Critical Hit - Chapter 9

A/N: And so we arrive at the final chapter of Critical Hit! It's been a bumpy ride, but I do hope you've enjoyed it~ The first few paragraphs were actually written in South Africa, on the eleven-hour bus journey to Johannesburg airport, in fact if I hadn't written this I probably would have been driven slowly insane by the terrible music and lack of air conditioning. I don't really have much else to say, so let's get straight down to it!

Warning: We're on the last chapter. If you don't know what to expect, you're an idiot.

Disclaimer: These wonderful characters belong to the all-knowing Eiichiro Oda. Need I say more?

2nd February 2011...

Kidd and Law stood in the multi-storey car park, the redhead's gun securely gripped in his palm whilst the dark haired male, slightly less confidently, pointed his in the same direction. The ominous looking black BMW gave no clues as to the identity of its driver or passengers due to the windows being tinted to an illegally dark hue, but it didn't matter. Both Kidd and Law knew who they were.

The most frustrating thing was that, under normal circumstances, Kidd probably could have taken out all of the occupants of the car with six bullets. Five, if the passengers in the back seats weren't able to duck or get out of the vehicle in time. Car windshields were strong, obviously, but not strong enough to stop a bullet. However, there were too many variables, the major one going by the name of Trafalgar Law. Even though the redhead was their target, chances are, they'd stop at nothing to get their prize. So Law needed to be kept out of the way of harm.

After what felt like an age due to the heavy silence, but in reality was only around five minutes, the doors of the dark car opened, its driver and passengers emerging from the shadows, seeming satisfied that they had made Kidd and Law sweat. Penguin, Shachi and Bepo came into view, all three sporting what looked like brand new weapons, pointed in their direction. In my direction, Kidd thought, but he let that thought slide. Both he and Law were in equal danger anyway; judging by the way the Heart crew were holding those weapons, if it came to pulling the trigger those bullets could probably end up anywhere. As the dark haired male had mentioned before, they fought with their fists, not with guns. Plus the entire car park was concrete; if a bullet missed its target and hit a wall it could ricochet anywhere. It was too early in the game to be making assumptions.

"I'm sure you know why we're all here." Penguin called across the car park, sound echoing off of the concrete walls.

"Yeah, your note told us all we needed to know, thanks. You could have just posted it through the letterbox though. It still would have had the desired effect." Kidd said with a frown, stuffing his free hand in his jean pocket whilst keeping his gun aimed steadily at Penguin's forehead.

"True, true. But, then again, what does it matter? It's not like you're going to have a chance to get your window repaired. Oh no, you'll be dead long before that." The atmosphere of the car park suddenly became much more sinister, Penguin punctuating his sentence by noisily cocking his gun, ready to fire. Kidd tensed instinctively; ready to shoot if need be, feeling Law stiffen beside him at the same time. Even though the note told them what the Heart was planning on doing, the almost insignificant click of the gun's components sliding into place made the situation feel much more urgent. No more dicking around.

"What's the point, though? We're meant to be crewmates, Penguin." Law spoke up for the first time, annoyance in his voice, and although Kidd was also curious as to his true motives, he knew that all the other was doing was trying to buy them some time. Killer and Eddie were on their way; the three vibrations of the phone ringing in his pocket had just confirmed that, so they just had to hold out and wait for back-up. Then it would be four against three. The odds would quickly tip in their favour.

"You're accusing me of betraying the crew? Me? That's rich, when you were the one who'd drop everything for a shag!" Penguin raged, and Kidd felt Law stiffen beside him once again; he could see his grip on his gun tighten, his knuckles starting to turn white with the effort. "In case you hadn't noticed, Trafalgar, Kidd isn't a part of our crew. We had an arrangement, yes, but fucking him to keep the deal sweet wasn't necessary-"

"Shut the fuck up, Penguin." Law spoke in a level voice, not much louder than usual, however the redhead could practically feel the anger in his voice. Penguin looked like he was about to retort, but Law got there first. "If we were really crewmates, you'd know I have a hell of a lot more self-respect than that. And anyway, it seems like most of your anger is towards me. Why kill Kidd?"

"Because he took you away from us, to start. And, of course, there's that tiny little detail of getting me put in prison for cleaning up his mess!" Penguin jabbed his gun angrily in Kidd's direction to emphasize his point, all the while Bepo and Shachi standing on either side of him, listening, looking slightly uneasy as they kept their weapons trained on the redhead.

"That was your job, Penguin; the whole idea was that you'd sort out our dead bodies, or were you not listening when we made the arrangements?" Kidd spoke up, shaking his head. "It was just the luck of the draw; patrol routes were shifted without being logged down, so if I'd taken any longer it would have been me, not you. That's just the way of the streets, and if you don't like it then why the hell are you even here?"

Penguin opened his mouth, and then shut it again. Stumped him. The redhead took the silence as an opportunity to properly analyse the other men stood across from him. Neither of them looked particularly comfortable, in fact Bepo looked like he was going to piss himself at any moment, Shachi probably ready to join him. It occurred to Kidd that the two of them probably didn't even want to be here at all; perfect leverage.

"And why are you here, Bepo, Shachi? You're all meant to be crew mates, why would you turn on your own captain?" Kidd pulled a mock-confused face, satisfied his words had hit home as he saw Bepo turn to look at Shachi around Penguin's back, the two of them exchanging questioning glances, still looking as uncomfortable as they did before.

"You know you don't really want to do this, you two. Just put your guns down and we can forget about-"

"NO!" Penguin's shout cut through Law's reassuring words, his face contorted into an expression of pure anger.

"Penguin, I think we should all just agree that you've acted hastily, and we can go our separate ways from here." Law switched his attention back to Penguin, attempting to sound as reasonable and level-headed as possible, even though Kidd could tell that he was still extremely angry with the other.

"I can't agree to that, 'captain'. You see, I've been anything but hasty. I was in that hell hole of a prison for months, in case you'd forgotten; plenty of time to work out exactly who was to blame, the catalyst that started this chain reaction."

"Use all of the fancy words you want, Penguin, but deep down we all know that the only people we could possible blame for this entire charade are the filth. So why aren't you gunning them down? Oh yeah, 'cause you're too scared of being banged up again." Kidd spoke with mockery in his voice, before turning his attention back to Bepo and Shachi. "If the two of you just put your guns down Penguin will be on his own. He'll be powerless. We can just go our separate ways and move on. Surely you'd rather do that than turn on your own captain?"

Bepo turned to Shachi again. "C'mon Shachi, d'you think we should-"

"NO!" Penguin interrupted once again, punctuating his exclamation this time by firing his gun into the ceiling, the bullet ricocheting off the concrete and, due to the backwards arc Penguin's arm was travelling in as he fired, shooting out into the street below. Kidd swore he heard a window smash and would have laughed in another situation, but the fact that Penguin had fired the first shot brought the redhead down to a much more serious attitude. They were now truly at the stage where anything could happen.

Penguin turned to look at Bepo, glaring daggers. "You're a pushover, Bepo, you know that? You've never had the balls to stand up and actually do something, and never will." His vicious words caused the Heart to step back a pace, however there was a fire in his eyes that hadn't been there before.

"I'm not being a part of this anymore, Penguin. You're part of my crew, yeah, and I respect that, but the most important person here is my captain, and I'm sticking with him. He doesn't deserve this." Shaking his head, Bepo dropped his arm, pointing his gun to the floor and taking a further couple of steps back until he was backed against another car, as far away from Penguin as he could possibly get. Penguin shook his head at the other, backing up until he was stood besides Shachi, his gun still pointing at Kidd as Shachi's turned to aim at Bepo, who looked like he was about ready to cry.

"Sorry Bepo, Law." Shachi shrugged, looking between the two of them, "But Penguin's my brother, and I'm sticking with him." Kidd shook his head incredulously. How come everyone's apologising to Law when I'm the one they want to kill?

Penguin looked like he had more to say, however he was interrupted by the sound of footsteps thundering on the stairwell. About bloody time.

Killer and Eddie entered the car park, standing in the doorframe with a gun in each hand, all four of them trained on Penguin.

A lot of things happened in the next second.

Killer and Eddie began firing in Penguin's direction, the thundering of their guns almost deafening. Kidd dropped to a crouch, shouting, "GET DOWN!" in Law's direction. Penguin and Shachi threw themselves to the floor before sitting up in a crouch, moving as fast as they could in the direction of the exit, taking cover behind parked cars and occasionally pausing to fire shots in Killer, Eddie and Kidd's directions. Kidd began shooting beneath the cars, hoping to take out their feet.

And then, it was quiet again.

Killer and Eddie had stopped firing, and although there was still a whisper of the gunshots echoing around the room, it was nothing compared to the sound of at least seven guns firing at once. Cautiously peering through the window of the car beside him the redhead looked in the direction of the exit, cursing under his breath as he realised that Penguin and Shachi were nowhere to be seen. Killer and Eddie ran up to him.

"Looks like they snuck out the exit, boss. Want us to follow them?" Eddie asked as the two of them reloaded their guns.

"Yeah, go for it. Don't take 'em out, though, that's my job." Kidd smirked, nodding as his crew members took off after the Heart traitors. Standing up and glancing around the car park, the redhead noticed Bepo's dead body; the poor guy had been shot in the back of the head multiple times and was now splayed, face first on the concrete with a halo of blood surrounding his head. It was a shame, but he'd been stood with his back to the stairwell, so there was no chance he would have noticed Killer and Eddie coming, getting himself caught up in the crossfire.

"Right, Trafalgar, we're going home. Not much else to do until Penguin and Shachi are found." He said simply, walking around the car to where Law had been crouched.

Then, he registered the sight in front of him.

And his world collapsed.

Final A/N: And so, we have reached the end. I do hope you've enjoyed my little tale as much as I've enjoyed writing it for you! I'd like to give a huge thanks to everyone who's reviewed, anonymously or not, everyone who faved, every story alert, every favourite author, and every single reader, even if you never did any of the above. The fact that you took the time out of your busy lives to read my fanfiction at all means a hell of a lot to me. This fic has become the one which gained me the biggest response, and I've been seriously inspired to continue writing.

One thing I can say is that I am definitely not finished with this AU. I love writing it so much, and though I probably won't visit the KLaw timeline again in any great detail, you can probably expect fanfiction of this AU with different characters at some point in the future. I hope you all enjoy my future works as much as you've enjoyed this, and I hope to see you again soon!