Alright, small background to why I wrote this short story! I honestly want to continue with Gloomy Days, but I don’t feel inspired right now and don’t want to ruin it with an unworthy ending. Second, I’m really bad at writing fight-scenes and do want to get better at that. Third, I went out drinking yesterday and, at maybe 5 or 6am, I was waiting for my train home and .. well, just thought about that one, probably heavily influenced by reading the newest fanfic written by namibean. Also, it contains SaNami-scenes, because I can’t help myself. Try to have fun and remember not to go hollow.
Disclaimer: I still do not own One Piece or any of the characters in it.
Note: Spoilers concerning the intention of Pudding.
Calm yourself, it’s nothing.., he told himself for what was probably the twentieth time during the last five minutes. However, his body was way too sturbborn to respond to autosuggestion, his nerves kept sending him the signals he needed to heed: Pain. It hurt, and badly at that, there was no way denying that fact with just force of will. But for all that, they lacked time to treat his wound, actually, they lacked time for everything other than just running, and normally that wouldn’t have been much of a hassle. They ran from the marines every other encounter, ran from impossible odds until they could gather their strength to defy them. And usually, they could count on their luck.
Luck though, being finicky at even the best of times, came with some rather overwhelmingly painful trade-offs. One of them, maybe the most important one, was that it had the bad habit of running out at the most inopportune moments.
This one looked increasingly like one of those.
He grit his teeth in an attempt to drown out the pain again and took a glance to his left.
There she was, his red-haired goddess, sweat glistening on her flawless skin, mercilessly drawing from every reserve her perfect-in-every-way-imaginable body had to offer to just keep running at full speed. She was already breathing heavily and he remembered first-hand that racing full throttle did put a serious strain on her body. Even if she didn’t realise it herself, she was already slowing down. In two, maybe three minutes, she’d be falling behind them and that would be the end of it. No chance in fighting off the pursuers while you were out of breath. She’d die. And even if the other three, Luffy, Brook and himself, would also stop to take the fight to them, they would just be overrun by the impossibly large number of their pursuers, all four of them dying in the process.
Can’t have that. Won’t let that pass.
Now it was his turn decelerating, not out of necessity, but decision. And it did put a huge smile on his face that she noticed.
“Sanji-kun! Why ..”, she wanted to proceed, even though being nearly out of breath, but the revelation hit her first, like a sucker punch. Her eyes widened, her face lined with shock. She shook her head vigoriously, opened her mouth to scold him for the attempt, her lips forming words. But she was tongue-tied. She wanted to yell at him, to shout at him, to rail at him not to do such a dumb thing. Not because of her. No words, though, her body betrayed her, there was no breath left for speaking. And just looking at him brought back painful memories. He was smiling the exact same smile he had on when he saved her, Chopper and Brook from Capone Bege.
I promise I’ll be back.
Her eyes teared up. She wanted to stop, fight by his side like so many times before, help him, but her survival instinct forced her to keep going. That and knowing that he’d never forgive her if she stayed with him.
Tell everyone I said ‘hi’.
“Nami-san, keep running! And even if that may sound selfish: Live for me.”, for a split second he thought about lying to her. Telling her that the pain in his shoulder was too strong for him to keep running, but he didn’t want her to remember him as a liar, not in the last moment they’d share. Though it would’ve been the truth if he’d just told her that he was tired of running. Not his body was tired, but his mind and soul.
He wanted to tell her so much more. Wanted to confess his love, one last time, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. If there was only the slightest chance in the world that she’d return his feelings, that would’ve made it even harder for her to keep pressing on. And in the worst of cases she would’ve stopped too, finding her last rest next to him. Won’t risk her life for nothing, he thought grimly, finally averting his gaze from her. He knew that Luffy considered stopping too, but he was their captain and no stranger to hard decisions. Not even the future Pirate King, and Sanji knew that he would achieve that status, could sacrifice the lives of three nakama for the off chance of saving one.
God speed, my .. friends. No, my true family. I love you, Nami-san. From the bottom of everything that is me and I won’t stop loving you from beyond the grave, that much I can promise.
Finally, he took a look at his left shoulder. The source of the physical pain he was experiencing was buried in there. My own shitty fault, isn’t it? He knew that Pudding would shoot him during the wedding ceremony, every sense he had knew it. His well-developed Observation Haki would’ve given him all the time in the world to dodge it, even from point-blanc range. But he still was too slow, not because of his lacking reflexes, of course, but because of the sight of her beautiful face. And when he finally regained his senses, there had only been enough time left for him to avert getting shot right in the head, thus his shoulder had to suffer. And in this very moment, he cursed the inhuman durability his body possessed. His skin couldn’t offer any resistance against a bullet, much less against the armor-piercing ammunition she used in her gun, but his bones were hardened to a degree a normal person could not even begin to understand, due to constantly being forced to absorb heavy blows from literal monsters and near-monstrous humans. And in the end, an unstoppable force met an immovable object. Both were shattered into smithereens and Sanji knew that it would’ve taken Chopper an eternity to remove everything that wasn’t supposed to be in his shoulder. There was no time for that sort of Sisyphean task, even less so when Nami-san’s life was endangered.
With grim determination he faced their pursuers, casually putting a cigarette between his lips and igniting it. He didn’t know how much time he could buy his friends, but he silently vowed to sell his life dearly. No-holds-barred. With sombre satisfaction he saw that those men slowed down, some wearing rather questioning looks on their faces, others, and that made him smile, looked utterly horrified. These guys knew who they were after, what their 'prey’ was able to do if cornered and forced to fight. A good thing, he might even be able to buy his nakama a little more time that way.
“I am Sanji. Prince, cook, pirate.
The last of the Vinsmokes.
I bring bad luck.
I vanquished tyrants and fought gods.
This is your last chance to turn around and live. Mercy will not be asked for nor given, as befits a prince.”
These words made of pure determination, unshaken even when confronted with impossible odds and delivered by a voice that perfectly resonated with the steel in his soul, sent a shiver down their spines. Every last one of his foes held his breath. This guy meant business.
Good, good.. every second none of you shits can attack Nami-san is a second well spent, he contemplated with slight relief. Slowly though, they regained their composure and began approaching him, wary of every sign of attack that he might dish out. They knew he was badly wounded, but the calm, neutral stance he was standing in, just waiting for them to make the first move, made him even more menacing.
Steady now. When we’re called, we answer, he steeled himself, repeating the same words like a mantra in his mind.
And then, the fighting finally began and he made his last stand.
As one should expect from the subordinates of a goddamn Yonko, these guys were tough as nails. Even if his left arm was still intact, he couldn’t have used his 'Party Table Kick Course’ as they would’ve just just tanked or evaded it. When the battle began, his foes still weren’t fully committed to suffer the heavy losses it would have taken to just overrun him with sheer force of mass, thus he was able to force some duels. But soon enough, they recognised that it would do them no good and reinforced the attack, trying to circle him, attacking from every possible angle just for the off chance of getting a little damage in.
His Observation Haki was running rampant, at least for the time being warning him from every source of harm directed at his body, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever, especially if they forced him into a fully defensive position. He had to take risks to prolong the battle, even better if he was able to incapacitate some of them so they wouldn’t be able to follow his crew. Nonchalantly, he dodged the vicious strike of a swordblade aimed at his face by leaning backwards, immediately returning the favour with a straight and powerful kick to the attacker’s chest, sending him flying right into a wall and taking a few of his friends with him. But there was no time to be happy about that, as he had to evade the stab of a spear aimed at his back that only his Haki warned him about. He twirled around on his left leg, deflecting the stab even farther with his right and counter-attacked his opponent by grabbing him by the hair, rapidly pulling his face against a raised knee. He could feel and hear the breaking of his adversary’s nose but didn’t let go, lowering the raised leg just to smash his knee into that guy’s face again before letting go of him. But nothing of it did matter, whatever number of them he knocked down, two more arrived. And they were gaining ground. To reposition himself and to surprise the Big Mom-pirates, he jumped in the air, landing on the shoulders of another soldier where he easily balanced his stance and stopped every movement or thought that his enemy might have had with a brutal, stomping heel-kick that knocked him out cold but still left him standing. The next moment, he was skywalking, looking for another opening or just a position he could strike at to maximize results. The fire of battle was burning within his heart and soul and it showed.
Both of his legs were engulfed by fire and when he finally attacked, he looked like an avenging angel, the fiery Wrath of God.
One foe went down, stomped right from above, smitten with righteous fire, another guy, tall at that, received a crushing shin kick right into his ripcage and collapsed on the spot, oblivious to the fact that his clothes caught fire. But the attacking force was relentless and they wouldn’t stop until he was dead or burned out. Sanji was getting tired, feeling the exhaustion that came with all the strain he put on his body and the still bleeding wound in his shoulder. And then, he was just a split second too slow, unable to deflect or just block an attack with some kind of a blunt weapon, might have been a club, against the already stricken shoulder. The cook cried out in pain and retaliated by forcefully raising his knee right into that man’s crown jewels, though he didn’t have any time to watch the reaction. Another attack was launched from behind, aimed at the back of his head and this time, reinvigorated by pain, he was able to react quickly enough, dodging the axe by leaning forward and throwing a heavy heel kick against the man’s throat.
But time was running out and Sanji knew it. He fought on with grim determination and with the ferocity of a corporeal war god, but they were too many and the rush he gained from the shrieking pain in his shoulder started to wear off. He could feel his legs shaking, burdened and weary from the continued use of Diable Jambe, but still he fought on, knowing all to well that his time had finally come.
And then, the world faded into blackness.
When he opened his eyes again, he was in Heaven. An incredibly loud Heaven, admittedly, but it was Heaven. Maybe it was just the clamorous beating of his heart that produced all the sound when the first thing he saw was the beautiful and flawless face of his goddess, though marked by concern. “Hope .. you’re just the fulfillment of my dearest wish, goddess, and not Nami-san gone to Heaven too ..”, he whispered with a weakened voice. That really was a strange kind of Heaven, shouldn’t he be strong again? Reborn, revived, whatever shitty thing they did to you when you die? Then why was it so difficult to move, to raise his hand and actually touch her.
“Don’t move, you idiot!”, she scolded him, but her voice wasn’t into it. She seemed relieved, sporting a wide grin that contradicted the tears that filled her eyes. She was so close to his face and smelled like a cocktail of all the good things this universe had to offer, her voice now a faint whisper next to his ear while her hair was gently caressing his face.
“You stupid moron .. don’t you ever dare to do that to me again, you’re not allowed to die until .. until you finally told me!”
I love you, Nami-san.., he thought before falling unconscious again.