Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece. Eiichiro Oda is the author. If I did, nothing that went on with Ace would've happened.
Chapter 18: Things to be Said
The nurses on the Moby Dick went from a room to another. Everyone in the Whitebeard crew knew that all the wounds the captain had received weren't non-dangerous to his already decreased health and were waiting the bad news any time now. Ace had gone on dock a few times. After all, he was also part of that crew and Newgate was the father he'd never had before.
Luffy had awoken a few times but Law insisted for him to take it easy and rest as much as he could. Ivankov had already left, not before he explained to the surgeon what had been done and how his hormone abilities worked. The Heart Pirate had murmured something about crazy strategies and reckless behavior but hadn't said any more than that. The okama had asked Sabo if he had any message for Dragon and the blond had just said that he'd stick with Ace and Luffy as much as he could until he found out what had really happened to them. Of course he'd had a long talk with the other man, explaining as best as he could how had he gotten there from the future and the Kamabakka Queen told him that the Revolutionaries would try to find out more about the whole situation.
The Second Division Commander was standing on the Moby Dick's deck, looking at the horizon, but not really seeing it. When he felt a presence approaching him, the raven-haired pirate turned his head slightly to catch a glimpse of a pineapple-like blond haircut. A small smile crossed his lips as he turned around completely to face the First Division Commander and foster brother.
"Everything okay, yoi?" the man asked as he settled beside him.
"Not sure" Ace sighed. To be honest, nothing was okay or alright. All of this wouldn't have happened if he hadn't gone after Teach. He should've listened to Marco when he said that he didn't need to pursue his subordinate. Maybe things would've been different if he had stuck around Luffy some more. Who knew? Now he was feeling responsible for the old man's injuries, as if he had robbed him of the time he had left…
"It wasn't your fault, yoi" Marco stated as he looked at him with a serious look on his face. "Oyaji did all of this because you're his son. He would've done it for any of us, so don't blame yourself over this. Besides, who are we to tell whether his time wouldn't been up by now?"
Ace's fists clenched tightly. Maybe his friend was right, but that didn't mean that it wasn't his foolishness that had accelerated the death of the one person that had accepted him despite the fowl blood running through his veins. And the blood of the enemy that had beaten him to become the Pirate King, no less. How did Whitebeard accept him was beyond his own comprehension.
"Doesn't matter" he muttered, looking away, unable to make eye contact. He wouldn't find it surprising if the other members of the Whitebeard crew blamed him. In fact, he did it. One thing was for sure, though. The new Whitebeard captain would be Marco and the title of Yonko would also pass on to him. "Sorry to have you take such a burden" he said.
"What is it, yoi?" the Phoenix asked, as if the matter wasn't such a bother.
"Have the old man said anything?" he countered. He knew Marco had been pretty much the only one allowed in the captain's cabin.
"Does it matter, yoi?" the blond counterattacked. "I've been prepared for this all along and so have the others."
"But I know you. You would probably prefer to avoid any of this, am I wrong?"
"That's not the point, yoi. The crew needs a leader. I know a lot of people have come and gone, even older members have abandoned the crew or have passed away. It's only natural for the one commanding the First Division and Vice-Captain to take over what the old man leaves behind. What I want or what I think has nothing to do with what I have to do."
And Ace knew this very well. Hell, if he could turn back time… No. As he had once told Luffy, they had to live with no regrets, always moving forward.
They heard a door opening and they both looked at the one who made such a noise. The look on Vista's face told them everything. Fire-Fist covered his face with a hand and turned away as the other one grabbed a hold onto the deck's rail to keep himself standing.
Without a word, Marco went back inside.
Sabo, who was standing not too far on the same deck felt a pang of guilt as he watched his brother shedding those silent tears. It wasn't fair. None of this was fair. Yes, they got to save him but the price to be paid was too much.
After Edward Newgate's funeral and burial, the rest of the Whitebeard crew went their own way. Marco had to rearrange things in their territories so no one would try to mess with it. Things had been hectic since the "War of the Best" as the World Government choose to call it. Either Kaido or Big Mom had made their moves on them.
Ace had asked the now Captain of their fleet to give him some time with his foster brothers and that he would report anything if needed. The Phoenix accepted his request and left with the rest. Fire-Fist had boarded Law's submarine and they headed for Amazon Lily as the Pirate Empress had been persistent for Luffy to go back there to hide as soon as possible.
They still needed to have a talk and he also needed to know what had happened to Sabo and owed him a punch in the face for being hidden for so damn long without giving them a word that he was still alive and well.
Everyone in the crew he had learned to call "family" were still in mourning because of their deceased captain but determined to move forward and rearrange things on board. After the war, the allied pirates that survived had scattered so they wouldn't attract so much attention and Ace felt bad that he was leaving the job to inform them of Whitebeard's fate to the rest of them instead of helping out in the delivery of the news, but there was definitely something strange in the way Luffy had acted back at Marineford. Not only for the fact that he had arrived there, but the way he had fought Akainu… He needed to find out what had happened and why he did what he had done.
New posters had been issued not long after the War of the Best. Luffy's bounty had skyrocketed, going from those 300.000.000 to 500.000.000 berries. Of course it had after the way he had disposed of one of the three Admirals… As for Ace's? He had gone from 550.000.000 to 650.000.000 berries.
Hancock received them with worry for Luffy's safety and slightly pissed for their tardiness. Nonetheless, they all dismissed it saying that they had enough manpower to protect Luffy from any harm, which annoyed the Pirate Empress even further, taking it as an offense.
They all decided to stay out of the main city of the island so this way they wouldn't cause too much ruckus among the Kuja Pirates. Luffy, Sabo and Ace went slightly far from the rest of the Heart Pirates to have the dreaded talk.
A tense silence fell upon the three once they decided that they had gone far enough and that they wouldn't be overheard by anyone unwanted. The trio sat down on rocks and fixated their gazes on their feet, thinking a way to begin the explanation or the questioning in Ace's part.
"So…" the oldest of the three began. "What the hell happened to you?" The question was directed towards the blond as Ace's eyes locked on him, intensely.
"I guess, I'll have to explain from the beginning…" Sabo let out a pained sigh. "You both know I tried to set sail on my own, unbeknownst to me that a Tenryubito vessel was approaching." None of the other two said a word. Luffy had already heard the story from the rest of his crewmembers years ago, but listening to Sabo telling the tale was a whole different thing. "Back then I thought I would be able to avoid them, to make it out unnoticed. That was a mistake. They fired at the boat and I thought I was going to kick the bucket. But once I awoke, I found myself on board of a ship. Someone had saved my life, despite the fact that I was badly injured and that's when I asked that person to not bring me back to the island, that I didn't want to go back…" The Revolutionary took a deep breath and let it go slowly, trying to calm down. "I didn't remember anything, just that I couldn't go back home. I… I had forgotten something important but I couldn't place what. So, Dragon took me under his wing, they healed me and trained me and in time, I climbed up to become Chief of Staff in the Revolutionary Army."
Luffy gritted his teeth. Now was the moment for him to step in. He wasn't good with words, never had been unless he was repeating something someone had said, but he had to try.
"We…" the Strawhat began. "We've traveled in time. Dunno how, but I guess someone has sent us back. In our 'original' timeline," he took off his straw hat and began to play with it between his hands "I also infiltrated Impel Down trying to break you out. I didn't succeed, neither now, then I broke out of the prison and went straight towards Marineford. But…" Luffy closed his eyes tightly, trying to fight back the tears that began to gleam in the corners of his eyes. "I couldn't save you. I… I became weakened and at that moment… Akainu tried to kill me and you… You jumped in between taking the blow through your chest. Back then… you died in my arms."
Ace held his breath. He did what?
"Doesn't matter how" Luffy denied while shaking his head. "The fact is that you died back then and while I was preoccupied and traumatized by this, Blackbeard appeared and stole the old man's Devil Fruit power and absorbed 'em for himself. Dunno how it works or how he got two Devil Fruits, but probably is caused by his Darkness Fruit abilities or something. Law and Jimbe managed to take me away safely. And then, two years afterwards, I went to the New World with my nakama. There we fought our way to Dressrosa where Doflamingo is stationed as we speak. That's where I met Sabo again."
The blond took the story from there.
"After the Marineford news broke out, I read the newspaper to find myself remembering both of you. I… I couldn't believe I had lost you and that Luffy was in danger. I went into a raged fit. My brother… I had lost my brother and I hadn't been there to do anything to prevent that from happening and along the way, my other brother had been hurt both physically and emotionally. What the hell had I done? Why didn't I remember before that very moment? I regretted it so much…" Sabo shook his head and continued talking. "Then, two years later, news about Luffy resurfacing into the world came and I felt somewhat relived. I visited your tomb those two years, promising that in your stead, I'd protect Luffy no matter what it would take. And we finally met again at Dressrosa while I was conducting an investigation for the boss. Sorry, back in our time I ate the fruit you possess right now."
Ace looked at his brothers in disbelieve. Were they serious? He… had died? If… if he had responded to Akainu's remarks and provocations, he would have died again here, in this "time"?
"That's why you guys told me to stay away from…?" he began.
"Yeah," they both answered. "We knew that if you kept on listening to him you'd go mad and do something reckless, that's why I said I'd take care of it," Luffy stated.
"But… you've never been someone who kills others, no matter what," Ace pointed out.
"He was the exception. Him and Blackbeard" Luffy finished, the seriousness in his tone was unrealistic.
"Akainu was way too dangerous" the Strawhat condemned. "As for Blackbeard, he was the one responsible for your final death. He robbed me of someone precious to me, my brother and family."
The dark images of the fight in Raftel where he, his crew, the fleet that had allied themselves to him, the Marines along with the new three Admirals and the new Fleet Admiral went through his head. It had been a fierce battle. One where no one was holding back. Many pirates and marines alike died and there were too many people who wanted the ultimate price. One Piece was right there, in front of him, but he couldn't reach it unless he defeated the others and went through the Marines.
The arrival to their last destination had been awaited for so long. After years of navigating throughout the Grand Line, the Strawhat crew had made it to their ultimate goal but they also knew that it wouldn't be an easy fit to defeat all the people that was there.
The Captain's eyes settled on two people already there: Blackbeard who was advancing without much resistance and Akainu, the one person he hated the most. He was prepared, he had trained all along to become stronger, strong enough to take on anyone who might try to step in his way and one of them was the Magma Fruit user.
As soon as his crew and fleet landed, he separated from them. They really didn't need a plan, he just had to kick their asses. That was all he needed, but he also knew that he should look out for his crewmates, he wasn't leaving anything to chance…
"I can't believe it," Ace's voice interrupted his memories of the Raftel battlefield. "I mean, how…?"
"Does it really matter how?" Sabo said. "Now you're alive, we've managed to help you."
"But… how will this affect your time, if it's true that you both have traveled through it. I mean… time is something you shouldn't play with."
"I don't care" Luffy countered, shaking his head. "Do you know how much I blamed myself for your loss? How much I've thought it should've been me who died then? You were selfish… I know I was and still am too, but stepping in between and dying in my stead? Do you even know how does it feel to be left behind? To think I used you as a shield instead of fighting back?"
Ace shut his mouth and bit on the inside of his cheek. Well, it wasn't like he knew how it felt but he could imagine it.
"I'm sorry," was the only thing he could say out loud. God, he had hurt Luffy in the worst way possible.
"And…" the Strawhat said. "You're someone who deserves to be loved. I don't care what blood runs through your veins or whatever. We're brothers, we exchanged sake cups, that's all that matters to me. Be it the former Pirate King or the Revolutionary leader or a noble. Doesn't matter who our parents are. The three of us swore to become brothers and we have."
Both Sabo and Ace smiled at that. It was the truth, they were brothers, if not by blood, it was by oath.
Well, as you guys know, my inspiration comes and goes so have patience, I won't be abandoning this story but it may take time in between chapters.
Here's the conversation between our beloved foster brothers! Hope you enjoyed it since it was kind of complicated to write.
And now to answer my lovelies who've left comments.
Mina416: Why, thank you! Here's the new chapter!
Bronze Andromeda shun: Thank you! I enjoyed writing it too!
Dark-Rina: As you've seen, no. Unfortunately, but Blackbeard hasn't been able to get his Devil Fruit, so is all good. *Winks*
Ashielle: Why, thanks! *Grabs cookie and noms on it* Delicious!
Destrark: Yeah, even though he's traveled through time, he ended up in the same body of that time so nothing much could change and he'd be too OP. Things changed considerably, hasn't them? And yes, I needed to get rid of that mofo since he was the reason why Ace died in the first place. Hell yeah! I wonder what had Oda smoked when he wrote/drew that scene! He's always said that NO ONE could get two Devil Fruits at the same time and then BAM, Blackbeard does? The heck…?! Thanks for reading!
125b: Well, you're free to leave the story. Not going to force you any further. Thanks for trying, though.
Itzodavid: Uh, I've explained why.
Anamaria275: Here's another one! Enjoy!
Atrum nemus: Here's another chapter and thank you for your comment! Hope you keep on enjoying and don't worry about spelling, I'm not English either!
Thorn D. Cinni: Well, it depends on how you use that "fruit". Ice and snow are also water, you know?
Gunreal: Sorry you didn't like it.
xXxWolvesInTheNightxXx: Why, thank you! Here's another chapter!
LongPastMidnight: Thank you! I love the fact that there's people who really understand my explanations. Damn, is hard to create a brand new DF and not overpower it, but I'm trying my very best. All DFs have the same weaknesses no matter what are their abilities. If a Water DF didn't have them, so wouldn't Aokiji's or Monet's, don't you think? I mean, snow and ice ARE water too.
Vivianne95: Sorry about the shortness!
Guest 1: Well, sorry you didn't like it.
Guest 2: Why, thanks! Here's another one!
Tatsuya: Well, I've already explained the reasons.
Tora1802: You're welcome to leave.
Guest 3: Sorry to hear.
Guest 4: Thank you!
Meep15: Here's the update!
Adnan: Thank you! That was the point!
PortgasDAnne01: Thanks! I know right? Yep, just like he did back in time *wink-wink*
Crazzyredhead: Wow! That's a cool idea, I might take you upon that one!
Ob1292: You've found out in this chapter, more to come soon!
MafiaPrincipessa: Here was the next one!
A Brilliant Loser: Lol, things like that happen often. Sorry for the tardiness of the updates. Thanks a lot for your words, they really do encourage me to keep on going.
Mysteryreader6626: Thank you for reading!
DeborahBee: Thank YOU for reading!
Crotch Cricket: Eh. Well, I went with the right thing rather the entertaining one. Is the way I write. Some people may not like it, but it's me who's writing the story… I could have done that, but I decided against it. I did change some things and wouldn't been able to explain it well if I just summarized it, would I? LOL. Then we're pretty much alike in that. When I began reading/watching Naruto, I liked Sasuke, but after a while, I just despised him to the very end of the manga. With Akainu was hate at first sight, though. What he did to my beloved Ace is unforgivable.
TheHeartsPath: Why, thank you! We'll see what comes next. It's an unplanned story so I just go with what my mind comes up with and what you readers suggest. Aww, thanks for your words, they mean a lot to me. No problem, I do that too, so no worries there. Thanks for reading and reviewing.
Kurama Otsutsuki: Well, just don't read the author's note. You're not obligated to do that.
Thank you all for your comments, they mean a lot to me! Enjoy the chapter and see you all on the next one!