Scene Two: Blind, Stubborn Strength

"4,019... 4,020... 4,021... Shit."

No matter how much he tried, the weights just weren't helping anymore, not even a little. The burning in his arms and chest no longer served as a distraction from the danger in the cabin just yards away from where he stood. She was suffering in there, dying even. And no amount of his strength could change that fact. Yes, becoming the greatest swordsman in the world was his dream. But what good is that title when it can't do a thing to save her?

"Shit." His arm fell to his side, heavy with his training weights. "I can't do a damn thing. Fucking useless."

With a harsh crash, the massive weights fell abandoned against the wood of the ship, and Zoro made his way down to the main cabin, ignoring the exhausted, inquisitive glances given by the rest of the crew. Even Usopp managed to keep quiet about the newly-made hole in the ship. All of them, much like Zoro, troubled themselves with small distractions around the Going Merry, unable to truly rest. So they all took turns watching Nami one at a time, while the rest kept themselves busy outside of the cabin in order to avoid causing a disturbance. And now it was the swordsman's turn to watch over her.

As he walked, his boots thumped against the stairs. The frigid night blew unforgiving winds against his bare chest, but the heat of his exercises kept the chill from taking his mind away from troubling thoughts. Still, he breathed a sigh of brief relief entering the cabin, allowing the strong walls to shield him from the biting cold.

"Your turn to take watch outside, Luffy," he grunted, teeth chattering slightly in a belated response to the outside weather.

Luffy's head rolled over in his chair, and he choked on a snort in response. Silence ensued, as well as a lack of movement from the captain's limp body.

"Hey Luffy, did ya hear me?" With a jerk, Zoro pulled on Luffy's shoulder, rough enough to send him flying back on the chair.

Luffy's limbs flailed about, and he let out a strained screech as his head smacked against the floor. He jumped to his feet and glared at the swordsman, his hand wiping the drool from his chin. "What's the big idea? I was having a nice nap!"

"That's the problem, you idiot captain. You're supposed to be watching her, not sleeping!"

Luffy cocked his head to the side and scratched his head, clueless as usual. "We don't have to watch her that closely do we? It's not like she's gonna die."

Zoro folded his arms against his chest and sighed, too impatient to deal with his captain's ignorance. "Idiot, didn't you hear what Vivi said? Nami is dying; that's why we need to find a doctor."

His patience continued to grow thin seeing the confusion on Luffy's face, and he shoved his captain up the stairs in a hurry. The screech was a disturbance enough, and their navigator needed to rest. If nothing else, he'd make damn sure she got as much sleep as possible. With Luffy out of the cabin, Zoro picked up the chair and pulled it up to the bed, settling himself in it to check Nami's temperature. He rubbed his hands together in an attempt to bring them up to room temperature before touching them to her forehead, which was beaded with sweat.

Same as last time, too hot for comfort. Grimacing, he watched their navigator struggle to breathe in her sleep, her chest rising and falling in erratic patterns. Genuine worry welled up within him, seeing her in this vulnerable state.

"I asked him to rest, you know." A voice just audible enough for him to hear broke through the stiff tension. He looked down and stared into Nami's tired eyes, which were still filled with commendable determination. "You can go ahead and sleep too, I'm nothing to worry about." She gave him a half-hearted smile, wrought with concealed pain and struggling.

He closed his eyes and scoffed. "You're more of an idiot than he is, worrying about others when you're the one dying."

Returning his scoff, she shuffled beneath the tight covers. "Says the guy who's already been on the brink of death at least once," she grumbled, eyes flickering to the deep scars running across his chest. "And out of sheer stubbornness and useless male pride too." Her lips curled into a jeering smirk as she watched him with half-lidded eyes.

So frail and weak, so unlike the usual conniving money fiend that she was. It wrenched his gut to see her body on the verge of giving up, despite her impassioned spirit, almost reminding him of how Kuina looked after the accident.


Zoro shook his head and frowned at his feet, refusing to allow himself to make the comparison. Nami still had time; they would find a doctor and save her before... Before nothing. Nothing was going to happen to her. Their navigator would be as good as new, as if nothing ever happened, and they'd set out to Alabasta again to help Vivi save her country. It was a simple plan, and it was going to work.

"Seriously, just go take one of your hourly naps. I'm not going anywhere."

"Just shut up and keep resting, noisy woman."

He heard her huff. "Fine, fine, I'll do what the big muscle man says." The end of her sentence trailed off into a murmur as she turned away from him, pulling the covers over her head, as if to hide her weakness from him.

The pair fell quiet and tense, each hoping the other would fall asleep so they could worry alone in peace. But both were too stubborn, and neither allowed themself to fall prey to the lull of sleep and sweet dreams. Knowing this, Zoro felt his irritation build, and it grew heavier, hearing Nami's shallow breaths quicken between coarse coughs. He realized that she couldn't sleep even if she wanted to.

"Dammit, you're not allowed to die, you know that?" he growled, turning around on the chair so that his back faced the bed. He didn't want her to see the worry in his eyes. "We'd never let you leave like that."

First a dainty snort, then the sound of shuffling beneath the covers. "Of course I'm not gonna die. You think I'd let you all off your debts that easily? Especially you—I'm definitely not going to die before I squeeze out every last beli you owe me."

He couldn't tell how long it'd been since he last heard that smile in her voice. That greedy, snarky, commanding bark that made it feel like nothing at all was wrong in the world, except for the money she wasn't making. For once it was a comfort to hear her speak that way. "You're going to make it, Nami. We're going to Alabasta together—all of us."

A short pause followed. Not even the sound of her wheezing or groaning could be heard in the still darkness. And then she whispered. "Thank you, Zoro."

End Scene

A/N: I am so far from reaching the timeskip in the anime... I have, like, three hundred episodes to go before I get to see Zoro and his sexual scar and his sexual beefed up chest and gah. I need a mop.

This scene is set during the Drum Island Arc. I almost ship Vivi and Zoro, but then I have her with Leader in my head. And I never knew how hard it was to keep Zoro in character... He ranges from idiotic to stoically encouraging to downright silly, as far as I've seen in the show. I mean, he swings on vines and yells like Tarzan in the Skypiea Arc. IDON'TEVENKNOW, GO AWAY.

Please read and review. c;