"Smoke & Mirrors, Parts 5 & 6"
Alt. One Piece Elly x Smoker
Minor romance fluff, PG-13
Minor romance fluff, PG-13
One Piece based non-canon
The candles were lit on the tables set on the open deck. She could see them from her window, flickering orbs in glass domes looking for all the world like fireflies dancing on the tablecloths. People were bustling about, those getting ready for the meal, others mopping and sweeping up the deck on the designated dance floor and the band practicing.
Everywhere there was light, there was life. Elly was caught up in everything - the sights, smells, all sounds of joy that made her heart tremble. It might be just another little gathering to those attending, but this was her first real taste of freedom in years. She brushed at the front of her dress, wondering if she should have settled on a more modest bodice. The black, glittering dress made for her by the tailor was floor-length and cut somewhat low in the front. Her back was also partially exposed. She would have thought it was too daring, except the man had shook his head ruefully and told her she was fine. Well, she hadn't had the cause to dress up in ages. She had to trust the professional.
Nervously stealing yet another glance in the full body mirror behind her closet door, she let out a shaky breath. Once that wretched chain was off her neck, she had a few surprises for her date. And most of those at the banquet, she thought gleefully.
Smoker normally didn't care what he looked like. He dressed for wear, not show, even during a formal banquet where he was the leading Marine in charge. He grunted as he pulled on a black pair of boots on under plain white slacks. The coat was slightly less flashy than his regular one. It was shorter, like a tuxedo jacket, for one, and didn't have the fur along the shoulders. Gold buttons flashed in the light of his quarters as he tugged it on. He paused, then sighed. He'd have to button it this time. Although agreeing to wear the different clothing only a few times a year, he still disliked the feel of cloth tight across his chest. He quickly finished and ran a hand through his white hair. The barber had cut it too long this time, and he hadn't the time to trim it before the party. He had started slicking it back a couple years ago, but there was too much now. He settled for getting some of it off his sides and checked to make sure he had a cigar case in his jacket pocket. He needed that badly, seeing as he wasn't wearing his old coat.
Right. He was ready. He was almost out the door when he stopped. Something was nagging at him, something he forgot. He frowned, thinking hard, and then groaned loudly. The other box! Snatching it up where it lay on his rumpled bed, he once again checked himself and headed out the door with purposeful strides. Once at her door, he told the guard to be ready to remove the necklace and reminded him he was sworn to secrecy. The man saluted and unlocked the door, gesturing that his superior move in first. Smoker knocked politely again and then entered with the other man close behind him. The first thing he saw was Elly, standing there right in front ready to receive him. She was blushing modestly in her formal wear and seemed as nervous as he was. At a sign from him, the guard moved up to remove her chain, and she hurriedly stepped forward, bending her neck for easy access. Smoker thought he was ready for anything, but as the chain fell into the guard's outstretched hand, she let out a sigh beyond relief... and changed. The guard took a step back, startled and immediately reaching for the weapon at his side. Smoker waved him down, however. He stared at the pale woman intently. No, she was the same as she was before. He must have been mistaken. Same short, shimmery black hair, sparkling eyes the same shade, a little larger than most females and shiveringly exotic. Her dress clung to her in all the right places and dipped exuberantly down in the front, soft shadows leading down to an area where he found himself intently wishing he could explore. The thought itself brought him up short.
She had been pretty before, but this? This was ridiculous. His heart pounding in his chest so hard he could barely breathe, he silently handed her the jewel case he'd brought from his room. She took it with an arched eyebrow, popping the clutch and staring inside.
"It isn't another sea-stone." It was not a question, but he answered anyway.
"No. You're always seen with the other, so it would have been suspicious if you didn't wear a necklace." He reached out as she fumbled with the clasp. "Here, quit struggling."
"Oh, like you'll be a big help. You've hands like an ox." But she turned about and let him work the delicate fastener closed, impressed that his touch could be so precise. "What is this, anyway?" She fingered the new gemstone at the end of the chain.
Smoker coughed apologetically. "Smoky quartz." When she burst out in a gale of silvery laughter, he covered his face with one large hand. "The tailor on this ship was lucky I didn't deck him," he added through clenched teeth. His cheeks felt hot again and he blew smoke out from twin cigars in a huge gust. Elly's smile grew wider and she hooked an arm through his. He blinked and scowled a little, but unconsciously drew her closer as they walked out into the hall. "I feel like a little kid," she whispered. "Happy and nervous and as excited as I used to be on my birthday."
He grinned down at her. "Like a child?"
"Quit." She made a face and he chuckled under his breath.
"Behave yourself, then. And you're not to leave my side all night."
"Really?" She asked archly. "The whole night?"
He had the good grace to blush even harder at that. "Cut that out!"
"You're making it too easy anyway," she murmured. Smoker wondered at her antics. She was clearly in high spirits and it showed in every way. She even seemed more beautiful - which of course was ridiculous -- but when he'd placed the new necklace on her she had positively beamed. That was the start of ...this change, he thought, this effervescent personality that was as strong as her other emotions. He'd seen her darkly depressed and furious, and now knew that she played everything on edge, to the limit of her emotions at all times. That's one dangerous woman, regardless of what Devil Fruit she has.
As they stepped out onto the deck he was reminded of his thought when the men all turned in one body to stare, entranced. Although Elly was enjoying herself, she didn't meet any of those other stares. She walked beside the Vice Admiral to her seat, which he politely held out for her. Once she was settled, he sat down himself. He was completely unprepared once more, this time for the onslaught of young Marines that tried to wheedle her away for any reason. He finally had to plaster a menacing expression on his face while taking hold of her hand quite firmly and in full view on the table top.
"My, what fun," she said breathlessly as he stared another youngster down. "Are you waging war for me, Mr. Vice Admiral?" She smiled at him. In fact she smiled so sweetly that a few of the women around them had to rethink their opinion on the big man. Rumors flew around the table, in shared glances and whispered conversations as the band began playing.
Smoker stared at the woman beside him, his eyes half-lidded. "You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?" He said flatly.
"All right, you want fun?" He stood up, his chair scraping back along the wooden deck. She was raised up with him and they walked to the dance area, still holding hands. Once there he nodded to the few couples there in passing, aware of the shocked looks on most of the faces, and released her hand. He grinned when he saw confusion in her startled dark eyes and pushed his advantage by carefully circling his arm about her shoulder and waist. They danced with the others, hesitantly at first but slipping into the motions both had learned easily with the music. His hand felt like it was burning from touching her skin lightly along the open back area of her dress. He felt her body, tense at first against his, jump when he squeezed her gently on one shoulder. "Easy," he murmured. "I don't want to piss you off, but you needed to get away from them for a minute."
"Why?" She pulled back, but then relented when she saw the dazed look in his brown eyes. Smoker felt her body relax against his and immediately a new problem emerged. She was soft, almost the same height as he was, and warm. He could feel her breath on his neck as she moved against him, never shying away from the smell of smoke or the feel of his own body, which was preparing to betray him. He fought with himself until the solution happened in a fit of desperation - he simply evaporated the offending body part into smoke. I've never been happier to be a Logia user, he thought with a shaky sigh. Elly was smiling slyly at him. Either she knew what he had been going through, or maybe guessed. His blush tripled, turning an amazing shade of purple. The dance ended, and he guided her back to their seats.
No one else bothered her for the remainder of the evening.
In fact, nothing remarkable happened for the rest of the night. After the single dance they shared, she behaved and so did he. She still teased him, but gingerly, as if she was afraid he'd take her up again and this time insist on an even closer dance. And eventually, it was all over. Time had passed so quickly, and he had to escort her back to her quarters. They spoke little during their walk back, and saw no one heading into the important area of the ship. Only high-ranking prisoners and officials here, she thought to herself as they approached her room. Is there really a difference?
She sighed wistfully. "I haven't had so much fun in years," she said truthfully. Setting her back against the door, she waited for what was to happen next - that damnable chain to be restored to its hateful place on her neck.
"Guard's not here yet."
"He was told to be here at twenty-two hundred hours."
"We're early." She pouted at this, her lower lip sticking out slightly. Smoker felt something within himself let go at that point, watching her tease him so casually as she had all night. He reached up and took the ever-present cigars from his mouth, and, holding them out so as not to burn her, leaned over. Elly's eyes widened, but she made no move to stop him. They grew closer and their noses brushed lightly against one another, and yet he waited. She was shaking all over but not in fright, her dark eyes a mystery as she watched him curb the smoke from his mouth in consideration for her.
"Ah ... ahem." It was the sound of someone clearing their throat, startlingly loud in the small hallway. They both jumped, Smoker spinning around, half-lowered in a guarded stance. The guard was there, waiting to place the sea-stone chain on her again. He stood up slowly, coughing to break past the awkward moment. Elly's emotions were out of control. She knew she would only say something wrong if she opened her mouth, so she was uncharacteristically silent as the man unclasped the one and re-shackled her with the disgusting touch of the sea-stone. When she looked back up at Smoker the cigars were in place, crammed back between his lips. He was sweating lightly but in control of himself.
"You're late," he snapped at the guard. The man apologized, yet there was a faint look of speculation in his eyes. This made Smoker angrier and he assigned him latrine duty for a week after his job here was done every day. "And you," he said in clipped tones as he jabbed a finger at Elly. "I'll see you later."
He stomped out with his fists clenched at his sides. She shook her head, still reeling from everything that had happened that night. She was certain she would see him earlier than morning as the door closed behind the two men.
When she went to bed, she would dream.
Elly watched him practicing his logia skills on deck. He's very good, she thought with a low chuckle at the bias she knew she had. The sun was strong again that day and the light shone down, flashing off his jitte as he swung it about in smooth sweeps of his arm. There - he transformed. His lower half was now a roiling smoke cloud, and he moved with uncanny speed as he fought a battle with an unseen enemy. She wriggled closer to the window, cursing the bars for more than one reason as they got in her way. She wasn't upset that he hadn't called her to his office that morning. It proved to her that he wasn't all that sure of himself. That in turn lent a little more weight to the almost-kiss they had shared. She could almost believe he had wanted to, for personal reasons and not because he wanted her to join them. The training went on and on, and she saw he was pushing himself - he was sweating hard, his breathing sounding hoarse even from this distance. She would have watched longer, but he spun about suddenly, thrusting himself in smoke form up at the sky and coming down directly in front of her window.
"Office," he panted, out of breath. "Now."
She sketched a mock salute at his back when he turned away. Of course she had to wait for the guard at the door to escort her, but the summons came quickly after. She nearly flew down the corridors, her sandalled feet slapping on the polished wood. When she came to his office the guard knocked and announced her as usual, although she felt this trip was anything but. She took a long, deep breath before entering.
"Good morning," she called cheerfully, bracing herself for the worst. It appeared all he had done was make himself sweaty and hot as well as confused with his workout, and he was still nervous. He pacing back and forth near the desk instead of behind it, chewing restlessly on his cigars. "Um. Bad morning?" She asked weakly, seeing the state he was in.
He faced her and that's when she also noticed he wasn't wearing his coat. The long, white jacket was tossed negligently over the desk and his bare chest glistened with moisture. Elly sucked in a lungful of air at the sight, averting her eyes before they could wander more. "Are you okay?"
He stared at her like she had gone mad. "Yes. And so are you."
"Here's the contract." He tossed it vaguely in her direction. Elly let it flutter to the floor and concentrated instead on his strange expression.
"I won't sign it, you know. But I wanted to thank you for last night." She walked to him and reached out a shaky hand. "You know, maybe you should put your coat back on. You're breaking several dress code violations by being too sexy." She bit her lip; she hadn't quite meant to say something that provocative. His startled glance was well worth it. He stripped the gloves from his hands, placed the cigars in an ashtray on his desk and grasped her outstretched hand, pulling her quickly to him. She had one fleeting moment to look into his eyes, burning with desire, before he kissed her. Even with the cigars gone he tasted of smoke. Elly closed her eyes, relishing the feel of his scruffy face on hers. He infrequently shaved the lower part of his face and it rasped against her as they kissed. He moved forward, at first only flicking his tongue against her lips with light touches until she sighed and opened her mouth. His hand caressed the back of her neck as he deepened the kiss, pressing as hard as he wanted when he saw she didn't mind.
It seemed like an eternity but it was probably only a couple of minutes before she broke away with a soft gasp. "Wait, wait."
"I did." He spoke in a low undertone that caused her to shiver all over. She'd read romance novels before but had never imagined clearly what the authors had meant when they wrote about the male lead's "bedroom voice". Now she understood. One hand was stroking her hair, the other resting lightly on the small of her back. Her plain white blouse was sticking a little to his skin, wicking some of the moisture away. She tugged on it absently.
"I waited all night," he clarified, "I couldn't sleep, damn it." His hand on her back pulled gently, urging her closer again.
"You know," he said with some heat, "they told me to do something like this." He paused, thinking that sounded bad on reflection. "But I didn't do it on purpose."
"I know," she murmured once more. "This wouldn't be the first time they tried this on me." Amused at his grunt of disgust, she went on. "That's why I was up all night. Part of it, anyway."
"Decide if I was an ass or not?" His hand dropped dangerously low as he spoke the word and she reached to catch it before it went further.
"Oh, you're an ass, all right." A quick squeeze of the calloused palm in her grip. "Just not a lying ass."
"They can tell me to do something all they want." He shrugged. "Just because I'm a Marine doesn't mean I'm anyone's dog." Elly hesitantly let go of his hand and he placed both of them on her shoulders, pushing her away to look seriously down at her. "I'm doing what's right."
"I wish I knew that so easily. I started to have doubts about that area they said I destroyed after awhile. I mean, I didn't mean to do anything, but what if I had? But I knew back then I was innocent, and I'll stick to that now. That makes you guys the ones that are wrong there. You've no right to hold me..." She regretted her choice of words as he let her go. "...against my will."
He stared at her for a minute, then ran a hand through his hair. She saw he'd made a visit to the barber in the early morning hours, because his hair was shaved along the sides and long on top now. He pushed the white strands back meditatively, eyes lost in thought. "I believe you," he said, so low she barely heard.
"I believe you." He coughed and turned away. "Get this straight, little one - I also believe that your power may be too dangerous to leave unattended out in the world. I don't know what it is, I don't want you to tell me, but if we let you go and others found out about you, what would happen?"
No one had ever spoken to her this way before. Elly toddled crazily to the chair and sat down, stunned. "Everyone would want to get their hands on me."
"Is your ability defensive against many? A pirate crew, maybe?"
"No," she admitted, the word falling lifelessly from her mouth. "No, it's not. Well... it's good, but I could be overwhelmed. Eventually."
"I don't want you hurt," he said firmly. He was gripping the sides of his chair so tightly she saw his knuckles were white. The coat and cigars were back in their rightful places and he looked almost normal again. He stooped to pick up his gloves and she let her eyes wander around the room. The piece of paper she had let fall was nearby. She squeaked the chair over and picked it up.
"Didn't change this, did they."
He paused in the act of pulling the gloves on. "It's just a copy. I have a stack."
"Let me ask - just asking, mind -- if I wanted some specific changes done before I agreed, would they do it?"
"They'd think about it." He sat with a sigh and stretched across the desk to take her hand again. "Don't do anything you'll regret, child."
She yanked her hand out from his, wrinkling her nose. "You can still call me child after that kiss?"
He glared at her.
She stuck her tongue out at him.
That was the end of that morning visit.