A/N: I know it's been a long, long time... And I hate myself for it. Especially for "Freak Show." I have such big plans for that story, yet I can't seem to get it down. Like, the chapter I'm writing progresses, but only two or three lines at a time. It's frustrating.

This story, however, took me a whole (enjoyable) thirty minutes to write! Haha, I was on a roll with this one. The idea just clicked. I love one-shots. Maybe I'll get another one or two out before my birthday. Which is on the 18th! Soon, I won't be Foxchicka18 anymore. I will definitely be Foxchicka19! Haha.

Anyway, this is my "Happy Valentine's Day" to all of you :) Because I love you all for constantly putting up with my lack of chapters, my complaints, my rambles, etc :)

So... Enjoy :)


Of Fate


"Do you believe in fate?"

It's such an age-old question, but I can't help the way it falls off my tongue. Luffy looks at me strangely, as we walk along an old dirt path through a dark wood going nowhere fast. The sun's setting somewhere, though I can't see it through the dense foliage. I'm surprised I can even see what's ahead of me.

"Fate?" he asks.

"That things are destined to turn out the way they do, no matter what means you take to avoid it," I explain.

"No, I know what fate is," Luffy gives me a look that reads I'm not an idiot.

"So do you believe in it?" I repeat my question.

"Mmmmm," he stops, tilting his head as he thinks. "I don't know if I do."

"You either believe in something, or you don't, Luffy," I walk a few more steps and turn back to him.

"Do you believe in it?"

"I do," I look up at the leaves above us. A dark canopy of green.

Luffy's silent for a moment. "So was it fate that Bellmere died?" I look at him, and in his eyes I can see he's not asking about Bellmere –not really. He's asking about Ace.

I don't know how to respond for a few moments. I find myself looking up at the trees again. How do I tell him that I think it was, and that no matter what he did, it probably would have turned out the way it did. Because our strength back then was nothing compared to the strength we possessed now. We had no means of saving the ones we held so dear. It was, quite frankly –and no matter how much I hated to admit it –out of our hands.

"I think fate is like the trees," I begin. "The branches go this way and that, crisscrossing over others, weaving under some. But all the branches lead to a trunk. And the trunk always leads to the ground. Nothing changes that, no matter which branch you choose to follow."

"Hm," is what he says in reply.

"You don't think so?" I ask.

"It's just that you didn't answer my question," Luffy is also staring up at the trees.

"Yeah. I think it might have been fate that Bellmere died," I whisper the words, but that doesn't make them any less true. A wind blows over us.

"What's my fate?" he asks.

"Eventually we all die," I tell him.

"Do you think it'll happen before or after I become Pirate King?"

"Who's to tell? We face so many dangers each day –"

"Well, I don't go down without a fight," he says. He reaches up and breaks a branch off.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

"The branch no longer meets the trunk," he holds it at a distance, studying it. "I just changed the branch's fate."

"Yeah. I guess you did," I smile at him.

I don't tell him that he just made the branch's lifespan end that much sooner.

I chuckle to myself for a moment before he starts to walk again, carrying his branch by his side.

"What about us?" I ask.

"What about us?" he turns back to me.

"Are… are we fated to be together?" my lips go dry as I ask. "Do you believe in our fate?"

He smiles. "I don't know." It wasn't the answer I was looking for. Not really.

"You either believe in something or you don't," I repeat myself from earlier.

"I don't think I believe in fate," he says slowly. "But I believe in us, Nami."

He approaches me slowly, and despite all the time we've spent together, I can't help but find my heart beating quickly. I look away, embarrassed by myself, but he takes my chin in his hand and kisses me. Slowly, deeply. Engraving my lips with his –as if they weren't already.

"And no matter what our fate may be, I'll fight to change it," he rests his forehead against mine. "Because I love you."

"I love you, too," I kiss his cheek and take his hand in mine, and we continue to walk our dark trail. Up ahead, I can see the last rays of the sun as we come to the edge of the forest.

Maybe he has a point. But I still believe in fate.

After all, he did fall out of the sky when he entered my life.