A/N: A sudden inspiration occurred today, and I hope you enjoy. No more excuses -as much as I love these characters and wish to write about them as much as possible, they're not my characters, which is why I've been so focused on my own personal stories. So rather than try to excuse each and every long absence, let's just accept that I'll get a chapter up whenever I get it up. Just, whenever I feel like it! I hope you guys continue to be as patient as you have been thus far in the future, because each favourite/following/review that I get still makes me smile.
The door to the library opened and shut quickly, Luffy leaning against the door, panting as he grinned at me. I paused, my pen hovering over my paper, not quite sure of what was going on.
"Someone… chasing you?" I asked, setting my pen aside as he strolled over to me, his eyes jumping between the windows.
"Usopp," he answered with a small shrug. "We're playing."
"Hide-and-seek," he said, nonchalant as he pulled my chair away from the desk. He crouched down, slid into the space under the desk and pulled me back. It wasn't the first time that I was used in this game. Wasn't going to be the last, I was sure. "So, how are the maps?"
"Luffy, there are better places to hide," I told him, leaning back in my chair so I could see him clearly.
"Don't look at me, Nami –he's going to know I'm here," he waved a hand at me, as though telling me to go about my business.
"Riiiiight," I sighed, pinching the bridge of my nose before picking up my pen. "And the maps are fine."
"Great, you mean. The maps you make are great," he said, fidgeting under the desk. The temptation to kick him was great, but I managed to keep myself from doing so. He would only laugh, anyway.
"How would you know? You never use my maps," I pointed out.
"I just know," he chuckled.
"Of course," I rolled my eyes.
"Nami, you have a scar on your leg," he brushed his fingers against the skin of my calf. I almost kicked him out of surprise, but he saw it coming and held my leg still.
"We're pirates, Luffy," I pulled the chair away from the desk, trying to see this scar for myself. "It's bound to happen."
"But you're always going on about flawless skin –"
"Yeah, well, even perfection gets scuffed up a little," I couldn't say I was overly upset. It was so thin that I hadn't noticed it myself. "Besides, with the number of scars you have, it's only natural for me to get one or two."
"Don't you hate them? The scars?" he asked.
"No, not really," I replied. I glanced up as a shadow passed one of the windows. "Ah, Usopp is coming."
Luffy hurried to pull my chair back to cover him. I gritted my teeth as my elbow hit the corner of the desk. I loved him, I reminded myself. I wouldn't kill him. Not today, anyway.
Usopp opened the door, peeking his head into the room. "Did Luffy come by?"
"Nope," I lied smoothly, Luffy's body trembling under the desk as he tried to contain his laughter. I dug my heel into his side.
"I can't trust you, Nami. You're on his side," Usopp puffed up his chest as he strolled into the room. "Now have you seen him or not?"
"Excuse me?" I leaned back in my chair, crossing my arms over my chest.
"I, uh, I'm just going to check the bath and be on my way," Usopp went to the ladder in a hurry, climbing up swiftly.
"Man, you're good," Luffy murmured.
"I should just toss you to him," I muttered back. "Make you lose."
"Why would you do that?" he pouted.
"Because, for me, that would be fun," I told him.
"What would be fun?" Usopp asked as he descended the ladder. "Who are you talking to, huh, Nami? Is Luffy around?"
"I told you that he wasn't," I replied.
"So what would be fun?"
"To not have to deal with you guys running in and out of here so I could get some work done," I tapped my pen against my map. "So was he up there?"
"No," a sigh. Usopp looked around the library. "Well, there are a lot of good hiding places though. But I'm pretty sure I know all of them. I'll find him. Or else my name isn't Captain Usopp."
"It isn't Captain Usopp," I reminded him.
"Let a man dream, Nami," he closed the door behind him, exasperated.
"Man, I thought he'd never leave," Luffy took a deep breath as he pushed me out of the way a little. He placed his arms on my lap and laid his head there, grinning up at me. "Thanks for not tossing me to him."
"Well, it's only natural that I help you win," I told him, pushing his hair out of his face.
"Why?" Luffy asked.
"Why?" I snorted. "You really have to ask?"
"Because you love me?" his grin widened.
"Because Usopp's right. I am on your side."
"Because you love me," he repeated.
I sighed. "Yeah, yeah, because I love you."
"Sorry about your elbow, Nami," he said, lifting my hand and kissing my elbow. "Next time, I'll be careful."
"As if I'll let there be a next time," I shook my head.
"Of course you will," he chuckled. "Because you're on my side."
"Because I love you," I corrected.
"I love you, too," he propped himself up so he could kiss me properly. Our lips met, just as Usopp burst through the door.
"I knew it. Nami, you liar!" he pointed at the two of us. "You always help him. Luffy is it next!"
Luffy shrugged. "I'll count here."
Usopp accepted that, turning to shout out the door. "Luffy's counting in the library! Luffy's it! He's counting to a hundred."
Our sniper took off running, and Luffy and I looked at each other.
"Need help counting?" I asked.
He grinned. "Just like last time?"
I nodded, a small smile creeping onto my lips.
"One," he said, kissing me gently on the lips. A small peck.
"Two," I continued, letting him kiss me again.
"Three –you know, Nami. Hide-and-seek is my favourite game," he laughed, his lips pressing against mine once more.