Disclaimer: Of course I do not own or profit from One Piece in any way. That honor belongs to the incredibly talented Eiichiro Oda.
Sanji's loss; Zoro's gain
"What's Secret Santa?" Luffy asked innocently from his favorite seat atop Sunny's prow.
The crew was gathered on the deck of the ship at Nami's, not so gentle, request. Christmas had long since passed without recognition and although the Straw Hats had never taken much time to celebrate holidays; this one in particular would always have a special place in the navigator's heart. She had decided that they create their own Christmas just for fun. The vibrant orange haired crew member could vividly remember the anticipation that came with waiting to open gifts. They had never had much money but Bellemere would always spring for a tree to decorate and one gift for Nami and Nojiko each that wasn't used or handmade. She would cook a special dinner and no matter what was going on before or after the big day, be it the price of mikans plummeting or a drought limiting their supply of water, for one day everything was perfect.
Christmas was a time that Nami had begun to associate with family and togetherness. There was warmth that came with thoughtful gestures and celebration and she wanted to capture it once more. The crew was her family now and the Thousand Sunny her home, though the Cocoyasi villagers and Nojiko would always be considered family too despite the distance. She wanted a break, just one special day without battles and concern. After everything the Straw Hats had been through, and everything they would no doubt have to endure in the future, they deserved a little rest and relaxation with some holiday cheer.
"Nami?" Luffy cocked his head to the side in confusion when the navigator didn't respond and Nami jerked from her thoughts in mild surprise before flashing the Captain an apologetic smile.
"For Secret Santa we all draw a name from the hat," she explained while scribbling their names onto strips of paper, "whoever we end up with is the person we have to purchase or make a gift for. They aren't supposed to know who the gift is from and we will exchange tomorrow."
Nami busied herself with folding the little pieces of paper before depositing them into Chopper's borrowed hat.
"If we aren't allowed to know who gets who then how are we supposed to know what they would like for a gift?" Usopp questioned with a frown, hoping that he would get Luffy because getting a gift for the Captain was as easy as buying ham or some other meat product.
"That's part of the fun. Just make or pick out something that you think your chosen person will like and you can give it to them personally tomorrow morning. You are also welcome to purchase gifts outside of the game for everyone else to open tomorrow if you want to," the navigator grinned, clearly including that last addendum in the hopes of securing herself more presents. While Christmas wasn't about the gifts, she wouldn't mind a scarf or some new mapping equipment.
Satisfied with the rules of the game, Usopp chose a slip of paper from the hat that Nami was bringing around and smiled when he saw Chopper's name scrawled in the navigator's neat handwriting. If there was anyone as easy to shop for as Luffy, it was the doctor. A cool toy or invention would occupy the little reindeer for hours. Robin was the next to choose, dipping her hand into the hat with fluidity and grace that never ceased to amaze Nami. The raven haired beauty pursed her lips for only a split second but Nami caught it. Giving the woman a discrete quizzical expression, Nami almost laughed aloud when Robin flashed a quick peek of the paper, revealing that the archaeologist had been saddled with Sanji. They both knew that whatever Robin gave to the cook would be treasured forever, and she would never hear the end of it.
As if on cue the cook stepped forward to choose for himself, secretly hoping that he would receive the name of one of the girls. It was the excuse he had been looking for to lavish them with non-edible gifts that would prove his adoration for both of them. Attempting not to seem too eager, he unfolded his strip of paper and nearly bit his cigarette in half in frustration when he realized that his fingers had betrayed him and chosen Luffy. Regardless, he still planned on getting gifts for the female crew members. Eyeing the smile that eventually spread across Sanji's face while he thought, Nami silently willed the paper he was holding not to contain her name. She loved Sanji like family but the letch could go a little overboard in the affection department sometimes. Moving away from the cook and toward the bow to allow the Captain to choose, Nami simply shot the rubber man a look since she couldn't reach him before he stretched one of his arms and plucked a name from the hat.
"Usopp!" Luffy announced with a grin, dramatically waving his slip of paper. The sniper frowned almost immediately and Nami rolled her eyes since their Captain clearly hadn't listened to the secrecy rule at all.
"I want a new slingshot, Luffy, not meat!" Usopp said firmly just to ensure that he wouldn't get stuck with food that the Captain would just try to eat anyway.
"Awwwww," Luffy pouted in disappointment but he was over it quickly once Chopper chose from the hat, pulling out Brook's name, and then challenged the Captain to a game of tag before they went ashore. Despite the cold Franky was still dressed in his signature Speedo and Hawaiian shirt as he placed one abnormally large hand into the hat and dug into the very bottom for his piece of paper.
"Super!" the cyborg bellowed with a grin and waggle of his eyebrows. The reflection in his sunglasses revealed to Nami that the loveable pervert had managed to pick Robin. It was no secret to the rest of the crew other than maybe Luffy and Sanji that something was going on between their older crew members but they kept to themselves and even Franky refused to elaborate on what they did behind closed doors.
"Yohohoho! I can feel my heart racing with excitement," Brook rummaged through the hat before pausing suddenly, "although I have no heart."
The skeleton was loud but the navigator found herself smiling when he finally chose for himself, finding Franky's name written on his chosen slip.
They had arrived at a winter island not unlike Chopper's home the night before and had decided to remain there for the week to celebrate the made up holiday season. Technically Christmas was still months away but the chances of them running into another winter island and having the free time to celebrate were slim so they had decided to take advantage of the location.
The community was small but they weren't lacking in supplies or shops. The cheerful citizens were wealthy from their fishing trade and had welcomed the Straw Hats with open arms. Usopp was quick to join the impromptu game of tag while Sanji excused himself to begin preparing lunch. Robin disappeared into the room she shared with Nami to most likely retrieve a book and Franky was quick to vanish with the archaeologist. Brook eventually excused himself as well to join the others in their little game, which left the navigator alone with the snoozing brute they called a first mate. She could tell he wasn't actually sleeping by the way his eyebrow twitched when she stepped into his personal space.
"Pick a name," she commanded softly, trying her best to keep her temper in check.
"I'm good," the swordsman responded nonchalantly, knowing it would push her buttons.
Rolling her eyes at the lazy man, Nami sighed and withdrew the two remaining names from the hat. Unfolding both of them, she was faced with the only two names she had been hoping to avoid, herself and Zoro. Since she couldn't exactly buy a gift for herself, she pocketed the swordsman's name and stuffed her own into his hand, causing Zoro to open his eyes and look. After examining the name he had been given, Zoro finally regarded Nami with mild annoyance. Her presence didn't bother him nearly as much as he let on, in fact he quite enjoyed her company most of the time, but it was fun to make her think otherwise.
"What do you want?" He ventured cautiously, knowing that getting her nothing would only result in more debt and a lengthy lecture.
"I don't know just whatever you think I might like," her irritation had died down with the knowledge that Zoro would at least play along.
"I don't have the money for a pile of treasure," he snorted smugly and Nami glared at him before forcing a sweet smile and reminding herself that it was almost fake-Christmas.
"It doesn't have to be bought. Handmade is fine too," she offered, although she doubted he had ever even attempted to create a handmade gift before.
The silence that spanned between them was charged with the intensity of Zoro's stare. She had expected him to deny her request all together, or at the very least come up with some snarky remark about it. The swordsman did neither. Instead he furrowed his brow in thought and tried his best to appear uninterested.
"What are you getting me?" Zoro kept his tone flat and uncaring; though in reality he was very curious about what he might receive. The swordsman had never really indulged in the gift giving process but the thought of the high and mighty navigator making or purchasing him something without charging him for it was intriguing.
"If I told you then it wouldn't be a secret," she chastised half-heartedly while the corners of her mouth curled into an impish grin.
"You know I hate surprises," Zoro huffed before stuffing the slip of paper into the pocket of his pants.
"You'll like this one," Nami promised him with an unsure smile.
He had long ago learned to recognize the navigator's various moods and facial expressions. This one meant that she already had a gift in mind for him and while she thought that he would like it, she wasn't certain either. Part of him wondered if she had been planning to get him something all along but the stubborn force that was Zoro's denial quickly squashed the idea.
"No bath shit," he warned with a glare and Nami laughed at the thought of buying him a basket full of soaps.
While she wasn't above telling him that he needed to bathe more, she wouldn't go as far as thrusting hygiene in his face. It wasn't that he didn't keep himself clean. Zoro bathed on a daily basis but his rigid training schedule left him constantly smelling of sweat and metal, though that wasn't to say that it smelled bad. She wouldn't say it out loud but Nami had come to associate the scent as one that was purely Zoro, one that she sort of found appealing.
"No booze," she mimicked his serious tone of voice before turning on her heel and leaving him to his thoughts or whatever the hell it was that he did when his eyes were closed.
The moment she was gone Zoro was at a loss. Removing the name from his pocket, he read it over again as if the letters would miraculously form an idea in his mind. It didn't work and the swordsman scowled, torn between swallowing his pride and asking Robin to help him pick something out or trusting his gut to make the decision. His gut was currently telling him to ask Robin because while he was skilled in many things; picking out gifts for females wasn't one of them.
Lunch was spent discussing the various shops each Straw Hat wanted to visit while Sanji made a show of mentioning his plan to purchase mistletoe in the spirit of the simulated season. He tried to seem casual while mentioning it but for Sanji the idea of kissing Nami or Robin under the magical little plant had instead disintegrated his proclamation into a noodle limbed, heart surrounded fantasy in which each woman would purposely migrate underneath the mistletoe to steal a kiss from him. Watching the cook babble and giggle to himself was enough for both Nami and Robin to immediately decide that they would keep a sharp eye out for dangling plants of doom and avoid them at all costs.
The swordsman was unusually silent for the majority of the meal. He didn't normally have much to say anyway but the brute had hardly touched his food as well, deep in thought. Robin, ever the observant one, was the only Straw Hat to really notice with the exception being the Captain who took advantage of the first mate's absentmindedness by pilfering the food from his plate at random intervals. Most people would assume that Zoro was mulling over what to get the navigator for Christmas, but in reality he was pondering what exactly she meant to get for him.
He wasn't the best at pretending to be happy with something he didn't want and even though he didn't believe in God he was silently hoping that by some miracle Nami would gift him with something he genuinely enjoyed. While he usually seemed uncaring and aloof, the truth was that Zoro didn't want to hurt her feelings. Shrugging off the frivolous concerns, the swordsman finally pulled himself out of his thoughts and finally focused on his food, only his plate had been polished off.
"Damn it, Luffy!" Zoro snarled with his teeth barred and his eyes burning but the Captain's only response was an uninhibited bout of laughter that was quickly followed by the sound of a firm rap to his head.
"What was that for?" Luffy whined and looked up at his assailant, expecting to see Zoro but a fuming Nami hovered over him instead with her own irritated expression.
"Stop stealing other people's food," she responded with a huff.
Zoro would have stared at her in shock for defending him had her own plate not been picked clean by their over-zealous Captain and best friend as well. It was better to assume that she was scolding him for herself. Robin was giggling from her spot in between Zoro and Nami before pushing herself up from the table.
"I'm going to head into the village and get a head start on Secret Santa shopping," the older woman explained with a pleasant smile and Sanji was at her side before she could even blink.
"Robin-chwan," the cook swooned noisily causing most of the crew to acknowledge his pathetic display with un-amused expressions, "I will accompany you to the village to ensure your safety!"
"I'll go," Zoro announced casually with an uninterested expression, completely ignoring the flailing cook. He needed to get the archaeologist alone if he wanted to get her advice on the whole Christmas shopping debacle. He had never been very good at asking for help so he had already thought up a way to enlist her help without actually voicing the need for it.
"Like hell!" Sanji spat while quickly invading the shit swordsman's personal space, "I will be the one to escort Robin-chan to the village."
"You have dish duty," Zoro responded dryly, his face completely blank and uninterested in the love cook's antics. Sanji looked from the swordsman to the dish duty list then back to Zoro, infuriated to find that the brute was correct. Smothering a quiet chuckle behind her hand, Robin turned to leave the dining area without another word, leaving Sanji to silently rage as he watched the older woman and the swordsman disappear through the door.
"I should head into town too," Nami murmured and stood from her spot at the table, "Chopper would you like to come?"
Sanji continued to pout as he watched the only other female crew member leave him behind with the enthusiastic doctor in tow while Luffy, Usopp, Franky and Brook quickly paired up to leave together as well. They couldn't leave the Captain to his own devices or the island would be in chaos in a matter of minutes. The door to the kitchen and dining room shut with an audible smack, leaving behind the overly emotional Sanji in its wake.
The groups quickly separated from each other once they reached the village with plans to meet back at the ship before dinner. Zoro was silent as he followed Robin into various shops. A book store was their first stop of course and the swordsman discreetly eyed several of the volumes about mapping, pondering whether or not their navigator would enjoy such a gift. He decided that Nami had probably already read or owned most of them and focused instead on the texts that Robin had already begun to purchase. He had heard once that knowledge was power and if that were really the case, he would definitely bet his beli on their female nakama.
"Have you decided what you would like to get for your chosen person yet?"
Her innocent question broke him of his thoughts and Zoro gave the older woman a bored expression. He had never distrusted or disliked Robin but the incidents at Enies Lobby had settled any uneasy feelings he might have had about her in the beginning. She was family and he trusted her just as much as he did the rest of the crew.
"Nothing from here," he answered with a shrug and the archaeologist smiled to herself.
"That's a wise choice. Navigator-san already owns most of these books."
She nearly laughed when Zoro's eyes widened at her words and he began to shift his weight awkwardly from foot to foot in embarrassment. He really didn't know why he felt embarrassed in the first place. It wasn't like he had been planning to get a gift for her before the game or anything. His task became much simpler now that Robin knew who he had to shop for at least.
"Has she given you any ideas about what she might like?" Robin asked as they left the book store and began perusing other shops.
Zoro had to stamp down on a blush when he recalled one incident that had occurred just a few nights prior when the navigator had indeed revealed to him one thing that she wanted. She had been under the influence of alcohol as a result of one of their drinking competitions and it wasn't something he could really give to her but the memory still chose that moment to invade his mind.
The air was chilly the nearer they drew to the winter island up ahead. It had been only a handful of weeks since leaving Thriller Bark but with Zoro finally on the mend and Fishman Island the next stop after this one the Straw Hats were in high spirits. A few hours had passed since consuming the feast that Sanji had prepared and Zoro and Nami had entered into another one of their drinking contests. Chopper had protested at first because of the swordsman's wounds but the navigator had assured the little reindeer that everything would be alright.
Glass after glass of sake was tossed back and the rest of the crew began dropping like flies on the lawn covered deck from exhaustion. Franky and Robin had finished a game of cards before helping the rest of their friends to bed while Nami and Zoro had moved their competition up into the crow's nest to avoid the icy evening breeze. Zoro was sitting near one of the open windows on the surrounding bench while Nami sat beside him, both of them chugging a final drink. They had agreed that two hundred would be their limit for both Zoro's health and so that at least one of them would be sober enough to keep watch for the night.
Hiccupping sharply while she set her glass aside, Nami pressed the backs of her cool hands against her flushed cheeks and sighed. The swordsman had already finished his beverage and silently allowed his eyes to roam over the calm waters in the distance.
"Is there anything that you want besides your dream?"
Her slightly slurred question wasn't surprising. The navigator loosened up most of the time at the half way mark and their conversations had always been pretty random and enjoyable. Zoro felt relaxed in her presence when she wasn't purposely pushing his buttons and even then he could admit that he found her fiery nature exciting. It wasn't something he would be telling her any time soon though. Pondering the question, Zoro finally shrugged his shoulders and met her searching chocolate-brown irises.
"I've never really thought about it," he answered honestly and frowned in concentration, "probably another legendary sword."
It wasn't deep but it was the only thing that came to mind on the spot. Nodding her head in understanding, the navigator pursed her lips to think about what she might want even though Zoro hadn't asked her. Finally without even a hint of embarrassment, most likely because of the lowered inhibitions that alcohol brought on, she smiled in a way that could melt a normal man's heart.
"I'd like to be kissed."
She said it so casually that for a moment Zoro's eyes widened and he looked at her as if she had just said she wanted to be the world's greatest swordsman. Up until now he had assumed that their navigator had been kissed one too many times, since she had grown up with a woman who could casually offer up her body as payment, even though Bellemere had never actually meant it. They had talked about her mother before on nights like these so the swordsman was well acquainted with her past. Apparently his assumption had been wrong.
His stunned question was interrupted with a very unladylike snort from Nami, who punched him in the arm despite his beat up body still recovering from their battle in Thriller Bark. Rolling her eyes, he watched with fascination when the navigator blushed, unable to hide it in her inebriated state.
"I've been kissed before," she explained but Zoro wasn't entirely convinced since her blush deepened and she avoided his gaze, "but I've never been kissed before."
The statement only further confused the swordsman, who remained silent and hoped she would elaborate. Nami fought the effects of the alcohol and pulled herself together, clearing her throat quietly. She had been kissed before, but only once. Most people would assume that with her looks and the years that she had spent alone at sea stealing from pirates she had been kissed among other things, but the reality was that she had never really had the time. She had lived her life in slavery with one goal in mind, to earn the money necessary to buy back Cocoyasi Village.
There had never been time or even desire for romance when she had bigger things to worry about and even the navigator was above whoring out her body for treasure. Her skills as a thief had never even required that she seduce a man to reach her goals and so it had never really been an issue. Her one and only kiss had been right before Arlong and the rest of his crew had invaded the village. It had been an experiment with one of the local village boys about her age and it had not been pleasant. He had slobbered and his technique had been sloppy and Nami hadn't really desired to have a repeat performance since.
Now that she was older, though, it almost sounded pleasant. Kisses were not to be wasted on someone she didn't care for and with all of the crew being more like family it had never come up… All of them were like family, except for one. She wouldn't tell him but she knew that he could sense it too. There was an undeniable attraction, a potent intimate tension between them in every interaction. It was there when he protected her in battle, there when she hit him in the head for being an idiot, and there when they argued over trivial things. The only Straw Hat she had ever really desired to kiss was in fact the clueless brute sitting mere inches away.
" I'm talking about a real passionate, mind numbing, spine tingling kiss."
Nami clarified with another hiccup and Zoro squirmed a bit in discomfort. The sudden urge to make her request a reality was powerful and shocking. It wasn't that he had never noticed that the woman was gorgeous. He had more discipline than most but he was still a red blooded human male and he sure as hell wasn't blind. Even though she yelled at him more than necessary and lusted after treasure more than human contact, he couldn't deny the slight tugging at his heart when they were close like this and when she trusted him with secrets that he was certain none of their other friends had been made aware of. Still, the risk of damaging the crew with impulsive acts like kissing was not something Zoro was willing to do.
"I'm sure you could find someone for something like that."
Zoro finally answered after collecting himself and he could have sworn he saw disappointment cross her face. It was gone in an instant and he was almost convinced that he had imagined it altogether. Nodding her head in agreement, the navigator stood abruptly and collected their discarded cups and the empty bottles of sake. Sanji would not be happy to find it all almost gone in the morning.
"You're probably right. Goodnight, Zoro."
He nodded in recognition and watched as she disappeared to head for bed. Returning his gaze to the ocean, the swordsman frowned at nothing in particular. His life had been dedicated to fulfilling his dream and he had never really indulged in romance or intimacy. Things like that just got in the way of his goals; So the sharp squeezing in his heart when Nami said that he was right and that she could find some random person to kiss was both confusing and annoying. He wasn't jealous… He wasn't.
Robin rarely used his name in conversation and the action managed to wrench the swordsman from his thoughts. His eyes snapped over to his raven haired nakama and the archaeologist chuckled in amusement at his bewildered expression.
"What?" He asked her warily.
"I asked if navigator-san had given you any ideas about what she might want for a gift?" she repeated patiently.
"Oh… No," Zoro hastily answered, causing his companion to lift an eyebrow in an 'oh is that so' gesture.
Deciding to leave the subject alone for now, Robin led the way into another store, this one clearly designated for mapping and observation. Rows upon rows of mapping parchment lined the tidy shelves. The smell of ink and lens cleaner dominated the room and a friendly looking old woman perched on a stool behind the counter with her nose buried in a newspaper. The little bell above the door jingled with their entrance and the elderly woman looked up long enough to take in the tall beautiful woman and the ruggedly handsome man with strange green hair.
Leaping from her stool with more grace than she should be allowed at her age, the woman was at Zoro's side in a handful of seconds. The swordsman raised a brow in confusion and maybe irritation when the senior citizen grinned widely up at him; her intense ocean-blue eyes devouring him like a starving man would food.
"Well hello there, handsome."
The old woman practically purred and Robin chuckled off to the side. Zoro's body immediately tensed and the swordsman's expression changed from annoyance to obvious disgust while he attempted to awkwardly maneuver away from the tiny shopkeeper.
"He needs to find a gift for our navigator. What would you recommend?" Robin interjected to lighten the mood and the old woman pushed a bulky pair of glasses up her pointed nose to study the woman thoroughly.
"Is your navigator male or female?" The shopkeeper questioned even though Nami's gender really didn't matter when it came to navigation equipment.
"Female," Zoro responded shortly; clearly uncomfortable with the direction of this conversation.
"What a shame," the old woman frowned, assuming that Zoro and this female navigator were involved, but she perked up quickly and began to show them around the store, pointing out various top notch pieces of equipment that could be utilized by any skilled adventurer.
"How about a spare log pose?" Robin asked and pointed out a shelf full of the little magnet driven compasses.
They were a little expensive but a spare log pose could definitely come in handy and Zoro was sure that Nami would appreciate the gift. After ensuring that he had enough money, he purchased one of the little devices and left the store with Robin feeling satisfied with his decision. Their next stop was a clothing store where Zoro watched the archaeologist carefully select the ugliest sweater he had ever seen.
It was dark brown with shades of vomit green and crimson splashed across the front in an ugly Christmas tree design. The material resembled that of both wool and shaggy yarn since multiple stray strings dangled from the offending garment as if it would unravel at any second. Despite the fact that it wasn't actually Christmas around here, the locals had apparently embraced the idea of year round Christmas decorations and apparel.
"You're getting that?" Zoro blanched and Robin laughed as she handed the poor excuse for a sweater over to the shop keeper and pulled out a few beli to pay for it.
"I don't think anyone in the crew is going to like tha-" Zoro began to insist that her choice of gift was disastrous but he was cut off by a surprising glint of mischief in a pair of striking blue eyes.
"It's for Cook-san."
That was all the explanation Zoro needed to halt objecting altogether and instead the swordsman smirked. He had always assumed that his female nakama relished all of the attention that Sanji doused them in but apparently, while his gestures were appreciated, neither woman had any interest in seeking intimacy with the womanizing swirly-brow.
"Navigator-san is getting him a tie to match," Robin continued nonchalantly as if the sweater was perfectly acceptable while taking the now wrapped garment and hooking the shopping bag on her wrist. Zoro didn't say anything but at the moment he was even more proud to call Robin and Nami his friends. It wasn't like the swordsman to get openly excited about something so his sudden anxiousness to watch the love cook open up his gifts from the girls was hidden deep beneath the surface.
The smell of cooking food drew most of the crew back to the Sunny. Franky had finished his shopping first and had relieved Sanji of his duties of watching the ship so that the cook could go out and purchase something for whoever he planned on giving gifts to and then he had returned within the hour lugging an obscene amount of shopping bags. It was obvious that most of the gifts would be for Robin and Nami and the men would be lucky to receive anything at all. Brook, Usopp and Luffy were the next to return at the Captain's insistence. He had smelled the food from the other side of the island and all but dragged his companion's back home, even though Sanji wouldn't allow anyone to eat until everyone had returned.
Nami returned with Chopper just as Robin and Zoro reached the ship and the girls exchanged looks that the swordsman caught and recognized. They were informing each other that their gifts for Sanji had been successfully purchased and both were satisfyingly awful. Zoro almost wanted to laugh but he remembered that he wasn't supposed to be in on their little joke and kept his mouth shut for once. It was normally the guys playing jokes on each other so it was refreshing to see the women participate.
Dinner was just as chaotic as usual. Sanji doted on the girls even more than usual. He lingered a little too long when setting their plates down in front of them and it was clear that both women were suspicious by the way Nami lifted her brow at his actions.
"Nami-Swan, Robin-Chwan," Sanji crooned affectionately while refilling Nami's glass of iced tea; "I found some mistletoe in town today and hung it up while you were out."
He was obviously hoping that both women would jump at the chance to discover where he had hidden the mistletoe and beckon him to meet them underneath. Sanji was never inappropriate with the women when it came to touching but for some reason when he straightened and his arm brushed against Nami's, Zoro was disturbed by the overwhelming sensation of irritation and anger that flooded his senses. It had been happening quite a bit lately around the cook. One thing was for sure, he didn't like the cook touching Nami at all.
"They don't want your nasty ass lips, shit-cook," Zoro bit out with a scowl that the cook returned. There was no way in hell he was going to allow their womanizing cook, even though he was nakama, to be Nami's first real kiss. He wasn't really sure why it mattered to him in the first place but it did. The thought of Sanji kissing the navigator at all was enough to make Zoro's skin crawl.
"You don't speak for them, marimo," Sanji warned through a drag of his cigarette before he turned back to the navigator, "right, Nami-San?"
Nami tensed from being put in the middle of what was bound to be an all out brawl between the two men. Unfortunately for Sanji, Zoro was correct, regardless of the cruel way he had worded it. The cook's lips weren't nasty but she certainly didn't want them and even though it was rare for the swordsman to speak up in her defense, Nami was grateful for it anyway. Sanji was her friend and she treasured him just as much as she did the others but his infatuation was not mutual. Flapping her hand in dismissal, the navigator smiled awkwardly, completely at a loss for words. Luckily, Zoro covered for her.
"This soup tastes like shit."
Zoro had returned his attention to his food and scowled into his bowl in a way that was surprisingly convincing. It was a low blow that wasn't true in any way but he knew that it would shift the conversation away from Nami, who was clearly uncomfortable. T he room had grown silent as the cook dangerously fumed off to the side. Brook had paused in the middle of sipping his tea, Franky shared a knowing look with Robin while Chopper coward behind Nami. Luffy was the only one who continued eating while the rest of the crew prepared to dodge the flying kicks and blunt sword edges.
"Fucking marimo…" Sanji cursed and came at Zoro like a raging bull.
The swordsman rose from his seat to meet him but both men were immediately stopped by a very firm and very painful smack to the top of their heads. Nami towered over the two stronger fighters in the crew and scowled at them like a scolding mother. Lumps had already begun to form where they had been hit and Zoro glared up at the orange-haired vixen without amusement. Sanji had already forgotten about his squabble with the swordsman and immediately began praising the navigator for her actions even though his compliments made no sense. Robin couldn't help quietly laughing while Zoro returned to his seat grumpily and Sanji practically floated back to his. Sometimes it was like Nami was the mother to their group of man-children.
The meal continued on as usual with pleasant conversation about past adventures and new ones to be had in the future. Their next stop after leaving this place would be Fishman Island and all of the Straw Hats were excited. Nami was a little nervous based on her experience with the creatures in the past but if travelling with the crew had taught her anything, it was that not all people were alike. For all she knew Arlong could have just been one bad apple in a barrel of fresh fruit.
With the meal finished, the crew slowly began filing out of the galley. Luffy was the first one out the door, intent on playing a few games before bed. He was quickly followed by Chopper and Usopp in single file but as Robin and Franky began to approach the doorway together, Sanji began acting strange.
"Wait! Robin-Chwan, please allow me to escort you out onto the deck," the cook insisted and began inching closer.
"I think she can make it outside just fine on her own, little bro," Franky murmured with a smile and a lift of his shades.
It wasn't until Robin and Franky were both standing just outside the doorway of the kitchen that the cook began to panic. He attempted to distract them while he tried to remove the mistletoe dangling over their heads but Robin caught him in the act.
"Is that mistletoe?"
It was sweetly asked but Sanji visibly deflated because his plan had backfired. Instead of the plant allowing him to steal a kiss from one of his two favorite women, Franky would get to do so instead. Perking up just a little, the cook quickly attempted to change the situation.
"Yes but of course you don't have to kiss. That rule is completely out of date," Sanji smiled awkwardly and again tried to hide the little plant while nervously flapping a hand as if to swat away the unwanted reality but Robin suddenly chuckled.
"Nonsense, it's tradition," she explained sweetly, seemingly unfazed by the thought of kissing their shipwright much to Sanji's shock.
Sanji could only watch in horror as Franky swooped down and claimed Robin's lips in a kiss that was both sweet and polite. He kept it brief for the sake of the cook and flashed the archaeologist a wink before taking his leave shortly after. Despite the chasteness of the kiss, the cook was practically in tears as he watched the raven-haired beauty walk away as if nothing had happened.
Brook was the next to leave the dining room and kitchen, staring at Sanji in confusion. Neither man seemed to notice that both of them were standing underneath the very same plant that had violated Sanji's intended fantasies. It was the cook who realized their predicament first but instead of following through with tradition, he gaped at the musician in shock, plucked the mistletoe from its place above the door, and disappeared to the other side of the ship in two seconds flat, huddled into himself like a man who had seen too much and finally lost his marbles.
"What's with him?" Nami asked Brook as she and Zoro left the kitchen. Brook simply shrugged before regarding the navigator with a serious expression, or at least as serious as a skeleton could look.
"Nami-San," he started softly and Nami looked up at him in confusion, "may I see your panties?"
"No!" Nami shrieked and silenced the perverted musician with a smack to the head that sent him spiraling down the stairs and slide and onto the lawn covered deck where he landed upside down with a laugh.
With morning came the excitement and anticipation of their established fake Christmas. Normally the men with the exception of Sanji would sleep until the sun was already high in the sky and breakfast was fully prepared but Luffy was the first to rise in the men's quarters and his noisy nature effectively ruined sleep for the rest of the ship. Nami was already up with the sun, Robin hadn't really slept at all, and Sanji was already busy preparing food. The crew piled all of their gifts in the center of the main deck with strict instructions from Nami that they were not to be touched until after breakfast when everyone would exchange.
The morning was cold and light snow had begun to fall and dust the deck. Breakfast was alive with conversation and the meal was finished quickly. The Straw Hats, bundled up in their warmest clothes, Luffy included after some prodding from Nami, had moved over to the pile of wrapped presents. Most of them were from Sanji to Nami and Robin but there was still one gift for each person. Luffy had quickly snatched up his gift for Usopp and offered it to the sniper in excitement. A similar looking slingshot to the one he already owned was nestled inside the box, only this one was stronger and the range in which it could shoot was greater. Everyone was shocked that the Captain had not only remembered what Usopp had asked for but had also purchased the sniper's requested gift instead of meat.
Chopper was thrilled to find a moving handmade toy from Usopp, Brook was given a comb for his afro from Chopper, and Luffy was more than happy with his freshly cooked sea-king meat from Sanji. Franky received a new Speedo from Brook, Robin was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful music box engraved with the names of her former fellow Ohara archeologists inside from Franky and Sanji showered the girls in various new outfits and hair accessories. Robin and Nami had both chipped in for an equally ugly gift for Sanji which they handed to the cook at the same time. After he was finished fawning over the fact that the women had been thoughtful enough to get him a gift at all, the cook carefully opened each package and stopped dead when he saw the horrific sweater and matching tie. It took quite a bit of restraint for both women not to laugh at his expression and for Zoro to resist the urge to smirk. The cook was over his shock rather quickly and instead of being offended by their choice of gift he was elated. Removing the sweater and tie, the cook immediately began to swoon and flail.
"Nami-Swan, Robin-Chwan," he wailed and dropped to his knees at their feet, "I am unworthy of your presents but I accept them nonetheless."
It was Robin who smiled first and reduced the cook to a puddle of throbbing hearts.
"You should put them on, Sanji-kun," Nami announced sweetly but with a grin that told Zoro she was enjoying this a little too much. Sanji was quick to obey, donning the hideous sweater and tie with pride while the rest of the crew burst into a fit of laughter.
"You look so stupid!" Luffy shouted bluntly between his laughs, completely unaware of the murderous glare the cook was giving him.
"I will treasure them forever," Sanji promised the girls sincerely, ignoring the jokes and laughter. Robin and Nami exchanged glances and smiles. Mission accomplished.
While the rest of the crew continued to put their gifts to good use, Zoro and Nami stepped off to the side to exchange their gifts. The swordsman avoided her gaze as he awkwardly passed the small wrapped box to her and accepted the one that she held out to him. Wanting to get this over with, Zoro wasted no time in opening his own gift only to raise a brow at what he found inside. Pulling it out, he smirked as he weighed it in his palm and examined it.
"Zoro got a rock!" Luffy laughed without remorse again and the swordsman's eyebrow twitched slightly in irritation.
"It's a sharpening stone," he corrected in an even tone and returned the object to the box. He was a little surprised that the navigator had thought to buy him the stone because it was one of the few things involving sword upkeep that he didn't have. It was a practical gift that he could actually use and he wasn't disappointed by her choice.
"I actually have another gift for you but it isn't finished yet," the navigator told him just loud enough so that only he could hear and busied herself with opening her gift to avoid his eyes. Zoro frowned at the thought of her giving him two gifts but he said nothing, silently trying to figure out what this second gift could be.
"Oh," Nami exclaimed with a smile after opening up the box, "I was actually thinking of getting a spare log pose. Thank you, Zoro."
The swordsman stiffened and crossed his arms over his chest, stamping down on an embarrassed blush and turning his attention away from her and over to the rest of their nakama.
"You're welcome," he finally mumbled awkwardly and so quiet that for a moment Nami thought she had imagined it, "and thank you…" He walked away before she could really register what he had said but he could practically feel her smile on his retreating back. It wasn't every day that she could get the almighty Zoro to show gratitude or emotion.
After about an hour of occupying themselves with their gifts the crew began to pack up and prepare to leave the island. Nami efficiently called out the necessary orders and the majority of the crew sprung into action unfurling the sails, hoisting the anchor and bringing the ship about to sail back into open waters. It didn't take long before the Sunny was smoothly sailing away from the winter island and in the direction that the log pose was indicating.
Nami disappeared into the women's quarters to finish up her gift for Zoro while the rest of the crew settled into their routines. Sanji returned to the kitchen to begin creating lunch, Franky went beneath the deck to finish up his upgrade on the mini Merry. Robin retrieved her watering can to water her flower bed; Zoro grabbed a set of weights and began a rigorous exercise routine while the rest of the Straw Hats started up a game of cards. It wasn't until lunch was finished that everyone paused to migrate toward the kitchen; everyone except for Nami. It wasn't very often that the navigator was late and so since he was one of the last to stop what he was doing and head upstairs anyway, Zoro stopped by Nami's door and knocked.
"Oi, witch, lunch is ready," he called into the door and raised a brow in interest when the sound of rapid movement rang out on the other side.
The door swung open a moment later and Nami squeezed past the small opening she had made and shut the door quickly behind her, bringing herself mere inches away from a confused Zoro. It was almost as if she didn't want him to see what she had been doing but the ink stains on her fingertips and the smudge on her cheek that she had unknowingly made while tucking away an annoying strand of hair indicated that she had been drawing something. She wasn't normally very secretive when it came to her maps so the only logical assumption left was that his second gift was a drawing, but of what?
"Zoro," she started nervously as if she had just realized he was standing there and very close at that, causing the swordsman once more to lift a brow in curiosity.
"Nami-Swan, your food is-" Sanji had exited the kitchen to inform the navigator that lunch was ready only to find her standing nearly chest to chest with Zoro. Robin and Luffy were leaning against the railing staring down at them as well, Luffy only wanting them to hurry up and get to the kitchen so he could eat, and Robin amused with the unfolding situation.
"Nami-San," Sanji wailed dramatically and dropped to his knees in anguish, "dammit."
"Sanji-kun," Nami blinked in confusion at the cook's antics before Robin shed some light on their predicament by indicating that they look up. Upon doing so, both Nami and Zoro paled at the sight of another sprig of mistletoe hanging directly above their heads. Sanji had apparently left the mistletoe in places that he thought he could ambush the girls and each time it seemed to backfire on him.
"You don't have to kiss him," Sanji quickly clarified but Robin interjected.
"It's tradition that you kiss."
Nami tried to beat down the blush that attempted to rise in her cheeks but it was no use and they colored pink against her will. She could have sworn that Zoro was blushing too but the swordsman's expression was shadowed by the sunlight and the way he bowed his head.
"Luck favors those who kiss under the mistletoe but turns against those who avoid it," Robin murmured the ancient superstition she had read in a book once and never forgotten.
Nami had never really relied on luck even though her Captain and Zoro left a lot of things to luck but there was a part of her that wanted to kiss the swordsman anyway. They stood there rigid and unmoving for a good thirty seconds before Nami's curiosity got the better of her and she lifted herself up onto the tips of her toes, bracing her hands against Zoro's tense chest and covered his still mouth with her own. It was not a passionate kiss by any means. Zoro remained stiff and unresponsive and Nami was afraid to pull away. She was afraid to see the look on his face when they finally parted.
The sound of Sanji sobbing in the background was barely heard, and just when she was about to end the one sided kiss, Zoro responded. It was hesitant at first and although no one else could really see the movement, the soft brush of the swordsman's lips against Nami's was shell shocking. There was no slobber or unnecessary use of teeth like her first experience. It was a polite closed mouth kiss and yet a jolt of something similar to both fire and electricity passed between them, tingling from their lips all the way down to their toes and back up where it settled in their stomachs. He didn't touch her with his hands and he broke the kiss only a few seconds after kissing her back but Nami felt the loss immediately anyway.
Without a word Zoro stuffed his hands into his pockets and started up the stairs to the kitchen, passing by a still sobbing Sanji, a smiling Robin and an uninterested Luffy. Nami was still holding onto the door behind her, slightly dizzy and still surprised by the tingling of her mouth. It took a handful of seconds to collect herself before she donned a casual expression and headed for the kitchen as well.
"Sanji-kun, I'm hungry," she told the cook softly and succeeded in breaking him from his depression. Sanji was on his feet immediately fawning over both of the women as he led them into the kitchen and began to serve lunch.
"Kuina," Nami repeated the name as if to test it on her tongue before his words finally registered.
"You were beaten by a girl?" She would have laughed if Zoro hadn't suddenly smiled.
There was no shame or regret in the confession. The swordsman actually seemed pretty proud to admit that his childhood friend had beaten his ass hundreds of times. Nami didn't know if it was because the girl was gone or if Kuina had simply made Zoro proud to be a swordsman but the girl had pushed him to train and try harder and she was a huge factor in the reason that Zoro was the man that he was today. Without even knowing Kuina personally, Nami was honored to have been made aware of her through the words of Zoro himself.
"What did she look like?" She was smiling because suddenly the navigator had an idea.
She remembered that conversation as if it were yesterday, when in reality it had been at least two weeks ago. Shortly after leaving Thriller Bark, Nami had sensed that Sanji and Robin were hiding something from her and had managed to flirt the reality of what Zoro had done for them out of Sanji after only a few minutes. The swordsman had not only offered up his own head in place of Luffy's to save the entire crew; he had taken on the burden of Luffy's injuries and pain in the process.
She didn't say it out loud but Nami admired him for his actions and his undying loyalty to their Captain. That had been the night that she had climbed up into the crow's nest to keep the swordsman company since he had watch. They had played a game of cards, had a little sake and started talking about their pasts. Staring down at the piece of parchment she had been scribbling on for the last two weeks, Nami smiled at the end result. She had to admit that she was good. A steady hand, a sure memory and some artistic skill had given life to a drawing that could easily pass for a photograph.
Stretching a few stiff muscles the navigator allowed the ink to dry before rolling up the wanted poster sized drawing and leaving her room. Dinner had long since passed and most of the crew had found their way to bed with the exception of Robin who was probably in the library and Zoro who had watch. It was technically Usopp's turn to man the crow's nest but the sniper had complained and Zoro had volunteered to take his place in order to finish up his workout routine without disturbing the others.
Without allowing herself time to hesitate, Nami hauled herself up into the crow's nest through the open hatch and blinked to allow her eyes to adjust to the darkness. The swordsman had already finished his exercise and had turned out all of the lights but one. Once her eyes finally adjusted, Nami made her way over to the slumped figure that was Zoro's sleeping form and knelt down onto her knees in front of him. Silently she took his hand in hers and almost laughed when Zoro visibly flinched at the contact before she set the rolled up paper in his open palm and released him.
"What's this?" His gruff voice eventually broke the silence and Nami smiled widely, standing up and placing one hand on her hip.
"It's your second present," she explained as if the answer had been obvious and he should have known without even asking.
"You didn't have to get me anything else," Zoro stated cautiously; partly suspicious that this second gift was going to cost him.
"This was actually going to be your only gift but I didn't finish it in time," Nami admitted with a frown.
Sighing, Zoro finally got to his feet so that he could see the gift a little better and reluctantly began to roll it open. Nami held her breath in anticipation for his reaction. What if he didn't like it? She was afraid that the present was too sentimental for their usually aloof swordsman and the way he froze after opening the poster didn't help to ease her worries. Zoro said nothing. A startlingly accurate drawing of Kuina stared right back at him and he wasn't really sure what to say. Years had passed since his childhood friend had died and after describing the girl once to Nami she had managed to recreate her image flawlessly.
It was sentimental and Zoro had never been good with sentimental but it meant more to him than he could possibly express with words. Words were the cook's forte; actions were his. Nami had gifted him with an image of Kuina that was real and tangible, something that he could keep without the need to memorize and suddenly his gift to her wasn't enough. A log pose in comparison to a physical memory of his long lost friend was nothing.
"Do you like it?" Nami ventured cautiously with a frown. He still hadn't said anything and she was starting to think that the picture wasn't nearly as good as she thought it was.
"Z-Zoro?" Her voice hitched against her will when the swordsman took a step toward her suddenly. There was something in his eyes she didn't recognize and even though her fight or flight response told her to make a run for it, she trusted Zoro and his sudden change in attitude was secretly exciting.
"I'm talking about a real passionate, mind numbing, spine tingling kiss."
Her words echoed in his mind as he took another step forward and relished in the fact that she didn't back away. Zoro wasn't stupid. He had felt the shift in their relationship the moment she had kissed him in front of their friends. The tingling sensation of her lips against his could still be felt if he thought about it hard enough but sometimes memories couldn't satisfy. Sometimes a physical reminder was as vital as oxygen and he stopped directly in front of her and stooped low enough to lightly breathe against her mouth. Nami visibly swallowed and stared up at him in both excitement and confusion until Zoro casually pointed above her head.
Following the lead of his finger, she was astounded to find yet another piece of mistletoe hanging right above her. Sanji must have really been desperate. It dawned on her then that Zoro had purposely stepped underneath the plant with her, knowing it was there as her eyes returned to meet his in the dim lighting.
"Thank you, Nami," Zoro murmured a breath away from her lips and Nami's eyes widened in response, torn between staring at his eyes and glancing at his mouth in anticipation.
Zoro suddenly smirked and Nami was overwhelmed with the sudden urge to smack him for being so cocky. She started to back away assuming he was only toying with her but a strong arm suddenly encircled her waist and his other hand moved to tangle in her hair before his mouth covered hers in a dominating kiss. There was no hesitation this time, only a mind numbing intensity that robbed her of breath and rational thought. Her eyes slid shut of their own accord and her knees buckled helplessly and she was sure that if Zoro hadn't been holding her up she would have fallen. Pulling her more firmly against him, Zoro coaxed her mouth open with a playful nip and Nami gasped in response, opening up to him without protest. His way of using his teeth while kissing was nothing like her first experience; this was far more pleasant. It wasn't until the soft drag of his tongue against hers registered that Nami became aware of the fact that she had taken his kiss lying down so to speak. Not one to be outdone, her own hands found their way into his hair and the navigator came alive in his arms.
Zoro grunted against her mouth in approval before suddenly lifting her up off the floor and allowing her to wrap her legs around his waist. Her kiss was distracting and he stumbled more than once on his way to the bench before finally sitting down with her in his lap and setting the drawing of Kuina off to the side simultaneously. Nami wasn't the kind of girl who surrendered without a fight and Zoro liked it.
They battled for dominance for several minutes, hearts pounding, heads swimming, before the need to break apart became clear. It wasn't easy. Neither one of them wanted it to end but it was getting out of control with hands wandering wherever they damn well pleased and Nami making noises that made him burn from the inside out. Pulling away after another minute of internal struggle and a lot of hesitation, the two of them panted in unison into the dark.
Nami was blushing and her eyes had yet to open. Zoro was smirking but he could feel the heat in his neck and cheeks. His arms remained firmly rooted around her waist, unwilling to let her go and the navigator seemed to have the same idea because her hands were still buried in his hair. Forcing himself to calm, the swordsman finally caught his breath and grinned wolfishly.
"That's your second gift," he said rather cockily, although he was mentally counting it as another gift for himself as well.
"Merry Christmas, Nami."
Her eyes finally opened and Zoro was more than satisfied to see her pupils dilated and her hair a little tousled from his hands. It became very clear in the scant seconds that passed between them in silence that from now on she was his. There was no way in hell the swordsman would allow another man to taste and touch that which he had already claimed and Nami was no different. He read it in the way she suddenly smiled and leaned forward to sweetly press her lips to his in a very brief peck of a kiss.
He was hers and there was no going back now, not that either of them really wanted to. They both knew that there had been something there hidden just beneath the words of insult between them for as long as they had been travelling together, something that could be defined by the way they could so easily go from arguing to worrying about each other. It was clear as day in the way that sparks danced between them when Nami suddenly playfully nibbled at Zoro's lower lip. They just fit.
"Merry Christmas, Zoro."
Nami whispered breathlessly before the last remaining light in the room was snuffed out and Zoro caught her mouth in another searing kiss that made her fall in love with Christmas all over again.
A/N: D'awwww! Guess who's back!? This was originally going to be a Christmas story that I intended to post before Christmas but life, like the wind, decided to change the course of that particular journey. Nevertheless, I'm pretty satisfied with how this turned out. One thing I would like to point out is that while I am aware that a different type of log pose is used in the New World (making Zoro's gift almost useless) neither of them know this yet so it seemed a logical thing to give to our favorite navigator. On a side note, how badass is Zoro in Thriller Bark? –swoon- I had already read most of it in the manga but had yet to watch it in the anime and after doing so I fell in love with his character all over again. Zoro is definitely a close second in my book of favorites, with Luffy being the first. As always thank you to my friend and Sencho (Oceanwind) for beta'ing this little one shot. I hope that you all enjoy the delicious ZoNa fluff (plus bonus background Frobin) and until next time, happy reading!