Title: Silent Battle
Word Count: 575
Pairing: hinted Ace/Luffy, hinted Luffy/Shanks (Take the pairings as you will.)
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from One Piece. One Piece belongs to Eiichiro Oda.
VTM: A little bit based on an idea I had.
If it was one thing that Ace would remember from his childhood, it was Luffy. If it was one thing about Luffy that he would remember at odd times, it was his stories of 'Red Haired Shanks'. On and on Luffy would go on about the pirate almost as though he were some kind of god. Ace wasn't even allowed to joke about Shanks around Luffy, or else face the boy's feeble attempts of wrath.
He never really took Luffy's stories of the man seriously until he heard more from Makino.
"He saved Luffy's life, almost at the cost of his own. Shanks was able to make it out with just the loss of his arm." She said as she explained the fateful day of the passing of the straw hat. There was a dreamy tone in her voice as she talked about her reminiscence of the man. This yet again stirred that familiar feeling within Ace.
It was then that Ace decided to make it a goal of his to meet the man one day. He wanted to thank him for saving his now cherished little brother. But there was also another reason; he wanted to see if the man was all that Luffy made him out to be. There was an odd feeling that would come with listening to those stories. It was hard to describe, but it was a feeling that he was familiar with.
When Ace left on his journey to be a pirate, he had a secret plan in mind. Find Shanks, meet him, see that he is not as great as Luffy made him out to be, and eventually get his kid brother to join his crew. Sure, it might have been a selfish goal, but what did he care? Ace was a pirate for crying out loud! A pirate doesn't fear anything and they take what they want, right?
Ace was sure of this goal all the way up until they finally came across Shanks' crew. In that wintery land, it almost seemed surreal. Ace spotted and could figure out who was who without even asking, thanks to all of his brother's ramblings about them. For the first time in a long time, Ace actually felt intimidated. When he first laid eyes on Shanks, he felt a little more relieved. Shanks was the only one that didn't turn out as Ace had imagined him.
There were two ways Ace imagined the man, one was a giant of a man, large and strong, just like all the stories he had heard. The other way Ace had imagined him was older and being more frail, as a withered drunk. This was what Ace hoped to find, but instead he found a man that was right about in the middle of both extremes. He seemed like a normal man, but there was still something more.
The two shared a drink, and talked of their own stories about the Grandline and of Luffy and the people of Fuchsia Village. As they did, Ace could slowly see why Luffy admired Shanks, why he seemed almost to harbor a special kind of affection and he couldn't quite earn from the boy. Ace knew then and there that the feeling he had been wrestling with was jealousy. Or perhaps, it's more bitter cousin, envy. That day, Ace lost to Shanks, in a battle that the red haired man didn't even realize they were having.