A/N: So this is my first attempt at a One Piece fan fic. This is a request from one of my friends on Livejournal that wishes to remain anonymous. It is of the Luffy/Nami pairing, which is apparently very popular. I hope you all enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece or anything that can be traced back to the famous Oda.

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~*Stronger Than That*~

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This isn't happening

As she looked on in horror at the small reindeer exhausting every resource he had in his arsenal to pump the life back into the swordsman, she felt her strength start to crack, threatening to crumble around her and bring her to her knees. This is not how it is supposed to be! That was supposed to be me bleeding on the deck…not Zoro. He was just trying to protect me

She clenched her hands into tight fists as she felt her knees begin to shake, her body trembling with adrenaline and anxiety; fear for the man that lay clinging to the final breaths of life he held in his broken body. The wind began to blow her fiery orange hair into her mahogany eyes, sticking to her cheeks and forehead from the perspiration that had collected there during that final brutal battle. Blood stained her hands, cheeks, and knees a deep crimson; her eyes began to fill with salty tears as she continued to watch the tragic scene play out before her eyes.

The Zoan-type devil fruit user did everything he could to save the bleeding man as the rest of them could only look on in agony. Robin was applying as much pressure as she could to the gaping wounds made by the many steel bullets, her countless arms dong everything they could. Ussop was pacing back and forth with his hands over his face, trying to block everything else out. Franky and Brooke were in sobbing heaps on the stairs, rocking back and forth while praying for a miracle. Even the lovesick cook was staring on, frozen in utter shock at the dramatic turn of events, having just tossed the last remaining bandit into the unforgiving sea.

She raised a shaking, bruised hand to her mouth, closing the sticky digits over her trembling chin, gnawing painfully on her now numb bottom lip as she stared unblinkingly in front of her, begging whatever god there was to spare her friend. As she looked at his bleeding, gasping body, she couldn't help but think of how much this position was ill suited for him. True, he was usually one that was severely injured, but he was never the one she thought would die first. His green hair was matted with already clotting blood; his black shirt was ripped open as the reindeer's hooves nimbly flew in a million directions. The pallor of his skin was a sickening shade of grey; his eyes squeezed shut in agony as his mouth hung loosely open, begging for oxygen to enter his obviously deflated lungs.

The air was heavy and the silence was thick as everyone stared in shock at the scene before him or her, none daring to move or even breath for fear that it could somehow interfere with the doctor's treatments. Everyone knew that every second counted at this moment, and no one was willing to risk anything at this dire time. Nami could feel her heart begin to clench in fear and desperation as she squeezed her eyes shut, forcing them away from the painful images that assaulted her senses. She pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes until blinding spots of color wheeled in them, as if trying to gouge the images away from her vision. She hated crying, really hated it. She hadn't done it much since they had gotten further down the Grand Line, figuring if she was going to be strong enough to fight her own battles she needed to be less wishy-washy.

She was nineteen now, and being a glorified crybaby was unacceptable. She needed to be strong for her crew, strong for the dying man in front of her, strong for her own sake. This world was oftentimes a cruel and unfair one and that was something that she had grown to accept, knowing that many things that had happened and would happen to them were completely outside of their realm of control. Death was something that came for everyone at one point or another and you could only fight it off for so long before it caught up with you.

Suddenly, Chopper gasped loudly, a small cry of surprise ringing through the air, "He-he's breathing again! Just a little more work and he'll be stable."

She could hear the loud footsteps as Robin and Chopper raced the weak swordsman into the sick bay, relocating to have a more sterile and working environment. There was a collective groan of relief as life began to breathe itself back onto the ship deck. The soft voice of Sanji echoed through the small crowd as he lit another cigarette, "He just might make it, that stubborn son of a bitch…"

With a heavy sigh, Nami's shoulders slumped in mixture of relief and defeat, her hands continued clenching into fists as they dug into the soft tissue of her eyelids, her entire body shaking with the pent up anguish that threatened to burst out of her at any moment. I have to stay strong…I can't just break down. What good would that do? I just need to

But her thoughts were doomed to remain unfinished, her breath catching in her throat at an unfamiliar sensation. She hadn't expected the pair of arms that encircled her without warning, pulling her into a familiar chest. Her nose was filled with the scent of burnt wood and salty perspiration as a hand came up to the back of her neck, pressing her forehead into a sturdy bare shoulder, his other hand pulling her wrists from her eyes, releasing them at her waist.

"You did well," he whispered into her hair, his hot breath gliding across her reddening ears.

Her captain was not usually given to displays of affection, and she was more thankful for this one gesture than she could say in words. She threw her battered, bare arms around his lean torso and buried her face in his neck, gasping for a full breath and trying to swallow past the lump in her throat. Her hands fisted in the thin red fabric of his sleeveless top, her nails grazing the warm skin of his back through a previous tear in the material. "L-Luffy…" she managed to squeeze out through her pinched vocal chords, fighting back the overwhelming urge to cry out in a release of emotion.

She felt the hand on the back of her neck tighten, as if trying to guarantee some amount of stability for her, his other hand wrapping itself snuggly around the back of her ribcage, crushing her even closer to his strong body. Her arms subconsciously clung tighter to his back, her teeth clenched firmly over her bottom lip again, biting back the sobs that beat against her chest, plundering against her sternum to be released.

A chill ran through her as a particularly strong gust of wind ripped across the deck, her tattered clothes whipping about her, angering her already overly-sensitive nerves and the many cuts, bruises, and scrapes that littered her creamy alabaster skin, stained with the color of war. The person holding her was no longer just an immature, impetuous boy; he was also her captain, and a man, lending her his strength and keeping her sane.

But what she noticed most, that showed her the depth of his care for her and for every single one of her crewmen on this ship, was something that she didn't think anyone else she knew, including herself, could have managed at that present moment. The reality of his stoic, unfaltering courage and strength, was present in the way his arms felt around her, as he allowed her to cling to his body like a lifeline. He was still…

He was not trembling…because he was Monkey D. Luffy; and he was stronger than that.

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The sun was setting below the horizon in a dance of orange, lavender and turquoise. Dinner had been a quick one and many were retiring to their quarters for some well-earned rest. Four hours had passed since Chopper had proclaimed that Zoro was stable enough to sleep easily, posting Franky at his bedside to watch him through the night. Ussop and Brooke and taken up the task of cleaning the blood, ash, and broken weapons off of the deck, erasing the events of the afternoon from everyone's immediate vision before crawling stiffly into their hammocks. Robin took up watch in the crows' nest, apparently still too shaken to even think of sleeping that night, as Sanji made quick work of cleaning the kitchen.

Nami found herself lost in her thoughts, laying on the soft patch of grass between her tangerine bushes in the small grove on the ship. She faced skyward, her eyes still wide with anxiety and nervousness. She lay there, her knees bent, bare feet flat on the grass; her hands rested behind her head, creating a makeshift pillow as her brows furrowed in thought. She was still wearing the same clothes from earlier, having been far too caught up in the events to even give a thought to her mutilated attire. She wore a tattered pair of blue jean capris, not too different from the ones that Luffy always wore, stained with blood, dirt, and gunpowder. Her emerald green t-shirt was nearly in shreds, hanging loosely from her body, baring the jet-black sports bra she wore underneath. Her shoulder-length hair was messy and matted with blood and sweat, sticking to her hands as she tried to ease her buzzing nerves in the cool night air.

She closed her eyes, squeezing them tightly shut as she lolled her head from side to side, as if trying to shake all of the hurtful memories of the day from her mind, but failing unsuccessfully. As she peeled her eyes back open, she raised her hands to her eyelevel, staring at the now brown stains that speckled and blotched on the pale skin beneath. It was Zoro's blood, still sticky, but now coagulated and crusty on her palms. She slammed them quickly onto the grass below, raising herself to a sitting position and staring out at the ocean that was quickly fading into a dark mass of black with the approach of night. I just need to go get some sleep…this will all be better in the morning.

She stood, as smoothly as she could, swaying slightly on her feet from fatigue and lack of dinner, which she just couldn't manage to stomach, before unsteadily limping off the platform – uninjured, perhaps, but also exhausted, cold, and blanketed in toxic amounts of anxiety and worry for her fellow crewmate. By the time she reached the hallway outside of her room, the sensations became overwhelming and she barely held her ground against the onslaught of nausea and panic.

Once halfway down the hall, her world seemed to abruptly shatter. She saw Zoro's face again, heard his words to her…

You have to live…a ship can't go anywhere without its navigator.

She fell to her knees on the cold, unforgiving wooden planks; covering her mouth with her right hand to stifle an immediate scream of horror and choking back muffled sobs, the words floating around in her head like a broken record caught on a painfully sour note. She lingered, unable to even regain the icy composure she'd somehow found earlier in the night, and it wasn't long before someone soundlessly came to stand behind her, hearing the disturbance.

It was too late to care whether or not he saw her in this state – for once she had ceased caring what he thought, and as outlandish and rebellious as it seemed to her, she wanted to brush him off and tell him to leave, just like she had that fateful day on Cocoyashi Island...She half-expected him to step around her and walk off down the hall to the men's quarters where most of the crew now slept restlessly, and for a moment, it did seem like he was going to simply move past her; something stayed him, though, and he lingered as she struggled to regain some kind of control.

Her choking sobs - for Zoro, for her friends, and for her own pathetically shattered spirit - had already wrenched something loose inside her, and after a few painful moments she found herself helplessly furious, wishing the shadow would just ignore her, wishing he would just walk on and leave her. The sobbing intensified even as she tried to stifle it, because she was the one to blame, and being angry at her nakama was foolish. Everything that was happening now was only due to her selfishness, and what part did he have in that? She continued to sob, torn by memories of Zoro's fall and terrified by her captain's silent presence. A few minutes passed and Nami forced her tear-filled eyes upwards in a quick glance, unsurprised to see that he was pointedly looking back and forth between the sturdy door in front of her and the stairs that led back up to the deck.

By the time she looked down, though, he had made a move, and in a manner that was both awkward and insistent he took her arm and hauled her back to her feet, only pausing for a moment before abruptly beginning to pull her through the door and into her bedroom, shutting it tightly behind them.

He had never touched her like that before, guiding her to her bed gently, but firmly. He had always been a brutally rough individual, so it took her by surprise that there was such a gentle firmness in his touch, that long-fingered hand on her forearm. As soon as the door was closed, his entire disposition changed. He didn't release her, but his grip definitely loosened as he eased her back onto her bed, and as she heard his voice, she could nearly feel the underlying sadness in it, "This is ridiculous, Nami…"

He sounded almost desperate, not angry like she expected, and she felt her stomach twist into a knot as he spoke further, "Stay in here until you feel better. It's not good for the crew to see you so upset. It brings their morale down when they should be hopeful for Zoro…not sad for him."

Feeling even more pathetic, and now detrimental, she cringed internally and swallowed difficultly, "S-sorry…Luffy."

His eyes flashed to hers, chocolate bearing into mahogany, and Nami felt a wave of barely restrained shock at the intensity in his stare. As he turned to leave, apparently satisfied with her apology and the wavering stare she returned, she suddenly realized something that made her want to bang her head against something hard; because it contradicted every action she had shown that evening. She didn't want to be alone…

The reason for it wasn't fear or loneliness, but for some reason, she wanted…more of him, even though it was not her place to ask. Before a second thought and common sense could remind her of the unspoken barrier between them, Nami acted on impulse, a near desperate desire for him to look at her again, and speak words directly at her. She lunged forward and grabbed his shirt, fisting her hands once more in the stained and ripped fabric, for he had not changed his attire either, yanking him down to eye level with her.

Luffy froze, and gave her a look that she equated as both shock and worry. She wanted punishment for her selfishness: a stern lecture, outright anger, maybe just a frigid look; because she knew everyone else was too compassionate, and her captain was the only one careless enough and wise enough to know that she deserved to be told she was wrong.

It was too late for regrets now, even though letting him leave would have been the respectable and expected thing to do…but somehow she felt an almost desperate need to be near him, even if all he did was stand there and stare at her until she passed out from exhaustion. But suddenly it occurred to her that he was still frozen, and his expression was completely unidentifiable. She thought he would soon turn around and walk away without another thought or word, but with a quick glance at his eyes, she actually saw the same anxiety and emotion that coursed through her body, now flaring in his own brown orbs…and it was terrifying.

In an awkwardly clumsy fashion, true to his character and contradictory to his intensity, he placed a hand on her shoulder, nudging her back towards the bed, pushing her down to be seated. "You should sleep…" he muttered quietly, turning to leave shortly after.

He gasped slightly as she caught his retreating wrist with her petite hand, pulling his body back to her own, wrapping her free arm around his neck, causing him to stumble between her thighs, his right knee coming to rest on the mattress in an attempt at balancing himself. He steadied himself with a hand on her shoulder as he did his best to remain upright as well as return the trembling embrace of the orange-haired navigator. He could feel her shaking against his chest, emotion threatening to spill over once more, as she clung to him tightly, afraid to let go.

He closed his eyes at the realization of just how upset she truly was, raising his hand up and removing the treasured straw hat from his head, placing it on the desk near her bed, hearing the soft gasp from the woman at his action. She looked up at his face and watched the emotions dance around his sharp features for a moment, before he seemed to decide something. Without a word, he leaned down and placed a chaste, yet firm kiss on his forehead, her eyes growing as wide as saucers at the alien display of affection. He lifted a hand to the top of her head, lacing his fingers in her vibrant hair, applying a small amount of pressure as if to say 'I'm here for you'.

That was when she noticed something that she had never associated with her captain before in all her time of knowing him. He was trembling…

Luffy always fought for everyone: it didn't matter if it was for his best friends, a kingdom, or a complete stranger; and she had always admired this side of his character. But there was something about the way he looked in that moment: sad, bruised, scared, and so, uncharacteristically, weak…

That was when something snapped inside of her and the feeling of self-loathing vanished within a few seconds, all innocence and propriety leaving the room in a flash. Her mouth was on his, hard and tight against his own slack lips, and when she tilted her head back, he didn't pull away, but leaned forward…and her lips parted slightly, as she realized that the hot flush in her cheeks and tingling deep in her stomach meant she was enjoying this in all of its sinfully wrong and taboo ways. The fact that he wasn't running out the door right now was a signal to her that maybe he needed this too…probably more than she did.

It was already too late for restraint, and Nami's eyes slid shut as she felt his callused fingers lightly tracing along her arm, as if searching for something, and barely restraining explosive emotion. Soon, she was ripping at the buttons on his shirt, raking her hands down his tight abdominal muscles, and pulling sounds from him that she didn't even know he was capable of making. As she pushed the red fabric from his shoulders, she kept her eyes closed, and so did he; it was easier that way, not to look and be forced to acknowledge what was actually happening.

His fingers still traced up and down her arm, and he was trembling more strongly now under her ministrations. She wondered if it was fear, because Luffy was obviously not experienced in this area of life, and the fact that they hadn't stopped meant that they had mutually chosen to disregard that. Nami tried not to think about it, and it wasn't much of an effort…the sensation, the warmth building inside of her, and the sudden need for touch quickly distracted her from everything else. His fingers curled under the fabric of her tattered shirt, ripping the final threads free as the cloth fell ruined to the rug below.

He seemed to hesitate, but before either of them had second thoughts, she reached up, brushing her fingers along his cheek, opening her eyes, and encouraged him to lean forward. He kissed along her jaw and pulled her spandex bindings down her shoulders, pushing the fabric down her torso and baring her breasts; and Nami felt a mixture of awkward vulnerability and painful arousal.

He still wasn't looking at her, even now, but there wasn't really any need to…not when his fingers traced patterns down her body, memorizing by feeling what he didn't dare memorize by seeing. She would never have guessed Luffy would be so gentle; his fingertips lightly trailing along the curve of her now bare right breast briefly, evoking a sharp sigh from her throat, before dipping lower, cautiously exploring her tummy and hips. Nami realized she was wrong about one thing: It wasn't inexperience that made his body tremble so…it was as if he desperately needed something that only she had to offer, and he was somehow afraid to take it from her.

As he continued to lightly kiss her neck, he eased her onto her back short-ways along the bed, her shoulders pressing against the cool wall. She worked at the fastenings on her pants, shoving them down her thighs hurriedly, leaving her nude beneath him and grasping clumsily for the button on his own denim shorts. As she succeeded in unfastening his pants, she paused as he took his free hand, pushing the offending garments to the floor, pooling at his feet. For the first time, she averted her gaze to his lower body, her eyes widening slightly at the unexpected picture that he presented, all flushed, firm, and nearly erect before her. He was thin, his hips and thighs were lean and slim, and his torso was tightly defined with lithe and long muscles under a thin layer of tan flesh. There was something so hauntingly beautiful about the way his skin took on a dark hue in the moonlight, the shadows dancing over the curves and contours of his bare body.

His fingers hesitantly brushed along her navel before dipping down between her thighs, parting them, and touching her in a way that was both scary and unbearably arousing. She tried to stifle a moan, but failed, and ultimately shuddered. She couldn't hide how much this was affecting her, not as he delicately slid his fingers around all the intimate places of her body, and she lusted for more, while his lips followed the path his hands had already mapped out, kissing lightly up her arm and then along the arc of her right breast.

After a moment, though, he paused, noting her almost desperate attempts to hide her own reactions. He was sitting and looking at her, as if pondering what to do next and what she was thinking. He continued to lazily glide his fingers along the curves and folds of her body, and she had to struggle greatly to keep from crying out with need. Less than a second later, their eyes finally met for one terrifying moment. His were soft yet tense at the same time, watching her as she laid at an odd angle against the wall, flushed and panting, her thighs spread shyly for him, and an unsure expression on her face.

He closed his eyes, reaching out a hand to cup her cheek, thumbing gentle circles against her temple. "Please, Nami…" he whispered breathlessly, "don't make me pay for this in the morning," he breathed against her ear.

She would have laughed out loud at his cheeky comment if it weren't for the mixture of despair at the events of the day and the overwhelming arousal that flooded her to the very core of her being. She wrapped her arms around his warm neck, threading her fingers in his tangled black hair, "Okay…"

She felt him gasp sharply against her ear, his hot breath sending shivers down her spine. But that was all the warning she got before he slid one hand underneath her, lifting her slightly, and effortlessly, and guiding himself with his other hand to ease into her as she struggled to keep from gasping.

Then he was writing his story on her skin, breaking her lithe body, grazing his teeth on her throat, closing his lips over that throbbing vein that pumped life through her exhausted body, stilling her underneath him with all the heavy weight of lust and arousal as she watched with silent awe as their past was fading away.

They were caught in a whirlwind of heat, touch, scent, sweat, moans, gasps, taste, breath, and pleasure…tears stinging both of their eyes, slipping down both of their cheeks as their mouths captured each other once more, trying to pour what little strength they possessed into the other.

All of their fumbling attempts at maintaining a professional relationship that had occurred before this night were now failing, and even if she'd had the feeling all along, she was certain now, as he spilled himself into her, bringing her to a sensory height that she had only ever heard about…they could no longer be just the captain and his navigator.

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Thunder rumbled in the distance, lightning flashing brightly against the window of the dark room, rain now splattering rhythmically against the glass. The orange-haired navigator stirred at the sound, lifting her head and blinking a few times, attempting to make out her surroundings. As she moved to sit up, she found herself pressed against a warm, bare body, a head of jet black hair resting comfortably against her pillow, arms wrapped tightly around her neck as her head was buried in his firm chest; the sheet that covered them was tangled in his legs and crumpled at her waist.

Her heart leapt into her throat at the memory of their midnight dance…the way they had rocked together, slippery skin sliding against the other, delicious friction created from heat and sensation. Her breathing calmed as she thought back to the reason this had all started, something that she had realized through the events of the night: Luffy was, even in his most vulnerable moments, still the strongest person she had ever met.

Luffy had saved her from a life of despair and tears and had taken her to a ship where laughter and happiness were never hard to find. This was her captain that had never given up on her and had always come for her in her time of need. Even though he was a complete idiot most of the time, she looked down at his sleeping face, relaxed in rest, and saw that he was content. He had done this all for her: held her as she let out her emotions on the deck of the Thousand Sunny, followed her back to her room after giving her an evening of solitude, picked her up when she had collapsed, guided her to her bed, bore his every hidden scar and pain to her willingly, showed her affection when she needed it most, and ultimately introduced her to what it meant to be alive…truly alive.

He had given himself to her and didn't expect any form of repayment…

Everything was going to be okay now: Zoro would recover and life would go back to the way it was before. Or would it? She didn't really know, but as she rested her head back on that warm chest, snuggling into the comforting embrace, part of her hoped that things would change…at least for her and the man that she lay tangled in. She needed someone that was untouchable, unshakeable, and unbreakable. From the minute she had stepped onto this ship over a year ago, she had known that there was something different about him, something stronger and more resilient than the swordsman that rode as his first mate. This was the man that she knew, one way or another; she was destined to follow to the ends of the earth and to the edge of time.

Because he was her captain and the future King of the Pirates…and he could not be touched by anything he didn't allow touching him, could not be shaken to the very core of his soul by anyone, and could not be broken…by anything.

She had nothing to fear…because he was Monkey D. Luffy; and he was stronger than that.