Nami sits on tenterhooks, watching the ocean sharply for Nautilus to appear. The second the giant lumbers ashore her face flushes beet red and she shrinks quickly behind a nearby umbrella. Hastily making shushing noises at the umbrella's disgruntled owner she continues to watch Nautilus as he trundles up the beach and heaves a waterlogged box onto the table of a beachside stand. He sets his anchor down heavily beside him and begins to struggle with the lock before smashing it with an angered fist.
Nami recoils at the loud bang and tries to shrink behind the umbrella more when it is pulled roughly from her grasp and the owner stomps away in annoyance. Spying no other forms of refuge she swallows and meekly makes her way up to the titan. "N-Nautilus? Wh-what did you get out of the s-s-sea?" She tries vainly to smile and jumps when he turns about.
"I SOUGHT SHARKS THAT WOULD THREATEN THOSE UPON THIS SANDY SHORE, THEY MADE EXCELLENT PRACTICE DURING MY ENDLESS MARCH BEFORE JOINING THE LEAGUE. I INSTEAD FOUND THIS CHEST," he says somberly, gesturing to it, "IT IS FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH SALTWATER TAFFY. FITTINGLY POETIC; WOULD YOU CARE FOR SOME?"
Trembling with affectionate fright and blushing brighter than ever, Nami nods and says quietly "S-sure." A rush of exhilaration fills Nami as her hand brushes against Naut's enormous gloved one and she takes the taffy with a grateful smile. She pulls with some difficulty on the wrapping and the piece of taffy comes flying out and lands on the sand. Slowly, her entire body begins to tremble in embarrassment and she asks meekly, "N-N-Nautilus...I-I dropped my t-taffy."
Nautilus, who had been staring a thousand yards into the ocean snaps out of his trance and looks down. "A PITY. IT REMINDS ME OF THE COLD EMBRACE OF THE DARKEST PARTS OF THE SEA. UNFEELING AND UNCARING. FORTUNATELY, IN THIS CASE THERE IS SALVATION. ANOTHER PIECE OF TAFFY. THERE IS PLENTY IN THIS BOX." He places another piece, this time unwrapped, into her hand and resumes his contemplation of the wide sea.
Her face uncomfortably warm, Nami pops the taffy into her mouth and with difficulty begins to chew it. It's flavor was telling of its age-it had none, and seemed to become increasingly more difficult to chew with each bite. With a sound of whining distress she flails her arms and tries futilely to part her jaws. Tears form in her eyes and she abandons all pretense to push frantically on Naut's massive steel chest as a plea for help.
Roused again from his staring, the lumbering titan looks down and his eyes curve into an expression of amusement. "HEH HEH," he chuckles, "ALLOW ME TO ASSIST YOU, AS I WAS NOT ASSISTED AS I DROWNED." He grasps the top of her head with one hand and gently grasps her chin with his other and pulls with slowly increasing force. Her jaws come apart and Nami stutters out thickly, "Th-thank you Nautilus..."
Swallowing the taffy was arguably the most difficult thing Nami had yet to do, but she managed. Nautilus closes the lid of the taffy-laden box and grasps its rusted handle. With a grunt he heaves his anchor onto his shoulder and begins to walk towards the nearby pier.
Nami holds out a hand in alarm at his sudden departure and almost shouts, "W-wait! Nautilus!" The titan stops and turns about and grunts to affirm he is listening.
Her face beet red again, Nami stutters, "C-Can I g-g-g-g-g-go..." She stops midsentence to gather herself. "G-go with you to the pier? Th-that's where you're going right?"
Nautilus responds morosely, "THIS MARCH TO INFINITY HAS BEEN TAKEN ALONE FOR EONS. THE MURKY DEPTHS UNDERSCORED MY ISOLATION." Nami feels she may cry and tries her hardest to avoid sobbing when Nautilus adds, a slight hint of nevertheless somber tenderness in his voice, "YOU ARE THE FIRST TO OFFER COMPANIONSHIP. A BRIGHT BEACON IN A SEA OF DEATH AND UNCERTAINTY. YOU MAY TRAIPSE ALONGSIDE ME NAMI. IT WOULD BRIGHTEN THIS JOURNEY, IF ONLY BY A SINGLE, DETERMINED CANDELA."
Tears flowing from her eyes from what she could only assume was the closest thing to joy and tenderness Naut could muster, Nami nodded and caught up to the giant. "I'll t-try not to slow you down," she said graciously.
"I WALK FAR TOO SLOWLY. THERE IS NO CONCERN."
Alternative Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8807212/1/A-Single-Candela
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