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This was the last stage. The final obstacle.

The two remaining Yonko: Blackbeard and Shanks.

Luffy crossed his fingers and hoped that he wouldn't have to fight Shanks, but the truth was that it was simply inevitable.

All those years of effort hadn't been wasted. The Straw Hat Pirates that had come so far had finally found themselves on a battlefield, though they weren't exactly expecting one. But if they succeeded, the New World would be theirs, and their captain would become the Pirate King at last.

With a great yell, Luffy charged towards his enemies, the rest of his crew following suit.

/

A red-haired man chuckled, laughing even when at Death's door. "Who knew you'd be this strong?"

"No last words?" the other said, preparing to deliver the final blow.

"No."

And then, they heard a battle roar sounding across the entire place.

Shanks and Blackbeard both looked towards that direction in surprise.

/

"Zehahahahaha!" Luffy immediately recognized that laughter as Blackbeard. He didn´t care, though, not when Shanks was lying on the ground as if he were dead.

He dashed to him and saw that the red haired Yonko was still breathing. Barely.

"Heh, Luffy, I think the promise was just broken. We're not supposed to see each other yet," he whispered, his throat hoarse. His breath was coming out in pants as his body strived to receive more oxygen. He coughed, spitting out blood. "Dahahahaha… I must be getting old to lose to Blackbeard."

Luffy frowned. "But you're not dead yet! You could still fight, right?" He knew the answer to the question already before Shanks replied.

"You think I could with these wounds? Still the same as ever, huh." He began laughing once more, though it sounded more like wheezing. "I'm sorry, but I don't think I could live through this. Never thought I'd die this young."

The boy's eyes widened. "But!-"

"Oh shut up. Don't act like you don't know I'm about to die. At least let me die with peace, will ya?" And with those words, Red Haired Shanks took his last breath.

Of course, a piece of Luffy's mind still refused to believe that his role model had really just died in such way. "Hey, wake up!" he yelled, shaking the body vainly, even though he knew that Shanks wouldn't wake up.

An earthquake rocked the ground, nearly sending the two flying.

"Hey Straw Hat boy! You going to fight me or what?"

Luffy's head snapped up. An light bulb lit in his head as he realized that Blackbeard had successfully caused the death of the two most important figures in his life. And in both instances, they'd died with a smile on their faces. With a furious roar, he charged, not caring about the consequences. There was hell to pay.

/

"Ne… sorry, Shanks…"

The Straw Hat crew stood from afar as they observed their captain with worry. He was not in his usual happy-go-mood, but it was definitely to be expected. It was better than last time.

The clouds broke apart at last, and the sun's warm rays bathed the island in golden light. The place was no doubt a beauty, but the pirates couldn't help but feel that it was rather ironic and morbid. A light breeze blew past, scattering flower petals.

Monkey D. Luffy's focus, however, was not on the environment, but on the three graves that were built there; more specifically, on the newest one. It's gravestone held a name that was the rubber man's role model. Shanks.

"You think he's alright?" Usopp couldn't help but ask.

"He'll pull through. He always does," Nami replied firmly.

This wasn't a time for a mental breakdown for their captain. After years of hard effort, Luffy had at last achieved the title of Pirate King, defeating the last of the Yonko and successfully taking over the entirety of the New World. Every member of the crew reached their respective dreams, as well. This bitter note of an ending was not what they had expected.

Luffy lifted the trademark straw hat slowly off his head in an almost ceremonious manner. Carefully, he placed the hat on top of Shanks's grave and grinned slightly. It was finally returned to its rightful owner. A bottle of sake also sat by.

"So you know, I'm now the Pirate King," Luffy said. Perhaps it was weird talking to a grave, but the red haired man had to know! "Aren't you proud?"

Too bad he couldn't answer.

"And then Zoro is even stronger than Mihawk. He's the number one swordsman! Sanji also found All Blue, Nami made a map of the world, Usopp is super brave and strong now, Chopper can cure any disease. Robin also found out about the Rio Pone- whatsit or whatever, I don't understand-" he laughed- "and then Franky and Brook also did the stuff they always wanted. Everyone's happy." Luffy continued to ramble for a few moments, before stopping suddenly.

"I hope you're happy, wherever you are." His voice wavered. "I don't know why I'm feeling so sad, you know. I should be happy. Right, Shanks? Right?" The rubber man sniffed a few times before continuing.

"I also forgot to tell you. I fought Blackbeard and won. I finally got rev-rev-revenge! Yeah, that's the word. Maybe you will feel better from dying to know that he's dead now."

Luffy shuddered. The fight had sent him into a heavily injured state. The only other time that had ever happened was at the battle where Ace died…

"Shanks's death really shook him," Chopper commented from afar. He understood Luffy's emotion, as he faced a similar situation. He realized that everyone else also knew how their captain was feeling.

Every member of the crew had their own fair share of loss and death. They really came a long way, didn't they?

"Shanks… why do I feel so sad? I should be happy… shouldn't I? Why can't I stop crying?" Thick, pearly drops of tears slid down his cheeks as his throat choked up. Luffy wiped them away with the palms of his hand hastily. He had to be strong, but…

If he was strong, Shanks wouldn't have died like that. Ace wouldn't have died. Sabo wouldn't have died.

Was he really as powerful as he thought? Those deaths only happened because he was… weak.

"I'm really sorry," he mumbled. Those tears continued to flow down, and soon Luffy gave up on wiping them away completely. It wasn't going to stop. "Anyways, I think I have to go. I'll come back later okay, Shanks? I hope you're not lonely… though Makino-san is going to be really sad."

He got up, brushing dust clinging to his pants.

Luffy nodded towards his brother's grave. "Yo, Ace. You probably heard what I said, right? I'm the Pirate King now. I was the last to sail away, but I'm the one that became number one!" He forced a smile. "Hey, say hello to Sabo for me, okay? I miss you two."

And finally, he turned to the last grave, Edward Newgate's. "Hi, Hige-oyaji*! I never met you but uh… thanks for taking care of my older brother." He bowed.

So the manners that Makino taught him were intact after all. Honestly, he surprised himself. Usually, he wouldn't even do that.

Luffy began walking back to where his crew and ship were waiting patiently. Casting one final look back, he thought, I hope they heard me.

/

The world was shocked to hear that there was now a Pirate King once more. Nico Robin, the "Devil Child", had revealed how corrupt the government was, and how cleverly they tried to hide facts about the Void Century.

People were in a panic, and so the Revolutionary Army took that opportunity to persuade civilians to join their side in a revolution against the government.

The World Nobles were corrupt. Many innocent lives were sacrificed just so that the government could cover up their crimes. Hundreds of thousands of people suffered.

"So who's on our side? I mean, in terms of pirates," Luffy, new Pirate King, questioned. He was actually focused in a meeting for once. Probably because Sanji had promised to cook a mountain of meat for him once they finished.

"I believe that the beeeeaaaauutiful Hancock-swan and the Kuja Pirates are our allies," Sanji replied, his eyes turning into hearts at the thought of the mesmerizing so-called "Pirate Empress". Even the smoke he blew out was morphing heart shapes.

"I think some of what the government called the Eleven Supernovas are also our allies," Nami added. "Trafalgar Law quit the Shichibukai role and is willing to help us, as well as Eustass Kid, Basil Hawkins, and some other people."

Luffy nodded. "That's great."

"Oh, and don't forget, the Whitebeard Pirates! Marco passed the word that he was willing to lead his crew and all their allies," Usopp said, "Isn't that so awesome?"

"Wow!" Chopper breathed.

Nami glared at the long-nosed man. "If this is one of your lies…" she threatened.

"Miss Navigator, he's not lying," Robin said, chuckling.

Zoro opened one eye, seeming to wake up from his nap. "That damned Mihawk is coming. And the freaky witch," he grunted.

The crew members sniggered when they heard him refer to Perona as a "witch". They all knew he had a few bad experiences with her.

"So now," Nami said, clapping her hands together. "All we do is wait for everyone to show up. Luffy, your father and the rest of the Revolutionary Army are going to meet us at the Marine Headquarters and attack together. Let's take on the government!"

"YEAH!"

The government will be overthrown, and the world will at last be reformed. It was time for a new era.

/

* = hige-oyaji means mustache old man. It's not exactly polite, but not really an insult, so I thought that it would be something that Luffy would call Whitebeard. It just doesn't have the same effect when it's translated into English. XD

Author's note: Inspired by Razamataz22 and GoddessofNight08. This is just my take on of how it'll all wrap up. Hope you guys enjoyed it.