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Craving

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Law awoke slowly, the room coming into focus. He was too warm still, like he had been for the last few days. A pleasant buzzing under his skin made his eyebrows furrow. He was laying on his side, once again, back to back with Smoker. He felt...relaxed. That was probably oxytocin running through his system. He wasn’t ready to find out if the bacteria was still in its new phase. He breathed in, running a hand through his own hair, taking care not to wake the other man. Slowly, he rolled over, taking in Smoker’s broad shoulders, afternoon sunlight streaking through the cracks in the boarded up window leaving lines of light across his pale skin. 

His eyes landed on a clearly visible bite mark. The corners of his mouth pulled down. It would still be there when all this was over, and for a moment he felt guilty. Memories from the night before played across his head, and he bit the inside of his lip. 

Smoker had apologized to him, on behalf of the navy. An apology, a thing he never expected. Something unbearably warm sat in his chest and he pressed a hand over his eyes. But it wasn’t the apology that he cared about, not really. It was that Smoker had asked for Lami’s name. 

So that someone else could remember her.

He sucked air down his throat, his eyes feeling hot. He blinked hastily, breathing through his nose, counting the seconds between each exhale. A coping mechanism he hadn’t had to do for a long time. He rolled back over to face the wall, bringing a hand to his chest, over his tattoo. Fucking hell the extra hormones running through his system were intense, at least that’s what he told himself.

The man beside him shifted, and Law froze, slowly turning his head to look over his shoulder. Smoker sat up groggily, pressing a hand to his neck, and shifting to set his feet on the floor. Law swallowed. They were both still in the nude, and Law averted his eyes as Smoker stood up and left the room, grabbing his jeans as he did so. 

The sound of running water echoed down the hall. Law sat up and rubbed a hand over his face. He didn’t know how to face Smoker after the night before, but he would have to. First things first, figuring out the status of the bacteria. With a sigh, Law got up, grabbed his own jeans off the floor, pulling them on, then stepped out of the room, heading for the microscope. 

Today was supposed to be the last day and he hoped that that would be the case. He grabbed a tourniquet and set up the station. As he began drawing blood, a familiar tingle began under his skin. Goddammit. So the bacteria was still in its new phase. Law made a face as he finished up his blood draw and turned on the microscope. 

It was with some relief that he saw the signs of bacterial death that he was looking for, signaling that it was on track to be out of their systems by sometime tomorrow. However, if the bacteria was following the same pattern as yesterday, it was likely that they wouldn’t be thinking clearly come evening. As if they had been this whole time anyway. His lips turned down in a frown.

Law looked up at the sound of the water turning off and approaching footsteps. Their eyes met as Smoker stood in the doorway, and Law wasn’t sure what to say. Smoker walked over and leaned against the bar top next to him, their shoulders brushing, his arms crossed. Law’s mouth went dry as his eyes darted over to their joint point of contact. The unpleasant tingling in his nerves began to recede. 

“Updates?” he grunted. Law took a breath, sinking into his medical background like putting on a beloved coat. “The bacteria in my blood is still in the same phase as yesterday, but isn’t as active. It will likely ramp up again throughout the day, like it has prior. However, I see the signs of bacterial death that I’ve been hoping to see...I believe that it should be out of our systems by sometime tomorrow,” he tapped his fingers on his arm lightly. Smoker nodded. “I need another sample of your blood to be sure,” Law said quietly. Smoker held out his arm. Law grabbed another tourniquet, noting the bruise forming on the other man’s inner arm from so many needle insertions in so short a time period. 

He frowned and was a little gentler with this attempt than he normally would be. Warmth spread into his finger tips from where his hand met Smoker’s arm. The quiet sat heavy around Law’s shoulders and he took a breath. “...How are you feeling?” he asked softly, keeping his eyes on the vial. “...Same as yesterday,” Smoker muttered after a few moments. Law nodded and put a little pressure to Smoker’s arm to stop the bleeding as he capped off the vial. 

Law stepped away from him to prep the microscope slide. He could feel Smoker’s gaze on his back as the man pulled a cigar and his lighter out of his pants pocket. He looked through the eye pieces, jotting down his observations. The smell of cigar smoke drifted past him, sending a shiver down his spine. “...You?” came Smoker’s voice, nearly silent in its hesitance. Law blinked and looked up from the eye pieces to look at the other man. “What?” “How are you feeling?” Smoker muttered, only a little louder than the first time. Law blinked at him as the cigar smoke swirled above their heads. Memories from the night before sparked across his mind, and his eyes landed on the bite mark on Smoker’s shoulder again. “Honestly? Like I could use a smoke,” he said softly. 

There was a soft rustling and Law looked at Smoker in surprise as he held out a cigar and his lighter towards him. He looked at the offering for a long moment. Smoker wasn’t looking at him. Law reached out and took it, their fingers brushing. He brought the cigar to his lips, the taste of it strange but not unfamiliar. He didn’t smoke often, he had enough destructive behaviors as it was. He glanced at the lighter in his hand. It was good quality and well used, little scratches and dents across the metal like battle scars. Cora had had a lighter like that. His breath caught for just a moment.

Law cupped his hand and flicked it, the tip of the cigar catching. He breathed deep, the warm air rushing down his throat. He let it out out slowly, the smoke combining with the dust motes floating in the air. He could hear the wind blowing against the building, the quiet rumble of the ocean in the distance. 

“Looks like the bacteria is doing the same thing in your blood as it is in mine,” Law said softly. “So tomorrow then,” Smoker murmured. “Tomorrow,” Law whispered, as he passed the lighter back.

---

Smoker looked down at his paperwork without really seeing it. The report was about the food budget for the G-5, a level of dryness that couldn’t hold his attention even if his life depended on it. He was in the front of the bar again, the bacteria having settled down to activity levels similar to the beginning of its new phase, allowing the two of them to be physically apart from one another for small stretches of time, which he was thankful for. Smoker leaned back, looking away from his paperwork and up at the ceiling instead.

He grabbed a cigar and placed it in his mouth. Today was the strangest day thus far. The few minutes they’d been around each other, Law kept sneaking glances at him, a strange expression crossing his face each time. 

But... he was doing the same thing wasn’t he? The night before flashed past him for what must have been the hundredth time since he woke up. The pain in Law’s gaze, the sudden switch from emptiness to gentleness, the anger going out like a light. 

His eyebrows furrowed. To say Smoker was confused would be an understatement. While he knew more about Law than he ever expected to, it didn’t make him feel any less conflicted. If anything, it made it worse. He hadn’t been lying when he admitted to not hating him. It was hard to truly hate a man who had reasonable explanations for his behaviors, as difficult as they may be. His lips twisted in a frown.

But that was what bothered Smoker most of all. From the anger he witnessed the night before, by all rights, Law should hate him. Should absolutely despise the Navy, the World Government. And yet. He became a Shichibukai. He helped them at Punk Hazard. And...he was here. If he was in Law’s place...he didn’t think he would be able to stomach any of that. Law’s unknown connection to Doflamingo flitted across his brain, the last piece of the puzzle he was missing. He took a deep drag on his cigar as a familiar tingle started under his skin. He’d have a few minutes before they had to seek each other out again. At least another episode had yet to start. 

A noise made Smoker look in the direction of the backroom. Law entered the narrow hallway, coming towards him, holding something in his hands. He stepped into the dull light of the front room and set a bowl of noodles on the bar counter, in front of Smoker, before taking a seat next to him. Smoker stared at the noodles and glanced questioningly at Law as he pulled a research journal out from under his arm and set it on the counter as well. They were just a few inches from touching, the air suddenly buzzing with something. “You haven’t eaten,” the man said quietly, flipping open the journal and reaching across the counter for his pen.

“Idiot,” Law whispered, his eyes softening in the dark. 

Smoker narrowed his eyes and picked up the chopsticks slowly. It was quiet as Law began eating, simultaneously underlining passages in red. Smoker’s eyes flicked to him. He hadn’t expected this. He placed the chopsticks back down and crossed his arms, taking a breath as the tingling under his skin slowly began to edge into painful. He didn’t want to break the fragile peace between them, but he wanted to know. He needed to understand. Law looked up from his journal as Smoker turned to him. Their eyes met, then skipped away from each other. Smoker breathed out. 

“Why did you go into the drug facility alone, without your crew, Law?” Smoker voiced softly. Law looked at the counter, something Smoker hadn’t seen before in his eyes, almost.. fond. “Because I didn’t want them to take the risk,” his eyes slid to meet Smoker’s own. “Why did you raid the facility on your own, Smoker-ya?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out another cigar, matching Law’s gaze. “I didn’t want them taking the risk,” Smoker quietly repeated back to him. The corner of Law’s mouth ticked up just for a moment, for perhaps the first time Smoker had ever seen in a non sarcastic manner. Their shoulders were just an inch from brushing. Smoker bit the inside of his lip, then murmured “...And Dressrosa?” The peace between them seemed to shrivel as Law’s eyes shot to him, something heavy in the weight of his gaze. 

The bar was still, like the air was holding its breath. “...It wasn’t their risk to take,” Law whispered softly, looking away again. Smoker lit his cigar, his eyes flicking to Law’s hands, to his chest, where his jolly roger was tattooed. The face of Doflamingo leering down at him flashed before his eyes, the experience with near death searing the details into his mind. “Did you know the full extent of Doflamingo’s involvement with Dressrosa?” He growled. Law crossed his arms, staring at the empty shelves in front of them, Smoker noting the way his hands tightened on his upper arms. “...No, not really. I didn’t go after Doflamingo for the people of Dressrosa if that’s what you’re asking, Smoker-ya.” Smoker noted the way Law brought his hand to his chest for a moment.

“Why Doflamingo, Law?” Smoker asked, almost surprised at the gentleness in his tone. Law slowly turned and looked at him, really looked at him, for a long, long moment. “Why do you want to know?” he asked, his voice low. “...Because I want to understand why a man who hates the World Government would make an alliance with them,” Smoker murmured. Law blinked passively and raised an eyebrow. “Why would you ally with pirates Smoker-ya?” Smoker pursed his lips as Law continued, “Because it accomplishes your goals, and some things are more important than whatever spheres of society we all do our damnedest to stay in,” he finished. Smoker looked at him through narrowed eyes, but didn’t disagree. “Why do you really want to know Smoker-ya?” Law whispered. The air was tense, something underneath it that made Smoker’s mouth go dry.

“...Because I want to understand you,” he said softly. 

---

Law stared at Smoker, his heart suddenly beating hard against his ribs. Cora had understood him, had wanted to understand him. Had seen it in his eyes, in his tears. His jaw clenched. Fuck, Law HATED marines. He turned away from Smoker, staring down at the slowly dissipating steam rising from his bowl of noodles. 

Smoker just sat there watching him, making no move towards him, waiting for him to answer. But he didn’t know, couldn’t know how this one thing, this one part, this one piece of himself was so hard to tell. That it had defined him for so long, that without it he wasn’t sure where to go. The quiet ticked by, their bowls of noodles cooling slowly. Law stared at the small curls of steam. He didn’t have to say anything. He could just let this go, it was his past, his demons. 

But… he wanted to. Almost felt an obligation to. Law could blame it on the chemicals in his system, he could blame it on the circumstances, but he knew that what really made him open his mouth, was because Cora deserved to be remembered by one of his own. “...I went after Doflamingo for revenge,” he breathed out finally. 

The sound of the wind outside seemed so loud in the near empty space. “Revenge for?” Smoker rumbled quietly, the smoke from his cigar drifting over their heads. Law stared at the papers in front of him, the words swirling together into meaninglessness. “For killing the man to whom I owe my life,” the words were easier to say than he expected. Smoker blinked and raised his eyebrows slightly. The pain itched under Law’s skin, but he didn’t move any closer to Smoker, nor Smoker towards him. Law bit his lip, waiting for the question he knew was coming. Waiting for Smoker to open the door. “...Why did Doflamingo kill him?” 

Law exhaled slowly, his eyes moving away from Smoker and up to the ceiling with it’s cracks and nicotine stains. 

White spots appearing on his skin, the terror so deep but so expected that he hardly felt it at all, eclipsed by the anger-  

He closed his eyes. “After...Flevance, I joined the Don Quixote Pirates, but… I had Amber Lead Syndrome and my symptoms began manifesting…” he began haltingly, recalling suddenly standing near the docks in Dressrosa, the sun high overhead, with the most unlikely of people, the former Fleet Admiral, the only other man in the world who knew the truth. He clenched his jaw, the questions that had long kept him up at night breaching the front of his mind. If Cora had lived, would Law himself have stayed a pirate? Would Dressrosa have happened at all? ...Had he been worth it? Law’s hand curled into a fist. He took a breath, but it didn’t ease the tightness in his chest, exacerbated by the growing pain under his skin. 

“My only hope was a devil fruit.” He reopened his eyes, tracing the lines of the empty shelves across from them. Cora taking him away, watching doctors and nurses look at him in terror, the slow, creeping feeling of his body shutting down. The island of snow. He could see Smoker watching him closely. “Like the Ope Ope no mi,” Smoker stated. He nodded once. “Did you know that Doflamingo was arrogant enough to want immortality, Smoker-ya?” His right arm twinged, and his hand tightened on his bicep briefly. 

“Psychopaths always have delusions of grandeur,” Smoker growled. Law chuckled ruefully, inclining his head slightly towards him. “The Ope Ope no mi has the power to give a single person immortality at the death of the user,” his voice took on a strange air, like he was reciting it rotely. Smoker raised an eyebrow, but didn’t prod him for more information. Law’s upper lip curled. “Doflamingo set his sights on it, wanting his second-in-command to eat it, heal me… and give him immortality.” Old anger flared up within him. “What Doflamingo didn’t know was that his second… his own brother, was a spy for the Marines, and had already eaten a devil fruit.” Smoker’s eyes widened in surprise. “As I got sicker, he kidnapped me and tried to find a hospital that could treat me,” A dark grin appeared on his face. He saw Smoker frown slightly out of the corner of his eye. 

“Once he heard about the fruit, he went after it, but instead of doing what Doflamingo wanted, he gave me the fruit instead and told me to run away. That Doflamingo would not hesitate to kill me...that I deserved a chance to live,” His breathing was harsher now. The pain under his skin had escalated to arcing sparks down his back only exacerbated the memories playing before his eyes. Vergo, the bullets, his hands splintering uselessly against the wooden chest. “That decision, the decision to save me, also cost him his life,” Law stared down at the bar top before slowly turning to look at Smoker. “So… to avenge the man to whom I owe everything, it was nothing to ally myself with the World Government Smoker-ya,” he finished softly. Smoker was quiet, “...and now?” Law blinked. “And now what?” Smoker looked off to the side, his eyes cast downward. “Now that you’ve gotten revenge, why are you here, doing this?” he said quietly. Law stared at him. “Because I promised him I would live,” he whispered.

Smoker stared at him for a long, long moment. The room was heavy with silence. Then Smoker put his cigar out, unfolded his arms and picked up his chopsticks again. Law watched him, wondering what was going on behind his amber eyes. His eyebrows went up in surprise as he felt Smoker press his knee against his own. He looked at the white haired man as he picked up a few noodles. “Then he made the right call,” Smoker murmured.

Law wasn't sure what to say as the same feeling from earlier arose in his chest, far too warm. He turned back to his own noodles, and picked up his pen to resume underlining, needing something to ground him. They ate quietly, side by side. After a few minutes, Law took a breath and whispered “You’re hard not to like Smoker-ya." Smoker stiffened, “You’re... not the first pirate to say that to me,” he muttered. Law tilted his head at him, “...Who was?” he asked, the pain under his skin was finally subsiding, Smoker’s knee warm against his own. Smoker made a face and sighed. “...Mugiwara,” he grumbled.

And Law laughed.

---

Law’s hypothesis proved to be correct as the night descended. Just like the night before, they slowly gravitated towards each other, giving in to the urge to touch. They settled on the bed, hardly big enough for the two of them, back to back. Law was almost cool against Smoker’s back. The room was still except for their breathing, the memory of the night before sitting between them, so Smoker was startled when Law opened his mouth to speak.

“Hey...Smoker-ya...what do you do when you aren’t on duty?” the question was soft, the words resting in the air. "Why do you want to know?" He responded quietly after a few moments. A pleasant warmth tingled across his back from where they touched. "Understanding goes both ways," came Law's voice, his tone hesitant. "Why is a pirate trying to understand a marine, Law?" Smoker grumbled. "Is that what we are right now?" Law whispered. 

Smoker stiffened. To be honest, he wasn't sure. Being a marine was what he had wanted his entire life. The Navy was his life, but sometimes he didn't feel much like a marine at all. 

Or maybe the Marines didn't really feel like him. 

Like now. He was laying back to back with a pirate, engaging in something that the Navy could never accept. More than that, he’d offered the man beside him an apology on behalf of said organization, something his higher-ups would never approve of. There was an intimacy there that Smoker couldn’t put into words. 

As for Law himself… truthfully, Smoker had no idea what to think of Law now. If Law was a normal pirate, it would be easy, but Law wasn’t normal. Beyond their labels, Smoker couldn’t deny that he recognized something in Law that he saw in himself, the desire to protect the people he cared about, a desire to try to do good. A man...worthy of his respect. "...We will be tomorrow," Smoker said softly. "But that's not right now," Law whispered back. 

A strange warmth shot through him. Law shifted onto his back, staring at the ceiling. "So, who are you when you aren't a marine? What do you do, Smoker-ya?" he asked again. Smoker gazed into the darkness, the moments ticking by.

The sheets felt too rough under his skin, and he shifted slightly, Law both too close and not close enough. "Pottery," he murmured. "Pottery?" Law sounded surprised. Smoker rolled his eyes. "...What do you like about it?" "I thought it was my turn," Smoker muttered. "Your turn…?" Law grunted. Smoker’s eyes followed the lines of moonlight scattered across the floorboards as he grumbled, "That's how twenty questions works."

There was quiet and then for the second time that day, Law gave a soft laugh. And for the second time that day, something weird happened in his chest. "Alright then, your turn." 

"...What do you do when you're not being a pirate?" Smoker asked quietly. "Be a doctor," he could feel Law's smirk. Smoker made a face in the darkness, "You know what I mean.” The air was getting warmer. "...I collect old coins," Law muttered. Smoker's eyebrow went up. He couldn’t say he expected that. "So Smoker-ya...what do you like about pottery?" Law shifted his leg, bumping Smoker's, his skin suddenly tingling. Smoker shifted, moving to also lay on his back. They both stared at the ceiling, and Smoker was afraid to look at Law, afraid that he might see something that wouldn't fit with his worldview in just a few hours.

"It's quiet...and I like making something from nothing," he whispered softly. He felt Law's eyes on him in the dark. Maybe Law was braver than he was. His heart was beating oddly fast. "Why do you collect coins?" Law sucked in a slow breath, "Coins don't change very often, only to mark important events or people. I like to see how places depict that…" Law trailed off. Smoker found himself unable to resist looking at the man beside him, barely visible in the dark. The moon shone through gaps between the window boards, leaving striped lines of light across their skin. His eyes landed on Law's tattoos. "...What's your favorite thing you've ever made?" Law asked softly. 

Tashigi's big brown eyes popped into his head, and the corner of Smoker’s lips quirked up for a second. "My subordinate...is clumsy. She breaks things often, but she has a coffee cup she prefers. It got broken in a firefight, cannon fire. She has some...sentimental value to it, so...I fixed it for her," he muttered. Her big eyes had filled with big stupid tears and she'd hugged him when he gave it to her. 

Law turned his head to look at him. Smoker swallowed, feeling slightly dizzy. "Favorite coin you've collected?" He could see a melancholy smile appear on Law’s face for just a moment. "The country of Aster used to worship a woman as queen about a hundred years ago...she was a beloved icon, but was overthrown by a cousin. Her usurper spent years trying to sway the public, change the narrative. He broke all her statues, destroyed all her paintings, erased her memory, but...she still exists on the old coins. Her likeness captured forever," Law whispered. 

Smoker slowly turned to look at Law as the man shifted onto his side, facing him. Their eyes met for a moment. "...Do you like being a marine Smoker-ya?” Law breathed out, his eyes reflecting the scarce moonlight. Smoker could feel the warmth of him, almost burning his skin. “Sometimes,” he answered, as slowly, he too turned onto his side to match Law. Their eyes met in the dark. “...Do you like being a pirate, Law?” They were just a few inches apart. “...Sometimes,” Law whispered. 

A familiar heat rose up within him and Smoker found himself moving over Law, his arms braced on either side of the smaller man’s head. Law stared up at him, one hand reaching up slowly to brush against Smoker’s cheek before moving down, past his shoulder, and came to a stop over his heart. The world spun gradually around them, as they gazed at one another. Slowly, Smoker leaned down and pressed his lips to Law’s jaw, before moving lower, tracing the curvature of his neck. 

He sighed, his arms wrapping around Smoker’s shoulders, threading his fingers into his hair. Law shifted his legs apart, settling them around Smoker’s hips as he bit down on Law’s collarbone making him arch against him. Law panted, letting out a small groan as he continued down his chest with his tongue. 

Smoker reached between them, undoing Law’s jeans, sliding them down and away, joined after a moment by his own on the floor. Neither of them said anything as bare skin met bare skin, no longer foreign. He leaned back on his heels and grasped Law’s manhood, giving it a few strokes, desire shooting through him as Law arched his hips against Smoker’s from the contact. Smoker swallowed, transfixed by the sight of Law threading his fingers into his hair, a moan tearing from his throat as Smoker put extra pressure on the head of his cock.

Law gazed up at him, want reflecting in his eyes as he suddenly sat up, digging his nails into his back. Smoker hissed as Law sank his teeth into the bruise on his shoulder from the night before. He shivered as Law kissed up his neck. “Fuck me,” Law breathed out, as he nipped Smoker’s earlobe. Heat surged through Smoker’s veins, straight to his cock as he pressed Law back down against the mattress. He turned his arm to smoke, and grabbed the bottle of lube, spreading it onto his fingers. Law stared up at him, breathing fast in the dark, their eyes locking as the smaller man took Smoker’s hand and guided him between them, letting out a small curse as Smoker slowly pressed his fingers against his entrance. 

Law’s hips bucked up as Smoker slowly slid in and out of him, his other hand wrapping around his cock, working over the shaft. Law bit his lip as he began to move in sync with him, his eyes half lidded in pleasure. A spark of desire rolled down Smoker's back from the sight, his cock aching.

Slowly, he worked him open, first with one finger, Law biting back a cry as he added a second. Precum dripped from his cock as Smoker pressed upward, putting pressure on Law’s prostate, pulling a moan from his throat. He slipped a third finger in and Law whined, grinding against his hand. Law grabbed for the bottle of lube, panting as he reached to grasp Smoker's erection. He bit back a groan as Law's hand spread lube down his member before the golden eyed man moved to sit up, a gasp leaving his throat as Smoker's fingers slid out of him.

Law brought his arm up and wrapped it around Smoker's neck, their eyes meeting as he pulled him down, Smoker sinking his fingers into the back of Law’s thigh as he hitched his leg around his hip.

He buried his face into Smoker's shoulder as he pressed in, the heat of him making him swear. Slowly he set the pace, Law clinging to him, his legs wrapping around his hips, trembling below him with each thrust. Smoker looked down, their lips just millimeters apart. Their eyes met, their breath intermingling. Law brushed his fingertips against Smoker's cheek.  

To kiss someone was to recognize them for who they were. To accept them. To understand them, and meet them where they are. 

And as Smoker stared at Law, he realized he wanted to kiss him. 

But he wouldn't, couldn't break his word. Law smiled gently at him, something in his eyes that made Smoker's breath catch before the other man broke the connection and buried his face into the crook of Smoker's neck, his eyes sliding shut in ecstasy as Smoker shifted the angle slightly, hitting the spot inside of him that he needed, pulling a cry from his throat. 

Heat and pressure warred with one another at the base of Smoker's spine, as Law grabbed onto Smoker's wrists, holding on as he picked up the pace, pressing Law into the mattress. 

"Ahh, I-I'm getting close," Law whispered brokenly into his ear. Good, because he couldn't hold on much longer. He deepened his thrusts, Law crying out with each one. Pleasure rolled up Smoker's spine, pushing him towards the brink. He closed his eyes and looked down as Law sank his fingers into his forearm. 

Slowly, Smoker lifted his hand and caught Law's. Law’s breath froze in his throat as his eyes slid to their hands, then to Smoker's face. He swallowed as Law hesitantly wove his fingers with his. They looked at each other for a moment, amber to gold, time slowing down-

Law's legs locked around Smoker's waist as his back arched off the bed, a desperate cry falling from his lips, his fingers gripping Smoker's hard enough to hurt as he came, the sight searing itself into Smoker’s mind and sending him over the edge. 

The world was muffled and fuzzy as he slowly pulled out and lay down on his back next to Law. Between them, their hands brushed for a moment before their fingers interwove softly, hesitantly. Smoker could feel sleep pulling him down, knowing that when he next awoke, reality would come crashing down once more. 

---

Law stared down through the microscope, seeing what he’d been hoping to see for days. The bacteria in their blood looked to have run through its final cycle the night before. They should be free to part ways. He took a deep breath, turning to Smoker who sat across from him. “We should be in the clear, but I want to wait another hour and run another test just to be sure.” He thought that Smoker would protest, but he didn’t, he just nodded. Their eyes met for a moment, before Law looked away, back to his notes. But he could feel Smoker’s gaze linger on him, and for once it didn’t bother him.

 

Law sighed as he looked over his notebook, open on the counter in front of him. He had one more section to fill out: his conclusions. He had been making progress on coming up with possible treatments. There were possibilities with medications that were already used to treat opioid addiction, maybe finding the right ones of those and combining them with SSRI’s would make a difference. Though because he didn’t have access to a full research lab, he couldn’t be sure. He let out a small frustrated breath and glanced up at Smoker out of the corner of his eye. He sat a few feet down from Law, looking over his own papers. It was strange...existing in the same space by choice. 

The feeling of Smoker’s larger hand enveloping his own pressed to the forefront of Law’s mind and he looked back down at his notes as he began the final section. 

---

Smoker looked at Law as he filled the last vial with his blood, and began prepping it for what would hopefully be the last test. They were both quiet, Law working, Smoker watching him work, as appeared to be their normal routine in this place. After a few minutes, Law turned to look at him. “Still appears to be clear…” he trailed off, the air suddenly strange to both of them. “...we can go our separate ways now,” Law finished quietly. Smoker nodded. Just like that, the contract between them was ended. He was free to go back to his ship, his men, his way of life. Back to them being enemies. A brief unwanted pang of regret flashed through him then was gone as Law pushed past him, heading for the back room. 

They both packed their things quietly. It appeared that Law was packing up the equipment that he’d brought as well, planning to clear off the island entirely. In what felt like the blink of an eye, they were both back in the front of the bar. It was awkward, an entirely different kind of awkward than just a few days prior. Smoker shrugged on his coat, the familiar weight of it a comfort. “Smoker-ya,” came Law’s voice. He turned to look at him. “...Here,” he muttered and held out his research notebook. Smoker blinked, then slowly reached out and took it, the weight of it seemingly heavy in his hand. Law glanced away from him, rubbing the back of his neck. “...Do some good with it,” Law said softly.

Smoker looked down at it as Law turned away from him and began heading for the door. Once he left, they would be enemies, and the next time they encountered each other, it would be like the past three days never happened. His heart thumped in his chest. It was now, or never. 

“Oi, Law,” the other man turned as Smoker closed the distance between them and pressed his lips to his. Law froze, then brought his hand up to thread his fingers into Smoker’s hair, and kissed him back. His lips were soft as they moved against each other, before breaking apart. Their foreheads pressed together as Law stared into his eyes then took a deep breath and pulled back. “See you around, Smoker-ya,” he smiled, a real one, then flipped his hand in a familiar motion. “Room,” and with a last look at Smoker, he disappeared along with all traces that he’d been there at all. 

Smoker pulled out two cigars and placed them in his mouth, the smoke drifting up to the ceiling. He waited till he smoked them down to the quik, then grabbed his pack and without looking back, left the bar behind.