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if you trust your rebel heart (ride it into battle)

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James is fishing, or at least that’s what he says. It’s his day off and he’s settled back in a chair on the dock, hat low over his eyes, line in the water, halfway asleep. Fishing is more about the -ing than the fish, really, when you do it right.

There’s a boom down the beach, and the shockwave blows by him, knocking his lunch off the dock and into the water, and the only reason his hat doesn’t follow is quick reflexes.

Once the last of the wind blows past, he lurches to his feet, blinking around.

Somewhere down the beach, there’s a weird explosion of sand. There are still particles drifting in the air, and the sand has been exploded out from a central point. It looks like something fell from a long distance, and James squints that way.

The dust hasn’t quite settled but he can still make the shape of a person. They’re small, not visibly armed, and coughing reaches his ears. “Ow,” the shape says, and it’s decidedly feminine.

This may not be the Grand Line, but he does know that magically appearing falling people are a whole lot of not his business. He stays exactly where he is on the dock, clutching his fishing pole, and raises his voice. “You okay?”

“Oh!” the stranger says, and stumbles towards him. She’s young, is his first thought, and pretty. Her jacket is a light blue and she’s got bobbled pigtails, and the hand she’s waving in front of herself is gloved in the same color. “Hello?”

“Hi,” James says, standing his ground. He repeats, “You okay, miss?”

“I’m—” she pauses to cough again. “I’m just a bit lost, I think? Where am I?”

“The East Side beach, by the village of Bethelia,” he tells her.

“Hmm.” She squares her shoulders and stands up straight. “So, not the hospital then.”

No hospital has stood here for over twenty years, and likely never will again. “Not so much,” he agrees.

“Okay,” she says. “And where’s the island of Northumbria from here?”

He clears his throat and waves a hand demonstratively.

“Hmm,” she says, and puts her hands on her hips. “Okay. Is it still June, 1526?”

It is, and he tells her so.

“Great,” she says, and smiles cheerfully. “So I’m in the same place and it’s still the same time, so I must have landed in a different world or dimension or something.”

 “Uh,” James says.

“It’s fine,” she says, waving it all away. “We hear weirder shit at the hospital all the time. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

“Right,” he agrees, not even a bit sure of that. “So, uh….”

“Right, in the meantime,” she says. “Hm. Well, if the hospital isn’t here, I guess I’m looking for Trafalgar Law."

She says it with a casual confidence, but he shudders. He’s happy with his small town life and hasn’t ever left his home, but even he’s heard of the boogyman.

"Trafalgar Law," he repeats slowly. It’s heavy in his mouth and he’s careful with it because that's a name to conjure with.

This girl doesn’t seem to know that, though. "Yeah!” she says brightly. “You know, the doctor?"

That’s not the title James knows. "You mean the Surgeon?" He leaves off the of Death part, just because.

But the girl just beams. "Oh, it must be a different world after all, if he became a surgeon here! How wonderful for him; he always did like that part the best!"

The last James had heard, Trafalgar Law’s type of surgery involved cutting out people’s hearts and leaving them alive and empty. He eyes the girl in front of him and says, "...you're a terrifying young lady, aren't you?"

"Mm? No, I'm a doctor,” she says, bouncing on her toes. “Just like my big brother!"

 


 

Word gets around, as word does. She hitches a ride to the next island on a passing ship, and the whispers are already building. Nothing is secret on the Grand Line, and she’s counting on that.

This may be some weird other world, but Trafalgar Law still exists and still practices medicine, so he’s still her big brother. He’ll find her.

In the meantime, it’s kinda nice to travel. She’s spent so much time studying and learning that she’s rarely left her home island. When they were kids, she and Law would make up stories about what the world might be like, in other Blues.

She’d wanted to have her own ship, back then. She’d wanted to set sail with a vessel fitted out like a doctor’s office, and take her help to those who couldn’t come to the Grand Hospital. Law had laughed at her, but he’d listened.

She smiles, now, thinking about it. She’d forgotten.

So she leans on the ship’s railing and pushes her face farther into the wind. The salt on the air is almost heavy enough to taste, but the constant rocking is some kind of soothing. If this is travel, it’s not bad at all.

“Where’re you headed?” a hand asks her. Her name’s Rika, and Lami had wrapped her sprained ankle just yesterday. Lami doesn’t have much money, but most ships are happy to have a doctor hitch a ride.

“Dunno,” Lami says, turning to smile at her. “I suppose I’m looking for something.”

Rika laughs. “Best reason in the world, to travel. Good luck, miss, with finding it.”

“Thanks,” Lami says, and looks away at the horizon again.

It’s endlessly blue, and she loses her breath a moment to see it.

“We’ll hit Bridgefort Quay tomorrow, I think,” Rika says. “It’s the furthest east we’re going, and the closest to the Grand Line. If you’re looking to cross the Calm Belt, that should be your best bet.”

“Thank you,” Lami says. She’s not sure if she is looking to cross the Calm Belt, but a big port with heavy traffic going many ways sounds just about perfect. “I think that’ll suit me just fine.”

They do make land the next day, and the island is everything Lami hoped it would be. The port city is big and loud and hot, but it’s also colorful and dirty.

Everything in Flevance is clean. It’s all slick and white, and the Amber Lead that makes up so much of their lives is a kind of cream that’s everywhere. Here, everything is reds and browns, wood and brick, and clothes of every color. It’s wonderful, as new and exciting as the sea, and Lami smiles as she sets out to make herself a reputation.

It doesn’t take much, in the end. Lami is young and pretty, she knows, but she’s also a Trafalgar. That name seems to mean something different here, but in her own world, the Trafalgar name carries the weight of the most famous doctors in the most famous hospital in the world. It’s a standard of excellence, these days; when asked for a miracle, it’s not uncommon for healers to say, what do you think I am, a Trafalgar?

It was her grandfather who started it, and her mother who carried it on. When her father married in, he worked even harder to be worthy, and they taught their children to read with anatomy texts. The name is just a name, but the reputation is a weapon.

So she doesn’t give it, at first. She finds work helping a medicine peddler at a market stall, but it’s not long before she’s treating small injuries and helping consult, and then working intake at a private clinic, and then—

Once she’s proven her skills, once they call her doctor, all on their own, then she tells them her name. There’s whispers, almost immediately, and the clientele shifts. Less honest folk and more dock workers, more disreputable types, drawn by the rumors.

It doesn’t matter. She’s not here to make a life for herself, just a reputation.

It doesn’t even take long, after that. Not even a month into her stay on Bridgefort Quay, she’s having a drink at a bar one night.

It’s not her favorite pastime, but Lami is a social creature and she likes dive bars. They’re such fascinating studies of different types of people, and enough of the locals like having a cheap, discreet doctor around well enough that it’s usually pretty safe for her. It’s a guilty pleasure she can’t indulge in much at home, and one that makes Law tear his hair out every time she calls him for a ride.

He always comes to get her, no matter what time of night it is.

She misses him so much. Melancholy isn’t a good mood on her, though, so she sighs, pays her tab and tips generously, then grabs her half-empty bottle, slides off her stool and heads back to the shithole apartment she’s renting by the week.

“Where even are you,” she says to the empty street as she walks. “I need a ride home, Law.”

Any and all versions of her brother fail to magically appear. She chugs the rest of the bottle and throws it against a nearby wall. The shattering noise is very loud and extremely satisfying.

“What was that?” someone asks from a nearby alley, and Lami shuts her mouth, curses mentally, and scoots over to walk against the wall, where the shadows are deeper and she’s got something at her back.

“Let’s find out,” a second voice says, and Lami takes the first turn she can, sliding down a dirty alley, past a dumpster, and heads back towards the oceanfront. It’s night and the dockworkers are rowdy, but they know her face and she can get someone to walk her home if she asks real nice.

“There!” comes yet another voice, which makes at least three. She bolts, running with her shoulders back and breathing through her stride, keeping her eyes on the ground for uneven patches or any obstacles.

She’s not the fastest runner, but she’s fast enough. She’s not the greatest in hand-to-hand, but she knows weak spots and pressure points. She may look vulnerable, but it’s not like she’s unarmed.

This isn’t a great situation, but it’s not a terrible one either. It’s more…annoying.

That doesn’t stop her from being thankful when someone else interrupts the chase. “Captain, here!” another person calls, and whether they mean a Marine captain or a ship’s captain, it’s still someone with power.

An odd shimmer of blue coats the alley’s walls and she breaks out onto the main street just as whoever’s chasing her catches up. She takes a second to slip her scalpels into her hands, just in case.

She needen’t have bothered; there’s a sound behind her, and she dares to glance over her shoulder. It’s enough that she stops and turns instead, disappearing her scalpels back up her sleeves.

The idiots fly apart and there's blood everywhere but she is a doctor's daughter, a doctor in her own right, and she doesn't flinch, not from that. The spatter is warm and familiar but she has eyes only for the back in front of her.

She knows him, even from behind. He’s got a different coat but still the same hat, and she would know those shoulders and that posture, even blindfolded in the dark.

“Law,” she says, and he goes stiff, then turns slowly towards her.

This Law is tall and dark and inked, and he does not have laugh lines, but none of that matters.  He’s family and familiar, and even with blood on his face, he’s still the best thing she’s seen in days.

“Law,” she says again, and throws herself at him. He’s stiff in her arms, for all of a second, and then he’s hugging her properly, tight and not careful at all. It’s a hug she knows well; it’s how he hugs when he’s scared.

"Lami," he says, dropping his sword and wrapping her up tight. "Lam-Lam, little Lami, how--" and his voice is shocked, sick with hope, and she buries her face in his coat and shakes.

“Law,” she says, and then takes a deep breath. He smells different here, all salt and smoke and sweat, and it’s not particularly pleasant but it’s still grounding. “Law,” she says again, and then pulls back to smile at him. “Hi.”

“Hi,” he breathes, looking back at her. His eyes are huge and his face is pale, and his grip is still slightly too tight. “Lami. Lami, how—”

She takes a step back, drawing him along with her, and says, “Not here, Law, c’mon—”

“Right.” He wraps one large hand around her wrist, detours momentarily to grab his sword, and takes off. She keeps pace and follows him all the way out of the maze of a town and onto the docks, where he helps her clamber up onto the deck of a bright yellow submersible.

He’s still bloody and not letting go of her, so when he starts shouting at the crew to cast off, no one hesitates. There’s a loud swirl of quick-paced chaos and then the engines rumble to life and the ship starts moving.

Lami takes the time to breathe, calming down after the encounter and the run, and she grabs onto Law’s sleeve and doesn’t let go. The submersible moves pretty fast, really, and they’re leaving land behind far sooner than she expected.

She doesn’t look back. There’s nothing she needs that’s not already with her.

“Law,” she says, tugging on his sleeve. “Hey, is this ship yours?”

“Yeah,” he says, then turns to look at her. His hands land on her shoulders, and then slide up to cup her face. “Lami, how—? Is it really…?”

 She grins at him, and steps forward to hug him. He’s slightly shorter here, but broader; she has to squeeze tight to wrap her arms all the way around him. “Missed you,” she tells his coat, and he makes a choked, punched-out noise he hasn’t heard since the surprise birthday party when he’d turned eighteen.

“Lami,” he says like a broken record, and she rocks back half a step, braces her elbow with her other arm, and rams it into his solar plexus.

“That,” she says primly, “is for keeping me waiting. You’re about a month overdue.”

The look he gives her is wide and wounded. “I didn’t—”

“What, you didn’t know I was waiting?”

“No, I—"

“You didn’t expect dimensions to collide and dump an alternate version of your sister in your world? A likely story.”

“We were on the other side of the world—”

“Sure you were,” she says, but she’s still leaning into him with her entire body.

“Uh, Captain?” a thin guy in ugly coveralls and dark glasses says, and Law’s arms tighten around her.

“Take us under,” he says. “Back through the Calm Belt. We’re heading back to Sabaody.”

“Sir,” the guy says, and goes off to do…that, presumably.

“You’re a captain?” Lami asks Law, eyes wandering over the submersible. It’s not small, and is eye-searingly yellow. “I see you never grew out of liking piss yellow,” she says, pitching her voice to be heard across the deck.

There’s a dip in the noise and Law stares at her. “What?” he says.

If he’s expecting her to still be a sweet little girl, he’s got another think coming. “I said, you may have grown a couple feet but you have failed to grow a sense of style.”

“Are you—” he stops a second, all baffled. “Are you making fun of the color of the sub that’s saving your life?”

“No,” Lami says, reaching out her free hand to pat at the railing. “I like the sub very much. It’s you I’m making fun of.”

He stares at her a second longer, and then he laughs. It’s not loud or long, just a rough burst of noise that shakes his entire body. “I missed you,” he says, wrapping his arms tighter around her. “Lami, what happened? How did you get here?”

“I dunno,” she says. She’d usually step away from a hug by now, but he obviously needs it. It’s not a hardship, playing teddy bear, and her own shaking hands have nothing to do with it. “Something probably went wrong, somewhere.”

He huffs, and she steps on his foot. “No,” she says, rolling her eyes, “it was not my fault. I didn’t blow up anything or push any buttons or—”

“Sure,” he says, squeezing her one last time and letting her go. “Not your fault at all.”

“It wasn’t,” she whined. “Maybe the world just couldn’t handle all my awesome.”

“That’s probably it,” he agrees, and he’s grinning.  It’s an expression she knows very well, but it sits oddly on his face here.

She grins back, and then surprises them both by yawning. He huffs a noise that’s not quite a laugh and she scowls at him. “What,” she says, aiming for his ribs. “It’s been a long day of running for my life, okay? What do you even want from me here.”

“Nothing more than that,” Law says, and grabs her hand. “C’mon, I got a place you can stay.”

“You better,” she mutters, following him and yawning again. Law may have his own place and life these days, but every single one of his places has always had a room for her.

Only this room is clearly not for her. It’s a guest room, sure, but leaning more on the hospital-crash-pad side than the Lami-and-also-guest-room side. It’s sterile and sharp, but the bed is comfortable enough when she faceplants into it.

She’s slept on cots and at desks and grabbed naps on benches and in corners; all Trafalgars can sleep anywhere. It’s not familiar, but this is, comparatively, luxury.

She inhales the comforting scent of antiseptic and hospital, and falls asleep before the door even clicks shut, and she sleeps deep and dreamless.

 


 

It might be morning, when she opens her eyes. It might be morning, or it might not; it’s dark in the room and there’s no clock.

There is, however, an idiot brother, sitting on the floor and slumped over onto the bed, still asleep.

“Oi,” she says, and yawns. “Hey, Law. Wake up.”

He snaps awake like being shocked with a defib, and he’s gasping like it too. “Lami,” he says, then rubs his eyes. “Lami, you’re—here.”

“Course I am,” she says, and stretches, hearing her spine pop. “We’re under water; I can’t just disappear.”

“It—wouldn’t be the first time,” he says, all large eyes and hesitant words, and it’s weird seeing her big brother like this.

There’s something wounded in the set of his mouth that makes her think he’s referring to this world’s Lami, but she ignores it with the long practice of a little sister. “I told you it wasn’t my fault,” she complains instead. “I don’t know how it happened, okay? I swear.”

He blinks at her, once, and then his head falls back into his arms, on the bed, and he starts laughing, laughing so hard he’s shaking with it.

It’s not really that funny, but he is, and she flops back to hide the smile growing on her own face. He laughs for too long, but it’s okay.

Then there’s a noise, and she makes a grumbling noise almost as loud as her stomach just did, and she flops her foot towards him in a lazy, half-hearted attempt at a kick. “Hey,” she says, “m’ starving. Feed me.”

He looks up at her, still grinning. “Your hair is a mess.”

She gives him the most unimpressed look she can manage. “Starving. Food.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He levers himself up and opens the door, stepping aside and gesturing for her to go through.

She crosses her arms and stares at him. “Law,” she says patiently. “I’m not going first. I don’t know where we’re going.”

“Right.” He heads out and she follows, a half step behind, looking around with curiosity. There’s so much hospital in this sub; it’s really impressive.

There’s too much hospital in the mess, though; it’s just as bland and boring as she half-expected it would be. She’s no stranger to the food-is-fuel mindset, but if she’s not at work, she sees no reason to eat like she is.

He gestures out at the small room and she goes and picks a table. He’s there in a few seconds, holding a plate and cup, and she lets him set them down before staring up at him.

He’s not sitting, just fidgeting awkwardly, and neither sitting nor getting himself food. She sighs, then starts undoing her pigtails.

That’s a clear enough signal for him, thankfully, and she sets to eating breakfast while he runs careful fingers through her hair and straightens the part. It’s familiar and mindless for the both of them, and he French braids twin tails back in, tying them off with rubber bands.

Then he’s back to dithering, and she raises her eyebrows at him. He freezes, then ducks his head and goes to get himself a mug of coffee.

She looks at his mug of coffee, then her cup of milk, and then back at him. Then she leans over and takes his mug right out of his hands and chugs the whole thing.

Law gives her the how-dare face and she smirks at him. That’s more like it.

Breakfast is quiet; Lami isn’t good at waking up when she doesn’t need to, and Law is the same. Breakfast is always quiet because when they have to be awake in the morning, there’s usually not time to eat.

But all she has right now is time, and she kicks him in the leg. “Hey,” she says. “Show me around this tub of yours, won’t you?”

He nods, making to leave, but she goes to the counter and grabs them both more coffee first. He raises his eyebrows at her when she shoves his into his hands, but he takes it, and she keeps her nose in the air and pretends it’s not an apology at all.

He does show her around, though. They walk through the operating suites and the diagnostic rooms and the library, and on the bridge he orders them brought topside and she watches the water slough off as they breach into sunlight.

“C’mon,” he says, gesturing for her to follow. “You’ll love this bit.”

They walk out onto the deck, and a bear Law introduces at Bepo is already laying flat in the sun. “This is the nap spot,” he says, and Lami turns her face up to the bright sun and smiles.

“Let’s take a nap, then,” she says, and plops herself down.

His smile still isn’t as familiar as her Law’s it, but it lights up his face in the same way.

Chapter Text

Law wakes up first this time, and stays there, in the sunshine, curled up against Bepo, and staring at his sister’s face.

She’s not as tall as him, but she’s familiar, and her hair is the same color as their mother’s. The French braids are holding perfectly well, though, and she stirs under his scrutiny.

“Great nap spot,” she agrees, and he can’t help himself; he smiles.

“Yeah,” he says, and relaxes back into warm white fur.

“Hey,” she says sleepily. “Hey, I was thinking. You think the Royal Science Academy might know what’s up with this?”

Law keeps himself still, but his heart trips over itself to speed up and he’s suddenly wide awake. The Royal Science Academy would probably know exactly what’s going on, especially if amber lead is somehow the cause, but that’s assuming it’s still standing.

Which it isn’t, because it was the Royal Science Academy of Flevance.

Lami shifts a little. “Uncle Alphard teaches that class on non-standard travel,” she muses. “And I think there was a group of seniors a few years ago that were working on teleporting, remember? With the watermelons?”

He swallows, once, and forces his fists to unclench. “Uh,” he says instead of you know I don’t. “That’s—yeah, good idea. Later, though, we’ve got to, uh, check with someone else first.”

“Mmkay,” she says, sleepy and trusting, and he smiles at him. “Thanks, bro.”

“Yeah,” he chokes out, and jerks himself to his feet. “I’m gonna go—talk to someone. About that.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she says and yawns, covering her mouth with one hand. “Hang on, I’m coming.”

Law stays, but he’s twitching. He needs a distraction, stat.

“Hey,” he says, and reaches out a hand to haul her to her feet. “Are you still in residency?”

“Nah,” she says, taking his hand and taking absolutely none of her own weight. He has to lean back to drag her up, and she rubs at her eyes with her free hand. “Finished about a week ‘fore I woke up here. Finally caught up on sleep, and picked someone up at a bar to celebrate—"

Completely on instinct, Law’s hand tightens and his free hand goes to his waist, looking for Kikoku. She catches it and rolls her eyes like only a younger sibling can.

“No,” she says, and promptly pushes him over the rail.

He windmills, then goes over, eyes wide and mouth open. There’s a splash, and Lami sniffs and puts her nose in the air.

Someone screams, “Captain overboard!” and several people go scrambling over the rail after him. Lami watches them in bemusement.

The fall was less than three feet. She’s dunked him from far higher. “He can swim,” she tells them.

And that’s how Lami discovers that Law, in this reality, has a Devil Fruit.

~@~

He’s still shivering and wet when lunch rolls around, so he ditches Lami to go change. She can find her way to the mess if she’s hungry.

He’s finally dry and wondering where he’d left Kikoku, because the sword in not in his room or at his side. He’d had it last night, but not at breakfast—must still be in the guest room.

Then the alarm goes off.

Law likes his submersible because it’s clever and quick and stealthy. They aren’t usually spotted by the average pirate, which makes getting around a lot safer and easier.

It means, though, that when they are spotted, it’s by someone with SONAR or something similar, which means that whoever it is is usually big enough to be an actual threat.

The detection alarm is loud, clanging through the hallways. The lights used to change, too, flash and go into a red spectrum. It was very appropriate but not very helpful, though, so now the lights just come on.

“Marines,” Sachi says when he hits the bridge.  “Looks like a cruiser.”

Not the best case scenario—that’s big enough that they’ll definitely have the good equipment—but not the worst either; it’s a small enough complement that he’d stand a decent chance alone, if he had to.

He doesn’t have to, though, not while his crew is here. Still, they’re not the only ones around.

“We run,” he says, making the snap decision. “Take us deeper, and change our heading.”

“Yessir,” Sachi snaps out, and the door to the bridge shrieks open.

“Law?” Lami says, leaning in the doorway. Her hair is a mess again and her eyes are wild. “Alarm? Enemies? Hurt?”

“It’s fine,” he says, instinctively reaching out to her. She comes to him, stepping forward and grabbing onto his arm. “We saw them before they saw us.”

She hums. “You always were good at hide-and-seek,” she says, yawning and leaning into his arm. “I mean, usually you were the seeker, but—”

“More like you were bad at it,” Law says. There’s so much he’s forgotten about Lami, about his family—so much he’s tried to forget. It’s coming back to him and he lets the old knowledge cut into him and settle under his skin like little razor blades. “You didn’t have the patience to sit still long enough to hide.”

She huffs and steps on his toes. He winces but stands firm; he’s right, he knows he is. “So we’re running?” she asks.

“Yeah,” he admits. “With a ship that size and—”

“You don’t have to justify yourself to me, Law,” she cuts in. “If you think it’s the best course, then I trust you.”

He blinks. He’s forgotten, a bit, what it’s like to work with people who think strategically; his most recent adventures have been lead more by instinct than strategy, and by people who consider avoiding an unnecessary fight cowardice.

“Yeah,” he says, and coughs once into a fist. “Good. Thanks.”

Lami hums, and she watches the screens with him. He doesn’t ask if she understands them, and she doesn’t ask for details.

“About that running away,” Sachi says, turning in his chair to look up at Law, but Law’s already noticed the Marine ship coming about to match headings.

The Marine ship is much larger, but its engine is much faster. It’s a brutal piece of engineering, unlike the elegant Polar Tang, but it’s made for destruction and hunting. Not to mention the way they tend to call in reinforcements; Marines tend to go by the motto that overkill is never-enough-kill.

Law is not getting chased into an ambush. Not today.

“Turn us about and take us up,” he says, voice just as calm. “Looks like we’re gonna fight anyway. Lami, please don’t—”

He turns, and she’s got a fistful of sharp little scalpels and steady eyes. “Yes?” she all but dares him.

He blinks. Sometimes it’s so easy to see the little girl in her, but then sometimes something like this throws it in his face that this is not his Lami. “Uh. Please don’t…get hurt?”

“Mmhmm. Same to you.”

He sighs and goes to fetch Kikoku, making it to the guest room and back before the sub breaches the surface. His crew’s at the door, waiting, and he pushes through them to stand in the front.

He doesn’t give orders; the crew knows what to do. He doesn’t give a pep talk, either; he just waits, one hand on his sword and one hand on the door. Then he turns, catches a flash of white and orange, and says, “Bepo.”

Bepo’s there, a second later, and Law leans in and says, low and quick, “Watch over Lami for me.” Bepo grunts and melts back through the crew, presumably to take up a station near Lami, and Law turns his eyes to the metal door and waits.

The sub breaches, the pressure equalizes, the door opens, and he steps out into the fight.

“Trafalgar Law, you are under arrest—” someone starts trumpeting from the Marine ship, and he ignores them, racing ahead to plant a foot on the railing and leap for the ship. The second he’s in range, a Room blooms around him and he Shambles half the Marines for half of his own crew.

Unlike the Marines, his crew is ready for it, and the battle is joined. There’s a lot of screaming, a couple splashes, and rather less blood than there should be. Law stays balanced on the railing of the Marine ship closest to the Polar Tang and maintains the Room.

Law’s dangerous in a fight but he’s deadly in a battle. He stays on high and Shambles his crew around to better advantage, watching everyone’s backs and swapping people back to the sub when they’re hurt. He cuts up anyone who comes near, but his role is commander, not front-line fighter.

When the force is whittled down enough, there’s a small knot of Marines around the ship’s Captain and just about the same amount of Heart Pirates as Marines still standing. “Everyone off,” Law says, stepping down onto the deck and pitching his voice to be heard over the battle.

His crew immediately turns and runs for him, and the Marines, for the most part, let them go. The Heart Pirates gather beside him and he gives them the mark. They all, as a whole, jump over the railing of the ship, out into open air.

Law marks the Marines on the deck, especially the defensive knot, and at the very peak of the Heart Pirates’ jump, he Shambles them all with the Marines, who find themselves mid-air and plummeting.

The Captain, previously surrounded with his best fighters, now finds himself surrounded by pirates, grinning wide and vicious, and he swallows and raises his hands. He’s still holding a Wanted poster in one and his sword in the other, which he promptly drops.

Sachi rips the poster out of his hand, and Law stoops to the nearest body and tugs the guy’s kerchief off, which he promptly Shambles with the Captain’s sword. Lounging languidly against the rail, the Captain’s sword over his shoulder, Law says, “We’ll be going now. You won’t be following.”

The captain stares at him, eyes burning with hatred. “Just kill me,” he spits. “That’s what you do, right? Rip out hearts indiscriminately?”

Law narrows his eyes and says nothing.

“C’mon, pirate,” the captain taunts. “Kill me!”

“No,” says Law, and he grabs the rail and settles back on top of it in a deep crouch. “I don’t think I will. You want it too much.” Then he stands up and holds out his hand. His crew straightens and he closes his hand, twisting, and his crew is back on the Polar Tang.

“Let’s get out of here,” Law says, and finally drops his Room. “Sachi, point us north-northwest toward—”

Sachi salutes, but Lami is right next to him on the deck, and she tugs the poster. Sachi lets her have it and the crew scatters to get them back underway.

“Nice battle,” Lami says, but Law’s already frozen in place, eyes locked on her. “Well-fought.”

He should say thanks, or wave it off, but there’s a spatter of red across her cheek and on her jacket cuffs. His eyes are stuck on the red, and he swallows. “There’s,” he says instead. “There’s something you should know.” His eyes flick down to the paper.

She follows his eyes and looks down at the Wanted poster and raises her eyebrow. “Surgeon of Death?” she reads out loud.

The words drop into silence. Law’s tense, shoulders tight and high, and he’s not looking at her. He is, in fact, pointedly not looking at her, because he doesn’t want to see whatever is on her face.

She sighs, fabric rustles, and she says, "Law."

Law flinches, and if his shoulders go any higher, he's gonna leave the ground. Which would be great, really; he’d kill or die to keep her safe, but he’d rather kill himself than have her be afraid of him.

"Law," she says again, and her voice is far closer to frustration than fear. "I'm your sister. I spent my entire life learning to read you, and this version of you didn't even learn how to lie to me. Law. Did you think I didn't know? Did you think I couldn't tell? Flevance is gone here. Did you think I wouldn't notice?"

"I hoped," he says quietly, all over blood and still looking away. "I wanted—my hands are bloody here, Lami," and, "you deserve—better."

"I don't care," she says.

"I killed—" he tries but—

"I don't care."

"I let you die—"

"I don't care."

"I did harm, Lams,” he says sharply, dragging out his wounds for her because this is still his biggest sin. He was raised to be a doctor; it’s all he ever wanted to be, and he may never have taken the oath but he still carries it in his blood and his heart and his dreams. “I did so much harm—"

She steps up and wraps her arms around him, the blood still warm between them and she doesn't even flinch. "I don't care."

He stands there, looking down at her hair, and then she looks up at him.

"You," she says, “are an idiot. If you weren't a doctor, you'd still be my brother."

"But—"

"if you were the most feared assassin ever to live, you'd still be my brother."

"Lami, I—"

"Maybe this you didn't teach me how to ride a bike. Maybe this you didn't show me how to apply eyeliner or let me try wine early or take away my cigs and yell yourself hoarse over it. Maybe this you never helped me study for med school entrance exams. Maybe this you didn't. But Law? Law, look at me, Law. Given the chance, you would have. You could have. You did. I don't care what you aren't, Law. You're my brother, and that's always been enough for me."

It's not forgiveness because he didn't ask for it, and it's not absolution because he doesn't need it. What it is, is validation, and trust and family and, and truly, perfectly unconditional love. Love without limits.

It’s the kind of love he lost with his home.

He shakes himself apart in her arms, and she catches him and tugs at him until they’re both sitting on the deck. He wraps himself up in her and cries into her hair.

He cries because he has to, for her and for himself and for what he lost and what he could have been and had.

He cries because she's his in every way that matters, except permanently. He cries, because she cares so much, and because and he can't keep her.

This Lami belongs with a different Law, in a different world and a different life. She’s got a home and a family and a future, and he’s taken enough from her already.

So Law holds her close while he can, not careful or gentle, and he cries, and even now, he doesn’t let himself pretend.

It turns out that, despite his best efforts, Trafalgar D Water Law is still human after all.

Who knew?

He’s human enough to be selfish, and he sits there, holding her, long past the point he’s run out of tears. “Thanks,” he says, and it’s raw and awful, but she still doesn’t flinch.

She doesn’t say anything, just nods and sits there patiently. He searches his pockets until he finds a bit of fabric and tugs it out to wipe his face. It used to be a surgical towel, long ago, before it became a pocket rag.

She huffs at it. “Still use those?” she asks, leaning back a bit. “Me too. I’ve got ‘em everywhere at home. I tried to cook in a friend’s kitchen once and couldn’t find any kitchen towels because they weren’t surgical blue.”

He tries a smile, and it’s not big but it’s there. “Yeah,” he says. “Bought a pallet of ‘em a few years ago. They’re everywhere on this ship.”

“Most useful towel in the world,” she says solemnly. It’s something their father used to say, and he squeezes her one more time and lets her go.

They’re alone on the deck; the rest of the crew has cleared off to let Law have his little breakdown in peace. That’s good; no one needed to see that.

“Where is everyone?” Lami asks, looking around.

“Probably hiding,” he says, and accepts the hand up she offers. He means to hop up fast enough to mitigate the weight she has to pull, but she’s faster and tugs him up with practiced ease. “They’re scared of, you know. Feelings.”

“Ha, they really are your crew, aren’t they?” Lami says, wandering over to the railing. She hasn’t let go of his hand, so he’s tugged along in her wake. “I like them. Bepo is the best nap buddy ever.”

“He really is,” Law agrees. He gives her a small, quick smile, and she grins back. It’s easier to smile, these days, and to mean it.

“Hey,” he says, “little Lams, I—”

The look she gives him is pure acid. “You what, large Lawsie?”

“…Point taken,” he says, making a mental note to drop the nicknames. Clearly this Lami, all grown up, doesn’t care for them.

“Thank you,” she says primly. “Now, what were you says?”

“I was just thinking—”

“Don’t hurt yourself.”

“Funny. Look, I…may know someone who could help.”

Lami tilts her head, raising both eyebrows, and it hits him low and hard—that’s something their mom used to do, waiting for an explanation. He’d forgotten.

“He’s kind of a last resort,” Law says, looking away from her. “I don’t want to ask him unless we have no choice.”

“Ah, he’ll ask a high price?” Lami asks. She’s clever, his Lami, and surprisingly cunning. It suits her.

Law makes a face. “He will get you home, probably. If there’s no way, he’ll bend the world until there is one, and he won’t stop until he does. It’s a…a commitment, is all.” Law will tear the world apart if Lami asks it of him, but he’s not going to Monkey D Luffy with his hat in his hands unless he’s desperate.

“Mmm.” She knows there’s a lot he’s not telling her, he can feel it. She’ll probably sidle up to one of his crew later and ask simple questions with a friendly smile until she knows the whole story, but at least he won’t have to admit to anything. “Well, I don’t think we’re in that much of a rush.”

“Won’t they miss you?” Law asks.

“Well, yeah, but. I don’t know, everyone knows I can take care of myself, so it’s not as immediate.”

Law mutters something under his breath, about disappearing on family, and she looks away and pretends she didn’t hear him.

“It’s just—” she sighs, wrapping her hands around the railing and leaning back, letting it support her weight as she sways slightly in place. “It’s just that…I guess I’m tired of always being just another Dr. Trafalgar. It’s been so nice here, being just Lami.”

Law opens his mouth to say something, anything, and comes up empty. He closes it again.

“Look, I’m smart and talented and pretty, and that’s because I’m me,” she says, and he snorts and adds in, “And humble,” but she ignores him. “And I’m determined, and I know how to learn, and that’s because I was raised well. But I’m also extremely adaptable, and that’s because I’m your little sister.”

Law squints at her and tries to think that through. He’s a hellraiser and drags chaos in his wake, sure, but that’s intentionally and purposefully done. If given the chance, he thinks he wouldn’t have wanted to travel much at all. “What does that mean?”

She sighs. “Nothing, Law,” she says, and gives him a flat look. “Not a single thing.”

He feels like he’s missed something, but he has no idea what. Lami’s got a whole life of inside jokes he’s not privy to, and in the end he just looks away and back at the horizon.

She sighs again and looks that way, too, and they stand there in silence for a long moment.

“Hey,” says a voice he’s never heard before, and suddenly there’s another person there, leaning against the rail on Lami’s other side. “Need a ride home?”

It’s Law, except not. This new one is a bit taller, broader in the shoulders but thinner in the chest, and has no tattoos. He’s wearing white and there’s a lightness to his face that Law’s never seen in the mirror. Lami, though, is already leaning into him, and the strange Law raises his arm and wraps her under it like it’s a reflex.

They’re in the middle of the ocean, though, and Law blinks and says, “How—”

“Thanks, bro,” Lami says, shifting a bit further into him. “Good to see you again.”

“No, but how—“

“Big Brother Powers,” the new Law says, and there’s a hint of a grin on his face. “If Lami needs a way out of trouble, I’ll be there.”

“But the dimensional—”

“Maybe you didn’t hear me,” he says, deceptively calm, but his arm tightens around Lami. “If my baby sister needs me, I’ll be there.”

“Chill out,” Lami says, and the new Law jerks and grunts like she just elbowed him in the ribs. She probably did. “Hey, speaking of needing a ride, though…”

The new alternate Law squints at her, and when she doesn’t continue, he says, “That doesn’t sound good.”

Lami sighs. “Yeah, well. I don’t.”

Law—Original Law—trades a look with AlternaLaw, and the latter makes a face. “What, sound good?”

“Need a ride,” she corrects.

“You don’t? Then how are you gonna get home?” AlternaLaw asks.

“I’m not,” she says, and it’s simple and factual.

“What,” both Laws say at the same time, staring at her.

"Law, c'mon. You moved in with your wife ages ago--"

"What," says Original Law.

"--and you're gonna take over the family practice. You're the perfect Trafalgar heir; you always have been. There was never anything I could ever do that you hadn't done first. I love you, bro, but you never needed me."

AlternaLaw looks positively stricken, all pale and upset, and it matches the feeling in Original Law’s gut "No, that's not—" AlternaLaw protests, but Lami is having none of it.

"Yeah, you love me, I know that, you moron,” she says. “But you don't need me."

"I—"  

"He does,” she says, gesturing to Original Law. “This you, he lost—everything. We died here; the whole family died. I died, and I ripped out his heart when I did. He has no family, no home, no Flevance, just—just rage. And he's hurting, brother.

“There's nothing I can do at home that you haven't done first, but I'm still a doctor, you know? You made me that. So I'm going to stay here. Where I'm needed."

There’s something in Original Law’s throat, something as heavy as regret and as bitter as bile, but it feels a lot like hope. “Lami, you can't—"

"Oh, shove it, other brother,” she says, turning on him, her pigtails whipping out behind her. “You think you can tell me, Trafalgar Lami, what to do? Shove it up your ass, Law. Sideways."

"Uh..."

AlternaLaw meets his eyes over her head. "Are you sure you wanna keep her?" he asks, and it’s light but there’s pain underneath it.

Original Law looks from him to Lami’s stubborn, unimpressed face. "I feel like maybe I don't get a say?"

"Finally, some sense from you two."

"Hey!" AlternaLaw protests.

Original Law, though, tilts his head and decides, "...fair."

"Hey!"

"Fuck off, brother,” Lami says, not so much leaning into AlternaLaw as bodychecking his entire side. “And—and have a nice life, yeah?"

"...I love you, little Lams," AlternaLaw says, and wraps her up in a hug so big he lifts her clear off the deck. “And I’m so, so proud of you.”

She squirms until he puts her down, and then stops fighting. "Yeah, you too,” she says, and leaning into his hug for just a second. Then she shoves him away and squares her shoulders, lifting her chin, and she looks so much like their dad that it takes his breath away. “...just. I love you. Go."

“If you ever need a lift, though,” AlternaLaw says, and then he reaches into his pocket. He fiddles with something there, hesitates a long moment, and then meets Original Law’s eyes. “Take care of her,” he says, and then he’s gone.

“Excuse me,” Lami says, affronted. She turns to fix a gimlet eye on Original Law, now once again the only Law. “Who does he think is taking care of who, here?”

Law looks at her. She’s shorter than him, smaller, younger, and when she’s pouting like that, she looks younger still. She’s stubborn and headstrong and, like all Trafalgars, once she makes her stand nothing will move her, and her stand is apparently here, next to him.

He laughs, then, because he can’t do anything else. “Yeah,” he wheezes, leaning against the rail, shaking and weak with relief. “Yeah, Lams, you tell ‘em.”