Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece or its characters
A/N: I said the chapter would be out in a few days but I didn't save when I did a major edit and had to start editing all over again *sighs*. And the editing wouldn't stop! But anyway. Here we have the final part to that oh so long Valentine's day. Hope you like. :)
After fleeing the Valentine dinner, a nauseated Nami stepped back on to the sunny in a not so lady-like fashion, kicking red heaps of fabric in front of her as she scrambled to get to the galley.
Inside the room, "Aaah,"a satisfied luffy sighed over his bloated stomach.
"That was good stuff," Franky said, from the bench in front of the counter, echoing his sentiments.
At the table, Zoro absentmindedly sat scratching his swollen bee sting, while wondering how Nami was doing with the crab legs.
"Zoro!" yelled Chopper.
"Hmm?" The swordsman looked up.
"Stop scratching!" the reindeer ordered from across the table, standing on his chair, his front hooves on the clothed dining table while he hissed at the swordsman.
"Don't worry so much, its f – "
"Fruit salts!" All eyes went to Nami as she stormed into the galley with her rustling hemline.
"What's up, Nami?" Usopp asked.
"Top cupboard on the right," Franky said over his shoulder, helping her out. Nami bundled her way over to the cupboard.
"Nami-san, are you alright?" Brook asked, the musician allowed a dinner break.
"Do I look alright?!" she yelled over the counter, causing the skeleton to jump in his seat.
"No you don't," Luffy bothered to mention.
"It's that lame sachets that you have to tear open," Franky said, retracting his small, mechanical hands.
As she grabbed the box of fruit salts from the cupboard, Zoro left the table and gathered his swords. Nami got a sachet and dumped it on the counter. She filled a glass with water and then tried to tear open the sachet. The navigator somehow struggled to get it open and was about to use her teeth when a calm Zoro joined her behind the counter and quietly took it from her. Nami looked up at him. "Crab legs," she muttered, in confidence.
"I know," he replied with a little smile. Zoro dropped the opened fruit salts into the glass and Nami stirred the fizzy drink with a spoon before gulping it down.
He watched, amused.
"Let's hear it, Nami. A nice big one," Franky said over his shoulder, when she finished her gulping.
"Shut up," she hissed, dumping the glass into the sink and resting her hands on the counter. Then the navigator helplessly let out one loud burp. Small to a man but big to a lady. The unruly boys in the galley broke out laughing at her expense. Zoro still only watched, silently, his one hand also on the counter. He wondered what her presence meant. Would she leave again and return to the dinner? Or could they be together now. "I need air," Nami mumbled and she moved passed him. Zoro wondered whether he should follow. But as the navigator passed him, he felt her left hand slip into his, for just a second, before it slipped out again and she headed for the door of the infirmary, not the door of the galley. Zoro had his answer.
"You should drink some more water, Nami. Maybe it will help," Chopper said to her as she passed him. But the navigator just waved her hand, vaguely, and left through the door. Zoro found Chopper looking over at him for some reason, and the swordsman took a clean glass and held it under the tap, filling it with water. He saw the reindeer smile with approval and Zoro smiled back, remembering what Chopper had said about Nami being happy when she was with him. Did that mean Chopper thought that he should take care of her? The guys in the galley were chatting loudly and no one seemed to notice when Zoro also headed to the infirmary door with the glass of water in hand.
Outside, Nami leaned over the railing, inhaling air. The smell of the sea wasn't exactly helping but the fruit salts and of course the burping had made her feel better. Behind her, the door of the infirmary opened and the navigator hoped it was who she wanted it to be.
"Oi," his lazy voice said. She smiled without looking around. "Chopper wants you to drink this." Zoro closed the door and came to stand beside her. He handed Nami the glass. She accepted it.
"Did you pour this?" she asked with a suspicious smile but Zoro didn't answer. He leaned on the railing with his elbows. "So... you going back?" he asked, not looking her way.
"No. I'm free," she said. "I got out, but not in the most graceful way." Nami took a sip and held the glass up in front of her. "Thank you, crab spider."
"Spider crab," Zoro said, correcting her, his eye on the sea. "And you're not the most graceful woman I know, so it's not surprising."
"Yeah, whatever," she said.
Zoro grinned at her defiance. "How did you explain your freakin' out over the crab legs?" he then asked.
"I didn't freak out. But I didn't have to explain anything."
"Won't nosebleed come looking for you?" he asked, wanting to know if she was all his now.
Nami shrugged. "Maybe not. I think he's fine as long as he has at least one woman to fawn over."
They were quiet for a moment, Zoro's eye on the dark sea, Nami's eyes on the glass in her hand. "So," Zoro said again. "What do people do on Valentine's night, besides eat crab legs?"
Nami answered his question by sliding closer to him until her bare arm was just touching his clothed one and Zoro snuck a glance her way. Her eyes were cast downwards, still focused on the water in the glass. It was the kind of thing Zoro liked. He didn't have to do anything and she'd come to him, seeking his closeness. It made the smile on his lips spread just that little bit more after already hearing she had left Sanji behind. Zoro enjoyed the closeness, but then...
"Damn bastards! What the hell do you want?!"
"Oi, Sanji, where's our desert?!" Luffy asked.
"Dammit, I forgot it in the fridge!"
"Oh, okay, I'll just ask Nami!"
"Hey! Don't bother Nami-san, you little shit!"
Nami sighed and Zoro groaned as they heard Luffy's sandalled feet running their way, forcing Nami to return to her previous spot, just as the captain made it round the corner.
"Nami! Sanji forg – "
"Yeah, Luffy, I heard," she said. She looked over to Zoro, who could only shrug.
"You're one of the only three who knows the combination." he said.
The navigator shook her head and followed their captain inside. In the galley, she made her way to the tall fridge while eyeing the males with suspicion. But they only sat quietly, none of them trying to sneak a peak as she unlocked it. With surprise, Nami laid eyes on the familiar desert. She pulled the plastic container from the fridge and put it on the counter.
"Ooh!" Immediately, Luffy stretched his arms, stealing handfuls of the treats before his crew members could get to it.
"Luffy! That's not fair!" Usopp ranted. The sniper, Franky, Brook and Chopper all stormed down on the container and Nami had to back away in case they'd blindly grab at her as well. Zoro saw what the treats were and rolled his eye. He started scratching his wound again.
"Zoro!" Nami's stern voice came from the other side of the counter. The swordsman stretched his neck to see past Franky. "Didn't Chopper tell you not to scratch!" she demanded.
"Yes I did!" Chopper mumble-yelled through his mouthful of dessert.
Zoro clicked his tongue and left the stampede behind, choosing to wait for Nami outside. He stopped next to the galley, the side overlooking the ocean and not the 'meadow'. It seemed more private than the spot behind the galley, where he and Nami had been before. Franky or Usopp might stumble upon them over there, while on their way to the engine room or Chopper might use the door to the infirmary. Zoro looked at the bare, wooden deck, dimly lit by light flooding through the portholes. He knew what he was giving Nami was not much of a Valentine evening. Nothing compared to what Sanji was offering with his clothed table and chairs, his candles and dinner with wine in his crummy little 'meadow'. But the swordsman knew his company meant something to the navigator, and so far their moments together had involved little gestures more than flashy ones. Their moments together. Zoro still couldn't believe that he and Nami did that – snuck off together, just to be together. After just being crew mates, for months on end, and barely speaking a few words to each other during an average day, their days were now filled with longing for each other. Their stolen moments were risky. It could lead to so many problems, but at the same time, it was worth it. He couldn't think of denying himself such moments with her. Now that she returned his feelings and he got to kiss her, touch her. Not having moments like that would drive him crazy – if he didn't get to be with her, sometimes.
In no time at all, Nami made it outside. Her hands occupied with items while she kicked closed the door of the infirmary with her heeled sandal. "Zoro?" she called, confused.
Nami went around to the side of the galley and found him standing by the railing. "Here, baka."
Zoro had a little ice-pack shoved against his chest. "I don't need that," he said, taking hold of it to keep it from falling.
"You know Chopper said it would help with the itching."
"How do you even know that?" Zoro asked, surprised, aware that she had been chatting to the cook when Chopper had said that.
"I heard Chopper say it over whatever Sanji-kun was saying." Nami waved her hand dismissively. "Now sit down."
Zoro liked hearing the first line but hated hearing the order. "Nami, just 'cause it's Valentine's day, don't think you can boss me around," he said, defensively.
"I have to order you to do it or you'll just keep scratching."
"That doesn't mean I'll listen to you."
"Okay, then you can sit here with your scratching and I'll just go sit with Sanji-kun," she said, nastily.
Zoro really looked like he would kill someone. Why did she have to bring the cook into it? "Then why don't you do that?" Jealousy was rearing its ugly head again. "Go sit with that flake and, by the way, enjoy the crab!"
"Fine, I will!" she yelled.
"Fine! Then go!" he added.
"Fine! You ill-mannered...caveman!" Nami walked away but not really heading anywhere specific.
"Bossy, witch," Zoro said under his breath, the ice-pack dangling from his hand. The navigator was about to take the corner and Zoro had an unhappy frown plastered on his face. "Nami!" Immediately, she stopped. "I'm sitting down, dammit."
Nami turned back, feeling just a tad regretful over her yelling at him and Zoro waited with just that little bit of remorse over shunning her concern over him. As she joined him, they made eye contact. "It's for your own good," she said, in what sounded like an apology. He groaned and slipped his swords off before he sat on the floor. There was just enough room between him and the lid of the fish tank; Nami sat down in that space, to be on his wounded side. She held a little container up. "Can you believe that Sanj - " She cut herself off, deciding to rephrase her sentence. "Can you believe this is the dessert?" she asked instead.
Zoro scoffed. "Doesn't impress me."
"Are you sure about that?" she asked in a seductive tone.
Zoro eyed the container with its two chocolate-covered strawberries. "How did you even get those, anyway?" he asked.
Nami shrugged. "There's another container in the fridge but those greedy idiots don't have to know about that." She put the container on to the floor and turned to him. The medicated ice-pack Chopper had frozen for him, lay beside him so she reached over his lap, taking it from the floor and her soft curls brushed over Zoro's face. He watched as she put the ice-pack over his wound and she sat back down next to him, holding it in place. "Okay, so I can't hold this and eat the strawberries at the same time," she announced.
Zoro managed to pick up on the hidden suggestion. "You've had enough sweet stuff for the day," he said, unconcerned.
"Oh please. You're just saying that cause it's something you don't like. But you forget that if I share it with you, you'll instantly like it," she said.
"I'll never like it."
"You liked it on the fountain," Nami said, biting on her lip.
An embarrassed Zoro scoffed again. "Whatever," he mumbled.
"Besides, you might like it very much, but you just don't know it yet," she said, matter-of-factly. Zoro glanced her way. "That's how it works sometimes, I guess," she added, looking the wound over, before covering it again. "You think you don't like something and you think you never will, but then a silly thing happens and you realise...you might like it just a little bit...and then you realise you might like it more than just a little bit." Nami knew she was rambling on but she couldn't help herself. Saying what she felt, felt good. She knew Zoro was watching her and she finally looked at him. Zoro cupped her cheek with his warm palm, stroking her skin with his thumb. Nami's heart raced. She let her cheek rest in his palm, ready for the kiss she felt was about to come. Zoro continued to look at her with intensity...then he let go and looked in front of him again. Nami felt like she had been flying in the air with the awaited kiss but now had taken a long fall and was still falling.
The reason Zoro had touched her was because her words had made him happy. He would gladly have smiled at her and kissed her but the swordsman had shied away from doing that. "So, what was this thing you discovered you liked and then found out you like even more than you thought?" he teased, instead, knowing she wouldn't admit to anything. He heard a little gasp from her.
"Nothing much," Nami answered with irritation. She lifted the ice-pack and slammed it back on to his wound.
"Oi, if you're gonna be that rough then you might as well stop worrying about my own good," Zoro protested but with humour in his voice.
Then Nami retaliated with her own endless explanation. "Zoro, if I don't do this then you'll just get on my nerves with your dumb scratching and – " Zoro huffed but Nami went on. " – I really don't have time for getting irritated," she continued. "because there are only so many hours left tonight and your scra -" Suddenly, Nami had a strawberry stuffed into her mouth by a very bold Zoro. It sat between her teeth, shutting her up and Zoro didn't shy away from her silent glare as he took hold of the stem and leaves on the top of the strawberry and pulled them off, leaving the strawberry ready for eating. Her glare softened as he leaned in and took hold of the protruding part of the strawberry, with his teeth, his lips brushing against hers, his tongue, gently licking her bottom lip as he carefully bit off half. An enchanted Nami was left with the other half falling on to her tongue. Zoro ran his fingers through her hair and pulled her head closer, giving her the kind of kiss she wanted - a strawberry kiss. Her half of the fruit sent a tingle through the depths of her mouth until it was chewed and swallowed. Then Zoro's warm tongue slipped in, taking over where the chunk of fruit had left off. His tongue played around with Nami's. But in no way was the kiss playful. Their eyes were closed as they tasted the creamy chocolate and the slightly stinging taste of the strawberry from each other's mouths. Zoro was the one to break the kiss. Nami's eyes remained closed. Her lips still parted from the most sensual kiss she had ever had. The navigator had begun to take mental notes of her most sensual experiences which were all happening in that one day and that, by far, had been the best kiss. Zoro smiled with satisfaction and planted a soft peck on her wet lips. Her eyes opened just a little as if having been awoken by the little peck. "Don't you dare ever shut me up agai - "
Purposely, Zoro covered her mouth with his again, still holding the back of her head. Slowly his lips melted with hers, over and over. "Shut up," he whispered over her lips, barely leaving room for those two words to be uttered.
Nami almost let the ice-pack slip from her grasp as she drowned in what surprised her so. Zoro's tender treatment of her. And Zoro enjoyed her reaction to his soft caresses, learning that he liked being gentle with her – sometimes. The kiss ended with their faces lingering close together.
"You're being very brave," she said in almost a whisper.
Zoro let go of her hair. "Not moronic?" he asked.
Nami shrugged and let out a little conceited sigh. "I guess not," she said with a hint of a smile and Zoro smiled back, his gaze not leaving her.
On the other side of the ship, Sanji could be heard yelling again. "Brook! Where's that shitty bastard?! He's supposed to play the music!"
"Hai, Sanji-san! It's just that the dessert was so lovely that – !"
"Whatever! Don't keep Robin-chan waiting!"
A sweet tune started flowing through the air and there was no more yelling. A breathless Nami tried to pretend her heart wasn't beating uncontrollably as Zoro's gaze wouldn't leave her. "Isn't it itching anymore?" she asked, lifting the ice-pack from the sting.
"It's fine," he simply said. It was now, anyway.
Nami wasn't happy with that answer. "Why did I even bother asking?" she said, exasperated.
"It's fine because of the ice-pack, okay?" he said.
Nami accepted his answer with a small smile and removed the ice-pack. She rubbed her chilled hand with her other hand to warm it up and Zoro noticed. He took hold of the hand and brought it to his lips, pressing her chilled palm to his warm skin, and causing Nami to look on with giddiness. The situation felt dangerous. His grip on her hand was dangerous as she was helpless to whatever he would do to it. She could feel the warm air escaping his nose as he placed light kisses in her palm and it made her want to giggle because every time he moved his lips to a different spot, it brushed against her hand, tickling her skin. But the kisses were so soft and warm. "Stop that," she was forced to say. The still breathless navigator's tone filled with girlish laughter.
"Stop what?" Zoro asked, eyeing her with mischief as he continued kissing her palm.
Nami stopped leaning against him and sat up straight. "That... it's ticklish," she said, laughing now. Suddenly she felt Zoro's teeth playfully grazing her skin as he eyed her. "Zoro!" she exclaimed, loudly, causing both of them to freeze. They stared at each other, wondering if someone had heard her shout his name. But after a few seconds of listening, they heard and saw nobody nearby and relaxed again.
"Stop being so loud," Zoro said, lazily, as he held on to her warmed hand.
"I'm not loud," she said with sarcasm. "I'm intense, fierce."
Zoro snorted. "Loud is loud."
"And lazy is lazy," she said.
"Oi, come on, Nami, you know you're as lazy as they come," he couldn't help but say.
"I don't have to do anything, I'm better at giving orders and the rest of you are better at obeying."
Zoro groaned. "Slow down there, woman. We already got into one argument about that tonight."
Nami snickered but then the remembrance of what night it was set in, reminding her to stay as close to him while she could. She leaned into him again. "The day went by so quickly." she said.
"It's not over yet," Zoro said, focused on the toy ring on her little finger as he ran his thumb over it. Nami noticed and watched his thumb stroking the stone.
"How long, Zoro?" she asked.
"How long what?" he asked.
"You know...was it before the separation?"
"Nami." He looked away. Again she was trying to find out how long he had had feelings for her. "I don't wanna...," he stumbled. "It's not important. It's just gonna make things worse."
Nami knew he was right. Talking about their feelings would only make it harder to push it aside when the time came. But she wanted some acknowledgement, some proof besides little gestures. She wanted words. She didn't care about his protests or what was best, she wanted to say something to him, especially with his insecurities where Sanji was concerned. Nami took a deep breath before talking again. "I..." she said. "I – " She pushed herself up to look at him. Maybe that would help get the words out. Zoro turned his head with caution. A frown, clear on his brow, his mouth, obviously open. "I...these moments with you..." she finally said. "They're...not so bad." Nami ended up confused because she had meant it to sound a little better than that. Zoro still frowned. He had nothing to say. What was he supposed to say? Moments with you aren't bad either? It just didn't feel right. Even though being with her felt very right, saying it, didn't.
Nami gnawed on her lip. 'What did I just do?!' she yelled at herself. "Dammit! It's your fault!" she suddenly whisper-yelled and Zoro's brow raised with surprise. "You just had to go tell me about your dumb arms. Now I'm saying dumb things!" she hissed, embarrassed.
Zoro avoided her eyes when he spoke. "I know you wanted to say what you feel – " he suddenly said in a serious tone, looking down at the ring again." – but words aren't important. We're stuck with each other. That's that."
Now Nami raised her brow. Stuck? It was not the most romantic declaration of his feelings but it got the point across. "That sounds gloomy," she said. "It's only gonna get worse, isn't it?" Zoro didn't answer. Nami recalled what Robin had said about how their feelings for each other could still cause problems. Zoro's jealousy over Sanji was one prime example of that. Nami didn't want to bring it up, didn't want to threaten what little they got to share together. But she had to. "Zoro, what we're doing...could still cause problems," she said. "You didn't exactly hold back this afternoon. I think even Usopp noticed how angry you were."
Zoro looked ahead of him. He could control many things but two things remained beyond his control. One was his need for the few stolen moments he could have with Nami. The other was his jealousy over Sanji's right to be around her, near her, on any given day. Nami continued. "If you can't control that, then.."
Zoro frowned. "Then what?" he asked.
"Then I don't know, maybe it would be best if we didn't - "
"Ero-cook should get over himself and stop expecting things," Zoro threw back when he realised what she was suggesting.
"Zoro, do you know... Stop being threatened by him!"
"Threatened?!" Zoro repeated with disgust. "You're close to him, woman, whether you admit it or not. You two spend a whole lot of time together. You never argue. He puts up with all your crap and takes it with a smile."
Nami felt her blood boil. "Yeah, he puts up with my crap and throws himself at my feet but you're the one I... " Nami angrily pushed herself on to her feet, which wasn't easy with her thick hemline.
"Where you going?" Zoro demanded, still holding on to her hand.
"Nowhere. Let's dance, moron," she said to him.
"What?" he asked. "I don't dance."
"Get up." She grabbed the hand that held on to hers and pulled.
With a huff, Zoro stood up. "I said I don't dance," he growled. But Nami guided his hands to her waist.
"Just hold me," she said, pulling him to her, her voice, a little shaky.
Zoro took her into his arms and there was silence. Nami held on to him, needing reassurance that what they had wouldn't end and Zoro tried to remind himself of what they had when they were together. Something that should, rightfully, stop him from being insecure, but it didn't. The 'dance' turned into a hug, a desperate embrace. Beside them, the seawater calmly moved as if keeping pace with the romantic violin music playing in the distance. Zoro sought out her lips in the dim light and pressed his lips against hers, his arms tightening around her as he sought the same reassurance she did.
In the 'meadow', Sanji and Robin danced elegantly under the watchful eyes of the captain, the sniper, the ship's doctor and lingering by the railing on the upper-deck, the resident shipwright. Nothing but the beautiful raven head capturing the cyborg's attention. Then Usopp bowed, respectfully, at Luffy and said, "Shall we dance?" in a sophisticated voice and the captain happily took his hat off and returned the bow.
"For sure," he said.
"Taa da da...da daaa da daaaa," they hummed along with the violin music as they performed a rather ungraceful version of a classic dance. Chopper joined in with the dance by jumping on to Luffy's shoulders.
Sanji's temper, once again, was pushed to its limits. "Excuse me, Robin-chan," he said and took a few steps away from the raven head. "Will you shut the hell up, you loud bastards!" he yelled. The yelling startled the skeleton who thought he was being scolded again by the temperamental cook and for a moment, he went off key, a sharp screech emanating from his violin. Usopp and Luffy bravely pulled their tongues out at the unseeing cook, continuing with their dance – minus the humming. "Robin-chan." Sanji lead the raven-head back under the marquee where they would finish off their time together with some more wine and conversation, but...
"Well now ain't this just so adorable," an unfriendly voice said from quite a few feet away. Sanji's head shot to the side without the cook looking directly at the man who had just spoken behind him. Robin saw two men joining the speaker, flanking him on either side.
On the upper-deck, Franky frowned as he recognised who the men could be. Luffy, Usopp and Chopper ran over to the railing and Brook let his violin hang at his side as they all observed the three strangers. Zoro and Nami were oblivious. All they knew was that for some reason Brook had stopped playing music. Nami arms were around Zoro's neck, her eyes cast downwards as Zoro rested his forehead against hers.
"What's it to you?" Sanji asked next to the table where Robin sat, still not looking at the men. He lit a cigarette.
"Well, nothing." The leader said with a laugh and glimpsed at his brothers. "Just, you strawhats are a bunch of romantic pirates."
"Yeah," said his brothers.
Sanji frowned over the man's statement as he took a puff and slipped his lighter back into his pocket, knowing that the only other crew members the brothers had come across were Nami and Zoro. "What the hell does that mean?" he asked. Robin watched him intently.
"Hey, look, I'm only stating the obvious," the leader said. "Look at you with your little tuxedo, your tablecloth and your silverware. You're so classy. I thought pirates were only supposed to steal such stuff. Or did you steal those? HaHaHaHaHa!" He laughed and his brothers joined in. "Is this what pirates do?"
Sanji dropped his cigarette on to the grass and trampled it into the dirt. "Excuse me, Robin-chan," he said and turned to the men. "Shouldn't you bastards know what pirates do?" he asked. "You are bounty hunters, after all."
The elder brother looked irritated now. "Hey, we didn't bother with pirate scum when we were part of the marines," he said.
"The marines?" Sanji scoffed.
"Yeah, we had just finished our training and those idiots stuck us on a base where nothing ever happened. All we ever did was look out and no one ever showed up. Then we left those blue-scarfed fools and their rules and, lucky for us, we met a guy who was selling three devil fruit no one wanted, for next to nothing. We said, what the heck, and here we are – The Pest – "
"Oi! You bug brothers!" Luffy called from the railing of the sunny.
"Hey, we're "The Pestilence Brothers, strawhat!" the offended leader yelled.
"Oh, you changed it," said Franky, catching their attention. "Sounds a little better."
Nami and Zoro were startled out of their intimate embrace when they heard Franky's voice above them. Frowning, Zoro went around the back of the infirmary to see who the cyborg was talking to, with Nami in tow.
"It sounds a lot better!" they heard familiar voices yelling.
"The pestilence jerks," Nami muttered. Zoro headed to the railing but she pulled on his arm. "There are enough strawhats to deal with them," she whispered, trying to keep her and Zoro's presence a secret. Zoro stayed with her and they remained hidden behind the infirmary, observing the goings on.
"Oi, Luffy," Usopp said with worry, tugging on the angry captain's arm. "If you're gonna pick a fight with them then do it down there. I don't wanna have bees and...lo-lo-lo-locusts up here," the sniper complained.
"Hmph." Luffy nodded, sternly. "Oi! You guys wanna fight or what?" he asked.
Before the brothers could reply, Sanji interrupted. "This fight is mine, Luffy. These shitty bastards interrupted a blissful evening I was having with a beautiful lady."
"Okay, Sanji, but grind them into the dust," Luffy said.
"HaHaHaHaHa, the leader laughed yet again. "Now the cook's telling the captain what to do. What a bunch of lame pi – ."
"You're making fun of the strawhat pirates," Sanji interceded the man's words and the brothers fell silent. "And that means you're making fun of Robin-chan and Nami-san as well," he added, calmly.
"Uh-yeah?" the leader answered, sarcastically and his brothers laughed again, even though the brothers were not up to speed on the names of most of the crew.
"Kick their asses, Sanji-kun," Nami muttered.
"I don't trust this," Zoro said.
"It's too easy," he said with a deep frown. "I don't think it's just the three of them. They would know better than to face all of us after what happened in the town."
"Yeah, but remember, they didn't do their homework. They didn't even know how strong you were. I think the pests are so uninformed," she said with a cheeky grin. "Sanji-kun alone can take them down."
Sanji had fury bursting out of him in flames at the man's statement. "You bastards! I won't have Robin-chan and Nami-san insulted. Especially not on this day!" he yelled, running at them. The brothers immediately released swarms of pests, simultaneously, from their palms, not waiting around and showing off as they did with Zoro – their first ever attempt at capturing a pirate. And now they tried a different strategy with their second attempt.
Usopp and Chopper looked like they were going to be sick when they witnessed the attack. "Gross," they muttered.
"Yuck," Franky muttered to himself.
The locusts headed straight for Sanji to disorientate him. The mosquitoes following to distract the cook and finally the bees to take him down but Sanji dropped himself on to one hand and spun kicked, easily knocking the locusts away with his swift moves. The flimsy mosquitoes stood no chance with the intense force his spinning legs threw their way and finally the bees had more stamina in them, seeking out the cook's face and neck. "No freakin' pests are gonna ruin my looks on this night!" Sanji hissed.
The brother's mouths hung open. There was no mysterious blue light here, no lightning. Just a ridiculously strong and swift pirate. They now understood why he was referred to as 'Black Leg' and not the reason they had thought – that the pirate cook had a dead, wooden leg. Their spawn came back, hitting their fronts and the distracted brothers themselves were disorientated, blocking their faces with their arms. Sanji leaped back on to his feet and ran again. The brothers actually saw him coming and couldn't do anything but watch as one strawhat pirate, alone, took them out. Sanji leaped into the air. He kicked them repeatedly, the brothers not able to see or think, only feeling painful blows as they didn't know where they were anymore and with one final swipe of his long leg, the three went flying into the air to land somewhere far in the distant trees. The sound of breaking branches and rustled leaves, audible.
Usopp dropped his chin on to his palm. "Jeez, those guys need to practice more... or just go get a normal job," he said.
On the railing, Luffy sat laughing, uncontrollably.
Sanji straightened his jacket and bow tie. "Dumb bastards," he muttered. "Brook!" he then called.
"Uh, hai, Sanji-san!" the skeleton answered from the lawn deck.
"Play, Brook." Sanji turned to walk back to the marquee. "I need to forget that stupid interruption," he muttered, then he laid eyes on a smiling Robin as she sat, in the glow of the candles, waiting for him. "Robin-chwaan!" he cheered with open arms and sprinted over to her. The image of a beautiful woman waiting for him, consuming his whole being. On the upper-deck, Franky groaned, and behind the galley, was nothing as Zoro and Nami had returned to their 'Valentine' spot, the moment Sanji had gone into action.
Romantic music, once again, flowed through the night air. "Seems the fight is over," Zoro mentioned as he looked down at Nami. His back against the railing. The navigator was busy shifting aside part of his yukata to uncover the heart-shaped sticker.
"I wonder who won?" she said, her fingertips almost touching his skin as she revealed the sticker. A very vague smile appeared on her lips when she saw her name again.
"Maybe nosebleed," Zoro said as a joke, watching her and taking in her features while she wasn't looking.
"Not even Valentine's day goes by without something happening to this crew," she said. "This might hurt a bit. The glue is really strong." Nami hadn't had much of a party removing hers before taking a bath, earlier. The navigator was sure a very red blemish still stained the skin of her hip. As she attempted to remove his sticker, Nami was forced to put her hand on his peck and couldn't help taking in the feel of his soft but firm chest. She feared her face would betray the pleasure travelling through her body, and it did. It was all too obvious to the swordsman and he grinned a little at the effect he had on her, before he snorted at her warning of pain. Why would a little sticker hurt – ? "The freakin' hell!" Nami had swiftly pulled the sticker off in one go.
"Zoro!" She quickly covered his mouth with her free hand. But it didn't really matter as Franky had decided to wait on the lawn deck until the Valentine dinner – which he detested so much – was over. Chopper was still happily hanging out with the silly Usopp and Luffy while they continued their interrupted 'dance'.
Zoro and Nami glared at each other before she boldly stroked his wounded skin, wanting to soothe it. Then she smiled. "You'll have to make up an excuse for that, in the morning," she said cheekily, assuming the spot would turn red.
Zoro glared at her while she covered the area with his yukata, but then his wandering eye strayed down to her right hip. The navigator smiled again when she noticed that. "It's not there anymore," she said in a whisper, referring to her sticker which Zoro knew would have to be removed next. "I took a bath and had to move it."
"S-So where is it?" he asked, trying not to sound too interested. Nami touched the pose to his chest. The swordsman's glance shifted to it. He took hold of her wrist, examining the pose.
"Very good," she said. Nami moved the pose and underneath it was the heart-shaped sticker.
Slowly, Zoro pulled on it, trying not to hurt her but then Nami opened her mouth. "Yes, like that. Good job, Zoro," she said, teasing. And Zoro gave the sticker one fast pull as she did with his. Nami gasped with pain.
"What do you wanna do with this?" Zoro asked, looking down at his name stuck to his finger.
Nami snatched it off his finger, then turned her back to him. Carefully, the stickers were stuck together, back to back.
Zoro noticed what she was doing and quirked an eyebrow. "We doing a ritual now?" he asked.
"Yes, you did say we're stuck together," Nami said with plenty of sarcasm but was clearly embarrassed. Zoro smirked. She came to stand next to him. "I don't just want to crumble it up and throw it away." She rested her elbows on the railing and looking at the stickers, one last time. "I know they're just little pieces of paper and they're evidence – " She laughed.
"Evidence," Zoro turned to face the sea as well. "Evidence of what?" he said, teasing, resting his elbows on the railing and watching her.
"Shut up," Nami said.
Zoro continued to smirk. "So what are you gonna do?" he asked, finding her girlish cuteness amusing.
Nami shrugged. "Just drop them into the water." She held her hand out over the water, the two stickers, joined together, resting between her fingers, about to be released into the ocean. Zoro's smirk vanished as he took in the symbolism of their names being joined together and tossed into the ocean. "They won't tell anyone, will they?" Nami said, joking.
With a quiet smile, Zoro shook his head. Nami liked that smile. It was so quiet and warm. She had to pull her eyes from him to release the stickers. The little breeze in the night, didn't do much to carry away the released hearts and they dropped on to the water, in a matter of seconds. Nami and Zoro looked to their left as the red stickers floated, patiently, on the dark water. Nami frowned. "That better not still be there in the morning," she muttered, squinting, the stickers looking like they were not going anywhere.
"Hmm. Would have worked better if the ship was moving," Zoro said.
"Yeah," she agreed. Silence lingered as they remained by the railing. Nami glanced at Zoro again, wondering what to do next. She couldn't just kiss him the whole time. Even though that was very tempting. But that could lead them to where a lot of couples ended up at the end of a Valentine's evening. Nami gulped. She had proven, very well, how weak she could be in his arms. They could try to have a conversation. But that could end up in an argument. One of them would, inevitably, end up saying the wrong thing. They couldn't talk about their feelings either. That would just be no good. She didn't want to start blabbering like an idiot again and not talking about their feelings was for the best. So what was left?
Something caught Nami's eye. She went over to his swords. Zoro saw her pick up the white one. The navigator held it in her hands. She had held it before but never alone and never looking at it the way she did now. It was shorter than her combined clima-tact and much heavier. She turned to him. "Tell me about this sword."
Zoro blinked. He came over to her and slowly took it from her hands, his eye, cast down on it's sheath. Nami waited as he only stood in silence. "It's okay, you don't have to tell me," she said, backing away, feeling a little awkward like she had asked about something that was none of her business. Swiftly, Zoro leaned over and grabbed her wrist, stopping her. Still he said nothing. "You already had it when I met you and I just thought...you could tell me something about it," she explained with caution. With one hand, Zoro held the sword and with the other, he held on to Nami.
"You really wanna know?" he asked, looking her in the eye.
"Yeah," she said, wondering what the big deal was. Zoro pulled her to his side, by her wrist. For the first time, he felt really close to her. No one of the crew had ever asked him about the sword. And he never ever would have thought Nami would be the one. A glimmer of a smile was visible on his features. Nami could clearly make it out in the dim light. "Why are you smiling?" she asked with a little laugh.
"Nami." He said her name as if he had just heard it for the first time.
Again she laughed, his gaze making her feel shy as she wondered what was going on in his head. "That's my name," she said, playfully.
"It belonged to someone... someone I made a promise to," he said, looking down at the sword. Suddenly, his mood turned sombre. "A promise to be the best."
Nami blinked, her smile disappearing. "The best swordsman?" she asked.
Zoro nodded. "I wasn't the only one who wanted to be the best. She wanted to be the best too."
Nami stopped breathing. "She?" she asked, her voice a little weakened now.
For the first time, since joining Luffy's crew, Zoro uttered her name to a fellow crew mate. But it wasn't just a crew mate. It was someone he cared about like no other. "Who's... Kuina?" Nami asked.
"...Was," Zoro said and he seemed to be somewhere else for a moment as Nami stared at him. "Kuina passed away, a long time ago," he continued. "She was just a young girl."
Nami tried to swallow her sudden discomfort at hearing about a girl who had meant a lot to Zoro. It was obvious in his tone. Nami had never heard him sound so pained before. He seemed so different. It was as if she didn't know him at all. It was just a little more than she already didn't know about him. And yet it was so much more. And he was telling it to her. "You...never mentioned her," she said. "All this time."
Zoro looked over the dark ocean then at her. "I didn't have to," he said, quietly, and lifted the sword. "We had the same dream but she couldn't go after hers."
"But...she was...a woman," Nami said. Not one to speak up on the limitations of females but the navigator saw the reality Kuina had found herself in.
"Yeah," Zoro said. "Kuina fought a never-ending battle, just like I did. But because of a different reason. She was a girl and she knew that would hold her back, one day. But to me, she was that someone I couldn't beat." Zoro looked down with a smile. "I wanted to win a duel with her, just once."
"Why?" Nami asked.
"Cause I never could. Kuina was older than me, just by two years. But naturally, she was stronger, faster. I wanted to prove my skill against her. And she let me." Zoro leaned his back against the railing, looking at the sword. "One night, I challenged her to a fight with real swords." Zoro gave Wado a toss and caught it again, with a firm grip. "She fought with this one - Wado Idimonji. I lost, again. But I made her promise with me that we would both try to be the best, one day. Kuina knew she probably would never stand a chance because she was a woman. But she was my goal and I made her promise not to give up. To keep fighting for her dream."
Nami looked at the sword, realising its importance to Zoro. "So you're doing it for her too," she said. "You want to keep your promise and accomplish your dream in honour of her. That's why you have her sword." It was silly, but Nami felt envious over a girl who had died years ago but who had made such an impact on Zoro's life. His whole dream revolved around not only what he wanted but what she had wanted too. But Nami smiled. "You gave her a reason to keep trying," she said. "And now she's still with you."
"Hmm?" Zoro looked at her, puzzled.
"You still have her sword. As far as I know, almost every sword you've ever owned, since I've known you, has been destroyed."
Zoro groaned but then he smirked, amused. "Your superstitions," he muttered. He unsheathed the sword, looking at it the way only a knowledgeable swordsman would. Nami's eyes trailed over the blade as well. She could never understand the fascination with swords but she could appreciate it, respect the power they held, because of Zoro. "It's one of the O Wazamono. One of the best swords in the world – the strongest," he said with a swordsman's pride. Slowly, Zoro re-sheathed it and Nami's glance shifted to his face. How many more things didn't she know about him? He never spoke of his past to anyone. Or even spoke much about anything. Nami only smiled, because he had just shared something very personal with her.
Quietly, Zoro returned the sword to its place against the wall, while Nami remembered what she had done to that sword, as well as some others. She remembered kicking it to him, she remembered causing him to almost lose it. Again, her breathing seized. Zoro came up behind her and she gulped. "You should really hate me," she said.
"Why?" he asked, confused.
"Oh, nothing," Nami muttered, gnawing on her lip.
Somehow, Zoro figured out what she was talking about. He rested his one elbow on the railing and faced her. "Oh," he said in a judgemental tone.
Nami grimaced under his glance. "If I had known..."
"What? You would've carried it to me?" he asked, dragging the torture out just a little bit longer, referring to when she had kicked it to him. "In your defence, I think that would have been a little difficult at the time. You were hurt and in trouble. And you were, supposedly, trying to keep me out of trouble when you...dropped it over that railing," he said.
Nami flinched at the mention of what she had done. "I really have an unpleasant history with it, don't I?"
"I'm sure you can get along," Zoro said.
"You not gonna hold a grudge?" she asked.
"I can't, woman. I have to leave room for future grudges. I don't know what you'll do to me next," he said.
"It's not all bad," she said with a cheeky smile. They fell silent as they looked at each other. Then Zoro pushed his body from the railing and came to stand close to her. They didn't break eye-contact, feeling a closeness they hadn't felt before. Zoro shifted some strands of hair from her shoulder, with his fingers, and Nami felt so small and helpless as he did that. Her whole body tingling with the feeling as the hair moved over her skin. Butterflies fluttering in her stomach with him standing so close and looking into her eyes. Nami wanted to ask him why he told her about Kuina but she kept it to herself. Maybe one day she would ask him, when such questions could be asked. Zoro bent his head and kissed her, softly, his hand trailing over her neck and on to her shoulder, finally sliding down her arm. Nami wanted his lips to travel as well but accepted that that would be too dangerous. As she kissed him, she felt a stronger bond with him and she expressed her happiness at how he had opened up to her - exposed his deepest feelings - by touching his cheek, softly. Nami wanted to do the same but her story had already been told. Her past laid out and explained. Their lips separated and Zoro put his forehead against hers. Feeling a closeness with the navigator he knew would haunt him for the next day and the days to follow.
With Zoro's soft caresses, Nami found herself feeling sleepy and would have liked nothing more than to cuddle up in his arms and drift off to a peaceful slumber – with him. But such a thing, she couldn't have. Then she was startled from that feeling as she lost her balance and suddenly, was swept off her feet as Zoro lifted her into his arms. Nami tossed her arms around his neck, holding on tightly, her head pressed to his cheek, even though she wasn't afraid of falling. And even though the space he was carrying her was a mere five feet. He carried her back to the spot they had sat before and to her amusement, he slid his back down the wall as he lowered himself to the floor, ensuring he wouldn't have to let her go as he sat down. Nami giggled all the while. As he settled down, she found herself exactly where she had wanted to be, cuddled in Zoro's arms. She slipped her arm from his shoulders and rested her head on his right shoulder. Zoro held on to her, taking in the feeling of her body pressed against his. She was really there with him and he wanted to have just a few minutes of quiet time with her. Just to close his eye and rest and have her with him. "We better not fall asleep here," Nami said, breaking through his distraction, and he smirked without opening his eye.
"Don't worry, I'll keep you warm, if we do," he joked.
"Not funny, Zoro," she mumbled. Nami lifted her head from his shoulder and looked at him with his closed eyes and his peaceful expression. She brought her hand up to his face. Softly, the navigator touched his forehead with her index finger. Zoro frowned and wanted to move his face. "Sit still," Nami said, just as softly. Zoro obeyed and, gently, she slid her finger down his forehead, over his now relaxed brow, down the bridge of his nose. Then over the tip of his nose, over his soft lips and finishing off with his strong chin as she studied the outline of his face. Every part of his features appealed to her. Nami had never just looked at him that way. Never just concentrated in the strength that lay in that face she knew so well and yet, didn't. The navigator slipped her hand over his left cheek and then, she stroked her thumb over the long scar running from above his brow, crossing over his sealed eye-lid and stopping at his cheekbone. Zoro's other eye opened and he turned his face to her with surprise, without looking directly at her. Nami guided his face further to the side and she kissed his scarred eye.
They remained like that, for a moment with Nami's warm lips on his eye as she wished she could keep him safe and not have to face another day of Zoro being Zoro and risking his life for whatever reason. The navigator felt her heart ache. She cared too much for him to want to admit to herself but the pain said it all. Nami moved her head back and Zoro met her gaze. She kept her hand on his face and stroked his cheek now. Nami felt emotion well up in her. Her feelings felt intense. Her need to stay with him – to be near him – almost claiming her whole being. How could he have crept into her heart that way? He was Zoro, and what they had was just supposed to be some little thing. Maybe just an attraction, a crush? But Nami found herself asking a question...Did she love him? It was a question she had never wanted to ask herself. Each day she spent as his friend, his crew mate, she kept that question away. Not wanting to answer it. Because It couldn't be. She couldn't be in-love with him. Being in his arms, sitting with him so intimately, the question was asked and almost, simultaneously, it was answered. Nami felt sadness overtake her and she tried to hide it. She closed her eyes and softly kissed him, still holding her hand to his cheek. But try as she might, to push the thought away, the undeniable proof was there. It was in the way she kissed him. It was in the feel of his skin against hers, in the shiver the warm touch of his hand – as it held on to her wrist – sent through her body. Nami knew she loved him.
Zoro wondered how he would get through his days without little things like that, while he kept her hand on his cheek. Little things such as Nami trying to keep him warm, Nami grabbing his hand and leading him with her. Nami looking for him so she could be with him. Nami tending to a little thing as a bee-sting. Nami suddenly being soft and tender. Each time they snuck off to be together, he learned something more about her. Realised how much she actually cared for him. After the kiss, Nami snuggled her face into his neck, scared over her feelings but also feeling so safe and contented. The way she could only feel in his arms. A little smile formed on Zoro's lips as he held her, closely, and he rested his face against hers, his eye closing again.
In the distance, Brook continued his sweet music, making the whole crew settle down, even the youths as they just listened, enjoying the romantic atmosphere along with those who actually were sharing romance.
Nami sighed, wondering what time it was. In the distance, she heard seagulls and knew she'd have to get up to make her cup of coffee and show Zoro she was thinking of him. Her arm felt cold. Nami found it strange that she wasn't wearing her pyjama top and tried to grab the sheet to cover her arm but no matter how much she tugged, she couldn't pull it, also...it felt different. She realised she was tugging on whatever it was she was wearing. The navigator opened her eyes to make sense of everything and to find her sheet when...
Nami saw skin in front of her. She assumed it was her arm and yet when she moved her arm, the skin remained where it was. Then she felt her head was being moved by something and it hit her, the skin belonged to a chest. A chest that lifted and receded as whomever it belonged to inhaled and exhaled. Then her hazy eyes made out the scar. "Zoro," she whispered with a dry throat. Nami lifted herself on to her elbow to get a look at him. Why was he lying on the floor? Was he hurt? Did something happen? She instinctively put her arm over him as she looked at his face with concern. Zoro's arm slipped off her back and Nami realised what had happened. Zoro groaned and his eye opened. Slowly it focused on her.
"Nami," he mumbled. "Nami?" he asked when confusion took over his unclear mind. "What's going on?"
Nami pushed herself up into a sitting position followed by Zoro, the swordsman rubbing his hand over his eye as Nami sat beside him, still dressed in the dress Sanji had bought for their Valentine dinner, her hair still styled although roughed up now. "We fell asleep," she said with a gasp.
Zoro yawned and rubbed the back of his head. "Hmm?" he moaned.
"We fell asleep," she repeated, working her way onto her knees, her ruffled hemline making her look very clumsy as she got on all fours, struggling to find her feet without trampling on to the large amount of fabric. Zoro stood up as well and stretched. Nami moved to the railing and eyed the two rooms where their crew mates still slept, soundly. She was stunned. It wasn't Valentine's day anymore and there she and Zoro were, still together. "How could we sleep?" she asked, shocked and upset that the night had been wasted...with sleeping.
"Obviously we were tired," Zoro mentioned.
Nami shot him an irritated look. "I know that...but..." she trailed off with disappointment.
Zoro knew what she meant. "We didn't say goodbye," he said.
"...It's too late now," she answered with a weak voice.
"No, it's not," Zoro said with a frown, picking up his swords.
"Yes, it is," Nami insisted. "It's too late."
Zoro slipped the swords into his sash and came to stand by her. "Nami, stop making a big deal about it. There's no law that says we can't say goodbye now."
The navigator turned his way with a bitter smile. "Yeah, there isn't," she said. " – but there isn't a law telling us to walk away and yet we do it. And we hold ourselves to our own rules. It's not Valentine's day anymore," she hissed and walked away.
Zoro huffed. It all felt so ridiculous but it was what they had kept to – their unspoken rules. And more than anyone else, the swordsman knew about sticking to rules. He knew about discipline. "Nami," he said, before she put too much distance between them.
She stopped and wildly scratched the back of her head, not caring how she was messing her hair up further. "What, Zoro?" she asked, turning to him.
"If we don't say goodbye properly..." He trailed off, tapping his fist on the railing. "We have to end it right."
With a pained expression, Nami allowed her emotions to show. She knew he was right. She knew she couldn't walk away from one last kiss, one last embrace. After some hesitation, she walked back to him. Zoro's hand lightly grasped on to the railing and his other hand reached out to her. She walked into his embrace and they held each other, tightly. "This is starting to become an ugly habit," Nami complained, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Hmm." Zoro's nose was in her hair again, his eye closed. Silence fell over them as they quietly held each other. Then Zoro turned his face to find hers. His lips touched her temple and Nami looked up. She met his gaze and they kissed.
Nami put her hands on his cheeks, touching his face, then his hair with her fingertips. Their kissing was aggressive but it was gentle at the same time. Kisses expressing their need for each other but also expressing the finality of it all. The ending of something they had to walk away from - again. After they stopped kissing, they kept their foreheads touching. Nami moved her hands to his shoulders as she nuzzled her nose against his. "Why do I always have trouble walking away from you?" she asked with dry humour.
"Not my fault if you want me bad," he joked, but without a smile.
"Get over yourself, I don't want you bad," she retaliated, digging her fingers into his shoulders but then. "I don't wanna let go," she muttered.
"Why not?" Zoro asked, knowing she wouldn't reveal anything.
Nami glared at him. "You're still doing the dumb teasing?" she growled.
Zoro smirked. Humour was the only way he could see both of them getting through what was an unpleasant situation. The only way to get back to normal. To switch back to what they were supposed to be. Friends with a generous helping of hate mixed in.
Nami grabbed on to his yukata and lifted her chin with a fierce look in her eyes. Zoro's lips actually parted with surprise when she looked like she would yell. "Listen up, moron," she said, her face right in his. "Next time you go saving Luffy or doing anything life-threatening, you better take care of yourself. I don't want any dumb offers to slice off your legs or getting hurt when I'm not looking," she ordered, very fearful of him ending up in danger when she couldn't do anything but be a friend and look on.
"Nami, I'll be fine. I'm not making any promises. That's that," he said with a frown.
"Zoro – " she hissed but her voice was filled with defeat, weakened by her lack of control over him.
"You know I'm not making a promise like that." He avoided looking at her. "What if it's you I have to save?" he asked, frankly, his fingers, digging into her back.
Nami blinked as her eyes remained on his face. She had nothing to say.
"You can't expect me to just... stand there," he added, turning his gaze to her again. "Especially not if you ordered me to." Nami shook her head and grabbed the back of his neck with her hands thinking that she just had to go and choose one of the most reckless men in the world to care about. She pressed her forehead against his chin.
Zoro felt her nails scrape into the back of his neck, rather painfully. "Ow, Nami," he protested and Nami realised what she was doing. She stroked his injured skin with her hands, a look of regret and frustration on her face as she looked at him. Zoro squeezed her tighter to him and kissed her, comforting her the only way he knew how. It was their last kiss.
When their lips parted, Nami's hands slipped off his shoulders and Zoro released her. To separate their bodies, she took a few steps back. But she couldn't leave him yet.
"Walk with me?" she asked and held her hand out to him. Zoro looked down with surprise but then lifted his right hand and she took it, pulling him with her, just as she had the day before. Nami turned around, placing his hand on to her waist as they walked. Zoro didn't pull her against him as he had at the market. They walked, not too slowly but not too fast, either. They took the corner of the galley, crossed the balcony, then they went down the stairs and finally, crossed the lawn. That lawn that always seemed a long stretch of grass, but that moment, all they saw were the stairs getting closer too quickly. Nami still had her hand on his, keeping it on her waist, but just as they were reaching the foot of the stairs – leading to the women's-quarters, she felt his hand slip out of her grasp as Zoro moved away. He headed for the ropes of the crow's nest and Nami continued up the stairs, alone, each step taking her further away from that thing that sometimes seemed like just a dream, that time that allowed her to be with him. She didn't look over at him as he walked away but Zoro looked over his shoulder, just as he reached the ropes, and watched her enter her room and close the door behind her.
The swordsman lingered by the railing for a moment, trying to regain his senses. He had a whole day ahead that would involve facing the rest of the crew and he had to snap out of his sombre mood. Zoro felt a little itch on his chest. But it wasn't his bee sting. He shifted a part of his yukata away to reveal the red blotch Nami had left behind with her heart sticker. Zoro rubbed over it with his fingertips. Was it some kind of strange example of her leaving a mark on his heart? Zoro shook his head, answering his own question. The navigator had left an invisible mark there long before she ever knew of his 'waiting arms'. And he believed that since, he had left one too – on hers. But instead of the thought making him smile; his expression was sombre. Nami's words came back to him. That it would only get worse. He knew that it would. He was becoming more possessive over her. Wanting to claim her, make her his and keep dumb cooks away from her. Zoro felt the first minutes of the beginning of their long separation starting and his chest ached.
It never used to hurt. Not when he first realised he had feelings for her. He had been safe then. No one had known how he felt about the navigator and he could suppress it, ignore it, bury it. But since she had found out and she had started to return his feelings, the pain had come, making the longing worse. He had given in to what he wanted, he had allowed himself to grab any stolen moment he could have with Nami. And so a bond had grown between them, making him a victim to his feelings. Zoro knew their bond was only growing stronger. Nami was a part of him, whether he openly admitted it or not. His heart belonged to her. It had for a while already. What Nami really felt for him, he didn't know, but standing there by the railing, the pain of separation returning to him, the loss of having her by his side, encompassing him, he knew he loved her. The realisation only brought sadness to the swordsman, while he looked on into the distance as the sun slowly showed its head over the horizon, inevitably marking the dawning of another 'ordinary' day.
In the women's-quarters, Nami tip-toed around, changing out of the red dress and into her blue bathing robe. She pulled the toy ring off her little finger, standing with it in front of the dressing table mirror for a long moment, before she stored it in her jewellery box. Nami felt some resentment as it was one of the last pieces of evidence of what was going on between her and Zoro, that had to be removed. She also wasn't too happy with having it lie there whenever she'd want to get a piece of jewellery from the box, constantly reminding her of what she couldn't have. Another storage place would have to be found for it, later. Nami gathered fresh clothes for the day before making it out of the room without disturbing a sleeping Robin, who, unbeknownst to her, happened to be awake. As soon as the door closed behind Nami, Robin sat up in her bed, aware of what the navigator had to be going through.
Outside, Nami crossed the lawn as she did every morning before the crew awoke, and up in the crow's nest, Zoro lay on the bench, awake, with his one hand under his head. That morning he wouldn't seek out a glimpse of her and knew she wouldn't be making herself available, either. Nami returned to their 'Valentine spot', beside the galley, to fetch the two deserted items on the wooden floor. The container with its remaining, uneaten chocolate-covered strawberry and the ice-pack, now just a bag of soft gel. Once she had them, she immediately fled the spot. It was just another part of the ship, but to the navigator, it was too soon to return there. Every moment she and Zoro had ever spent together on the sunny remained with her. And every time she went to those places on the ship, memories flared up. Nami knew she'd spend most of that day hiding from them.
She entered the galley, but unlike all the other mornings, the navigator didn't make coffee and she had no intention of going out to the balcony to look up at the crow's nest. Instead, Nami put the container, the ice-pack and her clothes on the counter and she sat down on the red bench in front of it, wrapping her arms around herself while she stared at the dining table. The table with its eight chairs, and the bench she sat on, as well as the couch against the wall. Enough seats for the whole strawhat crew. Even room for the monstrous Franky and room for extra nakama. Nakama. That word they all called each other. Because that's what they were to each other – friends. Friends who looked out for each other when it counted. Where the strong would protect the weak without question. And that kind of friendship and trust was more important than a fickle thing called love,... wasn't it?
A/N: So that's it for Valentine's day. Yay! Can't believe I finished it! I ended up making myself feel ill from making Nami feel ill, but I solved that quick... with chocolates:P. Gosh, those 'Pestilence brothers are lame. I enjoyed having them as my first attempt at creating devil fruit users though. And yes, I know everything involving them was lame but I needed to do some fighting scenes and... yeah well, lol. I'm aware that Wado Idimonji played a part in three different stories I put up in a space of two weeks but that was purely coincidental. ^ ^
Thanx for reading. :)
C-Nuggets N.L.: You wanted her to kiss and stroke his scar. I hope you liked the scene.
Thanx to everyone who have voted and told me what they want. Please vote, if you haven't yet. I agree fully with those who have said an ending would be too premature. This is the only story I'm happy with adding on to and not ending. Dragging out the pain but giving them their stolen moments too:). Sort of a story of how they can't be together but stay loyal to each other. But, of course, most of my readers would have to be on the same page as me. If I had to, maybe I'd stop it at the end of the year with another mistletoe chapter. Kind of finishing it where it started – with their first kiss. Or the kiss could just be another stolen moment;). Who knows.
B'Bye now. :)