She ignores him when he staggers onto the neighboring bar stool, and she ignores his first three advances, too. It's easy enough, with the background roar of clinking glasses, drunken shouts and beer-belly laughter.
But his breath sours her air with cheap wine and the sneer he directs her way is greasy and brown with barbecue sauce and rot.
Nami straightens up on her stool and uncrosses her knees so the gossamer cream pleats of her skirt settle more evenly across her thighs. She cups her glass of gin and tonic with both hands and squares her elbows, her stiff posture acting as both a physical barrier to the man's drunken leaning and a silent deterrence against further propositions.
A smarter man would have taken the cues.
Unfortunately, he's too addled by drink, or stupidity - very likely both - to heed the warning. His sweaty armpit presses against her right elbow.
This is not how Nami planned to spend her birthday.
"Aw c'mon, toots, ain't no fun drinkin' on y'own now's it," he slurs, his hot breath puffing too close to her ear. She can practically feel the gently coiled waves of her hair frizzing, and after all the time Robin put into fixing it this morning!
"I'm fine, thanks. I'm waiting for my friends," Nami says, deliberately deepening her tone to a cold hard edge that she hopes will cut through the oaf's cockeyed fog to discourage him.
No such luck today. "Aw, s'at so? For fives hours? Wi' friends like that…"
How long has he been watching her? She narrows her eyes at him; his interest in her is palpable, or is that just the funk of an unwashed man (a wreak she is familiar with, but even her boys aren't this unclean).
He slides closer, right off his stool, his beefy tattoed arm thumping heavily on the glossy surface of the bar. "But sure y'can play a li'l while y'wait, hey?" It's not just his breath now, but his leer, too, scorching a line down her exposed neck to the low ruffled neckline of her fitted blouse.
Ew. Nami can feel her lip curling back in a decidedly unladylike expression. "No, thanks," she says through her teeth.
He is too close. She moves her right hand from her glass, fast and hard so her elbow shoves the man back against his vacated stool. She's not too concerned - brawny this guy may be, but he's much more likely to fall on his face than do her any harm - but she needs space, in case she does need to make a grab for the Sorcery Clima-tact, holstered in ready reach at her right hip.
The sot kind of coughs but laughs an awful sort of drunken bark, blowing fumes in her face. Earlier, she drank another suitor to the bottom of his wallet (and right under the bar, for good measure) but she isn't even tipsy yet and she already wants to barf.
"Gonna play hard t'get, I see." He leans toward her again but her elbow stops him not-quite-far-enough.
She lifts her chin and looks off across the bar. She's about ready to ignore him again when he says, "Wonder if y'are really worth all that bounty," and her head snaps back to him.
He has that rotten sneer on his face again. She sniffs like it doesn't bother her. She is a wanted woman, after all, and a member of the infamous Straw Hats, no less. This is the New World. Anyone worth their beri would know her face.
Which makes her wonder. "Oh yeah? And you're worth so much more?" she asks, softening her gaze with a mere flutter of her lashes.
Oh, is he. He squares his shoulders (almost toppling over backward) and puffs up like a damn peacock. "A whole 100 million, in fact," he says, jutting his chin out.
Cha-ching~ Nami can already feel the beri at her fingertips. She gives him a good once-over now, wondering if he is really worth all of his bounty. Her stomach does an uneasy flipflop but she quashes it - she's strong now.
And this guy's all muscle, no brain. His thick stupid face isn't even vaguely familiar, and Nami's always careful to stay up-to-date on prominent bounties. He's flexing like he thinks she's eyeing him for his physical attractions. She almost laughs, but she better be careful - if he has a Devil Fruit, that could really turn the tables on her.
She's running through ideas on how to collect the bounty without getting captured herself, when he steps in too close again and growls in what he probably thinks is a sexy rumble (and is actually a sour-smelling mumble), "Why don'tcha c'mon upstairs an' show me what y'are worth."
This is definitely not how she wants to spend her birthday.
She contemplates smashing her glass against his face, but a familiar voice saves her the trouble (and the drink).
"Nami-san, is this shit-head givin' you any trouble?"
Sanji's nimble fingers brush her left arm as he sidles up next to her at the bar, arms laden with shopping bags, some of which are groceries but many others gift-wrapped. He's looking sharp as ever in his favorite orange dress shirt with a fancy grey waistcoat she's never seen before, accented with blue flowers, and a sky-blue necktie crisscrossed with shiny gold-orange threads.
While her eyes are busy appreciating the snug fit of the new waistcoat, his scour her face for all signs of agitation.
"I'm just fine, Sanji-kun," she says, because her relief at his presence alone unties the knot in her gut. "Thanks, but I can handle this."
"Sanji?" the drunkard sputters. He's puffing up again; by gods, does he think he can fight Sanji-kun for her? "Not Black-Leg Sanji? This pansy? He don't e'en look like the poster t'me."
The unlit cigarette in Sanji's mouth bends. Some ingrained notion of manners keeps the cook from simply dropping every bag in his grasp, but the heel of one sharp-toed loafer about stamps a hole through the bar's hardwood floor as he squares his stance for battle. "You fuck - " he starts, tongue curling for what's sure to be a truly wicked lashing, but Nami waves her left hand, a small gesture by her shoulder, and he trips over his own tongue to ask, "Yes, Nami-swa~n?"
"Could you order me some wine?"
"Anything for my sweet angel on her special day~ Bartender~! Oi!" he calls all the way down the length of the counter. Nami cringes and knocks back the remainder of her gin in one gulp. "Some merlot over here for our goddess! And get the grouchy marimo a beer while you're at it, before the idiot helps himself to your whole stock."
"What'd you say, shit-cook."
Well, of course, if Sanji-kun is here, he must have brought the others.
Blinking back tears from the gin's sour aftertaste, Nami leans against the bar so she can see around her would-be suitor's bulk. Sure enough, Zoro has claimed the drunkard's vacated stool, much to the man's outrage.
"Hey that's my seat," he yells at the swordsman - and Nami cringes again, because Zoro radiates enough fuck-off vibes to outshine the sun. She can see why - Sanji must be planning something fancy for her birthday feast, because Zoro's dressed to kill, and not in the way he prefers.
Nami hasn't a clue what the cook bribed him with, but he somehow wrestled Zoro's musclebound frame into a dark grey suit with sharp black accents. His shirt is a simple white, but from under his dark coat peeks a vest of vibrant teal, with red-orange arrow accents (or are those swords?) and his necktie is a stark scarlet affair with diagonal teal pinstripes.
His trademark bandana interrupts the classy appearance, a dark knot around the left arm of his coat, and his swords decorate his right hip sans haramaki, guards and pommels glinting gold and dark silver in the dim glow of the bar lights.
Zoro's silent grouching threat isn't enough to pierce this idiot's inebriated head, which is really too bad for the fellow because when the man shouts, "Git yer own damn seat!" her swordsman tilts his head, facial scarring glossy in the light, triplet earrings winking, until his single eye flashes across at the stranger.
"Ehh? You say somethin'?" he growls, and Nami feels the drunkard stiffen, he's so close to her. Nami can smell the bitter stink of fear rolling off of him even as he draws his arms up like he might actually take a swing at Zoro. For a heartbeat, they stare each other down and Nami wonders if there might be a fight, after all. She's already counting the beri (and subtracting repair costs from the bar) when Zoro looks away, as the bartender slides a tankard of beer down the bar to him, and his upper lip curls like he's caught the miasma of terror in the air too.
"Huh. Thought I heard a fly buzzin' by my ear," Zoro mumbles into his beer.
The man's jaws works around the words caught in his throat. Pirate Hunter Zoro.
She can see him cobbling together his courage, though (if she can call it that), his impaired brain working through the realization that Zoro's bounty is only a little bit more than his. Nami bites her lip (and Sanji snorts, because he can see it, too); this poor sap hasn't a clue who he's really messing with.
Or maybe he does, or at least some vestige of instinct that screams No, you fool! He deflates abruptly, takes a step back, and turns back to her, for god's sake, is she that much easier to deal with?
Maybe she's riding a buzz from the gin but when the oaf leans in and says, "C'mon, tootsie, y'really wanna hang wi' these losers," she almost puts her fist through his rotten teeth, empty gin glass and all.
Instead she grips the stem of her newly arrived wineglass and downs a whole mouthful, the vile words on her tongue tainting the full dark bouquet.
Although Sanji keeps whatever words are burning his tongue, his hand is a too-tight vice around her left elbow, like he's just holding himself back from physically yanking her behind him. Maybe he is, but he's not the only one. Nami slams her wineglass down on the counter and glares right into the idiot's unfocused gaze.
"I'll say it one more time," she says with more calmness than she has - are her hands actually shaking? - "I don't want to drink with you, you're not good enough for me."
Behind the drunkard, she hears Zoro snort into his beer and then dissolve into a well-deserved fit of coughing.
Her would-be suitor doesn't find it so hilarious. His face, already red from intoxication, darkens in unattractive blotches, and his hands fist at his sides.
On her left, Sanji tenses and she can practically feel the energy crackling across his limbs - here it comes - she grips her wineglass, just registers that the bar behind them has grown hushed with hurried murmurs and held breaths -
Then Sanji backs down, all at once, a grin spreading across his face, and behind the fuming drunkard, Zoro chuckles into his tankard - she's about ready to punch the both of them, what the hell is so damn funny about this - when a hand slides across the back of her shoulder to cradle the nape of her neck, warm and rough with callouses that she could sketch with her eyes closed, even if their owner didn't take that dear moment to open his big mouth and shout, "Na~mi, there you are~!" with that obnoxious laugh of his.
The drunkard gapes like a fish at the straw hat perched on her captain's head as Luffy squeezes right between them, accidentally shoving the man back into Zoro, who prods a sharp elbow into his ribs.
Sanji really went all-in on Luffy's suit - bright stark white with black pinstripes, a gold waistcoat and scarlet dress shirt with the prettiest golden tie she's ever seen, accented with the outlines of tiny red crowns.
Sanji sure knows how to dress a man fine as a fiddle. Maybe it's just the alcohol but a rush of heat blooms in her chest. She has to give Luffy some credit, too, for being completely unfazed. His face is bright with its characteristic openmouthed grin.
His eyes, though, slide to her white-knuckled grip on the wineglass. His expression doesn't change as he babbles, "We all got you presents, Nami, Sanji even helped me pick something!" His nose scrunches a little with the blinding strength of his glee as he lifts his free hand and plunks a red-and-gold wrapped box on the bar in front of her. He thumps it (she hopes it's not fragile) and chants, "Open it, open it!"
"You dumbass," Sanji cuts in, a lopsided smile softening the insult, "she's supposed to open them when we're all together."
Nami can feel laughter tickling her throat. "It's alright, Sanji-kun," she says, "just this one gift early." She tugs on the little ribbon bow (clearly tied by Luffy himself because it's crooked and wrinkled) and begins working the lovely paper open, teasing it one inch at a time because Luffy's practically hopping from foot to foot, his hand on her neck heavy.
"H-Hey," the forgotten suitor says, not quite loud enough distract her straw-hatted guardian - he's hopeful but hesitant, his eyes straying from her face to the ratty old hat like his intoxicated brain doesn't yet believe what his eyes clearly see.
Zoro's hears him though - Nami's leaning far enough over the bar as she unwraps the present, to catch the small cruel curve of his smile, like he's waiting for it.
Oh, dear. Even this oaf doesn't deserve that. Nami ignores him, a mercy, really, and spreads open the wrapping paper to reveal the box within. It's rather large, for something from Luffy.
Whatever could it be?
She's just wiggling the top off when the drunkard gets the idiot idea (she daren't call it courage, or even guts) to step up to the bar behind Luffy and shout, "C'mon, man, back off, I saw her first!"
Maybe he did deserve it.
Luffy's fingers press a little tighter around her neck, his arm shielding her back, the silk of his new shirt smooth and cold against her bare shoulder, but the chest beneath hard as steel as it pushes her, gentle but firm, towards the bar (and Sanji, she notes distantly, as the cook steps up flush against her left side).
He wouldn't - ? Nami sees another bar in her mind's eye, in another sea, on a different island, from a time long lost; no, Luffy wouldn't.
She watches her captain turn his head to look at the stranger who would dare claim his navigator. His grin doesn't budge, but her position against the bar allows her to see the dangerous tightening around his mouth and eyes, the slight crease between his eyebrows, the dilation of his pupils.
He says nothing. He tilts his head, the straw hat shading those wide glinting eyes, and grins.
The poor sot nearly wets himself. He mutters an incoherent apology - or it might be a curse, his tongue is in tangles as he hurries away with his tail between his legs.
Zoro throws his head back and hoots with laughter. Sanji gives a satisfied, "Heh," by her ear, and Luffy turns to her, gleeful expectation already back in place.
"Open it!" he urges.
He doesn't release her neck, but his grip softens, and his thumb moves, smoothing back and forth in an unmistakable caress. I saw her first. Nami laughs and lifts the tops off the box.
Nestled inside is a jacket and she gasps - did the others chip in? Not Zoro, surely. How did Luffy ever afford this fine piece of leather?
As if hearing her thoughts, Luffy says, "I saved up special for your birthday!" with the dumbest grin on his stupid rubbery face, like he's never been prouder. She laughs again, and ignores the sting in her eyes - maybe she has had enough alcohol, at least until the feast…
She lifts the jacket out of the box and gives it a good shake. Its a soft work of dark leather, with short sleeves, but she can already say her favorite feature is the red leather sides with their gold borders and the collar, scarlet as Luffy's shirt.
"It's perfect, Luffy," she tells him.
Luffy's grin stretches across his face, even dimpling his rubbery cheeks. She could count every tooth in his mouth if she cared to.
But the only thing wolfish about her captain is his appetite.
A gift fic for Brave~ Go read her stuff on tumblr (verybrave) and ao3 (bluewalk), the quality is SUUUPEERRRRR~