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A Dance for Two

Chapter Sixteen – Sixteenth Skedaddle


The dank smell hit him like a slab of concrete to the face, which was quite fitting considering Law's worst fear was of being in a confined space surrounded by this type of grey matter. The dankness was almost enough to make him vomit, but Law was not given the chance to keel over as Killer had grabbed hold of his arm and was spiriting them away.

"Come on! Run!" Killer shouted as he tugged Law into a run.

Asphalt whizzed by beneath his feet with the only break in the black monotony being his grungy sneakers slapping the ground. It was a challenge to look up. Whenever he got a glimpse of the grey concrete walls he felt himself shrivel up a little inside. Like the Grinch's heart.

That, or the feeling could be likened to swooning, which lately Law had learned far too much about.

"Fucking run faster!" Killer cried when he nearly lost a shoe. Really, the sneakers were ill fitting. He couldn't help his speed!

The hand pushing him from behind – Killer's hand – made him think two things: that he would eventually end up eating pavement and that Killer was probably going to use him as a human shield. He couldn't prove the second one, but when he tripped and found himself suddenly weightless and in the air…

Goddamn.

How did he always end up over someone's shoulder like a sack of potatoes? Kidd, Eddie, Killer…this was becoming a trend. If Kidd telling him to gain weight didn't influence him, this trend certainly did.

He cried out upon being hefted, but of course his words were rather unintelligible given the constant jarring motion of Killer's feet pounding the asphalt. Then there was the matter of the gunshots ringing out.

Killer had been right. They were currently under enemy fire. Worse still, when Law lifted his head from Killer's lower back he saw who it was that was firing at them. He knew that afro hair, so totally frizzed out, anywhere. He'd seen it during his childhood. She'd been new by the time he'd left that place for good, but she'd made an impression on Crocodile and on him.

Someone else, with equally frizzled hair, was present. Only he was fumbling with a suitcase while being yelled at by said partner whose shots, mercifully, were missing them both.

When they arrived outside of Killer's ominous yellow beast of a car Law wasn't sure if Killer's sprint had winded him or he was just hyperventilating as he would have on any normal day when placed in this oppressing situation with guns involved. As he was thrown up against the car while Killer unlocked the beast he shrunk down and used the car as a shield. He could hear the footsteps of the two Baroque workers pounding the pavement behind them over his haggard breath and Killer's curses. The car's side served as his protection for all of a few seconds, then he found himself shoved inside.

He stumbled face first onto the plush backseat of the car, belly down and sputtering. Killer slammed the door after him and then climbed in behind the wheel. He started the car and ripped out of his parking spot in what was almost one fluid motion. The gravitational force sent Law upright and he instinctively reached for the nearest seat belt with shaky hands, needing several tries to click himself in.

"Holy shit!"

"Don't sit up!"

He heard a metallic thump.

"They're fucking shooting at my goddamn car again!"

After that, Law pressed himself as flat against the backseat as he could, holding onto the opposite seatbelt for stability as Killer swerved into traffic. "What're we gonna do?" he cried.

Killer didn't answer him, which was just as well considering Law didn't want them to crash and figured the best way to avoid that crisis would be to have Killer completely focused on his driving. So he shut up and held on for dear life.

Overheard the sun shone down, signaling to Law that they had left the parkade. He dared to peek over the backseat and through the window. As far as he could see, there was nothing behind them of note. He ducked back down, just in case he'd been mistaken.

They carried on in relative silence, Killer swerving dangerously in and out of traffic until they eventually reached the highway leading out of town. Law was just beginning to feel his heart slow down when Killer spoke.

"Can you reach under the seat and get the briefcase under there?"

Law shakily did as he was asked, putting the heavy brown briefcase on the seat beside him. He could see it was locked and that only a numerical code could open it. "What's in this thing?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

"Your gun."

"Your gun? Wait, my gun? Oh, no, no I don't think so."

He heard Killer snort. "Look, those guys firing at us were just the beginning, the ground squad so to speak. The airstrike has yet to come."

"There's going to be a fucking airstrike? Like, a helicopter dropping shit?"

"No, no, that's just a figure of speech. Things will get worse before they get really bad."

"That's no fucking figure of speech," Law grumbled. "Where are we going anyway? To find Kidd?"

"That's the idea. Now the code on the briefcase is 13523400. Okay? 1-3-5-2-3–"

"Wait! Why do I need the gun again? I don't even know how to shoot one."

"I never said you had to shoot it; just keep it on you for appearances and point it at people if you have to. They'll be less inclined to take a shot at you if there's an equal chance you'll shoot them."

Regardless, Law did not try to open the briefcase. It stayed firmly shut and locked as Killer continued diving around traffic, eventually launching them onto a freeway. He risked a glance over the backseat cushion and though the window. Everything seemed relatively calm out there, cars going about at the standard rate of speed and being left in Killer's dust. "They're gone?"

"See that white car that just pulled into our lane behind the red van? It's following us," Killer answered. "Keep an eye on it for me."

"Can't you outrun it?" Law asked, eying the white car that was still a distance off. Then his mind calculated the difference. It was probably a few minutes. "Well, outdrive it I mean."

"I can't believe they ruined my car…"

Law snorted and slapped the seat in front of him, producing a loud crack. "Well I'm glad you're worried about the bigger things, like a few holes in your car!"

He winced when Killer slapped the steering wheel with his palm, impaling his eardrums with a sharp crack. "Look, Law– "

"Don't use my real name!"

"Look, I'm watching the tire pressure gauge up here, and one of my wheels is nearly flat."

"Flat?" Law whispered, his mind freezing up. "Flat?"

"…And now it's really fucking flat. Shit. Can't you hear that?"

Law looked around the seat, trying to see the gauge for himself. All he could see was a blur of read numbers, and one of the readings looked particularly out of place. That, and Killer had the steering wheel cranked all the way to the right. Their vehicle was listing in that direction to begin with, and it was then that Law realized Killer was pulling over.

"What are you doing?" he cried as the car crunched and rumbled to a stop on the freeway, far enough towards the centre console that the two lanes to their right were vacant. A few cars passed them by, but none stopped.

Law looked behind them. They were up on an overpass, almost perfectly at the top, and he could see lanes of vehicles travelling beneath them as well as all the cars in their lanes climbing up. The white car was creeping through traffic in the distance. They had a minute or two, and Killer knew that.

The yellow beast's engine sputtered and died. Killer was in the back seat in a flash of blonde hair and clawed fingers, tearing open the suitcase in a flurry of numeracy. Law unbuckled himself and, upon freeing his hands of the seatbelt, found his fingers grasping something else that was shoved into his hands.

He nearly dropped it, but Killer's hands held his steady.

"Stick it in your pants! The safety's on, it won't discharge unless–"

"No!"

"Yes! They won't suspect it if you put it in your underwear and they'll frisk you everywhere else! Come on!"

"No! No, no, no!"

"Law, don't make this difficult!"

Law gaped at him. "You're asking me to put a fucking gun–"

No sooner had his hands been rid of the gun than he found his boxer-briefs tighter than they had been before. Yes, that had happened. Killer apparently knew no bounds.

"Oh God."

"Don't let them know you have it, whatever you do. It's Taurus 85 Titanium, small enough that it shouldn't stand out when they force you to walk. Remember to put your hands up and surrender to them when they come get you. Just show obvious submission. They won't pull their guns in public if they can avoid it."

Miraculously, Law found his voice. "O-Oh yeah, give the striper a gun. I'd be more effective if you gave me silk panties but, ya know, shortages and all..." he trailed off, watching Killer begin to move away. "W-wait, what're you doing?"

"I'm going to escape by jumping off the overpass."

Law choked on his saliva and jumped a bit in his seat, feeling the cold metal of the gun against his skin in the worst area Killer could have possibly chosen.

Killer was half out the car door when Law grabbed him and tugged him back.

"You're going to jump off the overpass? You'll fucking die!"

Killer shoved Law's hands away. "Look, they won't kill you, trust me! You have far too many uses and they know that. On the other hand, they'll definitely kill me. Even if I die, I'd rather choose my death, thanks!"

And then Killer backed up and out of the car so he was just peeking into the backseat. Law couldn't judge much emotion-wise due to the man's dress, but he could see the wrinkles upon Killer's brow and how his eyebrows were nowhere in sight, signaling his concentration and anxiety.

It felt, to Law, like one of those moments in romantic tragedies where the hero leaves the heroine behind to go off to fight in a war. A war both the hero and heroine know he won't return from. Law felt he needed to say something profound, something…loving?

Killer beat him to doing anything with a curt nod and a slam of the car door.

"Wait!" Law shouted, his cry reaching nothing but the window. He scrambled to get to the door but paused, unable to open it. Not because it was too heavy or locked, but because the white car had screeched to a halt behind them and captured his attention.

He whipped his head around just as quickly to see Killer vault over the concrete slab, his blonde hair disappearing smoothly like a river over a waterfall.

That was it. He was alone and left to fend for himself.

Incredible anger overtook him. How dare Killer leave him like this! He, too, would rather die than be placed in the hands of Croc's henchmen.

Or would he? Even sitting there awaiting his sentence – though he knew he was to be bound and gagged none too gently – Law thought about the advantages of being caught. Perhaps he would be thrown in the cell next to Ace, wherever that was. Then at that point he would have at least have found him, even if they would be trapped like animals.

He could weasel his way out of a cage. He was very good at weaseling. It would not be impossible.

Of course, there was also the factor of Eustass Kidd to consider. Whatever plan Law decided on he knew Kidd would be the reckless uncontrollable variable that could either make or break their escape.

And then there was the gun. Briefly he wondered how many bullets it contained, and even more briefly, he wondered if he had the mettle to actually kill anyone with it.

He watched Pointy and Frizzled Head get out of the vehicle's passenger side. She was wearing all black leather, looking more like she belonged perched on a motorbike than inside a car. He watched her hesitate through the tinted glass, her hands drifting to one side.

He had anticipated they'd come for him armed. Still, what if they took one look at him huddled in the backseat of Killer's car and shot him dead? Just like that? Killer had assumed they would take him alive, but what if his assumptions proved false?

Law hardened his heart and pushed open the door of the backseat, unlocking it first with his fingers and kicking it wide with a foot. He could see the woman startle and her partner get out from behind the wheel. Quickly he leapt out, hands in front of his chest and head slightly ducked. Submitting.

The woman rushed to grab him with her boney fingers, pricking his arm and dragging him forward with her. He went all too willingly. The man didn't move an inch, not until Law was in the backseat of this new vehicle. Only then did he move, and that was to slide in behind the wheel once more.

"Buckle up," the woman barked at him with such audacious authority that he imagined she was used to being served without question. He obeyed with a distasteful expression that seemed to further irk her. Her impossibly painful grip on him tightened and he winced.

No sooner had he put the buckle into its keeper than they were underway. Going to wherever it was that Crocodile kept his base.

He watched the woman pull out a cell phone and dial with one hand, keeping the other one firmly attached to his arm as if she was afraid he would disappear into thin air if she didn't hold onto him. He heard the ringing of the phone until the other line was silent.

His blood chilled when he heard the muffled, "Yes?" He could still recognize that voice many years later. It was, without a doubt, Mr. 1 on the other side.

"We got one, but the blonde guy got away," the woman said, her voice slightly less authoritative than before.

"Who exactly did you get?"

The woman smiled wickedly at Law. "The little bitch. We're bringing him to the warehouse so you can see him before Crocodile does."

Law bit his lip. Did this mean Crocodile's base was split between this warehouse and somewhere else? And, more importantly, was Ace at the warehouse?

"Let me talk to him."

Law jerked as the cell phone was smashed up against his ear, and he tried to bend his body away only to have the woman's hand follow him. He was bent over as far as he could get when Mr. 1 addressed him.

"Hello, Law."

Law drew in a breath, but would not give him the satisfaction of replying.

"Are you enjoying being in the company of Miss Doublefingers?"

So that was her name. He remembered her for her physical attributes but her alias had slipped his mind. Though that was expected considering he had never really had much contact with her. Now he was finding that she was giving him far too much prickly contact.

Once again, he said nothing and tried, desperately, not to exhale too loudly.

Miss Doublefingers squeezed his arm and he hissed into the phone. He was close, very close, to using his other hand to get rid of her grip on his right arm. But he didn't want to end up bound with both of his hands useless. So long as she didn't perceive his left arm as a threat it was safe…

"Not answering my question won't make me go away, Law."

Law held his tongue once more. Miss Doublefingers pushed the phone up against his ear more insistently, until he could feel an indent forming for each numbered button.

"I'm offended you won't talk to me, but perhaps you'll want to talk to someone else. He claims to know you…"

Law's stomach flipped, and then Miss Doublefingers decided enough was enough and removed the phone from his ear. "Wait!" Law cried, his voice raspy. He paused, sneering at him unintelligibly, and put the phone back to his ear. What he heard next made his eyes prickly with unshed tears.

"Law?"

"You're alive," Law whispered. "Where are you? What have they done to you? Ace!"

He heard the sickening snort that characterized Mr. 1's laughter. For Mr. 1 did not laugh. He was a man who went without the finer emotions in life. "He's been keeping me company lately…"

He could tell Mr. 1 had switched them to speakerphone. He could hear amplified shuffling, and it occurred to him that Ace was likely bound and helpless to the whims of his captor. It occurred to him also that he was going to the same place, that this could be his fate in a matter of minutes.

He heard a hiss and knew it to be Ace in pain.

"You must hate me," Law said quietly into the phone.

"Why would I hate you? It's not like you're the one doing this."

The raspy voice Law heard still had its spirit in it, but just barely. He knew, very well, what it was like to be broken by someone. He could hear how close Ace was, and that killed him.

"I'm going to find you and save you," Law promised. Following his words was a snort of disbelief.

"You're going to join him," Mr. 1 growled. "Soon enough. Miss Doublefinger!"

The phone was yanked from his ear, his lifeline to Ace severed so quickly he could do nothing.

"What?"

He heard garbled words and then silence. The phone call was over.

His hands were balled into fists, fingernails digging into his palms. "Call him back."

Miss Doublefingers looked at him with distain, like he was a dead bug on her windshield that had left a huge, disgusting smear. "No."

He bit his lip, so close to using his left arm. No, he had to resist. Had to be complacent for now. He didn't want to be bound and gagged before arrival.

"Mr. 5, Mr. 1 wants us to go to warehouse 11."

The man driving finally spoke, his voice deep and grating. "Tha da one wi' the red numbers on it?"

"Yes," the woman barked. "You go down the dirt road and make a left. At the sign that says 'storage'."

The man grunted and exited the freeway. Before now Law had been watching Miss Doublefingers either blatantly or out of the corner of his eye. Now he turned his attention to the driver and the course ahead of them. It wasn't long until they were on a side road and, in the distance, he could see huge plums of smoke emerging from the smokestacks of a factory. It wasn't familiar at first, but when they crested a hill and he got a better look at its size and shape from an elevated height, he gapped.

Somehow he knew this factory.

It was rectangular in shape with ovalish smokestacks along the outside. He had seen it on a topographic map.

In the distance he saw machinery warehouses, which made his mind run a few calculations. Such as how fast one could reach the warehouses by running and walking as compared to driving.

His mind turned over the hidden gun and its possibilities.

What if there was only one bullet? What if he could only choose to kill either the man who was driving the car or the woman?

He decided, should he find himself brave enough, that the woman would be the first to die. He could bluff the man by putting the gun to the back of his head. He wouldn't know it was empty, right? How could someone tell?

He shifted his legs, feeling the cool metal against his skin. It was ridiculously uncomfortable, and he had long since begun to sweat thinking that sooner or later the woman next to him would notice something was not quite right with the bulge in his pants. That he was entirely too well-endowed.

Damn Killer.

The factory was drawing closer, the scenery thinning out so that only sand and the black outlines of machines remained for miles in every direction. This place really was a secluded wasteland. Why anyone would want it was beyond him. Why Crocodile would go to such lengths to rip it from Kidd's possession baffled him. Angered him.

Ace was suffering because of this idiocy.

His thoughts cycled back to the gun, for he could see Miss Doublefinger's gun attached to her belt. How was he to deal with that confound?

Wait. Two hands. Two guns. Two bullets.

In his strained state, it added up to getting even.

He ghosted his left hand down his side, lifting the hem of his sweater and delving his fingertips past the waistband of his jeans. His skin crawled with what he was doing, what he was about to do. His breath came out in even pants, his lips parted and drier than the steel his fingers brushed up against. He tentatively touched it with his fingers, feeling the gun's handle and then its stubby barrel, returning to where its trigger was. He closed his hands around the tiny handle, finger on the trigger…

He dove with his right hand for the gun in between the woman's leather pants and belt, ignoring the sudden pain of his arm receiving needles in the form of Miss Doublefingers nails. He grasped the gun's handle and drew it from its hold, moving it only a few inches so the barrel's lips were kissing the woman's abdomen. At the same time he pointed the tiny Taurus at the backside of Mr. 5's head, nestling it in his short dreadlocks.

"Move and I shoot!" he yelled, the first thing that had come into his mind.

The car rocked to the side as Mr. 5 jerked before recovering from his shock. Miss Doublefingers had shrieked, but Law's ears no longer heard anything but his own rumbling thoughts that were telling him that he was about to be fucked over in some way.

"Miss Doublefingers!" Mr. 5 cried from the front.

It seemed the prickly witch was so astonished she was unable to reply, which confirmed his suspicion that the gun was indeed loaded and the safety was either nonexistent or not engaged.

Before her sense came trickling back, Law shouted his next orders. "Pull over!"

"What?"

"You heard me," Law said to Mr. 5, keeping his voice remarkably calm. "I'll kill both of you otherwise."

The car didn't immediately slow down, so Law shouted his orders again, feeling stronger this time and channeling his anger at knowing Ace was suffering into his tone. He didn't tear his eyes off of the woman, but he knew Mr. 5 wasn't going to simply let her die.

Finally, it was Miss Doublefingers that brought everything to a head. "Do as he says, idiot! There's no goddamn safety on my gun!"

The car slowed. Before it stopped completely, Law said, "Don't do anything stupid or I shoot. I'll give you directions when we stop. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and keep the car running."

Mr. 5, surprisingly, did as he was told. That much Law was able to gather from his peripheral view of the man. "I want you to put your gun on the dash, then put your hands in the air and step out of the car."

This time he did turn his head so he could see more of Mr. 5. He half expected the man to turn on him with his gun and was elated to find his words were obeyed rather than questioned. A heavy revolver was dropped on the dash and the door was unlocked. He had to move quickly now. "Miss Doublefingers, get out."

The woman carefully removed herself from the vehicle, a bit too slowly for Law's liking. He scrambled out after her, keeping the gun constantly pressed against her body. The other gun he pointed at the man with his hands rather lazily up in the air, who regarded him with such apathy that Law believed he was missing something important.

The woman put her hands into the air, straight as rods of steel. She, at least, was rightfully worried about the situation.

Now that he had them both out of the car and at his mercy, what was he to tell them to do next?

Law fought to keep his facial expression from contorting and showing any other emotion besides confidence. He couldn't tell what Mr. 5 was thinking with his dark sunglasses and his ugly grimace.

His heart stopped when the man lowered his arms and reached inside his ruddy brown trenchcoat, withdrawing a flintlock revolver that looked like it had been constructed during the Golden Age of Sail. Law heard the sickening sound of it being readied for fire, and then found it pointed straight at his head.

"Boy, you should'a took the safety off yer gun."

Law frowned and focused his eyes on the Taurus. There was some sort key and chain sticking out of its top. He had a feeling this was a problem for him.

He was down to one bullet and he was in the path of fire.

"You really want her to die?"

He saw something change in the set of the man's mouth. Law had Miss Doublefingers at point blank while Mr. 5 knew his shot had a small chance of missing its mark. It was a small chance, yet it was large enough to deepen the man's frown.

Law decided to try an ultimatum. "Drop your gun and walk away and I won't kill either of you."

"Do as he says you moron!" Miss Duoblefingers shrieked. Like before, this seemed to be enough to incite Mr. 5 into action. With an ugly snort he let his gun drop into the wispy sand that was being blown about by the slight breeze.

Law held his pose, only he lowered the useless Taurus that had been the cause of a near upset to his plan. "Turn around and walk away."

Mr. 5 was hesitant at first, but at length he turned his back on the situation and began to wander off. Law waited until he was a good distance away, then returned his focus to Miss Doublefingers.

To say it was extremely satisfying to push her to the ground would be an understatement.

He made a dash for the car, well aware that before Miss Doublefingers got a mouthful of sand she had screamed as if he had actually shot her. Mr. 5 was doubling back, heading for his fallen gun. Law rounded the front of the car and dove into the driver's seat as he reached his instrument of death.

Despite never having driven a car, after getting it out of park Law got the hang of pressing the gas to go forward. The car lurched and jerked its way back towards the road, going in the general direction the road was going. He found that the steering wheel was far more sensitive than he thought it would be, and that driving a car in the same smooth fashion as Kidd or even Killer had was no easy feat. At least not for him.

All of a sudden he felt glass on his neck and lost his breath, jerking the wheel to the right as he tried to escape whatever had made the piercing noise. The rearview mirror showed him the hole where the back windshield had been, and the mess of fragmented glass in the backseat.

That was no bullet that had been launched in his direction. That had been nothing short of a goddamn bomb.

He put both feet on the gas pedal, trying to get it flush with the floor. The euphoria and terror he felt in equal spades, for he had escaped a certain death, had his entire body shaking. He dared to tear his eyes away from what lay ahead to what lay behind. Looking over his shoulder showed him too figures far enough away that he felt, dare he even think it, safe. For now.

He breathed deeply for the first time in what felt like an hour. He was okay. He was not dead yet. Nor was he even hurt, save for the puncture wound on his arm. His pessimism convinced him it was a miniscule pain compared to whatever Ace was currently suffering.

His eyes roved he wasteland as he approached the factory. He turned the car towards the warehouses he saw towards an obvious fork in the dark dirt road. He bumbled over the sand in that direction, coming close enough to the storage sign spoken of by Miss Doublefingers to read the faded lettering. He headed left, turning too sharply and causing the vehicle to skitter dangerously in a lop-sided fashion before righting itself.

The shifting of the vehicle caused the revolver on the dash to clatter around in front of his eyes. He made a grab for it and flung it onto the seat next to him with the other guns. He had dropped both guns next to him, and only now did he give them all attention. He would need one at least, right?

He would bring all three, he decided. Just in case.

It occurred to him that wherever he stopped he would have to run for cover. He couldn't parade out in the open. It also occurred to him that he hadn't thought to confiscate Miss Doublefingers' phone.

Surely Mr. 1 would be warned of his escape from confinement. Would be told of the car, of the guns, of Law's inability to take the safety off the damn Taurus that had nearly caused his downfall.

Goddamn he needed to get rid of the car before he continued much farther. He settled on ditching it near warehouse nine. They were all lined up with even numbers in the back and odd numbers in the front. Warehouse eleven, his destination, was next to nine.

No one was around, which struck him as eerie and foreboding. There was a portentous quality to the factory, and when he stopped the car in between warehouses nine and seven, he held his breath, half expecting to hear something that would indicate life.

There was nothing but the slight breeze kicking up a thin sheen of sand.

He stuffed the Taurus where Killer had advised he keep it and took the two revolvers, one in each hand, and examined them. They would discharge at the touch of the trigger. Did he dare try to figure out how make them less dangerous?

He didn't have time, so he kept the smaller of the two guns and placed it strategically in his sweater pocket so that, if it did discharge a shot, the barrel at least wouldn't be pointed at his stomach.

When he scrambled out of the car he tossed the other revolver in the sand under the vehicle, hiding it from sight and effectively getting it away from him. Then he stood, awkwardly, and considered his next move.

Well, he couldn't stay here. And he guessed that going directly to warehouse eleven was a plan bound to fail, so he headed to warehouse seven instead.

There were a number of metal stairwells leading to various levels all down the side of the towering warehouse. He choose the second stairwell on a whim, cursing when he realized that the sand was keeping his trail obvious to onlookers. His tracks would not be covered by the whims of the wind, for it was not strong enough today.

He reached the stairwell and bolted up the metal steps to the first door on the side of the building. Drawing the loaded revolver out of his pocket, he tried the doorknob on the door.

Locked.

He cursed, looked around for any signs of life, and upon seeing none continued up the next flight of stairs to the door above. He readied himself again and tried the door.

Locked again.

He resisted slamming his fist down on the door. Instead he caught sight of a couple tin cans resting on the landing against the side of the warehouse. They were covered in a thin coating of sand, as most everything was, only these looked suspiciously like they hadn't been outside for as long as the stairs or the random planks of wood and sheet metal that he'd encountered on the other landing below.

Idiots, he thought as he searched the insides of the tins. Sure enough, his hunch was right. He had found a set of keys in one of them.

Triumphant, he tried the first key out of a possible three on the door. It was not the right one for the lock, so he moved on. And on. And on. Until there were no keys left to try and he was stuck with useless pieces of metal and one door that stubbornly remained locked.

This was turning out to be a real mindfuck.

He turned away from the door and his eyes were drawn to movement that made him sink back against the door and huddle into a ball to watch.

People had found the car and were searching it. One man even looked under it, which admittedly surprised Law. The revolver was found, but of course his presence was missing, yet not so very far away.

His heart pounded as he thought of the tracks in the sand.

Without waiting to see how this search of the vehicle would progress, he turned back to the door. From his knees he tried all the keys again, getting much the same result.

Angrily he glared at them, noticing for the first time the numbers engraved in them: 7-2-3, 7-2-1, and 7-3-1. Similar, yet different codes.

7. This was warehouse seven that he was trying to break into. The second floor or so to be exact. Yet none of the keys worked.

He looked to his left and then his right. To either side there was a single stairwell about thirty feet off, and he was trapped on the middle one with men down on the ground searching for him. Likely with the intention of skinning him alive.

He blinked. Three stairwells. He looked at the keys.

Well, the tracks in the sand assured him he'd be found eventually anyway. So he got up and continued up the next flight, hoping that he was on to something.

Voice filtered up through the sandy debris in the air to reach his ears. It was obvious that they'd found him, so obvious that he didn't need to look behind him to figure that much out.

He reached the top of the stairwell and spared one glance behind him. There were four men rushing his stairwell. His new pursuers.

He fumbled with the keys, finding the one he most wanted to try on the door in front of him. His hopes were all in a single key, and when he inserted it his insides clenched, for at first it wouldn't turn. Then, with a soft grating noise, it turned to the side and he heard a lock being lifted.

"Fuck, yes," Law muttered as he heaved open the door with shaky arms. Inside was dark and he dove in, closing the door after him. Sense made him lock it behind him before he advanced. He prayed there weren't multiple sets of keys floating around.

He turned to find himself in a dimly lit storage room, the expanse of which spanned what almost seemed to Law to be the length of a short street. It housed machinery, and from what he could see it afforded many, many places to hide.

On the ground floor. Where he was currently was nothing more than an observation deck with a rail to overlook the machines. No place to hid save for a lone trashcan too small to fit even his emancipated body into.

He pushed on with the pressing thought that there were people directly behind him. He jogged over to the rail and got a better look at what he was dealing with. Machinery that weights several tons was parked in the warehouse and, in the centre of this, was a gathering. At the epicentre of this gathering was a splotch of red.

His heart flipped.

Well, he now knew where Kidd had ended up.


A.N.: If this story were a train it would have gone off the tracks, down the face of a mountain, and then into the ocean after just pulling out of the station. I think that paints a picture of how I feel at this point, hah. This is NOT how I wanted the chapter to turn out…especially the end, like what the heck? Kidd?

Oh well, I will continue onward regardless, because there seems to be a lot of support out there for this…train wreck.

You are all too kind, really.

But seriously though, Kidd? You were not part of the original plan T.T