Ace had never expected to wake up again.
In all fairness this was not an unusual expectation for someone who had just taken a fist full of lava through the chest, in a desperate attempt to save their little brother.
Which was why Ace was understandably confused when he awoke once more. Blinking up at the night sky in confusion, the young pirate attempted to reorient himself "I'm alive?" The whispered words echoed loudly amidst the ocean waves.
Forcing himself into an upright position Ace tried to evaluate his surroundings only to let out a soft gasp of recognition, he knew small boat he was currently sat on. How could he not?
It was the same boat that had carried him off Dawn island all those years ago. The same boat that had been destroyed a mere one week into his journey in a conflict with the Marines. "No way in hell..."
Looking down at his hands for the first time since he'd awoken, Ace took in the lack of a log pose on his too skinny wrist as well as the calm unchanging weather and the tranquil blue sea surrounding him. This was east blue.
With eyes widened in shock Ace didn't hesitate to tear off his shirt, only to stare in confusion at the ruined jolly Rodger on his back, and the hideously burnt flesh that had replaced the majority of it. Moving slowly, almost as if in a trance, Ace lifted his hand and watched in wonderment as it turned to flame "What the hell is going on?"
The softly whispered question went unanswered in the silence of the night, as Ace tried to re-evaluate what had happened.
Because despite the ruined tattoo and intact Logia abilities, Ace was definitely in his slightly less developed seventeen year old body. Meaning that if he really was in the past, as he suspected he was, it was still far too early for him to have his devil fruit, let alone his tattoo.
Shaking his head Ace decided not to question these inconsistencies further for now. There was no point looking a gift horse in the mouth and despite the curious circumstances he now found himself in, Ace was grateful.
He had been given a second chance to try and help make things right, he wasn't going to waste his time wondering why. He had the chance to change everything, this time Thatch would survive, Teach would be dealt with and Marineford would never happen again.
Last time his family had been willing to go to war with the World for him. And now he had a chance to repay that loyalty, and an opportunity to honour his promise to Luffy. He wouldn't die again, not this time.
First, he had to get rid of the remains of his tattoo though. The thought jolted through him like a physical pain, but there was nothing that could be done about it. The remains of the Jolly Roger were just big enough that it could be identified by anyone who knew what they were looking for.
And in a timeline where Ace had yet to meet the Whitebeard pirates, going around with the defaced remains of their Jolly Roger on his back was just asking for trouble. And so, it would have to be covered up at the soonest possible chance.
Pushing aside the hurt that came from the thought of covering up Oyaji's jolly Roger, Ace let a smile grace his face at the thought his next step. Reforming the Spade pirates.
The crazy men and women who had claimed him as their Captain and had refused to leave his side even whilst he was undertaking a crazy murder spree against the strongest man in the world. Who were still there fighting for him alongside the rest of the crew at Marineford even after his heritage had been revealed.
Ace loved the Whitebeard pirates, but the spades would forever be his first crew. And Ace would never want to undertake this crazy as hell journey without them. Of course, there were reasons for reforming his crew outside of his own selfish desire to see them again.
The major one being that his little brother wasn't the only one in the family that had the habit of recruiting new crew members after saving their lives. Meaning that if Ace didn't bother to go and recruit them again, then chances were that half the spade crew would be dead within the month anyway.
So, their recruitment was definitely a priority. Ace was looking forward to seeing them again, he had missed his family in the month's he'd been stuck in Impel Down or trying to track down Teach. Teach...
The smile that had been so warm on his face mere moments ago, died a painful and sudden death at the thought of the man he had once called his brother. The treacherous bastard who had started the events leading up to Marineford. This time round Teach needed to be dealt with before he had a chance to hurt Thatch.
Unfortunately, as it was, even without the yami yami no mi, Ace currently didn't have the strength to deal with Teach (and didn't that hurt to admit). And even if he did Ace would still be unable to act unless he had evidence of Teach going traitor. If not he'd be targeted by the full force of the Whitebeard pirates, desperate for revenge for the man they still thought of as a comrade.
So, Ace would have to be patient. He'd bide his time, reform his crew, stay under the radar a little longer this time and would use that time to get stronger. Then he'd go meet his family once more and this time he'd be strong enough to help protect them.
Hi to anyone reading this, I've been planning a story like this for a while (because I love Ace and im still in denial about Marineford in general) but I haven't had the time to write it till now, to anyone who's read my first fic home thank you so much for the support so far! and I hope you enjoyed the story so far and please leave a review to share your opinion! :)