As promise, here is my newest One Piece story. It also continues to fine honor tradition of torturing Luffy. I don't know why, I just love doing it.

This story takes place post-time skip. This is actually very usual for me since I usually try to stick to canon and don't particular care of AUs. But, this story came into my head and it looked like Oda will finish the latest arc in either December or next year and I couldn't wait that long. I don't know how the Strawhats will come out, especially their new powers, since I'm still getting used to their time skip selves, so don't mind if there is any OOC moments.

The story itself is base on an old Batman: The Animated Series episode as well as two episodes from Justice League. I can't tell you which episodes they are without spoiling the plot, but any fan of these series should know the direction I will be going in. There will be, however, my own personal twist so it isn't a direct copy.

Spoiler: If you are up to speed on everything that happened after the Return to Sabaody Arc, there aren't too many spoilers.

Disclaimer: In case you're wondering, I do not own One Piece in any way, shape, or form. This anime/manga belong to Oda, Shonen Jump, Toei, and Funimation. I am only borrowing for my personal amusement as well as yours.

Edit Note: As of 4/27/12 I will be revising this story with the help of my beta zealousfreak27. The changes may be minor, but I am hoping to greatly reduce the grammar errors in this story and clear up some of the dialog. There will be two chapters in a week that will be updated as of today. I hope these new changes enriched this story even more and it has been your support that had encouraged me to improve this fanfic. Thanks again, and happy reading.

With nothing else, please enjoy.

Chapter 1: On that Night

The anchor was dropped as the sun slowly dipped into the horizon. The day was exhausting as the Strawhats navigated their way through the New World. Between the weather trying to constantly kill them, random sea creatures the size of building trying to eat them, and even gravity itself at times working against them, they were beginning to understand why the first part of the Grand Line was called Paradise. It didn't help that their captain, being the reckless idiot that he was, chose the hardest route to sail.

When people warned them of the dangers of the New World, they've quickly found out that they weren't exaggerating. If they had dared to come to these seas two years ago, it would had been more than likely most of them would have been killed. It was indeed a place for only the strong and no one with half-ass ambition would survive long.

"Arggg, this day has been hell," Usopp moaned as he stretched his sore muscles.

"The New World has certainly lived up to its reputation," Robin said as she wiped the sweat from her brow.

"Are you certain it's safe to drop anchor here?" Usopp asked Nami, who was leaning on one of the railings. She looked even more exhausted than all of them. Then again, it was her navigating skills that had kept them from dying this week.

Nami gave a deep sigh. "We have no choice. We can't sail at night and the next island is weeks away."

"Weeks?" Usopp asked in disbelief.

"There are fewer islands in the New World than in Paradise and an even smaller percentage of those islands are populated," Nami explained as she rubbed her forehead. "Why do you think I told you to buy everything you needed on Fishman Island?"

Usopp shook his head in disbelief. It could be weeks or even months before they could go on another supply run. The thought unnerved him more than he cared to admit since he didn't want to be on any ship where the food supple ran low. With Luffy's appetite, they would all end up killing each other for the last scrap of meat.

Chopper stared into the now clear seas. He knew just by the couple of days they've been on these seas that looks were deceiving and anything could come out of the water to claim them. "It's so calm out there."

"I don't sense any change in the weather, but even these seas have tested me to my limits," Nami said. Nonetheless, she gave a silent thanks to the people at Weatheria for preparing her, although they could have warned her about the new log pose that was needed.

Luffy gave a wide smile as he looked into the water. "This sea won't take us. We came too far to die here." He then paused for a moment as he grabbed the scar on his chest. "I will become the Pirate King."

Zoro gave a loud yawn as he leaned against the ship's mast. "So, who has watch tonight?"

"Luffy," everyone answered without a beat.

Luffy pouted. "It's my turn already?"

"Bro, you've been skipping watch for about a week now; it's way passed your turn," Franky said with good humor.

Luffy looked like he was going to complain, as he usually did when he had watch, but he then smiled and nodded. "Alright then. If you want, I can take both shifts."

This earned several stares from the crew.

"Luffy, are you alright?" Usopp asked in disbelief. "You never took both shifts before. We could barely get you to just do your own." His eyes suddenly widened. "You're sick, aren't you!"

Luffy chuckled. "I'm not sick, but you know...things change." The look in Luffy's eyes suddenly shifted. They became pain and full of an unspoken sadness, but it disappeared as quickly as it came. "Besides, you guys had a busy day, so I don't mind taking both watches."

Sanji lit a cigarette. "Well, whatever. Just don't go into my kitchen during the night, you shitty bastard. I got some special fish from Fishman Island that I'm saving up and I don't want them to end up in your belly before I get a chance to cook them."

Luffy gave a loud laugh. "Okay, Sanji."

Sanji glared at his captain, promising a painful death if he didn't heed his warning.

"How about some music before we call it a night," Brook offered as he took out his old violin to play a couple of tunes. He chose to play his original instrument after he had learned that Luffy preferred it to his guitar. Apparently Luffy like the classic sounds more than the more modern music he played as the Soul King.

Within a few moments, the small ship was alive with music and the stress of the day faded away. Even Zoro enjoyed himself as he tapped his feet along with the beat.

"Hey Zoro, come and join us!" Luffy called as he danced along with Usopp and Chopper.

Zoro gave a short snort. "No thanks."

"Oh, come Zoro." Luffy pouted. "Don't be such a party pooper."

"The moss head probably can't dance," Sanji joked before an evil look crossed his face. "In fact, I'm willing to bet that he has two left feet."

"What was that?" Zoro growled.

"You heard me," Sanji continued mercilessly. "You probably have the coordination and grace of a drunk monkey."

Zoro quickly stood up. "Don't make me come over there and kick your ass, eyebrow!"

Sanji smiled. "What, are you that sensitive over your lack of dancing skills? I didn't know you cared, moss head."

Before long, the two were fighting as usual.

Nami just smiled and laughed. Unlike two years ago, those two's antics didn't bother her as much. In fact, she had missed it greatly and it really felt like she had returned home now. It felt good to be among her family again.

"It's good to have everyone back together like this," Robin said as she stood next to the navigator. "We didn't really have the chance to bond again at Fishman Island."

Nami sighed. "True, so much was happening at once, but even then it's like nothing has change. They're still the same goof balls."

Robin glanced at Luffy who was dancing with Chopper with chopsticks up his nose. "Not everything has remained the same."

Nami followed the older woman's glazed as she looked up at her captain. He acted like he had no care in the world, but he was fooling no one. Ever since they met up again at Sabaody, they all had seen the shadows that were now in his eyes. It was a look she understood and wished no one had to experience. It was the look of someone who went through extreme grief and sorrow. That same look was embedded into her own eyes when her adopted mother was murdered. Even though she had made peace with that day, especially after recent events, it still hurt.

None of them really knew the details of what happened to Luffy during the war, especially how the heck he got that giant scar on his chest. Given the size and position of the scar, that wound could have easily killed him. It was also scary given the fact that nothing really scarred Luffy before, not even when he was impaled with a hook or bitten by Arlong and Hordy. They only got the most basic information from the newspaper and Jimbi. Luffy himself didn't mention anything that has happened over the past two years except that he was trained by Rayleigh to use Haki. It was a subject that the entire crew had silently agreed to never bring up unless Luffy did it himself.

"Do you think he's really okay?" Nami asked Robin, never turning her eyes away from Luffy.

Robin didn't answer right away. "I think he's as okay as he's going to get. He's back among his crew and we can now help and support him. The best thing we can do is to make sure he never has to face such darkness alone again."

Nami looked at Robin before she smiled and nodded. Robin was right; Luffy was with his family again and they would be there for him when he needed them. It was the reason why they had willingly devoted two years of their lives to support him and his dream.

The rest of the night passed by quickly after that and after an hour of partying, the crew retired for the night. Luffy sat in the Observatory overlooking the sea with a blank expression.

It felt good to be back among his crew. Despite the fact those years has gone by, it was like they'd never left. Like the entire incident at Sabaody was all a terrible dream. Although he was eternally grateful to Rayleigh and Kuma for everything they had done, a part of him still wished the past two years were a dream. If it was, then what happened at Marineford had never come to pass and his brother hadn't really died in his arms.

Luffy shook his head as he attempted to rid himself of the image of his brother's dying body. It seemed even after two years the pain still hadn't fully gone away. It wasn't the same soul crushing, unbearable hot pain that overtook him when he woke on Amazon Lily, but it still hurt. He knew it would never truly go away, much like with Sabo, but he still wished he could forget. That things could go back to the way they were when they first reached the halfway point and they felt nothing could stop them from achieving their dreams.

The lessons of Sabaody, Impel Down, and Marineford, however, were forever burnt into his soul just as the 'X' shaped scar was burnt into his chest. It taught him just how small he really was in the big world and willpower alone meant nothing if you didn't have the strength to protect the ones you cared for. Even if it killed him, he would never allow anyone to sacrifice themselves for his sake ever again. He would make sure Ace's death wasn't in vain.

A noise suddenly caught his ear, knocking him out of his musings. He slowly stood up and walked towards the open window. He saw nothing since tonight was a moonless night and only the dim lamps on the deck gave any lighting. Luffy, however, was able to sense someone who wasn't his crew using his Haki. They had an intruder.

He briefly wondered if he should alert his crew right away about the invader, but quickly decided against it. They had all worked so hard today and none of them had much sleep since entering the New World. He didn't want to bother them if this was something he could handle on his own. The person didn't seem to be that strong.

With his mind made up, he jumped down from the one of the Observatory's windows and made his way across the deck. He opened his senses to find where their intruder was and Luffy was able to feel someone climbing the mast of their ship. Luffy looked up to see a shadowy figure climbing the main mast and was heading straight for their pirate flag.

Luffy felt his pride burn at the fact that someone would dare try to steal their pirate's mark. The Jolly Roger was a mark of honor and pride among pirates and Luffy wasn't going to let some random person steal it for whatever reason.

He quickly stretched his arms and reached for the highest point of the mast. Once that was done, he used his retracting powers to rocket him to the top. Whoever their little thief was, he was fast given how he made it to the flag within only a couple of minutes. Luffy, however, was able to intercept him before his hand could touch the pirate flag.

The intruder jumped back in both surprise and fear as Luffy looked over him. The Strawhat captain was surprise to see it was a young boy that couldn't be any more than a preteen. What was a child doing in the middle of the sea?

"Who're you?" Luffy asked, keeping his voice calm. He didn't want to scare the boy.

This failed miserably as the boy jumped down in fright and attempted to slide down the mast.

"Wait!" Luffy yelled as he followed shortly behind him. Given that Luffy was rubber, he was able to jump down the entire length of the mast without hurting himself, beating the boy down.

The boy saw this and responded by jumping off the mast and actually went over Luffy's head. Luffy was impressed that this boy was so nimble, especially given his age, but he was no match for his Haki senses. He saw the move coming and easily caught the boy in midair.

"Gotcha!" Luffy cheered. The boy squirmed helpless in his grasp.

"Luffy, what's going on!" Zoro demanded as he rushed on deck, his hand was already on the hilt of one of his swords.

Sanji wasn't too far behind as he looked over the scene. "What trouble have you caused now, shitty captain?"

Luffy held up the boy for his two crewmates to see. "This boy snuck onboard the ship."

"Who is he?" Zoro asked.

Before Luffy could answer that question, the boy was able to squirm enough in Luffy's grip to slide free and climb up his body. Before Luffy could react from the sudden move the boy touched his forehead. For a moment, there was nothing. Then, a hot pain shot through Luffy's head and right into his mind.

He didn't have a chance to scream before his body hit the deck and he knew nothing.

"Hey, is he alright?" a voice asked. It sounded familiar, but different all at the same time.

"Not sure. He did take a harder fall than usual," another person said. That voice was definitely familiar, but his foggy mind couldn't place the voice with the person. "Hey, come on Luffy, wake up."

Luffy mourned as he shifted in place. Why was it so hard to think?

"Looks like he coming to," the first voice said. "I swear Luffy, you need to stop scaring us like this. You're going to make us both grow gray hairs."

Luffy slowly opened his eyes to see someone with bright blue eyes staring down at him. He wore what looked like an old top hat with goggles and he had short blond hair the curled at the end. He blinked several times when he saw the person, knowing he had seen him somewhere before.

"What...what happened?" Luffy stuttered.

A heavy sighed followed the questioned. "You almost drowned. You have to be more careful. Remember, you can't swim."

Luffy turned towards the source of the other voice and his eyes widened in shock. The man had jet-black hair that reached his shoulders and a hat that had beads with a happy and sad face pictures attached to them. He also wore red beads around his neck and they hung lazily on his chest. It was the eyes and the freckles, however, that told him who he was looking at.

"Ac...ACE!" Luffy exclaimed in disbelief.

First chapter and we already end on a twist. Hope this wet your appetite.

Until next time.