Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece. If I did then [spoiler of Chapter 700]!
"So! Now that everyone is awake, I'd like to begin the meeting," Sabo announced, banging a polished gavel against the smooth surface of the expensive table. He shot a dirty glance at the younger two, who were still busy munching on miscellaneous food items and making a huge mess of crumbs and bits of food on the soft, carpeted floor. Usopp was too dazed to properly do anything as he sat blankly on the plushy couch, muttering unintelligible words under his breath, much like a madman. The former noble couldn't help but be worried for the sharpshooter's current state of being, but dismissed the thought. It wasn't the first time that happened, either.
"Meeting?" Luffy and Lu echoed, tilting their heads.
"Yes, meeting. What we're talking about is serious here," he replied seriously, folding his hands. "We're looking at a possible war upcoming soon, and of course we would want to avert it. It might cause an unaccountable amount of casualties and property destruction depending on where it takes place. People like Blackbeard do not take the welfare of people into account."
"A war sounds kind of fun," Lu commented. "I wanna see how many people I can beat up."
Surprisingly, it was Luffy that smashed his fist down his counterpart's head with a fierce scowl. "Believe me, it's not," he muttered darkly, his other hand subconsciously brushing over his X-scar. Coughing awkwardly, he scooted back in his chair and tilted the straw hat down.
It must've been hard for him, Sabo reflected sadly. To go through so much to save your brother, only to have him snatched out of your hands and killed… He could only imagine how painful it must've been for the older Luffy to come to terms with the devastating event, feeling a slight pang of guilt knowing that Luffy already lost another brother before and vowed to become stronger so no one else would ever die.
By his side, Portgas's face had flushed a dark red as he wrapped his arms around his chest absentmindedly, where a similar scar was. His eyes took on an unreadable quality, lips pressed in a thin line.
Sabo coughed awkwardly into his long sleeve, diverting his attention away from the pirates. "So what we know is that Blackbeard is out for revenge, and he intends to provoke a full-scale war to start a new age of the underground, so to speak. My team and I have been trying to uncover bits about him, but it's amazing how well he hides his tracks. We're no closer to finding anything more than before, but it seems that Smoker has been in contact with him, voluntary or not."
"Smoker?" Usopp snapped out of his trance and shuddered at the name. "But isn't he the super no-nonsense kind of guy that's super scary?"
"He's one of the most reliable and trustworthy marines though, going by his own form of justice unlike most of the mindless soldiers you have nowadays," said Sabo with a shrug. "If I was him I'd go for Smoker first. Blackbeard's the kind of guy to like to make a flashy scene and stir up trouble. But I am assuming what Blackbeard didn't anticipate is that the commodore is more or less freelance, he doesn't like listening to his superiors too much. He's a … special case."
"Yeah, Smokey's awesome!" Luffy chirped in with a bright smile. "He's helped us before even though he's a marine and stuff."
"And he's so fun to annoy," Lu added with a snicker. "Usopp, remember the time we set his patrol car on fire? That was so fun!"
The sniper paled even further and shook his head vigorously. "No, that was not! He knew it was us! I swear he did!"
Ace's eyebrow twitched as the sides of his mouth pulled into a deep frown. "I had to bail you out on that, Lu. So the act was added on my list of petty crimes and not yours for the sake of your diploma. But it made him even more pissed at me, and he even said I had a brother complex!"
Sabo's next cough sounded suspiciously like "I agree", muffled by his shirt sleeve once more as he attempted to keep a straight face. "Well anyways, that's not the point. What I'm trying to say is that because of Smoker's attitude, it'll be hard to approach and work with him properly if we are really setting an alliance with my team to the two other parties."
With a shriek of "What?!", there was a dull thud as Usopp fell forwards and face planted onto the carpeted floor and stayed there unconscious. Ace hastily bent down to retrieve the teen's limp body and arranged him back onto his chair the best he could, organizing the floppy limbs into a natural sitting posture. But with his head lolling back, mouth hung open loosely, and arms flipped over the seat like he was surrendering, it was hard not to laugh at the comedic pose.
"I'm confused," Lu said. "So we're working with Smokey now? But then I thought Shanks and that mustache old man were working together? Wait."
"Basically," Sabo said patiently. "There's a temporary agreement between Whitebeard and Shanks, right? That was before I came into the picture. My team is currently researching about Blackbeard, and I believe it'll be in our best interest to propose an alliance to the two Yonkou as intel collecting, partly because you guys are my brothers after all. I am also planning on teaming up temporarily with Smoker in order to obtain some much needed information as I just said before."
"Oi, if there's actually going to be an alliance with Smoker then me and Lu and the rest will have to stay out of it," Ace brought up an important point. "We'd like to keep our identities a secret, you know. I'll be thrown into Impel Down permanently, so will the rest of us. They don't even know of the existence of other me and Luffy yet."
"That's true," Sabo conceded, "which is why I'm acting as a middle man. You're probably not going to meet each other at all. My problem right now is that do you think Whitebeard will agree to this sort of thing? It doesn't seem to be in his interest to do so."
"Then again, he agreed to be temporarily allied with Shanks of all people," Portgas added thoughtfully. "Maybe he'll also make an exception to the Revolutionaries… Nah, not likely. Dragon's too shifty and creepy of a guy. Besides, few have ever met him face to face that still lived to tell the tale, I thought?"
"I wouldn't say shifty," Sabo said uncomfortably, picking at his collar. "More like, he's mysterious. He doesn't tell anyone anything so we know virtually nothing about him, not even his closest subordinates like Ivankov. But I'll leave all the talking to you guys with Whitebeard and Shanks, I'm not a part of this."
"What am I supposed to say?" Ace asked incredulously. "Hey Oyaji! Guess what? My long lost brother's actually part of the Revolutionaries and wants to form an alliance. And guess what? He's also working in conjunction with Smokey, isn't that so lovely? He's going to kick me out of the door like he used to when I tried to kill him every day!"
"Ace, you can take care of Whitebeard, I'll go catch Shanks when he's drunk," Lu said helpfully. "Since you know, he acts funny when he's drunk so I won't get yelled at… I think."
"I'm coming with you," Luffy said quickly, sidling closer to his other self. "Ace- I mean, Portgas, you can go with Ace then!"
"I am banking on the fact that Oyaji will just laugh it off or something," Ace muttered, hanging his head. "I think I've suffered one too many times of getting smashed into the wall."
"And I will suffer the fate with you," Portgas said gloomily. "I can hear it already. 'You snot-nosed brat, what were you thinking?' or something along the lines. Then the smashing."
"You guys should brighten up sometimes," Sabo advised wisely as a dark cloud of dread had formed ominously, the aura affecting them all. "It's not that bad of an idea, is it? Without mine or Smoker's help, you guys will be lost as bunny. Last time I checked none of you know what Blackbeard's up to while I have an inkling of it, and the commodore has been informed of that man's plans ahead of time before."
"I was relying on Lu's ability to see the future," Ace sighed. "And it seems to work fine for the most part. But now you're signing us all to our doom! They don't hold the title of a Yonkou for nothing, after all."
"All of you look like I just condemned you," the blonde said weakly as the depressive atmosphere only grew and swallowed the others.
"You did!" all four shot back simultaneously with fierce glares.
Sabo shrank in his seat. "Well I didn't mean to," he meekly responded, holding his hands up as a sign of peace. Then his brain registered. "Did you just say Luffy has precognitive skills?"
"Yeah I do," Luffy replied in a nonchalant fashion as if it was an everyday thing where one gained the mystic powers of foresight.
"Have you had any other side effects? Any strange sick feelings?" Sabo questioned sharply.
"Ummm, no?" Luffy replied slowly, perplexed by the sudden change of mood.
"Good. Just a side-effect, thank goodness…" he breathed out a relieved sigh. Seeing the curious looks given, he continued, "It's got to do with what I'm trying to get at, about the properties of the Yami Yami no Mi."
And just then, Luffy's phone rang in an obnoxiously familiar tune that made Ace clamp his ears forcefully with a grimace. "I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt!" the phone belted cheerfully out from its hidden position in the teen's pocket. Grinning as he caught his brother's expression, he waltzed out the room up the stairs. As he disappeared fully, they heard him answer the call with his standard 'I'm Monkey D. Luffy and I'll be famous' greeting, followed by a long giggle.
"Well, I guess that's another person that's left," Portgas said, baffled by his counterpart's negative reaction to an eccentric song of a deep baritone singing he was too sexy to wear shirts. "It won't matter much anyways, since I doubt Luffy would be paying attention. Anyways, why are you horrified about that song? I don't get it."
"Long story," Ace said, shaking his head slowly. Unwillingly, his mind became filled with unwanted images of a drunken party where a certain hyperactive rubber teenager had coerced him into dancing to a certain song in front of a huge crowd. It didn't matter if all the people present were friends and family; it was embarrassing all the same. His face heated up unconsciously at the memory. "Never am I never stripping off my shirt like that again."
Sabo raised a questionable eyebrow but decided to leave the topic alone – for the time being. "So, about the Yami Yami no Mi… it explains why you and Luffy are in this world. Well, the properties of it, at any rate. I need to first tell you that this isn't an absolute answer because nothing can be fully proven unless we ask Blackbeard himself, though I honestly doubt he knows enough about the extent of his own powers. But from what we have gathered, it seems like there's more to the Yami Yami no Mi than we thought. Apparently the black hole like thing he can conjure through it has similar effects as a real black hole and beyond that, seeing as the multiple universe theory was proven by the existence of Portgas and Luffy. And somehow the effects fluctuated and transformed into a warp and sucked up an unfortunate victim, which is you, Portgas, and send you off to here. The same goes for Luffy. Curiously, with the supposed existence of several different universes somehow both of you were drawn into the same world, which I still need to look into because the chances of something happening is one to infinity, technically speaking. Perhaps it's fate or just pure luck and randomization, who knows?
"And also, whatever ridiculous luck you two carry somehow managed to save your lives while traversing between the dimensions as in theory there'd be many different problems with the travel. A not controlled and monitored travel could lead to side effects like losing limbs, becoming something else, and numerous other unwanted and gruesome possibilities. In Portgas's case, you were healed of your fatal injury when you would've otherwise died, and in Luffy's case nothing much was changed. Maybe it's because Luffy's made of rubber, but the point is, both of you are honestly ludicrously lucky to survive this ordeal."
"Wait!" Portgas interjected. "But I was out for a couple of days! I remember being paralyzed, how did that work?"
"As this is a parallel universe, Ace was busy being stuck in a coma so when you arrived you also entered a comatose stage. I'm guessing people probably thought you were just another sleeping hobo in that bad part of the town and left you alone on the ground." Sabo shrugged. "Anyhow, from that we derived that in order to return you and Luffy to your rightful universe, we'll have to find a way to harness Blackbeard's power and fully control it. We're still trying to formulate a proper way because it's not simple to draw out a person's Devil Fruit powers like that unless you kill him, wait for the Devil Fruit to respawn, and have someone consume the drug all over again, but I'm pretty sure with enough time we'll think up something to return you two home."
There was silence as he finished.
"That's just ridiculous that he has a power like that," Ace said at last. "To be able to send people out of the world… what if he's been abusing the power and making people disappear like that? They might not even make it out of the trip alive, or end up in some kind of creepy world where the zombie apocalypse happened and there are just a few survivors."
"I'm going to kick his ass when I get back then!" Luffy announced. "He's such a mean guy."
"Mean is an understatement, Luffy," Portgas sighed, patting the younger distractedly on the head, who squeaked indignantly and ducked away from his reach with tousled hair. "Oh yeah. Luffy. Did two years already pass? But it's only being a few weeks here. Does that mean that time passes quicker? I don't want to go back to my own world only to find that ten years passed." His tone took on a panicked note.
Sabo shook his head. "I don't think it works that way, actually. It might be a paradox sort of thing that's occurring, as that's more likely. Your life mirrors Ace's, right? That would make the different time theory invalid because you should be ten times older than he is."
"He's not my Luffy then!?" Portgas flung his arms around the teen and hugged him tightly desperately, ignoring his brother's fierce struggles. "But…"
"Well no, he is the Luffy from your world, but a Luffy two years in the future. Still technically the same person," Sabo attempted to explain, chuckling at the other's stricken expression.
Portgas relaxed his hold minutely.
"Speaking of Luffy…" Ace began, "Why can Lu see the future? It's so random and out there."
"It's like one of the weird abilities dealing with ESP and paranormal activities," Portgas added grimly, finally releasing the violently squirming Luffy. "A little bit freaky…"
Sabo blinked. "Where do you guys get these ideas? Extrasensory perception and the paranormal have nothing to do with this at all. They're not scientifically proven either, and almost all things you see on the TV are dramatized and fake, something the media cooks up for the sake of popularity and stirring the gullible. So-called facts you read on the internet are false with no evidence to back it up, and arguments are easy to pick apart. ESP simply does not exist to our knowledge, and don't even bring up the myth that humans only use a tiny percentage of their brain."
"Somehow you always have a way to make the rest of us feel like idiots," Ace grumbled sullenly. "See, this is why Luffy is nicer, because I feel smarter." He reached over to Luffy and ruffled his hair, earning a deep growl.
The elder simply grinned. "Well to answer your questions, it may be one of the side effects of opening portals. Portals can cause all kinds of strange things to happen. I don't really have an absolute explanation since this entire mess is still very strange. Think about it though, Lu's ability has come into use and may come into use in the future as well."
"I wish I could see the future, too," Luffy pouted. "Hey, maybe if I wander around Blackbear-" His face got to know Portgas's fist too well for his personal tastes before he managed to complete the sentence, becoming temporarily embedded in the puffy cushions.
"Just ignore the idiot and pretend he's not there," Portgas said with a cheerful grin. "Alright, final question. I seem to be able to do a lot of things other me can do these days, like firing a gun."
"And I can somewhat feel his emotions, too," Ace said. "And right now, he's feeling particularly sadist and wants to rip a particular traitor into pieces, burn them, and scatter the ashes."
Sabo raised an eyebrow. "I think I would be better off without the gruesome details of how you will deal with Teach. As for the transferring abilities, that is simply because you two are the same entity existing in one current universes, so you have begun to merge. It will happen to Luffy and Lu soon enough."
"Merge?! You mean we're going to become one person?" Ace shrieked in horror, jumping up from his comfortable plush seat.
"Bad wording. I mean, more like you two will be even more alike than you are now," Sabo amended hastily, gesturing the freckled man to sit back down again. "There are subtle differences between you two that allow me to tell who's who."
"Oh." Ace plopped back onto the couch.
Portgas grinned. "Hey, does that mean I can ride Striker the motorcycle now?"
"You're not touching it until I teach you!" Ace said sternly. "Don't even think about it."
"If I can steer Striker the boat, who says I can't control the bike?"
"You know how much I spent on it? Most of my money went to buying it! And you bet I'll be pissed when you wreck it."
"I don't even see why you'd use it instead of the underground waterways you have here, isn't that a whole lot more transportable?"
"You guys are arguing with yourselves, you know," Luffy commented offhandedly. "Same people, same thoughts, right Sabo?"
"Exactly so," Sabo said with a smile. "The thought process is so similar it's as if you're arguing with yourself."
They stopped abruptly and snapped their mouths shut at the revelation.
"Maybe they should go to a mental hospital?" Luffy suggested innocently.
"Talking to oneself is a sign of mental instability," Sabo quipped as his grin widened devilishly.
Ace and Portgas's face were steadily heating up from the verbal attack, resembling much like ripened tomatoes. Steam could've been coming out of their ears if it was physically possible for the human body to achieve such a feat of expelling vapor from the eardrums. "You two are asking for a fight, aren't you?" Ace growled, eyes flashing darkly.
And somehow, the other Luffy believed it was the perfect time to return from his hiding place up the stairs. He glided elegantly down the railing on one foot in a pirouette as he sang on top of his lungs in a shrilly voice, "I'm too sexy for my love, too sexy for my love, love's going to leave me!" Leaping off the banister, he performed a double somersault and barely missed the expensive chandelier, landing softly on two feet like a cat.
Ace buried his face in his hands, unable to shake away the ghastly memories that mercilessly assaulted his mind. "No, no, no! Stop singing the song, Lu!" he screamed.
With a grin, the younger simply continued his atrocious serenade, singing in an even louder volume from before. "I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts!" His phone began playing the song in sync with him, joining in and forming a jarring duet. Luffy, being the obnoxious little brother he was, began cheering energetically for his counterpart from the sidelines.
"So what's the story behind this?" Portgas asked, watching in amusement as his other self desperately began to chase Lu to stop the music. It was an interesting and funny song, yet managed to cause so much grief for the other.
Sabo laughed. "If I remember correctly, there was one night where they went to a bar with friends. Someone spiked Ace's drink with a high amount of alcohol, enough to get him drunk and senseless, and Lu thought it was a good idea to egg him to dance, so he stripped off his shirt and started dancing to the song. The next morning the news was all over the school and became one of his most embarrassing moments. Truthfully, I am a little disappointed I was not able to witness the event."
With a loud thud, Ace pinned down a writhing Lu with a vicious grin and promptly began his counterattack: tickling the boy like there was no tomorrow. The phone slid out of his hands and was drowned out by Lu's hysterical shrieks of laughter as he attempted to bat away his brother's hands.
"Oh right," Sabo said, "I still have to call our dear commodore regarding serious business, though I have the funniest feeling he will not take it kindly." He reached down to his pocket.
Portgas shook his head. "Not a good idea when we still have a tickling fest going on. The poor guy would be scarred."
"Good point," the former noble conceded, withdrawing his hand. "I'll save it for later, then. And don't forget, you and Ace all have your respective jobs as well."
Overhearing their short conversation, Lu had stopped giggling and rolled out of his brother's grasp, picking up his abandoned phone once more. He tapped the screen several times, and they heard the sound of the phone beeping. "Shanks! Hi!" he chirped merrily as the other side picked up. "Guess what, I found another one of myself!"
"Got to be the best 'hello' ever," Sabo muttered dryly.
To Shanks's credit, however, the red-haired man had replied in a calm voice though it may attribute to the fact that he was probably intoxicated like afternoons. "Oh really? Where did you find him?"
"Ummm… I don't know, Ace and Ace found him! And you know, he's two years older than me and super cool!"
"That's Shanks?!" Luffy exclaimed. "Shanks! I haven't heard you or seen you in so long!"
"This is the other Luffy, I take it? Did I die or something?"
"No, I just haven't seen you in a long time!"
Shanks laughed. "Well you two wanna come over to my place later this afternoon? I want to see the other Luffy."
Lu shot Ace a questioning look, who gave a thumbs up and mouthed, "Go ahead."
"Alrighty!" Lu cheered. "Oh yeah, and there's something super important I have to tell you! I found my long lost brother and some other stuff that can wait till later. See ya!" With that, he hung up quickly before the other could question him about his cryptic words.
"You know, you don't just drop something like you found your long lost brother and hang up like that," Ace sighed.
Lu simply shrugged. "Since you'll be driving us anyways, Sabo, do you guys want to come along?"
"There's no way you're dragging us all into hell with you!" they yelled back in unison.
However on that day, all of them received long scoldings from three separate and very furious parties, returning with multiple wounds and downtrodden spirits. Usopp had remained blissfully passed out until he was finally sent home at the end of the long day, oblivious to the violent scenes that unfolded around him.
Boring chapter to write, boring chapter to read. Nonetheless it was important to spill out all the information I've been keeping to myself until now, though I keep getting so distracted in doing other things because of how boring it is. And it involved listening to "I'm Too Sexy" over and over again for the fun of it. Maybe I should do an omake on what happened to Ace that night in the club, if anyone is interested.
I am also starting a side project that I will not post until I get at least five chapters in, but it's drastically different from all the stuff I've written (I think) and involves… well… I might just put up a poll on my profile to see if there's enough interest for me to start publishing it.
As always, please leave a review! It motivates me to write faster! And also, if you read the newest manga chapter to the ones who follow the manga, leave your thoughts about the chapter as well in the review!