Disclaimer: Of course I don't own One Piece; but Oda said that I could borrow it for a moment. Okay, that's a lie. All rights go to the incredibly talented Eiichiro Oda. Hoping you get well (and stay well this time) soon!
Chapter 1: Just a Bad Dream
Canon fire filled the air with acrid smoke, blocking out the sun and cloaking everything in an ominous gray. She couldn't see and she didn't know where she was. She could hear her captain shouting in the distance, laughing as he took on the rival captain that had started this whole thing. Her lungs were burning and she suddenly realized why. She couldn't breathe. Her body went numb with fear, or maybe from the frigid temperature of the water…. Water. Her vision cleared and she became aware of what was happening. She was drowning. Against her better judgment she opened her mouth to scream for help but the only thing she succeeded in doing was losing precious air, bubbles erupting from her mouth instead of words. The water was crushing her lungs, or at least that's how it felt and her head began to spin from lack of oxygen. 'Luffy…' Her tears mixed with the salty water of the sea. 'Sanji…' Her vision began to blur and darken.
The sound of someone shouting out the swordsman's name wrenched Nami from her nightmare. She was covered in a sheen of cold sweat, her heart racing and her head pounding.
She jumped at the deep sound of Zoro's voice and suddenly remembered where she was. They had stumbled across a small patch of land the day before. It was a little too small to really call an island but large enough to harbor a sizeable beach, numerous trees and fresh fruit. Aside from animals the place was deserted and the Straw Hats had decided to stay for a few days and relax. It was a nice break from all the trouble they usually found themselves in. She remembered eating dinner and then falling asleep next to Robin, but it seemed that the archaeologist had somehow ended up next to Franky and Nami looked around to find herself between Luffy and Zoro around the fire.
The entire crew was sleeping peacefully despite Luffy's obnoxious snoring; everyone except for Zoro who was sitting upright with his back to the fire beside her, clearly keeping watch over his sleeping nakama. It made her feel safe, but she wouldn't be going back to sleep anytime soon. Nami had experienced that nightmare before in pieces but nothing so vivid. It had only started happening the week before. She couldn't recall ever being aware that she was drowning which meant the dreams were escalating. It was terrifying.
She couldn't see his face since his front half was facing away from the light of the fire but she could hear the concern in his gruff voice.
"Of course I am," she lied, "why?"
The swordsman's shoulder went up in a shrug, not buying it.
"You yelled my name in your sleep."
Nami's cheeks immediately colored in embarrassment when it dawned on her that the voice that woke her up was her own.
"You sounded scared."
Zoro continued even though she wasn't answering. Pulling her knees up to her chest, Nami wrapped her arms around them and sighed.
"Just a bad dream."
It was more than that. Zoro could tell but he didn't push the conversation any further. Even though they argued a lot there was never any real hatred in their words. In the end they were still friends, and Zoro never liked to see his friends in distress.
"You should try to go back to sleep."
He had a point. She was exhausted and the sun wouldn't be up for at least four hours still, but she was afraid of having that dream again…. Of resuming it where she'd left off.
"I'm not really that tired."
Nami lied unconvincingly and flashed him a small smile as if to prove it. It didn't surprise her when the swordsman turned and gave her a look that said she couldn't fool him, the eyebrow of his good eye lifting in slight amusement. It made her angry until he spoke again.
"I'll wake you up if you have another nightmare."
There was no teasing in his tone. Zoro was serious. It was his way of protecting her like he always did, even in her dreams. After a few moments of consideration Nami finally nodded and laid back down, frowning when she noticed that her drooling captain had rolled over part way into her sleeping space. He was most likely dreaming about meat since he was attempting to bite into her pillow like it was a giant ham. Rolling her eyes, she scooted away from Luffy a little with a sigh of irritation. Now her pillow was soaked in saliva and half of her sleeping mat was taken over by a man who would not be easy to move. She ended up scooting slightly onto Zoro's sleeping mat that he was only sitting on anyway; attempting to drag her blanket with her but Luffy was lying on top of it.
"Luffy…" She grumbled between clenched teeth while a vein in her temple throbbed in annoyance. The rubber man didn't budge. Zoro suddenly shifted without a word to allow her more space on his sleeping mat and she offered him a grateful smile in return, scooting over as far as the closely spaced crew members would allow and putting several inches between herself and Luffy. The move pressed her up against Zoro's sitting form a little but the swordsman said nothing as he passed over his dry pillow and blanket. He didn't plan on sleeping until morning anyway. In a rare moment of selflessness, Nami covered his lap with half of the blanket as a thank you and fell asleep within a matter of minutes, secretly comforted by the heat that radiated from Zoro's solid form. Her nightmare didn't return.
When she woke up a few hours later Sanji was preparing breakfast and Zoro was napping under a nearby tree. He had moved away from her just before the cook woke up to spare them both from his overreaction. If Sanji noticed that Nami was sleeping on Zoro's mat wrapped up in his bedding, he said nothing. Robin was already awake and sipping her usual morning cup of coffee while reading the paper. Franky was hauling firewood from the forest and Luffy, Usopp, Chopper and Brook were still sprawled out on the ground asleep. Her poor pillow was dripping with drool and bitten in half. She would have to remember not to sleep anywhere near Luffy next time. She took the time to roll Zoro's mat, blanket and pillow up into a neat little bundle before setting it near the rest of the bedding not in use and joining Robin at the table the boys had set up on the beach for meals.
Sanji was at her side in a handful of seconds, donning a tray with delicious looking breakfast treats and her usual morning smoothie.
"Good morning, Sanji-kun."
Nami smiled brightly, sneaking a glance in the swordsman's direction. Zoro was snoring loudly with his arms crossed over his chest and his swords propped up beside him at arm's length. Nothing had changed. She thought for sure he would find a way to hold the embarrassing events from last night over her head and a pang of guilt stabbed into her for making that assumption. Zoro just wasn't like that. She didn't dwell on the nightmare any longer as Sanji presented her with food and the crew instantly came alive. Luffy was on his feet before the plate even hit the table, whining about how hungry he was and attempting to snatch food from Nami or Robin's tray. Several hard kicks later and the captain was seated obediently at the table waiting for his food, painful lumps sprouting out of his head.
As the day progressed the memory of her nightmare vanished little bits at a time until she felt like her old self again. Sometime after lunch Luffy, Chopper and Usopp started up a game of tag with Brook and Sanji joined the girls and Franky for a dip in the water to cool off. It had to be at least ninety degrees out with no breeze to quell the heat. Luffy quickly followed wrapped in every floatation device imaginable. Sanji had to keep going after him when the captain ventured a little too far out to sea and began to drift into open water. Eventually Franky and Robin challenged Nami to a game of chicken. She never could resist a challenge.
She couldn't exactly ask Luffy to be her partner since his strength to hold her up would vanish the moment he stepped into the water, and he didn't possess the greatest attention span anyway. The only reason Robin was able to play without being affected was because Franky was tall enough that she didn't touch the water while sitting on his shoulders. Sanji was also out of the question since the pervy cook would probably die from blood loss halfway through the game. His nosebleeds weren't nearly as severe as they were on Fishman Island but she wasn't taking any chances. It took some doing but eventually she succeeded in coercing their sleepy swordsman into being her partner by offering to lower his debt a little and Nami managed to drag Zoro out into the water where Franky and Robin were waiting. Even though he looked less than amused, Nami could tell that Zoro wasn't entirely put off by his participation in the game.
They had been the first two people to travel with Luffy and that in itself formed a special bond between them. He could put on the irritated expression if he wanted but Nami knew him. He couldn't con a con-woman. He loved his nakama and even though he and Nami didn't always get along, they made an excellent team. The swordsman held out his hands to help her onto his shoulders and then firmly gripped her legs once she was comfortably seated, one thigh on each side of his head. Pulling back long orange locks, Nami secured them into a pony tail to keep it out of her face and signaled to start the game.
There was really no contest when you put the two of them together. Even though Franky was massive and Robin could sprout some extra helping hands, Zoro's strength and balance were unmatched and Nami's determination to stay on his shoulders was impressive. Zoro's expression remained indifferent as Robin and Nami attempted to knock each other off of their partners, but eventually the green-haired man cracked a smirk when the navigator cheered triumphantly as Robin fell off into the water. She laughed when the archaeologist was scooped up out of the sea by Franky with an amused smile on her face, challenging the duo to another round.
It wasn't until they were headed for bed that her good mood began to disappear. The very idea of going to sleep put her on edge and the nightmare clawed at the back of her mind to remind her of what was waiting for her in the night. Nami found herself once more placed next to Zoro but she made sure that Luffy was on the other side of the fire. Chopper had taken his place on her other side instead. No one asked Zoro to keep watch since it really wasn't necessary on such a solitary island. The swordsman did it of his own accord. His stoic figure sat next to her in the inky blackness with only the moon to illuminate his presence. It was warm enough tonight to forego the fire and so they had allowed it to burn down into little more than coals.
Resting against her new pillow, Nami stared at him for several minutes, tossing and turning on her mat. She was tired but she didn't want to go to sleep. Normally being surrounded by her friends would make her feel completely at ease but tonight she felt unbearably alone. No one could protect her in her own mind… Not even Zoro. The swordsman shifted and set his swords down right next to her in between them as if to remind her of his words from the night before. Even though he didn't look at her the gesture soothed her nerves just a little and allowed her to finally fall asleep.
She was so stupid. She should've stayed near the others where she was safe but the lure of treasure had always been her undoing. Her friends were strong; they could handle the battle by themselves. Their enemies were cowards anyway, attacking them in their sleep like that. If Zoro hadn't been awake to warn them they would've been in big trouble. The sound of gunfire could be heard in the distance where the morons were still trying to pierce Luffy with bullets. Apparently they hadn't learned the first time he bounced the projectiles back at them. Despite their crew of two hundred men they were losing pretty pathetically and Nami took the opportunity to pick a few pockets.
Something told her to stay with her friends but as usual the navigator didn't listen. The enemy ship wasn't bigger than the Sunny but even a small amount of treasure had its value. No one really paid attention to her as she easily snuck past rival pirates and climbed the rope into their ship. There was a reason they called her a cat burglar after all. As smart as she was, Nami's critical thinking was always a little clouded when dollar signs swam into her vision and she hadn't prepared for the ship to be guarded. She was feeling pretty stupid when a pair of frighteningly strong arms wrapped around her middle and hauled her off of her feet. She tried to scream but her attacker was quick to shove a piece of soiled cloth that made her gag into her mouth and bound another piece around her mouth to muffle her attempts. Stupid stupid stupid! Nami shouted to herself and struggled to get her arms free to reach her clima tact. Her shoulders screamed in protest and nearly came out of their sockets when the man jerked her hands behind her back roughly and tied her wrists together. A sweep under her legs sent her falling to the ground on her bottom hard, the shock of the wood floor rocketing through her body and leaving searing pain in its wake.
"Nami the cat burglar," the massive man stepped in front of her and grinned, eyes flashing dangerously, "you're much prettier in person."
Her only response was to glare at him since she couldn't really say what she wanted to say. She wasn't worried. The crew would notice she was missing and come to her rescue before the bastard even had time to finish his sentence.
"You know what we do to thieves?"
She ignored his words and the fear that began to well up in her gut as he knelt in front of her and shackled her legs together with heavy iron weights. Her friends were coming…. They had to.
"They say that drowning is one of the most painful ways to go," he continued but Nami refused to even look at him. She wouldn't panic… She would be okay, "that you can feel your organs shutting down one by one and your lungs filling up with water."
Her heart began to race as ice cold fear started clawing at her. Were they all too distracted with the fight to notice she wasn't there? What if they didn't make it in time? Her eyes widened in panic and she struggled again when the man hauled her to her feet with those beefy arms around her middle again, dragging her wriggling form over to the side of the ship where the water was deepest. No, no… No! Her own mental screaming nearly drowned out the sounds of her assailant fighting to move her. She was stronger than she looked.
The pain in her arms increased as she worked to free her wrists. The idiot had secured them with rope instead of shackles and she squeezed her eyes shut against the pain as she made one last desperate attempt to save herself. Her scream of agony was muffled as one of her shoulders dislocated but the snapping sound of rope was music to her ears. Ripping the dirty cloth from her mouth, Nami whirled on the pirate and used all of her strength to shove him away from her, clawing at his naked chest when he tried to grab her again and leaving trails of blood in his skin.
Why did he sound so familiar? It made her panic even more and she tried to claw at his eyes to blind him but the man caught her wrists to stop her. She nearly lost her balance since her ankles were still bound but she wasn't going to die here.
He shouted again in frustration and she fought harder, tears blurring her vision of his face so much so that for a moment he almost looked like Zoro.
"Oi, Nami! Wake up!"
The sounds of gunfire vanished along with the weights on her legs. Zoro was standing in front of her, holding her hands flat against his bleeding chest with a firm grip around her wrists. He seemed unfazed by the jagged claw marks in his skin and was instead staring at her with immense concern. She was trembling as the dream disappeared and reality set in. Her fingernails were caked in blood and she was crying. They seemed to be down the beach at least half a mile from their camp site since their friends seemed more like dots in the distance where they still slept.
"Are you okay?"
Zoro murmured and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her eyes begin to clear. He loosened his grip on her wrists but didn't let her go. She was shaking so violently that he thought she might topple over if he released her completely.
"You were sleep walking."
He said it so simply that more tears sprang into her horrified eyes. He should've been upset with her for ripping up his chest and trying to claw his face off but instead he was worried about her. She could still feel the burning in her shoulder from where she'd popped it out of place but she knew it wasn't real. The nightmares were getting worse and each night they grew more vivid. What was happening to her? Without a word of explanation she allowed her head to fall against Zoro's bloody chest, burying her arms between them and clinging to him like a lifeline while she quivered. The swordsman tensed at first at a loss for what to do. Eventually he wrapped her up in a solid embrace that was no longer unsure and simply allowed her to take the comfort he was offering. He hadn't seen her like this since their battle with Arlong and it threw him for a loop. Nami was a strong and prideful woman who very rarely allowed herself to fall apart. Something was seriously wrong. He sighed and squeezed his friend a little tighter.
"Just a bad dream, huh?"
A/N: This story is dedicated to fmdevil, KimuraMinami and Oceanwind. You guys have been awesome at checking up on me from time to time and encouraging me to write more ZoNa with your flattering words. You're great friends who love my work and I love you all for it. Cover image credit goes to the very talented Meru90 of Deviantart.
She's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive! XD Did you miss me?! I apologize for my lengthy absence ZoNa fans. I really don't have much of an excuse other than I've been catching up on One Piece and writing a book in my free time, but I'm back! Thank you to the best Captain and beta a girl could ask for (Oceanwind) for polishing this story until it shined. I'm absolutely in love with this plot and I hope that you all love it so far too. On a random note, I just finished getting through the Fishman Island arc (sort of. I'm already caught up and waiting for new episodes) and although it took a little getting used to, I have fallen in love with Zoro's new look finally (I tend to read/watch ahead sometimes so I already knew what he looked like but I missed the old look until the battle in that particular arc). That damn scarred eye when he's got Wado between his teeth and grins… -swoons- and that moment in Punk Hazard where he stops Nami from falling on her rear by grabbing onto her hand . Even though it was technically Sanji it was so sweet. Zoro just always has to save her. XD Thank you for reading and please review! I love hearing from you guys! Happy reading!