0 - New Dreams

It starts with opportunity.

"I can't remember where, but he used to be with this fat pirate lady. I think her name was Albida. A fat and ugly female pirate. This guy spent two years with..."

A hand curled into a fist strikes with the vicious strength provided by years of hurt and hopelessness, now crystallized by an act of careless betrayal. The punch does no damage to the elastic flesh that is its target, but the sting of the venom driving it is felt. A pirate captain grins and a swordsman smiles in understanding, as a furious boy hurls himself against an enemy that he has no chance of defeating as he is now.

Opportunity is transformed into choice.

Some time later, the boy manages to stand up. Pain has doused the fires of anger and realization of what has really transpired fills his heart. He has been given a chance. The stern faced man who regards him curiously can grant him his fondest wish.

Can't he?

Choice brings change.

As their small boat starts moving towards adventure and the open seas, pirate captain and swordsman hear a familiar voice calling them from the shore.

"Luffy-san! Wait for me!"

A splash follows. And moments later, they have to haul the dripping wet boy into the boat. Thus, while marines and civilians wave off the criminals who have released them from the tyranny of an evil man, the pirate captain looks the boy in the eye with unusual intensity. No questions are asked.

An answer is given anyways.

"They were like me. Just like me. They feared that monster, Morgan, like I feared the hag. They were good people, but they did evil to the people of the town because they were too scared of Morgan to try to resist him. So if that's what means to be a marine, then I need a better dream, Luffy-san. Because I think that what I really want is to be able to do the right thing, always. And if I must keep being a pirate to do that, I'll keep living as a pirate... if you let me join your crew, captain."

Something gnaws at the back of the young pirate's mind. He feels that things shouldn't have worked out like this and that dreams shouldn't change like that... But he feels in the younger man an iron that wasn't there before. And he reluctantly nods.

And with this change, the landslide begins.

Notes: Just a little something that had been buzzing in the back of my mind for a while and that I decided to post to see whether the buzz dies or stays around to make me write more. Basic setup: Cody stays with Luffy and Nami follows a different path (details to be revealed in chapter 1, if I ever get around to writing it). Things go downhill from there. Since I rather thoroughly despise AUs that stick blindly to the stations of canon, this will go off-the-rails not very far down the line.