“Hey, Hey! Traffy!”
Law stopped in his tracks at the voice. He didn’t even have to recognize it. There was only one person who had the nerve to call him that. Turning, he watched the other man as he stood several meters away, waving before he was running towards Law.
He stood where he was, but slid his sword over his back in preparation before Ace practically slammed into him, wrapping his arms around Law’s waist and literally lifting him off his feet. Law endured the squeezing, rested his chin on Ace’s hat and almost…almost smiled.
“I missed you,” Ace said when he set Law back on his feet, sincere and honest in a way that Law had never been and most likely would never be.
Law only reached forward, curling his fingers in the hair at the base of Ace’s neck. The answering grin he received as Law drew him closer was understanding and Law had to wonder how the man always knew the things that Law would never say out loud.
“Hey! Hey! It’s you! Do you remember me?!”
There had been a voice in the back of his mind since he’d started this, since he’d stepped foot on Punk Hazard. A voice Law had refused to acknowledge. But there, when he turned to face Straw Hat Luffy as he ran up, thanking him for something that he had been trying not to acknowledge as well, it rang louder than it ever had.
And Law actually had to fight to keep the grimace from his face. The bastard was lecturing him from the grave, lecturing him on essentially doing the same thing that had gotten the man killed.
“You don’t have to thank me for that. I did it on a whim.” He turned and this time did grimace. He never did anything on a whim, unless it had something to do with Ace.
“Where are you taking me?” There was a hint of irritation in Law’s tone even as he allowed Ace to drag him along by the hand. He wasn’t sure why he was allowing it, except it had been a while since he’d last seen the other pirate.
“You’ll see,” Ace answered, grinning.
There were a lot of things he hated about this. Like how Ace could get him to do things he normally wouldn’t just by asking. He wasn’t even sure how the other man did it. He would just turn to Law with that smile and those eyes and Law would agree to whatever it was he wanted without even thinking about it first.
It was ridiculous. It was ridiculous because he’d gotten his reputation because he was too damned smart to rush headlong into anything. And sure enough, he regretted letting Ace do that to him this time as well.
“No.” Law pulled his hand from Ace’s, his voice flat as he caught sight of what was going on. Obviously some sort of festival. Law had heard them before but it was in the center of the village that the dancing was going on.
Dancing. Ace had brought him dancing.
“Come on, Law. It’ll be fun.”
“No,” he repeated shortly, because not even the pleading look on Ace’s face would get him to do this.
“Please?” Ace’s voice lowered with the word, with undercurrents that were most definitely not pleading. He reached for Law, and Law stiffened as Ace drew him close. One of Ace’s hands went to his waist, under his shirt, a thumb grazing the bare skin just above the waistline of his pants. He buried his head in Law’s neck, his lips pressing there.
And all he could feel was warmth and all he could smell was the other man. Once again, he forgot how to think. Law would never follow another person’s orders and he always had a plan, except for on these times, except for with this man.
He nodded his assent and it wasn’t until Ace had pulled away and started dragging him to dance that he realized he’d even done it.
Luffy had agreed to the proposed alliance easily. Considering the interactions he’d had with the boy so far, however, Law was of the opinion that that shouldn’t be so surprising. He didn’t feel guilty about it, not at first.
He’d been thinking about this for two years, forcing himself to think on the plan to take Doflamingo down, because he was the one Law could, maybe, get to. There was old hatred there. Enough that he’d strived for warlord status.
Any hatred he may have felt for Akaina would get him nowhere. He wasn’t an idiot. He knew he wouldn’t stand a chance against that one. Really, in a one on one fight, he knew that he couldn’t beat Doflamingo either.
But he knew how he could take that bastard down.
Really, the thought of revenge had been driving him forward since he’d left the dksljfkjslkdj pirates. He let it drive him now, let it ignore Ace’s voice at the back of his mind, reprimanding him for lying to and using Ace’s little brother in his plans.
Ace. He would have been angry, even if it would have been hypocritical of him. He would have yelled at Law for risking his life over a grudge that was years old. But even Ace could never make him forget why he hated Doflamingo.
Marines. The island was occupied by marines. And not just any marines. Unconciously, Law’s fists clenched, he tensed, at the sight of the man leading them. Law scowled as Ace pulled him into a side alley. He had been mildly surprised at the other man’s restraint since they’d been on the island.
“I just don’t want them to see us together,” Ace explained when Law voiced this surprise.
Law raised an eyebrow, a slow smirk forming on his face. “Ashamed of me, are you?”
“Don’t be stupid.” He tilted his head, ignoring the way that Law twitched at that. “Are you going to tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“Why you got all high strung when you saw those guys.”
Law tensed only briefly again. Seeing Vergo had almost the same effect on him as seeing Doflamingo. But telling Ace everything meant telling him that some of the rumors about him weren’t entirely false.
“No.” He walked ahead, out of the alley, ignoring the disappointed look on Ace’s face, told himself that he wasn’t talking because he didn’t want Ace involved, not because he was afraid of what Ace might think of him.
Luffy was an idiot. An unpredictable, reckless idiot. Law tightened his grip on his hilt as he watched the boy yell for Caesar and generally make a nuisance of himself. He gritted his teeth for a moment.
Fact was, he needed the Straw Hats to pull this off. With Vergo there, and with his heart no less, he couldn’t manage it by himself any longer. His original plans had hinged on Caesar keeping his mouth shut about his presence on Punk Hazard.
But Luffy was an idiot who couldn’t follow a plan if his life depended on it. Law cringed internally. He’d thought the same things about another when they’d first met. The reminders of Ace were there, had been there since he’d realized Luffy was on the island.
The really frustrating part of it was that he’d found himself unintentionally caught up with Luffy on one or two occasions and had had to force himself to calm down when he realized it. Luffy was only the second person he’d ever met who could do that to him and he didn’t like these reminders.
He would not let himself get caught up with this boy. He would never let something like that happen again. He would follow through with his plan, salvage what he could if Luffy messed things up, and then he would go.
“I’m sort of…well, with someone.”
Luffy only blinked at him. “With someone?”
“Yeah, you know?” Ace grinned. “As in…” Ace scratched his neck a moment. “You know…” He’d told Luffy about joining Whitebeard but he’d found himself wanting to tell his little brother about Law as well.
“You love someone.” Luffy grinned at him, leaning closer.
Ace reddened a bit, maybe not expecting Luffy to get that so soon. “Yeah, I guess I do.”Ace laughed to cover his embarrassment. “He’s great! Maybe a little bit too serious sometimes…”
“Hey! Tra-guy!” It was the only warning Luffy gave before he crashed into the taller man. Law barely moved at the impact and turned his impassive gaze towards Luffy.
“What do you want?”
“Come play!” Luffy grabbed the hand that wasn’t holding his sword but Law didn’t budge.
“I’m not interested in your party, Straw Hat.”
Luffy pouted and didn’t let go of Law’s hand. And that was when he saw it. It was small, and on the inside of Law’s wrist. The tattoo, a replica of a much larger one that had wound down another man’s arm.
It was the only proof, the only evidence of a relationship that had ended two years ago. Law had gotten it on a whim, like he did most things when it came to that man, shortly after the battle at Marineford, during one of his weaker moments.
Now, Luffy stared at it for a moment before looking up at Law’s face and tilting his head. “You’re the one that Ace loved.”
It wasn’t a question and Law jerked his hand from Luffy’s at the words. And he was surprised. More so than he had been since meeting Luffy. There was something unreadable in Luffy’s usually transparent, wide eyed gaze.
Then Luffy grinned and launched himself at Law in a hug. Irritation crept up when Luffy wound his arms around Law’s neck.
“What are you-“
“Don’t worry Traffy,” Luffy said brightly, and Law froze, not just at the nickname. “We’re friends now. If Ace liked you, then I’ll protect you, even from that bird guy.”
Luffy laughed, gave him one more squeeze and then bounced back towards his party, leaving Law standing there stunned with something warm blooming in his chest.