The Pirate King Is Dead - Long Live The Pirate King
Part 3 of a Four Part Saga
By Aoikami Sarah
Chapter Twenty - Long Live The Pirate King
Over tea, they caught up. Luffy told them about how he had narrowly escaped execution. It was the first time in six months he had told the story in its entirety without Nami helping out on the sore subjects.
"Nico Robin is dead?" Vivace asked. "I hadn't heard that."
"Really?" Nami asked. "That's odd…"
"Well, she did have some sort of mysterious past and ties to the World Government," Ace commented. "Perhaps they had their reasons for keeping her death secret…?"
Nami noticed that talking about it still upset Luffy. He tapped his foot nervously and stared at the floor. She took his hand and gave it a squeeze, bringing him around.
"Sorry, Luffy," Ace apologized. "I know how hard it is to lose Nakama. Only time and distraction can help that feeling."
"Keeping yourself busy, especially with something that doesn't remind you of your pain," Vivace added.
Nami put her other hand on top of the one already holding her husband's. "I have the perfect distraction."
"Mikan tree farming?" Luffy asked darkly, rolling his eyes.
"No…" she growled, squeezing harder. "Since you're going to be a jerk, you don't get to know."
"What! Aw, come on, Nami!" Luffy cried as she released him, stood up and went into the kitchen.
Ace laughed at him. "Serves you right. You gotta get this married stuff down yet, Little Brother."
"Are you married?" he asked, making a face.
"No, and now you know why!" Ace stuck his tongue out. Vivace laughed and gave an exasperated sigh at the same time.
"Mou, Nami!" Luffy whined. "Come back. I'm sorry. I'm really psyched about the trees, really! I miss them from way back when we had them on the Going Merry and I want to make money by selling them so we don't have to work at the farm up the road anymore and…" Finally, she emerged from around the corner.
She folded her arms. "And?"
Luffy grinned. "And I love you."
She walked over to him and he stood up. Nami put her arms around him. "I love you, too."
"So, what's the 'perfect distraction'?" he asked. "Is it fun?"
"I hope so."
"Is it cool?"
"I think so."
"Ah! What is it?" he asked. The anticipation was killing him.
"I found out this morning. I'm going to have your baby."
Vivace squealed with delight. Luffy blinked. "You… my…?"
"Baby!" Ace shouted. "Holy crap! Congratulations!"
"Is that ok…?" Nami asked. "I mean, I know we didn't talk about it and I really wasn't sure if I could even ever have children so I didn't want to get your hopes up and so when I thought I might be I…
"I'm gonna be a dad!" Luffy asked, finally able to speak. Nami nodded and he picked her up and spun her around, laughing with glee. "Awesome! I'm gonna be the best dad ever!"
After tea, the brothers and sisters-in-law talked about their travels and how their lives had changed. Not for the first time, Nami asked a simple question about the brothers' childhood. Ace would smile brightly and answer her, but just as he had for months now, Luffy would remain quiet, only offering yes or no answers. When excused himself to get some more snacks from the kitchen Nami decided that now was perhaps her only chance to learn anything about her husband's past. She spoke up.
"Ace," she asked quickly. "Why doesn't Luffy like to talk about his childhood?"
His eyes widened for a moment before he made a face. "It was hard for him."
She heard her husband's footsteps approaching. "Can I talk to you about it?" Nami begged.
Vivace stood up. "Portgas-san, you can take your walk with Nami. I'll stay here and entertain Luffy!" she chimed as he entered the room. Vivace grabbed her partner's arm and guided him into action.
"Sure. That ok, Luffy? I promise I won't steal her," he said with a wink, taking Vivace's lead. She batted his arm as he made for the door.
"Yeah. Ok." Luffy blinked, but didn't argue.
Nami and Ace walked slowly down the unpaved road toward Fuchsia village. "What do you want to know?" the White Beard pirate asked.
"Anything," she replied. "Luffy avoids everything." She kicked at a small rock in the road. "When we first moved in, he slept in his room. I had to talk to the Mayor to learn that Luffy didn't want to sleep on the same bed that his mother died on. Turned out Bower had the mattress replaced, like, right after she died, anyway!" she said, gesticulating emphatically. "I found this cute handmade cookie jar last month and tried to get him to tell me about its history." Nami cocked her head to the side and rolled her eyes at Ace. "He changed the subject. It happens all the time!"
"Like I said," Ace repeated. "Growing up was sort of hard for him."
"Oh, I know all about having a shitty childhood," Nami explained. "My mother was shot dead in front of me when I was eight. I worked for her killer and was at odds with my entire village for ten years before Luffy set me free."
"Holy crap, I'm so sorry," Ace said, his brows pinching together. His hands were stuffed into the pockets of his shorts.
"The kicker is he knows that. Was his childhood that much more traumatic than mine?"
Ace pursed his lips. Something in the distance caught his attention and he nodded toward it. "Let's go over there," he said, motioning with is chin toward a wrought-iron fence surrounding a small graveyard up the road on the left.
Nami pouted but followed. The gate was tricky and disused. The stones were mostly old and simple-looking. Ace went a few rows over and a few stones in and stood before two newer markers. "This is messed up, by the way," Ace said pointing at Luffy's Pirate King stone.
"Yeah. I've never seen it, actually. Bower-san had it made to discourage people who might be looking to see if Luffy returned home. Anyone who comes looking for Luffy is directed to this graveyard. I sort of wish it wasn't so close to the house…" she grumbled, looking away from it.
Ace touched her shoulder. "This is what I wanted you to see." He pointed with his other hand at the stone next to Luffy's.
"Here lies Marina – devoted mother'," she read. "Your mother?"
Ace nodded and sat down in front of the stone. "She died of consumption when Luffy was 10." Nami sat on her folded knees beside him and played with the grass around her, idly. "When Luffy was just a baby, our father left us to go back to the sea. We didn't find out until my mother died that they had both been pirates, captains even! And all our uncles on both sides and our grandfather had also been pirates of great measure. Luffy was heartbroken when our mother died but even more obsessed to be a great pirate - the king of them all." Ace reached out and put a hand on the gravestone. "Mother got sick when Luffy was still really little. She couldn't move around very much. She'd get winded really easily and she got weaker every year. Luffy pretended that he didn't notice. But he knew she was slowly going away from us and one day she'd be gone, just like our father had left us." He took a deep breath. "I don't know how much it hurt him when I left. He was alone for three years, but he was older by then. When I took off he yelled at me that he would have a crew and lots of adventures. He would fill his life with excitement… I knew it was to forget about the pain of losing his family, but we were pirates born of pirates. I had to go."
Nami was gnawing on her lip. Her eyes were unfocused as she listened to Ace explain her husband's heart to her. When he fell silent she flicked her head to the side, half expecting he had fallen into a narcoleptic fit again.
"I know that's not even close to the pain you must have experienced," he said with a sad smile. "Maybe that's why he doesn't want to talk about it. He thinks that his pain would be laughable compared to yours."
This was a shock. She had never thought about that before. Nami got quickly to her feet.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you…" Ace apologized, standing up.
"No, it's ok. Even if that's not it, I've been so selfish." She touched her stomach. "I can't be that way." She gave him a smile. "I'm going to talk to him. I'm going to remind him that I'll always be here for him."
Ace was surprised, but smiled back. "Good. I'm glad he found someone like you, Nami."
She started out of the graveyard. Ace paused before following her and looked down at the false marker that said his brother was no more. "The Pirate King is dead…" he muttered with smirk. "Long live the Pirate King."
To be concluded in the final part in the saga: Treasure Hunters!