Title: Vertrauen
Pairing: SmoAce, duh.
Rating: T
Words: 5'140
Universe: AU

Sometimes Smoker really wondered what it was with Ace and rules.
The younger man was just different. Different, as in opposed the whole rest of the world with his cocky, freckled face.
Smoker couldn't think of any rule or norm (and his repertoire was quite notable) that Ace hadn't broken in some kind of way.
Sometimes by accident, sometimes intended, sometimes as a product of pure boredom and sometimes out of loyalty to God knows who.
In Smoker's opinion though, to ninety-nine percent to simply annoy him.

He loved messing with people's minds, he loved disappointing expectations, hell, he loved to disagree. Ace defied the whole world, and every time everyone thought they'd finally figured him out, he made sure to let their card house collapse in an instant, and left. Always with that cheery, cheeky grin.

Ace always had an ace up his sleeve. Ha-ha. The Irony.

Even nature's laws seemed to be unable to harm the brat. No, of course even Ace couldn't fly or let himself grow a third arm, however, in many respects the body of the boy seemed to overcome even biological facts.

So, when all other, normal people of this world became loud, unbearable and just generally idiotic idiots when they drank...

...Ace became silent.

You would have to mention that it took quite a lot to actually get Ace drunk. The boy, whose slender body would have been a big disadvantage, a lightweight, if Portgas D. Ace were a normal human being, was able to drink the most hard-drinking regular of the pub against the wall. Smoker had seen giants like the old Jinbei lying on the counter slurring and babbling, while Ace sat next to him, as fresh as a daisy.
But even Ace couldn't hold his drink as steely as Smoker, no one could, and so Smoker was always wide awake and only felt the pleasant, warm tingle in his fingertips, when Ace... fell silent.

Smoker remembered how big his shock had been, when he had seen Ace drunk for the first time.
Nothing in the boy's posture gave away how drunk the younger man really was, in fact Smoker only realised later, when he watched Ace get up from his chair and try to walk to the door... failing miserably, under the roaring laughter of the others.

Around him his idiotic friends jeered and slurred, crashing and banging, laughter and yelling. But Ace seemed to be packed in cotton, not noticing any of his surroundings, as if he was the only person in the room.
Did his friends know of this? When Smoker looked in their drunken faces, and thought of the hungover visages tomorrow, he doubted it.

It was a pity, really. Ace was an almost pleasant company when he was drunk.

It had been just another, normal Friday night, no real reason for a drinking orgy, but for some reason the group had been in a particular festive mood, and when he saidparticular festive mood he sure as hell didn't mean that all of them were drinking lemonade.
Actually, Smoker wasn't even surprised anymore. No one, who had the pleasure to witness the group, regulars in Blueno's bar, would be. Everyone knew that the pillocks didn't need a particular reason to shift beer after beer.

Smoker sighed, as he watched Hina, one of the few people in this bar he'd actually call a friend, strike up a drinking song together with Alvida, and, en passant, completely rewriting the melody.
His glance wandered through the room, and quite brisk, came to the conclusion that he probably was the only one left that was in his right mind (well, nothing new there). Maybe apart from Teach and the massive Newgate.
Teach, to some known as Blackbeard, was just about to get another round for the two youngsters of the group, Marco and Ace. Smoker watched Marco, whose grin was bigger than his face. Youngster? When he looked at that pineapple-face he seemed quite a bit older than Ace. More his own age, actually. That didn't change the fact that the two seemed to be glued together though, and, more often than not, the reason for some kind of ruckus.
Ace was mostly the engine of the pair, the mouthy and energetic one, whereas Marco was much calmer, and always had the younger one's back. What the two had in common was their bottomless stupidity and recklessness, especially when drunk. Marco's retarded hairdo was just a small example.

Smoker watched, as Teach put the mugs on the table, watched, as Marco as well as Ace immediately reached out for the liquor. Yet, Ace was all chipper, and his laugh was audible trough the whole pub. Yet, everything was as usual.

It was late in the night, when Smoker finally had enough and decided to leave.
Some had already disappeared before him, to the toilets or homewards.
He stood up, and the alcohol darted happily through his veins. It was a pleasant feeling though.
The grey-haired man looked around. Three or four heads were lying on the table, one of them he made out as Tashigi's. Hina was still standing at the counter, so Smoker was assured the younger woman, another close friend to him, would get home safely.
He sighed relieved and turned around to leave, as he felt a soft tug on his jacket.
Surprised, he looked down; he didn't expect someone to notice he was leaving.

Through jet-black hair, brown eyes looked unfocused at him.
Ace.
Smoker had thought that the boy and Marco had already left; he hadn't heard any of the two hooting around for quite a while now. Ace's last laugh seemed to be hours ago.
The boy didn't say anything, but Smoker could read the unspoken plea in his eyes:

Take me home.

Again, Smoker looked around, but no matter how much he tried to find the pineapple-face, he couldn't find a trace of Ace's constant companion.
"Where's Marco?", he asked the brat, but should've known better than to ask a (drunk) idiot questions. Ace didn't react. His hand on Smoker's jacket though loosened and fell, causing Ace to almost fall off his chair. Just in time he put his elbow on the table, stabilizing himself. He hung his head and tried to turn away, shifting uncomfortably.
Smoker sighed. And made a decision.

Unceremoniously, he took Ace's arm and yanked the boy on his feet. It surprised him how light the other was, even though he was leaning against him with his full body weight.
Ace was thrown off-balance through the sudden jolt, his muscles tensed, and he lifted his head to see what was going on.
Smoker looked at him with a, and he was sure of it, downrightpissed-offlook on his face, but as soon as their eyes met, and Ace realised who had helped him up, his facial expressions softened, and a small smile crept on his lips. Surprised, Smoker noted how the strained posture of the boy went limp and leant against the older man, just as if Ace had decided that he trusted Smoker to get him home safely.

Smoker decided to ignore the strange behaviour of the brat, put Ace's arm around his shoulder and started to move towards the door. His frown, however, stayed.

It was almost scary. Anyone who went through the same situation before would agree that it was anything but a pleasure to drag a drunken person's ass around. He/She would talk your ears off, sing, scream at the worst, stumble and trip over stuff, and would want to bolt away because of, well, anything.
Dragging a drunken Ace home was... easy. Almost as if you would carry around a dead person. And as a matter of fact, Smoker actually ensured himself from time to time, while he led the boy outside, that he was still breathing.
But Ace was wide awake and had his eyes fixed on the ground. He just didn't talk. Smoker wondered what was going on in his head. Given that something was going on, of course.

The cold air felt nice, and Smoker paused for a few seconds, when the door to the noisy pub snapped shut behind them. Suddenly they were confronted with the nice silence of the night; the streets were almost empty at this late hour.
Ace gradually lifted his head and Smoker watched out of the corner of his eye how the slightly shorter man tried to orient himself in his alcoholised state.
"Fucking moron", the Grey-haired grunted, and roughly adjusted Ace's arm around his neck, causing Ace to slightly shift his weight "Don't ever think you'll get away with this! Oh and you can pass my thanks on to your worthless bastard of a friend, for just pissing off and leaving me here with your drunken ass!"

It was strange. Smoker had grown used to Ace having to basically anything he said a snotty, cocky retort. It was like ping pong, always forth and back. It was the only way they worked out.
It now felt wrong, when Ace only slightly turned his head and looked at Smoker out of the corner of his eye, not showing whether he had understood Smoker's words or not. Didn't react.

Smoker sighed for a second time (and yes, he counted), and carried on. He didn't even wait for Ace to get ready and adopt his balance, but simply pulled the boy along. Ace only gave a small noise of displeasure, a small huff, nothing more.

Smoker headed for one of the taxis that were parked at the roadside and wrenched open the backdoor, not even looking at the taxi driver. He pushed Ace roughly into the taxi, but the boy really seemed to trust him wholeheartedly, he didn't fight back one bit.

Or he really just was as daft as Smoker had always thought.

Snorting, Smoker slammed the door shut, walked around the car and got in the back seat next to Ace.

"So where are you headed love?"
Smoker, who was just about to relax, froze. And slowly, very slowly, raised his head.
The masculine voice didn't fit at all with the cooed words. That could only mean one thing...

Long, false eyelashes winked at him in the rear-view mirror. The second thing Smoker noticed about his Taxi driver was an inhuman amount of blue-greenish eye shadow. And loads of bright red lipstick. On an utterly masculine face.

Smoker had to suppress a frustrated groan. Well, fucking brilliant. His taxi driver was a queer!

"How responsible!" purred the seemingly amused taxi driver with a nod in Ace's direction, while turning down the volume of his car radio, apparently up to a chat. Smoker grimaced even more and for a moment contemplated getting off the taxi just then and there, leaving Ace's fate to the poofy driver.
However, you could say a lot of things about Smoker, but he was a man of honour, and he either did something properly, or he didn't do it at all. He sighed. For the third time.

"So... where do I drop you off?" the man asked again in his sing-song voice and, again, fluttered his eyelashes. Smoker rolled his eyes and then, growling, named his address.
For one thing he didn't have a clue where Ace lived and second he didn't really feel like paying a huge taxi bill.
The brat would sleep on his sofa, and by dawn he'd throw him out. Simple as that.

But before the driver even moved off, he turned around and looked at Smoker with a grin that really reminded the grey-haired man of another certain freckled man's grin that made him grind his teeth.
"My, did you have a bad evening, dear?" purred the other man and a vein popped on Smoker's forehead.
"Oh dear, what a grumpy little bugger!" laughed the taxi driver, and then Smoker had had enough.
"Just start driving, dumbass!" he snarled, and crossed his arms.
The taxi driver simply gave a ringing laugh, seemingly immune against the verbal abuse. "The name is Bon Curry, sweetheart!" he said flirty, and when Smoker gave him a Who Cares?-look, he shook his head.
"Seatbelts!" he commanded.
Smoker was just about to tell the annoying bastard that he, unlike other people in the room, still had all his marbles together and sure as hellwouldn't wear his seatbelt, when he realized that Bon Curry wasn't talking about him.
Light grey eyes wandered to Ace's form on the other side of the car, still in the same pose as he had left him. He only had his head turned to side, looking out of the window.
The annoying queer was right. It probably would be better for Ace to wear the seatbelt, preventing him from falling off his seat.
The grin on Bon Curry's face somehow told Smoker that he enjoyed the irritated scowl he gave when he leaned over to the black-haired boy and reached out for the seatbelt over Ace's left shoulder.

It took Ace's brain a couple seconds until he registered the movement, and he sluggishly turned his head to Smoker, who had already pulled the belt downwards.
"I swear to God, you will regret this!", Smoker murmured with an ominous glare. After the belt was fastened with a small "Click!" he looked up to the younger man's face to see the other looking back with glassy eyes. Whatever lay in these light brown eyes, Smoker couldn't name it.

"Okey dokey! And off we go!", Bon Curry cheered then from the driver's seat, and pulled out of the parking space. Smoker let himself sink back into his seat; this was going to be a long night.
The grey-haired man watched the streets fly by, and tried his best to ignore Bon Curry singing painfully off-key to "My Heart Will Go On".
As he noticed movement in the corner of his eye however, he turned to the boy again.
Ace had slid down in his seat a bit and had buried his chin in his red hoodie, only his nose and eyes were visible. He had closed the latter, and Smoker wasn't sure if he finally had gone to sleep.
He eyed the brat attentively. Well, this way he wouldn't puke all over the car, which was good.
With a smirk he turned away. Although he would have liked to see how the noisy Bon Curry would have dealt with something like that.

"A gorgeous little chap, isn't he?", said Bon Curry suddenly, Smoker hadn't even noticed the other turning the radio down, and when Smoker looked up to the mirror he found the other's face being surprisingly serious.
Smoker cocked an eyebrow, knowing that Bon Curry was talking about Ace. "Apparently", he replied briefly and with a disinterested voice. He wondered why the weird taxi driver then chuckled. Bon Curry's eyes wandered off to Ace's figure and a caring expression appeared on his face. "Oh, the youth today..." he said dramatically "...I don't know why they have to live their lives so fast nowadays. Bless him. Fortunate though, that the little bugger has such a strong and attentive guardian!"
Bon Curry's voice was dripping with sugar, rainbows and ponies, and the look the taxi driver gave him wasn't much to Smoker's liking either, his own gloomy look became even gloomier.
"Fortunate, my ass! He's gonna get it later, I swear", he snarled, not really willing to deepen this conversation. Bon Curry laughed. "Oh yeah, a bit of spanking every once in a while can't be bad, can it!", he grinned and even winked at him mischievously. Smoker twitched uncomfortably.

"Just... drive, okay?", he grunted, but to his relief the taxi driver had already turned his attention back to the street.

Ten minutes later, Bon Curry turned into his street, and Smoker sighed with relief. Quickly, he pulled out his wallet, and fished out the money that the meter displayed in red printing.
When finally the car stopped, Bon Curry turned the light on and turned around.
"There we are my poppets!" he cooed, and Smoker angrily pushed the money into his hands. The presence of the man was more than uncomfortable to him, especially the look the taxi driver gave him, as if he knew something even Smoker himself didn't, gave him the creeps.
As fast as he could he got out the car, but before he could close the door, Bon Curry spoke again:
"Oi, Grumpy! Look after your little cutie, will you? You're fond of him, I can tell by the way the look in your eyes changes when you look at him."

The door slammed shut a bit more violent than it was needed.
Smoker stomped around the vehicle to Ace's side and flung the door open. Bon Curry was still sniggering. The older man simply ignored him, and bent down to Ace, who had his eyes open now and looked up to Smoker.
The grey-haired man was swearing under his breath, as he loosened Ace's seatbelt, and wondered for the thousandth time why he was doing this.

He was just wondering as to how he would get Ace out of the car without having one of them kissing the ground, as he felt slender Arms wrap around his neck.
This surprised Smoker, and he almost lost his balance, he had to put a hand on the doorframe for support. He turned his head to Ace, who was still looking at him with those alcohol-fogged eyes.
And for some strange reason, Smoker could only think of how near their faces were, and how he could count the freckles on Ace's cheeks.

He jolted out of his thoughts, as he realised that Ace only tried to help him. How strange, Ace's thoughts were somewhere far away, but still he acted so present.
All Smoker had to do was to draw himself up, and with that he dragged Ace on his feet. He put one arm around slender hips to stabilise the brat, with the other he slammed to door shut before Bon Curry could comment any more on this.
The taxi pulled out again, and with a "Bye-bye my tootsies!! Please make use of my service again soooon!" from the open window, the car disappeared into the darkness.

And finally, there was silence again. Relieved, Smoker breathed in the cold night air, glad to be in familiar environment.
His house was located a bit outside of town, a pleasant and calm neighbourhood, where the neighbours didn't poke their noses in someone else's business. And for that Smoker was very thankful at that night, because otherwise those neighbours surely would have wondered why in the world he was standing in the middle of the street in the middle of the night, with a drunken brat clinging onto him.

Ace's breath softly blew against Smoker's collarbone, the younger man still had his arms around his neck, his forehead leant on Smoker's shoulder and he leaned against him with his full body weight.
Smoker hadn't removed his arm either. He didn't know why, but he wasn't a man of asking pointless questions.
It felt nice.

"You really are a handful, brat", he said quietly, maybe not as annoyed as he usually would.
The back of Ace's hand was pressed swiftly against Smoker's shoulder blade for a second, then it went limp again. The older man wasn't sure whether it had been a response to his words, or just a twitch of the overstrained musculature.

Smoker felt the urge for a cigarette.
He loosened one of Ace's arms around his neck and shifted his weight to his side, so that they could move again. After all they were standing in the middle of the street.

The veranda of his house was just a few feet away. Ace stumbled over the border stone, but caught himself with simply leaning against Smoker, who had to cushion the impact. The grey-haired man muttered under his breath.
Unbelievable, how the other man behaved himself. He seemed so familiar with him as if they did this every weekend.

He dragged Ace along up to the veranda and noticed how Ace glanced around, taking in the new surroundings. Smoker wasn't sure as to how much Ace registered in this state, but judging by the peaceful expression on his face, he didn't seemed the slightest bit worried.

The four steps up to the front door turned out to be the biggest obstacle that was thrown in their way, and Ace almost managed to bang his forehead on the stair head. Smoker actually was tempted to not interfere, as a little bump probably wouldn't harm the brat, but then decided otherwise and pulled the other one back at the last second, as he didn't really feel like putting up with the moaning the next day.
Unceremoniously, he threw the boy over his shoulder, again glad that he was so light, and
simply put him down again on the top step . Ace seemed to be a bit startled, his brain too dazed to keep up with the quick movement.
Smoker only growled, shoved the boy to the wooden bench next to the front door and pushed him down, before the brat found even more ways to hurt himself.
He paused for a moment, realising that they actually made it to his doorstep, then he dropped down on the bench, next to other man.
Instantly, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and took the ashtray from the windowsill above their heads and placed it next to him on the bench.
A quick whizz, a flaring up of fire, and Smoker deeply inhaled light grey smoke.
Now he felt better.

He decided to stay outside for a little bit longer, and enjoy his cigarette. Ace could wait, and if he indeed should fall asleep, well he could sleep outside; the nights were warm enough at this time of the year; he most likely wouldn't die.

"You haven't got a dog."

Ace's words were spoken so sudden and casually, that Smoker didn't even realise at first that the boy had said something. His voice sounded husky and deeper than normal, and you could tell that he had his difficulties putting the words in the right order.

Smoker cocked an eyebrow and looked at the younger man questioningly. "No shit", he snorted "...and where the fuck did that come from?"
Ace's face lit up a little when he looked up to the other.
"Dunno. I just reckoned you'd be a dog owner, that's all", he explained, and gave an askew smile; it was easy to see that he had to concentrate hard to keep his head up straight. He shuffled his feet on the ground, seemingly not done talking yet: "No woman could ever live with you under one roof, therefore a dog."
Smoker stared at the boy, aghast. He wasn't sure as to whether he should kick his ass back on the street right now, or lock him up in his tool shed instead. Indeed, Ace was a cheeky and disrespectful brat when sober as well, but the carelessness had to be thanks to the alcohol.
After all, he could choke him right there and then and bury him in his garden, no one would notice.

"No dog", he said with a snarl and utterly disgruntled "as you can see I rather drag along drunken bastards to keep me company."
Ace looked up to Smoker's face, and their eyes met. Ace's were concentrated for a few seconds, as his alcoholised brain needed even more time than usual to sort the information out.
Then he laughed, not the usual, cheery laughter, but much more a drunken version of it, dissonant.
"That's not very nice!" he mumbled quietly, as lanky fingers wrapped around Smoker's muscular upper arm.
Smoker looked down on the hand, took a deep drag of his cigarette, and then blew the smoke directly into the Younger's face, who was still facing him.
Ace's eyes began to glint with tears as the smoke burnt painfully, but he successfully suppressed a cough.
He blinked, and then his eyes fixated on Smoker once more. And a very defiant look appeared in them.
Without warning, the boy bent forward, over Smoker's lap, wavered, then grabbed the cigarette from Smoker's fingers. Smoker didn't interfere, and watched the other attentively.
Clumsily, Ace lifted the cigarette to his lips and took a drag. Smoker cocked an eyebrow. Ace didn't smoke.
But the other still glared at him defiantly. Your stupid smoke doesn't bother me, his eyes seemed to say.
With his second drag though, the boy, as always, took it too far, and he had to cough frantically, smoke scratching terribly in his throat. Smoker sneered, and took the cigarette from Ace's fingers.
"You're hopeless, boy", he said unimpressed, while Ace desperately gasped for air.
Smoker shook his head and leant back, watching the street.
After a while Ace calmed down as well, but he stayed where he was, half on Smoker's lap, and half still on the bench.

For a couple minutes it was quiet again, as suddenly the floodlight of the house next door, that had come up at their arrival, went off with a distant click, and the two men sat in almost complete darkness. Smoker blew out smoke for the last time, then stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray.

Ace sat up slowly, putting a hand on Smoker's knee to support himself. Smoker looked at him, and the younger man looked right back, both waiting for the other to do something.

Ace had always been the less patient one.

Smoker didn't move, when the boy slowly bent forward. Moments later, Soft lips collided with Smoker's face, somewhere between the corner of his mouth and his nose, a desperate attempt to find Smoker's lips, drunk and in the dark.
The older man growled angrily.
Ace moved back. For a moment the two men just looked at each other, pervasive light-grey eyes pierced through alcohol-fogged brown ones.
Smoker lifted one hand and cupped Ace's cheek in his hand, gripping the other's head firmly.
"Look, brat, if you start something, do it properly!" he snarled, and then pulled the freckled face forward and pressed their lips together.

He might be wrong, but he thought he felt Ace smiling slightly against his lips, as the brat leaned against him, and left it to Smoker to stabilise the drunken body.
And again, Smoker wondered where Ace took this blind confidence from. As if he knew that Smoker wouldn't use his vulnerable, drunken state against him, or that he wouldn't leave him behind somewhere on the street.
He felt Ace's long eyelashes flutter against his cheeks, as the boy closed his eyes and tilted his head slightly. Ace gently changed his position, then put his hand on Smoker's torso, burying them in the fabric of his jacket.

After a while they separated, but Ace seemed to be too tired to move, and simply rested his forehead against Smoker's instead.

"Let's go inside", Smoker said, it wasn't an invitation, but an order.
Ace nodded, making their noses bump into each other, and smiled, his eyes still closed.
But he didn't move.

Smoker waited for a bit, but gave up hope rather quickly. Grinding his teeth, he lifted Ace's hands from his torso and put them around his neck again, the same way as when he pulled Ace out of the taxi.
"Bloodyimbecile", he growled, and then stood up. Ace instantly crossed his long legs around Smoker's hips, so he wouldn't slide down. The black-haired youth was now hanging from his neck like a little kid, his head was leaning against Smoker's shoulder and he didn't make a sound. Smoker sighed.
"You're worse than a two-year-old. Do you even realise what people could do to you when you're in a state like that?" he grumbled peevishly, while moving to the front door and unlocking it.
The door opened with a creek, but Smoker was distracted, when Ace suddenly stirred, pulling himself up so that their heads were on the same level. His lips brushed Smoker's ear only slightly, when he whispered:

"Smoker won't hurt me."

Even though the words were muttered and didn't come out error-free, they showed their effect.
Smoker paused, startled, and looked down on the black mop of hair.
He then pulled himself together, and carried the younger one to his living room.
"You're a complete moron", he said quietly, as he reached the sofa and put Ace down.
The black-haired man sunk weakly back into the soft material; slowly, the crushing fatigue that came with alcohol seemed to reach even Ace.
Smoker looked at the black-haired man for a moment, then turned around and walked to the kitchen.
After a while he came back with a blanket and a bottle of water, the latter he put down on the floor, next to Ace, knowing that the other would thank him for that in the morning.
"Believe me, this is the last thing I'm doing for you", he murmured under his breath, as he tossed the blanket over Ace's lanky form. After a quick thought he let himself drop on the sofa, next to Ace, and reached for the remote. He zapped through the channels, not really something he did often. To be frank, he despised his telly.
Ace next to him didn't budge for quite a while, and Smoker began to think that the younger man actually fell asleep in the uncomfortable-looking pose, when the black-haired youth gave a small, sighing noise and shifted his position. He reached for Smoker's arm and pulled himself towards the other man, then he let his head rest against Smoker's shoulder. He clutched the blanket close to his body and threw half of it over Smoker as well, who only frowned resignedly, and left it at that. Ace stretched his legs, his arms hung loosely around Smoker's torso.
He gave a small sigh, as if the movement had cost him loads of energy. And it probably had.

"I won't remember any of this tomorrow anyways..." Ace murmured quietly after a while, the words almost going under in the noises of the television, and Smoker turned his head to look at the boy "...so I guess I'm safe to say this:..."
Smoker raised his eyebrows, and waited, surprised as the boy snuggled closer and closed his eyes.

"...Thanks."

Smoker waited quite a while, until he was absolutely sure that the black-haired boy was sound asleep, before he carefully moved his arm from underneath Ace's head, so that the boy was now resting against his chest, and wrapped it around him, his hand on top of Ace's head. Absentminded, he ran his hand through jet-black hair.

You can't even say thank you like a normal person.