With a grin that stretched miles wide, Law continued fondling Kidd's hair while he tried to keep his red car on the road.
"You're distracting the driver who is currently making his way through dense traffic riddled with pedestrians while listening to a meowing orchestra."
"I'm barely doing anything!" Law protested. The meowing in the backseat became louder as the cats heard the agitation in his voice. "If I was between your legs doing naughty things as we drove along, then you could make that statement. So, therefore, we can afford a little fun playing with that bush that's been growing out of your forehead."
"Your reasoning sucks." Kidd's frown deepened as he pondered Law's words. "Do you really think it's a bush?"
"Rest assured that it's a sexy bush. One that I enjoy digging my fingers into when you go down on me."
"The cats probably didn't want to hear that." Kidd blushed with such intensity that his face rivalled the stop sign he pulled up to. "Where the hell is it again? It was dark the last time…"
"See Heart Avenue? It's at the end of the street. By the way, I've been circling estates in the local newspaper. I've got about five we could potentially look into."
Eustass snorted loudly. "Estates? I think you meant to say shitty apartments. That is what we're going to be moving into someday soon, isn't it? The money I have stockpiled will only stretch so far."
"Hey, our first place together might end up being a real hole in the wall, but at least I'm optimistic about it," Law retorted. He turned around, taking in the cat carrier strapped to the backseat with a multitude of seatbelts. The meowing intensified as he made little cooing noises.
"God, those fluffs are noisy. Quit encouraging them."
"Aw, Mr. Eustass, don't be so harsh. The kids just want to know when we're going to get there."
"Cats and cars don't mix. And use those weird noises you're making to tell them to quiet down."
"Someone's grumpy this morning. And I have a feeling that maybe it's not so much grumpy as it is raw nerves. What's a matter, Kiddo?"
Kidd was silent for a few minutes, focussed on his driving. After all that had happened, he wanted to get to his destination in one piece. At the same time, however, he was dreading their inevitable arrival. And Trafalgar knew it.
"I'm just a little nervous. What if she doesn't like me and kicks me out? Then how am I supposed to see you? Sneak in somehow?"
Law barked out a laugh. "Well, she doesn't really enjoy my presence for starters, and frankly she'd sooner stick you in the stomach with the family heirloom than kick you out of the house." He reached over and grasped Kidd's shoulder firmly, giving him a squeeze that was meant to reassure. The tense muscle barely yielded under his palm. "Besides, I think she'll like you. After all, you can cook."
"That's about my only redeeming quality."
"You give surprisingly skilled blowjobs and–"
"Unfortunately that is not applicable to the situation at hand." Kidd braked hard as Law rushed to point out his house lest they pass it, and Kidd pulled into the empty driveway. Looking up at the dilapidated two-story home, Kidd shivered slightly. The last and only time he'd been to Law's home he thought he was going to lose him.
Before he could become swamped in those painful memories, he turned to the boy halfway out of the car and pulled him back inside. Law turned his face up, surprised by Kidd's sudden aggression, and was smothered by a kiss. Wet and warm, Kidd reassured himself that Law was still here with him, and that he wasn't dreaming a fantasy that would be taken away from him upon awakening.
Law snickered as he pulled back, Kidd's lips trailing down his jaw to suck on his neck, right next to where he'd previously left a bite mark from their romp that morning. "What's gotten into you today, Mr. Eustass?"
Law laughed at such a snappy reply, one that was doubtlessly true. Still, he felt like Kidd was staling for time. "Come on, we have to go inside sometime. Bepo's sitting on the stairs looking at you as if he's not sure whether to wag his tail or rip your balls off."
"Gee, that's incentive to get out of the car."
Regardless, Kidd made it out with minimal coaxing, and Law reassured Bepo that Kidd hadn't been trying to bite into his neck to hurt him. They stood on the doorstep while Bepo went to peer through the window into the backseat of the car, enticed there by the noises the cats were making.
Law entered first and pushed the tip of a very sharp instrument away from his chest, simultaneously hauling Kidd inside the house with a tug of his wrist. Kidd caught sight of the grim sword and the surly woman who held it and wrapped an arm around Law's waist, instantly feeling the need to assert his position. He would not cower behind Law, rather he would move up beside him as an equal.
Law's thin grandmother scrutinized him. Kidd felt like he was melting under her harsh, one thousand watt glare. Finally, she decided to speak, raspy voice abusing tender ears.
"Bepo says you make a mean plate of bacon."
"Is that so?" asked Kidd, cautious not to screw up this strange introduction.
The old woman scrunched up her wrinkly face. "You still have to prove yourself. Don't forget that."
And so, the woman gave Kidd one final, knowing stare, and waddled away, using the nodaichi as a walking stick. Kidd was convinced their meeting wasn't over, but Law assured him that his grandmother wasn't much for social gatherings, no matter how small.
They retrieved the cats from the car and set them loose on the house. Their little noses twitched as they took in the smells and their eyes widened to saucer proportions. When Bepo came through the doggy flap on the door to examine the fluffballs up close, he tried to emphasize his dominance over them. But Uno was not having that, with a swipe at the Samoyed's nose. Dos wanted to be friends, grabbing onto the side of Bepo's head with her claws and trying to lick the inside of his ear, and Tres simply didn't care, sauntering off into the depths of the house, ignoring everyone.
When Law was sure Bepo wasn't going to get mauled too badly, he dragged Kidd up to his bedroom. Inside the floor was unusually clean and on the bed was a fresh set of sheets. Sitting on his reading chair, neatly folded, was the quilt that he'd tried to save Ace's life with, washed of his blood but not the bad memories. The window, too, was a sorry sight. It was boarded up with a few pieces of plywood.
Kidd liked the space. He didn't know why, precisely, but he figured it had something to do with Law's unique scent overpowering his senses.
Kidd soon found himself belly up on the bed, with Law straddling him. He had a quirky gleam in his eyes, and Kidd knew it would be a matter of time before he was stark naked. He hoped the door had a lock.
Much to his surprise, sex wasn't immediately on Law's mind. "Still want to go to the party tonight?"
"I'd like to stay here and cuddle with you, but I have a feeling you want to go. And since I'm such a great guy and all, I figured I'd drive you there and come inside for a drink."
"Aww, aren't you just the sweetest?" Law leaned down, pretending to place a kiss on Kidd's nose only to flick it instead. Slightly irked, Kidd flipped them over so he was on top, and frowned. Then he saw the giddy excitement in Law's dark eyes. The bastard always liked being on the bottom of things.
So, sex was on Law's mind after all.
Marco figured that the second time Thatch fell off the stage was probably when the party should go back to the Moby Dick Orphanage, so he helped the band pack up and everyone piled into cars. Ace went with him, of course.
It had been three weeks since Ace had been discharged from the hospital, and for those three weeks Marco had been keeping an eye on him. They still didn't display any public affection, as Ace had a few months of school left and they really didn't want any more trouble to spring up, but once they arrived at the Moby Dick amongst their friends they eventually got a bit closer than what could be deemed acceptable. Especially at the insistence of Izou, who made it known he wasn't a fan of Marco's increased attempt at modesty.
"Aw, come on Marco, the poor boy must be utterly distraught that you haven't even given him a peck on the cheek all night!"
Marco snickered; Izou had no idea what had happened in the car when they went from the Whitebeard Pirates gig to the orphanage building. And he wasn't inclined to tell him. He knew better than to divulge his and Ace's little adventures to inebriated people with big mouths.
Izou reached into his pocket and produced a yellow object. Holding it out to Marco, he asked, "Do you know what this is, Marco?"
Marco stared while Ace burst into laughter. "It's a lemon, Izou," he said, stating the obvious.
"And what does this mean to you?"
"You're going to make another bad fruit joke concerning my hair?" Marco guessed hesitantly. Ace laughed harder, burying his face into Marco's neck as he fought to gain control of himself lest his chest start to hurt.
Izou shook his head sadly and ran off, probably to further harass the redheaded boy that Ace's best friend Law had brought along. Marco had warned both Kidd and Law when they showed up at the gig that things would probably get a bit weird for them, but Law seemed eager enough to view the spectacles that would ensue that his boyfriend would just have to suffer.
And so, that was how a middle-aged man in a kimono had hit on Eustass Kidd. It had become the joke of the night, especially when Jozu had to drag Izou off of the poor boy, who had become quite frightened. As a result, he had given Izou a bloodied nose. That had not deterred him in the slightest.
"Hey, Marco, Ace, have you seen my boyfriend? I think he's gone into hiding," Law said as he took a seat at the huge table a majority of the partygoers were sitting around. Some played poker, some just drank and laughed at Thatch and Izou.
"Nope," Ace said, nuzzling into Marco's chest. He was currently seated in the man's lap, sipping at some punch Marco was convinced Thatch had spiked. Ace was getting more and more daring as the night wore on. His hands in particular were roaming.
"Have you checked upstairs? There are a bunch of empty bedrooms. Haruta, Curiel, and Kingdew got the few orphans we have staying here still out for the night by taking them to a movie. Brave souls, those guys," Marco said, thinking back to the sight that met him upon their arrival at the Moby Dick – screaming children piling into a multitude of vans. It made him glad he's never chosen to teach elementary school.
All Law heard was: "Empty bedrooms?" His smirk quirked suggestively, prompting Marco to narrow his eyes and Ace to start laughing uncontrollably.
"Don't get any ideas!"
Law grinned. Never before had he seen someone with authority get so worked up. It was highly amusing. Perhaps Ace would have fun in his relationship…he would have to keep tabs on the two.
"As if Ace hasn't been trying to get you upstairs yet."
Ace laughed harder until he started coughing lightly, and two sets of concerned eyes with matching frowns were instantly upon him.
"Are you alright?" asked Marco and Law in unison.
"I'm fine! Ugh, I was fine three weeks ago!"
Both gave him hard looks of disbelief. But Ace had recovered from his coughing spell and his eyes sparkled. Still, neither man was dropping it and Law kept glancing at Ace's chest, at the place that had caused them all so much grief.
"Ace, I've known you for a long time now and you can't fool me," Law stated bluntly.
Ace quirked an eyebrow and he stuck his tongue out the corner of his mouth, faking a pose of deep thought. "Oh, yeah? Well, in that case, remember the day we met?"
Law rolled his eyes. He decided to find Kidd before Ace got all sentimental on him, and darted off into the throng of people – the motley collection of Marco's brothers and sisters who were dancing along with Thatch. The man had gotten his guitar and amp out for the second time that night and was rocking his 'do for all to see. Half blindfolded by his necktie.
"He's hilarious," Ace said, watching Thatch leap off a sofa. The guitar lead pulled taunt and tripped someone as Thatch went flying again to emphasize a certain chord, but Ace didn't know who that person was. Marco had tried introducing him to some of his family members, but only a few names had stuck.
"He's drunk," Marco replied with a snicker. "They all kind of are. Well, expect Pops, but he never really gets drunk, just a bit forgetful, so…"
Speaking of Whitebeard, the hulk of a man picked up and set down a few bodies to pick his way through the crowd, eventually stopping in front of Marco and Ace.
"Enjoying your little banquet, brat?"
Marco frowned. "Don't call me that when I'm as old as–"
"I was talking to my other brat! Ace, you havin' fun, or do I need to give you the rest of this bottle?" He held up a half empty bottle of sake, moustache twitching as he contemplated handing it over. "I guess I could, since it's your induction-into-the-family-party and all."
"I thought we were celebrating me getting out of jail?"
Whitebeard gave him a distant look. "We were? Really? Huh. Well, I guess we can have another party later. Gives me reason to go out and buy more drinks…"
"Your liver is going to fail with all this abuse you're subjecting it to!" Marco shouted, trying to reach around Ace to snatch the bottle of sake away from his Pops. It was just out of his reach.
Meanwhile, Ace was blushing, and Marco felt how he squirmed slightly in his lap. "My…induction party? To the family?"
"Well, I know you're already a part of the family, but Thatch insisted we make it official with a little banquet thing so I–"
"Wait, I'm already a part of the family?" asked Ace with wide eyes, interrupting Whitebeard. "When did this happen?"
The big man laughed, and Ace heard Stefan bark in response. It sounded like it came from the other side of the room where the food table was situated. He had no doubt Spade – whom Whitebeard had enlisted to keep some of the orphans amused earlier in the day while they set up for the party – was hanging out near the food and mooching off of people. He hoped Stefan would take care of his Saint Bernard.
"Of course you're part of the family, brat! What, did you think you could escape us? No, Marco comes with excessive baggage," Mr. Newgate said, downing the remainder of his drink. He slammed the bottle on the table behind them, and Ace was sure he heard the wood crack. "Now that we've got that settled, I think it's time we got out the old photo album…"
This time, Ace felt Marco stiffen and the arms that encircled his waist began to twitch.
"…I think you should see some old pictures of Marco in drag. With his blue mohawk."
But it was too late; someone had thrown Whitebeard the ginormous photo album in the shape of a smiling white whale. While someone held Marco down, Ace made sure to sear every photograph Whitebeard showed him into his mind, because he doubted he'd ever see his teacher dressed quite like that again.
"Oh, so this is where you were hiding?"
Eustass frowned. "I wasn't hiding. I was just taking a break from the party. Getting some fresh air."
"…In someone's closet?
"You'd be too if an old guy in a kimono hit on you," Kidd grumbled. "Besides, it's quiet here. I don't know how much more of that guy's awful singing I can take." Law laughed and pulled the door of the walk-in closet closed. Then he sank down the wall next to Kidd and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek.
"Yeah, Thatch is a bit much, isn't he? But the guy who hit on you, Izou, has good taste in my books." He grinned and fondled a stray lock of Kidd's hair that wouldn't be held back by his black headband.
"…Do I really look gay?" muttered Kidd, feeling a bit self-conscious.
Law raised his eyebrows. "I don't know. Why? Don't like it when other guys hit on you?"
Kidd shook his head. "You're the only one I want hitting on me." With a smirk he snuck a hand behind Law's head, bringing him in for a hungry kiss. Ever since that delirious Izou had leapt at him he'd wanted to forget the incident by making some more pleasing memories. Just a few kisses would do it for him.
Law had made other plans. He broke for air and asked, "Want to have sex in here before we leave?"
Kidd stared at him incredulously. "First we do it with your grandmother in the next room over and now you want to do it with an entire party downstairs?"
"What can I say, I like to live on the edge. Besides, my grandmother's going to be up late tonight, I can feel it in my bones. And I have a feeling tonight could be the night she might burst in on us. To scare you."
That convinced Kidd. He snickered a little and said, "Well, in that case, we'd better get fucking busy."
"Busy fucking," Law corrected as he pounced on top of Kidd, fingers already undoing his belt. If this closet had eyes, oh the things it would have seen.
Marco had retreated to the front steps of the orphanage, where the night air cleared his mind and forced some calm into his body. It became a rowdier party the moment the photographs had begun circulating the room.
Then Thatch had made matters worse. The man had somehow found the skimpy baby blue dress he'd once worn on a whim in a box somewhere in the basement, and they'd all tried to get him into it. Even Ace.
Thinking of Ace brought an irrepressible smile to his face. As soon as everyone had started crowding around Whitebeard and Ace, trying to look at the photo album that Marco had long since hidden in the attic, Ace had practically started glowing. Marco guessed he had never been to a huge family get together before, and surprisingly he flourished once Pops had announced how he'd taken Ace under his wing to the growing crowd.
It was downright adorable, Marco thought.
He felt strong arms wrap themselves around his shoulders from behind and panicked a little, thinking it was Thatch that had snuck up on him. The reappearance of the blue dress was haunting him. If he had known of its existence within the orphanage he would have set out to burn it. Along with that goddamn photo album.
He struggled to stand up against his assailant, but he ceased fighting when he felt lips on his neck and a rolling laugh in his ear. "You scared me, Ace."
"Sorry, couldn't help myself. You were just sitting here on the steps, all alone, lookin' mighty kissable."
"You're not drunk, are you?"
He could practically hear the toothy grin on Ace's face as he said, "Pops gave me some of his sake, but I'm no lightweight. Apparently you're not either. They showed me that picture of you standing behind a pyramid made out of beer bottles you drank all in one sitting."
Marco groaned. He could only imagine the vast amount of respect he probably lost in Ace's eyes over the course of the night. "What else have they told you about me?"
"They told me all about your time in high school. About that time you pushed Thatch off the roof. And that time Izou dared you to moon an assembly but you wouldn't do it so you had to eat these nasty chocolates wrapped in foil that looked like money that Thatch had in his backpack for over a year, but one of the chocolates ended up being a real quarter and you choked and they took you to the hospital to get it surgically removed. And how you tried to cover that scar with your tattoo, but the tattoo wasn't quite large enough anyway. And that time you crashed Pops' car into a pole and ruined the front end, got it fixed before he knew what you'd done, and then accidentally backed it up into somebody's garage the very next day and smashed the back end, too. And that time–"
"They told you everything, didn't they?" Marco interrupted, red in the face as he recalled those events in vivid detail. He still had that small incision mark on his chest and Whitebeard never let him drive his vehicles again, even though he'd improved his driving immensely after that incident.
"They told me some good stories about you too, don't worry."
Marco regained some hope. Just a little. "Oh, yeah, like what?"
Ace paused and came to sit beside Marco on the step. "…Well, I can't remember. Those didn't stand out as much as the others. And Thatch told me about the time he dumped a carton of honey on you when you were asleep and then emptied a few pillows filled with feathers on you. Apparently some of them didn't come off for a week. Is that true?"
"Must I tell you?"
Ace nuzzled against him, hoping to win him over. "You must! It'll kill me not to know."
"Okay, fine. I had feathers stuck to my chest and my ass for a week. And they all called me Chickenbutt. It was mortifying, but I think by that point in my life I really didn't care. Happy, Ace?"
"Immensely." He began to play with Marco's hair, brushing his hands over the short, prickly strands on the sides and back of his head and then combing through the longer locks. The action seemed to soothe Marco, so Ace decided now would be the best time to broach a subject he thought Marco might have slight qualms about.
"You know, I've been thinking about getting a tattoo on my back."
"What? Why? You'll be stuck with it for the rest of your life…and your back is so beautiful already, why would you want to wreck it?"
"You've got one on your chest," Ace argued. "And it's fucking huge."
"…Point taken. But what would you possibly want as a tattoo on your back? Not flames, I hope?"
Ace frowned and punched Marco playfully in the shoulder. "No. I want that." He pointed over Marco's shoulder.
Marco turned back at the Moby Dick Orphanage and traced the direction of his finger until his eyes landed on the only thing of graphical value in sight. "You…want the emblem of the Moby Dick? On your back?"
Ace laughed loudly, then settled down as Marco continued staring at him with disbelief. "Oh come on, don't think I haven't noticed how all of your brothers and sisters have that mark somewhere on their body. It binds them as a family, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, but…Ace, they all chose to get that mark. It's not a requirement to join Whitebeard's family or anything."
Ace's smile held. "And I'm going to get it because I want it, not because everyone else has it."
Marco finally smiled and relented. Besides, fighting Ace was like fighting a raging wildfire hell bent on consuming everything in sight. He didn't want to make him annoyed by throwing a few buckets of cold water on his head. At any rate, he was just glad Ace wasn't getting flames tattooed on his back.
As Ace cuddled up to him again and they listened to the sounds of the party echoing through the house behind them, Marco couldn't help but feel a bit too privileged. He hugged Ace closer to him, wrapping an arm around his broad shoulders. The heat from Ace's body warded off any and all of Marco's chills.
"I love you," Ace said suddenly. It was just what Marco needed to hear.
"I love you, too, Ace. So much." Marco couldn't help himself then; he turned Ace's face up and kissed him. Ace's arms slinked around his neck and his own around Ace's waist, holding him there with him. When they broke, panting slightly and aware of the cheers from some casual observers on the other side of one of Moby Dick's windows, Marco couldn't help but joke, "And I'll always love you, even if you do get flames tattooed on your back."
Ace gave him a light head-butt, but he snickered. "Just as I still love you despite your fancy for cross-dressing."
"Hey, that was a one time thing."
"What about the pink dress?"
"A two time thing," Marco admitted begrudgingly. "I was not thinking clearly at the time." Ace continued to laugh, and Marco knew he was probably cycling through the mental pictures he took of the contents of that accursed photo album.
A sudden thought overtook him and he found himself pondering whether or not he should tell Ace how he'd done on his math exam. He'd marked them a while back, after he'd settled back into his routine outside of jail, and he thought he could tease Ace with the information. If anything, he hoped it would get Ace's mind off of him in frilly dresses.
"So, how do you think you did on the exam?"
A cheeky grin split his lover's face once more.
"I Aced it, of course."
A.N.: THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO REVIEWED AT ANY POINT DURING THIS LONG JOURNEY. I LOVE YOU ALL.
Glad I got that off my chest.
Now that we've gotten to the cheesy end of this story (and I've left a lot up to the imagination of you guys, my lovely readers), I've decided I'd include a little writer's trivia, since this took me forever to write and I'm a maniac. (Wait, that's not a good reason…) It's not required reading, but I'd figured one of you out there might be mildly interested. Hahaha~
Stuff that got cut from the story:
-Originally, Law's grandmother was going to die, and Law was to be evicted from his house. And of course Kidd would've stepped in and either forced Law to live with him, or paid the mortgage on Law's house and indebted Law to him. Either way, I figured that if I did that in addition to the Killer Incident (which was planned from the very beginning) it would be drama overkill.
-Bonney was never supposed to say anything in the story, but after popular demand and careful reasoning by you guys, I decided to try to incorporate her, and it worked better than I thought it might.
-Law was also supposed to film Marco and Ace when they reunited at the jail, and take that 'counter-video' to present his own carefully constructed case. Then I realized that idea was doomed to fail. Miserably.
-And would you believe that in my notes from way back when Kidd was supposed to get hit by a bus… and be critically injured? (Law would have totally saved his life, though.) And that was before I learned he lost a limb and got utterly mauled in the two-year timeskip Oda orchestrated. Kind of glad I scrapped that idea early on though. I have no idea how far a body might fly upon being hit by a bus.
-The animals in this story were all inspired by something. The three cats are caricatures of my own cats (one that wakes me up at 2AM almost every single night because she's lonely [Dos], a break-out artist who strives to make everyone worry about him [Uno], and a lazy bum [Tres]). A 'Bepo Samoyed' lives down the road from me, vigilantly guarding a two-story house I pass every morning. I actually was walking around in an antique shop on a trip when I noticed this beautiful blue/yellow statue of a parrot, and bought it. Thus it became known as Marco's parrot and has been glaring at me on my desk ever since. The giant schnauzer is my friend's dog, and it has pretty legendary whiskers like how I'd imagine Stefan to look. I realize Oda has drawn him differently…but Oda's drawing certainly doesn't look like any breed I've ever seen!
So there you have it. That's just some of the ridiculous backstory that this thing has. Personally, I think it turned out alright, and I'm glad nobody died, including the old hag. Who, for the record, is based off of my crazy grandfather, who believes spirits have been communicating through him for the past twenty years.
…Yeah, I never know what to say to the guy.
Anyways, I WILL be writing more of these pairings, but I'll likely post an Ace-centric fic that works around the canon and is vastly different from what I usually write first, but I WILL be back with these loveable men some day soon.