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
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 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.