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Pit-town Strays

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“What the hell are you going to Pit-town for?” Bellamy chewed at Law with his mouth open, a smarmy sneer on his pasty face.

“None of your business.” Law scowled, turning his eyes away from his brother’s ground-up breakfast. He shoved a random pile of coursework into his backpack.

“Well I know what kids like you go up there to do. Everybody knows.” Bellamy drawled on, like he knew shit about anything besides scamming beer and shooting bottles at the quarry.

“Don’t make assumptions, idiot. I’m just babysitting.”

“Why?”

“It’s called a job? You should try it,” Law suggested primly. “Feet.”

Bellamy lifted his feet off Law’s pile of textbooks. “Why, though? You got that big scholarship, I seen the letter when it came in.”

Law frowned at him. “How did you…”

“Well it was just there, so I read it. Why don’t you move out, if you got all that money? You hate it here so much.”

Law waved this matter aside. “I owe that money to someone. Give me the volvo keys.”

Bellamy didn’t move his stupid stumpy self from the ancient recliner—prized spot in the basement space the three brothers shared. “No, I need it, I’m meeting up with some guys later to go down to the quarry. Dad said I could.”

“Bellamy, I need it to get to town. Just gimme the keys.”

“Well I need it to pick up little ladies! You can hitch, right?”

Law didn’t bother arguing. He sighed through his nose and slid his feet into his severely ratty sneakers before heading out into the yard.

“Don't tell Dad where I am or I'll tell him about your girlfriend!” Law called on his way out.

“Obviously,” Bellamy muttered.

 


 

The ancient volvo wasn’t feeling cooperative today, or Law was having a lapse or something because he couldn’t fucking hotwire it. He slammed his fist on the dash and took out his phone. It was an oddly summery fall day—not too cold to walk or bike—but his shoes were getting thin in the soles, and Law didn't like asking his dad for little stuff like that. Didn't wanna be such a burden all the time.

He scrolled through his messages and sent a couple off to see about a ride. But Robin (who'd suggested the job) was teaching, and Baby (sweet, bitter Baby) was already in the sauce.

 

BB: i cn still come tho? you real stuck?? big bro awwwww im sry

You: Nono dont go driving if youre partying it up, Ill hitch a ride I guess

BB: Where?

You: Just into town

BB: Where in town??????

You: The Pit.

You: or whatever.

BB: LAWWW NOOOOOOOOooo jus kidding lol no judgement here

BB: id sell it on weekends too if i were pretty liek U

You: I’m not selling my ass!!!

BB: Lol

BB: sure

BB: why else ndn boi hangs w miner trash? Shady.

You: Lots of reasons, including a babysitting job. Don’t make assumptions.

BB: “babysitting”” “””job”””’

You: Yes.

BB: God ur sheltered

BB: shltered bebe in u nice rich house

BB: don get picked up there, pit-town piggies love ndn bebes

 

Law pocketed his phone with an eyeroll and started walking down toward the highway.

 


 

Once he’d found a ride and gotten dropped off, it was a twenty minute walk from the highway to the Pit. Law ended up climbing over the bare, rocky hill behind the truck stop, cuz his phone’s map had the place all wrong. On top of the hill, he could see the Pit in all its glory laid out before him.

Pit-town was the weird little enclave where the town’s mine workers were housed, in tar paper houses as outdated as the mine itself. The tangled machinery of the refinery loomed just beyond the houses, and above all that, the smokestacks. White smoke drifted from their peaks, as high above him as the clouds. Nothing except low bush berries grew around here—it was like an outpost on the moon.

Law went down into the village. Men with tattooed arms watched him from pickup trucks, and women smoking in lawn chairs whispered. Half-feral dogs barked and circled.

“Ya lost, hun?” one busty woman called from her front step as he passed, and her friends chuckled.

“No…” he mumbled back, and hurried on as they all laughed.

He was flustered and out of breath by the time he got to the address, on the other fucking side of the whole village. The house was like the rest: a single-storey bungalow on a small plot of land with a car port full of dead appliances. There was a little pink bike lying on the front step, and a short dog chain attached to a pole in the middle of the bare yard. A deep trail had been trod in a circle around the pole but there was no dog in sight. Law went up and knocked lightly.

He stood there for a few minutes, feeling the neighborhood eyes on his back, before trying again. He knocked a little louder. “Hey, um. Hello?”

A harsh voice called, “YEAH IT’S OPEN.”

Law tried the door. “No it’s not?” he called back.

“YEAH IT IS JUST KICK IT AND TURN THE THING AT THE SAME TIME.”

“...No, definitely not open,” Law assured him after trying every kick-turn combination.

“AH FUCK.”

“Yeah.”

“OKAY, CAN YOU JUST BREAK IN?”

“...What??” Law was almost offended.

“I’M DOING A THING, CAN’T GET THE DOOR RIGHT NOW, JUST TRY SOMETHING.”

Obviously Law could break into stuff, because his shitty little brothers thought it was hilarious to lock him out of the house all the time. And because their father thought it was prudent to keep things like Law’s ID in a secure location. Law didn’t think that skill set was a great way to start this ‘job’ thing, though… He looked around at the prying eyes across the street and they flitted back behind their blinds. He sighed.

The lock was just one of the doorknob ones, and the jamb didn’t have a guard on it so it was easy to get a credit card in there. The door swung open and Law stepped into a cluttered hallway.

“In here!” the big voice called from down the hall.

“I here!” a little voice added.

Law navigated his way carefully, stepping over baskets of laundry, unreturned empties, and sealed up moving boxes. Something obnoxious was playing on tinny speakers in another room. He rounded the corner into a sweltering little kitchen that seemed like the only clear spot in the house.

There was a very tall redhead with a face full of piercings sitting at the kitchen table in his boxers, and a much smaller redhead in a frilly blue bathing suit beside him. They were painting their toenails black, with their feet up on the table.

The bigger redhead seemed really shocked to see Law. He almost toppled backward on his chair. “H-hi! Uh! You’re Native.”

Law blinked. “Yeah. Um. You’re naked.”

“I’m Nami!” announced the little girl.

The guy was pretty much naked, by Law’s standards. Also kind of jacked… Law could feel his face heating up and was glad that it didn’t really show on him. The man sitting there in his boxers was pale as a fucking ghost, though, and so his sudden flush was super obvious. He rushed to recover from that intro.

“I don’t mean like, ‘oh, you’re Native.’ Well, obviously you are, heh, but I don’t mind or anything!"

“Yeah, uh.” Law nodded helpfully. “I don’t mind either, that you’re… naked.”

“Kidd is a naked...” Nami sang to herself.

“I'm not even,” Kidd protested. “I'm just hot as hell. Aren't you hot?”

“Am I??” Law was completely lost.

“Not—! I mean, yeah, but you're in a hoodie? Aren't you sweltering?” Kidd clarified.

“Oooh. No, not really. I like to keep covered up,” Law explained, picking at a fraying sleeve. He supposed it was weird to be wearing jeans and a hoodie in this weather, but no weirder than wearing Crocs in public, like people here seemed into doing.

Kidd was distracted by Nami painting patterns on her feet with the nail polish. “Fuck, Nami, stop, we just paint the nails. It’s messy, see? MESSY.” He took the tiny girl and sat her on the counter instead, then went about cleaning up the table. “Sorry about the door. Can’t go anywhere with wet toenails, it smears like hell.”

Law nodded harder and went to help him. “It’s cool, I know how to break into stuff. I mean I don’t usually! But your door was easy. Not that I’ll do it again!”

“Not a problem… uh, Kidd. I’m Kidd. Hi.” The guy finally got his head together and extended a hand. His fingernails were painted black too. He had a really firm grip.

“Law,” Law replied in relief.

“And this is my sister Nami,” Kidd jabbed a thumb at the toddler perched precariously on the counter. “She’s a fucking psychopath.”

Nami ignored them, sticking towels into the toaster instead.

“You have a dog too? I saw the chain outside.” Law wondered.

“No, Dad took the dog with him. And the fuckin car…”

“Your parents are both working?” Law asked, and immediately regretted it. God, he really was sheltered.

Kidd blushed again and started stacking dishes.

Law rushed to clarify. “Or, ‘parent'? I only got one too—a dad. I'm adopted though, and my birth parents are both passed, so.”

Kidd was wiping off each dish absently under the running water, not really cleaning anything. “We got a dad and mom, they’re just… not around right now. So it’s just us! Which is better, believe me.” He growled the last bit under his breath.

“Oh, got it.”

“Anyway. I didn't wanna ask someone to come all the way here to watch Nami, but that bitch down the street won’t take her anymore because of lice or property damage or something, and I got an interview today. I’ll prolly find another illegal daycare somewhere around here if I do get this job, though, heh.”

“Yeah don’t worry about it.” Law tried not to seem squeamish at the mention of lice.

“If they do take me I’ll be starting right away, so I might be out til pretty late,” Kidd warned him. “I’ll pay you for however long you’re here for though.”

“Sounds good. You gonna work at the mine?”

This seemed like another sensitive issue. Kidd looked away and muttered, “No… you gotta be 21, and take all these courses and stuff. And anyway, like HELL will I end up in the fuckin pit,” he finished with unexpected heat.

Law was saved from having to come up with a response by Nami blowing up the toaster outlet. The kitchen appliances all blinked out.

“FUCK! Again…” Kidd rushed to pick her up and sit her back on the table as a loud dryer beep sounded from the bathroom. “And fuck, there’s my pants. Listen, can you grab a fuse from the drawer there and stick it in? I actually REALLY gotta go, like right now.”

“Yeah of course!” Law watched the strange redhead duck through the kitchen door and pick his way down the obstacle course hall to another door.

He pulled his eyes away from the muscled back and onto the little girl, who was… eating nail polish.

“You!” Law scolded her, and put her in a chair. He grabbed the few towels that weren’t burnt, and tied her to the aluminum frame. “Okay, eat cheez-its while I fix this.”

Law had got the new fuse screwed into the panel and the nail polish off Nami’s face by the time Kidd came back, dressed in clothes that didn’t seem like interview clothes to Law: heavy duck pants and steel-toed boots. He grabbed a duffel bag that was sitting on a box stack, shouldered it and then stood looking at Law. Suddenly blushing again. Law tried not to notice, but something about it was staring to appeal to his ego (or whatever). It was kind of amazing, to see this tall, tough blacklung brat acting so unsure of himself. 

“Uh," Kidd managed. "If I come back really late maybe I could bring something? To eat? And we could eat it here?”

“Yeah, that'd be good.” Law shrugged like he didn't mind either way.

“KFC?” Kidd suggested.

“Oh I don't like breaded stuff. Fries are good, though.”

“Chinese?”

“I'm trying not to eat MSG actually…”

Kidd tried to think. “So what do you eat?”

“Mostly sushi.”

“I didn't know there was any sushi places in this shit town,” Kidd admitted.

“At the college there's one. Uh, but whatever you bring is fine, don't worry about it!” Law reassured him.

“Okay. Well, see ya.” Kidd made his way outside, yelling at some hovering dogs to git!, then started swearing. “Aw fuck, Nami's FUCKING bike…”

“You trip on it?” Law poked his head outside.

“No,” Kidd was looking at an empty front walk. “Fuckin kids took off with it again. I'll just go punch their dad in the throat later, not a big deal.”

“Holy,” Law commented mildly.

He watched Kidd pull a frankenstein-ian motorcycle out of a side door and roar away on it. Then he looked around to see if anyone had caught him looking. He was just sending a good glare at the prying eyes across the street when he remembered that he was babysitting. He returned to the kitchen where Nami was sitting once again on top of the table, drawing circles in a nail polish puddle with one finger.

“Your brother is an entire entrée,” Law informed her. 

She didn't reply, intent on her craft. But she objected when he tried to pick her up. “Nooo!”

“No?” he put her down.

She glared at him, a tiny girl of no more than four, ginger hair in little pigtails and her frilly blue bathing suit spotted with nail polish.

“I'm Law,” he sat down so he was at her level, and introduced himself. “Lawww.”

“Law...” She appraised him solemnly for another moment and then seemed to deem him acceptable. “I’m being a witch,” she confided in a whisper.

“A witch?”

“Yah.”

Law sat back in the chair with a laugh. “My girl! Let's talk!”

 


 

Law had the kitchen scrubbed to his own exacting standards in short order, having secured Nami firmly to a chair (with duct tape and towels this time).

She was starting to nod into her cheezits by the time he'd finished, and Law figured it was nap time. He went to review the rooms along the hallway, looking for a baby room. He couldn't figure out the logic of the place, though. There was a largeish bedroom, which seemed to be the source of the stale smoke smell, mostly taken up by a tacky king bed and Seinfeld DVDs. It clearly hadn't been used in forever. He closed that door. Then there was a smaller room that might've once been a child's room, decorated with glow in the dark stars on the ceiling and complex Lego structures piled in one corner. It was stacked floor to ceiling with file boxes and covered in dust too. Another small room seemed to be Kidd's hideout, though the bed was just a box spring covered in laundry and books. There was a guitar and practice amp, and a desk piled with half-dissected old laptops. Law resisted the urge to snoop, and closed the door.

He went back down to the other end of the hall, past the front door, where the narrow corridor opened into a small living room space. A couch and a single mattress were neatly made up into beds, in front of a large TV that seemed like the only new thing in the house.

“I want a Kidd nap.” Nami had somehow gotten out of the duct tape high chair and was at Law's side, rubbing her eyes.

“Okay? In the big bed?”

“You're silly,” she accused. She went to lie down on the couch, pulling a fuzzy blanket over herself.

Law went to sit next to her. He gestured down at the mattress on the floor, with its orange and blue comforter and many fuzzy cushions. “Is that your bed? Don't you wanna nap there?”

“No,” she explained patiently, eyes already closed.

“Right, obviously.”

He watched her shuffle and sigh her way to sleep.

“I could've had a sister,” he murmured, partly to her and partly to himself. “I mean, I do have a biological sister, but I didn't grow up with her. I think it would've been nice, though…”

Nami was already asleep when he looked over again. Easy! Law totally had this babysitting thing in hand. He pulled his stats assignment out of his bag, and got down to the real work.

 


 

Nami turned out to be a pretty chill baby, as well as being an utter terror. She mostly ignored Law, preferring to go about her little play tasks uninterrupted, with the TV playing in the background. “Being a witch,” she explained whenever Law asked what she was doing.

“Keep it up,” he encouraged her, turning back to his own work.

He quickly learned, though, to keep an ear out for silence, because she was probably blowing shit up. Law found her building a fire in the oven, then making what he was pretty sure was mustard gas in the toilet.

“How’d you do that??” He took the bleach from her and she threw a mild fit before toddling off to the next game.

By the time Kidd returned, Law was just sitting in a kitchen chair with his stats assignment disregarded in front of him, watching the four-year-old expertly jimmy the makeshift lock he'd put on the knife drawer.

“More twist on the lever,” an amused Law recommended.

“So this one's being a psychopath huh,” Kidd entered and threw his duffel bag on the table.

Law corrected him.“Um, she's a witch and a prodigy? She made several deadly potions with cleaning supplies today."

“Oh jesus now there's two of you.”

“One more and we got a coven.”

“Great. Nami, it's like 11, why ain't your ass in bed?” Kidd growled at his sister, who ignored him.

“She went down for a couple hours, but kept getting up when she heard a car go by. And I couldn't get any pajamas on her,” Law reported.

“Yeah she won't take the bathing suit off unless I bribe her. She's big into being a ‘mermaid’ this month, on top of being a witch.”

Nami had gotten the knife drawer open and was feeling around in it with one chubby hand.

Kidd scooped her up. “No knives.”

“A knife!!!”

Law shook his head and smiled. Child after his own heart. “What's she want a knife for?”

“She's been trying to slash my tires lately, so probably that. It's usually pretty funny to watch, but yeah, not at bedtime. Eh, Nami?”

“I WAN A KNIFE! A KNIFE A KNIFE A—”

Nami stopped and stared at the chocolate coin Kidd was holding up. She grabbed it and wiggled out of his arms. They followed her to the living room where she was stashing her prize under the couch.

“Holy, she's got a hoard,” Law gave a low whistle at the cache of foil coins and random shiny things.

“Yeah I think she's more dragon than mermaid,” Kidd commented.

Nami lay down in her floor bed, where she could see the glittering pile.

“I got food, if you wanna…?” Kidd nodded back toward the kitchen.

“Is she good here?”

“Yeah she pretty much puts herself to sleep, just leave WrestleMania on for her. She likes the noise.”

They went back to the kitchen, and Kidd turned on a thing Law had thought was a smashed toaster oven reconstructed with safety pins, but which turned out to be a radio. Kidd gestured to a bag on the table, and Law unpacked it while the redhead fiddled with the receiver. It mostly seemed to be picking up country music and static.

“Can almost get that alt rock station with this thing,” he muttered, “probably just needs another coat hanger.”

“You went and got sushi??” Law pulled out several little plastic containers.

Kidd’s back was to him but Law could see his neck and ears going red. He kept fiddling with the dials. “Yeah, whatever.”

“From all the way at the college?”

“Yeah. Whatever.”

“...I think that radio is using you as an antenna,” Law observed, changing the topic.

Kidd snorted and let go of the screwdriver-dial, and the radio went to mostly static. “Faboo. Maybe it wants a piercing too.”

His face had returned to a normal color under all that metal, and he joined Law at the table. Law offered him the dragon roll and took the sashimi plate.

The chopsticks were an obstacle.

“Do you stab it?” Kidd glared at the sushi and the two little sticks.

“No, look at my hand: hold one like a pencil, and the other one loosely—”

“I stab it.”

“Don’t stab it, hey, you’ll ruin the integrity of the roll shape!”

“Hm,” Kidd chewed his mangled piece. “Tastes like salad.”

“Here.” Law scooted over a chair. He took the chopsticks out of Kidd’s fist and rearranged them. Kidd’s hands were large and rough to the touch, and the scent of sweat and gas clung to his clothes. The sudden impression of body heat and machinery smacked Law right in the back of the brain and made him all stupid.

“I’m gonna say this is finger food,” Kidd decided.

“Yeah,” Law agreed dazedly.

“Yeah, fuck this. Want a beer?”

Law hated beer. “Yeah. I mean, whatever.”

Law sat and nursed the beer with determination, trying to pay attention to Kidd's animated take on government surveillance vans and Nicolas Cage. His brain was getting fuzzy really fast, though. He was such a fuckin lightweight.

“He’s not an actual human person, is all I’m saying. You seen his face tryna do face stuff?” Kidd argued, crunching his second beer can and tossing it in the bin across the room. "Nother beer? Hey, you’re not even done that one.”

“Tastes like bread,” Law noted distractedly.

“I guess. You don’t like Bud?”

“I liked the first movie,” Law hiccuped.

Kidd laughed like a fucking hooligan, and Law had to laugh too. Normally loud laughs grated on Law's ears, but he decided he liked this one. It wasn't mocking or cold; just big.

Kidd shook his head with a final chuckle and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Me too. Sooo uh, what you studying at the college?”

“General science right now, thinking I'll go into the pre-med stream,” Law answered right away. “Or maybe something more research, less clinical… uh. Or you know, like. Whatever.”

Kidd actually seemed interested. “Yeah that sounds awesome. I always wanted to go into engineering, but pure research would be cool… You um. Doing some math, there?” He looked over at Law's assignment, abandoned on the table.

“Stats. The bane of my existence. Don't stare at it too long, it'll put the bleed on your brain.”

“...you're stuck, huh?” Kidd glanced over again.

“No.” Law sniffed. “I'm considering it from many angles.”

“Okay, man.”

“Oh, like you know anything about sample sizes and shit.”

Kidd shrugged, but the line in his forehead deepened. He cracked another tallboy.

Law gripped his own beer can in the uncomfortable silence that followed, and then downed the rest all at once.

“Nother,” he wiped his mouth and Kidd raised an eyebrow but passed him a fresh one.

“Git it in ya.”

“Mhm.” Law took a deep swig and almost fucking barfed. “Sooo… you make that bike yourself huh?”

“...yeah,” Kidd's face lost the put-out look and split into a grin. “Or whatever, I just added some stuff and changed other stuff… actually, it's…”

That got another good long ramble out of the redhead, full of startling laughter and crass parallels with female body parts. Law wondered idly if Kidd was actually familiar with any female body parts, or whether this was just how people in Pit-town talked.

“Hm?” Law sat up straight, realizing that Kidd had asked him something. His brain was definitely all swimmy now.

“Or I can give you a lift back now. It's a long way to the Rez.”

“I'm not from the Rez, I live down the highway. I can just hitch my way back, it's not a big deal." Law looked at his phone—after midnight.

Kidd was giving Law a look, like he wanted to say something about that, but then grunted and downed his beer instead. “Here, for today,” he said, taking an envelope out of his pocket and pushing a few folded bills into Law's hand.

“Thanks.”

“If you're free tomorrow I'll be working again at noon. And like I said, you can stay here tonight if the trip out is—”

“Oh!” Law felt his face heating up again. “No, I gotta get home. My dad's gonna kill me as it is. I'll come back tomorrow, though, okay?”

“Okay! Or, whatever, good.”

“Yeah.” Law stood and started stuffing things back into his backpack. “Okay see ya tomorrow.”

Kidd gave him a flippant salute and cracked another beer.

 


 

Pulling on his sneakers at the door, Law felt a little tug at his pant leg.

“Law, you are going to go?” Nami worried.

“Yup, gotta go home.”

“Law, you won't be here if you go,” she started snuffling.

Law picked her up and put her back in her bed. “I'll come back tomorrow. Okay?”

“No.” She hid under the blanket and kept snuffling.

He hesitated. “I have to go.”

“She’ll get over it in a minute,” Kidd told him from the doorway, leaning backlit against the frame with crossed arms. “It's better not to draw it out.”

Law looked at the little lump among the cushions and shrugged. He stood to go.

The redhead chewed at his tongue piercing and watched him. “Okay, I don't wanna be weird about this, but like. It's the Pit. And you're... You know?”

Law wasn't getting it. “I'm...?”

“C'mon, you stick out. And it's really late, and it's just past check day, and… it'd really just be faster if I gave you a ride.”

Oh, fucking chivalry or whatever. 

“So I'll put my hood up,” Law dismissed this.

“It’s the Pit, though,” Kidd said again.

“... See you tomorrow.” Law left without drawing it out any further.

 


 

Law got halfway through the village before someone pulled up next to him, apparently to offer him further unwanted courtesies.

“Looking for a place to stay?” the man offered.

“Just heading home,” Law deflected.

This didn't seem to be the answer the guy wanted, and he followed Law in his pickup at very close range, until they got to the village limits and the end of the street lights. Law gripped his phone in his pocket. He heard the truck door slam just as he went to detour off the road between two houses.

Law tried not to back away as the guy advanced. “I'll call the police.”

“I am the police,” the man pointed to the badge on his belt.

"Shit..."

"And you're trespassing."

Law held onto his phone, a harsh roaring steadily growing in his ears. The smart thing would be to play dumb and helpless so he wouldn't fucking get shot, and just hope someone came by… but the man went to grab him and he panicked just as the roar peaked. Law snapped the fist holding his phone into the man's temple, and it made a loud crunch. A couple more frantic strikes sent the pig down in a confused pile of limbs.

Well he'd fucking done it now. Maybe he could run before—

“Oohhh shit, haha,” someone commented.

Law glared over at Kidd, who was sitting there on his noisy rat bike, peering at the man on the ground.

“Hi?” Law crossed his arms.

Kidd scratched his neck. “Saw him drive past after you left, and figured… yeah. I was just gonna come and like, bam! Do a drive-by with a crowbar. But that Rocky shit was actually way cooler, haha. Is that a brass knuckles phone ring?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah…” Kidd considered the lump on the ground. “Kay, well. Can I drive you home now?”

“...” Law really, stubbornly wanted to refuse.

“Just so you can see how Marlene here rides,” Kidd patted the motorcycle. “Did I tell you I built her?”

Law's tension cracked and an incredulous laugh bubbled out. “Yeah. You told me. She's a beauty.” Kidd passed him the helmet and Law slid into place behind him.

“She’s a rubber-tit, chain-smoking old blacklung biddy, fuck yeah she's a beauty. You can ride her all day and night, she don't get tired.”

Law had been wondering how he'd get all the way home like this without popping a boner, but that mental image cleared it up.

“Uh,” Law gave the unconscious cop a guilty glance, “should we get this guy somewhere…?”

“Oh, I'll just call his wife to come get him, I guess,” Kidd snorted at the pathetic pile and took out his phone.

“You know him?”

“Everyone knows everyone here… hold on a sec. Hey, Mrs. Kyle? Yeah I just seen Kevin going off tryna fight that goose again.”

“Fuckin what??” Law snickered.

“Yeah, Cobb Road. Looked like he'd taken a good one on the head already. I dunno who taught that thing to make a fist. Yeah, anyway. Yeah, bye.” Kidd hung up, nodding to himself like that was it.

“No one's gonna believe that shit,” Law objected.

“Oh the goose? That's real, the thing's a monster. I think they should just shoot it but there's a pool on who'll defeat it in hand-to-hand combat.”

“...okay. Sure.”

“It's the Pit,” Kidd explained again.

 


 

 

Kidd tied a bandana onto his face as a windguard, and they pulled out of the village and onto the highway. It was fall but the air was warm and smelled like tar. Law held onto Kidd's waist and directed him by patting his arm and pointing. The smokestacks receded behind them, though the tar smell lingered on through the treeless landscape. Eventually Law signaled for them to stop.

Kidd pulled off the highway and stopped just under the lone streetlight at the turnoff. He looked around. “This is just a carpool lot. I might as well take you all the way home, right?”

“Nah, my Dad's already gonna be pissed that I'm out this late. If I ride up on a bike smelling like booze… yeah.” Law passed him the helmet and dismounted. “It's not far from here, I'm good now.”

Kidd was still processing the first part. “Aren't you in uni? You still have a curfew?”

Law shrugged. “He's strict. He just worries. Though, yeah, he's nowhere near as protective about my fuckin brothers so—”

At that exact moment Law's brain registered the whine of a familiar car, and he had to grip his bag to keep from bolting. He relaxed slightly when he saw it was just the Volvo.

“Hey Lawnboy,” Bellamy chuckled, leaning an elbow out the window.

“Hiii Law,” a gawky, sharp-eyed girl chirped from the passenger seat.

“Monet, my dream girl,” Law flirted mildly, leaning on the door frame. Monet giggled and Bellamy scowled.

“That your ~boyfriend~?” the blond troll mocked, jabbing a thumb at Kidd, who tensed and sneered.

“Yeah,” Law shot back.

There was a pause.

“Really???” Monet scrambled to get a good look at them both. Bellamy's face went slack with shock.

Kidd stuffed his head into the safety of his helmet.

“What're you doing?” Law questioned the helmeted Kidd.

“He's shy!” Monet squealed. “Ahhhh you guys are perfect!”

“Are you blushing?” Law tried to flip up the mirrored visor and Kidd held on stubbornly, shaking his head.

“Law, bring him to Hawk's place with us, I'll make youse guys’ drinks!! I got sourpuss and peach schnapps!”

“They're not coming to Hawk's,” Bellamy told her sullenly.

“Shut up Bellamy. Law, you guys coming?”

Law demurred. “Gotta work tomorrow, Monet-fique. Nother time.”

“Aw.”

“See you at home, Bellyache,” Law dismissed his pouting brother, who scowled.

“‘Babysitting’, huh. I'm telling Dad you're hoeing it up in the Pit,” Bellamy threatened.

Monet punched him in the shoulder. “Oh my god Bellamy no you're not. Later, Law! Byyye, strong silent boyfriend!”

Bellamy took his cue and screeched away.

Law turned back to Kidd, who was still hiding under his helmet. “Sorry. That was my brother. It just seemed like the best way to get him to leave.”

Kidd gave a slight shrug.

“So. See you tomorrow?” Law shouldered his bag.

Kidd nodded.

“Thanks for the ride. And for dinner and stuff…”

“Yeah it's whatever,” came Kidd's muffled voice.

“Oh yeah I mean, whatever.” Law started off down the road.

“Uh…! Thank you too, for… coming...” Kidd called after him a few steps later.

Law stopped and looked back awkwardly.

“...And for being chill about Nami's issues, and the house, and dealing with that creeping fucker… You don't have to come back after that crap. And if all this is gonna get you in trouble with your dad anyway,” Kidd offered in a nervous jumble, as Law wandered back over and stood there, feeling suddenly sad.

Law had had his share of sweet goodbye kisses under this streetlight, when he'd been a little younger and a little less worried about everything. He kinda really wanted another like that right now… But Kidd was holding onto the helmet on his head like a life preserver. And a kiss seemed like such a shallow, wrong-headed kind of assurance to offer against all ‘that crap.’

Law leaned in, and bonked his forehead lightly against the glossy helmet instead.

“Well, pick me up tomorrow, at the highway. So I don't gotta risk crossing the goose,” Law shrugged too, like it really was all just whatever.

He couldn't see Kidd's face but he could see his heaviness lift.

“You got it, Cap.”

The scruffy redhead leaned into his bike and the road, and became a fading engine roar in the dark. Law walked home slowly.

 

Chapter Text

 

Bellamy arrived back from partying just as Law was on his way out the next morning.

“So can I have the fucking car then?” Law asked, not holding out much hope.

His bull-necked brother eyed him with wary hostility. “You’re a fucking gay,” he accused Law.

“I can also drive.”

“Shut up. I bet you're not actually, though. You're just tryna make people think you're special.”

Law snorted. “Bellamy, obviously I'm ‘a’ fucking gay.”

“No,” he denied it doggedly. “I'm your brother, I'd know already.”

“Dellinger, help us out here, buddy,” Law summoned their youngest brother, who was just then coming down the stairs with a pop-tart sandwich and his guppy jar. He was wearing a wetsuit, for some arcane reason.

“He's too young to hear about that stuff,” Bellamy warned off Law under his breath.

Law ignored this and addressed Dellinger. “Deli-man: Am I, in your estimation, fucking gay.”

“Uhhh, obviously you're fucking gay?” Dellinger rolled his eyes with all the snotty certainty of a thirteen-year-old boy.

“See?” Law raised his eyebrows at Bellamy.

“Pff. Every punk seventh-grader says that about literally everything,” Bellamy pointed out, fairly. “Last week he said gym shoes were gay.”

“Gym shoes are very gay,” Law confirmed.

“Not gay as Law’s gay self, though.” Dellinger met Law's fist bump with the guppy jar and went to claim the cozy recliner spot for his Shark Week marathon. Of their parents’ two biological sons, Law was definitely closer with this little blond weirdo.

Bellamy grouched, “Dellinger, turn that off, don't you got school?”

“Uhhh, it's summer?” the squeaky brat reminded him. “Law's only in school cuz he's a gay, gay nerd.”

Law covered his smile and went away up the stairs.

Bellamy's scowl deepened. He followed Law, accusing him, “You been keeping stuff from me. I’m your brother.”

“Why the fuck would I tell you shit. Thought you’d have figured it out already, anyway… I only been dating guys since I was like, fourteen.” Law rolled his eyes even more heavily than Dellinger had.

Bellamy stood there and glared for a full minute as Law tried to relace his sneakers with the remaining strand of snapped shoelace.

“...does Dad know?”

Law hesitated at the question, and looked over his shoulder reflexively, though he knew their father was gone on a business trip. He shrugged in response, confidence blown.

His ornery brother hissed suddenly, “This is fucked up. I'm not getting involved in any of this sick shit. Got that? Don't bring home any more Pit-town meth head tricks, I'll fucking kill em!”

“Where the fuck are you going? Gimme the keys,” Law complained.

“No, I gotta use the car today!” Bellamy stormed off.

 

 


 

 

Fucking pointless drama. Law shook it off and messaged Kidd with an ETA, then went to the highway to hitch a ride again. He'd forgotten all about the morning’s tense exchange by the time he'd made his way over and climbed the same bare rock outcropping as the day before. Kidd, the bike, and the Pit were all waiting below.

“The whole place is on high Goose Alert,” Kidd grinned. “Kevin is unavailable for comment.”

Law laughed and swung his leg over the back of the black-painted motorcycle. They roared through the village to Kidd's place in the far corner of the grid, past pursuing dogs and staring neighbors but no geese. Much better way to see the place, Law thought, dismounting in the driveway. Getting a little feel of Kidd's tight physique had been a bonus.

He followed Kidd up the step, where the little pink bike was once again lying in the way.

“Oh hey, you went and throat-punched the bike-thieves’ dad already?” Law joked.

“Oh, yeah, heh, stopped by his place last night. Guy tried to fucking sell it back to me, you believe that? Barely past check day and he's tryna scam people… Fucking drunk. Had to knock him out and give his kids a chicken bucket to show me where it was.” Kidd stepped over the bike and tried the door. Locked. He jiggled it and tried again.

Law frowned. “Okay? That's… good. Good job.”

“Yeah, chicken works. Nami! Open the fucking door! NAMI.”

A pouting little face was pressed against the window over to their left, watching them and not budging.

“Shoulda got chicken,” Law suggested.

Kidd growled in irritation. “God, it's always gotta be something. Every fucking time she figures out I'm going somewhere for the day… Nami, I gotta get to work! And look: Law's here!”

Nami's pout deepened.

“I can just get the door,” Law offered, reaching into his pocket for a card to jimmy it.

“Nah it's fine, I got it…” Kidd drove his boot into the door in an angry burst and it swung open. He stomped inside.

“Uh,” Law looked at the splintered bolt slot. No wonder there was no stop left.

“I'll fix it later. Nami: c’mere.” Kidd shouldered the duffel bag that was waiting on the hall floor, and then squatted down to call his sister over to him. “C'mon, gimme a kiss, I'll be back really soon.”

She kept her face stuck to the window, blowing clouds onto the glass and drawing shapes in them.

He sighed and went over to plant a kiss on the top of her head anyway, and she made an angry sound but kept ignoring him. “Don’t be like that. I'll be home before you go to sleep this time, okay? Babygirl?”

Her face stayed stuck to the glass.

“Nami.”

“Best not to draw it out, right?” Law suggested.

“... … …Yeah.” Kidd waited a moment longer, but Nami was set on being mad. He stood with a scoff.

“We’re good,” Law assured him, “And I'll text if there's something.”

“Kay, yeah. Bye.”

Kidd left abruptly.

Law frowned after him. Outside, the bike roared to life and then faded into a distant hum. Law went to close the open front door, bringing the bike inside as an afterthought. Nami was wiping away all her window-fog designs when he came back. She looked at him warily.

Law held out his hands. “Hey, witchygirl! I said I'd come back, right?”

She didn't reply. She walked around the far side of the room and then past him. In the kitchen, she took a box of Sugarbombs from the cupboard and then sat at the table, waiting.

“...Want cereal?” Law asked.

“Yah,” she huffed.

Law got her a bowl and blue plastic spoon and got her all set up. He sat down with a sigh as she dug in.

“Nami, can you say ‘thank you?’”

“Ya.” She kept chewing.

Law stifled a laugh at this. Law's father would have given her a real quick correction if she'd tried that in his presence. And Law probably shouldn't encourage her sass, but hey. He looked around and his eyes fell on his Stats assignment, forgotten there the previous night.

It was finished.

“Holy, what??” Law looked it all the way through, and then again. He studied the formulas, rubbing his temple. “How… do you even…? Ughhh.”

He looked up when Nami heaved a heavy little sigh of her own. She was watching him, imitating his concerned slouch and terse sounds.

“Hi,” she finally acknowledged him.

“Hi, Nami. We cool?”

“Ya,” she decided. “You can haves some cereal too.”

“No, thanks, not my favorite,” Law went back to decoding the paper.

“It is, it is not what witches can eat?” she wondered.

“Witches can eat what they want,” he told her distractedly.

A few moments later Law looked up to find her gone, and he had to run before she tried eating something bad. He found her in the bathroom, selecting cleaning supplies from the cupboard. He diverted her to coloring at the table, and spent the next hour organizing the bathroom and sorting the cleaning stuff into a high place.

The day went on much the same as before, Law alternating between coursework, cleaning and Nami management, while Nami went about her witchness. By the time it got dark, though, she was whining at the window and trying to break small things of Kidd's. Law took a guitar tuner away from her and she had a full-on meltdown. Law was starting to watch out the window too, wondering if he should text Kidd for an ETA… The guy had said he'd be back before dark this time, right? Law finally convinced Nami to lie down and watch Toy Story, but she would only stay put if he sat where she could see both him and the TV.

It was past 11pm again by the time Kidd came through the door. Nami got up and went to peek around the corner at him, but ran back to bed when he tried to get her to hug him.

“Girl, what the fuck,” Kidd grumbled.

“She's been waiting a while, I guess,” Law suggested.

“Yeah well. If I get offered a few extra hours at rate, I'm gonna take em.” The big redhead kicked off his boots and headed for the kitchen.

Law looked over at the little blanket lump, but it wasn't budging, so he followed Kidd.

“Didn’t get to the sushi place this time,” Kidd apologized.

“It’s cool, takeout every night gets expensive. I made this soup thing, there was leftover chicken in the fridge.” Law pointed to the pot on the stove and Kidd went to look.

“Oh sweet, like from scratch?”

“Yup.”

“Whoa, lookit that. Fancy brown stuff…” He made himself a bowl and sat back at the table.

“That’s what they call me,” Law joked to himself.

“Huh?” Kidd paused, spoon in hand.

“Oh I was just… talking to myself, uh… n-nevermind. Didn’t expect you to be listening.”

“Well I’m right here. Anyway, hey, I got these,” Kidd fished in his bag and threw Law a can. Hard lemonade.

“Hah, thanks…?” Law was cautiously grateful. He cracked it and took a sip—hmm, not bad. Not bready, anyway.

There was the quiet sound of bare feet from down the hall.

“There she is,” Kidd lifted his arm to find a sleepy Nami hugging his waist. “Yeah, hi. Good girl. Go the fuck to bed.”

He gave her a kiss and a coin, and she padded off again.

Law took a long drink from his can. “Soooo uh, I was gonna ask. You did that Stats sheet I left?”

“Um. Guess so…”

He was treated to one of Kidd's full face-and-neck blushes again. The unfortunate paleface ducked his head and concentrated on his bowl.

Law stretched and pretended to be fascinated by the ceiling light. “I was just gonna ask ya—”

“I was just bored or whatever,” Kidd told his soup.

“Yeah, but I don't know anybody else who just does math when they're bored,” Law wryly addressed the ceiling.

“Not trying to show you up or whatever. It's probably wrong. You can just erase it.”

Law snuck a glance over to see that the blush had safely passed. “Yeah but actually maybe you could show me what, um. When you… Like, which. How.”

“...Oh, yeah? Really? What part.”

“Most parts…” Law admitted.

Kidd laughed again, startlingly loud. Law jumped a little but laughed too.

“If you want,” Kidd grinned, pleased.

Law scraped his chair up next to Kidd's. They studied the offensive bit of paper for an hour, grabbing the pencil back and forth and talking overtop of each other. It didn't take long for Law to grasp the concept, but he let Kidd take him through a few more examples. They were getting louder and messier as the cans disappeared, and pretty soon the lesson was forgotten.

“But what if I take the p-value, and divide it by its own ass.” Law held two pencils like chopsticks and drew a little asterix, earning an ear-splitting guffaw from Kidd.

“Sshhh, sleeping baby!” he shushed Law in a whisper-shout, still laughing.

“You're the one screeching!”

“Not even!”

An irate Nami appeared in the doorway. “SHUT THA FUCK.”

They both looked over at her in alarm, then burst out laughing even harder. Nami's scowl deepened, and she came over to swat her brother as he held up his hands in defense.

“Holy shit Nami, okay okay, hahaaa…”

“Kidd! You come put me a bed!” Nami ordered.

“I will after, I have to take Law home first.” Kidd sat her on his lap and looked over at the oven clock. One in the morning.

“Oh shit…” Law checked his phone. No messages from his father, but one from Bellamy.

Dad's home, was all it said.

He ask where I am? Law texted back, and waited anxiously.

“Unless, uhh, you wanna crash?” Kidd mumbled to Law with a cough.

Law scrolled through his messages another couple times. “I don't really wanna get in a crash, no… I guess you've had a few drinks, eh.”

“Nono, I mean like, crash here.”

“Oh!” Law looked up from his texting. “Like sleep here. With you.”

“On the couch,” Kidd clarified, cheeks flaring up again.

“Well…” Law considered his phone.

“Or I can take you home on the bike. It's fine, I ride it around all blasted all the time, haha. But I only had a few this time.”

That was not super reassuring, Law reflected. He fiddled with the little bear dangle on his phone case. A strident bzz-bzz, and Bellamy's reply popped up:

No he just went to bed…

Law breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he could play it off like he'd come home late and gone back out again early, if his father asked.

“Yeah I'll stay,” he decided.

“Awesome!” Kidd gathered up Nami and made his way down the hall. He got a sheet out of the dryer and an extra blanket from a stack, then headed to the living room to make up the couch. Nami hung around his shoulders, over-tired and whining.

“I’m sharing with you tonight, Tinygirl,” he told her.

“You're not taking the big bed?” Law wondered.

“That's Dad's room.”

This seemed like all Kidd was gonna say on that topic, so Law let it go for now. Weird but whatever.

Kidd shucked off his outer layers and got into the little single bed on the floor, shoving aside all the furry little pillows. His feet hung off the end. Nami settled in under his arm with much squirming and fussing. Law laid himself out on the couch, still fully clothed in the stuffy room.

“You want some shorts to sleep in?” Kidd offered.

“Nah I'm good.”

“H’okay…” Kidd was probably thinking, weird but whatever.

“You working tomorrow?” Law asked.

“Yeah. But after that, it depends on when they need me.”

“Okay, I'll be around tomorrow, but Thursdays and Fridays I have class, so I can't come by til later.”

“We'll figure it out,” Kidd waved it off. “Worst case, I find another unlicensed daycare some yoga-pants MILF is running in her shed. Pit-town is good for those.”

Law snort-laughed into his pillow. “MILF-town! So where's the DILFs?”

“Well they sure as fuck ain't here,” Kidd muttered.

“What, no D's you'd like to F?” Law teased. A furry blue pillow flew at him.

“God no. No one wants to F these D's. The M's just do it for the B's, which stands for Baby Bonus.”

“Oooo… harsh.”

“True though,” Kidd chuckled darkly. “Not that I blame em. Baby bonus is about all the income to be had around here if you're non-union.”

“Huh…” Law was about to ask what Kidd had found, job-wise, but Nami interrupted to let them know she was asleep.

“I ASLEEP.”

“Okay,” Kidd whispered. “I guess me too.”

“Hey Kidd,” Law whispered. “You’re basically like Nami's dad, right?”

“...yeah. More than our actual dad is, anyway.”

“So,” Law struggled to keep his voice even. “You're one.”

“One what?”

“The one and only, the lone DILF of Pit-town.” Law stuffed his face into the pillow to muffle his giggling fit. There was no response and he looked over with a wicked grin to see that Kidd had pulled the blanket over his face. Probably blushing.

“You hiding?”

“Shut up… I'm asleep.”

Law chuckled quietly to himself and watched the odd pair on the floor. They were both out in a matter of minutes once they'd settled down. Kidd looked even bigger when he was trying to fit into a small space, with tiny Nami tucked between his side and arm. His protruding brow stayed creased, even while asleep, but the sarcasm had lifted from his lips. He looked worried.

Law settled down too, and scrolled aimlessly through his phone until it slipped out of his hand and he fell asleep without realizing.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The next morning was a comfortable jumble—coffee, laundry, and UFO ‘documentaries’ playing in the background on the big tv. Kidd thudded around in his boxers, yelling at Nami to put some actual clothes on for once, and burning toast in the oven.

“If your toaster wasn't being a radio, you might get toast out of it,” Law pointed out.

“Ah fuck that. I got a laptop with a broken fan that runs hot enough to burn the table… I can probably rig that up and it'll work. Hm.”

Law shook his head. “Whatever. Towels? I'm gonna shower.”

Kidd waved a hand as he dug around in a kitchen drawer full of tools. “Use whatever one, they're all pretty clean.”

Law found the stack of clean towels, and locked himself in the bathroom before going about his usual, highly involved routine. It wasn't like either of these tar-pit kids cared if his nails were trimmed or stuff like that, but he liked feeling put-together in the details, even if he'd slept in his clothes and had kind of a hangover.

He got out of the shower to find Nami sitting on the counter, chewing a toothbrush.

“Nami! The door was locked!” He hid behind the shower curtain and grabbed his towel.

“Yah.”

“That means don't come in!” he emerged with a towel around him and tried to shoo her out.

“What is it that?” She pointed at his skin.

“Tattoos.”

“Tattoos are hurt?”

“No, they're fine. Out.” He picked her up and set her outside the bathroom door, then closed it.

“My toothbrUSH!” she screeched.

Law cracked the door enough to stick the toothbrush out, then closed, locked and latched it. But the doorknob fucking rattled again like two minutes later.

“Nami, WHAT,” Law shouted, then scrambled to hide when Kidd responded.

“Nami says she needs Band-Aids! I dunno what for, but...”

“There's some on top of the fridge! Go get those!”

“What? No there's not.” The doorknob rattled again.

“Yes there is! Fuck off, I'm fucking half dressed!” Law called from behind the shower curtain.

“Oh, I don't mind—”

“I do!! Just go look on the fridge and let me dress!”

“...taking all fucking day in there…” Heavy footsteps went off the hall.

Law sat down wearily in the tub, letting out a deep breath. He rested for a minute, letting his eyes wander over the black spots drawn onto his jeans with sharpie. All his clothes ended up like that—he doodled the spots whenever he was bored in class or hanging out by himself. Just his thinking-patterns.

He shook off the thoughtful moment and reached one hand out of the shower curtain to grab his t-shirt and hoodie. He finished dressing in the shower.

“My turn yet?” Kidd grumbled when he finally reappeared.

“Oh, you do wash?”

“Haha. Go to hell.” He belched and grabbed the towel from Law.

 


 

Things were calm in their chaotic way throughout the rest of the morning. No more texts came from back home, and Law let that issue settle to the back of his mind. Nami seemed happy, though she started pointedly ignoring Kidd as soon as he made motions to leave for work. She focused instead on sticking band-aids to Law's shirt.

“The hell is she doing?” Kidd wondered. “Nami, the hell are you doing? Stop wasting those. I can only get the animal ones when the old blind lady's working the cash.”

“She saw my tattoos and decided they were boo-boos,” Law grumbled. He watched disapprovingly while Nami carefully patched up the sharpie spots on his jeans too.

“Ohhh, heh. You got tats?” Kidd looked him over quickly, but they were all covered up.

“Yeah, a couple in blackwork. They're kinda personal so I don't really show em off.”

“That's fuckin sweet, I wanna get some but they're so expensive. The piercings, I can at least do myself.”

Law shrugged. “Yeah, I got a friend with his own machine who does it for me.”

Kidd watched Nami, a little smile sneaking over his face. “Aw, that's actually pretty cute…” He took out his phone and held it up for a picture.

Law tensed. “Uh! I don't like pictures of me.”

“No? Kay I'll just get one of her then.” The phone made an obnoxious fake camera snap sound.

“...Great.” Law slouched in his chair with his head propped up on one fist.

“What you wanna eat later, any takeout requests?” Kidd asked.

“Whatever.”

“Chicken bucket?”

Law shrugged.

Kidd waited but just got more silence. He tried his sister. “Nami: chicken?”

That one was definitely ignoring him. Kidd gave up with an impatient growl and left for work, stomping his way outside with extra force.

“Ah fuck…” Law regretted his terseness as soon as the other had gone. Now he felt bad. “Nami, stop. Kidd said don't waste those.”

“Haha… yah.”

“Nami. I said stop.”

She startled at his harsh tone, and started to cry. Law sighed in frustration as she tried to climb up into his lap for comfort.

“Law, you hug me. I'm Nami and you hug me.”

“Law doesn't like hugs, Nami.”

She insisted, “Kidd is always hug me and give me a band-aid.”

“Kidd lets you have what you want too much,” Law observed.

But he picked her up to sit on his lap. She applied a final tiger band-aid to the middle of his chest, and he scoffed and massaged his temples.

“Nami, a locked door means don't go in. Okay?”

“Hmhmhn.” Now she was ignoring him and humming to herself. She picked up the pencil on the table and started adding her own designs to Law's stats assignment.

“Nami.” He took the sheet away and she looked at him in outrage.

“No!” she scolded him.

Law scolded her right back. “Hey! Listen! Closed door is no.”

“NO.”

“NO,” he said even louder. Great, now he was getting in a shouting contest with a toddler.

Nami wasn't having it, though. She slid down off his lap and went to go damn well do her own thing. A moment later, she came back and took the band-aid right off his chest before leaving again.

He shook his head in disbelief. “Damn, that's cold.”

 


 

Law brooded at the table for a while, staring past the little pile of photocopied practice sheets he was supposed to be working on and coloring his nails black with sharpie. A chair scraping the floor next to him brought him back to reality. Right… he was babysitting.

Nami climbed up on the chair and handed Law a little jar of something. Black nail polish.

“Heh. You think black nails are pretty, Nami?” Law smiled and accepted the peace offering.

“Yah.” She watched him shake the jar and inspect the contents. Her own nails were an even, glossy black—the product of Kidd's steady hand.

“I think it's nice too…” Law started on his left thumb, trying to match Kidd's technique.

“Our’s dad is say no, it's haggy.”

“Haggy?”

“Yah.”

“What's that?” Law could mostly decipher her toddler-speak, with all its fumbled f's and chubby-cheeked babble, but sometimes it took a minute.

She paused and thought. “Hm.”

“Haggy…” Law thought, and then got it. “Oh… fuck. Nami don't say that to anyone, that's bad.”

“Is bad?”

“Well… it's not bad to be, uh, that. But it's mean to say it to someone. It hurts.” He paused and looked at his hand, half-painted and definitely messy. He bit his lip and stubbornly went about doing the rest too. “Anyway, black nails aren't bad, they're babely. Especially on guys. Like your brother.”

Nami seemed satisfied. “And witches too and mermaids?”

“Definitely. Babely and not bad...”

She watched Law move onto his right hand, fumble it, and make a blob. “You do it bad.”

She dodged Law's attempt to give her an even bigger blob, and ran off screeching gleefully. Law gave up the task with a sigh and picked up his phone instead.

 


 

You: cheese fries.

Kidd: cheese fries??

You: cheese fries

You: or whatever you want

You: its your money

Kidd: cheese fries!!!!! !!; ✓✓✓

 


 

Kidd got back earlier this time. Law looked out the window, surprised to see it was still daylight, but a little relieved. Nami had been an on-and-off terror again that day. The little hellion signaled her joy at Kidd's early return by running up to him and screeching like a banshee.

“That’s a great new noise,” Kidd winced.

Law wasn't listening. He was looking at the message that had just popped up on his phone.

 

Bellamy: dad asking where u is……..

You: just tell him I took off early this morning

You: friend's place

You: back really soon

 

Bellamy didn't reply and Law swallowed a surge of panic. “I think I gotta go,” he mumbled.

“Cheese fries,” Kidd countered, holding up a brown paper bag.

“My dad’s home, and he'll want me to check in…”

“Cheese fries and I drive ya.” Kidd kicked off his boots and headed for the kitchen.

Law fiddled with his phone for a moment, but there were no more messages, and he'd asked for cheese fries, and hey, what was another few minutes anyway. He sat at the table with the two unruly redheads, both talking with their mouths full and shoveling down the fries without pausing to swallow. Kidd cracked a beer but took it slow, catching Law's glance. Nami quickly stuffed herself and fell asleep under the table with a blanket. They let her be while they ate.

“It’s the municipality's depot shop, so yeah, crooked as hell, but good-crooked, hahaha,” Kidd was explaining his new job around a cheesy mouthful.

“Oh? What kind of corruption is the good one again?” Law stirred his own fries into a mushy mass.

“Kind that pays cash and don't ask about certifications.”

“Oh, heh…”

Kidd shrugged. “Yeah. Little lax on the health and safety, but least it's not the Pit.”

“Yeah.” Law replied vaguely.

His strange host finished his greasy gravy-and-cheese mess and leaned back in his chair, stretching as much as he could in the small space. The black nails and metal-studded lips were such a weird contrast to the prissiness of the room—dusty lace valances and bonneted geese painted on the tile backsplash. The long-limbed boy just seemed so ill-fitted here; almost crammed in.

“So you got yourself a mess there, eh.” Kidd started, delicately.

Law sighed. “Yeah, well it's not really a ‘mess’. I'm probably overreacting. My Dad's just a little nuts about rules and family responsibilities… of which I seem to have the greater share…”

“Yeah, that's shitty.” Kidd chewed thoughtfully on a toothpick. “I wasn't tryna pry.”

“It's cool.”

“I meant your mani, though,” Kidd gestured with the toothpick at Law's left-handed paint job.

“Oh! Yeah that? Mess.” Law gave an embarrassed laugh. His left hand was okay, but his right was just a blobby attempt at two fingers.

“Want me to…?”

“Uh. Yeah. Maybe. Just if you want to,” Law laughed again, a little too loud.

“Yeah definitely. There's remover in the bathroom,” Kidd suggested.

Law went and cleaned off the smeared black on his right hand and returned. Kidd shuff-shuffed his chair over to Law's and shook the little vial of polish.

“Okay, gimme your uh…” Kidd noticed Law's flinch as he went to grab his hand. “Or actually, just put your hand on the table, here?”

Law placed his hand in the table, fingers spread, and Kidd went about his art. He somehow did each finger with only two strokes, leaning in close to execute the little flicks with peak precision. He laid his head right on the table, pillowed on an arm, to complete the thumb from up close. Law watched him frown in concentration.

“Nice. Don't move for ten minutes.” Kidd grinned when he'd finished. He blew lightly on Law's fingers with a pwfff to dry them.

Law put his head on his arm too, settling in across from Kidd. “Thanks.”

“Pfffwww.”

“Pffffffw,” Law puffed back at him.

“Haha, weird,” Kidd admitted.

“Mhm…”

Law drummed his painted fingers and didn't say anything for a couple minutes. Kidd let the silence stretch on, watching him as they both rested their heads on the table.

“...You worried about going back, huh.”

Law lifted his eyes to meet the other's, but then looked down again. They were too direct, felt like lasers.

“Doesn't matter. I’m needed back home,” he mumbled.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Or ‘required,’ I guess.”

“Hm,” Kidd mused.

“We don't got a mom, so.”

“She gone, or?”

Law shuffled and scoffed. “Well she was never my mom. She divorced my dad before I was ever adopted, and left their two sons with him. Went off somewhere. She comes back sometimes but she's like, a rich brat. I think she's actually very minor royalty in one of the shittier parts of Europe?”

“Heh, screw her then.”

“Definitely. So anyway, someone needs to make sure shit is in order. And watch my brothers,” Law explained.

“They're grown up, though, right?”

“Well, Dellinger's thirteen… and a little special… But actually, yeah, he's fine by himself. Way more than Bellamy was at that age.”

“Well, so you can just keep staying here!” Kidd decided.

Law laughed and rolled his eyes. “I can't just stay.”

“Yeah you can.” Kidd countered, honestly, and Law didn't really know what to say. Kidd pressed on, “Why not?”

“Don't think people around here like me much.”

“You think they like me here?” Kidd snorted. “They don't matter anyway. Nami likes you, and she never likes anyone.”

Law smiled to himself, thinking of the animal band-aids. “She's a good kid.”

“Just around you.”

Law withdrew back into silence, though he didn't make any move to get up, or to shake off the way their fingertips were lacing together loosely. He kept his head on the table and chewed his lip, looking at their matching fingernails instead of at Kidd.

“I kinda do too.”

“I... probably gotta go, for real,” Law responded after a flustered moment.

Kidd sat up with a casual shrug. “Yeah. I'll take you on the bike.”

“But, yeah, um… Maybe I could just come by sometimes, like after class, and, study here or just hang? Would that be cool?”

“Yeah!” Kidd's grin was so fierce and genuine it was impossible not to grin back.

 


 

They took off on the bike past all the tar-paper houses. Their windows were lighting up as the sky dimmed into grey dusk. Here and there firepits and packs of noisy kids sent up flurries of light and activity.

“The carpool again,” Law yelled to Kidd as they drove.

“Not all the way home?”

“Not unless you wanna run into my dad…”

“I don't mind,” Kidd shrugged.

“I mind.”

Kidd pulled into the carpool, stopping under the orange glow of the streetlight just as it flicked on. Law pulled off the helmet and dismounted with a little flutter in his stomach.

“So uh. Tomorrow?” Law leaned a casual hand on the bike handlebars, trying to be all smooth as fuck.

“Yeah…” Kidd watched him with a little smile.

Law leaned in, an answering smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. He didn't rush it—it was kinda nice to be the one looking down at Kidd for once.

But then something pinged the back of Law's awareness: A sound that sent all his internal alarms off. A car he knew… and not the old Volvo.

“Shit…” he looked up and down the highway.

“What, something up?” Kidd looked around too.

“Uh.” Law listened another frozen second, and then took off in a flat run for the trees.

“Okay cool see ya,” Kidd called to his back.

“Yup!”

 


 

Kidd sat on his bike and kicked his heels into the gravel for a moment after Law had taken off.

“Whatever,” he decided. Weird guy could go be weird or whatever. Not like Kidd cared. He fit the helmet onto his head and the lingering scent of hair oil and cloves struck him, close and unexpected…

Kidd felt his face and neck heat up again.

“...fuck,” he grumbled. He crossed his arms and looked around, staying hidden in his helmet and waiting for the stupid whatever feeling thing to pass. It didn't. “Fuck!” he told the streetlight.

He revved the bike and tore away onto the highway, weaving around the recent-model Caddy that was making its stately way past. It honked sternly.

“Fuck off, hippie!” Kidd yelled at it as he speed away.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Law hid in the sparse cover of the poplar brush until his father's Cadillac had passed, and Kidd's bike had taken off in the other direction. Then he sighed and climbed back out onto the road. It was a couple miles from the highway and the carpool lot to their house. Way down beyond them was the exclusive community where mine execs and lawyers lived out their country club fantasies by a lake that was still mostly non-poisonous. Low-end sports cars whizzed past Law as he walked. He stuck to the gravel shoulder, dragging his feet and kicking up dust.

It was fully dark by the time Law reached their stately house, on a hilltop overlooking its own little lake. The house wasn't as sprawling or tasteless as some of the McMansions down the road, but it still loomed as imposing as a fortress in the dark. Law went around to the back, so he could slip into the basement level door unnoticed. It wasn't curfew yet… if he played this right it might be fine?

Bellamy was sitting outside the back door, hunched up in a lawn chair and smoking. He never smoked.

“...shit,” Law stopped and swore.

“Dad’s uh, waiting.” The other mumbled and scratched his neck. “He just got back from dropping off the cleaner lady, and he's kinda mad about that cuz I guess you were supposed to do that stuff, so…”

“The fuck did you tell him?” Law demanded in an angry whisper.

“Nothing!” Bellamy whisper-shouted back. “Or whatever. Just—”

“You couldn't just fucking cover for me? For once—”

“I cover for you constantly! But I swear to God you do stuff just to get on his nerves, and you don't tell me shit so what am I supposed to—”

“Bellamy,” Law hissed, almost inaudible but urgent, “Did you fucking tell him about Kidd.”

A deep voice issued a calm command through an upstairs window. “Law.”

They both fell silent, hearts pounding.

Bellamy went into action first. He hurried past Law and inside the house to grab their younger brother. “Dellinger, hey, we're going for a drive. C'mon, leave the guppies, we gotta… pick up dinner.” He dragged the oblivious boy out the door and over to the Volvo.

“Law’s home, he can cook.” Dellinger protested.

“Law's tired.” Bellamy stuffed him in the car and threw his shoes in after him.

“Grab me a curry shrimp, Dell,” Law called as they pulled away. He listened to the old engine fade away, and then went dragging his feet into the back door and the basement level. All the lights were off, the large room lit eerily by the flickering tv.

His father summoned him again from upstairs. “Law, if I may have a moment of your time.”

Law ignored this. He unmuted the TV and sat himself down in the ancient recliner to wait.

Before long, the stairs creaked under soft leather soles, and a towering blond man filled the basement doorway. He'd taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves to reveal well-defined forearms, but was otherwise still dressed as ever in formal business attire. As sharp and composed as a Wall Street lawyer, even in his own home.

“I don't see that the attitude is necessary,” his father chided him.

“I’m just tired, Doffy,” Law offered in an indifferent tone, flicking through channels.

Doffy sat down on the bottom stair with a sigh. “I had hoped that you’d take your responsibilities more seriously. You know I rely on you when I'm absent—”

Law cut him off irritably. “Things were fine here. I got my own stuff to do sometimes.”

“I appreciate that, but Dellinger requires supervision. Structure. What if he'd had another lapse?”

“I don't see how I can do anything about your psychopath son’s blossoming murder drive—” The remote was snatched away, and Law rolled his eyes as the little plastic thing hit the wall with a sharp crack.

Doffy got himself under control with obvious effort. “Now, I know you don't actually think that. You're always so good with him, when it's just you boys together. So what the hell is all this?”

“‘This’ what.”

“You, undermining me.”

“I’m just sitting here.” Law crossed his arms.

“You’re purposely provoking me! You're doing it now! Here, this, what is this.” Doffy grabbed Law's arm to examine his black fingernails.

“Nail polish.”

“Black nail polish, and those ear piercings… always slouching around in those ratty clothes. Swearing and sneering and associating with that drunken girl—”

“My sister,” Law growled.

“Disreputable,” Doffy snarled back.

“You mean ‘Indian’??”

“And now,” Doffy was winding up to the main trespass, “You’ve found some shameful new low to plumb, have you? This cavorting in Pit-town…” He spat the word with distaste.

“Great, let's fucking talk about Pit-town.” Law grabbed a second remote from beside him and turned up the TV volume so loud they almost couldn't hear each other.

“...Where I imagine you've taken up with some diseased, inbred girl!” Doffy raged.

“I—!!” Law paused and blinked. “Wait, girl?”

“Listen to me. If I come home one of these days and learn that you've gotten a halfbreed whelp on some Pit-town whore, I won't accept it! It will never be a Donquixote! Understand?”

“Yeah, no, fine by me,” Law almost forgot himself in his relief.

Doffy seized his wrist again. “What??”

“There’s no girl! Jesus!” Law pulled back and the squeezing grip tightened and twisted. “Baby's got a man up there, I was just partying with them!”

“Are you lying to me, you ungrateful castoff??”

“I'm not lying!”

“Law…”

“Dad.”

Doffy hesitated, then abruptly let him go. He backed up, looking almost regretful. “You know I hate when it gets like this,” he sighed, straightening himself.

“Well then don't fucking get ‘like this’…” Law accused under his breath, going back to flipping channels.

The second remote hit the wall and Law held himself still and passive. But then Doffy turned and strode away up the stairs without another word, and Law was left alone with the blaring TV.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Law was still staring at the same channel when Bellamy and Dellinger returned an hour later. Law heard them rumble up, and muted the sound to signal the all-clear.

“Fish tacos for Bellamy, gross curry for Law,” Dellinger unpacked their takeout onto the coffee table and dug into his own.

“Thanks,” Law muttered, but didn't get up from the armchair.

“Uh,” Bellamy pointed furtively to Law's arm. The wrist was purpling.

“Shit…” Law pulled his sleeve down over it and hooked his thumb through a hole in the hem. “Whatever. Whacked it on a thing.”

Bellamy stayed standing for a minute, scuffing a toe into the carpet. “Dad’s been worried a lot, is all,” he tried eventually.

“Yeah I know,” Law answered in the same tone.

“Y’know, cuz of this one,” Bellamy jabbed his thumb at the smallest of the three and shook his head.

“...”

The blunt face creased irritably at Law's silence, and Bellamy gave up. He sat down with a grunt to tear into his own takeout box.

“Dellinger,” he grouched at the only other target in the room, “Stop tryna reconstruct the squid, just eat it. God, can you not be such a psychopath? You're making everyone upset—”

“Bellamy.” Law cut him off with a warning look. “He's right here, don't say that.”

Dellinger seemed unperturbed, but very little ever seemed to bother him. “Actually, ‘psychopath’ is not even a thing anymore? And I don't fit the criteria according to this online test I took.”

“Psycho,” Bellamy accused.

“Not!”

Law rose with a sigh and went to sit between them on the couch. “What’d you get, Del.”

“Tentacles,” Dellinger showed him his seafood, with all the squid pieces collected in a little squidlike arrangement.

“Huh. Looks better than the frog leg thing, I guess.”

“That was just an experiment. I wasn't gonna eat it,” Dellinger rolled his eyes. “I saw online that the legs move by themselves if you put em in a saltwater solution. I just wanted to try.”

“That's pretty cool,” Law reassured him.

Bellamy scoffed. “That he's killing off all the pondlife around here? Yeah it's great.”

“I’m not even killing em, just snipping off their extra legs! Most of the frogs here have like three legs and four eyes anyway. Or more, closer you get to the Pit. It's the runoff.”

“Huh… Wonder if it'll start morphing humans too,” Law mused.

“Prolly just gives humans cancer.” Dellinger gave it some thought. “You think human legs could move by themselves?”

“Only one way to find out,” Law joked.

Bellamy gave a sudden snort of disgust, picked up his dinner, and disappeared off to his room. The door thunked shut and Nickelback started blaring through it.

Law ignored all this, but Dellinger looked at the closed door in confusion, then went back to stirring his food and fidgeting. They ate in silence for a while.

“I don't wanna make people upset,” the skinny kid spoke up eventually.

Law nodded, still chewing, but didn't respond right away.

Dellinger speared a tentacle and frowned at it. “I don't think it hurts them for real. And it's not like Dad or anyone even cares about frogs. Bellamy thinks it's funny to run them over…”

“I think they're worried about how it'll look to other people,” Law explained.

“Other people are stupid.”

“Yeah,” Law agreed. “Anyway, just stick to animals with extraneous appendages. And don't take any more experiments to school.”

“It’s not like I'm gonna take the legs off people's pets or whatever. Geez. It's just frogs…” Dellinger sighed and got up to go to bed as well. His room was way upstairs on the second floor, where Bellamy and Law used to sleep when they were younger.

“Take your plate,” Law reminded him automatically.

“Why does everybody always tell me what do do… I hate it.” He started to go upstairs.

“Dellinger, take your fucking plate.”

“You take it.”

“You wanna get in trouble with Dad?” Law warned him, “You're not a baby anymore, just clean up your shit.”

“You're supposed to do all that.” Dellinger shot back, hanging off the bannister and pouting.

“I'm supposed to fucking what now?”

“Well, I'm not the one who gets in trouble when stuff's not clean. You're here to take care of us, or you have to go back to the reservation, right?”

Law's eyebrows flew up in disbelief, and then creased in anger. “I'm not fucking ‘on loan’ from wherever; I'm your fucking brother!”

Bellamy shouted from behind his closed door, “Dellinger! Take your plate upstairs or I swear to god your psycho ass is getting shipped to foster care!!”

Dellinger stomped his way upstairs instead, leaving his dinner behind.

Law snorted and sat back with arms crossed. He was going to storm off to his own room too, but he kept looking back at the leftover tentacles sticking up obscenely from the styrofoam container. He made a noise of muffled rage and threw the entire thing in the trash. There. Jesus... Now at least he wouldn't get any bruises that he hadn't fucking earned himself.

His phone buzzed.

Kidd: Where the fuk r the bandaids, u let nami use em all?

Law stared at the screen for a moment, head starting to pound, then fired back:

You: I don't fyckig know where the band-aids are im not your fucking housekeeper and I don't got any control over your shitass kid for CHRIDT SAKE

The phone buzzed again but Law flicked the notification away.

He brought up Baby's number instead and escaped outside into the darkness and silence. She didn't pick up at first and he had to call back a few times, as usual. By the time she picked up, he'd gotten himself hidden away in the passenger side of the Volvo with the seat leaned all the way back.

Baby sounded cogent but irritable. “Geez, you got Buff thinking I got another man,” she complained.

“‘Buff’ is a stupid name.” Law massaged the bridge of his nose.

“Not as stupid as ‘Buffalo,’” she sighed.

“Jesus, his parents actually named him that?”

“Yeah, they hippies.”

Law snorted. “Native hippies?”

“It's a thing.”

Law licked his lips and tried to think of what to say next, but his throat felt tight.

Baby prompted him, “Well, what up, big brother. You want a ride somewhere?”

“That's not the only reason I ever call you.”

“Haha… little bit.”

Law swallowed a surge of guilt. “Sorry. I’ve been kinda stretched thin these days—”

“Yeah I know. Big man, you. Important stuff to do.”

“I wanna see you more, though. You ever think about that thing we were talking about before? Getting mom and dad's old place back? Where we all lived before they got sick…”

Baby took a moment to answer. “Heh… I see it sometimes, when I'm driving around here.”

Law smiled. “Yeah? So how's rez life treating ya.”

“It's chill. I dunno, small. It's weird sometimes, even jus trying to like, hang with people. You know? They think I'm after something, I guess…”

“Probably just takes time.” Law reassured her. “Probably once we're both living there again and people get used to us—”

She interrupted, “Law, you don't actually think you'll end up here, right?”

“Why not?”

Baby always did that little huff thing when she had something to say. She did it twice and then put on her stern voice. “Like, what would you even do on the rez. There's no sushi, no fancy little coffee shops, and the first time you get too smart you'll get your perfect teeth all knocked down.”

“‘Knocked out,’” he corrected under his breath. “And what, you think I can't handle myself?”

“You don't wanna be here, is what I'm saying. You're too used to that whole life.”

“What whole life.”

“You know what I mean,” Baby sniffed. “Suburbia. Sunday brunch. Sunscreen…”

“That stuff’s not…! I’m not… You think I wanted to get adopted white??” Law challenged.

“Least you got adopted.”

Law had had enough. “Well, it's been a super load off my chest talking to ya, baby sister.”

“Don't get sarcastic with me,” she snapped.

“Give Buffy my bestest,” he continued.

“It’s ‘Buffalo.’”

He scoffed. “Sure. Also, he's our first cousin on mom's side.”

“He's wh—?!!”

Law hung up with a petty little burst of triumph. The feeling didn't last long, though.

“Shit…”  

He sat there kicking at the glove box and letting his anger ebb away into shame. There was a black marker in the center console, and he took up his little dot-decorations again, this time on the sleeve of his hoodie. He circled and filled in wandering patches until his foggy head had cleared and he could look at his phone again.

I do wanna see you more, he texted to Baby, who didn't reply.

Law sighed and moved on to the results of the outburst just before that one. He clicked back into the convo with Kidd, expecting harsh words.

That bad eh, Kidd had replied simply to Law's rant.

Law snorted. He tapped the phone icon and waited.

“G’day,” came the wry answer.

“The fuck you need band-aids for now?” Law questioned him.

Kidd put on a tragic tone. “I got a boo-boo, man. I need that animal sticker magic.”

“Oh? What'd you do.”

“Punched a goose.”

Law laughed out loud, unexpectedly. “You fucking did not,” he put his feet up on the dash and tried not to sound like he was smiling.

“Yeah… well, it was beating up on this one poor dog chained up in a yard. Only dog on a leash in the whole place, seriously.”

“Your yard has a dog post in it too, right? Where'd that one go?” Law remembered the lonely post with the deep path tread around it.

“Oh… yeah, dad took her with him when he left last year—this German shepherd he got us as a present because he was always gone. She was supposed to keep us out of trouble, I guess, but she kept taking off and like, trying to herd coyotes or whatever, haha… He eventually chained her up in the yard and she just wore that circle into the ground every day.”

“That's so shitty,” Law shook his head.

“Yeah. I hope he took her somewhere she can run… anyway, whatever.” Kidd coughed, seeming to not wanna talk about it further.

“Yeah. Uh… So you defeated the goose, eh.”

“Hah! Not even—I had to get back on the bike and run for it! At least I drew it away from the dog.”

Law let himself laugh. “Yeah, aw, you saved it!”

Kidd laughed too. “I should've just let it off the leash. It probably would've fucked that goose up itself.”

“Well, I'll bring you animal band-aids next time I come.”

“Thanks. Uh.” Kidd paused. “So you're gonna come back?”

Law's lightened mood abruptly darkened again. He examined the purple patterns trailing from sleeve to skin—vivid and unbearably obvious. “Yeah, uh. Maybe not tomorrow, though...”

“No?”

“I got school stuff.”

“Oh, yeah. Day after?”

“Maybe the day after that…” Law evaded. He tried coloring in the dark blotches with marker, casting around for a topic to get away from this one. But Kidd seemed to read his silence anyway.

“Hey uh. You know you can just stay here? Whenever? However long,” Kidd offered.

“Uh.”

“And I don't mean as like, a live-in nanny thing either. You don't have to do anything. I don't think of you as a housekeeper.”

Law wanted to cringe away under the seat. “Nono, I don't actually think you think that! I was just lashing out about other stuff.”

“All the cleaning is kinda weird, tee-bee-aych.”

“I know. It's compulsive.”

“But you could just… stay,” Kidd emphasized again, like all this was simple.

Law stared off into the darkness beyond the windshield. He could imagine what it'd be like, sleeping with his head on a strong shoulder, breathing warmth, in a tiny house like a shoebox-nest full of other scuffed-up odds and ends. It sounded worlds better than fucking sunday brunch and sportscars…

“I don't think I can right now.”

“No, eh.”

“Anyway, I gotta get to sleep,” Law mumbled apologetically. “School tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” Kidd switched back to whatever-mode.

“I'll text you, eh? When I'm thinking of coming over.”

“Yeah, sounds good, you got my number.”

“Yeah.”

Law hung up and sat there, chewing his lip and breathing the stuffy air of the Volvo. He could just drive to Kidd's right now. Just go. But then what, wear gloves? Invent some goose story of his own? No… he couldn't leave like this, at least not yet.

But he couldn't make himself go out of the car and back to the house either.

He let his mind wander through its worries and his hands perform their restless tasks, until his phone died and the marker ran out. Then he curled up in the passenger seat to sleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Kidd waited until the next day to text Law again.

 

You: thinking of coming over?

Law: crazy day today, sorry

 

Then two days.

 

You: if u free, they said I got work all this week again

Law: can't today, will let u know about later k?

 

Then a week. Not even any reply anymore. At this point, Kidd figured, fuck it. The guy had probably had enough slumming it in Pit-town and had found something better-paying at the college or whatever.

So, that was it. Back to the usual—work, home, work, home. All fine. Kidd was getting tons of hours at the depot. His bike was holding up. He'd found another daycare for Nami, which had its own lice problem already, but that meant Nami's little infestation went unnoticed. Anyway, it was cheap. And the long-nailed MILF in charge had a moonshine still and an oral fixation, so that was like having a social life or whatever.

He could've done without pink lip-plumping gloss on the dick (that shit tingled), or the more antisocial tricks Nami was picking up from her playmates (Indian burns, this week). But this was Pit-town. Burning sensations were just part of the background ~glow~ of the place.

Kidd did wonder, on and off, if he'd done something wrong to make Law not wanna come back. He tried not to think about that, though… He was always doing stuff wrong.

 


 

“You could do cam work with those kinda measurements, honey.” The daycare MILF finished up with a loud smack and a wide grin. She rose and re-applied her lip gloss.

“Take a profile pic if you want,” Kidd shrugged. He was seated at her kitchen table and not paying too much attention, already flipping through his phone. Man, the course stream of the pre-med program at Law's school looked tough, for sure. The guy was probably super busy with all that.

She went on despite his disinterest, “I mean you could earn money. There's this one site I use and it's pretty easy. Lotsa folks tip real good just for solo stuff.”

Kidd zipped himself up and sent her an idle glare. She was just tryna make him blush and it wasn't gonna work.

The milf laughed like that was just the cutest thing. She clack-clacked around the kitchen in her heels, clearing the table and setting up a laptop on the counter.

“Awww honey, just teasing ya. You're such a baby! You sure you're legal?”

“Pretty much, yeah,” he answered under his breath.

“...hm?” She wasn't listening anyways.

Kidd leaned back in his chair and hollered down the hallway to the other end of the house, “Nami! Get your shoes on, we're heading out soon!” To his host, he added, “What do I owe you for this week again?”

“Hmm.” She checked her makeup and cleavage in a mirror. “How about if you stick around for one of my cam sessions, we can call it even.”

“What, just sitting here?”

She sighed and gave him a patient smile. “Participating.”

“Hm. Nah.”

“At least your little man could make an appearance.”

Kidd sucked his teeth, as though thinking it over. “I guess there's enough lip gloss on it, eh, you could dress it up and call it a cam girl.”

She chuckled and wagged a long acrylic nail at him. “You're a funny kid.”

“Yeah I'm adorable. Anyway. Here's for taking care of the monster child, and I'll see ya again tomorrow.” He left some folded bills on the table and left her to prepare for her other part-time job. “Make big money, girl,” he called over his shoulder in encouragement.

“That's the plan, hun.”

Kidd found Nami in the living room, banging on a large cardboard box with a broom. He tried scooping her up, and she swiped at him with the broom.

“C'mon monster, what're you… oh, shit,” he checked under the cardboard box. “Hey Karen?” he called down the hall.

“Yes hun?”

“There's some little kids still here?”

Karen was busy contouring her tits in the kitchen. “What kids?”

“Blond one and one with a stick.”

“...ah frig. Well, just put something on the TV for them before you go? You're a pet! Thaaanks!”

The two boys were fighting over the stick, pulling each other's hair, shoving and growling. They seemed pretty busy.

Kidd put the box back down overtop of them and left it at that.

 


 

It was past midnight, and Nami was dragging along behind Kidd as they walked up their front step.

“I want go at Law's house,” she whined.

“You can't.”

“I want Law come over at my house.”

“Law's not coming over anymore,” Kidd explained distantly.

“I want! I waaaant!” She flopped down on the front step to kick and scream.

Kidd left her there. He shouldered the front door open and went right for the kitchen, where he took a couple pulls of Jack from the bottle and stood looking out the window into nothing. God, he hated those ruffly curtains. Their mom had the worst fucking taste in everything, seriously. These stupid things had been up since just before Nami had been born—the last time their mom had bothered to take a stab at the domesticity thing…

He realized suddenly that he was standing there ruminating in the dark and silence, alone. Spooked, he went to turn the TV on, flicking on every light switch along the way.

But everything still felt emptier than it ever had before. It's not like any one thing was different, but Kidd was somehow newly aware of all the absence in the house. Stupid curtains but no mom. Stacks of empties but no old man. And now, stray worksheets filled with numbers, but no one to puzzle over them. On their own like that, the dusty leftovers started to seem absurd. He should take em all down and clear it all away, but… not yet. They should wait a little longer, right? Just til whatever. Maybe someone was gonna come back.

By the time Kidd went back outside to see how the tantrum was going, Nami had forgotten what she was crying about. She lay on the concrete step and looked up at him tearfully.

Kidd held out her bottle, full of milk. “Want your buhbuh?”

“Want… buhbuh!” she whined.

“C’mere,” he waved it.

“I want… I want…”

“Buhbuh and Battle Bots, c'mon.” Kidd lured her inside.

He put on Battle Bots and they sprawled on the couch to watch zippy little robots smash each other with hammers. Nami was fussing but calming down as she suckled the bottle. She kept shifting between spots, undecided between being able to see Kidd or being right next to him. She didn't like him watching the screen and not looking at her, either, so she kept doing shit to get his attention, kicking him randomly or trying to spill his drink.

“I want Kidd's buhbuh,” Nami reached for Kidd's beer can.

“This buhbuh's just for grown-ups,” he held it out of her reach.

“I a grown-up.”

“No, you're just a baby.”

“You just a baby,” she argued.

“...yeah, fair enough.” He let her have a little sip.

“BWAH!” She spat and rubbed her tongue, and he laughed.

“Sucks, eh? Hahaaa,” Kidd downed the rest, crushed the can, and tossed it across the room.

“It’s bad,” she disapproved.

“Well, I'm a bad, bad boy.”

He stretched out to sleep, feet hanging over the end of the couch. Nami found a comfortable spot directly on top of him, and finally settled down. Heh. She must've been feeling clingier than usual—she usually preferred her 'grown-up’ bed.

“We do okay, eh?” he mused aloud to the top of her head.

Nami murped vaguely.

“I mean, everything still sucks pretty hard, but we got our buhbuhs and like a million channels, and we haven't blowed ourselves up. Knock on wood, I guess...”

“Shhh,” she shushed him. “I put you a bed.”

“Girl, I’m tryna converse with you.”

“I put you A BED.”

He suppressed a laugh and sighed at the ceiling. “Fine. Someone gotta be the adult I guess.”

He closed his eyes and let zippy robot mayhem wash over him, til they both passed out with the lights on and the TV blaring.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Kidd was caught completely off guard when he got home a week later, Nami in tow, to find Law sitting on the concrete front step and smoking a clove cigarette. There were new tattoos peeking out from his hoodie sleeves. He looked fucking spent.

“Dad took my phone away or I'da texted you,” Law apologized.

“Oh, no worries, it’s whatever. Uh. Yeah.” Kidd stopped on the crispy brown lawn and tried to think of a good way to hide it if he started blushing again. He was already flustered so it wouldn't take much.

Law ashed his cig into an empty flower pot. “Dunno if you still need a sitter. Those yoga-pants mamas treating you good?”

“Yeah… I mean, yeah I need a sitter, not the other thing.”

“Heh, too bad about the MILFs, then.” The smart-mouthed boy sent a brief hint of a smile to Kidd. To Nami, who was evaluating him sternly, he gave a bigger grin. “Hey witchygirl!”

“She's a pirate now, for some goddamn reason,” Kidd updated him.

“No…” Nami objected grumpily, still hanging onto Kidd's shirt hem and deciding about Law.

“No?”

“Don’t know.”

“Hm.” Law looked over her outfit: Figure skating skirt, black bandana, and spirally 'tattoos’ drawn in marker on her arms and legs. “I think… she's a pirate princess.”

Nami seemed to like that. She giggled and tugged at her skirt.

“Making you the pirate queen,” Law informed Kidd, who laughed loud and sudden, startling everyone but breaking the tension.

“Pit-Town Pirate Queens,” he snickered, shaking his head and going to put his bike away under the carport. “Sounds like a sweet band.”

Law stood. “Got anything to drink?”

“Yeah, heh. C'mon, I'll feed ya too.”

 


 

Law had brought a duffel as well as his backpack; seemed like he was accepting the standing offer of a place to stay. Kidd tried not to feel too happy or excited or anything. The guy would just be taking off again as soon as he got bored or pissed off. But in the meantime it was all so comfortable and just… good. Kidd remade the couch and warmed up taco meat. Nami fell asleep under the table. They worked their way through the hard lemonade Kidd'd gotten weeks ago and kept untouched in the back of the fridge, and Law drank and laughed until he forgot to hide the way he was guarding his ribs and left arm. Kidd noticed, but left it alone.

 


 

“I figured you weren't coming back,” Kidd confessed once they'd gotten through however many drinks and he was feeling boozily sentimental.

“I wanted to come earlier, jus had stuff.” Law was only a few drinks in, but clearly pretty wrecked.

“Yeah. Was stuff okay with your dad after I dropped you off, or?”

“…” Law shrugged.

“... Orrr?”

“Yeah all fine. Haha. Kinda had a not-fine moment later, over these, but,” Law turned his hands over to look at the tattoos.

“Like, seriously not-fine?” Kidd risked a little probing.

Law shrugged again.

Kidd rolled his eyes at Law's stubbornness. “Fine.”

“Yeah, like I said.”

“Well, uh.” Kidd tried a different approach. “They look fuckin cool. Is it… gears? Native-style gears?”

“Heh, yeah.” Law laughed nervously but then held them up to show off. “Yeah the design, it's like, the future? You know?”

“Oh, totally. Yeah.”

“Yeah! That whole four-directions, circle of life thing, but like… metal.” He made two fists.

“So metal!” Kidd clacked his can to Law's and downed his whole drink, before crushing the can with a triumphant tchunk.

Law startled a little at the sound but grinned and downed his drink too. Or tried to—he coughed and spat out some. “Ugh, dunno how you do that.”

“Haha, practice. Dad used to crush em on my head, til I got bigger than him. He's a funny guy.”

“He won't mind that I'm here?” Law wondered, “If I stay for a little while?”

“Wellll…” Kidd thought about this for a moment, then dismissed it. They'd deal with that as they came to it. “Whatever.”

“Well, thanks, I really mean it, for uh...” Law started.

“Yeah, it's fine.”

“Yeah.”

Kidd eyed the tattooed hands, wondering if he should ask to see the tats up close, and maybe he could try slipping their fingers together again. But he glanced over Law's still-guarded posture and put the thought aside for now.

“It'll be fine!” he assured his guest, and meant it.

Law smiled almost shyly at this. Then he gulped town the rest of his drink and crushed the can on the table with a sudden burst of energy.

“Dude, haha! Crushed it!”

“Metal!”

 


 

Kidd woke the next morning groggy but elated, sprawled out in Nami's nest of fuzzy blue pillows, with the pirate princess herself cling-cuddled onto his head. He grinned over at the couch, where Law was balled up like an emo armadillo—groggy and not elated.

Morning light was shining on his face through a crack in the heavy curtains. Law squinted into the sunbeam with all its cheery little dust motes.

“Brutal,” he complained.

“Yeah this is that hard-knocks life,” Kidd agreed. He groped for and found a half-full beercan.

“Don't you have work?” Law disapproved.

“Yeah?” Kidd took a sideways swig. “That's why I gotta chase off this hangover.”

“Oh, of course. Well, gnite.” Law turned over, away from the sunbeam, with a quiet grunt of pain. Kidd watched his spine knot up and then relax.

“...you want anything?” Kidd prompted.

“No? Just more sleep.”

“Hm.”

Kidd pulled himself out of bed and went to go worry instead about what they were going to eat. Giving in to impulse, he texted work to say he couldn't come in. Family stuff. Just texting the word made his chest swell.

 


 

It was good, that whole day.

Or, mostly. Something not-good was up with Law. Besides the obvious injuries, there were little things. Like, Law was keeping everybody at a strict arm’s length, but was still following Kidd from room to room without seeming to realize it. And he was all tightly-strung, getting irritated at small stuff before catching himself. But he was on two feet and still going, so. He'd probably walk it all off with a little time. Kidd tried to act oblivious—Law did the same for him whenever he started blushing, after all, and the principle was the same.

Kidd kept him distracted with stupid jokes and random stuff. He showed off all the cool little projects he'd started and forgotten. Like the laptop-toaster, that was a new thing. The paintball drone. Oh dude, and the stealth Legos!

“Yeah, haha, made these when I was like 10. If mom had me locked in my room again, I could just wire a couple up and send em under the gap to go and…  holy shit, stop cleaning. Stop. Fucking put it down.”

Law frowned and dropped the little Lego attack thingies back on the floor of the star-stickered bedroom.

“S'better.” Kidd shook his head. “Anyway, yeah. Lego is seriously underrated as an offensive w—hey, no, bad.”

“You prefer your shit all over the floor?” Law objected, shuffling a sheaf of schematics.

“Yeah.”

“You don't even. It'll get all stepped on.”

“Just don't go cleaning stuff all the time,” Kidd insisted.

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Law growled back.

Kidd took a breath in through his nose. Stupid thing to fight over. “I just don't like stuff being changed too much. Okay? I know where it all is this way.”

“...” Law looked around at the ungodly mess like it was personally offensive to him.

Kidd was saved having to explain further by the oven beeping. Nachos.

“Oh hey, lunch, lemme just get that…” Kidd picked his way carefully out of the death-trapped room and down the hall to the kitchen. After a second he heard Law get up and follow him, and breathed a little sigh of relief.

“Wouldn't it be better if Nami had her own room, though? And if she slept there?” Law suggested as they ate.

“Wha?” Kidd paused his chewing and looked down at the little redhead. She was crunching nachos in her fist and eating the pulp. “Why?”

“Well, it's just better. Wasn't that your room before? Didn't you like having your own space when you were a kid?”

Kidd dismissed this. “She likes being near me. She's just a baby.”

“...don't you think you'd like some privacy?” Law tried again after a silence.

“I dunno what for—”

“—I think,” Law suggested more firmly. “You could use. Some privacy.”

Kidd reconsidered, cheeks heating up steadily.

 


 

They cleaned up the small room. It took most of the day, Law organizing while Kidd moved all the file boxes to the crawlspace. Under the dust and years of stuff piled up, it was basically a fully-functional kids room, with a bed that hadn't been slept in since Kidd had broken the six-foot mark.

Nami was super excited about the 'big-girl room’ but Kidd still had his doubts.

“She's a baby,” he objected again, handing Law the last of the Lego structures.

“She's a big girl,” Law corrected him. “Aren't you, Nami? Big girl?”

“Big,” Nami echoed, not looking up from her wall-art task. Dollar signs in black sharpie. “Big, big, big, lots, huuuge…”

Kidd scoffed. “She doesn't know what being big even means. She won't stay in here once bedtime comes, for sure.”

“We can work on that.” Law was undeterred. “What are ya, Nami? Big?”

“Big money.”

“...that'll work. Okay let's get your pillows and stuff.”

 


 

As Kidd had predicted, Nami wasn't on board with sleeping apart from her brother. She went to her own bed at first, with her buhbuh and fuzzy pillows. But come midnight, once the boys went to retire, she climbed into the single mattress on the living room floor, remade for Kidd.

“Told you,” was all Kidd said, thudding off to the bathroom.

Law sat on the couch and glared at the stubborn girl. “Nami. Fuck off to bed.”

“I a bed,” she argued.

“Ugh. I thought you were a big girl.”

“Big money?”

“Yeah, great.” Law rubbed the tender spot on his arm. “Well what's wrong with the room? Why don't you wanna sleep there?”

She watched him with her clever little brown eyes, covers pulled up to her chin, all cherubic. “No money.”

Law rubbed his arm in silence for a while, eyebrows settling into a scowl. “I'm not going to bribe you.”

She made a muffled baby sound and pretended to be asleep.

“Aw, lookit you, babygirl,” Kidd grinned down at her when he returned.

“Fuck it,” Law grumbled. Not like he had the energy to do anything anyway. He just kinda liked having everything in its place. But he gave up and laid gingerly on his side on the couch, as Kidd got in next to the smug little lump.

“C’n make space for you too,” Kidd joked drowsily, already mostly asleep.

“Hmm,” Law murmured. “Just go to sleep, you. I'll finish civilizing you both tomorrow.”

 

Chapter Text

 

“Okay,” Kidd started gruffly, early-ish the next morning, “so, should we do something about… that?”

“Bout what.” Law was pretending like he hadn't just cringed at the fridge door lightly brushing his side.

“That. Your probably-broken ribs thing. I wasn't gonna say anything but it's just, yeah.”

“Oh, that. It's fine, it's just from uhhh... ..."

"Goose?" Kidd offered helpfully.

"Yeah. Or no. Maybe. I actually uh—heyheyhey whoa! Personal space!"

Kidd put his hands up as the other backed away out of his reach. “Lemme take a look? I know a cracked rib when I see it.”

“...” Law inched away until he was out of sight around the door frame.

“Can you just c'mere?” Kidd called.

“... ...No.” 

“Pfft. Well we can't just leave it alone.”

“Yes we can,” Law's voice corrected him. “That's literally how you treat rib fractures.”

Kidd growled in frustration but stayed where he was, speaking to thin air. “But won’t you end up like, stabbing yourself in the lungs with your own bones? We should get you an x-ray.”

“I trust my bones not to fuck this up for us. More than I trust doctors, anyway.”

Kidd tried one last time. “Look, I can be really annoying when I want—”

“I can see that.”

“—so let's just skip the whole goddamn back and forth and go to the hospital for one x-ray. And I'll be totally quiet about it after that. Okay?”

They stared each other down for a moment longer, and then Law sighed. “Okay, one x-ray. But Nami can't know something's up.”

Kidd clapped in relief. “Deal. I'll call the usual milf to babysit her psycho ass.”

 


 

An hour later Law was standing in a sprawling parking lot wasteland and glowering at the big brick hospital.

“Lookit this bullshit place,” he grumbled.

“Aren't you probably gonna be a doctor and work someplace like this?” Kidd pointed out.

“Yeah, cuz I can do better than these toolbags. C'mon. And don't wander off. They might even take me seriously with you here...”

Kidd followed him into the emergency entrance and hung back by the door, while Law waited by the desk for the triage nurse to notice him. 

After a couple minutes of nothing, Law made an impatient noise. 

“Well that was a good stab at the healthcare thing,” he grumbled under his breath, and started to walk off.

“No you fuckin don't, hey, wait a sec.” Kidd pulled Law back toward the desk and put on his most irritating voice. “Hey, desk people? Hellooo. Yeah hi, can we get a doctor or whatever?”

“Yes! Hi dear,” a matronly woman bustled up and addressed Kidd. “What are your symptoms.”

“Bruising, difficulty breathing deeply, acute chest pain,” Law answered, and waited.

The woman kept looking at Kidd.

“Uh,” Kidd looked over at Law, who waved him on. “Bruised ribs, trouble breathing and… well it's probably not a cute pain, it's probably a really really bad pain. I dunno.”

“Was it caused by an injury or an illness?”

“Definitely an injury,” Law answered.

“...injury,” Kidd conveyed to the nurse.

“Can you indicate the injured area on yourself?” the nurse asked Kidd.

Kidd pointed to Law, who waved.

“Oh!” She turned to consider him. “Hm. Well, you know, we aren't able to prescribe controlled pain medication on the spot.”

Law rolled his eyes skyward. “Okay first of all that's not even true, and second of all I'm ~not~ just after oxy?”

“Young man, please watch your tone!”

Law turned and stalked off, muttering something offensive about the woman's parentage.

“Uhh, dunno about oxy, but,” Kidd tried to keep a handle on the situation. “We just need to get him an x-ray and stuff.”

“Well, take a seat. Have your information and identification ready and we'll call you up. Can I have a name please?”

“Law, uh—”

“Ace Gould.” Law butted in, suddenly back at Kidd's side.

“Hm. 'Ace.' We'll call you up.”

 They sat.

“‘Ace’??” Kidd raised an eyebrow at Law.

“Robin's half-brother. He'd be fine with me using his name. I didn't have time to get my health card and stuff before I left my place.”

“And what, you have Ace’s card?”

Law fidgeted, caught in a lie. “Okay, it's more that uh. If I use my own name, my dad's the emergency contact on file here, and… yeah, I don't really want them calling him. But Ace's contact is Robin. Also can I borrow your phone for a sec? Gotta message her that it's not actually Ace in emerg this time.”

“This time? Heh.”

“Yeah, he's… accident-prone.”

Kidd handed over his phone and Law tapped out a message. Robin was already in Kidd's contacts so it didn't take long.

They waited, falling into the tense, silent vigilance of emergency room limbo. Kidd jiggled his leg and counted tiles on the floor, avoiding the eyes of the other patients. It wasn't super crowded or anything, but it felt like everyone was way too close. There were some older women slouched in wheelchairs, clutching flowered kerchiefs. Men in ancient sweats and beaded ball caps. All waiting. But then, other people came in the automatic doors and were sent through right away. Like that fucking spray tan situation there, what the fuck, was she getting to go before them?

“That's just how triage works,” Law explained when Kidd pointed this out. “It's not first come first serve; they have to let people with more life-threatening injuries go first.”

“Well that bitch don't look like his life's too threatened.” Kidd curled his lip at a Ryan Reynolds-looking young guy with a giant stud in his ear, who was also being ushered into an exam room ahead of them.

“I'm sure he's literally about to croak,” Law commented, sounding a little too hopeful.

“Okay, this is bullshit.”

“Yeah. Told you. Wait, where the fuck are you going?” Law called after Kidd, who was up and striding over to the desk. “Don't try to jump the line, what if they call security??”

Kidd ignored him. “Hey. Hey doc?” He waved to get the attention of the triage nurse. “Yeah I think my friend is literally about to croak.”

“Has there been a change in his symptoms?”

“Yeah, it's all worse. Way worse. He’s really feeling it...”

They both looked over at Law, who blinked and gave a hesitant thumbs up. 

“...anyway uh. Look. He’s in a lot of pain, can we see someone?”

“We’ll call you up in the order that we've determined,” she dismissed him.

Kidd felt a jolt of frustrated anger shoot through him, and gripped the counter to keep from doing anything stupid. “Okay. Okay… How about…”

Law was at his elbow trying to tug him away. “Kidd, just come sit down and we'll wait.”

Kidd shook him off. “I just need to ask the doctor lady here—”

“It’s not worth it,” Law hissed, tugging more firmly.

“Nono, this ain't right.” Kidd faced down the nurse, matching her deepening frown and putting on his best ‘warning’ voice. “Doc, I think I need to ask—”

“Kidd, what are you doing…”

“—to speak to a manager.”

They all looked murderously at each other for a moment, Law from a safe spot behind Kidd. “Well I guess we're getting tazed today,” Kidd heard him grumble.

Kidd seemed to have found the magic words, though. The nurse's frown had turned into a carefully-neutral kind of sour, and she wasn't calling security. “I don't think the supervisor's input is needed. If his symptoms really have taken a turn I suppose we should raise his priority level… I'll see if there's an interview room free.” She clopped off in her Crocs.

Law looked at Kidd, stunned. “How the fuck did you pull that off? I wouldn't dare.”

“I dunno, I seen my mom do it enough when she wants stupid shit. It's all in the attitude…” Kidd turned to look Law over. He was feeling kinda irritated now. “Do you think you could act more like you're injured, though? Make this easier on everyone?”

“No.”

“Well, you're not exactly giving the impression that you're all in pain.”

Law's voice took on its own warning edge. “This is me in pain.”

“I mean, I know that, but—”

“I’m not gonna put on some pathetic performance just so they'll pity me or whatever. I told them it was bad. They should just fucking believe me.”

To their surprise, ‘Ace Gould’ was called up next. Law steered Kidd ahead of him, over to the interview room, where another nurse was waiting with a clipboard.

“Just you, Ace,” the man directed with an apologetic smile. “Your partner will have to wait outside for now.”

“What??” Law stopped, still behind Kidd.

“I think he wants some company in there,” Kidd suggested to the nurse.

“I actually have to talk to him alone, just for a minute,” the man insisted.

“Why?”

“Policy.”

Law was getting agitated. He tried arguing with the nurse, “He's not the one who threw me at a wall, if that's what you're worried about.”

“It's just procedure. I'm not assuming anything. Can you step inside please?” The nurse went into the room.

Law seemed about ready to bolt again, and Kidd swallowed his own irritation and tried to reassure him. “Okay, so, just go tell them what happened and I'll be right here.”

“Don't tell me what to do…” Law sighed, and went in to take a seat. The door closed.

Kidd stood there in the middle of the hall for a while, unsure of how long this part was supposed to take, but unwilling to get too far away. He caught the triage nurse looking at him. The brat from earlier jostled him on his way by. Kidd briefly considered throwing one or both of them at one or more walls. He was definitely gonna do worse to Law's father soon as he saw the prick…

Kidd was just working up some more mental images of violent revenge when the door slammed open, bouncing off the wall with a loud crack. An irate Law stormed out.

“Security!” the matronly nurse called from the triage desk.

“Nono Margaret, it's fine!” The younger male nurse called, hurrying out of the room after Law. “Sir, uh! Mr. Gould! Perhaps if you come back inside we can start over, I didn't mean any—”

“Your mom's a ho,” Law shot back, not slowing.

“SECURITY!” Margaret started again.

Kidd grumbled to himself but took off after Law. The nurses’ argument faded as they got out the emergency entrance door and into open air. Law was doing an angry quickmarch toward nowhere, and Kidd caught up with him in a few long strides.

“So his mom's a ho, huh?”

Law was still fuming. “That guy! I told him what the problem was and he couldn't just take my fucking word for it. Wanted me to take my shirt off and show him, and I said, can you just gimme an x-ray? And he started saying like, oh, we gotta reduce superfluous medical tests, and have you tried exercising more to improve lung capacity maybe that's why you can't get your breath. Fucking exercise!”

“I dunno if that makes his mom a ho,” Kidd argued.

Law stopped and shot him an accusing look. “You think I'm fucking overreacting.”

“I dunno, you could've just shown him. He probably woulda seen it and been like ‘oh shit, yeah it's bad,’ right?”

“Mh. Probably…” Law scowled at the ground. He was out of breath already but trying to hide that too. He caught his air, then walked on.

Kidd followed him around the barren hospital perimeter, until he plopped down to brood on a curb, tapping a clove cigarette from the pack. Kidd sat on the curb beside him and laid back on the pavement.

Law sucked in smoke and stared at a spot in the distance. “But what if… what if I showed him, and he saw everything, but he still told me ‘oh, it's not that bad, you're over-thinking it, don't complain so much…’”

“Why would he do that?”

“People are just like that. Everything right there in front of them and they still don't believe you.” The cig was burning down, unnoticed. Ash dropped to the pavement. “Makes you think, maybe you're fucking crazy or stupid or something...”

Kidd wasn't getting whatever was going on. He picked grass and shredded it with his nails, restless and irritated. “Well obviously you're not crazy. You're injured, and if we just go back in there and tell em—”

“Same shit will happen,” Law cut him off.

“No, we talk to a different doctor.”

“Dude, I don't know if you noticed, but it's Margarets all the way down in there.”

Kidd crinkled his brow. “What? No, she's not the only guy there. There's tons of—”

“White. People.” Law stressed.

“So?”

“Ugh. Never fucking mind. Just shut up and let me have my smoke.”

There was another long silence while Kidd mulled all this over. He was getting a good pile of grass pulp going. “Okay well… can we at least go back in there and try, just once more, and—"

"Kidd—"

"No, listen, if we go and it's just more of the same weird shit, then I, Kidd, will personally throat punch the next Margaret.” 

Law gave a surprised start of laughter then groaned and held his ribs. "Hah!… ow. Haha… is that your usual fix when the chicken bucket doesn't work?”

“Chicken’s for when the throat punch don't work.” Kidd clarified, only half joking. “And the see-the-manager shit's for everything else. Why, you got a better idea?”

Law shrugged, a little half smile on his face now. He realized his cig was all burned down, and stomped the rest of it out. He looked like he was going to say something more, but a new presence interrupted them—the Ryan Reynolds-type with the stupid earring who'd gone first in the waiting room. He was walking up to them, a smile on his face.

“Ah hell,” Kidd grumbled, lip curling on its own.

“My dudes,” the cheery kid greeted them. “Don't suppose I could bum a smoke?”

“...Suppose you could,” Law replied after an unfriendly silence. He held up the pack and let the other take one of the long black sticks.

“Huh. Smells like raisins.” The guy took a few sniffs but didn't light up.

“It's a clove cigarette,” Law explained.

“Oh. Not a special cig?”

“Tch, haha…” Kidd rolled his eyes.

“If it was, I wouldn't be just giving it away.” You fucking clod, Law's tone seemed to add.

 “Oh, haha, well I saw youse in there and assumed it was for the recreational substances too.”

“Yes, that was the general assumption.” Law responded primly.

“I got the goods, though!” the guy went on, apparently oblivious to Law's venom. He shook his pocket and it rattled. “I just fake a nerve condition and stop by emerg every once in a while, hahaha. They top me up.”

“...you fucking what??” Kidd sat up. “You just…? and they just…?”

Law waved a silencing hand at Kidd. He was looking at their guest with a weird expression now. “Hm. Need a light?” 

He flicked open the lighter and held it up without waiting for a response.

“Oh, yeah I guess so?” Ryan Reynolds Jr. stood awkwardly, eyes flicking between the pavement and the unsmiling man with the lighter standing way too close. “Mm. Thanks. Cool lighter.”

Law spun the little silver thing between two fingers before tucking it into an inside pocket of the guy's jacket. “How about you keep it.”

“Oh! Sweet. Uh…”

Kidd chuckled at this. He got to his feet too. “We should probably head out, eh.”

“Yeah. Nice meeting ya, Ryan.” Law swanned off after Kidd.

“...My name's not Ryan though?”

The bike was nearby, and Kidd started it up while Law sent a final death glare at the hospital.

“I shouldn't've made you come here,” Kidd mumbled in apology. 

Law shrugged and got on the bike behind him. “Whatever. Oh, frig… we better go.”

“Hey! HEY!!!” Ryan was hollering and running toward them.

“A throat punch woulda avoided the chase part.” Kidd kicked the bike into gear and swerved away onto the street. “Also woulda been sick.”

“Well we got the goods!” Law laughed and waved a middle finger at their pursuer.

 

Chapter Text

 

Law counted out the little pills onto the table. Enough for two weeks if he only took one each day. That'd have to be enough. 

“So this is that good shit, eh?” Kidd sat down and set a beer in front of both of them.

“Oxy.” Law nodded thoughtfully.

“Score.”

“Yeah. Um... I'll probably need most of it but I guess you can have a couple for helping and—”

“I wasn't asking for any.”

“Oh, okay heh.”

Law could feel Kidd watching him, and concentrated on rolling the pills back and forth.

“Is it enough?”

“Yeah it's fine. I'm not so worried about the usual pain. But I have to try to take some deep breaths once a day so I don't get like pneumonia or whatever, and that'll kill if I'm not doped up, so…" Law gulped down one little pill with some of his drink. "Ugh. Anyway, I'll take this stuff for that, and probably just Tylenol and ice for the rest of the time. It'll be fine."

“Booze don't need a prescription,” Kidd pointed out cheerily.

“Haha. Thanks, doc.”

Kidd shrugged and got started on his own can. “Neither do pills, around here.”

Law punched his shoulder. “Like you'd know. Drink your shitty beer.”

 


 

There was still the chance that it was worse than just a fracture and that he'd… yeah, like, stab himself in the lungs with his own bones or something. Kidd worried about this as he drained his usual six and watched Law nurse his one or two. 

Law seemed to be thinking the same thing. He was quiet. He kept going to the bathroom to throw water on his face and look stuff up on his phone. Kidd went and nudged open the half-closed bathroom door when Law didn't come back from the fifth trip. It swung open and Law looked over in confusion.

“You want a pillow?” Kidd suggested wryly.

“Huh?”

“You're lying in the bathtub staring at the wall.”

Law looked around and laughed at himself. “I was having a really good brood.”

“Yeah, eh.”

He rubbed his head. “I probably shouldn't’ve drank that stuff on top of taking the other stuff. I'm dizzy and my stomach is weird and I can't think of that word for when your ribs pop your guts-balloon. I have to think of it and google it.”

“Did you actually google 'guts-balloon?'” Kidd snerked.

"Yeah. It wasn't helpful." Law sat up in the tub with a huff. He felt his chest and sides carefully, frowning. 

“You’re still not gonna let me look, I guess.”

“… no…”

Kidd went to sit against the wall next to the tub, with a gruff sigh of his own. “Why the fuck not?”

“I dunno… it's not you. I just. Don't want you seeing my shitty rich boy problems.”

“Huh. That what you're hiding with all that clothes and stuff?” Kidd took a thoughtful mouthful of his drink. “So… Nami wasn't just talking about your tats that time she was blabbing about boo-boos, huh.”

Law crossed his arms on the edge of the tub and rested his chin on them. “Fuck sake. That girl is a menace.”

“Haha… yeah.”

Law heaved another sigh and glared at the floor. 

Kidd held out the beercan. Law lifted his eyes momentarily to glare at it instead but didn't move to take it.

Kidd waved it at him. “Free healthcare, c'mon. You don't even gotta get naked."

“Ugh.” Law took it and drained it. “Ughhhh I hate Bud. Gimme another one.”

 


 

The stubborn guy totally refused to get out of the bathtub to do the examination (“fucking windows everywhere but here”). And then he still wouldn't let Kidd get close until another two beers were gone.

“Okay fine, let's do this. Hic. Actually, wait.” 

Kidd snorted and crossed his arms. “‘Wait’ what.”

“Close the door. Fuck.”

“Not like anyone's gonna come in.” But Kidd closed and locked it.

“... ...that fucking witch-child can jimmy locks,” Law muttered darkly. He closed the shower curtain.

“You serious? She's at the sitter's.”

“You in or not?” the closed curtain complained.

Kidd got in and closed the shower curtain behind him. He and Law looked at each other, sitting in the tub like preschoolers hiding out in their little fort. It would've been funny if it wasn't so not funny.

Law's skin was cool to the touch. He let Kidd put his hands under his shirt but still wouldn't take it off or lift it more than a little.

“Okay. There?” Kidd pressed another spot on the curved back.

“Nngh. Kinda. Not really.”

“There?”

“Ufh … yeah that's it.”

Kidd lifted the hoodie hem a little higher to check the spot, trying not to look at the half-faded evidence of older things sprawling away under the fabric. He covered it again. “Okay it looks pretty fucked up, but I think that's the only break, so that's probably good.”

“Yeah. Yeah I think it's fine?” Law probed the area gingerly once more. “Feels weird, but not like before.”

“Cuz you're doped up.” Kidd leaned back in the tub with a low grunt. He reached outside the shower curtain and retrieved another couple cans. And then a third for himself cuz, yeah... Fuck.

“Shit,” Law reflected dully to himself.

“Aw, hey.” 

Kidd shifted over to make room, and Law slotted himself into the offered spot against his side without hesitation. They were quiet for a minute, shifting to find the exact right fit. Then they were quiet for a minute more while the day sank in. 

“Shit…” Law mumbled again into Kidd's shoulder.

“Yeah.”

"Everything's just… just…"

“Yeah. Here,” Kidd handed him his drink and started a new one.

Law took it and fell quiet again. 

“Hey, so uh.” Kidd started awkwardly once the silence got to him. “When you get better? Let's go out somewhere?”

“Somewhere like where."

"I dunno, what kinda places you like going?"

"I dunno. I don't really like… places." Law supplied unhelpfully.

"Uh. Kay, or—"

"Or people. Or. Things."

"Kay welll..." Kidd chewed his lip piercing and looked around at the tarnished taps and weird beige tiling. "Well what about if... we go someplace and do something like punch the shit outta somebody."

That immediately earned a sharp bark of laughter and then a groan.

"Haha! Ow, fuck… shit, don't make me laugh." Law winced and held his side.

"Heh." Kidd sipped his beer smugly. The guy was too easy. "For real though, that right there's therapy. Let's fucking start with your dad."

Law hesitated, serious again. "It's not like he's some big… terrible guy. And I dunno, it's not like… not like I don't do stuff that makes him sometimes just, get like, all crazy. So actually, it's kinda me that's, uh…"

"Dude," Kidd remarked under his breath midway through this.

Law rushed to defend himself. "Okay, I know it probably sounds fucked up. I'm fucked up. It's whatever."

"I dunno if you're whatever, but your dad's a fucking prick."

"I mean, he's just tryna—"

"Prick."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, yeah. He can be. But he's my dad. You know?"

Kidd didn't see the issue. "And what, you don't think he deserves to get fed a fist, just once?"

"..." Law ran the idea through his mind for a minute longer, rubbing his head, then shrugged helplessly. "I dunno, man. I can't even really make myself think about it right now."

"Aw. Well, no presh," Kidd reassured him. "We can set his car on fire and leave it at that."

"Ha! Hahaha owww..."

"Knew you'd be into that." Kidd turned back to his drink. He finished it in a couple easy gulps.

"Yeah, haha. Property damage, I can get behind. For therapeutic purposes, right?"

"S'right. Urrp. Baby steps."

“Okay, cool,” Law agreed, grinning now. He shuffled up a little so he could see Kidd's face better, eyes flicking over the pronounced features with their many piercings.

Kidd eyed him back. “What you looking all cute about?”

“Stuff,” Law laughed unsteadily. “So I’m uh. Mmf. Man, I'm feeling that oxy.”

“Yeah? Real good?”

“No, I mean… ugh, fuck, hold my drink…” 

Law stuck his head out of the shower curtain. Kidd heard him vomit pretty much his entire insides into the toilet in one go.

“Fuck,” Law sat back down, wiping his mouth.

“Dude.”

“I feel SO much fucking better, oh my god.” Law moved Kidd's arm over to where he wanted it and settled in. “I'm gonna go to sleep.”

“Kay, I'm gonna finish your drink.”