Disclaimer: Not mine.
IMPORTANT: So, you know that feeling when you read through your reviews and realize that you have a MASSIVE, GAPING PLOT-HOLE which turns the entire story pointless? No, I'm not talking about Ace being a ghost. Or time-travelling. In fact, this entire story is built on bullshit. I mean that I completely forgot ghost!Ace used to tell little!Ace stories about Luffy and Sabo.
So having re-read the earlier chapters, I was going to say that hey, Ace was so young, he didn't really understand/forgot it all. Except ghost!Ace explained about meeting Sabo to make little!Ace meet him. So there's no way I can bullshit my way through that. Double-oops.
3 options: One – I go back and rewrite. Fuck that, I'm lazy and not getting paid for this shit.
Two – I wrangle up a convenient bullshit explanation involving head-injuries from fights, the fact that Sabo and Luffy never heard any of these stories, and little!Ace just generally forgetting stuff and when asking ghost!Ace about him, ghost!Ace changing names and generally lying his ghostly ass off. This requires even more massive suspension of disbelief than I'm willing to go with, so ignore it.
Three – The option I've picked, which is now going to be a major plot point, as well as being hilariously sadistic. For ghostly-Ace, especially.
Ho ho ho.
You'll get the answer eventually but rest assured, ALL WILL BE REVEALED. If anyone notices any other gaping WTF moments, kindly point them out, because I started this fic as sheer crack ages ago and am lazy.
Also, to Majin Hentai X's comment regarding Luffy dying against Eneru... do you seriously think I'm going to be sticking that close to canon? I like screwing shit up. It's fun.
How to Gain An Invisible Friend
Once upon a time, Ace Senior – wait, that made him sound old. Okay, Magical Spirit Ace... no, too magical-girl sounding... okay, Spirit!Ace . No, SpAce... okay, those all sounded terrible. Maybe... whatever, just Portgas.
So. Once upon a time, Portgas had been the subject of a great number of restrictions. He couldn't touch anything. Couldn't be seen or heard by anyone but Ace. Couldn't go too far from the kid. Couldn't find his hat.
Shut it, that was a serious restriction. His hat was awesome.
Over the years, Portgas was glad to find, those changed somewhat. He'd got so used to making sure he wore his hat, he could keep it in existence without even consciously thinking about it – he could interact with Ace, or anything Ace was holding or wearing pretty much as normal – he could even choose to make himself solid with regards to certain surfaces now, much as the ground was solid to him; no longer did the mighty and amazing Portgas D. Ace have to worry about slipping through a wall or not being able to sit down on a chair! Mwa ha ha!
Okay, so he still couldn't pick up everyday objects or touch anyone but Ace, so clearly the 'rules' were either still massively inconsistent, or he wasn't understanding them right. But hey, it was closer to normal, right?
Plus, knocking or scratching his nails along walls when someone thought they were alone was hilarious. Especially when they peed themselves, screamed that the Dread Sorcerer was after them, and ran for it.
The best thing, though? The distance.
Every year or so, the distance Portgas could get from his younger self increased. At first in dribs and drabs, hardly worthwhile... but over the last few years, it had leapfrogged. Now, Portgas could merrily escape nearly a hundred meters from his slightly shorter counterpart.
It was wonderful!
It was fantastic!
Unfortunately, he was currently stuck on a tiny sailboat with both Ace and Sabo.
"I think I'd rather fall through the boat and drown," he grumbled, trying to ignore the way Sabo occasionally moved a limb through him.
Ace rolled his eyes, which at least meant he stopped looking at the map for a minute. "Oh, stop whining, it's not like you could drown anyway, dead-guy. It isn't that far to Loguetown, we can stock up, get a bigger boat and head straight for the Grand Line. It'll be easy."
"And a Log Pose," Sabo added. Over the years, he'd lost the ability to be weirded out by his brother talking to thin air. "Unless, y'know, you want to just sit out in the middle of nowhere and starve to death, completely lost. Not my kink, but hey, whatever."
"You'd probably dehydrate before drowning," Portgas pointed out. Ace once more eye-rolled, and then thumped him in the side. His ghostly self promptly punched back.
Sabo watched for a moment, wondering whether it was meant to be strange to watch a teenager wrestling with what was apparently absolutely nothing – particularly with the way Ace's feet sometimes left the boat entirely, leaving him dangling in midair while he launched a few kicks at whatever part of Portgas' body he was attacking – before returning to his writing.
It's only been three days since we left the village, and Ace has already nearly eaten all our supplies. By which I don't mean just the food ones. There's something seriously disturbing about his stomach.
We should be reaching Loguetown by tomorrow night, assuming Ace doesn't eat the map. Or the compass. Or the sail. Thankfully, he hasn't eaten the money, which I've kept safe on my person. As we'll be reaching Loguetown late, we'll probably find an inn and spend the night there. Despite the tight schedule Ace and his dad want to keep to, there's no way I'll let us try and make for the Grand Line at night, so don't worry about it.
I'll write some more when we get to Loguetown, and maybe post this before we leave.
He flicked the lid back onto the pen, slipped both pen and paper inside his jacket, and sat back. Ace was still punching at the air. He wasn't surprised.
"I'm just... gonna practice my haki," he mumbled, sinking back against the edge of the boat and tipping his top hat down to cover his eyes. Practice his kenbunshoku haki? Like hell. Sleeping sounded way better right now.
Continuing on, Makino-san, we've now arrived safely at Loguetown. It didn't take us long to find someone willing to buy the boat -
("It's worth 5000 beri, so that's what we're selling it for."
"Really, I'd say it's more like 2000 beri – and you've got those patches on the sails..."
"It's worth 5000 beri."
"No, see, it looks like the hull's nearly been punched through he-"
"IT'S. WORTH. 5000. BERI."
"... Of course it is, sir!")
- and we spoke to a couple of the locals about finding a decent place to stay for the night.
("ARGH – p-please, stop hurting me!"
"Hey, that's what you get for trying to mug a couple of innocent, harmless travelers like us. Right, Sabo?"
"Hold on, Ace – I think this one has a gold filling."
"Hey, yeah, that looks real! Good work spotting that, bro, just wipe it off before you put it away. Now, where were we... oh, yeah. You guys know a good place to stay around here?"
"I'll tell you anything! Anything!")
We'll look for a new boat or ship tomorrow, so there's not much else to say. Hope Luffy isn't giving you too much trouble!
P.S.: Ace says hi, and some other stuff that's too stupid to write down. His dad said something too, but Ace punched him, so that was probably something stupid as well.
Portgas looked around Loguetown with something like fondness. It had been a long, long time since he'd last been here, even if he'd technically never been here in his timeline. It had been a quick in-and-out supply-run – he hadn't wanted to spend any more time here than necessary, the birthplace of Gol D. Roger, where the main tourist attraction was the scaffold on which he'd died.
Screw that asshole.
Now, though – well, even though it was darkening and most people were coming home from work, shops all closed up, there was something almost nostalgic about it. Plus, the fact it was somewhere other than Fūsha Village made it worthwhile anyway.
He tapped Ace's shoulder. "Oi, I'm gonna have a look around, see if I can find any shops that might have Log Poses. You two gonna be okay without me?"
Ace stared at him.
"... Okay, point taken. You crazy kids have fun, 'kay?"
Sabo's gaze flicked between Ace and whatever Ace happened to be looking at. "What's going on?"
"Eh, he's heading off to look for a Log Pose. Bored, I guess." Ace shrugged as Portgas vanished off up a side-street. The ability to walk through walls would make looking for a Log Pose easier, he guessed. "Hey, you really up for sleeping right now? I mean, I'm not tired."
Considering the matter, Sabo had to admit, he wasn't really all that ready for sleep. And besides, they were on a tight schedule – they wouldn't have much time for sight-seeing in the morning. "All the shops are closed, Ace."
Ace beamed. "Shops, yeah. That? Isn't a shop."
Sabo looked to where Ace was pointing. "A bar? Ace, I've seen you drunk. It's not pretty."
"Yeah, but Makino isn't in charge, here! She can't cut us off, or even tell us off! Plus, I bet there's way more types of drink here than back on measly little Dawn Island, aren't there? And if you're gonna write a book about the world, wouldn't it be better if you met some of the people in it? Without killing 'em, I mean?"
As always, Sabo felt his foreboding rise, even as his ability to argue drained away. "Well... I guess that makes sense."
"Right!" Ace headed towards the bar, grinning away merrily at the sight of the windows lit up from within. "Besides, any pub called the Gold Roger Bar has to be pretty cool!"
Raoul was, as a rule – ignore the pun, please – not overly keen on Marines, which was a pity, because – as any Loguetown resident could tell you – after Gold Roger's execution, his bar had become almost solely for Marines. Sure, there were a few others who wandered in, but they were generally related to, or guests of, the Marines. Even the civilian workers at the local Marine base drank elsewhere.
Considering the local Marines were corrupt, incompetent, over-violent dumbasses though, that was probably good taste. Hell, there were more bar-fights now than back when it was a pirate bar. And more hookers, too.
When the door opened, Raoul presumed it was yet another pissant Marine stumbling in to blow all his money on booze (and perhaps more illicit substances in one of the corners), and carried on pouring shots for a dipshit Ensign who'd had too many already, right up until someone called out, "Hey, kids! This is a Marine bar, so get the fuck out."
Being pay-day (and thus causing them to be in a good mood), this was the politest of the standard ways for the Marines to see someone off.
That someone happily yelled back, "Wow, a Marine bar? I thought bars were for people who can hold their drink. Still, I guess it isn't hard for a bunch of knuckle-draggers to get confused."
Amidst the ensuing silence, there was the sound of someone, very gently, setting their glass down.
Raoul, in a well-practised movement, ducked behind the bar and hoped the restoration wouldn't cost too much.