Taking a deep breath, Ace lunged at Rayleigh. He easily dodged the attack and slammed the sword on Ace's head. He groaned loudly at the throbbing pain.

He stood up and sighed loudly. Rayleigh still was better than him, even after all these years of training.

Rayleigh gave a proud grin at Ace and ruffed his hair like an affectionate older brother. Ace groaned when Rayleigh slapped his hat off his head. As he quickly placed it back onto his snug head, he gave a sharp glare at the blond male.

Rayleigh barked loudly at Ace. He frowned. He knew that look. That meant that Rayleigh wasn't scared of him and thought of him as adorable. Ace even said his thoughts out loud.

The young adult shrugged in a gesture as if to say, "Guilty as charged." Ace rolled his eyes and punched Rayleigh on the shoulder. The blond narrowed his eyes and gave a swift kick towards him. Ace quickly dodged at the end.

"By the way, I heard you are planning to move out?" Ace asked quickly. Rayleigh snorted at his not-so-subtle change of subject, but decided to humor him anyways.

"Yeah. The Doctor life ain't for me. The only good thing I am at is swordsmanship and fighting. I can't sit still and make remedies. I have to go out and see the world. There is so much more out there. Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but Ace, I swear, someday I will see the world and what is beyond this tiny island," Rayleigh said with a wild grin. As if right beside him, Ace could see an older Rayleigh from the once faded wanted posters that would make people tremble in fear. Ace could see why this adult would soon become the first mate to the Pirate King. He indeed the will the pursue the world and its freedom. Fitting for the best friend of the man who would conquer the world.

"What made you decide that? Have you decide on your future job?" Ace asked curiously. He already knew what the future first mate was going to answer, of course. What else would Rayleigh say? It was only logical for the first mate of the future Pirate King wish to be a pirate as well. Rayleigh gave a smirk at Ace.

"I decided to be a merchant."

What? Ace scratched his ear in confusion. Did he hear something wrong?

"I'm sorry. Mind repeating that again?" he asked meekly.

"Wow. Listen my young pupil and listen well. I have decided to be a… MERCHANT!" Rayleigh proclaimed loudly with a spark of determination in his eyes.

…Yep. He heard that right. It was official. The whole world has gone crazy. Ace just couldn't picture it. The blond man sitting behind a fruit stand arguing with customers about what price they should sell. It just… didn't fit. Unless it was a bar. That could work. Now THAT Ace could perfect imagine Rayleigh sitting behind a counter not giving anyone a second glance as he flipped a newspaper, while a customer was complaining. Then, if they got in his nerves enough, he would give them hell and kick them out while acting like a cool cucumber. Maybe he would be sipping a bottle of rum while he was at it.

Wait. Wait. Wait. He wasn't supposed to think that! This was Rayleigh's future and he wanted to be a MERCHANT of all things!?

"What is with that look?" Rayleigh complained with a pout. Ace wrinkled his nose at the sight. How old was Rayleigh acting?

"I'm sorry. It is just...a bit hard for me to believe you are going to be a merchant," Ace hesitantly explained.

"What is so weird? I want to own a ship someday and live there. I will travel around, fighting off pirates, seeing new places, and everything! That is my dream!" the blonde said with conviction. With that look in his eye, Ace honestly believes that Rayleigh would become a merchant.

He paused to think. He wondered for a second. What exactly made Rayleigh even join Roger? Rayleigh was a loyal and a good man. Maybe a bit lazy at times and a bit too vague, but a great guy overall. Roger must've done something to make him join. Perhaps chase after the swordsman till he agreed? Ace could picture Roger doing that, much like Luffy once did.

It was creepily weird how similar Roger and Luffy were.

Speaking of his brother, Ace glanced at the setting sun. It was about time to head home.

"Looks like our training session is over. Get out of here," Rayleigh said with a shove. Ace stumbled a bit before taking off.

"See ya later, Ray!" He hollered over his shoulder.

"Bye Ace!" Rayleigh yelled back with a smile. As Rayleigh watched Ace's figure become nothing more than a dot, he sighed loudly. Ace was surrounded with mysterious that he hoped in unravel, but Rayleigh liked the kid. He was rather fond of him. Part of him want to pursue what exactly Ace is hiding, but the other part of him just wanted to watch Ace grow as a child. He wanted to spend time with the kid as a friend, not an investigator.

Rayleigh was torn, but he also knew he couldn't leave these mysterious unsolved. Ace was an enigma that he wanted to unravel and see what lies beneath that mask. He has been holding it off too long. It was time to tear off that mask.

He wanted to see Ace for who he truly was, with no secrets. Then, perhaps, they could really be close friends. Perhaps Rayleigh, who was slowly growing attached, could finally accept someone else as family after being looked down upon for so many years.

~OoOo~

People pitched in to take care of the Gol brothers after Lura died. No one exactly wanted to take them in, with their monstrous appetites and constant chaos, but there were always people checking up on them everyday and looking out for the two brothers. It was kind of like a rotation schedule, with the Doctor, Maple, and so many other people who loved their mother and decided to pick up the shards left behind.

They didn't have the time or funds to take care of them fully, but their thoughtfulness touched Ace's hearts. They could've left the brothers as orphans since they had no living relatives, but their mom's childhood friend, Rayleigh's father, took on the responsibility as their guardian, at least in name. (Did that mean, in technicalities, Rayleigh and him were brothers? Kind of.) He and the others worked everything out so that the two could live a healthy and independent life.

It was fine with Ace. He was always kind of independent. He didn't need to rely on adults. If he wanted, he could probably fish for food or bargain. His days as a pirate did help with shopping, and certainly helped with the store. Unfortunately, he did have certain chores to do and helping with the shopping on the Moby Dick was one of them.

It has been what, five years already since Lura died? Roger was already 15. Ace was only 11. Roger was around the age that Ace himself was preparing to cast sail the next year…

Rayleigh was already 18. Holy cow. It was hard to imagine the teenager as already an adult. Fuck, Rayleigh was old already.

It was strange to think about, but life went on.

Ace and Roger took turns running the store that Lura owned. It was a great place for people to trade still since Lura left a huge variety of stock behind. They never ran out, really. Ace could bargain with the customers and Roger had an eye for items. They were a real team. No one should underestimate them even if they were kids. They grew up watching their mother make a living with it, so it was only natural that they would pick up a thing or two. Even if it was a small little shop, it was something to remind the two brothers about their mother. Eventually, it would probably close down, but for now, Ace could picture their mother smiling at them.

Opening the store door, Roger created Ace with a grin.

"Hey, little brother!"

"Don't call me that," Ace sighed exasperated, but a warm feeling filled his chest.

It was kind of like home with Whitebeard. He was surrounded by brothers and sisters; all kids taken in by his old man. He missed being called the youngest by Thatch or Pops. It was nice being reminded of the life he once had, without feeling a stab of pain.

He resented Roger for a number of reasons, but being called little brother always filled him with this bitter feeling. It reminded Ace of everything he has been robbed of; his life, his family, the pirate life, and so much more all because of his relation to Roger as his son.

Life did has its ironies. Reincarnation wasn't something he was expecting. Ace was used to being the oldest because of Sabo and Luffy, while also the youngest by Whitebeard's crew. It was weird, but he liked the feeling of being watched by others and taken care of. They knew to give him his boundaries and when to overstep them.

In this life, Roger didn't get Ace that well. He overstepped his boundaries from the moment Ace saw his face. Roger robbed him of so much and Ace pushed those feelings of bitterness on him. Those feelings still stirred inside him, but were much calmer.

Things were okay for now. When Roger walked up to him and ruffled his hair, he would push the older boy off of him.

Yes, things were certainly okay.

At least, that is what Ace though, unknowing that things were still left unsaid and that he would receive something that would change his path and his relationships.

~OoOo~

Ace was walking around town. Different smells swirled in the air. It was comforting. The scent of the sea blanketed the town and the chatter of the people brought it to life.

His eyes drifted towards the glistening sea. Someday, he would get off this island and sail away. He would become a pirate again. He wanted to be free. The sea was his birthplace and grave. The feeling of the wind in his face was something he could never part from. At the same time though, he was constantly anchored to shore.

Thoughts always clouded his head and worries made him choke. A constant voice inside his head nagged him about Luffy and his old pirate crew. He needed to go back. He had to return to his family. Another part of him was torn. He couldn't leave the boy that was his older brother had this new life. He made new bonds with people. He liked Roger and Rayleigh. They were both strong.

Someday they would turn the world on its head and Ace wanted to be there. Roger was the older brother who was mischievous, but protective. Rayleigh was more mature than his idiotic brother, but he didn't know what to do with his life yet. The blond didn't really have a care. He claimed he would be a merchant, but Ace knew that wasn't the life for him. He was strong, both him and Ace knew that, but it wasn't enough. A life on the sea was only half of the solution. A pirate was what Rayleigh needed in his life. Soon, Roger would spark a fire on his heart of adventure.

Ace couldn't wait to see the day that would happen.

Was it even possible to have the best of both worlds?

Ace didn't even know how he could get home… He didn't even know what home was anymore! Was this life his new home?

Ace wrinkled his nose. He felt a headache coming on. He knew he was in a new life, yes. But how does such things works? There wasn't a guide book about How To Survive a New Reincarnation Life With an Idiotic Brother Who Was Once Your Father 101.

That would be useful through.

"MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!" someone barked from behind. Ace growled when he felt someone shove him to the ground. The nerve! He was ready to give that person a piece of his mind.

"What do we have here?" a marine with long brown hair sneered. Ace scowled. Of course it was those bastards. Ace watched as a trio of Marines harassed a merchant. "We are Marines. We are just here to protect this boring town! Soon though, I am going to be promoted and move into the Grand Line. I am being to ditch this place to prove my worth. Maybe take down some pirates for glory and live a life of luxury. You should be thankful for us being here. It would be a lot easier for all of us if you give us all the good stuff. We need it to beat up some pirates. Unfortunately, we don't have any money."

"I-I need this to feed my family," the merchant feebly replied. Seeing the glare, the merchant started to ramble about how thankful he was for the Marines coming to his stall and was glad to give all his equipment for free.

Ace vaguely remembered that a new base was placed in his town. It was near the entrance to the Grand Line, so of course it would only make sense. The Marines were rapidly moving across the Four Blues into the the Grand Line. There were more and more pirates popping up the place that would soon be called the Pirate's Graveyard. It wasn't enough to be called the Age of the Pirates, but a wave of piracy was spreading across the ocean.

The Blues were peaceful, so the Marines were moving into the Grand Line.

The freckled boy wondered if they realized what they were getting into.

His hands twitched. It craved to hang onto a sail and feel the ocean breeze in his face. Ace missed the pump of adrenaline fill his veins as he fought for his life to protect his family.

He was too old, yet too young at the same time. How annoying. He felt like screaming from all the boredom, but he was "too young" to know about the real world.

Hell, it was a miracle Ace hasn't jumped off the island yet and stow awayed to the Grand Line.

Roger would probably drag him back though, the idiot. The older would probably worry too much about his "little brother." It was a love-hate relationship with Roger. You either loved him, or wanted to pummel him. Those were the two options.

It was just that things felt much too boring. It felt all like a routine. Nothing interesting was happening right then.

East Blue was always too peaceful, but also rotten to its core in some twisted way. Ace bitterly grinded teeth as he remember the assholes called Celestial Dragons. There was always a dark side somewhere.

He stomped past the booth in blind anger.

It was frustrating in many cases. Dealing with the boredom and babying of adults. In a way, Ace was thankful Lura wasn't around to baby him.

He mentally kicked himself for thinking such a thing.

Lura was his only mother, and he was happy she died? What the hell was wrong with him?

Ace sighed in frustration. He took off the hat Lura left him and ruffled his hair angrily. This was all so confusing. It felt like drowning when he couldn't swim. He always trusted his crew to yank him out, but now he was drowning all alone. He had no answers why he was here. He had no way to deal with his boredom. It was just so many problems piling up in his brain to the point he wanted to scream.

In the peaceful town of Loguetown, Ace would now encounter another problem to add to his plate.

"What do you guys think you are doing?" a male scolded the rude Marines. Ace heard this from behind. Huh, about time someone put those bastards into place.

"S-sorry Captai-" That voice… It couldn't be…?

"LET ME GIVE YOU MY FIST OF LOVE, YOU IDIOTS!" And all of a sudden, there was a huge crash behind and Ace felt objects whiz by him.

No, no, no. This had to be a huge nightmare. Yeah, this was a dream! There was no way that it was possible for him to be here…

"Bawahaha! That will teach you guys a lesson!" someone laughed from behind.

"Sir, you didn't have to destroy the entire stall and all the surrounding booths." Everyone else around Ace spun around to look at the scene, but the boy couldn't move. He didn't want to deal with the possibility.

He has probably never been this afraid in his life. Flashbacks about his childhood and Marineford filled his mind that made his arms tremble.

Please, let this all be a dream.

"It's cool that way!" the Captain joyfully replied.

"Captain, it doesn't work that way!" a bunch of Marines protested. The captain grumbled.

"Fine, fine. I'll fix it," he grumbled.

Ace fearfully turned around and saw a young man with a familiar face.

Fuck, looks like he was in a living nightmare right now.

Monkey D. Garp has moved into Loguetown.

~OoOo~

Maple held a small letter in the darkness of the library.

"Oh Thatch… You idiot," she said fondly as a tear dripped down on her face and onto the letter. Maple wiped it off the letter. It came with a small package as well. Maple gave a sad smile.

"I thought you promised me you would make a huge feast when you returned? You silly cook… You promised. This wasn't supposed to happen. You weren't supposed to die."

Maple tipped her head back and laughed bitterly while tears rolled down her cheeks.

That idiotic pirate of a chef.


I don't really have an excuse why this is so overdue. You guys probably forgot what was happening in this story. I had an entire sheet of paper with all my story ideas, which I lost. That was frustrating. I also had to handle school and was involved with an evacuation. Also frustrating.

The main reason though why I haven't updated is because when I reread this story, IT IS SO INCREDIBLY BAD. I AM EMBARRASSED! I don't know why the heck you guys read this horrible mess I call fanfiction. I reread their characterization and cringe so bad. I haven't done any of them justice. I sincerely apologize to Ace, Roger, and Rayleigh.

In all honesty, part of me wants to drop this fanfiction and shove it down a dumpster so no one can read it.

I want to rewrite it (or delete it), but I figure since I am almost done, might as well finish it. Only a few more chapters to go.

I hope you enjoyed it all the same, despite how bad it is.

*sighs*

I don't own anything.

EDIT: Ack! I actually forgot to thank everyone who reviewed, faved, and follow, so I will update this soon with the list of usernames, since Feb 15!

-mysteryreader6626 signing out