A Luffy, Zoro and Nami friendship fic but more angsty and confusing than the last one. I reread the beginning of the series and I really like the trio, they have a unique balance.
The roman numbers are indicators of the chronological order, scene i being before meeting Zoro and x being after the two year reunion. All scenes except for scene vi are not in the series.
Luffy is on Thousand Sunny's head, the one place he is unreachable and untouchable. The captain's gaze never leaves the sea as he lifts a hand and splays it across his scarred chest. He stills like that for half a second-before pressing down against the scar, until his fingertips turn white and dig into his own skin. When Nami, who is watching, who was waiting from the moment she woke up and realized what day it was, blindly reaches out to steady herself, Zoro never makes a sound though her fingers dig into his skin.
"Ow," Luffy wonders thoughtfully as he twists around and peers at his hip. He has stuck a bandage on the wound like Makino or Ace used to do for him when he scraped his knees but maybe the bandage isn't big enough; the bleeding won't stop.
He settles back anyways because he had meat and that will fix things sooner or later. All is well, or at least, it should be well. He finds his gaze flickering to the side and is strangely disappointed though what he sees is what he's always dreamed of, his own pirate ship at sea.
Zoro will never admit it but it is a jagged piece of memory and fear and when he sees Nami slip, all he knows is the flight of stairs behind her, godhellno-
He starts to reach over to snag her elbow and save her balance. He isn't entirely prepared for the way Nami flinches back from him and stumbles away, inadvertently saving herself.
The silence that follows is deafening and Nami won't meet his eyes.
"This ship is great!" Usopp comes jogging up the stairs, his face still flushed from the prospect of going on an adventure in Going Merry. Some of the excitement fades as he notices the stormy and stony looks being exchanged. "..Guys?" He asks carefully because he is not yet familiar with his crew mates and on unsteady ground. "Is something wrong?"
"No," Nami glares at both of them before whipping around and disappearing into her own room.
The sniper glances at his crew mate helplessly, but the swordsman only stares at the closed door for a moment before repeating, "No."
It will be hours later when Usopp realizes he doesn't know who Zoro was answering.
Luffy recognizes that Nami is different from Zoro. It is not a matter of physical power although Zoro is obviously bulkier and better adjusted to physical confrontations than his crew mate. The pirate understands in some unexplicable way that Nami has been hurt, broken and alot of the times he just needs to stayaway. However, he is her captain and more importantly, she is his friend. He has decided she will be her nakama and that means Luffy's responsibility is to make sure Nami is never hurt or broken again.
That is partly why he silently watches her stab her own shoulder and curse her enemy's name. That is also partly why he grabs her wrist and then lets go.
But it is mostly why he gives her his hat and promises that he never really let go at all.
"You two are hopeless, let me do it," The exasperation is clear as Nami, after watching from Buggy's stolen ship, steps onto Luffy's small ship and snatches the bandages from Luffy's grip. Her fingers never brush against his hand. Luffy laughs and Zoro grunts but they scoot over to give her space.
"Wait, Luffy! Zoro!" Nami shouts as she runs after them because she knows them too well to trust them to go into a city like Jaya and not raise seven different kinds of hell. When she tells them this their responses are two identical, perfectly innocent grins that would make anyone who knows them run screaming in the other direction.
Nami sighs but when Luffy drapes his arms around her and Zoro's shoulders, she doesn't shrug the warmth away.
The small vessel Nami stole from Buggy has its uses in storing the treasure, but is practically useless in terms of comfortable bedding. A few discarded blankets are all the thief could find but both of them are dusty enough that Nami doesn't dare use them for anything except slight protection against the unyielding wooden floor.
However, night at sea is merciless in its chilliness and Nami curls into herself in an attempt to stop her chattering teeth. Seconds melt into minutes and numbness sets in and her trembling subsides a bit and the theif finally allows herself to drift into oblivious sleep-
She can't stop the flinch when she feels the ship dipping down, followed by the telltale sound of a pair of sandals and boots coming on board. Her reaction is defensive and instinctive; she pretends to snore, to shift but she is really reaching for her weapon lodged in its holster by her thigh.
They surprise her when they settle on each of her sides and then don't move at all.
When she dares to open her eyes she finds: two familiar bulks flanking her on either side, their backs turned to her but close enough to radiate warmth.
Her first instinct is to get up and get away. In the end Nami presses the edge of her palm into her eyes and swallows back a sudden, bubbling memory of tangerines and a warm dinner by a woman who had a hot temper to match her hair.
Nami closes her eyes and takes in the scent of Sanji's cooking, the fresh oil that is all over Franky and Usopp's hands and think that the days the three of them sailed of that sorry, pathetic ship is like a dream.
But Zoro still lets Luffy use him as a human pillow and Luffy still pesters Zoro until the swordsman breaks down into helpless laughter and some days, when Chopper is busy with the others or buried in his books, they will pad up to her and hold out their bandages and look at her expectedly. Nami still rolls her eyes but she never turns them away.
"It was a good fight shishishi," Luffy laughs as stretches his bruised arms and leans against his ship's mast. His gaze flickers to the side. Luffy pauses when it is filled with the bulk of a newly ex-pirate hunter settling beside him.
"It'll hurt like hell if that gets infected," The swordsman gestures to the cut that stains Luffy's bright red vest into a darker crimson. "Thanks to certain people we're kicked out of town but if we keep that bandaged until we get to the next island, it should be okay."
But Luffy isn't really listening because he busy looking from the open sea and his small ship to the swordsman sitting beside him, back and forth, back and forth.
"Oh," Luffy finally breaks into a grin and breathes. "Oh."
If, the next day, Luffy naps against Zoro a little longer, Zoro brushes shoulders with Nami a bit more often and Nami's smacks are gentler than usual, none of them say a word.