Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece, the god of epicness Oda-sama does.
Luffy was mad. Luffy was mad mad mad and that was saying something. Except the few times when he was painfully hungry, Luffy was never mad mad mad, and even then, it was just desperation mixed with intense starvation, which leads to conclude that Luffy was mad mad mad because of something totally unrelated to food. Luffy was mad mad mad because of a single word. Ace. That busy older brother of his whose only surname he could remember at the time was Stupid. Stupid Ace.
It was common sense to practically everyone that time did not pass by quickly for Luffy when he was bored, and trust me, waiting for Ace was like hell to him. Ace was in charge of all the things important in Luffy's life. He could be considered his only family if not for their outrageous grandfather who stopped by from time to time. Ace took care of meals, the house, more meals, shopping, school, meals and more meals and Luffy did not enjoy when there was no Ace around. Although he understood clearly that his brother had to study too, that he had his own private life and friends, it ticked Luffy off being forgotten like this.
Luckily for him, his neighbor Makino-san came to invite him to dine a delicious stew at her house, one floor under the D. brother's apartment, just before twilight with the intent of distracting Luffy from his brother's absence. Makino-san worked as a bartender in a famous bar of the Fuschia District called Patty's Bar and along with their grandfather and landlord, Wood Slap, she was one of the few people who took care of the D. brothers while growing up. She was very kind and forgiving and she acted on Luffy as a mother figure. It was also Makino-san who presented Shanks to Luffy and that was something he would always be grateful for.
"You keep surprising me with your appetite Luffy-kun!" Makino said to him with a soft giggle. She cleaned the surface of the kotatsu where they had just dined and placed a plate of dumplings in front of the sad-looking Luffy.
"Don't make that face Luffy. He must be late for some reason. Ace isn't the kind of person to just go worrying his little brother like that" she said with a smile. Luffy couldn't help but pout. He grabbed one stick of dumplings and shoved the three of them into his mouth.
"He should be home already…" he said in a haze. His eyes were fixed on the tv screen in front of him. Makino sighed deeply and looked out of the window hopelessly. Her plan to ease Luffy's suffering hadn't succeeded at all. It was always a problem to console him when his brother's was away. She knew how close the two of them were, however, Luffy's stomach wouldn't complain for the next couple of hours. Some part of her job had been accomplished.
Luffy returned to the apartment half an hour later since Makino had failed to keep him busy with food. He sat on the living room floor stubbornly, furious at himself for having nothing to do. Then a great idea flashed to his mind. He immediately walked up to his brother's room, unfolded his futon ruthlessly and threw himself on top of it. That way he was sure he would wake up the moment Ace arrived. There was absolutely no way he would miss that! Luffy was going to make the fuss of a lifetime and with reason. For how many days had these delays been going on now? He had pretended not to care much, he even tried to ignore it since Makino-san had been gentle enough to cook him dinner, but it had finally come down to a gigantic bubble of anger.
An hour later, at 11 p.m. the telephone rang in the corridor and such a sign of communication reached Luffy's household loudly, piercing the heavy silence that had installed itself upon the inhabitant's gloom. Luffy instantly jumped out of the futon and raced towards the phone, his heart rate screaming up through the roof. Unfortunately, it wasn't Ace on the other side of the line.
"What do you want at this hour Usopp? Didn't I tell you I was stopping by your house tomorrow?" Luffy said irritated and incredibly bored. Usopp just shrugged.
"Sheesh! You don't need to be that way, grumpy" he replied in a funny voice. Luffy just responded with a weird grunt.
"Anyway, that wasn't why I called you"
"Are you ok Luffy?"
"Have you been put on a cage and starved to madness?"
"Thought so…" Usopp whispered more to himself than anyone else. The conversation didn't seem to go anywhere but he still kept on going "Well, I don't care if you're weird right now Luffy, 'cause you're always weird, so this shouldn't be any different. Anyway, here's the thing I wanted to ask. Has Ace been acting strange lately?"
The mere spelling of the name caught Luffy's attention with a jolt. Not fully though. That could only be achieved by the appearance of Ace in front of him at that very moment.
"N-no..?" It wasn't a statement but it wasn't a question either. Since Luffy didn't use to think much before speaking this kind of ambiguous answer slipped from his lips absent-mindedly. Usopp's question surely had confused him. Did he know something? Because it kind of sounded like he did…
"No? 'Cause I just saw him leaving Shakky's bar five minutes ago"
"What?" Luffy exclaimed. Anxiety, doubt and anger were boiling inside him and he literally did not know what to say, much less do. Impatience was throbbing in the back of his head and he found himself repeating his words "What? What?"
"Well, yeah. I know he is an adult already, but it's so not like him. Hey, if he has one of those sleeping fits of his in the middle of the street I'm not going there Luffy! Did you hear me? Some thug might appear and kill me or rob me or torture me while I'm trying to help him you know… of course the mighty Usopp-sama could handle something like that, but with an injured man under his wing bad things could happen. In this troubled ocean we call the world you never know how the fate of the great warrior Usopp might end up! That's just what I'm trying to say, Ace should look out for himself. It isn't the first time this week that- Luffy? Luffy? Are you there? Oi!"
Usopp called after him a few more times but long had passed since Luffy had dropped the phone and left it hanging lazily from the table top. All he needed to know was time and place and even if Usopp liked to ramble and lie Luffy would never doubt him. In fact, Luffy never doubted any of his friends.
After assimilating 'Shaky's bar' and 'five minutes ago', Luffy stormed out of the condo and made his way towards the Shanbondy District. It was the part of the city where all motels, bars, shady stores and, ironically, the amusement park were located, as well as gambling, brawls and thefts. Usopp's house was just next to the thirteenth block of the Shanbondy District where Shakky's Rip-Off bar was situated. However, his house belonged to a little neighborhood called Syrup Village and was therefor, on the border of the two areas.
Being Shanbondy the place it was of course Ace's wandering worried Luffy. People didn't need to be extremely clever to know that Shanbondy District was a dangerous place and even knowing the amount of friends his brother had over there, it didn't calm Luffy one bit. Yes, Ace and his friends were all strong, and probably more than simply strong, but strength alone wasn't exactly what mattered in that place. At least that's what Nami used to say and that was enough to make Luffy understand. Obviously, he wasn't entirely aware of the danger he was putting himself into by going there but bringing Ace home was his priority right now. All he wanted was Ace back at home. Was that asking too much?
As Luffy ran around in shorts, t-shirt and a light hoodie, the cold breezy night did not seem to affect him. He sprinted past Baratie not even catching his friend's eye, Sanji, who was working his late night shift, and kept running towards Shakky's bar. He crossed the whole Fuschia District and afterward the Commi District, where his friend Nami lived in a peaceful neighborhood called Cocoyashi Village. Nami's sister Nojiko caught a glimpse of Luffy when he was leaving but he barely listened to her greeting with all the rush.
When he finally entered Shanbondy from the shopping quarters he quickly started looking around for his brother. The streets were almost empty except for one or two shady passersby which eased his search. Nevertheless, Luffy found nothing throughout the next four blocks and he ended up in front of Shakky's bar completely out of breath.
"Damn it…" he grunted angrily. He looked to his right and saw Usopp's little house. All the lights were turned off which meant his friend was probably already asleep. What wouldn't Luffy give to be cozily tucked in bed right too. He sighed sadly and then lurked around the bar looking for any signs of his brother. If he had already left he could still be around the place somewhere. Yet there was nothing. Nothing whatsoever. "Stupid Ace…where is he?"
"Luffy? Is that you?" a soothing voice came from behind. Luffy turned around sceptically, bored out of his mind, and met the person.
"What are you doing here?" the man asked calmly. He had blonde messy hair and even under the poor moonlight he seemed pretty tanned. His expression was sleepy and his eyes seemed to be half closed. Luffy recalled him as one of Ace's closest friends which immediately flared up his anxiety. Marco would definitely know where Ace was!
"Where's Ace?" Luffy asked bluntly.
"I don't know, I haven't seen him all day" Marco replied slowly. Luffy thought he must have misheard him.
"Where's Ace?" he asked again. Marco looked at him in silence for a minute before speaking again.
"I already told you I don't know kid"
"You don't? Then where is he!" his voice sounded strangely like a plea and Marco looked at him complacently while shaking his head slightly.
"Go home kid. Ace wouldn't like to see you here"
"Well I can't because Ace isn't home!" Luffy snapped.
"He must be worried-"
"Well" said Marco scratching his neck in a lazy manner "Ace is not going to pop out of nowhere, so just go home. At least that's a place where he is bound to show up don't you think?"
Luffy stood silent for a moment actually thinking about what Marco had just told him. He was partially right, Ace would definitely return home, but wasn't this a good opportunity to find out what he was doing? Luffy would have to cling to that. He glanced at Shakky's Bar with a determined look.
"Yeah. I'm just going to say hi to Shakky baa-san" Luffy said "See ya!" and then he strolled over to the bar's entrance.
Marco remained in his spot staring at Luffy's back apathetically and then went to resume his walk. After turning a corner at the end of the street and losing Shakky's bar off sight, he reached for his phone and began dialing a number.
Luffy entered the small establishment confidently and proceeded to scan around the cozy place. There was a man sitting in a couch to his right wearing a strange white fluffy hat and a couple of scroungy looking old men at the counter. No Ace to be found as expected. Luffy took a few steps forward and soon Shakky emerged from under the counter with a bottle of beer in her hand.
"Oh, Monkey-chan! What are you doing here so late?" she beamed with the usual cigarette hanging on the corner of her lips. She walked over to the man sitting in the couch and placed the bottle of beer on the coffee-table in front of him.
"I'm looking for Ace, Usopp told me he was here" Luffy said bluntly, examining the fluffy hat on the man's head.
"Yes, Ace-kun was here" Shakky replied "But he left already"
"Where did he go?"
"He probably headed home Monkey-chan" Shakky said matter-of-factually. Luffy frowned.
"I don't think so. I've been waiting for hours! What did he come here for anyway?" Anxiety stung his throat again as he verbalized his inner question. He quickly sat by the counter and shoved a handful of peanuts into his mouth so as to disguise his intention.
"Hmm…" Shakky gazed into the distance, exhaled a little smoke and after pondering about the right words to say replied "Ace-kun came here looking for some…info"
"Info? What info?" Luffy's expression was again lost in confusion.
"I'm sorry but I can't help you any further Monkey-chan. Information has its price" she said with a smirk. Luffy furrowed his eyebrows and groaned.
"C'mon baa-san…" he ate another handful of peanuts and let his head fall soundly on the top of the counter.
"I'll tell Rayleigh-san you were here. He would have liked to see you. Now go home Monkey-chan, Ace must be looking for you" Shakky said stroking Luffy's hair. He nodded with a lazy moan and dragged his feet towards the entry.
"Come visit again soon"
Luffy saw Shakky waving at him from behind the counter and after returning the gesture he stepped outside facing the cold of the night with goose-bumps. Now that he wasn't running around like a mad dog anymore the harsh weather had become much more vivid. Luffy put his arms around himself and walked down the front steps to the main street. Marco and Shakky were right. He really should go back home. Ace ought to be there by now probably fuming with anger at Luffy's absence, just like Luffy himself had been more than half an hour ago.
While thinking about his future punishments, Luffy recalled his conversation with Shakky and started wandering about Ace's quest for information. What did he even want to know? When Garp would be back with one of his family weekends again? That was just damn right stupid. There really wasn't anything Luffy could think of. Ace was currently too busy with university and his part-time job to go around looking for "info" still… he had indeed gone to Shakky's. It didn't make any sense. Could it be that it was related to-
A sudden grip interrupted Luffy's train of thought and he was bodily pushed against the nearest wall. A pair of arms came to rest beside each of Luffy's ears and he quickly recognized the man before him. It was the guy wearing the strange fluffy hat that he had seen in Shakky's bar.
"You!" Luffy groaned but the man cut him off.
"Who would have thought our paths would cross today, Monkey D. Luffy…" the man trailed away with a smirk. Luffy tried breaking free of the restricted position but the guy had him positively cornered "I heard you were interested in some information" he said putting a slight emphasis on the last word. His big hat shadowed his eyes, allowing only a glint of amusement to spark.
"Oi! …" Luffy muttered a couple of curses while trying to break free and then shouted "What the hell are you talking about! Let me go!" he raised a fist ready to punch the guy in the face but the other grabbed it quite easily. Luffy was startled.
"You're interested in Ace's information right?" the man said in a cool voice "I heard you back there"
Luffy's eyes widened and his hot breaths became visible through the thick cold air. The man in front of him seemed quite pleased with himself, almost excited.
"Y-yeah" Luffy answered honestly, though a little uncertain. He really just wanted to get out of that straining position.
"Then lets make an exchange" the man said. He was smiling openly, his pearly white teeth showing "I'll tell you what I know in exchange of some…" he paused briefly and approached Luffy's ear before ending his sentence "…fun"
Luffy blinked awkwardly and looked at the man confused. A mix of panic and anxiety started building inside his chest and without noticing, his breaths became irregular. Something was telling him everything about the situation was wrong. Totally wrong. However, if it would help him understand Ace's actions, then it was fine. Though, there's something he didn't quite grasp.
"What do you mean, fun?" Luffy queried in a somewhat gauche manner, unconsciously backing away, pushing himself against the wall, as if willing it to let him pass through. The man chuckled. He was now so close his breath tickled Luffy's cheeks. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up with a wince and his already goose-bumped skin felt like hiding.
"Just… fun" the man replied amusingly and then Luffy saw an arm descending from his side. At first he thought he was being set free from the tight position, but he soon felt soft fingertips brushing against his stomach. A jolt of horror went up his spine and he let out an unintentional moan. The man chuckled again and, as his hand traveled inside Luffy's t-shirt, his face leaned closer. Luffy's heart rate started beating a thousand per second, disconnecting any chain of thought, and before he could shout for any kind of help, a blur accompanied with a loud wall-shattering crash appeared out of nowhere and the last thing he saw was the fluffy hat flying peacefully through the midnight sky and landing a couple of feet beside him.
Luffy fell to his knees out of breath. It was strange. He was one of those few people who were afraid of practically nothing and now he just couldn't be more grateful for escaping such moment. His heart was thundering in his chest and the only thing he wanted to do now was run back home.
As the fog of dust dissipated, Luffy managed to look up at the scene before him and what he saw terrified him completely. He might as well have been thrown inside a well. An immensely angry Ace was standing right in front of him with clenching fists staring at the man he had just hit. Luffy could barely recognize the expression on his own brother's face. He had never seen him this mad. Ace walked silently towards the man lying against the crushed wall and picked him up by his collar, without even as a look to Luffy.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing Law!" it wasn't a question, it was more like a roar.
"I-I just joking dude, just jo-"
Wrong answer. Ace didn't even let Law finish or explain himself. He landed another punch on his face so brutally Luffy thought he heard something break. Law stumbled over a pile of rubber and fell on his back with a thud. Everything became quiet once again. Luffy didn't dare to move an inch. Ace ran his hand through his hair desperately and then began walking over to the defeated man. His reason seemed to have finally kicked in amidst his raging consciousness. However, Law got up by himself before Ace could reach him. He straightened his clothes calmly as if Ace had never existed in the first place and then took a few steps towards Luffy to grab his hat. When he got closer enough, Luffy was able to see the nasty scratches all over his arms from the impacts and the utterly bleeding face where a broken nose surely stood there looking quite painful. Nobody spoke.
After picking up his hat and removing off the specks of dust, Law bowed slightly to Luffy and smiled "I'm sorry for the inconvenience Monkey-kid. I must be going" he said before tilting his hat and leaving the alley.
Luffy watched him walked away with a blank stare. His insides were shaking. It was not like the worst part had ended. It was about to begin. What in the world was he going to say to Ace? How was he supposed to face him after what had just happened? The mere thought of looking at his brother made him shiver. How did he even find Luffy? Where had he been all this time? A small amount of anger came rushing back to Luffy as he remembered the purpose of his little adventure. It was all Ace's fault to begin with!
"Get up" Ace's strict voice said as he approached. Luffy obeyed instantly and got up to his feet. He detached himself from the wall calmly, but as soon as he took a step forward his face met Ace's fist. A shower of yells followed.
"You big idiot! What were you thinking Luffy? Coming here at this hour?" Ace could barely believe his own words "What a stupid thing to do, idiot!"
Luffy could not help it anymore. He got up and punched Ace right back in the face.
"You're the idiot! Stupid Ace! Always coming late! Stupid stupid stupid!" Luffy charged at his brother and both of them began fighting in the middle of the alley. While muttering incoherently, punches were thrown, kicks flew, arms swung…it was a wrestle match that took them a few minutes before the two were completely exhausted.
"How could you let him do that? Aargh! I can't even begin to understand! You're so reckless!" Ace managed to scowl between deep breaths. Luffy who was down on one knee yelled back fiercely.
"Shut up! It's all your fault!" he said, and then proceeded to tackle down Ace one last time with all his might. He landed on top of the older brother roughly and then began throwing punches at his chest, but with the little strength he had left they seemed more like pats.
"Stupid Ace, I looked everywhere for… you… stupid… take this!...and this!..." Luffy went on and on until his eyes became watery. He felt so bad after everything. It all seemed worthless now. Instantly, he felt Ace's warm hands grabbing his forearms making him stop.
"I thought I had warned you properly about this place Luffy…" Ace said calmly, there was only the deepest concern in his voice "Just promise me you won't do something like this again. Ever again" he raised his upper body slowly and hugged Luffy tightly, who immediately came down to tears at the gesture. Ace smiled to himself and stroked Luffy's hair gently "You don't need to be a crybaby, idiot" he muttered in his ear, but Luffy didn't seem to listen.
In fact Luffy didn't seem to mind at all. The physical contact he had so desperately tried to run away from minutes ago was totally unrelated to the clinginess he showed now. Such behavior was easy to understand since Ace was in charge of everything in Luffy's life including his personal well-being. Also, Ace was his only brother and the person with whom Luffy had the greatest emotional attachment to. It was as simple as that and that's why it didn't bothered Luffy.
Not as much as it bothered Ace. Ace was terribly bothered by all sorts of things.
AN: I still can't believe I actually wrote this. I've been trying to write a D. Brother's fic for so long, that I'm somewhat proud of myself x) I plan to do this fic in an episodic manner, so every chapter will have a bit of fluff. I'm still not sure how to evolve their relationship to something deeper, but I'll try my best. I hope you guys like it! Cheers! R&R
AN2: I've edited the whole thing, hopefully for a a smoother reading.