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Title: Nothing to Choose - Part Eight
Author: [profile] hunterwithcause
Fandom: One Piece
Pairing/Characters: Nami, Sanji
Genre/Category: What if?, pre-het
Rated: PG-13
Word count: 465
Warnings: Off-screen character death
Spoilers/Setting: Set after Thriller Bark
Disclaimer: One Piece does not belong to me.

Summary: A sum is made up of many parts. Take one part away and the sum changes. The Strawhat Pirates are made up of nine members. Take one member away...

A/N: Again, major thanks goes to Lady Emzebel who beta read this part too. You're awesome! <3
Feedback is appreciated, of course. ^^

Previous part


---- ----

It ends like this

Nothing disturbed the cursed silence.

No singing, no dancing, no tales of ridiculously grand adventures that made Chopper's eyes bulge and sparkle with awe, and gave Luffy stupid ideas.

No more lies.

Ever since that island, ever since Usopp--, since Usopp--

Nami stood abruptly, upsetting the inkwell and causing it to spill dark liquid all over the map she had been staring at. She watched dispassionately as the map soaked, tears filling her eyes without her bidding.

Sudden anger overtook her, and she took the map and ripped it to pieces, furious, not caring about the ink splattering her clothes, her hair and face, her lips, and why, why did it have to be so silent?

The rage dissipated as soon as it came, taking all her energy with it, and she sagged, spent. She buried her face in her arms on top of the table, smelling the familiar scent of ink - tasting it on her lips -, and wishing for the sound of laughter.

She cried.

She cried for Usopp, for her hurting nakama, but most of all, she cried for herself, heavy sobs that nearly choked her, but she couldn't stop; please, somebody make it all stop...!

Arms wrapped around her, and the smell of tobacco engulfed her like a security blanket. She let herself be pulled against his strong chest.

Dimly, she thought of how at least the black ink wouldn't show against his dark waistcoat, and the thought soothed her as much as his reassuring warmth.

They sat in silence, the only sounds her harsh breathing and occasional sniffle, and Sanji's steady exhaling of smoke.

She listened to his breathing, hearing and feeling it in the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest. It calmed her, this safe haven, his strong arms protecting her from a world where her beloved nakama could die without a moment's notice.

“Dinner is served,” Sanji said softly, and she nodded in understanding. He didn't hurry her when she slowly left his embrace and stood, on shaky knees, avoiding his eyes. He stood too and followed her when she made her way to the kitchen, leaving her room to breathe but close enough to lend her strength with his presence by her side.

But most of all, he didn't pressure her, or offer her platitudes she wouldn't accept, and for this she was grateful. She knew loss, she knew the pain of losing a beloved person. She would deal, and she would become stronger for it.

They entered the kitchen, and the rest of the crew was already seated, the silence in the room oppressive.

She would deal, and she would become stronger for it.

If the silent truth didn't suffocate her first.

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hunterwithcause

November 2012

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