I giggled lightly at what, Killer had just said and glanced at the clock before forcing myself up.
“Shit.” I muttered under my breath.
“What is it?” He asked concerned.
“Makino always gets me up at six, and I still need to do something about the sheets.” I told him, “You need to leave.”
“I understand.” He said and kissed me lightly as he picked me up off him and placed me gently next to him on the bed. I whimpered slightly at the loss of contact.
He kissed my forehead affectionately, and stood up. I threw him his shirt from the floor, and his mask from the bathroom while tossing my cloths in the hamper. I threw my house coat on as he put his mask on.
I stopped him before he touched the balcony and embraced him.
Killer tensed slightly, but relaxed and placed a hand on top of mine around his middle.
“Arigoto.” I told him, “For everything.”
“That should be my line.” He told me.
“We can’t let anyone know.” I warned.
“I’m not the type to kiss and tell.” He assured.
“I love you.” I whispered.
“I love you too.” He told me and pried himself from my grasp before leaving my room and jumping down from the balcony.
I took a moment to recompose myself. There was much I had to do.
I shut the door and headed for my bathroom. I turned the tap on and took a quick shower.
I got out and towel dried my hair as I pulled out my outfit for the day; a blood red button down, black tie, black blazer, black skirt and thigh high black nylons.
I quickly brushed my hair and put my torn panties in the bottom of my trash can. I then took all the sheets off my bed and bundled them up in one of my pillow cases. I picked it up and glanced at the clock before unlocking the door. I had a good fifteen minutes before Makino would be up. That should give me enough time to get rid of the evidence.
I hurried down stairs to the laundry room before anyone could see me. I closed the door behind me and threw the sheets onto the treating table. I spread the ones that were stained out and got out bleach, a scrub brush, and some cleaning stuff that the maids would always use.
I had finally gotten all the stains out, the only thing left was to wash them. And just as I was about to throw them into the washer the door opened and Makino came in, her eyes wide as she saw me here.
“Ceerie-sama. You shouldn’t be here.” She scolded.
“I know.” I said looking away hoping to come up with something to say.
“If there was a problem with the sheets you could have just told me.” She said and gently touched my shoulder. I flinched away lightly.
“There was no problem.” I told her, “It’s just, last night, I-” How was I supposed to continue this sentence? Makino was the mother figure I never really had growing up. And to lie to her face like this? I was ashamed.
“Did you have that bad dream again?” She asked out of the blue.
“H-huh?” I questioned not knowing what she was referring to.
She smiled brightly at me, “When you were still a child, you would get these terrible nightmares. Sometimes you would wake up screaming, others in a cold sweat, but one thing was for certain; you would always wet the bed.” She informed holding back a giggle, “As you grew up your nightmares became less and less frequent, but you would still get them occasionally.”
I looked away, blushing in embarrassment. She took it a completely different way.
Makino gently wrapped a loving arm around my shoulder and brought me into a side hug.
“You don’t have to be ashamed of it, Ceerie-sama.” She assured me, “I won’t tell a soul.”
“A-arigoto.” I said to her, still not looking her in the eye.
“Now go up stairs.” She said removing her arm and pulling on the sheets, “Daddan has already brought up your breakfast.”
I nodded and left hastily, I didn’t want to see anyone at the time.
I remembered that nightmare after Makino had brought it up. It was always the same one over and over again. Oflux had done what he’d done to me, but there was no one coming to rescue me this time. I shuttered to myself and forced those memories out of my head as I opened my bedroom door.
“Where were you?” Daddan asked unamused.
I didn’t answer I just looked away. She sighed in frustration and pulled the cover off of a plate to reveal eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrown, pancakes, a biscuit, a muffin, a cinnamon bun, and oatmeal. Along with that there was hot chocolate and orange juice.
“Arigoto.” I said and walked to the table. There was a small round table on the other side of my bed closer to the balcony doors, It had two chairs, and when my father was alive he would always eat with me here when we had big things like this.
She nodded and stepped back.
“I will get you clean sheets for your bed.”
“Arigoto.” I said again, “After that you are dismissed.”
She nodded and went all the way back down stairs for fresh sheets.
While she was gone I had eaten about half of what was presented before me. It took her until she was finished with redressing my bed was I finished with my meal.
She took away the empty trays and left. I went to the bathroom and quickly washed my face to get rid of the sticky syrup and frosting that I knew was around my mouth. I finished, fixed my sleeves, and grabbed my hat before leaving my room and making my way down to the court yard.
I pulled on my boots and gently pushed open the door leading to outside. Not everyone was out yet, but I could make out who was.
I walked down the path towards the pond in the middle of the court yard. It was spring, all the trees were in bloom, and the pink petals of the sakura trees were fluttering down like snow on everything. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
I turned to see the representative of Drum City standing behind me.
“Dalton-san.” I said and bowed to him, “What may I do for you?”
“I did not want to address you about this as the party, but I thought now would be a better time.” He told me, I nodded for him to continue, “Our queen, Kureha, wanted to be the one to speak with you about this. But she’s been quite busy with her subjects.”
“Dalton-san.” I told him gently, “You are both an allie and a friend to me. You’ve helped us out when we needed it. If there is anything I can do for you or Drum City, please, do not hesitate to ask me. I’d be more than happy to help in any way I can.”
He took a deep sigh, “Other places have cut us off. They refused to make anymore effort with us because of how high up in the mountains we are. Our people are beginning to starve. It’s embarrassing for me to ask, but-
“Say no more.” I told him, “I’ll make arrangements for rations to be sent up immediately. And I’ll look into a safer way of transportation aswell.”
“We don’t need charity, Ceerie-sama.” He told me firmly.
“I do not give out charity.” I assured him, “I give what is earned. And consider it an advance.”
“I need a large factory. We’ve no room to expand here, and I need it as soon as possible.”
“What’s the factory for?”
“I have scientists in Punk Hazard working as we speak. They come up with amazing ideas that could greatly aid the daily lives of individuals, but we’ve no place to assemble them. If you can get, Kureha-sama to say yes, I’ll supply Drum City with rations, and more jobs.” I explained.
“A-arigoto, Ceerie-sama.” He said and bowed deeply, I could have sworn he was about to cry, “You have no idea how much this means. I’m sure Kureha-sama will say yes too.”
I nodded, “Please get her to call me with the answer. And I’ll send up supplies, equipment, and experienced carpenters with the second delivery of rations.”
“What about those who will be in charge of over looking the factory?” I could hear the concern in his voice.
“The carpenters will also be the managers, and a few skilled engineers.” I told him, “And don’t worry, I know they know what they’re doing.”
“Arigoto again, Ceerie-sama.” He said.
“It’s my pleasure, Dalton-san.” I told him.
He nodded and I continued on down to the pond.
Most of the morning I was discussing small details about trade agreements, being thanked for things my father and I have done for them, and receiving condolences for my loss that they haven’t managed to express in person before.
It was going closer to noon about then was when I caught sight of a man dressed in bright pink. I sighed to myself and finished my conversation with Spandam. I bowed to him and made my way up a small path to a stone bench under the largest cherry blossom tree in the court yard. Doflamingo was sitting on the far side as I approached him.
“Doflamingo-sama.” I said and bowed.
“Ceerie-san.” He smiled and nodded.
“May I?” I asked motioning to the bench place beside him.
“It would be my pleasure.” He told me.
I sat down about as lady like as I could, but didn’t cross my legs.
“Isn’t it lovely?” I asked him looking over the court yard. The bench had the best view over the entire court yard. It was lovely, especially with the beautiful pink petals decorating the entire place.
“I find beauty in other things.” He told me.
I had known he was referring to me.
“I find it strange how you chose this place.”I told him.
“How do you figure?” He asked.
“As a child, I was never really included in many of the Family events.” I told him, “I would sit here, and look out at all the people mingling and having fun when my father would have these. He would always meet me up here. And when I had a bad day at school I would sit here, he would come out and talk to me.”
“It must hold some bad memories.” He told me.
I shrugged, “At times.” I admitted, “But I know I can’t change what happened. What I know I can do is continue what he started, and hold on to the wonderful memories he went out of his way to make with me.”
“Your father was a good man, Ceerie.” He told me.
“It makes me glad you say that, Doflamingo-sama.” I said and smiled, “I know he was, and it makes me proud to be his daughter.”
I glanced over to see him fidgeting a bit.
I raised an eyebrow, “Doflamingo-sama, is there something wrong?”
He paused a moment before looking at me without his signature smile plastered on his face.
“I would like you accept this, Ceerie-san.” He said to me, in his hands he held a small, rectangular, gift wrapped box. It had orange and pink diagonal stripes, with a pink bow.
The way he held it to me, I knew I could not refuse.
I carefully pulled the ribbon and paper off and opened the box:
There was a solid gold chain, five amethyst cherry blossoms arranged along an onyx tree branch, all of which backed onto a gold plating.
I swallowed hard. When ever gold was given it was a sign of richness and respect, but at times admiration.
I lowered my head and thrust my arms back out to him, the box still in my hands.
“Doflamingo-sama, I cannot accept this! It is almost an advanced wedding gift.” I told him.
“Ceerie-san, I’m offended.” He said, I could hear the hurt in his voice.
“And I am overwhelmed.” I told him looking up at him, “You do not understand the amount of men that have made an attempt or suggestion for my hand. There are things I need to do before I can think of these things, and no one respects these boundaries.”
“You think it’s that?” He asked.
“Am I wrong?” I raised an eyebrow.
“This is a DonQuixtote family heir loom, it’s been in the family for almost a thousand years. And I wanted you to have it.” He told me.
“And as the main carrier of the Red Family honour, I cannot accept this. And I will not, as if something is to occur and it is not you I take as my husband I’d be shaming both our families.” I explained, “Please, I have no right.”
He looked at me a moment before his face broke out in another grin.
“That is what I love about you, Ceerie-san.” He said to me and gently took the box away from me, “Not only do you think of the big picture, but you care so much about others and their feelings.”
“That piece is bound to be invaluable, and I cannot see the future. And more than that I do not want to give any false hope.”
“You are too sweet.” He said.
“And you are too kind.” I told him biting back a hiss.
“I would like to speak to you about something else, if you have another moment.”
I held back a sigh and the disappointment in my eyes. I looked up at him and nodded for the blonde man to continue.
“Trafalgar Law.” He said slowly.
“What about him, Doflamingo-sama?”
“I was wondering what he was to you.” He explained, “And your maids, Hawkins, Beckman, Yasopp, Lucky, and that Killer fellow. What are they to you?”
I was taken aback slightly but I didn’t show it.
“Forgive me, Doflamingo-sama.” I started slowly, “But I don’t understand what it is you mean.”
He chuckled lightly, “Never mind.” He then said, “I think I’ll find out later everything I want to know. until then.” He rose and I quickly followed suit, “I believe I will take my leave of you. You’re hospitality, generosity, and company are second to non, Ceerie-san. And I hope we can meet again under better conditions.”
“I hope so aswell, Doflamingo-sama.” I said and bowed, “I wish you a safe journey back to Dressrosa, and thank you for coming.”
He chuckled as he walked off, leaving the garden and me shivering.
I didn’t like how he asked that question, and the way he said he would find out soon enough.
“Take care.” I said and embraced Vivi one last time.
“You all as well.” She said with a giggle.
We had spent the entire afternoon and evening with her, my brothers, and our friends. We were now seeing her off back to Alabasta.
We all watched as she boarded her ship and waved as it pulled out and headed for sea.
“It was nice to see her again.” Nami said when the ship was a few kilometers out.
“I miss her already!” Sanji exclaimed in distress after her ship.
“Suck it up ero-cook!” Zoro snapped.
“Enough.” I called between the two before a fight could break out between them. They didn’t start, and all eyes were on me.
I rubbed the back of my neck as I looked them all over and smiled.
“It was good to hang out with all of you again after so long.” I said finally, “And I just wish that it could happen a little more often.”
“We’ll always be here for you, Ceerie-san.” Robin assured me as she placed a gentile hand on my shoulder.
I nodded, “And I appreciate it. And I also hope you would forgive me. I need to go.” I said sadly, “After these kinds of meet ups a million more things are added to the already overflowing list, I just hope you can understand.”
“Is that the way a boss speaks?” Zoro asked out of the blue.
I looked up at him and scowled not knowing what he was talking about.
“Asking for forgiveness in order to do their duty to their people.” He all but snapped, “They should be first on your mind at all times, and other, fruitless, things should be an after thought. If you were my daughter I would be ashamed of you saying such a thing in your position.”
“Oi! Marimo!” Sanji yelled.
“He’s right about one thing.” I said before a fist could be thrown, “The people of the town come first. Their needs, the trade needs, our partner’s people, ways to expose the evilness and wickedly that’s occurring behind the scenes. But that’s also where you’re wrong, Zoro.” I told him a smirk playing on my lips and a passionate fire reigniting behind my sea blue eyes, “Because you aren’t my father, you can’t be ashamed of my actions as a daughter in this position. But I can’t stand here making a giant speech or monologue anymore. I have a city I’m gonna run and a check list longer than I am tall to get through before the end of the week. I’ll see you guys later.”
I walked off, Benn not too far behind me as they stayed back and talked for a little bit.
I did have almost way too much to do, and everyone knew it.
Now’s the time, I thought to myself. I can’t keep thinking that I can do everything on my own and have every decision be made by me, I have Law, Hawkins, Killer and the others for a reason. Not utilising them to their full potential was not only stressful on my part, but inconsiderate for them. I trusted all of them, we had each others back no matter what. That’s the way it needs to be in order to get anywhere.
I read over the supplies to be sent to Drumkingdom as I sipped a cup of coffee. I let Hawkins take over for that one and he got it all right.
Why did I doubt him again? I asked myself.
I signed on the line and handed it back over to him before picking up a folder underneath that one. It was the order for the laboratory, I skimmed over it knowing Law would have caught anything and signed that aswell.
“You aren’t as stingy anymore?” He said as he handed me a stack of papers and files each containing a contract or shipping order that needed my approval.
“I need to trust you guys.” I said as I refilled my mug, “It’s not good for anyone otherwise.”
Benn strode in the door and closed it behind him. He dropped the morning paper on the table and motioned for me to look at it.
I unfolded it after setting aside some of the papers.
Piercing green eyes that had haunted me for years on end were now gorged out from the skull that was staring back at me.
Killer had done a number on him. His eyes were out of his skull, his jaw all but broken off, tongue hanging on by a string. His chest cavity was split open, his heart, lungs and stomach were removed. His small intestines were wound around his neck a few times and he was missing all his fingers.
The article said he was mutilated both post and pre mortem, according to authorities. The only way that they managed to identify him was because of his dental records. And now the Black and Sweet families were being investigated for their relation to a notorious thief, murderer, and child molester.
As the article ended, the weight that came off my chest was almost amazing. I put a hand over my mouth and threw the paper down on the table trying to stop myself from laughing and crying from relief.
I was barely able to form much of a conscious thought back then. And playing on the beach in the sand, wadding in the water up to my knees because that’s all I was allowed without supervision. Being scooped up by a strange man, brought to a secluded, run down shack in the middle of the woods. Being set up for ransom, and then raped by said strange man both with himself and sodomized with various tools and objects he had with him at the time. The only reason why I was still alive today was because the same shack that he decided to call his ‘hide out’ was the club house of my brothers. They heard screaming, yelling, cursing, and sounds of a fight. They broke in, beat him til he was unconscious and then brought me back to town and my father.
I remembered Sabo wrapping his jacket around me because I was only in a tanky bathing suit which was ripped, stained with various substances, and I was soaking wet on top of it all. I was crying into Ace’s back the entire walk back home. While in the hospital they would visit me and when I got out and was well enough I played with them and they became my unofficial ‘body guards’ when I was away from my father.
The actual memories of what Oflux had done to me where now distant, they were nothing but scars that had healed and would continue to heal forever. He could no longer haunt me and hold me back from anything, I could now move forward as I saw fit with my life. No strings attached.
A few stray tears fell down my cheeks as I let out a soft laugh.
“Ceerie-ya, are you alright?” Law asked coming closer to me to make sure I was okay.
I nodded, “I’m just so relieved.” I finally managed.
One nightmare was now over and done with for me, but another was just about to take place. And this time I was going to be the shadow in the closet and the monster under the bed.