Title: Gone to Meet Again
Universe: One Piece
Theme/Topic: 3 Years
Rating: PG
Character/Pairing/s: Ace, Luffy
Warnings/Spoilers: No major spoilers I think. Mentions of some of Luffy's early (pre-Grandline) exploits
Word Count: 1,569
Time: Hours and hours and hours dies (no edits)
Summary: Ace has a plan.
Dedication: tokkichan- this request stumped me for like, FOREVER. Hopefully the result of that brain-deadness isn't too obvious. XD;;
This was ridiculously hard to write... probably 'cuz I don't really think about Ace and Luffy's sibling relationship all that much (ever, haha). I think I failed. rolls
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish constantly.
Distribution: Just lemme know.

In three years he sees huge portions of the world (but not all of it), eats all sorts of exotic food (and falls asleep in it), and has so many adventures he can hardly recall them all (but then again, he might have been asleep). He tries his best to remember the ones he'd been awake for though, because when he returns home (there's no question that he will), he wants to share the great things he's seen and done and eaten with his little brother. Not to brag or anything, but rather, a part of him believes that if he can tell all his stories to Luffy maybe it'll be like Luffy had been there with him all along and not back in Fuschia growing up without his big brother there every step of the way.

And so he can't wait to tell Luffy about how he met Whitebeard, about how much tattoos hurt (but not if you're a man), and about these amazing little deep-fried spicy peppers he tried in a city called Chipaptle on the eastern shore of Mecali Island. Luffy would like that, he thinks—the irony of someone with Ace's particular devil's fruit ability saying it had lit his tongue aflame for a good week after he'd bitten into it.

And in liking the stories he knows his little brother will definitely want to come along this time, that he's old enough now, though Ace isn't sure how his mental state may or may not have changed over time (probably not at all). Well, either way it doesn't matter he thinks, because from now on he'll be right there alongside Luffy to take care of him. They'll adventure together, as pirate brothers, and Luffy can fulfill all his seafaring ambitions there with Ace and the new pirate family he's built for them both. Whitebeard will definitely take Luffy in under his flag—Ace is sure of that-- and Luffy certainly can't say no to the person who Ace believes will be the next pirate king.

But then again, Ace knows his brother too, knows that he's never really done so well in the listening to someone else's orders department (Shanks can definitely verify that little fact too). But Luffy's still young even after three years of growing up, and Ace knows he can learn whatever he needs to if he's taught with patience and care. Who better then, than his own brother?

Thus it's all planned out perfectly in Ace's head—he waits until he knows his brother is just old enough to set out on the open seas with him for the first time before he asks Whitebeard for his longest leave of absence to date. "I want to go home," he explains to his captain, and the giant old man gives a shuddering sigh and tells him to go and come back and not to dally along the way—which means no picking on hapless marines or pranking other pirates or getting killed and/or arrested along the way. Ace can live with that he supposes, and sets off on his little skiff in the direction of home, full of something like anticipation at getting to bring Luffy back here to Grandline with him.

And even though he knows his brother has never been the kind of person who was too keen on listening to someone else's orders, he thinks in the long term, the kid can get used to it once he meets Whitebeard. Especially since—and Ace truly believes this-- it's destiny that's involved.

On the way he stops in a little port town on the Island of Auldio for a snack—not dallying per se, but if he runs into any marines to pick on or other pirates to prank or happens to get killed and/or arrested along the way he supposes that those things just can't be helped sometimes. He goes to the nearest greasy spoon restaurant (and tavern, naturally) and orders shrimp fried rice. He sits down planning to enjoy his meal and relax for a bit because he's been traveling for nearly thirty-six hours straight and his back is just a little bit stiff.

He gets his rice a little while later and is just about to either eat it or nap in it when he hears voices behind him— laughter and the usual watering-hole type antics between guys who want to unwind after a hard day's work. Off-duty marines, and Ace is technically off duty too, so he ignores them so long as they ignore him, and concentrates on his rice right up until the moment the name "Mugiwara no Luffy" comes up between them.

That, admittedly, gets his attention.

"Did you hear? Krieg defeated… his whole crew! And then Arlong right after? Man, that's crazy. That's scary."

"Well I mean, he does have Roronoa with him… and I dunno, the whole being made out of rubber thing… damned cheating Devil's Fruit powers and all that. Not that surprising when you think about it."

"Still. Some random kid suddenly showing up and earning that kind of bounty in that short a time? Unbelievable."

"Haha at least his crew isn't on Grandline huh? Not our problem until that happens…"

"Fuck, you think the guys we do have to deal with out here are any better? Haha you're crazy, man."

Ace blinks, and for the moment, forgets about eating or napping. There's no mistaking— the only straw hat wearing rubber man he knows of is his little brother.

And as it sounds, apparently, apparently his little brother has already seen fit to leave home. Ace doesn't know whether to be surprised or not at the news, stares down at his fried rice and laughs to himself for a moment, shakes his head a bit. Here he'd thought he'd been paving the way for Luffy all this time, only to discover that his little brother's already gone and broken off on a path all his own.

Three years gone and just a couple of months too late, it seems.

A thousand untold stories that he still remembers, and what had Luffy been doing all that time alone in Fuschia? He admits he's a bit disappointed that his brother had up and left without him, if only because that still means those three years were spent apart since he can't share those adventures with him now, since now he knows Luffy's off having a thousand adventures all his own.

He's only disappointed for a moment though, finds himself realizing that it'll be even more fun if they can both tell each other about all of the extraordinary things that have happened to them when they do meet up again, because even if his plans had fallen through this time, he knows he'll see Luffy again eventually. Both as pirates and brothers on the high seas, despite separate ships, separate crews, separate paths.

Though admittedly, at this rate he can't say for sure how long it will be before they see each other again.

Well, he supposes he'll burn that bridge when he gets there.

For the moment, for the moment he's got a couple of months off and nothing to do now. The only thing tying him to Fuchsia isn't there anymore after all, and truth be told, is more likely than not coming here instead.

So for now, there's nothing left to do but laugh to himself and eat his meal, maybe spend the rest of his vacation time brushing up on his brother's exploits to date. That and probably pick on some hapless marines or prank other pirates along the way if he can (possibly getting killed and/or arrested during the course, but, well, those things just happen sometimes).

In short, all that's left to do is wait.

Funny, he thinks. All this time he'd thought Luffy was back home, always waiting for him.

It just figures his little brother wouldn't do as expected, would pull the rug out from all of Ace's careful plans and strike out on his own all of a sudden. He hadn't stood around anticipating Ace's return to fetch him, hadn't wanted or needed any help to become a pirate. Hadn't needed an invitation to join a crew either, instead just ran off and made a whole new one all his own.

And he'd probably done it all without thinking twice or any sort of purposefully laid out course of action. Hell, probably without a proper boat even, knowing Luffy.

But in the long run, Ace supposes (with something like fondness), that even if it throws all his meticulously made plans out of whack (as his brother has been known to do to him on occasion), it's all probably for the best anyway.

His own crew, his own ship, his own adventures, his own dreams. Luffy will have a thousand and one stories to match Ace's when they meet up again, and even if, over the last three years and beyond, they aren't a part of each other's daily lives, Ace takes comfort from the knowledge that no matter what, they'll always be brothers.

Besides, when he really thinks about it, he has to admit that his little brother could never be anything but his own captain anyway.

Luffy has never really been good at being told what to do, after all.

And as his big brother, Ace knows that more than anyone.