A.N. This was done for Merucha. She requested that Nami fall down the stairs Zoro gets freaked because of what happened to Kuina, and Nami confronts him about it later.
He could have been working out at the moment. It was a warm enough day, prefect for lounging around on the deck. The sun's rays lightly touched his skin and there was a nice breeze coming in, the waves from the ocean brining a cooling wind every time it rocked the ship. A nap sounded nice too.
Zoro grumbled, not in the best of moods. He scratched the back of his head, looking at his opponent. The very reason he wasn't sleeping or training. "Make a move already."
"Hang on," Usopp said, looking down at the board, rubbing his chin with his hand. "I'm thinking."
"Well think faster." Zoro snapped. Playing chess with Usopp really upped his craving for alcohol and his desire to just flat out commit suicide. It took all the patience he didn't have.
He only agreed to play chess with him to get him off his back about it. He had been bugging him to play for over a month. He had caved, a blow to his strong will. So there was Zoro, who had been waiting for Usopp to move for the past ten minutes.
"Shut up. I'm trying to win here." He touched his bishop, then decided against it and touched his knight again, still not moving it.
Usopp was really sweating now. He blamed the heat. It was days like this Sanji hid in the galley to avoid getting burned. It was a great time for Zoro to make fun of him, often saying if the evil bastard ever stepped out he would burst into flames. Zoro always got a weird gleam in his eyes whenever he imagined it.
"I'm waiting," Zoro grunted.
They were both sitting out in the middle of the deck, Usopp having dragged out a table to play on. He watched across from him as Zoro drummed his fingers on the table in a bored manner, looking around here and there to distract himself from the mind-numbing match.
Zoro sighed, sitting back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. "Still think you're smarter than me?"
Usopp turned red, first averting his eyes like most liars did then meeting his after building up some courage. "I never thought that."
Lies. Zoro knew the only reason he wanted to play with him was to gloat that he was the smartest male on the ship, having beat the others. One thing Usopp wasn't aware of was that the one that had taught him to play chess was Koshiro.
If it weren't for Koshiro teaching him how to he would most likely be losing to the long nose. It was one of the things Kuina wasn't able to beat him on, not that he exactly cared. He never wanted to be the greatest chess player.
"No," Usopp began, getting that frustrated look on his face when he tried to explain something when he wasn't lying about. It was always hard for him to get people to believe him. Funny that; it was hard for him to be truthful. "It's just you've won against the rest of the crew."
"I haven't won against Robin yet. And to be fair I only played with Luffy and the perv."
"And you'll never win against her. Robin's the smartest one on this ship." Usopp went back to looking at the square board, still holding his chin in hand. "The day you win is the day I'll stop lying."
Zoro narrowed his eyes, "just make a move already."
There was a clanking heard not too far away, the sounds of someone walking. Zoro looked up to see Nami pacing back and forth on the upper deck close to the stairs as she stared down at her map. Her mouth had formed a frown, absentmindedly biting her lower lip; one eyebrow raised as she stared fixedly at something on the map. There was a pencil placed delicately on her ear, sticking out from her hair like it was threatening to stab anyone who came near her.
She stopped walking, staring up at the sky, her mouth twitching a bit in that way it did whenever she was deep in thought. Zoro saw Nami take another step, returning her gaze to her map. She wasn't looking where she was going.
Robin walked out onto the deck, her head down as she peered into a thick book that looked just as heavy as one of Zoro's weights. Usopp stuck out his hand to stop her as she walked past their table. "Robin! I need your help!" Usopp said in a hushed whisper, taking advantage of Zoro looking elsewhere.
Robin did stop and looked down at the board studying it for a brief moment before chuckling. "I would love to help but I'm afraid that's cheating."
Zoro faintly heard them talking, but he was still looking as Nami made paced back and forth on the deck. She was really distracted and it was making him grow edgy like Franky without his cola.
Robin tapped her chin as she took into account the chess pieces and their positions. "I see your problem."
"Great!" Usopp said louder than he meant to. He looked over; relived Zoro was still distracted and whispered to Robin. "What can I do?"
Robin shrugged. "You figure it out."
Nami was still pacing back and forth on the upper deck when suddenly she stopped near the stairs. Her frown vanished from her face, giving way to a smile as her eyes sparkled with delight. "I got it!" she spun around, about to walk towards her room to fix her map when she twisted her ankle.
Her face gave into shock, the kind a person gets when they walk in on someone in the shower accidently. It soon turned to panic as she yelped in surprises when she noticed she lost her balance. The strap of her heels around her ankle felt tight and painful.
She threw her arms out as she tried catch onto something, anything in an attempt to save herself. Her fingertips brushed the railing of the stairs. She missed her chance. Nami closed her eyes as she awaited the impact but felt arms around her holding her instead.
Nami's first thought was that it might have been Luffy, stretching out his arms to catch her from somewhere far away on the ship. Her second guess was Sanji. He always watched her like Robin watched a book through a store window. He was always close by, ready to assist her and Robin any way he could. But when she opened her eyes the person she saw was Zoro.
He had a look on his face that scared her quite a bit. She couldn't say what that face was, the expression in his eyes kept changing too much and refused to settle on one. He looked scared. He even looked angry at one point. She hadn't even pissed him off either.
He held her, his thick fingers digging into her skin and hurting her slightly. But she didn't say anything, just stared up into his face. He eventually stood up, steadying her as he put her down. Nami wanted to speak, to say anything but his expression was still fresh in her memory. She couldn't get that look out of her head.
Usopp didn't get to see Nami falling, but he did she Zoro catch her. He looked at Robin, "He's gone; can you help me now?"
Robin smiled softly at his vain attempt to change the subject and move on from the tense atmosphere.
Zoro finally let her go of her, his hands leaving her shoulders and walked off. He didn't say anything, no comment about how he always had to save her, no cocky smirk, no roll of the eyes, nothing. He just left her curious and confused as to what happened.
Nami saw Zoro walk past Usopp and Robin. Their game of chess was over apparently.
Usopp looked stressed over everything, so Robin sat in Zoro's chair to relieve him. "How about we start a new game."
Nami was about to go after him but was stopped when she heard Luffy.
"If you're gonna talk to him, do it later."
She turned around, seeing Luffy holding a mountain load of food in his arms. She didn't even have it in her to yell at him for stealing. He already had some food in his mouth, and hurried in chewing the rest.
"He's upset now." He then repeated, "talk to him later." With that he stuffed the rest of the food in his mouth and ran off.
Sanji burst thought he galley doors then, standing in the doorframe, a hand still on the galley door from when he bust it open. In the other hand he was holding a spatula. His eyes glazed over with a killing lust, gritting the poor cigarette between his teeth. "Get back here you shitty rubber!"
They ran past Zoro, Sanji for once not fighting with him as he chased Luffy around the deck waving the spatula over his head like a mad man. He jumped in the air a few times, trying to get a good kick in but Luffy was running too fast. Finally he tackled him to the floor and slapped him over and over again with the spatula.
Nami watched Zoro pick up his weights, starting to work out. She wondered what his deal was.
Dinner was being served by the time Nami came in. She scanned the galley before taking a seat next to Zoro.
The crew was busy talking and shoving chopsticks up their noses in an attempt to get Franky to squirt cola out of his nose. Robin watched on, laughing here and there, impressing the more mature crew with how much patience she had with the retarded ones. Nami saw Sanji serve Zoro a bigger plate than usual.
He would never say thank you in words, he even said before it was a man's duty to protect women therefore should not be rewarded, but he said his thank yous with food. Zoro gave him a look before digging in.
Nami spread a napkin on her lap as she moved closer to Zoro. She leaned closer to him and whispered, "Thanks for today."
"It was nothing."
He meant to dismiss her and change the subject. It only served to piss Nami off.
She frowned. Sometimes it was so hard to talk to him. "I'm glad my life means so much to you."
He paused in his eating then, his entire body immobilized briefly. She saw Luffy, who had been sitting at the end of the table signalling over to her to stop talking. It was too late, Zoro turned to face her, growling out, "next time just watch where the fuck you're going."
Nami was appalled that he would talk to her in such a way. Her well-known temper doubled in a hurry. "I was trying to be nice."
There was a silence and they both noticed the entire crew was watching them. Zoro eyed him then looked down and picked at his food, continuing to eat like nothing had happened.
Nami did the same, and eventually the rest of the crew did so too.
She bit her lip, holding the bottle close to her chest. She walked over to Zoro, who had been sleeping sitting up against the mast. Now he was slumped down, his head resting lazily on his shoulder, his mouth hanging open, his snores adding to the soundtrack of the already noisy ship.
She shook her head and knelt in front of him, sitting on her haunches and crossing her arms over her knees, watching his face. Sleeping like an angel is a lie even Usopp wouldn't be able to tell. She spoke softly when she addressed him.
"Zoro, look at me."
He opened his eyes, looking at her like she asked. "What?" he rubbed at his eyes, "morning already?"
She thrust the bottle of rum in Zoro's face. "Here."
He eyed her, then the drink before extending his hand slowly, touching her fingers and taking it from her. He popped the cork, "what's this?"
"I thought you would recognize a drink."
She had sweet talked Sanji into giving it to her after dinner, which was easy enough considering his concerning loyalty to women.
"I know what it is. What's it for?"
"A thank you."
He didn't say anything, just drank from the bottle, a contented sigh escaping him after his first gulp.
He straightened himself in an upright position, the hair on the back of his head matted down awkwardly. He yawned, his mouth stretching in the same fashion a lion's did when it roared. "What are you on about now?"
"Shut up, you know what I'm talking about."
"Don't you have anything better to do than talk?"
"Hey, I don't talk half as much as Sanji."
Zoro considered that, then nodded, "yeah, fucker even talks in his sleep."
She laughed lightly then punched him, "pay attention. I want to know what was up with you before."
"Just didn't want you twisting your ankle." He shrugged, a small smile forming on his face; he flopped his head to the side to rest on his shoulder again as he leaned back on the mast again. He brought an arm to rest on his knee as looked at her, "can't stand your whining."
"Very funny." She ran a hand through her hair, getting to the point she said, "Just tell me why you freaked and I'll leave you alone."
He sighed, throwing his head back until it hit the mast. It made a loud noise on impact, making Nami wince, wondering if he had hurt himself from the grimacing expression on his face. He frowned, suddenly making Nami realize it wasn't from that sort of pain.
"Kuina, she," he bit his lip.
She was reluctant to ask but she did anyways. "What about her?"
Zoro had only mentioned her once in passing. It wasn't often he revealed something from his past. Everyone knew Luffy knew more than anyone, but that was expected really.
Zoro looked down at the bottle in his hand, his thumb caressing the side of it. She might have made a joke about him and booze but refrained. She knew whatever he was about to say wouldn't be good.
"She died falling down the stairs."
She watched him continue to caress the stupid bottle and look into it like it held some answer. She sat down next to him, their shoulders touching. She spoke softly. "I didn't know."
"Of course you didn't."
He wasn't angry with her.
They were silent for a long while. He had nodded his head in a half assed response to her. Nami went over the earlier day's events. He would overreact to her falling down the stairs. She wondered how much pent up grief was actually behind the usually solemn swordsman.
"Is that why you freaked?" she asked, cocking her head towards him to look into his eyes.
He narrowed his eyes at her, "I didn't freak."
She smiled. "Ok, you went ape shit. Same different."
He rolled his eyes and looked away.
"Look," she began, "I'll watch out next time."
He stared ahead, not meeting her eyes.
She touched his arm, "you can't always protect the crew."
"I know that," he shrugged out of her touch.
She smiled to herself. He was a bigger marshmallow than he often times let on. He worried over everyone though they both knew he didn't exactly want to. It was just his nature.
"You don't always have to watch out for me," she smiled, winking at him, "I can take care of myself you know."
He stared at her skinny arms, scrutinizing her small frame. "I'm sure."
She punched him harder than usual for good measure, "shut up."
He laughed, looking at the sky and making a show of counting something in his head. "There was that time I saved you from being skewered by Daz."
"Skewered? How much time do you spend with Sanji? I guess washing dishes with him has really gotten to you."
"Damn that dart brow," he said quickly, then continued, "and there was that time with that snake-"
"Keep it up." She smiled in a fake way, the kind of falseness that anyone could sense, sort of like when Luffy tried to tell a lie. "Your interest is now tripled."
The only earned him a smile and a laugh. Leave it to Nami to take that as a compliment. He grumbled, "I'll be sure to not watch out for you next time."
Her smile was still on her face, "sounds good." She stood up then, adjusted her skirt when she was standing.
"Good," he brought his hands behind his head. "It's a pain always having to take care of you."
Her hands were on her hips as she looked down at him. "It's a bigger pain waiting for you to pay me back."
"I paid that off and you know it!" he yelled.
She laughed until she couldn't anymore, smiling down at him. "Just finish your drink."
Zoro saw Nami walk away, heading towards Luffy and Usopp. He snorted when he saw her beating them both within an inch of their lives over something he didn't want to know about. Chopper was nearby, failing at hiding behind Robin's legs.
He grinned to himself, muttering under his breath, "yeah, she doesn't need protecting." He chugged down the last of his drink.
I always loved that colour spread of Usopp and Zoro randomly playing chess.
Anyways, hope you like it Merucha.