The second drabble out of a two-parter. Enjoy.

Come Sunrise
Ace isn't supposed to be there in the morning.
by Alena
December 9th, 2004

"Him that I love, I wish to be free - even from me." — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Ace only slept in once.

They had a deal, the two of them. If, when Ace decided to show up, he came after dark and was gone before morning, then Smoker could pretend he hadn't really been there at all. It suited Ace just fine.

But he slept in once. Usually, he was gone well before the sun decided to show her face, but that time Smoker hadn't let go right away, and when Ace curled up against him he didn't shove Ace to the other side of the bed like he usually did, and it was in Ace's nature to sleep even when he wasn't tired, and he'd been so comfortable and sleepy...

It was well after sunrise when he woke, to Smoker standing over him with a hunk of seastone in his gloved hand, lightly touching Ace's chest. No internal fire, which, as always, felt disturbing. The sounds of Marine chatter and movement on the ship were in the background, and just outside the cabin.

Be gone before sunrise was the rule. Because in the darkness they could pretend, but the light of day showed them for what they really were — Marine and pirate. If he wasn't gone by sunrise... Well, that was the deal. Ace honoured his deals.

Sometimes, the deal hurt.

"Leave," Smoker growled, and turned away. Ace grinned in pleased surprise and dressed.

"I like you, too," he replied, a cocky grin on his face, but being surprisingly sincere. And then he ruined it by adding "Smoker-tan." Smoker whirled, scowling, but Ace was gone and out the door in a burst of flame and harsh heat. Yells of shock and fear filled the ship, alarms being sounded, but Ace had the element of surprise and had gotten ahold of a lifeboat and jetted away before any of the Marines got ahold of him.