A/N: Today's my birthday and I've been holding onto this for years, and, well, I finally feel like I can start going live with this. Please let me know what you think! It's a labor of love.
Many thanks to my beta reader and good friend Beyond Kailani who has been urging me to do something with this series since I told her it existed. Without you this would still be sitting on my drive- no doubt about it. Thanks for being so supportive :D
"Luffy, let's go," Nami puts her hands on her hips and stares down the slope at Luffy who is still resting, spread-eagled on his back and staring up at the sky. "If we don't hurry Zoro's going to get lost and he's carrying my treasure so we can't let that happen!" She waits for him to laugh and jump up or agree that Zoro would probably end up on a different island or something equally Luffy-esque but all she gets is an acquiescent hum. He shifts, as though to get up, but in the end just sags back down, breathing a tired sigh.
"Hey Nami, what's keeping you?" Usopp yells over his shoulder before she can snap at Luffy to get off the ground already. The sharpshooter is going to treat them to breakfast at the little restaurant of the town, (which is a huge mistake on his part but Nami isn't going to tell him that until after he sees Luffy eat).
Speaking of whom, she frowns down at Luffy, her temper starting to flicker. Stupid pirate, she knows he wants food so why doesn't he just get up already?
"Luffy, come on! Can't you get up?"
"Yeah," He says brightly. "I can, but I think I'd just fall over again so I'm not gonna bother. I'm gonna take a nap."
"What?" Nami scolds herself for the pang of worry that hits her heart and quickly crosses her arms, working on being apathetic- he's probably just being an idiot anyway. "Stop messing around and hurry up! You're just tired, right?"
"Uh huh," Luffy cranes his neck a little and frowns at her. "You'd be tired too."
"My point is, if you want a nap then you should get up and find someplace better for it, I bet you can sleep at Usopp's house."
He mulls it over for a moment, his face creasing with the concentration it requires and she rolls her eyes.
"Alright," He decides and grunts as he pushes himself up, "I'll do that." He wobbles a little when he gets on his feet but doesn't have too much trouble climbing up the slope.
No, it seems to be even ground that gives him problems.
As soon as he reaches her side at the top of the incline he stumbles, only catching himself at the last second. Nami's suspicious by this point, though she can't say what she's suspicious of, and she falls in close behind him. He trips a few more times and now Nami's walking extra close, ready to catch him when he finally topples over because at this point it's all but already happened. She's glaring at the back of his head, wondering what he's hiding, when she glimpses something strange about the back of his neck. Just under the fringe of his hair, a tiny trickle appears as a red drop flows down into his shirt.
The sight of it helps everything else make sense.
With a spike of realization, she jerks her arm forward and rips his hat away from his head, sending him off balance. He topples onto his knees with a startled noise and half turns to glare back up at her but she's focused on inspecting the inside of the hat. There is a red smudge all along the back of it and when she looks closely at his head she can see his dark hair is matted.
Instantly, she registers all the things she hadn't before, the red slice marks from Kuro's cat claws on his arms and legs that have already begun to scab over (and the pinkish tint to the surrounding skin that probably isn't good). The faint outline of a bruise on his forehead that will probably amount to nothing but isn't it evidence to how hard he'd hit that pirate? And, of course, now she notices the evidence left behind by the chakra that had been flying for her but had instead thudded into him.
"Luffy, oh my God," she shrieks and drops to her knees, pulling him back down with her as he'd been trying to rise back to his feet. "Why didn't you say something?"
"About what?" He says grumpily as she picks through his hair, searching for the actual slice. "Ow! Watch it!"
"That!" She pulls out her hand and shows him the red coating her fingertips. "If you're bleeding, especially somewhere important like your head, you're supposed to tell someone and get it looked at immediately! What were you thinking?"
"Nami?" Usopp calls but she's distracted before she can reply.
"I was bleeding back there?" He replies, taking her hand and inspecting the fluid. His expression is doubtful- like maybe it's actually ketchup. "I guess that's why it hurt."
"You didn't even notice?" She asks, her voice shrill. "Come on, up, up up up! Let's go, you've got to get that looked at, who knows how deep it cut…"
"It'll be fine," He swats her hand away and tries to get up, wobbling on his feet again. "Just like you said, I'm tired, I'll take a nap."
"A nap isn't going to fix this Luffy." She inserts herself underneath his arm and takes most of his weight onto her good shoulder because he isn't giving it to her on his own. "You're going to need stitches, at least."
"Euch," He mutters. "No way, last time I had stitches I wasn't even rubber, I hate stitches!"
"I don't care, we're taking you straight to someone who can fix that!" She says sternly. "Usopp!" She calls "Where does the doctor live?"
"The doctor?" Usopp jogs into view over the top of the next hill, he's favoring one leg and has a spattering of bruises and bloodstains all over him but his concern is acute as he looks over his new friends. The stagger in Luffy's step and the blood on Nami's hand draws his attention immediately.
"Whoa, what happened?"
"Nothing new," Nami grumbled, "Luffy just didn't tell us that that hypnotist actually hurt him before."
"Of course it hurt," Luffy mumbles indignantly as Usopp hurries to support his other side. "It was sharp."
"We couldn't tell it hurt much," Nami smacks his arm lightly, "When you just kept on fighting I assumed he'd only grazed you! Why didn't you tell someone?"
"We didn't have time to stop. If I didn't beat up the cat butler it wouldn't matter if I was injured or not."
"You're right about that," Usopp mutters and Nami shoots him a glare. Even if he's right, she doesn't like to be told that she's wrong.
It takes a little doing but after catching up to Zoro they get Luffy to Kaya's manor. They divert from their original plan to take Luffy to the doctor because the mansion is far closer and Usopp promises that Pepper, Onion, and Carrot can get the doctor to come to them. Kaya, of course, lets them in immediately and fusses lightly as they get Luffy situated on the couch, Nami poking her fingers through his hair to inspect the wound.
"Oh, dear." Kaya flutters her hands as she wavers, caught between fetching refreshments and staying close to her guests. "Uhm, I have a first aid kit, and I, I've been reading a little on medicine, I could… take a look. At both of you if you like."
"I'll be fine," Zoro yawns from the armchair he's claimed and Nami smacks his arm.
"We appreciate the offer but I can take care of Zoro. Though we'll happily accept the help for Luffy." She smiles and tucks a piece of hair behind her ear. "I can do some small stuff, fix up the cuts he's got from… from Kuro. But this," She gestures at the wound, hair matted down with blood. "... this is a bit beyond me." Mostly because she knows enough to take care of herself, and she wouldn't be able to fix a wound like this herself, she'd have fallen unconscious and bled out the moment it was inflicted. If she didn't just die on the spot. Her skull wasn't as thick as his.
"Well, I only just started but maybe…"
"No!" Usopp steps forward and catches Kaya's arm. "You don't have to do anything, you've had a very long day and you're still sick. You should rest."
"But he's hurt…" Kaya trails off, looking down at Luffy as he blinks slowly. His body is sagged against the couch and his eyes have been flickering in and out of focus for several minutes, sliding shut and then blinking open. Nami sighs and plops down on the couch next to him, shaking his shoulder roughly and trying to ignore her own elevated heart rate.
"Hey, no sleeping till we say so."
"But you said I could take a nap..." Luffy mumbles groggily, as though he'd been woken from an hour long siesta instead of a second long snooze.
"That was before I found out you had a head wound." She mutters in reply, nudging the man's shoulder as he stares off into space and starts to drift again. "Please, Kaya," She looks up at the pair; Usopp is holding Kaya's hand but Kaya keeps shooting desperate glances at Luffy. "Just, whatever you can?"
"... Of course," She decides and her gaze softens at Nami's grateful smile.
"But Kaya," Usopp tries and the young lady shakes her head, pulling her hand free and stepping forward resolutely.
"Who knows how long it will take for the boys to get back here with the doctor? An injury like this is best treated with immediacy," She explains gently. "I should do what I can, I owe you all so much..." Zoro shrugs but Nami glares before he can protest her (free!) help.
She sits down on the couch and Nami edges out of the way, wondering slightly at how long it really would take to get a doctor here and, subsequently, why it felt as though it had already been hours.
Kaya takes her seat and taps Luffy's shoulder, drawing his attention. Once his gaze slides to her she smiles.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" She holds up two fingers and Luffy's brow furrows.
"Why are you asking that?" He frowns, looking straight past her hand and gazing into her face. "Are you checking for that cocussial thing? Why do people do that? It doesn't matter if I hit my head hard, cause I'm rubber." The determined set to her face falters at the revelation, then she smothers a laugh as his focus shifts again and he answers anyway- "Two."
Nami rolls her eyes at her temporary captain, standing up and stretching. Kaya is asking him to turn around so she can look at the cut and Nami doesn't need to be here for that.
Not when she could be making sure the other meathead wasn't neglecting his own life-threatening injuries.
"Come on you," she grabs Zoro off the other couch and he trudges after her, half-asleep. "Kaya, I'm taking some of these bandages-"
"Ow!" Luffy's yelp has Nami wincing but with herculean effort she doesn't turn to see what had happened. "Don't do that!"
"I've got to see the wound," Kaya protests, "Oh, and yes, Nami, that's fine." Nami nods and skirts out the door, swordsman in one hand and roll of bandages in the other.
"You don't need to worry about stuff like this," Zoro comments a few moments later as he is sitting on the kitchen table, half stripped so she can wrap bandages around anything that bleeds (everything). "I've been taking care of myself for a while."
"Yeah, well," She pulls it a little tighter than necessary but he doesn't even blink. "Seeing as how Luffy was ignoring a bleeding head wound and you weren't doing anything about your own blood loss, I think I'm perfectly right to try and take responsibility for these things."
"I didn't say anything about Luffy." He drawls and she shoots him a surprised look.
"Are you agreeing with me? He can't take care of himself?"
"No," His expression remains neutral and silence reigns for a moment before he continues, though his next thought seems almost contradictory at first. "He's never been on his own before."
"Which is basically saying he doesn't have a clue." She narrows her eyes at him and sits back on the kitchen chair. "Why are you following a moron like him?"
"Why are you following him?" he counters stoically and she bites her tongue, not willing to say any of the possible answers. Because I can steal all his gold at the end of this, because he isn't that evil for a pirate, because he makes my life seem less horrible.
She shrugs and he takes that as enough.
"He's not used to getting hurt, most normal injuries aren't things he has to worry about." He rolls his shoulders and stretches out, skin straining and muscles flexing in a way that has Nami cringing because that's pulling at things that should not be pulled. "He's not half bad at fighting, and he's got good instincts, but I think his own health is a little beyond him."
"Really." she says dryly. "So you've got your own care under control?"
"I trained for this sort of thing." he slides off the table and claps her shoulder. "Let's go see how the captain is doing."
Good, it seems as they re-enter the parlor to find Luffy fast asleep on the couch, bandages wrapped around his head, and Kaya talking earnestly to a man who is rifling through a medical bag.
"I'll leave painkillers in case he needs them later," the man is saying as he sets a bottle of pills on the table, "And some antiseptic for when you clean it again. Keep ice on it for twenty minutes and don't let him walk around anymore today."
"Oh, but what about the blood loss?" Kaya worries.
"Based on his condition right now and the stage at which most of his injuries have already healed I don't think it'll be a problem. Judging by his current state I would guess the cuts look worse than they are, seems like he didn't lose much." (Nami remembers the sizeable blood spatters scattered across the beach and wonders if less of it was Luffy's than she'd thought or if he was just good at hiding that particular kind of injury.) "Still, make sure he drinks lots of fluids and eats dairy products as well as meat-"
"Meat," Luffy interrupts with a happy sigh and Nami smothers a laugh. Kaya notices them then and smiles warmly.
"Nami," She welcomes, "The doctor came!"
"I can see that," She answers indulgently. "And the diagnosis?"
"No lasting damage," the doctor assures her "though what you kids were doing that put you in such shapes, and how he managed a cut like that in particular, is beyond me-"
"I told you," Usopp interrupts empathetically, "There was a giant praying mantis with blades on its arms and when Luffy turned to run away, like I told him to while I fought the beast back, the thing jumped forward and slice," Usopp added the sound effect and a chopping motion with his hand, "If I hadn't pulled him out of the way he would be cleaved in half right now!"
"Injuries are nothing to joke or lie about," the doctor scolds but his voice betrays his fondness for the story as he shakes his head. "Even so, it is not my place to pry. Let him rest for at least a day and then make sure he eats like I said. You're travelers correct?" Nami and Zoro nod. "Do either of you know how to remove stitches?"
"I do," Nami raises her hand.
"Cut them out in about a week, I doubt that you'll have further problems."
"Thank you very much doctor," Nami shakes the man's hand "Your services are much appreciated."
"Not just appreciated, I hope," The man raises an eyebrow. "There is a bill, who is paying it?"
"I will," Kaya steps forward and Usopp shoots Nami a glare that Kaya just catches. "It's no trouble, really."
While Kaya is retrieving some beri from her safe Nami plops down on the couch, suddenly exhausted. Her treasure is right in the corner of the room, Zoro had carried it here for her, she could have covered the expense no problem, even if it took a little out of her funds for getting her village. She doesn't like spending money on others and appreciates the freebie.
But… She realizes as she looks at Luffy (who is curled up in a small lump and yet easily takes half of the couch for himself) that this time she would have hardly minded at all.
A/N: Chapter count is 14 just right now but if I get myself together it can go as high as 24. We'll see. Please give a shout if you a. liked it because I'd really love to hear that, b. saw anything you think could use a quick edit like spelling or grammar mistakes, or c. had a content issue that you'd like me to give a trigger warning for- I want to be as conscientious as possible! Thank you for bearing with me as I bring this series to the best place it can be!