A/N: Well. Here's a new one. I wasn't sure about how well the ending came out, but I thought the overall story was pretty nice. Enjoy!
Nami looked on anxiously at the next port as they approached. She had told the guys earlier to lower the flag and raise the sails before anyone on the island could catch a glance of them and raise the alarm for pirates. She also gave them ground rules for their upcoming little excursion.
"The first person to cause trouble and force us to leave before I'm ready," she warned, "I'll personally hand to the Marines and help strap to the guillotine."
Most of her crew mates took the warning serious and wandered out of her radar for the rest of the landing procedures. Zoro griped, Sanji swooned, and Luffy laughed in response. Knowing he wasn't taking her seriously, Nami poked Luffy in the chest.
"You may not be scared of the Marines," Nami surmised, "but one word from me to Sanji and he'll stop cooking for you until further notice."
The grin dropped from Luffy's face. "But—"
"I need two hours," Nami interrupted. "Stay out of trouble for two hours. That's all I ask."
Luffy groaned as though he'd been told he had to sit still for two hours, but didn't argue any further. After negotiating landing fees, Nami wandered into town, mingling with the port populace as she gathered the information she needed. It wasn't hard to find what she was looking for; every major port had a Marine reporting station. She cased the joint, watching Marines wander in and out for a few minutes as well as stealing glances inside to determine the best plan of attack.
Right on schedule, someone cried out that there were pirates docked in the bay. As the Marines rushed to the docks, Nami smiled to herself at how exactly two hours had passed since she'd told Luffy to behave. She shrugged to herself as she easily broke into the reporting station and walked over to the Den Den Mushi. She quickly typed in the code for the island she wanted and waited for an answer.
"Cocoyashi reporting station," a gruff voice answered. "Go ahead."
Nami smiled and closed her eyes. "Gen-san."
The voice on the other end sounded like he was choking in surprise. "Why, might it be a little cat-thief?"
"It might be," Nami answered, unable to pull the ear to ear grin from her face. "Is my sister around?"
"She might be," Gen-san teased. "Come to think about it, she mentioned having an appointment to use the Den Den Mushi today, but I thought it was just to finish planning things out with Lygos."
"Who's Lygos?" Nami asked.
"Damn it, old man, didn't I say I needed to use the Den Den Mushi today?" was somewhat breathlessly yelled from the other end. Nami's grin grew impossibly wider at the sound of her sister's voice.
"Hey Nojiko," Nami called.
"Little sis!" Nojiko's voice took over. "Long time no speak. How ya been?"
Thinking of everything that had gone on in the last year, Nami tried to sum it up in one word. "Busy."
"I'll say," Nojiko chuckled. "Love the picture we got, by the way."
Nami giggled, knowing they must have received her 'Wanted' poster by now. Collecting her thoughts, Nami moved on.
"I don't have much time," she sighed. "I just wanted to talk to you and let you know I'm doing okay."
"Well, before you go," Nojiko began. Outside, Nami could hear cannon fire at the docks. "There's something I have to tell you."
"Better make it quick or I might get stuck on this island," Nami told her. "My crew is doing what they do best, and we're gonna need to get away soon."
"Here goes," Nojiko murmured. "I'm getting married."
Despite the rush she knew she should be in, Nami suddenly became very interested in what her sister had to say.
"Married?" Nami repeated. "Wow."
"His name is Lygos, and he's a good man," Nojiko described. She chuckled a little. "And really hot."
"You're incorrigible," Nami said.
"We're getting married in three weeks here on the island," Nojiko quickly informed her. "I know it's a long way and all, but…"
Nami's heart sank as she thought about the distance between them. "I'm sorry, sis. I don't think I'm gonna make it."
"It's okay," Nojiko sighed. "I suppose it would have been too perfect if you could come."
For the first time since leaving, Nami felt a pang of homesickness.
"But then again, it's probably not a good idea anyway," Nojiko decided.
Curiosity was killing her. "Why?"
"Lygos is a Marine who used to be under Smoker's command," Nojiko stated. "And Smoker is gonna be here for the wedding."
A blast that was very close instead of near the docks knocked Nami back to reality. "I gotta go. I love you, sis. Gen-san."
She heard their goodbyes as she bolted out the door and fought her way past some Marines that had fallen back to the reporting station, no doubt to call for back up. She ran at top speed toward the dock and called for her crew to start the ship out once she was in shouting range. They did as directed and with a stretching, helping hand from her Captain, she was once again safely aboard.
Ussop was the one who finally asked what she was grinning about after they'd safely made it back out to sea. As she relayed the news of her sister's engagement, she once again felt disappointment for not being able to be there, but this time it was not easily squelched. As the crew adjusted course to the next island per her navigations, she peeked at a map to try and judge the distance. More disappointment filled her: unless she crossed the Calm Belt, she'd never make it. And even if she did, by some miracle, there was still no guarantee to make it on time. The time it would take to cover the distance was nearly three weeks, meaning she'd have to leave tomorrow.
She sighed deeply. 'There's no way.'
She must have been too quiet at dinner because Zoro pointed it out.
"What's wrong with you?" he slurred. "You look so depressed that it's killing my buzz."
Nami gave him a serious look. "Do you really want to know?"
He thought it over. "Probably not."
She chuckled at his honesty and stood from the dinner table. "I'm going to go check our course."
She didn't make it out the door before the ship lurched to the side suddenly.
"What the hell was that?" Franky asked as they all regained their bearings.
"Cannon fire!" Chopper cried. "I can hear another ship approaching."
The crew spilled out onto the deck to see that their doctor was right; a Marine ship was fast approaching.
"Shit," Sanji muttered. "It's Smoker. How the hell did he catch up with us?"
No one answered him. The rest of the crew, save Nami, sprang into action to defend the ship. Nami stood in the middle of the grassy deck with a glazed look. She knew, if not how, why Smoker had caught up to them: they were near the Calm Belt.
"Lygos is a Marine who used to be under Smoker's command," Nojiko stated. "And Smoker is gonna be here for the wedding."
'He's going to the wedding,' Nami realized. 'He must be meeting up with a ship that will carry him over the Calm Belt.'
A sudden rush went through Nami as she saw the solution to the problem she'd been mulling. The ship lurched again as another cannon ball came too close and Nami had to struggle to keep her footing. Immediately, she climbed into the crow's nest to see if she could spot the ship that Smoker was meeting.
"Oi, Nami, whatcha doing in here?"
Nami spared a glance at her Captain as he climbed through a window to join her. "I'm looking for a Marine ship."
Luffy cocked his head to the side and gave her a funny glance as he pointed to the starboard side of the ship. "There's one right there."
"No," Nami smiled, seeing another ship approach from the aft of the ship. "I was looking for that one."
Luffy came up beside her to see the other ship, his grin widening in anticipation. He was about to launch himself back into the foray when Nami caught his hand.
"Luffy, I'm leaving for awhile."
Luffy froze, save to turn his head and look at her in wide-eyed shock. "What?"
"I'm leaving," she repeated. "I'm going to be gone for about a month and a half."
"No," he denied. "Don't leave."
"Luffy, I promise that I am coming back," she reassured him. Their hands switched and his tight grip held hers.
"I don't want you to go," Luffy pleaded. "You're our navigator. We can't do anything without you."
"Luffy, you can get into just as much trouble without me," she told him. "You'll figure out something to do."
She wiggled her fingers from his grasp and climbed down from the crow's nest. She ran to the girl's dormitory to grab a few things and reemerged to see the second Marine ship just a few meters away. Before she could reach the side of the ship, Luffy had caught up with her and had a grip on one of her arms that was not letting go.
"You're leaving on a Marine ship?" he asked incredulously, as if he'd never done anything just as crazy.
"Luffy," she began, talking over the sounds of the battle going on around them, "that ship will take me home so I can be at my sister's wedding, and it will bring me back to the Grand Line, too. I'll only be gone for six weeks."
"No," he obstinately denied. "How will we get you back? It's not going to know where we are in six weeks."
"No, it won't," Nami agreed, then pointed to Smoker's ship. "But that one will, and I promise I'll be on it. In six weeks, let it catch up to you."
Luffy switched his gaze between the two ships. His other hand came up and grasped her free arm and pulled her up close, and bowed his head so their foreheads touched. "Please, don't go. I don't want you to leave."
She wasn't convincing him. There was no way he was going to agree to let her leave.
"Please," he pleaded again. He watched her face fall before her gaze dropped to the deck.
"Okay," she quietly agreed. She was so quiet that he barely heard her. "I won't go."
She pulled herself out of his grip and went across the grassy deck to her lawn chair. He lost sight of her when a young Marine appeared in front of him, eager to fight. She listened to the sounds of the battle coming to a close and sighed as her one chance to go slipped away.
"Oi, Nami," Ussop called, walking over to her. "What's wrong? We're winning."
Nami looked at him and smiled weakly, shaking her head. "Nothing's wrong."
Ussop shrugged and began to walk away, pausing for a moment as a small sniffle escaped her. He sat down next to her and fixed her with a determined stare.
"Tell me what's wrong," he commanded. She looked at him again but couldn't stop her chin from quivering.
"I want to go see my sister get married," she told him, her voice barely a whisper. "Luffy asked me not to."
"So?" Ussop burst out. "If any one of us had asked you not to, you'd have stuck your tongue out and given us the finger and gone anyway."
"I know, but," she hesitated. "It's just that if it weren't for Luffy, she probably wouldn't have the chance to get married anyway. How do I go against that?"
Ussop sighed deeply. "I see."
He got up and walked away and Nami resumed pouting as she watched the two Marine ships begin to disappear from sight. Moments later, her Captain landed at her feet with a loud thud and a groan.
"Ow," he complained. "Ussop, what was that for?"
"Tell her she can go," Ussop demanded.
Luffy's eyebrows dropped in a frown of defiance. "No. I don't want her to go."
"Why not?" Ussop asked.
"She wants to leave on a Marine ship," Luffy whined. "Nami's smart but that's a stupid idea."
"And you're the king of bright ideas," Ussop muttered. "If you're so worried about it, then just go with her."
Luffy blinked as though that thought had not occurred to him. "Go with?"
He turned to look at Nami, as if to appraise if she'd go for that, and shrugged. "Okay."
Nami's jaw dropped in amazement before she burst from her seat and hugged him. "Thank you!"
She let him go and stood to hug Ussop too, thanking him as well and explaining how to retrieve them when they made it back. Luffy reached around her waist and she held on tight as he pulled his arm back and shot it out towards the second Marine ship, catching his grip onto some of the innate ornamentation that decorated the back of the ship.
It was difficult, but the two of them climbed into one of the cabin windows without being seen. As for getting around unnoticed, Nami snuck them around down to the lowest part of the ship, just below the cargo hold where the sea stone plating was. As soon as his sandals hit the surface, Luffy fell to his knees.
"Gah, I don't like this place," Luffy moaned, barely able to crawl.
"It's sea stone," Nami told him. "You may not like it, but we're going to be down here for three days."
Luffy groaned and flopped onto his stomach, then rolled onto his back. "It's hard to move."
"That's a good thing," Nami chuckled. "Keeping you out of trouble for three days was going to be hard anyway."
He groaned again and told her he was hungry. She made him promise he wouldn't try to move if she went to go get him food. Sneaking about the ship without Luffy felt a thousand times easier, but she couldn't take food from the kitchen without someone noticing. She went to the food stockade and took a few things that she could make herself without the aid of a kitchen.
"That's all?" Luffy asked, seeing her only return with a loaf of bread, some butter and a bottle of wine.
"I promise, when we get off this ship," Nami pacified him, "I will take you to the first restaurant we find let you eat yourself full."
His eyes became wide and dreamy as he started murmuring off things he was going to order to eat at the restaurant.
Three days passed boringly, but Nami wasn't about to press her luck considering that they were stowed away on a Marine ship. Fortunately for her, Luffy slept the majority of the time that he wasn't eating and therefore didn't have a chance to cause any trouble. The sway of the ocean changing alerted her that they were docking on an island, no doubt for Smoker to change ships on his way to Cocoyashi and Nami took the opportunity to get herself and her Captain onto another means of transportation as well.
Getting off the ship proved to be less of a challenge than she was expecting since most of the crew had disembarked as well, leaving only a skeleton crew to guard the ship. Bearing in mind her promise, Nami led Luffy through back alleys of the port in search of a restaurant, careful to avoid Marine sight. They found a small, quiet one not far from the docks and took a seat while Nami cased the joint for any quick means of producing money. She had enough to feed Luffy, but probably not enough to barter them onto another ship.
Hoping to avoid stowing away for the rest of the two and a half week journey, Nami queried the server who came to take their order about where to find a reasonably priced ship that would take them to Cocoyashi. He stumbled and said he didn't know, somewhat taken aback at Luffy's incessant and multiple ordering of different specials off the menu. He finally retreated to the back of the restaurant to converse with the chef, who peered around the corner at them. After a few minutes of arguing back and forth, the chef finally walked over to their table.
"We don't want a commotion here," he began, "so I think it'd be best if you two would move along."
"You're denying us service?" Nami asked, crossing her arms.
"I have no beef with pirates," the chef told her, "but I also got no beef with the Marines. I'd like to keep it that way and I doubt feeding some of the Mugiwara Pirates would be well looked upon."
"Well, sir," Nami said as she pulled out her coins and laid them across the table, "I doubt the Marines have ever paid for a meal they've eaten here and as far as they're concerned, the Mugiwara Pirates are in the Grand Line."
The chef switched his gaze between her and the coins a few times before scooping the coins off the table and walking back to the kitchen. "Ryo! Get our customers some tea and a bottle of our best wine! Hurry up!"
The server jumped to action and soon Nami and Luffy were dining on fine quality cuisine that could have given Sanji a run for his money. Nami kept paying out coins until Luffy finally decided he was full and too stuffed to move. Begging a favor from the chef, she asked him to watch over Luffy for a few minutes while she went out and 'stretched her legs.' Twenty minutes later, her coins were replenished thanks to the port commerce crowd. Poking and prodding her Captain into movement, they waved their goodbyes to the chef and made their way back to the docks to find a ship.
A ways away from the Marine ship dock, Nami found a smaller, quick looking schooner with an amiable looking crew that looked promising.
"Where's the Captain of this vessel?" she approached one of the younger men loading cargo from the dock. He looked to be around her age.
"Who wants to know?" he countered, never missing a beat as he loaded.
"Me. We seek passage to an island a few weeks travel from here," she told him. Luffy stood behind her gawking at something or another.
"This ain't no passenger leisure ship," the deck hand told her. "Seek somewhere else."
"But I like this ship," Nami spoke dangerously. "And I'm not one to easily let go of something that I like."
The young man finally stopped to fully regard her, looking the both of them up and down before chuckling. "Don't you have your own ship somewhere?"
Nami smiled a too-pleasant smile. "Possibly. But as you can see, we have no ship here. Hence, we are looking for passage."
"Well, I am the Captain of this ship and I don't feel like it," he told her. "And if you keep harassing me about it, I may start to feel like finding some Marines to escort you away from my ship."
"Let me put it this way," Nami began in a dark tone. "I can either pay you to take us to Cocoyashi village, or I can steal your ship and get ourselves there. Which will it be? A pocket full of money or a stolen ship?"
He chuckled again as though he weren't taking her seriously. In a flurry of movement, he reached behind his back and pulled a blade on her. She smirked at him as he held it to her neck.
"I ain't gonna tell you again," he growled. "Beat it."
The rest of his crew, six or so men, had gathered behind him and had their own weapons in hand.
"I take it you want me to steal your ship," Nami gathered. "Luffy, clear the dock for me so we can set sail."
Nami kicked the knife wielding captain in the groin and ducked when the knife dropped from her neck. Luffy swung a long arm out and caught the rest of the crew in a clothes line and sent them all into the water. With the so-called captain rolling in pain, Nami gave him a good clog to the head that dropped him unconscious. The two of them had untied the ship and pushed off before any of the other crewmen had made it out of the water and they could hear their cries of disdain as they made their way from the port and out into the wide East Blue Sea.
Going home was second nature to Nami and she only checked the maps against their positions because the days became boring with nothing to look at but the sea. Luffy grew impatient for the trip to be over very quickly, so to help pass the time, Nami decided to teach Luffy a few card games with the decks of cards they'd found in the ship's quarters. Well, it wasn't really teaching as much as showing him how to cheat and win money quickly. He proved to be a quick learner, though, and Nami ran out of things to entertain him by the fifth day.
Needing to stop anyway for some supplies, Nami picked up a few books for herself as well as a few things to keep Luffy occupied. Of all the things she got him, though, the fishing pole proved to be the most entertaining for him. He spent entire days catching fish, which he would ask her to cook up for him, and hardly bothered her about anything else. They were about a week from Cocoyashi when they stopped again for fresh water, and Nami took the opportunity to send her sister a letter. She knew it would arrive by seagull a few days ahead of her and she kept the letter simple but explanatory:
You might want to plan on having more food at the reception. A lot more. And have a dress ready.
She never signed her letters to Nojiko. She wanted to keep her sister safe from prosecution in case one of the letters ever fell into Marine hands. Nothing she ever wrote in her letters was incriminating, nor did it mention any names. Her nakama were simply referred to as their station: Captain, Swordsman, Ero-cook, etc. She was sure her sister would know what she meant in the letter.
Despite the books she'd bought to keep herself occupied, the week felt like it dragged on. Luffy must have felt so too because about two days out of Cocoyashi, he sat down next to her with a melodramatic sigh.
"Nami, tell me a story," he whined. "I'm bored."
"I'm not sure I have any good stories," she admitted. "Plus, I'm not Ussop. I'm afraid I won't be able to make it as, uh, interesting as Ussop."
"Please?" he pleaded. "If you tell me one, I'll tell you one."
She sighed in resignation and tried to think of a story.
"Um, let's see," she delayed, then snapped her fingers as she thought of the perfect one. But for purposes of Luffy, she decided to alter it a little. "Mikan Orange and Sea Blue and the seven outlaws."
Luffy cocked his head to the side and looked curious. "I haven't heard that one before."
Nami giggled. "I think you might find it a little familiar as the story gets going."
"Once upon a time, there were two girls who lived together in a beautiful, but corrupt kingdom," she began. "The King, who had once been very kind and generous to all of his citizens, one day turned evil and began making the lives of everyone miserable. The two girls, Mikan Orange and Sea Blue, were forced from their home because they had no money. When they went to go plead before the King for mercy, they discovered a dark secret: the King wasn't really the King."
"Whadaya mean he wasn't the King?" Luffy interrupted. "Was he the Prince or something?"
"No Luffy, I'll explain, just listen to the story," Nami told him. "The girls discovered from a talking mirror called Nico Nico that the real King had been kidnapped and replaced by a fake. Nico Nico wanted the real King back and told them that if they headed east towards the forests they would find help. So the girls took the mirror's advice and ran for their lives because knowing a secret like that could get them killed. So they ran to the edge of their beloved kingdom and into the unknown world beyond. This new world was harsh to the girls and they began to trust only each other and no one else. So one day, starving and penniless, they came across a group of outlaws that were partying in a village. The villagers liked the outlaws, though, and told stories about the outlaws saving them when they were in need. Having been tricked before, the two girls decided that they would steal from them rather than ask for help."
"No one should ever be afraid to ask for help," Luffy argued. "I don't like this story. Tell me a different one."
"It gets better, Luffy," Nami promised. "Just keep listening. Stealing from the outlaws turned out to be a bad idea because they followed the girls, trying to take their belongings back. The girls rushed back to their beloved kingdom, hoping to use the money and goods they'd stole to help pay for a revolution. Mikan Orange and Sea Blue succeeded in using the money to start a revolution, but not the one that they'd hoped for.
"The citizens they'd given the stolen money and goods to decided that the only way to save the kingdom was to destroy the castle, the King, and all of his followers. No one would believe the girls' story about how the King had been kidnapped and replaced. The two girls became sad, knowing that the revolution, built only on an initiative to destroy, would bring down the whole kingdom. And to make matters worse, the outlaws caught up to them.
"Rather than hurt them for stealing from them, the outlaws asked why the girls did it. Mikan Orange and Sea Blue explained their long and sad story to the outlaws, who to the girls' surprise, believed every word they said. The seven outlaws introduced themselves to the girls. Their names were Bones, Super, Doc, Hentai, Grumpy, Dopey and Sogeking."
Luffy burst out laughing and Nami couldn't help but giggle herself.
"Dopey, the ringleader," Nami continued, "asked the girls to become their nakama and promised to help them fix their kingdom. At first, the girls declined because they were distrustful and afraid. But Dopey and the other outlaws told them that they should never be afraid to ask for help and that as nakama, they were supposed to risk their lives for each other. Moved by the kind words of the outlaws, the girls agreed to become their nakama and together, they went to the castle to help save the kingdom.
"Together, they fought hard and suffered many injuries to keep the citizen revolutionaries from destroying the whole castle and everyone in it and also against the evil forces that had kidnapped the King. Sea Blue, the more charismatic one, appealed once again to the citizens to listen to her as the others fought against the real enemy. Dopey managed to free the real King and expose the evil forces for what they were. The kingdom was saved and the real King restored and the girls were forced to say goodbye to their new nakama.
"Why couldn't everyone just stay together?" Luffy asked.
"I'm getting to that, Luffy," Nami assured him. "Though they had saved the kingdom and the King, the girls' nakama were still outlaws and needed to move on. The King asked Sea Blue to become his heir since he had no children and the citizens liked her so much. She agreed and asked if Mikan Orange could stay with her as well. The King agreed, but Mikan Orange did not. She told Sea Blue she was going to leave with the outlaws. Sea Blue asked why and Mikan Orange told her that she wanted to explore the big world with her nakama and also that she had fallen in love with the ringleader, Dopey.
"Tearfully, but with promises to come back and see each other again, Mikan Orange left with her nakama and had great adventures with them. Sea Blue became a great and beloved ruler to the kingdom and they all lived happily ever after."
Nami glanced at Luffy to see what he thought of the story.
"That was awesome!" he cried. "You gotta tell that one to our nakama when we get back to the Grand Line."
Nami laughed and hoped he'd forget about it by the time they returned. She doubted her nakama would have a hard time picking out themselves in the story nor would some of them like their nick-names.
"Okay, it's my turn to tell a story," Luffy announced, biting back a yawn.
"Why don't we wait until tomorrow," Nami suggested. "It's getting late."
Luffy didn't take much persuasion and they settled down to sleep for the night, Nami sitting up in a chair on deck. Not that she really needed to. So close to home, Nami felt like the ship practically sailed itself to Cocoyashi. Still, she woke up a few times in the middle of the night just to make sure they were still on course. The next morning, Luffy woke her to cook him some of the fish he'd caught. She was amazed that he hadn't woke her before with his usual noisiness, but shrugged it off and cooked the fish.
"So, Luffy," she began, "what story are you going to tell me today?"
He paused briefly in eating his fish before gulping down the rest of them. "I dunno. What should I tell?"
"I want one with a happy ending," Nami decided.
Luffy looked like he was thinking pretty hard about it. Suddenly his eyes lit up. "Okay. I got one."
"Okay, there was this little boy who was born," Luffy began. Nami watched in amusement as Luffy waved his arms around and swayed back and forth very animatedly as he spoke. "He had a brother and a gramps. His brother was cool but picked on him a lot. His gramps was crazy and did these crazy things. So all these things crazy things happened to the boy and his brother until their gramps had to go out to sea. So the boy and his brother hung out and did crazy stuff together."
"You don't say," Nami grinned.
"Yep. And then the boy's brother ran away from home," Luffy continued, "and the boy was alone. But he found some people in a village to hang out with so he wasn't lonely. And then he met the coolest person in the world."
He abruptly stopped and Nami quirked her head.
"And?" she prompted.
"And one day that person left too," Luffy said.
Nami made a sour face. "Luffy, that story is very sad. I thought you were going to tell me a story with a happy ending."
"It does have a happy ending," he insisted.
"The boy being alone is not a happy ending," Nami argued. "Everybody leaving is not a happy ending."
"But everybody leaves," Luffy shrugged. "So anyway, the boy decides that it's his turn to leave, and he does. He goes out to find more cool people to go places and hang out with him. And then he found some people that became his nakama and he was so happy. But then, you left."
Nami felt a pang of guilt with his slip up, understanding a little better why Luffy had followed her back so long ago.
"So the boy decided that no matter what," he continued, "he was going to show his nakama that things were better when they stuck together. So he did. He showed all of them. And they still live happily ever after."
Nami was moved by the simple story. She wondered if the others had ever thought about why Luffy sought out his nakama so relentlessly when they left for their various reasons. Doubtful, she surmised.
"I liked that story," she told him. "Thank you for telling it to me."
Luffy grinned and decided he was hungry enough for lunch. He picked up his fishing pole and began catching fish and dropping them onto the deck for Nami to cook. The rest of the day passed with the two of them engaging in sporadic bits of conversation and just enjoying the scenery. It was just before dawn when Nami woke Luffy, docking their small ship in a small cave depression of a cliff. The water there wasn't too deep, but Nami still had to carry Luffy's full weight from the cave to the shoreline. In the light of dawn, they crossed the island from the back as to avoid any unwanted run-ins with Marines.
As they crested the last hill before reaching the village Nami stopped. There were chairs there, set up in rows and facing the sea. There was a small clearing in front of the chairs with nothing marring the view of the sea except for an old cross with a pinwheel at its base. Luffy watched as Nami walked up to the cross and ran her hand across it. She stood there motionless for awhile before Luffy got bored and came over to move her along. His hand stopped short of her shoulder when she sniffled.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
She turned suddenly and looked at him, surprised that he'd gotten so close to her without realizing it. She quickly wiped away a couple of tears and gave him the best smile she could muster. "I guess I just got a little sentimental."
Luffy looked back at the grave. Wasn't he supposed to say something in the presence of the dead? "Gochujou-sama deshita—wait, gosuchou-sama deshita—uh, um, gotsujou, no, gotodou—"
"Goshuushou-sama deshita," Nami provided.
"—deshita," Luffy quickly spit out. He shuffled on his feet for a moment. "Did you know this person?"
Nami leaned down on her haunches and flicked the pinwheel into motion. "Her name was Bellemere. She raised Nojiko and me until she died."
"She's your mom?"
"Yeah," Nami agreed. "And of all the people coming to this wedding, I think this is the person Nojiko wishes was here the most."
Nami stood and gazed off at the ocean. "She should be here."
Her words were so quiet that Luffy almost didn't hear her. He leaned over and bonked his head lightly against hers. He took her hand and tried to pull her to the path that led to the village.
"Give me a minute, will you Luffy?" she asked quietly. He dropped her hand and walked to the edge of the clearing to wait for her. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and stared at his feet as he stood waiting, willing patience not to fail him for once.
While watching his feet intently, he noticed a milky white mist creep up from behind him. He had barely realized that it was actually smoke, not mist that enveloped his lower legs when someone spoke.
"Out of respect of the former fellow officer that lay there," the voice told him, "her daughter, and my own former subordinate, I will give you until midnight to get off this island."
Luffy grinned a determined grin at the voice, easily recognizable as Smoker. "Gotcha."
"Did you say something, Luffy?" Nami asked as she approached him.
"Do you think they'll have some Namu Hamu Melon at the party?" he asked her as she led the way to the village. Nami chuckled and passed by Smoker unawares. There were too many Marines in town that she just led Luffy past the village toward the Mikan grove. They could hear Nojiko's shouts emanating from the small cottage well before they reached it.
"Damnit, Gen-san! I can't get dressed with you here hovering over me like a damned vulture."
"Nojiko, the wedding starts in less than an hour and you still haven't signed the marriage license," Gen-san yelled back. "You can't get married until it is signed."
"I'll sign it when I'm good and ready," Nojiko hollered as Nami entered.
"What's all this?" she interjected loudly. "Gen-san, you shouldn't upset the bride on her wedding day."
Gen-san looked in awe at Nami as Nojiko snatched the papers from his hands.
"Okay. Now I'm ready," she told him as she signed the papers and handed them back with a smirk. "Now get outta here so I can get dressed or I really will be late for my wedding."
Gen-san grumbled on his way out, grabbing Luffy by the shoulders and hauling him off as well. Luffy waved and grinned as he was dragged away, making Nami chuckle. When she turned back to her sister, Nojiko had a hand under her chin and was staring at her knowingly.
"I see your Captain still follows you wherever you go," Nojiko observed as she turned to the mirror and began applying some makeup. Nami ignored the comment and went to the bathroom to freshen up.
"So, tell me about Lygos," she called to her sister, deliberately changing the subject.
"What do you want to know?" Nojiko called back.
"If he's about to become my brother-in-law, I should at least know the basics," Nami relayed. "How old is he, where is he from, is he good in bed?"
Nojiko laughed loudly and Nami found it contagious. Reemerging from the bathroom in a slip she'd brought along, Nami pulled up a chair next to the vanity where Nojiko sat and began applying makeup as well.
"He's twenty seven," Nojiko told her. "He is from an island in the South Blue called Acasia and it's none of your damn business if he's good in bed or not."
Nami chuckled again. "How did you meet?"
"He was one of the officers that came to arrest Arlong a year or so ago," Nojiko revealed. "I thought he was just another punk Marine boy who was too big for his breeches, but he kept coming back to Cocoyashi. The more I got to know him, the better I thought of him. I guess he kinda grew on me."
"I'll say," Nami commented. "You're gonna marry him after only knowing him for a year."
"Yeah, like you're one to talk," Nojiko shot back, moving on from makeup to her hair. "You jumped on a ship with a weirdo who can stretch after knowing him for a few hours. Then, after knowing him for less than a month, agreed to sail the Grand Line with him."
"It's different," Nami defended weakly. "You've met Luffy. You know why I went with him."
"And once you meet Lygos, you'll understand why I'm going to marry him," Nojiko told her. "Speaking of marriage, when are you going to marry that cute little Cap—"
"Don't finish that sentence or I'll walk," Nami warned her. "It's not like that."
"Okay," Nojiko relented, shrugging. Things were quiet for a few moments as Nami finished her makeup and moved on to her hair as well. "Explain it to me."
"Why are you so damn curious about it?" Nami burst out.
"If he's going to become my brother-in-law someday, I should at least know the basics," Nojiko taunted. "How old is he, where is he from, is he good in bed?"
Nami stood from her chair and walked away, cursing under her breath. She walked out the back door and paced around for a few minutes to calm herself down before heading back in. Nojiko gave her a look as she entered that indicated she wasn't about to back down.
"You wanna know how it is?" Nami vented. "Yes, I love him. Just like I love the rest of my nakama. Yes, I'd die for him. Just like I'd die for the rest of my nakama. Would I have gone with anyone but him? No, not for anyone but Luffy. But if it were anyone but Luffy who'd come here a year ago to fight Arlong, I don't think we'd be having this conversation, now would we?"
Nojiko turned back to the mirror and finished mussing with her hair. "I guess you're right about that. We were all planning on dying that day anyway."
Nami continued to huff for a bit, upset that her sister was getting to her and upset that she was letting her. She circled the small cottage, staring at old and new pictures, trying to calm herself down again and get her breathing back in order.
"Your dress is behind the bathroom door," Nojiko told her, interrupting her thoughts. Still looking for a distraction, Nami went to the bathroom and sought out her dress. It was a pale yellow that reminded her of daffodils, strapless and form-fitting. It flared briefly at the knees with the smallest train in back cutting off at mid-calf. All in all, it was a pretty dress.
"It looks good on you," Nojiko commented, standing behind her in the doorway. "Come on and help me get my dress on."
Nojiko's dress wasn't that much different from Nami's except for a few small details. Hers was white, had small shoulder straps and reached the floor in length. The satiny material shimmered when she moved and as Nami zipped it up in the back, she was overcome with a sudden wave of sadness.
'Bellemere should be zipping her up in this dress,' Nami thought to herself, watching Nojiko spin in front of the mirror, admiring herself. 'She should be here…'
"What's that look for?" Nojiko asked, breaking Nami's reverie. Nami shrugged, rather than answer. "We better get going. Put these sandals on."
Nami obeyed and they headed for the hill, Nami following behind and holding the dress train up and out of the dirt. She could hear people before she could see them and they stopped just short of emerging from the foliage.
"Damn that Gen-san," Nojiko muttered. "Where is he?"
"Oi, Nami!" Luffy called from behind them. "The ossan told me to give you these and to get your ass up there."
He handed her a tied bouquet of white flowers. She took them and stood at the edge of the foliage, looking toward the ocean. An important-looking Marine stared back at her expectantly while a young man with a flower on the lapel of his uniform fidgeted near him.
'The groom,' Nami predicted. Her breath caught for a moment at the other figure standing up near the front, just next to the groom. 'Smoker! I knew he would be here but as a groomsman…?'
A fit of anxiousness swam through her until Luffy took her arm and with a wide grin, began pulling her down the aisle. More than a few shocked whispers emanated from the wedding crowd as they made their way towards the front and Nami couldn't help but smile at it all. Luffy broke away and plopped down in a chair in the front row, letting her walk the last few steps on her own. As she approached the group of men, she was honored to receive a nod of recognition from Smoker. Looking onto the groom, she stepped up to him and held out her hand.
"I'm pleased to meet you," she told him. He cracked a large smile and took her hand, bowing.
"I am likewise honored to meet you, Miss Nami," he told her. Nojiko had been right. Less than ten words spoken and Nami already liked him.
She took her place to the side and glanced down the aisle to see Nojiko standing there waiting, on the arm of Gen-san. In his nicest uniform, Gen-san walked Nojiko toward her fiancé and stopped just short of the group.
"Who gives this lady away to be wed?" asked the formal looking Marine.
"Her mother and I do," was the gruff response. Nami had to look away to avoid tears. She stared at the cross that stood beyond them, watching the pinwheel spin lazily. She cracked a half smile and turned her attention back to the ceremony. The formal-attired Marine, who Nami mentally dubbed the officiator of the ceremony, droned on for a few minutes about love and devotion. From the corner of her eye, she could see Gen-san poking Luffy in the ribs as he tried to doze from boredom.
Nojiko and Lygos each spoke their vows fairly quickly and Nami smiled in amusement as Nojiko blushed profusely as she spoke hers.
"If anyone has any reason why these two should not be wed," the officiator announced, "let them speak now, or forever hold their peace."
No one spoke, but a huge gust of wind came up from behind Nojiko and pushed her into the arms of Lygos. A few knowing chuckles were heard and the officiator quickly announced them husband wife. Nami couldn't help herself and let out a loud whoop as her sister kissed her husband. Nami got the finger in response and Nojiko took her husband by the hand and walked back down the aisle, smiling an unending grin. Other guests in attendance cried out their congratulations as the clearing quickly emptied and Nami approached the grave marker again.
"Flowers for the mother of the bride," she said, resting her bouquet next to the cross. When she stood, Luffy was next to her. He scooped her up in his arms and ran for the village.
"Come on, Nami," he yelled as he ran. "We're missing the food!"
Smoker, the only person yet to leave the clearing, walked over to the grave marker.
"What wild and crazy daughters you have," he said, pulling a cigar from his pocket and laying it next to the flowers. "But I would expect nothing less from you, Bellemere."
Down at the village, Luffy released Nami and made his way towards the buffet table. Gen-san barely tackled him before Luffy could sweep away all the food.
"Behave yourself, boy," he scolded. "This is a wedding reception, not a free-for-all."
Luffy groaned in disappointment and went back over to stand by Nami to pout. "Starving…"
"Don't worry, Luffy," Nojiko told him as she approached the distraught boy. "Everyone in the village prepared you your own table."
Luffy's eyes became starry and his tongue rolled out of his mouth. "Really?"
Nojiko pointed beyond the first buffet table and other chairs and tables to a long table near the edge of the town. "That whole table is yours."
Luffy called his thanks to Nojiko as he leapt tables and people in his trek to his table.
"That should keep him busy for a little while," Nojiko deduced as she pulled Nami to the head table. "Let's hurry up and eat so we can get this party started."
Nami laughed as she was dragged away. The dinner and the toasts went fairly quickly and soon enough Nojiko and her husband were cutting the cake. Before the first slice was served, the music cued up from nowhere and bottles of ale appeared on every table. Loud and boisterous chatting took over and before she knew it, Nami spied her Captain on a table with chopsticks up his nose and in his mouth, as per usual. She sighed and chuckled at the same time as she sipped a glass of wine.
"If I may ask, is he always this carefree?"
Nami looked over to Smoker in surprise. "Well, uh, yeah."
Smoker grunted as he sat back in his chair, chewing on the ends of his two cigars. "I was starting to wonder if it was just my company."
Nami smiled to herself. "No, he pretty much acts like a happy-go-lucky idiot no matter who he's around."
"It's a wonder that he hasn't been caught yet," Smoker muttered. "The world is not meant to be lived without consequence."
"Maybe you should try it sometime," Nami diagnosed as she stood from her seat. "Maybe you'll see that it's not him who walks the path of injustice."
Nami joined Luffy and pulled him down from the table to go dance in the middle of town. They jumped around and sang along to ridiculous songs and drank more ale as the night grew heavy. Light had long disappeared from the horizon when Luffy caught Nami and pulled her away from the dancing to speak quietly in her ear.
"We have to go soon," he told her.
It was odd to have Luffy tell her that it was time to go. Since she'd known him, she doubted he'd ever been the first to suggest they leave. She watched as he nodded his head in the general direction of Smoker. When she glanced his way, she saw him look down to his watch then look back at them.
Nami spared a glance to her sister, who was dancing around with her husband with a huge smile on her face, then looked at Gen-san. He sat at a table with the town doctor, throwing back shots and laughing about stories that were who knew how old. She smiled, knowing she'd get yelled at for it, but took Luffy by the hand and snuck away from the celebration and up the hill. When they made it to the clearing, Nami told Luffy to wait for her at the shoreline and she'd catch up. She watched him look back at her uncertainly as the foliage enveloped him, and then turned to her mother's grave.
"I'm off again," she announced. "So much has happened in a year and I can't believe it's been that long already."
Nami shuffled her feet as she struggled with her words. "Again, I don't know when I'll be coming back. If I'll be coming back…"
That thought seemed the saddest and she scrunched her eyes shut so tears wouldn't leak out.
"I'm going with him," she said, determination in her voice. "I'm going to follow him wherever he wants to go and I'm going to take him to One Piece and he's going to be the Pirate King. And I'll be happy with that."
'Liar,' she told herself.
"It's just," she stumbled, "until a year ago, I didn't dream of these things, you know? I mean, I always wanted to make a map of the world, even when I was small. But to dream of getting married and having kids? Those were things that weren't allowed. Things that I wasn't going to be able to do. But things changed when Luffy came along. They changed for everyone. People aren't afraid to get married and have kids anymore. And then to see Nojiko do it…it makes me jealous."
Silence was the only response she got.
"I don't necessarily know that jealous is the right word," she shrugged, unconsciously pacing in front of the marker. "I guess I want to do it too. Get married to someone who understands me so innately and accepts every single part of me. To love that person so much that I want to have his children and spend the rest of my life with him."
A brief fantasy floated through her mind but was gone immediately.
"I'm rambling," she realized. "Damn. I wanted to come here and tell you I was leaving again and that though I don't know when I will be back, I now realize how much I want to come back soon. I probably won't stay, but I want to see nieces and nephews. I want to know them and watch them grow and…I want to see this island as happy and peaceful as it should have been all along."
She heard a rustle of foliage behind her and turned to see Luffy emerge. He held out his hand to her and she walked to him and took it.
'I don't know, Bellemere,' she thought. 'I think I've already found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.'
A strong wind pushed her from behind and she nearly fell onto Luffy, who caught her with ease and helped her stand up again. Her mind drifted for a moment as she looked at him and suddenly she giggled at the thought of Luffy ever settling down with a family.
"What?" he asked, as if he knew that she was laughing at him.
"Let's go back to our nakama," Nami told him, leading him back down the hill toward the shoreline. She sighed in dismay when she realized she was going to ruin her pretty dress by swimming in the ocean in it, but dismissed the thought quickly when she saw some lanterns coming down the hill behind them at a quick pace.
She took hold of her Captain and dragged him out into the water before he could argue and swam them to the cave in the cliff where they'd hid their schooner. Once on the boat they made a break for it, seeing the beach behind them begin to fill with Marines. Not wanting the Marines to catch up to them in the middle of the night, Nami and Luffy used full sails to harness the wind and set them on their way. Once convinced that the Marines were not going to catch them in the next few minutes, Nami went to the private quarters to change out of her wet clothes. When she rejoined Luffy on deck, he was sprawled out on his back staring at the sky.
"Luffy, I want to thank you," she told him, sitting down next to him. He looked a little confused. "I know how dangerous and time consuming this all was, and I wanted to thank you for letting me see my sister get married."
Luffy sat up and grinned at her. "You don't need to thank me."
"Yes I do," Nami nodded. She was going to elaborate but Luffy interrupted her.
"No you don't," he insisted. "That was a lot of fun."
She flashed back to a time shortly after they'd left Cocoyashi for the first time.
"Luffy, can I talk to you for a second?"
Luffy turned to look at Nami from his spot on top of the lamb's head. He grinned at her as he hopped down to stand in front of her. "What's up?"
How do you thank someone for saving everything you've ever loved?
"I want to thank you," she started, but faultered. "I need to thank you."
He was staring at her blankly, as if to say, 'for what?'
"Thank you," she started again with determination. "For saving me. And my sister. And everyone else."
He was chuckling at her. "You don't have to thank me."
"Yes, I do," she insisted. "You gave me my dream back—"
"You're my nakama," he interrupted. "That's what nakama do for each other. Plus, kicking that fishman's butt was really fun."
That was the moment the lunch bell rang and Luffy bounded away from her towards the galley. She remained at the front of the ship, standing just behind the figurehead for a little while longer, breathing in the sea air and realized there was truly only one way to thank him: do everything in her power to make his dream come true.
She sighed and settled down in a reclining chair on the deck, deciding that it was probably that moment that she began to love him. Not necessarily fall in love with him, but definitely love him along with the rest of her nakama that had acted on nothing more than a tear-soaked plea for help. She suddenly realized how much she missed them all. She could tell that Luffy missed them too, even more than she did.
Until they were at least a day out of Cocoyashi and she was sure that the Marines weren't going to easily catch them, she decided that she'd be watching the horizon. Luffy bounced around for a while on deck working the sugar and drink out of his system. When he finally collapsed into a lump of snores, she began composing a letter to her sister to apologize for their quick and quiet departure.
My sister (and new brother, too),
I'm sorry that we left without saying goodbye. I know, it's a terrible habit of mine. I wish I could stay a week or two just to catch up with you or get to know my brother-in-law a little more, but our window to visit was just too small. I promise that once I have taken my Captain where he wants to go and help him to achieve his dream, I will come back again. I just don't know how long that will take. I look back and think, wow, has it already been a year? It may take just as long, but I think more, to reach the end of our journey. Tell Gen-san not to worry about me; I have plenty of nakama who disapprove of the things I do in his absence. I love you and will miss you every day. Most of all, be happy. And have lots of babies. I better be an aunt when I return or there will be consequences!
Your sister, the Navigator, soon-to-be Aunt (or else)
She laughed as she reread the letter. She could just imagine Nojiko's eyes bugging out of her head as she read the part about having babies. Though Nami loved her very much, Nojiko was not very good with dealing with kids and tried to frighten them off rather than be nice to them. Maybe it would be different when she had children of her own.
As dawn approached, Nami hazarded a glance behind them and saw no ships in the distance and decided to chance a nap. Luffy was still snoring on the deck and Nami figured it was the best time to catch some sleep before he roused and became his boisterous self. She felt as if she'd barely closed her eyes when she felt someone shaking her shoulder.
"Nami, it's time for breakfast," Luffy informed her. She blinked several times as she tried to get used the light from the sun that was now very high in the sky. She skimmed the horizon behind them and saw no ships to her relief. Long and boring days passed but Nami couldn't have been happier sharing her time with Luffy. Yes, he got on her nerves more than once and had to be conked on the head a few times but as the days passed she grew more and more sure that this man, whether or not she got married to him, or if they never had kids, was the one person she wanted to be with for the rest of her life.
A familiar port on the edge of the Calm Belt welcomed them nearly three weeks later and in a fit of humor, Nami decided to dock the ship where they'd stolen it from. The space was still empty she noted in amusement, and the so-called captain was sitting in a chair watching them approach with a bottle of ale in his hand.
"I had a feeling you'd be back," he slurred, dropping the nearly empty bottle onto the dock. "Did ya hafta kick me in the nads? That was just mean."
"Next time you should just take the money," Nami reasoned, giving wide berth to the drunken captain. "Or do you enjoy forced vacations?"
He shrugged, or tried to, which put him off balance and he nearly toppled into the water. "Did you eat all my food?"
"There was no food on there to begin with," Nami told him.
"Just checking," he hiccupped. Nami decided to leave the inebriated captain be and led Luffy into town. They followed their old route and found the small restaurant that they'd dined at before. There were other patrons this time, so Nami led Luffy around back to the kitchens.
"Got a table for two?" she announced, watching the chef start. He turned to look at them and grew a wide smirk.
"Always," he nodded. He pointed off to the side where a small table and a couple chairs sat; obviously the owner's personal table. They took their seats and Nami poured coins in his hands until her satchel was empty again. Food was placed in front of them until Luffy fell from his chair because his rubbery figure was too fat to sit in it anymore. The chef agreed to watch Luffy while she went out to 'stretch her legs' once again as well as to check up on the ship that would take them back to the Grand Line. It had yet to port, and wouldn't until very early the next morning, so Nami decided to spring for a hotel for the night. When she returned to the restaurant, she asked the chef if he'd be willing to rent a room for them at the local inn.
"Gladly," he agreed. The chef, who turned out to be the owner of the restaurant, said that his brother would put them up for the night in his hotel and sent Ryo, the waiter, away to procure the reservation. It was fairly late in the evening when Nami and Luffy closed the door to the hotel room. Rebounding with endless energy from lunch, Luffy wanted to wander around and explore the port but Nami forced him to take a bath instead, insisting that since it would be three days before he'd get another, he was due.
The bathroom was the one worse for wear when the bath was over, since Luffy took out his pent up energy on in the bath. Nami knew she wouldn't get one of her own until the boy finally fell asleep and spent the rest of the evening trying to come up with ideas to keep him entertained so he wouldn't go out and blow their cover. When he finally did come down from his food high, Nami gave into herself and asked a question that she'd been pondering since she'd left Cocoyashi.
"Luffy," she began, "do you think you'll ever get married?"
"Nope," he answered immediately, climbing into the bed. If she hadn't been expecting that answer, she might have been surprised by the emotionless response.
"Why not?" That was the real question she wanted the answer to.
"Because I can't," he answered, earning a confused look.
"You can't?" she repeated. "What makes you think that?"
"Because you're supposed to marry the person you want to be with forever and share your dreams with," he told her, shrugging as though it were an obvious answer. "I want to share my dreams with all of my nakama and hang out with them forever. And I know you can't marry more than one person."
Nami smiled though her heart wrung a little at the answer. It was a sweet and simple truth, but still disappointing.
"Plus all the guys think it's weird to marry other guys," Luffy continued. "Unless you're a fruit-loop like Bon Clay. That's what Sanji says anyway."
Though she continued to smile, her heart wasn't into it. She knew she had no reason to be upset by the fact that her suspicions were true; Luffy wasn't going to ever get married, let alone to her. His reasoning was in no way spiteful but a small place in her heart was still saddened by the unavoidable truth. She must have been too quiet again because a few minutes later, she was the one under the gun.
"Are you gonna get married?" he asked, startling her out of thoughts of melancholy.
"No, I don't think so," she answered, shaking her head slowly.
"Good," he said. She raised her eyebrow at him.
"Good?" she repeated.
"Yeah," he nodded. "If you don't get married, you won't leave."
The leaving thing again? Nami was starting to realize how deep the abandonment issues went. "Luffy, even if I did get married, I wouldn't leave the crew."
"Do you know that for sure?" he asked, giving her a hard look. "Do you want to have kids on a pirate ship?"
Apparently he had thought pretty deeply into this, and it surprised her a little. When was the last time he'd thought deeply one anything beyond 'what's my next meal?'
"It would depend on who I married if I would even consider having children," she told him. "But like I said, I don't think I'll ever get married, so it doesn't matter."
"Then why did you ask?" he wanted to know.
"Because I was curious," she shrugged. "I've already decided that I'm going to follow you until the day I die and I find it hard to believe there is someone out there who will want to marry me despite the fact that I am probably more devoted to you than I ever would be to them."
Luffy looked at her as though he was taking it all in.
"I still don't get why you asked me if I'll ever get married," he told her after a minute.
"Because I thought that maybe if you did, I would too," she lied, but it seemed to sate his worries. He fell asleep a few minutes later and once the loud snores started up she went into the bathroom to take her turn.
A long, hot bath did help her to feel a little better, but only as much as a plain old pouting would have. She still felt a little ache in her heart but knew it would probably dissipate after awhile. She climbed into bed next to Luffy and tried to get a few hours sleep before they had to head out, but tossing and turning was all she managed.
Luffy was groggy when she woke him up just before dawn. She figured that this time of day would be best to get them back on the ship without getting noticed. As quickly and quietly as she could manage, she snuck them through the mostly deserted streets toward the dock, cringing when she saw the ship that carried Smoker already there as well. She figured he had to be looking for them on the ship, but hoped he'd forget to look underneath the cargo hold where the sea stone plating was as she led Luffy to the far end of the dock and out of sight.
She instructed Luffy to grab hold of one of the cannon windows on the side of the ship that had the fewest Marines around. Luckily for them, the ship didn't lurch too much as they sprung towards it and shimmied their way in. It was twice as hard getting around the ship since twice as many Marines were loading cargo and Nami nearly got caught more than once. They finally made it down to the sea stone plating and both plopped down tiredly, but Nami made Luffy crawl with her to the farthest corner of the ship where no light would reach.
They bumbled a little and knocked their heads together once, but eventually they settled down and waited for the ship to set out to sea again. As soon as the waves began to get stronger, Luffy complained that he was hungry and Nami went looking for some food. It was breakfast time for the ship so most of its passengers were in the galley and she could move about much easier. Once she'd procured some food to keep Luffy complacent, she went in search of the laundry to see if she could snatch up a blanket.
Three days dragged on since she was in no mood to talk and Luffy was grumpy about being stuck on top of the sea stone again. At the end of the third day, Nami led him out of their hiding place and into one of the private quarters that had a window they could keep an eye out for the ship through as well as use as a means of departure. They both sat relatively quietly in front of the window and kept vigil for Smoker's ship, watching the sea pass underneath them.
They were still waiting to spot Smoker's ship when footsteps down the hall closing in on them caused Nami to grab Luffy by the arm and pull him under the bed with her. She clamped her hand down over his mouth just as the door to the private quarters they'd snuck into swung open. From beneath the bed, they listened to the end of the conversation.
"I do apologize, Commodore Smoker, for the inconvenience," someone said as they stood in the doorway.
"You do not need to apologize," Smoker's voice responded. From under the bed, Nami cursed her luck for picking the room that Smoker was staying in to hide out in. "It is my ship that is late in meeting us."
"As soon as we reach them on the Den Den Mushi, I will let you know," the other person vowed before closing the door behind him as he left. Smoker wandered about the room for a few minutes before coming over to the bed and lying down on it. She was wide-eyed in fear of getting caught so close to rejoining their nakama, but she could see in Luffy's eyes as well as feel behind her hand that he was smiling at the humor in the situation.
If Smoker was asleep, he didn't snore and Nami wasn't about to climb out from under the bed to see if he was sleeping.
'At least we'll know when Smoker's ship gets here,' she thought. 'But trying to keep Luffy still is going to be a challenge.'
As if on cue, Luffy squirmed in attempt to roll over. She cringed at the sound of his clothes rustling, swearing that it sounded loud enough to alert the whole ship of where they were hiding. Smoker didn't move and Nami frowned at Luffy as she held a finger to her lips, trying to signal to be quiet. She nearly jumped when there was a knock at the door a few moments later.
Smoker stood from the bed and opened the door. Nami could see Smoker's feet at the door and two pair of others standing outside of it.
"Sir, Captain Oren asked us to inform you that he has had contact with your ship," said a young voice. "He wants you to know that we've changed our agenda and are now on our way to a new rendezvous point."
"And where is that?" Smoker asked. The first pair of feet shuffled a little in nervousness.
"We are on course to meet up with your ship, as they are not able to come here," dictated a slightly older voice. "They are in a ship vs. ship battle with the Mugiwara Pirates. We are going to assist in their capture."
"Is that so?" Smoker chuckled. "How interesting. How long until we reach them?"
"Two hours, sir," the younger one responded nervously. Nami decided he was the first set of feet that would not stand still.
"I see," Smoker responded. "I want to be informed as soon as they are within sight."
The two Marines gave out a quick yes-sir and left as Smoker closed the door again. Smoker walked over to a small desk that was in the corner of the room and sat down. Nami could still see his feet as well as hear the quiet scratches of pen on paper. Luffy moved again and Nami would have clogged him in the head if she didn't think that it would be loud enough for her to get caught. Smoker paused in writing and Nami was nervous that they'd been caught. She heard the scrape of a lighter and then the writing began again. Two hours wasn't going to go by soon enough.
Nami guessed a half an hour had passed when Smoker got up from the desk and over to the closet. He pulled a bag from it and tossed it on the bed and began packing it. That took less than ten minutes and as Smoker paced the room and sighed in irritation, she began to realize that he was just as eager to be back on his ship as they were to get on theirs. She returned her gaze to Luffy when she heard quiet scratches coming from his direction.
He was scraping at something with a pocket knife and Nami wondered where he'd gotten that from, sneaking a gaze at Smoker's feet to see if he'd noticed the sound. Smoker just kept on pacing and Nami again looked over to see what Luffy was doing. When he noticed her staring at him, he grinned and pointed to the bed frame just above him. As silently as she could, she moved over so she was next to him and looked up to see what he was pointing at. The wooden frame for the bed now had a signature: Monkey D. Luffy was here.
If it wouldn't have made a sound, she would have slapped her forehead in frustration, but instead just shook her head silently and went back to watching Smoker's feet. It wasn't a minute before Nami heard the scraping sound again and looked to Luffy again. He grinned again and waved her over, brushing wood shavings off of his shirt. When she looked, she had a small smile on her face as she read the additional inscription: so was Nami.
She rested her head on his shoulder and took the pocket knife from him so he couldn't do anymore damage and came up with an interesting idea to keep his hands and mind occupied. She took one of his hands in hers and began to thumb wrestle with him. It would have worked too, but he kept stretching his thumb in order to beat her. They were both so engrossed in the game that neither realized that Smoker had stopped pacing and was standing next to the bed until there was a knock at the door.
Smoker walked over to the door and opened it.
"Sir, we are within sight of the battle."
"Bring my bag," Smoker instructed. "As soon as we're close enough, I will return to my ship and put an end to this skirmish."
The Marine who'd come to retrieve him grabbed Smoker's bag from the bed and followed him out, closing the door behind him. Nami climbed out from under the bed with Luffy in tow and they headed for the window. They were at the back of the ship so they could not see the battle, but could hear it with the window open. There was going to be two ways off the ship. One was to go up on deck and hope that Luffy grabbed hold of Thousand Sunny before they were attacked and swung them over the ships to their own. The other involved less Marines but was just as dangerous.
"Luffy, we're going to jump in the ocean," Nami told him, watching his eyes go wide.
"I don't think that's a good idea," he said. Nami took his hand and stepped into the window ledge.
"Luffy, do you trust me?" she asked. His hand tightened on hers and he squished into window ledge too. They jumped in and were met by a chilly ocean. They broke the surface briefly and Nami took hold of both of Luffy's hands. "Take a deep breath, Luffy. And whatever you do, don't let it go while we're under water."
He groaned but did as instructed. Nami ducked back under water and began swimming the length of the battleship above them as fast as she could, feeling the burn in her lungs from the exertion combined with the seconds ticking by. Nearly a minute later, they broke the surface again in between Smoker's ship and the one they'd just swam under, panting for air.
"Luffy, we're going to do it again," she told him between breaths. He groaned again and she could see that the amount of time in the water was starting to wear on him. They both took another deep breath and went under again, this time swimming width wise under Smoker's ship, which was parallel with their own. Though the trip was quicker, it still felt like it took forever when they reached the surface again. In between the two ships, Nami looked up to see if she could spot one of their crew mates and call out to them but instead all she got was a bullet whizzing by her head.
"They're in the water," called out one of Smoker's men, taking another shot. Without warning him, Nami pulled Luffy back under the water and attempted to keel hull their own ship to get out of the line of fire. Luffy's grip on her went limp and she had a fit of panic that she'd accidentally drowned him. She swam as fast as she could but the lack of oxygen combined with the fatigue in her muscles was starting to win the battle. Once she'd cleared the ship her legs gave out and they slowly floated back to the surface. The sight was not any better.
The other Marine ship had circled them while they were under water and was now flanking the other side of Thousand Sunny, ready to fire. Marines stood lining the side of the ship with guns ready to fire at them. Nami spared a look at Luffy, who appeared to be unconscious. Dread had set in long ago and was turning into despair when she felt a hand tug on the back of her shirt. As the Marines fired at them, they were pulled towards Sunny and into one of the Channels. The door to the channel immediately closed and bullets could be heard hitting the outer hull.
Still panting for air, Nami rolled over and saw Franky and Robin in Channel four with them. Robin's many arms were disappearing as Franky raced out and up the ladder calling for Chopper.
"Luffy's unconscious," she managed to pant before falling unconscious herself.
When she woke up she immediately recognized Chopper's sickbay. She sat up and felt a little sore, but otherwise fine. She was alone in the room and wondered how Luffy was doing. She ventured out to the grassy area of the deck and saw her answer. Luffy was chasing Usopp who was chasing Chopper. Zoro was asleep lying propped up against the main mast and Robin was reading a book in her lawn chair.
When Chopper saw her, he ran over to her which brought Usopp and Luffy her way as well, nearly running her over as Chopper checked her over to make sure she was okay. Satisfied that she was healthy, Chopper bounded away again, this time towards Brooke, who was playing a song on his violin and dancing around. Nami watched the chain of dancing fools grow longer as she sat down on her own lawn chair next to Robin.
"How was the wedding?" she asked, looking up from her book. Nami could only smile and laugh at first.
"It was fun," she summed up. Sanji called out that dinner was ready and while they were all packed in eating at the table Luffy and Nami began reciting their trip to everyone. It was good times until Luffy brought up her story.
"It was called Mikan Orange and Sea Blue and the seven outlaws," Luffy told them, earning a few raised eyebrows and an amused smirk. "And the outlaws names were Bones, Super, Doc, Hentai, Grumpy, Dopey and Sogeking. And there was a talking mirror named Nico Nico."
"It must have been a good story for our Captain to remember such detail," Robin deduced as six pairs of eyes and one set of eye sockets focused on Nami.
"It was just a story," she shrugged innocently. It did little to alleviate the stares of dismay. With dinner over, the boys cleared out of the dining room and left Nami and Robin to themselves to enjoy their evening coffee.
"I'm curious," Nami asked suddenly. "How did you guys manage to break away from the two Marine ships?"
"Our Sharpshooter is the hero of the day," Robin chuckled. "He blew the main mast of the second Marine ship so they could not pursue. Though the lack of a battle put forth by Smoker's crew was rather curious."
"What do you mean?" Nami asked, frowning.
"When Smoker got back on his ship he immediately called for his men to fall back," Robin explained. "It was that reason that we escaped so unscathed."
"That does not sound like him at all," Nami agreed. The two ladies finished their coffee and decided to head out on deck to see what kind of havoc the boys were up to. They were engrossed into a drinking game that both women passed on. It only took two hours before there were only two combatants left and Nami had a feeling that neither would relent until they passed out.
"Shitty Marimo," Sanji grumbled as he kicked back a mug of ale.
"Ero-Cook," Zoro grumbled back, following suit with his own ale.
The others were running around on deck in a drunken game of tag, save Franky and Brooke, who were working on a collaboration of violin and guitar. Nami had to chase the boys away from her mikan trees only once after clogging them in the head for knocking off a branch when running by. She was checking the trees for further damage when she noticed a small, white envelope resting within the branches. She examined the envelope curiously as she went down to sit by Robin again.
Robin gave her a questioning glance to which she shrugged in return. As she opened the envelope, the aroma of cigar smoke wafted to her nose. There were two items in the envelope: a note and a picture. She read the note first.
Your sister asked me to pass this along since you left so abruptly from the reception.
The picture was of Nojiko and Lygos, arm in arm at the top of the hill, the cross behind them and looking over them as the sun rose. Nami couldn't help herself and tear of happiness that fell silently down her cheek.
'I hope I'm this happy one day,' she thought to herself as she passed the picture to Robin.
Gradually, the energetic night grew sleepy and one by one, her crewmates fell asleep on deck. Not long after that, Robin retired to their room as well. The only person awake on deck, Nami checked their course again before heading for the barracks. She heard footsteps following her and she turned to see Luffy swaying slightly behind her.
"Goodnight, Luffy," she told him as she turned the knob of the door to the women's barracks.
"Let's get married."
She must have misheard him. "What?"
"Let's get married," he repeated.
"I thought you weren't ever going to get married," she stammered, her hand clutching to the door knob for support.
"If I marry you, you won't ever leave," he reasoned. "We can hang out together all the time and even if the others leave, we can go see them because you'll know how to find them."
"I would do that even if we weren't married," she pointed out, not knowing why she was trying to convince him it was a bad idea. Isn't this what she had secretly hoped for?
"When I left my village, I didn't know where I was going," he told her. "But everywhere I went, you were there. I knew I wanted to become King of the Pirates, but I didn't know how to get there. But you know how to get there, and even after I'm King of the Pirates I know I'm going to want to stay with you."
Her voice fled and only her shaky breathing remained.
"Since I left my village, the only direction I've been going is with you," he continued, sounding as though he was starting to confuse himself. "I like that direction, and I want to go that way for the rest of my life."
She took a breath to steady herself.
"Alright, Luffy," she gave in, looking up into his eyes. "I'll marry you. But, not until I've finished my map of the world."
He grinned in victory as though she hadn't put a restriction on her answer. She finally opened the door to the women's barracks and stepped in. Luffy was still grinning as she closed the door.
"Hey, Nami," he called quietly. She paused in closing the door.
"You're gonna be Queen of the Pirates."
She closed the door and leaned against it, squeezing her eyes shut as a huge smile spread across her face. And suddenly she realized she had the happiness she'd hoped for earlier that night.
A/N: Let me know what you think. Especially if I screwed anything up like I did with the last one...der.