I don't own One Piece, but since Oda-sensei is sick, I will plot in his stead.

The walls of the apartment rattled as Kid slammed the door open and then shut again, a handful of daggers that were stuck in the far wall shook loose, and an unwashed mug toppled from the kitchen counter to shatter on the floor. The redhead walked past all of this, though, storming into his bedroom. His maroon coat was just tossed over his shoulders, his fingernails still caked in dried blood, and his black eyeliner had smeared to make him look even more like a madman.

Hands behind his head, legs crossed over each other, Trafalgar Law lay sprawled out on Kid's plush, yellow-zebra print sheets. His eyelids were drooping, but his smile grew in appreciation at the sight of Kid in the doorframe.

"Eustass-ya," he chimed, spread his left arm out, as though welcoming the man into his own home. "It's such a delight to see that you could make it."

Kid wasted no time on words that he was too full of ire to formulate, anyway. He slapped Law upside the head to dislodge his white hat, and then grabbed a fistful of the man's unruly raven hair. Left eye twitching, he pulled Law up from the mattress and flung him against the far wall.

Law caught himself with his heels before he hit the wall, but stood there hissing and spitting like a cat at his pulled hair. A few strands fell loose from Kid's fingers, and Law could still feel the sharp sting where they had been pulled from his scalp. There were many types of abuse that Law was prepared to handle for the sake of experimentation, but hair-pulling was not one of them.

Kid had this infernal habit of tossing him around as though he were some cheap whore from a brothel. If there was one thing that Law hated more than taking orders, it was being treated like something below even that level: namely, a piece of meat. Nasty memories and ill thoughts swam to the forefront of the doctor's brain, and the roiling in his stomach nearly brought bile to his throat.

"Don't -" he hissed between gritted teeth, "-toss me around like that, Eustass-ya."

The redhead snatched up an empty glass from his nightstand and tossed it at Law. The doctor dodged, the glass shattered a foot next to him. "THEN DON'T BREAK INTO MY HOUSE!" he bellowed at the top of his lungs.

Biting his own tongue, Law tried to bring the situation back under control, which meant cutting out the red that was creeping into the corners of his vision. "I should have realized that you'd act like an animal staking his territory. I just deduced that this meeting place was more convenient than some corner cafe."

Kid huffed, his unfocused eyes slowly radiating back down to a point. His rage was wild, but fast. "Don't do it again, Trafalgar," he warned, "Or I will shoot on sight. I don't care how much you're paying me."

The doctor nodded, "I can see that about you," he said. He unzipped his coat and draped it over the bedpost. "You aren't in it for the money at all, are you?" There was a swift glance around the modest apartment. "I've heard word that you make a fair bit more than these accommodations would dictate, yet I find the only thing flashy about you is your decorating style..."

Running his fingers over an extensive set of gold jewelry, Law's nose and mouth twisted into an unpleasant sneer, as though he had caught whiff of an awful scent. "Reminds me of someone I used to know."

"Charming," Kid snorted, "And also, I don't give a shit what you think." He shrugged off his coat as well and put it over the opposing bedpost to the doctor's. Next, he peeled his t-shirt from his torso and flung it in the far laundry basket, swaggering shirtless back into the kitchenette to wash his hands.

Stiff patience in his step, Law followed after, kicking aside the shards of the mug fallen minutes before. He placed his hands on the counter and lofted himself up to sit on it, next to the sink. Kid glanced up, was about to open his mouth to complain, but then found no heart it in, so he went back to scrubbing under his nails with a vegetable brush.

"I hope you don't use that to wash your potatoes," the doctor commented.

"Only if I were cooking you dinner," Kid snapped back.

Law chuckled, genuine amusement leaking from his lips, and then reached into the sink, his darker hands slipping to meet Kid's dripping fingers. Kid froze as the doctor played softly up his palm until he cupped a few fingers in his palm. "Why do you paint your nails?"

"Somalia," Kid responded gruffly. "Used to work on ships and weaponry there. It kept my nails from cracking in that disgusting weather."

The doctor's wet fingers traveled up and traced the bottom of Kid's lips. "And the lipstick?"

Kid turned his head aside, dislodging the offending fingers. "Afghanistan. It was the cheapest thing to keep my lips from bleeding in the desert."

Finally, Law wiped away the bleeding eyeliner from under Kid's eyes, "And this?" he asked, the pad of his index finger smudged with black.

The redhead snickered. "You got me there, Trafalgar. I just like it because I like to look crazy." He pulled his hands from the spray and turned it off, grabbing a rag and wiping his hands dry. "So what about you?" he said, nodding at the man. "What's the story behind the ink?"

Law raised his hand backward and wriggled his fingers. "They call me the Surgeon of Death," he bragged, "It only seemed fitting."

Kid didn't know if that was the whole truth, but he shrugged it off. "And the other ones?" he pressed.

The doctor's eyes widened for a moment before narrowing swiftly. He pushed up his sleeves to his elbows and frowned. "You noticed?" he said. "Ah, well, they're just...nothing...just..." he glanced up and saw Kid's discerning stare, and snapped to compose himself. "It's just a pointless design to cover up some meaningless ones I got as a youth, that's all."

"Hmph," Kid tossed the rag at Law, who caught it and set it aside. "Sometimes I wonder if anything true ever comes through your mouth."

Law hopped off the counter, unfazed by the apparent insult. "Let's talk business," he said. "I've already hidden the last half of your pay somewhere in your flat, I just need you to the tell me the coordinates."

"65.3 North, 106.7 East."

The doctor was a bit taken aback with how easily Kid had surrendered the information. "Why, thank you, Eustass-ya. It appears you are far more reliable than your appearance would have me believe." He pointed toward the bedroom. "Underwear drawer."

Kid strolled in and ripped open his drawer, pushing aside some boxers until he saw the was of cash, and shook his head, groaning to himself. "I could say the same for you." He flipped through the money rapidly - it was all there. "Although you should be made aware..." he tossed the folded pounds aside and met Law's eyes.

"I may not have a degree, PhD or otherwise, from any institution. But that doesn't mean I'm stupid. I've been all over the world, Trafalgar. And I can put two and two together. A nuclear plant scientist? Coordinates to Siberian wasteland?" He gave a light, disdainful snort. "I don't know if you heard, but the Iron Curtain was lifted decades ago."

Law stuck his thin, cold fingers into the small pockets in the front of his jeans. "You told me that you didn't ask questions."

"I didn't," Kid retorted. "I just told you that I get it, and you would be stupid to think I'm some sort of mindless medium."

Like an insolent teen, Law scoffed and rolled his eyes. "I never accused you of anything of the sort, Eustass-ya. Don't get defensive." He took his hands from his pockets and rubbed his fingers together to get some life back into them. "Are we done here?"

Kid scowled, but nodded. "Yeah, get the hell out. Don't call me again unless you need something and you're willing to pay double. I'm gonna need that to put up with your bullshit."


Law did call Kid again, and he wasn't willing to pay double. Over the next few weeks, the doctor would appear like a spirit in various places: Kid's garage, Kid's apartment, the bar Kid was drinking in, one time knocking on the window of Kid's car when he was stopped at a traffic light. Every time there was a new victim, and while it was enough to soothe Kid's bloodlust, it did not cure his curiosity.

It was seven o'clock on a Saturday morning about a month later, a dreary drizzling mist covering the streets, and Law was fumbling with a picklock outside Kid's flat. He had worked the overnight shift at the hospital, and his scrubs still had a spurt of blood across the front from a cursing and stubborn gunshot victim. Finally, the lock clicked and he let himself in.

At the kitchen counter, looming over a cup of tea, was a frizzled-looking Killer. He did not startle at the sight of Law, but scowled, scratching his mass of untamed blonde hair.

"Stop letting yourself in here," he snarled. "It's rude."

Law shrugged made to toss his bag on the couch, but paused when he saw a young woman curled up under a scratchy woolen blanket. She had navy blue curly hair, and it was pulled back into a tangled bun, her face make up smeared, wearing some shift of a dress that clearly was her outfit at a club last night. There were blossoming bruises on her wrists, a nasty bite mark on her shoulder, and she had a black eye.

"Is this yours?" the doctor asked, stooping over the woman. "She looks like she's been mugged."

Killer shook his head. "Kid's," he answered. "She was sobbing all night, it kept me awake."

"Sobbing?" Law pressed.

Killer shook his head, indicating that he wasn't about to elaborate, and retreated back into his room. "Kid's passed out in his bed. Feel free to wake him up if you want your head bashed in."

Law sat down on the coffee table, crossing his legs and facing the women sleeping across from him, who was near skin and bones. His hand reached out and gently jostled her shoulder. "Young lady?" he called. "Miss, you ought to wake up."

The woman groaned and tossed under his touch, her eyelids eventually fluttering open. She cast her vision around for a few seconds and then her tension decreased, and she sighed heavily. "Oh," she murmured, "I remember." She looked up and narrowed her eyes at the doctor. "Who are you?"

"The name is Law, I don't live here, I'm just an acquaintance. What is your name? Would you like me to call you a cab?"

She shook her head, sitting up and pinching her thin strap of her dress and bringing it back up to her shoulder. "I'm Paula Doublefinger," she said. She threw aside the sheets and pulled out a small clasp that had fallen between the couch cushions. Snapping it open, she fumbled between a couple of crumpled pounds and some credit cards. "No, I'm fine, I can take the tube."

Law raised an eyebrow, "Would you like a jacket, then? It's raining."

Her face softened from its previous guarded, rather intimidating look. "That's too kind," she said, "Don't bother. I'm more than capable of taking care of myself."

"Forgive me for being forward," he interjected, "But you hardly look it."

Conscious of her appearance, Paula raised a finger to her blackened eye. "No, I knew what I signed up for." She cast a glance at Kid's closed door. "And I hate to admit it, but shit..." she glanced down at her thin hands clasped in her lap, "I enjoyed myself."

"Very well," Law said, pushing himself to his feet. "I don't suppose you'd like to -"

But he was interrupted, because Kid's door creaked open, and the man's huge shadow appeared in the frame. He was in nothing more than black boxer briefs and guinea tea, his usually standing-up hair was down and stands were hanging in his eyes. He groaned and rubbed the back of his neck, walking into the main lounge. It was silent as he passed by Law, acting like the doctor wasn't even there. He picked up his wallet from the kitchen counter and pulled out a twenty pound note.

Paula stared blank-faced as the man walked over and shoved the note in her open fingers. "Cab fare and breakfast," he grumbled. Then he grabbed her black and blue wrists and squeezed threateningly. "Don't spend it on smack," he said, before dropping her arm.

The woman nodded and stood, slipping her feet into her discarded heels by the couch. Kid threw open the coat closet and plucked out a plain black hoodie - he seemed to have quiet the collection of them - before tossing it to her. "Wear that," he ordered.

Law watched with pursed lips as she slipped the clothing over her thin shoulders and went to the door. Kid opened it for her, and then cupped the back of her head, bringing her in for a rather gentle kiss on the forehead, before seeing her out and shutting it behind her.

Law remained unacknowledged by Kid after the woman left, so he felt compelled to announce his presence, stating, "You ought to get checked for HIV. She's definitely a junkie."

"I know what she is," Kid said. He filled the tea pot and set it to a boil, pulling two mugs from the cabinet. "And I get checked at the clinic rather often, but I'm pretty sure she's a straight shooter."

"Why the black eye?" Law said. He took out the tea bags from the cabinet where he knew they were and pulled the milk from the fridge. Kid chuckled to himself.

"It's not what it looks like. She was wasted, and banged her own face into my headboard."

"And you didn't wonder why she was sobbing all night?"

Kid rolled his eyes and snapped off the burner on the stove as the kettle began to whistle. Law chose to intercede and finish fixing the tea himself, as Kid was clearly displeased.

"Look, I just wanted a rough fuck with a stupid broad. It isn't my fault if around 3 AM she decides she wants to cry about how she's a fucking junkie working at a strip joint. I moved her to the couch, tucked her in, and went back to bed."

The doctor turned around and passed the man his cup of tea. Kid took a sip and groaned, cracking open the fridge. He took out a liter of dark rum and filled the mug to the top with that, and then took a deep chug from the cooled down beverage. Law sipped his earl grey from between chapped lips.

"Are you sure she wasn't crying because you're so damned awful in the sack, Eustass-ya?" he teased with a smirk twitching on the corners of his lips.

Kid pushed Law's shoulder roughly, and some tea sloshed from the doctor's cup and splattered on his shirt. "Another stain!" Law hissed, glancing down on it. He snatched up some napkins and dabbed it up. "Blood, tea... got any red wine you'd like to throw at me to make it an impossible trinity, you bloody brute?"

"All the red wine in the house belongs to Killer," Kid answered, as though it were a serious statement. He gulped down another half of his cup and then wiped the liquid from his lips with the back of his forearm. Glancing up, he leaned back on the counter to give a long study of the man before him.

The doctor was still involved in a futile effort to scrub the stain from his shirt. The bags under his dark eyes were even more pronounced now then the day Kid has met him, and the man was even thinner, his jutting collarbone a tell-tale sign. A lopsided grin on his face, Kid reached out his painted fingers and grabbed Law's furiously working hand.

"Stop," he ordered.

"Don't tell me what to do," Law snapped back.

"Come on," Kid said, "I'll lend you a shirt. Let's go get breakfast. I'm starving."

Law stopped and set the napkin aside. "Breakfast?" he asked, as though the word were foreign. "Is that a date?"

Kid scowled, "No, you feckless faggot, I just want taters and eggs and there's nothing in the bloody house. You're here, so you're coming with me."

The mechanic did not wait for an answer, but ambled off to his room to go change. Law followed after, and in the doorway, a black t-shirt hit him in the face. Frowning, the doctor peeled the shirt off his face and stripped his scrubs off his chest.

Law's eyes, obscured by pulling the shirt from his head, did not catch the look on Kid's face, although he did hear a short, fast intake of breath - a gasp. Attributing it to other manners, it went overlooked, and very shortly the topless doctor was pulling the t-shirt on, which hung over his shoulders unflatteringly.

"You've got quite a bit of muscle on you for a swank doctor," Kid commented, buttoning his jeans over his hips.

The doctor tugged on the hem of the plain black tee, "Is that a cruel joke, Eustass-ya?" he inquired.

"Nope," Kid answered honestly. He placed a hand on the small of Law's back and began to push him to the door. Law grimaced at the controlling touch. "You're rakish, sure, but you've got some meat on you." Kid shrugged, casting Law his cocky smile. "It's decent...for a twig."

The doctor slammed his bony elbow into Kid's side, and Kid cursed and kicked the man in the back of the knee. They didn't stop cursing at each other until they arrived at the place down the street, pushing open the door to the soft jangle of a bell.

Seating himself with blatant familiarity to the place, Kid didn't even bother to look at the menu that was handed to him. His brooding eyes danced over every other patron in the place, eventually settling to look out the rainy window. Only in his peripheral could the mechanic see the doctor, who was taking his time as he flipped through the menu, as though reading every item thoroughly.

"What'll it be today?" the waitress pried, dragging the men from their companionable silence. Law folded his menu before him and flashed a soft smile up at her.

"I'd like to have an order of your sausage, two poached eggs - please hold the toast, I'll have no need of it."

Rolling her eyes, the waitress turned to Kid and then tucked her writing pad into her pocket. "Hash, eggs, and bacon for you, Red?" she asked quickly. Receiving a nod from Kid, she ambled off to the kitchen.

"Red?" Law teased, an eyebrow raised.

Kid ruffled his crimson locks, which for once were not held back by goggles or a bandana. "Are you colorblind or just stupid?"

Law chuckled and shook his head, "You're the one that acts like a rabid dog, Eustass-ya. Tell me, can you pick out the red numbers from the green? Or do you not know how to read?"

Two steaming plates made their way to the table, and Kid stabbed his fork into his meal viciously as the doctor was still laying his napkin over his lap. Gritting his teeth, Kid mumbled through a mouthful of food, "I know what I need to know to get by."

A piece of finely chopped sausage was on the way to Law's mouth when he paused and lowered it. "Are you implying...?" He trailed off, studying his latest interest under hooded eyelids. The man looked uncomfortable at the mention of literacy, but seemed to be able to manage text just fine. Then again, there was a wild amount of Kid's past that Law had been unable to uncover. The man's files were nearly all erased. In essence, the redhead should not even exist.

"Did you ever go to school?"

Kid ripped the bacon in half between his fanged teeth, glaring down at Law. "I don't see how that fucking matters."

Law's eyes widened. "I'll take that as a 'no', then. So how did you avoid the truancy officers? I'm sure there's lots of elementary students on the street dying to know your trick."

As the doctor spoke, the mechanic before him had gobbled his way through half of his meal, and now he sat back and gulped down a good third a glass of water. Taking respite, he leaned back and gave Law a look akin to a sulking teenager.

"Never had parents, moved around a lot," he answered brusquely. "Busted out of every home they tried to land me in." He smirked and picked up his fork, waving it at the doctor teasingly. "I bet you tried to research me. Can't find nothing, can you?"

Law surrendered and shook his head. "Nothing besides what I know - that you own the garage, and it's under your name. No medical history, no birth certificate, no bank account, and no driver's license. I'll admit I'm impressed."

Kid shrugged, "It wasn't my doing, but I have to admit that I enjoy the freedom it gives me."

The doctor was about to pry some more, until Kid's fork poked at the eggs on his plate. "Eat," the man ordered. "Put some meat on your bones. It makes me hungry just looking at you."

Obediently, Law took a bite. "I've just never been one to have much of an appetite," he admitted. "I hope the cooks don't take it personally." With reluctance, he pushed around some of the food on his plate and took another small nibble.

Frowning, Kid leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms. "Well, we aren't leaving until you clear your plate."

The grip tightened on Law's fork as he tried to steady his hand, a twitch of annoyance wracking his body. "What, are you my keeper now?"

The mechanic lunged across the table and pried the utensil from Law's fingers, stabbing a chuck of sausage and bringing it up to the man's lips. Law responded with a coarse expression, his mouth shut in a thin line as disdain settled into his features.

But Kid was unfazed. He prodded at Law and his hand did not waver from his spot. "I'll be damned," he growled, "If I sit here and watch you starve before me. You'll eat at least one good meal any day that you see me, mark my words."

Law snatched the utensil back, which Kid allowed. "Stop being so melodramatic," he snapped, "And I don't take orders."

Kid chuckled as the doctor began to eat his food despite what he said. "It wasn't an order," he answered, "It was a threat. Live well, or I'll beat the ever-loving shit out of you. I can't stand people who don't appreciate the things they have."

Pausing, Law couldn't help but consider the enigma he'd been visiting the past couple of months. A man of fast and wild rage, he seemed to have every animalistic instinct installed and downloaded to its fullest components. But from what little he knew of Eustass Kid's past, it was not the only facet to his character. There was more there, underneath the rough and rather intimidating exterior, a series of walls and rules erected over time to aid the man's survival. And wasn't it those who went without that insisted one must cherish everything they have?

Respecting his wishes, the doctor finished the meal and allowed Kid to fund the bill. The woman was tipped generously, and when Law raised another eyebrow, the mechanic murmured, "I take care of my own." The finality in the statement convinced Law to leave it at that.

Twenty minutes later, standing the drizzle of the street, Kid passed his smoke to Law, who took a drag and passed it back to the mechanic. "So what's the job you have for me this time, Prince Twig?"

Law took the smoke back and flicked some ash up into Kid's face, which caused the man to stumble backward and curse profusely. "Don't call me that, you mangy street dog." He finished the cigarette and killed it under the heel of his boot.

"I do have a job for you, and it's a little different than what I've asked from you before," the doctor continued. He cast his eyes about the dismal street, and then leaned close to the mechanic's body, so near he could feel the heat from his skin. "I'm being followed, Eustass-ya, by a woman in black."

Kid's crooked smile started in the right corner of his mouth and spread across his lips. "When is her path ending?"

"Tonight," Law answered. "With me and you, nobody else. Meet me at the club Madame Shakky's on Charing Cross Road at nine tonight, alone, if these conditions are acceptable."

Considering it swiftly, the redhead nodded, a thirsty shine already lingering in the glaze over his eyes. "Call it a date," he answered.

Law smirked, "Call it whatever you want, Red."

I don't know why this chapter took me forever. The beginning I had planned for a while, but I kept getting confused over where I wanted the plot to progress from there. Try to guess who the woman in black is!