The night was still. It was an unnatural stillness, one created by tension and somber minds being condensed into one area.
One man was standing in front of Dadan's hotel, right in her doorway. He was sitting on a chair, a cigarette sticking out between his lips. His arms were crossed as he leaned back in the old chair, his eyes closed.
The sound of an engine made the man open his eyes ever so slightly. He waited, watching as the headlights of the car passed over his body as the car pulled to a stop in one of the parking spaces.
The engine stopped rumbling and the lights turned off. The drivers side door opened and then closed with a slam, the whole vehicle shaking with the force of it. The man looked up, taking in the man before him as he stormed past to the front door. He knew the man, knew that he knew Dadan well. He did not worry. The front door open and closed, and he shut his eyes, just listening to his surroundings.
"Thatch?" A small voice whispered. The man, who had just entered Dadan's house, blinked and turned. It was Sabo. He was standing in the doorway of the guest room, dressed in his batman pajamas and looking mighty depressed. The hatred in Thatch's eyes disappeared at the sight of the boy. He gave the child a rueful smile as he crouched down, opening his arms for the boy. The blond ran straight into Thatch's arms, wrapping himself around the man as tightly as he possibly could.
"Hey Sabo, you okay bud?"
Sabo didn't reply. He just buried his face deeper into Thatch's neck. The man rubbed soothing circles over his back as he stood, shifting the child slightly in his arms so he could easily hold him.
"Thatch," Dadan's voice interrupted. The man looked up and over at the woman. She said nothing after that. She just stood there in her nightgown, staring at the young man with concerned eyes. Thatch just let out a bitter laugh, leaning his head against Sabo's curly locks.
"We didn't do it right, Dadan," He said, voice husky and fatigued, solemn.
Ten hours ago, 3:05 P.M., ten minutes after Ace was kidnapped
Law hated how his body was already starting to get worn down. He mentally cursed at himself as he pushed his legs to put more force onto the pedals, trying to go as fast as possible. Trying to catch up to Ace.
The amount of cars on the road was decreasing, which worked in his favor in some ways and worked against him in others. He could stop taking dangerous swerves around cars, but now the car with Ace could drive with less obstructions.
Law gasped as suddenly someone popped out of the window on the top of the car. They were aiming a gun at him.
Law veered left just as a bullet struck the ground where he once was. His eyes were wide and he grit his teeth as he tried to keep the bike balanced. Now, people all around were screaming, running away from the streets and sidewalks. The cars were coming to abrupt stops and the people inside were fleeing.
Law took a sharp right turn, hiding behind a car just as they shot another bullet at his head. His blood was racing, adrenaline kicking it up a notch and putting his mind into overdrive. He kept making quick maneuvers, trying to avoid the bullets shot at him by hiding behind abandoned vehicles.
He was shocked when he ran into a car speeding down the street.
Luckily he hit the side, but he still fell over. He groaned as he realized the world was spinning a little bit. The sound of tires screeching didn't help his boggled mind either.
Then hands were picking him up. He dragged his feet along as he looked at the person pulling him towards the car, eyes narrowing in confusion.
"Robin? What…" He tried to talk, but words were difficult to form. Robin didn't respond as she quickly tossed him in the back seat and then hurriedly jumped into the front. She put the car into drive and hit the gas, accelerating from 0 to 50 in a matter of three seconds.
The speed sent Law, who had been struggling to sit up in the back seat, onto the car floor rather quickly. He let out a shocked yelp as he fell, landing on his back and groaning.
"Robin, what are you doing?" The teen asked, grasping for the front passenger seat and using it to pull himself up.
"I'm chasing the men who have Ace," She replied, eyes focused on the car that had twenty seconds ago been disappearing into the distance. Now she was coming up on the back of it at a fast pace. Law's eyes widened as he stared at the back of the car, as they opened the back door and-
"Holy shit Robin, watch out!" Law screamed, trying to leap into the front and push the wheel in the opposite direction. Robin put one hand on Law's face and quickly dodged the bullet sent at the car. She let go off the teen's face, and he fell to the armrest with a thud and groan.
"Law, there's a gun back there, I need you to get it out and use it!" Robin demanded. They're getting onto the highway," Robin observed, trying to remain calm but it was difficult to do in this situation.
Law's eyes were wide, staring at Robin in shock. "Are you joking right now?" He demanded incredulously. He let out another yelp when Robin took a sharp turn onto the highway ramp, sending him flying into one of the car doors.
"No, Law, you need to use the gun," Robin said, voice raising slightly due to the stress she was under.
Law gulped and then shook his head to himself, steeling his heart as he asked "Where's the gun?"
"Under the seats in a box," Was all Robin replied with as she swerved around other cars on the highway, chasing after the white Kia Sorento that was nearing 100 mph.
Law reached his arms under the seat frantically, patting around until he finally found the box. He yanked it out quickly and opened it with softly trembling hands. "How in the hell did you get your hands on a SIG P229?" Law whispered, awed, as he picked up the weapon. Then he shook his head again and shifted to he was standing in the back. He reached his hand to the front of the car and switched the dial that opened the sunroof. He watched as it opened agonizingly slowly, trying not to lurch in any direction as Robin swerved and veered the car.
He reached the hand not holding the gun up to hold onto the edges of the window and pulled himself up slowly. He tried to brace himself against the wind and quickly took off his beanie, throwing it into the backseat where it wouldn't fall off and fly into the highway. His eyes were squinted against the wind and he inwardly cursed because he couldn't see a damn thing like this, but he couldn't shot from out the side. There were cars there and from this vantage point, he had better aim.
The car jerked to the side as another bullet was shot and Law swore as he almost fell on top of Robin. He steadied himself and tried to figure out what he was doing because while he knew how to shoot a gun, he had no idea how to shoot a gun from inside of a moving vehicle.
With trembling hands, Law pushed himself up. The wind was biting, pushing against his body with incredible force that almost blew him completely backwards. He gritted his teeth against it and put both hands on the gun, bringing them up slowly against the great force of the wind. His hands shook as he aimed for the car, narrowing his eyes even more but not closing either.
With deft fingers, Law pulled the safety, and then as quick as he could, he aimed for the tires and pulled the trigger. As soon as he had done so he ducked back into the relative safety of the car. Once behind the windshield, he watched and waited for something, but cursed when he realized he didn't hit the car.
But then Robin's windshield was hit.
Robin turned the car sharply, moving to another lane without notice. The cars around them honked. Law was sent flying backwards, rolling around in the backseat. When he readjusted himself, he stared at the windshield, now beginning to crack. It looked like a messed up spiders web.
"Law! You need to shoot at them again!"
Gripping at the sunroof again, Law braced himself, and then pulled his body up. The wind was just as bad as before, and he just hoped that no bugs would get in his eye. At least this time, most of the cars had pulled back, there were only a few stragglers speeding to get away from the car chase.
He lifted the gun with both hands and aimed at the car. He felt that this time, he had to stay above for a few shots. He wanted to do something, anything, to slow them down so that the terror in his heart would calm, so that Ace would be safe.
Law pressed down on the trigger, the recoil jolting him. His foot slipped and he gasped as he quickly leaned against the front of the open window, arms outstretched as long as they could be. He took quick aim – as fast as was possible against the wind making his ears ring – and fired two more shots.
He heard a third shot. The problem was that he didn't make that shot.
Right after the shot was heard, the car made a wide sweeping motion. The car tires squealed as one of them popped. Law tried to grip onto the car, dropping the gun into its depths, but his hands were sweaty from being nervous and his muscles were too tense to hold on tight enough.
There was another shot and Law could feel it hit a second tire. He didn't really know what happened next, all he knew was that he was flying outside of the car, then rolling on the pavement.
Law's world wasn't right at the moment. He was in pain. He didn't think he broke anything, miraculously, but every part of his body felt bruised and ached and leaked blood.
He struggled onto his elbows, trying to open his eyes, but he suddenly felt so, so tired. He turned his head to the side to look at Robin's car. It had tipped over. It was wrecked. He reached his hand out shakily, whispering her name painfully with quivering lips.
And then hands grabbed him, yanking him upwards. Law let out a pained sound as they roughly picked him up, dragging him to the very car that had shot Robin's down.
The exhaustion was sinking in, from his adrenaline crash. The pain was turning from bad to worse to excruciating. It made vision begin to fade into black accompanied by a terrible ringing in his ears. All of his limbs felt weak. He felt disoriented, he had no idea what was happening –
By the time Law had been tossed into the car, he was out cold.
Marco, ten minutes ago, had been on his bike, on the way to the area he assumed Robin was in. It had been ten minutes since he got off of the phone with her.
And of course the world would do anything it could to stop him from getting there.
He held his gun up, aiming carefully. The anxiety running through his body was putting him in an extremely uncomfortable situation. Well, not that the situation that he was in wasn't meant to be. It was actually an extremely horrid situation.
A random teenage girl had been pulled into this situation and was being held at gunpoint.
The man's hand was over her mouth, clamped tight around the skin. Marco could tell that she was crying. The gun held at her head did not have the safety on. The man holding the gun was staring down Marco, daring him to move.
Marco himself was bleeding. He had terrible road burn down the right side of his body. His motorcycle lay in the middle of the street, a destroyed mess. After he fell off after his tire had been shot, it had been run over a car that hadn't managed to stop on time. Marco hadn't been expecting the attack, no one had been tailing him. He figured it meant that these people knew who they were looking for, knew who was close to Ace.
A bead of sweat dripped down Marco's forehead. His left arm was holding the gun up, his right arm hanging limply at his side. All of his weight was leaned onto the left side of his body.
The girl moved and the man tightened his hold on her face, pressing the gun harder into the side of her head. Her tears increased in size.
"Let her go! She has nothing to do with this!" Marco yelled at the other man. The man just moved his fingers to the trigger. Marco could barely hear her muffled scream. Marco tensed, moving his finger to the trigger as well.
A stone hit the man's head. The man turned with angered eyes to the side and saw- oh god, of all the people for it to be. Marco almost had a heart attack.
"Let her go! You're supposed to treat ladies like they're princesses you asshole!" The child screamed, holding another rock in his hand. Marco could see the fear in his eyes despite his fierce words.
The girl shrieked. Marco whipped his head to the side and saw that she had been thrown to the ground. The man was approaching Sanji.
Marco opened fire.
The gunshots rang loud in the air. All three hit the man in the back. His body slowly began to fall to the ground, pulled down by gravity. When he landed, it was with a thump.
No one moved for a second, but then Marco came back to his senses. He put the safety on his gun on and shoved it into the left side of his jeans – he really should've grabbed his leather jacket because moving his torso that way killed – and hurried over to the child. When he reached Sanji, his body collapsed beneath him. He made it look as purposeful as possible and fell to his knees, grabbing the child by the shoulders and shaking him.
"What do you think you're doing? You know you're not supposed to be out alone right now!" He wished he had said the same to that girl. "Were are your parents?"
"I live here!" Sanji yelled at Marco, pointing at the building they were next to. "My parents aren't at home right now and my babysitter's a useless piece of shit guy! Why couldn't it have been a girl!" Sanji yelled, incredulous, but Marco could tell he was avoiding the situation.
"Sanji, listen to me," Marco grabbed both sides of the child's face, holding him still. "You're safe now, okay? You're not going to be seeing any more guns for a while."
Sanji gulped heavily and nodded his head. His lips wobbled and then he wrapped his arms around Marco, shuddering. Marco hugged him back, wrapping the child up safely. He looked over at his motorcycle, upset that it had been destroyed. But right now, Marco was more concerned about Robin, Ace, and Law.
Where were they?
Tashigi's sirens were on, loud as she drove down the highway at breakneck speed. There were several other cop cars surrounding her, and they were all heading in the direction of the accident.
Tashigi could hear all of the other incidents through the radio in her car, and she wanted to go and help with every single one, but right now, the accident took precedence over everything.
The cars ahead of her began to slow down and Tashigi pressed on the breaks, heart pounding as the squad of cop cars approached the scene. The ambulances and a fire truck were already there.
She slowed the car to a stop and put it in park, taking out the keys and turning off the siren but keeping the lights on. She stepped out of the car, approaching the scene with an uneasy heart. This was an accident, yet, but something aside from that felt…off. She couldn't put her finger on it, but whatever it was made her shaky.
Most of the other officers had approached the scene and she watched with them, watching as some higher officers inspected the car. There were detectives taking pictures, and then one pulled a gun out from within the car.
Tashigi looked down the highway. She could see black rubber – the cars tires – spreading along the middle of the road.
All of a sudden, Tashigi heard the paramedics trying to calm someone who seemed to be talking loudly. Without thinking, Tashigi quickly ran over to see if the patient needed to be calmed down. But as she approached, she recognized who it was, trying to sit up in the stretcher.
"Robin? What are you doing here? What happened?" The young woman said, quickly running up to Robin's side. Robin looked over at her and grasped her hand, pulling her in and squeezing the appendage tightly.
"Tashigi, it's, they have Law and Ace! Those people have Law and Ace!"
Tashigi's face paled. The paramedics pulled Robin away. The woman tilted her head to look at Tashigi, concern heavy on her features.
The doors of the ambulance shut. Tashigi didn't move, standing there, utterly stupefied, horrified. "This can't be happening," She whispered to herself as she watched the ambulance pull away from the scene.
"Did you get that man to spill anything?" Dadan asked, offering the man a cup of tea. Thatch, who had a slumbering Sabo in his lap, shook his head as he heaved a sigh.
"He had nothing worth mentioning. He was some lackey. All he knew was that today would be a big day. It was going to be a surprise for when they arrived." Thatch picked up the tea and took a sip, his eyes downcast. "And now, we've got two more people missing, Robin's in the hospital, Marco's down for the count, and we have a bunch of traumatized kids. I don't know how the city is gonna recover from this."
"I doubt the city will recover," Dadan replied, shaking her head. "I think the first priority should be finding those boys though. And Smoker."
"Now that three members of one family are missing, they're going to have to, especially if there are people threatening to murder civilians for no reason," Thatch blinked at the cup of tea. "I hope that nothing too terrible is happening to them…"
Law woke up after Ace.
His brain was a mess and he had never felt such pain in his skull before. Law groaned, trying to bring his hands up to his head to massage his temples, but the movement was accompanied by…clanking?
He was chained.
"Good, you're both awake."
Law looked up frantically, eyes meeting Smokers. "Smoker, you're safe," Law let out a relieved sigh as he gave Smoker a soft smile. Smoker gave a strained smile back. Law could tell he was exhausted and in agony.
Law and Smoker both looked at Ace, who was curled up in the corner.
"Why are you apologizing Ace?"
"Because this is my fault."
"No it's not," Law rebuked. "You didn't hire them to kidnap us, so it's not your fault."
"But it is my fault!"
"No it's not!"
"Enough!" Smoker yelled. Both boys went silent.
"Can I tell you guys?"
Law blinked. "Tell us what?"
"Only if you want to," Smoker said, eyes calm and serious.
No one spoke for a few minutes. But then, Ace opened his mouth.
"It started when I was two. I can't remember much, but I can remember enough…"