Disclaimer: Oda owns it all, and you know it!
Episode 6 Part II
The week flew by mercilessly for Luffy. His free hours were completely taken over by Nami and her array of math exercises and formulas. The study sessions sponsored by his older brother were as harsh as ever, perhaps even more painful to withstand since Ace's encouraging mood seemed to boost up the spirits of those most diligent, ergo not Luffy. Nevertheless, he didn't falter. He failed to succumb to any diversion or luring invitation of Usopp's. Luffy abstained from games and play for the sake of his weekend. He would not break his promise to Ace. Luffy was determined to study hard, not only for the achievement of his special desire, but for himself as well.
And so, Saturday arrived, fresh and bright, the ideal weather to travel. The two D. brothers exited their home early in the morning, a few minutes before the clock struck ten, and headed for the bus stop in front of Patty's Bar.
"Do you have everything? Did you pack your socks? You know you always forget them! What about your math notes? Did you bring your notes? You may want to have another look at them during the weekend. We won't be constantly fooling around, you know? Dadan wouldn't let us either way. Oi, Luffy are you listening?" Ace questioned his younger brother patiently. He was going through the usual ordeal of inquiries he always had to do before they went away on a trip. Motherly instincts were already too imbued in Ace for him to feel the embarrassment of his actions. Luffy, who stood beside him at the bus station, was rummaging through his backpack frenetically and checking his pockets while poorly processing the questions.
"Yeah- I packed them. I DID! I swear they are right here! Look- here they are-" Luffy's arm reached deep into his bag and retrieved a bundle of fabric.
"Here!" he said triumphant, thrusting his grip high above their heads. Ace looked up at Luffy's findings with suspicion and not even a second later he understood that his intuition was indeed right.
"Idiot! That's your underwear! Shove it back inside! Quick!" Ace chided furiously "Go look for those s-sockets!" he snarled at Luffy with a slight blush. The latter obeyed with a grunt and dived again into his backpack to look for the damn socks. It was best to yield to the trite shouts and maroon expressions Ace made, experience had thought Luffy so.
"It's socks, not sockets. Are you even awake! I bet you forgot to pack your clothes properly too!" Luffy replied half-angry half-amused. He could not suppress his bad habit of messing with Ace.
"Shut it! I always double check my stuff. I'm not an empty airhead like you! Someone has to do things right!"
"Yeah, sure! Like that time your bike was stolen!" Luffy spat back ingeniously.
"Because I was looking for yours!" Ace replied slightly offended.
"Oh, really? What about that time you forgot your shoes at school?"
"You forget yours all the time!"
"But I didn't blow up the microwave!"
"I was heating your popcorn!"
"I fell on the stairs because you forgot to put away gramp's trunk!"
"Oh, really! You're never going to let that one go, uh?"
"It's the truth!"
"I already apologized!"
"That doesn't mean I forgot!"
"You don't need to throw it to my face every single time!"
"Then you don't need to steal MY share at Sanji's every single time!"
"It's not your share! It's supposed to be equal!"
"I'm still growing, of course I need more!"
People around them soon began to flee or back away. The two brothers, too concentrated on their fight and arguments to notice, were completely oblivious to the fact that such another pair of brawlers was making its way towards them and scaring the surrounding pedestrians. It was only when both quarrels clashed with one another, voices mixing and outbursts melding together, that the two groups stopped their heated discussions to face each other.
"Who the hell…"
"Noo!" Ace's shock left his mouth before he could muffle it. His luck couldn't possibly be worse these last couple of days. In front of him stood two people he didn't have the least necessity to meet, much less will. Inclusively, one of them could be shipped to the other side of the world for all he cared.
"Hey Zoro! What are you doing here this early? Are you sick?" Luffy cheerfully greeted his friend and glided to his side.
"No, I'm fine. I was on my way somewhere when I bumped into this toxic glutton-"
"Shut that stupid trap of yours! I'm at my limit with your insults, pot of snot!" the pink haired girl next to him screamed outraged. Luffy's gaze fell upon the female standing next to Zoro. She had long bubble pink hair and bright red lips tinged with lipstick. Her overall countenance was actually pretty funny and extravagant next to his morose green haired friend. Luffy turned around to share his devious amusement with his brother yet he only met with a badly hidden grim across Ace's face. Before Luffy could even open his mouth to wonder about such a sour expression, events unrolled before his very eyes explaining themselves.
"Aceee-kunn~~~~~!" More bipolar than a magnet Bonney jumped from her weary spot at Zoro's side to Ace's and clang to his arm affectionately. Luffy beheld the gesture with slight confusion and perplexity. He racked his brain trying to collect memories from this supposedly unknown girl but he got nothing. He truly did not remember her from anywhere, so why did she know Ace? Luffy turned his head to both sides with a pleading look across his face. Could someone please brief him extensively and thoroughly? He began to think name, age and address would not be enough to satisfy his curiosity when Zoro proceeded with some information of his own.
"That's Bonney" he grumbled while stepping up to Luffy. The two stood beside each other by the sidewalk surveying the sad, yet entertaining, display of Bonney's affections on Ace who relentlessly rejected her.
"She's my neighbor. I left early this morning to give some help at the dojo when she appeared out of nowhere with these insane stacks of food and crashed into me. She's been plaguing me to pay her back the damages the whole way here" Zoro said dispassionately. He shot Bonney a tedious look and shrugged his shoulders. He didn't seem to be as eager to fuss as usual.
"I never saw her at school" was Luffy's remark. He was too disconcerted and distracted by the continuous advances of the pink haired monster on his elder brother to notice Zoro's detachment.
"Yeah, she's older. College" Zoro replied shortly. Luffy started.
"She is?" ~
After a few minutes of intensive thought a switch resounded inside Luffy's head. Things were starting to make sense.
His brain mechanisms were finally set in motion free of obstructions. Taking advantage of the abnormal flow of clearance swirling up in his head, Luffy assembled past events together and managed to do his math correctly. This Bonney had to be the same girl Nami and Vivi had been talking about a few weeks ago on the school's rooftop. That conversation had really struck Luffy, but only now did he comprehend it entirely. The B lettered name, the fancy for his brother, everything fitted. Also, the row of fights and discussions that had followed, Luffy now apprehended, had only been a fruit of his misunderstanding. Luffy bit his lip unconsciously. He felt the weight of his blunder.
"Well, I'm outta here. Better take this chance to get lost from her. See ya around Luffy" Zoro said with a tap on his shoulder. The younger D. abandoned his thoughts for a moment to engross in his friend's parting.
"Bye Zoro! I'll be out this weekend but tell Nami I'll study real hard! I know she'll torture me if I fail!" Luffy babbled honestly, though mostly to get rid of the awful feeling Bonney's figure was giving him. Zoro smirked at his desperation.
"Sure, if I see her"
Luffy stared at his friend's back long enough until the green head disappeared from sight after the nearest corner. Luffy felt a little jealous of him. What in the world could his problems be? Zoro could live next to that funny looking girl but he didn't have to deal with her all over his bro-! His what? Brother? Luffy munched the subject momentarily. There shouldn't be any problem with such sentence. The idea of Ace having a girlfriend bordered what was most random in the world, yet this was not a normal case and Ace, well, he wasn't exactly Luffy's brother. The whole plot was a mess; a big big mess which overwhelmed Luffy's comprehension ever so often.
"Of course I didn't babble a thing Ace-kun!" Bonney pressed.
"I seriously doubt that"
"Have you heard anybody talk about it? Law's slip was not my fault, you know it!"
"I do? Care to give me some clearance on that one?"
Luffy now turned towards the bustling couple attentively. They were discussing a matter that escaped his knowledge completely. It sounded important but the more Luffy heard the more lost he felt. He cursed his earlier distracting thoughts with regret.
"… only him and he already knew. No need to deny that. I bet he was the first one you told to, am I right?" Bonney said conceited with a hand on her waist. Ace growled.
"You think you're really smart, uh? I'm still curious to know how you learned of it, but I prefer to keep away from the creepy details"
"Oh, don't be so mean Ace-kun"
"I'll need a word or two with that Marco…" Ace mumbled angrily to himself. Bonney giggled fiendishly.
"Haha, Pineapple-head will be sad when he sees his best friend snarling at him like a dog. No matter... That only gives me more opportunities. Go ahead~" a smile of satisfaction played on her lips. Luffy shot her a disgusted look and ventured a step forward. The pink haired girl immediately noticed him. She perused his frame with shifty eyes, her hideous grin never leaving her face. The next words she spit out of her reddish lips were coated with pure mischief and, though she addressed them to her lovely crush, she did not break eye contact with the younger brother.
"You shouldn't roam Shanbondy's streets alone Ace-kun. You know people will wonder and some will ask questions which will definitely be answered, be the answers true or not"
Ace suppressed a vicious growl. He was burning with fury but managed to utter a reply.
"I don't know what the hell you're talking about. What are you doing here anyway? Leave us alone"
Bonney giggled amused and covered her mouth with manicured fingernails. Her gaze shifted from one brother to the other in deep analysis.
"Us…" Luffy heard her whisper. He approached his brother and reached for his wrist absentmindedly.
"Is everything ok?"
"Fine. Just fine" Ace replied automatically. Luffy felt his brother's blood pumping through the veins beneath his skin. He soon released the stressed wrist.
"How adorable" Bonney commented. A hand was resting faithfully by her cheek "I think this is the first time I've seen him. The real deal… Luffy-kun" Hearing the pink haired girl pronouncing his name gave Luffy goose-bumps. It took him one look at his brother to understand the effect was unanimous.
"Not very alike after all. I wasn't expecting a miniature Ace either way…" Bonney stared at Luffy quite sternly and seemed to be murmuring to herself "Yeah the eyes are different, and the face in general…more boyish definitely… not blood related indeed-"
"Look Ace! There's the bus. Let's go!"
Luffy sprinted towards the vehicle like a madman running from his nightmares. He didn't have it in him to mistreat girls, not even to raise a single finger against them. Therefore he fled. He didn't want to see the damned girl ever again in his life. What a creep! He grabbed his bag and trunk and ran past the girl. He saw her grin one last time by the corner of his left eye and then he squeezed himself in the crowd that had gathered to enter the bus. No sooner than he expected, Ace joined him and with a firm gesture motioned towards the entry doors.
"Go inside. Leave this to me" he said grabbing their baggage "Here's your ticket" Ace took out a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to Luffy. The latter received it doubtfully with a stubborn pout. Ace reacted with a sigh and glanced quickly above his shoulder.
"Forget her. She's an annoying eyesore… ignore her, ok?"
Luffy didn't have time to make his reply audible. Ace rapidly vanished from sight to go put away their bags, leaving him alone in the line of passengers. Luffy cursed under his breath and waited for his turn to enter. Without even once looking around to check if Bonney was still around, he made his way towards his seat. He fixed his eyes on the back of the seat before him and refrained from looking over to the window. Unfortunately, Bonney's hair was too flashy for him to disregard. The second the pinkish blur caught his attention outside the window, Luffy instantly locked his stare on her. His eyes followed her until she reached Ace and began dropping another series of comments, which surely were not entertaining Ace to any extent. Luffy squirmed in his spot to try to get a better angle, yet all he could see was the back of his brother's head and the face of the wicked girl.
She followed the older D. to the entry line, constantly moving her lips, babbling words that couldn't reach Luffy, but which certainly reached his brother's wearied ears. She latched onto his arm affectionately and smiled happily. Maybe it wasn't cruelty or evil, Luffy thought, perhaps that was just how she was. He didn't know enough about Bonney to give a righteous judgment. However, as honest as he was, Luffy couldn't lie to himself. The sight of her burned his skin with contempt and the words she had spoken bore spikes in his heart. He wished she would just disappear.
Amidst all his bubbling aggravation, Luffy managed to capture the moment Bonney stole a goodbye kiss from Ace. No need to mention Luffy's mortification doubled at the sight. It probably reached the end of the scale and blew the rest with it. The engine of the bus began working and, when the landscape started moving, Ace finally sat by Luffy's side eradicating the kiss' sensation with a fierce rub of his hand.
It was only half an hour later that conversation ensued, though nowhere near Luffy's desired topic. Who, what, when and how, were the four words begging to scream out of Luffy's mouth. All of them concerning Bonney.
"… are you listening? What did I just say?"
Luffy answered Ace's question with a blank stare.
"Thought so. You never listen to what other people are telling you-"
"I was listening!"
"Then what did I say?"
"See!" Ace brought a palm to his forehead in defeat. Luffy simply shrugged.
"I'm going to take a nap. Don't fall asleep or we will miss our stop, you're hearing me Luffy?" Ace then said. He leaned back on his seat and closed his eyes. Luffy nodded in agreement. Usually it would have been useless. Luffy always fell asleep whenever Ace did. It was a chain reaction. Strength of habit. However, he was too alert, too disturbed to sleep at the moment.
Thus, the bus moved on taking a sleeping Ace and dazed Luffy to Mt. Corvo. The latter had been the very place where the two had met for the first time. It had been, and still was, their first home. As they passed by Midway Forest and a bunch of other nostalgic places Luffy kept bringing to mind his childhood with both his brothers. Him, Ace and Sabo. How fun it had been. At first it had been awkward to mingle with them and to get used to Dandan's strict and rude manners, yet Luffy found it all worthy now. The only thing he regretted was having let Sabo go. Just before moving to Fuschia, their brother had told them he was going to travel, mainly to escape his father who refused to allow him a life of his own choosing. The parting had been sad, but sporadically there would be letters if not for Ace and Luffy, certainly for Dandan who would relate Sabo's words to the remaining siblings.
"We've arrived at the entrance to Corvo Mountain. Next stop: Goa. Final Stop: Florian Triangle District. Please do not forget your luggage. Watch out the closing doors…"
The driver's monotonous voice reverberated through hidden speakers stealing Luffy's attention. Half a dozen people got up from their seats and began exiting the vehicle fumbling with their belongings and calling their companions. A few others entered ready for their voyage. After watching them for a brief moment, Luffy turned to his brother to wake him up. Ace was still sleeping profoundly, drooling ungracefully from one corner of his mouth. Luffy called him a few times unsuccessfully.
"Acee. Aaacee! We've arrived. Oi!"
He shook his brother's arm, at first softly then more fiercely. Ace's slumber was meant to be undisturbed apparently. Most of the passengers stopping at Mt. Corvo had already left the inside of the bus. The two brothers were the only two remaining.
"Wake up, oi!"
Luffy glared at Ace slyly while thinking of a solution. Lots of extravagant ways to wake up his brother ran past his mind, but none seemed appropriate enough for the situation. Meanwhile, as his brain worked hard to find the perfect method, his body began moving in a diverging way, approaching Ace closer and closer. Perhaps it was a spur of the moment thing, perhaps it was Luffy's instinct worried that his brother might not be breathing (thus the need to check so closely)… Luffy would never know. His actions were interrupted by an eerie giggle coming from two seats ahead. Luffy raised his head to meet the owner of the sound and a chill ran down his spine. A pair of dark eyes bore its look on him, totally devoid of iris. The whole eye seemed a pool of black; a single giant pupil struck on his figure. Nevertheless, this was not the shocking detail. The girl's hair, tied up in two high pigtails, was pink colored. A sense of déjà-vu washed over Luffy and gave his skin another round of goose-bumps. He yelped perplexed and proceeded to land a slap on Ace's head, which was something he wouldn't have considered minutes ago.
"We're here!" Luffy almost yelled. His hand met Ace's forehead comically and the elder D. jumped in his seat.
"Yeah, yeah, right!" Ace mumbled disoriented. He massaged his temples while getting up.
"Quick or we'll lose our stop!" Luffy replied irritated. He pushed Ace's back eagerly and, just before stepping out of the bus, stole another glance at the queer girl dressed in frilly clothes.
"Uh- nothing… nothing…"
The bus departed with more or less the same amount of passengers and the two brothers began the ascent to Dandan's house on the top of the hill. While they climbed, Luffy tried to forget the existence of the color pink and Ace blurted out nasty and tired remarks every two seconds.
"Damn, that stupid old hag… she could have sent Magura to help with the bags…"
"He's got all that muscle for nothing! Nothing… shit…"
"Damn- ulgh!..." Ace tripped on a small rock almost falling on his back "Shit, that could have killed me!"
"… listen Luffy, next time- nah! Forget it. I doubt there'll be a next time. I'm not going through this again…"
"Seems like ten years ago… running up and down the hill doing chores for that hag… damn it…"
"Hey, you're pretty silent… what are you mumbling?- oi, I think I see it. There's the house… ah… ah… oi… Luffy… yell at them. I can't handle it anymore…"
"It's your fault anyway… who told you to bring the whole house after you? If you could you would have brought the fridge, right?"
"Damn… don't make me speak so much!"
"I didn't utter a thing!" Luffy finally said. He knew it was futile to say anything, but Ace's rambling was destroying his attempts to eradicate everything pink from the world.
"Yeah, right! You've… been… mumbling the whole way here! What the hell are you doing? Exorcising a demon? Sheesh!"
"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm doing!" Luffy replied equally angered. It pissed him off that Ace failed to see his efforts. Yet, all he said was only adding fuel to the fire.
"Shut up then! Your exorcising is not helping!... please start calling out those damned goons! My back is killing me!"
Truth be told, Ace was carrying more than half their baggage. He had reasons to be tired and furious. However, that had been his decision as the big brother. Luffy sighed.
"You call them!"
"I'm dying here!"
"I'm dying too!"
"I'll die first! Look at these bags! You stuffed bricks in here, didn't you?"
"Of course not, why would I do it!"
"SHUT UP YOU TWO!"
From between the trees a large figure appeared. Dandan and her colossal figure shadowed the two brothers holding an angry expression. She was smoking as usual and right behind her trailed Magura and Dogura looking amused.
"You have barely arrived and I'm already hearing your shouts two miles away, damn it! Shut those traps and be done with it!" the tall woman roared. Luffy and Ace toned down accordingly.
"Good. You two help them with those bags" she said to her followers. They nodded and after an exchange of greetings took a couple of weights from Ace and Luffy.
"Thought you'd never show up" Ace murmured annoyed. Magura and Dogura answered with a pair of sneers.
"Anyway, let's get going. So tell me, what have you two devils been doin' down there? How's Garp?..."
There were big amounts of conversation to unfold and until dinner mouths never stopped chatting at the top of Mt. Corvo; Dandan with her rude remarks, Dogura and Magura with their shady remarks and Ace and Luffy with their own funny stories. After pampering their stomachs though, they all scattered each to their own spot. Magura and Dogura went to a tiny village near the Grey Terminal to buy some snacks, Dandan buried herself in an armchair by the living room along with her bottles of ale, Ace joined her forcefully after a fit of sleep and Luffy roamed through the house looking for a phone. In his hand he gripped his math notes nervously. He was trying not to forget his questions before picking up the damned phone.
"Oi, Dandan, where's the phone? You broke the handler again and hid it? "
"Shut up, pissant! It's right there in the kitchen! And I did NOT break it again!"
Luffy shouted her thanks and sneaked into the kitchen. After snuffling around he finally found a green telephone, much like the old one. Luffy had a theory that Dandan had bought an unlimited stack of green phones so no one would criticize her violent behavior. The fact she still wrote letters in spite of living so near them was a faint but clear clue.
Luffy inputted a series of numbers and waited for Usopp to pick up. He wouldn't dare call Nami or she would strangle him from the other side. He hadn't actually told her he would be out on the weekend so it was better to take it all on Monday. Much better. After a few rings his friend picked up.
"It's me, look…" Luffy greeted casually and then started spitting out his array of questions at once while spreading out his notes on the kitchen table.
"OI OI OI OI OI OI OI OI!" Usopp screamed from the other side of the line "How do you expect me to answer to all that! I'm almost as dumb as you!"
"What do you mean almost!"
"I'm not a total idiot"
"Shut it! Did you write them down?"
"ARE YOU CRAZY? Of course not, you probably had two hundred math questions… I didn't even understand the first one"
"Idiot! How will I know them now? I'll forget them!"
"YOU'RE THE IDIOT!"
"I wouldn't be if you wrote them down!"
"Call Nami! I'm not up for this. I can't stand more math stuff! I think I'm starting to see things… you know?" Usopp began with a creepy voice. Luffy stirred.
"Yeah… things… last night before I was going to bed I went to the bathroom to wash my teeth. I squeezed the toothpaste too fast and it spurted out to the sink. When I looked down… do you know what I saw?" Usopp's voice was barely a whisper.
"W-what?" Luffy gulped.
"The DenDen EQUATION!"
Both boys shrieked in horror.
"The toothpaste had collapsed into the sink and formed the DenDen equation! No lie!"
"Holy crap!" Luffy replied horrified.
"I quickly washed the sink over with the tap on its max flow. I decided to delay teeth brushing. Then, Usopp-sama went to bed…" he went on "I closed my bedroom door and got into bed. The window curtain let a streak of moonlight onto the floor and then… a cloud passed by and when the shadow of the cloud mixed with the lamp's you know what it formed?"
"N-no… please don't…" Luffy pleaded.
"The number THIRTEEN!"
Another shriek of horror followed. This time Dandan, who sat at the living room, heard it and replied with a yell of her own.
"KEEP QUIET OR I'LL BREAK THE DAMN PHONE THIS TIME!"
Luffy jolted surprised and held on more tightly to the speaker.
"Usopp! Please stop the jokes or Dandan will turn into the Skypie Theorem and divide me alive!"
"It's not a joke Luffy-kun! These events really happened to Usopp-sama!"
"Right… anyway… can't you call Nami and ask her my questions? But don't tell her I asked!"
"What? Are you kidding me? She'll kill me! Do you have any idea how many times she has hit me for being dumb? If I ask her your questions she'll pound my brains into dust! Yesterday I asked her what…"
As Usopp continued with his story, Luffy surveyed the kitchen around him absentmindedly. Since he had arrived he hadn't had the opportunity to give the place a good examination (thanks to all the chat), and taking into account the memories he had created on such house, it sure needed one. His eyes met innumerous dents on the table and burnt marks on the walls. He remembered every single one of them. Why and how they were made. His memory might be bad at math, but to keep good old memories it was the best.
He noticed a plastic bag of caramel candies a meter away. His stomach growled instantly in response. He stretched his arm along with the telephone cable and managed to grab it. He popped one into his mouth and returned to his conversation with Usopp. The latter seemed to have ended his narration.
"… so that's how it is. Call her yourself" the voice on the other side of the line said triumphantly. Luffy nodded a sad sigh and then a kind of pertinent inquiry crossed his mind.
"What's your hair color?"
Usopp grunted in dismay.
"Are you for real?"
"Come' on. Tell me. It's still black right?"
"Of course it is! If I dyed it I would have gathered opinions first! Wouldn't want to look like a freak!"
"Yeah right! A freak!" Luffy said, more to himself than to his friend.
"Anyway, what's this all about hair color?"
"I was just wondering… Have you seen people with pink hair?"
"I mean… more people with pink hair than usual"
"No, not really. Just Coby"
Luffy pondered Usopp's answer while reaching for another caramel.
"This is a really creepy matter. Are you alright? You think you finally lost it?"
Luffy glared into nothingness offended.
"Oh man… your mind-!"
"LUFFY YOU BETTER GET OFF THE PHONE OR I'LL SEND GARP THE DAMN BILL!" Dandan suddenly yelled from the living room. Luffy gulped and patched up a quick goodbye.
"I gotta go Usopp, give Nami a nudge for me. Bye-"
"I told you-"
Luffy put down the phone handle before Usopp could fuss any further. He really hoped his friend would talk to Nami, if not he was screwed.
Luffy stared at the math papers scattered on the table with a grim on his face. He had told Ace he would take a look at them but it was useless. It was too late and he was too tired to even think about two plus two. Hence Luffy scrambled them all together and let his head fall right on top of the big math pile.
He grabbed another caramel and tore the wrapping. Before popping it into his mouth he looked at it intently and then at the bag. He was sure he had tasted those before. He could vaguely recall the flavor. Dandan then showed up at the door of the kitchen interrupting his thoughts.
"I'm going to fetch Magura and Dogura. They're late. See if you can send Ace to bed. He has been sleeping in the couch all contorted. He'll get a damn sprain in his neck if he doesn't change position soon. Go there wake him up" she said sternly. Luffy nodded with his head.
"I won't take long, AND I don't want you two up and around when I come back. This is not a holiday house. Now, clean that up and go to sleep" she said motioning to the notes in the kitchen table.
"Yeah, I'm going. Ah- wait a minute. Dandan…" Luffy called the woman who was already storming off towards the entrance door.
"You've bought these caramels again?" He asked dangling the bag in his hand. Dandan glanced at it quickly and shrugged her shoulders.
"It was Dogura. You and Ace liked them a lot when you were little. Guess you weren't the only ones. I'm off" and with that she closed the front door. Luffy stood there looking at the caramels thoughtfully. A memory rushed to his mind.
It had been six or seven years ago. He and Ace were splitting the bag of candies in half and one caramel had left. They fought for it with the stupidest arguments. In the end, so as to decide the fair possessor of the last caramel, Ace proposed a wrestle fight. Luffy in all his naivety accepted it, not knowing Ace had chosen the option which suited him best. It was a sure win and so Ace won it. Luffy, pained with the sting of a sore loser vented his frustration with Dogura who in turn told him about Ace's trick. Luffy became mad. To pay Ace back and mostly to rile him up, he stole the caramel which he had unfairly won. Obviously Ace found out and did not lose time chasing after his bratty brother.
"Stop Luffy! Give it back! It was my win! Stop being a bad loser!"
"You're the bad loser! I know your trick!"
Luffy ran out of the house and sprinted to the backyard. He could hear Ace following steadily behind him. Their bare feet smashed the green grass beneath them as they ran along.
"Give it back! I'm not telling you twice!"
"It's mine now!"
Luffy failed to hop over a tree trunk near the backdoor and fell face-first onto the ground. Ace took the lucky opportunity and grabbed Luffy's left ankle so he couldn't escape anymore.
Luffy squirmed to get rid of Ace's tight grip on him but he knew he was doomed. Instead he ripped the caramel's wrapping and shoved the candy into his mouth. He wouldn't let Ace be the last one to laugh that time. He looked at Ace's perplexed face with amusement.
Luffy giggled pleased from his laying position on the grassy ground. Ace looked all mortification on top of him, with furrowed brows and mouth open in shock. Unfortunately, Luffy couldn't stop his victorious giggling.
"You! Idiot! How could you! It was my win!" Ace repeated in disbelief. He squeezed Luffy's cheek with one hand, but the latter didn't drop the smug expression.
"I'll pay you back that one-!"
"If you want it come get it" Luffy teased him. He stuck out his tongue where the prized caramel rested covered in drool.
For a moment Luffy's breath stopped. He had indeed intended to mess with Ace but what followed left him quite stunned. In an act of impulse Ace lowered his head down to Luffy's. His dark locks of hair brushed Luffy's cheek and his breath prickled the tip of his nose. Luffy's eyes bulged out astonished but before anything too scarring could happen Ace stopped himself and met his younger brother's horrified look. His cheeks blushed so intensely and so quickly that Luffy thought he had become sick. Then without further ado and faster than lightening, Ace sprung to his feet and disappeared from sight. Luffy was left alone munching on his caramel more than slightly confused.
Ace never gave him an explanation afterwards. It was a matter deliberately forgotten.
Back in present times, it was the same Ace who had vanished in that memory who woke Luffy from his reminiscences.
"Damn… I think I fell asleep on my arm. My neck hurts too… hey, are you ok Luffy?" he asked worriedly.
"Yeah I'm fine. I was just… thinking…" he said, trying to prevent his flush and failing miserably. Ace shot him a look of suspicion and then shifted his gaze towards the caramel bag in his hands.
"Oh, candies" he muttered "Shouldn't eat before going to sleep, but to hell with it" he said with a smile. Luffy gave him a weak smile in return and reached for the bottom of the bag.
"No way…" he suddenly uttered surprised.
"It's the last one" Luffy stated awestruck.
Silence ensued while the two stared at the caramel in Luffy's hand. Ace was the first to speak.
"You want it?" Luffy asked with a grin. Ace smirked.
"I wouldn't give it to you anyway"
"I know you wouldn't"
AN: Oh man, this was a long one. I had no idea what to write about in the beginning. I only knew I had to put Dandan in here somewhere. Who would have thought all those events would be written down. Even Bonney's part turned out outrageously long! I didn't mean to, really. Damn. Next chapter is still cloudy in my mind, but I'm taking care of Ace's little secret I began on chapter one. Hopefully it will fit well in the plot. Thanks to kitsune-chan for remembering me of it a few chapters back. I didn't forget our conversation x)
Thanks to everyone who reviewed. Thanks for the favorites and alerts. I bow down to the floor to all of you. Thanks a million!