Summary: Donquoxite Doflamingo was a twisted sadistic individual who made the devil himself seem mild-mannered. The devil at least gave him victims a choice in the matter; with Doflamingo there was no such luxury.
Disclaimer: I don't own it.
Warnings: dark and adult themes. Non-consensual situations.
When the Dawn Comes...
Walking through a dark cobbled stone street, Zoro rounded a corner and froze when a noise alerted him to another person's presence. In an instant his swords were drawn and he stood waiting- respectable people had gone to sleep hours ago. Despite the several bottles of alcohol he had drunk that night, he was sober enough to cut through whatever enemy was unlucky enough to get in his way.
There was a sound of someone taking a deep breath before several slow footsteps accompanied a thin figure out of the shadows. The blond man exhaled blowing smoke in Zoro's direction. In an angry movement he flicked his cigarette butt on the ground and used his right foot to forcefully put it out. He let his eyes close in an exaggerated blink as he tried to remain calm. From his vest pocket, he pulled out another cigarette and lit it up with a long drag.
Finally, in a slow voice full of malice, the man spoke, "For her sake, I've tried to forget what you did, but every time I look at your shitty one-eyed face I see it again. I can't forgive you, you shitty bastard!"
Zoro let out a long breath as he sheathed his swords. He wouldn't fight back when the other man came at him. He had been expecting the attack for at least a week now. In fact the swordsman was beginning to grow uneasy with the wait. But the time had come at last and Zoro stood stock still while Sanji's foot came down upon his collarbone. Another kick landed on his stomach while a third swiped across his jaw. Zoro bore every blow without flinching or defending. He couldn't forgive himself either.
Several more kicks landed but Zoro merely welcomed the pain; physical pain was a relief compared to the mental anguish he had suffered all week. Every cracking bone validated the way Zoro had been feeling. But the cook wouldn't take the beating as far as Zoro believed he deserved. The unwritten first law of the sea was that you did not take the life of your nakama. It was a pity really as Zoro was feeling his life was more of a curse at the moment. He would have taken his own life, but he had sworn it in fealty to Luffy when he'd joined the crew. So Zoro was forced to continue bearing his wretched existence until he met an enemy strong enough to truly cut him down. Besides, taking his own life might expose her secret and Zoro couldn't stand to cause her any more pain.
This hell he had been left in was hardly punishment enough for his crimes.
Eventually Sanji's kicking slowed and Zoro's breath was coming in great ragged gasps. The thin cook looked Zoro over, probably assessing the damage done. Then with a loud scream Sanji tuned around and kicked a nearby trashcan into a wall before crumbling to his knees with his back to Zoro.
"Not enough is it?" Zoro asked surprised at how raspy his voice came out. He tasted blood on his tongue and assumed his lip had split open.
"How can it be, when compared with... compared with..." Sanji's thin shoulders slumped in defeat. "I've been blaming you, but I couldn't stop it either. I couldn't do anything but watch." His blond head lowered and shoulders began to shake and Zoro assumed the other man was probably crying. Sometimes Zoro wished he could cry about it- it would be a lot simpler that way; but there were precious few time in his life where he had been able to shed tears. This time, where her pain so obviously outweighed his own, he would not cry.
In a gruff tone, Zoro shrugged and said, "This is one situation that we can't fix no matter how many people we beat up." At this, Sanji grabbed his head and sank lower in defeat pressing his forehead to the cold cobblestone. Before Zoro moved to leave he said, "Pull yourself together before you go back to the ship. She doesn't need your tears right now."
The truth of his words sunk in for himself too. Whatever he and Sanji were feeling was nothing compared to the hell she fought constantly. And she had asked them to keep it a secret. From that one act, it was clear that she didn't want their pity.
Zoro's body ached as he moved back toward the ship. Some of his ribs were broken and he had sustained many injuries elsewhere. He needed to get back to the ship, shower and bandage up these wounds. For these wounds he would not seek treatment from their doctor; he deserved to feel the sting of these injuries for longer than they would take to heal.
Nami woke from a sound sleep sitting bolt upright mouth open posed for a scream-only no sound escaped her lips. Her body was covered in a cold sweat making her long hair and her nightclothes stick to her. Taking a few deep breaths, Nami tried to calm herself but it was no use. She bolted from the room and barely had enough time to run to the nearest toilet before she heaved up the contents of her dinner.
It had been this way for a week- since it happened. And every night she had the same nightmare. Her mind must really enjoy making her miserable to make her relive such a horror every night because her brain twisted the scene and made it even worse than the reality had been. She had hardly eaten all week and what little nourishment she had managed to take in often came up after the dream.
But she had no desire to sit on the floor of the powder room all night, so she stood up from her crouched position over the toilet and moved to the sink to wash her hands and her face. With a sigh, she opened the door to come face to face with the tall, green-haired swordsman.
Zoro was standing a few feet away fixing her with a concerned look through his one eye, but what really surprised Nami was the blood covering his body. His clothing was torn here and there and blood was seeping through his clothes as well as dripping from his nose and mouth. Some of the blood had already begun to dry and cake to his skin. There were places on him that already seemed swollen and it was clear he'd be covered in bruises by morning. She had started to whisper, "Zoro?" but he had spoken at the same time.
"Are you alright?" he asked concern written all over his face as he took a step toward Nami.
Involuntarily, Nami flinched when he got closer and she tried to cover up her movement. But it was no use, Zoro had seen it and looked down in shame. Feeling absolutely despondent Nami said, "I'm fine. Just a... just a bad dream."
Zoro swallowed and nodded and started to move away, but Nami took two steps toward him and reached a hand out stopping just shy of touching his arm before pulling back. "Zoro?" her voice was barely a whisper and was almost lost in the light breeze that blew across the deck. But he had heard her and turned to look at her. She could hardly stand to look in his eye it was so full of pain, but she made eye contact even though it hurt to do so.
"What happened, Zoro?" she asked gently realizing that he was still not okay with what had happened either.
For a moment, he stood regarding her curiously- as if he couldn't understand how she could ask about him after all that had happened. Then he closed his eye and looked away. "Nothing more than I deserve," he replied his voice a low growl full of self-loathing. Then he walked quietly away.
Left alone in the cool night air, Nami hugged herself and shook her head. Tomorrow they would leave this god-forsaken island and maybe then they could start to put this behind them. More than anything, Nami wanted to forget. This whole incident she'd born with as much grace as she could muster and attempted to save what little dignity that she had left. But even if she put on a brave face, there was no healing the empty hurt that welled within her.
For days after the incident, Nami refused to leave her room. When she'd finally emerged it was with red-rimmed eyes and puffy cheeks. She'd been sick, she told the crew, but Sanji and Zoro looked away and bit their tongues to keep her secret. Zoro and Sanji. Those two men were inextricably bound to her by the dark events of that night. As painful as it was to see them-their faces a harsh reminder of the cruel events- they were easier to be around than her oblivious crewmates. True, she wanted the crew kept in the dark, but that didn't mean their ignorance of her circumstances didn't affect her.
Maybe that didn't make any sense, but nothing these days seemed to make sense. Not since that night. Sanji had pleaded with her to tell the crew, told her to let the others know her pain; Zoro merely kept silent closing his one eye and nodding in agreement with her. Letting the crew know the truth would not ease her pain-it would only add to it. She finally made Sanji more or less understand and he accepted her request. They would tell no one. Sanji and Zoro would watch while Nami desperately tried to cling to the broken pieces of her identity and place them back together. They would be there for her silently and only when she asked them. Nothing in their behavior could alert the crew to anything being wrong. They would do that for her and Nami was heartened by this. Her burden was hers to bear.
Since it was clear to her that she'd get no sleep right now, she headed to the kitchen for a drink. Orange juice. It was what Bell-mere had always given her when she was upset at home. Hopefully, being just liquid, Nami would keep it down.
Nami was surprised when Sanji walked into the kitchen not fifteen minutes after herself. He was still wearing street clothes though they were quite messed up and covered in something wet. There was dirt all over him.
"Nami-san," the cook said softly- apparently he didn't expect to see her either.
Holding up her half empty glass the woman said, "Just came for a drink."
"Me too," Sanji nodded reaching for a bottle of Merlot.
Seeing Zoro in such a state had unnerved her, and Nami now thought that since Sanji was out late as well, he might have seen what happened. Had it been a bar fight? Had Zoro been acting recklessly and provoking strangers? She had been so wrapped up in herself since it happened she had not spared enough time to think how it had affected them.
"Sanji-kun," Nami started nervously, "Did you see what happened to Zoro? He came back to the ship such a mess! He doesn't usually get so beat up when he fights." If there were someone still here that could hurt Zoro that much. They might not be able to leave as easily as she thought. And she very desperately needed to get off this cursed rock!
When Sanji didn't answer Nami turned to him. The expression on his face told her all she needed to know. Her eyes spread wide in alarm, "Sanji, you didn't?" But Sanji turned his head away to hide his face. "Why?" she asked trying to think of any other reason for them fighting to that extent. There were tears in her eyes; if her friends couldn't put it in the past, how were any of them going to move on?
Sanji raised an exasperated arm into the air as he whispered harshly, "Because of what he did to you!"
Nami could feel the anger starting to well within her. Anger- it was such a nice change from the sorrow and despair that threatened to swallow her this past week. Allowing the new feeling to bubble within her, she exclaimed tersely, "Sanji it wasn't his fault! Doflamingo-"
But he cut her off slamming a hand down on the counter saying, "You think I don't know that?"
"Sanji?" Nami whispered almost unable to understand what she was hearing. The anger was replaced by confusion and regret. Yes, the two men assured her they were fine and that most of what had happened had been to her, but looking at Sanji now and thinking of Zoro alone and bleeding Nami knew it wasn't true. Clearly both of these men- both of her friends- were still struggling to grasp what had happened. And their concern for her made it even harder for them to get past.
Sanji continued his hands tightly gripping the counter he leaned against. His voice was quieter, calmer, but still full of just as much raw emotion, "I hate it! This feeling. I could do nothing to stop him. That man just came here purely to fuck with us for one reason or another. And we were helpless! And that sick bastard is still out there and we still can't make him pay for what he did to you! Maybe it wasn't Zoro's fault, but that guy used him to do it. So right now, I hate him too!"
Nami closed her eyes against the assault of tears that threatened to spill from them. "Turning on each other is just what that guy wanted! Why else do you think he did it? A guy like that could have killed us easily. He wanted us to survive so we'd come to hate each other! He probably hoped we'd tell the whole crew and divide us all! Do you think that I don't hate him Sanji? Do you think that I am not terrified knowing he's out there and we could do nothing against him?" Sanji flinched at this. "Don't you think I'm still hurting from what he did to me? But I know with men like that there are reasons behind such actions. And if we let him divide us, he's already won!"
Despite the anger, the emptiness, the hopelessness and the fear she'd been feeling since this whole thing happened, she was not going to let what that bastard did come between her and her nakama. "Sanji," she said in a much nicer tone, "please. Try to get past this. I am going to need both you and Zoro by my side to get through this. It still hurts me, but I'm trying to move on. I won't let it break me; I'm made of stronger stuff than that." There was conviction in her voice as she spoke and Sanji nodded along. "He will never rob me of the trust I have in my nakama. We will meet him again before the end. You and Zoro won't let him escape unharmed, will you?"
Sanji shook his head and Nami could see that he was very close to tears. Judging by the streaks in the dirt on his face, it wouldn't be his first time crying that night. "Remember," she said trying her best to smooth over the situation, "Zoro was a victim here as well."
Nodding Sanji began to speak. "Nami-san, I..."
"Don't!" this time Nami's sharp voice cut him off. "Don't apologize to me. I'm sick of the word 'sorry.' If you want to apologize, you know who to go to!" With that Nami turned and fled the kitchen.
It wasn't easy to think so levelheadedly about what had happened. During the time immediately following the event when Nami holed herself up in her room and wouldn't talk to anyone she had cried enough then to last her a lifetime. But during that time she had plenty of time to think about Zoro's assessment of the situation.
It had been Zoro who realized that Doflamingo was trying to tear them apart and possibly drive a wedge in their whole crew. The fact that he was a Shichibukai left the possibility that he was being ordered by the government to mess with them- probably not in the way he had chosen, but still something to divide the crew. The strength of the Straw Hat's bond was practically legend and any group, pirate or government, would never take them unless they could break that bond. But his intent was obviously malice and not defeat.
They had learned too late after being captured that Doflamingo controlled many separate pirate factions all over the Grand Line and the New World. When one of his crews called and told him the Straw Hats were there, he had shown up immediately. They had chosen Nami, deciding she was the weakest one in the crew- the one other's constantly tried to protect. The irony of making her own nakama hurt her would tear the crew apart. It was easy to see why they picked Zoro and Sanji as well. They had the rockiest relationship of anyone on the crew and Sanji had an obvious interest in Nami-well in all women really but mostly in Nami.
So under Doflamingo's orders these three Straw Hats had been separated, drugged and captured. Even their high tolerances were no match for the new Vegapunk chemical mixture that had found its way into their drinks. They had all woken with massive headaches in a huge cell. Zoro's swords had been removed as well as Nami's Clima-Tact and Sanji's legs had been shackled to the wall.
The Shichibukai had arrived shortly after they woke and had started to have his "fun." His ability was a frightening power that turned him into a human puppet master. Zoro had been forced to repeatedly and brutally take advantage of Nami in that cell. And Sanji had been forced to watch. Nami refused to remember all the horrific details of that night- most of the things Doflamingo made Zoro do were unthinkable- but the one memory Nami clung to from that night was the painful look in Zoro's eye and his whisper in her ear, "I'm sorry, Nami! I'm so sorry!" Over and over he had repeated that phrase that night, every time he'd been forced to use her and to hurt her. Grasping that moment like a lifeline, Nami knew it was no Zoro who hurt her but the other man. Doflamingo. With his hateful eyes and his too-large mouth. His sinister laugh rung in her ears while she tried to sleep disrupting even the tiniest moments of peace she had been able to find.
The bastard had forced Nami to take advantage of Zoro as well. Made her parade herself around the swordsman until Sanji was physically sick at the display. So she knew too what it felt like to use and be used, to not be in control of the actions your body preformed. She knew Zoro's pain as much as she knew her own. Not having to sit and watch, she could only guess what Sanji went through, but she knew he blamed himself for not being able to save her since Doflamingo had basically made him a mannequin for the event- he didn't even have the power to turn his head and look away.
Nami knew in her head that Zoro was not in control of his body any more than she or Sanji were in control of theirs. She had cried that night until she had no tears left and had come to loathe the sadistic Shichibukai more than she had loathed even Arlong. But Nami refused to hate her nakama no matter how many times Doflamingo forced him to hurt her. And she refused to hate Sanji for failing to save her, especially after hearing Zoro's analysis once Doflamingo left.
It was Zoro who was able to surmise why these three were chosen and what the man was trying to do. And it was this that allowed her to remain strong through the situation. Really, she wanted to curl up and hide away forever. Inside she felt like that weak little girl the other pirates had picked her out for. But knowing that is what they wanted hardened her. She wouldn't fall into any more of their traps. The bonds between she and her friends were stronger than that! It was for that reason she insisted they keep what happened between them. If the crew asked about her bruises they would say the pirates tortured Nami and forced both men to watch- it was close enough to the truth.
Nami knew- she knew- exactly what she needed to do in regard to what had befallen them, if only she could quell the turbulence of emotions within her long enough to walk the path she needed to tread. To feel one way and act another was a difficult task and the more Nami thought about Zoro and Sanji, the truer her earlier words seemed. Though she had tried to shut them out at first, it became abruptly apparent tonight that she'd need to rely on both of them to get through this- they were the only ones who understood her pain. Move forward but hold fast to your friends. If anything it would strengthen their bond, not tear it apart. Nami was determined more than ever not to let Doflamingo win- not after what he'd done to them.
After the Shichibukai left, it was easy enough for Zoro to grab one of the guards and get the keys. Once freed they fought their way out of that hell-hole. Doflamingo's subordinates were easy enough to take out and Sanji and Zoro both fought all the harder for their rage. Nami's own rage cried out for release and it was unfortunate for the men who were unlucky enough to be on the other side of her storm. On the escape, Sanji and Zoro had protected Nami flawlessly so that she didn't receive one more scratch, bruise or bump from the time they got her out of the cage.
They had met Luffy and the rest of the crew on the battlefield. When the Straw Hats saw how beaten up Nami was, they fought with such ferocity that none of their enemies stood a chance. Not one enemy was conscious at the end of that fight. It really was a good thing the crew didn't know the damage was inflicted by Zoro because even with nakama they might hit first and ask questions later. Eventually, they would come to understand, but it would have been hard to get the right words out and seeing Nami battered and bleeding would have made it all the harder.
Still, all her brave words and convictions couldn't help the way she felt or the way her body reacted. Since that night, she would let no one touch her. It made it very hard for Doctor Chopper to bandage her wounds and in the end, Nami insisted on putting most of the bandages on herself. The vivid nightmares wouldn't stop and she could barely force herself to eat. Being used so cruelly used by Doflamingo had caused her to feel dirty. She could barely stand to look at herself in a mirror and most days just decided not to. Also, subconsciously, she began to pick out clothing that revealed less of her body.
She knew without needing to be told, that there were wounds on her soul that would never heal but only hurt less as time went on. So that was why she was determined to stay strong. This would not break her. No matter how much it hurt, she would not fall. After all, she was not some princess prone to wilting away at the faintest slight; she was a pirate- a strong and fierce sailor surrounded by her nakama and the freedom of sea. And more than anything else she knew beyond all else, she could trust in her nakama.
Author's note: It's a little dark... or a lot dark. It's going to get darker, but I do promise that I am working toward a resolve. It might not be peaches and roses the whole way, but I do promise the comfort aspect will play a big part as well.
This chapter is a little short because of its nature as a prologue. The remaining chapters are longer. The whole story is finished. I believe it was 12 chapters total (maybe one more since there are some things I wanted to add/clear up not sure if they will be incorporated into other chapters or get their own chapter yet.)
I chose not to go into detail of that night since it is Nami's perspective and she is trying not to remember. She will acknowledge that it happened but not dwell on the events as she is trying to keep her thoughts from replaying those scenes. This story centered around the aftermath of that event and not the event itself. I've been nervous about posting it because it is quite a dark idea, but it came to me and begged me to write it. I hope you like it-even a little. I always appreciate reviews. Let me know if you want it darker or if this is as dark as you can stomach. I hope you enjoyed. More to come soon!