hey. so. it turned out really long and took forever. whoops.


Part 3

It was late in the night and Nami was still awake, trying to hurry and finish one of her maps - but she couldn't really hurry, per say, because things like making a map took time and care. She could finish it tomorrow, but it felt like choosing not to scratch an itch. It only stayed in the back of her mind until she tended to it in lieu of going crazy. So it couldn't be helped, that she'd lose a couple hours of sleep. That was fine. It was worth it.

With everyone having gone to bed, the silence was thick. So when the doorknob clicked as someone turned it, the sound rocked her out of her concentration, and her eyes shot upwards. Usopp slipped in the room and quietly closed the door behind him. They stared for a moment before he smiled at her, tentatively, and upon seeing that, Nami grinned back at him, feeling something close to relief. And that's all it took.

"I didn't want to bother you…" he started as he walked over, a sketchpad tucked under his arm.

"But you decided to anyway," she finished for him, and he looked worried, like maybe he'd turn tail and run. "I'm glad you did, though."

Usopp's shoulders slumped. He set the pad of paper on her desk and walked around it to look at her map. It was another thing they had in common - having skills that they'd taught themselves when they were children.

"You've been up here all night working on this," he said, stating the obvious.

"Well, it's a big island!"

"Is that…" he trailed off, leaning over her a bit to look at the map.

"Yeah, it's Alabasta. I never got around to doing it and, I dunno, I thought tonight would be a good night to finally tackle it and make a permanent copy." She pushed Usopp back out of her way, hovering over it to study it herself, re-evaluating her own work. Though it was perfect.

"I have to confess something to you," he said suddenly from behind her.

Nami's stomach dropped and she turned to look at him, her face blank, though her heart started to pound, which made no sense to her. "Er… what?"

Usopp took a deep breath and looked away, explaining, "I stole some of your books about making maps. I mean, I put them back, so I didn't really steal them or anything. I just. Well, I thought you should know."

Nami exhaled the breath she'd been holding and rolled her eyes. "Did you at least find them interesting?"

"No. Not at all. I don't know how you like that boring stuff."

"What do you mean, boring!" she half-shouted, though she was starting to smile again.

Usopp scuffed the floor with his boot. "Well. I like drawing things that're alive. And maps are just so … They're like math."

"I like math!"

"Figures," he snorted. "Anyway, I stole them for a reason. Look," he said, walking around the desk again and grabbing his sketchpad. He ripped a page out of it, which surprised Nami, but Usopp had always been that way with his art. He would often decide he didn't like something, despite what others thought, and would tear the sketch out of his book and crumble it up and throw it away. He didn't seem to get too particularly attached to his creations, the way Nami treasured her maps, but then again, he did have some sketches that he kept. Not that anyone hardly ever saw what they were.

Nami took the page he was offering her and looked at it. And grinned.

"It's a map."

"I know it's a map, dummy," she said, rolling her eyes. "It's a terrible map, but it's …" she looked at it closer. It was messy and it wasn't precise at all - anyone following a map like this would've gotten lost immediately. But something about it looked familiar.

"It's a map from Syrup to Cocoyasi," he supplied.

Her lips parted, though she said nothing. She didn't know what to say, really.

With her lack of a response, Usopp hurriedly explained, "I know it's bad, but I thought… you know, if you were bored one day or something… I don't know, you could maybe make a real one for me."

"For you?"

"Well, yeah, I'd like to have something like that. Not that I … think we'll be the sorts of people to return to our small towns and live out our lives there - that's much too lame for members of the Pirate King's crew. But I thought… Oh, maybe if we were separated one day or if something happened… I just thought it'd be a nice thing to have. Since they're not all that far from each other." Usopp's rambling was disgusting and charming. His cheeks were red and Nami loved it.

"Sure," she said nonchalantly.

"Maybe one day when we're too old to sail anymore, you can come draw a real map of Syrup. I don't think anyone ever has, it's such a small and unimportant island."

Nami smiled for a second, but it faded soon after. There was a bit of silence, which Usopp couldn't understand, so he sat on the corner of her huge desk, out of the way, and waited. His heart was hammering in his chest and he couldn't fathom why.

"Is it a good idea for me to go to Syrup?"

Usopp pursed his eyebrows together. "Why wouldn't it be?"

"Don't you have someone special there already? I wouldn't want to intrude on that sort of thing."

Usopp stared at her for a minute, his face blank, until he put the pieces together. "Oh. Oh! You mean Kaya?"

"Who the hell else would I mean, genius?"

Usopp chuckled and popped his neck. "She's not you."

Well duh, Nami thought. Of course she isn't me. "I thought you were in love with her?" she asked, feeling like… it was pretty obvious, right?

Usopp tapped his chin while he thought about it. "I guess if I were really all that in love with her, I would've stayed there instead of following you out to sea."

Nami thought to herself, But your dad probably loved you and your mom and he still left, didn't he?

"She was beautiful. And I did want to … well, she was beautiful. And she was nice to me. And rich. But I think, in the end, I just liked seeing her smile. I mean, I knew it might be years before I saw her again when I left. Hell, I know it's probably more likely that something on this damn sea'll finally kill me before I see her again."

"Don't say things like that."

"Don't you think about it?"

And there was silence once again. Nami looked back at her map, and Usopp's eyes followed hers. He knew she had to think about it sometimes. If anyone was going to die for any reason… it would most likely be one of them. It took so much less to overpower them than anyone else on the ship. Even Chopper had survived being shot several times. Usopp and Nami probably wouldn't live through something like that. And there were a lot of guns and worse on the Grand Line.

"I don't like to think about it. There's no point in thinking about it," she finally said.

The truth was that it popped into her mind with every battle. Every fight. It wasn't so scary when Sanji and Zoro were fighting. Chopper and Franky could easily hold their own too. And Luffy went without saying. But Usopp and Nami were both distance fighters, and when something did get close enough to hit them… Nami had seen it several times - Usopp getting rocked by someone and going down in just a few hits. There were times Nami thought he was dead. He should've been dead. But she would never put words to those thoughts.

"I guess you're right. But I can't help it." Usopp looked over at her, pulling his sketchpad into his lap. He opened his mouth, but he couldn't speak. What he meant to say was, I worry about you sometimes.

"I know," she said. "But we've got no choice but to keep going, so there's no point in dwelling on it." She eyed his sketchpad. "So," she said, wanting to change the subject because it was hurting her chest, "what've you drawn in that thing?"

Usopp's eyes widened and he looked down at his lap. He felt like he might start sweating. "It's… well, uh, I draw a lot of things."

It was a very thick pad of paper. If Nami wasn't mistaken, it had lasted him several months at least. It might've been the one he'd always had. "Like what?"

"People and animals, mostly."

"Do you ever draw me?" she asked, and suddenly, she wished she hadn't… because she knew that he would draw members of the crew sometimes. She'd once glanced over his shoulder and her throat had tightened at seeing a beautiful sketch of Robin.

Usopp had dreaded this possible question as soon as she'd started putting attention on his art. His mouth went dry. His grip tightened on the book.

"I understand if you don't," Nami began, pushing her hair behind her ear and looking back at her map, as it seemed more and more interesting now. "I'm not very -"

"All the time."

Nami stopped and stared at him, and he looked anywhere other than her.

"All the time," he said again in a voice barely above a whisper.

And there was Nami's heart again, beating into overdrive. "Well can I see them?" she asked after few seconds of comprehending what he'd said.

"Hell no!" he shouted, though he didn't mean to raise his voice so much.

She stood up, and he immediately followed suit, backing away as she stepped closer. "Oh, c'mon," she said, getting that look in her eyes like she was going to get what she wanted regardless of what anyone said about it.

"No!" he repeated, glancing to the door. And without warning, he darted to the exit at full speed. But she was faster. She was always faster.

As soon as he got the door open an inch, she slammed it closed again with her foot, grabbing his arm and yanking him away. He stumbled a couple steps and glared at her, and she leaned up against the door, smiling sweetly.

"Why won't you let me see?" she asked, her voice innocent and curious.

His knuckles were white, his grip was so tight on his sketchpad. "Because they're awful!"

"I'm sure they're not that bad!" she laughed as she stalked closer. He hugged the collection of sketches to his chest. "I want to see them," she whispered into his ear, standing on the balls of her feet, her chest pressed against his now. Usopp felt like he might throw up again.

"Please don't make me," he whispered, but her hands were sliding down his waist.

"Just let me see them," she said into the skin on his neck, and her hands pulled their hips together. Her fingers crept upwards again, to his shoulders, and they slid down his arms to his hands. He was frozen, like a statue.

"N-n-no… S-s-..." He took a breath, "Stop it," he mumbled, and she smiled against him as she gently slid the sketchpad from his loosening grip.

As soon as she had it in her possession, she laughed in victory and rushed over to her desk, sitting down and opening to the first page. She had set the sketchpad right on top of her map.

Usopp remained where he stood, watching her with his mouth hanging open.

Nami rested her chin on her hand as she leaned on her elbow, flipping through the book. The first member of the crew she found in there was Zoro. She raised her eyebrows and looked up at Usopp, who looked pathetic, standing there in the middle of the room. "Zoro?" she asked, hiding a smile.

"He stays still a lot. He was the easiest."

Oh. That made a lot of sense. There was Chopper, and Sanji, and Luffy, and… her. She found a drawing that was obviously her, but it wasn't quite spot on. But she kept turning the pages, and found she popped up more and more. And the sketches got better. Eventually, he had learned to capture her quite well. And as she turned the pages further, Nami found drawings of her in situations that she knew she had never been in. Usopp had drawn her from memory, putting her in his own scenes.

She was sitting with Luffy, laughing amidst her Mikans. She was standing at the edge of the ship with Sanji. She was laying down and tanning with Robin. As she went to turn the page, a hand appeared. Usopp pressed against the sketchpad, keeping her from looking further. He stood over her, his face serious now.

"You can see the rest some day."

"Was that a lie, or are you really gonna show me? What, you got something to hide?" she teased.

He shook his head and took her hand, guiding her up from her seat, and he gripped her shoulders and kissed her so hard that she teetered a bit on her feet.

His lips brushed away from hers, and then his mouth moved to her cheek, and her neck, and back up to her ear. "I haven't lied to you in a long time," he said quietly with a cracked voice, and she shivered, her hands moving on their own to his hips. She nodded silently. He bit her ear, tongue against lobe, and her stomach dropped. Where did Usopp learn to do these sorts of things? Where was this bravery coming from?

And then she remembered that he was good at being caught in front of a terrifying foe, and gathering his courage despite his whimpers and cries, and he would always eventually throw himself at the impossible.

Usopp pulled her a bit, walking her around to the side of the desk, and he gently pushed her against it so that she had to sit on it. Then he started kissing her again, and she could feel his mouth open, so she parted her lips with him and there was his tongue, warm and wet and finding hers. A tiny sound found its way out of her throat and she could feel his entire body responding to it. With some sort of urgency, he pushed her back, and she swept all the little things sitting on her desk to the side, laying her back against the wood, and he climbed on top of her. His whole body was trembling, but he wasn't stopping.

The surreal feeling overwhelmed her again and she craned her neck, inviting Usopp to it, and she shivered with him when she felt his tongue against her flesh.

"Who taught you to do these sorts of things?" she asked, her eyes on the ceiling as he kissed and licked and sucked so gently against her throat, his hands wandering down to her waist.

"These are the things I've wanted to do to you for a while now," he told her, and even his voice was shaking.

She grinned to herself and closed her eyes. So Usopp had another hidden talent. He wasn't good at very many things, but the things he could do, he could apparently do quite well.

He pressed his pelvis down against her as he moved back up to her lips, sighing heavily against them, and she felt just how much he wanted her as he was grinding that desire into her thigh through his loose, baggy pants.

His tongue and the way it moved was becoming familiar to her, like they were learning the steps to a dance together. He pulled away again, and she opened her eyes to find him staring down at her. But it was only for a second. He shifted, pulling down the neck of her shirt to kiss against her clavicle, his nose shoved up against her skin, and then she felt his teeth gently pulling at her flesh as he tasted her and she accidentally groaned again. She thought she felt him grinning.

And then an awful, terrible sound intruded on Nami's ears. Two short raps at the door. Two distinctive knocks.

"Shit!" she whispered frantically and shoved Usopp, hard, and he lost his balance and fell off the desk, landing with an "oof!" on his back, the air in his lungs audibly escaping - all as Sanji walked in the room.

Nami had already known it was Sanji. He always knocked twice like that before he entered the room. As he stepped in, he was already singing her name, but as soon as he laid eyes upon what was right in front of him - Usopp falling to the floor and Nami sitting up quickly, looking terrified - he dropped the cup of coffee he'd brought her.

"Nami! What the hell is your…" Usopp groaned as he started to sit up, only to freeze as he heard the coffee cup crash to the ground and saw just who had walked through that door.

Nobody said a word or moved a muscle. The coffee was steaming on the wood floor. Glancing back and forth from the spilled drink to the cook, Usopp slowly stood up, staying bent over a bit so Sanji wouldn't see exactly what state his lower half was in, and also because getting the wind knocked out of him had really hurt.

Sanji's eyes were wide and his jaw was set. The cigarette in his fingertips had been snapped in two.

"Um…" Usopp began, taking a few steps to the side, pointedly away from Nami. "Sanji, I was just… we were-"

But he was cut off as the cook took several long strides across the room and proceeded to kick Usopp into the bookshelves.

"Sanji-kun!" Nami shouted, jumping up off the desk and running over to put herself between the two of them, because Sanji didn't look like he was finished.

"You son of a bitch!" Sanji screamed, trying to manhandle Nami out of his way as gingerly as he could, but she was stubborn, practically throwing herself again him. "We all trusted you, you little shit, and you-"

"Sanji-kun, no! It wasn't like that, he wasn't…!" Nami shouted over him, but he didn't hear a word. It wasn't until Nami pushed him back with all her might that he finally took his eyes off Usopp and looked back at the woman in front of him.

"I wanted him to…!" she said, breathing heavily. "He wasn't… He wasn't doing what you think!"

"Then why the hell did you push him off you like that!" he yelled at her, and it was the first time in his life that he'd ever yelled at her.

Nami slapped her forehead. "Because I knew it was you coming in and I didn't want you to see! Obviously!" she screeched.

"I'm okay," Usopp groaned from behind her, coughing and rolling onto his side, curling in on himself as he attempted to breathe normally again. Sanji had gotten him good, right in his stomach.

Sanji's blue eyes stared them both down, and silence hung over them with only the sound of Usopp's heaving breaths cutting the air.

The cook narrowed his eyes at the navigator and he furrowed his brows. "If this shitty Longnose was-"

"He wasn't! I told you! Are you fucking high? It's fucking Usopp!" she shrieked.

"Hey," Usopp said in a cracked voice, unsure of how he should feel about that.

And again, for another thirty seconds or so, there was silence as Sanji glared. He lit a new cigarette and took a long drag off it. And then, abruptly, he turned on his heel and walked across the room, shoes crunching over the broken ceramic of the coffee cup, and right out the door, half-slamming it behind him.

Nami looked back at Usopp, who was pushing himself up into a sitting position, holding his gut.

"What do we do?" she asked quietly, and his eyes lifted from the ground to her.

"You think I know?"

Grunting as he struggled to his feet, he went and grabbed the trash can from under the desk, hunched over as he walked. He moved towards the broken cup and started throwing away the bigger pieces of it.

Nami retrieved a towel that she kept in her desk drawer in case some idiot spilled her ink - because she certainly never would - and she started trying to mop up the coffee that was spreading out all over the floor.

"Okay," Usopp said quietly, trying to carefully pick up the smaller pieces, "Here's what we do."

Nami stopped pushing the rag around the floor with her foot and looked over at him.

"We go down to the Soldier Dock System, and I take the mini-Merry to the nearest island and try to live out the rest of my days peacefully."

She kicked the towel at him.

"Well, I don't know what else to do!" he said, finally looking back at her.

Nami glanced down at their attempt at cleaning up. (Were they starting a habit of cleaning secret messes together?) It was good enough for now. She could make Usopp really mop the floor tomorrow. "Let's just go to bed and figure it out in the morning," she sighed.

"Go to bed?!" Usopp nearly shouted, grabbing the coffee-soaked towel and standing up. "I sleep in the same room as him, I'm not going in there!"

"Then sleep in here!" she fired back. "There's no point in going after him now when neither of us knows what to say! Or how he feels! He's only going to be pissed tonight. It's better to wait until the morning after he's calmed down."

Usopp didn't have a retort for that. It did make sense. Nami walked by him and over to the desk, pulling out a few small candles and some matches. She lit all of them.

"You really want me to sleep up here?" he asked, putting the trash can back where it belonged.

"You have any better ideas? You said you didn't want to sleep in the boys' room. You can sleep wherever you want, I was just giving you a suggestion."

He looked helplessly around the room that he had spent less than an hour in total in all their time on the Sunny.

"Okay," he said simply, going to sit in the chair. Nami's chair.

She went over to him and leaned against the edge of the desk next to him. In a single movement, she bent down and kissed against his temple. "We'll work it all out and explain everything to him in the morning."

"He's probably going to kill me. He's probably planning how to do it right now. Did you see his face?"

Nami smacked his shoulder. "Idiot. He's not going to kill you."

Usopp rubbed his eyes, looking miserable. His stomach hurt. "So what are we going to explain, exactly? What is this going on between us?"

The navigator looked to her lap. "You tell me what's going on between us, because I don't know."

"… I told you I've never done anything like this before! You think I, of all people, have this figured out?" Usopp looked out the dark windows of the observation room. "The only thing I can think to do is to throw myself off the side of the deck."

"You big coward," she snorted.

He was quiet for another minute, and she assumed he was daydreaming about different ways to avoid Sanji's wrath. But she was wrong.

"I like you. I want to keep doing what we did earlier. A lot. As often as possible. And I want to spend all my time with you, even though you scare me. I like being around you." He looked away as the words spilled from his mouth.

After a brief pause, she said, "Okay."

"Okay?" he asked.

"Okay," she confirmed. And with that, she slid off the desk and walked towards the exit, turning off the lights as she went. The glow of the candles lit the room.

And Usopp found himself suddenly alone.

He sighed into the silence and picked his sketchbook up off the desk where it'd been left. Beneath it, Nami's map was, thankfully, unharmed. Flipping through his sketches, he arrived at the place where Nami'd left off. He turned the page.

The next page was a drawing of him and Nami together, smiling, shoulders touching with beers in their hands. It was the only self-portrait in the entire book. He didn't much like drawing himself. He'd rather draw things that were beautiful. But this… this had actually happened, and the particular memory was so fond, he'd kept it in his head with as much detail as his brain could hold. He hadn't drawn it right away because it'd happened quite a while ago - before they'd entered the Grand Line. But it was after Luffy had defeated Arlong, and Nami was so happy, and the two of them were so excited to be free in their own sense of the word for the first time.

He hadn't been good enough back then to draw the scene properly, especially without a reference. So he'd practiced and practiced and maybe he'd fallen in love with her by the time he was finally able to draw it, he didn't know. But it was so private to him, he'd worked on it only whenever he was alone, and it'd taken quite some time to finish. He'd gone over it in ink and everything, to make it more permanent.

It was by far the most detailed and complete thing in the entire book. But he wasn't ready for her to see it yet.

Usopp hid his sketchpad deep in one of her desk drawers, on the off chance that someone else found him up here and tried to look at it. Unlikely, yes, but he was paranoid about its discovery, especially now.

Standing, he grabbed a candle and went to one of the bookshelves. Robin's section. The whole crew had their own collection of books, save for Luffy. But Robin's section definitely contained the most variety. She owned so many more books than everyone else. Even Nami's collection couldn't compare.

He plucked one from the shelf and went back to Nami's seat, settling down. He read for several hours, sleep eluding him. His nerves wouldn't let him relax. And he kept reading to keep from thinking about what'd happened, and what it all meant.

The sun had begun to pour in the windows when Nami silently entered her office again. She found the sniper slumped in the chair, his chin on his chest with an open book in his lap, his boots propped up on the desk.

Nami snorted as she picked up the book and looked at it. It was a love story. Usopp had gotten about halfway through it too.

Setting the book to the side, she leaned down, paused, and then shook his shoulders wildly.

"Usopp!" she hissed in an urgent tone.

His eyes snapped open and he nearly leapt out of his chair. "What?!

Grinning at him, she informed him that, "Breakfast will be ready soon."

Usopp looked very much like he wanted to go back to sleep, possibly forever. Sitting up straighter, he stretched out his extremely sore muscles - why hadn't he just laid on the floor or something? - and he grunted as the joints in his back popped. And then he opened an eye and Nami was still there, watching him.

"So," she began, realizing she'd been caught staring. She went to straighten the items on her desk, as they were still knocked around from last night, "are you going to man up and come to breakfast, or are you going to starve as a coward?"


She rolled her eyes and kicked the chair a little, jostling him. "Oh come on. He's not going to … It'll be fine." In all actuality, Nami desperately wanted him to come, because she sure as hell didn't want to face Sanji alone.

"What're you going to tell him, then?" Usopp asked, crossing his arms over his chest. There were bags under his eyes. He looked so tired and defeated, like he'd put together that last night wasn't all just a dream. She felt the same way.

Nami finished putting everything on the desk back into place and put her hands on her hips. "I'll figure that out later. Right now, we should eat breakfast."

Usopp stood, lingering by the desk. "What if he, uh… What if he tells everyone?"

The navigator folded her arms over her chest, chewing on her lip in thought. "Then we'll deal with it then."

The sniper shoved his hands deep in his pockets, but he still didn't move from where his feet were anchored.

"Oh, come on, you big baby! We've fought a warlord and God and the World Government, and you're afraid of this?"

He nodded hurriedly. So she walked over and hooked her arm around his, pulling him gently, giving him a few reassuring pats on the chest. She felt as sick as he looked, but if they faced it together, maybe it wouldn't be so terrible. Usopp didn't resist her touch, and he wrapped a hand around her arm, giving himself an encouraging nod.

Once they were finally out the door of the navigation room, Nami pushed him down the stairs. He would still have to enter the kitchen before her.

As they reached the galley, Usopp took a few very deep breaths, looking back at Nami. "If he kills me instantly, I want a proper burial at sea."

"Shut up!" She shoved him through the door, waiting a few seconds before entering herself. And her eyes widened a little at the scene in front of her, because it was the strangest thing she could imagine.

Everything was totally normal.

Usopp was slowly lowering himself into his seat, keeping a weary eye on Sanji, who was paying him no attention because the cook, as always, was wiggling over to greet Nami with the warmest of grins and typical praise. She took his hand slowly, forcing a smile, though her eyes were clearly confused as the blonde guided her to her seat. He rushed to put a beautiful arrangement of her favorite breakfast foods in front of her, rattling off the extensive work he did to make it so very perfect.

And then, as he always did, he slid a heaping plate in front of the sniper, who was nearly gaping at the chef.

"Here you go, shithead," Sanji said as he served Usopp the same way he served everyone everyday. And he did it with a slight smile. The smile was the only thing out of place. Usopp looked at the food like he'd forgotten how to eat. And then he went back to staring at Sanji, who took the spot next to him.

All around the table, everyone else was behaving like they always did. Nami surveyed the group - Luffy gobbling down food like it was his last meal, Zoro silently stuffing his face, Chopper raving about how tasty it all was… and Franky was laughing loudly at some joke Nami had apparently missed out on. Robin was quiet as usual, though she was smiling, too, and it all felt so … horribly normal.

Breakfast carried on like nothing had changed.

Usopp barely ate, but the rest of the crew took no notice. It was too important to pay attention to one's own plate while they were eating in the captain's presence. Nami found herself suddenly very hungry and went at her own meal with gusto. It tasted even better than it looked. Maybe everything would be alright.

When everyone was finishing up, Sanji spoke up, "Oi, Usopp. Help me with the dishes today."

The sniper choked on the bite he'd finally taken - taking the gamble that the food wasn't poisoned - and nodded quickly. "Sure!" he squeaked.

One by one, all the members of the Straw Hat Crew left to go about their day. Franky was still chuckling as he excused himself. Nami stayed right where she was, eating as slowly as she could, stretching out her last few bites of heaven. And then only the three of them remained. Silently, Usopp started clearing off the table.

The two of them did an excellent job of ignoring Nami's presence, seemingly focused on the dishes, until Usopp finally broke and asked in a shaking voice, "So… are you going to kill me or what?"

Sanji threw back his head and laughed, turning to the both of them. "Is that what you think I should do?"

Usopp looked dumbfounded, and Nami, honestly, shared his sentiment.

Wiping his hands with a towel, Sanji shook his head, still smiling. "Alright, listen, you two," he began, lighting a cigarette as he took a break from the dishes - Usopp kept washing them, not knowing what else to do. Nami sat up straight, paying close attention. She had yet to utter a word since walking into the kitchen.

With a long, smokey sigh, Sanji leaned against the sink. "I don't know what's going on between you two, but…" he said as he looked at the navigator, "you don't seem to have a problem with it."

Nami nodded quickly, folding her hands as the cook went to remove the empty plate from in front of her.

"So why would I have a problem with it?" he asked, sounding so casual.

The navigator raised an eyebrow and Usopp almost dropped the dish he was holding.

"What're you talking about! You kicked me into the bookshelf!" the sniper shouted, setting the plate back into the sink and drying his hands off on his overalls. With a quick motion, he unfastened them and let the straps fall to his waist, revealing a huge, angry bruise on his stomach. Nami averted her eyes in Sanji's presence.

Sanji whistled and laughed a little. "Yeah, sorry about that."

"Sorry!" Usopp repeated, exasperated. "So now you're not gonna kill me?!" He fumbled to properly refasten his overalls.

"I never was! Well, okay, I was, but that was before I understood what was going on," Sanji explained with a shrug of his shoulders. He sat on the table and looked from Usopp's wide eyes to Nami's distrusting gaze. "If you two have a thing for each other - which makes absolutely no sense - then I'm not going to mess with that. You're both my nakama. I want you to be happy."

Nami's mouth finally dropped open, but it was Usopp's voice that rang out, "What the hell, I thought you loved Nami!"

"Well, sure, I love Nami-swan with the entirety of my heart and soul. But that doesn't mean I own her."

Nami and Sanji both stared at their cook in silence. Neither could think of what to say.

"The truth is…" the chef began as he finished his cigarette, only to immediately light another. It was the only sign that he wasn't as comfortable as he was leading them to believe. "The truth is that I love you, too, Usopp."

The sharpshooter made a strangled noise.

"I love all of you. Robin-chwan, Luffy, Chopper… Hell, I don't even hate Zoro all that much. And even though I treat the ladies like gods, as they deserve, it doesn't mean I care any less about the rest of you. But I'm not going to fawn over you rotten pigs the same way."

Usopp looked like he was going to say something, but Nami cut him off. "Sanji-kun, if you're not … actually in love with me and Robin, then why do you treat us this way? I was afraid you were going to kill Usopp."

"Hey! You said he definitely wouldn't!" Usopp yelled, and Nami gave him a choice look.

"You, of all people, should be more familiar with an obvious lie," she said.

Sanji laughed a little again and ashed his cigarette in the sink. "In this world we live in, women aren't treated the way they should be. I guess that's why I do it."

The navigator and the sniper didn't quite know what to say. Usopp went back to doing the dishes while Nami found interest in the woodgrain of the table.

"So…" Usopp began slowly, his hands submerged in soapy water, "You're … not going to kill me…?" It seemed he couldn't quite get past that one little detail.

"Not today," Sanji responded, getting his cigarette wet to put it out and throwing the butt in the trash.

"And… you're not going to tell anyone?" Nami asked, still hardly believing it all herself.

"Not unless you want me to," the cook informed her.

And then Sanji's jacket got a bit wet and sudsy as Usopp suddenly stood on his toes and actually hugged the chef. Snorting, Sanji gave the smaller man a few pats on the back, and the sniper slid away from his body, looking a little embarrassed.

"Thank you," he said to the cook.

"Right. Thank you, Sanji-kun," Nami added in, standing up.

Sanji raised his only visible eyebrow. "You both honestly thought that I'd kill Usopp over this?"

"Yes!" the other two responded immediately, in unison.

With a lazy smile, Sanji said, "Ah, well, I guess I'll work on that, then." Turning back to the sink and the dishes, he informed Usopp, "We're about done with these, you can get out of here now."

It didn't take any convincing - Usopp left the galley, muttering his thanks again. Nami went to follow him.

"Ah, Nami-swan," Sanji called to her before she could leave the room. She looked over her shoulder at him. "You know," he said through a sly grin, "I'll be here waiting when you get bored of that longnose."

She laughed, matching his smile. "If you mention a word of what you saw last night to anyone, I'll tell the entire crew about you confessing to Usopp that you love him."

Sanji sputtered and threw up his hands. "You know what I meant by that!"

"Right, and I'm sure Zoro will know exactly what you meant as well," she said sweetly, blowing him a kiss. Sanji's lips cracked into another smile and he nodded at her.

"I'll keep your secret for as long as you can keep it, my dearest Nami-swan."

Pleased with his answer, she left the galley and walked onto the deck of the ship. Sanji watched her go, his smile fading slightly as she disappeared.

Once Nami was free of the galley and had passed that particular trial, with everything going much better than she'd expected, she found herself not really knowing what to do. Everyone had gone to mess with their own devices - not a single member of the crew was in sight. With a small sigh, she went to the observation room, remembering that she hadn't completely finished the map of Alabasta.

Usopp retreated below deck to the Usopp Factory, intent on putting his mind to work on something other than Nami and Sanji and the whole ordeal. It was too much for him to take in at once, and he was the sort of person to mentally escape from his problems. Inventing new gadgets usually worked well.

As his heavy boots clunked down the stairs and into the workshop, he heard a familiar, "Oww!"

Franky stood from where he was working on a new weapon and walked to Usopp, clapping him hard enough on the back that the sniper nearly fell over.

"Oi, Lover-bro! I bet breakfast went a lot better than you expected!" And then the cyborg started laughing all over again, just as he had all during the meal they'd all just shared.

"What?!" Usopp cried, backing away from him, his eyes wide. "Er, what're you talking about?" he tried to laugh, but it came out sounding more like a stuttering gurgle.

"Oh, your secret's safe with me, Longnose-bro!" Franky grinned, pulling out a chair for the sniper, whose knees looked like they might give out.

"I… don't know what you're saying, Franky."

"Don't insult me by playing stupid! I know about you and our navigator," Franky chuckled, ruffling the hell out of the sniper's hair as he took the offered seat. Usopp had half an afro by the time he was done. The shipwright went on to say, "I was on watch last night."

Usopp had no response.

"I saw it all from the crow's nest! You can clearly see in the navigation room from there, especially with the light turned on at night! You two clowns didn't even think of that, did you! Ah, but Longnose, you were super smooth in there up until Cook-bro came and stomped on you."

The sharpshooter could only stare.

"In fact, I was disappointed when he interrupted you two! I super didn't think you had it in you. And with that hellcat of all people!"

"You pervert!" Usopp shouted, finally finding his voice.

"Ah, don't mention it!" Franky said, flattered. Usopp rolled his eyes, but the cyborg went on talking. "I couldn't stop laughing at your face during breakfast! You looked like you were going to blow chunks, Longnose-bro."

"I thought Sanji was going to kill me!"

"Yeah, he seems to be taking it pretty well. But more importantly, how long have you and Girlie been dating like this? I had no idea!" Franky couldn't stop smiling, like he was proud of his little brother for achieving such an accomplishment.

"We're not dating!" Usopp protested, hands clenching into fists. "We're … I don't know what we are."

"Oh, so this is a super new development, eh?" Franky mused, rubbing his chin(s). "This is some interesting news."

"If you so much as even hint at it to anyone, I'll tell the whole ship about you and Robin," the sniper threatened. Franky's mouth fell open.

"How do you know about that?"

Usopp had to hide his surprise - he was actually going out on a limb on that one, but he got a strange feeling whenever the archaeologist and the shipwright were together. There was something between them that they didn't share with the other crew members. "That's a secret," he said.

"Mmm, you sure play a tough game here. But like I said, I won't tell anyone. Although, I don't know how long you can expect to keep it a secret on a ship like this." Franky went over to his workspace and sifted through a box of random items.

"It's worked out alright for you and Robin," Usopp pointed out. If those two could manage it, maybe he and Nami could too.

"Robin's a master of working undercover, Longnose-bro."

Usopp pondered that for a moment as Franky immersed himself in his own project. And then he spoke up, "Are you in love with Robin?"

"Absolutely," Franky said without hesitation.

"Does she love you back?" the sniper asked after a moment's pause.

Franky put his tools down and looked at his smaller companion. "That I couldn't tell you, Usopp. I'd super like to think she does. But she's a woman of mystery, you never really fully know with her." And he grinned. "That's one reason why I love her so much."

Usopp smiled and looked at his lap. He was happy for his nakama.

"Do you love Nami?"

And then Usopp's smile dropped from his face. He twiddled his thumbs and looked over to his own workbench. "I don't know." He took a long, deep breath, holding it in. "Probably," he sighed.

Franky hummed and went back to his work. And life went on.

The space between the navigator and the sniper slowly began to close. Usopp would seek her out in scarce moments of privacy, and he was always tired by the time he found these sorts of opportunities, but with stiff shoulders and fidgeting hands, he would sit beside her and ask what she was working on and would feign interest until she finally stopped and turned her attention on him. And once he had it, he never knew what to do with it.

He looked forward to nights when he had watch, because she would always sneak up there in the twilight with a grin and a bottle of rum, though gradually, Usopp found himself needing the liquid courage less and less. They would share kisses and stories and compare scars in the moonlight. Once, he grabbed her hand and traced his thumb over the long scar she'd made for him.

"You're a better liar than me," he told her as they laid side by side on their back. She'd snatched her hand back and told him to shut up, but he only stole it once again for himself, keeping it safe over his chest.

On another starry night, she found him out on the deck instead of in the crow's nest where he should've been, and he was already drunk, having started well before she could arrive. She hadn't seen him once during the entire day, not even for meals, though Franky had explained that he was just busy in his Factory. But here, looking down at him laying on his back with the stains of old tears marking his cheeks, it didn't seem like his day had been all that productive.

"What the hell is your problem?" she asked, nudging him in the side with the toe of her shoe.

His eyes opened and he gazed up at her and shook his head, rolling it back and forth slowly against the deck. She nudged him a lot harder, and he finally sat up, a glare spread across his face. "Today is the day my mother died," he said, his tone biting, "and she was a wonderful, beautiful woman, and she was independent and didn't ever need anyone else, especially me, and then she just went and got sick and died." And then Usopp's expression cracked and he slouched, burying his face in his hands, shoulders shaking. "And I miss her, I miss her, and I don't think about her as much these days but then I do and God, I miss her and I'll never see her again."

Nami dropped down next to him, pulling her knees to her chest. She watched her closest friend sob like a baby over missing his mother. And then, without meaning to, she started to cry with him, not because she pitied him, but because she missed hers too.

He reached out for her, his face ugly with renewed grief, and she fell into his arms where he squeezed her so tight, pressing his face into her hair. "I'm so glad that I'm alive, and you're alive, and that we're alive together at the same time," he whispered, and she cried harder into his bare chest, her arms finally coming up to clutch at him as tightly as he gripped onto her.

That night faded into memory. New dawns brought new days. But the peace would not - could not - last forever. And it was cannon fire that finally ripped them from their discovery of each other.

Nami stumbled from her room, Clima Tact in hand, when she heard the first explosion. She wasn't nervous until she saw the size of the ship in front of them. It was very, very far away, but the range on its cannons was unbelievable.

"We can't hit them from back here yet!"

"Just deflect the damn cannonballs until they get closer!"

"Should we fire the Goan Cannon?!"

"No, we shouldn't waste it yet! Let them come, the Sunny can super handle it!"

Nami's eyes scanned the Thousand Sunny as everyone ran here and there. She saw a mess of black curls for a second, but that was all she caught of him.

The massive ship caught up to them in no time.

"Prepare to be boarded!" A shout from a foreign voice rang out to them, and then the flood of enemy pirates poured onto the deck of the Thousand Sunny. Nami's eyes swam upwards, taking in the gargantuan size of the warship. The brightly painted face of a wolf with golden eyes and a red snout made up the masthead, its lips pulled back in an eternal snarl.

Shadows began to bathe the lower deck as a dark cloud grew over it. The navigator's attention swept back and forth from her orange trees to the river of men spilling onto their ship. She crouched behind a barrel on the upper deck, staying out of sight as she manipulated the air around her, prepping the battlefield to properly guard her Mikans.

Luffy, Zoro, and Franky were taking care of the bulk of the assailants on the main deck, with the rest of the crew apprehending any other enemies that got onto different areas of the ship.

Shit, there must've been fifty of them.

They could do this. No problem.

Lightning peppered the battlefield as Nami orchestrated with her Clima Tact, trying to stay down and out of sight. A rallying shout spread through the scene and the enemy surged forward. The navigator spied Luffy and Zoro, back to back in the thick of things with mad grins on their faces until the captain of the enemy crew appeared. Zoro took the initiative to clear the fodder out of Luffy's way, giving the two captains plenty of room to square off. And the real clash began.

The captain of the brutes had grey skin and gangly brown hair that whipped in the wind. He was three times Luffy's size, but when did that ever matter? Nami could swear she saw sparks when their fists met.

Foes began dropping as the Straw Hats held on. Nami kept an eye on her trees, zapping anyone who got too close to them. Catching two men sneaking up behind Chopper, she picked them off before they could surprise the furry doctor. When the hulked-out reindeer noticed the assistance, he turned and waved to Nami across the ship before going back to inflicting wounds that maybe not even he could mend.

Smiling, Nami swept her weapon in a great arc, standing and twirling it around her fingers. A sadistic laugh escaped her as she called down an electric storm.

And then a darker shadow loomed over her, and her gaze was raked from the main deck to the very tall and wide man standing right beside her.

Her first instinct was to use her Clima Tact to block the man - though she could hardly call him a man, as he looked more like a wild animal. Chuckling darkly, he took her weapon in one hand and lifted it up to his face level. Hanging onto staff, Nami's feet left the ground. And then he shook it about in spastic movements until the navigator was thrown from her grip to the railing of the deck, her back slamming into the nearly-invincible Adamwood.

He dropped her only means of defense on the ground behind him, and she watched it roll away a bit with despair. Shrieking as he lunged for her, she shut her eyes and flinched with anticipation.

Though he never made contact with her. Instead, a flame licked its way into her view as she peaked through her fingers.

"You filthy rat bastard cowering son of a bitch! I'll kill you!" cried a burning Sanji, who leapt at Nami's attacker from above, pounding his fine leather shoes into the chest of the wretched man over and over until the villain stumbled backwards, falling by the top of the stairs that led to the lower deck.

Nami's expression eased with relief. Sanji practically threw himself down next to her, hovering over her, rambling, "Are you hurt? Did he touch you? I'll kill him if he isn't dead already, and if he is dead, I'll kill him again. Oh, God, Nami-san, he could've really injured you! Are you sure you're fine?"

The worries of the cook, however, were interrupted as a stiff object slammed against the back of his head.

"Oi, Curly. That was me brother you downed."

Sanji lurched forward, his world spinning as he crumbled into Nami's lap. A man covered in dirt and muscles with a foreign accent stood behind the cook, pulling his peg leg back slowly, stretching out the technique of his kick.

"Sanji-kun… Hey, Sanji-kun!" Nami shook him desperately, and he squeezed his eyes shut, hand going to the back of his head. He fumbled, attempting to push himself back up off the navigator, and he tried blinking his vision back into focus.

"I'm going to teach you to mess with someone's family," the enemy growled, taking a step closer to the two Straw Hats.

The thudding of heavy boots rushing across the deck filled Nami's head. She averted her eyes just in time to see Usopp, sprinting towards them.

Teeth grit together, he crouched as he ran, dipping down to grab Nami's discarded Clima Tact as he rushed foward. And then, with a great, sweeping motion, the sniper - who seemed to be without his primary sniping weapon - pivoted his foot and reeled back, swinging the blue staff as hard as he could manage. Metal connected with mouth and teeth went flying.

Stumbling back a bit, the man howled in pain, a hand over his bloody face. Then he began stalking towards the sharpshooter, murder written on his features.

Usopp, wide-eyed, clutching the Clima Tact by his chest, backed up with every step the man took towards him. The small of the sniper's back touched the rear railing of the Sunny. The man grinned with the remainder of his teeth, blood pouring down his chin, and a rumbling chuckle reached the sharpshooter's ears. And as the enemy began to eliminate what was left of the space between them, Usopp, with a quick glance upward, narrowed his eyes. He spun the Clima Tact above his head and screamed.


Three thick bolts of lightning crashed down, thoroughly electrocuting the man in front of the sniper. Smoke billowed from the attacker's body as he stood there for a few seconds, blackened with his hair sticking straight up, before falling to his knees. Giving him a bit of a push with the sole of his boot, Usopp knocked the defeated man to the ground.

"Holy shit!"

The sniper looked over at Sanji, who was grinning like crazy.

"I didn't fucking know you could use that!" the chef called from Nami's lap. The navigator herself was staring with her mouth open.

"Of course I can use it!" Usopp yelled back. "I made the damn thing!"

Trotting over to his crew mates, Usopp handed the Clima Tact back to Nami, who took it with a weary smile and a quiet, slightly hysterical chuckle.

Tanned skin stood out against pale flesh as Usopp pulled Sanji to his feet, who only seemed slightly wobbly. Nami rose and held the chef's shoulders steady.

"You bastard, I was just about to kill him," Sanji mumbled, closing his eyes again, his speech a bit garbled. Both the navigator and sniper threw their heads back and laughed, and even the cook smiled with them, though his eyes were shut tight, his world still spinning.

So nobody saw the burnt husk of the man Usopp felled dragging himself to his feet, and nobody even noticed him walk right up to the cackling sharpshooter. Nami only caught a glimpse of him at the end, just in time for Usopp to take a mean sucker punch to the right half of his jaw, which sent him flying sideways, and he tumbled over his attacker's defeated brother and down the stairs to the lawn below.

Sanji snapped back into action, delivering a quick Collier Shot to the man's neck. Scorched body collapsed in on itself.

Stepping around the blonde and jumping over the unconscious - or dead, probably dead - man in front of them, Nami rushed to the stairs, leaning over the railing. "Usopp!" she shouted. Sanji was already bounding down the steps.

Usopp was on his back, eyes shut tight, clutching his jaw with one hand, digging his heels into the lawn. Upon hearing his name, he lifted his free hand and gave a thumbs-up sign.

"Nami-san! Get down here and get him out of the way!" Sanji crouched down by the sniper, who wouldn't move his hand from his mouth.

Taking the stairs two at a time, Nami arrived just in time to yank Usopp backwards as Sanji blocked another attack from a new enemy crew member. Navigator helped hoist sharpshooter to his feet, and the two members of the Straw Hats escaped into the Mens' Quarters.

"Are you alright?" was the first question out of Nami's mouth.

Usopp looked over at her, nodding as he sat down on the floor next to the rows of beds. He pulled his hand away from his face, staring down at the blood that'd leaked onto his palm, his mouth hanging open. He'd lost a tooth in the back of his mouth - he tongued the hole as it bled.

Glancing out the door, Nami watched as Luffy stood, breathing heavily with his arms crossed over his chest, grinning down at the recently-defeated captain of the enemy crew. Their foes seemed to be on the retreat.

With a somewhat-relieved sigh, she went back to the sniper and crouched beside him. He was back to holding his jaw.

Before she had a chance to assess the damage, the door to the Mens' Quarters was thrown open, with Chopper, still in his larger form, pushing Sanji to a bed.

"No! Go lay in bed and stay there! You're half-concussed at least!" the doctor was insisting, despite obvious protests from the cook.

"I'm fine! I'm not hurt at all! You can't pretend to know anything without even so much as examining me!" Sanji barked back, though he did slump into one of the beds next to Usopp and Nami.

"I can tell when you're injured from across the ship just by looking at you, now lay down!" Chopper huffed.

"… Oh! Nami-swan! I trust you weren't hurt in that dangerous battle? I don't know what I'd do if-"

"I'm fine," she said with a roll of her eyes. "Oi, Chopper. Come look at Usopp."

Chopper's eyebrows shot up when he saw the sharpshooter. "Oh! Usopp! Are you hurt?" he asked as he hurried over, obvious worry all over his face.

Removing his bloody hand, Usopp pointed to his mouth. "I cah clothe eye owth," he explained.

"What?" Chopper blinked.

"He said he can't close his mouth," Nami interjected, leaning forward to get a better look at the sniper. His jaw hung slack and, Nami noticed, it did seem a bit crooked.

"Hah!" Sanji laughed, leaning out over the edge of the bed, ruffling Usopp's hair. "What an ironic injury that is."

Nami swatted his hand away. "Shouldn't you be laying down?"

"If the sweet Nami-swan insists upon it, I shall rest until I'm fully recovered so that I can protect her from all harm!" he sang to nobody in particular, fishing for a cigarette.

"You dislocated your jaw," said the doctor, gingerly taking the lower half of Usopp's face in his giant hands - he had yet to transform out of his "human" form. Usopp squeaked a bit. From behind him, Sanji chuckled a little and swung his legs over the side of the bed, hooking them around Usopp's arms, effectively restraining them. A lit cigarette balanced between his lips.

Giving Sanji a quick nod, Chopper knelt on Usopp's shins to hold them in place and refocused on his jaw. Usopp's eyes widened and he shifted a bit.

"One…" Chopper began to count.

"Oi! Nah yeh!" Usopp tried to yell from behind Chopper's grip on his face.

"Two," Sanji added.

"Sthoh ih! No!"

"Three!" Nami shouted, despite Usopp's loud and extremely anxious protesting.

With an audible pop, Chopper put the sharpshooter's jaw back where it belonged, and a loud howl rang through the men's cabin. Immediately released, Usopp fell onto his side, writhing about against the wooden floor, both hands clapped over his lips. He yelled and cursed into his palms. Though, it did seem like he could talk normally again.

"Is he fixed, then?" Nami asked, standing as Chopper did. The reindeer shrunk back into his typical form and nodded, crossing his arms.

"Usopp, you should come into the infirmary and we'll stop that bleeding and I'll give you something for the pain."

Regarding Chopper with one eye from his spot on the floor, Usopp nodded a little. "I will," he mumbled, rolling onto his back.

Nami huffed and looked between him and Sanji. "If you're both fine, I'm leaving."

"Right, I suspect Luffy's got some minor injuries at the very least," Chopper added, shouldering his medicine bag.

Sanji hung over the edge of the suspended boxed bed, grinning at Nami, adoration in his eyes. "Your love and concern for your fellow crew mates is inspirational, Nami-swan!" The redhead in question shook her head and held the door open for Chopper, following him out to the deck.

The cook was left smiling at the door, and Usopp stared up at him. For having a concussion, Sanji had impressive balance to not fall out of the bed. A swish of blonde hair and the sniper realized that, suddenly, Sanji was staring back at him. Usopp didn't know how to react, hand still cupping his mouth. Because damn, it hurt like such a bitch.

"When I was very young," Sanji said, making himself more comfortable, resting his chin against his arm, which he had slung over the wooden side of the bed, "I used to cook for my mother."

There was no response from the sharpshooter, though Sanji's one visible eye remained locked on him. But the cook seemed to be looking past him.

"She worked at night, and I would wake up early and have breakfast waiting for her when she got home. Although I suppose it was dinner for her. Anyway, it was just me and her. We didn't have a lot of money, but I was good at making food even with very limited ingredients." Sanji swallowed, and he absently rooted for a cigarette in the one pocket he could access in that position, having forgotten where he'd just put them. His search turned up empty and he sighed, continuing his story without a smoke. "As I was very young, I didn't really know what it meant that she worked at a brothel at first. I just knew that… well, that she worked very hard for the money we had, and that she worked with men."

Usopp nodded, afraid to look away now for some reason. In all his life, Usopp couldn't remember Sanji - or anyone, really - looking straight at him for so long without breaking away to glance at something else.

"One night - or morning, anyway - she came home all beat up. Really beat up, like her face was messed up and bruised. Of course, I… was angry. Like any good mother would, she quieted me down and said it wasn't anyone's fault and accidents happen and that it was an accident, you know? An accident! So I calmed down and I pretended like I was over it, but.. well, I wasn't. I followed her to work a few nights later. And that was my first real experience with a brothel. And with men."

Sanji took a long breath, his eyes slowly closing.

"And when I went there, I… I hid, at first. I snuck in and I hid and I watched what happened. I didn't see my mother at first, but I saw… how things are done there. There was a disagreement of some sort, or something, and I saw a man hit a woman. And he kept hitting her, even when she was on the ground, and nobody… nobody fucking stopped him! Nobody was stopping him!" Sanji opened his eyes, but he wasn't looking at Usopp anymore. "So I rushed in there and tried to fight the shitty bastard and got my ass kicked. My mother took me home and that was that. I got in a lot of trouble. She told me she could've lost her job. But, you know, I couldn't understand why she would want to keep it in the first place."

Usopp watched Sanji mindlessly chew on his bottom lip and rub his temple. The sniper realized he was holding the air in his lungs, and he let it out as quietly as he could.

"She told me… that 'that was the way things were for women sometimes' and that we all had to do what we needed to do to get by. I was angry and I stayed angry. A month or so later, she got me a job on a cruise ship working in the kitchen without me knowing it. It wasn't until we were at the dock that I even realized what was going on. And she told me that she wanted me to grow up in a better world than the one she lived in. That we lived in. And that was that, I never saw her again."

Sanji hung over the bed a bit more now, looking at Usopp with a sort of intensity now.

"That is why," he spoke softly, "I treat women like that." He curled back into the bed and Usopp lost sight of him. "Even if it's ridiculous, I don't care. I will always worship them. And I will never hit a woman. I'll never take advantage of one. And if I see a man do it… I'll kill him."

Sanji sunk back into the bed, disappearing from sight.

Usopp stared at the ceiling then. He tried plugging the hole where his tooth had been with his tongue, but the bleeding was persistent, and he'd swallowed enough blood to start making himself sick by now. When he stood, he felt Sanji grab his arm - the one that wasn't busy cradling his jaw - and stop him from walking away.

"Oi, where's your … thing?"

"My thing?" Usopp asked from behind his hand.

"Your, uh… slingshot … thing."

"My Kabuto?"

"Yeah, whatever."

"Broken. Thrown overboard."

"Oh. I'm sorry."

Usopp shrugged. "I'll just make another." Sanji dropped Usopp's arm and closed his eyes again. Usopp stood where he was, unmoving. "Er, uh… Thank you for telling me about your mother." He paused. "I don't think the way you treat women is stupid."

Sanji grunted and gave no further response to that. Instead, he said, "Get me some painkillers too, will you? My head is splitting open."

"Sure," the sniper told him and headed for the door.

Just before he left, though, Sanji spoke out one last time. "You saved us. You saved her, so… You're a good man, Usopp."

"You could've saved her just fine."

"Yeah, but I didn't, did I?"

Usopp smiled over at the bed where he knew Sanji was resting before leaving the room and heading for Chopper's infirmary. Inside he found Luffy and Zoro, laughing together and making it hard for the little doctor to wrap their wounds. Despite a few bleeding gashes here and there, they both seemed fine, as they always did. Upon noticing Usopp, Chopper rolled his chair over to his rack of medicines and handed the sniper a large bottle.

"Here," he said, turning back to Zoro and Luffy. "Take one with food or you'll throw up. Don't take more than six in a day. Oh, and take some gauss to stop the bleeding in your mouth! Hold it there with a lot of pressure - you know the drill by now."

"Got it," Usopp said over his shoulder and went to deliver the medicine to Sanji, popping the gauss he'd grabbed in his mouth and biting it in place. When he got back to the Mens' Quarters and explained that they needed to eat, Sanji groaned and started pulling himself from the bed in order to prepare a light meal, but Usopp pushed him back down, insisting he was capable of making a sandwich.

Nami passed Usopp when he was on his way back from the kitchen, two sandwiches piled high with meat and vegetables and cheeses. She stopped and smiled at him, and he smiled back, and they went back to their business.

Both Sanji and Usopp were asleep minutes after their meal and medicine combo.

The cook slept for an entire day. Usopp nudged him from time to time, to make sure he was alive and fine, always to be swatted away with a few curses. After an extended rest, the chef was back in the kitchen, cooking for the people he loved the most, as he always had his entire life. And Usopp's jaw began to feel a bit more normal, but it clicked when he opened his mouth all the way. It never really bothered him.

A week passed and the Sunny pulled into a port town.

Nami sat in her bedroom, preparing her bag for a much-needed shopping trip. She'd given Sanji a list of things to look out for, but her wardrobe looked like it wanted some updating, and that was a job only she could do. As she was finishing up, Robin opened the door. The archaeologist stepped in the room, followed closely by Franky, who dipped in the door and shut it quickly behind him.

"… Yes?" Nami was a bit surprised to see Franky there with Robin, to say the least. The two, along with Usopp, had all opted to stay and guard the ship. Franky had mentioned some repairs he wanted to make, and Robin and Usopp had stated that they had no real need to buy anything.

"We're going to stay the night in town," Robin informed Nami, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear.

"Right, so you can stay here with Lover-bro and have the ship to yourself," Franky supplied, a stupid grin plastered on his face.

Nami choked. "What?!"

Robin calmly repeated that they were staying the night out, so she could make use of the opportunity to have the ship to herself with Usopp if she chose.

"Robin, you told him?!" Nami shrieked, too flabbergasted to even feign ignorance.

"Relax, I saw him put those super moves on you in the navigation room a while back when I was on watch," Franky explained, giving her a giant thumbs-up. "You two must be feeling super this week! So we're leaving the ship to you."

Nami had lost all the color in her face. Her mouth hung open, her mind doing backflips as she realized that whoever was on watch in the crow's nest the night Sanji walked in on them most definitely could've seen into the navigation room. Her stomach twisted over her own idiocy.

"Right, so, we'll be going now," Robin said behind a pleasant smile. "We'll see you tomorrow."

Nami stared at the door as it clicked shut after their departure. She looked over at her closet, clothes spilling out, and bit her lip. Maybe… Maybe she had enough outfits to last her to the next stop. Or maybe they'd stay another day and she could go shopping then. She could make someone else watch the ship and Usopp could carry her bags.

She stole a glance at herself in the mirror. She looked pretty. Well, she mused, she always looked pretty, let's face it - but today, she had made sure to look her best. Nami always dressed up to go haggling - it helped. She got up, turned towards the bedroom door, and… stood there. She couldn't move. There was a horrible feeling in her stomach, like she might throw up suddenly, and her chest felt like it had a huge air bubble in it. A cool ball from the Clima Tact. What the hell?

Nami found that she was suddenly, inexplicably, nervous.

She would be alone with him all evening and night on the Thousand Sunny. But there certainly wasn't anything threatening about that notion. So why was it scaring her now? She imagined all the other times in the past few weeks that she'd went and found Usopp, or when he'd sought her out. These meetings were always secret and never lasted long enough. But what was different now? Nami tapped her chin in thought. And then it occurred to her.

Ah. Because there was nowhere for the thief to run and hide, should things turn sour. Ah-hah. That was it.

So far, up until now, Nami had never really been completely alone with Usopp. There was always an emergency exit in the rest of the crew being there. If she needed to bail out, she could always go and hide behind one of the other Straw Hats. It was her natural, subconscious way of feeling secure. Usopp wasn't the only one well-versed in running and hiding. In fact, it was Nami that'd made an art of it for most of her life - not him. But now she wouldn't have that option. For the first time in her life, she would be spending the night alone with a boy. A boy that she liked. God, how did it come to this, and with fucking Usopp of all people? Never in a million years, upon first seeing him as they arrived at Syrup, did she expect things to go this way.

Well, she mused, there was always one reliable way to get past this sort of anxiety. And at this point, it was pretty familiar to the both of them.

She navigated her way around the ship and found him in the aquarium bar. With just her head poking through the door, she called out to him as he sat there, doodling some of the fish he saw in the tank.

"Hey, Usopp!"

He looked up from his sketching.

"Let's get drunk."

He put his pen down and folded his hands on the table he was sitting at, leaning his weight on his elbows. "Only if you match me shot for shot."

Nami pursed her lips together. That was normally her go-to tactic - she was talented in making it look like she was drinking much more than she actually consumed. Usopp wasn't stupid, especially now that they'd made a bit of a habit in drinking together - there was no way a girl her size, who did not drink all day every day, could possibly guzzle down that much liquor and still appear to have complete control of her motor skills.

Damn it. That was her way of feeling like she held the power. But she wouldn't admit, even to herself, that she was scared of giving that up.

"Whatever, sure." she said, holding the door open all the way now. "Are you coming or not?"

He trailed her to Sanji's secret stock in the kitchen that she, of course, had full knowledge of and access to. She grabbed two bottles of whiskey and turned to Usopp, fisting a bottle in each hand. He raised his eyebrows at her selection. "So," she talked over her shoulder as she moved past him, headed for the lawn, "we have this whole ship to ourselves tonight."

Usopp watched her take a seat in the grass as he let the door to the galley shut behind him. "But what about-"

"Franky and Robin told me that we can have the ship to ourselves tonight."

"Come again?"

"They know about us," Nami sighed, folding her legs and holding one of the whiskey bottles in her lap, straining to open it.

"Us?" Usopp asked as he sat next to her, taking the bottle from her grip, twisting it open for her.

"Yes, us - you and me, dummy, how much clearer can I be?" She tried to snatch the bottle back, but he dodged her swipe and held the whiskey behind his back.

"So you're saying there is an Us, then," he pointed out. His voice was light and playful, but there was no smile on his lips.

Nami faltered. She gave no answer to that. Instead, she grabbed the other bottle and, with a bit of effort, opened it herself. She held it out, the smell of the liquor already reaching her nose. Usopp clinked his bottle against hers, and they both took a large gulp.

"So!" Nami said after she wiped her mouth, ignoring Usopp's negative reaction to the taste. He scrunched up his nose, sticking his tongue out in attempt to air out his mouth. "You wanna play a game?"

"A drinking game?"


"Am I going to end up owing you a lot of money?"

"Does it really matter?"

Usopp grinned then, and he stretched himself out across the grass they sat on. The setting sun kept the air warm and sticky. He looked up at the pink and orange clouds above them. "What game do you want to play?"

"Humm…" She thought to herself for a minute. "Let's play a game where we each say something about ourselves, and the other guesses if it's true or if it's a lie. If the guesser is correct, the speaker drinks. If the guesser is wrong, then the guesser drinks." Nami gave him a sly smile. "We'll see who the better liar is once and for all."

Usopp snorted. "You agreed to drink for every shot I took, didn't you?"

"If you guess well, then I'll end up drinking more than you, so can it! Nobody likes a nitpicker."

"Then you go first."

Nami paused and looked down at her full bottle of whiskey. It did taste awful. "Before I wanted to make maps, I wanted to be a singer."

"Lie." Usopp's response was immediate, like he didn't even need to think about it.

Nami glared at him and took a swig.

"I'm allergic to mushrooms."


Usopp laughed and shook his head. "Drink again."

"Oh, come on, you don't eat mushrooms! Because… Because when you were little, they made you sick, right? Or something?"

"I ate a poisonous mushroom, so yeah, it made me sick. But I'm not allergic to them. I just don't like them."

Nami punched him in the shoulder and took an indignant drink from her bottle, and he couldn't contain his laughter. "That's sneaky!" she accused with wet lips.

"It's your turn."

The warmth of the whiskey filled Nami's stomach as she pondered her next statement. "I think cigarette smoking is sexy."

It was Usopp's turn to pause. He tapped his kneecaps as he thought about it. "Truth."

"What! Why would you think that I thought that!"

Usopp shrugged. "Because I think it is, too."

Nami frowned and looked at her bottle, which was now noticeably emptier than Usopp's. She took another large drink. "Eugh. Your turn."

"I've slept with fifteen different women since we got to the Grand Line."

"Why would you even say such obvious bullshit like that?"

Usopp smiled and filled his mouth with whiskey, and she could hear it work its way down his throat as he tried to swallow it all in a single gulp. Making another face at the horrible flavor, he said, "Because I felt sorry for you."

She punched him again, more prone to violence now that she was starting to feel the results of drinking so much so quickly. "You're such a stupid bastard! I hate it when people feel sorry for me!"


Nami gave a frustrated yell through Usopp's chortling and held the bottle away from her. "I'll drink in a minute. I can't take another shot right now, it's too disgusting. I thought you would be way worse at this."

"The great, talented Captain Usopp knows how to lie, Nami," he reminded her. "In fact, it's kind of his thing."

"But you're normally so awful at it!"

"Am I?"

She rolled onto her back and stared up at the darkening sky. "I can't tell anymore." She looked over at him, a miserable expression on her face. "Your turn."

Usopp stood and stretched, bottle still in hand, holding it high above himself. "I have the biggest dick in this crew."

Nami's mouth fell open. It felt like words wanted to come out past her lips, but she sure as hell didn't know how to make that happen at this particular juncture. Usopp took one look at her face and lost his breath from laughing so hard.

"I have to pee," he said as he finally regained his composure. She stayed where she was, remembering at last to close her mouth as she watched him walk off towards the restroom.

Screwing the lid securely back onto her bottle of whiskey, she worked hard to quiet her mind. She certainly wasn't going to think about what he just said. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on how nice her body felt, being cradled with the heat of the alcohol and the air around her. A few minutes later, Usopp returned with a pile of blankets in his arms. She stood, her visioning blurring with the head rush she received upon changing positions so quickly. Without a word, the two of them spread the blankets out on the lawn and threw themselves down upon them, and they both thought to themselves that it felt nicer than grass.

"I don't want to play this game anymore," Nami said, shifting so that she was shoulder to shoulder with the sharpshooter. "I just want you to be drunk with me. Well. I wanted you to be the drunk one and for me to be sober but I fucked that up, didn't I?"

Like an obedient dog, Usopp sat up and took several more long gulps of the whiskey, shaking and squirming when he finished. "You could've picked something that tasted better!" he grumbled at her over his shoulder.

"Stop complaining, you baby," she said behind a smile. "I had this all figured out, but… I forgot you're a planner too."

"A what now?"

"I mean… You know, I'm not very strong, so I plan things out. And I consider possibilities and what I'd do in certain situations. You know. Tactics. I forgot you do the same thing. When you're not screaming and running in fear."

"Screaming and running next to you, usually!"

She kicked him a bit in the side. "Keep drinking."

"Why do you need me to be drunk for this?"

She pouted and looked away. "Because…" she trailed off, reaching for her own bottle. She held it next to her but didn't open it back up yet. "Because, I don't know, I'm… It's easier if we're drunk."

"You're the exact opposite of my mother." Usopp smiled and took another long pull, though he quite obviously hated it at this point. His cheeks were rosier than normal.

"Your mother?"

"Yeah. And I love it. I love that you're nothing like her." He laid on his side next to her, propping his head up with his hand.

Nami smiled back at him a little. "You're the exact opposite of mine, too. Mostly."

"I'd only known … quiet and docile women in my life until I met you. Kaya and my mother were both so gentle."

"I can be gentle when I want to be!" she protested, crossing her arms over her chest as she stared at the sky. Some of the brighter stars were coming out now.

"I like that you're not gentle. I like that about you." Usopp sat up again, reaching around for his bottle. He took another drink and set it out of the way and rubbed his face. He didn't mean to get this drunk either. Not so quickly, anyway, but there was no going back now. He turned his body around so that he was facing her again, and he straightened his shoulders out a bit. "This is a date," he declared.


"This is a date. We're dating."

Nami had no response except to get caught up in his gaze.

"You're not my girlfriend, because… because you're Nami and it sounds too weird. But we're dating," he said again, and if he wasn't sitting down, his knees would've been shaking. And if it wasn't for all the alcohol in his belly, he would've been battling horrendous, monstrous butterflies. Fortunately, the liquor seemed to have drowned them all.

Nami hesitated. She felt the old fear of commitment and promises and imagining the future stir inside her. These were all things she had worked very hard in her life to avoid. That was the only way to stay afloat. Because she had been through the pain of losing all those things, and it was enough to destroy a person. But then she remembered that Usopp knew all those things too.

"I… Okay, Usopp."


With her confirmation of his declaration, he crawled over and put one knee on either side of her hips, and he hunched down and cupped her face and kissed her, and his lips never felt softer.

The moment was broken as soon as it'd started, though, when he pulled away and said, "Wait, hold on. So Robin knows about us too?"

Nami palmed his face and shoved him backwards, but she smiled. "I told her about kissing you in the crow's nest the morning after it happened."

"That's cute."

She smacked his chest, but he caught her wrist before she could withdraw it again, and he kissed her knuckles and grinned against them. He couldn't help being happy. Nami grabbed the front of his overalls, pulling him back down towards her, and he met her mouth again, his head tilted, and her hair tickled his cheeks. The chirping of crickets and birds muffled the sound of their breaths as they sucked them in through their noses.

Nami kissed his upper lip, and bit his lower, pulling her head back just slightly, and he slowly began to shift until he was laying on top of her, pressing his lower half into her body, his weight on his elbows on either side of her face. And Nami could feel his heart beating as thunderous as hers, like they were caught in the middle of a fierce battle, and the rush was a bit similar when she thought about it. His body flush to hers, working his knee between her legs, and Usopp was, undoubtedly, a brave man.

The fear he felt was the same dread he experienced going into a fight, like if he fucked this up, it was very much likely to be the end of him - and in that moment, with her tongue in his mouth and her hands sliding down the back of his overalls, he knew why he set out to sea. He loved this terror.

He was heavy on top of her, but she liked feeling his weight - he was such a scrawny kid when she'd first met him, and he was still on the smaller side, but he was lean and suddenly masculine now that she could feel just how solid he really was.

She pushed on his shoulder, wanting him to roll to the side, and she climbed on top of him when he obliged. When she sat on his thighs, he rose up to meet her face to face, folding his legs and settling her in his lap, and scared shitless as he was, he didn't look it when he peeled the bottom of her shirt upwards. As she raised arms above her head, he pulled the top she'd been wearing from her body and placed it beside them, and then his mouth was on her neck while she tried to figure out the straps on his damn overalls.

With the top half of his clothing pooled around his waist, he reached behind her, fingers on the clasp of her bra, obviously intent on getting rid of the obstacle. But he paused, eyes meeting hers. "You know what, you take it off, I'm not even going to bother trying. I have no idea."

She snorted and, with one pinch of her fingers, her bra, which was frilly with lace and designs an artist could appreciate, fell away from her body. He pulled it the rest of the way off, and it fell from his hand as she pressed their bare chests together, and it felt right, and she kissed him again.

He fell backwards, leaning on his elbows, and his eyes traveled up and down her curves. It wasn't the first time he'd seen her without her top on, and often times the things she wore left very little to the imagination indeed, but this was the first time it was all for him.

She smiled a little. "You only like me for my body, I'm sure," she teased, running a hand down his chest.

His gaze followed her fingertips as they explored downwards, hooking around the cloth of his overalls. "You've got it all wrong," he told her, his voice still low and thick and wet with whiskey, "I don't love you because I love your body. I love your body because it's yours."

Biting the inside of her cheek, Nami kept her head down, not wanting to linger too long on what he'd said or the particular words he chose to use. Whether he was being drunk and careless or just horribly honest weren't things she wanted to consider at the moment. Rather, now, she wanted to see his body too. Because it was his.

He raised his hips a bit as she tugged his overalls down, and her gaze floated over his form, taking a survey of the area. From his collarbone, which stuck out against his chest, to his scars, pale in contrast to the rest of his tanned skin, to his nipples, a warmer earthier tone than the pink of her own, to the layer of dark curly hair that was visible now, making a path south from his bellybutton and disappearing beneath bunched folds of brown fabric. Her fingertips sifted across his lower stomach, and he sucked it in out of reflex to her soft touch.

Pushing himself back up from his elbows, Usopp cupped his hands around her neck and sought out her lips with his own, and there was already something familiar about them. His hands slid downwards, past her clavicle, and swept along her breasts, thumbs finding her nipples, and she moaned without intending to. A feeling in the bottom of her stomach swirled around her, and she hoped to God that he felt the same thing. She wanted to share it with him. It was pleasant and not all that unfamiliar, but never had she really explored the depths of these sensations. But if she was with Usopp, then… then she wanted to.

"I didn't know you had so many scars," she said to him in a breathy voice, her eyes on his chest and his arms and his stomach and the discolorations and imperfections that decorated them - some thin and some not thin in the slightest.

He pressed his forehead to hers and his dark eyes were glazed over, drunk on alcohol and something else. "You've never looked this closely."

"Stupid of me," she whispered against his lips, which were starting to feel more and more like home to her - somewhere she felt safe.

Usopp was running on pure hormones and fear and alcohol, and it gave him a voice he didn't know he had, and the knowledge in the back of his head reminding him that maybe he'd die tomorrow tipped the words out of his mouth, "Take off your shorts."

And Nami, spellbound by the boy in front of her who seemed to be high on the very curves of her body, scooted away from him and pushed her shorts and her underwear down to her ankles. She forgot to be nervous as he crawled to her, wrapped an arm around the small of her back, and buried his face against her stomach, her hips, and her thighs, kissing and kissing and loving her.

He took deep breaths against her, the skin of her inner thigh between his teeth, and she laid against the blankets they'd set out with an arched back. With a quick glance up at her, from this angle, Usopp caught a glimpse of art that he could never recreate on paper. He pressed his mouth between her legs, his tongue rolling up delicate crevices, and Nami made a sound he'd never heard in his life, and he was immediately addicted to it.

He had no plan at this point. He didn't know what he was supposed to be doing, but he knew how to take things apart to learn how they worked, so he began reverse-engineering her. Pushing her legs apart, he licked and sucked and, with a wet face and a pounding heart, he was intoxicated on the song he was making her sing.

Nami sat up and grabbed a fistful of black ringlets and yanked his head upwards, catching his mouth with hers, and she tasted herself on his lips. "Usopp," she said against his cheek, her hands pushing inside the overalls that barely hung onto his hips as he knelt in front of her, "I've never done this."

He snorted. "I assumed that much."

"What made you-"

"I don't know. I don't know what I'm doing either," he said as she pushed his clothing down to his thighs and she saw that Usopp was very, very much a boy after all. "But I have a general idea."

Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he kicked off his boots and his overalls and then, for the first time, they were naked with someone else, and this level of intimacy gave them matching goosebumps. For almost their entire lives, affection was totally absent. Now they were being overloaded with it.

Nami stared at him as he sat back on his heels and his knees and wrapped his fingers around himself. She watched his hand - his left hand, she noticed - move up and down, so slowly as she crept closer, and he watched her watching him and couldn't get enough of it. While Usopp was treading on foreign soil with Nami's body, he was certainly more than familiar with his own anatomy.

A pause hung between them, both pirates stuck taking each other in. Nami willed her eyes to look away, to stop being glued to his crotch and what his hand was doing with it, but she couldn't just yet, and it was the first time she had ever been even a little intimidated by Usopp.

They met in the middle, kneeling together, and their arms wrapped around each other. She could feel him, hard, pressed against her stomach, and she reached down with her lips still melting against his and started stroking him in the same fashion she'd just studied him doing. At her touch, he broke away from her mouth and lurched forward, his voice catching a ride on his breath as it left him, and he moaned against her, his forehead heavy on her shoulder.

The suddenness of his response nearly startled her, and she paused, lifting his chin up so she could see his face. "Did I hurt you? I can stop - I didn't mean to -"

"No! No - no, it's okay, it's -" he breathed heavily and she smiled slowly at his tumbling speech, "- it's really - it feels so damn -"

"I was just checking," she grinned, letting her hand slide around and explore. It was incredible, she mused, how much control she immediately had over him with something so simple. And the sounds she could draw out of him with a light flick of the wrist gave her a different sense of purpose. "So you like this sort of thing, I see," she murmured.

He reply was simply, "Understatement."

"Get on top of me," she commanded, laying back, and Usopp curled his lips in at the sight of her there.

With his body hovering over hers, he delayed, looking at her very seriously. "It's okay if you stop me. Whenever. It's fine."

Nami didn't know much about sex, or how it was done or how it would feel - she knew it was the product of love or lust or both, and she couldn't quite categorize where she fit in there, but it was certain that she didn't want him to stop yet. She nodded.

She could feel him pressing against her, the head of his cock gliding up and down between slick folds, acquainting himself with the area. He could feel her hand on top of his, guiding him, and slowly and gently as he could manage, he slid in her and forgot how to breathe.

The navigator's head rolled back against the blanket they were on, groaning and gripping his waist so hard. It hurt. It hurt so much, but God, it felt good and she sure as hell wasn't putting an end to it. "Keep going," she whispered, and he kissed against her chest and then her neck as he moved in and out of her while she enclosed a fist around his hair. "Keep going, Usopp."

With every roll of his hips, it was easier, and the pain was losing out to the pleasure of it all. She began to relax as he found a steady rhythm, giving in and letting someone else take the wheel for once.

There was something nearly spiritual about being so close to a person, she realized, and she found herself wanting to hold him so close that they melded into a single being. Her eyes closed, she moaned with every exhale.

Usopp could feel her hips starting to gyrate with his, and he chewed on his bottom lip while he watched her face. The expression she was making - because of what he was doing to her - was heaven to him. He increased his speed a little, studying her and the sounds she made, and she finally opened her eyes, looking up at him. "Good," was all she said, and he fought to maintain control. The want of their bodies created a sense of urgency between them. As he tried to be gentle, to be the Usopp she'd always known that routinely submitted to her will and desires, she suddenly reached up, a hand on his throat, and told him, "It feels good, it doesn't hurt anymore. Give me more."

Mouth hanging open with heavy breathing, he connected to her eyes, nodded his head, and let himself lose a little control. She wrapped her legs around him and hooked her ankles together behind his back, crying out when he grabbed her ass and drove himself into her with much greater force. Riding on instincts alone, he sucked and licked against her neck, holding the majority of his weight on his hand next to her. Nami pulled his hair so hard that his head craned back, and he grit his teeth as she yanked at it, and bit into his chest, and begged him not to stop through clenched teeth.

He grabbed her legs, throwing one over each of his shoulders, and pressed down into her as he gripped against her waist. Her nails dug trenches into his back, and he loved it, groaning with her as she raked along his tanned flesh. With the change in position, Nami felt him discovering new spots inside of her that she didn't even know she had, and the sound of his breathing getting caught up with every plunge of his hips made her squirm under him. She could feel a sort of pressure in her, pushing her to a limit she was unfamiliar with, and when a surge of warmth and ecstasy swelled up in her, she screamed. Her thighs shook and she held onto him as she lost control over her own body, and she felt like every cell in her was vibrating.

He could feel her clench around him, and God, it was so warm and wet and it was paradise and - he watched her writhe and whimper under him, and it was the most beautiful thing he'd seen in his life. His breath and his voice stuck in his throat, and he pulled himself out and away from her, kneeling in front of her form, eyes on her as he stroked himself, spilling out onto his hand and down his shaft.

Panting heavily, she looked at him as he stared down at the mess he'd made, and he glanced up at her, looking embarrassed. "Sorry, I didn't want to… You know."

She broke into a laugh, hugging her arms around herself, the feeling of wholeness and perfection and completion washing over her again and again. Nami kept laughing until there were tears in her eyes, and she was just simply so… happy. Incredibly happy.

He grinned down at her, sweating and breathing as heavily as she was, and he laughed with her a bit. He'd never met a challenge as difficult as trying to keep himself from telling the navigator that he loved her in that instance.

"I need…" he mumbled, turning his head around, searching with his eyes, "I need a thing."

"A thing?"

"I…" He trailed off as he looked down at his hand and his crotch, dripping with white. In a bout of ingenuity, he grabbed the corner of the blanket they were on and wiped himself off.

"Hey!" she protested from her spot on the ground - she hadn't moved. "That's my blanket! I sleep with that!"

"We'll wash it!"

Nami crawled over to him and used a different portion of the blanket to dry herself off as well - the inside of her thighs were still so wet and sticky. And then, clean and dry, he gathered her in his arms and fell back down with her, holding her close as he caught his breath. It felt natural for her to cling back, throwing a leg over his stomach and resting her head just under his neck.

They remained that way well into the night until he finally had to rouse her from the sleep she'd fallen into. Groaning at being moved, she sat up in a huff, glaring at him.

"Sorry!" he said, trying to get his legs through the pants of his overalls. "I have to pee and I'm so thirsty and my arm was asleep so hard I thought it was in a coma."

"Bring me some water too," she ordered, laying back down and yawning. The alcohol they'd drank earlier had left her feeling quite groggy and she imagined they were both significantly dehydrated at this point. "And hurry up," she added as she pulled her discarded clothes back onto her body.

He snorted and obeyed her commands, bustling about the ship with the top of his overalls hanging around his thighs. She smiled at his return, a giant mug of water in his hand, and they sat and drank and felt content together.

Sometime in the middle of the night, they collected their blankets and transferred to Nami's room, letting slumber take them as they held onto each other.

The light pouring in through the open bedroom door woke Usopp early in the morning. He squinted into the sunshine and saw the unmistakeable outline of Nico Robin.

"Good morning," she said quietly with a warm smile. "I apologize for waking you, but I thought you might want to relocate before the rest of the crew gets back."

Looking down at the sleeping navigator, he nodded and covered her up a bit more before sliding from her bed. Standing next to the archaeologist in the doorway with his arms folded across his chest, the morning sun at his back as he watched the redhead sleep, and the straps of his overalls still hanging at his hips, he whispered, "Is it stupid to fall in love on this ship?"

Robin followed his gaze for a moment before looking down at the shorter man, a very small smile playing at the corners of her mouth. "We'll find out, won't we?"

Days and weeks and months passed on the Thousand Sunny. Brook joined the crew, more adventures were sniffed out, and Usopp and Nami operated much as they always had. The ranged fighters of the Straw Hat Crew: they gravitated towards each other in battle, held each other and screamed in moments of terror, and gloated together in their unforeseen victories.

And the thing that screwed with Nami's head the most was that Usopp really was a great liar.

The change in the group dynamic of the crew that she feared so much never came. To the rest of them, Usopp was the same cowardly sharpshooter that he'd always been. He was a brother to them, a clown and an entertainer. He paid no special attention to Nami in front of anyone and she was constantly impressed with how well he concealed whatever it was between them.

Even around Sanji, Usopp was natural as ever. The cook continued in his endless praise of the navigator, and Usopp would smile through the whole thing.

And when the sniper would come and seek her out when she was alone at night, or lead her away from the rest of the group once they reached a town, Nami could really appreciate his ability to bullshit the others - as soon as they were alone, something about him would change, and all she could see in his eyes and hear in his voice was love.

The two would never admit that they were in love. Even Usopp, talkative as he was, never let it slip, even once. Because Nami grew up having to conceal her emotions in order to get by. And Usopp had to lie in order to protect his.

So they never said it, because they both knew how scary and painful it was to really love a person, and they both knew in the deepest part of their hearts that it couldn't last forever. But the knowledge of their own mortality, and the fact that they both knew something so happy would eventually have to end, led them to fully appreciate and cherish every fleeting moment they had together.

The night before they arrived at Saboady, Usopp sat in the crow's nest with Nami, watching the sea out the window, smelling her citrusy hair. He was nearly asleep with her in his arms, her back pressed to his chest, when he realized she was shaking - that she was crying. He turned her around and furrowed his brow. "What's wrong?"

She grinned, wiping her eyes, and looked out at the black ocean waves. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong," she sniffed, laughing a little through hiccuping sobs. "I'm just so glad that I'm alive, and that you're alive, and that we're alive together at the same time."

He matched her smile, and both of them stayed close for the rest of the night, breathing each other in, because they never knew - they might die, or worse, tomorrow.

thanks so much for reading this beast! eugh finally finished. done. i'm sorry just god damn i love nami and usopp together so stupid hard. also, sanji's past is basically totally ripped off a headcanon by askcaptaintashigi on tumblr - she is an incredible and hilarious artist and i implore you to check out her shit if you somehow haven't already. have a lovely day thanks again~~~