Nami dreams of thunderstorms.

She's on a boat, all by herself. A flimsy boat, small and wooden and narrow. There's barely enough room in it for her to stretch her legs.

There's land in the horizon. She can see it clearly in the darkness. Nami tries to paddle the boat over to it. The seas are rough; the waves beneath her are determined to throw her off. Rain is coming down on her like shattered glass.

Then thunder sounds. There's no lightning, just the loud BANG of the thunder clapping. The ocean seems to shake with the sound. Nami holds on to the edge of her pathetic boat, trying not to fall off. Land is close, and if she can just get there she can escape the storm and be safe.

BANG, the water vibrates. A large wave hits her in the face, drenches her body. Nami keeps paddling.

BANG – the thunder barks. The world shakes now. Nami grits her teeth, paddling, but she doesn't seem to be getting any closer to land.

BANG! She flinches harshly. The ocean picks her boat up. Nami crouches low, holding tightly.

BANG – the boat turns on its side, she's going to fall in, she's going to fall in, she's going to fall in, BANG, BANG, BANG

Nami's eyes open.

Her heart is beating loudly, quickly. She's in her room, in her bed, in the Merry. It's morning. Weak light spills into the room. The ocean is calm, patient, barely even rocking the boat. Nami slows her breathes, closing her eyes . . . What a stupid dream.

When she opens her eyes again, she is relaxed. She forgets what the dream was about. She turns her head, looking around. Robin is also here. She's sitting on the lounge seat, hunched over, her back to Nami. Right, Nami recalls. I had first watch, so it's Robin's turn now –

Robin coughs, the sound crisp, like a clap of thunder. Nami's eyes narrow. She doesn't move though, just watches Robin's back carefully. Then the archeologist coughs again, her shoulders tightening, back arching a bit, then another wet cough, a ragged cough, coughing, coughing, coughing too much, is she even breathing –

Nami throws the covers off of her and runs to Robin's side, patting her back softly then harder when the coughing doesn't stop. She's starting get extremely worried until the coughing fit finally subsidizes and the room is silent.


She looks over the other woman's shoulder, sees that she's hunched over a wastebasket. Nami has the unfortunate pleasure of peering inside the wastebasket.

"Oh, hell."

Robin pants softly. Her eyes are tired, watery. She has a napkin pressed to her mouth. "I'm sorry for waking you, Navigator-san." Her voice is haggard, harsh. She folds the napkin slowly. There's a slight tremor in her hands. "I tried to be quiet."

"This isn't something you need to keep quiet." Nami hisses. Fear is creeping up from her legs. "Goddammit. I knew something was wrong with you. I just knew it."

"Yes. It would appear so."

"Why didn't you say anything?"

Robin sits back, tosses the napkin into the basket. She closes her eyes. "It wasn't this bad, at first, for me to bring it up."

"But I asked you," Nami says, and she's well aware of how childish her voice sounds. Her hands tighten around Robin's shoulders. "I asked you yesterday, and you lied to me. You lied straight to my face."

"No." Robin turns in her seat, so she's facing Nami. Her face is pale, but her eyes brim. "I didn't lie. What I told you was the truth; this is also the truth, but I chose to withhold it."

"Which is still lying."

"I disagree."

"I don't care. I asked you a direct question and you knew what answer I was looking for and you didn't tell me it." Her voice hardens. "It might not be lying to you but I feel like I was lied to, Robin."

"Then I apologize for making you feel that way." She sounds sincere enough. "That was never my intention."

Then what was your intention? Nami wants to ask, but she decides against it. It's too early to be picking a fight, much less with Robin. She must have brought up that whole nonsense with Zoro just so everyone wouldn't be focused on her. Whatever. The truth is out now. Better to deal with it now then to mull it over. She'll find time for that later.

Nami stands up. "Let's go find Chopper."





It's doesn't take them long to find the little doctor.

Nami very nearly drags Robin into the galley. Nearly, because it isn't hard to pull along the other woman, which makes Nami think that Robin is allowing herself to be manhandled.

"Chopper," she calls. The reindeer is sitting on the counter, chatting with Sanji who is sharpening a wide knife. They both look at her. "Robin is sick. Can you look at her?"

The knife falls dramatically from Sanji's hand and Nami tries not to roll her eyes. "S-Sick?" Chopper hops off the counter while Sanji puts his hand on his heart. "No! Not my Robin-chan! Anyone but her! Oh, God, why? Why is the world so cruel to beautiful women!"

Chopper motions her to sit on the chair while he clambers on to the table. Sanji is saying something about whipping up a soup so delicious that it will without fail cure her. Nami stands besides Robin, her arms folded.

"Sick how?" Chopper asks, rummaging through his pockets.

"She was–"

"Smoke inhalation, Doctor-san," Robin answers instead. "I have a recurring headache, my eyes are irritated, I've been having incessant coughing spells since last night, and just a few moments ago I was nauseous to the point of vomiting."

Nami frowns at how easily those honest words flow out of her mouth. So now she decides to tell the truth? No. Nami mentally shakes her head. She's doing it again, deflecting by giving only half the truth. She's still hiding something.

"Oh no." Whatever he was reaching for in his pocket (a thermometer, Nami guesses) is abandoned. Chopper moves closer, puts a hoof on Robin's wrist to feel her pulse. "That's no good. If the smoke can cause this much damage while we're inside, then –

Robin puts a hand over Chopper's hoof. "You misunderstand. This happened because I went outside; multiple times, in fact."

"What!?" Chopper exclaims. He stares for a long time, trying to digest the information. Even Sanji pauses from his spot in the kitchen. He glances at Nami, and a look is shared, the same look she shared with Usopp moments ago. Chopper searches Robin's face. " . . . You went outside?"


Poor Chopper looks absolutely lost. "But- But why? You knew about the damage the smoke could do if you stayed outside for too long- we talked about this! Why would you still go outside knowing that?"

"Will knowing the reason change anything?"

Yes, yes it will! Nami shouts in her mind. Stop hiding things from us and just tell us! But those thoughts don't leave her head. What's the point of a hostile confrontation now? It would only create more tension on the ship. They need to deal with one crisis at a time. The crew shouldn't indulge Nami's hurt feelings by all turning against Robin. Wow, harsh, Nami chastises herself.

Chopper thinks about it, fiddling with the hem of his shirt. "I guess not . . . but still! It's just . . ." Big watery eyes look up, betrayal swimming inside them. "You're the last person I expected to not listen to me . . ."

Even Robin can't face Chopper like that with a stone cold face. "I'm sorry, Doctor-san. Although it couldn't be helped, your counsel is invaluable, and I should have never gone against it. I know you'll do a marvelous job of helping me recover."

"D-Don't," Chopper sniffs loudly. "Don't think 'cause you complimented me I'll be any less mad, a-asshole!" He wipes his eyes. "Just don't do it again. You're supposed be one of the good ones."

Nami sees it; a twitch in Robin's mouth. Was that a smile or a frown? Her eyes are even more conflicted. It's guilt, Nami realizes. That's guilt. Robin says, "I won't do it again."




A few practical examinations later and Chopper leaves to retrieve some supplies. Sanji comes by and places a single steaming cup on the table where Chopper had been sitting.

"Chamomile tea to help soothe your stomach, Robin-chan? I've also added a drop of honey and a dash of peppermint to ease the nausea and get you back to your wonderful self as quickly as possible!"

Robin holds the cup, takes a small sip, then smiles. "It's lovely. Thank you, Cook-san."

Sanji does an intricate bow, that goofy smile plastered on his face. "You're ever so welcome! Are you hungry? Would you like me to make you a light snack, so you can enjoy the tea better?"

Robin pauses, the cup an inch from her mouth. She mulls over Sanji's question. "I am hungry, but I think I would rather wait until breakfast to enjoy the food with everyone else."

Sanji swoons. "So generous! We don't deserve you!"

Nami is still standing by Robin's shoulder, watching her every move, listening to every decibel. Sanji notices this but doesn't say anything. He's caught on, though, Nami can tell. He also knows something's up with Robin.

With his gallantries out of the way, he sobers up. He takes a seat on the bench, asks Robin gently, "How are you feeling? Honestly."

"I'm alright. Just a bit lightheaded, though I'm sure some food will help remedy that."

Sanji smiles. "Of course! Good food can cure almost everything!" He pulls out a cigarette from his breast pocket. "But I actually meant the question in a more . . . emotional capacity, y'know?"

Robin cocks her head. "Oh?" She gives the question some thought. "Emotionally, I am content."

"Content," he repeats. He blows out a thin stream of smoke. "Robin-chan, I hope I'm not overstepping, but if something is bothering you, you know you can always tell us, right?"

"Yes, I know."

"And you know we'll do anything we can to help you, right?"

"Of course." She takes a sip of her tea. "I understand that faultlessly."

Sanji seems to have hit a roadblock. Robin isn't yielding. He looks at Nami for help, so she sits down on Robin's other side and says, "Well, you're not acting like you know that. You're acting like you're hiding something from us."

Blunt, straight to the point. That's how Robin usually operates, so Nami will operate like that, too. Robin smiles. "I'm not hiding anything. You can't very much hide something that is in plain sight, now can you?"

Is that a riddle? Did she just go all ambiguous on us? Sanji says, "Ah, well. What we're trying to say is you should have at least told us you were sick when you first started feeling it. Chopper could have helped you so you wouldn't have to feel so awful now."

"I don't mind."

Nami's eyes narrow. "You don't mind feeling like shit, or you don't mind making us worry? Are you suddenly a masochist? Is that what you don't want to tell us? What the hell, Robin."

Her tone is harsh, sharp. She didn't mean for that, but she doesn't regret it. There's a stiff silence in the room. There's that tension I didn't want to start. Sanji is looking at her oddly. Nami doesn't care. She keeps her eyes locked on the other woman.

Robin sets her cup down. It hits the table with a soft tap. ". . . No," she finally says. "I'm sorry. That was insensitive." She laces her fingers together around the cup, looking down at its contents. "I merely meant that I've been in more painful situations before, and in comparison, this was nothing, therefore I didn't mind it. I failed to communicate that. I'm sorry. I know I've worried you all. I apologize."

"Yeah, well, we mind it," Nami says after a beat. Sanji nods from across the table. "We don't like seeing our nakama hurt when we know there's something we can do to help."

"Neither do I." Robin says quietly. For some inexplicable reason, a shiver runs down Nami's spine.

Sanji says, "So next time you'll tell us when you're feeling out of sorts?"

Robin nods. "Of course. I understand that now."

"And," Nami cuts in. "You'll tell us the whole truth, not just half the truth so we can stop asking about it. You shouldn't be hiding things from us, Robin."

Another smile. "Certainly. The moment I know the truth, I will let you know immediately. I would never give you false information. Anything I assert should always have merit behind it."

Wait, what? That's not what I asked . . . was it? Nami feels a headache coming. I feel like I just had the most one-sided conversation of my life. She thinks. Either that, or Robin and I were talking about two entirely different things.

The timer on the oven dings! loudly, making Nami jump.

Sanji abruptly stands up. "My muffins are ready!" He strides over to the kitchen area. "Oh, you're going to absolutely love these! I call these muffins the Berry Delights! They're filled with an assortment of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, toped with a lightly glazed…"

He opens the oven, the aroma filling the air like a melody. It's soothing, like a warm bath. She feels all her senses flare. Oh man, I forgot how hungry I was.

Then the door bursts open and a drooling Luffy barrels through. "Breakfast!" He hollers with glee. "Breakfast time, breakfast time, breakfast TIME!"

"Shut up!" Sanji snaps. "The food needs to cool down. Go sit and be quiet!"

Luffy's attention is laser focused on the trey of muffins that he doesn't acknowledge Sanji. Naturally, their ever patient cook remedies that by kicking their captain square in the face and across the room.

Usopp follows Luffy inside. "Mmmm!" His eyes are shining. "Morning, guys. That smells SO good, Sanji! You've really outdone yourself, if I do say so myself – whoa. Wait. Hold up." He freezes in the middle of the room. He extends his hands, grasping at the air all sage like. "The aura here feels off." He looks at Robin and Nami. "Were you guys having a war meeting or something?"

"Relax. We were just talking," Nami scowls. She props her elbow on the table, holding her chin. "Robin's sick from the smoke. We're waiting for Chopper to come back with medicine."

"Sick?" Usopp repeats. His eyes jump from Robin to Nami, then his eyes widen in realization. "Oh. Ohhhhh, OK. Yeah, that makes sense, actually."

Luffy flings himself on to the seat besides Nami. His hat is tied around his neck, and he's wearing his shirt inside out. Nami realizes that her captain had clearly been awoken by the smell of the food and rushed out of bed as quickly as possible. I'm so embarrassed.

Luffy asks, "Huh? What makes sense? The muffins?"

Usopp sits on Luffy's other side, arms crossed, trying to make himself appear enlightened. "No, no. Why Robin's been acting all weird and stuff. My observations, as usual, we correct."

"Robin's acting weird? Why?"

"Cause she's sick."

Luffy's brow dips, slowly. He takes in the words with a frown. Nami doesn't like that frown. "Robin's sick?"

Usopp bristles. "Yes, you moron! That's what we were just talking about! Pay attention!"

His frown gets more defined. Usopp's teasing doesn't resonate with him. He looks at Robin thoughtfully, seriously. Probably trying to search for any signs of sickness. He won't find any, though. Robin hides it very well. "How'd you get sick?"

Robin answers, "From being outside for too long."

Luffy cradles his chin. "Really? Huh. But me and Usopp go outside all the time to play and we never got sick –"

Usopp slaps a hand over Luffy's mouth quickly. "Now, now, Captain! Hehehe, let's not go sprouting lies just to fit in! What he meant to say is that we go outside to briefly check on the air quality. Right?"

Luffy nods quickly. When Usopp's hand is removed, he asks, "Are you hurting?"

She smiles. "No."

"Is it a bad sickness? Are you super, super sick? Are your eyes going to melt off?"

"She'll be fine," Chopper says. He walks back into the galley, his medical backpack slung over his shoulder. He takes a seat besides Robin while Sanji goes about setting the table. Chopper's mood seems to have lifted, which is good. The atmosphere in the dining area has brightened considerably, and Nami finds herself basking in it.

Chopper pulls out a bottle of pills. They rattle when he sets them on the table. He continues, "Luckily, you're only showing the early signs of excessive smoke inhalation. It would have been much worse if you were exposed any longer. You would have been coughing up blood, or passing out completely."

In the background, Nami can hear Usopp ask, "Where the hell did you hear of a sickness that makes people's eyes melt off?" and Luffy vehemently defend, "It exists! It's real!"

Chopper spills two pills into his hoof. "Because of our current, ah, situation, antibiotics are all I can give you. Once we get moving again, we'll find a place that has oxygen masks so we can let you breath come clean air and clear your airways."

"That's good," Robin says. "So then, intubation wont be necessary?"

Chopper shakes his head. "You're not showing any signs on respiratory distress, so I don't think you need it. Of course, that's only if you stay clear of the smoke. Breathing any more of it will definitely make it worse for you. So make sure you stay inside and take two pills, twice a day."

Robin nods. Across the table, Luffy is snickering. "Oooh, Robin has to take medicine," he sings childishly.

Chopper crosses his arms. "Taking medicine isn't a punishment, Luffy."

"Then why does it always taste bad? Huh?"

Usopp whistles. "Ooh, he's got you there, Chopper."

"It tastes how it tastes because it's full of ingredients that help you feel better!"

"Food helps me feel better and it tastes good."

Usopp snaps his fingers. "Checkmate, doctor."

Chopper glares. "You shouldn't be saying anything, because if I catch you two playing outside one more time then I'll be prescribing medicine to you, too!"

Usopp swallows whatever he was going to say next while Luffy snickers again, pointing at Usopp. "Hehehehe, you got in trouble!"

"He's talking to you, too, idiot!"

Luffy shrugs, either not listening or not caring. He asks Chopper, "So Robin's gonna be OK?"

The little doctor sighs and sits back down in his seat. "Yes, as long as she stays inside and takes the medicine, she'll be fine."

"It won't get bad?" His eyes dart quickly to Nami, and she understands. He's thinking about what happened to me in Drum Island, she thinks, remembering that awful moment of being cold and hot at the same time, of her limbs aching and her head throbbing and her insides shuddering. He's worried the same thing is going to happen to her.

But Chopper smiles and tells him, "It won't. I'll make sure of it."

And the worry is dissipated. "Cool! Then can we eat now? Sanji? Can I eat? I want that big muffin right there. No one better touch it. It's mine. Can I eat it now? Sanji?"

"Would you calm down?" Sanji snaps. He reaches behind him and unties his apron. "You can eat after you go wake up your stupid ass swordsman."

"Don't get your panties in a twist, I'm here."

Nami's eyebrows rise. Zoro walks through the galley door with a hand rubbing his neck, his mouth gaping in a large yawn. Like Luffy, he looks like the only reason he got out of bed at all was for food. At least he put some effort into getting dressed.

Like a scolding housewife, Sanji puts his hands on his hips. "Well look who's decided to grace us with his presence!"

"I'll grace you with a sword up your–"

"Don't start!" Nami snaps, pointing her finger at Zoro, then at Sanji. "It's too early. Let's just eat first, OK? You can do whatever you want after."

Zoro snorts and plops down in his seat, compared to Sanji who salutes her and swirls into his seat. Nami nods, satisfied. This is good, she thinks, and not just of the food. Everything is settling back to normal. Everyone is eating at the table, together. Robin is going to get better. Tomorrow, the log pose should reset and they can get moving. Everything's going to be OK.

Everything's going to be OK, she pleads to herself.


























end of part i