Almost 6500 words: this chapter is monstrously long. It was also the second one I wrote, so if I've missed something in my editing (repetitions, omissions, grievous discrepancies between this and anything previous) please do let me know, at the very least so I can clear up any confusion it may cause. Anyway, I've been kind of focussed on All Their Sins lately and I am, unfortunately, not so good at multi-tasking. As my schoolwork shows. Oh well, this is more fun. - Adali
In which there is hormone-driven foolishness
It was a tiny island, a pathetic slip of rock standing valiantly above the icy, crashing waves. There were some rocks and a scattering of a few dozen trees under drifting snow; no animals, not even birds, called this scrap of land home.
"Wo-hoa!" Luffy cried, giving the exclamation two syllables more than it rightfully deserved. "Look at that tiny island. I bet I can jump all the way across it."
"It's so small," Chopper agreed, as though this was something to be excited about.
Leaning over the railing, Usopp used his hand to shade his eyes as he assumed the pose of a valiant explorer discovering a new land. It would have looked better if there was a stiff breeze, carrying with it the smells of exotic places, or if the sun had chosen that moment to break through the clouds. Unfortunately for Usopp's sense of the dramatic, the wind remained slight and erratic, and the sunlight watery through the heavy, snow-filled clouds that stretched towards the horizon. "Hah, that island is so small, I could spit across it. I'm the world champion at spitting, you know."
"Did I ever tell you about the time I won a spitting contest, and thereby saved a princess and her kingdom, no, two kingdoms, from the evil tyranny of her wicked step-uncle?"
Nami watched her three excited nakama from her place in the doorway, while behind her Sanji and Zoro steered the ship and argued. "It's so small even you can't get lost, shithead," Sanji told the other man.
"You're at home with small things, aren't you?" Zoro sneered back. "Seeing as your…" Sanji's foot connecting solidly with his jaw stopped him from finishing.
"Don't you dare be so crude in front of Nami-san," Sanji admonished angrily. Since they couldn't see, Nami allowed herself to roll her eyes. Sanji really was too overprotective sometimes. As though she hadn't heard worse many times. Sometimes it wasn't even the swordsman saying it.
She couldn't quite make out what more was being said behind her, until she heard, "Says the guy that needs to carry three swords to compensate." The arguing had gone on long enough, she decided. Once they started insulting each other's masculinity, those two wouldn't be satisfied until they'd destroyed each other and a good portion of the ship in a show of macho strength.
They were so absorbed in their bickering that they didn't notice her turn and approach them. At least, not until she had punched them both soundly in the head. "If you're quite finished showing off for each other," she snapped. "Pay attention to what you're doing."
"Hai, Nami-san!" Sanji caroled, anger forgotten for the moment as he tried to win back her approval.
"Crazy witch," Zoro groused, rubbing the side of his head as though she had done injury to his stupid, rock-solid skull. Even though she knew it was just his way, she was sorely tempted to punch him again for being so insufferably Zoro.
Sanji left the tiller to slouch towards the door and take up a relaxed slouch against the doorframe. Cupping his hands against the fitful breezes, he lit a cigarette with the easy nonchalance that told Nami he was worried. "What's wrong, Sanji-kun?" she asked. Something seemed to have just caught the cook's attention, and it concerned him enough that he forgot to get mad at Zoro for being rude to Nami.
"I hope it doesn't take too long for the log to set here," he said, his eyes on their three nakama gamboling around the foredeck. "If we don't find somewhere where we can get proper food soon…"
He didn't need to finish the thought for Nami to understand. She wasn't sure what had happened to Sanji to make him so afraid of starvation, but she could plainly see the prospect terrified him. It terrified her too, if it came to that. She could remember going hungry when she was young. They had been nearly out of food, and Bellemere had been too proud to ask anyone for help. Instead, she had given her portions to Nami and Nojiko, insisting she wasn't hungry. It had taken Gen-san and the doctor hours to convince her to let them help, yielding only when they told her what might happen to the girls if she fell sick.
Nami remembered being hungry then, although the memory was probably worse than the reality had been. Still, the idea of starving to death, of watching her nakama slowly dwindle and fade away, colored by the memory of that time, terrifying her.
"We'll make it through," she told him, trying to reassure herself at the same time. Behind her, Zoro grunted his agreement, and Nami could have hugged him. Zoro kept his promises: if he said they would be alright, they would be.
"Nothing to do, no idea how long the log will take to set, no food…" Nami grumbled as she inspected her map critically. The thing about the Grand Line, she'd noticed, was that islands tended to clump together, with large sections of ocean in between those clumps. They had come to rely on that pattern since the Going Merry, even stocked to the rafters, would only just get them across the largest breaks with enough food.
She stared at the dot she had penciled in, marking their current position. This was the longest stretch of open water they had crossed, but Nami wasn't ready to believe that they were at the next clump just yet. The first island in a set almost always had a bustling market, or at least a healthy jungle from which to scavenge food, since the Strawhats were far from alone in being hungry for fresh food after a long time at sea. This island was just too insignificant.
With a sigh, Nami leaned back in her chair and looked around the cabin at her nakama. Chopper and Usopp were huddled in one corner, talking quietly, no doubt scaring each other silly with made-up hear-say of what happened when a crew went too long without food. Usopp would probably fit princesses and Sea Kings into the scenario somehow. It was endearingly consistent of him.
Zoro was asleep against one wall, his katana in his lap. He looked relaxed, but Nami had known him a long time - sometimes, when he was being especially frustrating, it really felt like forever - and she felt instinctively that the swordsman was not as at ease as he seemed. Perhaps it was the way one hand rested against the three sheathed katana, when normally he would have them propped to one side, within easy reach but not actually touching them. Watching him hold them now was like seeing a little boy with a teddy bear. It was oddly cute, but also worrying, to see him like this.
Sanji lounged against the wall opposite Zoro. His hands kept twitching towards his cigarettes, despite Nami's firm rule about not smoking in the cabins, until he stuffed them in his pockets to hide the nervous action. He was glaring moodily through his bangs at Zoro, as though offended by the other man's relaxed posture. Of them all, Nami thought he was the most out of character just then. Normally, Sanji would be making light of the situation, or at least showing off some macho bravado, no matter how worried he was. His silence concerned her as much as Zoro's compulsive grip on his swords.
Robin didn't look worried at all. Of course she knew about their situation, perhaps understood it better than anyone but Sanji, and yet she still maintained the same relaxed posture she always did.
Nami looked down from scrutinizing her companions and met the worried eyes of the final member of their crew. Her darling captain really was so clueless, sometimes, she thought. Although they'd explained it to him a couple of times, Nami wasn't sure he completely understood their situation. On the other hand, the boy was a bit like a weathervane in how he was attuned to his crew: he might not understand exactly what was upsetting them, but he knew they were upset. He really did have an amazing gift for seeing what was in people's hearts, she though, and the notion brought a soft smile to her lips as she looked down at him.
Luffy, confused and worried for his precious nakama, sat cross-legged on the floor with one arm wrapped around her calves and his head resting on her knee. His hat was in her lap, removed so that he could rest against her more comfortably. He was so strong, but right now he didn't know what to do. Nami had often thought that Luffy was fearless, but in that moment she could see how scared he was that his nakama were in trouble, and he couldn't do anything to save them.
Just for a moment, she allowed herself to enjoy the warmth of his cheek on her bare knee and how soft his hair felt against her skin. Luffy was warmth and strength and comfort, and she loved how he was trying to help her, even though he didn't know what they were up against. He had done the same thing at Arlong Park, refusing to leave even after she told him to because they both knew she needed him, even if she wouldn't admit it.
Then the moment passed, and Nami looked back up at her crewmates. Something had to be said to give them all hope, something to look forward to even though they knew how bleak the coming days might be. As the navigator, the one they all trusted to lead them to a safe port, she felt she ought to say something, but was unable to find the words.
Luffy lifted his head from her knee. Even without seeing his face, Nami could feel the excitement that radiated from him. "Let's have a campout on the island!" he declared, eager despite the snow on the ground and the cold wind outside.
"You're… you're kidding, right?" Usopp said. "It's freezing out there, and I have a very bad case of Can't-Go-Out-In-The-Cold disease."
"Oh no!" came Chopper's predictable cry. "Is that really bad?" Even though he was the doctor, and therefore the one that should know best of all how fake Usopp's 'illnesses' were, Chopper always seemed to believe in the latest ailment to strike the sharpshooter down.
For once, Robin lowered her book to contribute to the conversation. "You know, the natives of the frozen Ugulaland used to build huts of branches and snow. Then they would put hot rocks inside and sprinkle them with water to make a sauna."
"Alright!" Luffy cried. "We're going to make a sauna and have a sleepover on the Midget Mystery Island!" He jumped up and bounded towards the door, with Usopp and Chopper close behind him.
Sanji's arm shot out and grabbed the back of the captain's shirt, jerking him to a stop. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
With a wry smile, Nami tossed Luffy his winter jacket. "It's as cold out there as it was in the old Drum Kingdom," she told him. "We can't have our captain catching a cold."
Chopper, suddenly remembering his post as ship's doctor, began severely telling Usopp the dangers of going outside without a coat. Knowing the gunner, the stories would shortly bring about a relapse of the dreaded Can't-Go-Out-In-The-Cold disease. Still, Nami thought, even that dreaded illness wouldn't keep Usopp inside for long once he heard Luffy's excited shouts about the snow on the island.
The first version of the shelter was a couple of unstable branches propped against a rock wall. Luffy had dumped an armload of snow on top of the construction, most of which had fallen through and made a pile in the 'inside'. It was a good start, Chopper assured him, even if it was only big enough for one person and didn't really have any walls.
Once Usopp lent his very adaptable expertise to the undertaking, the snow cave quickly began to take shape. It started as a rough pile of logs, which he somehow managed to balance in just such a way that, once they were all in place, not even Luffy's rambunctious enthusiasm could topple them. Over this, he and Chopper laid layer after layer of pine branches, weaving them together with a surprising deftness. Finally, they added a thick layer of snow, packed tightly over the whole thing.
Towards the end, Chopper sent the gunner back to the ship with a stern order to warm his hands and not come back out in the cold until the doctor had looked them over. In his excitement over this latest project, Usopp had not noticed - or perhaps chosen to ignore - the cold seeping through his gloves. It had been a while before Chopper had realized that not everyone was as well adapted to the cold as he was, by which point the sharpshooter's hands and nose were frostbitten.
Luffy got sent back at the same time. Sometimes, Nami thought as she settled a blanket around her captain's shoulders, he could be so dense. At some point during his fort-building and exploring, he had managed to lose his jacket. Being Luffy, he hadn't noticed he was freezing until Chopper had pointed it out to him, at which point he had collapsed in on himself, frozen to the bone, his rubbery skin brittle to the touch. Now he huddled in the kitchen, wrapped in several layers of blankets and clutching a mug of weak tea while Nami scolded him.
Chopper let himself into the kitchen, brushing off the snowflakes that were stuck to his fur. "All finished," he told his shipmates happily. "Usopp, just wait 'til you see it. It looks amazing."
"Of course," Usopp said proudly. "I've designed a thousand snow shelters before. When I was exploring the frozen waste lands of Ubulalaland…"
"Ugulaland," Robin corrected without looking up from her book.
"…Ugulaland, a terrible snowstorm hit. My crew and I were stranded for days. Without our magnificent shelters, we would have been killed. Why, one night, it dropped to minus ninety-four degrees, and the terrible Mubungo bears attacked our camp."
"Really?" The blankets slid from around his shoulders as Luffy leaned forward, excitement and interest etched on his expressive face. Nami settled them back around him, giving him a cuff to the head as a reminder not to dislodge them.
"Long nose-kun," Robin interrupted, forestalling any elaboration on the fanciful adventures of the Great Captain Usopp. She closed her book and focused her attention on the gunner. "You remembered to build a fire pit with rocks, right?"
Usopp's chest puffed out proudly. "I did better than that. I built a fireplace. It will hold heat much better, and help the wood burn much hotter, than any common old pit would."
"You truly are amazing, Long nose-kun," said the archeologist. Nami was sure the gunner completely missed the irony in the woman's words.
"You know," Sanji said thoughtfully, "saunas can get pretty warm." He was leaning back with his elbows on the countertop, the very image of one who was cool and disinterested. "I suppose we had all better wear our bathing suits."
You don't need to work so hard to hide your excitement, Nami thought at him as Luffy and Usopp exclaimed at this. The idea of wearing a swimsuit on a winter island was novel enough to illicit some reaction, at least, and they all (alright, most of them) knew what direction the cook's thoughts were headed anyway. Sure enough, there was a telltale drop of blood threatening to drip out of his nose. Nami rolled her eyes. No doubt his mind was filled with images of steam clouds and scantily-clad women and passionate murmurs of affection.
"You have to wear your coat on the way there, though, Luffy," was all she said.
If she hadn't known what a complete liar Usopp was, and that he had never been out of his village before they had met him, Nami might have almost believed his story about building shelters is Ugulaland. The shelter was solid and spacious, with enough space for them all to be comfortable without being too large to heat.
Nami crawled through the small doorway after her companions and watched as Usopp, the last to enter, covered the doorway with a pile of fir branches and hung a blanket up as added insulation. Already the inside of the cave was much warmer than outside, and they hadn't lit the fire yet. To build something like this, with no experience or point of reference, was astounding. In any crew but the Strawhats, Nami reflected, Usopp would have seemed amazing. He was talented and smart and, if not always the most courageous, he was at least no slouch when he did have to fight. It was his misfortune to be forever outdone by the monsters that were his nakama.
Sanji was building a fire in the fireplace, fiddling with the burning kindling as he tried to get the fire to burn just the way he wanted. Always the perfectionist, that was Sanji. No matter how careless he looked, everything he did was meticulously planned and executed. Mostly with the aim of looking good. She knew the thought was uncharitable, and only partly true.
Soon, the inside of the shelter became uncomfortably warm as the fire caught, and the coals that Sanji had arranged began to warm up. Usopp was delicately flicking water onto the warm rocks of the fireplace, filling the room with steam. Nearby, Luffy was bouncing excitedly, happy that his plan for a sleepover on the island was working out so well.
"Luffy, you can take you jacket off now. It's warm in here." She shrugged off her own coat. Luffy's face turned red and he started sweating as he realized how warm he was. He pulled his coat off, and tossed it aside, stretching happily in the warm air of the shelter.
Nami picked up his discarded coat and folded it with her own, putting them to one side. As she did, she caught sight of Robin's amused look. The other woman had settled herself at the far end of the shelter with a storm lantern and a book. In a tank top and shorts, she looked cool and relaxed. "What?" Nami asked. She found she was blushing as though she had been caught doing something she shouldn't, although she wasn't sure why.
"It's nice that you take such good care of our captain," the older woman said quietly.
Nami found herself blushing even more, as though Robin was implying something with that. Except that, since it was Robin, she wasn't. Robin wasn't the sort of person who said one thing and meant another. She might not tell you things, but then the omission was deliberate and obvious. In contrast, if she wanted to say something, she said it straight out.
"Well, he's a bit of an idiot," Nami muttered. "He can't really take care of himself." Robin smiled and turned the page of her book.
"Nami-san, Robin-chan!" Sanji caroled, appearing next to them. Even in an old pair of black swim trunks, he managed to appear dressed to the nines as he offered them a tray of cookies with a bow. "A light treat for after dinner."
Smiling, each woman accepted one, although Nami felt her heart constrict as she did. They were only a few days away from starving, and Sanji still treated her like a princess, bringing her snacks and taking care of her. It was like he was denying the danger they were in, daring the world to try and starve them. "Thank you, Sanji-kun," she said, meaning it.
He gave her a bold, cheerful wink, more like a rogue than the doting prince he normally played. Then, despite the low roof that meant everyone except Chopper had to walk crouched over, he sauntered away.
"We'll be alright, won't we, Nee-san?" Nami said, feeling herself smile a little at Sanji's retreating back.
"Probably," Robin agreed with a small smile of her own.
"Round and round and round," Luffy giggled happily, clapping his feet together. His eyes seemed glued to the spinning bottle as it flashed bright, then dark, in the flickering light of the storm lanterns. In the hazy light, it seemed to drag a tail of steam behind its, spinning a cloud of warm vapor like a storm.
Perhaps it had been a mistake to let him have some, Nami reflected. They had passed the bottle around, in celebration of their 'sleepover' and as a silent toast in the hopes of more food and adventures to come. He hadn't even had all that much, she thought distractedly as he fell over backwards, giggling. It had only made it around the circle once, and then it had been Zoro's turn and he had downed the remaining half bottle in one go. Now the swordsman was sleeping, his back against the cool rock that made up one wall of the shelter, and Luffy was playing with the empty bottle.
"Are you trying to start a game of Spin the Bottle?" Sanji asked, leaning back on his hands as though he wasn't interested. His bright eyes gave him away.
Luffy sat up, rubbing his hair and grinning. "A game? Sure! Let's play!"
There was a moment of silence, before Usopp managed to stutter out, "Luffy, do you know how to play Spin the Bottle?"
The captain tilted his head to one side, opening his eyes wide as he stared at his nakama. "You spin the bottle, right? And it goes around and around and around and…"
"Alright, Luffy," Usopp said hurriedly. "You're right. But do you know what happens after that?"
Luffy blinked. "It stops spinning?" he hazarded.
"And then…?" Usopp prompted.
"We… spin it again?"
Usopp sighed. "Right, but first we…?"
Nami took pity on her clueless captain. "The person who spun the bottle has to kiss whoever it pointed to," she told him. Too late, she realized they never should have explained the game to Luffy. They should have just agreed that, once it stopped spinning, you spun it again.
"Let's play!" Luffy said happily. He looked around the circle at his crewmates, hoping to see his eagerness reflected in their faces. Nami followed his gaze.
Usopp looked uncertain, as though torn between wanting to play and keeping apart from this foolishness. Chopper wore an expression somewhere between Luffy's excitement and Usopp's hesitation. Lounging beside her, Sanji failed to look as cool and bored as he was trying to. Zoro was snoring, and Robin, outside the circle, hadn't looked up from her book.
"Well…" Usopp said hesitantly. "I guess…"
Sanji shrugged. "Whatever the captain wants." As though he ever took that attitude normally. Nami wasn't sure she liked his speculative look.
"Why don't you go first, Luffy?" she suggested. Something in Sanji's eyes made her resolve to stop him from ever getting a turn. Well, unless Usopp or Chopper was going to kiss him, maybe, because there was no harm in that. At least not to her, which was what mattered.
With a big grin and a chuckle, Luffy set the bottle spinning again. "The more times it goes around, the better, right?" he asked.
"Ah…" Nami hesitated. Still, there was no harm in letting him believe it. "That's right. It's good luck," she added, just in case he thought to add some silly rule to do with the number of spins. "But that's all."
It took longer than it should have, considering the game, but eventually the bottle slowed its spin. At last, it came to rest with the corked neck pointed at Nami. "It is lucky," Luffy said happily. He didn't bother getting up, but stretched his neck out and gave her a sloppy, innocent kiss on the cheek. It was so much like getting licked by a giraffe that Nami had to giggle.
"Alright, now I'll spin to see who goes next," she told her cheerfully smug captain. A deft twist of her wrist set the bottle spinning again. Sanji was a bloody fool if he thought he was going to get a chance to kiss her, she thought. Spin the Bottle wasn't a common game, but it had an enduring popularity both as a drinking and a kissing game, so it popped up at parties and in bars now and again. When she had realized this, a thirteen year-old Nami had spent two days learning to spin any bottle to stop exactly where she wanted it. Though she had always thought of herself as a thief who stole from pirates, she had never been above a little petty larceny in some of the seedier dives she found herself in, and alcohol, kisses, and a spinning bottle always smoothed the way when she wanted to steal a few wallets.
The bottle came to an abrupt halt in front of Chopper. It was kind of cute how the little reindeer looked at it as though unsure whether it would bite him. At last, with a terrified squeak, he set it spinning again with one abrupt motion. He seemed to huddle in on himself as the bottle completed two lazy spins. As it slowed, he covered his eyes with his hooves, although Nami saw him peeking with a sort of morbid curiosity.
"Oh," he mumbled when he at last looked at where the bottle had landed. "I…uh… that is…"
"It's just a game," Nami reassured him. It was easy to forget, sometimes, that Chopper was the youngest of the crew, and had lived on his own for a long time. Besides, did reindeer even play kissing games?
"Wo-hoo, Chopper, ya get to kiss Usopp!" As always, the subtleties of the situation were lost on Luffy.
"Uh…" Quick as a flash, Chopper kissed Usopp and fell backwards, his nose turning bright purple with his blush. It really was kind of cute, Nami thought, watching the two nakama trying to cover up their embarrassment. It had been more of a reindeer kiss than a normal one, anyway: a cold blue nose pressed against Usopp's cheek, without any contact of lips on skin.
A giraffe- and a reindeer-kiss so far. What next, a penguin one? She thought in amusement. At least it wasn't going as badly as it might have done.
"Hurry up and spin, Usopp," Sanji said. He was still reclined on the blankets that carpeted the floor of their shelter, but she could see he was tense with impatience. I'm not going to let you get your chance, Nami thought.
"Of course. I'm a champion bottle-spinner, you know," Usopp told them. His shaking hands gave him away. The bottle flipped up and twisted around, only completing half a spin when it landed. "That's the spin that won me the World Spin the Bottle Championships, you know," he declared, never one to let a chance for bravado pass.
"Really?" Chopper asked, his earlier embarrassment gone in the face of this new tale of his hero's daring and skill.
Nami ignored them and stared at the bottle that was, for the second time tonight, pointed towards her. Somehow, it hadn't occurred to her that she would have to choose which of her nakama to kiss. There was no option of spinning it honestly: even if she had been willing to risk it landing on Sanji, she wasn't sure if she could have done it. Cheating at this game had become second nature, to the point where she didn't think she could play it properly anymore.
She glanced around the circle, her thoughts racing as she tried to cover up her hesitation. She would have to pick someone, and she'd have to do it before anyone got suspicious.
Not Usopp. Definitely not Usopp. There was something so utterly... non-kiss-able about the gunner the she dismissed the idea as soon as she looked at him.
Chopper? No, he'd already been though enough tonight. She had thought it would be funny, and maybe a bit cute, to have him kiss one of their nakama when she had made him have a turn. Even though it seemed like innocent fun to everyone else, she felt a bit mean for embarrassing him like that. So not Chopper.
She briefly considered kissing Luffy, but he had already kissed her. Variety was the spice of life, after all, and stopped gossipy crew-mates from drawing ridiculous conclusions when there wasn't enough marine-bashing to keep them occupied.
Which left Sanji, and she had already decided that there was no way that was going to happen. Sanji was stressed, badly enough that he had changed from the sweet, if slightly annoying, prince to someone she didn't trust. In the normal course of things, she wouldn't hesitate to kiss Sanji: he would blush and wax poetic and make such a big deal of it that it would become a joke that they could share. She wasn't sure how this Sanji would react.
Nami cast about the circle, looking for some option she had missed. When she realized her solution, she was almost ready to believe that there was a god smiling down on her. With a giggle to hide the deliberateness of her spin, she followed the only course of action left to her.
In a way, it was the perfect solution. Sanji would hate it, but no one would suspect a thing. Her target probably wouldn't even realize what was happening. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops, only one knows, she thought acerbically.
"What happens know?" Luffy asked, leaning forward to stare at the bottle as though the answer could be found that way. "It's not pointed at anyone."
"Re-spin," Sanji said quickly.
Nami was about to object, but Usopp came to her rescue. "Well, technically, she has to play it the way she span it," he said slowly. "Even though Zoro isn't actually playing…" Nami worked to keep the relieved smile from her face, and focused on staring at the sharpshooter.
She had only meant to look surprised and puzzled, but her scrutiny of the gunner revealed something she hadn't expected to see. Was Usopp blushing? They were all a bit red from the steam, but that was more of a healthy pink to her way of thinking. Usopp was blushing bright, tomato red across his entire body. I wonder what he's thinking.
"I… I guess…" she said, trying to sound uncertain instead of triumphant.
"Go on, Nami," Luffy cackled. "Bet'cha it's like kissing a rock."
Nami didn't have to fake her blush as she glanced at her captain. Since when did Luffy know anything about kissing, anyway? She eased herself over until she was next to the sleeping swordsman and studied his face.
She was glad she had her back to her nakama so they couldn't see her expression as she scrutinized Zoro. Though she fought to keep her face blank, it felt like her thoughts were written on it boldly enough for even her dense crewmates to read.
Kissing Zoro probably would be like kissing a rock, she had to admit. Even in sleep, his strong features were set, and there was no hint of fat to soften them. He was just a convenient way out of an awkward situation, but for some reason she felt her stomach tighten at the thought of kissing him. Best to get this over with, then. At least he's not snoring anymore.
As she leaned forward, a sudden recklessness took over her. They'd only been kissing each other on the cheek so far, but… why not? No one else would ever know, especially him. She placed a soft kiss directly on his lips. His skin was cool, so that her own felt feverish. His lips opened slightly at the contact. Unable to stop herself, she let her lips linger on his a little longer until his tongue slid forward to touch her closed lips. She could feel the soft wind of his exhale as she pulled away, shocked.
Zoro's raucous snore broke into her shocked daze, and she retook her place in the circle quickly, blushing hotly. Had he just…? That was a thought for another time, she told herself firmly. This wasn't a line of thought she wanted to pursue while her nakama were looking on, reading her thoughts on her face.
"Woo-ee, Nami," Luffy laughed. "You kissed Zoro! It was like kissing a rock, wasn't it?" No, not at all, it had been… but she wasn't going to think remember that right now.
She offered her captain a weak grin, grateful for the slight escape offered by his ridiculous question. "Yeah," she agreed. "The rock would probably be better."
Luffy laughed again and clapped his feet. "Maybe I should teach him. I'm a good kisser, aren't I, Nami?"
Sanji looked almost ready to explode. Before he could say anything, Nami handed him the bottle. "Spin to see who goes next, ne, Sanji-kun?" His anger melted quickly into a sweet smile that seemed like a sickening perversion of his usual one. This was not her Sanji-kun. "I think you need some work too," she told her captain, reaching across the circle to pinch his cheek. She was strangely reassured by Luffy's monstrous grin as his cheek stretched out.
"Yeff," he agreed, unconcerned. "Hey, it'f Ufopp'f turn!" Nami let go of his cheek, which returned to normal with a snap. "Spin it, spin it," he told the long nosed boy excitedly. With obvious trepidation, Usopp took his turn. As before, it didn't so much spin as flip, although it managed three quarters of a spin after landing this time.
"Eh," said Usopp nervously, looking at Zoro, at whom the bottle was once again pointed.
"Haha, go for it, Usopp!" Luffy cheered, slapping the other boy on the back hard enough to knock him forward. To Nami's eyes, the gunner looked extremely red. True, he was being forced to kiss a crew mate - a male crewmate - and this might, Nami reflected, even be his first time kissing anyone at all. He still looked redder than the situation warranted, to her mind.
He'll probably never want to try again, after kissing that rock, she thought. He better not want to. She mentally slapped that sneaky little voice away. She didn't care who Usopp went around kissing, and she cared even less if it was Zoro. Red swept through her cheeks as she remembered her own turn kissing the sleeping swordsman. Usopp might be in for a surprise. He had better not, the little voice hissed.
Reluctance written in every line of his posture, Usopp slouched over to where Zoro slept on, apparently oblivious. He crouched next to his crewmate, and took a deep breath. After mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like 'Great Captain Usopp never...' he leaned forward with his puckered lips targeted on Zoro's cheek.
Nami leaned forward, watching closely. She was just gathering some prime blackmail material, she told herself. Just in case Zoro was being unreasonable about her loans to him, or Usopp wouldn't do what she told him. She wasn't watching to make sure that Zoro didn't… didn't what? Her mind rebelled against completing thatthought process.
She was a woman of the world, she thought, a slight frown creasing her forehead. It wasn't as though she hadn't come across this sort of thing before. With so few women at sea, it was almost practical. That she had doubts about most of her crewmates' experience in such matters (even Sanji's, despite his reputation) didn't mean she objected to it.
Still, she found herself strongly objecting to the idea of Usopp kissing Zoro. She gave the thought a little poke, examining it. She hadn't minded when Chopper kissed Usopp, so the gunner probably wasn't the problem in this scenario. (Although, even though Chopper was male, could he really be considered a man?) Which left…
"Get the hell away from me, you sick bastard!" Usopp's lips hadn't quite connected before a very awake Zoro shoved him away, hard. Nami didn't have a chance to enjoy the sight of Zoro scuttling away to cower beside Robin, because the off-balance gunner came toppling into her, knocking her into Sanji's lap.
The speed with which his arms wrapped around her waist, catching her, suggested it was an instinctive reaction. All else aside, Sanji would always catch and protect her. The way he pulled her tight to his chest was far too deliberate to be instinctual, though.
In his own way, Sanji was as rock-like as Zoro. The swordsman casually leant against her back sometimes, to talk or tease her and steal her pen while she worked, and she had come to know the feel of his chest. Cradled by Sanji now, she found herself mentally comparing the feel of each set of toned muscles before she ripped her attention away from that diverting, but potentially dangerous, line of speculation.Something to revisit later, the treacherous little voice in her head reassured her.
No longer focused on the feel of Sanji's body against hers, Nami became aware of his scent. There was the heavy smell of his cigarettes, mixed with a lingering whiff of the spices he cooked with and hint of sweat. Under it all the smell of the sea lingered, as it did on anyone who spent their lives on the oceans of the world.
He was leaning closer to her, so that the scent of him was accompanied by the light brush of stubble against her cheek. How many times had Zoro done the same thing? His movements were rough and playful, and probably meant to annoy Sanji rather than flirt with her. The feel of Sanji's cheek against hers hinted at seduction and desire. Her previous resolve not to let this Sanji anywhere near her returned like a bolt of lightning, and she leapt out his grasp, scuttling away much as Zoro had done only a moment earlier.
She saw a number of emotions flash across Sanji's face - surprise, annoyance, embarrassment, contrition - before Luffy provided a very welcome distraction. She wasn't sure how he had managed to get his foot stuck in the rum bottle, but the camaraderie that returned as they worked to get it off and the subsequent breaking of the bottle put an end to uncomfortable situations, for the rest of the night at least.