How to date a romantically challenged swordsman
*A sequel to "A Beautiful Mess"*
I got this idea while I was writing "A Beautiful Mess" and now I've decided maybe it's worth writing out.
Disclaimer: Last time I checked, I still don't own One Piece. And I'm not happy about it.
It had been the third bunch of red roses appearing on Robin's nightstand within this week. Nami decided she was going to say something about it.
"Um, I don't know, maybe you should give him a chance." She mentioned offhandedly one night when Robin was probably in one of her best moods—translation: reading a hard-covered book by the bedside lamp while sipping coffee from her favorite mug.
"?" The older woman lifted her eyes from the book she was reading, giving her roommate a questioning look.
"C'mon, we both know what I'm talking about, Robin ne-chan~" Nami addressed her roommate sweetly with a sly smile plastered on her features. "Your secret admirer isn't that much of a secret."She pointed a finger at the roses on their shared nightstand.
"Oh." Robin nodded. Besides that her facial expression didn't change a bit. After a short (could be considered as thoughtful) silence, she opened her mouth again. "Well, I guess I appreciate the gesture."
"And?" asked Nami expectantly.
"And there is a chance I might have appreciated it more if he hadn't plucked all the unblossomed ones." The older woman smiled back gently as she always did. "You should come take a look at my flowerbed some time, Nami san. It is now...uh, sadly in disarray. "Upon the last two words she let out a small sigh.
"Eh~~~that's it?" Nami whined through a pout, not satisfied with Robin's obscure answer. "I think what Franky did trying to impress you was sweet! Well, it was completely idiotic," with a slight roll of her eyes she continued, "But! If you really think about it, it was also kind of romantic, wasn't it? I mean, at least he tried!"
"I see your point." with a polite but absent reply Robin shifted her eyes back to her book, intending to bring an end to their conversation. However, she heard Nami make a small noise through her throat indicating that she was not done talking yet.
"You know, Zoro never brings me flowers, or anything of that kind." Nami said, trying to sound as unconcerned as she could be, which brought an amused smile on Robin's face.
"I'm sure Swordsman san has plenty of other ways to show that he cares about you."
With a shrug of her shoulders, Nami reluctantly agreed. "Yea, I guess. I already know what I'll be dealing with before I dive in. If I ever wanted that sort of stuff, I wouldn't be seeing him, right? You have no idea how hopeless he is in that department!"
Robin just smiled her usual graceful smile and was quiet for a minute. She had the feeling that Nami was fishing for her comment on the matter so that the young girl could carry on with her complaint about her boyfriend's lack of romantic ideas. However, the intelligent dark-haired woman didn't think she was in any place to intervene. Instead, she suggested in a slightly teasing tone: "Well, I can bring you flowers if you like, Nami san. Who says girls can't be sweet to each other from time to time?"
"Thanks Robin. That's indeed very sweet of you~ But you know me—" Nami responded wisely, giving the older woman a witty wink. "I prefer cash."
The two women giggled quietly to each other before they exchanged tonight's "oyasumi"*.
Before she turned off the light, Nami spared another glance at the nightstand. Honestly those roses weren't perfect to look at. Most of them were yet to blossom while the others had shown signs of withering. And the fact that their container was a 2 liter coke bottle also contributed to the clumsiness.
So maybe Franky did suck at being romantic, Nami thought, but again—he tried. She let out a silent sigh as she pulled the sheet over her head, gradually drifting off to sleep.
Zoro never doubted that Ussop was a diligent worker when it came to weapons, or as in his own word, "dazzling inventions of Great Captain Ussop's". However, it did surprise the swordsman a little when he discovered that the long-nosed boy had stayed up for three nights in a row seemingly hasty to finish upgrading Nami's weapon, namely, Clima-Tact.
"Oi, what's with the rush, Ussop? Did she threaten you again?" Ever since their relationship became known to the crew Zoro couldn't help feeling responsible whenever his girlfriend bullied any of their crewmates.
"Nah."Ussop shook his head, "I just want to finish this before her birthday so that I don't have to actually BUY her a present."
"Her birthday?" Zoro managed to repeat in a way that made the word "birthday" sound like it had just been invented. "When is that?"
Ussop stared back in disbelief. "Seriously, Zoro? You're telling me that YOU DON'T KNOW YOUR GIRLFRIEND'S BIRTHDAY?"
"I—I do know! ... I just didn't remember!" the swordsman argued, embarrassed by Ussop's reaction.
"Alright~~ tell me when it is." The long-nosed boy asked with his arms folded in front of his chest.
"…tomorrow?" Zoro took a shot.
"Wrong! It's the 3rd of July, which is in three days." Ussop shook his head again. "I can't believe this…"
Zoro hung his head to look at his own feet. Now he felt like a lousy boyfriend and the feeling was enhanced by the judging look Ussop was busy giving him. Damn it, why hadn't that woman said anything?
"Okay there's still time. What should I do?" he asked Ussop.
"Really? Do I have to teach you everything, Zoro?" the long-nosed boy rolled his eyes, but was flattered by the pleading quality in Zoro's tone, so he generously provided, "well she did mention that Sunny's going to dock at the next port in one of these days. So why don't you take her ashore for a date then? You know, just take her out for a walk, buy her a present, and then go to a nice restaurant for dinner, that kind of thing."
Zoro looked back at Ussop with a blank stare. He understood that people were supposed to receive presents on their birthdays but—
"Why go out for dinner? Why can't we eat here? I'm sure that love-cook would prepare a feast for everybody since it's Nami's birthday."
"Yeah, cuz that's exactly what you want—your rival outshining you with his marvelous cooking talent on your girlfriend's birthday." Ussop sniffed sarcastically.
Zoro gritted his teeth. Ussop was right. As long as they stayed in the ship Sanji would never stop fawning over Nami. It was already bad enough that he had to put up with that ero-kappa ordinarily, but on Nami's birthday? No, not gonna happen. He was going to take Nami out, at least one night away from the obnoxious flirting of the love-cook's.
"Thanks, Ussop. That helps." After roughly patting the shorter boy on the shoulder, the swordsman turned to leave.
"Doesn't it always?" Ussop grinned proudly behind him.
It didn't take long before Zoro realized that there was a huge flaw in Ussop's suggestion—
He didn't have any money.
He couldn't afford presents, fancy restaurants or any of those things. And there was no way he could ask Nami to pay for them without getting himself killed.
Alright then, minor readjustment had to be made. He just needed a more cost-effective birthday plan that could go with…well, 0 beli.
The swordsman was walking thoughtfully past the fore deck when Luffy's cheerful voice stopped him.
"Yo, Zoro~~!" The captain was lying prone on the lion's head of Thousand Sunny with his rubbery arms and legs dangling. He grinned at his first mate, suggesting enthusiastically:" Wanna play hide and seek?"
Zoro was going to brush him off by saying "don't have time for that" but then something hit him. "Uh, Luffy? I was just wondering: did you prepare anything for Nami's birthday?" the rubber boy was usually as broke as the swordsman himself, so maybe he could be a source of inspiration.
"Yes! I've got a big surprise for her!" Luffy exclaimed gleefully, sitting up." I asked Brook to write her a song! There might be some panties mentioned in it, but Brook assured me it's gonna be classy and tasteful! And it is!"
A giant sweat drop appeared on the swordsman's forehead. He highly doubted the perverted skeleton's understanding of "classy and tasteful", let alone Luffy's.
"…you know what? Never mind, Luffy." He responded, his mouth twitching.
"No wait—it gets better!" Luffy hastily ensured him. "And then I made up this little dance to go with the song so that we can perform in front of Nami! Isn't that great? Shishishishi~~! Oh I don't know why Sanji and Ussop turned me down but I've convinced Chopper to dance with me! Oh Zoro you wanna join too? It's gonna be awesome! We can let you lead since you are her boyfriend!"
The captain kept rambling on without noticing that the more he said, the more the swordsman's face had blanched.
"…does it include any chopsticks in nostrils?" asked Zoro in a plain tone.
"Of course it does!" Luffy exclaimed in excitement. "It won't be my dance without my best move!"
Of course it does. Zoro nodded. Fair enough. He seriously didn't know what he was thinking asking Luffy for advice.
"…this conversation never happens, okay? Just forget that I said anything." he warned the rubber boy and then strode away, leaving a whiny Luffy uttering "Ehhhhhh?" behind him.
So he had no other choice—Zoro reminded himself for the seventh time before he went up to the library and knocked on the door.
"Yes?" A deep feminine voice answered.
Zoro pushed the door open, uneasily tightening his grip on the door knob as he met eyes with the blue colored ones of the ship's archeologist's.
This was going to be awkward, but screw it. He was doing this for Nami.
"Ano…this may sound a little…actually, the thing is…" he stuttered. "The thing is, I uh, I need some cash."
"Oh, I see." Robin nodded knowingly. She could read the uneasiness on the swordsman's face and decided it was quite amusing.
"A bunch of flowers, a wrapped gift and reservation for two for the best restaurant at the next port—knowing Nami san I'm guessing 15,000 belis would be adequate, what'd you say, Swordsman san?" the dark-haired woman listed fluently without batting an eye.
Zoro could only stare with wonderment. Damn, did she know everything or what?
"Uh…15,000 is good."
"Let me get my purse." Standing up, Robin gave him a motherly smile.
Zoro couldn't help feeling like a 7 year old asking his mum for pocket money for the first time in his life. For a second he really thought he was going to die of sheer embarrassment. However, the proud swordsman still managed to stutter out a barely audible "thanks" when Robin placed the money in his palm.
"I'll pay you back as soon as I have them." He assured.
"No worries. "Robin smiled. "Take your time, Swordsman san."
"What is the interest then?" Zoro asked.
"Why?" this time Robin couldn't help but let out a small laugh. "There will be no interest."
"No interest?" Zoro repeated, his eyebrows quirked. He couldn't believe his ears. "But that orange head loan shark charges at least 300%!" Call him a masochist but he just wasn't used to women being so nice and kind to him!
"Well, I guess that's why we both like her so much." Robin concluded before walking him out.
"Have a nice date. I think Navigator san will be thrilled if she knows you are doing this for her. And yes, this conversation is between us."
The door closed in front of Zoro's face. He clutched the bills in his fist and thought hard: No, the difficult part wasn't over.
He pushed open the door again:" Ano, Robin? I might still need your help on something…"
On the morning of July 3—
"Happy birthday, my dearest Nami swaaaaaaaan~~~! You look phenomenal today! Now that you are turning 21, I can't help but wonder if you plan to amend some trivial mistakes you've made when you were 20—I dunno, on the top of my head, like choosing that useless marimo over your kind loving devoted prince?"
If there was one thing Zoro hated more than being woken up early in the morning, it was being woken up by love-cook's annoying voice—more specifically, the unbearable noise that love-cook produced when hitting on his girlfriend.
Seriously, sometimes he just didn't get that Sanji. Was he supposed to stick a sign on Nami which read "this door is closed" to make that man stop? Why couldn't he just realize that on his own?
With this resentful thought in mind Zoro walked into the galley. Everyone else was already there. Not surprisingly, the love-cook was swirling over the whole place with pink hearts throbbing from his visible eye, while Nami sat at the dinning table, staring in wonderment at the extravagant birthday cake placed in front of her.
"It's beautiful…" she breathed.
As much as he hated to, Zoro had to admit that Sanji seemed to have poured his heart into this cake. It was a three layer cake with whip cream and marmalade on top, which again was inevitably heart-shaped. But what made Nami's eyes sparkle must be the piping on it. It was the pattern of her tattoo—the combination of windmill and mikan, exquisitely duplicated by the crafty hands of the ship's chef's.
Nami stuck her index finger out and scraped the surface gently. She then put it into her mouth. "Blueberry sauce." She smiled. "Thanks, Sanji kun. This tastes good."
"Can we cut it now can we I want the largest piece oh I'm so excited! "Luffy cheered eagerly, drooling a little from the corner of his mouth.
Ussop released a fit of cough which sounded suspiciously like "real boyfriend's thunder stolen", which earned him a pointed glare from the said boyfriend.
Zoro walked up to the table. "Would you mind?" he said defiantly as he practically bumped shoulders with a swirling Sanji who happened to be swirling in the way.
"What, shitty marimo? It's 8 in the morning and you're already asking for a fight?"
Zoro ignored him. He sat down next to Nami, secretly placing a possessive palm on her lap under the table. "You don't wanna be too full, woman. Cuz I'm taking you out tonight," he stated in a voice loud enough for the whole crew to hear. "— to get some real food for a change."
"Eh?" Nami's eyes grew wide slightly. At the meantime Sanji barked at the swordsman:" What do you mean REAL FOOD?" He was ignored again.
Zoro looked down to meet his girl's questioning gaze. "It's your birthday isn't it? Robin mentioned there is this nice little place for dinning near the port we just docked. I was thinking maybe we can go check on that."
By the time Zoro finished his sentence, Nami's surprised look had been replaced by a genuinely smiling one. So there was no mistake. This baka boyfriend of hers was asking her out for a date. On her birthday. Maybe he wasn't really that insensible after all.
"Yes, I'd love to, Zoro." She nodded, smiling at him.
"Good. It's a date then." The swordsman nodded back. They locked gaze with each other for a moment longer than was necessary. Zoro didn't realize he had lifted his other hand and trained Nami's jaw line with his knuckles until Ussop cooed from the background:" Get a room~~~~" The long-nosed boy was greeted by a death stare from the swordsman and a whack on the head from the sadistic navigator.
"Can I come too?" Luffy suddenly raised his hand.
Several of his crewmates' jaws hit the floor, including Zoro and Nami's.
"Owwww! It's not super to be the third-wheel to other people's date, Strawhat-bro!" Franky pointed out what was exactly on the rest's mind. Sanji had been happy for a second but then decided it was too mean to back up Luffy at a time like this.
"But they are going to have some great food!" Luffy innocently argued. "I want that too!"Apparently Nami's birthday cake was already forgotten. The rubber boy turned to his first mate and whined: "Please~~~ Zoro? I promise I'll be good~~~you wouldn't even notice I'm there!" the boy clearly knew who was the weak link here. He didn't even look at Nami.
Zoro and Nami quickly exchanged a subtle look. They had done that enough for Nami to know immediately what exactly it meant. She cleared her throat: "Okay birthday girl request! I'm gonna need someone to babysit Luffy while Zoro and I go out tonight. Any volunteers? "
The crew instantly averted their eyes. Even Robin had managed to flee the dinning area with some (Nami thought) pretty lame excuse such as a sudden need to look up something from one of her books.
"I can't believe you guys…" Nami inhaled, glaring accusingly at her crewmates. However, she did know there was one person on this ship who would never let her down.
And she was going to take advantage of that.
"Sanji kun?" She looked up at the cook with watery eyes. "Please?"
The blond cook let out a defeated sigh. He couldn't help it. He just couldn't say no to this woman, or women in general. "Alright, Nami san. I'll watch Luffy tonight. I'll make sure he stays on the ship—just feed him constantly and I think we have nothing to worry about."
"Thank you~~you are such a live saver, Sanji kun! " Nami sing-songed while elbowing Zoro. The swordsman reluctantly opened his mouth to speak. "Uh… thanks, cook." Now he almost felt bad for insulting Sanji's cooking earlier.
"Save that shit, I'm only doing this because Nami san asked."The cook said turning his eyes away from the swordsman's direction.
To be continued...
Author's Note: I didn't mean to make it more than a one-shot. But the thing is I don't have time to finish the whole story before 3 July and I really want to upload something in celebration of Nami's birthday. (Omededo~~~~Nami swan~~~~!)
Don't worry I have it all planned out. There won't be any unnecessary drama whatsoever. Next time I update, it'll be the completion of this story.
Note on Japanese: "oyasumi"- good night. Thank you, Purple Handprint! I can't believe I forgot to put the note in.
Now yelling time: R&R, people~~~Lemme know what you expect from this Zoro Nami date~~!