Warning: The usual warning
Disclaimer: I dont own OP
Thank you for reviews, favorites, and the typo alerts- I've fixed a few with some help from the kind reviewers who pointed it out. :)
The term 'Ersatz' refers to something that substitue one thing which is usually inferior to the original. How it relates to this fic sort of depends on how the reader interprets it, so I'll leave it meaningless for the time being. I appreciate all the feedback, it's great fun reading them, you guys are too kind!
This chapter became somewhat a spinoff, but I do really have a plot in mind.
The next chapter update will be considerably late, as my internal exams start next week. Thank you for all the readers, cheers!
Tony-Tony Chopper faced many dilemmas in his life. Most of his problems came from the fact that he was very small for his age, the reason for many of his misfortunes in life. To start with, he was still in his teen years with big round deer-like eyes and curly soft brown hair that fluffed around his face. With a rather bluish tint around his nose, he was usually a very quiet and a cautious youth.
The special thing about Chopper besides his peculiar name was that he was a brilliant learner of medicine. The youth was not a genius, far from that actually; but possessed the greatest try-hard determination ever, easily exceeding his pairs in both skill and knowledge as a doctor. Apprenticed by the infamous doctor Kureha herself, he was admitted into the royal academy of medicine by sheer resolve and skill. Because of his light heartedness and a rather likeable personality, his brilliance was accepted easily and was generally on good terms with nearly everything around him. However, there was only one person who he could not exceed, neither get along with- Trafalgar Law.
Chopper remembers the first time he met Trafalgar Law, a slender senior boy with short uncombed black hair, pair of steel grey irises that concentrated on nothing. The young Law was always alone except in the summer holidays when a lanky ginger haired boy who most people knew as Drake came to stay with him. Chopper heard many things about the other ebony haired boy, whom the tutors always sang about him being the greatest medical genius ever. His fellow pupils seemed to think differently though, Law was always much feared and hated by his peers for some reason that was quiet unclear to Chopper.
The main reason for the dislike was because Law was brilliant and he never tried to hide it, often to the point in which his fellow students deemed him as the most obnoxious and arrogant asshole ever to exist in the face of earth. Trafalgar never cared for another's feelings; his madness that he called curiosity often freaked people out. He was a prodigy who ignored how to be modest, and his personality was far too complicated to please. His classmates often found themselves wandering how in the world Drake was able to get along with the eccentric youth, seeing as how Drake was a sensible young boy who knew how to think carefully and be considerate of others, the complete opposite of Trafalgar Law.
But Chopper never had any direct problems with the notorious student since he did not have any affiliations with him until the day he witnessed the young Trafalgar alone in the practical rooms, apparently stitching up a set of mice together by their small intestines.
The mice were the property of the academy, and existed for the purpose of antidote testing, and were never subjected to such matters like dissection or physical experiments. To Chopper who was a great lover of animals, this act mortified him and immediately demanded to Law that what he was doing was nastily abnormal, to which Law calmly retorted with a brilliant grim smile, 'Would you like to volunteer instead of them?'
Chopper was never quite able to shake off that little part of him that feared Trafalgar Law from that day onwards. That person was different, too different. While Chopper himself wasn't a perfect doctor, his determination to succeed and make his foster father proud allowed him to become the kind of doctor that tried his best for the welfare of his patients and to allow new life to those who nearly lost them. For Trafalgar Law however, it was completely the other way around. He was seemingly born with the brilliance, a pure prodigy who saw his patients as toys. Something he could tweak with, something he could distort with, something he could always dispose or save if they were interesting or not enough for him.
Chopper would've avoided any future collision with the other doctor if only not for Luffy, Lord Dragon's son, and his close friend; taking interest in him. Because of his momentary absence in Germany, the job of healing Luffy when he was rather critically injured from a nasty accident fell on none other then Trafalgar Law, who surprisingly enough agreed to offer his services with an amount of enthusiasm that Chopper deemed almost dangerous. Nevertheless Luffy recovered, but Law disappeared shortly after, not heard from again for a whole year.
It was fair to say that Chopper received quite a shock when his greatest nightmare from his academic youth reappeared in London again after a year, in front of his doorstep, accompanied by two or three policemen and with a bullet stuck in his shoulder.
"I have finally experienced a gunshot wound. And successfully deducted that the abnormal frequency of pain that vibrates around my scapula is caused by a tissue disturbance not from the bullet, but from the shock I received when I was shot."
Chopper did not know whether he should laugh or frown at the dark haired man's insightful hypothesis, sweat running down his brow from the effort of trying to pull the bullet out of the blood crusted shoulder in front of him. If Law was feeling any pain, then he was doing a remarkable job at not showing it, his eyes merely twinkled at his new discovered pain of getting shot.
The two were sitting in Chopper's little office room, where the smaller doctor never got around to cleaning it properly and was flowing with needles and bandages rolling around on the desks and piles of books on anatomy. The policemen who came in with Law just stood by the door, doing nothing in particular and reading some articles left out by the sofa in the waiting room. While Law was analyzing how mentally observed pain can effect physical agony, Chopper finally pulled out a metallic bullet piece held between his prongs, gouged from the other doctor's shoulder flesh.
A sickening squelch echoed in the room, and the policemen suddenly showed a great amount of interest in the dancing mackerel doll by the fireplace. The gory picture of Law's bloodied shoulder didn't look very pleasant, and Chopper grimaced.
"It's going to take a while to heal. It didn't break any bones, but it might scar- I'm not particularly sure."
Trafalgar did not say anything else while Chopper wiped his wound clean with alcohol; he merely stared at the wall, poking the tips of his ripped lips with the edge of his tongue.
"What happened to you?" With his ebony eyes slightly hiding suspicions, Chopper asked- expecting a rather direct answer.
"Oh, I was busy getting strangled a bit here and there, punched, kicked, viciously throttled and getting shot at. Quite the usual routine." Law muses, jumping slightly when Chopper presses the needle against his flesh, ready to stitch the skin back to heal. His fingers weren't long and delicate like Law, but were firm and warmer- working carefully as he stitched the wound up. As much as Chopper feared the other doctor for his twisted curiosity and talent, his job as a doctor allowed him to tend to his wounds with passion. Soon the wound closed, and cleaned up to be bandaged well and firm.
Law recovers his coat, buttoning up the garment right up his neck.
"Been in London long?" he asks, putting his gloves back on after wiping them with a watered towel.
"Not that long, just stopping by. I'm returning to Luxemburg to join Luffy next week."
The slender doctor makes no additional remark, pulling on his sleeves and turning to the smaller doctor with his usual smile.
"Well," he starts, giving his gloved hands a slight twirl, "Thank you for your help. I feel much more comfortable leaving myself to someone capable." As a doctor, a wash of pride ran over Chopper, making him blush madly and coil his arms. Without much merit he attempts to stop himself from smiling by muttering out a series of insulting comments.
"I'll take my leave now; I need to retrieve my assistant before he takes over the Scotland Yard."
Trafalgar Law was never quite worried about the welfare of others, and certainly didn't once stop to think that Kidd will have a problem in jail. Then it came to him that it wasn't Kidd he was supposed to be worried about.
Sure enough, the guards were rather jumpier than usual, the doctor approached only to find them with grim expressions painted on their faces and avoiding getting inside the Yard where the wired metallic gate contained local crooks who committed minor crimes. The officer who was guiding Law inside led him into the gates, loosening the entrance for him to step inside the cold muddy grounds.
The grumpy voice broke the silence when the doctor came in, who didn't seem much bothered about the beady eyes of the thugs and street harassers that landed on him. Trafalgar crossed his arms, shifting his weight to give a critical frown at the pale red haired man, who was receiving a shoulder massage from a bunch of mean looking women and crooked thugs guarding his sides. Kidd seemed perfectly at peace, whether that was because anything close to prison was in his forte, or just his uncanny confidence at being the dominating figure Law did not know, but now the doctor was sure that his worry for his assistant was quite unnecessary.
The raven haired doctor walks up to the paler man, whose face seemed quite bored; one burly looking man beside Kidd who handed him a pipe growled at Law when he came closer until Eusstass waved him away. Eusstass Kidd, King of the Yard. The doctor kept that particular thought from coming out of his lips, preferring not to start anything when he was low on energy.
"You seem to be doing well here." the sarcastic little sentence made the pale man scowl; Kidd glanced momentarily at his companions shoulder. Trafalgar did not wait to hear Kidd's answer, and instead mused on- dragging the pale man up by his sleeves. Kidd followed without much question but the women seemed reluctant to let him go.
"It's a damn miracle that no one died Mister Eusstass."
Kidd huffed. "I don't care."
"You should. We need to have a little heart to heart conversation about your aggression issues."
Kidd did not say much, he was feeling quite tired after all the action and drama that took place all in the same day. His head was still in disarray, he didn't know what that little screechy noise that rang inside his mind was, and he was still making sure Trafalgar Law was alive beside him.
The pale man was also curious about himself as to why he obsessed with the doctor so much. Sure, he holds the means to keep him alive- but something else, something else was making him allow Law to touch into his mind, refusing to let him go. It was all so frustratingly curious. When he looked at the doctor's face, something stirs his mind. It agitated him that he couldn't remember, couldn't know what it was, and it just makes it that much more complicating regarding his feelings towards the being called Trafalgar Law.
Then he remembers the kiss. Why did I do that? It was a question that went unanswered but lingered in Kidd's mind for quite a while, and the longer he asked himself, the more anonymous the answer got. To normal people, a kiss would've been a gesture of love, but love was a strange word to Kidd. For Eusstass Kidd, the kiss was closer to a rather primitive animalistic form of marking his property.
With a lot of thoughts clouding Kidd's mind, he didn't put much protest of being dragged out of the Yard by his sleeve, although his mind finally snapped back into his usual grumpiness as soon as they were outside and back on the darkening streets because of the doctor carelessly flinging his black leather bag at the pale ex-murderer. The bag seemed considerably heavier than usual because of the new addition of belladonna and swine liver, and Eusstass wasn't able to throw a snide comment when he remembered that Law's shoulders were injured.
"Be thankful that I have friends in high places. If it wasn't for my client, your bail would never have been granted. Seeing as you maimed at least a dozen men single handedly." The hint of annoyance in the doctor's voice made Kidd sniff with disinterest, he was thinking of breaking out if his bail really wasn't granted. Back in the bar, the bald barman showed up right in the middle of their little scene with a dozen peelers rushing in behind them, only to find the horrifying scenery of groaning and whimpering piles of crushed and crippled bodies- masterpiece of Eusstass Kidd.
He was planning to ignore it, but something about the tone of how Law said it ticked Kidd off, his mouth moving faster than his rational thoughts;
"If it wasn't for your stupid shopping spree, this would never have happened, and your goddamn shoulders would've been peaceful." The gruff statement was accompanied by Kidd's glare. Law turned around to face Kidd, eyeing the paler man. The doctor already knew that this was going to end up being a pointless waste of energy and vigor, but he couldn't help countering due to his prideful nature.
"If you didn't lose the bags Mister Eusstass, we could've avoided this even if I expressed my freedom to spend my money."
"Well here's a fact Trafalgar, it wasn't my fucking fault. Stop bitching about it because you're equally responsible for today's little drama!"
Law did not even know why he was feeling so offended.
"Oh, I'm bitching now am I? Great! I'll bitch some more while I'm at it- the damage you caused in the bar costs half a fortune Mister Eusstass-"
"This and that has no relevance whatsoever Trafalgar-"
"Can't this end with a minor apology?"
"If someone needs to apologize, it's you!"
"Urgh! You are being an unbelievable pig head!"
"Look whose talking jackass!"
"Substandard block head!"
Obviously this was going to go in the oh-my-god-sweet-mother-Mary route where the two of them ends up shouting childish insults at each other all evening. One unusual thing they had in common was the fact their pride allowed no reason for them to lose or back down from a challenge- what started as a mere ramble and a sentence of unhappiness have soon landed them in another series of a pathetic pinching war between them which made passers by give them a stare before backing away from the two unusual pair.
They forgot that they were fighting in front of the station, and the officer on duty had to blow his whistle to calm both men from snarling at each other's face. Kidd roughly let go of Law's collar, and mutters something under his breath which the doctor chose to ignore. The streetlamps were being lighted; evening was coming with a curtain of darkness that slowly falls on the crowded streets of London. Being in no mood for a conversation, Kidd follows Law with silence until his curiosity got the better of him; "Where are we going?"
Trafalgar considered ignoring the question just to spite the other man, but casually gave his answer: "King's Cross. Where else?"
"Well we've already missed the train Trafalgar."
"With the courtesy of Lord Bartholomew," Trafalgar dug his fingers into his coat pockets, pulling out two thin pieces of paper stamped with ink, "I was able to acquire the tickets for the next train. We have much to thank him for; he granted your bail as well."
Kidd snorted, but did not make another comment that might send the doctor's smart mouth opening again. It was clear that the two of them will have a lot of problems getting along with each other, and suddenly Kidd remembered a little suggestion that he couldn't remember where he heard it from:
"We need counseling you and I."
"Clearly, you need an anger management session Mister Eusstass. I'm perfectly okay."
"No, that's what you can go on telling your disillusioned and fucked up mind doctor, all your life. The fact is, you're as bad as me."
Law gave him a questionable stare, but seemed interested rather than annoyed. How can you tell? His eyes gave away his question, and Eusstass gave a grim chuckle.
"The reason you keep me from killing people, it's not because you care about their lives- I can see that much."
The colorless grey eyes blink a few times, his expression lost beyond his thoughts. The red haired man wasn't all muscles; he was much more insightful than what Law imagined. Nevertheless, being the greatest hider of faces he was, Trafalgar refuses to give Kidd the credit of seeing through a particle of his true nature and gives him a sweet smile that radiated with false kindness.
"I don't know what you're talking about Mister Eusstass. I'm the kindest doctor that ever exists. You're the proof of that."
Kidd couldn't determine whether if Law was being sarcastic, or if the doctor was trying to make himself believe what he was saying. Either way, the paler man decided that he wasn't going to take that shit seriously.
The evening train ride was going to be moderately crowded, and Kidd momentarily had to worry about being around a mass of people again. Thankfully, Trafalgar Law was a loaded man who even after spending what he called 'half a fortune' on reparations for the damage Kidd caused, managed to get the first class compartment on a train that went on a direct route to Cambridge. Kidd wandered where all that cash came from, but decided not to dwell too deeply into personal details about the doctor.
The first class compartments were nearly empty except for an old looking gentleman who was sleeping in the corner, a plate of pudding in front of him. The tall redhead stuffed the bags onto the deck overhead before joining the doctor inside their compartment- it was cozy enough with their velvet seating and a low table in between. Kidd felt uncomfortable in narrow spaces, but was used to machinery which allowed him to cope with the narrowness. Law on the other hand, seemed perfectly at ease- to be honest; Kidd couldn't possibly know what actually unsettled the unconventional doctor.
Trafalgar took off his coat and laid it beside him, straightening his waistcoat. The carriage lady poked in to ask anything they needed, and Law politely requested some dinner. Because of their little adventure, he forgot that he hasn't eaten anything for the whole day, and the doctor was starting to feel a little hungry. Kidd was feeling tired, crossing his arms and lying back in his seat, ruby eyes glinting at the blurred scenery outside the window.
"Now, Mister Eusstass," Trafalgar started, his chin rested on his crossed fingers. Kidd moved his pupils to the doctor's face, meeting his stare. "You haven't been completely honest with me."
"Same goes to you too doesn't it?"
"Not personal matters, I meant your little mental disturbance."
Law wasn't smiling; his face was mixed with something between curiosity and deep thought. Kidd kept his mouth closed, leaving the silence to linger between them for a good few minutes until Law spoke up again.
"If I'm going to be able to make the medicine actually cure you, I need the information Mister Eusstass."
"You do that."
Law sighed. The carriage lady came back, her tray filled with plates of food and drink. With only the sound of small 'thank you' and the cutlery clattering, the carriage lady left the silent compartment leaving Law to dig into his pasta. Kidd took a bite off his steak. Both of them went eating without talking to each other for what felt like an eternity, Kidd was surprised how much Law could actually eat. The slender doctor didn't seem like the type to glutton himself.
"Okay, seeing as just asking isn't going to work out, we'll take a different approach."
What Law said made Kidd stop eating and stare at the other, his head cocking to one side. The doctor was grinning- "It's simple enough deal, you tell me what I want to know, and I'll tell you what you want me to answer."
Eusstass considered the deal, biting down on his fork. Law was serious about this; the usual playfulness in his smile wasn't present. The paler man just nodded, purely because he had some questions that wanted answered as well. The doctor started with an expected question; "Your disease." Law made it clear enough for Kidd to understand, who reluctantly started with a sigh.
"I don't know how much you know about my disease Trafalgar, but it comes with some pretty annoying features like amnesia and attention deficiency disorder."
"No. It usually doesn't."
Kidd narrowed his eyes, looking at the doctor who seemed to be lost in his thoughts, his eyes glassy.
"Your disease is different to what I expected."
"Then how come the medicine worked on me?"
Law bit his lips- something was wrong with his calculations.
"The medicine works differently on you, it wasn't designed for you. Mister Eusstass, elaborate on the amnesia part."
"Do I need to explain what amnesia is?"
"Being cynical won't land you in anything good, you know."
Kidd rolled his eyes, taking a bite off his sandwich and choosing his words carefully. The last thing he needed was revealing anything over informative about himself to the doctor.
"Just as I said, I can't remember things."
"How much do you remember?"
"I remember being in prison with a lot of happy merry men, inside a ship, lot's of pretty corpses and..."
Kidd stopped; forcing his mind to remember things was a bad idea. Things started popping inside his head, flooding his thoughts and memories with thousands of scenes and voices that echoed within the walls of his mind.
Then he remembered something unusual, something he couldn't quite remember for a long time no matter how hard he tried. It was a mansion with big dark walls, where no trees grew- black curtains that covered all the windows. And then there was... a person...
Kidd snapped off, sharply muttering out a forced "That's all I remember." to further confuse the doctor staring at him. Something about his expression told Law that he shouldn't press for more information. Instead he went on, pretending that little fit never happened.
"You go into something like a trance when you get angry or upset Mister Eusstass. Back in the bar, I called your name quite a few times but you didn't answer."
"Don't have an explanation for that I'm afraid. You'll just have to make sure I'm in a good mood."
Law frowned to replace his reply. It didn't stop Kidd from moving on with his turn to ask his question though.
"You don't kill, and yet you're more of a murderer than I am in aspects Trafalgar Law. Why did you stop me from killing him?"
The doctor plays around with his food, swirling his spaghetti with his fork before giving an apologetic smile. True, Law did not consider himself the kind and caring type, he was far from that actually. Years of his feedback from Drake and the way people treated him, it was clear to Law that he wasn't exactly a person that made a pleasant company.
"Mister Eusstass. I'm a licensed doctor who has permission to apply my medical knowledge both abroad and within England. It gives me privileges to access different places with authority. If you cause any problems under my employment-" Kidd grunted briefly to show his dislike at Law's choice of words; but held his interruption "- I can't risk losing my privilege for something like that."
"In easier words, you're just saving your own ass."
"Typically speaking yes, because I care about myself... that and also because in a way, I'm still a doctor- even though I'll approve of using people for the better good, I will not kill."
It was clear that Law wasn't going to go into further detail with his own morals, and Kidd decided that the answer he got was good enough. The air was getting chillier, darkness fell outside, and only the blurs of the trees were visible from the window. It was almost psychedelic, the rhythmical noise of the train, and its soft shaking...
And the noise of the doctor scribbling things in his notes- it looked like notes, the handwriting was far to messy to be a letter... or was it a letter?- Kidd observed him write with mild interest, his eye lids dropping heavily due to being mentally and physically tired. Trafalgar Law had delicate looking hands, his softly tanned fingers and wrists slender with tender skin, marked with tattoos that seemed unusual for a doctor.
It spelled a familiar word, the first time Kidd saw the doctor- he knew he recognized the letters in his fingers. It spelled death.
The surgeon of death. Kidd thought, chuckling at the ironic title. I'm depending on the surgeon of death to keep me alive...
His eyes closed without his permission, and soon he was engulfed in the comforting darkness.
Law stopped scribbling his letter, and noticed how unusually quiet everything suddenly seemed to be. He glanced up to find the red haired man sleeping, his shoulders leaning against the wall, arms still crossed in his usual manner.
It was funny thinking how he was able to cope so easily with the violent ex-criminal; despite the fact that they weren't doing a great job at getting along, Law felt a twinge of affection for the other for some unknown reason why. As long as he can remember, Law never cared for his patients, and never understood the connection between a doctor and his client. Being responsible for someone's life... he despised that idea more than anything.
He didn't become a doctor to save lives, for the good of the world. No, that wasn't a reason. For now, he could lie to himself all he wanted and insist to himself that what he did wasn't run away.
Law sighed, massaging his temples. Kidd shifted in his sleep, and the doctor glanced at him for a while until he bent across the table, covering the paler man with his furred coat. Law blinked, staring right in front of his companion's sleeping face, an unreadable expression masking his cold blunt grey eyes.