A Dance for Two

Seventeen – Seventeenth Scalding

He found he was experiencing mixed feelings about his findings.

On one hand he wanted nothing more than to throw himself off the railing and land crotch first on Kidd's face to punish him for running off so abruptly. On the other he wanted to take a sledgehammer to the head of the man who was so obviously threatening Kidd, crush his skull and then step on his face until it was unrecognizable beneath his sand-filled sneakers, and then passionately kiss the redhead senseless in front of a gaping crowd.

There was also the problem of Kidd being currently tied down to a chair and held at gunpoint that really put his feelings into a downward spiral.

Damn that man for messing with his emotions. He was here to save Ace, not to experience his toes curling in anger over the sight of Kidd bound and helpless and completely at the mercy of men.

He moved back from the rail upon hearing a sound. Pounding on the door he had just ventured through. His pursuers had caught up to him.

He darted down the length of the warehouse, all too aware that his footfall echoed throughout the cavernous space. Surely those below would hear him and wonder what was going on above? He had to find a hiding place, and fast.

As he was running he noticed a red light illuminated over a double gray door. Slowing, he recognized it to be an elevator.

That was as good as it was going to get.

He reached the closed doors and pounded the button to go down. The doors opened without delay, the elevator having been already at his level. He jumped in automatically and punched in his destination with such force that the buttons lit up and then unlit themselves in an instant, and he had to repeat his actions to get the damned thing to start moving.

As he began his descent, Law was surprised to find his mind was not focused on his predicament but on Kidd's predicament. He couldn't deny the fact that he felt distress not only for himself but for Kidd. He also realized that he had a conscience that was perhaps more or less making his decisions for him, because he was sure his brain was not doing the operating any more.

He would fucking rescue Kidd's sorry ass; that his conscience informed him.

He was going to fucking die rescuing Kidd's sorry ass; that his brain assured him.

When the elevator opened he darted to the nearest hiding place, streaking across the expanse of open concrete and metal to reach the machinery that was packed in tightly. Now that he was down in the belly of the warehouse he could see it was more of a factory that had been converted into a storage area. Half of the machines looked to be intact, but what they produced Law couldn't fathom. It all looked like gears, conveyer belts, vats, and metal bits to him. He betted Kidd knew what everything was.

Kidd. Kidd was beyond the machinery in a clearing of sorts, though Law couldn't really liken the warehouse to a meadow surrounded by trees. There were no chirping lovebirds here or swaying flowers. There was nothing romantic at all about this situation. Yet it was here that Law knew he'd decide whether or not he would ever come to love the bastard. He just knew it was judgement time; it was an undeniable gut feeling.

The butterflies in his stomach started fluttering uncontrollably when he edged close enough to see flaming red hair and broad shoulders.

Oh God, Law thought in sudden despair, He's like a tumour that has been growing in me undetected. He's going to literally cost me my fucking life cause I can't bloody well remove him at this point.

He was crouched behind the oversized tire of a grater, and trying to remove the gun from his jeans only to find that he had to unzip his fly and reveal his tighty whiteys to do so. When he finally got his little pistol out he examined the chain that was connected to a key. He recalled that it was the safety mechanism and began to fiddle with it until he got the key out. Was that it? Did he unsafe the damn thing?

The only way to tell would be to shoot it off.

He crept closer, close enough to see what was going on clearly but not to hear what was being said. He could tell, however, that the conversation was bordering on the edge of becoming violent. Unless of course these fellows he was planning on somehow dispatching normally shouted and waved their arms and guns around like lunatics when talking with people.

From this angle Law couldn't tell what was holding Kidd to the chair. He prayed it wasn't handcuffs behind his back, but at this point plain old rope wasn't much better. He could see six men from his hiding place a good twenty feet off, but his pessimism said that there had to be others around the warehouse. Others that would pick him off when he made his move.

He had to be smart about this.

Or at least that's what he thought before the explosion blew shit up.

The suddenness of seeing half the building collapse and the sound deafening him left his lungs without air and his chest without a working heart. He could only watch as the platform he had been standing on minutes before hoping into the elevator was knocked to the ground by the level above it along the roof, which fell in to leave a gap where the sun shown through the dust particles.

Law swallowed his shock, ignoring the debris that continued to fall from the roof, the hole in the far left side of the warehouse roof inching closer to him, widening as more beams fell down on the machines. The sickening crunching of wood and metal spurred him on and he began to run, no longer focused on keeping his cover.

The men, he found, had all but fled. Two remained, trying to figure out a way in which to take Kidd with them. The rest were obviously self-interested, paid off by Crocodile to do one job and one job only, and it was not in that job description to hang around while shit was getting blown up around them.

Law raised his gun. He couldn't hear a thing after the explosion, the ringing in his ears informing him that he'd become indifferent to sound. His mind prayed it wouldn't be permanent, but for now he had other things to worry about. A beam plummeted to the earth near him, too close for comfort. He could have been impaled by it had he stopped to think about what he was doing.

So he surged forth as if on the back of a tidal wave. Kidd saw him first. The recognition and following angry eyebrow-less glare of doom made Hell all worthwhile. He had totally pissed Kidd off for coming to his rescue. Oh, Law was planning to never let the bastard forget this damsel in distress moment.

He raised the gun and tried to aim while running, finding it impossible, and so stopped and fired his first shot from a considerable distance. He missed horribly, but he had the attention of the two men trying to whisk their hostage away so he shot again. The bullet embedded itself in a nearby tire, popping it. The machine it was attached to began to shift dangerously, becoming a further cause of alarm.

The two men took off running despite the fact that Law could see they had guns themselves. He didn't care. He had reached Kidd only to find it was indeed rope rather than handcuffs he had to deal with.

It was times like these where his skills as a stripper really came in handy.

Yes, he had considerable knot-tying skills. It was a fucking talent to be able to tie up a man and hang him like a fucking art piece from the ceiling of a strip club on BDSM night, which happened every two weeks on the Friday. Knots were nothing to him. Kidd was loosed in no time flat.

But boy, the second he loosed Kidd and the damned man seized his shoulders, not for the purpose of kissing him passionately but to yell at him, Law began to regret untying the bastard.

Law shook his head and pointed at his ears as Kidd unleashed a torrent of what Law could only grasp as terrible, horrible things from his pale lips. He couldn't hear a damn thing, gesturing to his ears first and then to the bloody roof debris falling down to their left but rapidly getting closer to their location.

"You fucking idiot, we have to get out of here!" Law screeched, not entirely sure how loud he actually was in the chaos. "Let go of me! Hey!"

Kidd was so obviously deaf, too, that Law did the only thing he could think to do in such a situation. He threw his arm back, gathered all his force and willpower, and slapped Kidd, hard, right across his bright-red-from-yelling-like-a-moron face.

He regained his breath as Kidd cradled his cheek, his mouth wide open and gaping so that the dust swirling all around them floated into it to seek shelter. When he finally closed his mouth Law had regained breath enough to grab Kidd by the collar of his shirt. All around them now the roof was caving in, dropping beams and shingles like clouds drop rain. Law decided, then, that their first order of business since their fated reunion would be to seek sanctuary from the storm.

He dragged a visibly stunned Kidd a few feet at a jog and then found a suitable hiding place under a mega-sized dump truck. At first Kidd wouldn't follow him under, but a splintered block of wood that nearly landed across his toes convinced him otherwise.

So there they were, safe under their truck, while the whole world came down around them.

"This is the fucking end," moaned Law. Kidd squinted at him. Both were on their stomachs, though there was enough space between the underbelly of the vehicle and the ground to partially sit up. Still, Law wanted to shrivel up like a leech in the sun so he was as small as possible. There were still people out there with guns that were very much willing to kill him since he had direct influence in the escape of their redheaded ex-hostage.

Damn. He should have just turned around and went for Ace instead.

Kidd spoke to him but at Law's blank stare finally realized that Law was just as deaf as he was.

"You dumb fuck," Law said with a straight face. A bunch of debris landed near their vehicle, nails and shingles splattering outwards. Some created a bit of a shield on their side, for which Law was grateful. "You stupid, stupid idiot," he continued. Kidd simply blinked at him, his face as blank as before. "I bloody hate you. I think you're a high and mighty asshole and I'm glad you finally get to taste the dirt because that's what I taste every fucking day. You know, I'm really fucking mad at you. I think you're a fucking turd for running off on your own just to play the fucking hero. A real piece of shit, that's you. And not just any shit, you're fucking cow shit. That's right, cow shit. Fucking cow crap."

Kidd mouthed something to him that oddly enough resembled an apology, but Law couldn't exactly read lips and confirm this. The only thing he had to go by was the soft, almost delicate kiss Kidd placed on his cheek. Then Kidd wrapped an arm around Law's back and wriggled closer, nuzzling into Law's neck.

Law was speechless, which didn't affect to any degree the fact that they were still deaf and cowering while a building feel down on top of them.

Kidd was entirely too calm for this type of situation.

Then he realized, vaguely, that his hearing was returning. He could hear the pitter-patter of debris raining down on their haven, could even hear, albeit faintly, Kidd's heavy breathing next to his ear.

"I'm so, so sorry Heart."

He could hear that. It became impossible to pass off as a sensory hallucination when Kidd kept repeating it over and over and over again. His deep voice filled Law's mind, along with the crunching and grinding of the warehouse as it crumbled.

And then it was quiet save for a few renegade chunks that fell from above, and Kidd's voice was the only thing he heard, and his warmth was the only thing he felt as Kidd flipped him over onto his back and crouched over him.

Exhaustion hit Law and he let Kidd kiss where he would have normally had tear marks under his eyes and take both of his wrists to pin above his head. No, not pin; Kidd's fingers fit in between his own and his eyes bore into his, searching for Law's very soul.

That deep, longing look lasted only as long as Kidd's self-control. In other words, it was not long at all before Kidd's lips were on his and his tongue was in Law's mouth, making sure to taste him thoroughly. And, goddamn, Law kissed him back, euphoria filling him as he realized the plain and simple fact that he was still alive.

Kidd eventually broke their kiss, leaving a trail of saliva that momentarily connected them. "So you think I'm a cow turd?"

Law pursed his lips. Shit. Kidd had heard that much. How much had he heard? "I think you're a cow turd," Law whispered.

"What?" Kidd asked, turning his head to indicate his ears were still recovering.

"I think you're a fucking cow shit!" Law shouted, and Kidd heard him then as he reared back and hit the top of his head on the underside of the truck. His spat curses out while Law flopped over and wriggled out from under Kidd. The explosion had made his mind foggy, but now he was back on his mission. One man down, one to go. He still had to retrieve Ace.

The first step to achieve this, he knew, was getting out of the warehouse before the gunmen came back to see if they could confirm their deaths by debris.

Law crawled out from under the truck, Kidd hot on his heels and protesting all the while. Law was hesitant when he saw the degree of damage. The left side of the warehouse was indistinguishable, just a solid mass of stuff. The right side, where their truck was located, was heavily damaged but not entirely ruined.

"The fuck are you wearing? Running shoes?" Kidd asked.

Law turned to him with a look of disbelief plastered across his face. "I know I'm a fucking stripper but I can't always wear the kinkiest high heels I can find! Give me a goddamn break."

It was Kidd's turn now to give Law a look of disbelief, which indeed rivaled the disbelief of Law. "What? No! That's not what I meant! Your shoes wont stop nails from piercing your feet whereas my boots will. Come here, I'll carry you…"

Law, mouth open, shook his head slowly and deliberately. "No. I can fucking walk on my own two legs."

"You can fucking walk for now, but when you get a nail embedded in your foot or toe or whatever, then you're not going to be much of a walker and I'll be stuck carrying you until we leave this fucking place. Now get on my back."

As much as Law didn't like to admit it, Kidd was right. He was wearing steel-toed boots that offered much more protection than Law's sneakers ever could have, even in their glory days.

So he took one last look around the place, which was all dust and rubble, and nodded that he understood. The reason for the explosion was no more clear than it was before. It was clear, however, that they needed to leave as soon as possible. He just hoped there wouldn't be people waiting on the other side of the wall.

Kidd dipped down just low enough that Law could jump up onto his back. As much as Law didn't like the idea of piggy-backing, he was smart enough to know Kidd was right and that the chances of him stepping on a nail and getting tetanus were remarkably high given the amount of shingles that had been deposited on the ground all around them.

Still, that didn't mean he simply went along with the whole thing.

"Giddy up, ass." Law kicked his heels into Kidd's thighs. "Ya!"

"So now I'm your donkey," Kidd grumbled, uncomfortably jostling Law by lurching forward suddenly and hiking over a pile of metal plating that had fallen from the roof. He felt Law's arms tighten around his neck with such propensity that he grinned. Once a pole dancer always a pole dancer.

Law was, as always, light as could be, and Kidd crossed the danger zone in no time even with the liability of a body on his back. Law had been hoping Kidd knew his way around his investment and he wasn't disappointed; they found themselves contemplating how to go about opening the door to the outside world of sand. For it was locked.

"Stand back, I'll try to break it open," Kidd said, depositing Law on his feet once more.

Law shoved his hands into the pocket of his sweatshirt. "Wait, I have keys!"

"Which ones?" Kidd asked, skeptical. Law thrust them into his hands. Kidd hastily checked the numbers on them, and Law felt his head grow light when Kidd shook his head. "These are for the opposite side. There's no way we're going over there. It could collapse at any moment."

Law rubbed at his eyes, trying to remove the dust from his tear ducts. "Hell this whole place could collapse at any moment, Kidd."

Kidd grunted and continued his examination of the metal door that Law knew was several inches of steel too thick for any one man to kick in. Then, much to Law's amusement and horror, Kidd braced himself on one leg and did in fact kick the door. Nothing happened, and Law felt like laughing in that way people laugh when they're so exasperated and at the end of their ropes. Kidd, occasionally, struck him as a child.

"Hey, Mr. Eustass! Heart!"

Law turned. No. There was no way that the guy running towards them was Eddie Heat. But, yes, it certainly was because Law didn't think there were many guys around that wore dreadlocks quite the way Eddie did. And boy did those dreadlocks bounce as Eddie raced over to them.

Law found himself squished between Kidd and the wall, and it occurred to him that Kidd was using his body as a shield. Cute.

Eddie came to halt, out of breath and unable to speak. Not that it mattered considering Kidd was so pissed off that Eddie was unable to get a word in.

"The fuck are you doing here? I thought I told you to go back! And why did you run across the whole place, you probably just gave away our position! You idiot!"

Eddie caught his breath and sidled closer to them, and Law didn't miss the way Kidd backed up into his body to further protect him. It was too possessive not to be noticed.

"Wire and I were tracking you, Heart," Eddie finally said. Law stood on his tippy-toes to see over Kidd's shoulder, his eyebrows raised. "Killer gave you the gun, and I know you've still got it on you. Still…to think you saved our boss. Thank you!"

Here Eddie was getting that strange look in his eye that told Law he was bedazzled by his charm as a miracle worker. It was so strange, now that Law reflected on it, that Eddie would act so enamoured by his abilities, especially since when he'd first encountered Eddie he'd been nothing but short, snappy and rather rude. Then again, he had been freshly shot in the stomach at the time of their first meeting.

Kidd turned to him, "You have a gun?"

Law bit his lips and unzipped the fly of his jeans, withdrawing the terribly awkward pistol that had been jabbing and abusing him for much too long out into the open. "Yep."

"You hid the gun in your crotch?" Kidd asked, shock making him unhinge his jaw. "So that's the hard thing I felt when I climbed on top of you. I had thought it was, well, you know."

Eddie stared on, slightly perturbed by the words that had come out of his boss's mouth. Law simply rubbed at his temples. He had such a headache, not just from the explosion, but from this whole debacle.

His nerves were fried and he hadn't gotten any closer to achieving his mission. "Fuck," he muttered. Kidd and Eddie turned to him so expectantly he thought it only fair to elaborate. "Look, I came here to rescue someone." At this Kidd visibly perked. "And believe it or not it isn't you," Law concluded, making Kidd grow all at once confused, angry and just a touch green with jealousy.

Eddie took a substantial step back when Kidd glared at him. "H-hey, he didn't come for me!"

"I have to go," Law declared. Kidd stepped in front of him. "Move."

"You mean that Ace guy?" hissed Kidd.

Law glowered and blew hot air from his nostrils, feeling very bull-like now that Kidd was getting in his way. "Ya, 'that Ace guy' is the guy I came to rescue."

Kidd's glower deepened. "That fucking Ace guy is the reason I got caught and that fucking Ace guy is going to get the police involved in this shit."

Law felt his heart flip. "What? What happened? Where is Ace?"

"Ace left. He ran for it," grumbled Kidd.

"He…ran away?" Law asked, perplexed. That did not sound like the headstrong Ace he knew. "Was he hurt? I don't believe he'd just take off and leave you…"

"I told him to," Kidd growled. "I also told him not to get the police involved in this, but he told me there was no way he was going to let me die here and that he had 'connections', whatever that means. Fucking moron. He probably got killed running out of here."

Law clenched his jaw and took a deep breath. Only when he was sure he wasn't going to explode did he open his mouth.

"You fuck."

Kidd blinked at him and touched his ear as if he wasn't sure if his hearing had come back to him in its entirety. "What?"

"Nothing you dummy," said Law, just to further piss off Kidd. Much to his surprise, however, it did not work as he thought it might. Kidd instead took a step forward and seized Law by his shoulders, then leaned in to kiss him. When Kidd pulled away it was Law's turn to ask, "What?"

"I just love you so much," Kidd said in that infuriatingly simple way he often conveyed things. "Nobody stands up to me and calls me a dump fuck or cow turd."

"What?" Eddie asked, bewildered.

"Shut up, Eddie, or I'll break your nose," Kidd growled. Eddie nodded with a tiny grimace to suggest that Kidd's abuse was commonplace. "I want you to take Heart with you and get out of here. Take the back roads around the side of the main plant."

"Sure boss," Eddie mumbled.

Law squared his shoulders and looked Kidd in the eye. "Where are you going?"

"To take down a lizard," Kidd grumbled.

Law didn't know why, but all of a sudden he pounced on Kidd, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt. "Don't you fucking dare. Leave him to the police. Let's get out of here!"

He was surprised when Kidd wrapped his thick arms around him and crushed him to his chest. His face went red, and he could see Eddie off to the side casually looking away. As if that made it any more private.

"Are you really okay with that?" Kidd asked. "Because I'm not."

Law took a deep breath, trying in vain to curb his anger. It was creeping up, painting his neck and cheeks red. "No. Don't even go there. How could I be okay about anything related to him?"

"Right, which is a small part of the reason why I'm going to get rid of him," Kidd grumbled. "It's personal for me, too."

"I know that, but you're being stupid here."

"I'm the one being stupid?" Law nodded. "Well, fine. Eddie, grab him. Don't let him go."

Law jumped as Eddie seized him by the arm. "Come on, Heart."

Kidd took the opportunity to stalk off and Law watched him go across the rubble to the other side with the key chain, not intending to give chase. Eddie had him in an iron grip. Besides, the best tactic was to wait for Kidd to be unaware of him, and that was achieved by waiting.

He let Eddie steer him towards what Law assumed was another exit they could try. As soon as Kidd was out of sight, however, getting rid of Eddie became the focus of Law's world.

There was no fucking way he was going to let Kidd have the satisfaction of dealing with Crocodile. The satisfaction belonged entirely to him, not Kidd.

"Eddie, let go of me," Law said sternly, giving his arm a shake. Eddie wouldn't budge.

"Don't get me fired and cause my death, please," Eddie said quickly. "Kidd will seriously kill me if I fail him. He's not exactly a nice guy if you get on his bad side, and you're just the thing that could cause him to explode."

"I am not a thing, I am a person who really wants their freedom, so let go," Law growled. "Now tell me Eddie, what exactly is Kidd going to do when he finds Crocodile? Huh?"

"How should I know?" Eddie cried, stopping momentarily as Law dug his heels into the debris. It was less severe so over where they were now, but Law could still pick out pointy things that could cause him injury. Luckily they were highly visible for the most part, and Eddie was picking his way carefully over them. "Mr. Eustass will probably attempt to kill him. But we have really good lawyers so…Angel?"

"Not my name, nor is Heart," Law snapped. "Now let go before I get nasty. You should be more afraid of me than Kidd."

Eddie stared at him as if to question his statement. It was enough to throw Law over the edge, and without hesitation he twisted his body around, brought his leg up, and did a dramatic kick outwards with a flourish of his heel. Very pole dancer-esque. His heel was forced into the fleshy area just beneath Eddie's ribs, and with a gasp of pain Eddie let go of his arm. Then, Law bolted. Because running was also something he was superb at.

He ignored the panicked cries behind him and took off in the direction Kidd had gone, no longer overly concerned about contracting tetanus. He would be more than willing to saw off both his feet in return for Crocodile's agonizing death if it came to that. It was his hands he wasn't willing to lose, as that would put his dream in jeopardy.

He located the doorway Kidd had passed through. As was Kidd's style when angry, he did not turn around to close the door after him, and Law spilled out into the desert, his shoes sinking into the sand. He worked harder to gain speed as traction decreased and every step he took he tried to widen his strides. Losing Eddie was far too easy; the man was not built for running, clearly. A quick glance over his shoulder showed him straggling behind, becoming bogged down in the sand while Law was like a gazelle. An admittedly carnivorous gazelle with a taste for lizard blood, but a gazelle nonetheless.

The tracks in the sand told him exactly where Kidd was headed and he followed them doggedly. They led him to another open door of yet another warehouse, only it looked like this one had some sort of office building above it. He was fairly certain this was the headquarters for this particular place. The huge logo splashed across the side of the building in bold, almost obnoxious script indicated he was probably right. Kidd did, after all, have a preference for the obnoxious and bold, especially when it came to colours and patterns.

He went inside and slowed to a crawl as the sand disappeared, knocked off the bottom of Kidd's boots until there was no trail left to follow. Law looked around, taking in the large columns and heavy machinery. This place seemed to be more dangerous than the last. There was a lot of steel, very shiny, sharp looking steel in some places. Looking up at a conveyor belt and the gears cranking away Law was rather sure his body could easily be torn in two and then cubed and boxed up. Here was a place where large beams of steel were shorn and cut and modified via chambers of fiery flames.

It was quite the intimidating place, even with most of the machines currently inactive.

Law made his way past a tower that had toothy levers sticking out of it and continued down the stretch of concrete that was something of a path between the machines. It branched off into several different ones and Law stopped to stare at each in turn. Which one was the right one? Had Kidd even come down this way?

Sudden blinding pain around his neck, choking him, and Law realized he'd been nabbed from behind. He jabbed an elbow backward but it felt like he'd hit a steel plate. "Kidd!?" he screeched, but got no answer. "Eddie?" Still nothing.

It dawned on Law as a thick arm came around his neck, starving him of oxygen, that it was neither Kidd or Eddie that had found him. No, this was someone else. Someone who wanted him dead.

The colour drained from his face when he heard the man's voice in his ear. "How did I know you were going to show up, Law?"

The chilly, metallic tone sent the hairs on the back of Law's neck to attention, standing erect as could be. He gasped for air, his hands trying to pry the arm off of his neck, and found his feet kicked out from under him. He slumped to the ground, finally seeing the face he had dreaded to see again.

"You've grown so much, you little bitch," grumbled Mr. 1. His muscular fingers wrapped around Law's thin throat and squeezed, bringing tears to his eyes that he rapidly blinked away. "I don't think I'll let Crocodile have fun with you any more. I think it's my turn to have fun with you. By using you as my punching bag."

Law knew the telling signs of faintness. Still, he felt when Mr. 1's fingers wrapped around the two earrings on his left ear. He felt a sharp pain.

"I should rip these out," Mr. 1 hissed. "Make you bleed."

Unexpectedly, Mr. 1 let up on Law's windpipe before it was crushed, and Law sucked in breath enough to fill a hot air balloon. He lay under the broad frame of this man panting and bleary-eyed, not entirely sure if he should even waste energy trying to fight him off. He was doomed, fucking doomed.

Fucking Kidd, where was he?

"You don't know how long I've wanted to smash your face in and crush every bone in your body, just for being the boss's special pet."

Oxygen deprivation made Law light-headed and, as a result, a fool. "So, you were jealous?"

Mr. 1 cuffed him in the side of the head, and it was like being hit by a freight train. "And now you're Eustass Kidd's little slut. You didn't change much, did you?"

Law swallowed, tasting his own blood sliding down his throat. He'd bitten his cheek, and he could feel the jagged cut with his tongue. Regardless, he was not so much a bitch as to just roll over and take this man's abuse. "Oh, I changed. Kidd's a much better man than Croc ever was. You haven't changed. You still follow Croc around like his little personal bitch. Always have. More than me. I was his bitch in name only."

Mr. 1's normally impassive face contorted into the most disgusting of shapes, all hard contours and wrinkles. Law could feel the air moving out of the way of Mr. 1's fist, but before he could land a blow there was a flash of white and grey. Law flinched and screwed his eyes shut, waiting for impact, and heard the curious sound of a hollow, deep smack.

His eyes flew open the moment there was no more weight covering his body. Who he saw standing there with a beam over his shoulder, smirking triumphantly, made his mouth go dry.

"18 inch lead pipe. Has sufficient weight and force while maintaining versatility," said Bepo with an exhausted huff. He then let the pipe drop from his hand to the concrete, rattle and roll away. Law was shakily helped to his feet, but he let go of Bepo's hand to take a step back, emotions flooding him.

"Oh for fuck's sake, Bepo. I can't believe you're here. Didn't I tell you not to come after me?"

"But it's a good thing I did," Bepo said in all seriousness. "Law…you should have told me. You can't just go ahead by yourself forever! You pushed me away once before, and look what happened that time! And now this! You were going to be killed!"

Guilt flooded Law and his knees buckled, but he recovered in time to give Bepo a big bear hug. "Thank God, you big bear, you. I don't know what I would do without you."

"I know," Bepo said, wrapping his arms around Law's back. "Besides, you can't really say that I shouldn't be here. Mr. 1 was mine to get."

Law looked over at the crumpled heap on the ground, his heart fluttering. Blood pooled around the body, concentrated at the head. Law had no doubt that the man was still alive, but without medical attention the question was simply for how long.

Law turned away. "Crocodile's mine. For what…he did. I'm going to make him suffer. I don't care that it makes me seem like a vengeful idiot and it's a stupid, life-risking thing to do, I just–"

"No, I understand," Bepo said with a great, laborious sigh. "Just…let me come with you this time?"

"Yeah," Law whispered, nodding weakly. "Just…try not to get hurt? I couldn't stand losing you."

"Just as I couldn't stand losing you," Bepo retorted. "Seriously Law, you're my best friend!"

Law couldn't help himself. His lip started to wobble and he threw himself at Bepo again, if only so Bepo didn't have to see the tears gathering on his eyelashes. "I've never loved anyone as much as I love you."

"Not even that Kidd guy?" Bepo asked as he squeezed Law and patted his back in an effort to calm him.

"Kidd has his perks, but you're my number one!"

Bepo let out a guttural grunt. "I'm going to stop you before you get too gushy on me."

"…Thank you, Bepo. Much obliged."

A.N.: I know what you were all thinking reading this (very late) chapter. "Reiki's going to make them have sex under the truck! She's going for the Most-Awkward-Place-And- Time-To-Have-Sex Award!"

I am so very sorry to inform you all that Law took the original script from me and burned it, perhaps for the above stated reason. That's why it took so long to get this chapter up. My sincerest apologies. Plus Eddie was doing weird things for the longest time, so eventually I had to just get rid of the poor guy. Sorry Eddie.

Also, Bepo feelings for some reason. *Gush* And Law's new wardrobe? Fabulous. Always knew he was a stripper by night. Always knew it.