When the local bandit boss threatened Makino because Shanks wasn't around, Luffy saw red. It wasn't bodily harm that the bastards were threatening her with, all because she was trying to protect Luffy's life. No, that monster was threatening something far worse than a beating for a woman.
Half-remembered memories of a life before this came to mind. Of being strong enough to take down monsters or even convert them to their side mid-battle.
Luffy reached for that warm furry feeling that had always made her feel safe...and pulled. She would not let these monsters hurt Makino-nee.
Instead of fire though, there was a wave of force. It almost felt like pure will manifest, and she aimed every bit of it at the bandits. Memories of her previous life helped her to turn what could have been a blunt weapon into something far closer to a sword.
Everywhere around her the bandits...and a few odd villagers who were a bit too close...collapsed on the ground. As if gravity had suddenly asserted itself in greater pressures than before just around them.
Luffy turned to find Shanks, unaware that her eyes were going a brilliant orange the color of the sunset.
Shanks looked around at the scene before him, but his main focus was on Luffy. A kid he had taken for a fluffy bunny...with not a lot of sense. A fluffy bunny with Conqueror's Haki, and enough skill to awaken it at seven.
"What the hell happened? I thought something was going on when no one was there to great us at port, but this..."
Luffy scowled at the bandits.
"They threatened Makino-nee. They were going to hurt her really, really badly," said Luffy.
Makino couldn't quite meet Shanks eyes, but considering the reaction of the other villagers he could make a general guess what the bandits had threatened Makino with. Apparently Luffy was smarter than she looked if she knew how bad it was.
What concerned Shanks was the fact that Luffy had unlocked how to use Haki...and Conqueror's Haki at that. The fact she also had an instinctive ability to control it to the point it didn't knock everyone out or reach past the general area of the square was nothing short of astounding. It had taken Roger three months before Shanks was allowed to use his outside of training.
The glowing sunset eyes though... that was something that only happened in the rarest of circumstances. It had only happened to Shanks twice in his entire life, and both times had been during events so dire that it was more than life or death at stake.
The first time had been when the Marines were going to arrest him shortly after Roger's execution... when his very freedom was at stake during the bloodbath that happened immediately after.
The last time had been shortly before he became officially acknowledged as a Yonko.
Shanks bundled up Luffy and took her to the bar, where Makino fussed over her. She wasn't any worse from wear...just really sleepy. She curled up against Shanks lap without a care in the world.
Shanks looked at Benn. A silent agreement passed between them... there was no way they could leave as they had discussed. Not when Luffy had unlocked that so young. There was no telling the damage she could do untrained.
Three months later
The feared red haired Yonko of the Grand Line twitched sporadically. How the hell was he supposed to stand up against that?!
Luffy was staring at him with her big brown eyes and her face was twitching...she looked every bit the cute, innocent little bunny he had always thought her to be ever since he met. She looked so adorable it was taking every ounce of will he had not to cave into her every whim.
Nearby Shanks could sense his crew torn between laughing their ass off at their big bad captain caving to a seven year old, or joining him.
Shanks caved first, and Luffy cheered.
"I'm almost terrified to find out how far she'll go as a pirate...if she wasn't so fluffy anyway," said Benn snorting.
"I'm going to be Pirate King!" said Luffy.
"Only boys can be kings," said Shanks absently. "You can still be the little bunny princess though."
Luffy scowled at him, before kicking him very hard in the shin. With armament Haki active.
Shanks swore, before he glared at her.
"Girls can be strong too! I can still kick your ass!" said Luffy.
"Girls shouldn't swear!" said Shanks scolding her, giving her a noogie.
Luffy tried to bite him, but Shanks avoided it with ease. He had far too much practice.
Shanks shared a look with Benn. It was time, not that he was happy about it. It was simply too dangerous to take Luffy with them.
Luffy seemed to sense something was different about today, because she drooped.
"You're leaving, aren't you?" she asked. It wasn't a question.
"We've spent too long here. If we don't go back a bunch of people will get ideas and cause trouble... or worse we'd draw too much attention on the village and you," said Shanks.
You could feel Luffy's sadness, even if they kept a blank face. Shanks had to fight the urge to stay, it was that bad. Luffy had a way of growing on you to the point that you would follow her without hesitation.
It was like Conqueror's Haki radiated off her like an aura...much like it had Roger.
Shanks didn't want to leave, but he had to.
He took off his precious hat and put it on Luffy's head, startling the kid.
"When you become a great pirate, come find me on the Grand Line. You can give it back to me there," said Shanks.
"It's okay. Everyone leaves...it's something I've learned to deal with," said Luffy tiredly.
It broke Shanks' heart to hear her say that without hesitation.
"Who left you?" he asked.
"My father left me with gramps. Gramps left and said he would be back, but he never did. Now you're leaving too," said Luffy sadly.
Shanks looked at Benn helplessly.
"Luffy, do you know what a den den mushi is?" asked Benn.
She tilted her head.
"Isn't that the funny snail that talks?"
Shanks caught on to what Benn was hinting at.
Parting with one of their den den mushi that connected to the Red Force was a good way to prove Shanks wasn't just abandoning her. It was a very expensive item, but for someone like Luffy, it was nothing. Especially if it meant that he could leave without regretting it after.
"You promise to call me?" asked Luffy, turning those big brown eyes on Shanks.
"Have I ever lied to you directly?" asked Shanks.
Luffy shook her head.
"Pirates aren't supposed to be nice people, but you are anyway," she said.
Shanks' lip twitched upward. He ruffled her hair as they started boarding. He could see her eyes welling up with tears.
He made sure to give her one last hug before getting on the ship, and turned away before she saw the fact he was close to tears as well. He had no doubts someone like Luffy would make it far. She reminded him too much of his old captain...the Pirate King Gol D. Roger himself...when he was alive.
She was still his little Bunny Princess (as he would forever think of her) though.
Something that would get him in a lot of hot water with his favorite little rabbit years later, when they finally saw each other again.
Luffy stared at the angry little spitfire in front of her, and the only thing she could think of once Garp had basically dumped them in the woods together was...
Ace stumbled from walking away from her, before turning to look at her properly. Even with the straw hat on her head, those eyes were unmistakable.
"Bunny trash?" he asked carefully. Luffy kicked him in the shin.
"I am not a bunny!"
"So even in this world you're still a fluffy brat," said Ace satisfied. "Have you seen anyone else?"
"You're the first one I've found," said Luffy, pouting at the fact that even in this life she was still considered 'fluffy'.
"Have you unlocked them yet? Your Flames I mean," asked Ace.
Luffy showed off the small ball of fire. It wasn't much, but it was better than what she could do when they first woke up.
Ace's grin was terrifying...if you weren't used to Xanxus that is.
"Bunny trash, we're going to get you up to Quality standards this time if it kills me."
Luffy didn't argue.
"I'll get Gramps to teach me those weird marine techniques. We're going to need all the advantage we can get when we head to the Grand Line later, if Shanks was any indication."
"He give you that hat?" asked Ace.
Luffy nodded, before pulling out a den den mushi.
Ace snorted. The bunny had learned from the best when it came to emotional blackmail.
It was only when they realized they still had to make it out the forest that they went back to the task at hand.
Luffy suddenly hugged Ace.
"I'm glad you're here, Ace-nii," she said.
Ace blushed, but said nothing. The bunny had no idea the effect she had on people.
That being said they kept up the ruse Ace couldn't stand her for a bit longer. No need to alert Garp what they were really planning.
Luffy and Ace could only feel relief when they found another familiar face half a year later. During that time Luffy had managed to trick Garp into teaching her the six techniques...which Ace quickly copied on the sly as well...and they had managed to at least get to a point they could hover with their flames.
For some reason it was rather difficult to train them, because most of the time it switched to Haki first.
His name was Sabo and he was part of the nobles that lived on the island. But he found their behavior so disgusting that he wanted nothing to do with them.
However he took one look at Luffy before he beamed widely.
Luffy looked at him with disbelief, before an even wider smile appeared on her face.
"Tsu-chan!" said Sabo, hugging the stuffing out of her. He paused when he realized how 'squishy' she was.
Luffy grinned at him and pulled her face, making it stretch far more than it rightly should.
"I accidentally ate the Gum Gum fruit when Shanks visited about two years ago."
"Only you, little sister, could have that sort of luck," said Sabo exasperated.
"Have you figured out how to use flames yet, Bucking Horse?"
Sabo looked at Ace for a moment before he asked... "Xanxus?"
"Trash," he said back with a smirk, eyes glinting in challenge.
"Other than Xanxus and you, I haven't found anyone," said Luffy.
"In that case, no I haven't. I had no idea they were even here."
"Seems to translate to Haki first. Only comes out at great need," rumbled Ace.
Sabo perked up at that.
"On an unrelated note, the bunny seems to have become more scatterbrained and devious since she arrived. She managed to con a Yonko out of a snail," said Ace with great amusement. "She also has a marine hero wrapped around her fingers."
"Who?" asked Sabo with interest.
"She conned Shanks out of a den den mushi and she has Garp wrapped around her fingers to the point he'll teach her damn near anything," said Ace smugly.
Sabo cackled and wrapped his arms around Luffy, who pouted.
"I'm not scatterbrained."
"You're meat obsessed and you're still scrawny as hell. I don't know how you look that small when you eat more than you ever did in our last lives," countered Ace without hesitation. But he ruffled Luffy's hair fondly.
It didn't take much for the trio to become nigh inseperable as 'brothers'. Luffy hated the fact that female pirates had to go through so much crap before ANYONE took them seriously and long before puberty hit decided to hide her gender. As far as anyone needed to know, Monkey D. Luffy was a boy.
Garp certainly didn't care, though Makino despaired because she had so much fun putting Luffy into the cutest little dresses... and now thanks to Ace and Sabo the adorable little girl was swiftly turning into a total tomboy.