Shikari Shiro - Hang In There

A One Piece Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Written (revised) July 13th 2006

 

     Everyone was asleep except Sanji whose head nodded forward every minute or so. He sat in a chair at Nami’s bedside. To his left on a small table, a cup of very strong coffee rested half empty and growing cold. He was beginning to think caffeine no longer worked for him as exhaustion dragged him down. He’d been awake for at least 30 hours since Vivi told them Nami’s condition was serious. Only a few days after leaving Little Garden, whatever sickness Nami contracted raged through her system and shot her temperature through the roof. His head bowed again, but this time he couldn’t lift it back up again.
     “Oo... Ee...” Nami groaned and Sanji gasped in alarm.
     “What? Where? Who? I’m awake!” he cried and slapped his own face.
     “Oo... Ee...”
     Sanji blinked and stared at her. “Nami-san? It’s ok. I’m here,” he said and took the now warm towel from her forehead.
     “Roo... Ee...” she muttered more clearly.
     “Do you want some water? You should drink something,” he advised, rinsing the towel out in a shallow pan.
     “Lu... Ffy...”
     Sanji stopped wringing the towel and tensed his shoulders. So that was it. “He’s asleep. I’m here. It’s ok,” he soothed, placing the fresh towel on her sweating forehead.
     “Luffy... Luffy...” she insisted.
     He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She wasn’t conscious. She would never call out for that idiot like that if she was awake, but the plea was coming from her unconscious mind. Sanji stood. “I’m gonna go have a smoke,” he said and quietly left the room.

     A few minutes later the door opened.
     “But Sanji~!” Luffy complained. “I was having a dream about a mountain of meat!”
     “I don’t care if you were dreaming about the whereabouts of All Blue!” he shouted and gave his captain a swift kick in the rear that sent him sprawling into the room. “It’s your turn to watch her. I’m going to bed!” Sanji growled, turned and closed the door behind him as he went.

     “Mou~,” Luffy whined, rubbing his sore rump. “It was such a nice dream...”
     “Luffy...” Nami moaned, breaking him from his selfish thoughts. Her eyes were closed tightly. He straightened up and stood in front of the bed, watching her twist in discomfort. He pulled the chair up, turned it around and sat down. “Luffy...” she called again.
     Luffy reached over and slid his hand under the covers, finding hers and grasping it tightly. “I’m here, Nami. Hang in there,” he said clearly.
     Immediately, her body relaxed. Her face was red from exertion and the fever. Her breathing was still labored and came in shallow breaths. Luffy squeezed her hand and repeated ‘I’m here’ a few times.
     Slowly, her eyes fluttered open a little and searched him out. “Luffy...” she said, relieved.
     He grinned softly.
     “I’m so hot...” she tried to pushed the covers down with her free hand.

He pushed them back. “Vivi said not to let you get cold even if you feel hot because it’ll make you sicker,” he explained.
     She tried to take a deep breath. “Luffy, I’m so sorry...”
     “For what?” he asked.
     “I won’t be able to take you to find One Piece...” she said, running out of breath toward the end of the sentence so that ‘one piece’ was said at a whisper. “I’m going to die.”
     “You’re not going to die,” he stated. Nami muttered something in protest and he raised his voice. “I won’t let you die!”

Nami’s lip trembled slightly and she turned her head toward him. “Luffy…”

“Vivi said we can follow the Logue Pose and get to the next island to find you a doctor. We’re going there right now fast as we can. We’ll land and find the best doctor ever and he’ll make you better.” He stared at a loose thread coming off of the comforter his navigator was wrapped in. “I can’t do anything to help you right now. It hurts. I want to help. I would do anything to make you better.”

“You’ve done so much for me already… I feel the same way…” she whispered, fighting to keep her eyes open and her thoughts together. “You saved me from Arlong. You brought me here… The only thing I can do for you is navigate your dream…”

Luffy looked into her half-lidded eyes and gave her a toothy grin. “Everything will be ok. You need rest. Sleep,” he commanded.

“Ok…” she whispered and let her eyes close.

 

Just outside the door, Sanji closed his eyes. A small smile hung on his lips. “Ok, Luffy. You win this round,” he said quietly to himself and went on to bed.

 

Luffy relaxed in the chair which he had turned around so that he could lean against its back. His arm remained half under the covers, holding Nami’s hand. He watched her sleep. He noticed her breathing calm a little and sighed. “Nami?” he whispered very quietly. Satisfied that she was still asleep, he looked left and right as if checking to see if anyone was looking. “I swear I won’t let you go. I…” He swallowed and gathered his courage. “I love you.”

The sound of the Going Merry creaking on the waves filled the silence. Luffy exhaled and relaxed his shoulders. He was startled to feel Nami squeeze his hand. He stared at her as a small smile curled her lips.

Until Sanji relieved him late that morning, Luffy didn’t sleep and his hand didn’t let go of hers.

 

.x.

     A few days later, Nami regained consciousness in a small house in a snow-covered village. Her body felt like one giant ache that started at the top of her head and ended at her toes. Once again she was covered in heavy blankets and her pajamas were soaked through with sweat. Some of the crew were discussing her condition and something about a mountain, a witch-doctor and strange creature… A rough, calloused hand tapped her face and her captain’s voice called to her, bringing her back to wakefulness. “We gotta go up a mountain to see a doctor. So let’s go for a hike,” he said simply inciting a near mutiny from Sanji, Vivi and Usopp. Her nakama were just as concerned about her welfare, but her captain was willing to risk anything to save her. She laughed, quieting the room. Time was of the essence. She knew that. Her body felt like would only hold out for another few hours at most. They had to get going to Arabasta and she was holding everyone up. “I’ll leave it to you,” she whispered to him and forced her hand out of the covers.

     Luffy turned and smiled. “You got it. Leave it to me,” he replied and slapped the back of her hand with his with a wide smile on his face. In her weakened state, this familiar gesture almost made her weep, but she was beyond even that.

.x.

     A few months before in East Blue, Nami was on the trail of Doke no Buggy: the supposed possessor of a Grand Line Map. Her plan was to slip in while the crew was preoccupied, steal the map and whatever else she could get her hands on and make a clean getaway. All that was changed, however when a young man fell from the sky and crash-landed in the street not 20 feet in front of her. When he learned she was a navigator he demanded she join his non-existent crew and wouldn’t let up until she said yes. He was a pirate and all pirates were scum. But this pirate seemed different. The way he talked about his hat having belonged to a precious person… No pirate she had ever known had ever talked the way he did, had ever had such a pure, glowing confidence in himself. He was either a complete idiot or a total genius. There was such a fine line between the two extremes, anyway. He held out his hand for her to shake it and agree to become his and she smacked it away, but she didn’t refuse.

.x.

     So much had happened since she met Luffy that Nami hadn’t thought much about that day for a long time. Memories mingled with the present as she passed into semi-consciousness. They suited her up with a heavy jacket and Luffy picked her up piggy-back style. “Hang on,” he said and she went out completely.

.x.

     When Nami awoke, her pajamas were dry. She was pleasantly warm and something sort of heavy rested on her head. A familiar scent which she would struggle to explain in words greeted her, a smell like dried corn husks left out in the rain and the musky, not wholly unpleasant smell of unwashed male.

The Hat.

Slowly, she opened her eyes. His eyes were shut and his forehead was pressed to hers. “Luffy…” she whispered and his wide eyes popped open. He sat up and stared at her.

     “How ya feeling?” he asked.

     She took a deep breath and assessed her situation. Wind howled and blew huge snowflakes outside large leaded glass windows to her left and a fire crackled in the huge hearth to her right. She looked up at the vaulted ceiling and around at the stately stone walls decorated with strange skulls and witch-doctor paraphernalia and wondered if she’d fallen into a fairytale. Her body felt less achy and a bit cooler, but still incredibly weak. “Mm,” she nodded. “Better. Did we find a doctor?”

     “I guess so,” Luffy said not taking his eyes off of her.

     “You guess so?”

     He raised a hand and carefully scratched his head. “I just woke up.”

     “What happened to your hands?” she asked and tried to sit up. Both of his hands were bandaged to the elbows.

     Gently, he reached out and pushed her back down on the bed. “I had to climb the mountain, remember?”

     The mountain. Right. Through the snow. Now she remembered that was what they had said they were going to do but she hadn’t been conscious for any of the actual journey. “Where’s Sanji-kun? I thought he was with us?” she fretted.

     “He’s asleep. He’ll be fine.”

     Something happened to him, too she realized. “I’m sorry…”

     “Don’t be stupid,” he muttered and surprised her by pushing her bangs away from her forehead and stroking her hair. “We can’t go anywhere without you.” His words were harsh but through his touch she could feel his true sentiment.

     Nami breathed a long sigh and recalled how he had sat at her bedside while they were on the ship and held her hand, urging her to stay with them and fight her sickness. Luffy looked worn out. She reached out from under the covers. Her hand covered his as it reached her chin. She gave it a light squeeze, careful of his injuries. “I heard you back then, you know,” she whispered. “The feeling is mutual.” Nami let an exhausted giggle escape her lips as she saw him blush. “You should go back to sleep.”

     “So should you…” he agreed and bent his head to touch hers again.

     “Luffy, what are you doing?”

     His wide eyes blinked at her. “I can’t feel the temperature through the bandages.”

     It was her turn to blush. “How’s it feel?”

     “Better.”

     She smiled and tilted her chin up. Her lips pressed against his and he returned a soft, sweet kiss – just the kind she had always hoped he would give. With her heart flying around in her chest Nami sank back down into the pillows.

     “Sleep,” he said simply and turned to go, his bright red face hidden by his straw hat.

     “Yes, captain,” Nami agreed and didn’t wake again until a strange creature and a witch-doctor entered the room several hours later.

 

END


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