A/N: For the record, I strongly dislike overly cutesy portrayals of Luffy as an uke (bottom). So bear with me as I make him a bit rough and tough. He's going to be the pirate king after all.
Portgas D. Ace glanced at his younger brother with concern. Monkey D. Luffy was sitting cross legged on the wooden chair outside the Principal's office of East Blue High School, as if in meditation. Their legal guardian, Shanks, had been unable to make it, so Ace had come in his place. The two boys waited silently; one in trepidation and the other in sullen anger.
"Luffy," Ace tried, giving his brother a gentle nudge. Luffy's scowl deepened. A dark purple bruise blossomed across his left cheekbone. His lips were split open, congealed blood forming a dark clot above the skin. Under his oversized sweater, Ace had no doubt more injuries covered the lanky body.
"Come in," a low voice thundered before Ace could continue. Ace stood up, grabbing Luffy by the collar. The younger boy hardly resisted as he was pulled off the chair and dragged into the room where the principal, Edward Newgate, sat waiting. His oddly curvaceous white beard twitched as the two boys seated themselves in front of the foreboding desk.
"Well?" Newgate drummed his fingertips on his desktop. "Luffy was it? The younger D...again.
"Yessir," Luffy mumbled when Ace gave him a warning kick.
"Mmm…Shanks been doing well?"
Ace knew that the two men were old drinking buddies. He didn't let Newgate's light tone fool him for an instant. The man had a reputation for blowing up when the students and staff least expected it. Not to mention his formidable presence. It was much similar to Shanks when he lost his temper.
"He's good, sir."
"Good, good…" Newgate never took his eyes off of Luffy. "Well…would you like to explain younger D-san?"
"Sir, allow me to explain," Ace broke in, "Luffy was—" Newgate raised a hand, stopping Ace.
"I think I ought to hear it from Luffy. Well Luffy?" Newgate stared expectantly at the small boy. Small but with remarkable power, he corrected himself.
Luffy glared down at the worn tips of his sneakers. "I got into a fight."
"Again," Edward reminded nonchalantly.
"Again," the younger boy agreed reluctantly.
The word was direct and sharp. Here Newgate's eyes turned chilly. He folded his large hands over his mouth. Even Luffy knew better than to mess with the principal.
"Because he hit me," Luffy finally said. He twitched uncomfortably.
Newgate's eyes narrowed. "Who?"
Ace was suddenly furious. How dare Kidd hit his brother?
"The upperclassman?" Newgate's eyebrows rose. "What were the two of you even doing together?"
Luffy shrugged. "I hit him back. We fought. That's all. I'm sorry."
Newgate sighed. "Sorry doesn't cover the expense for the wall the two of you obliterated."
Luffy remained silent while Ace fumed.
Newgate sighed again and leaned back in his chair. He had a certain soft spot for Shank's kids, as he now thought of them, but as the school principal he could not show bias.
"Okay Luffy," Newgate said slowly, "I'll talk to Kidd as well. The two of you will be cleaning up after school for the next month. Got it? No excuses."
"Wait," Luffy suddenly looked panicked, "do I have to do it with him?"
Newgate stared back in confusion. "Is there a problem with that?"
Luffy opened his mouth then shut it. He settled back in his seat and shook his head wordlessly.
"Every day Luffy," Newgate reminded. "You are dismissed now."
Luffy did not say a single word in the car. He stared out the window instead. Ace continued to glance at the rearview mirror as he drove through the rainy length of Windmill Drive.
"Luffy?" Ace ventured cautiously.
"…yeah?" his brother answered back moodily. Ace seldom felt nervous about anything but when it came to Luffy, everything seemed to concern him. He would be having a small talk with Kidd soon. Kidd was a good friend to have around and usually, Ace would side with him even if it was his fault. But for the violent red head to have laid a finger on Luffy…it was absolutely unforgivable.
"I'm fine," came the truncated reply.
Ace pulled into the familiar driveway and shut of the ignition. Luffy almost immediately exited the car as if he couldn't get out of there fast enough. Ace followed him into the house, making sure to lock the door behind him.
Luffy paused in the middle of the stairs. "What?" he asked, annoyance clear in his tone and eyes. Ace was taken aback. Luffy never snapped at him.
"Um, nevermind. Make sure to put on dry clothes."
As Luffy disappeared upstairs, Ace shook off his wet jacket staring broodingly into space. What was wrong with Luffy? What happened to his happy-go-lucky brother? Ace made his way to the living room and sat down on the couch, not feeling particularly motivated to do anything. Just then, the side pocket of his jeans vibrated.
"Hello?"Ace asked tiredly.
"What's with you? You sound dead." A familiar voice blared into Ace's ear.
"I'm not in the mood to joke, Law."
Trafalgar Law, his trusted yet annoyingly insightful friend. He had the morals of a man and the intuition of a woman.
"Whoa there boy," Law cracked anyway, "what's bringing down your ship? A girl? Or is it out cute little Luffy kun?"
Ace caved. He would get nowhere trying to fool Law. "He's moody all the time. He doesn't come out of his room. He won't talk to me like he used to." He hesitated. "You hear from Kidd?"
"No, why?" Law's tone dropped a few degrees. Shoot. Sensitive topic.
"He apparently got in a fight with Luffy today. That's why we were at school until late."
"A fight?" Law's voice brightened again. "Did Luffy kick his ass?"
"Okay, okay." Law repressed a laugh on the other end. "Well Mr. brother-complex, it sounds like puberty to me."
"Puberty?" the idea had never occurred to Ace.
"Need me to spell it for you?" Law asked sarcastically.
"But Luffy is a kid!"
"Soon to be sixteen." Law reminded. He lowered his voice mockingly. "maybe he got himself a girlfriend. Guys tend to act up when they like somebody right?"
A girlfriend? Luffy with a girlfriend? The idea was alien to Ace. Absolutely preposterous. Impossible.
"Um…I'm going to go now," Ace said, quickly hanging up. The conversation was making him increasingly uncomfortable. He had forgotten to ask the initial purpose of the call, but he was too distracted to really care. Dropping his phone carelessly onto the couch, he walked over to the kitchen. Yanking open the first cabinet, he rummaged around and withdrew a first aid kit. He started up the stairs with it, heading to Luffy's room.
Luffy was sprawled out across his bed gaming on his PSP, wearing nothing but a hooded sweatshirt. His naked chest was illuminated by the screen. Ace suddenly realized how attractive Luffy had become. His damp raven hair stuck to his slim neck, muscles forming hard ridges underneath his smooth skin. Without the typical grin that made him seem good natured, he looked incredibly handsome.
He glanced up as Ace entered.
"Hey," Ace managed to muster a normal grin, "mind if we talk a bit?"
Luffy stared at him blankly. For a moment Ace thought he would be ordered out of the room, but Luffy slowly sat up, placing his game on his bedside table. Ace took a nervous seat on the edge of the bed as Luffy slid up towards him, resuming his usual cross legged position.
"Let me see." Ace held out his hand. To his relief, Luffy scooted over. Trying to keep his hands steady, he pulled off Luffy's hoodie. As his fingers brushed against Luffy's skin however, the younger boy drew back.
"I can do it," he said, looking away. Ace's heart sank. He handed the bottle of disinfectant to Luffy.
"Na, Luffy." Ace watched him apply the medicine carelessly to his cuts.
"Anything interesting going on at school?"
Luffy taped a bandage over the cut on his nose. "Zoro is cool," he said indifferently.
Ace's memory shot back to a tall, green haired boy in the kendo club. He looked like a delinquent.
"I don't know if you should hang out with him," Ace said uneasily, "he looks like he runs with a bad crowd."
"Don't judge him by his looks, he's a good guy."
"Stop treating me like a kid, Ace!" Luffy suddenly barked angrily. Ace flinched at the harsh tone. "I can take care of my own friends!"
Ace's confusion dissolved into anger. He stood up and glared at his little brother. "What's up with you?" he growled, "it's nothing to get so worked up over."
"Get out!" Luffy yelled.
"I was going to!"
As Ace slammed Luffy's door shut behind him, he stormed into his room, slamming that door as well. Heaving a sigh, he leaned his head against the wall feeling absolutely miserable. The brothers had never fought before. Ace stared up at the ceiling miserably.
What's with you Luffy?