Title: ode to the gentleman and the secret lovers
Timeline: somewhere after Skypiea
Pairing: Luffy/Nami established relationship, tiny hints of Sanji/Robin you can totally ignore if you want
Rating: PG 13 for suggestive themes
Summary: Ussop tries to write a poem, Zoro is about to lose something dear to him, Sanji behaves like a gentleman and there are people getting it on in the cabin. Another usual morning in the Going Merry.
Basically a pain to write because stuff actually happens, that meaning i had to write verbs, which i´ve been avoiding to do for years. the only thing i hate to write more than verbs is dialogue --this has a lot of that, too. i don´t have an ear for it, hopefully i make up for it with my massive love for the characters. also, this was supossed to be Luffy/Nami porn, originally. it´s still Luffy/Nami but... where has all the smut gone? sillier than my usual. just as confusing.
Dedicated to hamsterfactor and beckerbell not only because they truly understand what an incredible author Oda is but also because they have been a fabulous support for my Sanji/Robin obssession.
"Now, treasure is ticklish work; I don´t like treasure voyages in any account; and I don´t like them, above all, when they are secret, and when the secret has been told to the parrot."
ode to the gentleman and the secret lovers
One morning of mid-spring sun (eyes shut, the wood of the deck boards warming for hours, now underneath his back, delicious, comforting, he could almost taste sun between his teeth, the sky seems wide enough to eat them all whole) Ussop realizes that there is something lacking between his Ode #134 Captain Ussop face-to-face against the horn-shark and Ode #136 the skilled navigator Captain Ussop safetly leads his frightened crew through a typhoon. There is exactly one ode missing.
The composition of an epic poem is a very serious matter that requires mood and concentration. A friendly enviroment and silence.
"Woah! Look at those birds! " the high-pitched sweet voice of Chopper comes with the wind.
"They´re enormuous," Sanji adds, crookingly holding Chopper by the shoulders, speaking in a conspiring tone near his ear. "I bet they´d be delicious with a soft spicy sauce... i wonder if i still have some of those little red onions we picked up at Coria´s market. Would you like some salted bird meat, Robin-chan?"
Robin is, of course, nose buried in a thick and dusty volume (Ussop wonders if she picks them by the length rather than by the content) by she is nice enough to look up and nod softly at the question, not really caring about the white-feathered birds as long as they kept their croaking far enough (yes, they croak like frogs but well, Robin has seen weirder things, maybe they have just eaten some Frog Devil Fruit but no, that couldn´t be because then they´d have green feathers or something like that and after a couple of seconds pondering the nature of frog-birds Robin decides it is too much of a dorky reflection for her and she is very glad she hasn´t expressed it out loud).
"Ussop! Come see them!" Chopper calls, with that bright kid-like expression that is so contagious.
Ussop gets to his feet, leaving the advantages of the rondel against the triolet to muse on later, and goes to the other side of the deck. It´s one of those mornings that, nevermind how much sun, how much light, and the heat, the walls are wet with haze.
Setting is very important in epic, he decides, and looks around, hoping to draw inspiration.
So here they are, the main characters gathered to marvel at this species of huge, blunt looking birds none of them had seen before. Well, more of less gathered, as while it´s true that Chopper and Sanji and now Ussop are closely watching the skies, Robin has drown in her world of ink and paper again and doesn´t seem likely to surface soon, and Zoro is sleeping perched up against the side of the upper deck, snoring loudly (i pity the woman who marries him, Sanji had remarked once and Chopper had argued that it could be fixed through medicine, promptly jumping to Zoro´s defence), hugging his swords. As for Luffy and Nami, they are nowhere to be seen. An epic tale without captain or navigator, perfect, Ussop thinks, but then again, he can easily handle both roles.
"Can´t you get serious for even one moment?"
"But that´s no fun!"
"Well, that´s true," Nami concedes the point but disintangles herself from his arms and in a quick motion of hip and legs turns their positions and pinches Luffy against the floor. She miscalculates a bit and ends up slammed to his chest. "Ouch."
She wonders if she´s hurt him but she can feel Luffy´s laughter under her cheek.
It´s funny, she thinks, how Luffy can´t swim but whenever they kiss she can taste salt on his lips, she can feel the pulling of the undertow and sand between her toes, an octopus brushing her arm, the feeling of being underwater, the body light, the lungs heavy.
"What does it say, Chopper?"
"It says `i like shiny things´."
"You like shiny things."
"No! The bird likes shiny things."
And it´s in those few seconds of linguistic confusion that the bird takes flight into the ship and stops to stand before a very unconcious Zoro. The next couple of seconds pass in slow-motion, frozen in Chopper´s and Ussop´s view. The sudden flash of wings and silvery feathers in the underside and speed.
Actually, Ussop is not sure of even mouthing a round and gasping "NO!" before watching with impotence how the bird takes one of Zoro´s swords with its claws --Zoro´s head falls to one side but it doesn´t seem to be enough to disturb his sleep in the least.
The scream is so unanimous and at the same time rich-
- Chopper and Ussop waving his hands and jumping and gesturing towards the animal, shouting alternatively "GIVE IT BACK!", "no No NO!" and hopelessly "Zoro, wake up! ZORO WAKE UP!".
The fascinating croaking bird lets out an hysterical croak, because all the freaking out has finally been succesful and it not only attracts the animal´s attention, it also scares the poor thing (when Ussop retells it, he swears he has seen how the bird lost a dozen of feather from the shock) and terrorized...
...it drops the sword into the sea.
Now all the noise slowly fades and Chopper and Ussop looks at each other in silent despair. Even Sanji, who has been keeping an eye on the whole ordeal with mild but protective interest, drops his jaw just a tiny bit, enough for his cigarette to swing in dangerous (un)balance on his lip.
"What are we going to do?"
"Zoro, wake up, you moron!" Ussop grabs the swordman by the shoulders and tries to shake him into conciousness. The most he gets are incoherent, low grunts Ussop doesn´t really want to understand.
"What are we going to do? Zoro is going to kill us."
"No, Chopper." Ussop tells him very solemn and the reindeer sees it as a reassuring gesture and he sighs. "He is not only going to kill us. He is going to use his two remaining swords to chop us, in tiny, microscopic bits, and then he is going to drop the bits in the sea and make them take back the sword."
Chopper turns one hundred and fifty-three shades of white.
"Luffy, stop. That tickles."
"It tickles? Really? Do it to me!"
What Nami loves about Luffy (and she does it, as an afterthought, only after drawing the longest breath) is how everything about him is boyish. He has the most beautiful ankles she has ever seen, not that she would tell but, sharp bones and soft, thin skin. He loves the scrapped-knee boy, the scrapped-elbow boy. He makes love like a boy, no chest-hair, equal parts of selfishness and abandon, and sometimes Nami envies how he lets himself go completely, because this kind of boys are never scared of being exposed, raw like she is.
The sloppy and tilting kisses, barely catching the corner of her mouth when he rolls over her, thigh scraping thigh like a match against their skin. Luffy is a creature of light, hot, lithe, burning when lit, but always surviving the fire. She thinks she remembers scars under her mouth sometimes, squared between his neck and his collarbone, but Luffy heals quickly, is a map in constant motion, and she drawing over and over, dipping into ink, black like his eyes.
"We have to do something, Ussop!"
"You are right."
He puts one hand on Chopper´s shoulder, the other to his face into a pose full of dignity. This is the time for heroes. He can hear dramatic music cue in, the string section slowly making its way into the epic `Captain Ussop´s theme´.
"Don´t worry, Chopper, because Ussop is here. Captain Ussop would never deny his help to a companion in trouble. Here I am, Zoro, I will throw myself into the ocean wilderness and, fighting bravely against the sea monsters, rescue your precious property. Leave it to me, mate, because I, as your captain, have the responsibility-"
"You´re too slow."
And with that Sanji carefully places his shoes and his (folded) coat on Ussop´s hands and jumps overboard.
The splash of water finally wakes Zoro.
"Do you think they can see us?" (she wouldn´t like to give up this fragile secrecy, the sudden, metallic rush of blood pounding in her ears whenever they brush accidentally on the deck, and the smallest ghost of a smile on the corner of his lips and getting to his eyes, gleaming, and well, maybe not so accidentally, her skin catching sunlight at his touch)
Nami glances over Luffy´s body, at the cabin window, she is framed by his shoulder, and the talking in the deck seems to be many miles away.
And Nami thinks that if Luffy would just do that thing with his hand, there where he brushes the sensitive skin of her arm, if he would just repeat that, yes, she is not going to care about anything that happens outside, outside this room, outside their skins, outside the mundane miracle of shins touching and pressing, the rich black gold of his hairs curled between her fingers, mirroring her shape curling into the outline of his chest.
"Why did you do it? I never ask you for help."
Oh, yes, Zoro is recriminating Sanji for getting the sword back: Sanji, drenched and with a bit of seawater in his longs and slowly going back to breathing, and he is smiling because the way Zoro is clutching to that beautiful white-hilted sword tells him that what he really means is thank you.
"It would have been too ungentlemanly of me to let a lady´s sword get lost."
"A lady´s sword? What the-?" Zoro turns around. "Chopper, you are one big-mouthed reindeer."
(he discovers there is a kind of treason he ends up being thankful for)
Chopper hides behind Ussop´s leg.
"Don´t worry, Chopper. I´ll protect you from the rage of this ingrate."
"You will?" Chopper trustingly asks.
"You will?" Zoro mimicks him.
"Of course," this is epic poem stuff, after all, Ussop thinks, but he feels his legs starting to tremble in a rather embarranssing way. "I can take him single-handed."
Zoro dismisses him for the moment and turns back at Sanji, who is twisting the ends of his shirt, trying to dry it a bit.
"I´m not going to thank you."
"That´s fine with me. If I thought you were going to I wouldn´t have jumped."
When they were both kids (before Arlong, before death, before everything, in the days of happines and hunger) Nojiko used to "borrow" bycicles from the town people and ride through the streets, and to the shore, until the wheels got stuck with the sand. Nami would ride with her, sit behind her, wrap her arms around Nojiko´s waist with fear of falling and with terror at being found out as a coward. Her feet would never touch the ground, and sometimes, when Nojiko speeded up, when the wind blew from a certain angle and the sunlight fell on a certain square of ground, when the air smelled of seaweed and the summer was drawing to and end, Nami felt like she could fly.
But she could never break from the ground.
With Luffy she revisits that feeling -the sense of lightness in the stomach, the wind against her hair, arms open into the air, the feet not touching the floor and the absurd belief that she could fly. She would.
Love with Luffy is like laying on the kitchen wooden floor on a summer afternoon, sun paiting your body, an odd warmth drawing your silhoutte, limbs of light, fingers of heat; love with Luffy is like sending a letter without writing the return adress.
(and you and i we have seen coasts of ground rubies as sand, we have drunk from open-palm hands and green leaves, and Nami wonders if Luffy felt the same, when they were on the Waver, his hand over her stomach, his arms around her waist, his mouth to her hair, and look how we are flying)
"Why did you do it?" She asks, resting the book against the inside of her leg, watching him trying to button his shirt, fabric full of water, his hands shaking full of ocean and cold.
Sanji shots her a curious, lingering look.
"What low opinion do you have of me, Robin-chan?"
"I didn´t mea-"
"The bastard might get on my nerves all the time, but that sword is important for him, " he pauses and when Robin looks at him, really looks at him, there is an air of affectionate amusement to his attitude. "Besides, it drives him mad to owe me."
He chuckles softly and then takes his cigarette from his mouth, pretending to take a drag, not realizing the cigarette is as wet as he is, that in fact it´s been in his mouth the whole time, in and out of the water. Distracted, he puts it back in his mouth. Robin stretches in her seat and reaches her fingers to his lips. She takes away the ruined cigarette and replaces it with a new one she has found on his coat. Sanji can taste ink, dust, old rolls of parchment when she touches his mouth. Among his belongings she also finds a box of matches. She gives him light. Sanji thinks that´s exactly the phrasing.
He nods reverently in gratitude.
"I have to tell you something," she starts.
For a moment she has this look on her face -like someone who´s spent months without anyone to talk to and pauses, hesitates, rehearses before ordering a loaf of bread in the bakery because she is not sure how her voice is going to come out loud.
Sanji keeps quiet, waiting for her to go on; he is suddenly very conscious of all the stupid things that usually come out of his mouth, and he decides that silence feels better than him.
"When I was travelling with Cocodrile," there is a beat in which she expects his reacting, there is a beat when she hates herself for what she was, a beat and she looks down a bit, down at her hands, "we were at this island, Kirgishi, you would have liked it, there were amazons barely clothed at all guarding each of the town´s gates. In any case, I was given a couple of days free and I got to wander around. I found a very small village, with the streets lying out from and away the church, the centre of the village."
The usually dry and sharp-edged talk of Robin fills with adjetives, words as postcards (how i wish you were there, not only for the amazons, of course, of course -that dune there, it used to be a palace, and those trees there, they used to hide a fortress, and what you can tear down you can rebuild, maybe the kind of hope she´s been looking for) and there are different kinds of maps, not only the ones Nami draws, there´s the landscape in Robin´s eyes.
Sanji maybe thinks: if she has a point she should be coming to it, but he is too happy to hear her rant and rant to complain.
"The thing is," she goes on, "inside the church there were this paintings, covering every inch of the wall," her face lights up a bit, caught up in the memory; Sanji thinks she looks much younger like that, almost like a kid: she looks exactly like Nami when she is drawing a new map or Ussop when one of his inventions work out, or Luffy whenever he smells adventure. "There were also writings along with the images. Most were practically ruined by the hand of time and the humidity of the place. But of the paintings that survived I remember one of a strange red fish."
"A strange fish."
"It´s not that it was strange, but rather that it seems to be out of place. It was no species I had seen before of course. The writing below the image had survived, too.The inscription said it was a species from All Blue."
Sanji´s knee jerks a bit, something faltering inside his bones, he almost gets up. Instead he calms down and sits by Robin again. Because she is on a chair the difference of height make Sanji have to look up to her. When he does there is a slippery gleam in his eyes, the kind that if you were to look more closely wouldn´t be here. He takes a long drag from the cigarette and his lips slowly curl into a reassuring smile.
"Thank you very much, Robin-chan."
"You are welcome."
Then she gets ready to go back to her book once more, but in the last moment, when she already has her finger between two pages, she decides against it.
"Sanji? Would you care to tell me more about All Blue?"
"More about All Blue?" there is excitement and surprise in his voice, it breaks at the sharp edges of the words and Robin thinks, god, he is so young, I was never that young, but maybe she could be, someday. "Of course! I can tell you everything about All Blue. There are fish from every sea, North Blue, South Blue, West Blue and East Blue where we come from, and there are fish you cannot find in any other part of the world. It´s always spring there, so the light pours into the sea in a way that, with all that different fish it looks like there is a rainbow under the water." She smiles. "All Blue is any cook´s dream. It´s my dream."
And he goes on and on.
Her smile is so beautiful.
"Don´t you ever wish you could swim?" she asks, kissing the hollow of his neck and beginning to button his sleeve-less shirt.
He sits up, throwing Nami off him so that they are both on the floor, cross.legged, and their knees touching fleetingly, retreating and then meeting again. Nami is fond of this kind of intimacy, and she is grateful that Luffy is not overly-sensitive or awkward about sex at all, she really likes that he´s never treated her like a girl. They are companions, they are partners: love doesn´t change that bond, in any case makes it stronger, it makes the adventures more exciting, it makes the waves roar louder and the sun shine brighter.
She returns the hat and mimicks him in the gesture of keeping her hand on his head a bit.
She knows that he doesn´t dream about swimming.
He has been very careful to live a life without regrets.
"It´s okay," he replies, shrugging.
They get up and ready to go back to the deck. Before she opens the door, Nami takes his hand for a moment, she presses her thumb against the palm, then lets him go.
"You missed it, Luffy."
"It was epic! There were these croaking birds and-"
"-and they stole Zoro´s sword and you should have seen it, the tale has everything..."
"Birds that croak!"
"It has action, intrigue, rivals turned friends..." (both Zoro and Sanji glare at him at the exact same time)
"How could a bird croak? Maybe it ate a devil fruit?" Robin shakes her head vehemently.
"...it has gentleman-like behaviour, fantasy, drama."
"You should have caught one of those birds, Sanji. Wah! They sure would have tasted great!"
Ussop thinks there is only so much being ignored a man can take. Luckily his voice can raise higher still.
"The story has everything! Everything. Every twist, every trick. Well, everything but love."
That seems to catch Luffy attention.
"Well, Ussop, you see...OUCH!..Nami! What the HELL have you kicked me for?"
"Did I kick you? Oh, so sorry, Luffy. I was merely randomly swinging my foot in the air. Your leg got in the way."
Anyway, here it is, thinks Ussop, drowing the voices around him:
Ode #135: Capatin Ussop commands one of his subordinates in a dangerous underwater rescue mission.