Luffy is an epic,

Zoro is too,

Me no own One Piece,

You no can sue.

Rayleigh and Luffy were talking one night. Training was over for the day and they were taking the time to relax and enjoy the environment and such. It was a winter's night so the land around them was blanketed with snow. It was quite a lovely sight to see actually. Luffy and Rayleigh had been training for almost a year and a half now and soon Rayleigh would be departing so Luffy could try training alone. But before he left, Rayleigh had to ask Luffy something.

"Luffy tell me," he said "What will become of the great 'Strawhat' pirates after you become pirate king?"

"Huh?" Luffy had been eating a piece of meat so he didn't catch all of that. He did, however, hear something about his crew and becoming pirate king. "Your crew," the old man repeated, "What will become of them after you become pirate king?" Luffy swallowed the meat in his mouth before answering "Well, Zoro's gonna be the next 'greatest swordsman in the world', Nami's gonna have her map of the world, Usopp's gonna be a brave warrior of the sea, Sanji's gonna find All Blue, Chopper's gonna be creating a medicine to heal all diseases and stuff, Robin's gonna know the true history for the void century, Franky would have been able to sail the sea in the dream ship he created and, finally, Brook will finally get to see Laboon again." Luffy said counting the crew members on his fingers.

"Those are the goals they wish to accomplish correct?"

"Mmmph!" Luffy managed, digging back into his meal and nodding. Rayleigh chucked slightly at the sight then thought for a second on his next question. "What if they didn't get to accomplish their goals?" At this, Luffy froze, his mouth just about to take another bite. "What…?" he wasn't asking what was said. He had heard properly that time, but he was hoping he hadn't. Rayleigh was quite aware of that.

"What if they don't get to accomplish these goals? What if Zoro doesn't become the next 'World's greatest swordsman', or Nami doesn't get her map of the world, or-"before he could continue he cut off by not only a very loud "No!" and "Shut up!" -courtesy of Luffy-, but also by a clean, white, somewhat over-sized chicken bone to the head (he quickly dodged it though mind you)- also courtesy of Luffy. Now, usually Luffy would never do something like that (-err-possibly, would never do something that…maybe), but what Rayleigh was proposing might happen…he just couldn't stand for it. "Oi! Listen and listen good!" He said now standing in front of the still seated Rayleigh, "They joined my crew because of those dreams. Because they believed that I could help them accomplish those dreams. Granted that after being with each other so long we've become close and we have more than enough reason to stay together, but it's because of those dreams they first stuck by me. So, I'd be damned if I didn't help them accomplish those dreams." With that, Luffy turned and sat back down with his now cold meal. The fire by them not doing much but helping to shadow his face. "And they will accomplish those dreams." He declared finally, taking a bite of his meat.

A smile quickly broke through Rayleigh's stoic expression. He couldn't help but chuckle at Luffy's little speech. The determination in his tone and words clear to even anyone without a brain. Although, the chuckling only helped to annoy Luffy (somewhat slightly). "Oi, what's so funny?" Luffy asked irritation clear, which made Rayleigh full out laugh -causing more irritation and annoyance (somewhat). When he calmed down enough, Rayleigh said "Nothing Luffy, but I do have one more question." At that Luffy perked up slightly, previous annoyance and irritation replaced by ever present curiosity "Hmmm? What is it?"

"When you and your crew have accomplished your dreams," the old man said, careful to add the 'when' and 'and your crew' parts lest another Luffy outburst/temper tantrum (thing), "What will you all do after that? Keep sailing together?" he was actually rather curious on that one. It was quite apparent to, not only him, but everyone who knew Gol. (THAT-dear readers-IS HOW THE NAME IS! NOT GOLD;GOL.D…carry on…) and has met Monkey. , that the 2 were actually quite alike despite having no relation (minus Ace in this case). He was somewhat anxious to see if the hyper and courageous young lad would follow the previous pirate king's lead. He, however, almost regretted asking when he noticed the younger boy's mood darken. Almost. "Have you ever even thought about it? Considering you're this far in your journey and so close to your destination it should at least cross your mind at some point."

Luffy only nodded. He wouldn't admit to anyone (except maybe Makino or Shanks and the guys) but it crossed his mind more often than that. And a lot earlier in his adventures. As far back as to when they were still in East Blue.

'What about after the adventures are done?'

Luffy always tried to ignore it. Just put on his trade-mark grin and pretend they'd be like this forever…but he knew better. Many people thought that he was quite lacking in intelligence points- granted he's not the brightest bulb there ever was- but he wasn't an idiot.

Nothing lasts forever

He was quite aware of that fact. Shaking his head slightly, he decided to answer the question at hand before he ended up spacing out to less than happy thoughts. "Well," he began, the silver-haired man leaning in, anxious for an answer, "After Zoro defeats Mihawk and becomes the world's greatest swordsman, he's probably gonna become a Shichibukai, so he's gonna have to leave the crew for that. Then there's Nami; after she finishes her map of the world, she's most likely gonna want to go back to her home town- Cocoyashi village. Usopp-he's a lot like his dad, Yasopp so I know he's gonna go back to his home town-Syrup village; he does have a girlfriend there after all." Rayleigh couldn't help but chuckle slightly at that last tid bit, but allowed Luffy to continue none the less, "Maybe he'll go back out to sea after a few years or so and start his own pirate crew. After Sanji finds All Blue, he's probably gonna stay in the Grand Line for a while- maybe a year or so-before heading back to the Baratie. We won't admit much but he misses it sometimes. Chopper, being a doctor and all, will most likely just travel the world curing people everywhere, after finishing with the medicine that can heal all diseases and stuff."

"Robin doesn't really have anyone or anywhere to go to so she might stay or maybe she'll just travel the world, like Chopper only she'll be telling people about the true history thing. When we see each other again I know she'll be even stronger so she'll be able to hold her own." Rayleigh couldn't help but notice how Luffy's voice cracked slightly on this particular crew member. He was well aware of Ohara situation that she was in years ago so Rayleigh could understand (or at least try to understand) a captain's worry for such a crewmate. Especially this crewmate and this captain. He'd worry as well. Luffy, however, just cleared his throat and continued, "But hopefully she might just accompany Chopper on his journey. Those 2 together would definitely be a challenge. They're pretty tough ya know." Rayleigh couldn't help but smile at the hopeful note to Luffy's tone, "Anyways," he said clearing his throat once again, "Franky might just go back to Water 7-his home town- or probably just keep sailing the seas on the Sunny. Maybe even with Chopper and Robin! And finally, Brook's most likely just gonna spend the rest of his days with Laboon. Maybe sail the seas a bit with him too." Luffy finished.

"So you don't think that any of your crewmates will keep sailing with you?"

Luffy could only shake his head.

"Don't you want them to stay with you? For all of you to stay together forever?" Rayleigh took note to the fact that Luffy tensed at that last question. Then, he relaxed and shook his head.

Rayleigh was, to say the least, surprised. He had heard about how he had handled Ace's death and how he was like afterwards. He figured the teen was one who couldn't stand being alone, and, let's face it; how he put it, he was gonna end up alone. So, masking his surprise (and, rather well if I may add) he asked "Why?" Luffy raised his hand, as if to grab his trade-mark Strawhat, but, remembering it in a safer area and not with him at the moment, just grabbed his dark hair, fisting it before letting go and allowing his hand to fall to his side. "I told you already didn't I?" he asked, a sad tone obvious in his voice. "That I'd be damned if I didn't at least help them accomplish their dreams. If stepping aside and letting leave the crew means helping them accomplish their dreams, then I'll step aside. It doesn't matter anyways. Whether they leave the crew or not…or just stop being pirates all together…they'll always be my nakama. ALWAYS." He declared (and rather loudly at that). Rayleigh was about say something but was (again; second time that night!) interrupted by Luffy. "Besides," the raven-haired teen said, getting somewhat of a humorous tone to his still sad-sounding voice, "Zoro once told me that if I ever got in the way of his goal that he'd make sure my life was ended by his blade and/or cut my stomach open to say sorry! Considering how strong he was before we got separated, I'd hate to have to fight him after 2 years of training!" he let out a small, little, humorless chuckle, looking up at Rayleigh, smiling.

Rayleigh looked Luffy dead in the eye. He could see it. All the emotions running through the teen's eyes.




A small glimmer of Hope.

"You don't want them to leave do you?"

Upon hearing this question, Luffy smile fell. He lowered his head, allowing a shadow to pass over his face. Not trusting his voice at the moment, Luffy simply shook his head. "We've been together so long. And they're my nakama. I want them to stay. I want them to still be here." Drawing his knees up, Luffy wrapped his arms tight around them "I don't wanna be alone… Because being alone hurts…more than pain…" Resting his forehead on his knees, Luffy allowed a single, silent tear to fall. He then felt a hand on his shoulder. He didn't even have to look up. "It's ok Rayleigh, I'm fine. Because I know…nothing lasts forever…no matter how much you want it to…it just doesn't…so," he said raising his head just enough so his chin was now resting on his knees and he could still look at the elder man. He then offered a small, sorrow-felt smile, "If it's for my nakama, I'm willing to go through it 100 times over. Because if it weren't for them…well, I'd probably still be wandering around East Blue." Just then a small and sad, but somewhat mischievous fire glowed in his eyes as he raised and turned his head towards the 'Dark King' and said "It's all part of the captain's burden."

Rayleigh was mildly taken aback by the sudden lighter attitude but wasted no time in smiling broadly and ruffling Luffy's hair while chuckling. Luffy then plastered on his trade-mark grin to join Rayleigh in chuckling which soon turned to full blown laughter. All traces of the previous sad atmosphere gone, replaced by the happy and lively one that Luffy had a tendency to radiate. Then suddenly, a loud grumbling sound broke through all sounds of joy. "Hungry." Luffy stated holding his stomach after Rayleigh sent him a questioning look. This just brought more laughter as the 2 got up to hunt for more food. And, later, as they were racing after their prey Luffy turned his head slightly to Rayleigh "Ne Rayleigh?"

"Hmm? Yes Luffy?" the elder inquired, wondering what Luffy could ask at the moment. Then, grinning ear to ear with a slightly-brighter-than-usual grin, Luffy thrust both his fists into the air, looking straight ahead and still running, (it somewhat of ridiculous sight) announced, louder than he ever had before,


Racing ahead and leaving Rayleigh in his dust laughing and pick up his pace to catch up with the teen.

A week or so later, Rayleigh left Luffy to train alone for the remainder of the time he'd be training. But before he left however, he had one last thing to say to his little 'trainee'.

"Luffy, I want you to remember just one thing; as long as you have people that love and care for you, as long as you have friends and family, as long as you have someone or people to turn to; you're never alone." He stated before leaving (seems like Rayleigh going clichéd and corny on us doesn't it?).

Luffy was unsure to say to that for a second before grinning broadly and exploding in laughter and shouting out a "Got it!" as reply between laughs.

It had been months since Luffy last say Rayleigh. He was now reunited with Sanji and Zoro and the 3 of them were running to the Sunny-after causing some trouble and panic of course; which led to marines chasing after them (perfectly normal Strawhat pirate activities). He was talking to Zoro and Sanji (more to himself actually) about how everyone else is when his Observation Haki informed him of a familiar presence. Stopping abruptly, Luffy turns to see none other than the Dark King himself.

"Rayleigh!" he yells out. All the Dark King can do is smile and say (while chuckling lightly),

"I came here to check but you seem alright. Your power sure has improved."


"Now, go to your friends!"

"Uh-huh! Rayleigh, thank you for everything these past 2 years!"

Chuckling lightly once more, Rayleigh responds, "You're out of character. Just go!"

But, instead, Luffy set down the huge bag he was carrying and takes a few steps forward, successfully confusing Rayleigh. Raising both arms in the air Luffy says, "Rayleigh," he turns one hand into a fist, "I'll do it!" he fists the other one now so his hands are now fists thrusted into the air then yells,


Rayleigh can only smile broadly at Luffy's grinning face before the latter starts laughing. Unfortunately though, the marines -who were previously after them but came to a halt upon seeing Rayleigh- regained (some amount of) their senses and proceeded to charge the 3 pirates (idiots). Noticing that the marines were no longer on standby, the 3 Strawhats proceeded to gather their wits (and big bags) before resuming their run to the Sunny. Although, before resuming the run (holding bag though), Luffy turned to Rayleigh one last time and said,

"Well then, Rayleigh…thanks again for everything!" then, thrusting his fist out said "I'm going now!" before turning and running off.

Watching them run off, Rayleigh said to himself-eyes tearing up slightly- "Yes…" remembering all their time together the past 2 years before he stood up from his previous sitting position. Watching the marines trying to catch the pirates, before his eyes lock on Luffy, Rayleigh yells out in response,


So now, Rayleigh feels nothing but pride for his pupil as he single-handedly fends of the marines with ease to save them sometime.

"What was that?"

"Dark Knight Rayleigh!" a marine says as the dust clears.

"It's a new beginning for my pupil! Don't be too hard on him!" Rayleigh says pointing his sword at them.

"Wh-what is this line?" a marine asks looking down at the small, mini trench Rayleigh made.

"I recommend you not to cross it." Rayleigh replies, watching as the marines cower before his sword and he thinks, 'A new beginning for my pupil indeed…a new beginning…for the pirate king!'