â€œStuck up jerk!â€?
Outside the gates of Alubarna Elementary School, a crowd of children watched in giddy anticipation. Nami and Vivi had, quite literally, run into each other again. Each thought the other was to blame and they were now lobbing insults at each other. Nojiko, just a few feet away, made a silent prayer that Nami would remember her promise to Belle Mere not to fight in new clothes. Meanwhile, Nami and Vivi started to get a bit more creative, and a lot more personal, with their insults.
â€œEast Blue Hick!â€?
â€œWell if youâ€re so classy, Vivi, why do you keep an overgrown retarded duck as a pet?â€? Vivi took a step back, but then a wicked smile crossed her face. If Nami wanted to play hardball, so be it.
â€œOh yeah, Nami? Well, your mom looks like she got her hair cut by a drunken lobster-man!â€? Nami froze for second. She started gritting her teeth and her hands balled into fists. A few kids nearby could have sworn they saw a tear run down her cheek. Nami took a moment to think. What Vivi said was technically true, but there was still no way Nami was going to let her get away it. But there was also her promise to Belle Mere to consider. After a few more seconds, Nami decided on a course of action.
â€œTHAT DOES IT!â€? Nami pointed straight at Vivi â€œVivi, Iâ€m calling you out!â€?
â€œNami, noâ€¦â€? Nojiko whispered as she braced herself to jump between her sister and her rival if necessary.
â€œBut not here, not now.â€? Nami said. Nojiko let out a sigh of relief. â€œItâ€s too crowded here, and itâ€s getting late. But you just name the time and place and Iâ€ll be there to settle this once and for all!â€?
â€œYou got it!â€? Vivi pointed down the street behind her. â€œIf you do straight down this road, youâ€ll come to some ruins on the outskirts. Iâ€ll be waiting for you there at noon tomorrow!â€?
They turned backs on each other with a â€œHumph!â€? and continued on their separates ways back home. As the crowd dispersed, one of Kohzaâ€s smaller buddies tugged on his sleeve.
â€œWhat it is Alad?â€?
â€œAre we going to help Sub-Leader Vivi tomorrow?â€?
â€œYou mean other than cheering for her? Of course not! Thugs are one thing but this is a Challenge of Honor! I wouldnâ€t have made Vivi our Sub-Leader if she couldnâ€t handle something like this by herself.â€?
â€œBut Leader, last time youâ€¦â€?
â€œLast time it looked like the adults were going to break it up anyway.â€? Kohza decided to leave out how he couldnâ€t resist helping a cute girl like Nojiko. â€œThis time, itâ€ll be to the finish! Understand now?â€? Alad got a big grin and saluted.
â€œYes sir, Leader!â€? Kohza ruffled Aladâ€s hair a bit.
â€œI knew you would. Come on, letâ€s gather the rest of the Suna Suna Clan and play stickball or something. Leave Vivi alone, though. Sheâ€s not in the mood and she needs to save her strength.â€?
Belle Mere gave the bean soup a stir and tasted. It was just about ready. She checked the clock on the wall and nodded. She walked to the door to the girlsâ€ room and gave a knock.
â€œHey girls, time to set the table. Doc will be here any minute.â€? As Nojiko and Nami arranged the dishes and silverware, Belle Mere noticed Nami was still being strangely quiet. â€œSomething wrong, Nami? You arenâ€t afraid of what Iâ€ll see on your report card, are you? I already told you thereâ€s no way your grades could be worse than mine were.â€? Nami let out a sigh. Belle Mere was going to find out sooner or later anyway, better tell her now.
â€œNo, itâ€s nothing like that Belle Mere. I have a fight with Vivi tomorrow.â€? Belle Mere nearly knocked over the glasses she was reaching for as she spun around to face Nami.
â€œFor crying out loud Nami, I thought I told you to keep your distance from that girl!â€? Nojiko quickly darted between her adoptive mother and sister. Another shouting match was the last thing either of them needed.
â€œItâ€s not like Nami planned it Belle Mere. They bumped into each other after school. Nami remembered her promise, so she told Vivi sheâ€d fight some other time.â€? Belle Mere took a few breaths as she calmed down. Something told her Nojiko was leaving something out. She looked at Nami.
â€œNami, why didnâ€t you just walk away without saying anything?â€?
â€œWell I was going to, but she called me names, so I called names back. It went on like that for a while until I made fun of her pet and sheâ€¦â€?
â€œAnd she what, Nami?â€? Nami fidgeted a little. Belle Mere sighed and knelt down next to Nami. â€œHere, if you donâ€t want to say it out loud, just whisper it in my ear.â€? Nami hesitated for a second, but then did as Belle Mere asked. Belle Mere got back up and pointed at her hair. â€œSeesh! Nami, just how many comments like that do you think Iâ€ve gotten since I had my hair cut like this?â€?
Belle Mere crossed her arms and let out a deep breath. She was glad Nami was being honest with her and kept her promise. On the other hand, she really didnâ€t want Nami fighting when she didnâ€t have to. Then again, she was the one who taught Nami how to fight in the first place. After a few more seconds, Belle Mere decided what to do.
â€œIâ€m a little disappointed in you Nami; youâ€re usually smarter than this. But if you feel like you have to do this, go ahead. I wonâ€t try to stop you. Just remember to wear one of your hand-me-downs.â€? Just then a knock came at the door. Belle Mere quickly put on a smile. â€œOK, thatâ€s all Iâ€m going to say on the subject. Nojiko let Doc in so we can get supper started.â€?
Later that night, with the girls in bed, Belle Mere sat the table with Doc with a bottle of sake between them. Doc adjusted his shades a bit.
â€œSo, Iâ€ve heard from some other kids that Nami has a rematch tomorrow.â€?
â€œYeah, Nami told me all about it.â€? Belle Mere sighed. â€œMaybe I should have tried to stop her.â€? Doc started laughing.
â€œYou think she would have listened if you did? She has too much of you in her for that.â€?
â€œYeah, I guess youâ€re right.â€?
â€œI wish I could see it myself. After the last time Nami tangled with that little princess, wellâ€¦ Heh he, I hadnâ€t seen her so banged up since that weekend she and Nojiko had spend at the orphanage before you could legally adopt them.â€? Belle Mere started to laugh a bit too.
â€œThe kids at that place probably figured my girls were easy pickings. Too bad they didnâ€t figure on Belle Mereâ€s expert fighting lessons.â€? Belle Mere knocked back a glass of sake. â€œSay Doc, why did you come with us? I thought you said Cocoyashi would be your grave.â€?
â€œAnd so it will be. But someone had to keep an eye on you three, and you know how easily Genzo gets seasick.â€? Belle Mere and Doc had one last good laugh before Doc got up to leave. As he reached for the door, Doc turned to Belle Mere one last time.
â€œDonâ€t worry about Nami, not too much. Sheâ€s a good kid.â€?
â€œI know Doc, I know.â€?
The next day Belle Mere had morning watch duty. She stood by the entrance to Marine Base 55 keeping an eye out for suspicious characters. All she saw, however, was just about every kid going to the ruins to watch the fight. There no was no sign of Nami yet, but she did manage to catch Nojiko.
â€œHey, Nojiko, shouldnâ€t Nami be with you?â€?
â€œShe wanted to practice some of the punches you taught her first. Iâ€ll wait for her over by the school.â€?
â€œOK, make sure Nami goes straight to Docâ€s office afterwards.â€?
â€œI will. Bye now!â€?
About an hour later, just when Belle Mereâ€s shift was over, Nami finally arrived. Belle Mere tried to stifle a laugh. Nami was wearing the â€œLionâ€? dress Belle Mere had made from Nojikoâ€s old sunflower dress. Belle Mere knew Nami probably choose it because it was her least favorite hand-me-down. But she still couldnâ€t resist making a crack.
â€œGoing to try to psyche her out, eh? Thatâ€s a pretty neat idea.â€? When she saw the worried look on Namiâ€s face, Belle Mere turned serious and kneeled down to put a hand on Namiâ€s shoulder. â€œLook, I said Iâ€m not going to try to stop you, and I wonâ€t. But are you sure you want to go through with this?â€? Nami sighed and nodded.
â€œIt was bound to happen. Vivi and I really donâ€t like each other.â€? Belle Mere considered countering this, using herself and Captain Slique as an example. But no, that first question was her last attempt to talk Nami out of this. So instead, she just gave Nami a light kiss on forehead.
â€œHuh? What was that for?â€?
â€œFor luck, now go on, Nojikoâ€s waiting for you by the school.â€?
As Nami went off, her face brightened a bit and she turned to wave goodbye. Belle Mere waved back, then went home for a small drink.
Some kids where at the ruins outside Alubarna to cheer for their Princess/Sub-Leader Vivi. Others came to show support for their fellow Marine Base 55 kid Nami. The rest, which was actually the majority, just liked watching a good fight. Vivi stood there in the middle of the large space surrounded by the other kids. She glared at the direction Nami was supposed to come from with her arms crossed and tapped her foot.
Kohza checked the pocket watch his father loaned him. It was nearly noon. Just then, as shrill whistle pierced the air. Megane, Tashigiâ€s younger brother, pushed through the crowd and came up to Kohza. He adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat.
â€œMy lookout just saw Nami pass the school. Sheâ€ll be here soon.â€? While Megane wasnâ€t exactly a â€œLeaderâ€? like Kohza, most of the Marine base kids followed him because he was the eldest and they liked his ideas. He bore a striking resemblance to his sister, except he was shorter and wore slightly thicker glasses. Kohza got up and raised a hand for silence.
â€œListen up, this is a personal fight. Itâ€s between Vivi and Nami, no one else. No matter the outcome, the Suna Suna Clan and the Marine base kids will remain allies. Agreed?â€?
â€œYEAH!â€? the children answered all together.
â€œHere she comes!â€? Meganeâ€s lookout cried out. Sure enough, Nami was coming up the path with Nojiko following close behind. The crowed quickly opened up to let Nami through to the space cleared for the fight. They also let Nojiko pass out of respect for the fact she was Namiâ€s sister. All was silence as Nami and Vivi stood there glaring at each other.
â€œSo Nami, you showed up. I thought you would. Youâ€re no coward, Iâ€ll give you that.â€?
â€œNeither are you, Vivi. So, I donâ€t suppose thereâ€s a chance we could just take back the things we said yesterday and just walk awayâ€¦â€?
â€œDidnâ€t think so. Letâ€s do this.â€?
The crowd broke into a wave of cheers as Nami and Vivi lunged at each other and interlocked fingers. After a few moments of struggling, Nami managed to force Vivi back a few steps. But then Vivi broke the grip and tackled Nami down to the ground. Vivi wasted no time in grabbing a corner of Namiâ€s mouth and pulling as hard as she could. Nami returned the favor and yanked on Viviâ€s ponytail as well.
â€œGooooo Princess Vivi!â€?
â€œGet her Nami!â€?
â€œFight! Fight! Fight!â€?
The two girls rolled around on the clearing. All the while they tugged and twisted each otherâ€s faces and hair. After Nami finally pushed Vivi off her, they got up and took moment to catch their breath. Then they came at each other in a flurry of kicks, slaps, and punches.
â€œWhoa, Leader, I donâ€t think Sub-Leader Vivi fought even half this hard when she challenged you!â€?
â€œWell, we werenâ€t nearly as mad at each other as she and Nami are right now.â€?
â€œWow! Nami fights like a tiger!â€?
â€œLike a LION you mean!â€?
â€œHey! That gives me a great ideaâ€¦â€?
â€œFight on, Lion Nami!â€?
â€œHeheh, theyâ€d never believe me if I told them she HATED that dress.â€?
Nami and Vivi broke apart for a breather again. Nami had a feeling neither of them could keep this up much longer. She certainly knew she couldnâ€t. She ached all over, her nose was bleeding again, and she was pretty sure her hair was a total wreck.
Nami looked over at Vivi. Her hair was no longer in a ponytail and was a complete mess. Her nose also had a trickle of blood coming out, and Nami had managed to give her another black eye.
â€œHey, East Blue Hick, ready to give up? Youâ€ve already gone long enough to save face.â€? If Vivi had asked after the face and hair pulling stage, Nami might have considered it for a minute. But her answer still would have been the same as it was now.
â€œNot a chance, Royal Pain. I said weâ€d finish this once and for all and I meant it!â€? Nami got back into a fighting stance. Vivi did the same. Nami swung a right with all her might. Vivi swung a left with all her might. Both shots connected right in the opposing girlâ€s face.
Time seemed to freeze for a few seconds. Then both girls went sent flying into the ground. Nami landed on her side while Vivi went down flat on her back. After a moment, Nami managed to get back up. She gingerly touched her left arm, which got a nasty scrape from the fall. Then she looked over at Vivi. Vivi was still conscious, but she didnâ€t look like she was in hurry to get back up. Nami then remembered a rule Belle Mere taught her.
â€œGirls, if youâ€re still standing but other kid isnâ€t, count to ten. If they donâ€t get back up by the time youâ€re done, fightâ€s over. You won.â€?
â€œAll right Belle Mere, Iâ€ll do this your way.â€? Nami began counting â€œOneâ€¦ Twoâ€¦â€?
â€œHuh? Whatâ€s Lion Nami doing?â€?
â€œWell obviously sheâ€s not going to hit Vivi while sheâ€s down!â€?
â€œI know that! But whatâ€s the counting for?â€?
â€œI thinkâ€¦ Sheâ€s counting Vivi out!â€?
â€œCan she do that Leader?â€?
â€œAs good a way to finish a fight as any, I guess.â€?
â€œNineâ€¦ TEN! Itâ€s over Vivi. I WIN!â€?
â€œYAH! LION NAMI! LION NAMI! LION NAMI!â€? Nami silently prayed that nickname wouldnâ€t stick as she walked over to Vivi. One look at Vivi told Nami that she accepted her defeat. Nami reached out with her right arm.
â€œNeed a hand?â€? Vivi nodded and grabbed onto Namiâ€s hand. Nami pulled her up and they both stumbled a bit. â€œDonâ€t feel too bad about losing. You went down fighting, and thatâ€s just as good as winning in Belle Mereâ€s book.â€? Vivi bit her lower lip.
â€œNami, does this make us friends now?â€?
â€œI wouldnâ€t go that far Vivi. But now, I think, we can at least stop being enemies.â€?
DISCLAIMER: â€œOne Pieceâ€? and all related characters are the intellectual property of Eiichiro Oda, Toei Animation, and Viz Comics. Only Captain â€œSlimyâ€? Slique and Megane belong to me.