Luffy was the dumbest person Nami had ever met for several reasons, and the wisest for a few more. Far be it from her to understand how she was able to love him anyway, through all the insanity and temporary heartbreak, but love him she did. Mostly, she tried to pretend that she didn't. It was more convenient and less of a toll on her emotions and on crew dynamics, or at least that was her excuse (and when Nami had an excuse, she stuck to it).
Still, sometimes it got a little hard. Times like when he was saving her life for the umpteenth time since they'd met, or when he was having one of his strange and unusual responsible moments, or even when he was just being s stupid and ridiculous teenage boy. The last part was when she realized that she had finally snapped.
Nami loved him because he was her savior and because he lived life like it might end tomorrow and he had to make it last forever. She loved him because he was the greatest captain in the world, the pirate king to be, and the best friend anyone could ask for. She loved him because his determination was unfailing and his spirits were always high, because he was somehow such a child while being an adult at the same time. She loved him because he was Luffy.
Unfortunately, because he was Luffy, Nami would probably never know exactly how he felt about her. Of course he loved her; he loved all of them. She wanted to know if he liked her, in that silly juvenile sense that seemed so terribly important despite its inanity. Luffy, she speculated, probably couldn't express romantic attraction to a girl if someone handed him a highlighted manual. Actually, come to think of it, she wasn't sure he could even read.
But that wasn't the point, really. Or maybe it was. Maybe that was exactly the point. Nami sighed in exasperation and flipped a page of her magazine, crossing one leg over the other in her deck chair. She never knew quite where she stood with Luffy, so the point of most of these thoughts was a traveling and elusive thing. At any rate, she would simply have to go back to ignoring the entire situation. That would do.
Of course, it was at this moment that Luffy, master of intuition and he-who-always-knows-when-something-is-wrong, bounded over and looked at her upside down over the back of her chair.
"How come you're over here all by yourself, Nami?" he asked, tilting his head and blinking wide and curious eyes at her. She looked back up at him and tried to radiate waves of just kiss me you stupid dolt for a few seconds before concluding that his skull was too thick and his brain too rubbery to receive telekinetic messages.
"Because I want to be away from the noise," she told him, and looked back at her magazine for a beat or two before announcing "You're blocking my sun. Move."
Luffy moved. He sat down cross-legged on the end of her deck chair, looking at her inquisitively from under the brim of his ever-present straw hat. She raised an eyebrow at him, willing him to explain his continued presence, but of course her subtlety was lost.
"Can I help you?" she eventually snapped, inexplicably angered at the quiet, searching look on his face.
"Are you lonely?" he asked, innocent as the dawn. Nami blinked in a stupor before collecting her wits.
"How can I be lonely," she drawled wearily, "when you're here bothering me?"
Luffy took a moment to process this. "So…you're not lonely when I'm here?"
Nami balked a little. "Well," she said, and paused to think. Never before the advent of Luffy had she needed to pause and think. "I guess that's right."
Luffy beamed. "So I make you happy?"
"Don't push your luck," Nami said automatically. Luffy was undeterred.
"Good! I like making you happy." He was smiling that smile that made Nami ache.
"I…thanks," Nami said warily. Oh, now her heart was beating faster, on top of everything. Her brain clearly needed a severe reconfiguration.
Luffy appeared to be in deep thought. Eventually, he picked up one of Nami's hands, looked at it like a jeweler would appraise a priceless diamond, and pressed it to his lips. Then he gazed back up at Nami's face, questioning. "Did that make you happy?"
Nami looked from Luffy to her hand in confused wonder for a moment, trying to still her erratic heartbeat, until she regained the presence of mind to yank her hand back as if burned. "You don't get to do that," she scolded, giving him the sternest look she had ever practiced in a mirror.
"Why not?" Luffy asked, looking a little startled.
"Because," Nami attempted to explain, and knew that this wasn't going to be easy. "You don't get to kiss a girl unless she gives you a signal."
"Signal?" Luffy asked, developing that perplexed expression that Nami was beginning to dread. "Like what?"
"Like…well, you're supposed to know when you see it!" Nami snapped, because she was in no state to explain complicated concepts to Luffy, who would surely never understand.
"Oh," said Luffy, and thought, gnawing on his bottom lip. "But I thought I did see it."
Taken aback, Nami could only stare until comprehension came to her. She had been giving him signals, and he had noticed…just in his own, Luffy-ish sort of way. Of course, because Luffy could never do anything like a normal person. "Why didn't you do something, then?" she asked, getting angry. "Why didn't you tell me you liked me? Or, or show me, or something?"
Luffy blinked, once again firmly situated in that special faraway place in which logic followed patterns no average human could discern. "But I did."
"You never–" and then she stopped, because Luffy had just taken off his hat. She sat in shock as he placed it on her head, sat back with his hands around his ankles, and grinned.
The hat. It all came back to the hat, didn't it? Nami loathed that hat, hated it from the core of her being and also wanted to build a little hat statue in its honor out of toothpicks and string. She removed it from her head and held it against her chest, reverent. It eventually occurred to her that she should say something, but no words would come; what could she possibly tell him? How could she express the overwhelming, the overpowering, the…
"Thank you." And that was all she needed to say. Luffy smiled and sprung out of his seat.
"I'm gonna go see if lunch is ready yet," he said, and then he paused as if deliberating something of dire importance. "Should I kiss you now?"
Nami wanted to laugh, and also to hit him very hard. She sighed instead. "Yes, you can kiss me now if you want to."
"Great," Luffy announced happily, and leaned over to kiss her lips before bouncing away in typical Luffy fashion.
It was a butterfly sort of kiss, Nami determined, touching her lips with tentative fingers. Soft and fleeting, and it made her heart flutter like wings.
The little voice in the back of Nami's head, the one that didn't keep track of finances, asked her if it was okay to stop ignoring the situation now. Nami told it firmly to shut up and leave her alone because she was reading, and smiled a wide and sunny smile.