Kitsune here with something a little different for you all. This my readers, is a oneshot based off of / inspired by 'Kill the Rabbit' by Mountain97. Mountain97 was nice enough to give me the go-ahead to write this plot-bunny, so a BIG thanks for that. For those of you who have read Kill the Rabbit, I am aware that this oneshot is -not- cannon to that story. For those of you who have not read the story, you should go give it a try, people. Also, thanks to Masked Bard of Chaos for Beta-reading this for me!
Question of the chapter: "What's your favorite type of candy?" Mine is those new raspberry m&m's right now and Cadburry Creme Eggs.
"Good. Now, I'm going to turn around and walk towards you. Keep your eyes on the stone. If anything changes, let me know immediately." Ace turned around slowly and began walking away from the old stone. Thatch kept his eyes focused on it, watching for even the slightest alteration. He could see the drop of Ace's blood on the stone, and it began to slide down the handprint, but other than that, everything was still. Ace was maybe eight steps away when his blood touched the character. He doubled over instantly and there was a flash of white light.Kill the Rabbit, Chapter 7.
Ace watched Thatch's eyes, refusing to look back at the stone. He was almost to his friend when Thatch's eyes widened ever so slightly, and Ace knew he was out of time. He felt a sudden pulling feeling right behind his navel, so intense it doubled him over. He wasn't sure if the white light was because of that, or if the stone had done something. He felt himself being pulled backwards, and the last thing he saw was Thatch's terrified expression.
"Ace! Ace, where are you?" Someone was calling him. It didn't sound like Thatch, but his groggy mind insisted that he knew that voice. He groaned, trying to roll over. His back was pressed against a hard surface, making the task impossible. Ace tried to figure out where he was, ignoring the pounding in his head. That's right, I was pulled towards the stone. Must have hit my head or something.
With a groan he sat, taking no notice of the hard surface under him at first. He felt his skull, feeling a solid knot on the back of his head before risking opening his eyes. Squinting, he saw that was on a ship. "What the...?" He could hear people calling out for him as footsteps shook the deck. Had he ended up back on the Moby Dick?
A voice called in panic, closer than before."Ace! This isn't funny!" He knew that voice, it was a voice that did not belong on the ship, not the Moby Dick. A figure appeared, rounding the corner. Ace blinked up owlishly in shock. The light was behind him, glinting off red hair. Behind him, the flag Ace remembered flapped in the breeze.
"Before you say anything..." Ace grinned up at the man, "This really isn't my fault, Shanks."
Shanks glared down at him, "What isn't your fault? Who are you, and how the hell did you get on my ship?"
"What the hell do you mean, 'Who are you'? I know it's been a long time, but I didn't expect you to forget me. That's cold." He stood, crossing his arms over his chest. Shanks had aged well in the last few years since Ace had seen him. He didn't look older at all. Something about that bothered Ace.
"I have no clue what you're talking about. Now, where is Ace? You took him, didn't you?"
"Wha...?" The tablet, it had said something about ten years. He was on the East Wind and Shanks hadn't aged a day, in fact he looked younger than Ace remembered. He didn't recognize Ace. Ten years ago, that was right around the time that..."Ah. Shit. Oyaji is going to kill me."
"Not if I kill you first." Ace did not like the dangerous glint in the man's eyes as he drew his sword and pointed it at him. "Now. Where is Ace?"
He couldn't say he was surprised by the reaction, and really, he didn't know how to answer that. If they'd swapped places instead of him subsuming the younger Ace, he'd be with Thatch. Of course, that meant he was going to be on a ship with Hare, but he had to trust his friends would keep him...the younger him...away from the marine. "The kid's safe!"
"And why should I believe you? Who the hell are you?"
"Me? I'm, er..."'
"ACE!" he winced at the high pitched sound. If anything could convince him he'd somehow gone back into the past, it was the short mop of black hair barreling at him followed closely by Benn who was apparently trying to catch the boy.
"Sorry, Captain, he got away from me. Turned my back for a second and he was gone." the tall man said before eyeing the stranger on the deck carefully. "Who's this?"
Shanks quickly grabbed Luffy one handed and held him back, "Easy there. Don't want you getting too close to that guy, Luffy. That's a good question. One I was about to get an answer to."
Big dark brown eyes looked at him before blinking in confusion and looking up at the red haired pirate captain, "What are you talking about, Shanks? That's Ace!"
"No, I'm not."
"No, he's not."
Luffy looked back and forth between the two before pouting, obviously confused. He tugged futilely in Shanks' grasp, trying to reach Ace while the pirate captain passed him over to his first mate. "Get the kid out of here. Our visitor and I...need to have a little chat."
"NO! Leave Ace alone!"
Ace just sighed at the younger version of his brother, "It's fine, Luffy. Just do as the captain says."
"Na-uh. You'll just disappear again, Ace! Why are you and Shanks fighting? Is it because you got so tall? How did you get all grown-up anyway?"
Shanks cut in, "You know, I bet if you ask really nicely, Benn will take you to go get something to eat."
"FOOD!" the boy was off towards the galley with Benn casting a wary look over his shoulder as he followed.
The murderous glint was back, "Now, I believe you were about to tell me who you are? And what you did to Ace?"
Now that he'd had some time to think, Ace readily provided an answer, "I'm Thatch. As for what happened to Ace, I told you already, I didn't do it."
"No," Corrected Shanks, holding his sword up to Ace, "You said it 'wasn't my fault' not 'I didn't do it'. Now, who are you, really?"
"Thatch! I told you, my name is Thatch!" The lie flowed easily, it wasn't the first time he'd pretend to be his friend.
"Don't lie to me." The sword pressed against his chest, "I've met Thatch of the Whitebeard pirates. And unless he's had a complete makeover, you are not him."
Ace gulped, "Crap. He joined young, didn't he? Don't suppose you'd buy that I was Marco, either, huh?"
"The Whitebeard's don't take kindly to impersonators. Particularly the kind that kidnaps small children. Newgate has a thing about kids, you see. You're from the Marines, aren't you?"
"What?! NO! I'm not a Marine, damnit! I'm a pirate, just like you! Don't insult me like that, Shanks." He pushed the sword away, "And I didn't kidnap anyone! Oyaji would have my head if I even thought about it! Hell, so would Gramps! How could you even suggest that, Shanks?"
"Then tell me, Pirate, where is Ace?!"
"He's fine!" Ace snapped back, "He's probably with the others."
"The other members of my crew. At least, that's where I was before I ended up here." He pushed past Shanks and began to pace, not noticing the man's eyes widen slightly at the tattoo on his back. ""I don't really know how to explain this, because I'm not exactly sure what happened myself. We were on an island, exploring, you know? There were these ruins, and I was trying to figure out what they said, but something went wrong, and next thing I knew, I was here and you're yelling at me. Oyaji is so going to kill me. I'm dead."
"So you're telling me that Ace is with the Whitebeard pirates?"
Ace blinked at him, coming to a halt, "Huh? How'd you know that?"
Shanks sheathed his sword, before pointing at Ace, "Well, could have something to do with the mark on your back, stranger. That and I don't know anyone else on the seas that goes by 'Oyaji'. Looks like I'll be getting in touch with Whitebeard to get the kid back. I'll have to let him know we've got one of his son's as well, I guess."
"Er...I don't think that would be such a good idea." Ace rubbed the back of his head. "I don't think he'd have a clue what you're talking about."
"Why not? Are you saying he isn't with Whitebeard's crew?"
"He is! Probably, I mean. It's just that, well. He's not there now."
"Explain." Shanks growled out, obviously suspicious again, "What did you mean he isn't there now?"
"Well. How should I put this? He's there then. When I was, but not now. Does that make any sense?"
Brown eyes bore into him, "...No."
"Ace! I brought you some food! We should eat together, right?" The teen barely had time to turn around before Luffy collided with his legs, almost dropping the food.
"Luffy! How many times do I have to tell you to watch where you're going? Gesh, you never change, do you? And stop calling me that." Ace grumbled as he stopped his little little brother from falling over.
"Shishishi...Sorry, Ace! I'm just so happy you're here! And you're not hurt anymore!"
"For the last time, I'm not Ace."
"Yes you are! You're a grown-up Ace! How'd you do it? I wanna be a grown-up too, because then we can be pirates together!"
Ace sighed before taking the offered food. He knew there was no convincing Luffy that he was someone else. His little brother was stubborn, and oddly perceptive. "I'll tell you when you're older."
Shanks' hand closed on his shoulder, spinning him to face the captain. His eyes were drawn to the tattoo partially hidden under his hand. The S was crossed out, followed by a C and an E. Shifting his grip over the S, his eyes barely stopped on the A before making their way up to the younger man's face. "Don't tell me..." The man stared intently at his face while Ace just looked at him curiously, the surprise was evident on the captain. "You're..."
"No. Don't even finish that. Luffy can call me that, because it's him and I know that I can't convince him otherwise. But I'm not. Alright?" He glared at the man, though the effect was lost with a Luffy hanging off his arm.
Shanks grinned, "You might not be right now, you mean. But, what, seven, ten, years from now? Then..."
Ace just sighed, "I am in so much trouble for this, aren't I?"
The leader of the red haired pirates nodded, helping himself casually to some of the food the boy had brought, "Yes, I'd say so. Now, how do we get our Ace back?"
"I've got absolutely no clue. I don't even know what island we were on, or I'd suggest finding the ruins. Oh man, Marco's gonna kill me, too." He brightened, "But, Thatch is there right now, er, then, so maybe they'll think it was all his fault! YES! I'm off the hook!"
"Uh-huh. So, basically, you're saying we're stuck with you for a bit." Shanks grinned at him, amusement dancing in his eyes as the teen practically crowed in delight over not being in trouble.
"Well, maybe just for a little while." Ace shrugged, barely noticing as Luffy stole some food from him, "I'm sure someone will figure it out. Maybe Serpent, she's smart. Of course, they're going to have their hands full with m...er, Ace. He's not exactly the most trusting ten year old."
"With good reason, I'd say."
Ace nodded, "I know they'll be fine, though. They deal with me on a daily basis, after all, and I'm not exactly Mr. Open-and-Trusting myself."
A calculating look crossed the Yonko's face"Which reminds me... How did you end up with Whitebeard again?"
"Luffy, this is some good food! Let's go get some more!" With a smirk, Ace scooped up his little brother and ran for the mess hall, leaving a vaguely annoyed captain in his wake.
"Hey! Don't avoid the question!"