"There was once a man who fell in love with a pirate," Usopp began dramatically, pitching his voice so that Nami and Zoro, seated on the other side of the deck, could hear. Luffy, excited at the thought of a story, bounded over and plopped down in front of Usopp, legs crossed, eyes expectant.
Usopp cleared his throat. "Anyways, the man- a magician- fell in love with a woman named Karina, who was a very famous pirate. They loved each other so much that the man asked Karina to marry him the next time she returned, and Karina agreed."
"Let me guess, she never showed?"
Usopp glanced at Nami in surprise. "How did you know?"
Nami shrugged absently, checking the Log Pose. "Pirate marriages never last."
Zoro appeared behind Sanji, who jumped and snorted smoke out his nose, and vanished just as quickly into the Crow's Nest. Sanji was too busy coughing to notice the question in Nami's eyes until she voiced it.
"What's with him?"
Sanji took a drag of his cigarette, wishing he could get courage and knowledge as easily as nicotine. Curious, Nami waited patiently for Sanji to answer.
"Time for watch," he said finally, exhaling smoke as he talked. "He's got it first today."
Nami's brow furrowed. "No he doesn't. You do."
"We traded," Sanji said easily. "He said he wanted more time to sleep."
He let out the breath he had been holding when Nami muttered something about the 'lazy ass' and glanced at Log Pose again.
Luffy swallowed the meat he had swiped from the kitchen, spitting out bones and bouncing on his knees, rattling Chopper, who had started to doze.
"Did Karina show?" he wanted to know.
Usopp shook his head sadly. "No. On the appointed day, the man went to the tallest cliff, scanning the seas for any sign of his love. He waited there for three days in the rain, but the ship never appeared on the horizon. Karina never came."
"Crappy," Sanji observed, flicking his cigarette butt overboard.
Luffy sniffed loudly. "That's so sad!" he wailed.
"Maybe she had a reason," Nami mused. "Maybe she died or something, and her crew didn't know to send word."
Usopp shrugged. "No one knows. Some say if you sail past that cliff, you can see the shadow of a man gazing out to sea, waiting for his love to return to him."
Chopper abruptly became awake. "Like a ghost?"
"Shadows and ghosts are different things," Luffy declared. "Shadows are worse because they can touch things and throw them. They like to hide in dark corners and-"
Nami smacked her captain on the back of his head with an open hand, not hard enough to hurt, but firm enough that he stopped talking and clutched his hat when it threatened to topple off his head.
"You're scaring Chopper," was all she said.
"I-I'm alright Nami."
Sanji stood, patting down his pockets and scanning the deck. "Anyone see my pack of smokes?" Everyone looked down automatically, checking to see if they were in danger of stepping on and crushing Sanji's supply. Luffy balanced himself on one leg and examined his spot carefully before settling back down.
Nami glanced up at the Crow's Nest.
"Weren't you in the Nest earlier?"
Sanji's visible eye widened and darted upwards. "Damn. Bet you anything I left them up there. That swordsman is probably asleep on them or something too."
Usopp watched him begin to climb before seeming to remember he was in the middle of telling a tale. "Right, well, for those who don't like shadows-"
"-shadows or ghosts," Usopp amended with a mild glare. "Stop interrupting. Anyways, other people say that the man became enraged, convinced that the reason Karina hadn't shown was because she was a pirate, and pirates never keep their word. He grew angry with all pirates, and used his powerful magic to sink ships, blow up their cannons, anything and everything he could to get rid of them."
Nami had been listening despite herself. She cocked her head and studied the sky. "Why does everyone take it out the pirates?"
Luffy shushed her. "Don't interrupt!" he ordered. Nami laughed.
"That's the legend," Usopp answered. "I actually encountered this man once, and-"
"What was his name?" Sanji asked, reappearing with a cigarette firmly planted between his lips. "If you encountered this man, you'd know his name."
Usopp turned purple. "He didn't give his name!"
"He didn't!" he insisted. "He just tried to sink my ship, but I defeated him because I'm the Great Captain Usopp!"
Nami shook her head and retreated to the map room. She paused briefly, glancing back at the chaos on deck with a smile. Chopper was freaking out because Sanji and Usopp were dukeing it out- a new habit of theirs that usually left them both bloody and sweaty. (Sanji claimed it was because Usopp needed a good beating every now and then, but Nami suspected Sanji was training Usopp and neither wanted to say anything.)
Luffy joined the tussle with a laugh, kicking Usopp in the face and tackling Sanji as he dove into the middle of the tangle of limbs.
Nami thought about stopping them, but decided that her shirt would be in danger of being ripped, and it had been expensive. She glanced at the Crow's Nest to make sure Zoro was actually watching and not sleeping like usual, and, oh, he'd get a good smack if he wasn't doing his job-
His silhouette was all she could make out, but she could see him high in the Nest, arms crossed, eyes trained on the sea.
She woke very early in the morning to a pounding head, a churning gut, and a sense of dread. Oh no...
Nami launched herself out of her warm bed and out her door, just barely making it to the railing before the delicious stew Sanji had made for dinner decided to make its second appearance. Nami spat, wiping her mouth, and sank weakly to the floor.
"Damn it," she muttered. "Why can't I have nightmares like a normal person?"
The dreams had started weeks ago and had been the bane of Nami's existence since. At first, she thought nothing of it, chalked up weird dreams to the fact that weird things that happen in her life and went about her business. The next week, she had another dream, and this time she woke with a headache so bed she couldn't stand without getting dizzy and had to call for Chopper. It was decided that the sudden brightness of her room had given Nami the migraine. She took some medicine, slept all day, and woke perfectly fine the next morning.
The next week, she had another dream, and another five days later.
Nami knew that there was something more than a bizarre lifestyle behind this. The only times she was ever sick were the mornings after she had a dream. There would be a pounding head, pain behind her eyes, and perhaps a round of retching, all of which she could handle on her own. She didn't want to worry anyone (it wasn't like they could do anything anyways), so Nami kept her dreams a secret and tried to keep her headaches hidden.
Besides, the dreams were downright embarrassing.
It was one thing to have dreams involving the crew, but it was another thing altogether to be dreaming about Zoro by himself. Not by himself, she corrected, but with me. Not standing by me, but with me.
It was odd that her dreams hadn't taken a turn for the sexual. Those kinds of dreams wouldn't bother Nami as much- they were bound to happen at some point in her life and could be dealt with. But her Zoro dreams involved other things, like Zoro taking her hand, or kissing her forehead, or doing something that only someone really close to her would do. In her dreams, Zoro knew things about her that no one else knew. If he had his arms around her, he held her tight because that's how she liked to be held. If he gave her a long kiss (something that made Nami blush if she so much as thought about it), he ended it with a smaller, lighter kiss.
The Zoro in her dreams was the man of her dreams. He knew when to hold her, when to let go, how to talk to her, how to kiss her. Dream Zoro knew things that Nami hadn't even told to her sister, and if anyone knew Nami, it was Nojiko.
So how did he know? Did her dreams gift Zoro with the power to do things perfectly?
Nami was pulled out of her musings when the object of her confusion turned the corner. Zoro blinked down at her, unsure of what to do upon finding her stretched out on the deck.
"Do you ever sleep?" she asked weakly through her sore and dry throat.
"Got sick," she said simply.
Zoro immediately knelt beside her. "Should I get Chopper?"
Nami shook her head. "It won't do any good. It's almost passed anyway." She held out a hand. "Help me up?"
He didn't look like he believed her, but he pulled her to her feet and kept his opinions to himself. A wave of vertigo hit Nami hard and she stumbled for a second, clutching Zoro's arm to steady herself. A hand closed around her elbow, an arm went around her waist, and suddenly Nami felt like she was dreaming.
The arm around her waist held her firmly in place, the hand at the back of her neck applying gentle pressure so she'd tilt her head. His lips were chapped, his hands were rough with calluses, and the kiss was far from gentle, but it was right, and she felt at home.
"Easy," Zoro murmured, his deep baritone stabling her better than any medicine Chopper could have given her.
With a hand to her head and a lopsided grin, Nami stepped away.
"Think I'm gonna go back to bed."
Zoro watched as she walked on shaky legs and reached for her again. "Think I'd better help you."
Nami waved him off. "It's just down the hall. I'll be fine." She rolled her eyes at Zoro's skeptical look. "I'll yell if I need you, okay?"
He let her walk herself back to her room, but watched her like a hawk until she shut the door behind her. Nami let out a frustrated sigh, wincing at the taste in her mouth. She reached for the bottle of water she had been keeping on her nightstand for such occasions and took a long swig.
The dreams were coming more frequently now, two or three a week instead of just one every once in a while. Nami could live with the dreams (provided none of the crew found out), but the headaches and the sickness were a problem. She was behind on her maps as it was; she didn't want a pounding head to prevent her from catching up.
Thinking that, Nami lit a few lamps to combat the pre-dawn darkness of her room, determined to finish her newest map, and equally determined to not think about Zoro's arm around her waist, or the feel of his lips and hands that had definitely not touched her anywhere.
It was only a dream, she reminded herself, and got back to work.