Title: Unspoken agreements
Fandom: One Piece
Pairing: Smoker x Ace
Rating: NC-17 / M
Warnings: Language, violence and sex. All the good stuff.
Summary: Impel Down timeline; Smoker grudgingly closes off his sense of justice to save one man he shouldn't want to save.
Disclaimer: Characters from 'One Piece' series belong to Eiichiro Oda. I'm just borrowing them for fun so don't sue, I don't have a penny. Original characters belong to me.
Author's notes: I've been a fan of SmoAce since the first time I saw them dueling in manga. Things just went downhill from there. This is my first OP fic, so please don't kill me if I don't get world or characters right.
Title might change if I find better one.
Thanks to wonderful devlinnreiko for putting up with my horrible grammar ;)
- I -
If there was one thing that anyone could say about Smoker besides his righteous sense on unshaken Justice, it was that he always had been a man of honor.
His second virtue derived from justice. His Lady Justice could wear different disguises even though he had always seen through them all; he could follow her to the end of the Grand Line if she only told him. It was the same with honor that nudged him in the right direction, always visible in his words and actions.
Third virtue would be faithfulness. Smoker never abandoned his duty except for that one single time where he let Straw Hat get away allowing his own actions to haunt him for many days. In any other case Smoker kept himself in check; Justice and honor holding his soul fiercely and stubbornly opening a path that he followed without hesitation. It was what caused Tashigi to follow her captain; it was what made his hand-picked crew willing to throw their lives away if he gave them a single order. It overwhelmed Smoker sometimes, this trust that his people put in him, but nevertheless he led his comrades with the help of respect, not fear, like many pirates did.
Yes, justice, honor and faithfulness.
All of these eventually put him in the position he was in right now. Of course his ship was set and a-not-so pleasant destiny was surely waiting for him at the end of this short journey.
"Sir?" Tashigi's voice reached him from behind causing him to turn away from his spot on the railing of the ship to look at his officer. "We will come to our destination in two hours. Is there anything else you want me to take care of?"
Smoker fell silent for a moment pondering her words. The piece of parchment Tashigi noticed with the official Marine seal on it was crumbled in his grip. She wisely chose not to comment on her observation. The commodore bit on his cigars forcefully till they nearly snapped in between his teeth. He could kill for a glass of scotch, but right now when he was on duty, alcohol was out of bounds.
"No. Just make sure Yamada has all of the supplies he needs when we go in." Smoker apparently thought the short conversation was over as he turned away to look back at the sea, his cigars finally giving away and fading as he bit on them too hard.
"Yes sir." Tashigi nodded, before casting one last worried glance at her leader and leaving the deck to check up on their ship's doctor.
"Bloody fucking pirates." Smoker muttered more to himself then to anyone else as he lit up new pair of cigars. He looked over the crumpled parchment in his hand once again, as if he hadn't memorized the contents already. The paper was patient, subdued to his glaring, ripping and abuse that came from the commodore's hands, but Smoker felt like his own patience was wearing thin.
It wasn't like he didn't expect it. The concept of justice was skewed enough as it was, yet somehow he knew even people like Garp could not turn a blind eye when one of their own was in trouble. It was foolish; it collided with his sense of justice and for god's sake, he really shouldn't agree to help as easily as he did. The thought was somehow repulsive, to know that he too gave in and used connections and power to do what he wanted to and not what his duty dictated him.
But things were what they were and at this point Smoker could not simply walk away. Not when he was involved way too deep in this mess he had created for himself.
Smoker was torn between his sense of duty and his own needs and wants.
And sure as hell, he had no idea how to cope with it.
- II -
Smoker could never really get used to the first rays of morning light that hit his eyes through the cracks of the porthole blinds as new day came down on him. Only after a few moments of figuring out why the hell he hadn't fixed this damn blinds yet he finally turned his attention to the soft, warm body lying next to him in his bed.
He didn't even remember when they had let go of the 'be-gone-by-morning-otherwise-I'll-kill-you' rule.
Smoker was a little bit surprised to find that the other was already awake and staring at him with a sleepy gaze, a smirk gracing those kiss-bruised lips.
"What?" Smoker nearly barked out, but the younger man seemed to ignore the gruff tone in his voice.
"Nothing." The smile grew wider as the boy's eyes clouded with unmasked mischief. "I was just waiting for you to get up. You know, I will have to go soon and knowing my luck we won't see each other for a bit. I could use a goodbye present from my favorite junsho."
Smoker did not reply when the other slid in even closer, so close he could feel warm breath tingling his neck. Soon after the warm body was on top of his own, one sneaky hand stealing its way in between their bodies and low, lower, until hungry groan left Smoker's lips as the talented hand wrapped around him and squeezed lightly.
"Brat." Smoker growled one hand resting at the nape of man's neck, just under the mess of black hair and pulled him down to bruise those lips even more.
- III -
"Well, that really surprises me."
Smoker tried to look as indifferent as he could. He really tried, but deep inside he felt like snapping, like throwing in the lazy officer's face that he did not have time for this shit. Yet he remained calm, only his hole-drilling stare directed at captain Bohn betrayed his real annoyance.
The officer in charge of Impel Down was a small, bulky man with smooth black hair that looked like it could use a washing from time to time and a small moustache that oddly made him look more like a crazy street barber than a Marine.
"It's been quite a while since we got a transfer order. Usually those who get into Impel Down are kept here until World Government decides what to do with them, so you can't really wonder that I doubt a little in truthfulness of these orders."
Smoker nodded towards Tashigi and the young woman reached to the bag she had strapped to her side only to pull out a Den Den Mushi. It sported an obnoxious yellow color and an official Marine logo was painted on its shell. The creature fitted just fine into both of Tashigi's hands; she placed it on the desk in front of the prison warden.
"It's not really my job to question my supervisor's orders." Smoker shrugged in what he hoped was a nonchalant manner. "This Den Den Mushi connects directly to Vice Admiral Garp's office. I'm sure you can get answers to your doubts from him in person. I'm just not entirely sure he will be glad about the call."
Bohn stared at the snail that in turn looked at him with sleepy eyes and yawned quite rudely.
"No, I don't think I will." He replied slowly, still looking at the snail phone intensely as if thinking his decision over few times. "I don't think this would be in my personal interest as well, Commodore."
Smoker grit his teeth at the sound of his title but chose to say nothing. His patience was so close to snapping when Bohn finally raised himself from his seat.
"Very well." The captain reached to his belt where Smoker and Tashigi could see a big ring with a massive amount of keys. "I shall lead you to sub-prison levels. Follow me, Commodore."
Smoker knew very well why this title sounded like obscenity in some Marines' mouths.
- IV -
Sun was pouring from the sky like liquid fire and Smoker already had a feeling like he could be set to flames if he even dared to go out of the shadow on the narrow spot on his deck, where he had been reading reports and trying to enjoy fresh air. The air he got instead was steamy, hot, and windless.
From his spot he could see the whole deck clearly. His men laughing about some crude joke at the other end of the ship most likely. Tashigi sat polishing her swords and hiding from the blazing sun under the shelter that their sails provided. He could also see his doctor sitting cross-legged in the shadowed spot near the galley, and the boy who stubbornly refused to hide and sat with his back to the sun looking like a lazy cat that enjoyed the warm weather.
That idiot did not even break a sweat.
Currently the boy was enjoying a play of backgammon with Yamada, the ship's doctor. The old man looked strangely content and concentrated at the same time; He frowned though when the pirate swept the last red checker from the board with a triumphant sound and then grinned like the brat he was.
"Ah" Yamada opened his beady eyes finally, how exactly did he managed to see with his eyes closed was always beyond Smoker, and his walrus-like eyebrows twitched. "It seems you have beaten me, Portgas-san. Again."
"But you are fair challenge, Yamada-san. I just use most of my spare time to play, that's all."
"Then maybe you should do something productive for a change." Smoker growled to himself, wiping sweat off his brow as he tried to focus on those damn reports.
"I've heard that, junsho." Ace twisted his back until he could look around and stuck his tongue out at the captain.
"Yeah, really mature, Portgas."
Ace only laughed, turning his attention to the doctor again.
"Another round, maybe?" He started to put his checkers back in, but Yamada stopped him with wave of his hand.
"I'm sorry, but I have to pass. There are people underneath the deck that still require my attention."
"Ah" Ace winced at the scolding tone of doctor's voice and he swore he could feel Smoker's deadly gaze digging through his back. "You said they would be alright."
"They will." Yamada nodded, which oddly reminded Ace of those funny bobble-head figurines. "They are new here so naturally they wouldn't know you're not the enemy to this ship. They shouldn't have opened fire that easily. But don't worry, fire burns heal really quickly in those places."
That being said the elder man got up from his shaded spot and made his way down the deck, leaving a silly grinning Ace behind.
"I think I pissed off your doctor." He admitted sheepishly as he got up from his place as well and sat in the shadow near Smoker's chair.
"You sneak onto my ship in the middle of the night and when my men retaliate you set their pants on fire." Smoker snorted some of the smoke up his nose in frustration. "Yeah, I think he has a right to be angry about it."
"Hey, I feel bad about it without you rubbing it in!" Ace looked hurt. Smoker didn't take the bait.
"You could think before you react for a change. What would you do if one day you had no logia to rely on, you stupid brat?" Smoker slammed the reports down on the desk and looked at the puzzled pirate. Ace actually looked thoughtful, which caught the white hunter off guard.
"I don't know. It's been there for so long I don't know what I would do without it." When he looked up from the dusty wooden floor and looked at the Marine he could see that Smoker had listened to him, at least this once. He grinned again and stood up, the serious tone of their conversation forgotten in a blink of an eye.
"I think I would have to rely on my knight in shining armor to come and fetch me up, ne?" He slid into Smoker's lap easily, not paying attention to the subtle fact they were not alone.
"To finish you off maybe. Get off me brat, it's too hot for this." That sentence was growled out in menacing tone, but Smoker made no effort to actually push the pirate off him.
"Yeah. It kinda is." Ace smiled like a cat that just caught his long-stalked prey and leaned in for a kiss. Sparks danced along his back as Smoker's hands ran through his unruly locks.
- V -
There were things in the Grand Line that were not meant to be seen by anyone else, but the Marines. Papers hid in manila-colored envelopes; Secrets passed from one person to another through private Den Den Mushis; Reports that were burned after one reading.
There were also things that even some of the Marines were not suppose to look at.
Impel Down was one of them.
Smoker knew Tashigi was shivering as they finally descended a long and narrow stairway. He didn't even have to look at her. The young woman had never been in the main Marine prison before. Hell, even Smoker had been there only few times and he hated every second of the time wasted in this confined space.
"Sir?" She replied in a whisper, as if afraid to speak any louder in this place.
"Stay close and don't let your guard down."
It wasn't about the overwhelming weakness that chilled him to the bones and ate his power away almost to the point of extinguishing it entirely. The prison was located under the sea after all; it was only natural for him to feel its strange power as it tried to seal away his strength. The presence of the variety of dangerous criminals was nothing out of ordinary as well.
It was Tashigi's gasp that made him stop and turn only to see his lieutenant stare into one of the cells intensely.
The girl locked in seastone shackles could not be more than thirteen or fourteen years old. She had dirty, dull hair that once used to be long and probably golden, but its shine was long gone. She wasn't looking at the Marines who had just entered the cells, but kept her empty gaze fixed firmly on the dirty cobblestone floor.
"Why is that child here?"
Smoker bit harder on his cigars. Tashigi had known about absolute justice of course, but she had never met with the victims before. Yamada, who was assisting them at this point only shook his head sadly.
"That child, as you put it, had killed twenty of my Marines." Bohn stared at the locked girl with hatred. "Her devil fruit power controls earth. She had buried them alive so deep, that they were long dead by the time we retrieved them."
"It's hard for me to imagine why she would do that with no reason." Tashigi did not step back from the cell, as many probably would have done once they heard the truth.
"She snapped when my men tried to arrest her and her brother, who was a dangerous pirate. Unfortunately, he did not survive the clash."
"So it was an accident?"
"Tashigi-san." Yamada's voice made her wake from her daze and she looked at their doctor quickly. "Accident or not, the World Government can't let her get away with it. She killed Marines and was associated with pirate as well. That is the Government's Absolute Justice."
Understanding seemed to come to her as she only clenched her jaw tight, and nodded curtly to the elder turning her head back from the pitiful sight.
They passed many similar cells on their way to the lower levels of the prison; Smoker could feel the weight of Tashigi's stare on his back, as well as the increasing pressure of the sea. He stayed calm and collected as he could, even though his own logia was fighting his will and trying to make him panic; make him feel the need to run away, up the stairs, to save himself. It was almost like some internal instinct, something he found hard to fight.
It was only when Bohn reached for his keys again to unlock the door to the last level of prison that Smoker forced himself in check, willing his logia to calm down.
"From this point on it gets dangerous." Bohn warned them as he opened the lock. "There are no cells here. Last floor basically goes with its own set rules. Mostly it's a 'eat or be eaten' kind of thing." The warden cackled more to himself then to anyone else.
Smoker pulled out his jitte and stepped into to dark space behind the door.
At first it seemed that the place was pitch black, but soon his eyes grew adjusted to the darkness and he could make out different shades of black and grey. Soon human shapes formed at the edge of his vision. They almost seemed like a ghosts, only almost, because Smoker knew that these ghosts were not created by death. They were something even worse.
Surprisingly, no one neared them close enough to be a threat. He could hear voices talking about him, laughter in the short distance, an unconcealed hiss from one of the prisoners, but yet there was no attack. Maybe it was because they sensed his devil fruit power was free, or maybe it was the faint sound of vibration that his jitte gave out as it responded to the heavy pressure of the sea. Whatever it was Smoker was grateful that so far things went smoothly.
The one he was looking for was sitting in the corner of the spacious room, opposite to the door they had just come through. His arms were wrapped around his knees with his face hidden in between them. In his right hand Smoker could see a familiar dagger.
"You cut off their devil fruit power," Smoker looked grudgingly at the heavy seastone cuffs and thick stone collar around the slender neck, similar to the ones all the prisoners wore. "But you leave them with their weapons?"
"It's a necessity. I'm afraid." Bohn only shrugged his shoulders. "This level of Impel Down is dangerous not only to the Marines."
Smoker only growled out something in response, sending Bohn a deadly glare when the man chuckled again. The white hunter moved making his way through the dark room with slow, but sure steps. Bohn stirred behind Tashigi's back, but she blocked his way with her arm, firmly holding her katana. The sword was sheathed, but carried a dangerous promise either way.
"Please wait here, sir. What my captain has to say to the convict is meant only for their ears." Tashigi was shaking with nervousness inside, but her tone was firm and strict. She could already see, despite the darkness that intervention from Yamada would be necessary.
From the first glance it looked as if the boy was either dead or sleeping. He was curled into himself as if protecting his eyes from the sunlight, but sunlight had no access to Impel Down; that much was obvious. The usually tan skin looked pale and dull from either the lack of light or from the prolonged exposure to seastone. Smoker didn't really know. Inhabitants of the lowest level of Marine induced hell all looked like ghosts anyway.
He nudged the pirate's leg with the tip of his shoe as if testing his reactions, but the boy remained still. Smoker frowned grinding his cigars between teeth and bent to shake the younger man's arm.
It happened in an instant; Dark eyes flashing with fire that could not be there, a menacing growl that left the boy's throat as he lunged forward, blade naked in his hand. Smoker shifted into his logia in less then a second as the edge of the knife slid through the mass of white smoke easily and without any harm to the Commodore. Strong leather clad hands pushed the pirate's arms back, one of them forcefully wrenching the dagger out of the numb hands. The boy's back hit the wall with loud thud and he could not stop the yelp of pain that left his lips.
Smoker paid no attention to the commotion behind his back, knowing full well that Tashigi would stop anyone who dared to disturb him now. The boy in his grip stopped struggling after hitting his back and by pure instinct Smoker knew that there was something wrong with the boy, more then he showed to the outside world.
"Portgas D. Ace," Somehow during the brief struggle he lost his cigars, but did not have the time to light up new pair. "By the order of Marine Vice Admiral Garp and under my jurisdiction, you are to be transferred from the Impel Down prison to Loguetown, where you will await your further punishment for the crimes against the World Government."
Smoker was unsure if any of the words he had just said reached the pirate boy, but there seemed to be some kind of understanding in his eyes. Their usual shine was dimmed, eyesight not focused and sharp like Smoker remembered. The hands that tried to push him away gave up and dropped into his lap like two dead weights. Only when Ace seemed to have lost consciousness, Smoker turned around and nodded at his men. Two of them along with Yamada rushed to Smoker's side, while the Commodore raised himself from his crouching position.
"Keys." He nodded at Tashigi before taking care of his lack of cigars. Bohn just looked at him quizzically.
"The keys to the prisoner's seastone shackles, Captain Bohn." Tashigi reached out to the warden. "Since Portgas D. Ace has become our responsibility now, you won't need them. Please pass them to me."
Only after a moment of silent staring, which Tashigi bravely managed not to turn her eyes away, Bohn dug up another ring full of keys. After a brief struggle he handed her a key with the number 67 burned in it. It was heavy, despite its fairly small size and she only nodded at the officer before handing it over to Smoker. The weight seemed more like a heavy burden and Smoker realized that in his hand he held not only the key, but Ace's whole life.