Actions

Work Header

Craving

Chapter Text

Smoker sat on a rickety stool in what used to be a bar but was now set-up as a makeshift medical lab, a cigar in his mouth. He glared at the man sharing the space with him, his shoulders hunched over a microscope, writing furiously in a notepad off to the side. It was nearly 5am, and Smoker had been up for nearly 24 hours. He could feel the itch of exhaustion pulling at his muscles, that weird manic feeling of weakness. He knew the nicotine wouldn’t help, but if he didn’t smoke right now, he’d probably break something.

Law threw down his pencil with a slam. Then ran a hand through his messy black hair. He was shirtless, his black coat hung up on a hook behind the bar, his sword on top of the bar, within arms reach. “Fuck!” Law snarled. “Fuck, fuck, fucking...Fuck!” 

Smoker didn’t like that reaction. He could feel dread building in his bones, but he had to ask. They’d been here for an hour, in near silence. Law poring over blood samples, running whatever shit he was running.

“Well?!” he snarled, his arms crossed. Law’s shoulders hunched even farther. He stayed silent, running a hand over his face, keeping his back to Smoker. “Oi, answer me,” his voice was a deadly growl. The kind that made pirates shake in their boots. The kind that threatened danger, violence. 

Law however, appeared unfazed. “...Do me a solid, and hand me one of your cigars.” “Give me an answer,” Smoker continued glaring. Law clenched his fist, then took a breath and it was like Smoker was looking at a different man for a second. Instead of irritated pirate, he was looking at a professional. Calm, stoic. He didn’t like it. 

Law turned around, placed his hands in his pockets and leaned against the bar, before looking up into Smoker’s face. “We’re positive.” 

Smoker’s hunch was confirmed. And that did absolutely nothing to make him feel better.

 

It was midmorning, the sun shining brightly on the uninhabited side of the island, where Smoker’s G-5 warship was moored. “Smoker-san! I’m glad the mission was a success! All the pirates are on board, cuffed and ready to go!” Tashigi called out as she hurried over towards him. Smoker was sitting on a piece of driftwood in the shade of a palm frond, his jaw clenched, shoulders hunched.

She almost fell on her face in her rush through the sand and Smoker’s eyebrow ticked. “Dammit, Tashigi, be careful!” he admonished her as she straightened up. She gave him a rueful grin which quickly fell from her face as her eyes roved over him. She frowned, “Is everything alright Sir?” she asked. Smoker looked at her over the top of his sunglasses. He should be glad. They’d been trying to crack this drug ring for weeks, and last night he’d managed to bust it up.

But everything had not gone according to plan.

He breathed out a plume of cigar smoke. “Smoker-san?” she asked again, her face filling with concern. He didn’t really want to talk about this. But as much as he wanted to never tell a soul, he couldn’t keep it in. He needed to talk to someone, and well, the only person he could really trust with this was standing in front of him. Because if he was going to die, someone should at least know what killed him. “Tashigi...I...what I’m about to tell you needs to stay between us,” he said quietly. She blinked, the concern on her face intensifying in her eyebrows and the downward pull of her lips. She nodded.

He took a breath, “I’ve been dosed,” he said quietly. She blinked, blinked again, tilting her head. She opened her mouth. Closed it. Opened it. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. A light breeze blew across the beach, the palm frond above him swaying slightly. “You...what?” she whispered. He wasn’t going to say it again. “You...bu-wha-...HOW?!” she shrieked. “Keep your voice down!” he hissed. She slapped her hands over her mouth, looked back and forth then whispered at him from behind her hands, “How?!” 

How infuckingdeed.

Everything had been going fine. He’d finally found the hideout of the pirates he’d been looking for, a group calling themselves “Sex Gods”. They’d been pedaling some new aprodisiac date rape type drug, and Smoker had made it his mission to hunt them down and stop production of the drug. 

He’d snuck into the facility, aiming to take down their leader. What he hadn’t expected was that the moment he entered into the production room for said leader to have thrown a certain pirate into the wall, narrowly missing him. 

After that, it was a harsh, quick fight. The pirate (Smoker refused to call them by their stupid fucking moniker) leader, one ‘Daredevil Lydon’, had a devil fruit that allowed him to touch something, turn it into it’s core substance, and then spray it. So cement? Cement spray gun. Glass? Glass Spray Gun. Unfiltered unknown drug substance? You get the fucking picture. The shit had doused the air as the last desperate ploy from Lydon right before Smoker’s jitte knocked him into kingdom come as Law swapped him with a chair, throwing him directly into Smoker’s path. 

It was about a minute after the battle ended that Law’s eyes had gone wide, horrified. “Don’t breathe!” he’d cried out. But it was too late. For both of them. 

“Listen, I’ve got testing equipment back at my base, I’ll run tests, find out if we’ve been dosed and how bad,” Law had grabbed him by the arm. “Like hell, I’m not going anywhere with you, I should be fucking arresting you!” he’d snarled. But he owed Law for Punk Hazard, and that made him hesitate. “Goddammit Chase-ya! We could have received a lethal dose! We need to know as soon as possible!” he’d snarled back, directly into Smoker’s face. He’d glared at Law, but followed him back to that shitty little rundown building he’d holed himself up in.

And now he was here. 

Tashigi stared at him, her eyes wide. “...Was...was it lethal?” she whispered horror echoing in her voice. No. It was worse. He could deal with lethal, then it wouldn’t matter. But no, God had it out for him. 

“So we’ve been infected, can’t you just use your ability to cut the drug out of our systems?!” Smoker had hissed. Law sighed, folding his arms across his chest, then reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. “The problem is that it isn’t exactly a drug.” “What the fu-” “Let me fucking finish!” Law snarled, exasperation in his tone. Smoker glared but held his tongue.

“As I was saying, it isn’t exactly a drug. It’s...some kind of organism, more like a parasitic bacteria.” Law was looking away from him, his voice clinical. “Which makes it...alive, and because it’s alive, it’s attached itself to our blood cells.” “So?” Smoker cut in. Law’s eyes cut back to him with a glare. “This is why I was looking into this shit, one of my crew managed to get some in his system, nearly killed him when I tried to remove it...but that was the refined, street form, a lot more diluted than this. If I tried to remove this shit from our systems, instead of let it run it’s natural course...well, it’d fight back and we’d die,” Law said calmly. Smoker stared at him, but caught onto the last bit of his words like a lifeline. “...Run it’s natural course?” Law looked at him, an image of calm, every bit the doctor giving results, but there was a tightening in his hands on his upper arms. The tattoos for death stood out in stark relief in the shitty light.

“...All this bacteria wants to do...is procreate, and unfortunately, this shit in it’s unfiltered state seems to be expressing interest only in other people who have also been infected. So, you, and me.” Smoker eyed Law. “Fine, then you don’t cut it out and we wait for it to pass,” Smoker said simply. Law sighed. “Yeah, except...well, from what I can tell, it’s got the ability to force its host into doing what it wants...via any means necessary.” Law breathed out, “...Including killing its host.” Smoker’s mouth dropped open, his cigar falling on the floor. “The good news is that this shit should pass through our systems in about three days, I can speed up the process that much with medication,” Law muttered. Smoker sat frozen still. Law had to be fucking kidding him. This was insane. He wasn’t going to fuck some pirate! No way in hell!

Law sighed. “Listen, Smoker-ya, I don’t like this anymore than you do, and I really don’t want to die from something this stupid. But I’m not a rapist.” Law said, his voice cold. “You’ve probably got a good 8 hours before this shit kicks in. I’ll...be here, if you decide to go through with this.” He said quietly. There was something sympathetic in his voice. Then he’d turned around and walked into the back of the bar, out of sight, shutting the door. 

Smoker grabbed the still unconscious Lydon and left in a state of shock. He spent the next few hours coordinating with Tashigi and arresting the remainders of the Sex Gods. 

But he was running out of time. 

Tashigi stared at him. “Oh Smoker-san...so what are you going to do?” she whispered, sitting next to him now. He was quiet. Truthfully, he had no idea what to do. His pride curdled at the thought of doing something so...intimate with a god damn pirate for fucks sake! “I…” he was at a loss for words. He really really really didn’t want to do this but he also didn’t want to die in likely excruciating pain. Tashigi reached over and took his hand. He blinked and looked down. “Listen...Smoker-san,” she took a deep breath and squeezed his fingers. “Whatever you decide to do, I won’t look down on you for it, none of this is something you chose,” she said quietly. He stared at her, his heart beating hard in his chest. She bit her slightly trembling lower lip. “But...I really...I really don’t want you to die,” she whispered. Smoker breathed out and clenched her hand. 

 

The bar looked just as shitty as when he left. Law was leaning against the doorway. Smoker followed him inside, and Law took the same place against the bar, Smoker leaning on the wall across from him this time, his cigars filling the air with smoke. 

“Alright,” Law muttered, looking down at his immaculately cut nails. “We don’t have a lot of time, but let’s lay some ground rules.”

Chapter Text

Smoker eyed him darkly from across the room. You could cut the tension with a scalpel. Law sighed heavily. This was not something he ever expected to have happen, and if he had had to choose, Smoker wasn’t even on his top 100 list. He matched Smoker's eyes with his own, the dingy lighting in the room throwing Smoker’s face into shadow. He’d brought a pack with him which was settled at his feet, his ever present jitte slung across his back. 

“Alright, let’s just get the basics out of the way,” Law muttered. In almost any other situation, what he was about to ask would have been funny. He might have enjoyed making the man across from him uncomfortable. But now, no, this was not funny. “Have you been with a man before?” the question hung in the air the moment it left his lips. Smoker’s glare deepened. He stayed silent. Not helpful. 

Law’s eye twitched. He could play the silent game but they were running against the clock here.  Then Smoker sighed, looking off to the side and gave a nearly imperceptible nod. Law blinked. He wasn’t expecting that, he would have thought Smoker was as straight as they came, then again he had never seen him with a shirt on. Hell even when he body swapped him with the girl that ran around with him, he’d still insisted on the open shirt thing. Law kept his eyes away from Smoker’s exposed chest, suddenly far too much in his face.

But the nod was a good start. Smoker turned back to look at him suddenly, his gaze piercing. “Are you clean?” he growled. The question took Law by surprise. “What?” he said more as a reflex than anything. Smoker narrowed his eyes. “Are. You. Clean?” 

It was a good question, a normal question, but the fact that Smoker was asking him placed it immediately in the realm of absurdity. Law suddenly had to resist a crazed laugh bubbling up from his chest. “Yes, you?” Another sharp nod.  

They stood there awkwardly for a moment. Smoker breathed out, “You have any idea how this crap is gonna hit us?” Law frowned. The drug, despite being relatively new on the market already had an impressive number of titles. Cuddle Puddle, Blood Rush, Pussy Killer, Lush, Lust, and the list went on. From what he’d seen, the drug kicked the human hormone system into overdrive, users describing it as if their bodies had “awakened” whatever the fuck that meant. He’d had to drag the experience out of Shachi, who described it as like being high, but very horny, and that like being drunk, you felt uninhibited. That was why it had risen so fast as a date rape drug. And from his own tests, the bacteria sought out oxytocin, something it couldn’t produce on it’s own in order to reproduce and filter out of their systems. Fucked up shit.

“I don’t know how different it’ll be from the way it manifests in users, but it’ll likely have increased blood flow, increased sensitivity, and increased oxytocin production. I don’t know how hard, or how often it’ll hit either of us, but there should be breaks in between as the bacteria needs to rest,” he said, slipping into his refuge of medical knowledge. Smoker’s eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched, but he nodded. 

They were both quiet for a second. Law suddenly wished he had a better bedside manner, but now they needed to cover the really awkward stuff. “So, rules.” he said, holding up three fingers. “We never tell anyone about this,” he put down a finger. “No shit.” Smoker said darkly. Law ignored him and continued. “Do not choke me.” Smoker made an affronted face at him. “And...we need to be honest with each other, reactions and all,” he said the last one quietly. The temperature dropped in the room. 

“Meaning?” Smoker asked, his voice low. Law looked at him, crossing his arms over his chest again. “Meaning...I need to know if something hurts. Or if something is...good. I…” Law sighed, dragged a hand down his face, then refolded them across his chest. “I don’t want this to fuck me up more than it’s already going to, and...I don’t want to do that to you either,” he said softly. His heart was beating loudly in his ears. 

It wasn’t his or Smoker’s fault this was happening, and while he was a bit of a masochist, he really didn’t want to spend the next three days in abject terror, or terrorizing the man across from him. Smoker had crossed his arms too, a calculating look on his face. After a few minutes, he nodded slowly. Law let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “My terms,” Smoker glared at him, his eyes dark. “Use your powers and I’ll kill you.” Kill them both actually, but Law wasn’t going to correct him. “I don’t know what weird shit you’re into, but I am not into it,” Smoker hissed, “And do not kiss me,” he growled the last one but was unable to keep his gaze. Law’s eyes widened slightly, there was definitely a light pink dusting Smoker’s cheeks. Law quirked an eyebrow at him, but nodded slowly. 

Smoker eyed him. The air was tense, but maybe a little less hostile than before. Law was about to fix that. “Alright, those are the terms...one last thing, we should have a safe word.” As he predicted, the room dropped a few more degrees in temperature. “As I said before, I don’t know exactly how the symptoms will manifest, I’m just covering bases,” Law shrugged. Minutes passed in silence. Smoker’s shoulders were tense, and Law wondered for a moment if the marine would leave and condemn them both to their deaths. 

Then to his surprise, Smoker muttered “Mugiwara.” Law couldn’t help the snort that came from his mouth. “Good choice.” The Captain of the Strawhats was one of the last things he wanted to think about while having an erection.

They both fell silent again. 

“...Where are we doing this?” Smoker asked. Law inclined his head towards the door behind him. “I’ve got a bed set up in the back,” the word bed tasted funny in his mouth. “And…” Smoker made a face, “...Supplies?” This time Law flushed slightly and nodded. Smoker nodded back. The air was tense before, but now it was awkward. “We’ve got around an hour before I expect anything to start, any other questions?” Law asked, his voice reverting to clinical again. Smoker stayed quiet. Law let a few seconds pass, then turned to go into the back room. “Oi, Law,” Smoker’s voice stopped him and he looked back over his shoulder. There was something in Smoker’s expression that he hadn’t seen before. “...I’m not a rapist either. If you choose to stop at any time...I won’t force you,” Smoker said quietly. Weirdly, Law recalled the way Smoker’s heart felt in his hand, and gave a short nod. He could feel Smoker’s gaze on his back even with the door shut. 



About an hour later, Law was sitting on the old wooden floor, his back against the bed, a few papers scattered around him. During the time Smoker had left to deal with the shitty captain of the Sex Gods, he had been studying the activities of the drug/bacteria in his lab and taking notes on its behavior. It was as he was listing out possible methods of transmission that he felt his heart rate suddenly speed up. 

Law froze, placing his hand over his chest. His skin was warm and suddenly he was very aware of the feeling of clothing against his skin. A shiver raced down his spine. Shit. It was starting.

He swallowed, and slowly got to his feet, grabbing his notes and placing them on top of the wooden crate in the corner. His heart started beating faster, his palms sweating slightly, and he was sure not all of it was being triggered by the drugs in his blood. His hands were shaking slightly. Neither battle, nor surgery ever made his hands shake. He breathed out, then approached the door and opened it. 

Smoker was seated at the bar, a small pile of papers of his own in front of him, a cigar between his lips. The smell of the smoke made the hairs on the back of Law’s neck tingle. He looked up the moment Law opened the door. Their eyes met. Law’s mouth went dry as a spark of heat shot directly to his groin. Smoker had gone rigid. 

Law trailed his eyes over the marine’s face down to his sharp jawline, his neck, his chest. Blood was pounding in his ears. “It’s starting,” he breathed out quietly. Smoker nodded tightly, his jaw clenched. The urge to run his lips along his jaw took him by surprise. No, he needed to focus! Law closed his eyes as the room swayed slightly. This shit hit more intensely than he had expected.

He reopened them and looked at Smoker. “Remember the rules?” Law swallowed, reaching out to steady himself against the door frame. Smoker nodded at him. There was no going back now. “Alright then...Follow me,” his voice came out as a low rasp. Smoker was staring at him, breathing a bit heavier, a pink flush spreading across his cheeks and down his chest. Law’s eyes followed it, his tongue flicking out to lick his lips before he could tear his gaze back to Smoker’s face. 

The taller man stood up, closed his eyes and breathed in. Law turned around and walked back into the back room, his skin tingling. He stood in the middle of the small room, not exactly sure how to play this out. Smoker stepped into the doorway, no longer wearing his coat. Law eyed him, his face feeling warm before he looked away again. His hands itched to reach out and touch. To be touched. 

Smoker was trying not to look at him. Through the haze, he felt sympathy for the man in front of him. “Would you rather not be able to see?” Law asked gently. Smoker’s eyes flicked back to him, and Law didn’t miss the way they flicked down his exposed chest, tracing his tattoo. “No, I’m not a coward,” Smoker growled low in his throat. The timbre of his voice went straight through Law, a small gasp leaving his throat. Smoker’s gaze went to Law’s lips then slowly traveled upward to meet his eyes.

“Then quit stalling, and fuck me,” Law breathed out, reaching his hands down to undo his pants. Smoker was utterly still as Law stepped out of his clothing, the sudden cool air making him hiss as it brushed against his flushed skin. He was painfully hard. He turned his back on Smoker and nearly stumbled the last few feet to the bed. Only then did he look over his shoulder. Smoker had his eyes closed, a hand over his face, breathing harshly. But Law’s eyes were drawn to the bulge in his jeans. His own cock throbbed. Smoker was trying to resist the drugs in their systems, trying to push through the haze that made the world spin. Law could appreciate his dedication but… “Smoker-ya, you’re just making it harder, it’s now or never,” Law murmured. 

Smoker opened his eyes and Law felt it like a searing heat over his skin. He had made a decision. Smoker turned to smoke, his own clothing dropping to the floor as approached Law, reaching out to push him down against the mattress as Law turned to face him. The moment their skin touched, Law’s thoughts flew out the window. It was like an electric current ran through him, every nerve ending tingling. 

A gasp left the white haired man above him. Smoker straddled him, his hands on either side of Law’s head. Law was intensely aware of Smoker’s knees caging him in, aware of how badly he wanted to run his hands up and over his thighs, to make him shudder and moan. Smoker grabbed Law’s jaw, turning his head, exposing his neck. Law breathed out, the hormones crashing through his system overriding his sense of self preservation, a tightness forming in the base of his spine. 

Smoker leaned down and pressed his lips to Law’s neck, his teeth grazing over his jugular. All at once it was like a switch had been flipped and Law’s vision blurred out as heat surged through him. “Oh fuck,” Law cursed as a moan tore from his throat, his nails digging into Smoker’s pale skin as he ground his aching cock against Smoker’s hips. Smoker growled, reaching down to still his movements as he nipped the sensitive dip of Law’s collarbone, pulling another moan from his lips. But Law’s need would not be denied. He slipped his hand between them, wrapping around Smoker’s cock, pressing his thumb against the leaking tip. Smoker groaned, his hand fisting in the sheet next to Law’s head. 

Smoker was good sized, similar to his own in length, probably a bit thicker. It matched him. Law slid his hand down his shaft, then back up before Smoker rasped out, “No,” and Law stiffened. Smoker sat back on his heels, gazing down at Law, pushing his hand away. The haze in Law’s head made it so hard to fucking think. He shook his head, trying to focus. “Do you want to st-” his voice died on his lips as Smoker growled out “Shut. Up. We’re doing this my way,” before he reached down and grasped both their cocks in his larger hand. 

“Son of a bitch!” Law cursed, and bucked his hips against Smoker’s hand. He pumped slowly, the friction making Law dizzy with pleasure. His eyes locked onto Smoker’s jaw and he pushed himself up off the mattress, bringing his arms around Smoker’s neck, pulling him close. He grazed his lips along Smoker’s jaw, dragging his teeth down his neck. The smell of him made Law’s head spin, and he breathed in deeply, as Smoker gripped him tighter. He nipped at his earlobe and Smoker cursed, pressing Law back down against the mattress with a firm hand, but Law pulled him down with him, their foreheads pressed together, breathing harshly as Smoker pumped faster. 

Heat tightened and coiled at the base of Law’s spine, rising higher and higher. He buried his face in Smoker’s neck, clinging for dear fucking life, panting for breath. “Oh fuck, I’m-I’m close,” Law breathed out, feeling a shiver run through the man above him. Smoker altered his grip slightly, his thumb rubbing against the underside of his tip and Law cried out.

He clawed Smoker’s shoulders as the heat became unbearable. His vision whited out as he came, spilling across his stomach, a sob tearing from deep in his chest. “Fuck,” Smoker groaned, clenching his teeth, a shudder rolling through him as he came, painting Law’s chest. 

Smoker rolled off of him and collapsed next to him, both of them panting. Law felt boneless, his brain basically mush as oxytocin rampaged through his system. Smoker sat up painfully slowly, looking like he was going to get up but Law reached out, his hand catching the other man’s arm. “Oxytocin...from human contact, just stay till it fades,” he murmured, fading fast. Exhaustion was pulling him down, down...Smoker turned and lay back down beside him, his back to him, and then Law knew blackness.



When he came to, he was warm. Very warm. It felt like his skin was buzzing, but not in an unpleasant way. Sort of like the buzz he got from alcohol. He was laying on his side, facing the wall, the sheet pulled up and slung low over his hips, his back up against something warm. 

He blinked at the wall, trying to get his brain to function but…

Smoker’s teeth at his throat, feeling like his nerves were on fire-

Holy hell, this shit was a hell of a drug. 

Law rubbed his hand over his face. He was warm to the touch like he had a low grade fever. He probably did, the bacteria heating up his internal temperature to facilitate whatever chemical process it needed to procreate. Something to keep an eye on. The bed shifted slightly and Law furrowed his brows, becoming aware of the sound of slow breathing. 

Wait.

He slowly looked over his shoulder, his eyes falling on Smoker’s broad muscular shoulders. They were laying back to back. He was still asleep, his chest rising and falling slowly. Law stared, his eyes wide before he turned back to look at the wall again.

It was good that Smoker was asleep. It bought him time to think. And he needed to process what the fuck had just happened. He’d been expecting it to be similar to any of the one night stands he’d had in the past, but it was far more intense than that. 

Law hated unknowns and this situation was full of them. He took a deep, quiet breath. He did not want to wake the man beside him, not until his thoughts were in order. He started with what he knew, that the bacteria would be active for roughly 72 hours, then their cycle would complete and would pass through his and Smoker’s systems harmlessly. It appeared to thrive in environments heavy with oxytocin, dopamine, and prolactin. It likely procreated through transmission of body fluids like most other types of bacteria. It seemed to be active in waves, which gave him and Smoker time to rest. 

Smoker. Smoker was the other unknown. Law narrowed his eyes, thinking of what he knew of the man. He knew he was a competent fighter, and had a head for strategy. Law pursed his lips, recalling his fight with Vergo. 

What else did he know about the marine? He had a reputation for being ruthless in his capture of pirates, but as far as Law could recall, he wasn’t a sadist or a murderer. He aimed to capture, not to kill. That spoke to what Law already knew, that Smoker had principles. And he appeared to actually care about justice. 

A marine trying to be an actual force of good. Law bit the inside of his lip lightly. A totally different marine, one who’s smile adorned Law’s chest in ink floated before his eyes. Law rubbed a hand over his eyes. He needed to find a way to decrease the unknowns, and as much as he wanted to ignore the man, it would probably be easier if they found some common ground. The idea of cycling through intense periods of sex followed by cold reproach sounded exhausting and counterproductive. But it wasn’t like they were ever going to be friends, so maybe...he recalled Punk Hazard once more, Smoker handing him his heart back. “An alliance,” Law uttered softly.

A small groan sounded from behind him and Law stiffened, his shoulders hunching slightly.

The marine was coming to. Heat rose in Law’s face as Smoker sat up, intensely aware that they were both in the nude. Heat prickled the back of his mind. Smoker groaned, bringing his hand up to his face as he sat up. 

“Fucking hell,” Smoker muttered. He could say that again. Law swallowed, and breathed in. Smoker stiffened at the sound. “How are you feeling?” Law asked quietly. Smoker was silent for a long moment, and Law’s lips thinned. “...Fine,” Smoker responded. He hadn’t turned to look at Law, but that was okay. Law wasn’t sure if he'd be able to maintain eye contact yet either. “Any physical symptoms?” Smoker made an irritated noise, and Law rolled his eyes. “I told you before, I don’t know how this will manifest, and I’m trying to make sure we don’t die from something I could have prevented,” Law muttered. Smoker sighed, “Fine, warm, and like I’ve had a couple drinks,” he muttered. So it was acting pretty similar to him thus far. That was good. 

“That’s consistent with me,” Law muttered, sitting up slowly, moving to get up off the bed. Smoker regarded him out of the corner of his eye as the sheet slid off of him, leaving him in the nude. “I’m going to clean up,” Law rubbed the back of his neck. The air was cold against his still slightly flushed skin, and he tried to ignore the sticky feeling on his chest. He walked to the door, then turned around and looked back at Smoker. Now the harder part. “We should talk when I get back,” he muttered, then walked out the door, not waiting for a reply.

---

Smoker watched Law leave the room before putting his face in his hands. Holy hell he could really use a smoke. He’d slept with a pirate. A pirate with the moniker “Surgeon of Death”. It was both a blessing and a curse that once he was in the middle of it, it was so hard to think. Even now, he felt an annoyingly pleasant buzz under his skin. He frowned slightly, recalling the ache in his joints as he tried to resist the pull before he’d really committed to this. Just based on that, Law likely wasn’t kidding about the painful death. He sighed, and looked up at the sound of footsteps, his jaw clenching. Law returned, still in the nude. Smoker glanced away. “Here,” came the shorter man’s voice as he shoved something at him. A glass of water. He eyed Law but reached out and took it. 

“We have to make sure we get enough fluids,” Law muttered as he sat down on the end of the bed. Smoker eyed the tattoo of Law’s jolly roger on his back, the hearts on his shoulders. They were quiet. “You said you wanted to talk?” Smoker grunted. He really didn’t want to talk about what just happened. He wanted to pretend it hadn’t, that he didn’t know that Law bit his lip when he came, and pretend that that wasn’t what sent him over the edge.

He took a sip of water. Law crossed one leg over the other, and folded his arms. “This whole situation...is shit,” he muttered. Smoker snorted, “No shit, and?” He took another sip of water. Law slowly turned to look over at him. Smoker kept his eyes trained on Law’s face, wishing he wasn’t so intensely aware that they were both nude. “And...it doesn’t have to be,” Law’s yellow eyes were unreadable, but not hostile. Smoker stared at him, his eyebrows lifted slightly in surprise. “This whole boomeranging from fucking our brains out to...this,” he gestured at the air between them, “is going to give me a massive headache.” 

Smoker made a face. Law gave him a deadpan look. “I’m not saying we should be friends or some dumb shit, I’m just…” Law ran a hand through his messy black hair roughly. Smoker stayed quiet, letting him gather his thoughts. “...I just don’t want to feel like I’m walking on glass shards for the next 72 hours, this shit is hard enough as it is.” Law looked away from him, a tightness to his jaw.

“And how do you propose we do that? Play twenty questions?” he said sarcastically. Law pinched the bridge of his nose, took a breath, and muttered through his teeth, “That would be a start at least.” Smoker glared down at the floor between his feet. He had to concede that Law had a point, this part was worse than the fucking. At least during that, he couldn’t really think. But he had no idea how to do what Law was proposing. He wasn’t exactly a friendly person to begin with. It took him time (a lot of it) to build relationships. 

“We’ve worked together before,” Law said quietly. “At the very least, we have a common enemy here, even if it is our own bodies,” he muttered. Smoker snorted slightly. That reminded him. “You have any idea when the next one might hit?” he grumbled. Law furrowed his brow and regarded him. “Honestly, I don’t know, but I wish I did. I...don’t like unknowns.” Law’s hands clenched slightly on his shoulders. “Neither do I,” Smoker rumbled. They were both quiet, but it wasn’t tense. 

“Well...we should try and rest, there’s a cot in the hallway, set it up where you want,” Law muttered. Smoker eyed him, and nodded slowly. He could use some time to think. He glanced down at the glass that he’d placed near his feet. He grabbed it with his smoke, and stood up to leave the room, stopping at the door. “Law.” The other man looked up at him from the bed. “Thanks for the water,” Smoker muttered, and closed the door behind him.

Chapter Text

Morning came on slowly, time seeming to drag on as Law lay on the mattress. It smelled like sex, like cigar smoke, foreign and strange. It didn’t help his thoughts at all as they circled around in his head. The bacteria, how it functioned, where it came from, possible side effects. 

How dangerous it was. 

If someone with far greater ambitions than the fucking idiots who were peddling it got their hands on it… Law shuddered to think of it. That was where the Navy could actually be useful. They would be much better at containing something like this, though them having access to it… The horrific purple gas filling the air on Punk Hazard, the screams of the men running from it filled his head. 

The white spots on his sister’s skin-

He clenched a fist. No. He wouldn’t think about that right now.

He sat up, rubbing a hand over his still warm face. The fever hadn’t gone down, but it hadn’t increased either. Sleep wasn’t coming, so he may as well be productive. Pulling on a hoodie, he left the bed and its scents behind, exiting the back room near silently. But he wasn’t alone. He sensed Smoker with his haki the moment he stepped into the bar’s front room. It didn’t surprise Law that he couldn’t sleep either. He was sitting on a stool next to one of the boarded up windows, smoking. He wasn’t wearing his coat despite the chill in the room.

Their eyes met, Smoker’s look calculating, studying. Not so different from the expression on his own face. That was the other thought that wouldn’t let him sleep. Smoker. How to bridge the ocean of unknowns. How his teeth felt on his skin- 

The next few days were going to be the death of him.

He tore his eyes away, focusing on his testing equipment set up across the bar counter. He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked over, settling himself down in front of the binder of notes he’d been filling. He flicked on the microscope, the built in light making him squint for a moment. Then he grabbed an empty vial and a tourniquet, tying it around his upper arm quickly, opening and closing his fist as he wiped disinfectant across his skin. 

Taking blood never bothered him, there was something calming about it, something that allowed him to focus. The precision required, the careful, sure movements. Movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. Smoker had put out his cigar and was now eying him again. Law flicked his eyes back to his task, untying the tourniquet with his teeth when he was done, carefully placing the now full vial next to his microscope. 

As he began setting up the station, Smoker finally spoke up. “Do you need another sample?” Law blinked, then nodded. The taller man approached cautiously, leaned against the bartop, and offered the pale skin of his inner arm. Law placed his fingers on the crook of his arm, finding a vein quickly. Smoker was warm, far warmer than himself. Law frowned. “You’re supposed to tell me if you feel any changes,” he turned his yellow eyes on Smoker who looked at him blankly. “What?” “Your body temperature. You’re at least a few degrees warmer than I am,” Law glared at him. Smoker stared at him impassively. He narrowed his eyes at the white haired idiot in front of him, irritation prickling under his skin. “...I’m made of smoke, I’m always warm,” he said quietly. 

Oh. That explained why he could run around on Punk Hazard without a shirt. They lapsed into silence again as Law filled another vial, labelling it with an S. Smoker was watching him again as he returned to his notes. It felt like an itch on the back of his neck as he reread where he’d left off, which happened to be a space to write what he’d experienced after the first episode. 

He wished Smoker would stop staring at him as he began listing his symptoms. Fast heartbeat, flushing, heightened sensitivity, dizziness, full erection, sweating, orgasm. Likely prolactin and oxytocin overload in the aftermath triggering brief sleep. Fever, minor intoxication since then.

From a medical perspective, he should probably ask Smoker about his experiences as well, but from a dignity perspective… his eye twitched. This shit was definetely going to be the fucking death of him.

“Smoker-ya, be useful and fill this out,” he muttered a few minutes later after copying the questions onto another piece of paper and pushing it across the bar to him. 

Smoker glared slightly at him but pulled a pen out of the inner pocket of his jacket saying nothing as he filled it out. He kept a pen in his jacket? Law quirked an eyebrow. That surprised him, Smoker didn’t seem the type. He passed it back across to Law as he was dropping a few droplets of blood onto a slide to examine under the microscope.

They went back to him working and Smoker watching. Time ticked by, Law settling into the familiar, the knowns. Cellular biology, observation, hypothesis. 

“Why a doctor?” the question was sudden, startling him slightly. His eyes flicked to Smoker. He had an unlit cigar in his mouth, his arms crossed. Not hostile, though almost. Curiosity sat in his gaze. Had this been any other time, he likely would have said “Because I like to cut people up.” but...he’d listed honesty as one of his terms of engagement. He glanced back down through the eyepiece of the microscope, watching the cells shift and move. He wished he had pure oxytocin on hand to see how the bacteria under the slide would react. 

But that wouldn’t answer Smoker’s question. Why was he a doctor? Because it calmed him? Because understanding how to cause pain, or take it away gave him a clear sense of purpose? Because it honored his family, a connection to what he’d lost? ...Because it saved him?

He looked up from the microscope to write down an interaction with a white blood cell. He kept his eyes on the words in front of him as he said softly, “Because my father was one.” He returned to the microscope, and the quiet stayed. His eyes flicked up to Smoker watching him again. Smoker had made an attempt, and now he had to return it.

---

“Because my father was one.” There was a strange expression on Law’s face, his eyes far away before he resumed looking through his microscope. Smoker chewed that bit of information over. Law wasn’t an orphan then, or at least knew his parents. “...What about you? Why a Marine Smoker-ya?” Law was looking through the microscope still, scribbling a note in his notebook at the same time. Smoker filed “good at multitasking” away in his head. “Because I don’t like pirates,” he shrugged. “Lots of people don’t like pirates, they don’t all join the Navy,” he said blandly, yellow eyes sliding to him. Smoker narrowed his eyes. Law turned to look at him fully, “Honesty Smoker-ya.” Now Smoker glared. 

“I don’t like injustice,” he stated. Law’s face changed, an uncomfortable and unreadable look in his eyes. “...That’s a loaded word.” Smoker tilted his head, his eyebrow raising slightly. “Injustice takes many forms, and changes shape depending on who is in charge, does it not?” Law continued now fully giving Smoker his attention. Smoker’s eyes were drawn to the jolly roger emblazoned on Law’s hoodie. Hadn’t he heard similar words before, from a pirate whose jolly roger was so similar to Law’s own? 

“Injustice is injustice. Debating it is the best way to muddy the waters, and prevent anyone from doing anything about it.” Smoker met Law’s gaze. Now the pirate was the one watching him, studying him. He wouldn’t be the first to look away, despite the tension in the air. Law let out a small chuckle and returned to looking through the microscope. “Would you like to see our common enemy?” he asked, gesturing at the device. Smoker blinked, noting the change in topic, but nodded. Law moved out of his way as he turned to smoke and rematerialized across the bar next to him. The taller man adjusted the eye pieces and looked down. Weird little circles and dots, shifting and moving against each other. “What is it doing?” 

“The bacteria in my blood is exchanging enzymes with the bacteria from your system, much like plant pollen,” Law said quietly, before explaining how it appeared to be triggering reactions, and hijacking their systems with those different enzymes. Smoker nodded slowly as he fiddled with the magnification and positioning. He could feel Law’s gaze on him as he pulled away and looked down at the man’s notes instead. His eyes fell on Law’s recounting of their earlier episode. 

He’d have to go through it again, with the man just a scant few feet from him. The urge to touch, worse, be touched. He eyed the rest of the notes and turned to Law after a few minutes. “The islands this shit has hit are not having much luck breaking the addiction, let alone handling overdose cases,” his eyebrows drew together, “You think you might be able to figure out better treatment?” Law tilted his head at him, “...Maybe. I don’t have a full laboratory, or a full medical team. And we’ve been infected with the live culture, not just the dead stuff that people have been snorting,” he ran a hand through his hair. “But I might as well give it a shot, I need something to keep me sane for the next few days,” he muttered. “I want a copy of your research when this is over, regardless,” Smoker stated. More research was better than nothing, people were suffering and if he could help fix that, then maybe his sacrifice would be for something. 

But it appeared he said something wrong, because Law tensed up. “To do what with it?” he hissed. “To pass on to my medical team to figure out options for treatment,” Smoker said cautiously. What did Law think he was going to do with it? The next question that whipped out of the pirate’s mouth took him by surprise. “Can you guarantee that that’s all your higher-ups will do with it once you’ve figured that out?” Smoker gave him a shrewd look. Law wasn’t stupid, but neither was he, having had the same thought earlier. 

It had been what he was thinking about when Law came in. A substance that hijacked human impulses with deadly consequences was a very dangerous thing. 

“No one should have access to this shit. Once we figure out how to treat it effectively, and determine where it came from, we’ll either destroy it or quarantine the island it came from, if I have to do it myself.” Smoker muttered. Law stared at him, his shoulders stiff, something dark in his eyes before it sank beneath the surface as Law reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. The circles under his eyes were more pronounced in the low light. “You say that like it’s easy,” he muttered looking off to the side before facing him again. “I need to run some more tests, you should try and get some rest.” There was an emptiness in Law’s voice that irked him, but he said nothing as Law grabbed his notes, and turned away, effectively ending their conversation. 

Smoker didn’t miss that he hadn’t responded to his demands. 

---

It began with a slight tingling across his skin as Law sat against the bed in the backroom, reading a research journal on parasitic fungi that he’d picked up a few weeks prior while trying to understand the drug that nearly killed Shachi. Law froze. He had moved back to the back room once Smoker passed out on the stool jammed into the corner. The man snored slightly. Law hadn’t wanted to risk waking him, at least one of them should be allowed to sleep, and he knew it wasn’t going to be him. 

His heart rate increased slowly, blood pushing through his system a little faster. How long was the onset time going to be? He hadn’t timed the first episode, anxiety pushing it from his mind. But now? How long would it take before he started feeling the negative effects? 

He went back to reading his journal, trying to keep his mind on other things. Trying not to think about the sound of Smoker’s voice growling in his ear, or how built his shoulders were. It came on slowly, the want, until he couldn’t wait anymore, noting the roughly fifteen minute onset till an ache started in the back of his skull. A much slower onset than what Smoker had experienced during the first episode. 

Law got to his feet with a slow breath, feeling entirely too warm, his muscles uncomfortably tight. He walked back into the front of the bar. Smoker was leaned up against the wall in the corner, still asleep. He felt a brief moment of envy, and made a face as he approached with light footsteps. The late midmorning light coming through the hole Smoker had made in the boards covering the window shone across his pale skin and Law stopped for a second. 

He looked different when he was asleep, the anger lines on his face disappeared making him look younger. Peace was a good look on him. Law’s lips tugged down slightly at the corners. With a sigh, he reached out and shook the man’s shoulder gently. Smoker’s amber eyes snapped open and he stared at Law for a moment. They were just a foot apart. 

Smoker had bedroom eyes. Law’s heartbeat kicked up a notch, desire racing down his spine like an electric shock. His hand, still on Smoker’s shoulder moved of its own accord, slowly tracing the outline of his collar bone, following muscles up his neck, over his strong jaw, coming to a stop at his lips. Smoker’s pupils dilated. 

Law bit his lip as he ran his thumb across the other man’s lips. His heart beat loudly in his ears as he closed the gap, climbing onto Smoker’s lap, the stool beneath them shifting precariously. He needed to touch, to feel. He placed both hands on Smoker’s broad shoulders, leaned down and pressed his lips to the underside of his jaw. Smoker’s breath came fast below him. They were wearing too much clothing. The scent of tobacco and something distinctly masculine was all around him, making his world spin. “This is not a good place for this,” Smoker growled in his ear, a shiver racing down his spine. He had a point but that involved moving, involved stopping feeling the other’s skin against his own. Law swallowed, pushing through the haze. He nodded at Smoker and climbed off of him with a shaky breath. 

Smoker got to his feet and brushed past Law, heading for the back room, Law following after him, pulling his hoodie over his head as he went. This time it was Smoker who stood in the middle of the room unsure how to play this out, turning to face him. But Law wasn’t Smoker, and as he got out of his pants he advanced on the taller man, forcing him backwards till his knees hit the bed and pushed him back onto it. Something snapped in the air between them. An urgency, a need to dominate overcame him. 

“You’re wearing too much,” he hissed in Smoker’s ear as he bit down roughly on his earlobe. Smoker made a noise low in his throat, the sound shooting straight to his groin. “You’re in the way,” he growled back. Law pulled away, a harsh grin finding its way across his face. “Then make me move.” His blood thrummed under his skin, something goading him on. The urge to see what would happen if he pushed too far. Their eyes met, amber to feral yellow. Like lightning, Smoker moved, rolling them over and shoving him down against the mattress. The grin stretched farther across his face as he raked his nails down Smoker’s back to sink into his ass. The rough material of Smoker’s jeans against his cock made him groan. 

Smoker sank his fingers into Law’s hair and yanked his head back, exposing his neck. Law could feel the man’s erection pressing tightly against the fabric of his jeans. He licked his lips, panting, heart racing. Smoker’s eyes darted to his lips. “See something you want?” Law whispered. Smoker’s eyes narrowed before he growled low in Law’s ear, “Want isn’t the word I’d use.” Law bared his teeth as a shiver ran down his spine. He didn’t like the way Smoker towered over him. He quickly hooked his leg around Smoker’s, rolling them over again so he was on top, looking down. 

Smoker glared up at him, the heat in his gaze making Law’s member twitch. His hands found the belt loops of Smoker’s jeans and tugged harshly. Smoker lifted his hips, allowing them to slide down instead of tear. Once he was free, Law wrapped his fingers around Smoker’s stiff cock. He licked his lips as he brushed his thumb against the tip before sliding his hand down the shaft. Smoker’s fingers sunk into his thighs hard enough to bruise. He was looking at Law’s lips again. “You really do have an oral fixation huh Smoker-ya?” he said, licking his lips once more. Smoker’s manhood twitched in his hand and Law smirked. “Shut up,” Smoker snarled, but there was a pink flush spreading across his cheeks. 

Too easy. He leaned down, over Smoker’s chest, swirling his tongue around his nipple before making his way up to Smoker’s ear. The man was panting harshly. “What part of “Make. Me.” don’t you understand?” he whispered, running his tongue over the shell of his ear. There was a tension in the air, familiar. Like battle, like he was playing with fire, but he didn’t care, the rush too hard to resist. The chemicals roaring through his system making him fearless, goading him on, to escalate. 

Smoker curled his upper lip then turned to smoke, using the shock to flip them once more, shoving Law down hard against the mattress. He rematerialized with his knees on either side of Law’s head, his cock jutting out, the tip leaking. “Instead of running your mouth, why don’t you do something useful with it?” Smoker snarled, pressing his thumb against Law’s lips, gripping his jaw tightly. Law darted his tongue out, running it over the digit touching his bottom lip. 

Almost like he was hypnotized, Smoker pushed his thumb into Law’s mouth while he sucked on it. Heat coiled in Law’s lower belly. “You want me to suck you off Smoker-ya?” he breathed. Smoker eyed him, the pink flush reappearing on his face as he removed his hand from Law’s mouth and threaded his fingers into his hair instead, tilting Law’s head back, thrusting his hips forward, placing his cock against Law’s lips. Law swallowed, then opened his mouth and swirled his tongue around the head. The sound Smoker made shot directly to his manhood so sharply it made him moan. “Say it, say you want me to suck you off,” Law breathed, his voice dropping an octave, desire written across his face. 

---

Law’s eyes were half lidded, his skin flushed, his fingers brushing little circles on Smoker’s hips. He glared down at the pirate below him, almost aching with need. The air was too warm against his skin. “What do you want in return?” his voice was low, as he met Law’s hungry gaze. There was that goddamn haughty grin. Heat rolled down his spine. “A trade?” his gaze slid to Smoker’s lips before slowly climbing back up to meet his eyes. “Your oral fixation go both ways Smoker-ya?” Smoker narrowed his eyes darkly.

He glared down at Law, desire shooting through him as the little bastard slipped his tongue out again and licked down his cock. Smoker’s breath hitched in his throat. “Say it’s a deal,” Law breathed, his breath warm against his inner thighs as he looked up at him, biting his lower lip. God. Fucking. Dammit. Did he have to do that?!

“Fine, let’s get this over with,” he growled, looking away. He didn’t want to see the grin on the bastard’s face. “Let me up then,” the pirate breathed. “You’re fine where you are,” Smoker smirked. Law glared at him for a moment before smirking as he pulled him into the heat of his mouth. Fuck. Oh fuck. Smoker closed his eyes with a groan, slipping his fingers back into Law’s messy black hair, setting the pace.  

His lips were soon joined by a hand pumping his shaft. Pleasure surged through Smoker’s veins. He reopened his eyes taking in the sight below him. Pink lips, yellow eyes blurred with lust, face flushed. After only a few minutes, he could feel the familiar tightness in the base of his spine, traveling up through his skull, heat washing over him.

His grip tightened in Law’s hair, losing the rhythm he’d been keeping, his hips arching-

Law pulled back, gripping the base of his member, hard. He glared up at Smoker. 

“It’s polite to tell me when you’re close,” Law murmured, fisting over him slowly. Achingly slow. Fucking. Dammit. “I’m not polite to pirates,” he hissed. Law gave him a look that he didn’t like before leaning forward and taking him back into his mouth. Again he was close, the pressure mounting, his fingers tangling in Law’s hair, their gazes locked, heartbeat pounding in his ears-

And Law stopped. Smoker glared at him. Law grinned back. “Something wrong, Smoker-ya?” The glare deepened. Law returned to what he was doing. This time as he got close, he breathed out, “Stop this time, and you won’t like the consequences.” Law blinked lazily up at him, swirling his tongue around the tip before he pulled back, “Don’t tell me what to do,” as he pressed on the sensitive spot on the underside of his prick, rubbing it slowly. 

That was it.

He was going to put this little shit in his place. Smoker moved backward, keeping Law pinned beneath his bulk, grabbing the smaller man’s shaft roughly in his hand, pumping him a few times before shifting downward, and taking him into his mouth. He’d made a deal, he would keep his end of the bargain. Didn't mean he had to be nice about it though. He pinned Law’s arms to the bed, holding him in place as he took his manhood into his mouth. 

Law clawed at the sheets as Smoker swallowed him down mercilessly, his lips gripping him harshly, grazing his teeth against the tip. The sound that tore from Law’s throat made Smoker sink his fingers into the man’s skin, want, hot and viscous, thrumming through him. “Shit, I thought you said I wouldn’t like the consequences,” Law gasped above him. Smoker eyed him before reaching up and shoving two of his fingers into Law’s mouth. “You need to learn to keep your fucking mouth shut,” he growled. Law’s eyes were hazy with need when Smoker pulled away, taking him deep into his mouth again before sliding his now soaked fingers down and pressing against Law’s entrance.

Law writhed in his grip, “Fucking hell, we have lube!” he cursed. Smoker looked at him, eyes like burning coals, “Say the safeword then,” and pressed in up to the first knuckle. Law keened, as Smoker worked him open slowly, saliva from his mouth sliding down Law’s throbbing length, making it easier. He curled his fingers upward slowly and Law bucked against him like an electric shock had just gone through him. Smoker smirked, pressing on that spot over and over, at the same time working his cock over with his tongue. “Oh fuck, fuck fuckfuckfuck! I’m gonna-” Smoker pulled away as Law came with a cry, his hips arching off the bed. 

He shifted back to where he was, repositioning his knees on either side of Law’s head. “Finish me off,” he growled. Law swallowed, panting hard, his hair a mess, but opened his mouth as Smoker thrust forward. They locked eyes, neither willing to be the first to look away. The pressure built up in his abdomen, heat blurring the world around him-

Smoker clenched his jaw, hard, as orgasm tore through him, his ears ringing, the man below him making a noise of protest, as his seed spilled into his mouth. Smoker pulled away a few moments later, collapsing onto the bed next to Law. They both lay there panting. The world was spinning. It seemed like it took a long time for it to come to a stop, though he knew it was only a few minutes. When it did, Law sat up slowly, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He stood up and left the bed without saying anything, walking out of the room, his shoulders tense. The sound of running water echoed through the sudden quiet from down the hallway. 

--- 

Water splashed over Law’s skin from the wet rag he was using. The bathroom in the bar was just a simple toilet and sink, but it worked. His entire body was humming, which under any other circumstances would be pleasant, instead it aggravated him. He took a deep breath in the hopes of slowing down his heart rate. He stared at his reflection in the mirror. His skin was still flushed, his pupils dilated. He’d be running on the dopamine high for a while yet. 

He gripped the sides of the sink and stared at the drain. He hadn’t expected the second episode to hit like that, to draw out both their tendencies to fight. That meant the hormones being triggered weren’t being released in the same amounts, or triggering the same responses. “Fucking hell,” he sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I’m not polite to pirates,” Smoker glared hotly down at him. Law rinsed his mouth again. Nothing about this situation was polite! Anger made itself known, making it a little easier to think before Law pushed it aside. 

With an irritated sigh, he finally exited the bathroom. He reentered the temporary bedroom and blinked. Smoker had dressed himself and was crouched in front of Law’s portable stove, boiling water. He glanced up at Law, then glanced away, his face tight. There was an odd tension in the air.

Law bent down to pick up his pants and pull them back on when Smoker spoke, his voice startling him. “You hungry?” Law looked at Smoker, his eyes narrowing at the question. You only ask someone that if you’re offering. “I could eat,” he said quietly, finishing getting dressed and grabbing his notebook before answering. Smoker started hunting through the packs in the corner. “Did you have anything other than instant noodles?” he muttered. “There’s apples in the other bag,” Law placed the end of the pen in his mouth. He saw Smoker turn to look at him out of the corner of his eye. “Instant noodles and apples? ...That’s what you have for food?” Law glanced over at him. “I’m sorry, do you see proper refrigeration here?” Law retorted as he started writing down his experience in his notes. 

“You could have at least gotten bread or something,” Smoker muttered. “Bread is disgusting,” he said rolling his eyes. Smoker turned away from the now boiling water to stare at him. “You don’t like bread?” “That’s what disgusting means Smoker-ya,” Law replied blandly. “What the hell do you like then?” Smoker shook his head in incredulity. “I’m not going to tell you that,” Law said simply. It wasn’t dishonest if he refrained from saying it. 

He looked down at the blank sheet in front of him. Symptoms experienced: Similar to the first episode, notable differences being pain after fifteen minutes of onset without seeking partner. Strong urge to be in control. Law glared down at the page. Smoker looking down on him, in a position of power, flashing across his mind. It grated hotly across his skin, though the dopamine going through his system would have him believe otherwise. “I’m not polite to pirates.” As if he had some moral high ground to stand on. As if slaves across the world didn’t toil each day under Navy supremacy. As if they didn’t support a system that allowed bastards like Doflamingo to exist, to flourish. The sound of the packaged noodles being opened reached his ears. 

"Why not?" came Smoker's voice after a few minutes, his back to him. "Because you Navy types like to use information to further your aims. I won't give you something you'll just use against me later." Law looked at Smoker from the corner of his eye, noting the way his shoulders stiffened. 

Quiet greeted his words. Law went back to his notes rereading what he’d just written. Urge to control. He narrowed his eyes. And he’d let him. He’d let Smoker hold him down. He wanted to wash his mouth out again. Irritation prickled his skin, breaking through the fog of feel good chemicals once more. The smell of food slowly filled the small room. "That wouldn't be right," came Smoker's voice quietly. Law looked up sharply from his notebook, focusing on the wood grain pattern in the wall across from him, the irritation turning to slow burning anger in his stomach. "What does that matter?" his voice floated above their heads, filling the room. 

Smoker pulled a cigar from his pants pocket, lighting it up. The cigar smoke mixed with the steam from the boiling noodles. "It matters. Anything said here by either of us while we're under the influence shouldn't leave this place. There's nothing honorable about using this situation for personal gain," he said it like there was no other option, like it was law. Law slowly turned his gaze upon the other. How could he just say that kind of shit? Like he wouldn’t get penalized for not taking advantage of the situation? Like his personal code was more important than what was expected of him? Cora’s face flashed through his mind and he looked back down at his notes, jaw clenched.

The quiet resumed, filled by the sound of boiling noodles and the scratching of Law's pen, the anger inside of him slowly dying back down to embers. The sound of Smoker prepping the chipped bowls Law had scrounged up when he’d first chosen this as his base of operations made him look up. The Marine stood up and brought the bowl over to him, holding it out like a peace offering. Law stared at Smoker’s hand for a moment making out the callouses and small scars before he reached out and took the bowl. It was warm in his hands. He suddenly recalled the cold of Punk Hazard, the laughter of the liberated prisoners and pirates in sync with the laughter of the Marines. 

Smoker sat on the floor a few feet away, leaning back against the bed as he started eating. Law stared down at the noodles, something strange stirring in him. Was it the oxytocin, the mother of all bonding hormones that made him want to connect, to offer a peace offering of his own? “...Onigiri,” he said softly, breath combining with the steam from his noodles. Smoker glanced in his direction. “...Chicken,” he muttered, offering the same in return. 

Such a mundane exchange to carry so much weight, and for a wild manic moment Law considered making a joke just to see what his reaction would be before letting it pass. Jokes were things that you shared with friends, family, lovers. And neither he or Smoker were any of those things. They were enemies (or were they?). They’d shared a meal together once before, a physical line dividing them then. 

Where was the line now?

---

They existed in separate spaces for the next several hours, Smoker turning to the paperwork he’d brought with him, Law to the medical journals he was investigating. Smoker never thought he’d be thankful for the backlog of crap that had been accumulating on his desk. It was boring, mundane shit, nothing that could compromise Navy operations, therefore it was safe enough to bring with him. But there was only so much of that he could take before his eyes blurred out. 

So he’d spent some time moving crates and boxes up against the walls to clear a decent sized space for movement. He needed to do something with the pent up energy under his skin, and getting in some practice with his jitte seemed like his best bet. 

It was quiet in the empty building. Law had set up his base on the outskirts of the main port, an area long run down and left to rot. Smoker was no stranger to quiet, generally preferring it. He settled into his katas, feeling more normal despite the insanity of his situation. He wondered if Tashigi was handling their men okay. They always gave her so much shit in their attempts to prove how much they appreciated her. It drove her fucking nuts. This would be a good opportunity for her to command them on her own, without someone to guide her. 

A thought struck him, where was Law’s crew? He’d been without them at Punk Hazard too, going with the Straw Hats to Dressrosa. He didn’t understand why Law had gone after Doflamingo. There was something there, some history he didn’t understand. Their jolly rogers were too similar for it to be a coincidence, and Smoker didn’t believe in coincidences. He had a sudden weird thought to ask him and made a face. 

It was strange, existing in the same space as the pirate. He was intelligent (part of what made him dangerous), and widely believed to be a sadist. Smoker had experienced his heart removal himself. But he’d given him his heart back, and helped save the kids at Punk Hazard. Smoker didn’t understand him. There were too many puzzle pieces missing. 

He placed his jitte down, his breathing too loud in the quiet space, a strange change from his regular life. Marine ships were loud, battles were loud, interacting with the public was loud. But here? His ears nearly rang with the silence, like he was the only one alive. A strange feeling came over him, a tingling across his skin. He narrowed his eyes. 

Smoker resumed his stance, breathing in deep. He tried to avoid dwelling on the episodes themselves, but the one hours before kept coming back to haunt him. That had been more of a fight than sex and though he rankled at the fact that he’d sucked off a pirate, it had been the position of power. To not do so would have made him the loser. Was there really a winner here though? It’s not like either of them chose this. The guilt that had settled between his shoulder blades in the aftermath reared its head again.

Law had been upset after. He saw it in the set of his shoulders. And yet they’d settled back into some sort of peace, but for how long, he was unsure. That was another thing that irked him. He’d seen the explosive darkness that Law carried around inside of him. His treatment of Vergo was proof of that. But where was that anger now?

Smoker’s skin tingled again, this time edging into pain. He stopped, eyes narrowing, remembering the pain he’d been in when he’d attempted to push back against the urge during the first episode. This was similar, except another episode hadn’t started. He grit his teeth. God he hated this shit. He recalled Law’s irritated expression, using it to disguise the concern in his eyes when he thought Smoker was running a far higher fever than he was. This was a new and possibly concerning development. He needed a smoke.

Jaw clenched, he set his jitte down on top of the bar and moved quickly towards the backroom. The door was shut, Law having holed himself up inside it hours before. Just before he reached up to push it open, it opened. Both of them took a step back in surprise. Law stared at him. He stared back. There was a tension in Law’s face that likely mirrored his own. “Are you in pain, Smoker-ya?” he asked, the serious tone in his voice set Smoker on edge. He nodded once. Law made a face that Smoker decided was not good. Law brushed past him, making for where he’d set up his microscope. “I need another blood sample,” he muttered to Smoker as he followed after him.

Smoker set up the tourniquet himself, the pain escalating into unpleasant territory. Law finished prepping the needle for extraction and pressed his fingers against Smoker’s arm, locating the vein. The moment they touched however, the pain lessened. Both of them stopped for a moment, their eyes meeting. Law’s eyes slid down to his arm and he flattened his palm against Smoker’s forearm. Warmth began to take the place of the pain, radiating outward from his hand. “What the hell?” he muttered at the same time as Law muttered, “The fuck?” they glanced at each other again. United for the moment in their mutual aggravation.

Law removed his hand. The warmth began to fade, pain returning slowly. “Pain?” Law murmured. Smoker nodded again. It was an odd pain, like his nerves ached. He’d had fevers as a kid not dissimilar to this. Law frowned, quickly grabbing the needle. He kept his hand on Smoker’s arm as the vial filled, the pain once again receding. Once done, he stepped back from Smoker and filled his own vial. The ache under his skin slowly increased as Law fucked around with the microscope. The urge to smoke pushed at his nerves, and he reached for a cigar.

“I need another sample,” Law muttered after a few minutes. Smoker raised an eyebrow. Law carefully handed him a needle. “This time with no contact from me,” he added. Smoker nodded slowly, understanding what Law was looking for. After a few awkward and uncomfortable stabbing attempts, he managed to fill the new vial and pass it to Law. Again the pirate messed with the microscope. 

After what seemed like an eternity, Law turned to face him. They were only a foot apart, something under his skin urging him to close the gap. He ignored it, pain be damned. “Well?” he grunted. The pirate wasn’t looking at him, but instead at the floor. He looked up after a moment, a weird look on his face. Something almost like...despair? “The bacteria is entering a new phase.” he was choosing his words carefully. “Meaning?” Smoker pressed when he didn’t continue. Law was avoiding his gaze, “The batch from physical contact has more oxytocin in it than the one without contact,” he clenched his hands into fists before continuing,”I think this new phase might require a near constant flow of oxytocin, and it will likely trigger the appropriate response to achieve the desired chemical load,” he finished. Smoker wasn’t quite following and he tilted his head questioningly. Law tensed, his eyes flicking over Smoker’s face. “Meaning constant physical contact.” he said quietly. 

Smoker stared at him. 

There were not enough cigars in the world for this.

---

It had ramped up slowly. At first they only needed brief contact, an awkward hand to arm, or an even weirder shoulder touch. They had to exist in closer proximity, but it was manageable, a mutual need to avoid pain uniting them in common cause. For a time, he could continue to ignore the voice in the back of his head that despaired and raged against the situation. Push it aside in the name of necessity. Of survival.

But eventually that changed too. The need for physical touch became a necessity, became something he wanted not just to sooth the pain. The brain was wired to seek out pleasurable experiences, and the bacteria in his blood was triggering those responses every time they touched. It was a disorienting disconnect between reality and the false sense of security, of camaraderie he now felt with Smoker. 

He tried to ignore the small sparks of heat, the warmth he felt under his skin. Tried to keep the urge to slide his hands across Smoker’s chest under wraps. Tried to ignore Smoker’s amber eyes. But it wasn’t something they could ignore forever. Slowly, wordlessly, the brief touches became longer. Until darkness settled all around them, when it was somehow easier to accept the unbearable need to feel. To press his hands against muscle, to press his face into the crook of the other’s shoulder, to relax as arms tightened around him. The anger inside grew and grew with each touch.

Law stared into the darkness of the room, the mattress hard beneath him. The makeshift bedroom was silent except for their breathing. Neither of them moved, almost like they were afraid to do so. The heat from Smoker’s chest was almost too warm, but in a pleasant way. Law was always a little on the colder side, his health always a little on the “needs more sleep” side. The air was sharp, brittle, as if it would rupture if the silence was broken.

But he could feel the storm inside his chest, under the haze. An anger with nowhere to go. No one to blame. Because what Law hated most of all was that it was nice to be held.

“...Why did you help Mugiwara at Marineford?” the question comes quietly as they both lay awake in the darkness. Law can feel Smoker’s heartbeat against his back, steady and strong. For a moment, he can almost feel the ocean spray in his face as marine warships closed all around his submarine, the screams of the dying, the wind and the roar of battle washing over him like water. Smoker’s arm over his side was heavy in its weight. What must it have looked like from Smoker’s side, so different from his own? 

“Why did you let him go at Punk Hazard?” Law murmured back. Smoker stayed quiet, and Law supposed he was waiting for an answer before giving his own. “...Do you know why he punched a Celestial Dragon on Sabaody?” Law shifted slightly, Smoker’s chin next to his ear. It was strange to be this close to someone. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been held. His eyebrows furrowed. “Only what the official reports have stated,” Smoker said quietly. He felt the other’s jaw clench. Law recalled the auction house. He’d been there trying to get a feel for Doflamingo’s business operations. The smell of fear and sweat and cloying expensive perfume had permeated the building. 

“The first time I met him, he was trying to buy a mermaid at an auction house. Apparently they were friends, and she’d been captured.” He recalled the girl’s agonized face, her cries blocked by the glass tank. He frowned slightly. “...But a Celestial Dragon outbid him…so Mugiwara-ya punched him in the face.” The rage on Luffy’s face, the way his crew accepted his decision without a word. It was then that he’d truly caught Law’s attention. The battle with the marines shortly afterward had only intrigued him more. Nobody just punched a celestial dragon. Nobody just believed in finding the one piece like that. Smoker was dead silent. The quiet sat on the edges of the room, waiting. “That doesn’t answer my question.” Smoker’s voice was right near his ear and he couldn’t help the slight shiver that ran down his spine. 

Law stared into the room, his eyes tracing the cracks in the walls, the darkness making them look like living things. Watching the War unfold on the den den mushi surrounded by reporters. The excitement under his skin as he watched the world change. The surprise when Mugiwara showed up. But what had sat with him were the words he screamed, loud enough to be caught by the den den mushis “You’re my brother!” the desperation in his voice had called to him, taking him back to a little girl with pigtails and a wide smile. White spots on her face, her arms. The fire, so bright it spotted his vision for a week. He tensed harshly. The world government had done that to her, like it had taken Luffy’s brother. And here he was lying next to a Marine. The anger in his chest ignited. Rage, hot and pure flooded his veins, adrenaline ripping through the fog. He’d stated that he required honesty in their transactions. Fine, he’d give the man behind him honesty, after all, the truth always caused the most damage.

The anger had found a target.

---

Smoker sensed something was wrong by the way Law stiffened. In an instant, the black haired man was on his feet, glaring down at him, his yellow eyes glinting sparks of white in the dark.

“Have you ever heard of the country of Flevance Smoker-ya?” his voice was a deathly hiss. Smoker tilted his head and sat up cautiously, his self preservation instincts making it easy to ignore the way his nerves started to ache at the loss of contact. This Law was familiar, the tightness in his shoulders, the darkness of his gaze. Like when he’d cut Vergo into pieces. 

Smoker said nothing, watching Law warily. Law grinned, but it was cold, cruel. “It was a stunning country with beautiful white trees and mountains from an endemic substance, called Amber Lead. Praised for it’s rare properties, it brought Flevance into a new age of wealth and prosperity.” His fists clenched and flexed, D E A T H curling and uncurling. “But that was just a veneer.” Law was breathing fast, like he couldn’t get the words out of him quickly enough. “That prosperity came with a price that it’s citizens didn’t know until it was too late. You see, Smoker-ya,” Law took a menacing step towards him, “a century ago the world government and the royals of Flevance discovered that Amber Lead is a slow acting toxin.” His voice shifted to deadly calm, “Slowly, over time, through each generation, it accumulates in the human body, shortening each generation's successive lifespan. But it brought in so much money. More money than you or I could make in our wildest dreams.” Dread built up in Smoker’s chest as he stared at Law, his grinning tattoo ominous in the dark. 

“So they said Nothing . Until it was too late. Until all the children of Flevance were dead by the time they reached 13.” He was breathing harshly now, “I had a sister once, would you like to know what happened to her, Smoker-ya?” Law breathed out, his voice rising. The hairs on the back of Smoker’s neck rose. 

“As the truth came to light, the royals fled, and the world government proclaimed Flevance to be quarantined. The islands nearby, long jealous of our prosperity, were falsely led to believe that Amber Lead Syndrome was contagious. People are so easily frightened aren’t they, Smoker-ya?” Law bent down till he was eye level with Smoker on the bed. “And what do people do when they are frightened?” he whispered, his eyes were dark sockets, like a skull. Smoker swallowed. “They lash out,” Law reached out and gripped Smoker’s chin, the sudden contact making him suck in a breath. 

“My sister was 8 years old when she began developing the symptoms. She was 10 when the quarantine came down. We were going to take her to see fireworks for her 11th birthday. Instead, a mob burned her hospital to the ground. Our neighbors turned against us Smoker-ya,” Law tilted Smoker’s chin up to stare him directly in his horrified eyes. “And do you know where the Navy was?” Law’s voice was rising. “ Nowhere Vice. Admiral. Smoker.” he spat his title in his face. Smoker’s chest tightened. “Nowhere! No one came to stop our genocide! Not a single goddamn marine to be found when I crawled into a pile of corpses of people I once knew to escape the slaughter! I can still see them Smoker-ya! I can still hear the screaming! You want to know why I rescued Mugiwara at the War of the Best?! Because I know what it feels like to lose everything, and it had been so long since I saw anyone stand up to you bastards!”

Law’s eyes were wild, rage and pain a storm across his face. The silence was so goddamn loud. What could he even say to him? He couldn’t justify the actions of the world government. He wouldn’t even try. He wished he could even say he was surprised, but he wasn’t. Not after Alabasta, not after Dressrosa, not after the bloodlust on the battlefield at Marineford. 

Smoker clenched his jaw as Law stared down at him. He tried to do good. He tried to bring justice to those who so rarely got it, he tried to defend the defenseless. He tried, but the government had failed the man before him and there was nothing he could do. Anger burned in his chest with nowhere to go. Law may be a pirate with a record a mile long but it was their fault he became one in the first place! And he was powerless to do anything, just like in Alabasta. 

Except this wasn’t Alabasta. This was right here, right now. His heart beat loudly in his ears as he stood up to his full height. Law stepped back, watching him, his hands free, preparing for a fight. But Smoker wasn’t going to fight, he had no ground to stand on. He kept his eyes locked with Law’s as he sank slowly down, until he broke the connection to press his forehead to the floor. He’d once told Tashigi that he wasn’t sure if he could be as brave as Admiral Fujitora, if he could take on the responsibility of apologizing for the wrongs of the organization he represented. 

But what kind of excuse was that in the face of so much pain? Law was a pirate, but not without reason. He didn’t seek to sow discord just for fun or money. He was this way because he could be no other way, but that didn’t mean he was undeserving of justice. Law would never get a formal apology from his higher-ups. But he, Vice Admiral Smoker, the Great White Hunter, could do as he always did. Try. 

The silence was a living, breathing thing, looking down upon them. Law utterly frozen in place, Smoker unable to see the utter destruction taking place behind his eyes. “I apologize for the injustice done to you, to your people, to your sister. It was wrong, the navy should not have turned it’s back. All I can offer is my life in restitution.” 

The words were easier to say than they should have been, but the truth had always been easier for him than fiction.

---

Law stared down at Smoker prostrated before him. It didn’t fit. It didn’t make sense. Fuck, Law hated Marines. Especially good ones. He dug his fingers into his chest. The anger that had been so strong just moments before had been snuffed out like a match, replaced by a gaping chasm of emptiness. Moments passed before he stepped back from Smoker. He needed air. Air that wasn’t charged with things beyond either of their control. “...Get up Smoker-ya. Marines shouldn’t bow their heads to pirates, it’s not right,” he breathed out, his voice weary. Slowly Smoker lifted his head off the floor, but he stayed on his knees. “...I need air,” Law muttered, turning and going for the door. “Law.” Smoker's voice was soft, but there was enough force in it to stop him in the doorway. “What was her name?”

Something unbearable ignited in the chasm in his chest. He sank his fingernails into his palm. “Lami. Her name was Lami,” and he left the room.

 

The air outside the bar was cold, wind blowing fog across the island turned the ramshackle rotting buildings into vague looming shapes. His nerves ached, but he didn’t care. Pain was nothing new. Physical pain at least let him feel something. Slowly he felt the fog of an episode come over him, cold and cruel in its timing. He was always losing something though wasn’t he? 

He stayed outside until he could no longer bear it. Until his nerves felt like fire under his skin, until the pain pushed away all other thoughts, all other feelings. All things. Then he turned around and stepped back inside the building. To hell or salvation, he didn’t care.

Smoker sat nude, cross legged on the bed, his back against the wall. Sweat dotted his face, his muscles rigid with pain as Law appeared like a wraith from the hallway. Law ignored him as he removed his jeans mechanically before approaching the bed. Fire burned along his nerves, a physical representation of the sickness inside him as he reached into the bag closest to the head of the bed, pulling out the bottle of lube. Smoker’s eyes prickled along his skin, but still he ignored him. 

He climbed onto the mattress without a word. Then and only then did he stare into the other man’s eyes. There may have been a spark of fear in them, but Law didn’t care. Didn’t want to care. Something passed between them and Smoker looked away, moving away from the wall. Law climbed over him, settling between his legs. The contact sent a different kind of fire racing across his skin, pleasure and pain mixing as one in his neurons. 

He spread lube onto his fingers, reached between them, sliding below Smoker’s manhood to his entrance. He pressed in with no warning, sliding in up to his palm, loosening the tight muscle none too gently. Smoker grunted below him, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. 

He pulled out, pouring more lube onto his hand before spreading it across his throbbing shaft. He shuddered, aligned his hips, pushed Smoker’s legs further apart, and pressed forward. The fact that the other didn’t resist only vaguely registered in the back of his mind. Heat enveloped him, the now familiar frenzied haze coating his vision as he set a brutal pace. He closed his eyes, the sound of flesh against flesh filling the silence. He angled his hips slightly, a small pained noise making his eyes snap open.

He looked down. Smoker’s eyes were closed, he was breathing harshly through his mouth, his hands were clenched in the sheets. Law froze. The world around him returning to his senses, the roughness of the sheets, the smell of sweat and cigars. The tightness of the muscle around his cock. Too tight. Wrong. 

He stared down at the man before him. A victim of circumstance, just as he was. Smoker opened his eyes, looking up at Law, something in his eyes that shouldn’t be there. Like he believed he deserved his treatment. Something inside of Law cracked, the anger and despair replaced with regret. “Idiot,” he whispered, though he wasn’t sure if it was directed at himself or Smoker.

Smoker’s eyebrows furrowed as Law pressed his palm softly against his cheek, before trailing his fingertips down his chest, wrapping gently around his cock. He pulled out, Smoker letting out a breath, eyeing him with confusion. Law shifted, laying on his side against Smoker, hooking his arm behind the other’s knee. He pressed his lips to Smoker’s shoulder. “You’re supposed to tell me if it hurts,” he murmured. Smoker said nothing, but Law didn’t expect him to say anything. 

He stroked him slowly, gently. “Law,” Smoker’s voice was low, questioning Law’s intentions for the first time, but his hips arched upward against Law’s hand. “You haven’t answered my question,” Law whispered into his ear, grinding his hips softly against Smoker’s. Slowly, he increased his pace, till Smoker was breathing quick shallow breaths. “Tell me why you let him go, Smoker-ya,” he breathed, the other man shivered against him. “Because it was the right thing to do,” he said quietly.

Law removed his hand, reaching for the lube bottle again. Smoker tensed slightly. “Shh,” Law murmured against his shoulder. “I hate how hard it is for me to hate you,” he whispered, pressing against Smoker’s entrance, slowly this time, a groan falling from his lips. A small curse fell from Smoker’s as Law reached for his cock again, angling his hips and moving in time with his hand. His entire body was warm, a pleasant buzzing growing under his skin. 

“...The feeling is mutual,” Smoker muttered, a groan tearing from his throat as Law picked up the pace. They lapsed into silence as the air between them became hot, their breathing almost in sync. It wasn’t long before Smoker began trembling against him, “...Close…” he growled. Law pumped him faster, sinking his teeth into his shoulder as he went rigid, a curse falling from his lips as he spilled over Law’s fingers. 

Law gave him a moment, as he pulled out before he moved between his legs again. Smoker looked at him with half lidded eyes, skin slick with perspiration. Law placed his arms on either side of him, realigned himself and pressed in. An expression of pain mixed with pleasure crossed his face. Law lifted his hips, settling them on his lap as he slid in and out, reaching down to wrap his hand around Smoker’s still hard cock. The man gasped, a harsh curse from the overstimulation falling from his lips. But that’s what Law wanted. He moved faster, losing himself in the heat. Smoker dug his blunt nails into Law’s thighs, his breath coming in harsh pants. Law bit his lip, as heat roared through him, sparking in his vision and with a harsh cry, he toppled over the edge.

The world vibrated behind Law’s eyelids, chemicals racing through his blood too fast as he collapsed next to the other. Slowly he came down, curled against Smoker’s back, his arm over his hip. Smoker didn’t push him away, but Law was no longer sure it was only the drugs in their blood that kept them together. The line between them had shifted and changed, and the last thought Law had before succumbing to sleep was that he was better off not knowing where it had been drawn.

Chapter Text

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.