He had become accustomed to Luffy’s inability to understand what personal space meant. It was not because he was wanted to, however. No, it was more that he was - quite literally - tackled into it. Luffy did not take no for an answer. He did what he wanted to, when he wanted to. Law supposed that he could have put up more of a fight and maybe Luffy would have listened to his objections but.... Well, aside from how abrupt and quick it was, Law didn’t mind it. He could have used a few more days - weeks or months even - to become a bit more accustomed to it, however. But, when it came to Luffy, things never were gradual...
“You know, I was sceptical at first Torao.”
Luffy had decided to take a nap on him after a rather hectic event on the ship they were boarded on. Snoring away, but otherwise peaceful and out like a light. Law did not blame him. The Barto Club... well...
Quite honestly? Law was baffled at them. Just how did such a disaster crew manage to make it into the New World? They were even more of a mess than the Strawhats were, and did Law ever know just how crazy they were... And because of how disastrous they were, it left Law wary. How much more chaos would they meet until they managed to get to Zou?
So, with her captain completely unawares, Robin had apparently decided to approach him. Approach him and start with a rather unusual comment that made Law pause. Sceptical? What was she referring to?
“But, you have been spending a lot of time with our captain lately.”
However, it was that next sentence that brought clarity to the topic of this conversation. Ah. Yes... That.
Robin was referring to the many rumours spreading about the Going Luffy. The ones amongst the Strawhat Grand Fleet. About the incidents that happened during the night of the party, and what happened in the following morning. The things whispered about between her crewmates. The glares that had been sent his way from the Barto Club. (Which, in his honest opinion, shouldn’t be glares but stares of awe, but he would dwell on that later.) He supposed it made sense that Robin would be the one to first approach him on this subject, if not Franky. (That man... erm cyborg was very blunt, if you asked him.)
A chuckle almost graced his lips, but Law held his amusement back. Did Robin honestly think...? (One could never really tell with her.) Seriously, though: He was spending a lot of time with Luffy? Just who was she even kidding? It was Luffy who was spending a lot of time with him! It was the complete opposite of what she was saying! Luffy was the one who would call out his name and tackle him to the ground and hound him with questions or stories. Law merely just... put up with it. What else was there to do anyway? He was on a ship that was owned by Strawhat fanboys, surrounded by people he hardly knew. Luffy, really, was the one he knew best out of anybody here. Certainly, Robin, out of all people, would be able to figure that much out.
But... on the chance that even she was not immune to these baseless rumours...
(...Okay, maybe they did have a base. Considering that even he had suspected it at first, but it was all a matter of circumstance. Not that he was going to admit that he had been an emotional mess, so Luffy took him aside so he would not embarrass himself...)
So, Law merely smiled and glanced down at the captain in his lap. For added effect, he ran his fingers through those black locks.
“You think so?”
Law supposed he could do with some form of amusement while they journeyed to Zou. And, it was not as if he was lying to her. Let them think whatever they wanted.
When he glanced up, Law could see a wistful smile on her face.
“Do take care, Torao. These flowers take some time to fully blossom.”
...Okay. Law couldn’t hold back anymore. No, a bark of laughter escaped him. “I would suggest giving that advice to your Captain, Nico-ya. Slow is not in Mugiwara-ya’s vocabulary. He’s the one who dragged me to bed after all!”
At the very least, that drew a chuckle out of the so-called demon child, and she waved at him and turned to leave to two captains alone.
After the incident with Nico Robin, the glares he had been receiving from the odd Barto Club member increased. Perhaps one of them overheard their conversation. They were on a ship after all...
Now, Trafalgar Law was used to glares. Accustomed to them even. He had been an ‘infected’ child, diseased and considered contagious. He had been in a warzone. Had been a child pirate. Even a warlord. All of which put him in less than desired positions. Positions where others would hate him. Despise him. Want him dead. Those glares were ones he was used to.
Not glares filled with some strange kind of jealousy.
And those glares? Well, they amused Law to no end. They were unfounded. Based on mere assumptions. And, quite honestly, ridiculous. If things were as they all assumed it to be, the Barto Club should be reacting opposite to how they actually were. (At least, based on the vibes he had received from the fanclub. He could feel idolisation. Awe. Worship. But, nothing along those lines, however.)
Perhaps were those glares ones of protectiveness? Did they not approve of him? Did they think him not worthy of Luffy? For fuck sakes, if it wasn’t for him, Luffy wouldn’t be alive right now. Idiots, the lot of them. Besides, it was not as if Luffy needed their approval. Luffy was damn selfish. Did what - or in this case, who - he wanted. So, certainly, if Luffy ‘chose’ him, should their idolization towards the crew, and the captain himself, not naturally extend towards him?
Of course, that was all based on the theory that Bartolomeo did not have an entirely different reason to focus on Luffy. That Law did not completely misread his intentions...
Anything seemed possible on this ship full of idiots after all...
This time, it was Usopp who approached him.
Law looked over towards the sniper neutrally. His entire frame was shaking and withdrawn. A nervous wreck. Trembling in his boots. Law had wanted to scoff. It was as if he had not just ruined the decade old plot of Doflamingo - a warlord of terrifying intentions - with merely his facial expression.
So, decidedly, Law remained quiet, but focusing his attention towards him.
The pressure made Usopp squirm a little before he continued. “Uh,” he was fidgeting now, “when are ya gunna... you know... return Luffy’s hat?”
...Ah. Yes. Law did suppose the continued hat exchange was not helping the rumours now, was it? Not that it was under his control at all anyway. (Well... Law supposed he could have used his abilities, but then that would result in Luffy throwing a fit. And that was a headache that Law was not willing to tackle.) Luffy had been rather insistent that he keep the strawhat. Something along the lines of he did not look okay yet. So, Law just kept it because arguing with Luffy while he was hung-over was just not happening. But then, a fit of nightmares soon followed. Ones that were quite expected considering everything he had recently gone through. And, of course, said insistence only continued upon Luffy’s realization of them. Up to Luffy even blatantly refusing to take the hat back when Law had even made any indication otherwise. That and... well Luffy also rationalising that he wanted to wear Torao’s hat, therefore he couldn’t have the strawhat back anyway.
It was just a hunch on Law’s end, but it seemed that giving somebody his hat was an act of comfort from Luffy. It... made sense in a way. While Law was not about to pretend to know the entire background of the hat, it obviously was something very important to Luffy. So, when he entrusted something that important to you? He was telling you: you’re important, I trust you, take care of it for me, okay? (And, there probably were other silent messages the gesture meant, but Law was not privy to everything. Despite the fact that out of everybody here, Luffy was the one whom Law knew best, he still did not know much about the other supernova.)
So, with Usopp’s knowledge of said strawhat, he did suppose it might be odd for him to still have Luffy’s hat. It was obvious enough that the others weren’t quite aware of the reason that Luffy had taken him to the bedroom. (Which, Law was quite grateful for.) Thus, begged the question: why did Torao still have it?
Law reached up to toy with the brim, idly noticing just how tattered it was. Had it been this tattered back on Amazon Lily? He did remember the shoddy patch job it had been given on top back then, but he had never, really, paid attention to the brim. Hm, he wondered, would Luffy allow him to do some repairs once they arrived at Zou? He would have access to more supplies once they were within the vicinity of the Tang...
Usopp was still staring at him. Ah, right, he supposed he had a question to answer, didn’t he?
“Ah, I don’t know...” He answered with an air of mysterious contemplation. Hey, it was the truth. Not even he knew when Luffy would be willing to take his namesake back. But, then, Law let a wry smile twist his lips. “I mean, I have taken a liking to Mugiwara-ya wearing my garments after all...”
Aaaannd with that, a very scarlet looking, sputtering Usopp left him alone in peace.
Law resisted laughing. He couldn’t quite give himself up this early in the game, now could he?
Eventually, however, Law did return Luffy’s hat to him and gained his own. As enjoyable as their reactions were, just what were the Strawhat Pirates without their moniker? It took some reassuring, some admittances that the nightmares in and of themselves were relatively within normal limits for him, but eventually, did Luffy concede to it with a smile on his face, handing him back his hat, his other hand facing up to receive his own.
At the sight, Law felt that odd feeling once more. The one where he had stared upon seeing Luffy wearing his jacket and his coat, smiling down at him without a care in the world.
The feeling, it was not something that Law would quite call affectionate. Appreciation, perhaps. Something close, yet not quite up to that level. He enjoyed Luffy’s smile - they were friends after all. Luffy had... helped him in more ways than one. And, perhaps, yes the other was not a bad sight to look at either. But, despite everybody’s thoughts on the matter he wasn’t looking for anything. If the two of them remained as friends, that was fine. If things had turned out like it was presumed to have, Law would have been okay with that too. He had no objections or qualms about such an occurrence happening. But, Law had no intentions or desires to make it so, either. Yes, Luffy was attractive. Yes, he was charismatic and magnetic. And god knows just how much Law needed some sunshine in his life, but he could still obtain that through friendship.
Being together with Luffy would be nice, and those were the thoughts running through his mind when he saw that smile. But so would mere friendship be, too.
“One thing I did notice however,” Law started as he took off the strawhat, “was the state your brim is in. Would you mind if I cleaned it up a little once I can board my sub? I have more materials there to do a better job.”
There was a pause as Luffy deliberated his words before that smile returned to its rightful place. “Sure! I don’t mind it at all Torao. Shishishi.”
And, Law found himself smiling as Luffy turned around, putting the infamous hat back onto his head.
After the chaos had settled down on Zou did Law finally find an opportunity to suggest fixing up Luffy’s hat. They were going to split up once more, and who knew when they would have another quiet moment.
Granted, the rumours from one half of the crew had finally reached the other half. Not that Law really cared. At first, he wondered if the strawhats had voiced their suspicions towards his crew, but he soon realised that yes, not even his own crew were spared from the rumour mill. Law only wondered though, just how much they believed them.
He knew they definitely would be sceptical of it, just as Robin said she was. (Still, he had not quite figured out if she was playing with him, or truly suspected the rumours were true.) They knew him better, after all. But, then again, they, too, were there when he had rescued Law. Had even questioned him and did not believe his whim was truly just that, a whim.
Very well then.
“Mugiwara-ya, do you remember our conversation the night when we exchanged hats?”
Luffy had nodded at him, and Law found himself grinning slightly. Good. A silent reply, just what he wanted.
"Why don't we go down to my submarine and I can show you just how talented my hands are?"
Law mostly ignored the way that Luffy’s eyes lit up and sparkled, although he whole-heartedly enjoyed the fact that it only made his words that much more potent than they already were. No, he focused more on the reactions of their crews and the scandalised looks they were giving them, and the way that one of the Strawhats was covering Chopper’s ears.
“Oh! Torao! Let’s go! Let’s go!”
Luffy’s excitement made him grin even wider, and almost - just almost did Luffy’s next words make him snigger.
“You’ve just gotta give me the grand tour!”