A/N: This little oneshot was inspired by that one panel in the manga where Ace is showing Whitebeard Luffy's first Wanted Poster. I wanted to elaborate on that scene a bit to get a better look at Ace's love for his one and only brother. This is NOT a romance fic; just a simple moment that shows the two's brotherly bond.
Please enjoy! (and review ^^ )
That's My Little Bro!
On board the Moby Dick, members of the Whitebeard pirates sat lazing around, some of them draped over the ship railings while others simply lay sprawled on the deck. The party last night had been wild; the lot of them currently suffered from severe hangovers. None of them really remembered what the party had been about, though. Something about arriving at a new island soon? Or had it been some random crew member's birthday?
Yeah, maybe it was the birthday. There had been lots of booze and meat and music . . . and booze. That was all that mattered, really.
One of the newer members groaned as he heaved another mouthful of dry air over the side of the ship, trying to get his act together. This was the Moby Dick, for Pete's sake! The ship of the most powerful pirate in the world! The least he could do was try to preserve his dignity.
But as the rookie tried desperately to salvage some of his pride (as well as the contents of his stomach), another man came up next to him to wretch into the ocean, his groans even more pathetic than the newcomer's had been.
"Eh, commander!?" the rookie yelled in surprise, his stunned eyes taking in the sight of the 2nd division commander heaving up the contents of his stomach with gusto.
"Hm? Y-yeah?" answered Portgas D. Ace, attempting to wipe his mouth clean with the back of his hand. "Oh, were you here before me? Sorry, mate."
Now Ace's hand was dirty; he promptly wiped his filthy hands on the rookie's shirt, who stood stock still, too dumbfounded to protest.
The respected commander of the 2nd division . . . the feared Fire-Fist Ace . . . had just thrown up the contents of his stomach into the ocean and cleaned the leftovers on an innocent bystander's garments. As the rookie felt his idolized image of Ace crumbling into dust, the man in question simply shook his head in an effort to clear his muddled brain.
"Ugh, darn that Marco, challenging me to a drinking contest like that. Hey, Did I win?"
With a determined look on his face, Ace grabbed the man by his shoulders and asked, "Did I beat him in the drinking contest?"
Still staggering from the loss of his fantasy of invincible Whitebeard commanders, the rookie failed to come up with a coherent answer. Ace stared at him a few moments before losing interest and wandering over to Jozu—the 3rd division commander—who lay slumbering peacefully on the deck a few feet away.
"Oy, Jozu! Wake up!" Ace prodded the giant man with his foot. When that didn't help, he didn't hesitate to start kicking, and only when an arm covered with solid diamonds swung into his face did he stop. As the Diamond Jozu's hand passed straight through Ace's face, a few tendrils of flames licked along the diamond surface before disappearing back into Ace's hand. Ace grinned.
"You up? Mind telling me who won the booze contest last night? I can't recall a thing."
Jozu just groaned. "Ace, it's too early in the morning! And if you hadn't noticed, I was in a drinking match of my own with Oars. Go ask someone else."
"But . . ."
Jozu simply turned back over to continue snoring. At the blatant signal ending the conversation, Ace scratched his head sheepishly and turned to see who else was up and about. He really needed to find out who won—that way he could collect the money all the crew members had bet on Marco last night.
As Ace spotted his hat lying on the deck and stooped to pick him up, a sleepy voice behind him said, "If you're really that curious, then why don't you ask the contest's winner himself?"
"Ah, Marco," Ace brightened as he stood back up. "Just the guy I needed to meet. Do you know who won the . . ."
Marco gave a loud yawn, before finding a spare barrel to his left and taking a seat. He opened the newspaper in his hands with a snap—even if he was hung over, it didn't mean he would miss his daily news.
After another moment, Ace's loud shout woke the rest of the crew up. "I LOST!?"
"Sure did," replied Marco, without looking up from the article he was reading. Oh-ho. So, the Tennryubito had made another mess of some poor village out by the Red Line. Well, as long as it wasn't any of the islands under the Whitebeard flag.
"But when? How? I thought for sure I won this time!" Ace gripped his head in panic, thinking of all the money he'd bet on his own victory. What was it, 30 million berry? "There's no way I lost!"
There's no way he could fork up all that money!
The sound of Izou's voice floated down from the crow's nest—Izou had been one of the few who hadn't taken part in the revelries the night before. Therefore, he remembered perfectly well who had been the victor.
"Marco won, Ace. Now stop yelling before you wake up pops."
"That's 30 million berries you owe me," Marco added, turning the page of his paper.
Fire-fist Ace fell to the ground, refusing to believe that he had lost against Marco . . . again. He couldn't believe it. Wouldn't believe it. They'd had more drinking contests than the number of times Ace had tried to assassinate Whitebeard, and Ace never won a single time. How was that possible?
Unless . . .
"Hey, Marco . . ." Ace muttered, "could it be that you've been . . . by any chance, have you been using your . . ."
"Devil's fruit abilities? You just figured that out?" Marco chuckled a little. "Instant recovery, Ace. A Phoenix doesn't get knocked down by a couple of drinks."
"MarcoooOOOO!" Ace leapt up, his eyes blazing with anger. The flames in his eyes were almost as furious as the flames licking up from his shoulders. "You little cheater!"
Now Marco was laughing full-on, finding it a bit amusing that their newest commander could get so riled up over a drinking contest. But then again, it was 30 million berry. Maybe he'd cut the guy some slack this time and only take half the money.
Holding up his hands in surrender, Marco leaned back as he attempted to calm Ace down. "Whoa, whoa there, Ace. Try to think a little before you go and burn down the ship. Where would the Whitebeard pirates be without Moby Dick, huh?"
Ace growled, but shrunk his flames down so that the deck wouldn't suffer any burns. Marco gave another chuckle—this guy was so predictable.
"Listen, Marco . . . !" Ace began, intent on giving the cheating phoenix a piece of his mind, when a piece of paper slipped onto the floor from the newspaper Marco was holding. Normally, Ace wouldn't have noticed a little piece of paper like that. But as it happened, the paper decided to land on his foot, which was currently blazing with little spurts of fire—and if the paper caught on fire, then it could catch the deck on fire.
Ace immediately put the flames out from his body and hop-skipped away from the potentially dangerous kindling, muttering death threats all the while. Even Marco's newspaper is getting in the way, Ace thought as he glared at the offending paper. The motion only made Marco laugh again as he picked up the stray paper and took a look at it.
The content wasn't anything special, but it had saved Marco from a possibly painful lecture, so he decided to read it aloud just to piss Ace off even more.
"Heh, looks like a new rookie pirate's coming in from the East Blue. It's a Wanted Poster, Ace. Want me to read it aloud?"
Ace scowled. The stupid paper had interrupted his speech, and now he'd lost his timing to harp on Marco for his under-handed methods. Of course he didn't want to hear it being read aloud—not by Marco, anyway.
"Give me that!" Ace snatched the poster from Marco's hands and glared at it, as if to blame it for his defeat. Marco simply looked on, amused.
But then, Ace's face turned strange. Very strange. Marco blinked, watching in mild curiosity as the Fire-fist's expression went from blank, to shock, to a strange mixture of something between excitement and ecstatic joy. Or was it . . . anticipation? Pride? Something like that.
It was just a Wanted Poster; those things were mass-produced by the dozens all the time. Why was Ace reacting so oddly? Cocking his head, Marco got up and leaned over to see it again.
It really was nothing special—there was a picture of a goofy-looking boy smiling "cheese" at the camera, and below it the paper read: "Wanted—dead or alive. Straw-hat Luffy."
The boy had a bounty of 30 million berry. Not bad for a rookie pirate.
Hm? But wait.
Luffy? That name sounded familiar, now that Marco thought about it.
"Hey, Ace . . . ?" Marco nudged Ace on the shoulder to snap him out of his reverie.
It worked. A little too well.
Without warning, Ace burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter, startling Marco so much that he fell back in surprise. As by now, most of the other crew members had gathered around to watch the 2 commanders go at it, everyone else jumped a little as well as Ace fell on the floor laughing, hands still clutching the poster tightly.
Izou jumped down from the nest, cocking an eyebrow at Ace's sudden fit. "What's gotten into him?"
"Like I know," Jozu shook his head, grumbling about getting some sleep around here.
It was a full five minutes before Ace had calmed down again. But even when his laughter died, his face still held such an expression of happiness that everyone had to wonder what had gotten into the man.
Marco sat up from where he had fallen, rubbing his back. What was that about . . . ?
"Guys, take a look at this!" Ace declared, holding up the poster in his hands for his audience to see. They all dutifully crowded closer, taking in the image of a grinning boy in a straw hat. "It's my little brother! He's finally set out to sea as a pirate!"
"That's your little brother?" Izou and Jozu came forward for a closer look.
"That little bro you're always going on about . . . ?" Even the normally apathetic Marco got up to take a second look at the picture. So this was . . .
"The kid that eats nothing but meat all the time?" remarked one of the pirates.
"The dumb one, right? That always gets into trouble." Jozu added.
"Ate some weird stretching fruit, you said?"
"I thought you said he was a weakling, commander! 30 million berry ain't a laughing matter for an up-and-coming pirate, especially from the East Blue."
"He really does have a straw hat, like you told us. What was the story behind it again . . . ?"
"Ace said it had to do with some promise or another."
"Hmm, he resembles Ace now that I look at him closely . . . they both have the same smile."
"The same dumb smile."
Ace's kick sent the last speaker—a 5th division member—flying across the deck. "Shut up! He's my little brother! If anyone talks bad about him, I'll kick them off the ship with their hair on fire!"
Izou gave a 'tsk' as they all watched the unfortunate speaker crash into a pile of empty beer barrels. That one would have a sizable bruise for the next few days. "As protective as always . . . Ace, that's the 12th guy you've sent flying for talking bad about that brother of yours. Might I remind you that everything they say originated from you in the first place?"
"So what?" Ace smirked. "I'm his big brother. I can talk about him however I want. Everyone else, on the other hand, had better answer to me first."
With his right hand holding up the poster, Ace lit his left hand on fire, allowing the flames to blaze threateningly over his fingers. The message was clear.
The crowd of pirates backed off warily, knowing full well how the 2nd commander could get whenever Monkey D. Luffy was involved. They couldn't help but sneak more glances at the upheld poster, though. After all, they'd been curious about Ace's brother for quite a while, especially since the man could go on and on and on about Luffy for hours on end without getting tired of the subject at all. Ever. It was even worse when he was drunk. They'd heard that the sharpshooter from the Red-hair Pirates could talk a mile a minute about his son, but Yasopp couldn't hold a candle to Ace when it came to his favorite little brother.
Ace looked around, satisfied that no one else would throw any insults at Luffy, before turning to Marco excitedly. He seemed to have forgotten all about their fight just moments before.
"Hey, hey, Marco. See this picture? That's my little bro, Luffy! Man, I wonder what kind of trouble he's gotten himself into, if he could get a 30 million bounty right off the bat. Even I took longer than that to get a bounty worth mentioning."
"Yeah, yeah," Marco replied, already quite accustomed to Ace's rapid-fire tongue whenever Luffy came up in a conversation. On this occasion, Ace looked more excited than ever, continuously glancing down at the poster with his little brother's smiling face printed on it nice and big.
Marco grinned. "Why don't you go show pops while you're at it? He's probably the only one on board who's heard you talk about Luffy more times than I have, so he'll appreciate the news, I suppose . . ."
"Hey, good idea, Marco! I'm off then!" Without a backward glance, Ace shot off towards the other end of the ship, where Whitebeard probably sat dozing in his chair at the helm.
A slight twinge of guilt plagued Marco for a moment; it felt like he had just dumped the chatty 2nd division commander right in Pops' lap for him to deal with, while the rest of the crew went to enjoy a peaceful breakfast. Even in reality, the other commanders were giving Marco approving looks or a big thumbs-up; relieved crewmembers slunk towards the kitchens to eat their meal in peace.
Marco looked up as Ace's loud voice rang out: "Pops! Take a look at this!" and echoed onto the waters. He had to assume that the loud snort that followed was the sound of Whitebeard startling up to a rather sudden wake-up call.
The 1st division commander shook his head. "Ah, well . . . as long as he's happy. Ace'll probably be up for paying the money he owes me after this."
With a lazy scratch of his head, Marco picked up his fallen newspaper before joining the others for breakfast.
Meanwhile, Whitebeard found himself being told to look at a picture of a young boy. Ace's little brother?
The most powerful man in the world, the man closest to One Piece, blinked as Ace started explaining about the poster excitedly. His newest son seemed overjoyed, and Whitebeard honestly tried to pay attention to his words, but most of it just went straight over Whitebeard's head. Maybe he'd gone a little overboard with the drinks last night. He just couldn't think straight at the moment.
" . . . and he's probably already on the Grand Line! Can you imagine, that little bro that can't even beat me in a fight, out on the seas with his very own crew? Haha, the kid can't even take care of himself, let alone an entire ship full of people. Maybe I need to check on him later, to see if he's alright. There was this one time when he got carried off by a gigantic bird . . . it took me two days straight to find the little guy, you know? The only thing the kid knows how to do correctly is to go looking for trouble. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear about some big mess he's made in the papers later on! Luffy really knows how to ruffle everyone's feathers the wrong way. He'll probably make a lot of enemies . . . yeah, I really should go check up on him, maybe give him my Vivre card to make sure he knows where to find me in case things go wrong. Hm, then maybe . . ."
Whitebeard sat back in his chair, allowing one of his nurses to check his pulse. Ace was still going strong, now talking about the finer points in his grand plan to meet up with his beloved little brother.
As the sun rose above the horizon, bathing the Moby Dick in golden hues, Whitebeard gave an amused smile. This Monkey D. Luffy . . . was lucky to have a big brother like this one.
A few months later. On board the Merry Go . . .
"So Luffy didn't talk about me at all on your way here?"
The entire crew of the Straw Hat pirates shook their heads. "Nope. We didn't even know he had an older brother until you saved us in Nanoha."
Ace hung his head dejectedly, and Nami felt a little guilty for having told the flat-out truth. Maybe she should have cushioned her words a little, make it seem like Luffy had talked about him . . .
"Ace?" Just then, the straw hat captain himself bounded up the stairs, breaking out into a wide smile when he saw Ace on board. "When did you get here? Are you here to visit?"
Looking up at the boy's happy smile, Ace sighed and replied with his own grin. "Yeah, how's my little bro doing?"
"Great! Shishishi," Luffy laughed, proceeding to describe his latest adventures excitedly to his big brother.
Nami shook her head as she watched their identical smiles.
There really was no need to worry. These two . . . she couldn't tell which of them adored the other more.