Title: Expectant Time
Pairing: Tashigi/Zoro, Tashigi/Smoker (sort of)
Summary: Tashigi faces the consequences of some actions. She does not face them alone.
Spoilers: Mentions of many things before the time-skip.
Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece. I'm not making any money. Please don't sue.
It wasn't regret that Tashigi was feeling as she got out of her hotel room bed, still hung over from the previous night. Her judgment had been impaired by the alcohol but not so much that she would have changed her decisions. She stretched, walking over to the mirror and probing her hips to feel for the marks that she knew would be there. He had been rough, but no rougher than she had wanted. She remembered him leaving during the night, mumbling something to him about getting his swords next time, and the snort as he waved goodbye.
Their actions the previous night, from drunken confrontation at the bar, to ill-timed stumble in to personal space, to their return to her room and after, would not change their interactions in the future. She would still seek to take the swords from the unjust and hunt his crew. He would still be a pirate in the eyes of all. But, that night, they had both felt wanted and needed.
She showered and gathered her belongings quickly, knowing the Marine transport would leave just after dawn. And, when she watched Water 7 recede in the distance, she knew that her feeling was not regret. But, maybe it could be hope.
Tashigi returned to Commodore Smoker's side scarcely a day before news of the Strawhat's actions at Enies Lobby reached the ship. The bounties were issued shortly after. Back in her own quarters, she had to laugh. They never did things by halves. The new bounty poster replaced the old as she tried to repress the flare of not-quite-hope in her chest.
The nervous, queasy feeling had not gone away as Tashigi gathered with the other Marine troops in preparation for the execution. It only became stronger as the scheduled time came closer and she listened to the Fleet Admiral's speech about Portagas D. Ace's true heritage. She ignored it as the fighting started and continued. It wasn't until the end, when the exhaustion of the day hit her, when her sense of Justice was shaken, and when the smell of burning flesh finally penetrated her consciousness, that she threw up.
The smell haunted her the entire time they stayed at Marineford. Even a week after the battle, when everyone around her no longer smelled it, it followed Tashigi. That, combined with fatigue and her normal clumsiness, led her to have more accidents than normal. After the third fall of the day, she let some of the men convince her to see one of the headquarters' doctors. They poked and prodded and didn't give any advice more concrete than to get more rest. When Smoker came to announce that they were leaving for A5 the next day, Tashigi could have kissed him. If her weren't her CO. And sort of like family. So she wouldn't really have kissed him but she was grateful nonetheless.
"Oi, Tashigi! Get in here!"
Lieutenant Tashigi followed her commanding officer's voice into his office where he, novelly, sat behind his new desk. As she came in he tossed her an opened envelope.
"The results of your medical exam back at Headquarters caught up to you,'" said Smoker as Tashigi pulled out a few papers.
"Results? I thought they were just patching me up after the battle," she responded as she unfolded the papers. Her brow furrowed and she felt unsettled.
"Apparently they did some blood tests since you were getting sick all the time."
Tashigi breathed in deeply and, as she skimmed the words on the paper, all she could focus on was the lack of smoke in the air. The scent of burning tobacco, which had been ever-present since her first posting was gone. Even more unsettled, she stopped breathing as she scanned the words, "…blood tested positive for hCG. Recommend light duty for the duration of pregnancy."
The world started to go black and, from a distance, she heard her CO yell, "Don't go fainting on me now!" A billow of smoke caught her and eased her into a chair. Tashigi sat for a few moments, trying to return her breathing to normal and bring the world back in to focus. When she had collected herself, she looked up to find Smoker looking at her.
"So you weren't trying to hide this from me."
"No sir. But it, ah, makes sense with the symptoms I've been experiencing." She thought back to the fatigue, nausea, and other symptoms that she had been attributing to recent stress. Her mind started swimming until it was pulled back by a question she didn't know she had been dreading.
She felt the bile rising and put her head in her hands as she flashed back to the drunken haze and heat and muscles and hands that were the only possible cause for the current situation. She didn't realize how long she was silent until she heard Smoker's rare completely serious tone.
"Lieutenant, how long?"
The only possible time recently was that once. She let out a breath, looked up at his face, and responded, "Since Water 7, sir." She watched as comprehension dawned across his face.
"Well damn. I was hoping it wasn't that."
A pause in speaking thickened the air between them.
"You going to keep the kid then?"
That was a very good question and she was very happy that she was already sitting down. But, it was one that took her less than a second to answer. She nodded her head firmly. Back in Water 7, she had made the decision to spend the night and this was a consequence that she was willing to accept.
Smoker chewed thoughtfully on his cigars for a moment before speaking again.
"I looked up the regs on pregnant Marines… it says you can leave honorably if you want. You gonna stay or go?"
This answer came as quickly as the one before it.
"I'll be staying, sir."
"Good. You have some service restrictions while you're pregnant." He proffered the open book to her. "Follow them to the T."
Tashigi nodded and took the regulation manual for further study. They were silent for a few moments more. Tashigi could feel the weight of her CO's stare. She wanted to speak and reassert to both of them that she was still the same officer that she had been this morning but her words seemed to have fled her.
Smoker broke the heavy silence by leaning forward and speaking to her in a voice so low that she barely heard it.
"There's been no word on that crew since they went up against that Shichibukai six weeks ago. Just the captain and he's gone to ground after his crazy stunt. Official word from the World Government is that they are dead… but we know how reliable their official word is."
Tashigi looked him in the eye and responded with an equally low voice, "We will still be looking for them."
Smoker nodded. "Yeah. We will."
Tashigi took that as a queue that she was dismissed and had begun to rise when Smoker raised a hand to stop her. She paused and looked at him questioningly.
"One last thing. I've been thinking about this all morning and the most important thing is that you don't let on anything that can track this kid to the father. The way they were going on at Marineford about executing a kid because of who the father is… that isn't Justice."
Tashigi nodded and pondered that for a moment when another thought occurred to her. It caused her to screw up her face like she had smelled something bad. "Unless I come out and name a father, half the people are going to assume it's yours."
Smoker's face mirrored hers and showed that he had not considered that. He gestured in the air as if brushing away the thought. "Whatever. That doesn't matter. It's better than the alternative. Just be careful."
Tashigi nodded, rose, and walked out the door. Oh, how she hoped this baby did not have green hair.
Author's Note: Regarding the timeline, for the purpose of this story, Tashigi was in Water 7 on official errands until the early morning of the day of the first attempt on Iceburg's life and left before the news got out. The previous night was Luffy and Usopp's fight. The aftermath made certain Strawhat pirates have a great desire to go out and get really, really drunk.
The week number has to do with how far along in pregnancy Tashigi is. Funny fact: Because of how they calculate the due date, most women are considered 2 weeks along when they actually get pregnant.
Thank you so much to gure for beta reading this! You helped so much!