Part 2: In Which There are Dreams of Memories
The winter island was freezing. There was no way around it. Sabo's toes and fingers were so cold he was surprised they hadn't fallen off already. His nose kept dripping like a leaky tap, which was exceptionally annoying since he ran out of clean tissues. Reusing used tissues to clean up his running nose was disgusting. Luckily, his companion Koala was in a similar situation so they could complain about the cold weather to each other.
The townspeople didn't have nearly the same problem and were well dressed for the cold climate with the dry air. They seemed amused and concerned in equal parts by the shivering visitors. It really was the worst undercover information gathering mission Sabo had ever attempted because they weren't exactly undercover by acting like such foreigners.
But it was just so cold.
"Let's head back to the inn to get warm," Koala suggested through chattering teeth. "We'll have to pull out the emergency funds for better clothes."
"Good idea," Sabo rubbed his hands under his coat and followed behind the short woman.
They shuffled back to the inn located near the port. The port town was small compared to the inner capital city where a dictator king ruled with an iron fist. Sabo and Koala's mission was to gather information regarding the king's inner circle, but they needed to fit in better before moving inland to the capital where being recognized as outsiders would be dangerous.
The inn was noisy with a rowdy group of pirates commandeering the main lounge near the many fireplaces that provided a comforting source of hear. They seemed like a fun group with lots of laughter, so Sabo relaxed a little. Sometimes you got the lucky pirates who just want a good time, but others could be looking for a bloodbath. This group followed a bizarre fashion trend of white mechanic jumpsuits with a small jolly roger on the back. Oddly enough, a white bear standing on two legs in an orange jumpsuit hovered near the pirates.
Sabo tried not to stare at the bear as it sniffed the air and accepted his room key from the distracted concierge. She seemed to be juggling three flirtatious men in hats and jumpsuits all at once.
"Sabo?" A deep male voice called from behind him.
The blonde and his pink-haired companion spun around. The bear in the orange jumpsuit was suddenly behind him. It was much fluffier up close.
"Did you hear that?" Sabo asked his old friend.
"I did," she whispered back.
The voice spoke again but still only the bear paid them any attention. Sabo's dark eyes meet the bear's beetle shaped eyes. The bear stared right back at him.
Sabo's eyes narrowed and he focused on the bear's muzzle. "Did you just talk to me?"
The bear's mouth moved, sharp teeth flashing in light from the nearby fireplace. "Of course, I did you idiot."
Koala elbowed him in the side. "Sabo, that bear just insulted you."
The bear's eyes lit up and he bounced slightly in a way that was way too cute. "I was right! Your smell is the exact same." He turned and yelled into the crowded lounge. His voice rose several octaves. "Captain! Captain! Your brother's here!"
The rowdy crowd quieted down at the talking bear's voice, and Sabo felt the eyes of over fifteen men and women on him. A young teen with a yellow beanie poked his head out from behind the closest squishy armchair, his big brown eyes were wide with expectations behind thin braids.
"Ace-ya?" A voice called out from near the largest fireplace. A tall man in a fuzzy white hat stood up and looked over. Sabo wasn't sure why he could tell the man was shocked as his face didn't change all that much, but something in the back of his mind that told him the man was shocked. "Sabo-ya … You're supposed to be dead."
Koala grabbed Sabo's arm in a painfully tight grip. Her sharp nails dug into his skin through the wool coat. "He knows you!"
The man turned all the way around and Sabo could finally put a name to the face. Trafalgar Law, a rather brutal pirate from North Blue and a talented surgeon with a bounty of 185 million Beri. His jolly roger grinned from the front of his yellow sweater.
"I don't think I've ever met you, Trafalgar-san." Sabo tipped his hat just to be polite. He didn't need to start a fight with a powerful pirate rookie. "You must have me confused with someone else."
"No, it's him. His scent is still the same." The talking bear informed his captain.
Those sharp slate gray eyes studied him from across the room. They lingered on his hat before resting on the scar across his left eye. The damaged skin itched under the man's gaze and Sabo resisted scratching it. Phantom pain popped up whenever people stared at the scar.
"I was informed you had died in an accident several years ago but Bepo's nose never lies to me." The tall man glided forward. His pirate crew hovered anxiously around them. The tall man's eyes flashed in warning. "However, Ace-ya truly believed you to be dead. This is either quite the mystery or a very cruel prank."
Sabo shook his head. "I don't know anyone named Aceya. I'm very much alive but I'm not the person you're looking for."
An elbow jabbed into the blonde's side and he gasped in pain. Koala jumped forward before he could stop her. "He was found in East Blue after an accident with no memory except his name."
Sabo resisted the urge to glare at his companion. The petite woman normally kept her lips tightly sealed, even under the most brutal conditions. He presumed she had some reason for loosening her tongue.
The pirate glanced at the talking polar bear. The bear nodded and a smile that didn't suit his serious demeanor curved at the pirate's lips. "That island in East Blue didn't happen to be Goa Island, did it?"
Sabo blinked and stared harder at the other man. There was something familiar about that hat. "Why do you say that?"
"Because that's where we met as children many years ago. And also, Goa Island was where you dragged me into a inexplicable brotherhood of sorts." The pirate's long, tattooed fingers drummed on the sheath of his nodachi. "Amnesia, hm? What an interesting development."
Somehow, against his better judgement, Sabo found himself sitting in the armchair across from the North Blue pirate. Trafalgar Law was using his Devil Fruit power to scan Sabo's brain. Koala grumbled that she couldn't see anything and the blonde bit his tongue before reminding her that she wasn't a doctor so how could she understand the scan even if she saw it. Also, it was her loose tongue that got him into this situation to begin with.
Trafalgar rubbed at the goatee on his chin. "Do you have any vague memories, images, or dreams you can't identify? Usually consisting of people or places you've never seen."
Sabo didn't have to think to hard to bring up the shadowed boy to the front of his mind. The Surgeon of Death's eyes flashed at something on his invisible scan and he leaned forward. "Describe it to me. Every detail you can see."
So, Sabo forced his way through the beginnings of a throbbing headache to talk about the picture. They were between a forest and a cliff. The boy was small and scrawny. His face was shadowed but Sabo could see the spattering of freckles on his cheeks. The boy was talking about going out to sea and being a pirate.
As he spoke, the pirate doctor twisted and turned his hand. He touched his index and thumb together multiple times. He hummed at things no one else could see. His other hand quickly scribbled illegible words in chicken scratch across a notebook.
Finally, Sabo fell silent and he waited while the man finished with his scan. It was weird to think his brain had been scanned without any machines or externally caused pain. All he had was a headache from trying to recall something he wasn't even sure was a memory.
"How do you know what to look for?" Koala asked. She sat on the armrest of a sofa beside one of the few women on Law's crew and the young teenager whose wide eyes were trained with intensity on Trafalgar's notes.
The doctor didn't look up from scribbling on a notebook and a diagram of the human brain. "My Devil Fruit ability enables me to dissect a person's brain without killing them. I've done several experiments to fill in missing information about the function and purpose of each section of the brain."
"You take out people's brains while they're still alive? Ew! Sabo, your brother's gross."
Sabo didn't see fit to answer what he considered a rhetorical statement. He rubbed at his temple as the headache continued to throb. "So, what's the word, doctor?"
"The good news is you have no signs of visible damage within the limbic system of the medial temporal lobe. The limbic system is particularly important in the processing of memory. The bad news is you're most likely suffering from psychogenic amnesia which is something I have yet to experiment with as it's not a common occurrence." Trafalgar trailed off as he scribbled more notes.
Sabo frowned. "I know I have amnesia. You're not telling me anything new."
The doctor's eyes pinned Sabo to his seat. "Organic amnesia is largely caused by physical damage to the brain. Psychogenic or dissociative amnesia is psychological and far more challenging to identify the barriers your brain has put up." The teenager was practically on the edge of his seat with excitement, his dark fingers digging into the cushion as his captain spoke. "Which it's why you're fortunate that I'm willing to help."
"But you just said it's psychological," Sabo rubbed at where his head throbbed.
"Doesn't mean I can't stimulate the brain a little while you try to recall memories. Luckily, my sleep therapist is quite talented at helping people access forgotten images." He nodded at the white-haired woman who had quietly been listening the entire time.
The woman turned her dark blue eyes on Sabo. "I am Brenna and my Devil Fruit makes me the perfect person to help you access old memories. I ate the Dream-Dream Fruit which allows me to create illusions and a component of my abilities is to access two parts of the brain you need assistance with: memories and imagery. I can help guide you to where those blocked memories are."
"Not possible," Koala crossed her arms and scowled at the woman. "I can't allow you to snoop around in his mind."
"A person with strong will can eject me from certain areas. As Captain's brother, I assume you have strong will to deal with him."
"What the hell, Brenna?" Trafalgar threw a dirty look, but she ignored it.
"Essentially, I hold your hand while the Captain pokes around in your brain and tells us where to look. You won't feel any pain except maybe a headache."
"I don't know. This sounds too convenient. Sabo, they could be looking for info." Koala moved to stand right before the blonde man. She blocked his view of the others and stared right into his eyes.
"You were the one spewing out information a half hour ago!"
After his outburst, Sabo leaned down onto his knees and pulled at his hair. She was right that it was all too convenient. The likelihood of these pirates trying to gain information on the Revolutionary Army was higher than supposedly coming across a long-lost friend who just wanted to help. Sabo had an interest in his past, but it wasn't worth the gamble.
"That scar on your left leg." The doctor's voice broke through Sabo's inner debate. "I sewed that wound closed over a decade ago."
He reflexively looked at his left leg which had been covered in pants all day. Sabo never wore shorts, not since he was still a child. He could count on his hands how many people paid enough attention to know about the thin scar that trailed down his calf.
The blonde stood up so he could see over Koala. She was also surprised by the admission and had turned around.
"You were fighting a giant grizzly bear with your brothers Ace and Luffy. The bear caught you in the leg with his claw and I stepped in to help. The wound got infected and your brothers carried you all over the city looking for a doctor to treat you. Finally, you ended up at the clinic I apprenticed in where I was responsible for treating you." Trafalgar tilted his head and studied the other man. "By that time, you were hallucinating from the fever and babbling about bears."
"I had a dream like that," Sabo mumbled. "There was a bear and a boy talking over me. Something about stitches and fish."
"I was debating which stitches to use and Bepo was hungry."
The polar bear standing behind Trafalgar's chair bowed his head. "Sorry."
"Why're you always sorry?" Someone yelled and people started to laugh.
But Sabo couldn't turn away from the pirate doctor still seated in his armchair. The white hat looked familiar and Sabo assumed it was because of the man's wanted poster. But if he remembered correctly, he had seen the hat before the wanted poster was delivered by a news coo. It looked familiar then as well.
"So, you really can help me?" Sabo put a hand on Koala's shoulder and stepped around her.
"I've cured the incurable before. I'm not a psychologist but I believe I may be able to help," Trafalgar stood up as well. He stood a couple inches taller than Sabo and for some reason that made the blonde relax. It was a comfortable feeling of deja vu.
"I will certainly do my best to help Captain's brother," the white-haired young woman didn't seem enthused or bothered by the extra work, merely resigned. A young man with a teal hat and sharp teeth patted her on the shoulder.
Koala huffed, seeing the way Sabo's mind was going. She pointed her finger at the pirate. "I'll be watching, just to make sure you don't do anything you'll regret later."
"Oh! Can I watch too?" The mocha skinned teenager jumped up onto the back of the sofa. "Brain surgery is so cool!"
"Ermis, you can only watch if the patient says it's okay."
"But you never asked the marines when I watched you do experiments on them," the teen grinned.
"Because they are marines and we are pirates," Trafalgar's smirk was dark and deadly. His eyes returned to Sabo and he held out a hand. "But you are my brother, even if you don't remember me and you twisted my arm to make me join this brotherhood. I will only act with your permission."
Sabo tried not to think too much about what he was going to agree to. He shook the pirate doctor's calloused hand in a firm grip. He smiled at the other man. "When do we start?"
His head hurt. He swore on Roger's family jewels that he had never had a migraine quite like the one he was suffering from. It felt like someone was drilling into his head with a screwdriver right down to the middle. Light seeped through his eyelids and he groaned. A loud bang blasted his ear drums and whatever he was laying on shook and sent pinpricks of pain through every bit of skin.
Something blocked the light and Sabo hesitantly cracked his eyes open. His sight was blurry, and the light still burned at his retinas, but he had to discover the source of breath on his face. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a vaguely familiar face.
A teen leaned over him with wide brown eyes and braided chocolate hair. His short nose wrinkled with his blinding smile against mocha skin. His prominent ears wiggled a little as his smile widened.
"You're awake!" The boy's voice rattled in Sabo's head. He wanted to scold the teen and tell him to turn off the stupid light but boy popped out of sight.
Sabo blinked and glanced around with blurry eyes. He was in what looked like a recovery room in a hospital. Except the room was empty and there was no boy anywhere. Sabo looked at the IV in his arm and worried about the drugs making him hallucinate.
The door slid open and a man in a white jumpsuit with a teal hat and sunglasses entered. He sighed and went straight for the IV drip bags. "Ermis said you were awake but not that you looked like shit. I'll give you some of the good stuff."
He fiddled around with some medicine behind Sabo's head and attached a new bag to the IV pole. The man also handed Sabo a pair of sunglasses. "Put these on. You'll feel better soon."
The sunglasses did help with the light burning his eyes and the revolutionary could finally see that not a single light was turned on and only the soft glow of early morning sunlight was peeking through the curtains.
"Captain gets migraines sometimes, so we all know the drill. Except for Ermis because he's new and useless with medicine. Kind of like Bepo, but he has the excuse of not having opposable thumbs. At least Brenna is useful. She helps Captain get enough sleep then he has fewer migraines." The man babbled quietly. The name Shachi came to mind. He was the head mechanic and anaesthetist.
"What time is it?" Sabo croaked.
"Just after five am." Shachi's smile was rather devious but Sabo didn't sense any malice or trickery from the man. It was just how he smiled. "The Captain worked on you for eight hours, so he and the medical team are passed out right now. Your cute friend is also asleep in the next room."
It took Sabo a moment to remember what the heck the man was talking about. Memories. He was trying to get back his memories. He tried to grab at the man's hand but found himself too out of it to even lift his hand. "Did it work?" He slurred.
"Get some more sleep. We'll find out in the morning when you don't need a boatload of painkillers."
The next thing Sabo remembered was waking up to Koala sitting patiently by his bed with her nose buried in a book on North Blue warfare. Sunlight streamed through the windows, but his head no longer pounded with pain. He shuffled a bit and Koala's head snapped up.
"Sabo-kun!" She scrambled to his side and held up a glass of water. "You must be thirsty."
He gratefully accepted the cool liquid down his throat and sighed in relief. A second glass followed before he felt well enough to sit up. The IV had been removed from his wrist and he set aside the sunglasses he no longer seemed to need. Koala stood up and poked her head out the door to speak with someone.
She sat back down by his bed with a smile. "How do you feel?"
"A lot better than the last time."
"Yes, Shachi-kun mentioned you woke up and needed some morphine really early this morning. The doctor did warn that messing around in your head would result in some pain. How is that, by the way? Any new memories?"
Sabo hadn't even had time to think let alone try to shift through memories he wasn't sure he had. Before he could answer, the door opened and a few people crowded into the room. There was a dark-skinned teenager, a man with 'penguin' on his hat, and a bear. But all Sabo could focus on was the tall, lanky man with a spotted white hat.
"Good to see you're awake, Sabo-ya. We had quite the adventure in your brain and a rather complex treatment for your amnesia. It's never been tried before so don't feel too disappointed if it didn't work -"
Sabo threw off the thick duvet and stumbled off the bed. The floor was cold beneath his bare feet and he was wearing some plain night shirt and boxers that didn't belong to him, but he didn't care. His head spun and the room tilted but he managed to stumble his way to the tall man and throw his arms around the doctor. The body froze under his hug, but Sabo just let out a sob as tears gathered in his eyes.
"Law-san!" He whispered into the shoulder of one of the many brothers he forgot. His fingers twisted in the fabric of the yellow hoodie. "I missed you."
Slowly, arms came up and wrapped around him, surrounding him with a warmth he couldn't believe he forgot. A heavy breath of relief puffed against Sabo's neck and long, thin fingers buried in his hair. How could he forget Law and Ace and Luffy? How could he let such great memories be locked away for over a decade? Never again. Never would he forget his brothers ever again.
"I missed you too," his oldest brother whispered in his ear.
Sabo never wanted to let go.
I'm a little like Sabo right now, re-entering the scene a little late. I'm still going to be busy part of this summer, but I was sitting on this chapter at 95% completion and figured I would post it.
Please note: I am not a brain surgeon or knowledgeable about amnesia. I have no idea what Law was babbling about.
Also, yeah, Sabo has his memories back before Marineford. I wonder what that means?
Super big thanks to everyone who has been following this story and patiently waiting while I deal with life. Also, big thanks to anyone who just started reading. If you made it this far, you have joined the LASL+Bepo club.
Please leave a review or comment if you have the time.