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We are the Stuff of Broken Dreams
Piece by Shard by Bit b-- (whole.)
[Fanfiction] Remembering (One-Shot) 
29th-Aug-2011 02:47 am
Released Caged Bird
Title: Remembering
Rating: K
Media: Fanfiction
Genre: Romance, introspection, angst
Pairing: Doflamingo/Crocodile
Word Count: 3,053  
None unless you consider jaded-ness a sin or are exceptionally sensitive towards insinuation and bad innuendo.
Prompts: -
Comments: Originally posted in the doflacroc community here

Summary: Some things are worth remembering, others you’d rather forget. To Crocodile, everything is, in a manner of speaking, cataloguing, even if some classify themselves as ‘memories’ at their own discretion and tend to bully themselves to the front of his consciousness. It has also been established that pink is an obscene colour and definitely troublesome.  


He has lived for many years, seen many events come to pass. And Crocodile remembers.

Crocodile remembers the execution blades – not an axe for beheading, nothing so undignified for the Pirate King – poised, and the streak of lightning hurtling through the skies, as Gol D. Roger smiles. He remembers the steadily mounting mania that sweeps through the gathered crowd as the blades plunge and a chuckle that eases itself through blood-stained lips.

“My fortune is yours for the taking—”

As the Pirate King falls and his legacy begins, Crocodile remembers the hissing of his cigar (bitter) as the rain falls heavily, unable to drown out the resounding roar of the Golden Age of Pirates taking flight. Crocodile remembers thinking, for the first time, that the rain tasted like the sea (like tears).

It is when he turns away, cupping his left hand over a new cigar as his right produces a light, that he sees the flash of dull pink and orange. He meets the man’s eyes, remembers seeing the reflection of the crowd, and holds his gaze.

A beat, and he turns away.

How flamboyant, he remembers thinking.

It is five years later that Crocodile returns to Loguetown. The beginning of the end. He is (no longer) not a romantic, and when he lifts his right hand to light a cigar, it is covered with jewelled rings.

The fourth finger is left free.

No hand comes to cup the cigar, to protect the flame. Instead, a golden hook, heavy, weighted (more precious, he convinces himself) rests on the counter at the bar of the tavern he finds himself in. He remembers wondering idly about his choice in coming down to the bar. A drink in his room would have tasted the same. He remembers ignoring the furtive, curious glances the bartender skates over his left arm.

Romance pays the price for adventure. Crocodile remembers, no, knows, whatever price it demands, it takes. There is no negotiation, no regrets. Only a phantom ache. Just like the one that draws itself across his face.

It is raining heavily on the night he returns to Loguetown. Crocodile remembers the sound of rain against the window panes, sounding like pebbles on wood even through the drunken, rowdy ruckus of the tavern. The feel of whiskey mingles with the rough scent of tobacco in his mouth, and he remembers biting down a grimace.

It tastes bitter.

He drains his glass, places a new cigar between his lips, and moves to stand.

A hand catches his elbow and tugs lightly. He remembers wondering, for the second time that night, why he does not move away. When he turns, there is a flame held to his face, and he remembers leaning forward despite the instinctive reservation he has towards the one holding the lighter. He remembers thinking that it’s a good fire, no point in wasting it. Waste not, want not.

It has been five years, still Crocodile remembers. After all, it is not often that he sees colours so bright.

“I remember that coat.”

It is the man’s smile that he remembers next. It is slow, stretching across the man’s face widely, curving upwards at the corner of his mouth. Crocodile remembers seeing confidence there, remembers seeing promise and trouble (and want).

It is a challenge.

“Yours is a face I won’t forget,” he remembers the man saying, and there is an insufferable lilt to his voice that makes Crocodile’s lips curl into a sneer.

He remembers what happens within the next few hours that follows too much whiskey, too few cigars and a rare bout of recklessness that is too keen a memory (of the sea, of ships, of drea—). He remembers pain. Remembers pleasure. One is found in abundance on the Grand Line, the other scarcer. So he forces himself to remember the other, and tries to forget the face looming above his. Tries to forget how the sight of sweat rolling down the taut plane of the body over his makes everything feel hot to the touch. He tries to remember the heat, and only the heat.

He remembers thinking it is impossible to forget the weighted feel of green eyes boring into his.

Crocodile remembers choosing not to wait till dawn breaks.

It is later that he learns of the man’s name.

He tries to forget that, and returns to the seas.

(But he remembers, remembers, remembers—)

He has trouble remembering the years that pass after that. There was a time, when he would have scorned the very idea of becoming a Shichibukai, but when the time comes, he remembers consenting. Remembers looking at gold, searching it keenly for scratches, for any sign of wear, and finding none, seeing no reason to answer a negative to the summons.

The first thing he remembers thinking at the first conference the Marines calls with the Shichibukai is an expletive that barely, by the skin of its teeth, remains silent.

He still has that damned coat, is his second thought.

His third is another expletive, this time a low mutter, as the man in question catches sight of him from the corner he is lounging in and smiles. It has been years, but Crocodile remembers anyway, and that night in Loguetown - rain, fire-light, whiskey, groans and eyes greener than fucking emeralds - comes rushing back.

The conference lasts for little more than half an hour, but Crocodile remembers exhausting his supply of cigars.

He is not a man who indulges in his Devil Fruit abilities, preferring for them to remain hidden. A trump card. Even so, he remembers falling into his element with ready near-enthusiasm the moment the conference ends and he is out of sight of the conference room. The sound of sand grating past the walls on his way down to his ship sounds like rain.  

He remembers laughing, for the first time in years, when he is accosted in his room that night anyway. He remembers recalling everything about the man that he thinks he’s forgotten.

And the night is long, fading in and out of hazy pleasure.

He remembers biting down on a name again, and again (Dofla—), and once more. Remembers his own name being murmured, with frightening intimacy, against the column of his neck. Remembers arching against a mouth, remembers mapping another body with his hands. His hand.

He’s reminded that this isn’t five years ago and it isn’t Loguetown. But, another stab of sweet, aching pleasure and he forgets.

He leaves again before the other wakes. Though, this time, he remembers waiting for the pale touch of dawn to hit the window pane, fragmented by heavy curtains, before sliding out from beneath the covers.

He is sure that what he remembers to be green eyes tracking his movements to the door is just a trick of light. So he leaves, and doesn’t look back.

Time can weigh with odd gravity on one’s person, he remembers thinking vaguely when he wakes, a nondescript day in Arabasta. He’s a Shichibukai and the president to the largest network of bounty hunters on the Grand Line. He hasn’t answered a summons in years, testing the World Government’s patience and treading thin waters just because he can. The ability to command post over a large group of men and women alike still holds sway in him.

He remembers that power is the only inevitability, and the only constant in the world. He is reminded of it every time he looks into the mirror.

Every (night) time he jerks awake to white, hot searing pain, sees a hand scrabbling for purchase on the hilt of a dagger even as it falls, unattached, into a gaping abyss. He wakes. And remembers.

Manipulation is a paltry feat to him. Nothing is more complicated than a man’s mind. Nothing is simpler, either. Emotional manipulation, precise calculation. These are the only tools he needs. Others are replaceable. Emotion is a weakness. Dreams, aspirations, love are all delusions that make existence easier to bear. None are necessary for survival. He remembers the sickening patriotism he comes across in Arabasta, and settles there, anchoring himself to land.

Just because he can.

Crocodile remembers coming across the rumour of poneglyphs in Arabasta, remembers his first meeting with a survivor from Ohara with the ability to read poneglyphs, a mere girl and remembers the sickening love of the king for his people.

He begins plans to trample on all of that, remembering that he does so, not out of spite or the motivation for world domination (an objective he has always considered nothing but a waste of time, energy and resources), but because he can and he does.

Monkey D. Luffy is out of his calculations, because the boy himself is just, ironically enough, so much the counter-opposite of intelligence, that precise calculation and emotional manipulation mean nothing and has no effect on him.

Crocodile remembers suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of young dreams and an earnest smile that grates against the very core of his being. He remembers thinking, in cold resignation, that both smiles, with their infuriating wide edges have brought him to his knees in more ways than one.

This is the last thing he remembers thinking before the cold, strength-sapping pull of sea stone cuffs are clapped around his wrists, and he forgets what the wide, open skies look like as the sea laps at its horizon.

It has been many years, and an increasingly empty existence, but still, Crocodile remembers.

The months that follow his capture are dull and dark, and he remembers every fibre of pain that he is subjected to.

He does nothing to forget his time in Impel Down. There is nothing the mind can do against such overwhelming despair, and an attempt to forget would be self-defeating. There is no sense in escaping either. He knows his limits and is still reminded of them every night.

So, he sits in his cell, cross-legged, coldly-dignified, brushes his hand contemplatively over his gold hook and remembers waiting.

What he waits for, he has little doubt of, is death. The prospect of another decade of such an existence is only bearable because logic dictates a fear of death. With sea stone trapping his hands and knowledge of the cold, dark depths that surround the prison stronghold, he is more human than he remembers, and the knowledge of it is as cold and biting as the chains binding him.

Monkey D. Luffy is, once again, out of his calculations and he remembers feeling surprise at the stir of excitement burning low in his abdomen. Hope is not something often seen in Impel Down, but the boy brings it, and he brings enough for everybody. As a pirate, he feels the old tug of want as he stares out from behind the bars. He remembers craving the rarity that the boy brings with him.

“If you want to leave this place, release me—”

The bargain he strikes and the threat that Ivankov dangles above him is enough for passage away from Impel Down. It is a few hours later that Crocodile remembers, and is reminded over and over again, the Straw Hat boy’s penchant for suicidal stupidity. It is an embracing phenomenon all on its own and widely-encompassing. Crocodile remembers the distaste with which he faces the boy’s overwhelming charisma, placing the first cigar he can find firmly between his lips and takes a dry heave. A flame can wait.

The plan is insane, he remembers. Or rather, the lack of one.

As they go crashing into the sea from above the scene of chaos that is Marineford, Crocodile remembers seeing a glimpse of pink, which he dismisses as seeing his life flash past him in the most unpleasant way possible. But the tumble they take is a long one and he catches the tail-end of a declaration being screeched across the battlefield as the sea hurtles up to meet him.

“—whoever wins this war will become Justice!”

The sea is as he remembers it. Cold, unforgiving and terrifying.

Its familiarity, however, calls (screams) out to him.

He barely remembers being fished from its clutches by a muttering Jinbei.

He aims for Whitebeard first, knowing full well that he would be stopped, if not by one of Whitebeard’s nauseatingly loyal followers, then by the interfering Straw Hat runt. The battle that proceeds after that is the second bout of reckless indulgence he remembers since Loguetown. Baseless, without reason, without reserve and without regret.

Crocodile joins the fray and forgets.

He forgets about everything but survival, and lets his power run free, fully unreined for the first time in months. It is both the best and worse time for poetic inclination, but he watches, a wry smile twisting nastily at his lips as his sand dances like a small desert storm. It is undignified to laugh in a way that is anything but cruel and mocking, but he is tempted. (And he remembers the last time he does, remembers the exasperation and the resigned way with which he allows his lips to be claimed by a smile more cruel, but more genuine than his own.)

He attacks both ambiguous allies and definite enemies, uncontrolled and relishing in the feeling of the wind brushing his cloak. The smell of gun-powder and blood soaks thick into the air around him.

The harsh reminder that Logia users are not infallible is dealt to the side of his face with the force of a freight train and ten times as hard. Crocodile curses as his power rapidly scrambles to take the brunt of the hit from the Whitebeard pirates’ third division commander. He lands, crouched, bleeding and just that slight bit indignant a hundred odd feet away. He is dazed and fails to sense (or care) about any other presence around him.

It is only when a familiar laugh cuts through the air and stops the big diamond monster’s rampage that Crocodile almost sorely wishes that he remembers during crucial moments like these that he is short on luck. Always been, and will always be.

“Was my little blood bath warm enough for you?”

The voice is as infuriating and grating as he remembers it to be. That alone is enough to make him snarl and decide an immediate preference towards taking on another head-on diamond-hardened charge. His frown deepens as the other’s name passes fluidly from his lips. It is an acknowledgement he never meant to give, a slip. And the other knows.

The grin widens steadily as Crocodile dulls both expression and tone with calculated deliberation. Calculated disinterest. Because the memory of the last near-dawn has yet to fade into memory as it rightly should have, and the man before him now, in his pink-feathered glory is Not Helping. So he snaps. Calmly. Bluntly.

The response he gets is another laugh, and a different edge to the wide grin.

“What a mouth,” another laugh and so many, many implications. “How about you and I hook up?”

The bastard always did have a talent for exasperating, inappropriately-timed innuendo. The years didn’t seem to have changed that, Crocodile thinks, a familiar feeling of wry resignation coming over him.

His attentions temporarily scatter as Whitebeard falters on the Moby Dick, gutted by an ally blade. Crocodile snaps this time, high-strung and not bothering to hide his fury. It has been one too many defeats for him, both in the past and the present, and composure be damned if he let the future decide for itself before he had a say. The flare of defiance is what pushes him to knock both of the execution guards out, sand sailing forward with dangerous whimsicality.

The sudden beheading could have been orchestrated by any one of the errant blades swinging around ambitiously, but it is too clean, too deliberate and too calculated. It is a subtle jibe, and Crocodile recognises its shrewd signature. It prompts him to do nothing but sigh quietly around his cigar, irritated and sickened by the turn of events.

The following “Hey, Crocodile man!” stirs up an odd uncomfortable nostalgia that leaves him at a loss for words, barbed or otherwise. It is uncharacteristic, the wrong place and the wrong time, but it soothes his ire down to bubbling annoyance which is quickly replaced by detached amusement at the resounding horrified shouts of “Doflamingo!” around him.

“You dumped me for Whitebeard? I’m jealous.” Again with that damned laugh.

Crocodile tries not to wince at the insinuation. Instead, as his features materialise, sand swirling restlessly around his form, he catches the strained quality to the other man’s voice and the vindictive, cruel twist to his mouth. The man’s lips are stretched just a little too widely across his teeth, and Crocodile checks a smirk, fuelled by the irritation written across the man’s features. When he faces the man, gold hook poised and blood thrumming in his veins, his lips are curved downwards in a frown and his eyes are, once again, the calculated indifference the man across him knows just how to break.

“I’m not working with anyone.”

Crocodile knows he is the only one who catches the fleeting change in the man’s expression.

We’ll see about that.

His own responding smirk is hidden as he rushes at his opponent – neither an ally, nor an enemy – with a careless show of recklessness he now begins to accredit to Monkey D. Luffy’s infectious stupidity. The foot that kicks away at his hook is nonchalant, easy.

And that’s how it’s always been.

You’ll have to take me first.

The battle around them rages on, but Crocodile tunes it out, focused keenly on the ridiculous iridescence that pink flamingo-like feathers should not have. How flamboyant, he thinks. But he knows that the next time they meet, he will have other memories. Other nights of hazy pleasure to take with him to the seas. If this battle ends a little late, there is no saying what will happen.

Maybe he’d remember watching the next dawn creeping through the windows and spilling onto the covers.

He has yet to see just how green those eyes are. (Third time’s a char—)

Already have.

It’s those moments that bear remembering.

Over and over again.


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