Well, I have issues with this chapter. Parts of it I'm not sure I'd put in the offical story if I publish itin the future, but I can't seem to get around them in this chapter for now. So all of you are welcome to be critical if you don't feel you like them. I'll let you figure out which parts I'm not sure about. :-) Enjoy!
Blue Refuge Inn
Luxury Suite's bathroom
"You're lucky I'm not the possessive type. Your drool's getting out." Kurama's amused voice cut into Nami's obvious thoughts of a certain blonde with his yummy body that she still couldn't get out of her mind, even fifteen minutes later after waking up from her brief fainting spell. Quickly snapping her slightly agape jaw shut with a click and blushing up a storm, she intently went back to scrubbing her stomach that she had been unconsciously washing for the last five minutes. Unaware of that, she shyly glanced over from her seat on a stool in the washing area to the large clawfoot bathtub.
It was filled almost to the top with steaming water, and Kurama was soaking in it up to her neck. She was humming quietly and lounging against one curved end of the tub with her arms resting up on its lip. Her alluring curly black hair was up in a loose bun to keep from getting into the water, and her head was lolling back somewhat sleepily.
They decided to take a quick bath together and freshen up while waiting on Naruto to return from somewhere; Nami didn't know since he wasn't here when she woke up again. She often took baths with her sister and preferred communal bathhouses to save money - it was often cheaper to do that and sleep overnight in her docked ship, than it was to get an inn room - , so doing this with Kurama wasn't an issue, except for the fact she was being distracted big time by images of a shirtless Naruto in her head.
Feeling Nami's nervous gaze on her, Kurama let out a scoff and opened her golden eyes to fix the orange-haired girl with a exasperated stare.
"Oi, you've scrubbed yourself long enough. Any more, and you'd have no skin left. Either get in here to relax, or go ahead and get dressed."
Nami let out a nervous chuckle as she turned on the hosed showerhead to rinse off, still unsure what she wanted to do.
"It's a perfectly natural reaction to my perfect specimen of a man. You're not the first to react like that, and you won't be last. You have nothing to worry about me in regards to that." Kurama stated with a matter-of-fact tone, and Nami relaxed some, but it wasn't to last.
"Instead, you should worry about me hooking you up with him later." the vixen teased with an impish smirk, and this made Nami almost drop the showerhead with her blush gaining a new shade of red.
"K-K-Kurama-san!" she cried, mortified. This got a chuckle from her tormentor, and she huffed in annoyance.
"You shouldn't joke like that. It's obvious the two of you are together, and I'm not going to get in the way of that." she grumbled as she pointedly looked away from the other woman with a pout. She had to ignore the large surge of envy that came up over strong and kind Naruto, with that glorious body and the perfect 'V' on his abs, being taken.
She shook that image off. Damn her teenage hormones. The fact he basically swooped in and saved her last night like a handsome hero straight out of a trashy romance book definitely didn't help either.
Finally finishing up her washing, she rose off the stool and moved to enter the large tub. Thanks to Kurama's smaller size, she easily slipped in and got comfortable without even touching any part of the dark-skinned woman sitting at the other end. The hot water relaxed her immediately, and she let her head loll back against the tub's lip with a blissful sigh.
"Wise choice. You need this after what happened recently." Kurama muttered in approval as she lounged back against her own end of the tub. They relaxed with eyes closed for a few silent and comfortable minutes.
"Where did Naruto-san go? He wasn't around when I...woke up." Nami finally spoke, forcing down another blush at the mention of her fainting. Kurama, with her eyes still closed and head still resting against the tub's lip, lifted her right hand to wag its index finger.
"First thing to learn about Naruto is that he hates formality with his friends; so no honorifics, or at least use the 'kun' suffix. Same goes for me. To answer your question, he's gone out to get breakfast for us. Considering we kicked out the guy who runs this inn, it's no surprise we won't be getting room service." she answered with a shrug. Nami felt a small bit of warmth blossoming in her chest.
"You both already consider me a friend? Even though we've only just met?"
"I'd think him saving your life and innocence would be a good indication that he at least considers you one now. As for me, we spent last night together in each other's arms." the vixen retorted with a smirk. Nami snorted, now getting used to the teasing, but she still had some red on her cheeks.
"Plus, you're someone who has been through a lot already, and yet you're able to push onward no matter what. We understand and respect this at least."
That got her to stiffen and stare at Kurama with wariness. The dark-skinned beauty merely waved it off as she opened her eyes.
"Don't worry. We won't pry unless you want to tell us. You have a certain tired and mature look in your eyes, so we were able to deduce that much."
Nami relaxed and nodded her thanks. The problem for her was that it was getting too easy to drop her guard around the duo, and she found herself wanting to spill everything about her past and current situation right this second to this beautiful and strong woman, whose mere presence seemed to comfort and protect her. She had to fight that desire back.
She didn't want to involve anyone else in that mess; especially the ones who saved her.
She was so firm in her belief that no one in East Blue could defeat Arlong, and she was too traumatized by her hellish life under his thumb to even think of the possibility that, maybe, a pair of mysterious but strong travelers that appeared out of nowhere might be able to do what no one else had ever done so far. Instead, she truly believed buying her home village's freedom from Arlong's rule was the best possible solution now.
This was why she joined her mother's murderer and his crew, and made the deal. Arlong always loudly declared that he would rather die than break any deal, because that was what humans did all the time. She was going to try to make use of that against him because she believed it was the only way out of that hell even now.
"You seem to have an immense dislike for that tattoo, Nami-chan." Kurama's neutral voice cut into her thoughts. Nami snapped out of her trance to see her bathing partner's golden eyes directed pointedly at her left bicep. She felt a twinge of pain and glanced down to find her right hand had subconsciously moved to scratch deeply at the blue tattoo there.
It was an artistic but ugly representation of a swimming sawshark. This denoted her as part of the Arlong Pirates, and she utterly loathed it with every fiber of her being. She would occasionally find herself scratching at it until it hurt ever since she had been forced to take it. With tattoos being permanent, she felt forever tainted.
"A stupid decision I made long ago." she answered curtly, forcing her right hand down. She wouldn't look the other woman in the eyes.
"I see. If you want, we have a way of removing tattoos completely." Kurama offered softly. She could easily sense the extreme hatred and disgust Nami had for that admittedly ugly tattoo. It was clearly forced upon her.
A large part of Nami wanted to jump at this and scream for the hated tattoo to be removed with haste; to finally rid herself of this disgusting and degrading taint on her very soul. She had to fight that down during this long moment of thick silence between the two women.
"Thank you, Kurama, but I'm keeping it as a reminder." she managed to answer in a soft tone. That was at least true; it was a constant reminder of her promise to collect the hundred million beri to save her village. She also needed to keep it on to avoid problems from the Arlong Pirates. She didn't want them to think she was abandoning the deal and rebelling if they found her left bicep unblemished.
Kurama merely nodded, her neutral expression not changing.
"Well, the offer will still be available if you change your mind in the future. Now, I'm going to get dressed. Naruto should be back soon." she stated as she rose to step out of the tub. Nami couldn't help but admire the petite beauty's supple water-slicked body.
Her athletic curves with these powerful muscles just barely hidden under her soft and smooth milk-chocolate skin would draw anyone's attention, despite her small stature. Her perky breasts were just the perfect size and shape for her body type, and it was easy to imagine Naruto preferring them over any other woman's. Her flat stomach was well-toned with soft lines flowing around her navel, and her wide hips curved down gently to well-toned legs.
It was clear she was strong and confident in both body and personality; traits Nami hoped to earn for herself someday.
Last but not least, Kurama certainly had the best ass she'd ever seen.
Nami wasn't afraid to admit she was at least bi-curious. Considering most of the men she'd seen in her travels -even the good-looking ones- were of the unsavory sort, and her only source of comfort, warmth, and love since her mother's murder being her beautiful adopted older sister, that wasn't a surprise. Therefore, she didn't have a problem with occasionally checking out women, even Nojiko, from afar, and Kurama was very attractive with her physical beauty and strong personality. She could easily imagine this woman filling the 'strong and wise onee-sama' role perfectly, despite her small stature.
The vixen glanced back over her shoulder with a quirked eyebrow and a teasing grin, as if she knew what Nami was thinking. The orange-haired girl blushed and sank into the water deep enough that she was blowing bubbles out her nose as she grumbled at being caught again. The small woman just chuckled softly as she took a towel to dry off, and was walking out into the suite.
She stopped at the door.
"By the way, I wasn't joking about letting you get with Naruto later."
This surprised Nami so much she slipped on the tub's slick surface and sank quickly underwater with a large splash. She had to flail around to get ahold of the tub's lip and pop back up while spitting out water she nearly swallowed.
"WHAT!? W-w-why would you allow it? Isn't that strange?" she sputtered out. She would realize later that she never directly said no in response.
"It's not so strange where we come from, and you'll understand one day. For now, don't worry about it. I only brought this up because I can tell you like him already, and it's not just because of his looks." Kurama replied with a knowing grin, making the orangette blush deeply. "Also, you don't have any reason to be envious of me having him all to myself, as long as you know the same could happen to you someday if you truly desire it." she finished with a shrug, before stepping out and closing the bathroom's door.
Nami was just stunned. That woman seemed to have a way of reading her like an open book.
After a long moment of staring at the door, she sank back up to her nose into the water, and let out more bubbles with a frustrated grumble, having more questions about the mysterious duo filling her head.
The weird part was that she wasn't denying that Kurama's offer sounded much more enticing than she expected. Polygamy wasn't unheard of in this world with many strong men having multiple women flock to them for protection, power, or any other reason. Hell, she'd heard legends of the infamous Edward Newgate, aka Captain Whitebeard, having had multiple women in his prime years.
Despite her well-known love of money and treasures, she honestly didn't care if her man had mountains of gold. In fact, she'd rob him blind first before even considering him as a suitor. She also wasn't the type to go for just any powerful man if strength was all he had. She wanted a lot more than that in her partner, and she was realizing that Naruto was rapidly ticking the boxes for her so far in the short amount of time she'd interacted with him.
That aside, she still needed to know the duo more, and, for now, she had no time to worry about relationships at least until she could pay for her village's freedom.
She shook anymore thought of Kurama and Naruto off before it took hold and became too tempting. She then leaned back with a deep sigh to clear her mind of any further stray thought and enjoy a few more minutes alone in the tub.
Meanwhile - Outside at the Blue Refuge main marketplace
It wasn't every day a sleepy little island town like Blue Refuge saw strange things happening.
Yesterday was the freak typhoon, the news of a world noble docking here, and the strange and terrifying roaring sound that rattled the town.
Today, it was the tall and handsome eye-patched blond man walking out of a small diner with a takeout bag in hand. He drew the eyes of nearly every person in the vicinity; interest from females, and wariness from males. It was no surprise since he was dressed in sandals, orange shorts, and a tight black sleeveless muscle shirt that showed off his well-muscled upper body and left those godly arms of his bare.
The women all nearly swooned when the blond man displayed a confused foxlike squint as he inspected a small piece of paper in his hand.
"The hell's a 'den den mushi'? And why did that counter lady back there give me a bunch of numbers on this?" Naruto muttered quietly in puzzlement. He shrugged a moment later and pocketed it, figuring to ask Nami about it later.
He made his way back to the inn, making sure to check his surroundings at all time. He noted two new large ships that he hadn't seen last night were now anchored just outside the local dock's wake zone in the distance, and their sails each displayed a stylized seagull logo with large letters underneath it that read 'MARINE'.
From what I found last night, the Marines are the global military force for this 'World Government'. Most towns have their own local policing to deal with the occasional troublemaker, but the Marines has the power to take over any police matter if they deem it necessary; usually in cases of extreme violence, murders, pirate raids, and so on.
He frowned at that thought.
That's a lot of power for just one organization, and that process is too vulnerable to bribes. The textbooks I read about the Marines are obviously government-mandated propaganda designed to paint the Marines as the perfect good guys; the selfless heroes who rise up to fight against the relentless tide of piracy.
He hid a smirk as he nodded in a friendly way at a passing Marine soldier. He noted quite a few walking around, and they were obviously asking questions about the freak typhoon last night and if the locals had seen anything strange.
So, I wonder how much of what the books said is complete bullshit? It's obvious most of the regular soldiers are in the force to do good and keep peace, but is that the same thing if we go up the chain of command? I can't really imagine the higher-ups as being anything more than lapdogs doing the World Government's personal bidding. I'll have to reserve my judgement for when I meet some of those in command.
A man's voice cut into Naruto's thoughts, and he stopped in his track to find a Marine soldier approaching him.
"Can I help you, sir?" he replied in a disarming tone. This man was rather unremarkable in appearance, wearing a basic Marine soldier's uniform with his white cap covering his short brown hair.
"Sorry to disturb you, but we're asking a few questions about the strange occurrences last night."
"Happy to help."
"We've gotten basically the same details about the typhoon and the odd roar from each person we've interviewed so far, so I'm not going to waste our time inquiring about them here. Instead, I'd like to ask if you have seen or heard anything strange that might be connected to these incidents last night, no matter how insignificant you think they are?"
"Hm..." Naruto hummed, rubbing his chin in thought. "In fact, I was returning to town from the other side of the island last night just as the typhoon ended. I got caught out in that damn storm, you see, and I've been lucky to find some shelter out there. Afterward, I passed by a tall man with spiky silver hair that seemed to defy gravity." he lied smoothly, before putting on a serious frown. He leaned in closer to the Marine, who was scribbling somewhat disinterestedly on a small notepad.
"He was wearing some bandana wrapped over his left eye, a facemask over his mouth, and looked to be dressed in a combat outfit." he whispered surreptitiously.
The marine's pen stilled.
"I know. It was weird. Plus, even though we were the only two on the path outside the town, he completely ignored me, and his face was practically buried in a porn magazine."
The marine frowned and glanced up from the notepad. "He was being blatantly indecent in public?"
"Well, we were outside the town, so maybe he thought it was okay out there?" Naruto replied with a shrug. "Anyway, he was also mumbling something about being 'lost on the road of life' or whatever. That's the only suspicious thing I've seen last night."
The marine frowned in slight disbelief, as if unsure that such an odd-sounding individual could actually exist. Then he remembered all the strange and eccentric officers he came across since entering service, and finally decided that this blonde's statement at least had a morsel of truth. He finished scribbling in the notepad before tucking it away in his shirt's breast pocket.
"I see...well, thank you for your time, sir. We'll take this into consideration." he stated before walking off to find another person to question. Naruto watched him go with a small prankster's grin growing on his face.
Ah, Kakashi-sensei...I wonder if you're still getting lost on the road of afterlife somewhere? he thought with a fond smile, before resuming his walk back to the inn.
"We've been through countless dimensions full of wonders and challenges, and yet there still is discrimination against height-challenged people!" Kurama's displeased growl greeted Naruto as soon as he closed the suite's door behind him. He chuckled upon seeing the reason for his companion's ire.
The dark-skinned vixen was wearing one of the luxurious terrycloth bath robes provided with the suite. While Naruto knew the short robe would look incredibly sexy and risque on an average-heighted woman with a hourglass figure, it just looked plain with no sex appeal while draped over Kurama's short and petite body. In short, the robe made her look more like a young little girl trying to look like an adult.
A grumpy little girl, as Kurama crossed her arms and narrowed her golden eyes at her companion's obvious amusement over her plight.
"Let me remind you again that you're the one who chose to show yourself like this to me the first time you changed into your human form." he retorted with a grin as he set the bag of takeout on the coffee table between all the sitting furnitures.
"And sometimes I still regret that day, because you wouldn't let me change to any other form, even though I could grow my tits out, or at least get tall enough so you won't have to bend down so low to kiss me." she grumbled as she plopped herself down on the loveseat in an unladylike manner. Naruto rolled his eyes and sat down next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
"Important thing first...your tits are fantastic the way they've always been up till now. No changing them."he began mock-seriously, getting her to scoff with an eyeroll of her own. "Secondly, I have always known and loved you as both the fox and this form in all our time together. Also, ever since the very second you revealed this to me, I could easily tell that you're 100% comfortable and completely yourself in this form. If I ever did doubt that, then I wouldn't have been so against you changing any part of yourself just to make things 'convenient'. To me, this is what makes you...you, Ku-chan."
"How eloquent." Kurama muttered, but her pleased smirk couldn't be hidden. Naruto grinned as he leaned down to nuzzle his whiskered cheek with hers.
"I don't need you to have big breasts, or be taller. I need you to be my gorgeous and sexy Kurama, and nothing else. Besides, it's fun finding creative ways to kiss you aside from just bending down every time."
Kurama had to smile at this, and kissed him on his cheek for his words.
"Done fishing for compliments now?" Naruto's tone changed from tender to teasing instantly when they pulled apart, making the vixen glare at him sharply.
"What makes you think I was fishing?"
"The fact you, an infinitely powerful chakra being, could've molded a sexier robe into existence around you instead of wearing this one?"
She snorted and elbowed him lightly, but didn't deny his words. "I miss the days you used to be totally clueless about your women's subtleties."
"That's because I now have an eternity to at least learn a tiny bit more about you women compared to my fellow males."
"Are you implying that we females are still never going to be figured out 100% even after centuries of being around me and all your other previous lovers?" Kurama narrowed her eyes in mock threat.
"I'm not implying anything." he replied seriously, getting her to quirk an eyebrow. "I'm clearly stating this with total irrevocability."
She elbowed him harder this time, getting a small grunt in return.
"So what brought that on?" he asked as he rubbed his stomach.
"After what I've seen in the bath, I felt the need to examine why I didn't show myself in a knockout figure with big tits when I revealed myself to you, that's all." she retorted shortly with a twitching eyebrow. While she liked Nami, that curvaceous body was almost enough to get her envious. In addition, that orange-haired girl still hadn't reached adulthood yet, so she was going to be even more of a knockout in just a couple years!
Before Naruto could quiz her, the ensuite door slowly opened, grabbing the duo's attention. The blonde had to gulp at the gorgeous sight that emerged, and it took all he had to push down his blush.
Nami stepped out in another one of the suite's provided bath robes, drying her short hair with a towel. While the robe looked too large on Kurama, it was almost too small on Nami's figure instead. It was just barely too short, stopping just above mid-thigh, and it was tight around her well-developed curves. She also left it somewhat open at the top, revealing the impressive cleavage between her perky and growing breasts. It also revealed what he thought to be her sexiest feature, which was her amazingly long and smooth legs that seemed to go on forever. She easily was above supermodel-quality.
Naruto was broken out of his staring when Kurama elbowed him on his stomach again. He glanced down to see his annoyed vixen silently mouth 'Discrimination.' up at him as she gestured between her robe and Nami's. He snorted and mouthed back 'Chakra.' while pointing at her, getting her to cross her arms and grumble with a pout.
It was at this point Nami noticed that Naruto was back. She balked slightly, almost not ready to face him after what Kurama revealed to her only a few minutes prior. However, she did catch the blonde staring at her a bit before the dark-skinned woman elbowed his stomach. She smirked in victory now, happy she at least got a small reaction out of him over her attractive body. She was also amused at the good-natured grumbling between the duo; it was clear they had a very healthy relationship.
"Welcome back, Naruto…-kun." she called out shyly, testing the suffix on her tongue and finding it comfortable enough to continue using. The blonde smiled brightly.
"Yo! I'm back, Nami-chan." he called out cheerily, getting her to smile warmly at his friendliness. "And I got us some food."
Twin growls echoed into the large suite.
Nami blushed as she put her hands over her stomach as if trying to quiet it, while Naruto just laughed shamelessly and patted his own proudly. Kurama was smirking in amusement. As a chakra being, she didn't have any hunger to sate, instead only eating for enjoyment and to try new recipes. For her, it was amusing watching others have to obey their demanding stomachs.
"Guess we're being told to hurry up." the blonde chortled.
"That wasn't too bad." Naruto commented contentedly as he leaned back into the loveseat next to Kurama, who just finished eating her portion as well.
"I guess we can expect to eat a lot of seafood here." the vixen remarked with a shrug, not sure if she'd enjoy that or not.
Sitting across the coffee table - littered with empty takeout boxes - from the duo, Nami was taking her last bite. Before eating, she had gotten dressed in a tight green t-shirt with a white random logo across her chest and a short pair of white shorts that displayed her long legs quite nicely, She then had been silently observing the duo closely the whole meal.
Other than the occasional comment about the meal, they didn't reveal much about themselves. She decided it was time to change that. Wiping her lips with a paper napkin, she wadded it up and dropped it on her empty plate. That seemed to start things off, and they shifted their gazes to the orangette.
Now she was already having second thoughts as she gulped under their attention.
Naruto smiled warmly, adding more to the butterflies in her stomach. "I guess you have questions for us?"
She nodded with a nervous smile.
Kurama smirked. "This goes both ways. We do need more information as well."
"Let's formally introduce ourselves first." Naruto spoke up with a raised index finger before thumbing at his chest with pride. "I'm Uzumaki Naruto, the ever awesome, ever gallant, ever handsome,-"
"Get on with it." Kurama cut in with an eyeroll.
"- and ever badass shinobi sage."
Nami giggled briefly at his over-the-top introduction, before blinking in realization.
"Shinobi?" she muttered, as if trying to recognize the word on her tongue, before her brown eyes widened. "From Wano Country!?"
"Wano?" Naruto tilted his head in confusion with a foxlike expression, making her almost squee out loud at how cute that was.
"It sounds like that's where shinobi of this world might hail from, and most likely samurai as well." Kurama commented. Nami nodded at that, inwardly wondering where they came from, if not from Wano.
"That's right. Wano is famous all over the world for its samurai warriors, and there were mentions of shinobi too. It's also one of the few countries not directly affiliated with the World Government."
The mention of this world's ruling body got Naruto to frown, and Kurama quirked an eyebrow at him, getting him to continue.
"Just stuff I learned from the textbooks last night. It's not painting a good picture for this 'World Government'."
"I see. We'll get back to that later. For now, let's continue. I'm Kurama, the all-around badass -"
"- extraordinaire." Kurama finished with a overtly sweet tone, her left arm fully extended out to the side with its fist buried into a slumped over Naruto's stomach in retaliation for his jab. Nami giggled again. She couldn't help but like this duo more and more.
"You're not a shinobi too?"
"I cannot be classified as such. I am the Original Badass." Kurama replied smugly.
"However, we can classify her ego as gigantic - !" THUMP!
This time, Naruto was violently smashed down to the floor with a smoking lump on his head from Kurama's fist.
"Jackass." the vixen growled with a twitching eyebrow. Nami had to laugh for a few seconds, before calming down enough to continue.
"Well, I'm Nami. I'm the best at navigation and drawing maps. I live here in East Blue."
"So this part of the world is East Blue, then? I'm still having trouble making out the maps here." Naruto commented as he got back up, completely unblemished. Nami's curiosity got too much to contain now.
"Alright! You're talking like you don't have common knowledge of this world. The world nobles, Wano, and now this. Just where did you two come from?"
The duo exchanged gazes for a moment, and she had the feeling that they were having an entire conversation with their eyes in an instant. Naruto broke off first, and shrugged with a sigh.
"We don't come from any place you would have heard of, and I guarantee that no one on this entire planet would ever be able to find any trace of our existence before last night either. You're a pretty smart woman, and I know you've had a prime view of what happened just before we saved you."
"Just before…?" she quizzed, before she was struck by the memory of the enormous crimson nine-tailed fox that dropped from a literal hole in the sky before her very eyes.
"Y-y-you mean you two are connected to that giant fox that came out of thin air?" she whispered shakingly. Naruto nodded.
"And with that information, where do you think we came from?"
Nami shot out of her seat and paced back and forth in front of the silent duo. She was frantically wringing her hands as she had to force her logical mind to accept the improbable.
"There's no way...impossible...it's unheard of…." she mumbled, clearly shaken as she continued to pace.
"If it helps, you're taking this a lot better than most other people we've told." Naruto interjected 'helpfully', before grunting slightly when Kurama elbowed him to keep quiet and let Nami work it out herself. It took her a few long minutes before she finally stopped her pacing and turned to the duo.
"You're not originally of this world. Maybe from another planet or dimension?" she finally concluded, feeling ridiculous for even stating this and expecting to be made fun of. It was the only thing she could think up at this moment, though. To her surprise, they nodded. Suddenly, it all made sense for her with their limited knowledge of this world, and also why they outright killed a world noble without a second thought. Even the most vicious pirates would have had second thoughts about that.
"It's dimension, to be clear. It took some of our old friends at least few tries to figure that out. You got it on the first go, and you're taking this rather well." Kurama remarked with a smirk.
Nami slowly dropped to her knees, chuckled haltingly, and allowed comical tear streaks to go down her cheeks at such a massive revelation.
"H-h-how the hell did someone like me even get involved in this?" she muttered dejectedly, before sighing heavily. "Why even tell me? Isn't this something you'd hide to at least avoid sounding crazy?"
Kurama just shrugged uncaringly. "We never really cared for keeping ourselves secret most times, and you saw our arrival. It's not like we have any inclination to hide anything from you now."
"Yeah...you had no reason to try to bullshit me on this, and I did see some pretty amazing things that went a long way in proving yourselves. In any case, I guess it's not that farfetched considering all the legends of the seas I've heard." she mumbled in resignation, already in the process of accepting this highly improbable situation before her.
"You're talking about devil fruits. I read about them in the books last night." Naruto piped up.
"Those, and many other things. But most of them are supposed to be myths." Nami replied.
"Devil fruits? Intriguing." Kurama cut in with an interested expression, before turning to Naruto. "Oi, let me see what you've learned last night. I'm tired of being left out already."
The blonde nodded easily and leaned forward for her to touch her palm to his forehead. A few seconds later, Kurama blinked a few times.
"Yeah, they're definitely real. Those 'official' and 'factual' textbooks are trying too hard to discredit them as myths. You're right about this 'World Government' trying to keep most of the populace ignorant with restricted knowledge, Naruto." she concluded, getting a nod from the blonde. Nami was staring at the interaction, stunned.
"Y-y-you can read minds? Not only that, but you also heal wounds like they're nothing, and you're so strong and fast. Just what kind of world did you come from?!" she exclaimed, almost hysterically. Naruto smiled somewhat forlornly.
"A harsh world where these skills, and so many more, were necessary."
Nami understood as she recognized his expression. It was the same one she saw in her mirror's reflection after a long and hard life.
"Is that why you're in a different dimension? To escape that?" she whispered.
Kurama shook her head.
"Naruto here brought true peace to our old world after its long and bloody history of war and death, so that wasn't the reason."
"Oi, the others did help." Naruto had to make sure he didn't get all the credit when his old friends and wives also struggled with him to make that peace a true reality. It didn't happen overnight after all.
"Yes, but you can't deny you're the one who single-handedly jump-started the process."
"Wait, so if that wasn't the reason to leave your world, then why? I'm pretty sure you know from the information you gathered that this world is overrun with pirates." Nami spat the last word out like it was poison, and the duo duly noted this for later. "And it's also ruled by corrupt and entitled nobles who couldn't be bothered to care about us commoners, instead exploiting us every chance they get. So, all you did was change worlds from a peaceful one to a rotten one." she finished with a frown, not understanding why they would take that shot.
Kurama lifted an index finger. "You're making the assumption that we just started traveling. This is far from the first world we've visited."
Nami furrowed her brow in confusion.
"But you two look to be in early twenties! You couldn't have had time to make that peace you mentioned happen, and then travel through more than one or two worlds. Even now, I'm still dubious about Naruto-kun's claim to be a sage. Aren't sages supposed to be old men by the time they finish training?""
Naruto huffed, affronted about being called old, while Kurama smirked knowingly. "Again, you're making another assumption; this time about our ages."
It struck the orangette. "You two are older than you look." she replied in a flat tone.
Naruto nodded, and his uncovered blue eye dulled slightly and seemed to age before Nami's stare, and she just knew. It wasn't only war and death he had been through, but also the loss of his many friends, and perhaps even lovers, to old age in the past.
It was truly heartbreaking to behold this young-looking man having such an old and experienced look in his bright and beautiful blue eye, and she wanted to just sit on his lap and hug him tightly for his comfort. Before she could give into that temptation, Kurama took care of that by resting a hand on his forearm with an understanding expression. Naruto nodded at her gratefully, before his expression changed back to his usual warm one.
"Kurama is a very powerful and special lady, and she's always been immortal since she was born. I, on the other hand, was born completely human. Our world was in a constant cycle of hatred and war, and I decided one day in my childhood that I needed to make it safe for my loved ones. With that goal in mind, I did nearly everything I could, short of evil means, to gain enough power in order to make it happen. Kurama helped me every step of the way from the very moment we met."
"And?" Nami whispered, barely noticing that she moved to sit next to him, opposite Kurama, and took his large and warm left hand to envenlop it with both of hers. He gave a appreciative squeeze.
"After a long and hard road, we achieved that goal. We were happy with our lives in that new era of peace, but it wasn't long before we found out that one of those 'means' I used to get strong enough had an unexpected side-effect."
Nami's lips trembled slightly as unshed tears stung her wide brown eyes. "Immortality." she breathed out as she squeezed his hand tightly.
It didn't escape her notice that Kurama was glancing off to the side with clear guilt in her golden eyes. The blonde nodded, still with that grin on his face as if everything was just fine.
"Close enough. Eternal lifespan is more like it, since I'm guessing I might die from decapitation, or something like that, but I'm not going to try it and see if that's actually true. It's a price I'd gladly pay many times over to keep my loved ones safe and make my home world a gentler place for them and future generations, so I don't regret it. It also helped a lot that a certain beautiful vixen has been by my side since then, and I could deal with this easy enough." he assured, before gazing at Kurama warmly. He then raked his free right hand through her curly black hair, making her eyes flutter closed at the tender gesture, though she still wasn't making any effort to meet his gaze yet.
"Ku-chan's my oldest and dearest friend, partner, and lover who did so much to make me who I am today. It'd have shattered me to leave her all alone if I did die of old age. In some ways, I'm glad I didn't have to."
With that said, Naruto rose out of his seat and headed for the ensuite. "I gotta use the bathroom."
Tense silence hung between the two women on the loveseat, the empty Naruto-sized space between them now feeling like a huge black void.
"It was my fault." Kurama's admittance was barely a whisper, but it sounded like a bomb in the deathly silent room. "He was considering an unproven method of strengthening himself using my energy in a certain way, and I basically told him to do it. It worked beyond our wildest expectations, but we never thought it'd link his lifespan to mine so intimately as a result. As long as I live, he shall remain alive too."
Nami's eyes softened, now understanding why the dark-skinned woman was looking guilty. She remained silent.
"At first, we didn't question why he wasn't getting wrinkles like his peers, since Uzumakis were famous for their longer-than-average lifespans and near-infinite vitality. That didn't last long, since looking like he was still twenty by his fifties was pushing it. It took some extensive tests before we finally found out why. When the news came, I was devastated. Even though it accidentally gave me what I always secretly wished for in a close companion always being by my side for the rest of my life, it cost him too much in the end. I wanted him to be angry and hate me for putting this on him. It was exactly what I deserved." Kurama shook her head with an exasperated sigh.
"Instead, that idiot just smiled and accepted it easily after only a few weeks of reflection, even though I knew it was hurting him on the inside to watch the rest of his peers move on with time. I couldn't stand to remain with him as he watched his beloved wives, children, and friends die of old age while he continued to look young. I was a clear reminder to them that he couldn't go with them to the afterlife, and that I selfishly stole him from them. With that thought, I immediately left him, and cut myself out of his life completely. I even walked out on his children, who loved me and looked up to me as 'Auntie Ku'. I felt I didn't deserve to have anything good after that day, let alone be happy with him; all because I believed I encouraged him to make one rash decision without thinking of the consequences afterward."
Despite the heartbreaking story, the teary-eyed Nami was amazed Kurama managed to remain stone-faced as she talked.
"It was the worst decision I've ever made." she scoffed. "I've lived for eons before I met Naruto on the day of his birth. In just less than two decades after his birth, he did something no one else I've come across in my long life ever did; he made me fall in love with him utterly and completely. And I tried to throw it all away that day on a knee-jerk reaction, despite the fact it tore me apart completely on the inside."
Nami shuffled over quietly and rested a hand on Kurama's shoulder to at least provide some support, if nothing else.
"Still, I was too stubborn to stop my self-loathing, and I knew he'd come after me to drag me back kicking and screaming, so I hid away in the farthest reaches of the world where he couldn't even think of looking. He did stop looking after a while, but only because he needed to go back to his family and spend as much time with them as he could. I thought he'd move on without me, and I thought I'd forget him eventually. Little did I know that neither would even come close to happening. When his wives passed on and the last of his great-grandchildren was well into adulthood by then, he faked his death to the public, left his descendants to handle things, and got right back to searching for me. It took him two years, and when he found me, it was sixty-eight years since I last saw him."
"So long...it must've been hard on you two." Nami whispered, getting a nod from Kurama.
"You cannot even begin to imagine just how happy I was when I saw his stupid whiskered face again after so long. I also was truly terrified, since that same stupid face was set in total determination. It told me he was going to bring me back, and nothing but death by my own hands was going to change his mind. Unfortunately for him, I was also determined to remain alone to punish myself."
"Sounds like the two of you were pretty stubborn." Nami commented quietly with a small grin. Kurama briefly gave a fond smile with a 'What can you do?' shrug.
"We still are. No matter how much I insulted and hurled hatred at him, he refused to budge, because he knew I was lying to him and myself. Seeing his clear love and acceptance of me in spite of what I did to him angered and burned me more than anything else ever did, because it was weakening my resolve to remain alone little by little and he knew it. I fought with everything I had to push him away, and he took it all in to throw back at me just as much. I even tried to kill him because I believed I was doing a favor to him; to send him to the afterlife and be with his deceased lovers finally. He didn't let me, because he knew I'd never recover." Kurama let out a small shuddering sigh, the only sign of raw emotion she displayed while telling this story; she was apparently remembering a horrible memory. Nami gave her shoulder a soft squeeze.
"In the end, after days of fighting, he was carrying my battered and exhausted form from the battlefield in his arms. I just kept apologizing over and over, and he, looking like he went through hell and back ten times over, was telling me he still needed me by his side like he always did ever since we first met. Just like that, the loneliest and most miserable sixty-eight-year period I've ever experienced in my entire life finally ended." the vixen finally finished with a resigned grin at the memory.
"By the time we made up, there was nothing left in that world to tie us down, so we decided to go traveling through different dimensions. We always knew for a long time that other worlds existed aside from us, so we applied our knowledge of space-time theories, and learned the necessary technique to travel. In addition, we believe we'd eventually find something that might render us both mortal and let us pass on from natural causes, so that was another reason for leaving our old world behind."
"So you're basically looking for a way to die?" Nami frowned at that, not quite sure how to feel about her new friends wanting something as morbid as that. Kurama shrugged.
"Well, the number of dimensions out there is infinite as far as we can tell, and our technique's selection of the next destination is always random, so we knew it'd probably take until the end of time itself before we'd even finally pass on. It's not like we're in a rush to end our lives, though. If we stumble across something that could help with that goal, then that'll simply be the end for us. In the meantime, we decided to just enjoy all the different cultures and sceneries we'd experience, and maybe get involved in the occasional world affair if we feel like it."
Nami bit her bottom lip as she thought over an important question for a moment.
"How long?" she whispered.
"It's been just over a thousand years since we left our home world, I guess." Naruto's voice cut in, drawing the women's attention to find him exiting the ensuite. Nami blinked at that.
"You must've seen so many different worlds." she commented in awe, but that got a head shake from the blonde.
"Oh, probably not as many as you think. In some cases, like whenever we find a world fascinating enough, we'd decide to make a new life and settle down for a century or two, before moving on. Those times certainly kept things interesting for us, and breathed some fresh air into our journey whenever we needed it." he grinned wide. "We'd both go nuts if all we do is just hop to the next world every couple years. We'd never truly explore anything, and we'd be bored as hell before long."
Nami smiled and nodded. "I see, I can't imagine what that'd be like, so I'll take your word for it. I guess I'm just more fascinated with the thought of mapping all these different worlds."
"Wow, you must really enjoy making maps if that's your first thought. I bet you're a genius if you love it this much!" Naruto commented with a foxy smirk that made her blush slightly. It had been so long since she received a genuine compliment on her talent, instead of just being forced to use it for someone else's benefit without a single word of thanks. The unwanted memory of being exploited by her 'nakamas' for this talent darkened her mood immediately, and she clenched at the hems of her shorts hard enough to make her knuckles white.
Kurama caught the dark emotions suddenly churning within Nami, and glanced over at Naruto. She jerked her head toward the door upon catching his eye. He nodded slightly; even he could tell something was bothering the orangette without any emotion-sensing ability.
"Oi, it's been a long conversation full of heavy topics. How about we take a break and enjoy some fresh air?" he spoke up, snapping Nami out of her thoughts. She blinked, and had to agree that it was a lot of information to process.
"You're right. I feel like walking off that breakfast anyway."
"Ok, you be a gentleman and accompany her, Naruto. Meanwhile, I'm going to sleep some more since I'm still feeling a bit off after our arrival here last night." Kurama muttered as she stood to move over to the bed. Nami had to blush and glance away when the vixen nonchalantly threw off her comically oversized robe, briefly revealing her nude form, before slipping under the thick duvet. Gentle snoring followed almost immediately.
"So fast!" Nami exclaimed quietly with wide eyes and dropped jaw, getting a snicker from Naruto.
"She likes her naps. Anything you'd like to do for the rest of the morning, Nami-chan?" he asked with a friendly grin. The orangette thought for a moment, before fidgeting bashfully.
"Would it be alright if I do some mapping? It's my first time here on this island, and it should be small and simple enough to map in a few hours at least. I find it relaxing, especially after what happened last night…" she trailed off, giving a brief shiver at the awful memory of that world noble. Naruto nodded in understanding.
"Sure! Let's get ready to go."
"Naruto-kun, it'd be boring watching me taking measurements and drawing for hours. We could split up, and you can do something else, if you'd like." she mumbled shyly. Normally, she wouldn't have minded doing this alone like most times, but she had a feeling this blonde's presence nearby would've made it more enjoyable than usual.
"No worries. I like seeing my friends be happy with their hobbies, and I can help you with whatever you need. Who knows...maybe I'll learn a few things about mapping."
Nami blushed. It was the first time anyone had ever encouraged her like this since her mother's death, instead of just forcing this on her.
"I'm glad for your help, then." she replied with a small smile.
Meanwhile on one of the Marine ships anchored outside the dock
"Captain, here's the information from our first sweep of the town." a marine soldier reported as he stepped up to the ship's captain with some paper in his hands. They were standing at the bow with an expansive view of the small and sleepy town before them.
The officer nodded his thanks as he took the report and looked it over. The soldier stood at attention quietly for a few minutes as he awaited further orders. Finally, the captain broke the silence with an interested grunt as he came across an interesting detail.
"So there were multiple reports of a world noble, Albert the Second, docking here last night just as the typhoon hit?"
The soldier nodded.
"Aye, sir. However, we've found no sign of him anywhere in town now. His ship is gone as well."
"So, he decided to leave overnight?" the captain mused with a puzzled frown as he glanced out over at the docks, finding no distinctive-looking ship that would've belonged to someone as wealthy as a world noble..
"It is possible, sir, but we've found something strange. The dock's watchmen hasn't seen any sign of him or his party. If they did leave, then they did it without alerting anyone."
"You're right. That is strange, and I don't like it." the captain muttered with a brief scowl. "Anything else about the noble?"
"His last sighting was last night shortly before the typhoon disappeared, and eyewitnesses looking out through their windows placed him storming through the town's streets with his bodyguards as if they were searching for something."
"Or someone." the captain retorted softly.
"Aye, that's more likely, because several other eyewitness also noted an injured young teenage girl feeling through the alleyways as if she was being chased. She's estimated to be at least fifteen and had orange nape-length hair. We haven't found any sign of her yet either."
The captain pursed his lips in thought. "A world noble disappears overnight, and he was last seen near a missing young woman? I don't like this."
"We checked the local inn for any information, but its owner wasn't in and the front desk was smashed for some reason. We haven't searched the rooms yet, since we need permission for that, sir." the soldier added.
His superior nodded. They couldn't forcibly enter and search any random private residence without justifiable cause.
"We'll get it soon when Vice-Admiral Garp arrives. In the meantime, do another information sweep, assign several people to watch the inn for anything, and keep an eye out for this young orange-haired woman. Something tells me she'll at least have an interesting story if she's still around."
The soldier snapped a salute and rushed off to relay the orders.
The captain turned from the town's scenery to stare out at the open sea.
"I wonder what'll happen when Garp-sama sees this report." he muttered, feeling a small shiver at that thought. He couldn't help but feel sorry for this mysterious orange-haired woman if Garp caught on to her scent like a hunting dog.
He also couldn't help but feel he'd be surprised if today went by without any incident.
Shaking it off, he glanced down at the report again, this time with a disbelieving expression.
"A silver-haired man in a facemask and combat outfit? Reading porn out in public? Who the hell believes that bullshit?"
Well, looks like Nami might have trouble if a certain admiral learns of her. Wonder what'll happen? :-) It won't be that easy since he's going to find a surprise waiting for him at the inn when they search the rooms, and a certain vixen do not like being rudely woken up. Before that, there'll be a bit of a 'date' between Naruto and Nami before things go to hell.
I'm not feeling really too proud of this chapter, but I didn't feel like revising the entire thing. It is just a pilot chapter, so I can change things later. If you feel like you don't like parts of it, then please let me know. Otherwise, I hope you still enjoyed it.
I also decided to make up a bit of a backstory for the duo, and explain a bit what happened before they left their original world. I might or might not use this in the offical crossover stories I publish in the future. So, let me know what you think.