Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situation created and owned by Eiichiro Oda and various publishers including but not limited to Shonen Jump and TV Tokyo. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Yet.
A/N: For those who understand the pain of shopping with a girl and the evil of the mall. To my toes: glad to feel you again.
"How's this?" she asked, posing in a yellow-colored skirt with floral patterns.
"I dunno, they all look the same," he said, yawning. "Look, can we go back to the ship? I'm starving."
"Just hold on a second." She grabbed a fine silken shawl and wrapped it around her shoulder. "Oh, this is nice. It feels very soft. I'm getting this."
He stood up, slapping both knees with delight. "Good! Now, can we go?"
"Wait. I haven't seen the price tag…"
He groaned. There was an almost certain probability that she would change her mind after seeing the price. It turned out that he was right. She decided that four thousand Berry was too expensive even for such a lovely article.
Roronoa Zoro slumped back into the sofa, sighing. Since early morning he had been accompanying a certain navigator in a shopping spree. They had gone in and out at least twenty different stores, spending a deliberate amount of precious, precious time (choosing and haggling in the true spirit of sharp shoppers) in each establishment.
Nami proved to be a brutal taskmaster as she'd heaved all the purchase into his arms. Strong as he might be, Zoro was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of goods she'd bought. Never in his life was he required to jiggle and balance shopping bags and boxes of various sizes, while keeping track of where he was going.
The latter, as it was proven over and over again, was the more arduous task than the former.
"Nami!" he called her, fearing that she might forget trivial things like lunch. "Can't you just pick one and—"
"Oh, be quiet. I don't understand why men are such pansies when it comes to shopping. All they have to do is wait and carry the bags. We, girls, do all the work," she muttered.
His reply was an indignant, "Like hell you do! This is slavery!"
"Sit down and shut up!" she shouted back, growing annoyed at his constant complaints.
"Oh, that's it! I'm out of here!" he said, grabbing his three katana. "You can shop alone, for all I care."
Nami's head peered from behind a row of shirts. "Go ahead and leave." She eyed him squarely and said in a low voice, "I guess shopping proves too much for a great swordsman like you."
Something on his face told her that the comment had hit the mark. His posture grew stiff, his eyes twitched, and he stammered an unintelligible response.
"Just stay put." She huffed.
Flustered, Zoro grumbled, "Why can't you just take that stupid cook? He'll be down on all four doing this shi—"
A blouse hit him directly on the face before he could finish the sentence. Nami appeared with a new load of clothes to try on.
"Sanji-kun has to go grocery. If he doesn't buy food, we won't have anything to eat, genius." She deposited the load onto the seat beside him and started choosing the ones she liked.
Zoro's stomach made a pitiful sound and he tried his best pretending that it didn't. "What about Usopp?"
"Busy repairing the ship with Luffy." She held up a red tank top. "How's this?"
"Ugly." He shook his head. "Robin?"
"Gone with Chopper. They mentioned something about books." She chose another top, this time a blue one. "Better?"
He made a face. She took the hint and threw the blouse onto the unwanted pile before picking out a green sleeveless.
"I like this one. What do you think?"
He shrugged and let out a reluctant, "Yeah, it's okay."
She smiled. "See? It's not that bad."
He felt an incoming headache and rubbed his temple. "Now, can we please go back to Going Merry?"
Nami rolled her eyes and sighed inwardly. Here we go again.
"We're not done until I buy a pair of new shoes," she said.
He scowled. "Then mind telling me what the hell are we doing in a clothing store?"
Zoro panicked. "Sight-seeing? How many times do you have to go sight-seeing? Can't you just go to one shoe store and be done with it? Look, there's one across the street!"
She turned her gaze to the direction he pointed before turning up her nose and declaring the she would not set a foot inside that 'dingy little place' full of 'outdated shoes'.
"I don't see the difference!" he yelled.
"That's because you're untrained," she snapped.
"I am not your lap dog, bitch!"
"Of course you're not. You just owe me ten-thousand Berry, plus a triple interest."
He paused to think. "I do not."
"Yes, you do. Last week when Luffy and you wanted to buy kebabs, you asked me for a loan," she said, choosing another dress from the rack. She picked a light-pink one and disappeared behind the curtain.
"That was for Luffy," he pointed out.
"But you were the one who asked," she replied merrily. A rustling of clothing was heard from her changing booth.
"So? I didn't use the money."
She pulled the curtain back and walked to the mirror. "I don't care. You borrowed it."
Zoro frowned. "But it wasn't for me."
"Do I need to know that? You were the one who asked for the money, so you will be the one to pay me back with interests."
He snorted. "That doesn't make any sense."
"Then you deal with Luffy on your own. My business is to get my loan back from you," Nami said, still admiring herself in front of the full-length mirror.
As her words sank, Zoro felt the cold reality slowly enfolding. His brains started racking, churning out the facts. Fact number one: it had happened a week ago. Fact number two: Luffy didn't have much short term memory to begin with. Fact number three: Luffy never had any money. In conclusion: Luffy was likely to have forgotten about the kebabs and the loan, and even if he remembered, he wouldn't be able to pay Zoro.
The implication was as clear as crystal.
For a moment, Zoro was seriously considering chopping his captain to pieces for getting him into this tricky situation. He'd once promised himself not to have anymore business with this female loan shark from hell, but now he ended up owing her forty-thousand Berry.
Somehow, somewhere along the way the ten-thousand Berry (or in Luffy's language, forty sticks of kebabs) had quadrupled.
Zoro closed his eyes.
Forty-thousand Berry. One-hundred-and-sixty sticks of meat kebabs.
He hadn't even eaten one!
"Three hundred percent is crazy! I don't have that much money!" Zoro roared in frustration. He'd given up the prospect of getting the money from the captain since the beginning. Now he had to pay her the money that he didn't even use from his own pocket.
(empty pocket, but a pocket nonetheless)
Absurd, totally absurd.
Nami stopped looking at the mirror and faced the broke swordsman. The barest hint of smile was on her face. "The rate's always been like that," she said casually.
Zoro was dejected. "Oh, c'mon, Nami. Gimme a break."
That hint of smile bloomed into a predatory one.
"Well, well. Let's make a deal." As she said that, Nami went back to the changing booth and began undressing again.
"What kind of deal?" he inquired. One could never be too careful with an ex-thief, especially this one.
Nami took her sweet time answering as if she was thinking the most horrible task for him to do.
Zoro got impatient. "Oi, woman. Are you dead in there?"
"Shut up," she retorted. Nami gathered the clothes scattered on the floor and exited the booth. "I was thinking."
"Don't get funny ideas," he said, alarmed, looking at her.
She dropped a heap of garment onto his lap and jabbed his chest with one finger. "Believe me, you do not want to know how funny my ideas can get."
Zoro gulped. The last time they'd made a deal, he'd ended up saving an Arabasta princess, crossing deserts, stopping a war, and getting his sixty-million bounty. All because he'd owed the she-devil a sum of money, which again he didn't even use.
He began to see a pattern there.
But currently there were no princesses to be saved, no deserts to be crossed, and no wars to be stopped. What could go wrong?
Zoro relaxed at his own thought. Whatever Nami had in mind, it couldn't be worse than what had happened.
"Okay, spit it out," Zoro said with much confidence. "What is it that you want me to do?"
A glint in her eyes was the first sign that his life was about to take a very bad turn. Zoro, however, was blissfully oblivious. Then she told him one of her 'funny' ideas.
"I'll consider the debt paid if you'll do one thing for me."
The reply came quickly."Name it."
She grinned. "You do know that we are staying in this port for another three days?"
He grew cautious. "Yes, and?"
"Oh, and there's still a lot of things I want to see here," Nami answered innocently.
Zoro had a dreadful feeling that he knew where this might be going.
"Spit it out, Nami."
"Shopping, of course."
A sharp intake of breath indicated that he understood well what she was implying. From his slouched figure, one might think that the green-haired man had just received his own death sentence.
For Zoro, it might as well be.
After a long consideration, which included much ill thoughts about evil witches, dead captains, and stupid, stupid swordsmen, Zoro finally gave in.
"Fine," he said gravely. "Fine."
She couldn't hide her amusement. "I knew you'd understand!"
"Don't look so happy," he said in disgust.
"Whatever. Now bring all of those stuffs and follow me. I'm done with this store." As she said that, Nami grabbed two items and walked down to the registry.
Muttering curses under his breath, Zoro complied. He began the whole exercise of jiggling and balancing the purchases all over again, trying not to trip while making his way among the clothing racks.
She had chosen the green-sleeveless blouse and the light-pink dress. They were pretty, but she would never wear them on the ship. Clothes like that got dirty or torn quickly.
"Why did you buy those?" he asked after they'd exited the boutique. He was now carrying an additional bag.
Surprised, she turned to face him and said, "I like them."
"But they're impractical."
"I know, but someday I may wear them."
"I don't know. Maybe when we're done sailing around the world."
He shook his head. "That's stupid. You'll gain weight and they won't fit you anymore."
A millisecond passed by.
Then all hell broke loose.
"HOW DARE YOU!" she screamed while hitting him on the head with her handbag. "You insensitive jerk!"
"What? What did I do?" Zoro tried dodging her attacks, but to no avail. "Oi, stop it, Nami! Why, you—"
"I am NOT fat!"
"I didn't say you are!"
"Yes, you did!"
"I did not!"
"You think I won't look good on those clothes, don't you?" she shrieked and started poking his forehead.
Zoro was beyond confused. What's wrong with her? And his head began to throb.
"Sanji-kun will never say anything like that! You idiot!"
Now it didn't make any sense anymore. "What's that cook gotta do with this?" he asked her, while trying to make her stop with sheer will power alone.
She had no answer for that, but Nami kept attacking the bewildered swordsman. "You. Rude. Bastard!"
"Ouch, Nami! Your nails—"
"You die and rot!"
Then Zoro's long dormant survival instinct against the female species kicked in. Despite the brutal quenching it had suffered for years and years, the almost non-existent intuition came alive. In the most crucial moment of his life, suddenly Zoro understood what needed to be said.
Suddenly it all became clear.
"Wait! I think the color suits you!" he cried in desperation.
Nami's handbag stopped in mid-air as soon as his words were out. Her mouth was opened in shock and she was breathing hard. But Zoro could feel her killing rage slowly subsiding and the mad gleam on her eyes disappearing.
For a while, nobody spoke. After a strained silence, she asked him, "Really?"
The glare she gave him didn't permit him to say anything else other than a: "Yes." He nodded vigorously. "Oh, yes, definitely."
"Oh." Nami's face began to regain its glow again. Now she was smiling. "That's nice, thank you."
Even though Zoro wanted to tear his hair out with frustration, he managed to reply. "No problem."
"You're not that bad, Zoro," she said. "It seems you do have some fashion sense."
He grunted and she took that as an agreement.
"Okay, now it's time for another round," Nami said, flexing her hands.
"What? I thought we're done…" Zoro stopped his sentence in the middle, fearing that she might launch into another fit of rage.
"Nope. There's still the shoe store, remember?"
Again he grunted, resigning to cruel, cruel fate.
Nami patted him on the back happily. "That's the spirit!"
Now the two were walking towards the downtown. But even before they could spot a shoe store, Nami's attention was taken up by something else.
To Zoro's horror, she began marching towards a shop with large glass windows. The windows were decorated with white curtains and red roses. His mind reeled as soon as he saw the pink, the red, and the black laces the mannequins were wearing.
Why, some of the garments there were just too skimpy! Preposterous!
To avert his attention from the tantalizing window display, Zoro looked up and noticed the store's plank.
Madame X—Lingerie Shop.