Finally, it feels like forever since I've had inspiration to continue with my One Piece stories but now that I have found it again you guys can look forward to their updates again. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me even in my stillness period, I really appreciate that. Once again please enjoy my stories as they come.
The new chapter is out and I hope it's more than enough for your enjoyment; I certainly love this pairing and this story.
~And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted - nevermore! ~ Edgar Allen Poe (Ending Line for The Raven)
Luffy tugged nervously at his green obi, the sudden heaviness of the atmosphere had him biting his lip and from behind his lashes he observed the large man seated across from him. Elegant, pulled together and from a completely different world. It was always like this - the gatherings with Uncle Newgate. Tense, knowing to expect the unexpected and filled with trepidation for what it could bring what a simple word from his could cause...
Perhaps it was not the best way to start the evening Luffy decided. Yet it certainly was not the worst way either. With a sigh the youth poured the tea into the cups and pushed one towards the large man. Spread across the table was snacks and sweets to choose from and yet the silence remained oppressive and unmoving. It was slowly but surely beginning to eat away at Luffy's patience. Despite it being more than fifteen minutes of it the large and powerful man seemed to have something on his mind, something that was profound and keeping his attention turned elsewhere. Distracting him from Luffy's presence and completely blocking out the reality that he was not alone.
Luffy shuffled to the other side of the table, his emerald green susohiki dragging behind him as he seated himself as elegantly as possible. The kanzashi ringing out a sorrowful song at his unsure movements, hyper aware that his uncle wasn't paying him any attention at all. He folded his hands inside his sleeves, observing Edward Newgate closely, noting his absent gaze and dare he say eyes that were filled with an unspoken fear. Luffy had noticed the stains of blood on the green kimono not long ago and wondered why it was that his uncle had come here when he was in such a state.
He had been more than six hours late in arriving at his usual appointment time and was as he was now, Luffy was slightly afraid. He had never seen his uncle like this, never seen him display such blatant emotion in his eyes nor look so lost and troubles. Neither was the anger. It was frightening to see those powerful hands balled into fists like that, fists that could easily shatter the table that sat between them without a second thought. He couldn't help but wonder just what had caused this.
"I'm glad you are fine little Luffy. I do not know what I would do if you were in trouble too." The words that were so suddenly spoken startled the youngest of the Monkey family, it had him Luffy frowning in confusion. His chopsticks paused halfway to his lips as he pouted, recognizing the gravity that those words carried very easily. The piece of sushi hung midair for a moment, awaiting its chance to be eaten but Luffy quietly put it down in favour of putting his full attention on his uncle. His frown dipped deeper as the words rushed through his mind. Just what was Uncle Newgate attempting to say?
"Mah Newgate-Ojiisan(1*)? What are talking about?" Luffy eventually dismissed the words and went to pick up another piece of sushi but was stopped when a larger hand clamped over his, halting his movements and making Luffy jump at the unexpected touch. His kanzashi clinked with the movements as he turned his head to better observe his uncle.
"Hold on a moment Luffy, allow me to talk first." Obeying the request Luffy nodded, his emerald and diamond encrusted kanzashi clinking with the nod of his head and the movement of his hands placing his chopsticks down and folding his hands once again inside his sleeves. The lone curl of hair tickling the skin of his forehead just as deep black eyes made contact with a steady brown. There was something in those eyes that made Luffy pause. It was something he didn't like at all. It was filled with sympathy and pity, the intense gaze chilled the air and caused a shiver of fear to travel up his spine and settle at the base of his neck.
The words that were spoken within the rumble of thunder had Luffy pulling back as if slapped, pain searing through his chest and attacking his soul deeply.
At first he merely sat there stunned. Blinking in confusion when another thunder clap resounded through the night air and shattered the immense silence that had settled over them. Luffy cringed, suddenly aware of the tension in room. Desperately afraid of what he had just heard, wishing it was just a mistake or some form of a sick joke. He shook his head to clear the fog that had settled over it, praying that he had not heard the words that were just spoken so brokenly. Praying desperately that it was just his mind playing tricks on him over and over again...
"Uso(2*). It can't be Newgate-Ojiisan!" Luffy yelled suddenly. The heavy rain pattering on the roof and beating against the screen doors a reflection of his turmoiled emotions. His hands abruptly slammed down on the table. The dishes rattling, tea spilling as desperate despair erupted through his heart. He shakily pushed himself to his feet. He didn't want to believe the ringing in his ears.
It just couldn't be, not now - not ever - not before him! And yet, why would Uncle Newgate lie to him when he never had before?
Black eyes once again snapped to his uncle. Taking note once again of the wet clothes, his uncle's sorrowful averted gaze and the darkened stain on his dark green kimono that couldn't be anything but blood. Luffy remembered his first reaction to it, thinking it was uncles but now he knew that wasn't the case...
Luffy turned his back on his uncle suddenly, his nails digging into the palms of his hands until he felt wet blood. In the dim candlelit room there was the flickering of the oil lamps as if they too were threatened to be extinguished by the all encompassing despair. His shoulders were trembling, head bowed in sudden anger as he tried to process what it was exactly that his uncle had meant with those horrid words. And more importantly could he even believe them?
"Newgate-Ojiisan? Have you informed Otou-sama?(3*)" At the quiet affirmative nod Luffy swiped his hand across the table.
"You're lying right?! There's no way he could..." Luffy trailed off. The shattering of glass plates and clay cups deafeningly loud. A broken sob lodged itself in Luffy's throat, his body shaking violently now. Desperation colouring his features as tears stained his cheeks. He turned around in his ultimate shame to face his uncle and family friend. Those eyes were not lying and Luffy's entire world shattered around his ears.
"Excuse me." He said softly, his abused lip drawing blood. The coppery scent was already heavy in the air, not just his blood but the blood of ...
Luffy cried out, the stain of sorrow the ultimate form of his inner turmoil. At the strike of a deafening boom outside Luffy stormed out of the room. His feet not stopping, completely carrying him away without an umbrella or shoes. He did not care for the storm, the hem of his kimono in his hands as he rushed forward. Trying to protect it against the mud and rain and yet he also did not care for the dangers of taking on the streets without a weapon on such a dangerous night.
"ACE!" His voice resounded through early morning air. The rays of the early morning air had barely cleared the horizon. The light a gloomy grey, muffled by clouds of sorrow. Luffy still pressed forward with only one goal in mind. The world around him may have come to a stop entirely but Luffy refused to give up. He would reach his brother before the inevitable would happen. He had to see his most beloved Aniki even if it meant he had to die too...
'I'm sorry Luffy to have to be the one to tell you this. But Ace is dying of his wounds inflicted by his fight with Teach.' Those earth shattering words ringing hollowly in his ears had Luffy stumbling. Blood covering his feet as he stumbled across a sharp stone. His breath was coming in short sharp burst of pure panic. He never looked back to see half of the Ao Azami house standing in the wake of his trail, yelling for him to return and rushing after him when there was no response.
Trafalgar Law frowned, his blood stained hands shimmering in the brightly lit room. His teal eyes taking in the peaceful expression on his patient's features. Such a farce for one who was obviously in so much desperate pain from his wounds. He sighed tiredly and wiped his brow with the back of his hand, gathering the droplets of sweat that were like shimmering pearls in the light. His lips pursed together in mighty concentration, his mind running through all the medical information he had gathered over his years of experience.
Such extensive injuries, he noted quietly to himself. Some surgeons would have given up on such a patient a long time ago yet it was something else that drove Law forward this time into not giving up like those cowards. Yes, cowards as they were afraid to explore uncharted territories of playing with a person's life force. How many hours he had spent mending what was broken and halting bleeding as best he could? He could not name the hour but when the final stitch fell in place he turned his attention towards the quietly breathing form. Exhaustion of the many hour long surgery tugging at his mind harshly.
So much blood had been lost, too much that he wasn't so sure his patient would ever wake up from this again. In a brief show of the weakness he felt, wiped his blood stained hands on a towel and rested a clean hand on the young man's forehead. He couldn't have been more than twenty, less than a year his junior with hair as unruly as Luffy's own. He smiled softly, freckles that stood out starkly against pale skin that gave him a much more youthful and playful appearance that he probably was.
He could somehow however not shake the feeling that he was supposed to know or recognize this man somehow, something in his intricate aura called out to him like it never did before. Yes, he should definitely be able to recognize this man and yet his mind remained a blank.
The man that even now still clung to the last thread of life Law had offered him. An admirable feat for even today's most disciplined and strongest men, something inhuman was at work here, helping this man to fight against fate and defy the laws of reality. Perhaps it was luck, perhaps it was divine intervention but still Law could not shake the feeling that he was witnessing a miracle of some sort.
"What will power you must possess." He noted before he hung his head in his hands. The surgeon had done all he could. The rest was now up to the patient and his ability and will to live. With a deep breath he snapped his orders to some of the nurses and other doctors lingering around after the surgery. Their incessant questions ringing in his ears that Law had absolutely no intention of answering.
His footsteps were light and steady as he excited the bright room, his doctor's coat stained in the last remnants of blood from the surgery but his hands were clean this time. He could not help but think that the man who's life he had just barely saved and was still hanging in the balance had reminded him so much of Luffy that he had met a few days ago that it had almost been too painful to work to his full potential as a doctor. Luffy that had made such an impact on his life.
"Trafalgar-sensei! Someone is waiting for news on the young man that came in early this morning." A frown tugged at his lips. It was rare that family members would return here and await the final report of someone so seriously wounded. His feet silently carrying him into the back garden of the large traditional building he worked at. The first thing he became aware of was the small form sitting by the pond. An astoundingly beautiful susohiki kimono of emerald green and black cherry blossoms spread on the ground around the figure hidden in the shadow of the afternoon rain clouds. Black hair that tickled the figure's face and cheeks shimmering wet and clinging to a delicately slender neck and flushed cheeks. A head resting precariously on pulled up knees with eyes that were glazed with a far away gaze, thoughts that were filled with concern and fear.
When their eyes lock, Teal clashing with deep black Law immediately recognized them. They were eyes that Law knew well, eyes that could never hide anything from the world. Eyes that he had come to love over the short time he had first come across them...
"Luffy-ya?" Law asked softly when his footsteps stopped next to Luffy's smaller frame. A deep frown tugging in his lips when Luffy turned towards him for the first time. He saw the silent tears and trembling shoulders, pain and sorrow swirling in those endless depths of black. On pure whim he knelt on the ground, flinching at the cold sensation of wet grass soaking their water into his trousers. It made him wonder how long Luffy had stayed out in the cold. As he touched a trembling shoulder he felt the material soaked through with rain completely. His brow furrowed in concern as he bit his bottom lip.
"What happened?" He asked softly, careful to keep his voice level and controlled. He did not move but to pull the trembling form closer to him, his arms winding around trembling shoulders as he offered a silent comfort and support. Delighted when Luffy leaned into him more, fingers tugged at his coat to lay flushed features against his chest in search of comfort. He offered as much as he could without breaking the precarious balance of emotions that surrounded them wholly.
"Ace-niichan? Is he, is h-he a-alive?" Luffy asked brokenly and Law rested his hand in damp black hair, carding through the wet strands to distract the both of them from the heaviness the question was laden in. He reflected upon the name he had just been asked and started in realization. It was no wonder that the young man he had just finished operating on had looked so familiar to Luffy. The young man on his operating table earlier that day had been Luffy's older brother? He could see the striking resemblance now, understood why he was reminded of Luffy when he had looked upon his peaceful features...
"I've done all I could Luffy-ya. He survived the operation but surviving it is up to him and his will to live on."
"So he's alive?" Luffy asked hopefully. Law sighed and rested his chin on damp black hair. He gave a nod in affirmative.
"For now but like I said Luffy. He's not entirely out of danger yet, there's a long road to recovery that awaits him if he does survive." Law kept his expression calm after a while of silence as he helped Luffy to his unsteady feet. Noticing for the first time the stains of blood and dirt on dainty bare feet. Had Luffy run all the way here barefoot in the heavy rain storm from the Geisha House? At first Law wanted to dismiss the theory but he sighed and realized that it was something that only Luffy would do. Something Luffy would never question or spend a second thinking about. So damn reckless...
"Gomen ne(4*) Law-kun but we're going to have to delay our meeting until Ace is better." The words were so soft and sincere that Law doubted he even heard them properly but he nodded in understanding when he convinced himself it wasn't a lie. The darkness in the words made the young surgeon still however and turn his full attention to the youth four years his junior but showed infinitely more wisdom than his years possessed. His dark hair shimmered in the afternoon sun that peaked through the clouds.
He kept a steadying hand between Luffy's shoulder blades as he ushered him to the safety of the building and away from the cold of the outside wind and gloomy weather provided. His other hand briefly rested against Luffy's neck to check for a temperature. In comparison to the neutral heat of his own skin it was scalding hot, clearly the beginnings of a harsh fever. Just like he would have expected after a body was exerted to that extent. Pushing it to the limits of its emotional barriers and then beyond was not an easy feat for the fragility that the mind could so easily influence.
Turning down a long corridor, Law lead Luffy into the recovery room. The shoji door slid open with a soft click as the person in the recovery room was revealed. Starkly pale and covered in numerous bandages, chest heaving softly for struggled breaths. Freckled cheeks flushed from pained fever, in that moment the two brothers did not look more alike than then. Even Luffy was almost a reflection of his brother's suffering, willing to share the burden between them without hesitation.
Teal eyes watched sadly as Luffy stumbled towards his unconscious brother's form. Sinking to his knees, his beautiful kimono splaying on the ground around him in a shimmer of emerald and black silk. Gentle hands gripped his brother's left hand between both of his, shakily bringing them to his lips in a chaste kiss of comfort and affection.
"Na Ace? You've had me worried. It's okay now though, I'm not leaving you to do reckless things on your own again." Law turned his head away from the heart wrenching scene. Feeling almost as if he was intruding in on something very intimate and important to them.
"I just need to fetch a few things Luffy-ya, I'll be back in a few moments." With that and a soft bow he turned his back and left.
Law bit his bottom lip, sitting on the ground before he leant his head in the palm of his hand. Teal eyes intensely focused on the two occupants of the recovery room. The afternoon sun had long ago faded to the gloom of the approaching night, his eyes instead shifted to Monkey D. Ace. Luffy was asleep next to him, locked in a haze of fevered dreams. There was nothing more he could do for Luffy's fever than to make sure that he was constantly kept an eye on and the same went for his original patient, Ace.
He had taken the task upon himself to look after the both of them until they were well enough to return home. Luffy would of course heal long before Ace did but Law had a feeling that nothing would budge the younger brother from his older brother's side before that time. It was so troublesome but there was nothing more he could do about it and he felt if he were to separate them now despite it being in Ace's best interests then he would be asking for trouble. His words wouldn't stop Luffy and neither would he be able to hold back the youth for very long afterwards.
It was best this way, perhaps the presence of his brother close by would help the elder of the Monkey D. brothers settle and not succumb to his wounds as well. Yet this was the first time the Great Genius Surgeon of Death had ever come across with a man with a will power so strong that he had transcended not only fatal wounds and immense blood loss but his body's natural limits as well. It was near impossible to tell what had unconsciously and consciously pushed him so far to overcome as much as he had.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by deafening shouting and cries from the nurses on station that night, the voices of a few doctors also invaded his ears. He sighed tiredly and steadily forced himself to his feet. His nodachi, which he always kept close, resting in his right hand as he pushed open the shouji doors, for the first time opening the door to the outside world and what greeted him was a melange(5*) of heady noises and disturbing words. He casually leaned against the door frame, his lips turned down in a frown as his attention shifted to the two men who had entered the hospital. Both were clearly in search of something, but what it was he did not know all he did know was that his presence had caught their attention. Whether it was his nodachi or his deadly aura he did not know.
"Luffy!" One suddenly shouted and rushed forward but Law merely raised his still sheathed nodachi to block the man's path.
"What the hell!" The man's shout of frustration made Law fall into stance, his nodachi the perfect barrier to bar entrance to the room.
"Matte (6*) just where do you think you are going?" He asked lowly, teal eyes flashing dangerously as he pushed the man back and closed the shoji doors he had just come through. Sealing off the view of the two patients inside without some much as losing an inch of his composure.
"There are two critical patients in there who are definitely not allowed any visitors at this moment in time." His voice was a low hiss of controlled anger and only then did the blond haired man step away and falter in his determination. Law frowned, he had never encountered him before and wondered who it was that Luffy knew. Law's attention snapped however to the back of the man that had come with and sighed. He would recognize that colour of hair anywhere, that proud stance and straight back anywhere.
"Mah Zoro, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit of antagonizing my staff?" He saw his otouto(7*) straighten his back to turn around to glare at him. Law just shrugged it off and motioned for the two of them to follow him to his office quietly. When he got there Bepo immediately ran around his ankles and barked for attention. One of the staff members of his mansion had brought him to the hospital when Law hadn't arrive home from his shift. An indication that he would be staying overnight and as per their agreement the little dog was always brought to him before they left. Bepo got easily depressed when he wasn't there so they brought him here instead.
Once he was seated with Bepo lounging in his lap, teal eyes made contact with his brother's dark eyes and folded his arms across his chest. His nodachi wasn't far away, an intimidating gesture that Law had specifically left within finger's reach should something go wrong. Not that it would but in these times it was better to be safe than to be sorry.
"Could please inform me as to why my hospital is being invaded?" His eyes were set in a deadly glare. "What do you want with Luffy? He's sick at the moment and for added measure just who are you?" This question was directed to the blond man who glared right back at him, he could never forget the seriousness in that single grey eye as he had attacked him. Good, it meant he wasn't a meek man that cowered in front of him despite the deadly aura he could give off.
"He's Sanji, the cook for Ao Azami." It was Zoro who had spoken and Law nodded, motioning for them to continue on with their reasons. He was getting impatient and he had work to do, there was no time for chit chat neither for sitting around and waiting for a proper explanation.
"We came here looking for Luffy, he's been missing since before the sun rose this morning." Law understood their reasoning and the man's panic when he had seen Luffy so he stood. He had heard enough.
"I see, well you know where the doors are. You can show yourselves out. Don't make a ruckus here again, as I said I've two very important and critical patients that I cannot take my eyes off for a moment." He was halfway to the door, Bepo curled up on the cushion he had just vacated ready to fall asleep now that Law had come to see him.
"Wait shitty-Trafalgar! What do you mean two patients? What happened to Luffy?" Law threw a glare over his shoulder but let the comment slide for now.
"Luffy has a severe fever he picked up from running around in the rain yesterday morning and sitting outside to wait for a report on his brother's surgery and Ace, well that's pretty self explanatory. He's lucky he's been able to hold onto the last thread of life I offered him for so long. Now off you go, I have work to do. Ja Ne(8*)!" The shoji door shut behind him with a decisive click. His fingers rubbing at his temples to get rid of the headache of exhaustion that was building there.
"What do you mean JA NE! I'M not done talking to you yet!"
"It's useless Sanji, you're not going to get more out of him." Law chuckled as their voice followed him down the hall, at least Zoro was being the sensible one for once.
It was so dark, so unexpectedly dark that he had to scowl into the little bit of light that was available to make out the two shapes in the distance. The two shapes that were off fighting in the distance so fiercely. One he easily recognized as his Aniki, Ace. The other he didn't.
He frowned when the clash of swords invaded his hearing, the silhouetted figures remained undisturbed as they danced a dance of death and destruction. Not even a whisper of hesitation between them, not even a touch of mercy on either battling side. This was a fight to the death. Luffy sat himself on a rock nearby, just a little ways behind Ace. His dark eyes easily admiring his brother's flawless form and grace of perfectly executed movements.
He smiled to himself, if only Ace would allow himself the freedom to move in a dance he would himself experience true freedom just as he was now.
The happy upward tug of a satisfied smirk on his brother's lips make chills of pleasure dance up Luffy's spine. How long ago had it been since he seen his brother like this? Years, it had been years before their father's disappearance and the subsequent fall of the government he reminded himself. He would never forget it as easily as he thought.
Never forget the last time they had fought without abandonment just like Ace was doing now. Katana clashing with pure joy as they were completely absorbed in their spar. An overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and shared enthusiasm...
Luffy stiffened then, a yell stuck in his throat. Hands fisted as he observed the sly move of the darkened figure of his brother's opponent. Hideous mocking laughter ringing into the vast darkness, caressing Luffy's ears in such hatred as a glint of a small kunai(9*) sailed through the air from over the man's shoulder. A cowardly act of distraction from a comrade...
Ace fluidly moved to evade the knife but it was an impossible feat, a dull thud resounding through the air as it launched in his shoulder. The moment of distraction was successful the other man's katana hacked down, the laughter never once dying down.
"ACE! No!" His voice was hoarse as he cried out, his fingers reaching out for the silhouette of his Aniki as he was forced to his knees by unfair means. The katana of the other figure moved again, slashing forward before it was run through his brother's chest. Luffy felt his world crumbling and shattering around him.
Luffy ascended into consciousness with a scream of his brother's name. The horrifying images of his brother's defeat heady in his mind just as the blood that had splattered across his face and chest caused a sensation of fear to instil itself in his heart. He stilled in his frantic movements however when he felt a cool damp cloth press against his scorching hot forehead. Cool fingers soon following to brush across his cheeks, gathering the tears that had fallen on his cheeks from his previous nightmare. His breath was coming in short, sharp bursts and made him stiffen when a glass of cool water was pressed against his lips.
"W-who?" He asked dazedly, when the hand made to pull away Luffy's fingers curled around it. Sighing when he felt the cool fingers mould against his own gently. He turned his head to the side, hair plastered to his forehead with sweat but he didn't care. Glazed and unseeing black eyes finally made contact with bright teal in the light of a single oil lamp, recognizing enough to leave him smiling painfully.
"L-Law?" He asked uncertainly, cringing when a heavy cough wracked his body and caused pain to explode through his veins.
"It's me Luffy now please go back to sleep, it best to sleep off this fever than try to stay coherent through it." When Law made to pull back his hand Luffy clamped down and kept it from moving.
"A-Ace?" He asked uncertainly with a frown marring his features. It seemed that one worded questions was the best he could do now, the best that he was capable of in his uncertain weakness. Hopefully Law would understand the gravity of the single question alone.
"I'm doing all I can Luffy-ya, the rest is up to him." Satisfied, Luffy nodded and allowed his eyes to fall closed behind thick lashes. He was tired but afraid to fall back asleep, afraid that he would dream such a horrible dream again. So instead he listened to the soothing sounds that Law made as he moved about the room, the calming effect soon pushing him back into uncertain dreams of darkness.
It was way past midnight when Law finally allowed himself some form of rest. The exhaustion of the day had him leaning his back against the wall and closing his eyes, Ace's breathing the only thing that he constantly counted, making sure to take note if there was a pained hitch or a quiet undetectable moan of pain. What else could he do? If Ace managed to survive the next three days then he knew the elder of the Monkey brothers would at least not need constant vigilance but now it was an inevitable.
If he did not do it himself he knew that Ace could easily slip away that night with the doctor on watch never noticing and it was important to him that Ace at least survive. If not for himself then for Luffy then, Luffy who had been calling and moaning his brother's name ever since he had fallen into the depths of unconsciousness and the nightmarish hell that his delusion could bring him.
He was reminded briefly of the earlier visit of his half brother and knew there would be more people like him to deal with tomorrow but tomorrow was tomorrow, for now he would revel in the small satisfaction of a quiet night left to his thoughts and tasks.
Saving a life that was hanging in the balance was still the greatest high he ever experienced and Ace's situation in itself was fascinating for Law. He also had yet to figure out just how he had gotten so injured, perhaps tracking down the man that had brought him in would explain things better for Ace had so obviously been involved in a duel of swords. An unfair one for that matter but for whatever reason it was he did know.
Invoking the last of his strength, a deep breath later and getting to his feet unsteadily Law left the quiet room to make the last of his rounds before the morning sun broke over the horizon.
"Count his breaths, if one is out of synchronicity please come find me immediately." He explained to the nurse he had called to briefly take his place. One could never be too careful as he had learned many times, especially when someone important to the one he could possibly come to love was in such constant peril.
1* Newgate-Ojiisan - Uncle Newgate
2* Uso - A lie
3* Otou-sama - Father
4* Gomen ne - I'm sorry
5* Melange - A word of French origin that mean a 'mixture' or a combination.
6* Matte - Wait
7* Otouto - Little brother, just in case you forgot, in this story Zoro is Law's little half brother.
8*Ja Ne - Later
9* Kunai - In case you don't know what it is, it's a throwing knife, the ones most frequently used in Naruto.
Thanks so fo reading and all the positive reviews I've received for this story, I really appreciate all the support, the updates may be slow now but I hope it is enough to satisfy you for a while yet.