So hi! On a One Piece binge, as you might know. Or, more specifically, on a D Brothers binge. Ace, you are my plot bunny to end all plot bunnies. We didn't get to actually see that much of you, so that means all those blank spaces in your life ARE FORFEIT TO THE FANDOM. You might actually be better off in the big pirate ship in the sky, I'm sorry to say.
But yeah. So we know Ace spent exactly 100 days on Whitebeard's ship trying to assassinate him. Every. Stinking. Day. And then he joined the crew and happy-happy joy-joy shit. I was intrigued from the start, because being abandoned in (what surely to Ace's mind would be) a hostile environment, alone, afraid of failing in the one ambition he's ever had in his life, afraid of finding a new purpose because it would betray his promise to his dead brother and his living one, constantly associating being Pirate King with the freedom that Sabo died to achieve... That kind of mental torture for 100 straight days is terrifying. I was wondering how Ace got acclimated enough to accept the Whitebeard pirates into his affections over those 100 days. What changed? How? What went through his head? These are questions I don't pretend to understand, but I figure Ace and I have very similar personality types, simply because people like me are giant drama bitches on the inside, terrified above all else that other people won't like us for who we are. In short, this shit makes for better fiction. Mmmmm, drama.
WARNINGS: No pairings, Ace being adorable, Ace being a buttwipe, DRAMA LIKE WOAH, nothing in sequential order ever because that's just not how I roll, etc.
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece. If I did, there would be a spinoff series devoted entirely to the Whitebeard pirates, because that just plain needs to be done.
100 Days of Ace Being a Buttwipe
On the 32nd day of Ace's daily attempts to assassinate Whitebeard, he had already exhausted pretty much everything he already knew. All his tricks and clever schemes had more or less been used up, even though his burning will and determination still were going strong. He decided that he needed to explore the unfamiliar territories – he had to expand on his current knowledge and understanding of himself and his own abilities if he ever hoped to win against the massive hulk of a man that stood in his way. In short, he would never surpass Whitebeard if he did not first surpass himself.
Now, that sort of logic was easy to work out. It took Ace less than 10 minutes of deep thought to come to that conclusion, and the only reason it took that long was because he'd fallen asleep in the middle of his thought process. The difficult part was how one was to go about it. How the hell do you surpass yourself? Was there even something to discover, something upon which Ace could further expound? Ace lit shit on fire. That was pretty much the size of it. It had always been just dandy before, but that baseline wasn't working so well for him now.
Okay, so Hotarubi had been particularly inspired. It wasn't just fire; it started out like tiny fireflies, tiny globes of light that gave off no heat, but merely floated in the air and drifted in a thoroughly beautiful fashion – until Ace detonated them at his whim, which was always the fun part in his opinion. So his powers could be used to generate light, but a substantially lowered heat output.
Another thing he always noticed was that whenever he used his powers: stealth was nearly impossible. The flames would crackle and pop as they licked around his skin, and anyone with even one functioning ear could hear him coming long before they saw him. Normally, that was irritating and something he'd give anything to be rid of, but what if… What if…?
"Hey, Ace," said Marco. The poor boy nearly jumped out of his skin.
"Shit, when did you get there?" he asked.
Marco shrugged unconcernedly. "I've only been sitting down here with you for… what, maybe a minute or two? You didn't miss much, all things considered. Want something to drink?" He offered a full mug of whatever-the-hell-it-was that most of his shipmates beyond him were guzzling so greedily, singing extremely embarrassing songs and steadily making their way towards true offensiveness.
"Er, no thanks," Ace said. Marco shrugged again and set it down between them. It wasn't clear for whose benefit it was he did so.
"So, what were you thinking about so seriously that you didn't hear or see me?"
"Been playing with something."
"Yeah," Ace said. "In my head. There's something I'm trying to explore a little bit, and it might be worth looking into."
"Care to say what?"
Ace was a suspicious man. Not by nature, of course, but the circumstances of his birth made it quite impossible for him to be anything else – certainly not as trusting and naïve as his little brother Luffy. Regardless, there was something about Marco… something steadfast, which spoke of absolute trust. It was like telling a secret to a brick wall: who was the brick wall going to tell? Yes, there was always the risk that if Ace did manage to figure out how to work out the concept he was thinking of, that Marco would turn around and tell Whitebeard how to deal with it, but for some reason, Ace didn't think Marco was the sort to do that. For one thing, he'd noticed that pretty much the entire crew was of the opinion that Whitebeard was invincible. Why would they bother giving the man a leg up when he clearly didn't need it? For another, it was Marco. Actually, that was all that needed saying. It was Marco.
"Okay, I'll tell you. Just don't laugh," Ace said.
Marco got the intense feeling like something important just happened and he'd missed it. He turned his body to face Ace a little more, eyes opening just the tiniest bit wider to show that Ace had his full attention. Whatever it was he'd just missed, he had no desire to miss anything else. "I promise not to laugh, unless you're about to make a joke just to screw with me."
"No jokes. Okay, so…" Ace ran fingers through his already-tousled black hair and cleared his throat. "How much do you know about chemistry and gaseous physics?"
It took everything in Marco's power not to look at Ace like he was clean off his rocker. "Not much," he finally confessed.
Ace rubbed his face with his hands. "Ugh, okay. I'll try and use layman's terms. If I start going off into lala land and start saying stuff that doesn't sound much like English anymore, just stop me, okay?" Marco nodded. "You know when it's really hot out and the heat makes the air almost move in waves?"
"Bingo. And various chemicals can burn different colours and all that, right?"
"Uhh, I guess…? Wait, no, you mean like fireworks?"
"Yes! Exactly. You can get them to achieve specific forms, colours, sizes, everything! Well, what if you could control not only how long they last but their exact positioning without using any kind of propulsion or adhering to gravity? In the same vein, those noises produced by vibrations in the air following the rapid expansion of atmospheric gases? What if those could be controlled, too? Like, Hertz, decibel levels, duration, the whole nine yards! Complete illusory powers, I'm telling you! If I could learn how to do this shit, this would be fuckin' amazing! I'm trying to play around with how it might work, but I can't see any way to achieve it quickly or discreetly, and I'm trying to do both. Hell, even if I only got a good grip on one of those two, visual or auditory, it'd still be enough to throw someone off their guard for a few seconds. Most battle relies on the unconscious movements of the combatants, anyway, so to distract the unconscious even for a moment is enough to delay reaction time by just enough to… I've lost you, haven't I?"
Marco had somewhere along the line started staring slack-jawed at Ace. He'd been a little hard to follow, but not terribly. What shocked Marco speechless were two things: one, the complete authority with which Ace laid out his own theoretical physics (why the hell was this guy a pirate, anyway, with brains like those?); and two, the look on Ace's face. It lit up his eyes like the fireworks he spoke of. His whole expression was alit with excitement and curiosity. He was utterly captivated by his own ideas, fueled by the world he lived in, and the effect was beautiful to watch. Marco had had no problem with the kid beforehand, but it had mostly been tolerance with a slight amount of pity. Perhaps a little hope, as well, that Ace might end up being one of his innumerable brothers. But now… Marco felt he had seen something that few others in all the world had. Ace had been sulky and brooding when approached in a brushoff manner, but approached the right way… he was a bright and eager child, still in love with the unknown and adventure. Marco decided. He wanted this child… no, this young man… to be his brother. He was going to have a nice chat with Oyaji before they all went to sleep, and see if somehow, the old coot had managed to see all that even before Ace let his walls fall. It sounded like the sort of thing he'd keep to himself, cackling drunkenly about the innocence and vitality of youth. He got creepy sometimes, but it didn't mean he wasn't right on the dot with his observations.
"You didn't lose me," Marco finally got around to saying. He had almost lost track of what the subject was. "I'm just kinda impressed. How long have you been thinking about this?"
Ace shrugged, cheeks the slightest bit pink. "Dunno. An hour or two, maybe. But I thought of something else, too! You know how steam is really really dangerous? Like, how pressurised steam can cut things far better than even a diamond cutter, or a sword, or anything? Well, if I could get this small box, or rod, or – hell, any kind of device – and fill it full of water, then make a tiny slit and cover it with something, like maybe something spring-loaded… and then heat it up as fast as I can in battle? Long distance cutlery, right there. Nothing says badass like explosive decompression."
"I got yer explosive decompression right here!" bellowed a passing drunken crew member before farting loudly, guffawing at his own joke as he passed.
Ace covered his face with the palm of his hand, the ever-suffering teenager in the flesh. "See, this is why I don't drink."
(A/N): Those who have read my work before know the maxim: Review fast or die slow. Not that that means you should leave short reviews. I love me some long, thoughtful reviews. Even the super-harsh critical ones, because it means you gave enough of a shit to tell me.