AN: Finally, here it is, the last chapter. Took me quite long, but hey, I wasn't planning for it to have six chapters. But anyway, thank you so much for reading my little fic, and enjoying it to the very end. I hope the chapter didn't turn out too corny. X'D Enjoy!
Diclaimer: Do not own. Bleh.
She's not going to come, huh?
Sanji couldn't help but laugh a bit, even if it sounded more like a small and desperate groan. It was damn cold outside on deck in the middle of the night. He puffed tiny clouds of smoke through his lips, although he wasn't holding a cigarette in his hand at the moment - if only because his fingers were so frozen by now that even the mere thought of motion hurt. He brought his trembling hands up to his mouth to warm up the ice cubes he called his fingers at least a bit with his breath; it didn't work, but he wanted to leave no stone unturned while he was waiting.
Waiting for Nami.
He couldn't believe that he was actually still waiting. It was definitely already past one a.m. or later even, yet she still had not showed up. This could only mean that she obviously never even intended to show up to begin with. He was waiting in complete vain here. Probably only for his own death, seeing how freezing the cold of night was. And his rattling teeth were more than enough evidence that the Grim Reaper wouldn't keep him waiting for much longer. Jeez, his teeth were really rattling.
Like a machine gun.
She won't come.
Shit, it was cold.
If his facial muscles weren't long frozen by now, his eyes definitely would have widened at the sound of her voice. It was too cold to turn his head around in her direction, he could only peer at her from the corners of his eyes and hope that she wasn't a hallucination his brain was projecting to grant himself a last wish before death would take him from this world. But when she was standing at the exact same spot even one minute after that, with an unfathomable expression on her incredibly divine face, enveloped in a warm woolen blanket and glowing in the moonlight, he actually managed to bring a quavering smile on his lips.
"Y-you a-a-actually c-came."
God, he sounded pathetic.
Nami knitted her brows to an angry expression, but he noticed the gush of guilt in her eyes anyhow. "You're a god damn retard! You'll actually hold out for an hour in the cold only to wait for me? Are you insane!?"
He nearly laughed. That was so like his Nami-san. "W-well," he murmured with chattering teeth. "Yeah." Yes to everything.
"Idiot," she mumbled in bewilderment, hunkering down before him to bring out a second blanket to wrap around his shoulders; he immediately heard himself give a small sigh of contentment when the cold was replaced by warmth. "You better thank God that I'm not as weary of life as you are to forget to bring a blanket with me. Just what in the world is wrong with you? Why are sitting outside wearing nothing but that thin jacket?"
Sanji nestled closer into the blanket and sniffed. "I never thought it would be so cold tonight," he said bashfully. "Today was one hell of a hot day."
Nami offered him a disbelieving stare. "This is the Grand Line, you know."
The cook gave a faint laugh. "Right."
She eyed him for a long time until she finally straightened up and sat down beside him at the ship's rail. Sanji peered over to her, and simply admired her stunning beauty for a moment, not daring to ruin the moment with any sort of unnecessary words. He wanted to savor this. The unique moment where both knew what the other felt and still never really said it. He was completely incapable of describing what he was feeling at the moment. He was so damn happy and relieved, but at the same time he felt really small and helpless.
Nami was simply driving him crazy. So he kept silent rather than giving his voice the chance to betray him.
Okay, he definitely didn't expect that.
Sanji blinked at her, eyes wide in utter surprise. "Sorry for what, Nami-san?"
Nami was silent for a while as she rested her chin on her knees covered by the blanket, the look in her eyes was somewhere between melancholically and conscience-stricken. "I made you wait again," she said with a soft, totally un-Nami-like voice.
Sanji didn't quite understand. "Again?"
"You know what I mean," she whispered with flushed cheeks, consciously avoiding looking at him. "I think you know exactly what," she oddly gestured around with her hand, "this means."
He blinked at her in puzzlement at first until he finally fathomed what she was driving at. A teasing grin spread on his face. "Ah," he said in realization as he lit himself a cigarette at last. "Well, I guess it means you like me."
Nami's cheeks spontaneously heated up to a deeper shade of red, and the cold suddenly wasn't as cold anymore. "Moron…"
"That doesn't answer my question," Sanji said with a grin.
Nami scowled at him. "It wasn't a question to begin with, idiot."
"Touché, Mademoiselle," said the cook with a laugh, blowing a cloud of smoke into the night. "I should rephrase it."
He consciously smiled at her in his most charming way and his heart skipped a beat when Nami actually blushed.
"Do you like me, Nami-san?"
Nami gazed at him firmly, even if something inside her eyes showed her insecurity. When she couldn't endure his smiled and that piercing look, she turned her face away, trying to hide her fervent cheeks, although she knew he had long seen it. But it was just like her. Even before she turned away, Sanji had known that she wouldn't look at him while she said the words.
"Yeah, I like you."
Sanji couldn't suppress a blissful grin as he bent forward to her, spreading his arms for an embrace. "I knew it!"
"Oi, oi, Casanova." Nami rolled her eyes with a small smile, placing a hand on his chest to shove him back to his spot beside her. "First things first, okay?"
"But you're making me so happy," he said, beaming at her like a little boy who just received the gift he had wished to have for so long. "I can't help it. You have no idea how long I've waited to here that from your lips, Nami-san."
Her smile faded and an unfathomable expression remained. "Now that you know why I am here," she said with a low voice, "don't you have something to tell me, too?"
"But Nami-san!" he suddenly exclaimed vigorously, his expression showing concern as he softly cupped her face with both his hands. "You know that I love you, don't you?"
Nami was struck by his exclamation as though a snowball just hit her face. For a moment, she was so speechless, so dumbfounded and, yes, shocked, that her eyes widened and her lips formed a small O. But when she realized what he just said and how close they actually were, the feeling of his cold hands on the warm skin of her heated cheeks and the way her heart was pounding savagely against her chest, like bomb impacts, ba-dom ba-dom ba-dom, she finally snapped out from her state of shock and nervously grabbed his hands to pull them off of her face.
Blinking in puzzlement, Sanji watched her turn her face away from him quickly. "Nami-san?"
"That," she told him with a weak voice, "was without a doubt the single most unromantic confession of all time."
Sanji was taken aback at first, but then he turned away in embarrassment, running a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry," he murmured, burying his head between his arms almost desperately. "Ah shit, what's the matter with me? Here you are, sitting right beside me and actually telling me you like me while you look so stunningly irresistible, and… and what am I doing?"
Nami arched a brow in disbelief. Stunningly irresistible? No make-up, unkempt, in pajamas?
"Usually," continued the cook abashed, "I would've prepared you a candlelight dinner or a picnic in the moonlight or I would've at least ordered a violist quartet to play a romantic love song while I'm waiting for you in the middle of a field of candles, holding a bouquet with one hundred long Baccara roses, but…" He gave a lost sounding laugh as he ran a hand through his hair once more; Nami knew it was a habit of his whenever he got nervous. "Well, actually I've already done a few of that for you… Actually, I've pretty much done all of it already… and it's getting old."
Nami's eyes narrowed. "That wasn't me, Sanji-kun."
Sanji raised his hands, laughing nervously. "Oh no, no really, it was you, all of it. Just… something always went wrong and as long as not everything's perfect, I didn't want you to…" He never finished the sentence, instead he gave a sigh. "I guess I was just scared shitless of your reaction to my feelings. That you… ah, you know. Wouldn't take me seriously."
"Can you really blame me for that?" murmured the navigator with a solemn face. "You're constantly slobbering over each and every woman, shower them all with your compliments, and anticipate their every wish… How am I supposed to take you seriously knowing that?"
Sanji vehemently shook his head. "No! With you, it's different, Nami-san. You're--"
"Special?" she suggested with a sad smile, finishing his transparent sentence for him. "As far as I know, Robin's just as special. And Vivi was special, too." When she looked at him, her eyes seemed oddly dull. "At first, I really believed you when you said I was special. For those first few days after we met, I really thought your feelings were real. Love at first sight or something. Then however…"
She fell silent for a moment, and Sanji grasped the moment to explain himself. "But I--"
Nami's hand gently landed on his mouth, thus muffling any other words. "No. Just listen to me." It wasn't an order, nor was it a bossy command; it was a request. "What I'm about to tell you now isn't quite easy for me. I wouldn't even admit it to myself back then. So just listen to me, you reckless jerk."
Sanji nearly laughed a bit about her halfhearted attempt to insult him, but when she took her hand away, his face was still as serious as it was before. He would quietly listen to what she had to say to him. After everything he must have put her through, she deserved as much.
"After Arlong's defeat," she began with a throaty voice. "During the big party, after I got my tattoo finished. I… I went to look for you right away. I wanted…" She bit her lower lip while Sanji blinked at her in surprise. "I don't even remember what I've been meaning to tell you anymore. Maybe 'Thanks', or 'Good job', or maybe something like 'Hey, you know, I have the feeling that things could work out between us if you're really as serious as I think you are', and… and when I found you, you were telling some other girl the same crap you used to tell me all the time."
Oh shit, Sanji could only think while he gulped.
"And do you know what I did then?" Nami asked rhetorically. "I fetched myself a bottle of rum and got majorly drunk. Nojiko thinks you're an insensitive bastard now by the way, because for some reason, I was so incredibly pissed at you that I was talking about nothing else for the whole night. After that, I talked myself into believing that I've never felt more for you than friendship. And the issue was settled for good." She smirked a bit. "I've still made you suffer a bit for it by taking full advantage of your weakness."
Sanji forced a halfhearted grin to his lips. "That makes a lot more sense than Zoro's theory about you being Satan's daughter."
"Well, I'm resentful."
Sanji gave a low chuckle as Nami boldly stuck her tongue out at him, but his laugh sounded forced even to himself and not even half as honest as he had intended to make it sound. It was hard to laugh, at least in this very moment. To him, all this smelled suspiciously like one of those famous and dreaded I-might-love-you-but-sometimes-love-just-isn't-enough-so-I-think-it's-better-for-us-to-stay-friends-talks. But it couldn't end like this. In the one hour he had been waiting here, he came up with about hundred very good and convincing reasons why this could work. Much to his dismay, not even one of them seemed to occur to him, which meant he would have to improvise. But he really wanted to explain to her that he didn't match the picture she had of him. He was a different, a better man than the one she thought she knew.
"I wanna explain," he softly said, nearly pleading. "So please listen to me like I listened to you."
Nami stared at him for a while, and then she nodded slowly, in silence. She would listen.
"Raving over women," he said, "is a part of me. Just like cooking and smoking and Allblue. I can't switch off any of it. I can't turn my personality around and try to be someone I'm not. Women are an important part of my life, something that deserves to receive a lot affection and respect from at least one man on this planet. I learned that a man should always worship the ground they walk on and show them how wonderful each and every single one of them really is. But just because I give them all the feeling that they're special doesn't mean they have a place in my heart – at least not as something you think they are."
Nami held her breath for moment when he took her hand in his and looked her deeply in the eyes with a gravely expression.
"I'm a faithful man, Nami-san."
Nami was still not breathing.
When he continued, he almost looked like a lost little boy. "And if there's one thing I wish for more than finding Allblue then it's love. I wanna find a woman to spend my life with. A woman who loves me unconditionally, so much that she'll stay by my side even when I'm old and shriveled. A soul mate," he murmured longingly. "But a woman like that is hard to find. You have to search the whole horizon and every corner of the world to find a woman like that. And you, you never gave me the feeling that you're that woman. I mean, I was always sure that you're her, but it was as if you'd try everything in your power to make me realize that I became obsessed with something that's never going to happen…"
Nami bit her lower lip guiltily. Well, he had a point there.
"So I kept searching, but…" He gave a faint laugh. "Somehow, no woman is fit to hold a candle to you. No one was ever able to drive me out of my head like you can do with just one small glance in my direction."
Her mind went blank when he took her second hand.
"I love you."
Oh God, she was going to faint…
Focus, Nami, focus.
"And if you give me just one chance," he murmured, "I promise you that I'll make you so happy that everything horrible in your past completely fades away little by little."
Nami offered him an affectionate smile. "Wow. Actually, you never had to go through all the effort to give a speech. When I'm really honest, I don't even care about all that."
Sanji blinked at her in confusion. Huh?
"The other girls, the flirting, even the fear that you could be unfaithful, none of it matters," she softly said. "I was stupid enough to fall in love with you anyway. And a very wise person once told me that no one can navigate feelings, and least of all suppress them."
Sanji looked like he had completely lost track of her. "You don't care?"
She released her hand from his grasp to place it on his cheek. "To be more frank, I don't give a damn. I want you anyway, with all your annoying quirks and faults. I want the whole Sanji-package."
Sanji gave a disbelieving laugh while his thumb was softly stroking over the cold skin of the back of her hand. And at the sight of her bashful smile, he knew that he would never forget this moment. The one-of-a-kind moment where the most incredible and exciting adventure of his life began.
"Just so you know," he whispered as he leaned down to her until the tips of their noses touched. "I'm going to kiss you now."
Nami barely had time to grin before he pressed his cold lips to her at least just as cold mouth. And even if the kiss was physically freezing, metaphorically it was red-hot. She didn't even care that his lips were rough from the cold, nor did she care that she was trembling so violently that her jaw wouldn't exactly move the way she wanted it to; it was still absolutely and without exaggeration by far the best kiss anyone had ever given her. A kiss so good that she wished it was the last first kiss of her life. A kiss so damn right that all the questions and doubts immediately fell off of her mind. She knew that this could actually work.
They would make it work.
Sanji drew back from her lips only so much that he could speak. "Watch me, gorgeous. I'm gonna prove to you that I'm the most faithful man alive," he told her with a smile, his warm breath tickling her face. "Just tell me how."
"Well," Nami murmured, arching a brow. "You could stop flirting with other women for one."
"Ha-ha," he nervously laughed. "How about you think of something else?" Nami halfheartedly slapped his cheek and he grinned. "Hey, I can't help that I love to flirt."
Nami narrowed her eyes. "You love it a little too much for my taste."
"But Nami-san, don't you know," he murmured with a playful grin. "You'll feel hungry looking at food, but you'll only eat at home. Because home is where the food is best, my sweet."
"Yeah, particularly when you had to wait so long to taste this luxury food, eh?" Nami teased with a grin.
"It was worth it though," Sanji murmured as he kissed her. "Every single second of despair."
While his lips were drifting from her mouth down her neck, Nami bit her lower lip with a smirk. "But just for the record, my friend," she murmured mischievously. "As soon as you even peek at another woman, I will whack you. Mere compensation. You know, just for my salvation."
Sanji gave a laugh. "Deal."
"You know, I'm not really sure about this anymore…"
"Shht. This is epic."
"I never expected you to be the type to make random gifts."
"Oh, I love making gifts. Especially gifts to them. And especially these sort of gifts."
"And they're really going to like it? Something tells me Sanji and Nami might not find it awesome at all…"
A dark grin flashed up in the night up in the crow's nest while the tone dial was shut off with a click.
"Trust me, Chopper. Those two will be hopping mad--glad." Zoro had never been this spiteful in his life. "Putting it frankly, they're gonna like it so much that Nami will abate our debts right away and the damn cook serves us the same good food as the girls from now on. Heh-heh-heh."
Chopper shrank away at the sight of Zoro's nearly lunatic grin.
"Heh," snickered the swordsman once more. "This is the fucking best day of my life."