"Lucci, I know you're in there," Kaku sighed after his third unanswered bout of knocking at the bedroom door. "I'm coming in. I'll give you five seconds to stop whatever you're doing that's so important that you can't answer the door, in case it's something tragically embarrassing."

He waited five seconds—wondering if Lucci was doing anything embarrassing, and what in the world it might be—and opened the door. He noticed Hattori first, because of the irritated rustle of wings from his perch when the hinge creaked, and Lucci shortly thereafter. He was stretched out on his bed, barefoot and with both arms pillowed under his head, staring contemplatively at the ceiling.

"Oh, sorry," Kaku muttered, and stood in the doorway, unable to decide whether or not he should leave. He'd caught Lucci like this a few times; all it meant was that he was thinking something over, but Kaku always felt like he was intruding. But this time, Lucci's gaze flicked from that spot on the ceiling to Kaku's face and back. It was a vaguely permissive look, so Kaku paused, stepped into the room, and shut the door behind him.

First he went to Hattori's perch and scratched behind his wing, eliciting a coo of appreciation at the attention. Then he went and sat down on the edge of Lucci's bed, farthest from the side its owner was stretched out on, and looked out the window. The curtains blocked out all but a three-inch sliver of light, but he could see down into the courtyard where people were moving about with purpose. There was no time for dawdling on the Island of Justice. "So what are you thinking about?" he asked at length, quietly. The room was so silent that he could hear Lucci breathing.

There was a long pause before the answer. "My mother."

Kaku turned to look over his shoulder. Lucci's expression hadn't changed, still fixed impassively on the ceiling. Kaku had expected him to say that he'd been thinking about, oh, mission plans, training schedules, battle strategies, any number of things that Lucci typically thought about, or admitted to thinking about when asked. He hadn't expected that, though. Not in the least. "Your mother?"

Lucci didn't respond, which was his way of letting Kaku know that he'd heard him the first time and that it was useless of him, and a waste of Lucci's time, to ask again. Kaku mulled this over for a moment, and then, with a mental shrug, he tugged his shoes off and swung his legs up onto the bed, lying back with his hands stacked on his stomach. "What about her?"

"Mainly how lucky it is for me that she had such unfortunate taste in men and so little self restraint."

Well, Kaku thought, that was rather bitter. "What was she like?"

Lucci was silent. One of his fingers tapped idly against the side of his arm. "She was…" he seemed to be searching for the right word. "Sharp. Exactly the wrong mix of vicious and intelligent; no tactical knowledge at all, but she probably would have been brilliant at devising clever methods of interrogation."

Kaku had never heard Lucci talk about his mother before. "I take it you didn't get along?"

Lucci made a dismissive noise. "There was nothing not to get along about. I was in charge of my own welfare while she went out and took care of hers, or so I assume. She seemed to believe that her maternal duties were limited to providing me with shelter and, when she saw fit, food."

"That's unfortunate," was all Kaku could think to say, but he meant it sincerely. Lucci shrugged partway, never taking his eyes off the ceiling.

"I shouldn't think so. Who knows what I would have done with my life if I hadn't learned from an early age that the only person one can count on to look out for me is myself? More children should be raised like I was."

Kaku couldn't help but laugh at that. "Good point. But it's just as likely that you would have become a pirate, don't you think?"

Lucci did look at Kaku that time, and it was a very cold, nasty look, but Kaku smiled back, undeterred. "No, I don't think so." He looked back to the ceiling, eyes still hard. "I think my father made sure that that wasn't an option."

"Oh?" Kaku said casually. "What was he like?"

"I never met him. He was a pirate. Probably."

"Ah," said Kaku. There was a quiet moment. "So where's your mother now?"

"Hell, if I'm right and there is justice in the world. Why are you here?"

Kaku shrugged, shoulders bunching up the quilt. "I wanted to know where you were."

"And once you found out, you decided to come in here and interrupt me?"

"Well, I do live mainly to get on your nerves," Kaku replied, smirking. He settled back against the mattress and joined Lucci in his examination of the plaster. They were silent for several minutes. "Hmm," Kaku said eventually. "Now you've got me thinking."

"What about?" Lucci asked, because he knew Kaku was going to make something out of this and he wasn't about to miss out on it.

Kaku sighed dramatically and rolled so that he could prop his head on one hand, looking down at Lucci with a pensive expression. "Oh, I just wonder when I'm going to do with myself after you're dead."

Slowly, Lucci let his gaze wander from the ceiling to Kaku's face. He looked as though he were considering administering some serious hurt. "I think," he said in a measured voice, "that I ought to be asking myself what I'm going to do after you're dead."

At this, Kaku dropped his hand and propped himself up by his forearm, wearing an expression of practiced surprise. "Lucci, I didn't know you cared that much."

There was a brief pause as Lucci realized exactly what had just happened, and Kaku suddenly found himself being crushed to the mattress with both of Lucci's hands locked around his wrists and Lucci's eyes boring into his in a manner that suggested pain, lots and lots of pain. Kaku only laughed as if this was the funniest thing that had happened all month. Lucci growled quietly and bit the skin under Kaku's ear.

"Ow," Kaku said indulgently, and squirmed a little to make himself more comfortable. "Hey, you're the one who was being bitter and melancholy. I was just trying to change your mood a little."

"Well, it worked," Lucci muttered against the edge of Kaku's jaw. "Now I'm irritated."

"That's something, at least," Kaku replied, and hummed appreciatively when Lucci's teeth sank into his neck, not hard enough to really hurt, but almost. He flexed his hands, testing Lucci's hold on his wrists. It looked like he wouldn't be going anywhere soon, which was perfectly all right with him. "Would you like me to make up for getting on your nerves?"

"Oh, I think you should beg for the chance," Lucci informed him, raising himself up to look Kaku in the eyes.

He got a lazy smirk in return as Kaku stared up at him, meeting the challenge in that dark gaze. "I'm sure you'd like that…"

Lucci scoffed, and then kissed him without warning and much too hard, and Kaku kissed back for all he was worth and found himself thanking the fates that Lucci's mother had been as irresponsible as she was if it meant that this was what came of it; power and violence and hunger and that occasional, fleeting hint that maybe Kaku was someone Lucci could really trust…

In the courtyard below Lucci's window, Enies Lobby continued to run like clockwork, oblivious.