Three Last Letters
My sweetest Nami.
Nami smiles. Nobody writes my sweetest before her name except Sanji.
I guess I have to make this short. I still love you. You know that. The only Nami in my life.
I'm now working as a bartender here in North Blue. The place I'm working at is called The Swan. Know that place? Man, I love working here. My boss is really kind and forgiving, not like the stingy old fart at Baratie. And my co-workers are so friendly.
"I'm sure that that place is filled with women!"
I work as a cook sometimes, but the standards here are impossible. My cooking is seldom appreciated. I really need to improve my skills. But I can't blame them. The chefs here are truly amazing. They're on another level. Once I tasted a soup stored in the refrigerator for about a week already to check if it was still okay. It was and I couldn't control myself. I didn't leave a single drop of it. Bimbo-san, our cook, laughed at my gluttony that day, but he didn't get angry with me. I'm a meticulous guy when it comes to taste and I can say that the soup was really incredible. I hope you could have some of it someday. It'll blow your mind, I'm sure. That was only a leftover—no freshly cooked for us, you know, workers—but unbelievably satisfying, nevertheless.
Change of topic. The security in the sea is still tight. I can't even go out of my pod without a disguise. It's really tough being in the Most Wanted List of the World. Exciting but tough. There is an inspection here every two hours—look at that excessiveness—mostly by high-ranking officials of the Marines. It leaves us with only few customers a day. I'm thinking that they are not firing me, yet—they won't, I believe—because of my charms (laugh all you want, come on). Hehe. But sad to say, even if I keep the job, it'll just be for a short time. One day this place will close. It's inevitable.
I heard that Zoro was caught in Ingrams Palace last month. Heard about that? But I never heard of his execution so I think he has escaped. About the others, I don't have any info, yet, but I promise to write ASAP if I get something. And I will get something. That's also a promise. If I remove my false beard and mustache, information will flow in like water from a fountain—jet-fast. I'm sure of that.
Hey, if you have time, write me, okay? I miss you so much. I miss you all so much. I often feel lonely here, especially when it rains.
Hoping to read your letter.
All my love, Sanji.
P.S. If ever this place closes, I mean when—damn! I hate using ink—this place closes, I will find a way to get to Baratie. Nami, don't let me arrive on you not married, yet. Surely, I'll sweep you off your feet and take you to the nearest church. Sanji.
Nami giggles and shakes her head. Oh, Sanji. She opens another letter.
My sweetest Nami.
Thanks for the letter even though you broke my heart in saying you have two kids, already. It was a joke, right?
"Yeah, it was, you dimwit!"
Man, I don't know until now if it was. I'm still worried. Please, please, please, write me about that. I want to see: "Sorry Sanji, I was only joking. I love you."
Nami bursts out laughing.
Oh, do you think the last sentence is too much? I don't think it is. Wish that it's not, at least. But if it is, well, at least tell me you were only joking in your letter! I can't imagine you with two kids except if they're mine, or if they're that guy's. I just can't. You remember me saying you should be married when I meet you? It's okay if it's him because I know how much you love him. There's no other guy for you. It must be him or me. Are we clear about that?
Anyway, let's sweep that tension aside. Did I pressure you? Haha. I met this guy from Drum Island last month. He is James Hugesturf. (It's pronounced as Hurf. You asking me why? Don't know the reason. I'm afraid to know either. Hehe. It sounds extraterrestrial.) This guy knew about Chopper. He said that Chopper is currently the personal physician of the Drum King. Quite lucky he is, nuh? He also is active on medical missions on nearby islands. And his service could cost up to millions, mind you. (Hey, I see some Beli signs in your eyes. Control yourself!) Confusingly, he doesn't charge his patients for more than a glass of water. I'm not sure if he's still sane, or he's really a goner. But the best thing to know is he's fine.
Mr. Hugesturf also said that Chopper was once interrogated under a lie detector. Fortunately, he passed without any problem. It was the Marines, he said, asking for information about the disbanded Straw Hats. He said Chopper denied he heard the name. Sigh. Isn't it a little disappointing? I felt like I was betrayed. But I understand. It's all for the best. Anyway, because he is now under the Drum King's protection, the Marines didn't pursue the matter, even though they knew he was once a Straw Hat.
Usopp is married. Hey, hey, hey, I know it may, but, honey, he's not tied to whoever's on your mind. (That's a line in a famous pirate song here in North Blue. Don't Think It Was.) Kaya wrote to me—amazingly, she found a way how. She said she wanted to write you, too, but she looks at you as a rival. She's a little bit jealous of you. She admitted it. And I'm a little, no—shit ink—so much jealous of him. What do both of you find so charming about that guy? Usopp has married her cousin who is a year older than she is. Her name is Kiyo. He didn't try courting her, she wrote, and she was thankful of that. She never wanted to hurt Usopp in anyway; especially that she fell in love with his closest friend.
Usopp has three lovely kids, now. Lovely as in they don't look any like Usopp at all. She sent me, or he rather asked her to send me, a picture of his family, maybe to make me jealous of him.
Name takes out the picture from the envelope. There is Usopp and his family in it. Three lovely kids, as Sanji wrote, are smiling at the camera, two girls and a boy. They surely didn't inherit any…no, the hair. Sanji missed to notice this. They have Usopp's jet-black, curly hair.
"How cute…" she says.
On Usopp's right is a blonde lady, and she strikingly looks like Kaya, only a little matured and sophisticated. She has long blonde hair and a comely smile. Nami puts down the picture and reads on.
And, frankly, I'm jealous of him. Not that he has a beautiful wife—I can have as many beautiful women as I want—but because he has the woman he loves. I can't have the one I love. You know that, right?
Nami looks up to stop her tears from flowing. She stays that way for a while until the tears are gone. She sighs and reads on.
I'll get more information. Just wait. By the way, Zoro has destroyed the sixteenth of the Meitou. He has only five more to go. Wish him good luck. Of course, wish me, too.
All my love, Sanji.
P.S. Please say it was only a joke. I'm begging you. I'm crying right now. Or, if it was true, please say it was him, Luffy, who made those kids with you. Write ASAP. Please. Sanji.
P.P.S. Please, for Gold Roger's sake, tell me it was a joke!
Nami puts his letter down. She remembers the first line she wrote in reply to this: "It was true, dimwit, and the world is flat!" It makes her cry now.
She opens another letter, wiping her tears with the back of her hand. This one is like written by a kindergarten.
I'm so sorry if this one is like shit. Haha. But, at least, it's readable, isn't it?
First, I thank you on telling me you were only joking, then. Second, you may not hear from Franky or Robin, again. Third, I found Luffy. Just go and fetch him somewhere.
Here, there is still the dried stain of blood and sweat.
Always smile, Sanji.
Right now, Nami's tears create two falls on her face. She is shaking when she takes out the other piece of paper from the envelope. This one is cleanly written but of someone's hand.
I was a marine soldier in Marine Headquarters. My name is Edward John. I was a witness of your friends' terrible fate. Because they touched my heart and woke me up from the blindness I was once in, I want to tell you all that happened here, all that I can remember…
"Make way!" a white clad marine said. Behind him, there was a platoon, white clad army of stolid faces. The last pair of the two lines carried Luffy, frail and torn up, by the armpits. He was being dragged, knees scraping on the rough ground, brushing some crimson on it.
The platoon stopped at the last cell. The two men holding Luffy went in, threw him to the wall, beat him up. Then they went and pulled him up, put the shackles on his wrists, not finished with him, yet, planted him with kicks in the body. Luffy couldn't even react a little because of his pathetic state.
"Come on! Leave him now!" the same marine blared at the pair. "The officials will be here soon."
They closed the cell with a disdainful bang and left.
Now four officials entered Luffy's cell. Luffy was awake but not awake at the same time. Eyes opened but not discerning anything.
The biggest of them slapped his face. "Hey, trash, wake up!" No reply. "Wake up, I said!"
Luffy tried to focus on him. He almost failed. "Old man…"
"Old man? Why you…" The big guy kicked him. Luffy coughed up blood. The big guy pulled his head up by the hair. "Hey, listen to me, you filth, listen! I have the power now to kill you, understand? You should not dare show insolence in front of me!"
Luffy smiled a ghost smile. He was so weak he couldn't even lift a single muscle for the purpose. "Why not try it."
"Hey, we are doing this for almost three months, now. If you don't want to—"
"I'm not afraid of anything, now, whether it's death or pain. I've got nothing to lose. What I must protect is already secured."
"You son of a bitch!"
…I was the caretaker of Monkey D. Luffy's cell at night. I don't want to tell this but he suffered so much in the hands of my superiors. Every night for three months, I heard his anguish inside that cell. I don't want to think what things had gone through in there, but, I'm sure, they were absolutely brutal…
"Strawhat, where are your comrades?" The voice was stern.
"Don't push me to do unnecessary things on you, you shit! Don't fucking force me!"
"They died a long time ago."
"You shit!" The big officer kicked Luffy in the face. It almost pulled his head off. With the Sea Stone shackles, his rubber power was at slumber.
The big officer exhaled harshly. "You damn shit! It's been three months since we started this, and now you'll just decide to say they're dead?" His eyes caught the hilt of his consort's knife. "Heh! You made a fool out of me, eh," he smiled, "then I'll make a crap out of you!" He pulled the knife out, held Luffy's mouth open, pulled his tongue out, and cut it off.
Luffy screamed. He screamed as he never had before. The whole Marine Headquarters heard it, was shaken because of it.
The big officer was appalled. His ears shot off blood. His consort fainted. He immediately threw the knife as if he had just used it to wound a sacred being. He was afraid, very afraid, and wished that he shouldn't have done such. He ran out of the cell a madman, never to be seen again by anyone.
…After hearing him scream, I lost my appetite and my will to sleep. That was the most hideous sound I've ever heard. A cry of a god, a god burning in hatred and fury.
Two days passed and Luffy stopped talking. I was used to him telling me his adventures every night, and I couldn't help asking myself why wasn't he talking anymore. I kept myself from nosing in a prisoner's business, but I liked the guy. So, one day, when I just couldn't stop myself, I took a torch and went inside his cell.
What I saw there made everything I had eaten since I was born go out of my mouth. He was literally torn up in a pitiful condition, and his mouth was all bloody. I realized that they had severed his tongue. I went out immediately and never returned there again for eight months.
It was an attack that brought me back on post…
Sanji kicked the metal door. It didn't open but was busted out of its jamb. Robin ran in, ran until midway, slowed, stopped. A hand went to her mouth to cover its gape. Tears flowed exactly as her hand found its location.
"Luffy!" She screamed. Even though she hadn't seen it, she knew. Luffy was in hell all the time they were in the neutral dimension, enjoying, were able to laugh. She fell on the ground, preventing her consciousness to flicker completely out.
"Robin—" Same as Robin, Sanji stopped midway, gaping as she had been, incredulous about what he was witnessing, cynical about himself. Was he just seeing a nightmare?
In the midst of their shock, Franky dismissed all initial emotions. He dashed and put Luffy down from his chains. He tore his shirt and immediately wiped Luffy's face, all the way apologizing to his captain. The tears might not show, but they existed. Maybe he made them flow inside.
"It's not time to be shaken, idiots! We must get out of here fast!" Franky bellowed. And that was when the two did pull themselves together.
Now they were out of the dungeon, Sanji had Luffy on his shoulder, Franky in front, Robin behind. They were going toward the Gate of Justice, indestructible Gate of Justice—once you are in, you are in, forever. They ran with the speed beyond their limits while the tide was still low and the bridge, available. Luffy was all in their minds.
But they would not be escaping that fast. The bridge was wide, almost capable of holding in a village. It accommodated fifty thousand marines, now chasing after them. All swords out for rifles were banned in obedience to what Admiral Aokiji instructed them. This had formed dispute with themselves, but orders are orders, and they obeyed. The famous Admiral sat on a spire he had created a seat on with his ice, observing. Could you succeed, Luffy-kun?
Robin stopped. Sanji and Franky ignored her for they knew that she would be doing it sooner or later. It was why she was insistent to be the tail. The Admiral was flabbergasted, of course, almost toppled off from his throne. Robin smiled. Crossing her arms over her breasts, she made an innumerable pairs of arms. In a blink, the motion of the chasing marines was completely stopped.
"What is this?" "I can't move!" "There are so many of them!" "That bitch!"
Aokiji couldn't stand it anymore. He went down in front of Robin, who obviously was straining herself just to maintain her hold on the marines. Hands wrapped around Aokiji. He felt how weak they were.
"What are you doing?"
"Saving my captain."
"To the extent of killing yourself?"
"I don't care."
"Do you know why he let himself be captured?"
"Yes. I clearly understand him."
"Then why are you still doing this?"
"Because I don't agree with him. He is the first person who has showed sincerity and warmth to me since the fall of Ohara. He steered my life into another path. Now that I've reached the end of it, I'm happy. This is how I will repay him. He saved me, I'll save him."
"Do you think he'd be glad you did this?"
She smiled. "He has no choice."
Aokiji studied her for a while. "Do you love him?"
Even in a time so tensed, she blushed. Emotions never let themselves be restrained by anything. They betray a person, sporadically.
"Yes," she said.
"Then stop. I'll help you."
She shook her head. "No. I know why you are still in the government despite of its grime. You still have a mission to fulfill. I've done mine with Luffy's help. The blank history is now secured. You know how to find it."
"You remind me of my sister, so devoted to justice."
She giggled. "You remind me of Usopp. It's your hair."
"This is your choice?"
"This is my choice. Please, let's keep what I told you about my feelings for Luffy a secret. I know there'll come a time when enemies become friends. If ever, that time, you accidentally meet them, pretend you know nothing."
"I promise." Aokiji raised his forefinger to her forehead. She closed her eyes. "Sleep well, Nico Robin. Ice Dust."
In a blink, Robin, with the arms she had made to come out, exploded into fine ice dust. The wind blew the particles past him and he thought he heard her say: "Thank you for everything."
The marines, dazed for a moment, continued their stampede. "Kill them!"
"Stop!" Aokiji cried. "I will take care of this myself." They froze, disbelieving that the words really came from their respected Admiral. "Stay here."
"Oh no! Now this is a problem," Sanji said, looking up at the gate of justice.
"Now, it's my turn," Franky said. He walked toward the thick, metal gate. "This shit is a piece of cake."
"What are you planning to do?"
"I will blow this up!"
"What? Are you—"
But Franky already began. His body became cherry red.
"Hey, Robin has already done her part. I'm about to do mine, so don't you fucking stop me, you hear?"
"Robin?" He looked behind. "Don't say that…"
Sanji began to cry. "No! She said she would stop when she knew she couldn't take it anymore."
"Don't be conceited here, love-cook. There's no way she will be coming back. She loved that guy more that I do. I love him as a brother; she loved him as a man. Just to ensure he'll be safe, she is willing to give up her own life. Now, you understand? It's just like your willingness to save him just to make Nami happy." He paused. "Now, stay back."
He started pushing the gate. His hot arms, red and shimmering, melted the metal. He pushed in until he was at the very center of the gigantic gate. Then he blew himself up.
…I thought they could escape by then until Mr. Sanji was caught. He was taken back into the prison while Luffy was thrown away. Later, I learned that Luffy had lost his sanity and was not even worth wasting time to kill.
Mr. Sanji was pressed in an interrogation, afterwards, but, like Luffy, he was stubborn. He just kept on cursing and cursing his interrogators, until they got tired and cut away his arms. He was then put into the cell where Luffy had been and left there to die…
"Hey…" said Sanji's feeble voice. "Mister jail guard. I know you are listening to me. Can you please…can you please give me some paper. I want to write a letter."
The jail guard, Edward John, went inside the cell and saw a dying man, skin and bones and arms up to elbows gone and still unwashed. His face had smudged dust, crusted by tears. His breathing gave him difficulty to stand.
"Please give me paper…I will write…"
Sympathy rushed in him. "If you don't mind, I'll write it for you."
"No. I want to write it…write it myself."
Sanji's suffering prevented him to think twice. Instead, it kicked him rushing to aid the dying cook's wish. He made the brush to fit his mouth and let the man by himself. The man wrote for ten days.
…I resigned. I have no idea, now, what had happened to his body after I left. My deepest apologies for I didn't have the courage to bring him out of that prison. I'm just an ordinary guy.
I don't know any way to console you after you read this. This may have been the most terrible letter I've ever written. This may have been the most terrible you've read. But, please, keep your mourning short. Mr. Sanji was happy when he died.
Respectfully, Edward John.
Nami wipes her tears. She stares at Sanji's mouth-written letter, and she needs to wipe them again. She is so sad reminiscing the old times. With her blurry vision, she doesn't notice Luffy in the doorway.
The man, who has regressed into a boy, walks towards her. Nami glances up.
"Luffy, hey," Nami says, wiping her tears and gathering her composure. "Hungry?"
Luffy shakes his head. He doesn't have the appetite now like before. He only eats because he needs to eat. Without a tongue, there's no way he can enjoy eating.
"Then, why are you here?"
Suddenly, Luffy reaches out and kisses her forehead. Nami is surprised. Luffy then hugs her, wanting to say something but not able to. He moans in frustration.
"It's alright, now, Luffy. Don't cry. I'm sorry I worried you."
Luffy tightens his embrace.
It is easy to ask him to write down what he wants to say, but Luffy suffers a unique case of Aphasia where he can't recall how to write words.
Nevertheless, she understands. They have been together, now, for two years. She knows how to interpret his every little gesture, as if he tells them rather that acts them.
"Yes, I love you, too. I love you, too, Luffy."
Luffy curls up on the bed and sleeps like a child on her lap, his arms around her waist. Nami watches the night sky out the window.
"It's so peaceful," she says.
"Yes, Nami, it is," Sanji says.
Nami's eyes widen. She jerks her head to her right and finds Sanji, Franky, and Robin standing by the door.
"Shush. Don't ask. We're here, no questions, don't ask," Franky says, still a crotchety man. He is not a cyborg, now. She is sure of that.
"Nami-san, do you believe in miracles?" Robin says. She comes towards the bed and touches Luffy's face.
Robin kisses Luffy's cheek. Then, after a short while, she kisses Nami's forehead. "Everything is going to be alright."
"Robin…" Still deeply shocked, she follows Robin with her eyes as the latter walks back to the two men.
Sanji cocks a thumb. "Smile, my Nami. I will be cooking like hell in heaven to pay for this little request. Sorry if we were this late. Heaven is so strict. Until we could prove that you haven't forgotten us, yet, they wouldn't let us off to see you." He smiles.
Silence. And, afterwards, the three turns to leave.
"Everyone!" Nami calls out. The three stop and look at her. "Thanks for everything."
"You're welcome, my sweetest," Sanji says.
"Shush. You don't have two hearts. And he's your first."
She thinks this over. "Yeah. I guess you're right. Thank you."
Slowly, he fades. Then the two fade next. And they are gone.
"I'll be guiding you," Sanji says.
In the morning, she wakes up and finds herself leaning on the headboard. Luffy is at her right, now, embracing her by her stomach, still sleeping.
"So, it was just a dream," she mutters. She looks at the sky. It is clear and peaceful.
She gasps, looks at Luffy, and dismisses it. Only my imagination. Nothing of the sort will ever happen. She gazes back at the sky.
Her eyes widen.
Luffy opens his eyes and stares at her. "Oh, Nami. Hi!" He sits up and stretches, yawning at the same time. Nami is not blinking. He looks at her again. Now, it's for a little while. Then he smiles, clasps her head and kisses her, as passionately as he can with his young knowledge of showing affection.
"Ah…that was sweet. Sweetest lips I've ever tasted," he said. Not satisfied yet, he licks her lips.
"Your tongue is back." More of a question.
He frowns. "Where has it gone to? Anyway, I dreamed of something. Sanji was teaching me unique skills. With my tongue. He said I should use them on you."
Nami blushes at that. But she doesn't feel offended. She feels excited. She smiles, pulls him to her, and kisses him. Watching him as his eyes whirls in pleasure, she decides that this is the day. She takes off her clothes and his. Luffy starts to protest, but she makes him feel in heaven with her kisses and caresses. In time, Luffy starts to enjoy the pleasure of her touch. He makes his own moves. Fumbling at first, he becomes confident after a while. Nami begins to react to his actions, savoring every minute that their skins are in contact.
"I love you, Nami."
Nami gasps. "What? What did you say?"
He stares and smiles at her.
Nami sees mischief in his eyes. "Uh! Hey, I'm not prepared—uh!—yet!"
"Well, you better be. I will not be telling you when I will go."
"You're. Not. Planning. To. Eat?"
"Don't speak. You'll bite your tongue."
When both of them reach the peak, they embrace. Luffy rolls down beside her.
"You said you love me." Nami is breathing hard. Her body is covered with sweat.
"I did. I do." Luffy falls asleep.
That is the happiest moment in Nami's life. She leans and kisses him in the cheek. "I love you, too." She snuggles to him and sleeps with an expression of contentment on her face.