It's Complicated

You Better be Prepared for Shit to go Down

It was a few days later. Smoker was making some sandwiches at the counter in the kitchen while behind him, Ace was staring at a paper with a pencil in hand. He was supposed to be taking a test, to help place him in a class, but Smoker had the feeling that the kid couldn't read.

He could hear Law's obnoxiously loud music from down the hall, echoing through the house and making him wonder how his nephew could listen to music that made his ears want to bleed. Sabo was in the living room, sitting on the floor and watching TV, some educational video Tashigi had given to him, while Luffy laid next to him. Smoker was happy that for once, no one was crying or screaming or yelling or fighting.

He finished cutting the sandwiches into halves and walked over to the table where Ace sat, putting down the platter of food before sitting next to the boy. He had been asked to have the kid take this test because of placement for classes. Most of all, they wanted to know if the kid could read, which was probably a no considering it had been a half hour and he was still staring at the first page like it was a BC Calculus equation. Smoker sat down across from him, staring at the blank page and wishing he could have a smoke right then, and finally sighed.

"Can you read?"

Ace immediately looked up at Smoker, glowering with the heat of the sun. Smoker remained unaffected.

"So that's a no?"

Ace made a 'tch' sound with his tongue and teeth and nodded his head sharply, leaning against the back of his seat and crossing his arms in frustration. Smoker inhaled deeply through his nose as he crossed his own arms. Over the past few days, he learned that this kid was as stubborn as a bull. He had barely said ten words to Smoker at once and he only ever spoke to him if it was something concerning Luffy.

"Do you need help?"

Ace glared at him again, his eyes dark and his lips pulled into a deep scowl.

"I don't need help."

"Then do you want to end up in a kindergarten glass?"

Ace frowned as a look of displeasure came over his face. But he quickly turned his head, arms still crossed, and stared at the wall. Smoker sighed deeply.

"Look, even if you can't read, as long as you can comprehend, then you won't be stuck with six year olds. I can write the answers you give me if you cooperate."

Smoker really didn't want to do this, but he had been told to give the kid help and try to somehow make him finish the test, even if Smoker had to write the answers, because no matter what, the kid was going to school.

Ace twitched, looking as if he was going to concede, and glanced at Smoker. The man had put the test in front of himself and was holding out a hand for the pencil. Ace hesitated before grudgingly and reluctantly handing over the pencil. Smoker inwardly groaned when he realized he had to read this whole test aloud to the brat.

"Alright. What's ten divided by two?"


Ace was surprisingly bright for a child with no formal education. He had gotten a lot of the test correct and could recognize a few numbers by appearance, not verbally, but since he couldn't write or read words and had very little math skills, he would have to be placed in fourth grade, not fifth. At least, according to what the teachers at the public school had said.

Still though, this just gave Law a new reason to antagonize the boy and Smoker a new reason to have a headache.

They were in front of the grocery store at the moment, all five of them, because they needed more food and Smoker did not trust Law to watch over the kids at the house alone. He'd probably fight with Ace the whole time or ignore them. That sounded like something Law would do. Or maybe even experiment on them. He'd done it to his friends before and Smoker did not want to have to relive that.

So Law was forced to come, mostly to annoy him, but also to teach him what responsibility was.

He hoped he wouldn't regret this.

"I have to go change Luffy's diaper. Law, don't let anything bad happen."


Once Smoker was out of sight, Law took out his phone and completely blocked out Ace and Sabo. Sabo was having fun looking at all the different pictures and colors on the cereal boxed while Ace stared up at the teen, unimpressed. Did he know what responsibility was? Or did he just not care? Ace assumed it was the later.

Then again it could be the former. He was smart but he wasn't smart.

Suddenly Ace smirked. He was going to have fun with this.


"Law, where are Ace and Sabo?"

"They're right behind me."

"You're the only one in the aisle."

Law blinked and looked around before he paled at the menacing aura his uncle exuded.

Shit.


"There's so much candy!" Sabo cheered, running up the aisle then back down again, stopping once in a while to look at some of the junk food that caught his eyes. Ace grinned as he looked at his brother before turning and looking over all the candy before his eyes. He'd stolen some from convenience stores before or found the money to pay, but he'd never seen such a wide array. It was normally gum, Hershey's, and sour patch kids that he saw. This was just on a whole other level.

"Ace! Ace! What's this? Can we get it?" Sabo ran up, ramming right into Ace's side. The older boy stumbled and grumbled before half heartedly staring at the blond, who was staring up at him with hopeful eyes. He then followed the boy's pointed finger to see what he was staring at. He blinked in confused awe.

"…what is it?"

"I dunno, but it looks really cool!"

A hand suddenly landed harshly on Ace's head. Sabo just blinked as Ace hissed liked a cat, turned, and kicked whoever it was in the knee, forcing them to the ground. When he realized it was Law, a smug smile came over his face.

Law sat up and glared at Ace, thinking of all the experiments and pranks he could pull on the kid to freak him out. But right now, he was angry about the kid blatantly walking off.

"You're an annoying little shit," Law seethed out. Ace glared at him with a smirk dancing on his lips.

"You're the irresponsible one here."

"At least I can read my own name."

Ace twitched and glowered. "What does that have to do with this?!"

"What's 5 divided by 0?"

"How the fuck should I know?!"

"Moron."

"You're the moron here!"

While Ace and Law engaged in a "quiet" shouting match, Sabo stared at them blankly. He'd seen it so often over the past few days that now, it was more annoying than anything.

He just wanted the good looking food.

Sabo began to scale the unstable shelves, wanting to reach that food. Ace and Law remained oblivious as lighting seemed to flow between them and they insulted each other in any way possible.

When Sabo slipped, a hand caught him. He was turned around and he grinned at Smoker, who looked highly annoyed. The police officer turned to the bickering boys and smacked both of them over the head.

"OW!"

"Smoker-ya! What was that for bastard – ow!"

The two looked up and froze as icy cold wind and snow seemed to blow behind the man as he glared at them with the might of a volcano. Luffy was staring down at them with curious, innocent eyes while Sabo was wearing this absolutely shit eating grin and was he holding a box of twinkies?

"Twinkies are disgusting," Law said with a disgusted face. He was going to be a doctor and just thinking of eating that, of it being considered food, made him shiver.

"You're just being picky. Food is food. You eat what you can get!" Ace turned to him, eyes ablaze with fire. Hell, he didn't even know what twinkies were, but if it was edible, he would eat it.

"I suppose you just have no regard for your health then."

"I'll eat anything I can to survive!"

"Then you really are stupid."

"I am not stupid!"

"A-C-E! What does that spell?"

"How the hell should I know?"

"Because that's your name, idiot!"

"I am not an idiot!"

"Law. Ace."

The two froze, sweating with nervousness. Smoker's voice sounded deadly and when they looked up he was - oh hell no was Smoker smiling? Forget the fact that Ace couldn't spell his own name or that Ace thought Law was a wimp - Smoker was smiling and it was creeping them the fuck out and the aura around him was cold and oh my god NO! Now it's a GRIN!

Law and Ace looked at each other out of the corner of their eyes, gulping simultaneously while Sabo, still being held in the air, covered his mouth to stifle his giggles.

"If I hear another word out of either of you, then you're both going to be in even more shit tonight than you already are."

The two didn't say another word but glared the whole way home.


A week later, Law and Ace were home alone. Smoker had to take both Sabo and Luffy to the doctor for some check ups. Ace's wasn't for another day or two and the boy had been tired, so he decided to stay home, even if it meant he was home alone with Law.

Law was currently in the kitchen, making himself a sandwich. He had just finished his homework for the weekend and was starving. He needed to get some food in his stomach soon or else he would just get into more fights with Ace which meant getting in trouble with his uncle and he really didn't want that right now.

He heard a groan of discomfort from the living room and his brows furrowed. He moved to the doorway and searched, his eyes eventually landing on Ace. They widened ever so slightly as he stared at the younger.

The boy was asleep on the couch. Law figured it was narcolepsy and normally when he had an attack, he slept peacefully. Not today, though. The boy was sweating, his brows furrowed as he seemed to curl in on himself. His fingers were clutching the couch cushions like hooks clutch walls. He was muttering to himself as well, sleep talking. It was quiet though and Law couldn't make out a word he said.

"No!"

Law hid behind the door as Ace's eyes shot open and, in a flurry of clumsy movement, fell face first to the floor. He heard the boy groan again and watched with calculating eyes as he sat up. The boy sat there for a moment, staring at his hands before clenching them into fists, putting them on the floor in front of him. The freckled child said nothing and merely stared at the ground, seeming to be trying to calm himself.

It reminded Law of himself. He could see it in Ace's face – it wasn't simply nightmares plaguing him. No, that was the face of someone whose nightmares were his memories. He was the same as Law.

Law's interest in Ace grew ten fold.



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