Two Sides of the Same Coin

Title: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Author: Rhyssa Fireheart
Characters: Rob Lucci., Angelina (OC), Jabra, Alura (OC)
Pairings: Implied Lucci/Lina
Fandom: One Piece
Rating: K
Disclaimer: Don’t own it, never will. Just like to play around with it in my mind.

NOTE: This story follows immediately after “Collateral Damage”. The title comes from the phrase “Love and hate are two sides of the same coin.”

After the third night, the nurses stopped responding to her screams. Why bother, when the only response they’d get was It’s nothing. I’m okay. She was fine with being ignored though; it meant she didn’t have to explain why she thought she was going crazy.

Everything was fine when she woke up in the hospital. Well, not exactly fine, she was injured after all, hence the hospital stay. And when she did finally open her eyes, the view of a blank ceiling was almost instantly replaced by her sister’s face, scowling down at her.

“Wha.. Alura? What…what are you doing?” Angelina said groggily, closing her eyes again to block the view.

“Angel! You’re finally awake! I’ve been so worried about you after what that bastard did!”

Angelina could feel her sister’s fingers gripping her hand tightly, but it was distant, removed. She thought about it a second and decided that she felt overall fuzzy and it wasn’t pleasant.

“Alura, don’t start,” Jabra cut in. “Angel’s just woken up, so maybe wait on the accusations and shit?”

“Shut it! That prick put her in the hospital and he doesn’t even care!” Jabra responded with “that wasn’t the truth!” and their voices got louder and louder, forcing a nurse to finally come in and stop them both. Angelina just lay on the bed, eyes shut, trying to block out the whole scene. She heard quick footsteps leaving the room and a large hand roughly brushed her hair back.

“Sorry about that, Angel. Alura’s just worried about you, is all,” Jabra said.

“I know,” A pause to sigh. “How long…?”

“Almost three days since we brought you back to the compound. Doctors have operated on your leg twice already; I think they’ve gotta do some more surgery, too. You’ve been pretty out of it from the drugs.”

“Drugs…that must explain how I feel,” she mumbled. “I need to sit up more. I can’t stand lying on my back like this.”

“Let me find a nurse. I don’t know how to fix the bed right.”

After the nurse had come and gone, adjusting the bed so Angelina could sit up more, her sister reappeared, looking much calmer than before. She chatted with her visitors for a short while but soon found herself dropping off into a doze, fighting to stay awake.

“Look, we’re gonna go, Angel,” Jabra said after the fourth or fifth time she’d fallen asleep. “We’ll come back tomorrow with Blueno if we can.”

“Yeah, we’ll come see you tomorrow.” Alura leaned over to give her sister a kiss on the cheek. “Notice whose name Jab didn’t mention?” she continued on a waspish voice.

Instead of answering, Angelina let her eyes drift shut again, blocking out the sounds of her sister and foster brother leaving. She didn’t want to listen to her sister’s complaints about “that bastard” (Alura’s favorite way of referring to him) longer than she had to. It didn’t help that Angelina was thinking he was a bastard as well, right now. Her fake doze turned into the real thing and she slept again until dinner time.

The first night after waking up, she didn’t remember much. Her dreams were disjointed and chaotic. It was like watching the events of that day at the lighthouse in fast forward, with scenes jumping around and presented out of order. She didn’t sleep well because every time she moved, pain shot through her leg and woke her up.

The next few days she had doctors coming and going, checking her charts and flexing her leg, trying to further assess the damage to her knee. Her sister and Jabra returned in the early evenings, keeping her company for a few hours until they had to leave again for the night. And the chaotic atmosphere of her dreams slowed down, replaying in her head at night – the sparring match, the cutting edge to her taunts, his sudden change and the feel of his claws ripping through her leg.

The morning on her next surgery, the doctor took one look at her haggard face and wanted to postpone, but she convinced him that her lack of sleep wasn’t going to be an issue. “I just want to get back to my own bed, that’s all, doc. You understand, right?” She smiled at him and acted normal enough that the surgery went on as scheduled. Everything went better than fine and she started to feel more positive about recovery.

But the dreams didn’t stop and instead turned into a dark slideshow of scene after scene, presented as a dark montage of real and imagined.

The flash of lightning throws the room into stark contrast, blinding her for a moment. In the silence before the thunder comes, she can hear the others shifting against the walls of the lighthouse, watching her fight with Rob. The alcohol buzzes in her blood, making her daring and reckless.

She blocks his next attack without thinking, throwing up an arm to protect her face. He grabs her instead, spinning her around until her back is pressed to his chest, arm locked across her shoulders.

Darkness gives way to green shadows and she is leaning against a tree, Rob’s lips trailing kisses along the back her neck and shoulder. His hands slide along her ribs to cup her breasts and she arches back, pressing herself against him. He reaches up to turn her face towards his and she puts her hand on his arm.

She bends at the waist to throw him over her shoulder, watching him land on his back in the weak candle light filling the room. He turns the fall into a forward roll, spinning around to face her again. The sound of the pouring rain fills the humid air along with their panting breaths. She can feel a trickle of blood running down her check from where his nails scratched her and she reaches up to wipe it away.

She feels a jolt of pleasure-pain when he drags his nails along her ribs. She pushes him back into the pile of practice mats and straddles him, rolling her hips over his. He reaches up again to run his nails over her back this time, making her shudder at the touch. She leans in for a kiss and he takes the opportunity to roll them over, his body moving on hers, sweat slick pale skin glistening in the sunlight as they use fingers and tongues and teeth to pass the afternoon in a different kind of sparring match.

They both ignore the others when they try to stop the fight. It had gone beyond drunken friendliness to a savagery they rarely showed towards each other. She used kicks to get inside his longer reach, aiming her blows at his head to keep him off-balance. The years she’d spent training her Rokushiki abilities was enough to offset him being a prodigy in the art but even still, the fight isn’t even. The knowledge of his devil fruit lurks in the background of her mind.

He changes for her once when they were alone, shortly after eating his devil fruit, showing off the different phases of his ability. His transitional form – half-leopard, half-man – towers above, making her crane her neck to look up at him. His tongue flicks out in pleasure when she runs her fingers through the fur on his chest; her nails slipping along the sensitive skin of his sides. He extends a finger and glides a claw down her cheek, throat, chest, before pulling her closer.

Her kick is aimed perfectly and he has no chance to duck away. The feel of his claws digging into her knee is shocking, like stepping out into the cold, pouring rain. She uses her other leg to push off, trying to get away from the pain, from him. Lightning flashes and paints the room in stark black-and-white, freezing the scene in her mind. His snarling face, inhuman in the sudden glare. The ripping and tearing of her skin as she pushes away from him. The screams of the others and the thud of bodies hitting the floor.

The feel of his lips when he kisses her. The door was locked, but didn’t mean someone wouldn’t try to walk in on them. Her sister has been suspicious lately, trying to find out what they do when they disappear together, but she’s learned to avoid her quite well over the years. She wraps one leg around his waist, feeling the roughness of the wall against her back as he moves. His mouth presses against hers before moving back to her throat, nipping at the tender skin there.

She doesn’t notice when he shifts and his teeth become fangs, nails becoming claws digging into her ribs. The blood runs down her sides as he shreds her skin and she moans at the feeling. She runs her fingers through his hair as his teeth sink into her neck, ripping and tearing. She can’t cry out as the orgasm shakes her body, blood pouring down her chest.

It’s the last that wakes her up screaming. It never happened, it couldn’t happen, could it? Not the idea that he’d tear out her throat, definitely not that she’d welcome it, enjoy it. She doesn’t really believe he would hurt her on purpose, but it’s hard to remember that in the dark of night.

“Angel, honey, you look like shit,” Jabra said. “I thought you were supposed to be getting better.”

“I am getting better,” she said. “I just can’t sleep in this place, that’s all.”

“You’ve never had a problem sleeping before.”

“I just can’t sleep in a hospital. I miss Ro-…all of you.” She hastily corrected herself, hoping Jabra hadn’t noticed her slip. “And I’m just ready to be done with all this.”

Jabra sighed before answering the question she hadn’t asked. “Look, he’s been confined to quarters. The coordinator hasn’t even let him out to eat; everything’s taken to his rooms. He couldn’t come see you even if he wanted to.”

“I understand,” Angelina said, thinking of all the time the two of them had snuck out of quarters without being caught. It seemed so effortless then.

“Look, Angel, if there’s anyone on the team Rob cares for, it’s you. You know that.” He paused for a second before adding, “Well, you and that damn bird you share.”

“Thanks, Jabra. I appreciate it.”

“So what’s the problem then? Don’t try telling me crap like you don’t want to be in here or whatever, either. I know better.”

“It’s just… I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about that night and it gets all tangled up in my head with other things and then my dreams turn bad and I’m tired of it.” She pressed her head back into the pillows, not feeling the tears sliding down her face.

Instead of trying to comfort her, Jabra settled for simply sitting alongside the bed and holding her hand until the nurse came and chased him out for the evening. Angelina had slipped into a light sleep by then and didn’t wake up when he left. He had a stop to make before the night was over.

The next morning, Angelina woke to the feeling of feathery warmth pressed against her neck. She turned her head carefully to see Hattori nestled in the curve of her shoulder. The pigeon lifted his head at her movements and with a soft coo nibbled her cheek before tucking his head back under a wing. She smiled at the caress and dropped back off to sleep. Over the next week or so, she’d occasionally wake with Hattori cuddled up with her in bed. It had been a while since the pigeon had preferred to spent time with her instead of Rob. She realized later on that she didn’t dream on those nights.

“How long before I can start training again?”

The doctors looked at each other in consternation, unsure of how to answer her.

“Several months, I’m afraid,” one finally replied. “In fact, we are going to recommend you be sent to Mariejois for more advanced treatment. We strongly suggest you go if you want to best outcome for healing.”

“But, if I leave for Mariejois, I’ll probably have to leave my team. I can’t just do that! I’ll let my friends down and waste years of training!”

“If you want any chance at walking normally again, your friends will understand. Those are your options.”

“Thank you for your input, doctors. I’d like to speak to my agent alone now, if you please.” The older gentleman had been standing unnoticed next to the doorway before he spoke up. When Angelina angrily told him to leave with the doctors, he just raised a hand in response and introduced himself. Her reaction brought a smile to his face and he settled into a chair and began talking. After what felt like hours, he left her alone with her thoughts and with a decision to make.

= Four weeks after waking up in the hospital =

“Okay, the brace will give you some support for your knee, but please try to put as little weight on it as possible. Use your cane!”

“Yes sir, I’ll use the cane, I promise. Can I go now?”

“Would you stay if I said no?”

“No.” Angelina paused before heading out the door. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me, doctor. I do appreciate it.”

The doctor watched her make her way carefully out the door and down the hallway. She moved slowly, leaning heavily on the cane in her left hand. It wasn’t that far to her destination but she wasn’t really in a hurry. She wanted to put off the inevitable for as long as possible.

Standing outside his door, she tapped knocked softly, hopingwishingpraying he wasn’t there. When there was no response, she started to turn away but paused, listening. She knocked again, harder this time and heard a muffled ‘Enter’. She limped into Rob’s room, standing awkwardly next to the doorway. He glanced at her over his shoulder and turned back to the window, scattering more seed on the ledge for Hattori.

Angelina stared at his back, seeing the tangled hair lying over his shoulders, the only sign that not everything was fine. She couldn’t decide if she wanted to comb her fingers through his hair or tear it out, fighting against the image of him in her nightmares. His seeming indifference hurt though; he didn’t even ask how she was.

As long as he wasn’t looking at her, she could get through this. She could throw away the remains of her dream and grab for something else instead. Her voice was choked and came out far softer than she intended.

“I’m withdrawing from team nine. I’ve already informed the training coordinator and the Director of my decision. I felt I should tell you first before the rest of the team though.”

“Because it was my fault, you mean?”

“No, I didn’t say that. I don’t even really think that.” But I do, she said silently. I do think it was your fault even though I know it really wasn’t! It was you and it was the monster inside you and I don’t even know what to think anymore… “I was attacking you pretty hard as well, so it’s not like you just came at me out of nowhere.”

“So now what?”

“Well, I’m not sure what Alura’s going to do. I doubt she’ll stay. Even if I hadn’t been injured, I think she was going to leave. She really just doesn’t like your form of absolute justice and it’s obvious you’re the leader of the group. So that’s another person gone as well.” The team is shattering, we’re shattering, and do you even care, Rob? We’ve been together for over ten years now, growing into something better than our parts. And now it’s just gone.

“I’m sure the director will assign new members to the team, so that’s not a great loss if she goes.”

“Thank you, I think.”

“For what?”

“For implying that it might be a loss that I’m leaving. No, don’t try to explain. I knew what you meant; I usually do.” And the truth was, she did know what he meant. Despite all the arguments and fights they’d had over the years, she had always been good at understanding him.

“The Director has offered me a position working with the propaganda division, as his assistant. He said that although I can’t be an assassin, my talents can’t be allowed to go to waste either.” She didn’t bother trying to hide the bitterness she felt. Over ten years of dreaming, hoping, training to become an assassin, a member of the elite CP-9 team, all gone. And no matter how much she wanted to blame him for everything, she knew it was her fault as well, for letting the dark, ugly nightmare side of her come out. All of it thrown away because of one drunken night in the rain.

“So you’ll still be useful to Cipher Pol. That’s good for you.”

“Perhaps. I still have a lot of recovery to do though. I’m leaving for Mariejois tomorrow, so the doctors gave me permission to get up so I could come see you. I mostly wanted you to know that I didn’t blame you and I was going to be fine.” Fine with leaving my dreams, and you, behind. Fine with losing everything that makes me, me. Fine with … nothing. “I’m going to talk to Jabra and Blueno now, let them know what I’ve decided.”

She turned back to the door, catching a glimpse of her face in a mirror. The cane tapped on the ground, adding a sense of finality to her movements.



“I didn’t mean for that to happen. I’m…” His voice trailed off and didn’t continue, but that was all right.

“I understand.” And she did and always would. “Good-bye, Rob.” She didn’t acknowledge the tears streaming down her face, washing away her desired future. And she didn’t see his face when he finally turned to watch her leave; when he realized she was crying.

Best Served Cold

Title: Best Served Cold
Author: Rhyssa Fireheart
Characters: Rob Lucci, Angelina (OC), Spandam
Pairings: None at this time
Fandom: One Piece
Rating: K
Prompts: None, but word limit was 1000 words total.
Disclaimer: Don’t own it, never will. Just like to play around with it in my mind.

Sitting at her desk, the Assistant Director for Cipher Pol tried to ignore the indistinct voices yelling outside her office. After several exchanges, silence descended until a knock on her door. Her secretary stepped into the office, deftly sliding the door closed behind her and blocking out the other person outside.

“He’s back again, ma’am. Do you want me to send him away?” she said briskly.

“Actually, I’m ready to see him today, Rose. I have an answer.”

“Then I’ll send him in now.” She turned and opened the door, striding out to confront the man pacing around the waiting room like a maniac. “The Assistant Director will see you now, Mr. Spandam. Please go on in…” Her final words were cut off as he strode past her and slammed the door behind him.

“Finally! Why haven’t I been given another team? I shouldn’t be wasted here at HQ.” He slapped his hands down on her desk, scattering papers onto the floor. The Assistant Director sat back in her chair, looking quietly at the partially masked man before her.

“Spandam, as I’ve told you previously on multiple occasions, the Director hadn’t found an appropriate posting for someone of your… talents.” She paused for a moment, as if trying to gather her thoughts. “However, a new position is now available and the Director agrees that it would be perfect for you.”

“Excellent! Just tell me where my squad is and I’ll take over,” he crowed in delight.

“No, I don’t think you understand.” The Assistant Director sat back in her chair and clasped her hands together. “You will be reporting to another Cipher Pol unit as a member of the team; you won’t be in charge of the team yourself.”

“WHAT? You can’t demote me like this! I’ll have my father speak to the Director about this insult!” He tried to say more but instead slipped on a fallen piece of paper and fell flat on his back. “OW! Owowowow! My back!”

The assistant director simply watched without expression as he levered himself off the floor and into a nearby chair. He spent several moments shifting and twitching and moaning about his back before she’d finally had enough of his nonsense. Without warning, she lifted the cane next to her chair and slammed it down across the desk, pointing it in his direction.

“Mr. Spandam! Behave yourself! I’m trying to tell you about your new assignment, but if all you want to do is complain then you can do so as part of another organization. Cipher Pol doesn’t need members like that.”

“But, but… I was the leader of CP-9 and my father….” He started to whine.

“If I recall correctly,” through the door she faintly heard ‘You do!’, “your father isn’t particularly well liked by the Director, so invoking his name does you no good here. And I think you should hear exactly what the position is before you go crying to your father.” She gave him a stern glare.

“Fine,” he said sulkily.

“Good. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of our CP Aegis Zero unit and in fact, we have a new member who just recently joined. Each squad member is allowed to organize a team of subordinates reporting directly to them and he’s expressly requested you be part of his team. If that is acceptable to you, then I will complete the paperwork and for you to meet him today.”

“A member of CP Zero wants me on his team? Oh yes, that is definitely acceptable to me! I’m honored really!”

“Then we’ll meet again in… hmmm… say an hour and a half in the Seaside Room. Please don’t be late.”

“I’ll be there! Thank you! And thank you to the Director for approving this!” He practically danced his way out of her office, pleased that he’d been assigned to the premier unit in Cipher Pol, a unit even more feared and renowned than CP-9 had ever been. With a sigh, she started signing the paperwork necessary for the assignment.

“Ma’am, The package you’ve been waiting for has arrived and your next appointment is in fifteen minutes.”

“Thank you, Rose. I’ll take it with me.”

She tucked the small box under her arm before limping down the corridor, cane tapping on the stone floor. Arriving at the room where her next meeting was, she didn’t bother knocking and entered the room quietly. The tall man standing in front of the full-length mirror was being fitted with a white suit, the tailor straightening the coat sleeves and assessing the fit. Once the man saw she had arrived, he dismissed the tailor with a curt word and that man gathered his tools before bowing himself out of the room silently.

“Hmm, I think I prefer you in black.” She paused to set the package on a side table, leaning her cane against the chair and walking over to where he stood. She smoothed open the collar of his shirt over the lapels of his jacket. “But you do look very good in white.”

He reached up to take her hands, holding them in place against his chest. “How did your meeting with him go?”

“It went perfectly. He accepted without even questioning why someone would ask specifically for him. In fact, I’ve set up a meeting with him today in about thirty minutes, if that’s fine with you.”

“That’s fine, but I’m surprised the Director agreed to this.”

“He was quite amused when I explained your request to him. I think he feels it’s the perfect justice, after all.”

“Oh, it is. Ready to head to the meeting?”

“Yes, it’s in the Seaside Room,” she said, grabbing her cane. “I have something for you, by the way.”

“The mask finally came?” he said, taking the package and holding the door open for her. “Thank you for finding it for me, Lina.”

“You’re welcome, Rob. Now, let’s go introduce Spandam to his new boss.”





Collateral Damage

Title: Collateral Damage
Author: Rhyssa Fireheart
Pairing: None at first (eventual Saito/OC)
Characters: Rob Lucci, Blueno, Jabra, Angelina (OC), Alura (OC)
Fandom: One Piece
Rating: T for language and situations
Prompts: Lighthouse, Bonfire, Summer Storm
Disclaimer: Don’t own it, never will. Just like to play around with it in my mind.

“Did you remember to bring the food?”

“Of course I did. Do you have any other stupid questions to ask?”

“It wasn’t a stupid question! I was just making sure we don’t have to sneak back into the compound to get anything we forgot.”

“Just go find wood for the bonfire. I’ll start the food…”

“I’ll start the food. There’s no way I’m letting either of you cook anything, especially not if I want to be able to eat it. You go help her find wood.”

“He’s right. You don’t have to be so catty about everything, you know.”

“Catty? Was that you trying to be funny?” Their voices faded away into familiar bickering as the man and woman walked off.

The summer sun beat down on the hidden cove like a hammer, pushing the five of them into the shade of the trees. A small pit was dug out and edged with rocks; the fire was started and allowed to die down into hot embers. The young man preparing the skewers of meat and vegetables was kept busy watching them roast over the flames. Another woman organized dishes and cutlery, getting things ready for lunch. She pulled a cooler of drinks between the stumps arranged in a circle around the bonfire pit before sitting down to watch their cook.

“I really wish those two didn’t have to argue all the time,” she said. “I mean, I know Rob doesn’t like me, but that’s no reason to take it out on Angel like he does.”

“You don’t think Angel doesn’t antagonize him in return? Alura, you’ve never been able to admit that your sister picks fights with Rob because she wants to. It’s not all his fault.” Blueno continued turning skewers in between assembling more food to be cooked. “She’s really the only one that dares to fight back with him like that.”

“That doesn’t mean he should just pick on her like he does.”

“Alura, give it up! Those two are going to fight no matter what you want,” Jabra yelled from the tree line. He stomped over carrying an armful of thick logs, dropping them beside the firepit with a crash. “I expect them to fight in bed, once they eventually make it there. Gyaaahahahahaha!”

“Jabra, that’s disgusting! I expect my sister to have better taste than that. And you should to!” Alura poked him in the shoulder with a stick. “Honestly, why would you want your foster sister to be involved with someone like Lucci?”

“I think you’re too late for that, Alura,” Blueno said calmly.

The returning sounds of bickering got louder as Angelina and Rob headed back towards the others. Snatches of their conversation floated through the air and brought a scowl to Jabra’s face.

“Dammit, not that again….” As the two stepped out from under the trees, he stepped forward to roughly grab the stack of wood from Angelina’s arms, saying “Stop it, you two. Do you honestly have to bring that topic up all the time just to argue about it? Just admit you have different views on justice and let it go!” He spun around to add the wood to his pile and then stomped back off into the trees.

“Great, now Jabra’s pissed off. Nice job, Rob,” Alura said accusingly. “Why can’t you just…”

“Oh, shut it, sis. I brought the topic up, so stop being pissy at Rob. I’ll go get him back.” Angelina glared at her sister before turning back around and following Jabra. Rob simply gave Alura a flat stare before moving to stack wood for the bonfire.

Eventually, the two returned, Angelina with kindling to start the bonfire with, and the five sat around the firepit eating and drinking. Jabra had managed to get ahold of a large quantity of alcohol, so as the sun started to sink into the ocean and the bonfire was finally lit, all of them were well on the way to being pleasantly drunk. They lounged around the bonfire, watching the sun go down over the waves and enjoying the breeze at their backs. All of which would explain why no one noticed the summer storm building at their backs.

The “sudden” downpour caught them all off guard and almost instantly doused the bonfire. They scrambled to grab their things and get under the trees for protection, but the rain was coming down so hard that it was useless.

“There’s a lighthouse nearby, let’s run there to get under cover!” With Blueno leading the way, the friends all dashed along the beach. The rocky point the lighthouse stood on wasn’t much higher than the surrounding land, but the short climb still left them all gasping once they got inside the attached building. Flipping the light switch revealed a large open room before a sharp *POP* plunged everything back into darkness.

“Great, the lights just blew out, now what?”

“There’s wood for the fireplace over here; I’ll get a fire started. There should be some dry towels in the bathroom,” Blueno said.

“It looks like someone is pouring buckets or water outside. Was it supposed to rain like this?” Alura asked.

“I didn’t check the weather before we left; I thought you were going to,” Angelina said as she walked out of the bath with a stack of towels and handed them out. “It can’t keep raining like this for long though, can it?”

Hours later, they were all dry and the rain was still coming down in torrents.

“I’m bored! Lucci, spar with me!”

“No. Why don’t you go take a nap like you usually do, Jabra?” Lucci leaned back on the couch and kept feeding seeds to Hattori.

“Nah, too much noise from the rain. Alura, spar with me!” At her nod, the two of them got up and moved away from the fire, further into the shadowy room. Blueno followed to act as a referee.

“Found some more seeds for Hattori in the kitchen,” Angelina said, sitting down on the couch next to Lucci and leaning against his shoulder. Hattori hopped down onto her knee and began picking seeds from her open palm. Rob shifted enough to put his arm around her shoulders while they both watched Hattori eat. “Have you heard any word from HQ on when we’ll be given our first official assignments?”

“Nothing yet, why?”

“Just wondering. I figure you’ll be getting something soon, especially since they went through the effort to get you and Blueno and Jabra devil fruits. That’s not the kind of thing you give to agents you plan to have stick around the compound.”

“Hmm. The Director will send us where needed, Lina. You worried about not getting an assignment?”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just… we’ve been training together here for over ten years now. Going to miss being part of the team if the higher-ups decide to split us up.” Lucci responded with a grunt of acknowledgement and they both fell into a companionable silence and listened to the other three throw faux taunts and insults while sparring, taking turns to pair off.

“Rob! Angel! Get over here and spar with us! I’m tired of beating Jabra up!”

“You aren’t winning! Stop saying that!”

“Come on, before they drag us over there. Besides, I’m starting to fall asleep like this.” Angelina squeezed Lucci’s knee gently as she stood up with a stretch. She smiled down at him, holding out her hand in invitation.

“Fine. The couch was getting too comfortable anyway.” He let her pull him up before they both walked over to where Alura and Blueno were practicing.

They took turns pairing off and practicing, but as the night wore on and the rain kept coming down, the oppressive humidity in the room started having an effect. Jabra had rescued the alcohol, so the drinking hadn’t stopped with the rain. The taunts and insults took on a sharper edge as their pleasant drunken buzz turned into something harder.

“Come on, Rob, are you getting lazy and slow now that you have devil fruit powers? You haven’t managed to hit me once,” Angelina taunted after landing yet another blow against his ribs.

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” he gritted out in return, throwing a quick punch at her head and when Angelina ducked, he caught her with his other fist, tossing her back against the wall.

“Rawr! Kitty’s finally getting his act together,” she said, wiping away blood from split lips. Her grin got sharper at seeing his scowl.

They continued on as their sparring started to turn into an actual fight. Blood flowed and deep bruises blossomed against exposed skin. The other three started to get worried and Blueno stepped in to try to stop the fight. Angelina skipped around him, sending a kick at Lucci that he blocked with his thigh.

“Angel! Stop it!” Jabra tried to grab her but she danced away from his grasp. Alura had better luck getting a hold of Lucci’s arm, but it wasn’t enough.

“Stop it, you idiot! No wonder the Director likes you! You’ll beat up your friends if you think it’s the right thing to do. Bastard!” Alura’s voice was almost lost in the sound of thunder rolling over the lighthouse.

“Oh, she’s right, isn’t she, Rob? That whole absolute justice, gotta follow the law no matter what. You’d do whatever you had to if it served what the admirals and the Director wanted, wouldn’t you?” Angelina’s taunts grew more and more pointed, bringing up things only friends who’d known each other for years could say.

Angelina jumped up and aimed a kick at Lucci’s head, letting her speed carry her towards him without worrying about being able to get away. She’d landed enough hits on him already that her confidence was high; she wouldn’t miss at this close range.

But when he shifted into his leopard form, her speed advantage was taken away. He grabbed her leg, stopping the blow coming towards his head, claws digging in deep around her knee. Blood flew as she used her right leg to push herself away, ripping long furrows into the skin as she fell to the floor. Lucci stood panting over her curled up form before Jabra crashed into him, taking them both down to the floor.

“ANGEL!” Alura ran to Angelina’s side, lifting her sister’s head onto her lap. Blueno grabbed several towels and pressed them to the bleeding wounds, trying to ignore Angelina’s cries of pain as he straightened her leg out.

Jabra hit Lucci in the jaw, making him pause and growl at the older man. “STOP IT, ROB! Angel’s hurt!” He continued to press his friend to the floor until he started to calm down and finally reverted to his human form. Once he saw that Lucci wasn’t fighting any longer, Jabra got up and went to help with Angelina’s injuries. Rob Lucci just lay on the floor taking deep breaths, not moving.

“Bueno, can you use your ability to get us back to the compound? I don’t think we can wait for the rain to stop and there’s no way we should take her out into this.” Alura asked urgently.

“I should be able to. Let’s grab what we need to and I’ll open a door. We should keep Angel as flat as possible. Let’s get a blanket underneath her first.” Once arranged on a blanket to support her leg as much as possible, Blueno created a door in the wall opening into the hallway outside the infirmary. Jabra picked up one end of the blanket but when Alura moved to grab the other end, she was shoved aside as Lucci picked it up instead. His glare silenced her and the two men stepped through Blueno’s door carefully carrying Angelina to the infirmary.

— Four weeks later –

Rob Lucci sat in his room staring out the window. Hattori fluttered in and out the open pane, occasionally helping himself to the birdseed scattered on the ledge. He’d been confined to quarters since the “incident” as the training coordinator called it, making it seem like what had happened wasn’t anything very important. He ignored the first soft knock at his door, finally turning his head and saying “Enter” when it came a second time.

A cane tapped against the floor as Angelina limped into his room. Her knee was still heavily bandaged but she was obviously being allowed to put weight on the joint. She looked gaunt and pallid from her stay in the hospital, but that wasn’t unexpected. After looking her over quickly, Lucci turned back towards the window, staring out it once more.

“I’m withdrawing from team nine. I’ve already informed the training coordinator and the Director of my decision. I felt I should tell you first before the rest of the team though.” Her voice was faint and sad sounding, weak.

“Because it was my fault, you mean?”

“No, I didn’t say that. I don’t even really think that. I was attacking you pretty hard as well, so it’s not like you just came at me out of nowhere.”

“So now what?”

“Well, I’m not sure what Alura’s going to do. I doubt she’ll stay. Even if I hadn’t been injured, I think she was going to leave. She really just doesn’t like your form of absolute justice and it’s obvious you’re the leader of the group. So that’s another person gone as well.”

“I’m sure the director will assign new members to the team, so that’s not a great loss if she goes.”

“Thank you, I think.”

“For what?”

“For implying that it might be a loss that I ‘m leaving. No,” she said as he started to speak again, “don’t try to explain. I knew what you meant; I usually do. The Director has offered me a position working with the propaganda division, as his assistant. He said that although I can’t be an assassin, my talents can’t be allowed to go to waste either.” Now she sounded bitter.

“So you’ll still be useful to Cipher Pol. That’s good for you.”

“Perhaps. I still have a lot of recovery to do though. I’m leaving for Marijois tomorrow, so the doctors gave me permission to get up so I could come see you. I mostly wanted you to know that I didn’t blame you and I was going to be fine.” Her weakness came through in her voice, she definitely sounded tired. “I’m going to go talk to Jabra and Blueno now, let them know what I’ve decided.” He heard the door open and her cane tap against the ground.



“I didn’t mean for that to happen, I’m…” Sorry. He couldn’t continue.

“I understand. Good-bye, Rob.”

He turned in time to see her face and realize that she’d been silently crying the whole time.





State of the Art – Week 24

Happy Sunday, folks!  Right now I’m in a good mood because game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals is tomorrow night and here’s hoping the Blackhawks win it at home!

Oh, and I have some art and writing to share as well from the past two weeks.

Storytime first – I’ve finished two “new” fanfiction stories since last SotA and posted them here on the site and over on  I’ve also double-checked to make sure that all my stories are posted here on the site as well.  I’ve posted them with the actual dates they were originally put online, so except for the new most recent ones, it’s all in the archives.

Broken (Naruto) and Faded Memories (One Piece)

As for artwork, I’ve finished the two WIPs that I posted last time and added three more pieces to that.

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Faded Memories (One Piece Fanfiction)

Title: Faded Memories
Rhyssa Fireheart
None at this time
One Piece
Rating: K
Don’t own it, never will. Just like to play around with it in my mind.

Also posted here over on, which is where I archive my stories.

The sea train pulled into the station at St. Poplar on a stormy day. The passengers grumbled as they got out, fumbling to find umbrellas or coats to protect them from the rain. One woman didn’t bother though; she simply limped her way up the street, pausing to notice the houses covered in, where those soap bubbles? Shaking her head, she continued on to the hotel, not wishing to spend more time getting wet than she had to.

When he finally woke up, Rob Lucci was relieved to find himself alive and alone. Hattori fluttered to the window sill of what appeared to be a hotel room and let out a happy chirp before flying off again. He closed his eyes again, falling asleep this time.

The next time he woke up, the room was filled with the other members of Cipher Pol 9 perched on stools, chairs, the window ledge (next to a returned Hattori) and even crammed into the corner, filling the room. They’d been talking quietly amongst themselves, waiting to see that their leader was truly going to survive after all. The doctor squeezed into the room to give Lucci a quick exam and then left, saying the patient needed to rest in bed for at least another four days and warning the others not to tire him out too much.

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