Title: Things Forgotten
Fandom: One Piece
Author: Danyella Skyler Silverfire
Website: Livejournal, or Insanejournal
Rating: T
Genre(s): Angst/Romance
Pairing(s): Smoker/Ace
Summary: The past can never be truly forgotten, on some level it will always be remembered, by the body if not the mind.
Warnings: Ace owies. Smoker angst. And more World Government secrets. (really isn't that a wonderful plot point that isn't explored nearly enough?)
Disclaimer: Checks reality meter (It's remarkably Magic Eight Ball shaped). {{shake}}{{shake}} Do I own One Piece? Nope, still the right reality. Go eat a tuna sandwich instead. {{stares}} Damn.
Author's Note: I got this plotbunny from that damn hidden village I need to find and napalm. So I'm now actually writing a serious fic. I do them sometimes. Got a couple more hanging around my computer.
Word Count: 3,809

Things Forgotten
Chapter One

Smoker glared darkly out at the moon-lit ocean as Tashigi cautiously approached him.


"Tashigi," he acknowledged reluctantly.

"Why are we helping him?" The 'He's a pirate,' was unspoken, but still heard.

"I'm repaying a debt." Smoker looked over at her. "No one deserves that."

Tashigi nodded briefly, thinking over the Marine ship they had found Fire-Fist Ace on earlier that day. They had responded to a call for help from a badly storm-damaged ship, only to be sickened and disgusted by what they found on board.

Smoker had obviously been deeply angered by the conditions in which they had been keeping their prisoners. They had ended up arresting the entire Marine contingent on the ship, and giving the captured pirates some much need humanitarian aid. But Smoker had been the most deeply angered by the sight of what had been done to Fire-Fist.

He had ordered the pirate taken to his quarters and had seen to his care personally. None of them knew why, though the popular theory among his crew was that Smoker had taken few truly strong rivals in his life, and none that complimented him as well as Fire-Fist, the beloved enemy.

That was the theory anyway. True or not, that didn't change the fact that they were still a week from the nearest port at their current speed.

"Get some sleep, taisa. I'll keep watch," Tashigi gently requested.

It was a sign of how the day had worn him that Smoker only nodded and went below decks, leaving an even more worried Tashigi behind.

Three days later, Tashigi sat having lunch with Portgas, listening to him tell amusing stories of his travels.

He was in the middle of demonstrating a particular pose when he suddenly stumbled and knocked into one of the cabinets, knocking down some books.

"Sorry," Portgas apologized, in embarrassment.

"It's okay. Nothing broke," Tashigi reassured as she knelt down to help him pick up the objects.

Portgas had just picked up a book when what looked to be a photograph slipped out from inside and landed face down on the floor. "That's an odd place to keep a picture."

"Maybe Smoker-taisa misplaced it?" Tashigi theorized, as she picked up and curiously looked at the picture, only to freeze in shock.

"Tashigi-chan? Are you okay?" Portgas asked worriedly.

"I..." Tashigi's words stumbled to a halt as she found she had nothing to say.

Worried, Portgas reached forward and took the picture from her shaking hand. Turning it over to look at it, he wasn't surprised to see a much younger Smoker and Hina in the picture. They looked to be around eighteen. What was the shocking part of the picture was the dark haired man who stood with a possessive arm around Smoker. The man looked exactly like Portgas minus his tattoos.

"Who?" Portgas stopped and stared closer at the picture. "There's no way that can be me. First of all, I was never a Marine."

Tashigi gave a hysterical giggle before offering up a suggestion, "Maybe a relative?"

"...Maybe. I had an uncle that was a Marine. He died when I was three," Portgas murmured, trying to recall what little he knew about the man. It wasn't much; Garp didn't like to talk about him much, strangely. He had never even seen a picture of him, come to think of it. "Why don't you go ask Smoker? He can tell us."

"N-no! I couldn't!" Tashigi protested, shocked at the idea of prying into her commander's privacy like that.

"Then get him, and I can." Portgas offered.

//Ash laughed as he propped his head on his left hand. "So Hunter, what's it feel like to be eighteen finally?" Laughter laced his voice.

Hunter snorted and turned his head away to try to hide his blush. "Same as it was the last time you asked me."

"Ah! But the last time I asked you was four months ago, and it wasn't your actual birthday." Ash grinned as he remembered the shock he had felt when he found out his lover had lied about his birthday. "Besides, it's been forever since I turned eighteen."

"You're only four years older than us," Hina pointed out reasonably, before taking a drink from her mug.

"Like I said, ages." Ash turned his laughing black eyes to her, and promptly attempted to steal her plate, only to have smoke solidify around his wrist and stop its progress. "Mah... You're getting pretty good at that."

"Ash shouldn't try to steal Hina's food," the girl reproached, though her harsh words didn't hide the amusement glinting in her eyes. "But Ash is right, not everyone gets two eighteenth birthdays."

"Right, so how's it feel?" Ash asked again, turning his attention back to the white-haired teen.

Hunter sighed before shrugging. "The same as the first time. It's just a day."

"It's not just a day!" Ash exclaimed in mock horror, before tossing a box of chocolate he had been hiding in his lap to Hunter. "It's also White Day!"

Hunter looked down at the small box in bemused horror for a long moment before reaching out and punching Ash hard in the shoulder. "Not funny." That didn't stop him from chuckling softly, however.

Ash leaned over, pulling Hunter into a deep kiss. After thoroughly plundering the teen's mouth he pulled back and leaned his forehead against the other's. "But it made you laugh."

"Jack ass."

"Jack Ash? Who's he?" Ash asked, rearing back in wide eyed surprise.

Hina burst out giggling at the antics of her dinner companions. "Ass, not Ash!" she corrected when she stopped, although she did give one last giggle after that.

"Mah. You should enjoy life more, Hina-chan."

Hunter shook his head in disgust before turning his head back to his dinner. "What was the call about earlier?"

"Just Dad."

"Only you would call talking to Monkey D. Garp, 'Just Dad,'" Hunter muttered.

"Well, it's a little late for me to start calling him 'Captain' at this point."

"And only part of that has to do with him no longer being a captain," Hunter informed Hina blandly.

Hina giggled again and shook her head. "Ash is Ash."//

Ace opened his eyes with a soft exhalation. Sitting up carefully in the cot, he leaned forward and put his head in his hands. That dream had been too real. He would have thought it a memory replaying if not for the fact that there was no way it could be his.

Finally, too hyped up to sleep further, Ace silently padded over to where Tashigi had left a pitcher of water the night before. Leaning against the desk he poured himself a cup, but paused just before drinking as he could swear for a moment that he heard Hina's laughter, and tasted ash on his tongue.

Deliberately taking a long drink, Ace tried to convince himself that the picture he had found earlier had caused his mind to give him weird dreams. Unfortunately he couldn't seem to do it. There was something... real... to it.

"Problem, Portgas?" Smoker's deep voice rumbled from the darkness, startling the pirate.

"No... Well, yes. Just a weird dream though," Ace reassured.

Smoker sighed and sat up from where he had been lying in bed. "Try not to do anything to aggravate your... wounds."

Staring fixedly down at the glass in his hand Ace decided to just ask the question that he had avoided earlier. "I didn't know you knew my uncle." Ace paused, then clarified, "Ash."

Smoker was silent for a long minute, before he blew out a tired sigh and got out of the bed. "It was a long time ago. How did you find out?"

"I found a picture earlier. I knocked over some books, and it fell out," Ace explained.

"Ash was... a D." Smoker finally said lowly as he sat down in his desk chair. "What do you know about him?"

"Not much. Mostly that he had been a Marine and died when I was three." Ace pulled himself onto the desk with a hidden wince and fixed avid eyes on the wraith-like Smoker, who sat streaked in moonlight. "You two looked close in the picture."

Smoker snorted in disgusted amusement. "That's one way to put it. I got specially chosen for the crew he was on three months after I joined."

"And Hina?"

"Her too."

"You looked closer than crewmates in the picture," Ace prodded, careful of Smoker's notoriously unpredictable temper.

"If you're asking if we were lovers, then yes, we were." Smoker carefully eyed a cigar as he contemplated lighting up. "We became lovers shortly after my seventeenth birthday, and continued to be so until his death when I was twenty."

Ace frowned as he ran through the math in his head. "I thought you were thirty-four. How could he have died when you were twenty? He should have died when you were seventeen."

Smoker was silent for another long minute before saying, "There were... complications."

"Complications? Hunter, you have a gift for understatement," Ace said.

Smoker's ice blue eyes snapped up to meet Ace's black. "What did you call me?"

"Smoker? It's your name isn't it? Well, as much as I've heard, anyway." Ace gave the other man a confused look.

"You didn't call me Smoker."

"I didn't?" Ace asked, confused, as he wracked his brain, desperately trying to remember what he had actually said.

"No, you called me Hunter. Why would you do that?" Smoker's intense eyes bored into the brunette's.

"Oh, must've been the dream. There was this kid in it that looked like you in the picture, but I was calling him Hunter." Ace shrugged. "Sorry."

"What was the dream about?" Smoker demanded leaning forward.

"A dinner. Why?"

"What dinner? What was going on? Give me details, Fire-Fist!" Smoker ordered.

"Not until you tell me why!" Ace snapped back, frustrated by the Marine's strange line of questioning.

"Because I need to know how much you remember of Ash!" Smoker snarled dangerously.

"Why would I remember Ash? He died when I was three, and I never met him!"

"What was in the dream?" Smoker growled lowly.

"I was having dinner with 'Hunter' and Hina celebrating 'Hunter's' second eighteenth birthday. Why do you want to know?" Ace snapped back.

Smoker's eyes narrowed to slits, "Did they call you Ace?"

"No, actually. They called me Ash." Ace frowned as he ran through what he could remember of the dream again. "I think I referred to Grandpa as 'Dad' to at one point."

Smoker blew out a breath as he leaned back and covered his face with his hands.

"What's the big deal? So my mind threw out a weird dream of my dead uncle after seeing his picture." Ace was frustrated by Smoker's strange actions and lack of explanation, and was not shy about letting the man know it.

Face still covered, Smoker asked tiredly, "How much do you know about how Ash died?"

"Not much; just that he, and most of his crew, were killed and his ship destroyed in the battle. I think only four or five survived. It was all classified I think."

Smoker snorted before muttering, "Damn you, Garp."

"What the hell's going on?"

"I'm not thirty-four."

"Congratulations, I guess, but what does that have to do with..."

"Just listen first." Smoker paused and glared at Ace. Seeing that he was going to listen, Smoker continued. "My paper work may say I'm thirty-four, and I may physically be that age, but that doesn't change the fact I've lived thirty-seven years. What you said about the battle is accurate, as far as it goes. What it doesn't tell you is that of the seven that walked away from that battle, they all lost years to varying degrees. I only lost three years, Hina seven. Ash though, got hit the worst. He bore the brunt of the... attack," Smoker explained. "He lost twenty-one years."

Ace laughed incredulously, "You're making it sound like I'm Ash."

"That's because you were. After everything was over, it was decided that Ash would die, and his brother would become his father. He had little memory of who he had been, and what there was faded swiftly. You, I think, can guess what happened after that." Smoker sighed and stood up. "Believe it or don't. Now you know."

The door closed behind Smoker with a quiet click, leaving Ace alone in the cabin again.

The next morning found a tired and extremely irritable Smoker greeting Hina, as her ship had been the one to respond first to his call for aid.

Ace walked out on deck, escorted by a nervous Tashigi. Smoker stood next to the railing of the ship talking to his old friend in hushed tones as the two Marine crews worked to separate the prisoners between the two ships in a semi-sane manner. Finding a crew to man the storm-damaged one could wait for now.

What made Ace stop and take a second, longer look was when his eyes were drawn up to the sight of a group of black banded, formerly Marine prisoners being held suspended in the air thirty feet above the ocean by a cloud of thick smoke.

All the while Hina and Smoker continued to talk lowly to each other, pointedly ignoring the cries for help and mercy.

Unable to help himself Ace leaned against a startled Tashigi and started laughing.

"Something amusing, Fire-Fist?" Smoker's voice growled from where he and Hina had walked up to the laughing pirate hanging onto the ensign for support.

Shaking his head and trying to stop laughing, at least long enough to breathe, he managed to gasp out, "You sure you're not a pirate?"

Tension eased out of Smoker enough for him to look up at the suspended prisoners with amusement. "I wonder some days."

Hina shook her head. "Smoker should be careful of what he says. Smoker will get in trouble again."

Ace finally calmed down somewhat and was just pulling away from Tashigi when he made the mistake of looking at the black clad Hina standing next to Smoker, had a sudden flash of Smoker clad in the normal Marine whites, and ended up collapsing in laugher again as a thought occurred to him.

"Something you would care to share?" Smoker asked, in a much calmer voice than it had been when he had initially come over.

"Y-you t-wo! B-bondage twins!" Ace managed to gasp out before burying his head in Tashigi's collar.

Consequently he missed Hina and Smoker paling in shock. "Smoker..."

"Later," Smoker snapped back before turning icy eyes to the staring Marines. "Get back to work."

"Smoker..." Hina whispered as she stared down into the glass of brandy he had poured her. "That was..."

"Ash's favorite description of us, I know," Smoker responded.

"How? We were told..."

"I don't know. Maybe something to do with his being a devil fruit user now, maybe something else. The point is, I think I'm right. He's starting to remember. At least some things anyway."

"How can Smoker be sure?" Hina demanded sharply.

"He called me Hunter last night. And apparently he had been dreaming about my eighteenth birthday. The second one." Smoker took a deep drink before refilling his glass.

Hina was silent before whispering, "Hina is sorry, Smoker."

"I've accepted long ago that the gods hate men like me," was Smoker's caustic reply.

//The rain hissed quietly outside the cozy and warm parlor. The boys, clad in shorts and t-shirts with the Marine logo, stood glaring at each other across the coffee table. It had been raining for the last week and they had been forced to remain indoors, and the tension had long ago reached explosive levels, but was now tapering off to constant bickering.

Even if they didn't remember what they were bickering over, just that their mom was visiting a friend for the day, and their dad was home for once, but barricaded in his study. So neither boy was happy, mostly because they had been forbidden to play outside. Ash glared at his bother. "Nu-uh!"

"Uh-huh!" Dragon shot back.


"Uh-huh, you ass!"

"Nu-uh, you dick!"

The door to their father's study suddenly burst open, "Quiet out here! What would your mother say if she heard you cursing?"

Ash gave his father an unimpressed look at the attempted manipulation. "What would Mother say if she knew you were smoking cigars you're not supposed to have and drinking scotch that isn't supposed to come out before dinner?"

Garp stared fiercely at first one son, then the other, both were giving him the same look. "I'm glad we had this talk." Then the door slammed shut and the two were again left alone.

Dragon gave Ash a long look, saying as a peace offering, "Since he's not coming out for a while, you want to get some cookies?"

Ash grinned. "Sure!"

Peace was temporarily restored to the household - for all of the hour it took for the two boys to eat every cookie they could get their hands on, and then start their attempts to make their own.

The noise eventually drew Garp out of his study again, though this time his reaction was horror at the sight of what they had done to the previously spotless kitchen. After five minutes of yelling, he just kicked them outside to play in the rain and mud while he tried to clean up the mess before his wife got home.

The two boys exchanged a pleased grin before starting up a brisk game of pirate vs. marine.//

Ace blinked awake and pulled his face away from the window it had been leaning against after he fell asleep watching the rain. That dream had been... odd? Different? He had never thought of his... Dragon in that context. To think that at one time he had been a boy was rather... humanizing.

He wasn't sure if he believed Smoker about the whole Ash thing, but the dreams and memory flashes were still there. He couldn't deny that. He wished he could, but he couldn't. He made a point of being as honest with himself as possible. Sighing, he went and dug through Smoker's desk for something to write the dream out with. If nothing else it'd help him sort things out in his own head.

Although he did make a mental note to ask Smoker more about "Ash", because he knew precious little about him.

Ace blinked off the sun glare as he came out on deck, and looked around for Smoker. Upon not seeing him, he made his way over to Tashigi. "Hey."

"O-oh. Ace-kun, this is Lieutenant Django and Lieutenant Fullbody. They're part of Captain Hina's crew."

"Hello. I'm pleased to meet you," Ace said with a polite bow.

"Ah... hello. I don't mean to be rude but..." Fullbody began delicately.

"Why am I given permission to roam the ship?" Ace finished the question with some amusement. "I made a deal with Commodore Smoker. Speaking of, do you know where he is?"

"I'm sorry, Ace-kun. He's locked in the communications room with Captain Hina for the next two hours. You'll have to wait if you want to speak with him," Tashigi apologized. "Maybe I can help?" she offered after seeing his disappointed frown.

"Ah... not really. I wanted to ask him some questions about my uncle Ash." Ace shrugged, trying to show it wasn't too important.

"Why would Commodore Smoker know about your uncle?" Django asked confused.

"They knew each other apparently. My uncle had been a Marine," Ace explained. "I'm kinda curious, 'cause I don't know much about him."

Fullbody frowned deeply for a moment before asking, "Was your uncle Monkey D. Ash by any chance?"

Ace gave the Marine a surprised look, "Ah... Yes, you knew him?"

"No. I met him once but I was only a kid at the time. He's the reason I joined the Marines, actually." Fullbody grinned with a bit of hero worship coloring his tone. "He and the other Watchdogs were really big heroes almost twenty years ago."

"Watchdogs?" Tashigi frowned as she tried to remember why that name sounded so familiar.

"It was a group of Marines that formed after Gold Roger was executed. There were a lot of people suddenly turning pirate and heading out to sea to try and find the One Piece. Really bad then, it's calmed down some since then. There were a lot of Marines turning pirate back then."

"Marines?" Django asked in surprise.

"Not that it was ever publicly said. The only reason I know so much was I was captured by some Marines turned slavers when I was ten and was saved by the Watchdogs. I spent a couple of weeks on their ship until we reached port."

"So the Watchdogs were...?"

"Pretty much what they sound like. Rumor was they only answered to the Grand Admiral. They traveled the world investigating and executing Marines that crossed the line to criminal. I gathered all the information I could on them after they saved me."

"That sounds... dangerous. They got well known?" Ace asked. That didn't sound like how the World Government would set up that sort of group.

"Their Captain was really smart, and could really work the press and crowds, I think. A lot of their stuff ended up really public and high profile and she made the World Government look really good."

Django frowned before slowly asking, "Captain... Natalie right?"

"Yeah. I didn't see her much when I was with them, but it wasn't 'cause she was too good. She just seemed really busy. Not many Captains would actually take the time to talk to a lowly kid that they were just going to drop off in the next port anyway. The entire group I saw was really impressive. But I spent the most time with Ash, because he was the one that saved me."

Ace nodded thoughtfully as he thought over the information. He had even heard of the Watchdogs. Only vaguely, because it wasn't something that came up often except in vague references. Which meant, that however they disbanded, though from what little Smoker had told him, it was more like they were wiped out, they hadn't disgraced themselves in the eyes of the World Government. "Do you still have a scrapbook or anything about them?"

"Sure. I can get it if you want?" Fullbody offered.

"I'd like that. Thank you." Ace smiled in gratitude.

"I wonder how Commodore Smoker knew a Watchdog?" Django asked thoughtfully.

"I think he and Hina used to be Watchdogs. Or at least the three of them served on the same ship at one time. But the timeline fits," Ace offered, distractedly. He really wished he had paid more attention when people had tried to teach him about Marine history.