“Let’s do it!” Luffy cheered.
“…You know I really thought we’d have to convince you,” Kuzan said as Rocinante beamed.
“Then you haven’t been paying attention,” Law groaned.
“Works for me!” his father declared. “Now, this would have to be done very quickly, of course, but if you take out Caesar, it puts Kaido on my brother’s tail.”
“I’ve got one better,” Law said, smirking.
“Oh do you?” Rocinante asked.
“Yes. We ransom Caesar,” Law said. “We’ll give him back, sparing Doflamingo Kaido’s wrath…if he steps down from being a Warlord.”
“I missed this kid,” Kuzan laughed. “Blackmailing the blackmailer. Of course.”
“What?” Luffy asked.
“Since when does Doflamingo use blackmail?” Law agreed.
“We think it’s how he got his Warlord position in the first place,” Rocinante said. “Blackmailing the Celestial Dragons.”
“Oh man, then this is just too ironic,” Law said, gears in his head starting to turn.
“Oh boy, creepy smile,” Luffy said, grabbing Law’s shoulder so he could lean up and poke his cheek.
“I’m guessing that’s his scheming face,” Kuzan chuckled.
“Yep,” Luffy said. “Traffy, come on, it’s no fair if you don’t tell us what you’re planning!”
“It’s really going to depend on where Caesar is, of course…” Law said.
“Punk Hazard, last we checked,” Kuzan said.
“Where you and Akainu had the deathmatch?” Law asked. “…Interesting.”
“Stop plotting in your head! Plot out loud!” Luffy demanded, socking him in the shoulder.
“Well, such an island has some immediate ties to the Marines, given it’s where their current leader got is job,” Law explained. “If we took it…”
“Huh. Never taken over an island before,” Luffy admitted. “…Is it a cool island?”
“The battle warped the climate into one half being a frozen wasteland and the other a volcanic hellscape,” Rocinante said.
“Traffy, we’re totally taking that island!” Luffy said, eyes sparkling as he grabbed Law by the front of his hoodie with both hands and leaned in close.
“I thought so,” Law said, smirking as he wrapped an arm around Luffy’s shoulders. “Who is Caesar Clown, anyway? I don’t remember him.”
“There’s been some interesting changes in the gang, a few newbies,” Rocinante said. “I made you a folder.”
“You get the folder, I get to take over the island,” Luffy told Law.
“That’s not how that works and you know it,” Law said, poking him in the chest. “We both get the folder and both get to take over the island.”
Law glared at Kuzan when he chuckled. They were not cute, damn it! “So were you planning on coming with us or something else?”
“Something else, we’d meet you later and go to Dressrosa. Kuzan can act as insurance for the deal,” Rocinante said. “But…I’d like to talk to you for a bit before we split up. Catch up, you know?”
“Yeah,” Law said. “Luffy-ya, my dad and I need to talk. Get lost.”
“Kay. Hey, ice guy, let’s go fight!” Luffy said.
Kuzan grinned, “Why not? You’ve got to have improved by now, maybe it’ll be interesting.”
Law chuckled as Luffy raced off, Kuzan following much more calmly behind him. “So…that’s my boyfriend.”
“He seems nice enough,” Rocinante said. “Kind of pushy.”
“You have no idea,” Law said.
“That’s odd, you hate being pushed around,” his father said.
“He doesn’t push me around…okay, not too much anyway,” Law said. “And he may be dense but he’s not stupid enough to try ordering me to do shit.”
“Pirate,” Law retorted.
His father rubbed his arm, “You know, this whole ‘seeing your kid for the first time in nine years’ thing is really awkward.”
“Agreed,” Law said.
“…Are you at least practicing safe sex? Because, you know, you’re a doctor so you should know to-”
“Cora-san!” Law squawked. He was surprised his voice could even get that high. And what the hell was with that as an opening topic? “And…no, because we’re not having sex and oh for crying out loud I am not having this conversation with you!”
“Oh, well…glad you’re taking your time,” Rocinante said.
“No, we’re never having sex,” Law said, trying not to die of embarrassment. “End of story. Please change the subject.”
“Oh!” Rocinante said. “…Well, whatever works for you. You do seem happier though, so, is it just the relationship or something else?”
“A lot of it is Luffy. He’s like…concentrated happy. It’s weird as hell,” Law said. “But…there’s also Bepo and my crew and Chopper-”
“Who?” Rocinante asked.
“Tiny reindeer. The navy thinks he’s a pet but he’s a Zoan user and the Straw Hats’ doctor,” Law said. “We’re…friends? Yeah, friends. Nico Robin’s fun too, we have a lot in common.”
“Oh?” Rocinante asked. “Well, glad you picked up social skills. I know you didn’t really get a chance to, you know, before.”
“Yeah, an isolated base in North Blue was not good for that,” Law agreed.
He frowned as his father looked upset, “Not that you weren’t doing the best you could. Let’s face it, the situation was shit.”
Rocinante smiled ruefully, “It was. I wish it could have ended differently.”
“Don’t know if it could have,” Law admitted quietly. “I wouldn’t have been a Marine and they wouldn’t have let me out otherwise.”
His father sighed and Law knew why. Rocinante was a just man at heart, the fact that where Law was now had always been the only end option couldn’t sit well with him.
“I don’t blame you,” he said. “You did the best you could, Dad.”
“I blame myself,” Rocinante said, shaking his head. “I…it was like the hospitals all over again, I put my faith in people doing the right thing…I’ve got a bad habit of doing it too often.”
“No!” Law said. “It’s a good thing…I mean…what if you’d never given me a chance?”
“Law, that never would have happened,” his father said. The sincere smile morphed into a teasing grin. “You were too cute not to help from the start!”
“I said I wanted to destroy as much as I could and then stabbed you because you threw me out the window,” Law said. “Those were our first two interactions.”
“And you were somehow tragically adorable while doing both,” Rocinante said.
“You’re as bad as Luffy and his brother and their weird Emperor dad,” Law complained.
“I’ll take that as a compliment!” Rocinante laughed.
Law smiled. He’d missed his father.
“I am proud of you, you know,” Rocinante said. “I just wanted you to be happy, and you are.”
Law shrugged, “I’m…getting better at it.”
Rocinate smiled and pulled him into a hug, only for them to jump apart at a loud crash.
“That sounded like a lot of ice breaking,” Law said.
“I…guess they’re having fun,” Rocinante said.
“ZORO, NO, WE’RE FRIENDLY FIGHTING!”
“Oh shit,” Law said, turning so he could run over. “Roronoa-ya, you fucking idiot, butt out!”
After Zoro was rescued from the highly amused Kuzan—who had been trying to see if the guy really would cut his legs off if his feet were frozen to the ground, the asshole—Rocinante had handed over a folder containing all the information he had on Doflamingo’s crew and they’d split up, promising to meet once Punk Hazard had been stolen.
The crew was excited. None of them had taken over an island before—though Bentham had contributed to a takeover of a nation—and so everyone couldn’t wait to see how this went down.
“Do we even know who’s there?” Jinbe asked.
“Yeah, the Caesar guy we’re kidnapping,” Luffy said.
“If he’s running a large lab he’s bound to have help,” Law said. “Security, at least, given his importance to Doflamingo.”
“Yes, but do we know who they are?” Jinbe asked. “It’s hard to fight without knowing who you’ll face.”
“Eh, we’re good at it, though,” Ace said. “We know how to improvise.”
“In fact we have to almost exclusively improvise because some people don’t know what plans are,” Sabo teased, ruffling Luffy’s hair.
“We have a plan!” Luffy complained. “We go in, we kidnap Caesar, we take over! See, I can plan!”
“Law, you’re a schemer, please explain how that is not a plan to Luffy,” Nami sighed.
“Luffy-ya, that is not a plan because a plan involves knowing how to do the things you want to do,” Law explained. “And ‘we’re going to beat them up’ is not sufficient.”
“…Just cause you knew I’d say that doesn’t mean you’re right,” Luffy pouted. “Cause that’s how we’re going to do it!”
“Hey guys!” Usopp called from the crow’s nest. “If you use the telescope right, you can see Punk Hazard now!”
Luffy instantly left the meeting.
“Can we fit an actual plan into Luffy’s framework?” Koala asked. “Please?”
“The actual plan is to split up, gather info, regroup, and then kidnap Caesar and take over, possibly while wrecking the facilities either as cover or because we don’t want them,” Law said. “Beating people up whenever necessary, of course.”
“Okay, that sounds doable,” Nami said. “I’ll tell the others-”
“OH MY GOSH GUYS THIS ISLAND IS SO COOL LOOKING! WE’VE GOT TO HAVE IT!”
“…I’ve got to see this!” Ace said, running for the crow’s nest with Zoro, who suddenly turned left and had to be retrieved to finish the trip.
“Meeting adjourned then,” Nami sighed.
Punk Hazard was decidedly awesome, Ace felt. Of course, that might have been because he was the only one who was remotely comfortable right now.
“It’s so fucking hot…” Sabo groaned.
“I saw that!” Sabo said. “Wipe that grin off your face, hotshot, this sucks for the rest of us!”
“Hey, you could have gone on team ‘freeze our asses off’ instead,” Ace said.
“Yeah, no,” Sabo muttered. “I’m sure Luffy is driving all of them plenty nuts for all of us.”
“It’s not so bad…” Nami said, using the clima tact to shoot a burst of cold air at herself in lieu of a fan.
“Hey guys!” Zoro yelled. “Cook found something!”
The group jogged over to where Sanji and Zoro were standing in front of a massive metal door. Zoro spat at it, his saliva sizzling on contact with the metal.
“That probably works better than a lock,” Sanji mused.
“Well that looks interesting, all right,” Koala said as Ace and Jean Bart—the latter protected from the heat with gloves—hauled open the huge door. “Wonder where it goes?”
“Going by its direction and where we start, it aims towards the island’s center,” Nami said. “Shachi, phone the others.”
“Right,” Shahi said, pulling out the portable transponder snail. “Uh, don’t think the little guy like the heat…”
Nami quickly used Rain Tempo to make some water for the poor snail, “You okay, little guy?”
If the snail had a chest it would have puffed it out in determination as Shachi made the call, “Hey guys, we found a way inside…something or other. Going to check it out.”
“We’re still cold,” Bepo replied. “Well, I’m not but you get the idea.”
“How are you doing?” Sabo asked.
“Captain Luffy ran off because he saw something. Captain Law and Jinbe chased him. The rest of us are chasing them,” Bepo replied.
“…We really need to resolve that whole two captains thing,” Jean Bart mused as Brook sent his soul ahead to scout.
It took Luffy approximately twenty minutes to get bored and deviate from the plan.
Well within Law’s expected window of fifteen minutes to half an hour, at least. “Get back here, Luffy-ya!”
“At least it gets the blood moving,” Jinbe chuckled ruefully as they followed Luffy up the mountain.
“Oh yeah, I feel much warmer now, how nice,” Law said dryly. “We should—what the fuck!”
“What are those?” Jinbe wondered, dodging a blow from the hairy giant with ease.
“Awesome is what they are!” Luffy laughed, ducking under one’s rifle. “They’re Yeti, guys! How cool is that?”
“You picked a fight with Yeti?” Law complained, pulling out Kikoku and quickly generating a “Room.”
“Try to leave them alive, they’re too organized to be mere beasts. They may have information,” Jinbe said.
“What makes you think that?” Law asked, taking one Yeti’s leg. Huh. Little harder to slice through than a human…he’d keep that in mind.
“They’re wearing pants,” Jinbe said. “Animals don’t normally concern themselves with that.”
“Or with using rifles!” Luffy laughed. “Or having nice hats!”
“Okay, the hats are kind of nice,” Law admitted, only to yelp as one of the Yeti was surprising fast and grabbed him. It was so large that Law easily fit into its fist, his arms pinned to his sides. Law squirmed. It was really hard to use his techniques without his hands…he managed to twist one hand around so the palm was against the Yeti’s fur-free finger. “Countershock!”
The Yeti yelled in pain—and that was definitely the howl of a person, not a beast—and flung Law away…right at a cliff. Law was about to save himself with Shambles when a pair of giant arms sprouted from the cliff and caught him.
“Having fun?” Robin called as Bepo, Bentham, and Franky charged the Yeti.
“Close enough, anyway,” Law said.
“Who are these guys?” Chopper asked.
“Creepy Yeti. We’re assuming they work for Caesar,” Law said as Bepo and Bentham helped Luffy slingshot himself into one Yeti’s face.
“Well then, let’s take them down and find out,” Robin said.
“Find out anything?” Rocinante asked.
“Yeah, none of these places sell beer,” Kuzan complained, smirking at Rocinante’s frown. “Also what happened right before your brother took over sounds a lot like the previous king got nabbed with the Parasite technique.”
“Thank you,” Rocinante said. “At least we have the general layout of the island and updates to my brothers’ crew by now. We should probably leave and see if Law and his friends finished on Punk Hazard.”
“Good idea,” Kuzan said. “Not that I couldn’t take him, but hanging around your brother’s kingdom cannot be a good idea for you.”
“Got that right. All praises to hair dye,” Rocinante said, tugging his currently red locks.
“You look like Eustace Kid’s taller, less metal brother,” Kuzan said.
“Was that a compliment or not?” Rocinante asked.
Kuzan shrugged. Rocinante kicked him as they started walking towards the docks.
“This place is huge,” Sabo marveled.
“And thankfully climate controlled,” Koala added.
“How recent was the duel again?” Sabo asked.
“A little under seven months…you’re right, this is impressive for such a short timeframe,” Sanji said.
“This Caesar guy must have a lot of help…” Ace said.
“Or…” Nami mused, “Or maybe it was already here and they just repaired whatever the battle damaged…”
“Makes sense,” Zoro said.
“We’ve definitely gone underground at this point,” Sanji mused. “Surprised the magma isn’t causing more problems for us…”
“You’d be surprised what good construction can do,” Jean Bart said.
“All right,” Sabo sighed. “This looks safe enough. We’ll camp here for the night.”
“Yeah, we found a spot too,” Luffy said into the snail. “The Yeti pointed us at a door after we kicked their butts. And Caesar’s apparently this mad scientist guy, just like Law’s dad said!”
“How do you know the Yeti won’t warn him?” Ace asked.
“Traffy chopped them up and put them back together all weird while Jinbe and me made a pit to stick them in,” Luffy said. “It’ll take them a while.”
“And I made sure they didn’t have their own snails!” Franky added. “So we’re super sure they won’t warn anyone!”
“Caesar could be a major threat, given what we know of his powers,” Law said. “But not in a fight. His gas powers will give him extreme power over the environment. Ace-ya is the most as risk since Caesar can simply remove the oxygen from the air and snuff his fire completely.”
“…And make it so none of us can breathe,” Sabo pointed out.
“That too,” Law admitted. “There’s another logia here, but she’s snow. Ace-ya could handle that easily, right Fire Fist?”
“Oh yeah. Snow melts even easier than ice,” Ace said.
“Great!” Luffy said. “Ooh, ooh, and if I don’t see it, remember it really, really well to tell me all about it!”
“Will do,” Ace promised solemnly. Law could have sworn he heard someone facepalm n the background.
“Goodnight. Be careful!” Luffy said, hanging up and giving the snail back to Robin. “Hey, Traffy?”
“What?” Law asked, already settling against Bepo.
“Your dad had a point—are we both the captain?”
Law scowled, “You want to do this now?”
“Well…I’m the one who’s going to be Pirate King,” Luffy said.
Law frowned at him, “Luffy-ya, if you outrank me, you might be dumb enough to give me orders. And if you give me orders, we are going to have a problem.”
“Nah, Traffy’s too stubborn for orders. I know that. I’ve got to ask nicely,” Luffy said.
Law chuckled. Yeah, ask nicely and wait for Law to cave because he was a sap or ask nicely and then go ahead anyway. “Very nicely, Straw Hat.”
“So…I’m in charge?” Luffy asked slyly.
“I’ll think about it.”
“Yes! I’m in charge, haha!” Luffy crowed.
“What did I just say?” Law demanded.
“That you’d think, which means you’ll say yes but not now! It’s okay, Traffy, I’m not going to boss your around, remember?” Luffy asked.
Law groaned and leaned back against Bepo. Sometimes he wondered why he even bothered.
Luffy laughed and threw his arms around Law, curling against him.
Law smiled softly, wrapping an arm around Luffy in return. Oh, right—that was why.
Rocinante groaned, “This is ridiculous.”
“Could buy a bike, leave at night,” Kuzan suggested. “Ice bridge.”
Rocinante frowned, “Might be the best choice, if there’s no ship out we can get on for a couple days. But it will give us away, and he’ll be ready for us.”
“If we haven’t been given away already. Ships in a busy port like this not taking anyone…something’s up,” Kuzan said.
“I vote no silence bubble tonight,” Rocinante said.
“Not that we’ve used one since getting here,” Kuzan said. “Going to put a patch of ice rght inside the hotel room, then. Trip up an intruder.” He smirked. “Don’t slip.”
“Ha-ha, very funny," Rocinante said as they headed back into the heart of the island.