It's Complicated

Someday We'll Be Okay

Tashigi was in Smoker's apartment. It was so empty, so quiet. Dust covered the furniture and light poured in through the windows, illuminating the particles floating around in the air. The television was on, a buzzing sound in the background. She sat at the kitchen table, staring at the documents and evidence before her. She was so concerned, her mind was becoming irrational. She was starting to believe things that she knew couldn't happen, yet she couldn't help herself.

The door to the apartment opened. She flinched slightly, taking in a short, quick breath. It closed with a click. She heard footsteps approaching, entering the apartment calmly. She stayed where she was, hunched over the pictures, the typed words, and kept her focus.

"Staring at that isn't going to change what happened," Thatch said, standing in the doorway to the kitchen. The sun framed him from behind. His shadow stretched long against the floor. His hair was pulled back into a ponytail. His cowlick that was normally hidden by his pompadour was prominent at the front of his head. It curled over the right side of his face, accentuating his eyes: narrowed and dark. His lips were pulled back into a grimace and his hand rested on the wall next to him.

"I have to figure it out," She replied almost robotically, voice flat and lifeless. Her vision was becoming slightly blurry and her head hurt. She closed her eyes tight and rubbed at the sides of her head with a groan. "Just leave me alone Thatch."

"No, you've been like this for three and a half weeks. They asked me to come find and talk to you. I don't know why they chose me, but here I am and there you are, so we're going to talk."


Thatch stared at her, her body hunched over and fingers digging into her skull. He blinked.

"This isn't healthy."

"I wasn't," She began, then choked off. "I wasn't strong enough."

"Do you think any of us were?" Thatch asked, voice soft yet unyielding, eyes hard and focused.

"I couldn't help at all," She yelled, voice high pitched. "The least I can do is prevent them from doing anything to Law."

Thatch cut her off. "You know the law, they can't arrest him or charge him for murder. They'd be breaking the law if they did that. They already told us there's no case being filed against him."

"Akainu will find a way, Law killed a man."

"Even Akainu can't do that," Thatch insisted, stepping into the room.

"Don't come over here!" She screamed, turning around to glare at him. Her glasses were slipping on the bridge of her nose. Her eyes were red from sleep deprivation and below there were dark circles. Her hair was a knotted, frayed mess and her clothes were wrinkled and covered in smudges. Thatch looked at her, eyes taking in everything. He blinked.

"Tashigi, this needs to stop."

"No, don't you get it? None of this," She stood up, shoving all of the papers off of the table. They went fluttering around the room. "None of this makes sense! Everyone in that organization disappeared except for the few we arrested! How is that possible? And some of the evidence on my computer at work is already gone! I need to figure it out before it's all gone, or before someone steals the hard copies, I need to be strong because who else can be strong right now? You already had a break down and so did Marco and everyone else is bedridden and-"

"Will you just listen to yourself?" Thatch demanded, stepping farther into the room. "Stop trying to take everything on by yourself, none of us are going through this alone so why are you trying to? Why are you trying to fix everything?"

"Because I wasn't there for Smoker that day he went missing!" She screamed at Thatch. "I should've been protecting him that day!"

"Don't you think that we've felt that way too?" Thatch shouted, moving his hands and arms dramatically. Tashigi shook her head.

"Why would you?"

"Because we care for him too!" Thatch replied, eyes wide and brows slanted.

"At least this whole time you've been useful! I've been so useless this entire time, I couldn't even go into that building to help rescue them! All I was good for was taking pictures!"

"Tashigi you've been on the job for a year, you're still new!"

"But I should be better than this!"

"Then go see Smoker!" Thatch screamed. Both of them were panting, shoulders moving quickly. Their hearts palpitated furiously and their faces were red from how they raised loudly they yelled. Thatch's hands were fists and Tashigi's arms were behind her, tense. Thatch stopped and took in a deep breath, then straightened himself. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, then exhaled. He stared at Tashigi, who was in the same position but now her eyes were watery. "If you care about them so much, you should be with them right now. Not here."

Tashigi's body was trembling. Her arms weren't tense anymore and now they hung limply from her shoulders. She was curled over herself, sniffling and hiccuping. Thatch stared at her with a frown, his own eyes downcast.

"I'm sorry!" She cried out. Her tears fell and hit the tile floor without a sound. "I'm so sorry."

"You don't have to apologize Tashigi," Thatch told her. He stood next to her now. He put his hand in her hair and ruffled it, then pulled her against his side. They didn't know each other that well, but it didn't stop her from clinging to him as she cried.

"He came back?"

Law and Killer were in Law and Ace's shared hospital room. Ace, who had been watching TV, turned his head over to the two older boys. Killer's face was buried in his hands, his elbows rested on his knees. His blond hair was combed and fell over his shoulders, making him seem smaller than he actually was. Ace couldn't see Law's facial expression, but he was stiff and his hand was frozen in place reaching for a snack.

"He came back," Killer whispered shakily. Ace stared at them, his eyes narrowing as he wondered who this "he" was. He knew from experience anyone called "he" wasn't good. He didn't even know where his "He" went...

"That doesn't make sense though, that guy, what was his name? I don't know, but he wasn't there for that long, why would he come back? Does that mean...Killer did one of them escape?" Law asked, his hand now on Killer's shoulder. He shook the blond haired teen. Killer lifted his head. Ace's eyes widened. His skin was a mess of acne, something strange for the normally smooth skinned teen. His eyes were ride, the whites red, and his lips were pulled back into a frown. Ace saw him bite his lip and he felt a chill run down his spine.

"I'm sorry Law. I searched the internet for days's not just one of them, several of them got out. I don't know how," He said, grabbing the black haired teen by the shoulders and shaking him lightly. "But they're out and I don't know where they are now. What if they come back? I can't deal with that again!" Killer rasped out, head falling limp. Ace licked his lips. Both teens had fallen still.

Law started laughing. It was soft at first, but it got louder and louder. Ace shook violently for a moment, disturbed. Killer's head shot up and he stared at the other teen. Law's hand went up to his face. Ace heard him start to descend into sobs.

"What the fuck," He chuckled, somewhat hysterical. "I can't do this, Kill," He sniffled. "I can't."

Kidd was sulking, walking down the halls of the hospital. Despite having just visited Law and Ace, he was in a horrible mood. He had a glare in his eyes and a grimace on his mouth. He had been like this for weeks. His hands were stuffed into the pockets of his black pants and his red jacket accentuated the hunching of his shoulders and the curve of his back. His hair was as wild and messy as ever. A few strands blew in front of his eyes.


The child looked up. In front of him was Robin. She was walking on crutches. Smoker was in a wheelchair next to her. He was wheeling himself around. He sharpened his glare at her.

"What do you want?" He spat out as angrily as a child his age could. Robin blinked at the child and then smiled, though her brows turned as though it was a frown. Kidd felt rage bubble in himself. "Don't smile at me like I'm some cute kid!" He yelled before turning around and running off.

Kidd raced down the halls, panting and grumbling to himself. He was furious, he was disappointed, enraged and hurt.

He ran until he found a hiding place. It was a small hospital room off to the side. No one was inside. He walked inside and saw that the bed was empty and the room had no occupants. He climbed onto the bed and sat there, staring out the window. The clouds were passing by over the blue sky slowly, barely changing form in the breeze. There was a chill in the air outside that was making the windows fog a bit.

Kidd pulled his jacket around himself. It was early November. He wondered if the snow was going to be coming soon. Maybe Robin would go back to teaching and the stupid substitute teacher would leave. She didn't like him at all. She would nag him about his work, she separated him from Zoro and Sanji, and she treated him like an idiot. He already felt like one for being held back and she only made him feel worse. Robin never made him feel like that. Why was he calling her Robin? He had always called her Ms. Nico, so why now...maybe it was because they called her Robin on the news. It was the first time he had heard her first name. It just stuck, most likely.


The red haired boy turned around. It was Killer. He glared at the blond haired teen then snarled. He reached out for a pillow and then chucked it at his cousin's face. Killer let it hit him then fall to the floor.

"Go away you jerk! I don't want to see your ugly mug ever again!"

"You can't keep this up forever," Killer told him calmly. Kidd growled then launched himself at his cousin. He started punching his torso repeatedly.

"I can and I will you liar! Asshole! Bastard!"

Kidd was crying, face twisted into an expression of fury and frustration. His eyes screamed of betrayal, a twisting vortex of tears and pin prick pupils framed by a storm of golden thunder. Killer stared at his younger cousin, mouth slightly open. His own eyes were as calm as the sea and as mysterious as the night sky.

"Say something you fucking liar!" Kidd shouted when he shoved Killer. Killer stumbled back a few steps. Kidd went to run past him but his arm was caught before he could leave. He struggled, thrashing against his cousins grasp and biting at him. Killer didn't relent.

"I already explained it to you. I faked getting hit by a bullet to trick him. If I had told you and you acted badly, he probably would've killed us both," Killer hissed, lips pulled back into a frown. His eyebrow twitched.

"But you pretended for ten minutes you fucking, you, you," Kidd couldn't find the words to say as he sputtered.

"Would you rather I actually died?" Killer turned around and whispered loudly in his face while gritting his teeth. Kidd stared, face paling and eyes watering. He glowered at his cousin after a few moments. Killer sighed.

"Can't you just get over this already?" He asked with a huff. He pulled the red haired boy into the room and leaned down, staring him in the eyes. Kidd still kept his eyes on him with a look of bitterness and distrust. "I didn't die, Kidd, why is it such a big deal?"

"Because I thought you died!" Kidd screamed, emphasizing each word as his voice progressively got louder. "I thought that since I was there you got killed! Think about that!" He snapped. Killer was about to open his mouth and reply when someone behind him spoke.

"I'm sorry, boys, you're being too loud for a hospital. I'll need you two to quiet down or I'm going to have to kick you out," The nurse said, giving them a stern look.

"I'm sorry, we'll be quiet," Killer apologized. The nurse nodded and gave them a questioning look.

"I'm also going to have to ask you to leave this room," The nurse added, stepping aside and waving them out. Killer held his cousin by the hand and dragged the child, stomping and grumbling, out of the room. Killer dragged his cousin to the elevator down the hall. He actively tried to stay out of the way of patients and nurses. Kidd wasn't moving for anyone or anything. He had even ran into the side of a stretcher. Killer gave him an annoyed glance. Kidd stuck his tongue out at him and shot out his middle finger. Killer huffed and narrowed his eyes at the boy.

Killer slammed his hand against the elevator button. His foot tapped. His eyes glowered at the doors. Kidd looked the other way, mouth pulled into a scowl. When the door opened, he didn't budge. The blond had to drag him into the elevator. He didn't say anything when his cousin hit the elevator wall. The doors closed.

The ride was silent. Kidd stood tense, occasionally trying to pull away. Killer refused, making the tall, younger boy grumble to himself. Killer stared at the numbers. His lips were pulled into a tight straight line.

The doors opened at the ground floor. Kidd suddenly violently yanked his arm free and bolted out towards the hospital entrance. Killer cursed to himself and followed, yelling his cousin's nickname over and over. He tried not to run into anyone, but it was difficult considering there were a lot of people sitting in the room.

Killer barged out of the hospital doors and looked all over. To the right on the busy sidewalk he spotted his cousin running along the street. Killer sprinted after him. screaming his name. Kidd was starting to disappear in the crowd. Killer felt rage starting to boil in him. Why couldn't his cousin understand, he thought to himself? He had been trying to protect the younger boy.

It took him ten minutes to catch up to the younger boy. When he finally caught up to him, he realized the boy had run to the river. They were standing behind the river fence, looking at the large, bulky bridge that seemed to stretch on for forever.

This was where Kid and Killer had first met. Killer had known of Kidd before, but Kidd never knew about Killer. They hadn't recognized each other at all. Killer wasn't sure if Kidd remembered it. Those were the days when he could roam the city with Law, before both of their situations were compromised once more.

"Are things going back to how it was when you and Law came back?"

Killer didn't say anything. He just looked out over the wide river, remembering the first night he ever saw it. Illuminated by lights, grand, the water rushing below, the moon shining...that had been the only good thing about that day.

"I don't know, Kidd," Killer replied, looking up at the sun. A few moments of silence passed. A man walking a dog walked by behind them, the dog sniffing loudly about their feet. A woman walked the other way with clicking heels, flowery perfume, and jingling jewellery. Some kids a bit younger than Kidd went by on skateboards and bikes, laughing loudly and jeering jokes at each other.

"Killer," Kidd began. Killer looked down at his younger cousin. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and he was standing by the fence. He was facing Killer head on. He bit his lip for a second before he set his mouth in a line. He put his hands on his hips and stood straight, his gold eyes boring into Killer's. "I'll forgive you this one time. I'm going to protect myself from now on though!" He declared, glaring defiantly. Killer blinked at his cousin. The blond's eyes were wide and his mouth was gaping slightly. He started chuckling.

"Whatever you say, Kidd," He replied, walking over to the shorter boy and ruffling his hair. Kidd shouted at him, words of annoyance spewing from his mouth, but Killer didn't stop laughing or care to stop it Kidd's cursing. He just laughed.

Ace and Sabo were sound asleep, curled up against each other. Luffy was in between them, content and smiling in his sleep. They were on Ace's hospital bed. They couldn't discharge him just yet, Doctor Costanza had explained while Kureha had yelled at Ace in the background. He had over exerted himself, so she gave him a slap on the back which sent him into a coughing fit. Law didn't think it was a sound practice, but Doctor Costanza hadn't done anything about it.

Law looked at the window on the other side of Ace's bed. Marco was there, reading a book. His cast had just come off two days ago, the day Killer and Kidd had made up. Marco was leaning back in the chair he sat in. Law averted his eyes to the sky. It was cloudy, just like his mind. He was so confused on what to do now. He reached his hand up to the bandages on his neck. It was one of the reasons he hadn't been released yet. That and the nerve damage he had undergone. He looked at his right hand, resting on the sheets, with disdain.

"Law," Marco said. Law looked at the man, who stared at him with concern. "Are you ok?"

Law grimaced. "I'm fine, why do you always have to ask?"

Marco scowled and closed his book with a sigh. "You didn't go through something easy Law." Law looked away and at his hands on the sheets. He heard footsteps and then his bed dipped. He saw Marco sitting there out of the corner of his eye. Marco sighed. "And I know that those men getting out of prison wasn't easy either. Let's hope they leave you alone. If they don't, we'll be here for you Law," Marco said, staring at the teenager with a smile. Law blinked at him and then nodded with an almost imperceptible gulp.

Neither of them noticed Ace watching through half closed eyes. He scratched at Sabo's head as he stared at his two older brother figures, wondering what had happened to make Law so anxious.

"I have the mindset of the brotherhood again," Thatch said. His hands rested on the windowsill. The panes were open, letting in the chilly air of oncoming winter. His breath fogged against the glass next to his face. The wind, a slight breeze, brushed against his red-chilled knuckles. It was nearing the end of November.

"I'm not surprised," Smoker replied. Doctrine, as Smoker had taken to calling her because of her unique whims, had said he could be discharged today. He would be in a wheelchair for a bit longer, but he was healthy enough to start life again. Robin, discharged four weeks earlier, would be helping Smoker now. She didn't need to use crutches anymore, only the cast. She had offered to stay and help Smoker. She still had time off from work due to her psychological condition. She was getting better and would be back to work after Christmas supposedly, but for now she was going to wait it out as mandated by her therapist. Marco, now able to walk, would stay with them too. Thatch would be visiting when he wasn't working.

"What if I call you brother in front of the boys? They just think we're cousins," Thatch said while his hands worried at the hems of his sleeves. Smoker blinked, recognizing the sign of anxiety from when they were younger.

"Did you tell Newgate?"

"No," Thatch sighed. He turned around and looked at Smoker with eyes he had not seen for a long time: a calculative mind, dangerous thoughts, always alert. "I've decided," He said, staring at Smoker with a look of resolution. His feet were firm on the ground as he turned to face him completely. His hair was down in a ponytail. It hadn't been in a pompadour style since he helped Tashigi. Smoker looked him over, feet to head. His shoulders slumped.

"You're going to go looking for the man behind this, aren't you?"

"I've already noticed I can't work at the restaurant. I told the manager I had to resign because of personal problems. He understood, he knows what happened these past few months," Thatch told Smoker as his fists clenched. "Every knife I see I want to wield like a sword or dagger. Every loud sound makes me feel like the enemy is approaching. I can't be around buses or cars. Sometimes I just see red. I see the past and it overwhelms me," Thatch trailed off. "Logan, I need to do this."

"I understand," Smoker replied. "But make sure you come back. If not, we're going to come and get you."

Thatch nodded firmly. A breeze blew into the room roughly, blowing in snow. Thatch turned around and regarded the falling snow calmly. "Winter's coming," He remarked. "I wonder when their birthdays are. We've already missed quite a few."

"For Christmas," Smoker started. Thatch continued to stare out the window. "Let's give them more than a Christmas party. They missed Halloween and maybe their birthdays. Let's give them a party, a good one."

"That's," Thatch started, smiling. "That's a good idea."

Sabo listened to the laughing around him as he stared at the gray clouds in the sky. The hat he wore on his head was warm and comforting and his mittens, a novelty, made him unbelievably happy. He couldn't remember a single moment in his life where he was dressed this warmly for the snow.

"Sabo, why are you just standing there?"

The blond haired boy turned around to stare at his friend Koala. She was grinning. She looked a bit like a marshmallow in her yellow winter jacket. Sabo smiled at her widely.

"I didn't know it was so easy to be warm in the winter!" He exclaimed, patting his jacket. Koala blinked and then smiled at him, nodding vivaciously.

"It is, it is! Now you know!" She exclaimed, throwing her hands into the air. "C'mon Sabo, let's go play!"

Sabo hummed and then looked at the sky. "I don't know if I wanna play right now," He replied. Koala frowned and whined. "It's just, I wanna show Ace." Koala stared at him, gaping a bit before she smiled. "Then let's just bring this to Ace!" Sabo looked at her, tilting his head as he made a questioning noise. She grinned. She began to run off and Sabo followed. The two were heading for the school gates when they heard a voice yell their names. The two stopped and turned around. They waited as Makino ran up to them. She kneeled down and looked at the two of them.

"And just where do you think you're going?" She asked, giving them a playful smile. Koala grinned and raised her hand.

"Sabo wants Ace to see his jacket!"

Sabo nodded with a smile. "It's super warm, he would like it I think!" Sabo answered. Makino blinked and then smiled.

"Well, you two can't leave school now or alone, but how about we take a picture to give to Ace?"

Sabo and Koala's pouts turned into smiles. The girl jumped up and down while Sabo nodded vigorously. Makino smiled and took out a camera. She turned it on and held it up. "Now, pose and on three, say cheese! One, two, cheese!"

Ace sat on the couch with Luffy in his lap. He had been allowed to come home recently, but he wasn't allowed to move much. Some of his ribs were still healing. The only reason he had stayed in the hospital so long was because of the his psychological condition, Doctrine Kureha had told him once. That made him somewhat angry, but he had to try and stay calm. If he moved too much he could bother his ribs, the right side specifically, or fall into a panic attack. It was so annoying but both hurt so much. Apparently his side was bruised too. For the first three weeks Ace couldn't move much, or think much. It was so obnoxious and at the same time, lonely.

Now he could move relatively well, and he was in a better mental condition. He had Zoro and Sanji over right now. Zoro and Ace hadn't seen each other since the day Ace had been kidnapped. Ace hadn't seen Sanji since the day before that. He had stayed home that day. He only just found out that Sanji had been quite sick that morning, enough for his parents to find him a babysitter while they worked.

Luffy yanked on Ace's hair. Ace groaned and gave the baby a dull stare of annoyance, but the baby just giggled and yanked his hair again. Ace sighed and gave the baby a smile before lightly squeezing his sides. Luffy squeaked and smiled widely.

Sabo came running into the room and jumped on Zoro. Zoro fell over with a squawk of surprise. Sabo laughed and jumped back up ran away from the green haired child. Zoro shot up.

"Get back here you brat!" Zoro yelled as he started chasing the blond haired five year old. Sanji laughed and pointed as he watched his rival chase the younger boy. "Shut up Dart Board!" Zoro shouted. Sanji stopped laughing and quickly stood with a glare.

"What did you call me, Mop Head?" He screamed as he ran after the other boy. Ace just laughed with smiling widely, wishing he could join them.

Law walked in and stared, his face blank. He opened his mouth to say something, closed it, and shook his head. Kidd ran in from down the hall and grinned before joining the game with a shout. Law sighed.

"How do you guys always have so much energy?"

Ace looked at him and smirked. "Maybe cuz we don't do suspicious things at night! Ow!" Ace groaned after Law smacked his head. Law held his hand up threatening when Ace hissed at him like a cat.

"Pipe down you brats!" Smoker yelled. The sound echoed down the hall. They all froze in place, mouths open mid shout. Zoro, who had stopped on his tip toes, started to wobble. Everyone stared at him as he waved his arms frantically trying to gain balance, but it was all in vain. He fell over and landed with a thud. Sabo was the first to start laughing, followed by Sanji then Kidd. Soon everyone, even Zoro, was laughing.

It took a while for them to calm down. Eventually they turned to playing games on the console that Smoker had bought to entertain the boys when they were sick or if there was a bad storm outside. Ace, Kidd, and Sanji were playing. They only had three controllers. Sanji was pestering Zoro, who had knocked him out of the last match somehow even though he had started the game running backwards in the wrong direction. Sabo sat on one side of Law, Ace was on the other. The teen held Luffy in his lap. He looked down when he felt a tug at his shirt sleeve. Sabo was smiling up at him.

"Law, can you make me a sandwich?"

Law grimaced. "You want me to touch bread?"

"Yeah!" Sabo exclaimed with a grin.

"You know I don't like bread Sabo."

"You liked it for a little while!"

"Yes," Law replied. "When I was delusional and had no idea how unhealthy it is."

"Why did you decide it's too unhealthy?" Kidd asked while chewing on a handful of popcorn. With one hand he was expertly maneuvering the game map.

"I researched healthy eating habits, and some things I found about bread disgusted me. I can be healthy without eating bread. Also, I have bad memories about bread," Law mumbled at the end. His face paled in disgust. "After remembering that I don't think I can ever eat bread again."

Kidd's eyebrows were raised as he eyed Law while chewing a mouthful of popcorn. He ignored the fact he was throwing Ace and Zoro into angry fits with his gaming expertise.

"But Law," Sabo whined, dragging out the "a". "I want food!"

Law sighed exaggeratedly, dragging out the sound as he slumped a bit. Luffy laughed hugged the teen with his pudgy arms. Law huffed.

"I'll make you food but not a sandwich."

Fourteen minutes later Law had to drain the boiling water from the pasta pot. He didn't like pasta but he would tolerate it for Sabo. He went to lift the pot with both hands after he turned off the dial for the front right burner. He gulped as he lifted it a bit. His right hand shook and trembled and he felt his fingers starting to slip. He quickly placed it back down before his hand gave out. He scowled and tried to lift it again. His hand wouldn't listen to him. His grip slackened again. He placed it down once more. His face flushed red as his brows furrowed. He had been able to lift the pot from the sink to the stove earlier, but then again he wrapped his entire left arm around it since it wasn't boiling...

"Law what are you doing?"

Law turned around and saw Thatch approaching. He grimaced.

"I'm cooking," the teen replied, back straight despite the downturn of his mouth. Thatch frowned at him as he went to stand at Law's right.

"You know you can't lift that."

"I can try."

"Law," Thatch began. Law said nothing. He tried to lift it again, faster this time. The water went sloshing as his right hand's fingers released their grip. Laws eyes widened and he gasped. Thatch reached out and snatched the right handle of the pot. Neither of them said anything as Thatch took the second handle from him. Law stood there and stared at his right hand with scorn. Thatch poured the boiling, steaming water out into the sink and the pasta into the colander. For several moments neither spoke. Law looked away from the older man and went to sit at the table.

"You don't have to rush this," Thatch said as he poured the pasta back into the pot. "No one expects you to get better right away."

"Why couldn't it have been my left hand?" He asked, glaring at his right hand with disdain.

"I don't have an answer for that," Thatch told the teen. He was stirring some butter into the pasta. "But I do know that if anyone can get through this, it's you," Thatch said while smiling at the teen. Law gave a smile back, but it was weak and insecure. "Believe in yourself Law, and if you put your mind to it I know you'll do incredible things."

Law sighed. "If that's what you think, then I'll try," the teen replied. He tried to clench his right hand and failed, but his left hand worked well.

Smoker was limping but he was walking. He was finally allowed to move around without using a wheelchair, which was in his room against the wall. He made his way down the hall carrying Luffy. Luffy was asleep in his arms. He had just been fed. Smoker figured he had a few hours before he had to get up again to fed the baby.

He opened the door to Sabo, Luffy, and Ace's room. Sabo was asleep but Ace wasn't. He was sitting on top of his bed, staring out the window at the early December night sky. The blinds were up. The stars barely shined in the luminescence of the bright city lights.

Smoker gently placed Luffy into his crib. The babe snuffled a bit before he started to snore softly. Smoker turned to Ace and waved him over to the door. Ace hopped off of his bed and stood there. When Smoker started to walk out he followed, footsteps soft.

The two went into the kitchen. Smoker turned on a light. Ace groaned softly at the brightness attacking his eyes, but he didn't leave. When Smoker told him to sit, he went over to a chair at the table and sat down. He leaned against the back of the chair, kicking his feet. He had a scowl on his face and his eyes were a whirlwind of emotions. He listened to Smoker in the background. He could hear the clinking of metal on mugs, the beeping of the microwave and it's odd sound when it ran. He could smell something sweet in the air. The rustling of a plastic bag made him most curious.

Smoker was then walking over to him in the slippers that Robin had bought for him. They were black and soft, just like his pants. Smoker sat down at the table, setting a mug in front of himself and Ace. The steam from the hot drink seemed to frighten off the chill that had settled into Ace's bones and the stale air.

"What is it?" Ace asked, staring at the brown liquid. It smelled like chocolate and looked rich and thick. The small marshmallows on top in the light brown foam made it look even more appetizing.

"It's hot chocolate," Smoker said. He lifted his up and looked at Ace, giving him a nod of assurance. "Try it."

Ace blinked then shrugged. He picked up the mug and lifted to his lips. Without hesitation he gulped down a third of the drink. When he pulled the mug away he gasped and grinned. His lips were red from the temperature of the drink, but he wasn't burned. Smoker hadn't put it in the microwave because he figured Ace would do something like that.

"That's really good," Ace smiled at Smoker. There was foam on his upper lip and the brightness in his eyes was genuine. There were no traces of darkness in them. Smoker smiled.

"I'm glad you like it. Thatch would make it for Marco and I often when we were younger," Smoker said, taking another sip of the liquid. He didn't even like sweets all that much now. It was more the nostalgia that made him drink it. "He would make it when he could tell we were bothered by something...Do you want to, uh, talk. Ace?" Smoker asked the child, albeit somewhat awkwardly, while looking at him with a blank expression. Ace gulped and looked at the liquid in his mug. He drank some more. It was halfway gone.

"I don't wanna talk, that's for babies."

Smoker hummed, thinking. "Even adults talk sometimes. There's no shame in it," He told the child. Ace looked at him with a frown. He opened his mouth, then closed it. His eyes turned to his lap.

"Will this ever stop?" Ace asked. "This feeling."

"What feeling?" Smoker asked quietly. The mug was on the table now, forgotten. Ace's was in his hands. He held it tightly. Ace's face scrunched a bit and he bit his lower lip.

"The feeling that I don't belong here," Ace said quickly. He lifted the mug to his lips and swiftly drank the last of it. He tilted his head back. Smoker said nothing. Ace tried to get every last drop, but at the bottom there were chocolate stains. They wouldn't budge. Ace lifted the cup away from his face just a bit and stared. He felt rage boil in him. He lifted the mug above his head, ready to throw it across the room, but Smoker stopped him. He held Ace's two hands and the mug in one of his own. He was leaning over the table, which had moved a tad. His hot chocolate mug had spilled. It was forming a puddle on the table, dripping down to the tile floor below. Ace glared at Smoker, but Smoker didn't do anything other than take the mug from his grasp.

Smoker sat down slowly. Ace's hand dropped to his lap. He glared at the surface of the table. Smoker placed the mug on the table far from the puddle and Ace.

"If you want it to go away, you have to believe that you're wanted. No one else can make you think that," Smoker started. He looked at Ace, eyes serious. "I don't think anyone in this house thinks you don't belong here. I think you belong here."

Ace's eyes widened and his facial expression softened. He then shook his head. "But my dad, he, he was a bad man, a criminal! Who wants to be with the son of a, a killer?"

"Do you know he was a killer?" Smoker replied immediately. Ace stopped his tirade. His mouth opened and closed, making no sounds. He shook his head rapidly.

"He has to be, that's why so many people hate him!"

"Was the man you knew a bad person, Ace?"

Ace stared at Smoker. He thought of the memory he had of his dad. He couldn't remember what he looked like, for the most part he only remembered what happened. But he could remember his dad had a black mustache and he was always smiling. He was always really kind and played with him a lot, even if it was something childish like dressing up. Ace's eyes watered a bit.

"Even if he wasn't bad to me, I can't forget what they said to me about him. I can't forget what he did. He left us for so, so long," Ace's voice trailed off, then raised unexpectedly. "I hate him! He abandoned us! That, that bastard left us!" He could feel his eyes watering even more as he screamed. He gasped and hiccupped. The words of the men who tormented his existence for years flooded through his head. "They say if he's the devil, I'm the devil's son, but, but I don't want to be that! That's why I hate him, it's all his fault! I hate him!" Ace yelled. He felt rage and despair coil in his gut. His fists slammed against the kitchen table once, twice, thrice. Over and over, in time with his sobs. Smoker sat for a moment, not moving. After a few seconds, he reached his hand out and rested it on Ace's head. Ace's pounding stopped, and the sound of his cries ceased momentarily.

"You're not the devil's son, you're not your father. I think whoever your father was, he was a good person. I don't think you'd have cared so much about this if he wasn't."

Ace stared down at the floor without truly seeing it. Smoker's words echoed in his head. They were the words of only one person, and he still didn't believe it. But if one man believed it, maybe someday Ace could bring himself to believe it. Maybe, just maybe, he could remember why he loved his father. Ace started to wail. He thought of his mother and father, his sisters, of all the people he had met in his so far short life. He thought of the people he had to care for now, his brothers. He thought of this man who adopted him and his brothers. Now that the men from his past were gone from this city, from his life, maybe he would be able to restart for real this time.

Ace felt awkward going back to school, but he wasn't alone. He sat next to Kidd on his first day back. All of his classmates had been staring, but Kidd scared them all with a sharp yell of "Hey!" and a glare. None of them oogled him after that. Their substitute teacher wouldn't let Zoro and Sanji sit with him, but they had lunch time at least.

The four of them were sitting alone at a table in the corner of the cafeteria. They were loud and boisterous. Ace was chewing on some of the school's pizza. He had forgotten it tasted somewhat like cardboard, as Sanji put it. Sanji gave him some of his special lunch box. His parents were chefs and they gave him something delicious everyday. Ace wished Smoker could cook, but he wasn't the best at cooking.

For a while Zoro listened to Kidd rant. He was extremely upset over his missing juice box, which was apparently his favorite flavor. Zoro just chewed and stared, nodding occasionally when the situation called for it. Ace had to stifle his laughter at how frustrated Kidd seemed to be.

Then Zoro and Sanji had started fighting over something stupid, Ace thought it was about which juice box tasted better. Fruit punch was Sanji's choice, and Berry Blast was Zoro's. Ace laughed the whole time they argued. He thought both were delicious.

Then Ace noticed Kidd had been oddly quiet for a few minutes. It was rare for him to be quiet. Ace had taken to poking him and saying his name, but he wasn't even getting annoyed. Sanji and Zoro watched amazed as Ace poked his side, his cheek, next to his eye, his ear, his arm, but nothing. There was no reaction.

"I've decided!" Kidd suddenly exclaimed, standing up. Ace, Zoro, and Sanji shouted with surprise as he suddenly stood up and yelled loudly. The whole cafeteria turned silent and they were all staring at the four of them, even some of the teachers. Kidd flushed and sat down, face set in a determined glare. "I'm gonna learn MMA!" He announced in a quieter tone of voice.

"What?" Sanji asked, eyes bulging. Zoro was gaping at him. Ace blinked.

"What's MMA?"

"Mixed Martial Arts," Sanji replied. "Why do you want to learn that?"

"I want to learn how to protect myself! I already know some Karate, but just Karate isn't good enough!" Kidd exclaimed. He pointed a finger in Sanji's face. "It's the manly thing to do!"

"It's manly?" Ace asked.

"More so adultey," Zoro replied with a shrug. "That's what my Kendo master says. Actually, I'm going to do more types of weapons martial arts," Zoro said. "My master told my parents I have a lot of potential and I really like it, so I'm gonna become a master of Kendo, Kenjustu, Zulu stick fighting, and Iaijustsu! It's all at my dojo, even Zulu!"

"That's a lot," Ace said. They all gaped at him. Sanji suddenly sat straight, with his hands on his hips.

"I'm not doing that, but I'm gonna play soccer, I'm going to start swimming competitively, and I'm going to start Taekwondo!"

"That's one less than me!" Zoro stuck his tongue out. Sanji's eyes flared up and he poked the other boy in the chest.

"I'm learning how to cook from my parent's boss too, you idiot!"

"I wanna learn something too!" Ace exclaimed, leaning over the table. His three friends looked at him and blinked.

"You said you can fight with a staff right?" Zoro asked. Ace nodded vigorously. Zoro grinned. "Learn Bojutsu, then you can fight me!"

"Hey, no, he should do soccer with me, he can run super fast!" Sanji replied, smacking the table and glaring at Zoro. Kidd glared at them both and pointed at himself.

"No, he'll do MMA with me!"

Ace blinked. "Can I do it all?"

They all stopped and stared at Ace, then all three grinned.

Smoker was sitting at his desk in the police department. He was scrolling through what was left of the evidence from the case. Garp was infuriated and anxious. Smoker understood why. This is what happened with his case when he himself was a child, and apparently it may have happened with yet another case before that. No one knew why though.

"Are you going to be on desk work for now?"

Without looking he knew it was Tashigi. She was standing to his left, most likely holding a cup of coffee. The sounds and smells of the police department - the chatter, the coffee, the clicking of a keyboard, the odd sweat smell, the phones ringing - all came back to him. He had been so engrossed in his work he forgot where he was.

"I'm on desk work until my knee is healed. I don't know how long it will take, probably a few months. A shattered knee doesn't heal easily," Smoker told Tashigi. He heard Tashigi shuffle.

"No one's going to press charges against Law," She said meekly. Smoker scoffed.

"From the beginning no one was going to. Those kids haven't done anything wrong. If he hadn't done what he did, both of them would be dead and we'd have buried their caskets already." Tashigi said nothing. Smoker sighed. He turned around and looked at the woman. She looked somewhat stunned. "You know it's true Tashigi," Smoker said quietly. She nodded and exhaled lightly.

"I was dumb to think that he would've been charged in the first place. I forgot everything I learned."

"That's because you're personally invested in the case," Smoker told her. "You've never been that good at staying objective on cases."

Tashigi frowned and crossed her arms. "I don't come across as indifferent at least."

Smoker shrugged. "I just do the job how I think it needs to be done."

Both were quiet for a few moments.

"How is Law?"

"As good as he can be," Smoker replied. "He's trying to stay calm but he's frustrated about his hand."

"I can only imagine," Tashigi said, staring down at her right hand. The two said nothing. A minute passed.

"If they come back, Marco and I will throw their asses in jail," Smoker stated.

"I'll help," Tashigi told him. "I'll make sure they won't be able to get out."

Smoker nodded. Garp's voice boomed through the room, calling Tashigi to his office. The two said goodbye quickly. Tashigi ran off. Smoker turned back to his desk and looked at a drawer. He opened it. Within was a picture of the man who he had fought that day he was kidnapped, the man who beat him bloody and blue. It was a drawing. He wondered when justice would be served upon him.

Law was hiding in the school gymnasium boy's locker room. Usually he didn't skip class but today was an exception. He was determined to get his hand back to it's original condition. Despite what Thatch said, it was extremely irritating, and somewhat shameful he thought, that he couldn't use his right hand.

"Really Law? The locker room?"

Law looked up and scowled at his friend Bepo. Killer was standing behind him, drinking from a juice box he probably stole from Kidd's lunch pouch. He knew Killer liked to do that from time to time.

"Yes, the locker room, why are you bothering my peace?" Law asked, eyebrow ticking. Bepo sighed. One of his hands was on his hip, the other was pointing at his friend's face.

"You've been absent too long Law! You already need to go to supplementary lessons to make up for everything you missed, if you don't attend class you may get held back! We've got Penguin and Shachi are stalling for your right now so you don't get in trouble!" Bepo exclaimed quietly. Then he gasped and his arm dropped a bit. Law was staring at him, face pale at the words "held back". "I'm sorry," Bepo squeaked nervously.

"Don't apologize so fast!" Law and Killer both yelled at him. Bepo apologized again and the two sighed resignedly, their shoulders slumping while they stared at the large teen with dull, unimpressed eyes.

"He is right Law," Killer said, walking up to his friend. Law grumbled and tried to keep Killer away with his foot. Killer just raised his eyebrows at his friend and stepped forward. "I'm gonna pick up hockey again."

Law sputtered and look at him. "Again? I thought after you got your nickname you weren't so keen on continuing?"

Killer gave a slight smile. His bangs shadowed his eyes. "I've decided otherwise." Law and Bepo both stared at the blond with pale faces and gaping mouths. Killer then stopped and coughed. He looked at Law. "Seriously though Law, I know you're concerned about your right hand but you can't skip class."

"And how am I supposed to take notes?" Law demanded, waving his right hand in Killer's face. "I'm not fucking ambidextrous, fix my hand!" Killer sighed.

"You could just try to train it some more, maybe that will help? I mean, they said there's a chance that it will heal right?"

Law scoffed. "I looked into it, it's practically impossible. The doctor tried to sugar coat it. I wish it was Kureha who had told me. Nerve damage though, if it heals, it will take a long time."

Bepo hummed a bit, thinking. "Why not just try to become ambidextrous then?"

"That's not that healthy either, there's speculation that causes brain damage."

Killer groaned. "You can't mope forever Law, c'mon this isn't you, get off your ass and find a solution!"

Law stared at Killer. An awkward silence reigned for about a minute. Bepo started sweating while his two friends had a stare down.

"Kumdo, Karate, video games, those all have a focus on the hands."

"Then just do it," Killer replied. Law smacked his shoulder. Bepo laughed while Killer smirked a tad. "Okay, but seriously, we're bringing you to class."

Law sighed. "It used to be me dragging you to class," He bemoaned.

"Yeah yeah, shut up and get moving."

"I'm sorry we're making you go to class!"

"Stop apologizing Bepo!"

"Ok! I'm sorry!"

"You're leaving."

It was just a three days before Christmas. Thatch had a backpack slung over his shoulder. He stood in the middle of his room. Everything was gone. Marco figured he moved it all to his storage unit he kept on the edge of the city. Marco stood in the doorway, eyes wide. Thatch stared, then sighed.

"I've forgotten how to live normally," Thatch replied. "I need to go out and do this."

"Not alone, I'll go with you!"

"No Marco," Thatch replied. The man, older than Smoker by six years and Marco by eight, seemed to be forty. It had been a long time since Marco saw him look like that. It reminded him of when they were children, himself, Thatch, and Logan, all doing their job as told. "I need to do this alone, and you need to continue going to school."

"But Thatch!"

"I thought you wanted to be a lawyer?" Thatch said. Marco blinked and hesitated. His mouth was open but no words escaped him. "You have even more of a reason to now. This life was more so mine than it was yours. You need to make a life for yourself, you're only twenty, Smoker's only twenty-two. You two need to help those boys in your way, because I know you want to do that. You wouldn't have forced yourself to come that day if it wasn't true. This is how I can help. You two need to find your own way to help. Pops has already intervened and helped us keep the boys in our custody, but he can't intervene forever."

Marco glared at Thatch. "But Thatch, I can help you!" He put his hand on his chest. "We can do this together!"

"Marco, you're needed here."

Marco glared. His hand clenched at his shirt. "Why are you so selfless? How are you so selfless and selfish all at once?" He screamed, pointing at the other man. Thatch sighed. He walked over to Marco. "Stay away from me, you bastard!" Thatch easily evaded his cousin's punch and pulled him into a hug. Marco paused all of his movements.

"You're smart Marco. I know you can become a lawyer, I know you can solve our case somehow. That long forgotten case," Thatch sighed. Marco flinched a bit. His arms relaxed and he hugged his cousin tightly. "You've seen Garp's emails, this smells just like that case from when we were young. It's too familiar. We can figure it out though, Garp and Pops believe in us," Thatch assured Marco. Marco's face was scrunched up. He sniffled and hugged his cousin tightly. Thatch hugged him back. "I know you can't afford to stay here, but take that damn bird in your room and all your stuff and go move in with Smoker and Robin. They've already decided to buy a bigger apartment in the city, and besides, they need help. Smoker’s still recovering and Robin has some memory problems now. She can’t remember much about what happened. And they need to take care of the boys. Join them, and when I come back, we can live together and eat that dumb mac n' cheese at one in the morning and watch those cheesy shows you like, what was it called again?"

Marco chuckled through his cries. "I can't remember right now. But it's not as cheesy as that macaroni."

Thatch laughed softly, but his eyes were sad. He rubbed his hand over Marco's back as he stared at the empty wall across from them. "Don't worry, I'm coming back alive." Marco sobbed quietly into his shirt as a response.

"Do you understand where I'm going with this?"

Dadan was in her room that she had in her hotel. Business had been somewhat slow since the incident, or rather The Gun Race as the newscasters were calling it to make it sound dramatic. It wasn't too slow though. Right now Magra and Dogra were manning the desk. She was watching her television, smoking a cigarette. Despite the chilling air the windows were open. She sighed.

"I understand Garp. I just have a hard time believing that what happened all those years is happening again."

"I am too, but it's too familiar. This same thing happened to Roger, and to those three boys too. Thatch had it the worst of the three, I believe. Still, even Newgate finds this too eerie, especially since some of our evidence on our computers has already begun to disappear."

"Do you think you'll be able to find the bastards this time?" Dadan asked, grabbing the clicker. She pressed a button and changed the channel, but it was another new station. She waited to see if it said anything new.

"I'm not sure, that started what 30 years ago? 35? It may not be the same people, they may just be mimicking what happened back then."

"Could it have been one of the members who escaped? You didn't catch them all in the end," Dadan reminded Garp. She exhaled. A cloud of smoke escaped her mouth to swirl around in the air in front of her. The newscaster was dull, so she changed the channel once more.

"It's possible. I just wish I knew what they were after. Roger figured it out but something killed him before he could tell us."

Dadan heard Garp sigh over the line. She figured he was rubbing the bridge of his nose. He did that when he got stressed. It was a habit he hadn't been able to shake for years.

"I'm most concerned about Law's situation now though," Garp said gravely. Dadan hummed in agreement.

"How did those guys get out?" She asked, sounding half accusatory.

"I'm not quite sure. They had an appeal I believe. I'm wondering if they bribed their way out, I wouldn't put it past Donquixote."

Dadan sighed. She reached for a small dish she used to extinguish the butts of her cigarettes. She smashed the end of it against the ceramic surface. "If they come back this way, we'll just have to kick their asses back to jail."

Law looked at his hand. He was lying on his back on his bed. His right hand was held up high, casting a shadow on the ceiling, but he wasn't concerned with that. He was curious how he had been able to hold a knife that day. Maybe it had been the adrenaline?


Law's heart pounded. His breath stopped momentarily. He clenched his hand. He thought he felt something drip onto his face.

Blood you spilt.

Law's fingers twitched. He rolled onto his side and tried to breathe, but it was all turning into a vortex, a tornado.

Can't see.

Law shook violently. He gasped and curled in on himself. His vision was becoming blurry. He felt his blood pounding. He started to hyperventilate.


He twitched and let out an unsteady breath.


He reached out his left hand for his right wrist. He pulled up the sleeve, revealing a bracelet. It was made of beads. Red and white.

Blood and bone.

A gift from Ace to celebrate their release from the hospital. He grasped the beads and started counting. He tried to breathe slowly, rocking in place on the bed. He counted each bead, more than once, however many times it would take.


Law's breathing started to slow as the happy memory started to come to him. His counting got slower. Unconsciously he stopped rocking and shaking. He smiled.

"That's good Law!"

Law passed out, forgetting all about the blood he had seen that day. He passed out thinking of the hand he had held once long ago when he was a child. He missed that hand.

"This is where you want us to move?"

It was Christmas Eve. Smoker had all of the boys gathered around a computer screen. Law looked at the image of the house, unimpressed. Ace's eyes were curious, looking over the purple house with wonder. Sabo was jumping up and down. His hands rested on the table surface.

"When do we go? I wanna go now, now, now!"

"We can't move in just yet, Sabo," Robin laughed softly. Sabo whined and ran up to her, grabbing her hand.

"Why not? I wanna go noooowww!"

"Stop that Sabo," Smoker reprimanded the child. Sabo looked sheepishly at the man. Smoker looked at the boys. He held Luffy in the crook of his arm. The baby was being especially annoying today. He had a bad habit of tugging hair. Smoker could already tell that he would be terrible when he turned two. "We have to pack before we can go anywhere." Sabo grinned and then ran off. "Where are you going?" Smoker yelled after him.

"To pack my toys!" Sabo screamed back. They heard the door slam down the hallway. Robin chuckled softly.

"Are we really going to live in a house?" Ace asked, still staring at the picture. Law looked at him with raised eyebrows. Robin smiled gently.

"Yeah," Smoker replied. "You and Law are going to share a room and when Luffy's old enough he'll share with Sabo. Marco will share a room with me, and Robin will have her own room."

"Wait, Pineapple is going to live with us?" Law asked with a groan.

"Yes," Smoker sternly told the teen. "And you will not complain."

Law grumbled to himself, slouching in his seat. Robin grinned a bit. She looked down when she heard Ace step next to her. "What is it Ace?"

"You're going to live with us too?" Robin nodded at the child. Ace's eyes widened and he stared at Robin. "We're all gonna be one big family?" Robin's eyes widened slightly. Law straightened a bit in his seat. He looked over at Smoker. His uncle nodded. Law blinked at him.

Robin kneeled down and smiled at Ace. "Do you like that idea?" She asked the child. Her eyes were gentle and her smile formed easily on her face. Ace blushed a bit and avoided eye contact with the woman. Robin laughed a bit to herself.

"I like that, I wanna have a family again!" Ace exclaimed, a bright smile lighting up his face. His freckles looked like stars on his cheeks, and his eyes shined with the brightness of the sun. He stood straight, appearing tall.

"Let's be a big family then," Robin told the child. Ace nodded his head vigorously. Robin pulled the child into a hug. Ace blushed and tried to pry himself out of it, but Robin refused to relent. She even began tickling him. Ace started to laugh, which only made her tickle him more. Law smirked from his seat. Smoker bounced Luffy a bit. The baby looked up at the man and pulled at his ears. Smoker sighed but let him do as he pleased. The baby's pulling didn't hurt the man.

"And Ace, Law," Robin said as she pulled out of the hug. "I'm going to help both of you get caught up with all of your school work."

The two boys paled, staring at the woman with shock. "But Robin, we were out for more than a month," Law reminded her. Robin just smiled at the two.

"I know."

Smoker chuckled a bit at the two boys pleas for mercy.

Ace gasped and shivered as he hugged himself. He had just woken up from a nightmare. Arlong's face had flashed through his mind just as he woke up. He had been there, and he was going to kill Ace. He was going to give him to, to Him. Ace shuddered and his face paled. He choked for breath as his vision began to double.

Arms hugged Ace. He gasped. He heard a calming shushing sound. He was pulled against a chest and he heard the sound of a steady heartbeat. He tried to match his breathing to it. A hand scratched lightly at his head. Slowly, Aces breathing slowed. He started to feel exhausted. He relaxed against the grip that held him and closed his eyes.

Law sighed as he felt Ace relax. Law had bags under his eyes but he couldn't sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw that face. Always Arlong first, and then the faces from his past, their voices. It all came back like a wave washing over him.

Ace was under Law's covers, submerged in darkness. Law kept his eyes on the light he had lit in the room. It was a soft light and it allowed him to relax somewhat, it let him try to convince himself that it was all a dream. But he knew it wasn't, it was all memories coming back to him.

"Law, why aren't you asleep?"

Law sighed. He thought Ace had fallen back asleep. Granted He sounded like he was about to. "I can't sleep Ace," Law replied with a whisper. Ace shuffled against him.

Ace hugged Law. Law gasped a bit and then smiled. He held Ace a bit closer. "I'll protect you Law," Ace mumbled sleepily. Law smiled and chuckled softly.

"Shut up and go to sleep, Ace-ya."

Christmas. It was snowing outside in the light of the morning sun. The small apartment smelled like bacon and sausage. There were cinnamon buns on the table. Robin was at the stove, cooking the eggs and bacon. Smoker was at the counter next to her, preparing some bagels. Hash browns were on the burner behind the bacon.

Sabo was jumping up and down at the table. His eyes were wide. He was staring at the cinnamon buns. The smell of them was making his mouth water. Ace, sitting in a chair, was much more interested in the bacon. Luffy was next to him in his high chair, being fed some obscure type of baby food by Marco. Law was at the end of the table, reading a book he had just got. It had been a book about the body from Thatch. It had information in it that Law hadn't learned before, and he found it intriguing. He had just started reading it. Earlier that morning he had been playing a videogame with Ace and Sabo. Robin had taken pictures and videos of them, which bothered him a bit, but she seemed so happy so he didn't bother her about it. As long as she didn't make him eat cinnamon buns, he wouldn't complain about those videos and pictures.

Robin turned off the stove. Ace's eyes widened and he straightened. She turned around and with a smile she said, "The food is ready."

Ace jumped out of his seat and ran up to her, quickly followed by Sabo. Law ran up last, only because he knew that Ace would eat everything if he didn't get there fast enough. Which he hadn't. He glared at the back of Ace's head. Ace, who was being served extra large portions, turned back and smirked at Law. Sabo just laughed.

Soon, all of the boys were sitting and eating. Robin and Smoker had eaten quickly at the table, but now they were whispering by the counter. Law stared at them suspiciously as he chewed some bacon.

"What are you two whispering about?"

"Yeah!" Sabo exclaimed when the two turned around. "Whisperin's not pilot!"

"I think you mean polite," Ace interjected.

"That's what I said!"

Marco was holding in his laughter while holding Luffy on his lap. Luffy stared up at Marco and, despite having his fingers in his mouth, smiled. Robin and Smoker looked at each other. Robin looked back to the boys while Smoker turned to the counter.

"We decided that, since we missed a lot these past few months, we should have a late birthday celebration."

Smoker turned around holding a somewhat small but absolutely delicious looking cake. The frosting didn't look too thick. There was white frosting patterns on it, as well as speckles of rainbow shades. On top there were some candles. Law blinked.

"Birthday cake!" Sabo screamed, throwing his hands into the air. He grinned widely and bounced in his seat. Luffy laughed a bit and flailed his limbs while he sat in Marco's lap. Marco smiled. Ace stared at the cake. His mouth gaped. His eyes stared at it. A thin coat of water covered them. His eyes glimmered like metallic jewels in the light of the sun.

Robin sat the cake down in front of Ace and brought Sabo over. "Do either of you know when your birthday's are?"

Sabo shook his head. "I have no clue!" He yelled, throwing his hands into the air. "But in class when someone has a birthday they brings in cupcakes, it's so yummy! We haven't eated cake though!"

"We'll find out so you can bring in cupcakes," Robin told the blond. She ran her hand through his blond locks. He grinned. She turned to Ace. A tear fell down his cheek.

"Are you ready Ace? It's time to blow out the candles!"

The candles were so bright, and the cake was incredibly colorful. He clapped. His Daddy was holding him, urging him to blow out the candles while laughing. Anne was cheering Ace on, jumping up and down. His Mama was in front of him and to the left. She was going to blow out the candles with him.

"My birthday…"

Sabo was inhaling to blow out the candles. Ace inhaled too. Smoker turned off the lights. Robin was filming them.

"This is for you Ace!" Lucy exclaimed. Ace smiled. She held a handful of candy of all kinds. Ace looked up at her and grinned. "I can't get you a cake now, but someday I promise to get you the best cake in the world!" She smiled at him. Ace took some of the candy, and left the rest to her.

"You're supposed to share cake, so we'll share the candy!"

The room turned dark as the candles blew out.

"January 1st."

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