A/N: Officially the longest chapter I've ever written XD
Sorry it took so long. I had it half written for a few days, and then I fell into a slump where I didn't feel like writing anything at all. Obviously I overcame it, and voila! here I am.
I'm quite proud of this story, and I think I'm satisfied with the ending :P And I just hope you guys are too.
"Those guys shot at us," I pointed at the group Uri had arrived with.
"Did they?" Uri asked, looking at the group she'd been travelling with, "But not Yoku, right?"
"I don't remember seeing him around," I admitted. She wasn't as concerned as she should have been. The men she had been travelling with could have killed her at any given time. They had almost killed me –and they'd shot Zoro.
"Yoku wanders away from them often, I think two of them are crew members, and the other two he doesn't know at all. He's nothing like them though" she said, bringing her knees up to her chest as Zoro stood up. He stretched, and then walked over to Robin. "He didn't think we were going to make it out of here alive, and just let the guys do whatever in their last moments."
I was silent, my eyes following Zoro, then drifted to Brooke, who stopped playing the music and walked over to Robin and Zoro.
"He saved me, Suki," she gripped my hand as we watched them. "I had almost been crushed by a falling beam, but he saved me –you know, usually I count on you for those kinds of things, since I'm so accident prone. He's… he's incredible."
"You like him," I said suddenly, glancing away from Zoro to look at my best friend.
"And you like Brooke," she countered, stealing a look at the skeleton.
Brooke stood beside Robin. He spoke to Zoro, his voice distantly carrying across the room. "I thought you said it wasn't the blade that mattered, but the wielder."
"So?" I fingered the sleeve of his jacket. It felt like she was accusing me. As if it were something to be ashamed of.
"He's a skeleton," she said.
"He's the Soul King. And he's a gentleman."
"He's still a skeleton," Uri muttered. "It's not going to be a real romance. Skin and bone just don't work together."
I stood up, looking down at her, "I'll make it work."
"Come away from the wall," Robin said, going over to help Ino, Tsunaka and Jo move away. Windsworth also led Mariko away.
"Are you okay?" Brooke asked as I neared. I slid my arm through his, not looking at Uri. She wouldn't understand. "Did you have a fight with Uri-san?"
"Yeah," I admitted.
"And you are okay?"
I smiled up at Brooke, "Mm. We'll sort through it later."
I leaned into him, turning my gaze to Zoro.
"I just want to get out of here."
I closed my eyes, breathing deeply. The wound throbbed, but that wasn't important. I concentrated on the breathing that lay within the Seastone. I could feel it. I exhaled. Yes. It was definitely there, behind the breathing of the inner metal layer.
And it wasn't only their breaths I heard. Everyone in the room. The pirates that had shot at Brooke, the girl and I –that obnoxious Wind-whatever guy… If I so wanted to, with a single swipe of these blade –these pathetic knives –I could kill them all.
But I wouldn't.
Another inhale. I gripped the blades tighter. I still wished I had my katana, but I had no choice in the matter.
Just as I was about to make the cut, a hand was placed on my lower arm. I opened my eye to see Nami.
"What?" I asked, lowering my swords a fraction of an inch.
She didn't say anything, just glanced around, as if thinking. She looked like shit. Tired, exhausted even. Everyone did. It'd been a long day and we all just wanted to get out of here.
"What?" I repeated.
She smiled slightly, turning to me.
"Can I just make one tiny suggestion?"
Dawn was breaking~
The sky was a similar colour to Nami's hair, that lovely shade of orange. Ahh~ I missed her.
I looked at the vivre card. We were directly on course, and since the card was still whole it meant that she was still alive. I itched to see her, and Robin-chwan, too, of course. How lovely it will be to see them after being deprived of their beauty for so many painfully long hours; sixteen hours, twenty seven minutes and thirty-three purely horrible seconds, to be exact.
"Nami-swa~an, Robin-chwa~an, don't worry, we're almost there~ FRANKY! FULL SPEED AHEAD!"
"We are going at full speed," Franky muttered.
"What's that there?" Usopp asked, leaning over the railing and pointing ahead.
"Is it Nami-swa~an?" I pranced over the where he stood, squinting in the distance.
"It looks like a hull," Franky said, also coming up beside us. I glanced back to see Chopper at the helm. "I think it's them! Oi! I really think it's them!"
"NAMI-SWA~AN! ROBIN-CHWA~AN! WE'RE HERE TO SAVE YOU~U!" I leaned over the railing, waving my arms frantically though they weren't able to see.
Finally, I couldn't wait any longer to see them. I leapt over the side of the ship, taking off full speed to get to the hull that floated there.
"What do you mean?" Zoro asked.
"Instead of slashing it to pieces, I want you to cut it across the entire length of the ship so that you can kick the hull off."
"Yeah, so that we have a little ship of our own," I said. "I mean, we don't know how long it'll be until Sanji and the others arrive. I'm thinking of our nakama when I say that none of us can swim forever. And none of us can swim forever while trying to keep the living hammers afloat."
"I can," he replied, crossing his arms.
"I'm sorry, but we're not all crazy demons like you," I rolled my eyes. "Do you think you can do it?"
"Mm," Zoro nodded.
I shivered, looking up at the ceiling.
"Something wrong, Nami?" Brooke asked.
"I don't think so," I replied, looking down. I nodded at Zoro, "I guess I'll leave it up to –"
There was a loud bang above us, and all of our gazes shot up towards the hull. A huge dent that hadn't been there before was suddenly prominent. The very tip of the dent looked exactly like –
"A shoe print?" Kouki asked.
"Sanji," I felt relief wash over me. "You guys, it's Sanji! Our Thousand Sunny is here!"
"Shishishi!" Luffy leapt to his feet. "OI~! SANJI~!"
"Cut the dent," I told Zoro. "Hurry."
There was a sudden buzz of energy. We'd get out of here alive. There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. We were saved. Now we only had to wait on Zoro.
He, too, seemed to be more focused that before, as he readied himself to make the attack. He leapt into the air, brandishing the wimpy blades and swiped at the dent. Zoro landed, a satisfied smirk on his face. At first, nothing happened, but then the dent and the blades shattered simultaneously, and light –real light –flooded the room.
A figure blocked the light, then suddenly dropped into the cavity with us. His blond hair shone in the light. I had never been gladder to see Sanji.
"Nami-swa~an! Robin-chwa~an! I'm here to rescue you~!" He said, turning to us and opening his arms. Both Robin and I didn't move an inch.
"So that's what fresh air feels like," Suki sighed.
"Can we get out of here now?" Someone asked.
"Robin, Luffy," I began, but they were one step ahead of me. Luffy stretched his arms, and Robin pulled herself up, until they were both through the hole in the roof.
"OI~! FRANKY!" Luffy waved his arms vigorously. "CHOPPER! USOPP!"
"LUFFY~!" I could hear them all crying out. "ROBIN!"
Robin gave a small wave as she made a couple of ladders. Slowly everyone began climbing. Zoro, Brooke, Suki and I remained at the bottom until everyone had gotten up. We still took the fruit, but there was no point in bringing the water when the Thousand Sunny had a filtering system.
Luffy reached down, pulling me up. He hugged me tightly, as if he hadn't seen me in ages despite being stuck with me for the past sixteen hours. I let him though, taking a deep breath, ignoring the smell of sea water that came off his still wet clothes.
The Thousand Sunny stopped beside us, and Franky opened the channel to let us in. Again, I waited for everyone else to go on ahead to make sure everyone was accounted for. Twenty-two people. We had saved seventeen people.
As Zoro and Robin stepped off the hull, the last save for Luffy and me, Luffy wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me up to the lawn deck. His stomach rumbled loudly, but Sanji was busy fussing over the girls below. Still, Luffy rushed off into the kitchen, pulling me along. As we burst through the door, I saw a feast already set out and waiting for us. With a grin, Luffy immediately started devouring everything.
"Oi!" Sanji entered the room, "Save some for the ladies!"
"I'm not hungry," was the murmur that went down.
Luffy shrugged, continuing to eat. I glanced out the window, just in time to see Chopper pulling Zoro along. Shortly after, Robin entered the kitchen, looking content. I think we were all happy –more or less –just to be off the capsizing cruise ship.
"I just want to take a bath and go to sleep," I said, stretching. "I was the last one to wash my clothes right? So they should still be up there?"
"Mm," Sanji said, looking up at me.
"A bath?" The girls perked up.
I smiled, "Come on. I'll show you."
I watched all the girls file up the ladder, including Mariko, while the guys came in and immediately rushed to the table covered in food. Sanji went back to work in the kitchen.
"So why were you guys on the ship?" I asked, taking a seat on the bench, since the table was full.
"Yoshiro and I were working on the ship," Kouki said. "I was on my break, and had been heading up to one of the bars when the wave hit."
The group that Yoku and Uri came with was composed completely of Yoku's pirate crew. The timid man Zoro had told me about that had led them to the group that shot them in the first place was no where to be seen.
"Since the ship was filled with the rich and the greedy, we were going to ransack the ship and meet up with our ship on the next island," one of the pirates said.
Nami came back down the ladder. She was dressed in something completely different, and I wasn't quite sure if she had actually taken a bath or not. Nami could spend hours in there, so seeing her out after no more than ten minutes was a surprise. Her skin was red, as if she had been scrubbing it for hours. She looked mildly content, so I didn't say anything.
"Nami-swan, is everything all right?" Sanji asked, leaning out of the kitchen to see her.
"Fine," she said, stretching.
"Was there something wrong with the bath?" Usopp asked.
"No, it's working fine," she said as she came over and sat beside me.
"Oh, Nami, here," Sanji came over, handing her a piece of paper. It was blank on both sides.
"What is it?" she asked.
"OI!" Luffy exclaimed suddenly. "That was in my hat!"
"What is it?" Nami asked again, turning it over again. In messy writing, her name was scrawled at the bottom.
"It's a vivre card," Sanji said.
"I never had one made though," Nami said.
"Well, it led us straight to you," Usopp said.
"I had it made," Luffy snatched the paper away.
"Don't you need nail clippings to make one?" I asked.
"Shishishi," Luffy laughed.
Nami opened her mouth to say something, but thought better of it. She shook her head, "I don't want to know."
"My hat!" Luffy exclaimed again suddenly, "Nami, let's go get my hat!"
"I'm tired, Luffy," she said.
"I need to get Zoro's katana," I told Luffy. "I'll go with you."
"Mm," Luffy grinned.
"Then I'm going to go take a nap," Nami stood up.
We left, and were halfway across the deck before someone suddenly shouted something inside the kitchen. Usopp burst out, "Oi! Nami! Wouldn't you rather eat first, before you take a nap?"
"I'm not hungry," she said, turning around and heading for the stairs once more.
In an instant, Usopp was behind her, grabbing her arm, "I didn't spend any of the money you gave me, Nami."
"That's nice, Usopp, but it was yours to spend," she yawned, shaking him off and starting up the stairs to our bedroom.
Luffy and I continued on, heading for the locker that kept his hat and Zoro's swords.
As I put the code into the locker, Nami screamed. Luffy bounced impatiently from one foot to another, just wanting his hat. As I opened the locker, both of us froze. His hat wasn't there. I grabbed Zoro's three katana as Luffy took back off towards the deck.
Usopp had been trying to keep me from going into my bedroom, and now I knew why. The moment I had opened the door, something had coming flying at me. It hit me in the chest, and while it hadn't been hard, the surprise attack brought me down.
It took me a moment to recognize Luffy's hat.
"Usopp," I began sweetly. He tried to sneak away, but I grabbed his pant leg. "Why is Luffy's hat out of the locker?"
"B-b-because," he stuttered, trying to think of a reason. "Because Franky had been temporarily possessed, causing him to unlock the locker, but as soon as the locker had opened, the demon had possessed the hat instead, and we had chased it around until Sanji kicked it into your room where we had trapped it!"
"Liar," I said, standing up.
I brushed the hat off as Luffy jumped up onto the railing. As I handed it to him, something fell out of it. Luffy caught it before it hit the ground. He opened his hand to reveal a small chipmunk.
"Stub-tail!" I exclaimed, taking the chipmunk from Luffy. "What are you doing here?"
"Shishishi, he must have snuck aboard!" Luffy grinned, putting his hat on his head. "Ah~ that's better."
"Luffy," I began.
"What? He wanted to come along," Luffy said, taking Stub-tail from me and holding it beside his face. Both pairs of beady eyes stared at me.
"He's cute," Usopp said.
"Fine," I threw up my hands in defeat.
"Let's go feed him so that his cheek's puff up," Luffy said, dragging me back towards the kitchen.
"My nap," I began, but Luffy wasn't listening. I sighed, letting him lead me back to the kitchen. Suki and Uri had come back down, and Zoro and Chopper had joined in too.
"Sanji! We need some food for Stub-tail!"
"Stub-tail?" Sanji asked.
Robin came in, and quietly walked over, handing Zoro his swords and sitting beside him.
"The chipmunk Luffy smuggled onto the ship."
"I didn't smuggle him," Luffy said defensively. "I just brought him on without anybody realizing it."
"So that's what I've smelled these past couple of days," Chopper said, looking at the chipmunk.
"Mm," Luffy said.
"He's cute," Sanji said, reaching down to scratch the animal's chin as he put a plate of vegetables down in front of him. Stub-tail bit him.
"That's what you get for kicking it," Usopp said.
"You kicked stub-tail?" everyone turned on Sanji.
"I hardly knew that it was an animal running around in Luffy's hat," Sanji said.
"You guys are so noisy," Yoku said. "What kind of pirates are you?"
"The best kind," I smiled sweetly.
"Mm," they all agreed.
"Well," Uri began, "Yoku's going to be Pirate King."
"You're wrong," I said. "Luffy's going to be Pirate King."
"No –Yoku's going to be Pirate King, and I'm going to be his Queen."
"There's only room for one King and Queen in the pirating world," I said, "And it's going to be me and Luffy."
"I'm going to be Pirate King," Yoku said, standing up.
"No," Luffy stood up.
"I won't let anyone stop my captain from getting there," Zoro drew one of his swords, holding it in the air between them over the table. He looked like a demon.
"Zoro, don't pull your stitches!" Chopper told him.
"Yohoho! I've missed all this noise," Brooke laughed. "But I have no ears to hear it with! Yohoho!"
"No fighting in my kitchen!" Sanji told us over his shoulder.
"No one but me is going to be Pirate King," Luffy said defiantly.
"Except –" Yoku began, but suddenly Suki shouted out.
"I'M GOING TO BE THE SOUL QUEEN!"
All of us were silent, and we looked at her. She slapped her hands over her mouth, turning bright red.
"Shishishi," Luffy laughed. "So you're joining our crew?"
Without removing her hands, she nodded.
"Shishishi! That's great!" Luffy laughed.
"ALL BOW DOWN BEFORE THE SOUL KING AND QUEEN~!" Usopp jumped up on the table and shouted.
"Brooke! Play us a song!" Chopper encouraged.
"Suki should sing!"
"Yohoho! Come on!"
While everyone was laughing, I smiled, biting back a yawn. Stub-tail came over, curling up on my lap. Silently, I picked up the chipmunk and slipped out of the dining hall, heading for my room.
I was so tired.
Nami snuck away while everyone was having fun, along with Stub-tail. Although I wanted to stay and have fun, after the party started and the other girls came down, I also left. I jumped from the kitchen door straight across to the women's quarters, and opened the door slowly.
Nami wasn't in her bed, but her closet was open. When she heard the door open, she took a step back to see who it was. She was only in a bra, and I wondered if she would have done it even if it hadn't been me. Or maybe she would just make them pay.
"What's wrong?" she asked, not bothering to cover up as she continued to go through her closet. I closed the door behind me.
"I just want to be with you," I told her.
She looked over her shoulder and smiled.
"I thought you were going to take a nap," I said, going to sit on her bed.
"I am," she stretched, and then reached into her closet. "I'm just… I missed the ship."
She grabbed a shirt and pulled it on, then came and sat beside me. "You look tired, too."
"Mm," I nodded.
She smiled again, shifting to pull herself under the blankets. She lifted the blanket, patting the space beside her. Laughing, I joined her.
"Ew, you're still damp," she said as she clung to my side.
"Oh, yeah," I said, jumping up.
"You don't have to change," she said, fighting against a yawn.
"No, I'll be back," I told her.
I went down to the men's quarters and changed into warm, dry clothes. My stomach rumbled as I pulled on a new shirt, but I ignored it as I headed back upstairs. As I slipped in, I glanced at Nami, and smiled. I closed the door, and walked over to her.
I hadn't been gone two minutes, but she was already passed out, Stub-tail curled up in her hair. The chipmunk lifted its head and looked at me for a minute before tucking back into itself and going back to sleep.
Gently, I lifted the covers and slipped in beside her. I wrapped my arms around her, burying my head in her neck. Finally we could go back to the way things were. Eating, sleeping, eating, and going on adventures.
I couldn't wait until our next adventure.
I opened the door to the women's quarters, then closed it almost immediately, turning back to the girls.
"Let's go sleep in the aquarium."
I woke up before the other girls, slipping off the bench in the aquarium and heading outside to the deck. As I opened the door, I realized Robin was gone. She had probably snuck off to see Zoro.
It was night outside. We'd all slept the entire day after our morning party. A morning party… We'd really had a party first thing in the morning, mind you it hadn't felt like morning.
At first I debated finding something to eat, but I wasn't all that hungry. Still, I headed for the kitchen. I entered, seeing Sanji at the stove. Silently, I slipped up the ladder. He was too… flamboyant and clingy. He was like dealing with a million fans all at once, and I just couldn't handle him alone.
Not knowing what else to do, I headed for the library. There had been so many books that I was sure I could find something there that interested me. As I neared the door, I heard music, muffled by the walls. I peeked in through one of the windows. Brooke had his back to the door, his violin in his hands and the case at his feet. With a smile, I snuck into the room, closing the door quietly.
I stood there, just watching him as he played, listening to his sorrowful music. It sounded like he was playing for all the lives lost yesterday.
Slowly, I approached him. Just before I reached him, he turned.
"Yohoho, what a sight to see," he laughed, lowering his instrument to his side.
"Except you don't have eyes to see with," I smiled.
"You're really going to join the crew?" he asked. "It's dangerous. We always run into a lot of trouble."
"I can fight, Brooke," I told him, looking up at his skinless face. I felt stronger now that the situation wasn't as hopeless. More confident. Back to my old self. "When you're in the entertainment business, if you don't know how to take care of yourself a little bit, you're easily kidnapped."
"But on the ship –"
"You scared them away before I even had a chance to do anything," I laughed.
"You're bluffing," he told me.
"I grew up in a circus," I took a step closer to him.
"Liar," he said.
"I'm great at throwing daggers," I couldn't help the twitching of my lips as I took another step.
"Liar," he repeated.
"I'm quick on my feet," I said, closing the distance between us.
"Li–" he began, but I hooked my foot around his leg, yanking his feet out from underneath him. I grabbed the front of his shirt and kept him from hitting the ground.
"And I'm freakishly strong for a girl," I told him. "But I don't think strength is a very girly feature so I usually don't brandish it."
"I hardly weight anything," he pointed out.
"That's because," I pulled him closer. "You're all bones."
And I pressed my lips against his –
"I'm sorry I have no lips to kiss with," he said, pulling away.
I smiled as I kissed his cheek.
"We'll figure it out."
"I'm going to be Pirate King," Yoku said, shaking Luffy's hand.
Luffy tightened his grip until Yoku's fingers turned red. The other captain didn't even flinch. Luffy laughed as he took his hand away. "No way. I won't let you."
Yoku just smirked before he shook his head, turned and walked away. He lifted his hand in goodbye, not facing us as his crew members followed closely behind. Kouki was joining up with him. Apparently they'd gotten pretty close during the party I had ditched for a good, long sleep.
"Suki," Uri took her friend's hands in her own. "I'm sorry about earlier –"
"It's fine," Suki smiled.
"Best of luck," Uri threw her arms around her best friend. Suki hugged her back. When they drew apart, Uri took off. At the end of the dock, she turned. "We'll meet again along the Grand Line, right?"
"Of course," Suki called back.
"Don't hurt anyone!" Uri called out.
"I won't!" Suki laughed.
Luffy and I both looked at Suki, hardly thinking the slim girl with no muscles was capable of harming anything.
"Thank you!" Everyone else waved from the end of the pier as Franky walked along the dock, carrying heavy barrels of cola. Even Windsworth waved, Mariko perched high on his shoulders. Loki had wanted to join us, like Suki, but Luffy had told him to wait a few years to start his own crew. Loki had agreed with a grin. I think the pirate life really excited him.
I think everyone was just happy to be on land again. And I was too, but we'd already spent a day here. We were pirates –our hearts and souls belonged on the sea. It was time to get moving.
"Let's go," I said, tugging Luffy's arm. "We should go back to the other island and wait for the log pose to set."
"Can't we wait for it to set here?" Luffy asked.
"It's no fun for you and Yoku if you follow each other from island to island," I pointed out.
"That's not a good enough reason," Luffy pouted.
"I just want to relax," I stretched as I headed up to the bow. "But really, where's the rivalry when you're taking the exact same path?"
"Nami, what do you want me to do with the money you gave me?" Usopp asked.
"Whatever you want," I told him.
"I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU'RE TORMENTING ME LIKE THIS!" he shouted, throwing the money at my feet before running off. He stopped at the top of the stairs. "Take your money back! I will not be fooled by your tricks!"
"Shishishi," Luffy laughed, holding his straw-hat to his head as a gust of wind swept over us. "Oi, Nami, I'm hungry."
I bent down and picked up the gold, grinning, "So go eat. You can do that now, you know."
He just laughed.
Franky came up, and we left the pier.
I smiled as the sun hit us there on the deck.
Ah... It was good to be back.
Did you enjoy it? I hope you did ^.^
If there are any loose end, then my apologies. But I'm pretty sure I got all the major ones, so I think we're good!
There are some parts in this story that relate to other stories of mine. Like Stub-tail! He was in a one-shot in my collection "Of Dreams, Clouds and Mikans". If you want to meet him officially, I suggest you go there and find the chapter "Of Chipmunks". It's a cute story.
Yes, I gave Suki some kind of power. And a background. A circus freak. It has a lot to do with one of the other stories I have planned, and it just fit so well that I couldn't help it. It'll come up again in the next story ^.^ But really, I figured if she were going to join the Straw-hats, she couldn't be a damsel-in-distress singer. It just doesn't fit the criteria of awesomeness ;)
Well, that's about it. Any questions, message me and I'll try to explain myself in my reply XD
Hatemail I probably won't respond to :(
Thank you guys for reading! You're all awesome! ^.^