Chapter #11: My Pretty Pretty Doll
By the time Zoro decided to drop by the girls' bedroom that evening, Nami's packing party had flourished into full bloom. Sanji and Usopp were busy boxing away the assortment of Nami's clothes while Robin's sprouting hands helped to roll her soon-to-be ex-roommate's bedding set out the door. The archaeologist herself of course, was sitting cozily in the armchair at the corner, sipping coffee with a serene smile on her face.
Their childish captain was ruthlessly banned from the girls' bedroom after he had proved to be more destruction than help. So was the panties- obsessed musician, for obvious reasons. The shipwright had offered to keep watch in the Crow's Nest.
Nami needed all the muscles she could summon at the moment. She didn't look pleased when Zoro's green head finally poked into the room. "What took you so long, Zoro? We gotta move all these boxes to my charting room by 8 so that I can have enough time to unpack."
"I like how you say 'we' like you are actually gonna be a part of it and then leave all the work to me and Love Cook." the swordsman commented, raising a sarcastic eyebrow.
"I can't move my hands!" She cried out, thrusting up her cuffed wrists towards his face.
Zoro was aware of that. Like Sanji he was starting to wrap his head around the idea of Nami in shackles—this made it a lot more difficult for her to hit him over the head.
"Quit upsetting Nami san and get moving, you lazy asshole!"The blonde cook yelled from across the room. Zoro shrugged: He was here to help anyway.
Just as he was about to bend down to pick up one of the boxes, Chopper dashed into the room and turned into Heavy Point to grab the swordsman by the arms:" Stop, Zoro! You are not supposed to do any heavy-lifting!"
He then shrank down to his small reindeer form and turned to Nami, his eyes watery, his tone accusing. "You should let him rest. He's lost a lot of blood."
Nami considered it for a moment. "Fair enough." She nodded, "You take Zoro's place then, Chopper. I need to talk to him anyway."
Ignoring the small animal's protest, the navigator managed to grab two fistful of the swordsman's white shirt with her tied-up hands and dragged him out the door. "Come with me, Zoro."
Zoro was nervous, to say the least. Whether he liked it or not, he would have to admit that he seemed no longer able to look at Nami in the same light since that unfortunate exchange between them. He had yet to figure out what the feeling was, but had known enough to know that couldn't be good for his training (or healing, as he had told Chopper).
He followed silently as Nami dragged him alongside the railing until she finally stopped. She seemed pleased with the secluded spot she had chosen for their "talk". His heart skipped a beat when he realized how close they were to each other and how far away they were from the rest of the crew.
"So?" He resisted the urge to step closer and did what he did best—playing cool. "What do you wanna talk to me about?"
The look on her face seemed somewhat obscure under the pale moonlight. "I plan on telling everybody what happened to me in that tea house. I mean, I did mention some girl did this to me but they don't know the details and they wanted to wait for you to wake up to hear it together. Besides," she paused for a second, "I want to run it by you first."
His eyebrows furrowed. "Why me?"
"Well, after what happened between us, I can't help but feel that you are a collateral damage in this melodrama." She looked at his bandage-wrapped midsection with guilt flashing in her eyes. "I guess…I owe you this, Zoro."
That sounded plausible. Zoro gave a nod of assent, willing her to proceed.
Nami hadn't expected that she would actually enjoy spending time with these people.
Sure, they still looked suspicious to her, but so far all they had offered was warm hospitality. Meticulously cooked food, exquisite wine, enjoyable conversations…it looked like Junya was the kind of host that believed in going to great length to entertain his guests. Nami actually felt bad that the he even assigned three of his daughters, namely—Haru, Aki, Fuyu, to wait on their table one-on-one. And Natsu, the girl who'd had a squabble with her earlier on the street today, was invited to join her and Brook at the dinner table since she had contributed greatly in the kitchen to make this delicious meal happen.
Maybe it was all the alcohol Nami had consumed made her head feel a little light, or maybe it was the fact that Natsu's food was almost as great as Sanji's, under the extravagant chandelier light the blonde girl's smiling face didn't look so annoying anymore. Nami decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.
"Truce?" She offered as she held out her glass.
Natsu thought for a second and then raised her glass too. "Why not? If I hated you that much I would have poisoned your food already."
The comment she made was playful and Nami found herself smiling in return. Their wineglasses clinked together in a toast.
After several rounds of bottom-up, Nami was impressed: This Natsu girl could hold her alcohol almost as well as she could herself. Maybe they did have more in common than she had thought.
"You know what?" She said as she bent slightly down, her hand reaching into one of the shopping bags at her feet. She fumbled within the bag for a little moment before her fingers touched the crisp smooth fabric of chiffon. She pulled the item out.
"Here." She handed the plum-colored blouse across the table, "I'm sorry my friend Brook scared you away like that. You love this shirt, don't you? It's yours now."
"…but you paid for it." Natsu looked hesitant. But Nami didn't miss the expectant look flashing in her emerald eyes.
"Just take it as a 'thank-you' for the delicious food you prepared." she added with a decisive wave of the hand.
The blonde girl's features softened at her words. "You are not…all bad." She mumbled.
Nami chuckled quietly behind her glass: The girl's reluctance to show gratitude did remind her of a certain sulky swordsman. "Well, you are not so bad yourself." She said.
They drank on for another round. The hostile atmosphere between them had been replaced by a much more friendly one. When Natsu's glass was empty again she suggested in a slightly girlish tone: "Hey, you wanna check out my kimono?"
Before both girls left the table Nami spared a glance towards Brook's direction. She might be a little tipsy but she was still vigilant. The skeleton looked like he was enjoying this dinner party…well maybe a little too much.
"Aki-san, I know I've asked this before, but— may I see your panties?" he questioned his waitress tonight politely.
"Give up already, pervert!" Aki hit the skeleton over the skull with the saucer in her hand and then explained cheekily: "If you really have to know, I'm old-fashioned*: I don't wear any delicates under my kimono."
"Yohohoho~~~! That is indeed very old-fashioned of you!" The skeleton laughed heartily, managing to have a nosebleed despite having no blood nor any nostrils to bleed with.
Nami sighed as she scrubbed a hand over her face. Well look on the bright side—at least he wasn't drunk. If anything funny happened she'd just yell. Even Brook could be trusted to protect her if real danger ever befell…right?
With that in mind she followed Natsu upstairs. The second floor of the Tea House had a simple lay-out consisting of 5 bedrooms. Aside from the biggest one that most likely belonged to Junya, the other four all had a sign hanging respectively on the door. They entered the one with the sign reading "Summer" on it.
Nami's breath caught in her throat the moment her eyes fell upon the kimono hanging neatly on the opposite wall from the threshold. It was a breathtaking piece of garment. The color of the fabric was one of an ocean blue that would make the ocean itself look pale, and the silvery wave patterns spread across the lustrous cloth only added to its delicacy and mysteriousness.
"Wow, that looks…expensive." That was indeed the highest praise from the navigator. She walked up closer; her hand itched to touch the smooth fabric despite herself, a dreamy glint on her chocolate brown eyes.
"Wanna try it on?" Natsu offered with a lifted eyebrow, "I remember your name means 'wave' in Japanese. This might be the perfect dress for you."
Nami had never been a big fan of kimono. As a pirate she usually preferred her outfits light and comfortable to move around in. But Sanji had complemented her enough on the several rare occasions that she did wear a kimono to let her believe that she looked good in one.
"M…may I?" She turned to look the blonde girl in the eyes, feeling a little self-conscious.
"We are the same size~" Natsu shrugged. "And you did just give me a shirt. It's only fair that I return the favor~"
The chirping of birds was what stirred Nami from her slumber. She sprung up in bed and was dazed for a moment since she couldn't recall sleeping in this bed in the first place.
Was it…morning already?
Her face flushed in embarrassment when she made out the silhouette standing beside the window encased in the morning sunlight. His silvery hair glistened with a shade of gold that made him look a little bit surreal.
"Good morning, Nami-san." The figure greeted.
"Ah…sorry Junya san, I must have fallen asleep in your daughter's bed last night…" Nami stammered as her head snapped from side to side trying to spot the said daughter but to no avail. "Ahh!" she exclaimed when realizing she was still in Natsu's (possibly very expensive) kimono.
"It was so rude of me~! I- I didn't mean to wrinkle this fine fabric!" Her hands frantically patted along the hem, "I should have taken it off before—" words died on her lips the moment her eyes fell upon her left wrist—her empty, Log Pose deprived wrist.
Junya, still standing by the window with his arms crossing over his chest, gave her a soothing smile. "The kimono looks great on you, Nami san. You should definitely doll up more often."
Nami sucked in a sharp intake of air, not because of his complement, but out of sheer horror. Something was off. Her hand reached slowly up to the back of her head. Her eyes widened in shock the moment her fingers brushed the extra weight of a ponytail there.
No, this can't be happening. She released a high-pitched shriek and hurried off the bed, making a bee line towards the dresser. The hem of the kimono almost had her stumble all the way, but that was the last thing she could care at the moment.
"No…"She couldn't believe what her eyes were seeing in the mirror. It wasn't her reflection. The girl looked horrified and dumbfounded back at her—
It was Natsu.
"No—!" She shrieked again, spinning on her heels to face Junya. Her voice was trembling with fear as she pressed: "…what did you do to me?! Where is she?!"
The corner of Junya's lips quirked up into a small smile. "That's enough warm-up, my pretty doll. It's time to set to work now."
The hint of teasing in his tone was the last straw for her to bear. She glared at Junya venomously, ready to charge at him with all her might. However, her arms hung limply beside her body despite herself; obedient words came out of her mouth against her will: "Yes, Father."
~000~End of Flashback~000~
Author's Note: Ah, poor Nami, I feel so terrible for what happened to you, although this all happened in my head LOL.
Anyway, I finally finished the flashback scene I'd been dreading to write. I'm sure there're still some grammar mistakes and other errors, but this is the best I can do for now :D
*it's always been an urban myth that Japanese women don't wear delicates under their kimono as a rule. Well I was quite suspicious of that so I did a little research. According to my source it is said that in Edo and Meiji time of Japan, most women went commendo under their kimono. It wasn't until the early age of Showa (around 1932) that the idea of wearing panties under kimono became widely accepted. My source might not be completely accurate so an apology to those who read this story and happen to come from a Japanese culture. I'm sure a lot of people around the world, by choice or not, still don't wear underwear as of today. So…no offense, really. :)
Feel free to enlighten me on this topic, I'm not a pervert but I'm curious. :P
Thanks for reading. R&R will be highly appreciated as always.