The first drabble of a two-parter. Also, I think, the first Smoker/Ace fic on this site. Go me?

And Sometimes, You Miss Me
There are rules for everything, and breaking them...
by Alena
December 9th, 2004

"Joy and sorrow are inseparable... together they come and when one sits alone with you... remember that the other is asleep upon your bed." — Kahlil Gibran

Smoker, if he was honest, would admit to himself that it had been his own damned fault that the pirate hadn't left before dawn. He hadn't shoved him away, had let the kid pass out on top of him (and he knew how Ace slept like the dead) and he'd actually gotten up before dawn himself, for night watch.

And left the pirate sleeping in his bed.

It was unforgivable, a breach on his own conduct — hadn't he convinced himself that Ace was just an interesting pastime?

It hadn't been nice to come back to his cabin and find Ace curled around his pillow. It hadn't been nice to watch him sleep for just a few minutes before he knew sunlight would start creeping upon the room.

He was good at lying to himself like that.

But the truth was, the only thing he hated was sitting in his desk chair, staring at the seastone and then back at Ace, and knowing his duty.

Ace mumbled something and made an interesting grrring noise.

The sun was long since up.

Smoker, outside and even inside to a certain degree, was rough and hard-edged. He didn't have it in him to be nice without gruffness most of the time, let alone tender.

Let alone...

Smoker reached out and brushed a strand of hair off of Ace's face; the freckled nose wrinkled in sleepy obliviousness.

Ace was not a bloodthirsty pirate. He could just...

No. They had a deal, and if Ace didn't abide by it... With deceptive decisiveness, Smoker touched the seastone to Ace's chest and pretended that when Ace awoke, the split-second flash of hurt in Ace's eyes, before it was overlaid by the usual cocky facade, hadn't hurt him.