crouched down, stretching the arteries within his body to pump his blood at an incredible rate; steam began pouring from his skin, which was turning a pink hue, and he could feel the oxygen flow in his body maximizing. “Gear Two!”
“Luffy! You’re gonna use that?” Chopper squeaked from where he was quickly bandaging Sanji’s bleeding head.
“I gotta stop her! Nami would be upset if she hurt any of us!” he argued back. Nami wasn’t in control of herself, and whenever Luffy woke her up from whatever spell she was under, she would be devastated to learn she hurt one of them. Nami’s sadness was something he never wanted to see again. With a roar, he jumped forward to met Nami head on, and the world trembled as they met in mid-air. Even in his Second Gear, Nami kept up with him well, meeting him blow for blow. Though it was only seconds, the exchanged close to fifty blows with neither overpowering the other. As he somersaulted in the air to escape a jab of hers, landing on the ground with a frustrated hiss, he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to subdue her with only his Gear Two. I don’t want to use this, but there’s no other way! “You guys brace yourself!” he announced loudly before straightening up and concentrating all his willpower into a thunderous force. Conqueror’s Haki! An incredible pressure slammed down on the area, and even Zoro and Sanji grunted and fell on their hands and knees at the incredible force Luffy was exerting. Brook and Robin were barely conscious, and poor Chopper slumped down, fainting beside Sanji. Nami wobbled unsteadily, her face rapidly going pale as sweat poured off her body, and her eyes rolled back into her head. As soon as her eyes drifted shut and she fell forward, Luffy ceased the Haki and jumped forward to catch the unconscious woman in his arms. Her head flopped limply against his shoulder, and he could feel her entire body shuddering as she panted heavily. He wrapped his arms tightly around her, expression growing sad. “I’m sorry, Nami… I had no other choice.”
Luffy carried the unconscious girl on his back as they descended into the tunnel. Luffy was convinced that whatever had caused her to go berserk was down there, and he wanted to punch it. A lot. Maybe a thousand times or so. Sanji used his lighter as a small light to lead them through the large passageway, and soon they came upon an exit. As they walked through, the ceiling above them opened up to reveal the jungle above, the tangled roots of trees clinging to the gradually crumbling ceiling; water was dripping from them, collecting in a pool at the center of the small cave with continuous plip-plop-plip sounds. The walls around them were not earth, but carved stone like the tumbling buildings above, with very faded etchings of various symbols. In the center of the pool was a statue of a very stylized human being. Various piles of stone were sticking out of the small pool of water, having fallen down from the thinned ceiling above.
“This must have been a place of worship of some sort, connected to the temple above,” Robin frowned as she approached the stoned-in pool and looked around with narrowed eyes. “I wonder if Nami fell victim to some sort of curse?”
“C-c-c-curse?” Chopper cried in alarm and clung to Zoro’s leg, shivering violently. Robin looked back at him in amusement.
“I’m only joking, Chopper. Relax.” He breathed a sigh of relief, but was hesitant to release his grip on Zoro’s leg to plod forward. Then, suddenly, with a loud hiss, something sprang at him from the shadows. He screamed loudly and curled up into a shuddering ball, and Zoro wasted no time drawing his sword to strike whatever dared to attack their little doctor. Luffy stared blankly as the limp body of a well-sized snake fell beside the terrified reindeer. Crying, Chopper ran over to Zoro and shimmied up his side to perch on his shoulder, hugging his head as he stared at the dead snake with tears running over his furry face.
“Think this thing coulda done it?” Zoro grunted as he turned the body of the snake over with the tip of his sword. Robin crouched down beside it, hand on her chin as she studied the body of the snake.
“It’s definitely some kind of venomous snake, based on the shape of its scales and its coloration. Luffy, check and see if Nami has any snake bites.” Luffy did as commanded, glancing over the parts of Nami that were in his direct line of sight.
“Hey, look at this.” On Nami’s ankle was a pair of perfectly round puncture marks. Chopper, having recovered from his near-death experience, jumped down from Zoro to also inspect the snake.
“Oh! I know this species. I saw it in a textbook about venomous snakes. This is a rare species of domesticated snake used in war. Its venom makes a person extremely hostile, so old civilizations coated arrows and spears with it, making their enemies go crazy and attack friend and foe alike,” he explained matter-of-factly. “It has a similar effect of Luffy’s Gear Two, increasing blood flow. That’s why Nami was so much stronger than normal!”
“So Nami isn’t gonna die?” Sanji asked hopefully, close to bawling again.
“Nope!” Chopper quipped with a shake of his head. “Its effects wear off fairly quickly, due to the increase in circulation, and it has no other effects besides the crazed behavior. Nami should be perfectly fine when she wakes up, aside from the other adverse effects from the doping.” Sanji sank to the floor in relief. Luffy sighed deeply, not sure he really like this particular adventure. He felt Nami shift on his back, her head bumping against his and her tangerine strands mingling with his own black ones.
“Let’s go back to the Sunny, guys.”
Nami groaned as she slowly returned to the waking world, tossing her head slowly from side-to-side and stretching out her aching body. She felt the comforting caress of sheets against her skin and the gentle embrace of a mattress underneath her body. I’m back on the Sunny? She thought as she cracked an eye open. Sure enough, the familiar wood pattern of the bowels of the ship greeted her above her head, barely discernable in the small amount of moonlight streaming in through the window. She turned her head to see a desk littered with medical supplies, the bottles glowing silver, and was quite alarmed to realize that she was in the sick bay. Then it all came flooding back to her, the snake flying out of the shadows, its fangs sinking into her skin, the feeling of the venom streaming through her veins as she rapidly descended into unconsciousness… She wasn’t sure how Luffy and the others found her, but they must have quickly, otherwise she would be a corpse trapped underground for eternity by now. It must have been a nasty venom, because her body felt like she had been buried under the weight of that temple for hours, plus she had slept the day away. She groaned as she tried to sit up, failing miserably and flopping back down against the bed with a huff.
“Nami? Do you want to sit up?”
At the sound of her captain’s voice, Nami’s eyes searched for him, and she found him lying on the floor. She hadn’t noticed him in the gloom; he was stretched out on the floor, and had had his hat covering his face as he slept. She blushed as she realized that he had been sleeping there because he had likely been very worried about her.
“Yes, please.” Luffy languidly sat up on his knees beside the bed and helped her sit up, pushing up the pillows for her so her back wouldn’t be resting against the hard bedframe. He then crossed his arms on the edge of the bed, gazing up at her with an oddly unreadable expression. “I’m sorry I worried you all. How did you manage to find me, with the entrance closed up like that?”
“Nami, do you not remember what happened?”
“No,” she answered, growing concerned. Had something else happened besides the snakebite? What could it be? Luffy stared at her a moment, as if he were hesitant to answer. When he told her, she realized why the truth was such a heavy burden for him.
“That venom made you go crazy. You attacked all of us. You even gave Sanji a good whack in the head.” Nami swallowed as an uncomfortable lump formed in her throat, and her fingers curled into the edge of the comforter as her hands began to tremble slightly.
“I… I did?” He nodded firmly.
“Yeah. I had to use my Conqueror’s Haki to knock you out. It was nuts. Even in Second Gear, I couldn’t beat you.” Nami’s bottom lip trembled as her eyes widened in horror. Luffy was a force to be reckoned with at base power, let alone when he went into Gear Mode. If he had been forced to resort to that and Haki, Nami must have been incredibly powerful- and incredibly dangerous. She turned her face away as tears brimmed in the corners of her eyes; because of her carelessness, she had put her crewmates in danger, and worst of all, she had been the very source of that danger.
“Luffy! I’m so sorry! If I had only been more careful-!” she gasped as a sob slipped out of her. She trembled slightly as her emotions took control of her. I can’t believe it… How can I face all of them after this? She sat in the bed, silently crying and unable to look her captain in the eyes. Suddenly she felt his hand slide across the top of the comforter to curl around hers, holding it tightly.
“Hey, Nami. Look at me.” Though Nami didn’t want to, his quiet voice called her like a siren song, and she found herself turning to look at him anyway. She probably looked a hot mess, ugly crying like that, but Luffy didn’t care. He never cared about things like that. He never saw people for the outside, always the inside. That’s what she loved so much about him, his honesty and his compassion. Even without him saying anything, Nami already felt soothed. “None of us blame you for this, you know. We weren’t angry.”
“Nuh-uh. We were pretty scared y’know. We didn’t know what happened to you, and we didn’t want to hurt you. Especially not me.” Nami sniffed as she used her other hand to wipe the tears from her eyes and cheeks.
“Luffy…” she whispered as her heart swelled with gratitude, and a little bit of something else, too, though she wasn’t quite sure what it was. “Thanks.” He smiled sweetly at her.
“I get what you’re feeling. I’d never forgive myself if I hurt any of my nakama, especially my trusty navigator.” The way he singled her out made her heart jump for some reason, and reflexively, she squeezed the hand that was curled around hers. He grinned and laid his head on his arms, giving her that signature little laugh of his. His face then fell a little bit. “Actually… I really did go a little too far, using Conqueror’s Haki on you… I didn’t want to, but… I knew you would be sad if you hurt one of us. You can forgive me, right, Nami?”
“Of course!” she cried without hesitation. “If you hadn’t done that, Luffy, who knows what would have happened? You did what you had to do to stop me,” she reassured him. It was funny how she had needed reassuring and he had given it, and so quickly the tables had turned. Luffy, at just those words quite placated, returned to grinning widely.
“Good! Oh! Now that you’re awake, you should want medicine, right? Do you want me to wake Chopper up?” he offered as he jerked upright, already slipping away to do so. Though she ought to, Nami grabbed onto his hand, strangely not wanting it to part from hers.
“No. I’m okay. Just… stay with me a little while, okay?” He blinked at her as he stood over her, confusion clear on his expression, then shrugged.
“Okay.” With that, he jumped over her to settle into the small space between her and the wall. “That floor is so uncomfortable though, so mind if I sleep here?” Nami’s face had become a wildfire, and she just nodded weakly as Luffy did exactly that, snickering to himself as he snuggled under the covers beside her. Feeling his sturdy arm slide between the pillows behind her head to pop out and wrap loosely around her shoulder, she gripped the comforter tightly, wondering what exactly she had gotten herself into. She gulped as she stared down at the patterned fabric. I mean, it’s just Luffy. It’s not like anything’ll happen. There isn’t anything between me and Luffy… nothing at all… she told herself, but it really wasn’t helping. Nami was already quite aware what was happening to her and she was both exhilarated and scared. She shyly turned to look at him to find his gaze locked on her, and that made her stiffen. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of her head as he turned on his side to continue staring at her. “Hey, Nami?”
“You’ll never leave, right?” The abruptness of the question threw Nami for more of a loop than his weird behavior. Maybe… Maybe there is something.
“What? Of course not. Why do you ask?” His gaze dropped down to the sheets as he shyly scratched the side of his head.
“I dunno… With everything that happened today, it just made me really sad to think about you not being around anymore. I mean, I wouldn’t like it if anybody left or anything, but with you, it’s… different, I guess. It’s hard to explain,” he muttered. Nami stared at him, then chuckled. No, Luffy wasn’t the type to understand what was going on in his head. She smiled as she adjusted the pillows to slip back down into the bed, snuggling up a little closer to him. As he blinked down at her, she leaned up to gently press a kiss to his lips. He just sat there for a second, and then like she expected, he leaned into it, the hand still between the pillows slipping into her tangerine hair to curl the ends around his fingers. Nami smiled happily up at him as she pulled back, and he was smiling too.
“Don’t worry, Luffy. I get it.”
“I’m glad one of us does.” That made her laugh, and with a contented sigh, she wrapped her arms around Luffy’s chest and buried her face into it. She felt Luffy’s lanky arm slide around her waist to pull her close. She felt his soft breathing in her ear. “So… Does this mean you love me, Nami?”
“Something like that. Is that what you were trying to explain to me?”
“… Something like that. I think. I dunno, I’ve never had a girlfriend before, am I doing it right?” Nami laughed as she patted his back reassuringly.
“Just be yourself, Luffy, just like always. You don’t have to worry about me leaving, not now or ever… I’ll be by your side for a long time yet. Just like you’re there for me.” He let out a small groan, the gears trying to turn in his brain, but he soon gave up with a frustrated grumble. She closed her eyes as his grip tightened around her and he rested his chin on the top of her head.
“Okay… I can do that, I guess. G’night, Nami.”
Nami wasn’t sure when or how it happened, but somehow, she had fallen in love with the boisterous, dorky captain of hers- and more remarkably, Luffy had fallen in love with her. She didn’t know what that spelled for their future, but held in his embrace as the moonlight washed over them and the waves gently rolled outside, Nami really didn’t care. She knew she could rely on Luffy, just like he could rely on her.
Or something like that, anyway.
Chapter 25: Look at All Those Choppers!
Category: Friendship Fluff
Characters: Tony Tony Chopper
Requested By: Anonymous User
Chopper’s hard reindeer hooves thunked against the wooden deck of the Thousand Sunny as he tottered out of the bowels of the ship to stroll out onto the main deck; as he walked out of the door, the loud clanking of his hooves became muffled by the embrace of the cushiony, green, grass-like carpet that spread across it, courtesy of the industrious and borderline over-the-top shipwright Franky. The aforementioned cyborg was currently stretched out on a beach chair beside the balustrade of the ship, hands behind his head, sunglasses on his eyes, and a little bit of white sunscreen shining on his metal nose as he soaked up the sun’s warming rays. Chopper really wasn’t sure how a man that a majority metal could get an appreciable tan, but the doctor was at least glad that he was taking the appropriate steps to avoid major sunburn and eventual skin cancer, at least. Zoro was asleep, as usual, propped up against the mast, Robin and Nami were on the third level of the ship (Nami was watering her tangerines and Robin reading one of her many voluminous history tomes), Sanji was in the kitchen preparing lunch from the delicious aromas pouring out of the slightly ajar kitchen door, Brook was probably down in the bowels of the ship sitting in the sitting area gawking at the fish swimming by the glass sides, Usopp was in his workshop working on the latest of his modifications for his slingshot, and Luffy was perched on the figurehead of the ship screaming into the wind- just a usual day aboard the Thousand Sunny.
Since everyone was too busy to do something fun with him, Chopper was forced to find his own source of entertainment for the day; he walked to a bucket of fishing rods in the corner of the main deck and picked out his special fishing rod, a child’s model that was the perfect size for his little reindeer frame, before tottering over to a barrel beside the side of the ship. With a grunt of exertion, he jumped up and grabbed onto the rim of the barrel with the rod clenched in his teeth, his feet kicking wildly as he pulled himself onto the top of the wooden container. He sat on it for a moment, wheezing to catch his breath, before making himself comfortable and casting his line into the water with a contented sigh. The water was calm today, barely lapping at the sides of the ship, and spread out like the shiny surface of a glass table across the horizon. The bobber made tiny ripples in the water as it shifted in the current, and Chopper hoped that below the opaque surface of the sea a tasty fish was circling the bait on his hook, ready to bite. His mouth began to water and he giggled a bit as he imagined the delectable bite that Sanji would cook up. He especially hoped that it was a large catch; because he was so small, he could never hook the big fish by himself, Zoro or Sanji would always have to help him reel it in.
This time, I’m gonna catch it by myself! They’re gonna be so proud! He thought in anticipation and wiggled a bit on the top of the barrel. He froze, however, when he felt the fishing rod twitch; he leaned forward slightly as he watched the bobber jiggle for a second, and then gasped when it was sucked underneath the water in one swift motion. He jumped to his feet on the barrel as he whipped the rod back with all his strength, and a beam of satisfaction appeared on his furry face when he felt the fish jerk on the line, obviously hooked. His front hoof frantically whirled the spindle of the rod to draw in the quivering line, and from the force working against him, his wish of a large catch had been granted.
“Ahahaha! I got a big fish, I got a big fish!” he squealed as he did a little dance on top of the barrel. In his glee, he forgot for a moment just what he was going up against and let a little too much slack into the line. His elation quickly morphed into acute fear as he was lurched forward, right off the barrel over the side of the ship and into the open air. A shriek spilled from his mouth as the bright blue ocean water came up to meet him. I’m gonna droooooooown!
Then, instead of falling, he was just hanging suspended in open space. He blinked his teary eyes for a minute, puzzled, and gazed down at the still-calm ocean water below. He then wailed and flapped his arms and legs about frantically because he had no idea what was happening.
“Chopper, relax. I’ve got you.” The frightened reindeer glanced over his shoulder as he was addressed to find Zoro leaning over the edge of the ship with a firm grip on the back of his striped shirt, holding him aloft. At the sight of the swordsman and obvious realization that he was safe, Chopper deflated like a balloon, immensely relieved; the man easily pulled him back over the edge of the ship and set him safely down on the barrel, then grabbed the rod- which he had miraculously managed to hold on to despite his panicky fit- from his hooves and with one powerful jerk brought a slippery, flopping fish onto the deck. His smile instantly fell off his face.
Chopper sunk down onto the barrel in disappointment; the fish was barely bigger than himself, hardly the trophy he had thought it was, and frankly dull-looking, just your average, every-day silvery fish. Chopper felt tears sting the corners of his eyes as he felt Zoro’s intense gaze on him; though the swordsman only had one eye, his glare still had the intensity of a lion’s. Chopper just knew that he was going to be scolded for doing something so obviously reckless. His bottom lip wobbled pitifully. He knew he was small and not such a beastly fighter as Luffy or Zoro, but that didn’t mean he had to be protected all the time. He wanted to be tough too, but no matter how hard he tried, things ended up like this a lot.
“I’m sorry,” he sniffled before Zoro could get the chance to chastise him. “I just wanted to catch a big fish… I caused all that trouble and look at it, it’s not even that big…” Wallowing in self-pity as he gazed miserably at his pathetic catch, his tiny shoulders were drooped and his head hung low; he could not even bring himself to look up at Zoro because he knew there would be an angry, disappointed expression on his face. He tried to keep the swordsman from knowing that he was crying, because he knew Zoro would call him a weakling for crying, too, but it was hard to hide the quiver in his squeaky voice or the tremble in his shoulders. Chopper just sat there pitifully, just waiting for his punishment. Then, unexpectedly, he felt Zoro’s big, rough hand plop down onto his head, squishing his hat down as he affectionately patted him.
“What are you talking about? That’s a great catch- right, Luffy?” Chopper looked up with his black eyes swimming with tears as he smirked down at him before nodding his chin at the captain, who had hopped down from the figurehead and strolled over to investigate the commotion, and, subsequently, Chopper’s prize. Luffy was squatted down next to the hyperventilating fish with a stupid grin, poking the poor creature in the gills.
“Hell yeah! Sanji can make us all a great snack with this! Shishishishi!” he snickered devilishly as he picked up the near-dead fish by the tail and hopped to his feet while cupping his other hand to his mouth. “Yo, Sanji! Catch!” he hollered across the deck of the ship. When the kitchen door opened further and the blonde cook appeared, the captain wasted no time flinging the hapless fish and sending it hurtling towards him.
“What’re you hollering about?” Sanji snapped back while standing there with his hands on his hip. He made a plfffft noise as the slimy fish smacked into his face, and he stood there stiffly as it slowly slid down his face while Luffy cackled hysterically, rolling around on the deck holding his belly while he kicked his legs. When the fish finally slipped off Sanji’s chin and landed on the deck with a wet slap, the cook was scowling in irritation and had a vein popping out of his head. “Luffy! You idiot; watch where you’re flinging shit!” he yelled at him before bending down to retrieve the fish with a weary sigh. He held it up by the tail, rubbing his chin as he considered it thoughtfully. “I could make some decent sushi with this… Thanks,” he said before whirling on his heel and disappearing back into his sanctum to work his magic on Chopper’s catch. The little reindeer was still huddled on the barrel.
“Did I really do a good job?” he murmured aloud, looking up at Zoro with hopeful eyes, and the green-haired man flashed him a grin.
“Sure did, but next time, just make sure someone is with you, Chopper. We can’t let our little fish-wrangler become fish food, now can we?” he mused and patted him on the head again. Under the praise and affectionate caress, Chopper snickered in delight and beamed. He isn’t mad, and more than that, he praised me! I did a good job!
Chopper felt like he was walking on clouds for the short time that Sanji spent preparing the fish. The rest of the crew, attracted by all the shouting, had meandered out onto the deck and given him the opportunity to dramatically re-enact his battle with the fish with just a wee bit of embellishment, and thankfully Zoro didn’t contradict him, only sat leaned up against the side of the ship with his arms crossed and approvingly nodding along- or bobbing his head in his sleep, who really knew? The crew was enthralled with his story, gasping every time he dramatically whipped his arms in his re-enactment of the grapple and cheering at his victory. When he was finished, he rubbed his hoof under his nose with a great big smile as they all complimented him on his great contribution to their lunch, and with no time at all Sanji was strolling out brandishing a tray of beautifully crafted sushi. “As the brave wrangler of the fish, I think it only fair that Chopper be the first to try it, don’t you agree?” he grinned and held out the tray in front of him. Chopper breathed in sharply with a watering mouth as his hungry eyes drank in Sanji’s masterpiece.
“No way! I wanna try it!” Luffy whined and stretched his hand over Sanji’s shoulder in an attempt to swipe a piece, but Sanji swiftly whirled about and crushed his rubbery hand underfoot, leaving the captain squirming and whining while the cook glared at him sharply.
“Stop being rude! You’ll get yours in a minute!” he snapped before turning back to Chopper with a serene smile. “Now, here you go, Chopper,” he said and held out the tray again. Chopper beamed as he picked up a piece of the yummy-looking sushi and popped it into his mouth; immediately his face scrunched up in delight at the savory flavor of the fish and the delightful chewiness of the rice.
“It’s delicious, Sanji! Thanks!” he beamed, immensely glad that his catch had produced such a tasteful creation. As Sanji straightened up to give the rest of the crew a piece of the sushi, Chopper’s face immediately went blank as a tingling sensation began in his body, making his fur stand on end. “Um, Sanji… I-I don’t feel so good,” he whispered as his stomach began to flip around uncomfortably inside of him, and he grimaced as he tenderly held his furry belly. Sanji hurriedly slapped a piece of sushi that Luffy was about to inhale, sending it flying into the sea much to the hungry captain’s disappointment, and looked at the reindeer incredulously.
“What?!” Chopper was too preoccupied with the strange bristling sensation to respond; he sunk down onto his bottom on the carpeted deck, quivering and whimpering as he held his stomach and felt like all the cells in his body were pulsing. Abruptly the strange feeling ceased, and he exhaled deeply as he melted against the deck.
“Man… That was so weird, guys. I dunno what just happened,” he laughed lightly and looked up with a smile, then took on a confused expression when he realized the entire crew was staring at him open-mouthed. “What is it?” Still gawking shamelessly, Nami pointed to his left, and as he turned his head to look at what she was motioning to he found his own face staring back at him. He and the other face screamed at exactly the same time and jumped to his- their- feet. “What’s going on?!” they wailed in unison.
“Hahahahaha! There are two Choppers! This is awesome!” Luffy howled in laughter, obviouslt excited at the bizarre development. Sanji scowled as he whacked him over the head with the empty tray, as he had tossed all of the apparently poisonous, clone-producing sushi over the side of the ship.
“You idiot! This isn’t funny! What if he clones indefinitely?” As he brought up the prospect, the fuzzy feeling spread through Chopper’s body again, and next thing he knew there were four of him standing on the deck. With all perfectly-times wails of duress, they began running around in circles with their hands on their hats, crying, and it made Chopper cry more that his clones were all behaving the same way he was, because now he wasn’t even sure if he was the real Tony Tony Chopper! What if he was a clone and just believed that he had eaten the sushi, but they were just memories of the real Chopper that he had just supposedly sprung from? The crazy idea made his brain and heart hurt, and he plopped down on the deck in miserable tears. There were eight of him now, all racing around the deck in states of panic or depression.
“There has got to be an antidote to this,” Robin frowned, and using her devil-fruit powers, used her hands to bring a set of books from within her library and began rifling through them all at once with her real hand on her chin.
“How do we know which one is the real Chopper to give the supposed antidote too?” Usopp cried, and when Chopper and his now-fifteen clones all chimed in unison that they were indeed the real thing, he shrieked at high volume and climbed halfway up the mast, quivering like a leaf as he hugged it for dear life. “This is so weird! What if it’s contagious?” Chopper, meanwhile, was on the deck sobbing again at his identity crisis and the idea that the crew was unable to tell him from his clones.
“Calm down, Usopp, it’s obviously from the fish,” Nami snorted and crossed her arms with a thoughtful frown. “We have to do something quickly, or this ship is gonna sink under the weight of all these Choppers!” She then jumped as the population of reindeer doctors rapidly doubled, leaving them surrounded by the short, furry clones.
“Waaaaah! Get a doctor!”
“Wait! I am the doctor!”
“No, I am!”
“Waaaaah! What if I’m a clone?”
The deck was a chaotic, bustling mess of the reindeer running to and fro or just plopped on the floor radiating sadness and doom, while the much taller members of the crew were jostled around. Brook and Luffy were enjoying themselves, at least; Brooke was loudly singing a tune while Luffy was flitting about picking up each reindeer in turn to comment on how they were all identical, which furthered their identity crisis and made them bawl more, to which Luffy would apologize and try to calm them with little effect. Chopper- or, the one who thought himself as the true Chopper- had given up wailing and was just miserably sitting on the deck sniffling, because what he had thought had been his triumph had dissolved into yet another messy situation.
If I hadn’t caught the fish, this wouldn’t have happened… he thought pitifully as he rubbed his teary eyes. He knew he was good for his medical knowledge and some level of fighting ability, but when he did things like this all the time, when would the Straw Hats decide that his cons outweighed his pros? He looked up when Robin gasped.
“Here it is. Chopper caught this fish, right?” she asked and waded across the sea of Choppers to show Sanji an illustration in the book she was holding. When he nodded in affirmation, she scanned the accompanying paragraph thoughtfully. “It’s called a clone carp. Its cells can survive up to several hours without the brain, even when fileted. When eaten raw, the fish’s live cells copy the genetic information of the person who ingested it, express it, and mingle with their own cells, reproducing by budding at an astonishing rate…”
“That’s real nice, Robin, but how do we make him go back?” Usopp yelled down from the crow’s nest. Several of Chopper’s clones had stopped freaking out and were now having fun, climbing up the mast and all over the banisters with giggles. Franky was poking them off the latter with the round end of a broom and then rapidly turning it around to sweep them down the stairs, sending them tumbling down to land in the wiggling, suffocating mass of brown reindeer fur. Chopper, or true Chopper in his mind, was nearly suffocating in the crowd and had climbed onto his barrel to escape death. The historian casually used her Devil Fruit powers to brush off clones that were trying to scamper up her body while she read the tome.
“Ah, here it is. He just needs an apple.”
“Are you serious?” Nami screeched from the top level; she had rushed to the aid of her tangerine trees, where the Chopper clones were braving the navigator’s wrath to try and pluck the lovingly tended fruits from the trees for a tasty snack.
“Woohoooooooo!” Luffy howled as he swung from the sails, a few of the reindeer hung off him crying from the fear of the height.
“The small traces of cyanide in the apple seed will apparently counter-act the fish’s toxin. It’ll cause the real Chopper to stop dividing by killing the fish cells in his body. The clones themselves aren’t dividing- we have to find the real Chopper and give him the apple. The clones cannot sustain the host DNA and express it without guidance from the parent cells, and will rapidly revert to regular clone carp cells.”
“Get all the apples we have, shitty cook!” Zoro yelled, using the scabbards of his sword to pushed the writhing mass of reindeer aside as he sloughed across the deck towards the kitchen.
“Shut up, kelp-head!” Sanji shot back as he dove into the kitchen. There was the clamor of banging pots and a stream of curses, and he came out with his chest heaving and a clone of Chopper on his head. “We only have one! Where’s the real Chopper?!” he said breathlessly as he pulled off the one on his head and inspected it with a deep frown. Chopper jumped up on the barrel to scream that he was there, but his voice was lost amongst the ocean of his clones that all agreed with him. His bottom lip quivered again as tears flooded his eyes. Was he really the real one? All the other clones were just as sure as he was. He plopped down on the barrel with a miserable sniff, until Zoro glanced in his direction, his one good eye trained on him.
“Give me that!” he grunted and snatched it from the cook, and held it high above his head as he began wading through the vast collection of what he believed to be clones towards Chopper. His little heart swelled when he realized that Zoro had managed to pick him out of the vast crowd, and he jumped up and down on his barrel waving his hooves.
“Zoro! Zoro, I’m here!”
“I’m coming, Chopper! Damn, there are so many of them!” he grunted as he narrowly avoided having the apple swiped from his hands. It made Chopper even happier to see that none of the crew had even questioned Zoro; they all moved into swift action to clear his path.
“Sorry, fake Choppers!” Sanji grunted as he jumped in front of Zoro to swing his strong leg around, carving a path through the rising wall of shrieking, crying reindeer. Chopper cried out and grabbed the barrel as the ship began to sway back and forth under the weight and collective movement of all his clones, causing the barrel he was perched on to begin sliding across the deck. He gasped happily when he realized he was sliding toward Zoro, but then the boat shifted with the vast surge of clones and he began sliding backwards towards the figurehead of the ship. The Choppers had exceeded the capacity of the deck and were dangerously close to spilling over the sides, and since they would have inherited the Devil Fruit and its inability to mix with ocean water, they were terrified to fall over the sides and were clamoring even more. Chopper wailed in duress as Zoro and the ability disappeared from his sight amongst the turmoil.
“Zoro! Toss it here!” he heard Luffy yell, hanging from part of the sails. He stretched his arm to pluck Chopper from the barrel by his shorts, pulling him up into his arm with a snicker; Zoro was just a smudge of green hair against the brown mass, but Chopper could see as he wound up his arm and chucked the apple into the air. Luffy perched Chopper on his shoulder to catch the red fruit, and was grinning widely as he held it up to the reindeer; however, before he could take it and eat it, an army of his clones came unsteadily tottering across the wood to grope for the apple, all claiming to be the real him. Chopper screeched as they clambered over Luffy, making him totter unsteadily on his shoulder while Luffy played like a contortionist to keep the life-saving fruit out of their reach.
“Back, you scoundrels!” Usopp called from the crow’s nest, sending a rain of pebbles from his slingshot down onto the perpetrators. They went falling down into the fluffy, pilllowy collection of their brethren, crying and holding their heads.
“Hurry, Chopper! We can’t hold them off much longer!” Franky shouted from the second deck, nearly buried under a mass of them. Chopper watched as Brook went sailing by, apparently crowd-surfing the Choppers while chortling contentedly. Chopper stretched out to take the apple from Luffy, but in the process unbalanced himself and slipped off his lanky arm. He screamed wildly clutching the apple to his chest as he plummeted into open air for the second time that day; he heard the clones below him surging upward with groping hooves, eager to claim the precious fruit from his hands. He squeezed his eyes shut as he prepared for his doom.
“Gotcha!” he heard Zoro grunt as he landed securely in his thick arms, and he looked up with a gasp to see the swordsman grinning down at him widely. Sanji had launched him up with a well-timed kick. “Quick!” he added as a tower of Choppers came rising up to meet them, and he flipped in mid-air to narrowly avoid them, knocking it aside with a blow from his scabbard. Chopper wasted no time in chomping down on the apple, core and all, and as soon as he had popped the last bit of seeds in his mouth, he felt the strange tingling sensation in his body again. Below him, the sea of his clones abruptly stopped moving, blinking, before rapidly turning into flopping, wriggling clone carps one by one with small pop!s. The crew made short work of flinging them off the deck back into the sea. Just as Zoro landed on the deck with Chopper securely in his arms, Sanji had sent the last fish hurtling into the horizon with a grumpy “And never come back, you shitty fish!”
“Chopper? Are you okay now?” Nami asked as he was set down softly on the deck, pausing to grab Luffy by his ear and yank him over to pry a clone carp from his hands and fling it off the deck. As the captain grumbled under his breath and slumped down in disappointment, she put her hands on her knees and leaned down over him. Her tangerine hair was disheveled and her face flushed with exertion; the rest of the crew was no different, obvious haggard from dealing with Chopper’s mistake. That thought made him dismally sad again, and he rubbed his stinging eyes as he began to cry again.
“I’m sorry… This is all my fault… I shoulda never caught that dumb fish,” he whimpered miserably.
“What’re you talking about? That was so much fun!” Luffy laughed, whirling on his behind to beam at him. Chopper would normally take him at face-value, but it would take a bit more encouragement to drag him out of his melancholy this time.
“No, I really messed up… I always do things like this and you have to protect me.” His shoulders sagged as he hung his head low. “I don’t deserve to be a Straw Hat.” He tensed up as a ripple of alarmed gasps went across the group.
“Chopper! Don’t saw that!” Nami cried.
“Yeah! You’re my doctor! I don’t want another one!” Luffy protested hotly.
“Everyone makes mistakes, Chopper. There’s no need to be so upset,” Robin told him with a gentle smile. At everyone’s continuous encouraging remarks, he looked up while rubbing the tears from his fur, and then turned to Zoro, who had yet to comment. He was intense as ever, arms crossed and expression serious. Is Zoro gonna yell at me? The man abruptly sighed deeply and poked Chopper in the top of the head with the hilt of one of his swords.
“Buck up, Chopper. You’re a pirate, remember? You made a commitment and you gotta stick to it,” he said sternly. He had told him that once before, when Chopper had made a scene when he had been stolen during the Davy Back fight. Zoro smirked at him with as soft as an expression as a chiseled, serious man like him could have. “You don’t have to worry about messing up, because we’re always here to help you clean it up. That’s what friends are for.” Chopper’s eyes widened and he gasped slightly, then began bawling with joy and jumped back up into Zoro’s arms.
“Waaaaaaaah! Zoro! Thank you! Thank you!” he cried as he nuzzled his face in his chest.
“All right, all right, cut it out, you’re getting me all wet!” he cried as Chopper continued to sob happily.
“Group hug!” Brook squealed and wrapped his bony frame around Zoro. Nami laughed and joined in, followed by a bemused Robin; hearts beat in Sanji’s eyes and he wriggled with joy while embracing the two women; Franky struck his pose before nearly crushing them all in his metal arms, and Luffy howled with delight before winding his rubbery arms around them several times before worming himself in.
“Hey, you asshats, cut it out!” Zoro griped, but Chopper could see him smiling.
Though he could barely breathe under the smothering hug, Chopper didn’t mind, because he was in the arms of his very best friends whom he loved more than anything in the world… And no matter how many of him there were, he was the one they wanted and cherished.
Chapter 26: Desert Ghost
Category: Mild Romantic Fluff, Hurt and Comfort
Characters: Nami, Ace, Sabo
Requested By: Better Known as Aaliyah (FanFiction)
Nami inhaled deeply threw her nose as she leaned herself against the creaky, barely-held-together boards of the ramshackle cabin that she and her companions were currently huddled in, nursing their wounds from their newest venture- the arduous and catastrophic spat with Donquixote Doflamingo in the kingdom of Dressrosa. Most of their adventures usually ended up concluding with some monumental battle or another, but to Nami, this had been one of their closest calls yet. After deposing the tyrant and restoring Rebecca’s family to the throne, the crew had retreated to a safehouse of Sabo’s within the country for a bit of rest before they were to reunite with the remainder of their comrades. It was deep into the night, and the rest of them were asleep, but it evaded Nami; it often was this way directly following a conflict. She simply could not dissipate all that nervous energy and adrenaline as quickly as they, and so she would wait until they slipped into their slumber before slipping out to be with the stars and her thoughts. As a chill wind blew across the ground, rustling the grass and Nami’s hair before skipping coldly across her skin leaving goosebumps in its wake; she drew her knees to her chest and hugged them with a slight shiver, but since she had not a hint of drowsiness in her, she remained huddled against the structure.
“You’ll catch cold like that.” Nami jerked up, startled, at the sudden address, and as she looked to see who had spoken, her vision was eclipsed as a cloak of black fabric was unceremoniously flung into her face. She wrestled it with a moment, her frustrated and confused curses muffled by the folds of the clothing, before she was able to pry it free from her tangled strands of tangerine hair and pull it from her head. Sabo was standing beside her with a smirk on his lips and his hands on his hips, and Nami’s eyes widened slightly as she was struck by a sudden sense of dejà vu.
“You’ll catch cold like that,” a low voice purred in her head, and it brought a mild blush to her cheeks. As she clutched the cloak to her chest, not bothering to put it on for the ghosts of her past dancing before her eyes, Sabo frowned deeply and squatted down in front of her with his head tilted slightly. “Nami? You’re making a weird face. Do you not want it?”
“Oh! N-no, thank you very much,” she stammered quickly and drew the cloak around her shoulders. She then smiled sheepishly at him. “You just… Reminded me a little of your brother.”
“No, Ace.” At her answer, his eyebrows shot up his forehead, and he then grinned awkwardly and scratched his head. Nami knew it must be a sore subject for him, as it was for Luffy, and she flushed darkly when she realized how tactless she had been. “Sabo, I’m so-“
“No, it’s okay,” he sighed with a magnanimous smile and a wave of his hand. Then, he exhaled slightly and plopped down on his behind next to her, his knees drawn up on either side of himself with his arms slung lazily over them. “It’s not like we can avoid talking about him forever. I was just a little shocked that you had met him before, Nami.”
“Mhmm, we met him when we were an island called Alabasta. Funny enough, we were kind of overthrowing a government there, too,” she joked weakly, crossing her arms atop her knees to rest her chin on them with a rueful smile. “… I wish… I had gotten to know him better,” she whispered quietly, and closed her eyes.
~Two Years Ago, in the Kingdom of Alabasta~
“You’ll catch cold like that.” Nami glanced up with a slight haze of pink in her cheeks as she was suddenly addressed, and was greeted by the bulky silhouette of Portgas D. Ace against the backdrop of the starry night sky and the pale moonlight. Nami was currently huddled against the wall of the canyon that they had decided to shelter in during the night, near the entrance looking upon the desert for any sign of monstrous creature or otherwise enemy that would disturb the rest of her sleeping crewmates; it was within sight of their camp, where her crew mates were strewn about in their sleeping bags, but too far to feel the gentle warmth of the flickering fire that burned at their center. Nami, though dressed in the Alabastan robes at Vivi’s behest, was not immune to the night chill, and the man had apparently taken notice. “Can’t sleep?” he smiled as he sat cross-legged beside her, and Nami jumped slightly as his arm suddenly burst into roaring red flame without warning. Though she was startled thoroughly, the warmth pouring off the Flame-Flame Fruit user obliterated the desert cold, and so she did not insist that he stifle it.
“No, I’m on watch,” she answered simply before casting her gaze out at the sandy desert. Truth be told, she could not sleep; the stress of saving Vivi’s country was admittedly getting to her, and so she did as she often did and sought comfort from the solitude of the night and its celestial brilliance above. “… What about you? Can you not sleep?”
“Nah, I get kinda restless sometimes,” he grinned lightly at her, and if he had not been radiating flames, he would have been radiating sunshine, with how bright and pure his smile was. Though Nami had been in a somewhat melancholy mood before, she found herself uplifted at his presence; for the past few days that they had been traveling together, she had found that she rather liked him. He was a lot like Luffy- magnetic, boisterous, arguably a bit daft, but capable and strong. There was something different about him, though, that made Nami comfortable around him, though she wasn’t sure what that was. With a small smile, she laid her arms on her knees and her head atop them, gazing up at him instead of the night sky like she normally would.
“Is it because you’re leaving tomorrow?” Nami was not a fool; she had studied Vivi’s maps of the desert, and she knew that soon they would be approaching a major outlet to the ocean. Ace had found no sign of Blackbeard here, and though Luffy was his little brother, he was unlikely to abandon his search for the murderer to jump into their grand plan to stop Crocodile and save Vivi’s home. Ace’s face turned a shade of pink, and he looked away shyly while rubbing the back of his neck.
“Eh, it’s that obvious, is it?”
“Not to most of the airheads over there, but it is to me. You don’t want to have to tell Luffy that you’re leaving,” she assumed, and assumed right, because he nodded with a small smile.
“Yeah… As much as I would like to stick around and see how much he’s grown… I have to find Blackbeard. He can’t get away with what he’s done.” His voice, normally upbeat, had a grim edge to it. His eyes burned like his arms as he stared out into the bleak, unforgiving desert. He then gave her a lop-sided smile. “I’m not terribly upset about it, though. I know we’ll meet again somewhere down the line. We gotta decide whose gonna be King of the Pirates, after all- him or Whitebeard.”
“Sorry, it’s gonna be Luffy,” she responded without hesitation.
“You sure have a lot of faith in him, don’t you?” he snorted in laughter, leaning back against the coarse stone with wiggling eyebrows. She smirked playfully back at him before looking back at where her captain was snoring, fast asleep.
“Yeah. He’s a handful sometimes and makes a lot of rash decisions, but I always know he’s gonna pull through and keep his word. He always does what he thinks is right and beats down any obstacles that get in the way of it. That’s the kind of guy he is… And he’s just the kind of guy I can’t help but follow,” she mused quietly. All of them, her rambunctious captain included, gave her plenty of headaches, but she couldn’t deny that it was a lot of fun, too. She had grown stronger than she ever thought possible, and had met amazing people, like Vivi and Ace. “I owe Luffy a lot,” she smiled up at him. “He gave me my dreams back, and so I’m gonna make sure his comes true.”
“That’s too bad,” he sighed woefully, and she blinked up at him in confusion, having not expected such an answer. He cracked his eye open to look at her, and the smoldering gaze that burned in his dark eyes set her heart a-thumping. What’s that look…? “I was hoping I could convince you to come with me, Nami.” Once more thrown by his wild comment, she just stared blankly at him with her face afire and the gears whirring wildly in her mind. Nami wasn’t totally oblivious to what he was implying, but it was so outrageous; they had known each other for only such a short time, and that wasn’t nearly enough to form some kind of romantic attachment, right? Despite her attempts to convince herself of that, her heart was tugging slightly, inclined to agree in some fit of lunacy. She turned her head away as her face burned like the heat of the desert sun, and half-expected him to begin laughing as if it were some cruel joke- but he didn’t. “I’m sorry, was that too forward? Are you mad at me now?” he laughed.
“A bit sudden,” she admitted quietly, still refusing to look at him, “but I’m not mad…” Her arm was burning too, cast in the warm flames of Ace’s body, and that lunatic part of her wanted to scooch forward to bathe herself in that heat. She couldn’t, though. “I can’t go with you. No matter what, I’m loyal to Luffy. Everything else comes second… everything.” Her voice sounded hollow as she spoke the words. She had not known how much she wanted it until he had hinted at it, dangled the bait in front of her hands with her close enough to grasp it. She couldn’t, no matter how much she wanted to; it was a phantasm, a desert mirage.
“You’re not dating him, are you?” he asked with a sudden gasp, and she whipped around to glare at him with her hair bristling like a cat’s fur.
“Of course not, you idiot!” she hissed through gritted teeth. She then realized that that had been the joke, as he was holding his stomach while he hit the sand with his palm and laughed uncontrollably.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, that was in bad taste,” he giggled as she puffed out her cheeks to stare angrily up at him. As his snickers died down, he exhaled deeply before leaning his cheek in his hand and looking down at her again with that same blistering heat burning deep in his eyes, but this time Nami did not have the strength to look away; she just let it blast over her, consume her, leaving her aching and wanting. “I’m glad that Luffy has people like you to look out for him… But that really is too bad.” Nami hadn’t noticed his face drawing ever closer as he spoke, until it was virtually on top of hers, but by then it was too late; she was utterly helpless as he tilted his head to press his lips against hers, softly, lightly, but not without feeling. Under the intense heat of his body and the emotions writhing inside of her, Nami melted; without thinking, she reached out a trembling hand to press it against Ace’s chest, simultaneously trying to push him away and keep herself anchored to him. As she squeezed her eyes shut, her face contorting slightly into the visage of misery because she knew she shouldn’t be doing this, because no matter what they had to go their separate ways and it would only be miserable for the both of them if they entertained this ludicrous idea of them, tears spilled out of her eyes and down her cheeks. She felt Ace’s hand brush over the skin of her cheeks, sending the crystalline tears fluttering into the desert sand, and she so longed to reach up and grasp that hand and hold it forever.
Then he was gone, like a desert sandstorm, leaving Nami’s heart destroyed and yet reborn in its wake. When she opened her eyes, though her vision was blurred by tears, she saw his silhouetted form tromping back across the canyon floor towards the camp, his shoulders drawn up and his hands in his pockets against the cold wind that was blowing through the canyon; beside Nami was a little pile of burning brush, but that was not the only thing that kept her warm that night.
~Present Day, Kingdom of Dressrosa~
“Nami?” Her head shot up as Sabo’s timid voice ripped her from her memories, and for a second she was unfocused. She felt something brush over her left cheek, and she turned to see that Sabo was very hesitantly drawing his gloved hand over her face to catch the tears that had spilled from her eyes. He had a complicated expression, probably expecting her to get mad; instead, she exhaled deeply and smiled sweetly at him.
“Thank you, Sabo… Sorry. I just got lost in the past,” she murmured as she straightened up and wiped at her eyes with the backs of her hands. His hand fell back to his side and he gave her a bashful smile in return.
“No problem. I hate seeing pretty girls cry.” Nami laughed at the unabashed compliment and ducked her head down, her tangerine hair falling into her face. Sabo was too nice to ask about what Nami was crying about, but had at least a few more active neurons than his brother sleeping inside and was able to figure out what had the woman so despondent. She heard him mutter something incomprehensible under his breath and then stiffly scoot closer to her, so that their arms were just barely brushing. When she looked up at him, he flushed pink and hurriedly waved his hands. “I-it’s not like that, I just, I don’t want you to be sad, you know? I feel bad because I made you remember something sad, it’s kinda my fault. Erm, I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable? I’ll move back-“ he spluttered bashfully.
“No, you’re fine. Thanks- and it’s not your fault, really. It was bound to happen one of these days… Truthfully, I’m glad someone’s here with me.” He relaxed into a puddle of mush beside her, flopping back against the outer wall of the shack with a relieved grin. “Besides… Even if it’s sad now, it’s still a memory, and it’s important,” she added as she tipped her head back to gaze up at the brilliant landscape of glittering stars stretching above. “Happy memories, sad memories, scary memories… All of them have the people I care about, and I want to keep all of them close to my heart forever. So, thank you for not letting me forget, Sabo.”
“Ehehehe, you’re welcome, Nami…” AS he chuckled awkwardly next to her, Nami slipped out of the cloak, folded it up neatly, and handed it back to him. “Oh? But it’s still so cold out here, Nami. Will you be okay?” he asked with wide eyes as he took it back. She smiled serenely as she shook her head.
“No… I’m all warmed up now. I’ll be just fine.” He respectfully left her to her devices and bade her a goodnight, disappearing back into the cabin to rejoin the rest of the sleeping crew. Nami remained bound by her insomnia, joined only by the heavens above, but she was now shielded from the cold by the gentle ghost of Ace sitting beside her, and the wind carried the echo of his laugh away into the stars…
Chapter 27: Just Another Day in Crazy Land
Category: Friendship Fluff
Characters: Trafalgar Law, Tony Tony Chopper
Requested By: anubislover (Tumblr)
Law squinted slightly as he stepped out into the morning, raising a hand to his eyes to shield against the persistent and bright rays of the sun shining in the clear sky above; it was quite a difference compared to the dank, gloomy shack he had just exited. Really, it was only so dark because the windows were shielded with thick, dark curtains, staving off any prying eyes that may discover the crew of pirates recovering within its unordinary wooden walls, a tangle of limbs and blankets and bandages. In the distance, Law could see the also-recovering capital of Dressrosa Kingdom; the jagged rubble of collapsed buildings made ugly peaks against the blue sky, like some sort of twisted mountain range. It had only been a night since Law had accomplished his goal of putting a bitter end to Donquixote Doflamingo, with Straw Hat Luffy’s help, and he really ought to stay inside and continue recuperating; however, if he spent another minute amongst their snores and snorts and mumbled lunacies, he was liable to go insane. Additionally, Law had never been one to laze around and sleep all day, even when he had sustained injuries such as those he bore now. Thus, bored and wide awake, he had been lured outside by the rising sun. With a small sigh, he leaned against the wall of the building with his sword propped up beside him, watching the sun paint the sky of dawn.
“Um… Mr., um, Law, sir?” The Heart Pirate captain glanced down with raised eyebrows as he was addressed by the unmistakable, high-pitched, shaky voice of Tony Tony Chopper the reindeer; the little pirate doctor was standing in the threshold of the ajar cabin door, looking like he was trying to peer out from behind the building but was oddly in the complete opposite direction, his entire body sticking out with half his face hidden by the wooden structure. He stiffened as Law turned his gaze on him. Law had discovered he was a skittish thing, and Law in particular intimidated him. He didn’t fault him, really; Law hardly ever smiled and knew he had an intense demeanor about him.
“What is it, Chopper-ya? Do you need something?” Sweat began to bead down his furry face as he debated continuing the conversation and his gaze flickered about before settling on his hooved feet.
“I was, um, wondering if you would take me into town to get more medicine… My stores are pretty low…” That was no shock; Luffy and Zoro were more bandage and salve than person at this point, and the rest of them hadn’t escaped unscathed, either. Chopper stared at him hesitantly, likely expecting a blatant refusal. It’s not like Law wanted to do it, but in the state of disrepair that the city was, with some of Doflamingo’s minor goons still running about and the entire place a construction zone, it likely wasn’t a safe place for the little reindeer to wander by himself, either. No doubt, the rest of the Straw Hats were still passed out on the floor, otherwise Chopper wouldn’t have come within ten yards of him and asked him a favor. Besides, he was awake anyway, so he might as well give himself something to do and hang around one of the loons he actually had something in common with. With a resigned sigh, he pushed himself up off the building and grabbed his sword, swinging it up to prop it on his shoulder, and then looked intently at Chopper.
“All right, then, let’s get going.”
“Wah! Okay!” he squealed, darting inside to scramble around and gather up his money and take inventory of what he needed. With all the banging and bumbling happening inside, Law was amazed that none of the slumbering pirates awoke, but as the reindeer scampered out breathing heavily and shut the door behind him, Law heard no signs of life from within. He turned on his heel to set off across the rocky landscape towards the shell of the capital, and heard Chopper’s hooves striking the rocks as he scurried to keep up with him. Law didn’t pay much attention at first, his dark eyes sweeping across the uninteresting rocky steppe of bleak, muted tones and scrubby grasses and shrubs, but eventually he became aware of Chopper’s labored breathing and unsteady gait and he glanced over his shoulder to see him lagging behind, so he took more care to match his stride to the little reindeer’s. Zoro-ya would kill me if I lost him. Law wasn’t afraid of him, but he also didn’t care to have to go up against him, either.
“Wow. Look at it; the Birdcage did so much damage,” Chopper breathed as they came upon the outskirts of the city, the first to be sliced to ribbons by Doflamingo’s power. Since Law had slowed down a little, he had lost the touch of exhaustion to him, and flitted about Law’s feet as he drank in the mass destruction with a mixture of awe and horror. The road was not so much a road, as the dirt path had been eclipsed by the corpses of residential buildings. Law carefully picked his way across the labyrinth of carved stone and shattered glass with Chopper hopping along behind. At first it was easily navigable, but as they headed deeper into the capital, the destroyed shells of the building became more densely packed, spilling over the road in mountainous heaps. Several times Law had to clamber over collapsed sections and pause to grab Chopper by the back of his shirt to haul him over, and every time to little reindeer went limp in his grasp, freezing like a cat held by its scruff, until Law set him down again and he would hop up blushing and rubbing the back of his neck while he sputtered gratuitous remarks.
After about half an hour of picking their way through the ruins, they entered the area where the pirates and the citizens had made their stand against the birdcage; aside from the deep scores in the ground and a few clipped-off sections of a few buildings, the area was relatively unharmed. It was here that the two pirates finally stumbled upon signs of life- clotheslines strung between adjacent buildings with drying fabrics fluttering in the breeze, houseplants and barrels and decorative items bringing color into the otherwise colorless roads and buildings of stone and wood, a few people strolling about or chatting idly across the way to each other. Chopper got all flustered again when he had to ask a young woman where their marketplace was currently set up, and then he shyly related it to Law, pointing down the street before trotting ahead of him, face scrunched up as he set himself into mission mode. Law strolled along behind the reindeer, his dark eyes creeping into every alleyway and dark corner; it was common knowledge now that he had been instrumental in Doflamingo’s downfall, and the lower-ranking brutes that were still skulking about would no doubt like to get their revenge against him for ruining their paychecks.
They must have been going the right way, because it wasn’t long before the air was filled with the hum of countless voices; shouts and calls and chatter bounced off the buildings as they approached, and through the gaps in the structures Law could see colored fabrics of tents and banners flapping about in the wind. Lights were strung between lampposts, indicating that the market still had a very active nightlife, and the simple stone beneath his feet gave way to elegant cobblestone arranged in a concentric circular pattern throughout the marketplace. He came up on the entrance, where Chopper was perched up on a barrel with one hoof held to his eyes as he scanned the throng for a suitable stall. Law hovered on the edge of the crowd, having no desire to venture within; the place was packed with people. Apparently neighboring islands had heard of the struggle within Dressrosa, and vendors had thought it quite the money-making venture, to bring their wares to the recovering city. Law heard them shouting above the cacophony, offering food and clothing and other things for cheap, good-luck charms and talismans and other scams, “buy-one-get-one” and “half off for five minutes!” The corner of his mouth twitched at the thought of diving into the chaos, but there was no way he could let Chopper go in there by himself, because he would be trampled for sure.
When Law looked at the barrel, there was just empty air where Chopper had been sitting a few seconds ago, and his heart stopped as he realized he was dead meat.
“Shit! Chopper-ya, where did you go?” he shouted and shoved his way into the throng of people without another moment’s consideration. He used the scabbard of his sword to make himself a wider berth in the crowd, and though he got cold looks and affronted gasps from the people there, he righteously didn’t care because he was too busy looking for the doctor. He stumbled out of the writhing crowd on the right side of the market, dashing from vendor to vendor gasping “Haveyouseenatalkingreindeer?” and before the person had even finished refusing and tried offering his wares he would be scrambling off to the next. Law had made a half-circuit of the marketplace and was descending further into a panic as he realized he would be on the receiving end of Zoro’s katanas until he heard distinctive wailing amongst the crowd.
“Wahhhhh! Lawwwww, where arrrrrrrrrre you?”
“Hold on, Chopper-ya, I’m coming!” Law called out before climbing up onto a barrel beside a stall, snapping at the vendor, “Shut your damn mouth, can’t you see I’m busy?!” when he sidled over to the edge of the stall to try to sell him some girly-ass necklaces. He straightened up with his hand held to his eyes to block that annoyingly bright damn sun while he surveyed the gaps in the crowd, looking for any sign of the crying reindeer. His shoulders sagged as he searched for a minute or so to no avail, until finally he caught a glimpse of brown fur and curved horns; his eyes locked onto a sniffling Chopper, who was miserably talking to a brawny man who definitely did not look like he was concerned for Chopper’s well-being. Oh, fuck, he’s gonna bribe him with candy or something and make off with him! he thought in fear, and practically swan-dived off the barrel into crowd. He shoved his way through the men and women frantically, ignoring the cries and curses, and just as the man was reaching down to grab Chopper, Law threw himself out, slid on his belly across the cobblestone, and wrapped Chopper up on his arms while he glared savagely up at the very confused man. “Fuck off. My reindeer.”
“Um, look, I don’t think-“
“I said fuck off! My reindeer! Mine!” Law hissed, practically rabid from his period of heightened emotions, and the man knit his eyebrows as he leaned back and looked at Chopper hesitantly.
“It’s okay! This is who I was looking for! Thank you very much, mister!” the reindeer laughed as he repeatedly squished down the top of Law’s fluffy hat, and which each movement his fur brushed against Law’s cheek; that’s how closely he was holding him. The man looked a bit disgruntled, eyeing Law suspiciously, but the Heart Pirate just continued to glare savagely at him until he shrugged his shoulders and disappeared back into the crowd. Heaving a sigh, Law slowly sat up and brushed the dirt of his black clothes before his intense glare flickered to Chopper. The reindeer instantly stiffened and tears up again, quivering. Law debated yelling at him for a moment, but decided that it wasn’t worth the effort and just settled for flicking him hard in the forehead. “Ow!” he yelped while tenderly rubbing the spot.
“Don’t do that again.”
“Okay… Sorry…” Chopper mumbled obediently as he continued to rub his forehead despondently. “You looked like you didn’t want to go in the crowd, so I thought that maybe I could just be quick, but there’s so many people here that I got swept away…” Law exhaled sharply out of his nose as he looked away awkwardly; he made a mental note to not let his emotions and thoughts show so easily to the little reindeer, lest they end up in more near-disasters like such. He pulled himself to his feet, using his sword as leverage, before propping it on his shoulder again and looking at him pointedly.
“Look, I said I would take you to the market, and I meant it. Now, from this point on, hold onto my cloak so you don’t get lost,” he ordered.
“Hoof. Cloak. Now.” As the harshness descended into Law’s voice, Chopper squeaked and hurriedly clutched onto Law’s cloak with his little hooves, nervously gulping. Once the reindeer had securely latched on, Law groaned slightly and let the tension melt from his body; when he opened his eyes, he noticed that he had gathered quite a crowd of concerned-looking people. “What the fuck are you all looking at? Mind your own goddamn business. I’ve got shopping to do!” he snapped with bristling shoulders, and they hurriedly dispersed, not hasty to incite more of his rage. He heard Chopper giggling and he looked down with grinding teeth. “What?”
“Sorry, it’s just kinda funny. You remind me of Zoro.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment? He’s an idiot.” Law pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping that the circus of clowns he had been traveling with was not rubbing off on him too much. He glanced down at Chopper out of the corners of his eyes to see him still grinning, and Law allowed his lips to curl into a faint smile. At the very least, he wasn’t bored anymore. “All right, Chopper-ya, let’s get back to what we were doing, yeah?”
“Mhmm! Y’know, you’re not as mean as I thought you were.” As Law lead him out of the middle of the crowd toward the outskirts, he laughed bitterly as he hung his head, admittedly a little sad that the reindeer had been so scared of him.
“Will you teach me some stuff about medicine sometime? Pretty please? I still have so much to learn!” the reindeer asked with sparkling eyes, and Law could not help but smile in bemusement.
“Sure. Medicine first, though,” he smirked as he led him over to the proper stall, and when they were close enough the reindeer let go of his cloak to scamper over to the stall, a small skip in his step as he beamed in glee. As Law watched him, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly at the mental image of being the apparent caretaker of the excitable little creature, no matter how hard he tried he could not wipe the small smile off his face. Just another day in Crazy Land with the Straw Hats.
They’re a headache sometimes, but they’re not that bad.
Chapter 28: Not the Same
Category: General Fluff
Characters: Monkey D. Luffy and Boa Hancock
Requested by: killercroc (FanFiction)
The ocean breeze whipped away the sigh as Luffy heaved it, carrying it away into the vast landscape of rolling waves that stretched ever on before him. He was sitting on the figurehead of Boa Hancock’s luxurious ship, his favorite spot to be, but it just wasn’t the same as his perch on the Thousand Sunny; it was the best that he could get, though, considering his ship was still moored at the Shabody Archipelago. He wondered what had become of his beloved ship, the lovingly crafted re-imagining of his faithful Going Merry, which had been put to rest after their many arduous adventures. He wondered too what had become of the rest of his nakama, after being forcefully ejected from the island by the strange android Bartholomew Kuma. More than anything, though, he worried about the welfare of his brother, whom he had just recently learned was being held prisoner by the World Government and slated for execution. As he thought about the terrifying prospect, his fists curled around the stained wood of Hancock’s ship, dangerously close to sending cracks streaming through its sanded surface. I won’t let that happen! I’m gonna save Ace, no matter what!
He told himself that, but his bravado vanished in an instant and he deflated slightly; without his faithful friends behind him, even he had to admit sneaking into a maximum-security prison and busting out his brother was a daunting task. At the very least, he had the beautiful warlord’s help. He just wished at the moment to have something to relieve the boredom of sailing towards Impel Down, because it was giving him way too much time to get in his head. He whirled on his behind to look at Hancock, thinking maybe she could entertain him a bit; she was standing on the upper level talking to the warrior woman who was at the wheel, in active conversation. Luffy stretched his arm out to grasp the railing beside her and vault himself over, landing lightly to crouch on the railing like a lanky monkey. Hancock jumped at his sudden appearance and blushed profusely while stammering, “L-Luffy, what is it?”
“I wanna go fishing.” That was his favorite pastime on the Merry and Sunny, aside from sitting at the figurehead fantasizing about their next adventure and destination; he was always reeling in some massive specimen or another, and Sanji always could find a way to incorporate it into a tasty dish. His mood soured slightly as he realized that Sanji wasn’t around to do it this time, and Hancock’s cook, no matter who they were, could compare to his chef. I’ll see him again soon, just as soon as I save Ace. He knew his crew were probably fine, wherever they were; they were probably back on their way to the Archipelago right now. He would just be a little late to the party, that’s all. As Luffy voiced his proclamation, Hancock whipped around with a firm screech.
“A fishing pole! Someone find Luffy a fishing pole!” The women actually didn’t have a fishing pole on board, which Luffy found asinine (What kind of pirate ship didn’t have a fishing pole? What did they actually do for fun?), but at Hancock’s insistence they fashioned from a spear and some various spare string and thin metal that they had lying around. Once he had his fishing pole in hand, Luffy was actually quite pleased, and he whistled a tune jovially under his breath as he walked over to the side of the ship- that is, until Hancock asked what he was singing and he realized it was Brooke’s favorite tune “Bink’s Sake,” and he got depressed that the funny skeleton man wasn’t around to serenade him. With a slight frown, he plopped down on the edge of the ship and grumpily flung his line into the water.
“Being sad sucks,” he muttered under his breath. With lidded eyes, he watched the ripples that the quivering line cast through the swirling water. Usopp and Chopper loved to fish, too; they would often join Luffy and would have competitions on who could bring in the largest haul. Luffy usually won, because he just had the best luck at yanking Sea Kings out of the sea. His shoulders slouched slightly as his depressive mood heightened. Apparently, the powerful queen of the island of women had noticed Luffy was not in his normal, happy-go-lucky mood, and sidled over with an expression of concern and a pink haze on her cheeks.
“Luffy? Is something the matter?”
“I miss my nakama,” he mumbled. Though Hancock couldn’t really do anything about it- as far as he knew, her talents did not lie in magically plucking people out of thin air- he saw no point in lying. He was always honest about his feelings, because feelings were important. They meant you cared about something. His head flopped down as he heaved another heavy sigh.
“It’s just no fun if they’re not around.”
“Kyaah?! You mean you’re not having fun, Luffy?” When he glanced at her out of the corners of his eyes, she had turned red with tears flooding her dark eyes and her bottom lip quivering pathetically. Her cheeks were puffed out, like she was holding her breath. Luffy shrugged at her and straightened back up, wiggling the line of his fishing pole a little in an attempt to entice something from the deep.
“Of course, I’m having fun with you, Hancock, but it just isn’t the same, you know?” Luffy really wasn’t sure how to explain it. He liked Hancock; she was nice, having offered to help him in his effort to sneak into Impel Down and save Ace, and he enjoyed her presence, but with his friends, it was… different. He hated having to walk across the deck and not seeing Zoro asleep, slumped up against the mast or the wooden walls. He hated not smelling the scent of Nami’s tangerines carried on the breeze as it shook their dark leaves, or the mouthwatering aromas of Sanji’s newest creation wafting out of the kitchen. He hated not doing morning stretches with Franky, laughing when Nami came out to scold them for being too loud. He hated not having Robin there to answer his many, many questions about all the things she knew. He hated not having Usopp or Chopper around to assist him in his jokes or pranks. He hated not hearing Brooke’s melodic voice and violin dancing on the wind practicing some new catchy tune or another.
He hated being alone, and he hated being alone because he had failed to keep them all together in the first place.
“Luffy-“ Hancock was interrupted as the fishing line jerked dramatically, and Luffy had to throw his arm back and wind it around the mast to keep from being yanked clear off the ship; his other arm stretched a bit as the powerful force carried the rod underwater, and then he managed to clear his mind to focus on what he was doing and began pulling violently on the makeshift pole.
“Come’re, you stupid fish! I want lunch!” he shouted angrily as he tugged hard on the fishing pole. Slowly, the water beside the ship darkened as a massive form was dragged to the surface, and the water began to slosh and swirl as its massive tail whipped about under Luffy’s vigorous assault. White foam sprayed up against the side of the ship, speckling the determined Luffy and started Hancock with its misty droplets, and the ship began to rock lightly under the force of the waves slapping against its sides. With a grunt, Luffy grabbed the pole with both hands and gave a strong, swift jerk; with a tremendous splash that sent a wave of water rolling over the deck, soaking everyone out in the open from head-to-toe and nearly carrying Luffy’s precious hat away, a massive, colorful fish leaped out of the water. Luffy’s grin was wider than it had been all day at the sight of the spectacle. Its scales were a magnificent emerald, with speckles of jade and other shades across its midline; its fins were sharp and powerful, and its jaw was pointed with row of pointed teeth sticking out. It wriggled about in the air, sending a rain of water droplets arcing about, before crashing about into the ocean with another magnificent splash. Luffy grunted as he was pulled up against the side of the ship, but he firmly held onto his catch. “Oh, no you don’t! You’re going in my belly!”
“Luffy, just let it go! You’re going to capsize us!” Hancock screamed from where she was clutching to the mast, her dark hair plastered to her face. Luffy threw a wink over his shoulder at her, making her melt into a pile of gushing putty, before planting his feet against the wall of the ship and tugging so hard on the fishing pole that it looked like he was standing upright against the wall.
“Nuh-uh! No stupid fish is gonna get the best of me!” Despite his best efforts, the fish was a formidable foe; the ship actually began to stream through the water, jumping in the wake of the massive predatory fish he had hooked. “One… more… time!” he grunted, and once more, the fish vaulted out of the water into the sky, flapping about in rage. This time, Luffy was prepared, and bit down hard on his thumb, blowing air into his body to inflate the bones within his arm. As his limb swelled to massive size, the wood underneath him buckled a bit.
“What are you doing?!” Hancock screamed at him. Luffy just cackled happily and used his free arm to stretch up to grasped the top sail, sling-shotting himself right up to the still-wriggling fish. “It’s lunchtime!” he hollered in glee before delivering a savage punch to the belly of the fish. It instantly stiffened on impact, quivering under the force of Luffy’s blow, before it went rocketing up into the air. It disappeared for a moment, and Luffy landed on the wood holding the top sail and put his hand to his eyes, scanning the blue sky for a black speck. It appeared after a moment, rapidly growing larger as the fish plummeted to earth like a meteor, and he could hear the warrior women running around in circles on the deck screaming that they were going to be crushed. Luffy jumped up to the crow’s nest and then jumped off again to deliver another punch to the fish’s side before it could land directly on the ship, sending it blasting into the ocean so fast that it skipped like a rock a few times before sinking below the waves. After a few seconds it rose back up, belly-up and bobbing lifelessly in the churning water. Luffy landed on the main deck with a triumphant hoot.
“Yay! Lunch! Let’s go get it, let’s go get it! Usopp, Chopper, didja see-“ He cut himself off as he whipped around and remembered that his normal spectators weren’t there, and he deflated again; he continued doing so, shrinking down to the size of a three-year-old, as were the side effects of him using Gear Third. As he pouted, Hancock came running over to him, picking him up underneath his arms and lifting him up with an expression of both joyous glee and acute fear.
“Oh my goodness, you are so cute! Why are you cute? Luffy, what’s happening? Oh, who cares, you’re so small!” she squealed and waved him about as she ranted, then cried out and hugged him to her chest, squeezing him like a vice grip. Luffy’s protests were muffled by the pillow of her voluptuousness. Ignorant of his pleas for air, she just nuzzled him affectionately while crooning, and just as Luffy thought he was going to pass out from lack of oxygen she pulled back to hold him high up and look at him in wonder again. He gulped in big breaths, his face turning from blue to white to normal color, while Hancock’s eyes sparkled innocently. “Will you be like this forever?!” she asked, and he didn’t know if she was horrified or delighted by the prospect.
“Nah. It’s just temporary. It happens every time I use Gear Third,” he explained while picking his nose, disinterested at the entire ordeal. “Can we get my fish, please? I worked hard for that, y’know.”
“Oh! Yes, of course.” Hancock stood up, as she had been kneeling in front of him the entire time, and he expected her to put him down; instead, she hugged him to his chest like a little girl would a teddy bear, arms around his shrunken waist with his little feet dangling as she walked and instructed the crew to haul up and prepare Luffy’s catch. Carried around like a pet, Luffy felt kind of like Chopper. Thinking of the reindeer made him blue again, and he sagged like a limp stuffed animal in Hancock’s arms. Not even making a legendary catch like that could keep his depression away for long. He pouted like a little baby, muttering under his breath at how stupid being sad was, because he had more things to worry about. Hancock eventually caught on to his grumbling, and set him on a barrel to lean over, hands on her knees as she talked to him at eye-level.
“Now, Luffy, it’s okay to be sad that your friends are gone.” Luffy’s nose scrunched up as she took a baby-talk tone with him.
“Hancock, I may look like a baby but I’m not one, so can you please talk normal?”
“Oh! Sorry! Sorry!” she laughed as she put both her hands on her cheeks and gushed, hearts practically flying through the air around her. “What was I saying? Oh, right. I know it must be hard on you, being apart from them.”
“Yeah…” he murmured as his shoulders slumped. “I wish they were here. I know I’m strong, but somehow I just don’t feel like I’m strong enough without them with me.” That was the root of his blatant refusal of his sadness; he didn’t want to admit that he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to pull this off alone, that he was too weak to avoid dragging his friends into something so dangerous. That he was too weak to keep anyone safe, Ace or anyone else.
“I know, but, I’m sure that wherever they are, they’re still supporting you. Just because they aren’t right there next to you doesn’t mean that they’re not beside you, at every step. You still have their strength, right here,” she smiled kindly and poked him right in his little chest, where his heart was. Luffy looked down, blinking. It made sense, kind of. Even if they weren’t there, they were in his heart, and he was sure he was in theirs, too. With a giggle, he beamed up at Hancock.
“Thanks! I feel better! Can we eat now?” he asked before lightly hopping off the barrel and strolling toward the kitchen with a contented hum. He heard Hancock sigh and tut behind him before she followed, her long dress swishing as she walked. Luffy held onto the top of his hat as a swift breeze whisked across the deck.
Being on the ship with Hancock wasn’t the same as being on the Sunny with all his friends, but he didn’t have to be sad about it anymore. No matter what, they would see each other again, and Luffy could still rely on their strength in the trial ahead- he knew they would be shouting from the sidelines, cheering their captain on in spirit, and that knowledge was enough to get him raring to go.
Chapter 29: On My Heart and Soul
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested by: fangirlingwithnoregrets (Tumblr)
Nami’s kimono swept around her feet as she stole out of the alliance hideaway, where the remainder of her crew members and samurai were currently settling in to sleep for the night; they would depart at dawn for their respective assignments, continuing to march forward towards their plan to overthrow the Shogun Orochi. That was the plan, at least, but it seems there was a wrench thrown in its gears at every turn- their identities and alliance had more or less been discovered by Orochi and his goons, Law’s crewmates had been captured and he had stormed off to the Flower Capital and that could really go one way or another, and Luffy had also landed himself in prison and was probably up to no good. It was enough to give Nami a raging headache, and so while the high-energy bunch was inside fervently discussing the pending revolution, Nami had decided to sneak outside for some much-needed silence and isolation. She walked a short way down the grassy hill before she found a nice-sized rock that would comfortably bear her weight, and she eased herself down on its flat surface before tilting her head up to gaze up at the starry sky above.
Many a night she had done this, when her emotions ran high; they certainly were now, with everything that was happening. Nami had always been the one in the crew to be rattled by their uncanny ability to attract troublesome situations at every possible turn; it wasn’t so much as severe anxiety as it was a quiet worry, a What if this happens?, What can go wrong next?, What if this time it doesn’t work out? Nami of course had the utmost faith in her captain and crewmates, as they had always pulled through despite the most dire of circumstances, but in the dark of night when she was alone with her thoughts, the darkness seemed to creep into her very soul, corrupting that optimism into bitter, fearful unease. Arguably they were in their most crucial and dangerous situation ever. Entire nations had been dependent upon them before, such as in Alabasta or Dressrosa, but this was the first time that an Emperor was concerned, and from what she had seen at the bathhouse, several of the others from the Worst Generation as well. On top of that, they were constantly being scattered across the islands like cherry blossom petals in the breeze. With a deep sigh, Nami leaned forward to lean her cheeks in her hands, her hazel eyes still staring at the starry night sky above to derive some sort of comfort from the glittering lights. It was hard to find.
I want to have faith, but… It’s just hard sometimes.
Nami glanced over her shoulder as she heard the crunch of boots against the soft grass, and she grimaced slightly when she saw Sanji strolling down the hill, his face illuminated by the soft orange glow of his lit cigarette. She tossed her head primly with an exaggerated huff.
“I’m still angry at you, you know.” She didn’t even have to look at him to see him deflate in defeat; the high-pitched, distressed tone of his voice was enough.
“Nami-swan, it wasn’t like that, really!” he whined, stopping short of her rocky perch as if to ask permission to sit beside her. Nami wasn’t angry, not really; she was quite used to his shenanigans, and knew that he had been chased into the bathhouse by Basil Hawkins and X Drake after his cover was blown in the streets of the Flower Capital. Without turning back to him, she slid over to the right side of the smooth stone and patted the empty space behind her. Perhaps sensing her melancholy mood, Sanji did not squeal with delight and wiggle to her side with hearts pumping in his eyes, but casually walked over and eased himself onto the stone while taking a drag from his cigarette. As he blew out the smoke, it swirled in front of his face in wisps before drifting upwards toward the canvas of night above their heads. “You wanna talk about it, or are you going to pretend like you’re not worried and make me drag it out of you?”
Nami puffed out her cheeks at his brusque accusation. It was unlike Sanji to be so serious and forward, and it almost made her want to be coy, combative, and do exactly that. However, Nami knew when she was caught, and she turned her head to the side slightly, her eyes fixed on the gently swaying grass that was dyed silver by the light of moon and stars.
“A lot could go wrong.”
“Yup. That’s true,” he shrugged, and she looked at him with a dour expression, because that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. He wasn’t looking at her, but out at the rolling hills and the collections of burning lanterns in the distance that was the Flower Capital. “But we’ll get through it like we always do, because that’s just how it goes.” Nami frowned slightly; she had expected something more profound, more uplifting, but he had just uttered those words as if saying them alone would be true. Even more confounding was that Nami was comforted by that; as if by playing it off as nothing, Sanji had erased the idea that there was a problem at all, like the worst-case scenario was still just a simple obstacle to overcome. “We’ve gotten this far, Nami. We can’t stop until the end.” It was then that he turned to smile softly at her, and that kind smile seemed so different than all the ones she had received before; it brought a blush to her cheeks and a heat to her skin, and, flustered, she had to drop her gaze to the cluster of little wildflowers rustling against the hem of her kimono because his gentle eyes were still somehow too intense for her.
“But…” The words did not leave her lips, but the rebuttal hung loudly in the air. She thought of every struggle they had overturned thus far, every impossible mountain leveled by the might of their friendship, every miserable situation they had gleaned hope from and come out on top. Nami’s inner demon continued to prowl within her, its fangs dripping with fear, its claws scratching anxiety deep into her tissue. It had always lived within her, rearing its ugly head in the deep of night when Nami could not keep it at bay; it had been with her since the day that Bellamere had been murdered and she had been enslaved by Arlong. The root of her fear had shifted over time, but it continued to feed on her insecurities and worrisome thoughts, nourished by the tumult of her life, but it had grown remarkably after Sanji had been taken by Big Mom; many nights of late she had laid awake in its clutches, helpless to its growls and whispers of doom. As Nami struggled in its clutches now, before she knew it, tears had begun to stream from her eyes; they glistened like rivers of diamond on her face, glittering with the bright moonlight. Her fear now was her greatest fear yet, and she had only realized it after that day on Zou. “I’m afraid to lose you, Sanji,” she whispered.
The wall she had built around her heart crumbled into sand and was carried away by the ever-present breeze, like Sanji’s smoke. She couldn’t force the sarcasm or indifference; she could not merely laugh at his obvious affections and sweet words; she could not put up a bold, brave front and play off her fears. Sitting beside her, trembling with fright as she silently wept, Nami had so easily been reduced down to her purest, rawest feelings. She wasn’t sure when she had fallen for him, but his constant presence and devotion had chipped away at her little by little like a persistent river carving through a canyon; she was also unsure of why she had ignored it, kept up the status quo rather than embracing her feelings and returning the love and care he had given her over the last few years. Again, it was probably that beast, sowing its seeds of threat, uttering, “Something will go wrong, he’ll be snatched from you sooner or later.” Nami was tired of being afraid, and right now, she just wanted the comfort of the one who truly loved and understood her. Sanji was still reeling in her whisper, and she scooched closer to him, her shaking hands curling into his striped-pattern kimono. She bowed her head, her tears dripping down to splash into her lap. “I’m so scared, Sanji, and I just don’t know what to do anymore.”
“Oh, Nami,” he sighed, and without hesitation wrapped her in his strong arms and propped his chin on her head as he pulled her into him. Nami buried her face into his chest, inhaling his aroma of smoke and savory and sweet foods; it filled her every being, driving back that snapping beast of hers just a little. “No one’s going anywhere, especially not me.” He rhythmically rubbed circles into her back, and with every rotation Nami felt the fear melting from her body like snow under the brilliance of the sun. She laid her cheek against him, feeling comfort in his heart gently beating. His hand then slid underneath her chin to tilt her head upwards, and Nami allowed it, gazing miserably up into those eyes that still shone so gently yet powerfully. His thumb swept across her cheek in just the lightest of touches, catching her still-falling tears and wiping them away.
“On my heart and soul,” he affirmed with a small smile, “and I’ll give any of those losers a personal ass-kicking if they think of doing otherwise, too.” His little joke brought a chuckle out of her. While her mood had lightened considerably in just a moment, Sanji was still quite serious. “I love you, Nami.” He said it so often, but Nami knew that it was no casual remark or flirtatious exclaim this time; desire and passion were a burning flame in the dark of his black irises, a beacon against the shadows that kept Nami in their thrall. Nami wanted so desperately to grasp it, to bask in its warmth for every night hence, letting its comfort and hope fill her up forever.
“I love you too, Sanji.” She was shocked at how easily the confession slipped from her lips, but thus far, the wily cook had so effortlessly pulled everything else out of her that it really wasn’t shocking at all. His smile morphed into a loving smirk, and as his face descended over hers, Nami did not pull away. Her eyes fluttered closed as his mouth softly swept over hers, enveloping her into a tender yet passionate kiss. His hands continued to cup her cheek with his thumb tracing patterns over her skin, while Nami’s crept up his chest, up to his shoulders with her nails digging slightly into the woven fabric of his kimono. Sanji’s other hand slid around her waist to the small of her back, pressing her forward so that not a centimeter of space was between their middles. He tilted his head as he drove the kiss deeper, and Nami happily obliged, letting the heat of his love drive that negative monster inside of her into a cage once and for all. Nami locked it inside the back of her mind and tossed away the key, filling herself only with the sun that was Sanji, her love, her knight, her anchor in the waves of the uncertain sea before them. They kissed there for a long while, their only spectators the moon and stars who bathed them in their white glow and made them shine like spectral bodies on Earth.
Nami’s tears had ceased by the time Sanji pulled back, but his thumb continued to move across her cheek. He gazed warmly down at her, his face still quite close to hers, and tilted his head with a smile while his eyes remained captured by her warm brown ones.
“I know there’s a lot of fighting ahead of us, Nami, but I promise I’ll come back to you,” he murmured before pulling her head slightly to press a long kiss into her tangerine hair. Nami nestled her head into his neck, not wishing to be free of his embrace anytime soon.
“I promise, too.”
I promise… On my heart and soul, that both belong to you, now and forever.
Chapter 30: A Dream of the Stars Upon Earth
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested By: fangirlingwithnoregrets (Tumblr)
Alternatum to Milk, Cookies, and Confessions of Love
Nami miserably rubbed the reddening bottom of her runny nose, after which she recoiled in disgust as the clear fluid that was leaking from her nostrils smeared across the line of her finger, and with no consideration of tact or propriety she wiped the disgusting efflux off on the fuzzy fabric of her blanket before sitting up in her bed with a small sigh. It was the night following their determinant battle with King Wapol and his goons; Nami had still been recovering from her jungle-acquired fever anyway, and Luffy and Sanji had acquired new injuries on top of the ones they had been healing from to begin with. The resident doctor, Tony Tony Chopper the reindeer, had also fought valiantly for his home and had not escaped unscathed, and as such, they were all under the care of Dr. Kureha in the abandoned Drum Castle. The aforementioned boys were sleeping across the room, all three of them a disorganized mess of limb and blanket; despite Nami’s reservations with sharing a room with them, for she was a lady and it was quite inappropriate, Luffy and Sanji had apparently been so unabashedly adamant that the irritable doctor had relented to spare herself their incessant wheedling. Chopper, who had formed quite an attachment to the Straw Hat captain, now refused to be separated from him and so had also made arrangements to cram in the already crammed makeshift hospital wing. Nami watched them through lidded eyes, her nut-brown irises following the rhythmic rise and falls of their chests; it seemed her sneeze had not awoken them.
Nami was no longer in thrall of her illness, but her cold-like symptoms persisted largely because of the poor insulation of the castle atop the icy peak in an already icy country. Wind slithered through the cracks in the seams between the worn gray bricks, creeping across the stone floors before jumping up to swirl around Nami in her bed. As the wisps of air danced over her skin, they left goosepimples in their wake and stole the heat from her body before swirling away into the night. Even as she drew the thick comforter around her, Nami shuddered under the combined assault of the playful chill and the lingering low-grade fever. She cast her gaze to the window to find that it was still nighttime; through the frosty, fern-like patterns of ice within the glass pane, she could see the black canvas of the sky with faintly glimmering stars that lie beyond. Nami exhaled bitterly through her nose- well, as well as she could with it being clogged uncomfortably with snot- before she wrapped the comforter around her being and slid down from the bed. A walk around the castle should warm me up a little, she reasoned as her feet found the fluffy slippers that the castle’s two residents had loaned her. Like a penguin, burdened by the weight of her downy fortress, she waddled over to the bedroom door and gradually eased it open. The creak of the rusted hinges pierced the silence of the night like a banshee, and she nervously watched the three boys as she created a gap just big enough for her to squish through; they slept peacefully on. Nami hastily exited the room and gently shut the door back, only allowing herself to heave a sigh of relief once the latch hitched; then, bustling her blankets around her, she began her trek through the circular halls of Drum Castle.
As Nami plodded along, her slippers sliding against the faded carpet that lined the stone floor, the wind continued to swirl around her in its chilly ballet. As she passed on of the large windows that gave a view to the valley, she paused to peer out of one; the snow was applied like thick paint to the ground, starkly contrasting the black ink above, and just along the horizon glimmered warm clusters of faintly orange-yellow light, marking the various villages of Drum Kingdom. The moonlight, cool and white in comparison, streamed through the window to bathe Nami in its mute brilliance, turning her tangerine locks into threads of gold and her tanned skin the color of fresh cream. Her breath fogged against the chilled glass pane, spreading in a mist until her vision of the landscape outside was eclipsed. As the winter chill jumped from the window to grab at her with eager fingers, she hastily pulled herself away from the window and continued to trek down the hallway, her downy blanket shuffling around her legs as she trotted along.
Like Nami had hoped, the exercise sent warm blood pumping through her veins, driving away the cold that had seeped into her body. By the time she made it to a part of the castle she had not yet explored, a thin layer of warm perspiration had formed between herself and the blanket, and a warm tone had returned to her skin and a rosiness to her cheeks. Nami actually pulled off the comforter and folded it neatly as her interest was captured by a set of elegantly carved double doors; as she set it down against the wall and walked over, her brown eyes inspecting every detail of the magnificent craftsmanship, she could see that effigies of native animals were carved into its surface. Reindeer with large, curling antlers pranced regally beside pine trees, while wererabbits hid their hulking frames in snowdrifts. Hawks circled in the swirling clouds overhead, their sharp eyes trained on the foxes slinking about through the skeletons of scrubby bushes. Nami ran her fingers across the smooth wood, and of course found it cold to the touch; she wondered what must lay beyond such an extravagant specimen, and so her hand drifted down to the iron door handle and gave it an experimental pull. She heard the mechanisms grinding within, but the door surprisingly yielded quite easily. Nami slowly pulled the heavy door aside, then yelped as she was abruptly assaulted by the howling, whirling wind that leaped out from behind it. Pellets of snow sprayed across the carpet like paint flung from a brush, and landed in Nami’s fluttering strands of hair as she huddled against the wooden door in an attempt to escape the maelstrom. After a minute, the gale died down to a continuous rustling breeze, and Nami rubbed her paling arms and tried to keep her clattering teeth from nipping her tongue as she considered whether to abandon the exploration and return to the safety and warmth of her bed. She decided to at least have a peek into the room, and as she cautiously peered around, she was grateful that she had.
Beyond the intricately carved doors was a splendorous ballroom, the like of which Nami had never seen; the floor was pure marble, white with rivers of silver and gray, with darker granite arranged throughout in a tasteful pattern. Support columns of alabaster ringed the circular room, contrasting the stone walls that were smothered with beautifully woven tapestries depicting graceful dancers and chivalrous knights. The ceiling was domed and constructed completely of glass, not stained but completely clear, making it seem like the sky itself ceilinged the glorious room. However, part of the domed roof had shattered, causing a waterfall of snow to spill in and smother the backside of the dance hall and allow the persistent wind to descend in to give its own performance. Snow flurries were whirling about the room, riding the air current like winter fairies in a procession; they stole Nami’s breath away as they whirled by, so mesmerized was she by the ethereal display. Without realizing it she walked into the center of the room, her brown eyes dyed silver as they gazed wide up through the glass at the starry night sky above while the snowflakes continued their eternal performance.
“My lady, might I ask for a dance?”
Nami jumped violently and her head snapped to the entrance as she was addressed. She had no idea she had been followed; Sanji was leaning against the threshold of the door with a cigarette burning in his mouth, and the wisps of his smoke joined the snow flurries in their ballet while the burning tip of the cigarette cast a burning glow against his smirking face. Nami puffed out his cheeks at him, admittedly disappointed that the lascivious cook had interrupted the dreamlike moment. “What are you doing up?” he asked, the smirk falling from his lips as he gazed at her with a serious expression.
“I woke up because I was cold, so I decided to go for a walk to try and warm myself up. I was just on my way back,” she reported while turning towards him with her hands on her hips. “What about you? I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“I was awake; I just pretended to be asleep. This spine injury of mine makes it hard to sleep,” he grimaced while tenderly rubbing his fractured vertebrae. “I thought you would come back after a minute or so, but when you didn’t I got worried, and came looking for you.” He took a deep drag of his cigarette before pulling it from his mouth to exhale the thick smog, watching as it was instantly snatched away by the ever-present wind. His dark eyes watched as the wisps were shredded under its fierce claws, and were drawn up to the ceiling of stars glimmering above their heads. “It certainly is a glamorous ballroom. It’s a shame that it’s fallen into disrepair like this.”
“Yeah, who knows the last time someone danced in here,” she shrugged, cocking one hip to the side as she held up one upturned hand and closed her eyes while shaking her head. She cracked her eyes back open when she heard Sanji’s booted feet against the smooth marble and granite floor, and looked up at him quizzically when he stopped in front of her with a playful smirk. “What?”
“You never answered my question. Here, let me ask again properly,” he purred, then placed one hand behind his back and bowed his head as low as his injury would allow while holding out his free hand to her. “I humbly request a dance of a gorgeous lady, if you would have me.” Nami rolled her eyes at his dramatized rendition of propriety, but rather than be annoyed by it, she was amused. She decided to humor him for a while, as she was still far from sleepy, and obediently slid her slender hand into his well-kept ones. Her eyes twitched as he looked up with a grin and quickly brought her hand to his lips so he could softly press a kiss to the top of it.
“Watch it, mister. Don’t get carried away,” she warned, trying to put more bite into the words than she was truly feeling. Warmth bloomed where his mouth touched her skin, and identically in the middle of her chest where her heartbeat jumped; perhaps it was the ethereal atmosphere, filling the world with a sense of romanticism, but the faintest haze of pink blossomed across Nami’s cheeks as well. Sanji just smiled coyly at her and smoothly pulled her into position, holding her hand up while his curled about her waist. She continued to stare at him with a lion’s intensity as her hand rested on his shoulder, but in reality she felt more like the antelope, cornered and meek. There was something so dangerous about the way he was gazing at her right now, a smoldering fire deep in the black of his eyes, but it was a danger that Nami wanted to dive headlong into, a heat that she wanted to bathe herself in.
“Me? Carried away? I scoff at the notion,” he answered coolly before he began to guide her expertly in the dance. They slowly whirled about the ballroom, their feet crunching in frost and bits of shattered glass as they mirrored the eternal waltz of the wind and snow caught beneath the domed roof, and all the while Sanji’s gaze remained fixed on Nami’s face. Nami found herself even more transfixed by this than the wonder of the wintery ballroom, and was unable to tear her gaze away, or do anything really but stare back with her mouth slightly agape in nothing short of awe. Had Sanji’s blonde hair always had that beautiful sheen to it, or was it the celestial light playing tricks on her eyes? The way he was holding her, too, so sure of himself as he carried her effortlessly along, was setting her heart to a furious tempo. Nami had no idea what he was thinking as he watched her with that calm, calculated, fiery gaze, and she closed her mouth as she gulped slightly. She wondered if she had fallen into a dream; the entire thing was just that extraordinarily sensual and romantic, neither of which she normally associated with the flirty Sanji. “Nami,” he said suddenly, drawing her out of her slightly panicky fit.
“I’m really relieved that you’re safe.” A blush blazed across her cheeks as he leaned forward to press his forehead against hers. While she would normally react with ire, she was still so out of sorts that she just allowed it, still captured in that smoldering fire of his eyes. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if…” he trailed off with a pained expression, as if the words themselves were a thorn in his tongue, unable to be forced out. Nami knew that he wasn’t exaggerating for the sake of scoring points with her, but that his concern was heartfelt and genuine. Nami’s heart swelled with gratitude and joy, and she deigned to pull herself a little bit, an arc forming in her back as their middles brushed slightly together while they continued to slowly traverse circles across the snowy floor.
“I have you to thank for my safety, Sanji. You and Luffy carried me up the mountain… I don’t know what I would’ve done without you,” she smiled sweetly at him. Sanji mirrored her smile, and then his eyes flickered down to her lips for a brief second. Nami knew what was coming next, what his intention was, but strangely, she did not find the idea revolting or distressing; she welcomed it, wanted it, more than she thought she ever would have. Almost moving on instinct, she tilted her head upward and to the side as Sanji’s face slowly descended to kiss her. At the exact moment their lips met, moonlight blazed into the room at full intensity, reflecting in the snow that swirled incessantly around their slow-dancing floors; the wind sang in a melodious symphony in tune with Nami’s singing heart, carrying the snow flurries around them in a swirling sphere. As the joy and love and ecstasy of it all burst inside Nami, her world became clear and blurry all at once, and the glittering snowflakes were not snowflakes but the stars themselves, the shimmering snow at their feet was not snow but the wispy, soft clouds, both diving to Earth in a tremendous crescendo to serenade the lone pair of dancers in the long-forgotten ballroom. Nami’s hand drifted from Sanji’s shoulder to the back of his neck, while his migrated to the small of her back; the fingers of their other hands, still held aloft, crept apart such that they could entwine tightly together. Captured in the night and the kiss of the man who she had realized stolen her heart without her realizing it, Nami was contented to remain in that dream for the rest of time, for that short, sweet moment.
Nami was not sure how long they kissed, but by the time they had broken apart they had stopped dancing and were just standing in the center of the room, their faces flushed and their skin shining with a thin layer of sweat. Sanji cupped Nami’s cheek in his hand, sweeping her orange hair behind her ear while he gazed lovingly down at her.
“I must be dreaming,” he laughed airily.
“Funny, I was just thinking the same. D’ya think we could be having the same dream?”
“Oh, I hope so,” came his rumbling reply, bringing an impish smile to Nami’s face as she wound her arm around his neck and began to curl her fingers about the ends of his straight blonde locks. Sanji once more brought her hand, still locked in his grasp, to his lips to press a kiss to the top, holding it for a long time before pressing lighter kisses along her knuckles. Nami watched him with a warm smile, enjoying the feeling his lips left behind on her skin and the romantic mood of it all-
The romantic mood that was utterly ruined as she abruptly sneezed in Sanji’s face.
“I’m so sorry!” she gasped in mortification as he frowned deeply and began rubbing phlegm off his face. Blushing darkly, she hid her face in her hands, while Sanji just laughed heartily. “It’s not funny, Sanji! Oh, man, what a moodkiller,” she groaned while peering through her fingers at him.
“It’s okay, Nami, I thought it was cute,” he snickered as he shook the sleeve of his fur-lined jacket lightly. The embarrassed navigator just continued to wallow in her astronomically bad luck, whining, until Sanji wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into his chest. Hiding her fiery face in the folds of his thick jacket, he stroked her hair while continuing to laugh. She could feel it rumbling in his chest, vibrating against her face, and though it was kind of at her expense she felt a little better. “Ah, that was funny, but probably not a good side. We really should get you back to bed, Nami! We have to press on to Alabasta, after all; can’t have you sick forever.”
“No. I like the sound of crawling into bed and never getting out,” she muttered. He laughed again before pulling her away from him. Her fingers clung desperately to the downy fabric of his coat, trying to pull herself back into his embrace where she did not have to face the reality of what she just did, but to no avail. He patted her head as she continued to pout pathetically. “Look on the bright side; I’m probably the only guy who would let you sneeze in his face and not get mad.”
“That doesn’t help, Sanji!” she wailed and whirled around, running out of the ballroom to dive into her comforter and make herself into a quivering fortress of isolation. Sanji’s laughter bounced into the hall as he followed her, and only her grimacing, red face peeked out of him. “I hate you. Stop teasing me.”
“I’m not teasing! Really! It was so adorable, your face all scrunched up and that little high-pitched mousy sneeze~” He cooed as he crouched down in front of her, grinning with his cigarette clenched in his teeth. Nami turned her back to him with a haughty huff, turning up her chin at him.
“You think that’s a compliment? Jeez, you’re dense.” It was only playful banter, now; Nami was still mildly embarrassed, but at least glad he really didn’t care, even if that was kinda gross. She continued to sit there with her chin upturned as Sanji continued to try and get her up with no success; then, suddenly, the floor fell away beneath her. She squeaked in alarm and threw her arms out of the blanket to cling to the nearest thing, which happened to be the playful cook, who had decided enough was enough and picked her up, massive blanket and all. He pushed aside the comforter so that he could see and grin brightly at her.
“There. Much better.”
“I hate you,” she repeated and stuck out her tongue at him.
“I love you too, Nami,” he winked with a breathy chuckle, and successfully managed to get Nami flustered once more. He began to stroll back through the castle as Nami steamed like a boiling egg, short-circuiting so much that she couldn’t even speak, just stare intensely at him. “If you wanna say something, say it, Nami!” he laughed at her. Ugh, it’s frustrating how it’s so easy for him!
“… Fine. I love you,” she grumbled finally, admitting defeat. Sanji turned his head to beam triumphantly at her, then leaned forward to give her a soft peck on the end of her nose. Despite herself, she could not help but smile widely in joy, and as he was pulling away she poked her head forward to bump her nose against his affectionately. “So continue to keep me safe, okay?”
“That’s a promise,” he assured her with a big smirk.
Sanji continued to carry her off down the hall, and Nami once again cast her gaze out of the large window as they passed one. The stars had vacated the ballroom to shine like beacons against the endless sea of night above, but their dance was forever in Nami’s memory. She rested her head against Sanji’s shoulder, the sleepiness finally setting in, and she silently hoped that her dream would not end anytime soon…
Chapter 31: A Present for Nami Part II
Category: Romantic Fluff
Characters: Sanji and Nami
Requested by: Anonymous User
Sanji took a long drag from his cigarette as he stood at the railing of the ship, gazing quietly out at the endless expanse of indigo waves stretching out in all directions before him. It was funny how often things were taken to granted when they were constantly present in the backdrop of life, and as soon as they were torn away, it was suddenly evident that that thing was impossibly necessary and its absence became something painful. The rolling sea was such a thing for Sanji, as he had spent an agonizing time apart from its gentle melodies of sloshing water and soft kisses of salty spray. Perhaps it was not simply just the sea itself, but the act of standing upon the Thousand Sunny looking out at it that had been what had made his heart yearn while he was held captive by Big Mom and her massive brood of destructive children. Either way, the hole that had formed inside of his body had been filled once his gaze had landed upon the horizon, filling him with an odd sense of completeness.
Night had fallen once more. The Thousand Sunny was currently sailing full-speed for Wano after have successfully, albeit narrowly, plucking Sanji from the vicious claws of the giantess. After such a tense experience, the ship had obviously descended into a restful slumber. The cook, however, felt no ounce of drowsiness within his being, and had thus meandered out onto the familiar yet foreign deck to turn his eyes upon the tapestry of ocean spread beyond its sturdy frame. As the smoke swirling in wisps before his face before gently being swept away by the breeze, he stared out at the two-toned landscape; the continuously rolling sea seemed to capture the starlight for itself, replicating it in forms like glittering diamonds being tossed about in the foamy spray. The moon hung low in the sky tonight to bathe the world in its mute white brilliance; the streams caught in Sanji’s blonde strands to turn them a pale cream. He was still dressed in his white tuxedo, having not the energy or thought to change as of yet, and its thread seemed to soak up the moonlight to glow with all the splendor of freshly fallen snow. Truly, it was a calm night, and per the recent events Sanji relished it. Calmness was also something he had taken for granted, the ability to simply be without the intrusive thoughts that one’s actions could lead directly to another’s death. It was a burden he was glad to be rid of.
Sanji finished the last of his cigarette before removing it from his teeth and flicking it out into the sea. It was greedily swallowed, its burning ember point vanishing under the assault of the overwhelming blue. As his body shifted to perform the action, he became aware of a lump within his inner coat pocket; with a raised eyebrow, he fished it out. In his hand was a small box tied with string, or rather, that’s what it originally was. The package had been deformed, pushed in at odd places, and creamy frosting was leaking out of one of the seams. Nami’s cake! Though he had been charged by Chiffon to see the dessert safely to the navigator, he had tremendously failed at the endeavor. His mood plummeted as he stared down at the crumpled package and the promise he had carried, the promise to himself to finally profess his feelings to the woman who held his heart.
“Whatcha got there?”
Sanji whirled about as he was suddenly addressed while hiding the pathetically injured box behind his back. He knew, of course, who had spoken, because how could he forget that lovely voice of Nami’s? She had apparently awoken from sleep, wandered out onto deck for a bit of fresh air and to stargaze- which she often did, as he had noticed- and spotted him inspecting the tiny parcel. Sanji tried to play it off, chuckling nonchalantly as he rubbed the back of his neck, but really, he just made himself look more suspicious. It seemed that the acting skilled he had displayed on Whole Cake Island had made a hasty getaway.
“Nothing at all, Nami-swan! What are you doing awake at this hour? A beautiful woman needs her rest, you know,” he trilled while continuing to laugh breathily. Nami’s brown eyes narrowed, and she stomped over to him to attempt to peer around his well-built frame and catch a glimpse of what he was hiding. Sweating now, Sanji weaved around her piercing gaze. “Really! I’m not hiding anything!” he protested.
“I’m not an idiot, Sanji. Lemme see!” Desperate to get at the secret, Nami unabashedly pressed herself against him while groping behind his back in an attempt to grab it. Sanji’s face turned the color of ripe apples as her chest pressed against his and steamed nearly blasted out of his ears as the gears in his mind went into screaming overdrive. He nearly fainted there on the spot at the obviously sensual touch that Nami was completely unaware of because of his fixation on the hidden present, but Sanji managed to steel himself and remain conscious. She stuck out her tongue as she pushed further, literally pinning him against the balustrade of the vessel, and he had to jerk his arm out over the frothing sea to avoid crushing the little cake and send it splattering all across his well-tailored white tuxedo. He pondered for a moment whether or not to just drop it into the sea and be done with it, making the embarrassing little thing vanish, but he did not. Rather, he could not; he would never be able to face Chiffon, who had helped him bake the present for Nami that carried his purest feelings. “Dammit, Sanji, stop being mean! I just wanna know what you’re hiding!” she pouted up at him like a child, her chin resting in the middle of his chest. It was quite clear that she was trying to use her feminine wiles to her advantage and was frustrated that Sanji did not melt into a puddle of obedient gush at the slightest application of them. Sanji exhaled deeply, too tired from trying to do just that, and planted a hand on her shoulder to firmly pry her body from his.
“All right, fine, but you can’t laugh,” he ordered.
“Why would I?” she blinked at him with a frown. She crossed her arm and cocked her hip, finger tapping furiously against the muscle of her forearm; impatient as she ever was. Sanji straightened himself up, and, very hesitantly, revealed the crumpled box. Nami’s nut-brown eyes widened slightly as she beheld the unassuming little parcel she had been so adamant to clap eyes on.
“It was supposed to be for you, but… It kind of got damaged with all the fighting. Sorry,” he admitted quietly. He wasn’t quite sure how she would react, so he just stood there with his eyes downcast. He saw Nami’s delicate little hands reach out, hesitate for a second in front of the parcel, then enclose around the side of the box. His gaze followed it as she pulled it to herself and slowly pulled off the string. It fell away, writhing like a snake as it fell to the ground and coiled between them. Her silence unnerved him, and so his gaze flickered upward to her face so that he could read her expression. Her eyebrows were raised slightly with her eyes fixed upon the disaster that must have been that small cake, and her lips were parted slightly; though he could tell she was a little surprised, he could not gauge where the conversation would go next, and he fidgeted nervously, shifting his weight uncomfortably from one leg to another. This isn’t how I wanted it to go; it’s not right… “Look, I know it looks awful now, so can you just-“
Without a word, Nami plucked a tangerine half-smothered in frosting and popped it into her mouth. As he gawked at her, her eyes turned upwards to meet his while chewing on the citrus slice calmly.
“It’s delicious, Sanji,” she answered calmly when she swallowed. Sanji, having not expected such a reaction, just continued to stare at her with his mouth hanging open as she delicately pulled a piece of the angel food cake from the box and stuck it in her mouth; admittedly, his heart fluttered slightly as she licked the frosting from her fingertips. Nami’s eyes had his own locked within a vice grip the entire time, and she must have known had maddeningly sexy the entire display was. “Did you make this?”
“Chiffon and I did. She wanted to know your favorites to make you a cake as thanks for helping Lola.” Nami nodded at his explanation, continuing to just casually eat the cake with her fingers as if she was not intentionally being provocative about it the entire time. Sanji’s heart, originally stopped in his chest, had taken up a furious tempo; his fingers twitched slightly, as his senses were overcome by the joy he felt that Nami was enjoying his creation as he always was. However, there was just something off about the entire thing, the way that she was behaving that had his instincts buzzing. Nami was like an unpredictable tiger, currently content and purring and obviously playful, but who knew if that invitation would lead to a painful mauling? It was almost as if she knew there was deeper meaning behind the little cake, and was intentionally being coy to draw it out of him. It was certainly in her wily nature. He continued to watch her eat the cake as she watched him, calculating and daring. It’s not like Sanji was unwilling; he had spent agonizing hours in the thrall of his regret of not telling the gorgeous navigator the true depths of his feelings. Even if it isn’t how I envisioned… It’s still my chance.
“Nami,” he murmured and reached out to lightly catch her elbow. Her eyes did not falter from his for a moment; it was like she was searching him, trying to riddle out if the words that were going to pass him lips were some fleeting fancy. “Nami, I-“ He was suddenly silence as she shoved a rather large chunk of the cake into his open mouth. He recoiled with large eyes, the confection only limply held between his teeth as the frosting began to melt on his tongue spreading its sugary goodness across his taste buds, but he was hardly aware of it because he was so reeling with confusion. Nami grinned coyly as she sucked a bit of the whipped frosting from her finger. Unpredictable vixen… he thought with a resigned sigh, his mouth curling upward into a smile.
“It wouldn’t be fair if you didn’t get a taste of the wonderful cake you made, now would it?” she laughed lightly as she tossed the now-empty box aside. Sanji was now chewing thoughtfully on the cake. He honestly had no clue what was going on anymore; the situation had spiraled rapidly out of control, the ball was in the navigator’s court, and he had decided he was just going to stand there and let her run the show. She placed a hand on his hip as she regarded him levelly. It now seemed as if she were searching herself, whether she wanted to hear what he had to say at all. After a moment, she very softly murmured, “Now… What were you going to say?”
“I love you, Nami,” he spit out immediately. Now that he had committed, he could no longer contain himself. He grabbed her by her upper arms, firmly but not violently, as he took a step closer to her with his eyes boring intently into her own. “I mean it, really, I do.” Sanji knew that the odds were not in his favor; he knew he had a penchant for cherishing women, it was just the way he was, he couldn’t help but want to make every woman feel like a goddess. But Nami was his supreme deity, the queen of them all, the one whom he wanted to please the most. “Even if you don’t feel the same way, I want to know tha-“
Once again he was silenced, this time by Nami’s lips smothering his own. He went rigid with shock as she stood on her tip-toes to softly kiss him, her hand sliding across the back of his neck to tangle her fingers into the ends of his blonde hair. He was still a statue carved of stone went she pulled back with a small smile.
“You had frosting on your mouth. I couldn’t let it go to waste.” At her utterance, he suddenly regained the ability to move and looked down at her incredulously. Then, he was seized by an overwhelming burst of passion and need to once more have her mouth against his own. His lips dove to crash against hers, feverish, desperate. His hands rose to cup her soft cheeks as their lips began to dance together in a passionate samba, before one of them moved to the back of her head to mingle with her wild waves of tangerine hair. Nami’s body molded against his, fitting her every curve against his rigidly sculpted muscles like an interlocking puzzle. Sanji tried to pour every ounce of his undying love for her into that kiss, silently conveying everything he could not convey in words; he could never put it into words, the way he felt about her, how she was the center of his world, this divine being that he worshipped, whom he wanted to hold and cherish and treasure for the rest of his life. He knew he wasn’t worthy of her, her that shone with all the power and majesty of the sun; he was just a meager weed begging to be graced with her shimmering waves. He kissed her hungrily, because he had been starved of her, her that was a life-giving spring he so radically wished to bathe in after spending so long at the edge. Sanji felt all this and so much more, and Nami received all of that willingly. In return he received her acceptance, her admission, her divine graces.
His hands had begun to explore the nuances of her body, carefully marking every curve in the perfect roadmap that she was. Imploring, he ran his tongue along her bottom lip, and she graciously complied, parting her lips to allow him entry. He pushed the kiss further, angling his head while pulling her tongue into a tumultuous tango, swirling within the ballroom that was their mouths. Nami’s fingers curled into the thick fabric of his tuxedo as her breathing began to grow ragged, and that sound of exertion sent Sanji into a high; the sweet taste of her like the purest honey over his tongue, the sound of her light gasps that was like a harmonic symphony in his ears, the electric pulses that her touch sent rocketing through his nerves- it was enough to get him drunker than he had ever been. Barely thinking straight anymore, he pulled back to pepper her face in light kisses, everywhere he could reach, whispering that he loved her between every one while tears fell from his eyes. He loved her so much that it hurt, a tightness in his chest like he was being suffocated. His Nami, who had given herself to him, who he would give his life for and wanted to raise to the goddess that she was in his eyes- he showered her in all the love he had to give and more. In his fit of ecstatic delirium, he wondered if he had fallen into some seductive nightmare and would soon awaken to find that he had fallen prey to lucid fantasies and nothing more…
But when he regained himself, panting heavily from exertion and overwhelming feeling, she was still there in his arms, her face hovering just beneath his. Her finger was tracing patterns down his jawline while her other was curling around a strand of his hair, and she was smiling like she was waiting for him to say something.
“You had frosting on your mouth,” was the first thing that came to mind. She giggled, and Sanji recalled that he absolutely adored the way she laughed; it sounded like the clearest of tinkling bells. After she finished laughing, she purred almost like a cat, and the way her chest rumbled against his made Sanji almost want to pull her back into another heated kiss.
“I love you too, Sanji.” Every cell in his body sang as she whispered that, and he did not even try to hide his elation; his smile nearly broke his face as he leaned down to touch their foreheads, not even able to speak because of how stupidly and strongly he was grinning. She chuckled again, continuing to leave those tender touches along the side of her face while he ducked down to give her another soft kiss as a sign of his gratitude for returning his affections. It was a slow, gentle kiss, nothing like the intense display before, and as he pulled back, she was smiling warmly too. “Just never pull another stupid stunt like that again, okay?” Though her tone was light, he could tell from the tightness in her facial muscles that she was nearly begging him.
“Of course. I’m never, ever, ever leaving your side again, Nami-swan.” She rolled her eyes playfully at his rather overdramatic response, because she knew Sanji would literally cling to her like a burr to clothes.
“Don’t go overboard.”
Sanji chuckled breathily and, so intensely in love with the brazen, powerful woman, once again swept her up into a kiss. With only the moon and stars as witnesses with the wind and sea providing orchestra for the two lone performers of passion, the Thousand Sunny sailed on, bearing him and Nami onward into an uncertain future… But he was not concerned, because he had the woman he loved at his side, and she had him at hers, ever-locked in a bond of devotion and trust.
Chapter 32: The Tale of Carina
Honestly wasn’t sure what to categorize this as, because it’s a little different than what I normally write, so that’s the best I could come up with. XD Still hope you guys enjoy this one, even if it isn't a romance; it was a nice character study, at least! Happy reading!
Category: Hurt and Comfort
Requested By: Anonymous User
As she lounged in a lovely flower-printed blue silk hammock stretched between two palm trees swaying in the continuous salty breeze, her curvy frame clothed in a luxurious white bikini and a piña colada in her bejeweled hands while she watched the glimmering red sun sink slowly below the gently rolling waves, Carina for the first time truly felt like she was in paradise. She pursed her lips in a smirk as she stirred the alcoholic beverage contained within the half-pineapple container; it was the thief’s future that she had always dreamed of, retired on a tropical island with more money than she knew what to do with.
After bidding Nami and the rest of the Straw Hats farewell while making off with Gran Tesoro’s casino ship, Carina had torn the massive structure apart acquiring everything valuable. It was true that he had no stash of gold hidden within his dreamlike nightmare of a vessel, but there was still plenty of money and jewelry and fine clothing to be had upon it. Once she had acquired everything she had wanted, she sold off the casino vessel and all the contents she did not wish to take with her, and instantly became a multi-billionaire. Perhaps the “ethical” thing to have done was to sink the ship, tainted with the blood and tears of hundreds, into the sea, but she was a woman with needs and material desires, after all. Sometimes, though, when the nice things and hundred-Belli bills were not enough to eclipse her mild guilt, her mind would wander to the ship’s fate. Was it now simply an honest casino- or as honest as one could be-, or had it devolved into a slave vessel once more? Carina hoped not. She knew the pain of being owned.
It happened shortly after her departure from Nami all those years ago; she had narrowly escaped the clutches of the vicious pirates they had run afoul of and fled to a boisterous port island along the Grand Line. A small child, homeless and surviving by picking pockets, a human wrought low- she slunk about the streets amongst others of her ilk, raucous and brutish pirates, bloodthirsty bounty hunters, amorous prostitutes, dipping her hands where she would to make off with Belli and valuables. She had managed to acquire the basic things an urchin required in its rough life, a scratchy blanket and flat pillow nestled in an alleyway with a construction of discarded furniture and sheet metal to stave off the pouring rain, a little oil lamp to provide a small burning flame when the nights grew bitterly cold, a picture book she read two hundred and sixty-eight times and told herself she never tired of. Most of her Belli she spent on food, because she at least managed to hold onto enough pride not to dig through the garbage. Of course, she had to defend her humble home from those unwilling to do what it took, and earned herself several bruises, bloody noses and black eyes, broken knuckles and pale white scars. For almost a year she persisted like that, merely getting by- that is, until she was caught with her fingers in the wrong purse. Like a whirlwind had whipped her away to a foreign land, Carina suddenly found herself a slave.
It could have been worse. She could have been forced to work in mines, or serve as the packhorse pulling the nobles and their shopping for the day in their carriages, or worst of all, thrust into the seedy underworld of the child trade… No, Carina was one of the fortunate of the unfortunate; she was a maid. She was of tender age and could not meet the physical demands of scrubbing endless stretches of floor, climbing rickety ladders to dust crystal chandeliers at the peak of domed ceilings, sweeping and mopping and serving tea and cakes- plus, she maintained her rebellious attitude. If she allowed them to whittle her down to an obedient, meek member of the help, she would be nothing. It did not go unrewarded, though; many times Carina lay in her bunk, her face or behind stinging with vicious slaps, her back bleeding from tears from the whip’s sharp teeth, her feet blistered and sore from the day’s work. Years went on like that, and Carina grew from a disgruntled child to a young woman- but she never forgot, the taste of the open sea and the freedom of the salty wind, the feeling of smooth jewels and the glitter of gold… and she never relented.
She was fourteen when she first stepped foot on Gran Tesoro’s grand casino ship. Her owners had of course heard the fuss, and needing to be among the highest of the high and knee-deep in the latest trend, they had booked a week-long extravagant getaway on the sailing resort. Carina had been the chosen of the help to come along, though she could never reason why; perhaps they feared if she was not under careful watch, she would pilfer their home and make off, which was not entirely unreasonable. Still, it was not an awful experience. The suite adjoined to her masters’ was quite an improvement over her humble maid’s berth in the mansion, outfitted with silk sheets and a down comforter over a mattress seemingly made of the clouds themselves, a full-sized bathroom luxury soaps and shampoos with a claw-foot tub you could sit a giant in, and all the other furnishings from her wildest dreams. Upon one night of staying there Carina decided that she never wanted to leave, and fate answered her wish.
Surrounded by so much money and wealth, Carina’s thieving nature began to itch terribly. Her masters were so involved in their own gloating and pandering that their watch waned. If she could procure a gold watch or two, a stack of Belli, a string of pearls, some diamond earrings, anything at all in that mountain of hypocrisy and excess, surely she could buy her way out of her situation. She was actually making some headway, flitting about the slots nicking something here and there, until her masters came looking for her. Carina had panicked then and darted off, laden with her burden of near-freedom- and crashed right into the master of the casino ship. Her goods went scattering, coins arcing through the air, pearls spilling from her dress, bills flying about her like a hurricane. Her heart jumped in her throat, lodged there like the massive emerald brooch that clunked to her feet as she landed on her behind. Her masters were screeching in the background while the people around raised a fuss as they realized their items were now scattered about the lavender-haired girl, but Carina had eyes only for the man towering above her.
It was the first time that someone had truly smiled at her in such a long, long time.
“Are you all right, little one?” The care in his voice seemed so genuine, and the hand that he held out to her seemed so welcoming. Carina felt tears flooding her eyes as she extended her own shaking one to grasp his, and his touch was gentle as he eased her to her feet. Her masters were upon her in an instant, red-faced and enraged, but Tesoro quickly shoved her behind his towering, engoldened frame to shield her from their ire. “I’ll buy her from you.” Carina’s eyes went as wide as china plates as he so easily announced it. Her heart began to drum in her chest. Was she only going to be passed from one slaveowner to another? “I’ll buy her freedom.” Freedom. The word danced like dissolving sugar on her tongue; how long had it been since its taste had graced her senses? She looked up at her savior with wide, grateful eyes, entranced by him and his generosity.
It had taken quite a while to calm the crowd, who wanted Carina punished severely for her transgression, but after enough money and sweet words had been thrown around, they were satiated and Carina was free- both from their ire and her chains. Tesoro ran a hand through his hair with a heavy sigh as if he had been the one unburdened.
“Why did you do it?” There was no way that someone could be so generous; he had money to throw around, for sure, but there had to be some benefit for him. His eyes flickered down to meet hers and he lifted his hand; so used to a slap being the following action, she flinched and squeezed her eyes shut. Instead of the burning blooming in her cheek, she felt his fingers gently tousling her wavy lavender hair. She cracked an eye open to look at him curiously.
“You remind me of someone I used to know.” The sadness in his eyes struck Carina’s heart like an arrow, and never left. Even to this day, knowing the monster he was, she knew he had become so because he was burdened with unimaginable pain.
From that point forward, Carina became employed by Tesoro. It wasn’t long that she learned the truth of the magnificent, splendorous, tragedy of a ship and began to concoct her scheme to profit off of him and skip out. The Straw Hats had provided a stupendous opportunity for that, and she had gotten to see Nami again, too, and make amends for what she had done to her then. Carina had come onto that ship dirtied by the harshness of fate and her own actions, and she had come away clean, whitened by the promise of a new future.
Thus, Carina’s thieving days were done. She was content to lie in her hammock under the burning sun for the rest of her days in comfort and security.
Carina glanced down at the crystalline white sand as her Den Den Mushi began to ring, and she set the drink down to pick up the receiver. Nami’s cheerful voice rang on the other line.
“Hello, Nami,” she smiled as she settled herself comfortably in the hammock. “So, tell me about your newest adventure.”
“You won’t believe the stupid thing Luffy did-“
Though Carina definitely loved her island home and peaceful life, her adventurous spirit definitely wasn’t dead. A girl had to have some way to entertain herself, after all!