On deck were the bustling sounds of waves and the loud cries of seagulls from up above. Tucked away behind closed doors were faint clinks of weights, saucepans, hammers and machinery. It was a day of perfect weather. A day free from storms and pursuers and everyone made sure to take advantage of the calm. Days like these were numbered in the New World.
I had completed a map I had been putting off before leaving to check on the course. But I couldn't help but notice the elephant in the room.
His knees were drawn towards his chest and his head leaned back, eyes closed, feeling the heat of the sun warm his face. His expression unreadable and his hands anchoring his body like a ship were buried deep in the lush green grass. The cool wind tousled his hair, blowing it this way and that and my legs moved on their own.
My approach was quiet but not enough to stop the face splitting smile from emerging on his face.
"Captain," I said.
"Nami," he replied.
I sat down not besides him but with my back against his. And as I leaned into him, he leaned into me. Together we became each other's support and it was the most natural thing in the world.
"I'm curious. What are you doing out here on deck? You're either on the figure head or goofing off with the others."
This behaviour was un-Luffy like and my curiousity was way ahead of me. It was eating away at my bones.
"Everyone is busy."
"Aren't you lonely?"
"Not anymore." 'Shishishishishi'
I smiled of course. One thing for sure about Luffy is that he knew how to make a girl want to stick around. I stuck around for an entire year, constantly escaping death by his side and although we separated for two years, I came right back to him. Now the danger had tripled but my captain is the only man I would follow to the ends of the earth.
A healthy gust of wind blew pass us caressing our skin and Luffy sighed out loud.
"This is nice," he said.
"Yeah." I couldn't agree more.
"I don't mind being alone every now and then. It gives me time to think."
"Think?" I mused, failing to rub away the dried ink that stained my fingers. "That's new."
"That's mean, Nami."
Ever since I got here, the smile on my face hadn't left me but was growing bigger and bigger with each passing second.
"I hope I'm not disturbing you," I said. Invited or not, I wasn't going anywhere. The Sunny was home but now, I was closer to home than I have ever been.
Luffy's tone was sincere and I appreciated that.
In the silence that followed, I observed the sharpness of the newly cut grass and concentrated on the air in case there were any slight bothersome changes no matter how small but found none. Then my next muse was my captain's warmth. An unforgettable calm and safety wrapped around me, and my mind wandered back to the trek up that towering mountain when he and Sanji-kun took me to see a doctor. I could have perished back then but thanks to this meat-head, I was granted a third chance at life.
Without saying a word, he handed her over and I smiled with glee.
"Have you been taking care of it?"
There weren't any tears or weak links and for a trip down memory lane, I glided my fingers over the old stitches and my heart twinged upon seeing the stitching where I had sewn Ace's vivre card. It carried many stories and soon it will hold the stories of how my captain took the world by surprise and how he came to be known as the freest man on all the seas. Luffy is free-spirited, kind, brave and someone who sought for what was right. The world had a right to know his name.
I twirled the hat around in circles and stole a glance over my shoulder.
"Your hair. It smells nice."
I flinched and Boshi fell away from my hands and struck a landing on my lap. I could not see his face but thanked God he couldn't see mine. It was on fire.
"Thanks but before I got here."
"What were you thinking about before I got here, captain? What's troubling you?"
The answer did not come right away and I was beginning to regret prying. Even men like Luffy deserved some form of privacy.
"You guys. All of you."
"What about us, Luffy?"
We were getting somewhere.
"I want everyone to fulfill their dreams."
"We will. That is why we decided to follow a reckless guy like you. And who are we kidding? You didn't give us much of a choice."
"Shishishishishi,' he snickerd and my heart bloomed. There were very few things in the word that were better than a happy captain. Anyone who objected was wrong.
"We will help you fulfill yours too. Zoro, Usopp, Sanji, Chopper, Robin, Franky, Brook, me. All of us. I will take you anywhere you wish to go."
"Anywhere. I'm your navigator. That's what I do. The others also take their roles seriously. We have been pushing each other along the way all this time. It's too late to turn back now."
"You guys are the best."
I caught sight of a lone butterfly landing on one of Robin's flowers. It must have stolen away on board from the last island. It had come a long way.
"And there's another thing I've been thinking about."
"There is a reason why I strive to get stronger and stronger. I don't want to lose any of you."
The air grew still.
"You guys worked hard for those 2 years and I can sense that you're significantly stronger than before but..."
"I don't want you to get sick like that time we almost lost you, Nami. And I don't want to get into another heated fight with Usopp or Sanji. It hurts imagining going through those things again."
I hooked an arm around his. For once, it was he who needed comforting.
"I know that I'm asking for too much," he continued.
"As a captain or as a man?"
"Both. And I take pride in knowing that I'm following a man who deeply cares about others without second guessing his own safety. No one can stop bad things from happening no matter how strong they are. Those times, though unfortunate, we lived through them and we can do it again. A thousand times if we have to. We will get through this journey."
I worried for my captain.
"Please don't doubt yourself. It doesn't suit you. Think of all the people you've helped because you stuck to what you believe in. You persuaded a thief who hated pirates' guts to join you. And now I'm living my dream. To be surrounded by friends that I love with all my heart and to be happy. You've given me the world."
Luffy rested his head comfortably on my shoulder and I gathered up my hair out the way moving it to the other side. It made it easier to catch a glimpse and my eyes grew wide.
He had the most at peace expression I had ever seen. Then his eyes closed and his mouth stretched into one of his signature grins.
My voice barely above a whisper said, "What are you thinking about now?"
This I wanted to know most of all but our time together came to an end.
Usopp and Chopper came running on deck with long fishing poles and buckets full of bait calling out to Luffy to join them. They disappeared behind the ship.
I had gotten so used to his warmth so much so that when he scrambled to his feet, it was as if huge chunk of me had been severed off. I wasn't whole anymore. And in the midst of my pondering, his outstretched hand came into view.
"Need a lift?"
I graciously took his offer but this idiot, this huger than life idiot underestimated his strength and I stumbled and crashed into his chest. I glared. He but laughed.
Stepping away, I took note of our height difference. I knew he had gotten taller but I've never experienced it from this perspective. I had left my heels in my room so this was all so new to me. Luffy was growing into a man I couldn't wait to meet. A man who could overcome anything life threw at him. The man who will become King of the Pirates and I honestly wanted nothing more than to be at his side through it all, no matter how long it would take.
"You've been staring at me for a while now, Nami."
My face flushed. Words couldn't find me.
"What were you thinking about?"
"Luffy, come on!" Usopp called.
"I'll be right there!"
I gave him his straw hat but instead of taking it, he plucked it out my grasp and firmly planted it on top my head. His bright smile tattooed at the back of my mind and his final words filled me with unwavering duty, trust and devotion.
"Take care of this for me."