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he who wears his smile on his sleeve

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Trafalgar Law awoke in a very still and silent darkness. As he slowly came to his senses, he noticed familiar faces sleeping in all that darkness, and their breaths sounded like macabre chants, requiems in C minor – tempo andante – of his life before. Before the defeat of Doflamingo, before Dressrosa, before... Them. Him.

(Since Punk Hazard, or since the terrible Summit War, maybe even... since that reckless punch in the face of authority, back then, in a way too crowded auction house.)

Albeit turbulent – as usual – Strawhat Luffy was currently sleeping. His breathing seemed rapid– inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling… a little bit too fast.

There was, however, a question - a dumb one, really - swirling in the back of his head; an unanswered query which made his alleged heart throb so hard that the Surgeon of Death was seasick, in the loud silence of their haven lost in a sea of sunflowers, far away, so far away from the ocean.

And now? How to come back among the living, while you’re solely a beloved friend’s ghost, whom last wish was finally granted?

Rosinante would tell him he was free now, right?

The vibrant memory of the last Corazon laughing, joined with his newfound allies’ dissonant heartbeats – was Strawhat's heart beating that fast? – almost tenderly put Law to sleep. For the first time in ten years, his dreams were devoid of any nightmare.

For the first time in ten years, Dressrosa awoke free. The mood was however not cheerful yet, for their hero was still sleeping. And as Chopper informed them – the Surgeon of Death knew it already, having used his powers to examine Strawhat as soon as was humanly possible – his usually resilient heart was, alas, nearly arrhythmic.

“And for us, humble laymen, what does it actually mean?”
“His heart is beating too fast, Long Nose-ya,” Trafalgar replied, bitterness creeping up in his voice. “His recovery will take more time, which we don’t have... If he does not die of a heart attack before we even leave.”

To be honest, Trafalgar Law was frustrated to no end - medicine wasn’t helping and the Marines wouldn’t wait for them to leave with a gentle pat on the back, bye and thank you for your service - thus, unbeknownst to all, he plunged his hand into Strawhat’s rib cage and removed the sick and puffy organ, which he quickly replaced with his.

Besides, if it seemed to the doctor that Luffy's heart, although erratic, was beating very nicely in his own chest, that was up to him and him only.

They fled in the early hours of the third day. The ocean welcomed them with regalia, hearty yet petulant, like a bittersweet old friend having been left for too long. Strawhat was roaring from above and even though he was positively earsplitting, Monkey D. Luffy’s laughter was contagious (and alive, so alive).

Besides, the actual heart of that moron did beat a more serene rhythm now; at night, cloaked in shadows, Trafalgar Law slipped near the sleeping captain to swap it back. He barely touched the scar – as a surgeon, couldn't he have done a better work – on Luffy's chest that a powerful hand snatched the doctor's arm. A voice rumbled like a late summer storm:

“What the fuck are you doing?”

A single brilliant, ruthless eye glared at him in the dark.

“Zoro-ya. I, hm,” stammered Law, suddenly very stiff. “I swapped our hearts, on Dressrosa. To help him heal. He doesn’t need it anymore, now.”
Oh. So that’s why.”

With a satisfied grunt, the swordsman let go and proceeded to snore in earnest. A bit puzzled, the Surgeon of Death replaced his heart with Luffy’s at last, although an instant too late: still sleeping, Strawhat grabbed him like a fluffy life-size plushie, and for all his – half-hearted, truth to be told – complaining, the doctor actually did not move at all. Trafalgar ended up dozing off into that damn brat’s arms while Zoro Roronoa cracked a gentle smile, all covered in darkness.

A long, long time ago, his heart had been full to the brim of darkness, pitch black and cold like blood-stained snow. At the tender age of ten, his soul waned and his eyes ran dry; however, Trafalgar Law eventually learned to smile once again thanks to a merry band of misfits who became – while sailing across many seas – quite simply, his family.

He didn’t – couldn’t – believe he would survive, and yet, Law was here, the wind at his back; on the way for Zou, for them , for that life – beginning anew – he had not expected at all.

For the first time in ten years, Trafalgar D. Water Law felt free .

“You miss them, right?!”

Monkey D. Luffy crashed into him – like a comet – and his grin was so full of teeth Law couldn’t genuinely protest, really; he still managed to grumble while that brat pulled him into an awkward hug, though.

“We will reunite with your crew soon, don't you worry.”

Strawhat broke the embrace but remained close, very close to the surgeon – their fingers were softly brushing against the railing, and each other’s – the two of them listening to the waves singing aloud and to their hearts setting a weirdly familiar tempo.

“Hey, Traffy. Thank you for saving my life,” Luffy said out of the blue, all smiles and dead serious eyes. “Not only on Dressrosa; I know I told you before but... You remember, two years ago.”

Strawhat Luffy wished to say that he remembered Law’s hands – full of his own blood – on his face, wiping tears from his cheeks, and Trafalgar Law wished to answer that saving a life was not that impressive, for Luffy had ultimately offered him freedom. Somehow the words got lost, never to be found again; the ocean’s hushed whispers solely remained as a caress between them.

When Law’s shy hand found his, Monkey D. Luffy gently squeezed it.

"It was so much fun, by the way, having your heart in place of mine!!"

Trafalgar Law suddenly forgot how to breathe.

“Wait, Strawhat-ya... You knew all along?”
“Yeah! I noticed something was different so Chopper told me, why?”

Obviously, Trafalgar had been a fool to think that such a caring crew wouldn’t notice anything. Obviously, Luffy didn't give a damn – “It was super cool!! Can we do it again, pleeease?” “Completely out of the question.” “Can I climb on your shoulders then?” “Okay, but If you don’t stay still I’ll swap you with a fish.” – carefree and stubborn to a fault. Obviously, they both fell overboard; he and that unruly child, a warm sun shining upon his salt-speckled skin. Not even a full minute after being rescued, Luffy beamed oh so brightly that Trafalgar Law was reminded of a moonless night, snowflakes and a bloody smile – missing one tooth – that meant I love you, but not only.

I love you, and You’re free now.

For sure, the new life of Trafalgar D. Water Law would be fucking glorious, or not at all.