AUTHOR: mrredrum

PAIRING: SmokerxAce, (and ZoroxSanji, FrankyxRobin from my old fic IN HEAVEN BEFORE WE DIED in the background as a cameo)


It's an AU. This one dedicated to popkin16-san as I already promised her back then at her birthday. I really sorry for the late and I really hope everything went well for your cousin family, crazyweirdo17-san. Amien ... And I really sorry too if this chapter kinda not that long and short, again due to my own lazy-ness and busy-ness... Also have a great weekend, you all!!... Also my very much thank you for everyone in here whose already kindness enough to read and giving reviews... I really really seriously appreciate it... Thank you!!... For my dear amazing beta-er kakairupowns-san, thank you for the beta, indeed :D... And take care... Thank you.

Even before he joined the police department, Smoker could guess when something he was barely knew or doing was going to be a problem. You could say it is something of a sixth sense, for him. Or maybe it's only a hunch. Somehow, this "sense" always keeps him from getting into trouble on the job, which is a quite dangerous lifestyle.

When he saw the young man who had become their number one suspect on the case, he looked straight into those bottomless, marble eyes, and down to the mouth with the slightest hint of a mysterious smile.

A Mona Lisa smile on the body of a young boy.

At that time, Smoker knew that he was an inch away from trouble. He should just back out, and leave the interrogation to Tashigi. But he also knew that somehow, his subordinate would never be able to handle an interrogation with this young man. Something about his surprisingly well-mannered temperament and character emitted an aura of authenticity, almost the same as the one Smoker himself had.

"So, you still insist that you know nothing of Fire-Fist, huh?" he crushed down on his cigars, though this time it wasn't to intimidate (because he knew it wouldn't work on this person), but mostly to hide his own nervousness, recognizing how much those dark eyes watched him. They looked Smoker up and down, making the detective feel as though he'd been stripped naked.

The young man only smiled a little, before leaning in close to the detective's face, and saying, with a lilting tone, "Didn't I say it before? I don't have any connection whatsoever to that crazy pyromaniac." His smile widened. "Do I need to say it over and over again, right in your ear for you to get it?" Before Smoker realized it, the suspect's lips were directly next to his ear, tickling the lobe with his breath. He jerked backwards, bringing a hand up to rub it.

"Stay in your seat, brat!" Were the only words that came to mind, and he shouted at the boy. As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized he'd lost his calm, making the score 1-0 for the brat.

The young suspect straightened in his seat. Still smiling, he said, "You need to relax, detective… it's a dangerous situation when a suspect like me can read what you're thinking because you're too showy with your emotions."

Smoker frowned. "Don't be a smart-ass, brat…" He tried to shake himself back to normal, but somehow knew the kid would be able to read his emotions fairly well for the duration of the interrogation.

So, instead of continuing his questions, he just stood up to prepare to order his subordinate to put this punk in a cell for the night. That would teach him a lesson not to play games with an officer of the law.

"Well, because you look like you don't have the intention to speak up, I guess a night in a cell will help you change your mind." His words still lingered on the air when a hand suddenly clutched at his arm.

Hn… at last the punk's surrendering… With a satisfied smirk, he looked back over his shoulder, expecting to see the scared face of a smart-assed young punk who at last knew his position, and realized that this was not a perfect time to play foolish games like all the other goddamned inexperienced young punk bastards usually did in situations like this.

But all he saw next was a pair of eyes that glowed with, not fright, but a mix of serious sincerity. Those marble eyes had caught him again.

"… What?" He gulped, realizing that his voice was slightly restricted.

"I didn't do it." There. The punk's confession, the one he'd been waiting for, at last testified. It just… it wasn't the way Smoker wanted it.

The young man's grip on his arm tightened, and began to leave a mark he was squeezing so hard.

"I. Didn't. Do. It." He said it again, and Smoker heard the firm belief in every word. Those eyes still held him in place. Not good… Definitely not good…

The blood was slowly cut off from his arm and Smoker stirred. He quickly shook his arm out of the young man's grip, and swiftly changed their positions so he was the one twisting the punk's arms down onto the middle of the table in front of them.

"Now, you brat, it seems that you're pretty sure that you didn't commit this crime. But maybe you can explain something to me, as confident as you are self-assured. Considering the fact that we already know from your background check, that you were, once in your past, ever well-known as the 'Fire-Fist' drug dealer among your customers…"

"I WAS STILL IN JUNIOR HIGH, FOR GOD'S SAKE!" The suspect cut him off and barked at him, his voice a mixture of defensive and despondent. He jerked from his chair, making it slam down onto the floor of the investigation room with a loud thud.

Smoker stayed silent. He knew perfectly well that, at that moment, all of his men outside this room were watching the entire conversation from the two side mirror-windows. Holding their collective breath. Waiting, and asking themselves if this was the time that the suspect at last lost his cool and showed his true temper, which would only lead him to become even sloppier.

For a moment that felt like forever, the detective and the suspect locked gazes.

The young man took a deep breath and sighed. He realized that it was useless if he lost his patience here. They would only notice it and catalog it as him being mentally unstable. They hoped that he would become careless and give them the evidence they needed. He knew how the system worked, how this people worked. People with badges. He'd already faced them down before, a moment in his life that he wished he could forget. But, he'd had to hold on, because he had someone to protect. And because he was still only a child by that time. And a child had to depend on what adults said.

But right now, he was an adult too, and he wasn't stupid. Definitely not stupid. He would do this the right way, and let them figure out, during their stupid investigation, that they had the wrong man. I'm always asleep when the fires were lit and everything burned down, dammit!

Haven't they figured out already, that his tendencies as a narcoleptic gave him limits to acting as free as he wanted? He couldn't even keep a decent job for a month, lately, because every damn place he worked for gave him bad recommendations and complained about his sleeping habits during work hours, which caused them to lose money.

Meanwhile, the drug prescription and the medical treatment for the person he cared the most about in this world was getting more and more expensive every day. But, that was another usual problem for him to deal with. This time, he had a different sort of problem. How could he fix this misunderstanding and get the hell out of here?

He tried to relax himself, calmly picking his chair back up to sit in it again, and then he smiled. Right in Smoker's face.

By that time, Smoker had figured the score to be 2-0 for the punk bastard. He clamped his cigar tight between his teeth. Damn brat…

"What's so funny, punk?" He asked at last.

The suspect kept smiling. It was the sort of smile that said he knew something, but wasn't about to tell the detective what it was, unless the man gave him what he wanted. The punk bastard was trying to be the one in control of the interrogation.

"I really didn't do it, you know. This whole investigation is just one big misunderstanding, and I really don't want to say 'I told you so' later, detective…"

Smoker didn't answer. He only straightened up in his seat and pulled out another cigar, trying to light it.

Suddenly, the click of a lighter could be heard and a light was being offered to him. Smoker glared at the suspect, standing in front of him. And still smiling.

He decided to just take the offer, and puffed on his newly lit smokes, staring at the brat as he inhaled.