AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is a Nami/Vivi fic set towards the end of the Alabasta arc, after the battle and the healing. It's been betaed by the lovely Tonko and is much the better for it; any remaining errors are my fault alone. As always, nitpicks and other suggestions for improvement are quite welcome, as well as feedback in general.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: After I'd first posted this story, I've heard from some readers who feel it should be more properly be rated T, rather than M. I've thought it over and re-read the guidelines, but I feel they're too vaguely phrased for me to be sure that T is better. Thus, I've decided to play it safe and keep the higher rating, but I did want to make a note about the matter here so readers can adjust their expectations. (For what it's worth, on Livejournal I rated this story as "PG-13 or a light PG-15".)
DISCLAIMER: The characters and situations of One Piece are rightfully owned by their creator, Eiichiro Oda. They are used here without permission for entertainment purposes only. This story is not to be used for profit in any way and should not be reposted anywhere without
the writer's consent.
A One Piece fanfic by Elin B
Vivi looked rather tired as she left the sickroom. No wonder, thought Nami, falling in beside her as they walked through the palace corridors: Luffy had taken his sweet time to wake up, after all, and Vivi had spent most of it by his bedside, not sleeping much herself yet still having to field people coming in all the time seeking advice or orders. Nami was ready to offer an arm for support, but Vivi seemed to manage on her own after all. But she did walk quite close to Nami, perhaps fearing the fatigue would make her stumble after all. Nami wasn't about to complain. She liked being here at this time, able to walk right next to a Vivi who was no longer tense, worried, and in a constant hurry. There was an ease in her eyes now, in the soft slump of her shoulders. Thank heavens for the rain. It had brought comfort and the start of healing to the kingdom right as it most needed it. And Vivi had revived like a battered but stubborn plant.
A voice in the back of her head was muttering, This isn't going to last, you know. She'll probably choose to stay here and then you might never see her again. But Nami pushed the thought down. Better just to enjoy the moment.
Vivi came to a stop outside the door to her bedroom. Nami paused, uncertain if she should just keep walking to her own room, the guest suite she had gotten for herself for the past two nights. It wasn't far from here. But she wanted to say something first.
"You look pretty tired, you know," she pointed out. "Gonna take a nap before dinner?" That wasn't on for another two hours, apparently. In this warm weather, Nami might well do with a nap herself.
"Well... it depends," said Vivi. She took Nami by a hand that was warm and strong, with some unprincesslike roughness. "Could you come in for just a moment?"
Nami was a bit surprised, but not very much. She shrugged, smiling cheerfully. "Sure."
They stepped into the royal bedroom, which Nami still thought was smaller than it ought to be and could do with a lot more opulence. The white linen curtains were drawn, but daylight seeped in through the edges; it was dusky, but she could still see. Once inside, Vivi let go of her hand and closed the door behind them. Then she rubbed her eyes and swayed a little.
"You okay?" said Nami, putting a hand against Vivi's shoulder to steady her. But Vivi nodded, gently removed Nami's hand and instead put an arm around Nami's opposite shoulder before leaning her head against her. She just stood there and said nothing for a while. Nami breathed in her scent of desert soap and cactus shampoo, starting to feel a little wobbly in the legs herself. Her cheeks felt hot and her heart had stupidly started to beat faster. Calm down. Her fatigue's just caught up to her, that's all.
"Nami," murmured Vivi without looking up, a gentle sing-song note in her voice. "Naaaami."
"...yes?" Nami blinked at her, feeling she'd missed something important. Vivi looked up and gave her a fond look and a sweet smile. A very fond look, in fact. Um. Was Vivi actually flirting with her – or at least pretending to? Usually it was always Nami who did that, in a teasing, I'm-not-serious-because-I'm-sure-you'd-run-off-if-I-were way; Vivi tended to look very cute when flustered, after all. She'd start and blush and then visibly fumble for words, then either give an embarrassed laugh or admonish Nami not to be so silly. That was how things had been before, with them. It hadn't been all Nami wanted, but she thought she had understood.
Nami suddenly had an uneasy feeling that a lot of chickens had just come home to roost. Her throat had gone dry.
But then Vivi straightened up and took half a step back. In a much more normal voice, she said, "I just... want to say I'm sorry, and thank you."
Nami didn't bother with a "For what?", just tilted her head to one side and gave Vivi a quizzical look.
Vivi continued, seriously, "Thank you. For being the one who first agreed to make a deal with me, and for persuading Luffy and the others. And, and for everything else of course, all of it, but..." She blinked hastily and then said with a brittle smile, "But I can't go into all of that or I'd, well, it would take a long time!" Lowering her head briefly, she then took a deep breath and then looked up again, her voice thicker now. "And... I'm sorry my country's so poor. That I can't actually pay the money I said I would at the start. I didn't... I didn't want to go back on my word." A determined glint in her eyes that came and went.
Nami breathed out. Typical Vivi. That steel of honour and responsibility from an honest ruler-to-be, still present despite all the deceptions Vivi must have had to pull as a Baroque Works agent. She sighed with relief, and with a certain small amount of suppressed wistfulness at the issue. It was true that it would have been awfully nice if they had had that kind of budget.
But in truth, Nami had already figured there wouldn't be much in the king's treasury, after they'd travelled through the country on their way here, and seen the state of the capital as well. "Oh, don't start with that again," she replied, trying to keep her lingering nervousness in check. Damn it, her legs should be steady again. "We already went through this, didn't we – Eh?"
Vivi was hushing her silently, putting one finger in front of Nami's lips, but not touching them. "I wasn't finished yet," she said with mild authority and some blushing, a combination that made Nami's hands clammy, her mind buzzing with confusion. Vivi leaned her head a little to one side, the dim light of the room falling differently over her beautiful face, her expression changing to something more opaque and... Nami wasn't sure how to read it. Adventurous? "I thought that I – that this debtor may just be able to pay in, in another way, should the, um, creditor agree to the terms."
Nami felt herself go beet-red now, yet singularly unwilling to back away. Besides, the wall was right behind her. "Um, are you saying – wait, you don't really mean that you..." She tried to make sense of this – was Vivi serious or playful? But her attempts were muffled as Vivi put both hands on her shoulders and started to kiss her. Nami's thoughts short-circuited for a few long seconds before her own hands went up over Vivi's back and she started to kiss back, though still confused. Vivi's kiss felt surprisingly thorough, as if her lips, at least, were sure this was a good idea.
Vivi broke off the kiss, her blush much stronger now. That was only slightly reassuring. Her hands moved tantalisingly to the top button of Nami's shirt, but they trembled a bit, stopping there. "Er... would that be acceptable?" she said, not looking straight at Nami.
"W-wait. Just. Hold it a little, okay," Nami said, reluctantly holding up a hand. "My legs…" Were far too wobbly right now, embarrassingly enough. Taking Vivi by the hand this time, she walked over to the bed where they both sat down.
She swallowed, still feeling red in the face, trying to clear the confusion in her mind. She found herself holding onto Vivi's hand quite firmly, then squeezed it and tried to give her a reassuring look. She didn't want the other girl to get the wrong idea about the break.
"Sheesh, Vivi," she managed with a wry smile. That was some kiss."
Vivi blushed some more, tossed her hair a little in apparent embarrassment. "Oh. Um. You think so?"
Nami gave her a flat look. "Don't tell me that was your first one." Moments later, she realised how that sounded and added, "Not that you have to tell me that."
Vivi looked down at the quilted coverlet. "Well… it was, actually," she said in a low tone, twiddling her fingers. "Sometimes I had to fake-flirt a lot in the Baroque Works, for the missions, but it never went that far… not for me. But at times I saw other women kissing guys, and so I tried to memorise how to do it well… in case I ever had to. Or, you know. If I just wanted to, one day."
"Oh." Nami nodded in understanding. She felt her own gaze turning away from Vivi, towards the wall opposite. "I see," she said in a low tone. "That... that sounds a lot how it was with me, back when I was going solo. Except I did kiss two marks."
"Mm." Vivi was all quiet attention now, inching a little closer to Nami and cupping her hand between her own.
"Didn't go further, though..." Nami continued. "And both times it was just to get them more off-balance for my next move. One I knocked out with my staff when he turned his head, then grabbed his money-pouch and ran. The other I had to trip into the water so I could get the hell out of there…" she waved her hand vaguely, "it was getting complicated. They were both the bad type of pirates, like everyone I robbed back then." She paused, those two old events from last year and eight months ago feeling so very distant now. "I guess maybe part of why I did it was to prove to myself that I could. And to prove that no-one else would force me into doing something like that." She made a face as she turned her head to Vivi again. "Didn't make for much of a first kiss, though."
Vivi gave her a soft smile. "You know..." she said quietly, "far as I'm concerned you can count the one I just gave you as your first kiss, if you want. Or this one." She leaned over and kissed Nami again, more softly and gently but with lips that were even warmer than before. If the initial kiss had been a memorable opening move, this one felt more like a precious gift. Nami found herself turning towards Vivi even as the other girl retreated, like a flower turned towards the sun.
"Or maybe this one?" said Nami, taking hold of Vivi's shoulders and kissing her back, hoping to show trust and a confidence she didn't quite feel yet.
"If you like," said Vivi shyly. Then she cleared her throat and raised her head. "Anyway. Despite the generous payment sample that was just offered, I would like it to be noted that the debtor is still waiting for the creditor's answer."
Nami hooked a wayward strand of Vivi's hair behind her ear. Again she felt like she couldn't get enough of looking at her, seeing the tenacious strength and sheer toughness in her beautiful features: the true Vivi underneath most people's first impression of a pretty and earnest young princess.
"What, uh, what if the alleged creditor already considers the debt null and void?" she whispered. If she had been Sanji, she would have said something sappy and corny by now about how the sight of Vivi looking happy and peaceful was all the payment she needed. But she was Nami and couldn't say that, even as she suspected it to not be all that terribly far from the truth.
Now Vivi was the one to give her an "are you kidding me?" look. "Then the debtor would feel justified in considering the creditor as a bit of a moron," she said flatly, and Nami had to admit she had a point.
"Ah..." she breathed out. "Perhaps there would be something to that view." She took Vivi's both hands and turned them palm upwards, then kissed the inside of her wrists. Vivi made a small, surprised sound, half content and half hungry.
Again there was that same small voice in the back of Nami's head, this time saying She wouldn't be this forward if she didn't think there might not be another chance. But she refused to listen. I'm a thief and a pirate. I'm not the one to judge if someone wants to seize the moment.
The air was still heavy with the mid-day heat, but she now she was very far from sleepy. "You did say we have two more hours until dinner, right?" she said, leaning back on the cushions and grinning as she put Vivi's hand back on the top of Nami's shirt.
Vivi giggled and got back to unbuttoning. "That's right. And a princess always repays her obligations."