Not dead, incidentally. For those who didn't know how much I adore Trafalgar Law... just know I am having wee estrogen fits like mad over recent chapter of One Piece.

Chapter 15

Nami lent Ace her laptop for research, although she mentioned something about collecting interest if he so much as got his grimy fingerprints on the display. Ace had some concerns about that, since he didn't know the woman well enough to tell whether or not she was serious, but let it go. He had more important things to worry about.

He'd been reading up on his ESP shit, especially the writings of Daryl Bem, Dean Radin, and Roger Nelson. He'd been through more parapsychology journals than he had even known existed. He'd even watched one of those Discovery Channel documentaries, narrated by Morgan Freeman. That, thank heaven, had been nowhere near as dry as the massive blocks of data and analysis he'd had to sift through with the journal articles.

Ace had been staring at the same table for about six minutes or so and hadn't comprehended a single number. His music blared in his ears as he spaced out.

"Getting hungry?" a booming voice asked.

Ace nearly jumped a foot in the air, yanking his ear-buds out. "Mr. Newgate? Shi – er, I'm sorry, sir. I didn't notice you there."

"Perfect all right. But did you hear my question?" he asked.

Ace paused. "…No, sir. Sorry."

"You don't need to keep apologising, you know. I asked if you were getting hungry. Lord knows you've been at this a very long time. When did you last eat?"

Ace's eyes wandered around, then widened. "You know… I have no idea. I don't even remember what I ate. It might have been yesterday evening, but I'm not sure. I get confused," he said.

Newgate rubbed at his temple. "You're doing no-one a favour by starving yourself."

"I just wasn't hungry! It's not like I'm anorexic or something."

"Wasn't hungry or didn't notice you were hungry?"

Ace blanched. "Okay, so it was the latter. And that's supposed to magically worm its way into my consciousness?"

"Thatch is making a run to this nice little sandwich shop down the way. A little sketchy, but their mesquite turkey is a delight. I'll ask him to pick you up something." He rose to leave.

Ace jumped up. "Uh – er, you don't - !" Newgate raised an eyebrow. Ace coloured. "…You really don't have to do that. I can get my own food. Honest."

"You can, certainly. But are you going to? Let me take care of the half-drowned, half-starved kitten I found in a government-sanctioned cardboard box, if you please. I have a great fondness for such creatures." He smiled. "That was a metaphor, by the way."

He managed to pull a smile from Ace. "I might've picked up on it, yeah."

Newgate nodded. "No food allergies we need be aware of?"

"No, but I kind of hate tomatoes."

"You're going to eat your vegetables and you're going to like them, young man," Newgate said, ruffling the young man's hair and leaving. His voice bellowed after him, "And you're going to get up and stretch your legs a bit, too!"

Ace sat back down and shook his head in wonderment. "My God, it's like Mum's been reincarnated as a weird old man with ponderous facial hair." He laughed a little to himself. "At least it explains why they call him Oyaji."

Newgate was probably right in telling him to get up and stretch his legs, though. He'd been at it since about 4:30 in the morning and it was now… 7:15 at night. …Okay, so it was not lunchtime like he thought. He really should have been keeping a closer eye on the clock. He needed to stretch, eat, and then sleep, and in the morning he'd be ready to take another crack at it. He still needed to analyse the more in-depth specs on the Fall River Institute for Mental Health. The blueprints were a matter of public record, but getting a hold of them online was going to be irritating. He should probably borrow someone else's laptop, as well, just in case the IP address was tracked. Since Nami had a traceable connection to Luffy, it probably was not wise to use her laptop in case Fall River IMH had set up recording pings on their files. If they could track the IP addresses of all the visitors to the page, Ace had no doubt they could easily hack into the tiny laptop and determine ownership. It also might be better if he could access the files from Starbucks Wifi or something. If Google Maps could pinpoint the location of a laptop, the US Government probably could, too.

With that determined, he stood up. The room immediately began to swirl. He braced himself on the edge of desk and waited for it all to settle down.

…Yeah, he needed to get up and walk around. And also food. Food would be marvellous.

Ace didn't really know what to do with himself. Everybody in films would announce that they were 'going for a walk', but what did one really do on a walk? How did they decide where to go? Did they just wander around aimlessly and hope they knew the way back? That seemed rather dangerous. Especially if they were escaped inmates – oh, sorry, patients – of a mental hospital.

He could always go and pester someone. That seemed promising.

It was then that his mind pulled up and image of Luffy. This was reasonable, Ace thought. Luffy had been a pretty constant presence for a long while. Whenever Ace had needed to talk or stretch his legs before, he went either to Marco or Luffy. Frequently, Marco was doing his job, so Luffy would end up the default. At the moment, Marco wasn't working (that Ace knew of, at least), but Ace knew he was out doing something or other. Thatch was out picking up sandwiches.

It was lucky that Luffy had opted to stick around, even if he wasn't going to join forces with Newgate. He had promised to remain both for Hannah's sake and for Ace's, proclaiming that if Ace decided to 'ditch the old guys', he could always expect open arms from Luffy and his lot. Actually, since Robin and Zoro didn't have a place to stay, either, they were staying there, as well. Maybe that had more to do with it than anything else.

Ace loudly knocked on the door. "Yo, Lu'? You in there?"

Luffy opened the door. "Hiya, Ace!"

"Finally come outta your cave, huh?" Zoro asked from the couch.

"Had to do it sometime. There's only so many times you can read through the eleventh volume of the Journal of Scientific Exploration before your brain decides it's just not worth it. Plus I haven't eaten yet today."

Luffy reeled back. "You… haven't eaten today?" he asked in shock. "How are you still alive?"

Ace shook his head. "It's a mystery."

"Well, end the mystery and grab a seat and a beer," Zoro said.

Ace paused. "Er, Zoro? How old are you again?"


"…You know beer isn't exactly legal for your-"

"Neither's breaking out of prison, but I don't hear you bitching about that. Grab a damn beer."

Ace accepted the loss and the beer.

"So, what's on the telly?"

"Someone Psychotic Told You You Could Dance," Zoro said.

"It's So You Think You Can Dance, dear," Robin corrected.

"Yeah. That's what I said."

"They're doing Bollywood next. This is gonna kick ass."

"Or suck horribly."

"Even better."

"At least it's not the Russian Polka."

"Amen to that, sister."

"New drinking game: every time a judge says the word 'feet', drink."


"What if they say 'foot'?"

"Use your best judgement."

They went on like that for a while, Ace staying through Hip-Hop, Contemporary, and a particularly spicy Viennese Waltz. Zoro passed out halfway and Robin had opted to delve into a book Newgate had kindly lent her.

"Hey, Luffy?" Ace asked quietly.

"Hm? Whatchya need?"

"Can we talk outside for a little bit?"

Luffy got up and Ace followed him out.

"If you need someone to hold your hair back if you ralph, you need to ask somebody else –"

"That's not it, dumbass! I hold my alcohol better than that. Do I really look like a lightweight to you?"

"How bad you want me to answer that?"

"…Whatever. Setting that aside." He breathed deeply. "You know that… that remote viewing painting thingy that Hannah said you did?"

"Yeah? What about it?" Luffy asked.

"Could you show me how you did it? Hannah said I've got the same… genes, coding, whatever-it-is… that you do, so I should theoretically be able to do it, too. I just want to know how you did it."

"You want to try it yourself?" Luffy guessed.

"Well, yeah."

Luffy beamed. "Sure! You got some big paper? Paints 'n' shit?"

"Weirdly enough, I do. Hannah gave me some the other night when I was picking up my car and she said some cryptic shit about 'this might come in handy' or something," Ace said.

"Perfect! Let's go to the bathrooms."


"Well, we're gonna finger-paint. It gets kinda messy," Luffy said reasonably. "If I need to scratch something, I'd like it if it weren't hot pink once I was done."

Ace nodded. "Okay. I'll grab the stuff and meet you in the bathrooms."

"Boys' or girls'?"

Ace gave him a very odd look as he trotted away.

"Whaaaaat? You have no sense of adventure!"



"You ready?"

"I think so."

"Now, remember: no peeking. And don't try to actually paint anything. Just have a question in your head and go nuts."

"Er… okay. Like what kind of question?"

"I don't know! What do you want to know?"

Ace blanched a little. To be honest, he wanted to know what to expect when he would finally infiltrate Fall River. That was scheduled to occur in the next three days, actually, and he was nervous as hell.

"I might have something in mind."

"Oh yeah? What is it?"

"…Eh, it's just something little. Nothing important." Ace did not want Luffy involved. Not this time. He never wanted to see Luffy come to harm ever again, and he knew that if he told Luffy what he was planning, the younger boy would undoubtedly find a way to come along for the ride whether Ace wanted him to or not. It was far better to keep his plans to himself.

"What, you're not gonna tell me? Booooooo. Boo, you whore," Luffy moaned.

"I never liked that movie," Ace mentioned absently.


"Nothing. So… is there any trick to getting started, or do you just… go?"

Luffy perked up. "Yeah, that's pretty much it. Just close your eyes, know what you want, what you have, and make sure you can get what you need."

Ace hesitantly poked his fingers around the piece of paper, then the paint tubs. He technically knew the order of the colours from right to left and back again, but it was still rather daunting to just reach for one. Keeping his eyes closed was hard. He twitched a finger lightly in what he was pretty sure was the green paint. He brought his finger over to the paper only to realise that the paper was much closer than he'd anticipated.

"No! Not like that!" Luffy huffed.

"Well, I can't fucking see the paper! What do you want from me?"

"No, just… here, let me –" Luffy reached around and grabbed Ace's wrist.

"Would you not, please?" Ace snapped.

"Well, if you're not gonna do it right, then I ma-"

"Well, if you'd fucking describe just what the hell I'm supposed to be doing instead of your weird cryptic bullshit, maybe I'd do it right!"

"I was crystal clear. Not my fault you're an idiot."

"This is rich – coming from the guy who failed – how many classes in senior year of high school? Oh, that's right – all of them."

"Least I'm not an asshole!"

"Touché! Now can you just try explaining it to me again, but in actual human terms this time?"

Luffy heaved a giant sigh. "Fine. It's really hard to explain. Gee, sorry if I don't manage to produce perfect results the first frickin' time you try it."

"I'm sorry I yelled, okay? I'm just… you were all… never mind," Ace muttered.

"Mm. Anyway, don't try and think of an answer. Think of the question. Don't try to think of tubs of paint. Think of the rainbow, out of which you pick the colours you need. Don't think of how far away anything is, or of any of that shit. It just feels like slopping paint onto a piece of paper. If you feel like you should do something, even if you have no idea what it is or why you should need to do it, do it. Just go with it. If nothing comes of it, nothing comes of it. No harm done. Don't get all bent out of shape. And don't try to direct the paint anywhere. Let it go where it wants, not where you want it to be."

Luffy's slightly rough, calm voice floated through Ace's mind as he tried to grasp the meaning of the words. It still didn't make much sense. If anybody walked in, he was going to look fucking ridiculous.

May as well get it over with.


"Hey, Luffy?"


"I think I get the basic concept, even if I screw up execution. Erm… could you… maybe not look over my shoulder? I keep feeling like you're going to correct me as soon as I breathe."

Luffy chuckled. "Yeah; sure. I think it's Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family."

Ace smiled. "Good luck with that."

"Thanks. You, too!"

Ace waited until Luffy's footsteps were long gone to actually begin painting in the most random, higgledy-piggledy way he'd ever heard of in his life.

"So?" Luffy asked as Ace trudged into the television room.

"Utter failure. I suck at life. Move over. I need to watch Malfoy get turned into a ferret to make me feel better about my self-worth as human being."

(A/N): So… my laptop had this moment where it was like, 'Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted the screen to actually light up so you could do things? TOUGH SHIT, SUGAR. YOU CAN SUCK MY HARD DRIVE.' …And that's why I didn't update last weekend. I didn't have my laptop with me because it was in shop. I also couldn't during the week because I have summer classes. Eff my life. Everybody else gets the summer off, or they work in fast-food, which is hardly problem-solving. Also, you get money for it. I get nothing but homework problems that have me banging my head against walls on occasion. Or, y'know, shooting my screen with my Nerf gun. That works, too.

I like that Newgate has already more or less adopted Ace, whether he accepts the job offer or no. There's something about him that just makes you want to give him the world.

I promise you, I will get to interesting things next chapter. Super mega-ultra promise. I have some awesome things planned out, but most require me to set the stage properly, and I just can't do it with the small chapter length I usually go for.