They lose Chopper somewhere on a cold island. It's fitting in a way, Nami thinks, since he was originally from the chilly lands of Drum.
But then she realizes that that is bullshit, because Chopper wouldn't have wanted to go like that unless his nakama were at his side or if he had been fighting for something worth being protected. Her throat constricts with suppressed sobs and she chokes on sadness and anger and love when she thinks this.
Yet she doesn't do anything but let Chopper slip away into the violent winds, blinding snow and biting cold as she runs and runs and runs away from the demons that are chasing after her. The broken misfits diminish from four to three and what little that is left of the Mugiwara no ichimi cracks and frays even more, and this is what lets Nami know that they're all just grabbing at the ends of their rope.
They lost Sanji to a battleship that was crewed by marines that they would have never been able to beat. Perhaps they could have on one of their best days, but it wasn't one of their best because they were injured and they were missing important things and they were mourning, damnit. Their sails had been swapped out for black instead of the usual white, the crew had been isolated and alone in their own corners of the ship, and they were just feeling broken.
And then that damn ship had to come, and Zoro was still unconscious in the infirmary as he had been for the past three days and Robin had her left wrist shattered in three places while Chopper was exhausted from attending to everyone.
Usopp wasn't too badly injured, but his heart was broken and he had been locked away in his factory for days regardless of everyone's attempts to get him to leave. Franky had been the one attempting to get him to leave below deck when the ship attacked.
She remembers nothing but passionate determination and a wild torrent of broken emotions in that fight. Brook had been with her on the deck of the ship while she unleashed torrents of electricity into the air to shock the enemies to their core. She wanted them to be gonegonegone, but they just kept appearing from nowhere. Brook had been gliding from one person to the next with his sword waltzing through flesh and blood, and his deathly silence was so unnerving that Nami's fingers kept twitching.
But then someone cracked apart Brook's femur, and she had to hold the Strawhat's musician in her arms while Robin steered the Sunny towards the marines' ship so that Franky could set up the cola for Coup De Burst, but Sanji was the only one fighting because Usopp still hadn't come up from below deck and Chopper had collapsed before he could even eat a rumble ball.
"Nami-san, we'll make it through this."
Those were Sanji's last words to her before he tossed her and Brook over the railing and onto the deck of the Thousand Sunny.
She was left staring at his back when he was shot through the chest.
Just like Bellemere-san.
His funeral was not a funeral, because they didn't get his body back. They didn't get anything back. No victory, no joy, no cook. They got nothing.
And so they lit candles, placed them on little wooden rafts the size of Franky's metal palm, and they pushed them out onto the sea that night. They bobbed away on the oddly calm waters, and then the night swallowed the flickering lights whole.
She had heard the infirmary door creak open, and heavy footsteps padded out of the room. Chopper, who's bloodshot eyes were swimming in giant pools of tears, didn't bother turning around to check on his patient, who shouldn't have been out of bed. He just collapsed onto the grass of the Thousand Sunny and started making horrific sounds that sounded like no being Nami has ever known.
Nami turned around with a similar, broken expression and her eyes met Zoro's disoriented, pain-filled ones. His bandages were rumpled and needed changed, and his hair was sticking off in nine different directions.
"Oh, you're awake," she had said with a voice that broke like glass.
The already silent deck got even quieter, and Robin just tore her nails into her broken arm until the skin broke and tiny beads of blood spilled. Her eyes stared blankly out at something Nami couldn't see and Franky, who didn't know how to make things better for anyone at this point, reached out gently to pry her fingers away from her arm.
Brook was standing on a crutch with such a still stance that he really seemed to be a true skeleton, not one that breathes and laughs like their skeleton does.
Usopp was still trying to look for the candles that had set out into the night, and he himself made the tears spill much faster down Nami's face. Usopp's hands were gripping a mask that belonged to a "brave warrior" name Sogeking, and she cringes as he grips the mask hard enough to crack the plaster.
"Zoro, I'm sorry," Nami had said with a fake smile. "but there won't be dinner tonight."
And Zoro's masked yet confused expression broke into something that was not Zoro-like at all, and rather something much, much softer.
"Well, shit. I really could use some of that damn cook's food right now," he said after a moment, and his voice broke ever-so-slightly.
Nami thought that there couldn't have been any other words to make Sanji's parting final.
Robin slips away and Franky follows unexpectedly.
They're all recovering from their losses, and the things that were broken, (Fragile things, mind you, fragile things. Things that could never be fixed) were healing. Usopp has become so obsessive with practicing his sniping skills, with trying to lift Zoro's weights even though he has never done things like that before, and with making weapons and ammunition in his factory that he seems to disappear altogether. He's just a shell.
The yard of the Thousand Sunny that used to be filled with laughter and games is now having patches of grass dying off, and Nami can't look at the swing that used to be played with by three idiots without feeling something coming apart within her chest.
Yet Nami hopes and Nami holds things together because she has a stronger heart than she's given credit for, and she just absolutely knows things will get better.
Chopper doesn't know what to do with himself, so he flits about from one nakama to the next. He checks for illness or injuries, he talks although his voice is small and quiet, yet most of the time he just sits beside someone in silence. Nami urges him to make conversation though, because she fears that he'll become a shell as well, and she doesn't know how to fix that.
Zoro goes about like things are normal, because he's trying and he knows that a sense of normalcy will help everyone. He doesn't ignore the problem, but he doesn't emphasize it either. He's willing to lift weights and do his training or maybe sleep, but he's also willing to be the sturdy shoulder for someone to cry on. And believe it, Nami has cried on that shoulder more than she'd like to admit.
There are times when Zoro thinks no one is watching and his gaze becomes something pained and anguished, and Nami knows that he is hurting as much as them, if not more.
Robin has become quieter, and that really means something because she's usually so calm and quiet in the first place. More than once Nami woke up in the night to hear Robin gasping and making noises that sound like someone drowning, and Nami doesn't know how to ease away another's nightmares when she's suffering from her own demons.
Franky has kept a watchful eye on Robin though, because he's not all machine. He's a human as well.
Nami was going to walk into the library to bring Robin a cup of tea when she sees that their cyborg is holding the archaeologist like something brittle and precious on the floor of the library. She hears his muffled voice whisper hushed reassurances through the cracked door and she hears the almost silent noise of sobs coming from the woman named after a bird.
Brook has been haunting the crew with music that makes the violin seem like it's crying itself. Nami wants to beg him to stop, but it is his way of mourning and what right does she have to take that away?
One night, the ship drifts into a heavy fog patch. Nami asks Robin to try to see out of the thick obscurity surrounding the ship. Robin uses her powers and Nami patiently waits for a few minutes as their archeologist tries to see. Nami notices the sudden change of expression on the other woman's face from calm to troubled even though it only lasts for a moment.
"I'm afraid not," Robin says after a minute, but it sounds like a lie to Nami but she doesn't know why.
"Alright. Okay...yeah, alright," Nami murmurs in agitation.
Robin studies Nami with a cool expression before smiling slightly and offering to take first watch since Nami has been so exhausted lately.
Nami should have never let her do so.
The navigator wakes up hours later in the middle of the night to the shouting of Zoro and Franky. Chopper bursts through her door and his tear-stained fur makes her jump up and sprint to the deck. Usopp is already there and looking for an enemy with an expression that doesn't belong to him, but an expression that belongs to someone dangerous and cruel. Brook is straining to see through the mist with some binoculars and Franky is shouting and demanding if Brook sees Robin.
"What's wrong? Did Robin fall overboard?" Nami gasps anxiously as she rushes to the railing to look to the sea.
Zoro shakes his head with a troubled expression, "No, Franky says she took the Shiro Mokuba out into the fog."
Nami blinks, "Why?!"
"Ah! I can vaguely make out another ship!" Brook interjects.
"Is it Robin and the waver?" Nami demands worriedly.
Brook remains silent before slowly bringing the binoculars from his eyes.
"...It's a marine ship."
Everyone pieces two and two together at the same time and Franky is sprinting down to the docking system before Nami can tell him to wait.
"I'm going after her!" he says fiercely.
"Franky! Wait!" Zoro shouts as he hurries after him, but Nami knows that he won't catch their shipwright in time.
"We'll just take the Sunny to her! Wait, Franky!" Nami shouts.
Usopp hurries over to the wheel and Chopper and Brook rush to get the sails ready. Nami runs over to Usopp to point him in the right direction, but they can't see with the fog everywhere.
Why, Robin? You don't have to do things on your own anymore, you know this!
Nami pictures a similar situation, except it was a long time ago. There's a train whistle echoing in her ears but she shakes her head furiously.
Franky sets out with the Mini Merry and he leads the way as they turn the Sunny to follow, but Nami keeps shouting for Franky to stay in sight because the uneasy knot in her stomach is all too familiar and she knows something wrong will happen.
"Franky! I can't see you anymore, do you see Robin?" Nami shouts out into the fog.
Silence is what echoes back to her.
They searched for hours, but the bird and the cyborg were never found.
They couldn't even destroy the marines that tore those two from them, since they were lost as well.
It becomes habit.
The marines keep finding them, and they sometimes win but most of the time they just run because Zoro can't protect everyone from the really strong enemies and everyone is afraid that they'll lose someone else.
Brook stills more and more each day, and sometimes Nami has to shout to get his attention. Chopper doesn't know what to look for to see if Brook is sick, and it upsets him so badly that more than once he broke down into helpless tears.
Usopp has taken the role of cooking, because Nami has been doing more than enough for their small crew and no one else really knows how to cook. Everyone is in a bad need for a haircut, but Nami doesn't mention it to the sharpshooter.
The grass on the deck is mostly dead now, and Robin's flower bed wilts despite Nami's attempts to take care of it.
It's almost as though the Sunny is dying along with them.
Zoro is technically the one who's in charge now, and he's supposed to be the one who tells Nami where to lead the ship, but Zoro lets Nami decide that because he wouldn't enforce that rule even if he wanted to. Usopp holds her hand under the table at dinner one night because she doesn't want to lead sometimes and some days she just wants a rambunctious captain to make the decisions instead, so she thinks this at dinner and Usopp could tell.
One day Zoro knocks at Nami's door in the middle of the night, but as she's opening it she sees him retreat before either one can say anything. She calls him back desperately, but he doesn't want to burden her with his pain and he thinks he's strong enough to handle it on his own. She goes back to bed and cries, and as she falls asleep she thinks that she can feel Robin's soothing hand on her head.
Some days she thinks she smells cigarette smoke coming from the kitchen, but when she sprints into the galley there is nothing but an empty room to greet her. There are similar cases, like hearing the clank of a hammer coming from Franky's Workshop or the turning of a page coming from a book in the library, but Nami can never find anything or anyone and she begins to think she's going crazy.
He is never a part of these hauntings, and she doesn't know if that's good or bad.
She begins experiencing these phenomenons so much that she goes to Brook, but he doesn't seem to see or hear her.
"Brook, please," she whispers for his sake and her own. "I don't want to be crazy. I don't want to lose you. Are...are they still here? Is that possible?"
She stares into his empty eye sockets and hopes for a miracle, because her heart is bursting with love and broken feelings so there will not be anything to make things better at this point unless Brook comes back.
She holds his bony hand and bites her bottom lip so hard that it begins to bleed, but he doesn't answer.
She rises to leave and as she steps away she hears the creaking of limbs moving. She whirls around so fast that she gives herself whiplash.
"...Yes," a voice too old to be their musician croaks. "Yes, it is possible, but..."
"Yes, what is it Brook? What else?" she asks eagerly and happily, because Brook is speaking and he's giving her an answer and Brook is speaking.
She grins at him and peers once again into his empty eye sockets, but the grin quickly slides off when she realizes that he wasn't going to say anything more.
"Brook...? Nah, Brook. Hey, Brook?" Nami calls, her voice quivering.
He doesn't answer.
Nami and Chopper go to a winter island to get supplies, Usopp and Zoro stay on the Thousand Sunny.
The marines were waiting for them, and Nami and Chopper can't contact anyone to come help them so they run.
Running from marines used to be a game, with everyone laughing and the cook and the swordsman fighting. There was always a sturdy back clothed in red leading the way, and the laughter bubbling from the leader was like a hymn to their ears.
They make it deep into an uninhabited area, and in the waves of snowfall Nami is absolutely sure that they had lost their enemy.
But then the marines suddenly were in front of them and behind them. Nami uses her Clima-tact for the group in front of them, and Chopper begins to fight the ones behind. She gets many of them within minutes, but some sneak up behind her and she begins to struggle with a swordsman. She's facing Chopper at this point.
The swordsman is too strong for her, and she knows that she can't get around him to help Chopper, but she has to try because Chopper is having a problem keeping up with one particular opponent who uses Rokushiki.
They end up killing him with Shigan, and she's screaming and crying when it happens because she can only picture innocent Chopper smiling and eating cotton candy and Chopper's dead and the blood is staining the white snow.
She runs and she screams like some primal thing, and her voice scares all the birds resting in pine trees and some of the marines hesitate because it's such an unnerving sound that it feels like fingernails scraping the inside of their ears. The swordsman goes after her though, and he manages to cut her side, but she swings her Clima-tact back and it juts into his right eye and then he's screaming and she's screaming and Chopper's corpse is as silent as the snow.
"Nami," he calls.
She doesn't open her eyes because she knows that she'll lose him if she does, so she takes this moment and holds it close to her nearly dead, broken heart.
Calloused, yet gentle hands reach out and smooth her hair away from her sweaty brow. She wants to cry because it feels so good.
"Nami, it's okay, you can open your eyes," he says cheekily, and she can picture the impossibly bright smile from behind her eyelids.
She shakes her head slightly and fights away the tears because she doesn't have a reason to cry right now.
He can tell what she's feeling, because he's always been good at that, and so when Nami feels rough straw being pressed onto her head she wants to let her eyes fly open and look at her captain and hold him close until she dies.
But instead she just lets herself cry, even though she doesn't want to.
He laughs and it's impossibly good and so heartwarming that she begins to sob. She presses her hands to her closed eyes and she feels her nose run.
He presses his forehead to her hands and she can smell the sweat and the sea on him.
"You've done so much, Nami. Arigato for being my navigator, we'd be lost without you."
"Nami!" a panicked voice infiltrates her mind, and her eyes fly open only to have black spots swirl into her vision.
"Out of the way, Luffy. I have to check for any injuries!" a childish voice orders, and she chokes in surprise at the sound.
"Yeah, shithead! Get out of our doctor's way! Nami-swan needs medical help!" another familiar voice grouches, and Nami can hear the kick hitting rubber from where she's lying.
"Uh, Sanji, what about me? I got my fingers smashed by that old woman, remember?" a timid, nasally voice says nervously.
"Eh? What was that, Marimo?"
"C'mon guys, it's not super to fight right now."
"Oh, I'm so worried for Nami-san that it's upsetting my stomach! Ah...but I don't have a stomach. Yohohoho! Skull-joke!"
Nami sits up so fast her head spins, and Chopper yelps and topples over in surprise with his eyes as wide as dinner plates. Everyone stops what they're doing to look at her in worry.
Everyone...Brook, Franky, Robin, Chopper, Sanji, Usopp, Zoro...and Luffy.
"Nani? What's going on?" Nami asks timidly.
Several of them sigh in relief and the rest just smile.
"We were so worried, thank goodness you're okay," Chopper breathes shakily as he puts a tiny hoof over his heart.
Robin looks at her with a tiny smile, "Do you remember anything? Like the woman with the devil fruit?"
Usopp could tell by her expression that she didn't.
"The old, biddy woman? You stole her gold necklace because she told you that she stole it from some store year and years ago, so you figured that it'd be okay to steal from her, which it obviously wasn't and-"
"And so she used her devil fruit powers on you," Robin interjected calmly.
Nami blinked again and looked around her surroundings. They were all crammed into the girl's room, which Nami would have beaten and charged each of the boys for on normal circumstances, and most of the space on the floor and chairs were taken. Zoro was slouched in the doorway with his hands crossed against his chest, and Sanji was lighting a cigarette not far from him. Franky was sitting cross-legged on the ground, where Usopp was sitting beside him.
Robin and was sitting on her bed and Chopper was standing beside Nami, who was resting on her own bed. She looked over to see that Luffy had claimed a seat on her bed, and he looked at her with a blank expression that had hints of worry in it.
But as Robin and Usopp told the story she did recall some of it, like the gold and the old woman. She also recalled the incorrigible anger the woman had when she found that Nami had thrifted the golden necklace.
Nami gasped, "Ah! She had the devil fruit that-!"
"The Orsore Orsore no mi. The ability to create your worst fears," Robin smoothly inserted.
Nami swallowed and put a hand to her head.
"How long have I been out?" she asked as she peered into everyone's faces.
"Just a few hours, but we were really worried," Chopper says agitatedly as his eyes flicker to the ground.
Nami knows that means that they never left her side.
She smiles and closes her eyes.
"Nami, are you okay?"
"Did you have any weird dreams? Is that what her devil fruit did to you?"
"Nami-san, can I see your panties plea-?"
"Shut up, pervy musician! Give Nami-san some space!"
"Sanji, stop yelling!"
"Yeah, damn cook."
"OW! Things just got loud in here!"
"Nami," he says calmly.
Everyone quiets on a cue and Nami blinks her eyes open towards Luffy.
He studies her for a moment before reaching up for the golden hat resting on his crown. He lifts it off of his head and then Nami blinks as he presses it onto her's.
His grin eases away everyone's lingering anxieties.
"I'm glad you're okay! Shishishishi!"