A/N: SO, this was supposed to be smut, but, it turns out the characters are just a bit too vanilla unless you slab on the ooc-ness. So here is a disgustingly fluffy thing for you to read while you wait for me to get my shit together.
I don't own One Piece.
It hadn't been too long after the sun had set, the cold of a desert night setting in more quickly than Coby could remember it coming any time prior. Not that he had experienced many of them. A commissioned marine doesn't spend too much time in one spot. It almost made him miss the days when he had just called a barracks home and knew what temperature he would wake up to the next morning. Almost, anyway.
The looming stone archway stood ahead, sanded pavement giving way to larger stone pieces, those yet moving into a crude stair case. He had only been here a handful of times the past few years, the more recent visits resulting in things a bit more bothersome than he would have thought. Not in an irritating way, just…in the way something bothers a man when he has lived a long time convinced he'd never have to deal with it. 'Deal' being used in the most affectionate way possible, of course.
He didn't have a hard time remembering or finding the place once he'd passed stone walls and dusty, crumbling pillars; a small, dry fountain surrounded by the thriving desert rose bushes that were kept where water could be spared. Beyond it, up the carved stone steps of a small airy pavilion and writing under the protection of the dome, sat the one worth the trouble. Vivi blinked up from her scribbling and watched him walk past the fountain with the same shy eyes and cautious blush he'd had from the time they had met. She smiled and blushed as well, both feeling this was probably a little childish, the way she always insisted on meeting.
This wasn't a necessarily forbidden practice. They had been engaged for little over a year now, her busying herself with the upkeep of a country and him working his way towards Rear Admiral. There was speculation that he was still too young to be considered, especially with how quickly he had been to rise in rank up until now. Vivi didn't see any harm in it. He was twenty-five, and he worked hard. There was, if anything, something to appreciate in that, rather than insult it by claiming it might just be luck and connections. Some would probably suspect the same things had brought them together. Thinking about it annoyed her, and so her face confused him when he had come to stand in front of her.
"You look upset. I hope you haven't been waiting too long," he said quietly, her coming out of her thoughts to give him a reassuring smile.
"I was just thinking about some things. It's nothing you need to worry about."
She started, realizing immediately that that had come out sounding more rude than she'd intended. He blinked when she began wringing her hands and flitting her eyes.
"I…I apologize. It's not that I…um…it's not that I don't think it's any of your business…I just don't want you to have to be burdened by my strange musings."
"Oh," he said dumbly, not particularly insulted by anything and now a bit unsure of how he was supposed to proceed with the conversation. "I see."
Now they stood in silence, each giving thought to how many generations of lovers they were currently disappointing tremendously. She swallowed, thinking it loud enough for him to hear, rocking on her heels while embarrassment colored her face. She imagined anyone who might happen upon them would have difficulty believing in the vast range of people skills their jobs required of both of them.
He cleared his throat and mumbled something, her turning from staring at the large cypress tree across the courtyard to give her attention.
"Pardon," she whispered, stepping closer to him. He tugged at his tie.
"I said…you…um…" He blushed, making her giggle. "I mean…it's not that you weren't…the last time we met…" he tried wording, running a hand through his hair and making it a little too obvious he felt like curling up and disappearing.
"I know what you mean," she said kindly, grabbing his other hand and squeezing.
She did understand. The time they spent together was precious. Even if they stumbled when they tried to find the place where they had left off, they always tried to focus on just being themselves. He had never been particularly articulate, and she had difficulty dropping the courtesies she showed to people she didn't know as well. It didn't necessarily mean their love wasn't as deep as it should be…rather it emphasized how accepting they had to be for each other's sake. Letters were rare, on either part, and both being equally modest and passive, their relationship relied heavily on mutual understanding.
He squeezed back in appreciation, grateful for the night's slight breeze and oncoming chill. She retracted it a few seconds later, bringing it to her lips and signaling for him to stay where he was while she went to get something from the bench.
"I started writing in this shortly after the King's Council, because I wanted to record my thoughts if I was able to," she confessed, the thick book she had been writing in earlier set in her hands and worn with years of speculation over her own feelings. He stared at it, a little confused. She blushed prettily and explained further, "There were times I wanted to write you…and before that time, when I wasn't sure how I felt, I would write…it's all here…"
"…You're…giving it to me to read?" he asked, throat suddenly a little constricted. He took it from her slowly, the girl's brown eyes down cast.
"I thought you could read it when you leave…so you know how much…um…" She trailed off, small voice thick with the effort to find the words. He could tell this was probably something difficult for her to do. The trust it took to allow someone to view that secret part of your mind…he suddenly felt ashamed of how insecure he had allowed her to be with her decision.
She gasped in surprise, the unexpected softness of the kiss to her cheek making her wary of whether it had actually happened. But his face was closer now, dusted with pink, and his eyes didn't waver.
"I will read it every day." He gripped the journal and smiled the gentle smile he had given her the first time they had met. "I'll cherish it."
"…The last part is from today, while I was waiting for you to finish with work," she said shyly, twirling a piece of her blue hair. He looked at the book, then seemed to remember something. She watched him dig in his pants pocket, bringing out the thin chain of a piece of jewelry. It pooled silver between his fingers, an oval pendant resting simply in his palm. She looked at it questioningly.
"I had this made. You don't necessarily have to wear it all the time, but…I wondered if you might keep it with you," came his request, letting the pendant fall to her hands when she reached for it. Upon closer inspection, she saw that it opened to reveal a small picture of him in his formal wear, his long hair tied back and handsome face focused. She clutched it to her heart and nodded with appreciation. Then she held it out to him and slid a pale hand over her collar bone.
"Would you mind?"
It took him a minute to figure out what she meant, distracted by the small gesture and her pretty skin. He spluttered a quick 'of course' and set the book she'd given him back on the bench before taking the clasps in his hands. She moved her thick blue hair from her shoulders and they stood in silence again, her sensing his hands close to her neck and flushing. He noticed but didn't say anything, trying not to lose focus and drop either end of the strand.
"Father told me you'll be gone to Tamarisk the day after tomorrow."
He paused to flit his eyes over her neck line, inhaling the faint smell of her perfume. It was the scent he had bought her the year before when he was in Nanohana. He wondered if she wore it consciously or if she had made a habit of wearing it every day.
"Yes. That is what I said."
She said nothing, but he imagined she was biting her lip. Just like she always did when she had something to say, but didn't know how to say it. He pressed the clasp to her neck gently and she let her hair fall, turning to face him. He had been right. Her bottom lip was pink and impressed with teeth marks.
"I've missed you very much," she finally managed, sad that that was the most eloquent she was going to sound despite all of the loneliness and yearning behind it.
"We'll be married the next time I come," he offered as a bit of a buffer, smiling. "You shouldn't dwell on my absence."
"It isn't so hard during the day," she said, puffing her cheeks and pushing her head to his chest. "It's difficult to sleep because then I'm left to think about you at night."
This was the nature of their relationship. They were both too busy to think about themselves until the thoughts exceeded the overall exhaustion and barred them from normal function. She probably already knew it was the same for him. His hands came up to hug her to him, disappointed in himself for still being unable to find the correct line between too concerned and not concerned enough.
She hugged him back, pleased with the situation and softly speaking his name into the lapel of his suit.
He looked down from the top of her head, questioning. "Hm?"
She turned away, his arms hanging empty now with her pattering to the other side of the stone shelter. Her thin arms folded, face peeking over her shoulder at him before whipping back around.
Confused, he was. All the same, he found himself staring like he sometimes did, wondering at what sentience had meant to him before they'd met. Vivi did things he didn't really understand at first, but if he was pricked while following her through foliage…it didn't matter so long as he never lost sight of her. That was a recurring theme. Him having to keep up with what she was feeling or thinking and somehow already knowing where they would end up at the same time.
There should only be so many times you lose your breath looking at someone. Things should be less dazzling eventually. The ocean should be something you're reminded of, not the thing to remind you of something else. Surf should not be the ripples of hair. White caps should not be the fringe of a shawl as she's walking up the gang plank. Every time the sun eclipses your eyes, you shouldn't expect a flash reel of the greatest thing that ever happened to you.
"You did say it out loud last time, you know," she finally said quietly, night shading her profile.
And yet, here we are…
"What did I say?" He already knew. But, let her lead.
Her face went red again, a blur before she grinned and bounded for the old cypress tree. She couldn't be held by anything. Not questions, not doubts, not arms. And the astounding part was that she grew to be this way. Though he doubted it sometimes. He liked to think she was born of sea foam and quicksilver. Or some combination of equal impossibility.
Her hands slid over the tree bark as she moved to hide, sap hardened with the night's dropped temperatures and age. The one furthest in front bumped into his leaning figure on the trunk, grinning face getting a small laugh out of her. He leaned over to say the thing that had become the most personal, truthful gift he could give her on the occasions he could give it:
"On any sea, or anywhere, you are the most beautiful woman in the world."
He had the free will to make the judgement himself, and though she might not truly understand how sweet it felt to be able to make statements like that with assurance, the look she gave him was enough to know she appreciated it. Her shadowed fingers reached up to touch his face, moving his bangs to one side.
"I want to kiss you," she whispered. "Please close your eyes."