Hitori Ja Nai - "Not Alone"
Note: This fic 'occurs' after the Arubasta arc, but could also be just after the Skypia Arc. I haven't read any further than that. I make mention of Luffy's parentage, it's of my own design and will be further explained in another fic. -aks
Another long, uneventful day on the Grand Line aboard the Going Merry turned suddenly tragic when Ussop got Zoro to help him reel in a fish.
The sun shone down on the little ship as it made its way along the Grand Line. The smell of something wonderful being cooked in the galley wafted on the breeze that filled the sails. The ship's doctor was seated on the bow, sucking on a tropical drink through a straw and watching the gunner struggle with his custom-made fishing pole. "Whoa! It's a big one!" the famous liar called out.
"Really?" the small, half-man-half-deer ogled the line as it reeled out quickly.
"Keep it down!" the swordsman leaning against the mast mumbled. "I'm trying to sleep."
A dark haired woman lounging in a deck-chair looked up from a book and from a distance of 100 feet helped steady the pole. Three extra arms sprouted from the young man's body and gripped the pole. "Thanks, Robin!" Ussop called. She nodded and went back to her reading.
The ship's cook strolled out of the galley and raised a curly brow. "Whatcha got there, Ussop?" he asked, pulled out a pack of cigarettes and leaned over the railing.
"A massive Sea King that will feed us for a month at least!" he crowed back.
"Really?" Sanji lit a cigarette and flicked the spent match overboard. "Zoro, help the poor fool reel it in, will ya?" he commanded and turned to go back to his cooking.
"Like hell," the swordsman grumbled and tried to look asleep.
"Do it, asshole, or go hungry."
Zoro's eye twitched. A brief argument between his stomach and his pride flared in his brain. "Fine! But only so he shuts the hell up and I can get some rest!"
"All right, Zoro!" Chopper cheered.
On the stern, unaware of the commotion, Nami watched the sea swirl in the wake of the ship. It had been nearly three days since they'd last seen land. In these times-between-adventures, the only thing that kept her mind occupied was her cartography. Without an island or even a simple rock sticking out of the water, she had very little map-making to do. Nami had every confidence in the Log Pose and her ability as a navigator, but today her mind was wandering.
Nami sighed and put her face in her hands. The ruckus at the other end of the ship didn't disturb her at all, but her captain's staring at her certainly did.
"Ah!" she shouted in alarm.
"Ah!" Luffy cried back and laughed at her reaction. "Sorry, you looked like you were checking out something cool." He pointed at the water.
He didn't mean any harm, but he could be fairly irritating. "Luffy…" she growled quietly but calmed relatively quickly. "No."
"Oh," he said disappointedly. Sanji and Zoro could be heard barking at each other from the front of the ship. Nami rolled her eyes and Luffy thrust his fists into the air. "Yay!" he shouted. "Maybe they found something cool!"
"I'm sure it's stupid, whatever it is," Nami warned him.
"Awww." Luffy pouted. He paused and gave her an unblinking stare. "You feelin' ok? Maybe you're hungry? Maybe they caught something… something yummy!"
Nami opened her mouth to reply, but words didn't have a chance to come to her before disaster struck.
Zoro grudgingly put his hand out. "Ussop, gimme that line."
"Aye-aye, Zoro!" Ussop piped and saluted him. Everyone trained their eyes on the water. Zoro grasped pole with one hand and the line with the other and winced as it burned him. He lurched forward, but braced himself on the masthead and wrapped his hand around the line, stopping it. "What the hell did you catch?"
"I told you it was enormous, don't yell at me! If you're not strong enough, just let it go then!" Ussop goaded him.
Zoro grimaced. "Hell no!" He took a deep breath. "Ok, stand back!" he called and yanked the line. Even Robin looked shocked as the thing emerged from the water. As if in slow motion, a Sea King, propelled by the monstrously strong swordsman's arm strength, flew up over their heads. Its shadow darkened the deck. Zoro, Ussop and Chopper scattered below before it slammed down. The bow plunged underwater with the weight.
When the ship stopped bobbing and the Sea King (which was only a baby) stopped flopping about, the crew emerged and examined it. Sanji slipped a sharp knife into its side, took a slice out and inspected the meat. "Pretty good," he mumbled, not wanting to boost anyone's ego over his own.
"Oh yeah!" Ussop posed for the crowd. "The Great Captain Ussop has delivered this magnificent feast for you all!"
"Hey, who did the 'delivering'?" Zoro growled and blew on his seared hand.
"Wait'll Luffy gets a load of this!" Chopper exclaimed.
Robin looked around. "Speaking of our captain, where is he? It's not like him to miss out on such excitement."
"Mm," Chopper agreed. "And where's Nami-san?"
"Ah! Nami-swan! Come see what I'm making you for dinner!"
"Oho, I wonder what they both could be doing that's more important than this?" Ussop said with a foxy grin.
"Shut it!" Sanji snarled and slammed his heel down on his head.
"Would you relax?" Zoro groaned. "I'm sure they're around here somewhere."
Out of the corner of her eye Nami had seen something huge come out of the water ahead of the ship, but by the time she turned around her feet were no longer on the deck. She didn't see that it was a Sea King until she was well above it. She then felt Luffy's extended arm wrap around her waist. 'Oh, good,' she thought as if in a dream, 'I'm saved.' But for some reason she was still moving away from the ship, inexplicably flying through the air. 'Oh, this can't be good,' she thought and as the Going Merry disappeared below her, she lost consciousness.
"Whaddayamean they're not on the ship!" Ussop panicked as the crew rejoined on the bow after a thorough search.
"We looked everywhere," Zoro said, scratching his head.
"Nami-saaaaaaaaaaan," Sanji moaned pitifully.
"This isn't good," Robin commented. "Luffy's a hammer like me. Could he be at the bottom of the ocean?"
Chopper stared at the deck. "The last time they were seen was just before the Sea King was brought aboard."
"Oh no! My catch ate Luffy and Nami?" Ussop flailed. "Open up you fishy bastard! Give us our friends back!" he shouted and kicked the corpse.
"No, wait…" Chopper put his hoof to his chin in thought. He looked at the sea water from when the bow submerged, now drying in the sun. "The boat rocked quite a bit when the Sea King hit the deck..."
"'Rocked'?" Sanji exclaimed. "Try plunged."
"If the front went down, the back went up, right?" Chopper rationed.
"Oh sure," Sanji said and went white. "Anything… on the stern that wasn't nailed down would have been…"
"…Catapulted off the ship," Zoro finished.
"Whaaaaaaaaaaa!" Ussop wailed.
"Bellemere-san… I'm coming…" Nami muttered as she came to. Acute pain shooting through her leg told her she was alive and brought her around. "Unnn… What happened?" she asked. "Did we get attacked?" She reached out to feel the foreign texture below her and gave herself a sizable paper-cut on a palm frond. "Yike! What the… Guys?" she called weakly. "Anyone?"
She gathered she was in the top of a palm tree and her leg hurt so much she thought it might be broken. Trying to move the leg was out of the question, but she was able to lift up enough to survey her surroundings. In front of her a beach stretched out to the endless sea with no sign of the Going Merry. Behind her, a dense jungle complete with tall volcanic mountain loomed menacingly. "I was launched off the ship somehow…" she muttered, the events of a half an hour ago not all that clear in her mind. "And Luffy was…" she gasped. An image of her captain sinking helplessly into the ocean popped into her head. He had tried to save her and now he was…
"AH! YOKATTA!" he shouted, his neck stretched up to peek over the top of the tree. "You're ok!"
"Luffy!" Nami cried, relieved, but her face quickly darkened. "Don't scare me like that!"
"Hahahaha! Sorry, sorry! Hey, Nami, whaddaya doing in a tree?"
She gave him a look of death. "You tell me."
"No idea." Without being asked, Luffy extended his arms up and started to help her.
"Careful! I think my leg is broken," she said as she tried to sit up more. He hadn't touched her yet.
"Oh, ok," he said and scooped her up. Nami watched him for a moment, but his eyes were trained on the ground so that he could see where he was going.
She couldn't think why, but she was suddenly uncomfortable. She changed the subject. "What about the others?"
"They're still on the ship."
"Are you sure?" she asked as he carefully set her down.
Luffy looked up and studied the horizon. "I saw them when we were flying. They were running for cover."
"What happened?" she asked quietly.
"I dunno. There was a Sea King about half the size of the ship that hit the deck. The stern flew up. I guess 'cause of the weight of the Sea King, so did we."
She remembered seeing the Sea King. It made sense, but she had no idea where the thing had come from.
He put his hands on his hips. "So I guess we just have to wait till they miss us and come looking for us, ne?"
Nami clutched the white sand she sat on. "If they're able to…"
"Eh?" Luffy stared at her.
"Without my Log Pose, they can't even find the next island they're looking for, whether this is that island or not." Nami pouted. "We might be here for a while."
"But they'll find us eventually!" he beamed.
"I'm hungry," Luffy stated. "I'm gonna go fishing."
"With what?" Nami asked gloomily. He grinned back and clasped his left arm with his right indicating he intended to use his weapon of choice. "Ugh. Well, don't wander off!"
By nightfall Luffy had made a lean-to just at the edge of the jungle. The sun set into the ocean's horizon and Nami tried to settle in and get comfortable. 'Well,' she thought. 'At least it's a tropical island. We won't freeze or anything. And there's plenty of fish and fruit to eat.' She stared at her captain as he wolfed down some strangely-shaped brightly colored fruit he had found nearby. 'And I won't be in any danger as long as Luffy doesn't get lost on me…' Another vision floated through her consciousness. She was wandering through the jungle calling his name and hearing it echo back at her. She shuddered.
'How on Earth did we come to follow such a haphazard person!' she asked herself.
Nami was now ridiculously far from her home, even further than she had been when she roamed the seas stealing for Arlong. That night, under the stars with only the jungle insects, the waves and Luffy's snoring to keep her company, she felt very lonely.
When Nami woke the following morning, Luffy was gone. She gasped and sat up. Fortunately, Luffy could do nothing quietly. Loud splashing and laughter came from the water. He was wading safely near the beach, kicking the waves as he walked, singing a song he'd made up about the funny-looking fish he was plucking from the sea. A large jungle leaf he carried folded over on his back was already full of fish. Nami sighed with relief and closed her eyes. 'He may be haphazard, but at least he's reliable.' She sank back down onto the warm sand and tried to squeeze in some more sleep.
A stifled giggle brought her around. Nami opened her eyes and Luffy was standing just in front of her, holding something dark, amorphous and dripping wet only inches from her face.
"I got this for you!" he beamed. In his right hand he held a good ten pounds of dark red seaweed.
"Things that color are usually inedible, Luffy," she warned.
"I know, you don't eat it you wear it!" Nami turned white and tried to protest as he gently lifted up her wounded leg with one hand and wrapped it in the seaweed with the other. "Just sit tight," he advised. "It'll get kinda warm but that means it's working."
Nami was dumbstruck. "What… what is this?" she asked quietly.
"Same seaweed we had on the beach back home. Tastes the same and everything."
'He tasted it…' she thought and made a face. The smell almost took her breath away. "Why is it on my leg?"
"It heals real good. I tried it on a cut I got this morning, see?" he said and thrust his thumb at her. It was wrapped in the red seaweed. He pulled the stuff off and she could see the cut was almost totally healed already. Luffy turned and started building the fire back up for lunch. "I dunno how it works, though. Chopper'd know. Chopper'd've had you up and dancin' around by now."
"Yeah," she agreed with a sigh. "I hope they're doing alright."
"I'm sure they are!"
Nami leaned her face in her hand. "You're hopeless…"
"Huh?" he asked, looking up from his task.
"Never mind," she moaned. The seaweed was getting rather warm as it started to bake in the sun. The pain was already subsiding. Nami relaxed as a warm breeze blew some of the stench away. She propped herself up against a tree trunk and watched Luffy fix the fire and make lunch: a good two-dozen fish on skewers. He hummed to himself as he worked. She closed her eyes.
'He's so bizarre,' she thought. 'Of all the guys on the ship, I get stuck with Luffy…' She grinned evilly. 'Now if it were Zoro, muhahahaha…'
Nami moved slightly and remembered that her leg was still injured. 'Aw, who am I kidding? First off Zoro wouldn't make a move for me. I think he's a-sexual or something. Maybe all that weight-lifting quashes his libido. Anytime I've tried to see if he's interested his eyes are so far away. I really don't know anything about his past. I think maybe he was hurt once. The only woman who seems to ruffle his feathers is that Marine chick with the glasses, but even then he just runs from her!' Nami pouted. 'No. As amazing as I bet Zoro is in bed, I don't think he'd make much of a boyfriend. No cuddle-time with that one, I'm sure.' She sighed.
'Now Sanji,' she thought and shuddered. 'That would be suffocating! I'd never get him off me if I went for him! Well, at least until the next pretty girl walked by…' she fumed. 'Sure, he can cook (boy can he cook!) and he's strong, good-looking and attentive, but he's also a playboy and he smokes like a friggin' chimney. How all of our food doesn't taste like smoke is beyond me.' Nami folded her arms. 'Nope. I don't think I could swap saliva with a walking ash-tray.'
'Ok. Who's left? Heh. Chopper's a kid and only half human! Robin's gorgeous and nice, but I don't swing that way. I'm not desperate or anything. Ussop.' She took a deep breath. 'It's not his looks. It's not that he's weaker than the other guys. I was with the crew when we met him. That girl from his hometown, Kaya, she's the only one in his heart. He's mentioned it to me a couple of times. Like that time I asked him if he wanted to buy her something, he just said no. He pointed to his head and said was saving all his stories just for her. Ah! So cute! Out of everyone on the ship, Ussop is my closest friend. I can't imagine anything else between us.' Nami sighed and watched a few useless clouds amble across the sky.
"All done!" Luffy announced, handing her a half-dozen fire-roasted fish.
Nami was a bit dazed from her reverie. "Oh, thanks."
He put a leaf loaded with the other 18-plus fish on the ground next to her and flopped down on the sand. "Itadakimasu!" he said and practically inhaled them. When he was done he patted his belly and stared out at the ocean. "Ya know," he said quietly. "Eating's not as fun without the others to fight for it." His eyes stayed trained on the horizon. "Do you really think they may not find us?"
"Luffy…" Nami's heart sank. Was her captain actually not being optimistic? "I didn't say that, just that it'll be harder for them to find us since they don't have me on board."
"Oh. Ok," he said simply flopped back against the sand and pushed his hat over his eyes. "Nap time."
'Ugh,' she moaned internally. 'I cannot figure him out.'
Late that night, a huge moon shone down on the beach. Nami woke from a fairly sound sleep and glanced around. Nothing was out of place. The fire was dying and its glow illuminated Luffy's back. He sat facing the sea with his arms crossed over his knees. After watching him for a few minutes, Nami realized he wasn't asleep, but she was too tired to comment on the situation.
Nami woke before Luffy the next morning and poked at the seaweed covering her leg. She was about to call out to her sleeping captain to get the stinky stuff off of her when he groaned and reached into the air. "Wait…" he called out. "Hey, wait for me!"
"Luffy…" she whispered. By the tone of his voice, she didn't think he was dreaming about run-away food. This was definitely a nightmare. 'What's he mean, wait for me?' she thought, and it disturbed her. "Oi, Luffy, wake up!"
He opened his eyes, seemingly surprised to be where he was. "Ah. Still here." He looked blearily out at the water.
"Ano, Luffy…" she began, hesitant to ask him about the dream.
He turned slowly and brightened a bit. "Hey! Let's see how your leg is doing!"
"Oh, yeah!" Nami started to take the now dried layers of seaweed off of her legs and was surprised to find Luffy helping her. Gently he peeled the layers back, commenting on how stinky it was with a smile.
'Ok,' she thought. 'So it was just a bad dream he had. He seems alright now.' But something was still different about him. He was being so attentive, so serious, as he examined her leg. His voice was quiet and calm. She was sure that he wasn't uncomfortable with being stuck on the island alone with her. He had hardly left her side since they arrived. 'Something must be troubling him.'
Nami stared hard at Luffy, wondering what in the world could possibly get him thinking. In all they'd been through, she had never seen him get moody. He always had a confident smile. Their captain was a beacon of hope in even the roughest situations. 'It must be the nightmare,' she thought. 'I can't deal with this. It's too weird.' "Luffy, did you have a bad dream last night?" she asked cautiously.
"Aa," he answered simply, pushing gingerly on the ball of her foot to stretch the muscle.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked and gasped at the quickness of his reply.
He finished with her leg and stood up. Nami stared at his back as he walked down the beach. Rather than becoming anxious that she would be left alone, Nami's thoughts were only on him. 'He can't be like this…' she thought. 'This is Monkey D. Luffy we're talking about!' For the rest of the day, Nami massaged her leg, tended to the fire and worried for her captain.
After the sun had set, his shape finally ambled back across the beach. Wordlessly, Luffy approached the campsite and dumped a load of fruit and coconuts in front of her. Nami thanked him quietly and tried not to disturb him. She had to find just the right words and they hadn't come to her yet. He sat cross-legged and stared out at the horizon.
"You know," she began with a smile. "We can't spend the whole time on this island not talking to each other."
"I'm sorry I got you worried. I'm sure they'll find us. The others are probably going crazy trying to figure out where we are."
"They'd follow you to the ends of the earth, you know. Anytime anyone has any doubts, all they have to do is look to you. You're always the positive force that drives us on towards your dream. That's why I'm so disturbed right now. You're never like this…"
Luffy straightened up and looked over at Nami, but her head was down. She rolled a small piece of fruit between her hands. "I've been going over it in my head all day. You haven't slept well in days. Even when you seem cheerful, I can tell that it's just to cover up how you really feel. Best I can imagine is that you had a nightmare about people leaving you behind and you're worried that you'll never be rescued. I don't know what I can do to help that, but please know that even though the others are out of reach, I'm right here."
Her heart stopped as he stood up. Nami squeezed her eyes shut and tried not to cry. 'How am I supposed to reach him now!' she panicked. 'That was everything I had!' Then he flopped down next to her with a soft grunt. He drew his knees up and folded his arms over top of them. From under the brim of his straw hat he looked out at the fire. She could see his eyes glistening with the firelight.
She looked at him with a sad smile, glad to see he at least looked back at her. By the number of times he blinked she could tell her words were reaching him. "I'll never be able to repay you for everything you've done for me," she said and ran a hand over her tattoo. "But just like the others, I'll follow you to the ends of the earth, Captain. You're not alone."
He sighed a sort of bone-tired sigh and leaned towards her. His shoulders relaxed and his head touched her left shoulder but he didn't stop there. He was a lot heavier than she had imagined. Flailing slightly and blushing furiously, Nami fell down against the sand under his weight. She was about to protest and hit him, but quickly realized he wasn't moving.
"Luffy…?" she asked, panic rising.
Nami sighed with relief and laughed quietly. "You are human, after all, aren't you?" She took off his hat, made sure their feet wouldn't catch fire and stared up at the stars as they popped into the night sky. "Goodnight, Captain."
When Nami woke the next morning, her hand was asleep. She tried to pull it out and remembered who it was under. Luffy snored lightly next to her, his head rested on her shoulder.
Nami stared at him, at the scar under his left eye, at the way his hair fell against his face and was puzzled. 'Why is this ok?' she asked herself. 'Why aren't I mad at him? Why am I so comfortable around such a total lunatic?' She reached her right hand around and cautiously brushed his hair back off of his forehead. He hummed quietly and opened his eyes.
"Ah… good nap…" he mumbled. Suddenly, he realized where he was and looked up, a bit startled.
Nami smiled, unable to move due to having her arm pinned down. "Morning."
Luffy sprung up into a sitting position. "Whoa, sorry! I didn't drool on ya or anything, did I?"
She laughed and shook her tingling hand. "Nah, it's ok. I'm just glad you slept well."
"Oh. That's good!" he chimed, stood and stretched. "Ok! Breakfast!"
'Thank goodness,' she thought as he ran down to the beach. 'Looks like he's reset himself. I hope this lasts.' She watched him dance into the shallows and pluck fish out with his extended arms. 'That's something I can do,' she decided. 'Try to keep him happy while we're here.' She stood up and walked carefully to the water to wash up.
Bathing in the ocean was less like washing and more like getting dirtier. Nami frowned. "Luffy, you found some fresh water somewhere, right?" she asked.
"Oh yeah, there's a pond in the jungle. It's pretty cool. Wanna check it out after breakfast?"
'Always food first…' she thought with a smile. "That'd be great."
Nami moved carefully on her freshly-healed leg through the undergrowth. Luffy swung over her head from vine to vine, stopping occasionally so that she could catch up. At one point a jaguar the size of a pickup tried to make a snack of the navigator. Luffy declared that he would make the jaguar his lunch and after a short, one-sided fight, it was so.
Nami expected a pond as Luffy had called it, but even before it was in view she could hear the roar of a waterfall. It wasn't the biggest one she'd ever seen or the most amazing but it was still beautiful. Luffy grinned at the look of awe on her face. "Pretty cool, huh?"
Her hair was caked with salt from the earlier dip in the ocean. Her skin was covered with dirt and seaweed gunk. The spray almost called out to her – 'come, get clean!' Nami started walking toward the water. She dove in fully clothed then stripped. She used her shirt as a washcloth and got clean for the first time in four days. The miracle of the falls was working on her, until she heard a splashing sound from the other side of the basin.
"I'm not looking!" he shouted, his back turned. He was standing waist-deep in the shallow end away from the falls. He mimicked her and took off his clothes. "This is a good idea!" he chimed. "Ah… Kimochi-ii…"
"Luffy, be careful!" Nami advised. "You could drown, remember?"
"Don't worry…" he replied, walking around a bit for emphasis, scrubbing his back with his pants. "It's nice and shallow here so I can…"
Nami's jaw dropped as he stepped a foot to the left and disappeared under the water. "Luffy!" she cried. Nami attempted to put on her wet shirt, but it proved too difficult to do quickly. She swam closer. "Luffy, quit fooling around!"
'Shit,' she thought darkly. 'He sunk. He really sunk!'
Nami had never had to rescue Luffy before, but she'd seen Zoro and Ussop do it a few times. She drew a breath and dove under the water. About a half a minute later she emerged dragging his unconscious form under her arm. She laid him against some exposed rocks and started pumping water out of his lungs. She heard to his weak heartbeat but he wasn't breathing. "Shit!" she hissed and started mouth to mouth resuscitation. At last he coughed and sputtered to life. She waited until she was certain he was regaining consciousness before covering herself with her hands and turning her back to him.
"Luffy, are you ok?"
"Uhhhnnn… Yeah…" he giggled and coughed. "Looks like I lost my pants, though!"
"Mou! Be serious!"
"I am!" he laughed. "They musta floated away!"
Nami growled. 'It can't be a trick,' she rationed. 'He wouldn't risk his life just to…' She blushed an even deeper red. The image of Luffy naked and helpless was burned into her brain. 'No. It's not a trick.' "Close your eyes. I'll go get our clothes."
"Ah, thanks Nami."
She didn't bother to check if he did. Soon, she had located everything. When she headed back, Luffy was sitting against a rock in the water with his hands over his privates and his eyes squeezed shut. She tossed him his shorts and vest. He got dressed and stepped out of the water. "You swim around. I'll make a fire over here so you can dry your clothes out."
Nami looked up at him, clutching her shirt to her chest. "O…Ok." She was astounded at his chivalry. "Luffy, come back in a couple of hours." He turned and gave her a questioning look. "I don't know if I can find my way back."
"Oh, sure! I'll go butcher that big cat I clobbered earlier and we'll make lunch." He beamed.
"Sounds good." 'Jeeze, we're turning into Tarzan and Jane, aren't we?' That image played in her mind as she slipped down into the water. "Mou…" she groaned. "Where'd my skirt get to…?"
After lunch (which Nami hated to admit was really good), they went back to the beach and lounged around until nightfall. As they settled in for the night, Nami watched Luffy prod the fire to her right. He looked up, saw her eyes were fixed on him and looked around as if she must have been staring at something around him.
"Sorry. I was just thinking that there's a lot I don't know about you."
"Really? Like what?"
"Well, you know pretty much everything there is to know about me. But for instance, I don't even know how you got that scar." Nami pointed to his face.
"Hehehe. I gave it to myself when I was little to prove I was a baddass."
Nami giggled. "What!"
"I was like eight. Seemed like a good idea at the time." Luffy leaned back against the sand. "Saa… there's not much to know about me. My story's not nearly as cool as everyone else's."
"Sure it is."
"Not really. Until I met you guys, I had a pretty easy life. I didn't suffer like Sanji, or Chopper or you did. I didn't tell stories like Ussop. I didn't… Hey. I don't know anything about Zoro except that he was a bounty hunter. Huh. Weird."
"You are avoiding the subject."
"I am not!" he pouted. "Ok. Maybe."
Nami lay down next to him. "If there's nothing traumatic about your past, why don't you want to tell me about it? Please tell me your story."
"I dunno…" Luffy said, playing with the sand with his toes and sighed. "You know how I had that nightmare last night? My life before I left my home village, it had… a theme. People always left me behind."
Nami gasped lightly. 'Who could leave him?' she wondered. 'He's the most charismatic, wonderful…'
"When I was eight, I met a pirate named Shanks," he began. "I ate the Gomu Gomu fruit and swore I'd be the King of All Pirates. Then Shanks left with his crew. I was too young to follow. My mother made me and Ace promise to wait until we were 18 before we left home. She was a frail, thin woman with long hair, orange like yours. When I was 10, she died."
Nami listened with baited breath, hanging on his every word. She had never thought of what his childhood must have been like.
"On her deathbed my mother admitted she and my dad and our uncles had all been pirates. She told me that she wanted Ace and me to be amazing pirates, even better than they had been. She told me to go to Logue Town and stand at the top of the gallows to see what it was like and if I could handle that, then I could go find One Piece on the Grand Line. When Ace turned 18 he left home. I didn't see him again till we met up in Arubasta. I was alone for all that time."
He put his hand in the air and made a fist. "I had nothing until I met you guys. You guys are all I've ever wanted, even more than One Piece. My nakama are my treasure." He turned and smiled at her. "I guess I just freaked out a little last night. Sounds silly, doesn't it?"
"Not at all," she whispered.
He yawned. "I'm pooped."
Nami laughed quietly. "You did almost drown today."
"Oh yeah," he replied sleepily. "Nami, can I use your shoulder as a pillow again?"
She smiled. "Of course."
Three weeks went by in much easier fashion. They spent the days lounging around or exploring the jungle of the tiny island. For the times they weren't on the beach Luffy constructed large words on the sand with palm tree-trunks. Nami had scolded him for working on too large a scale, but Luffy pointed out that no matter the fact that he couldn't fit the word 'HERE' on the little beach, the gigantic 'WE ARE' would suffice to draw attention from passing ships. They spent the nights telling stories of their pasts. Nami taught him the names of the constellations above them. Not once did the fear of not being rescued darken their hearts.
One afternoon as Nami was fixing a bit of the lean-to they slept under, she sighed peacefully and watched Luffy fish in the shallows. 'This life's not so bad…' she admitted. 'I miss the others terribly… But… If I wasn't sure before, I am now. I could put up with him for the rest of my life.' She grinned, looked further past her captain at the gleaming horizon and shaded her eyes. Her heart skipped a beat. "No way…"
"Hey, Nami! Check out this ginormous urchin!" Luffy cried, pulling a two-foot wide, green, spiky creature out of the water. He put it over his head and made a serious face. "Hey, hey, who do I look like?"
"The… the others!" Nami shouted and pointed over his shoulder.
"No, no. Just Zoro!" Luffy called back with a pout. Slowly, he realized she wasn't pointing at him. On the horizon and growing closer was a small ship with a rather large and familiar jolly-roger design bearing a straw hat painted on its mainsail. "Yahooo!" Luffy called and waved his own hat back and forth.
Joyful tears came to Nami's eyes. "Thank goodness…" she whispered.
Luffy ran towards her, shouting and cheering. The urchin fell, forgotten as he splashed through the water. He wrapped his arms around her and spun her around a few times, laughing with glee. When he calmed down a little, he noticed that she had put her arms around him too. "Guess we're saved," he said quietly.
"Mm." She nodded. They paused before hugging tightly for a moment. 'This is it,' she thought. 'Back to how it used to be from now on…'
"Do you see anyone, Robin?" Ussop cried to the woman in the crows nest.
In the distance, on the beach, she could make out tree trunks in the shape of the words 'we are' and two figures next to it in an embrace. They pulled apart and stared at each other before leaning in for a tender kiss. Robin smiled. She took the telescope from her eye. "Oh, was I supposed to be looking?"
"YES!" the crew shouted.
"I'm sorry. Let me check." Once again she put the glass to her eye. "Yes, I see them. Luffy and Nami are on the beach."
Their party on the beach lasted well into the night. Before dawn, the crew loaded up with fruit and fish and their lost navigator and captain and set sail for the next island along the Grand Line. Their quest for One Piece resumed. One by one, the Strawhat crew, exhausted from celebrating, retired for the evening.
Nami went to her room. She hovered her hand over the door knob and spaced out.
"You look tired, Nami," Robin's cool voice didn't startle her at all.
Robin smiled. "I bet it will be different sleeping in an actual bed for the first time in three weeks. I've spent months sleeping in odd places. It's always hard to readjust."
"It's not that…" Nami mumbled.
She shook her head. "Never mind. Good night, Robin."
Robin smiled again, nodded and went into her own room.
The ship rocked gently back and forth as usual. It was odd to have it feel different. Not since Arubasta had she spent so much time on dry land. Nami turned again and tried to get comfortable, but it was no good. 'It's not the sea Robin,' she thought. 'It's being alone.'
As if in answer, there was a soft knock on her door. Nami held her breath. The knob turned and the door opened slightly.
"Nami?" he whispered.
"Yes, Luffy?" she replied quietly.
"I can't sleep."
"But you have all the guys to keep you company…"
"I know, but…"
"Let me guess," she said, pushing back the covers. "You need my shoulder as a pillow?"
She saw his toothy grin in the scant light of the hallway before he closed the door behind him. Within minutes, they were both sound asleep. Whatever happened the next morning, Nami decided as she drifted off, she could deal with in the morning.