”Traffy is sick?” The pouty voice of their Captain brings Nami out from her nap just as Zoro blinks awake beside her, both seeking Luffy instinctively at the crawl of unease in his voice.
It had only been hours since their clash with some of Kaido’s smaller ship vessels and they’re both wrapped up in bandages, her hand reaching up to touch the hat that had somehow found itself onto her head as she straightens up from her half-slump against Zoro and the mast.
“It’s just a cold,” Tony hurries to assure him, his fluffy pink hat clutched anxiously in his hooves.
Luffy blinks and they watch him process the words, brows creasing.
“He probably just needs some rest and soup,” Nami offers, drawing herself up. “Isn’t that right, Chopper?”
“Mm,” their tiny Doctor agrees with clear relief as she steps up beside him, aware of Zoro’s gaze as she reaches out to put a hand on their Captain’s shoulder, feeling the smooth roundness of his rubbery skin beneath her palm. “He’s got a low fever so some cold cloths and some easy to process food.”
“Why don’t I go down and keep Law company?” Nami offers. “And you can go bother Sanji into making some chicken soup.”
Luffy associated food with recovery which meant it was the perfect place for him to be, to make him feel like he was being helpful, and she senses the way a fracture of tension eases off him beneath her touch.
Zoro’s approval is clear even as he closes his eye behind her.
Law is a bit of a strange addition to their crew in their temporary Alliance but their Captain is fond of him, that much is clear, so Nami willingly slinks her way down to the sick-quarters, giving a soft knock before slipping inside.
It’s really just curtains drawn on the other half of Tony’s office – a shelf with books and a cluttered desk, medical supplies carefully sorted in their correct places, a clumsy drawing of their reindeer doctor carefully hung on the wall after a messy afternoon of painting. It’s got none of Usopp’s smooth lines, closer to a child’s rendition, but Nami smiles fondly at it, remembering Luffy’s first attempt at drawing their flag.
She threads her way towards him on bare feet, mindful to keep it silent.
“Law?” She pulls the blue curtains aside just as the Hearts Pirate's Captain cracks a single gold eye open and she pauses, making sure recognition had settled there before stepping forward the last bit, closing the curtain behind her and taking her seat on the chair Chopper had left beside him.
Hair damp with sweat and water from the cooling rag, cheeks flushed from fever -it’s strange to see the normally proud and distant man look so vulnerable. Tony had gotten him down to boxers and t-shirt but Nami strongly suspects they’re going to have to help him change soon judging by the perspiration by his neck.
She reaches for the rag on his forehead, dipping it into the bucket with clinking ice Tony had left and wrenching it out before placing it back.
“You’ve looked better,” she observes and he grunts, a tremble running through him. “Luffy is upstairs – he’s worried about you so don’t be surprised if he comes crowding you with meat once Chopper gives him the clear.”
“He’d share?” the question is hoarse and he grimaces almost immediately in regret.
“Mm,” Nami agrees, reaching for the glass of water and straw already waiting. “Luffy doesn’t like seeing those he cares for sick.”
She considers him and then carefully leans forward, inching an arm behind his tense back and helping him up, just enough for his lips to settle around the straw, eyes closing as he drank carefully, giving his body time to handle it, and she thinks that for all that he calls himself the Surgeon of Death it’s also very clear that his level understanding of the body is closer to a Doctor.
They had all overheard his conversations with Tony – the clear interest in his tone when they discussed different diseases, their handling, and Nami wonders if she imagines the hunger for understanding, something anchored into something deep and desperate in his eyes when they discuss different cures.
He’s a strange man but they owe him a great debt for saving their Captain when they couldn’t.
Law releases the straw and Nami eases him down, drawing back.
She’s surprised he hasn’t told her to go away – most prideful men tended to be stingy at being viewed in a state they considered weak. But perhaps that was why – being sick on a ship that wasn’t his own with a crew that wasn’t his, that wasn’t exactly the ideal and sometimes having an easy buffer could mean the world.
“My sister, Nojiko, she used to read to me when I was sick.” It’s an offer and something strange settles in his eyes before he closes them and it’s not a no.
Nami reaches for the book she’d stolen along from Robin, something she had bought to entertain their Captain, short stories from an island in the sky.
She clears her throat as she flips open the first chapter.
Law is asleep by the second page but Nami keeps reading, keeping her tone low, pausing only when she heard the familiar steps of their ship cook.
“Nami-swan,” Sanji greets her quietly and with surprising consideration, a tray balanced on his palm and gently settled on the bedside table. His cigarette is tucked, unlit, behind his ear and his eyes thread momentarily over the sleeping Heart's Captain before focusing on her. “You need a switch?”
“I’ll be fine,” she says and he hums.
“Try the crackers first,” Sanji says just a tad gruffly. “If he can keep him down then some of the broth. There’s bits of chicken at the bottom courtesy of our dear Captain but I doubt he’ll be able to keep them down just yet.”
Nami’s mouth curls up and she inclines her head.
Sanji could mouth-off all he wanted about their Captain’s thieving ways and bothersome habits but he was just an unbearably soft as the rest of them.
“Call if he gives you any trouble,” Sanji says as he turns to leave. “The shitty Marimo is asleep just outside.”
The door closes gently behind him.
“You have a good crew.” Law’s voice makes her startle, turning around just in time to see him push up, mouth in a grimace.
Nami places the book aside and threads over to the only other bed, stealing the three pillows there and pushing them up behind the man with the others, watching as he sinks against them with barely restrained relief.
“They’re something,” she agrees, considering him. “Feel like eating something? You’ve been asleep for some three hours.”
He pauses, glancing momentarily towards the book, open where she’d left it upside down half-way through chapter eight, and then nods in agreement.
It’s clear that the fever was still raging at him and Nami presses the back of her hand against his forehead, decided that it wasn’t quite high-enough to worry Tony who had been awake for way too long and needed his sleep, and drew back as his golden eyes tracked her carefully.
She nabs the towel that had dropped into his lap when he sat up and dropped it into the now lukewarm water, reminding herself to refill it after Law had eaten.
“Where is Tony-ya?” Law asks as she reaches for the bed table and folds it up, dropping it unceremoniously over his thighs.
“Sleeping,” she tells him as she refills his water glass and places it together with the crackers in front of him. “If you’re not comfortable with me here both Sanji and Robin are available. The rest doesn’t leave much over for bedside manners.” Truthfully, Sanji wasn’t ideal considering his aversion to men but he could suck it up when it came to someone being sick – even someone like Law.
“No, it’s – fine,” Law says, carefully folding long fingers around the glass and leaning forward to drink from the straw.
Nami observes the fine tremors still running through him, the frustration with his state badly hidden. The slow careful movements are a tantamount to that – a straining, desperate way of keeping some illusion of control despite his body just waiting to turn itself inside out.
He nibbles carefully on a cracker as she keeps a careful eye on the pallor of his skin, ready to dive for the bucket if need be.
“Have you heard the story of how we happened upon Chopper?” Nami asks to fill the silence between his careful and slow chewing. “Before we travelled to his home island, Drum, we stopped by an island known as Little Garden. It was – as if a piece of time had been preserved on that single piece of earth. There were dinosaurs roaming, ancient flora… And then two giants who’d been fighting there for over a hundred years.”
He glances at her, just enough to let her know he was listening.
“But ancient flora meant ancient mosquitos with ancient diseases and I was unfortunate enough to get stung and I fell really ill.” Law takes a careful sip of his water. “We were lucky we were so close to Drum. There was a Witch Doctor there who managed to bring forth an antidote despite the disease being thought extinct.”
“So Tony-ya was apprenticed to Doctor Kureha?” Law asks, drawing the obvious conclusion as he reaches for a second cracker.
“You know her?” Nami asks in surprise.
“She’s… rather infamous in medical circles,” he admits carefully, grimacing a bit as he spoke. “I’m surprised to hear she had an apprentice.”
“You should ask Chopper about it sometime,” Nami suggests, drawing her legs beneath the chair she was resting on. “She was an interesting woman. We spoke some when I was still recovering. She claimed to be some 117 years old but didn’t look a day over seventy and her knowledge was obvious extensive. I know Chopper phones her occasionally to trade information.”
Seeing as he’d made it through half the crackers she offers him some of the broth as well and he manages three spoons before he shakes his head decisively and she removes it, going as far as to bring it across the room, knowing well how much scent could shake one up when feeling sick.
She also goes to refill the bucket, leaving the door open and threading past Zoro to the kitchen, snagging a tangerine with her on her way back and dropping it into a hand that unfolds automatically to a soft hm of acknowledgement.
Law is half-way out of his shirt when she returns, caught in a struggle against the damp fabric until she grips the hem and yanks it off his head, mouth twitching as it left his hair sticking up in all sorts of direction.
He gives her a grumpy look, cheeks flushed.
She holds up the bucket of water, ice clinking cheerfully. “Sponge bath?” she offers and he gives her a flat stare. “It’s an honest offer,” she says, curving her smile. “I can get you a new t-shirt as well.”
She blinks, momentarily surprised that he’d actually agreed, but catches herself before it becomes awkward, dropping the bucket and all down and heading for the dresser.
All of the crew kept some sort of extra shirt in the Doctor’s office and while Sanji’s build was closer to Law’s she doubted a button-up would be comfortable with the state he was in and instead snags Zoro’s loose white shirt with the thread at the throat and leaves it near the foot of his bed before settling down and scooting her chair closer.
Nami watches the way Law’s back knots with tension, head lowering, but doesn’t remark on it as she squeezes water from the rag before carefully settling it against his neck, wiping down slow and with care.
Being such a small crew that they were meant that they had seen each other in all sorts of compromising states – bad and good and worse. Any embarrassment or strangeness associated with this kind of thing had long been eroded, even with Law being who he was.
Zoro was probably the only one on the crew she’d never seen being sick – he just got himself into an endless amount of near-death states instead. Memorably, nearly cutting his legs off at Little Garden because that’s the kind of man he happened to be.
Even Robin got sick.
She wipes down his back, his arms and chest, leaving his armpits for last and throwing the rag away afterwards, helping him into the t-shirt and leaving him to ease down as she fetches a new one.
“I was sick, when I was younger,” Law admits as she places the cool towel onto his forehead, grasping and squeezing absently at his hand. “The Ope Ope no Mi – it saved my life.”
There’s something there; a memory, something painful, something grateful, an aching sort of loss that came from being saved at a price.
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t for him…” Lethargy is pulling him under and Nami hums, considering the Heart Pirate's Captain. “Cora…” it’s a hoarse sort of murmur, the following words lost as he curled deeper into the covers.
The door behind her opens soon after and the click-clack of small hooves.
“How’s he doing?” Chopper asks as she slides off the chair and gives him a haul up to the chair.
“Two glasses of water and he ate half of the crackers along with a couple of spoons of broth,” she reports quietly. “He slept steadily for some three hours before that before falling asleep again now. I think the fever has been keeping rather steady – he’s been pretty much lucid, flagged off at the end though.”
“That’s good,” Tony says, clearly relived. “Can you-“
“Tell Luffy? Of course.”
Instead of Zoro she finds Usopp and Robin playing a game of cards just outside the door which meant that their First Mate…
She tracks her way to the kitchen, finding Zoro and Sanji along with their Captain who straightened up, swallowing the meat he’d been chewing in a hurry as he made grabby hands towards her.
“Law is doing fine,” she reports before he can ask her. “He got some food down and all.” Just behind Zoro she catches Sanji breathing out in relief as he opens the fridge and pulls out a tray of sandwiches and bottle of orange juice which he pours in a tall glass, topping it off with a small umbrella.
Immediately Luffy shines up, mouth stretching wide. “Can I visit him?” he asks, turning to Zoro with bright eyes.
“Not yet,” Zoro says with a confirming look exchanged with her. “Give it a day or two.”
Luffy puffs up his cheeks but Sanji fishes some frozen pineapple from the freezes and slides it in front of him and he’s suitably distracted, matching Nami’s pace as he ate, legs kicking, clearly content.
A week later Law drops his hoodie on top of her during a particularly cool night and though she isn't particularly cold she shrugs it on anyway, sinking into the surprisingly soft fabric with a small smile.