Author's Note: Well, I had been trying to think on what I wanted to write for the latest contest on the forums with the theme 'A New Place,' but I hadn't expected this. Still, I have to admit the first sentence is one of the most attention-grabbing openings I have ever written. Please enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't have any ownership of HM or its characters although I use them for my own entertainment.



I could say I felt bad for the asshole, but I wasn't one for telling lies. "He had it comin' to 'im," I scoffed, cracking my knuckles which popped rather distinctly to my satisfaction. Maybe I was just smug, but I was more than happy to look down on the worthless thug I'd finished laying out.

My handiwork made it a little hard to discern his features, but there was more enough to give someone a vague idea of what he looked like. The eye that wasn't blackened and swollen was nothing more than a black dot, and it was rolling back into his rather large head. The lump I'd given him did little to distract me from the fact he was bald on top with only two patches of unruly gray curls on either side of his rounded dome. His wicked brows and mustache more than made up for what hair he was missing elsewhere. Even laid out on the floor, it was obvious he wasn't a big man by any means. In fact, he was just plain stumpy.

When I happened to notice the decal on his singed, blue overalls, I couldn't help but smirk and mutter, "Are you smilin' now, firecracker?"

"That's enough out of you," the bartender warned, heaving a heavy sigh while he continued to polish a shot glass absentmindedly. Though he spoke sternly, I could see the slight smile tugging at his thin lips under his bushy, brown mustache, and I knew I was in the clear of any wrongdoing. Since he appeared to be an older man, I was sure he'd seen his share of bar fights over the years, and ours was probably not the first nor the last in his small establishment.

Really, my first impressions of the place hadn't been all that great. It seemed to be nothing more than a rinky-dink, hole in the wall sort of joint, and I wouldn't say that I found the country twang that snapped and crackled through the ancient speaker system did anything to improve my opinion of the place. Still, the heavy-set, but kindly innkeeper and his plump, well-mannered wife had told me it was a local favorite although they failed to mention it was the only place to find a stiff one.

Even so, about the only thing that was stiff around here was-

"Kassey, you never learn, do you?" a man identical to the bloke out cold at my feet scolded him. Given the similarities between them, it wasn't hard to understand that they were twins, but I hoped it wouldn't mean they shared the same temperament. I wasn't in the mood for dealing with another bastard who couldn't handle his liquor, after all. If push came to shove, though...

"Don't worry about Patrick none," the gentleman behind the counter assured me. "He's used to draggin' his brother out of here by the end of the night." I nodded curtly in understanding I chose to return to my stool at the far end of the room and the half-empty glass which waited for me, and I was more than happy to oblige to its calling. My shot was the only company I'd come for, anyway. I exactly hadn't planned on-

"Thank you for stepping in there, sweetheart." I glanced up from my amber elixir to meet a beautiful pair of emerald eyes and long, fluttering eyelashes. Not too long before, that alluring gaze had been filled with helplessness when the frightened woman had silently pleaded with me to do something, anything, to get the man's attention away from her. "I don't know what I would've done if it wasn't for you." The way she cooed her appreciation was enough to make even the roughest, toughest sailor blush, yet I remained as cold and detached as ever.

"It was... nothing," I replied at last, returning to my drink. The potent, acidic liquid burned down my throat with one swift tip of my hand. If the name Stone Oil was any indication, I could easily hope I'd have the ability to forget these faces by morning. Then I'd move on to the next town like all the others that had come before. I already felt the warming sensation of the alcohol's effects on the back of my neck, spreading into my cheeks. The young woman tried to mask her amusement at my obvious pleasure, yet the tugging at her ruby lips gave her away. "What?" I growled.

"Oh, pussycat, don't be so sour," she teased, brushing a stray lock of my hair from my forehead with a slender, nimble finger. "I know you're new here, but this isn't like the city..."

"No one said I came from the city," I muttered under my breath while gritting my teeth and tightening my grip on the empty shot glass. I hated women who liked to poke their dainty noses in my personal business. It didn't matter that she was hot to trot since she had already begun to cross the fine line I'd carved into the rock of my being. I wasn't about to crack under the pressure of her sly, feminine ways...

"You didn't have to," she replied with an air of knowing. My entire body stiffened as paranoia began to settle into my thoughts. She was too aware of my current situation although I hadn't told her anything about myself or my past. "Almost every person that comes here seems to running from something or someone from that kind of place," she explained, smiling at me all the while. "It's just how things go around here, I suppose, and you're probably no different than anybody else."

"Why are you here then, gorgeous?" I asked in an attempt to turn the conversation away from myself. I was hoping my rather brutal tactics would end the conversation, but she wasn't easily deterred. In fact, she seemed to be somewhat bemused by my defensive nature.

"Just one to many bad dates, I guess," she satisfied my curiosity in a wistful tone, taking my glass from me. I watched her carefully, noting the graceful sway of her curvaceous hips, but my eyes trailed down to her slender legs although I told myself I was actually concerned with her black pumps with the bright red bows. However, my attention was brought back to her snug scarlet dress soon enough, and I wondered why she bothered to wear that old-fashioned blue shrug. Her blonde mass of curls already tumbled around her narrow shoulders, hiding the seductively creamy skin that would've been exposed there.

"Maybe you're just looking in all the wrong places," I offered with an eye roll. "Hit me with another one," I ordered. Although she turned to face me and raised a perfectly arched brow, she complied without too much hesitation. The barmaid seemed to be accustomed to demanding customers since she didn't wait around for me to ask nicely, and I actually felt guilty for being so gruff with someone for the first time. "Thanks," I grumbled in an attempt to make up for my rude behavior.

The young woman gave me a grateful smile, and she set the warm Stone Oil right in front of me, sending a wink my way. If only she knew the intoxicating nature of her gesture, I was sure she wouldn't have dared to let it slip. "This one's on the house," she purred, leaning on the counter enticingly. Even in my... less than sober state, I knew better than to peer down her tempting, low cut dress. I wasn't nearly as lude as the man I'd sent flying earlier, after all. I preferred and knew to keep my wits about me in the presence of a true lady who was worth my time.

"So what's your story, doll?" she asked. When I sent her an icy glare, she just kept smiling pleasantly and batted her eyelashes to make herself look so damn innocent. I wasn't buying any of her flimsy acts, though.

"I told you I didn't want to talk about it," I reminded her bitterly. I was not in the mood for mind games that night, but she didn't seem to catch my drift. I had to wonder if women on a whole ever really do.

"You're a stubborn one, aren't you?" the barmaid teased, framing her finely featured face with her delicate hands. I started to feel my cheeks warm under her unwavering gaze. She had this way about her that just drove my senses wild, and I couldn't pull away from her or her temptations, either. I'm sure she knew how tightly she had me wrapped around her finger already only after just meeting me since I wasn't as prepared for her advances on my personal life. "I can get you to talk, I think," she challenged me with her knowing, cat-like eyes.

"Doubt it," I retorted while knocking back my drink in one shot for a second time. "How do you figure, though, if you don't mind me askin'?" She lifted herself from the counter and played with a blonde curl as she studied me carefully, and then she smiled in a sly manner.

"Oh, I have my ways..." she reassured me in a silky smooth voice. I grumbled something less than pleasant to myself although it was clearly meant for her. She didn't even glance my way, but I knew she'd overheard me cursing her under my breath. "Honey, you're going to have to loosen up 'round these parts if you're plannin' on findin' any friends."

"Who needs 'em?" I asked with a shrug. Honestly, I found other people weighed me down and tied me to one place for far too long. As a drifter, I didn't need to get along with anyone, and I preferred to keep it that way, too. I didn't give a shit about dealing with people or the problems that came with them. Likewise, I wouldn't want to have someone else poking their nose into my business when they shouldn't have been. Maybe that's what irked me about this particular barmaid.

Most of the girls I'd seen in working in joints like this only bothered a patron if that person was asking for an ear to listen. However, this little tart was convinced that my personal matters were her own, and I secretly wished she'd keep to the job she was paid for instead of trying to sort out my issues. Even so, I still couldn't say that she was a bad sort of woman although she had a habit of asking one too many questions. I was sure she was the belle of the bar in this sleepy valley. What I had to wonder was... why was a gal as fine as her in this dump of all places?

"Hey, lovely," I called over to her. The young woman spun on her heel and faced me once again, so at least I knew I'd gotten her attention. "What made you decide to work here, anyway?"

"So now you're asking me questions?" she quipped with a light-hearted giggle. I continued to stare blankly at her until she decided to entertain me with her little life's story. She was more than willing to share, apparently, since she jumped right into it, and I was unusually eager to listen. She decided to surprise me even more, though, for she chose to come over to my side of the counter. The barmaid went so far as to pull up onto the stool next to me. I could smell her sweet, amorous perfume wafting over my way just because she was so uncomfortably close to me.

"Where should I start, I wonder..." she began, trailing off as she thought on it. Her luscious, ruby red lips were pursed in mindful speculation, and I involuntarily licked my own, chapped pair. Oh, what I would've given to have just a taste of that satin cupid's bow... I was almost certain that she tasted like cherries... or maybe strawberries although I was pretty sure it was the former flavor. I hadn't kissed anyone in who knows how long, and the temptation was almost too much for me to bear. If only I could just sneak in the tiniest peck on her perfect pout, then I would find myself in the closest place I'd ever get to heaven...

"Mind telling me whatcha think then, sugar?" Abruptly pulled out of my fantasy, I found myself put on the spot. I hadn't heard a single word that had passed through those distracting lips, and I knew I'd have to face the music. "Were you even listenin'?" she challenged playfully, knowing all too well that she had me.

"Alright... so you caught me," I confessed which was a rarity in itself, yet I wasn't one for generosity, regardless of my error. "I still don't owe you anything, though." I pointedly looked away from her disappointed expression, but I wasn't about to budge. I didn't go around handing off my past to just anybody at any ol' time. I was the ever cautious type since I never knew who might decide to backstab me or when they may strike though chances were it'd be when I'd least expect it...

"Fine then," she agreed with a huff. Glancing at me sidelong, I saw the smile play across her lips before she assured me, "I'll give it another go some other time, I guess." We sat in a comfortable silence for a while, and both of us seemed to drift off into another world entirely. Even with that being the case, I found she was in my dreamland as well as sitting beside me.

Her long legs were hooked around the bottom loop of her stool as she lost herself in her own fantasy, and I saw the loneliness mist over her twinkling emerald eyes. Although I hated to admit it, I actually liked that far off, heartbroken gaze. I was completely spell-bound by her sweet visage which was only interrupted by the slight movement of her delicate hand and her graceful fingers. She toyed with the hem of her scarlet dress, and I had to look away since I could feel my cheeks warm at the mere thought of catching anything remotely revealing.

"I've got another question for you," I told her at last. She jumped in her seat, and if I'd been the remotely humored type, I might've chuckled to have caught her off guard. However, I too stunned by my own recklessness. I hadn't meant to blurt out that statement, but now I'd have to run with it, I suppose. "Can I... kiss you?"

"W-what was that, sugar?" the barmaid stammered, uncomfortably shifting in her seat "I don't think I-"

Before the young woman could offer a single protest, I had her in a surprisingly passionate lip lock. Although my eyes were closed, I just could imagine her blinking in complete bewilderment with those long, beautiful eyelashes of hers, and I heard the bartender chuckle to himself from behind the counter, where he'd long since been forgotten. When I finally pulled away, her cheeks were flushed with crimson, and her emerald orbs were wide with absolute wonder.

Finally, she squeaked, "I-I think you've had enough to drink... umm..."

"The name's Nami," I told her matter-of-factly with a rare smirk, "and you wanna know something? I think I might feel right at home here, after all..."


Author's Final Note: Yup, it's the Nami/Muffy pairing once again! XD However, this one wasn't near as fluffy as my last (much more 'grungy,' I guess), but I still like it a lot...

I know that there are probably some of you who may not care for yuri parings, so my advice to you is to tell yourself that this only came about because Nami was drunk. Sorry if I offended anyone, but I just don't believe in revealing a couple before I get to the end of these things. Therefore, I don't write warnings...