Wow, that took forever. Let me tell you guys why - I spent way too long planning out this fiction, and I made up like 5,000 subplots...and it's driving me crazy because I just want to write smut, damn it! So, I'm sorry. I may crack soon and have to incorporate some, because I just can't live without writing some sexy action, and I'm sure you guys wouldn't mind reading it. (even if it is more than a bit out of place)
I do not own One Piece, or Law wouldn't have that tattoo, because I definitely did NOT plan on that for this fiction. So, um, it's not included guys, sorry. I already wrote a description of Law topless, and I don't feel like adding little edits. Maybe later.
Law's finger hovered over Kid's name on his phone, before he dropped the device back into his pocket, shaking his head. It had been only a few days since he last contacted the man, and although he wanted to speak with him again, he had no excuses - his mission had made no headway, and he was running out of random men to shepherd to their deaths just so the doctor had an excuse to meet the mechanic again.
He turned back to his work, juggling a couple of blood samples in his fingers, before straightening the slide he was looking at and focusing the microscope. As he reviewed the sample, his thoughts were on the events from the night at the club. It was unlike him to have operated without a clear rationale; there was no reason why he left Baby 5 alive, and there was no reason why he tortured her when he knew that information would not be forthcoming.
To send a message.
Yes, that's what he told himself. He wanted to send a message to the Joker. On the surface, to tell the King Pin that he wasn't a man to be messed with, and deeper down, to impress upon Doflamingo that Law had no forgotten what he had done, and certainly not forgave him.
But that was what worried Law the most. The signs were all there, the telltale burden of a man bent on revenge. He may delude himself on the surface and say that he was only pursuing his own interests, and had accidentally stumbled across the path of his former master. Yet the ferocity with which he pursued that path once he knew that the Joker laid somewhere upon it... it was too unnatural, too telling of the pain that Law still bore. It was like a wound that the doctor had allowed to fester, and instead of amputating, he simply isolated it. It did not affect the rest of his life, he assured himself, and as long as it didn't infect any other part of him, then he would allow it to live.
Groaning in the depths of his throat, the doctor rubbed his temples and tried desperately to shake off both his headache and the ghosts of unwelcome thoughts. He squinted through the lens until he got a clear view of what he was looking at; as excepted, the white blood cells were classically deformed. "Leukemia," he sighed. "Thank god, I get to transfer this bastard to oncology."
Turning to clean up the mess he'd made of the lab, Law stopped still under the scrutinizing eye of an unexpected guest, who was lingering in the open arch of the doorway. Aware there was no escape, Law nodded to his colleague, indicating that the interruption was permitted.
"Doctor Trafalgar," the young man said rather seriously, in spite of his frazzled, mussed hair and his brown, doe eyes. "You were on call last night."
"I am well aware of that," Law answered, not looking up from the stubborn label that was caught on his finger. He bit it off with the side of his mouth and slapped it back on the sample.
"And so why, after we called you seventeen times, did you fail to arrive?" the young doctor pressed, "Or even pick up the phone?"
Law sighed heavily and rubbed his brow, "Doctor Chopper, I have this awful headache, would you please have some sympathy?"
This didn't seem to please Doctor Chopper one bit. He pulled out his prescription pad from his pocket and scrawled across it in blue pen. "Ibuprofen!" he snarled, shoving the crumpled paper in Law's hands. The surgeon took the prescription between two fingers and rolled his eyes, dropping the wadded paper in his pocket.
"Very well, I'll hear you out," he conceded.
"Doctor," Chopper continued again, "I've always really respected you ever since I started interning here." He bashfully looked away as he began to nervously mutilate the prescription pad he still had in his hands. Law smirked at the blush forming on the young doctor's cheeks.
"Nonsense," Law admonished. "You're already one of the most respected pathologists in Europe. And what am I? Just a thoracic surgeon."
The change was instantaneous. The surgeon had learned long ago how to distract and persuade the prodigy; at first, Law had greeted him with coldness and a slight edge of competition. But once Chopper proved to be no threat to Law or his department, he saw fit to avoid the boy's scolding whenever possible, and to use him otherwise.
Thus, with a simple compliment, Doctor Chopper's face turned so red that most doctors would have already been paging the local station. Law ignored the blush, the swooning, and the sickly sweet smile. "Don't be ridiculous, you fucking asshole!" Chopper cursed, "You think flattery will get you off the hook? Bastard!"
Once the storm had passed, Law plucked the pad from between Chopper's fingers and placed it aside on the counter, before more paper shavings littered the lab's floor. "Thank you so much for covering for me last night, Doctor Chopper. I'm sure you're more than exhausted."
Chopper's wide eyes narrowed as much as they could. "Don't try to distract me, Trafalgar," he scolded, "I might let it slide this time, but next time I'll report you!" He swayed unsteadily on his feet. "There's no way I can keep working these fifteen hour shifts when you don't show."
Law scoffed as quietly as he could, placing the samples back into storage. "Let's discuss this as we walk back to your office then, hm?" He held up a file folder. "I have to drop this off at oncology anyway, which is right next to your department, correct?"
Chopper nodded and yawned, rubbing the back of his head and messing up his hair even further. "Okay, okay..."
Law smirked and placed his spidery fingers along the small of Doctor Chopper's back, accosting him out the door and down the hallway. "So next time, instead of you suffering if I do not answer the phone, why don't you call in Doctor Kobato? I do believe she owes me a favor, and I'm sure -"
His colleague threw him a scathing glance over his shoulder as he unlocked his office and welcomed Law inside. "Doctor Kobato?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "She's a pediatrician. And she faints at the sight of blood!"
"All the better, then," Law chuckled, "She'll never overcome her fear without exposure, right?"
Chopper collapsed in the chair behind his desk, which was nearly pristine, the only personal effects being a handful of framed photographs. The wall behind him was lined with a sturdy bookshelf, which Law had already begun to peruse.
"Why don't you just answer the call, Doctor Trafalgar?" Chopper pleaded. "I don't want you to get in trouble..."
"Noble of you," Law remarked. "If it'll make you feel better, today I'll cover - what are you doing right now anyway?"
"I was headed to the clinic to clock some hours there."
Gritting his teeth, Law shrugged his annoyance aside. "Very well, then, I'll take over your clinic hours and allow you a break then, how's that?"
Chopper giggled like a small child. "Would you do that for me, Doctor?" His rounded cheeks were particularly pronounced with his gleaming smile. "That would be wonderful!"
"Uh-huh," Law murmured, hardly paying attention anymore. He pulled out a bound periodical and his eyes widened. "Is this yours?" he asked, deviating from the topic again. He pressed the volume in question under his cohort's nose.
"Huh?" Chopper's eyes met Law's and then lowered to the journal cover. "Oh, Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift?" he asked, "Do you read German?"
The surgeon's eyes darkened, and he waved the young boy aside dismissively. "Of course I do. What I mean is, do you or do you not subscribe to all these infernal medical journals?"
Chopper looked offended. He gestured behind him to the full wall of medical literature. "Of course I do," he responded with as much scorn as he could muster. "And you would do well to read up on the latest from current medical research, as well, Doctor. Just because the heart hasn't changed in a thousand years doesn't mean that the methods of curing it haven't."
Law distinctively felt his left eye twitch. He knew for a fact he was far more advanced in technological renovations than when it came to Doctor Chopper. While his young coworker was successful, the boy liked to focus on remedial and herbal cures, rather than cold, hard solutions. He didn't seem to favor the ease of the white pill and the sharpness of the needle as much as Law did; he often complained to the board that such tactics lacked the proper human touch.
That aside, Law swallowed his pride. "There's just a couple journals in particular I'd be interested in procuring," he pressed. "If you receive copies, that is. I have a special patient that I think would benefit from my own personal research in the area of biomedical engineering."
Chopper chuckled, "You're very well versed in the topic already! But of course I have some. The Annual Review, I think, and Biotechnology and Bioengineering... would you like to borrow the latest issue?"
"Ah," Law held up his index finger. "All the issues you got, actually. Back until...oh, let's say 2005 to be safe."
"I wasn't..." Chopper shook his head nervously. "I wasn't even in medical school then!"
"Oh, you are young," Law frowned, "Well, whatever you have will have to do." He found the sections on the shelf and smirked, seeing each journal aligned and organized by topic and date. Ruthlessly, Law pulled out all the issues with one fell swoop, allowing them to topple to the floor.
"Hey!" Chopper shouted, but he was ignored. Law trashed the contents of one of the filing boxes on the desk and began to dump all the journals inside. Mildly bemused, Chopper watched as the usually sluggish and melancholy Doctor Trafalgar moved about with an uncanny speed and precision, quickly clearing out a good quarter of his second bookshelf. Three boxes stacked in his arms now, Law bent at the knees and picked them up easily, perching them on his bony shoulder.
"Thanks!" was the last word thrown behind him as Law made his way out of the room without another word. Chopper watched for a moment, and then he slammed both his fists on the desk, rattling his perfectly sharpened pencils.
"Oi!" he called down the hallway, his words falling on deaf ears, "What about bringing that file to oncology? What about working the clinic for me? Will you pick up the phone when you're on call? Answer me, Doctor Trafalgar! OI!"
But Law was already taking the nearest staircase to ground level, where he'd take the fastest train back to his flat and rip through the medical journals until dawn broke on the horizon. Because he was sure that somewhere in those pages, thousands though they may be, there was at least one article about a biomedical engineer who had successfully installed a cybernetic arm. A beautiful, state-of-the-art specimen, technology wasted on a nameless redheaded mechanic.
And this would be the surgeon's first step as to answering the question of why.
Nine hours, four pots of coffee, and nigh three thousand pages later, Law found what he was looking for. His muscles creaked in stiffness as he straightened in his chair and sat up properly, lowering his legs that had been tossed over the arm of the lounge. He thumbed the page and downed the last of cold, black coffee from his mug, before fishing reading glasses from his pockets in order to be sure.
"Vegapunk? But he's a physicist..." Law murmured to himself. "And who the bloody hell is Cutty Flam?"
The article was even more vague that he expected. The subject in question matched the bill: young male, mesomorphic physique, his left arm damaged irreparably in explosive trauma. According to the emergency medical team that evaluated the patient, the man's flesh was seared to the bone, raw marrow and strings of nerves dangling off the blackened remains of an arm, like tinsel on a dead tree. Despite this, the upper fore of the arm, and bicep, were undamaged largely until the shoulder, wherefore some nerves remained lively up until the skin. It was a highly misfortunate injury; there was no way to save the limb, and yet the structure of the wound would have left the patient in incomparable agony. Usually with explosive trauma of that severity, the nerves and vessels are incinerated, leaving the patient with a smaller surface area of pain receptors. Kid had no such luck.
The front line surgeon, who was not a doctor at all, but an engineer, could barely stumble through the necessary meatball surgery. His name was issued as Cutty Flam, likely a pseudonym, and he wrote that he perceived the wound as more an of "opportunity for the patient's future." Foolishly, he had elongated Kid's anguish in order to call a respected colleague, Vegapunk, and question him about an idea they'd been tossing around. He wanted to construct a cybernetic limb that would be prosthetic on the inside, but possess a mixture of real nerve endings and skin grafts on the outside. The oddity of the patient's injury, Flam had proposed, was the perfect case in order to test this theoretical limb out.
As he read along, Law found himself beginning to understand. At first he had thought that the medical genius and technological prowess required for Kid's arm meant that the man had friends in high places. In fact, it appeared to be the opposite. The scientists in the article wrote with an absolute disregard to the humane treatment of their patient. The medical record listed no use of treatment to the patient prior to the creation of the prosthetic and the surgery to attach it, besides a handful of antibiotics and only vial or two of cooked up morphine. The location of where the injury was acquired was not released, along with the patient's name or even ethnicity, but Law could presume. Cutty Flam was an American...the treatment was shoddy and materials were clearly scarce...and apparently Eustass Kid learned to wear lipstick in the deserts of Afghanistan.
"A soldier?" Law wondered, "Or a different side of the coin?"
Regardless, the patient was flown into a research center by Johns Hopkins, and within the week he was fitted with a revolutionary piece of biomedical engineering. Kid's nerves were stretched, twisted, and relocated, so that he retained optimal feeling in his outer forearm, his palm, and some of the back of his hand. In turn, he sacrificed feeling in his inside forearm and all of his upper arm toward his shoulder. Lastly, the radius and ulna were replaced with metal counterparts, and aside from a smattering of capillaries, the rest of the flesh underneath was synthetic. A majority percentage of the skin on the entire appendage was skin grafts grown from stem cells, which explained to Law the mild discoloration that resulted.
"A work of art..." Law finally surmised, closing the journal. "But what did you do, Eustass-ya, that warranted the United States Government to fund your treatment as a guinea pig? And where were you standing when you got your arm blown halfway to hell?"
Currently, that former patient was up late in his chop shop, arms covered in grease and his googles down around his eyes. He was fiddling with some metalwork, loving the way that he could make such unyielding material a putty beneath his fingers. He melded the last two edges together on his contraption and set the scalding, but shaped, piece aside to settle.
"What is it, Killer?" he asked. His best friend was lingering behind him, careful to not interrupt his work. Stepping forward, the blond sat down on the stool next to Kid and looked down at the work bench.
"What are you working on?" he questioned.
Kid brushed his goggles back up into his hair and smirked down at Killer. "You'll see," he said, "It's something new. Just give it time." He brushed the scraps off the surface and into the bin. "So, I know you found something. Spill it."
"Yes, sir." Killer pulled down the breathing mask from around his face, and Kid could briefly spot the burn scars that trailing from the side of his neck up until his lower lip. He saw the soft pink of Killer's tongue dart out and lick that old wound; a nervous habit, one that Kid would never admit he noticed quite often.
"Trafalgar Law, MD. Born in Reading, UK, his parents both English, although his mother was of Moroccan descent. They died in a automobile accident when he was four. He was in the backseat, but survived with only superficial damage. He was left in the care of his uncle, who rather rapidly sent the child off into a rather special program...it appears in order to support his gambling and, likely, drinking habit. He croaked a year later. Alcohol poisoning."
Kid's brow furrowed. "So is there any surviving family?"
"No," Killer said shortly. "But the program is what was the most difficult to research. It's covered with quite a bit of fancy paperwork, so I had to go by word of mouth. It's an so-called orphanage program run by a Spaniard named Donquixote Doflamingo. He's -"
"I've heard of him." Kid was washing up now, wiping the grease and sweat off his face with a rather filthy rag. "Member of the Bilderburg's Group? Owns about half the villas in Spain and the south of France?"
"That's the one," Killer supplied. "Except, his fortune is rather entangled into some odd-looking Swiss accounts. Rumors say human trafficking, others say chemical and biological weapons. But along with a handful of other young boys, he adopted Trafalgar into this boarding school program. Private schooling, medical school, all paid for out of pocket. The other boys went into different programs, and most seem to be working for the Donquixote man still to this day. But Trafalgar..."
Kid lifted his hand in order to quiet his friend. "He ran, I get it. It's not hard to piece together what went on in the shadows from that." The mechanic's eyes had a certain glint in them as he looked up toward the blonde. "The doctor's got some demons in his past, doesn't he?"
Standing, Killer reached out and wrapped his fingers around Kid's right arm, mainly where the skin was grafted and a bit off-color and shiny. "It's not like the others, Kid. He's not sewed up like Heat or a lost puppy like Wire. He's not looking for shelter. I know you like to take in outcasts, but -"
Kid shook off Killer's hand. He loathed to be touched where he could not feel on his body. He was rather proud of the strength and flexibility of his cybernetic arm, but it was at times like that in which he was reminded of the worth of a real arm and human touch. "I'm not going to fix him, Killer. He doesn't want to be fixed, and I'm not sure he can be."
"Then why are you wasting your time?"
"Wasting it?" Kid barked a loud and deep laugh, throwing his head back at the ceiling. "A broken piece of machinery will no longer run - stoppered gears and broken levers will chop the system to pieces. But humans aren't like that.
"Trafalgar may be broken, but he functions just fine. And I want to see what it is that makes that shot-to-shit bastard tick."
Killer sighed heavily and collapsed into his stool, laying his hands across his lap. "It's your decision, Captain," he conceded, watching the mechanic change his shirt and switch his goggles out for a black bandana. Kid fumbled in his pocket for a pack of smokes and lit up, taking a deep drag before he turned back to his friend.
"Let's go to Anker's tonight. I need a drink," he rubbed his lower back, "And a fuck, too."
Killer gathered his things and fell in place behind his captain. "What're you even working on?" he said, looking back over his shoulder at the old metal parts Kid was forming. The collection was a group of cylinders and a few sloping planes, all gleaning with the finest care. "That's no part I've ever seen before."
Kid chuckled, tossing the keys for the car to his friend and jumping in the passenger seat. "Something new, alright? Don't get nosy."
A heavy sigh sounded in the blackness of the car. If there was anything Killer specialized in, it was being nosy when it came to Kid's business. A few years his senior, Killer had known Kid since youth and viewed him much like a little brother. He only wanted to guarantee Kid's safety when he had failed in it before. It was a difficult task to take upon his shoulders, as Kid's impulsivity moved faster than the speed of light, and his moments of rage made him blinder than a battered bull.
Killer knew he owed Doctor Trafalgar an extraordinary debt. Although Kid and Law may have squared their differences regarding the life-saving care he had administered, Killer could never show enough gratitude. Kid was the blond's entire life, his sole drive to keep living after the tragedies of his past. When he was young, Killer had thought of Kid as akin to an unstoppable force, a forest fire that could ravage the earth and paint the skies red. But he knew better now. Kid had weaknesses and flaws, and many at that. Without proper care, like any human, he could perish, and that flame would be snuffed out forever.
It had been a cold night all those months ago when Killer had brought his friend to Law's doorstep. The doctor hadn't said much to him besides barking some orders for certain medical apparatus that Killer could hardly differentiate between. Once the wound had sealed, but the fever remained, Law had rapidly disposed of Killer and his incessant worrying.
"Get out of my house," he had ordered, pulling blood-coated gloves off his hands. "You can pace in the street for all I care."
"I'll stay," Killer had protested. "I'm not leaving his side."
The doctor wouldn't stand for it though, and Killer wound up being forcibly removed. For a man of such thin stature and high-class demeanor, Law was relatively strong and remarkably swift. "Please," Killer had said, right before the doctor had slammed the door in his face. The words had burnt his tongue coming out - when was the last time he had said such a thing so sincerely? "Please, I need him to live."
Law had looked down at the blond from the bridge of his condescending nose, and sniffed haughtily to match. "That," he had said, "is more obvious than you'd think."
Killer could still not forget those words for all the months that it had been. Trafalgar had pegged him right there in that moment, and it was only now, with much research later, that Killer was beginning to understand Law. The man was not just a surgeon by practice, but rather in everything he did. His hands did not shake, his fingers worked with more intricacy than a pianist, and his eyes could pick out a defect or weakness from twenty meters away. In short, he was the opposite of Kid.
Kid, in all matters except metalworking, was graceless. He was clueless to physical harm, especially on his own body, and although his hands were often steady, his emotions bled out of him like a head wound. That is not to say that Killer could dismiss his perceptiveness; after all, when Kid took a calm and logical outlook on the situation, he was far more adept at seeing the forest through the trees than any other person Killer had ever met. Even more so, he was incredibly swift at reading emotions...although how he chose to act on them was another story.
All in all, Killer didn't know whether to distrust Kid with the doctor or the doctor with Kid. They were both dangerous in his eyes, and both of them underestimated the other. Despite this, the two were drawn to each other with some sort of rampant glee. For now, it was not of an issue - but if the doctor kept prodding into Kid's insides, and if Kid kept trying to pick Trafalgar apart, Killer was sure that somebody's jaws were bound to snap down on somebody else's hand.
"Killer," Kid yelled in his year. "You fucking cunt, you just passed the pub!"
Killer slammed on the brakes and broke from his reverie to glance over his shoulder at the bar lights fading in the distance. He turned at the next light and began to work their way back to their destination. "Sorry, Kid," he said gruffly. "I was thinking."
"Clearly not about your driving," Kid snipped. They pulled into the pub's lot and Kid had to duck down to climb out of the low-ceiling vehicle. He scanned the crowd going in and then nudged Killer, who was locking the doors.
"Who is that bastard with the septum piercing? He's already making eyes at me."
Killer rolled his own eyes. "Bartolomeo, remember? The car junkie? He's the thug wouldn't leave you alone last Thursday."
Kid scratched his mess of flaming red hair, shrugging his shoulders. "I don't remember him at all."
"You need to stop drinking so much, Kid."
"Shut up, Mom," Kid goaded back. He clapped Killer on the shoulder. "I think that if I get a couple in me real quick, I could forget the fact that his face looks like someone took a club to it."
"Someone probably has," Killer eyed Kid's crooked nose. "And look who's talking."
Kid shoved Killer, who only stumbled to roll with the playfulness of the act. "Whatever, asshole. That -" he pointed directly at the fanged punk, "- is what I'm fucking if nothing's left at last call."
Killer wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Wear a condom," he advised.
Kid snickered. "Maybe I'll just let him suck my dick. What was his name again?"
Kid mouthed the name for a second and then shook his head. "Cuntface! Yeah, you with the busted tattoo!" he called over the crowd to the man fifteen ahead in line from them. Bartolomeo turned around, his face full of rage for a moment until he met Kid's eyes. He waved Kid over and the redhead smirked at Killer.
"Like I'd need to remember his name," Kid scoffed, dragging his friend along with him to the front of the line.
Killer stood there, listening to the inane conversation between the two brutish men, and rapidly deduced that he was in for a long night. Half-heartedly, he almost wished that the doctor had called tonight instead.
Drop a review and motivate me, please! I need encouragement. I'm a lazy and insecure woman, give me some help here :)