Not an update you´d be expecting, but I can´t make myself write reasonable things. But I will. Soon, I hope. –B.

Chapter one


The skies are plain grey today, nothing but endless mix of smog and heavy atmosphere. It feels like being locked up in a giant copula and it´s making me feel creeped out. Not that I actually care. I´m still inside the house. Not that I care. I bet it´s warmer outside, anyway. The central heating´s been broken for past few months, and no one bothers with fixing it because the winter hasn´t come yet. And it´s not going to come until it´s snowing; or at least that´s Smoker´s theory. It´s fucking freezing outside but he just won´t buy us new heating machine or whatever, just to spare the money for his own booze.

He´s a dickhead. Everybody in this house is, including me.

As I sit in the almost empty apartment, I chew my cereal slowly. It´s an awful taste, like nothingness filled with bitter flavor of rotten cheese. It´s the only food that can be consumed in this shithole. No one buys food since my Mom doesn´t want to eat anymore. That retard who occasionally comes here usually eats outside, with his alcoholic friends, in the cheap fast food bistros or pubs. He doesn´t care if we starve to death. He doesn´t care about anything besides his own stupid ass and cigars. And that shitty woman called Hina who is probably going to 'replace my Mom afterwards'.

I chew and chew and chew, like a dog on it´s chew toy. Maybe chewing toys taste better. I hate cereals. I hate replacement for food.

I stare out of the filthy window covered with dust from the inside and mud mixing with rain from the outside. It´s not really raining yet, just blowing water. If I could have a special power, I´d probably want to rule over the weather. I´d make the days sunny. All the time. I would never let the sun down. For Mom. She loves sun; or at least she used to love sun. Now she spends all her days in that dark dungeon she calls bedroom. She isolates herself, and when I come to her asking why won´t she go outside with me, she says that I should mind my own business. Later, she cries out for me and tells me I´m the best son. That she´s just so sorry for having cancer, so sorry for stealing my best years, so sorry for not being a good Mom, so sorry for being like this. As if this was her fault.

Fuck that.

Fuck that shit.

It´s none of her fault. I blame Smoker. I blame God. I blame Devil. I blame myself.

I chew while making disgusted acid faces into the empty space. It´s making me want to smash things, kick and punch random people, maybe even kill some helpless animal. But I´m not like that. They´re all just thoughts, dirty and nasty thoughts. I should slap myself for thinking them. I should punch myself for imagining those things. I should be ashamed, but shame is something I haven´t felt for long time now. My sense of sociability and good manners had disappeared, faded into darkness of the place I live in. I stopped having regrets for acting rude towards nice people, I stopped having bad feelings about insulting random kids in school, I stopped having chills sent down my spine whenever I do something banned. I got used to it.

I look at the cigars laying on the kitchen sink, thinking whether to throw them into the rubbish bin or sell them to some loner in the town, maybe even in the school. I´m staring until my eyes start to hurt again. Then I slide the bowl with cereal away from me, getting up and grabbing the object of my thoughts. I can sell them. Maybe exchange for the hands of someone who can fix central heating. I can´t keep buying blankets for Mom. It´s useless, anyway. Sometimes she´s cold and sometimes overheated, and that´s the time when Smoker comes in to take the blankets to sell them. My hard work gets unnoticed as usual and I have to work more to afford extra clothes, blankets and sheets.

Since I´m student, all I can do is work part-time. And to be honest, that doesn´t earn me much money. More likely it´s slowing me down. But it´s the only thing I can do. Even if things get damn bad, I´m not planning on stealing or selling drugs. Smoker can steal my Mom and life generally, but he won´t steal my soul. He won´t steal what I still am on the inside. I´m keeping it locked safely somewhere deep within, where he can´t reach.

I hear the creaking sound of the door opening slowly. I bet he´s drunk again.

Even from the kitchen I can smell the agonizing aroma of cheap vodka from the 24/7 store on the corner of our street.

My nose got much better since he´s started drinking.

The door closes and I hear his thumping steps on the wooden floor. I listen to it quietly, waiting for what´s to come. I see his shadow on the ground, and then I see his naked torso, higher part of body covered with nothing but thick white coat. If he has the time to fuck around with Hina dressed like this, in an expensive jacket and winter pants and boots, he should have the time to get some money out of her. I´m not the type to envy people or ask for money, but if I didn´t have my pride, I would probably do it myself.

He appears in the kitchen, his flying walk (I happened to call it that way when I was fourteen) suddenly stopping. He gazes at me with narrowed unfocused eyes and I wonder if he knows who is he looking at. Well, who cares. I don´t. I fucking don´t.

I raise my eyes to meet his, even though I hope he´ll go blind soon.

"You…" he growls, pointing his bottle of booze at me. Some of the last drops touch the wooden floor and I think of the feeling of something cool and nice touching my skin. I haven´t had a good shower since we had PE last week. Well, it´s Tuesday. Not so bad. I don´t stink as much as he does.

"Smoker." I whisper tardily, looking away quickly as he comes closer, bringing in the smell of alcohol. I widen my nostrils to block the awful stink, hoping it would work out. It doesn´t. I wish I could just shove him out of the window.

"Where´s my booze you fucker?!" he roars more loudly, stumbling across the kitchen to the spot where I´m sitting. He seems even bigger than usual, with his stupid coat on, and those heavy boots. It´s making him look stupid, but also manly. I often wonder what kind of woman Hina is that she willingly sleeps with him.

"I bet you fucking drank it all to the bottom, didn´t ya, ya stupid shithead?!" he yells at me, slowly making his way to the table by the window. If I didn´t have to pay for new glass, I would just push him out and watch him die slowly.

I stay silent why he yells more: "You damn prick, you´re the reason why we´re broke! And why´s you shitty mother dying! If there was no you, she´s be just awesome!"

I look out of the window, ignoring his words. They don´t reach me anymore. They used to depress me, but after some time I realized he always says the same things over and over, not even caring about them truly. He´s not honest when he says he regrets my Mom´s illness.

I look out of the window, grasping the little box of cigars in my hands, hidden under the table. If he finds out, I don´t think I´m coming to school today. He likes to punish people until they bleed and beg for death.

"You love to drink, don´t ya, Zoro?" he says more calmly, sitting next to me at the table. "I like drinks, too." As if I can´t see that. "We can as well drink together, ya know. You don´t have to be so shy. Your mother doesn´t need to know. We can just have fun without her, y'see."

I can´t believe what he says.

But I still don´t care. Why should I? He never does what he says, except for the moments when he tells me he´ll beat the shit outta me. About pain and punishment he´s very certain and loyal to his words. About promises to Mom, he´s like they never happened.

I shook my head tiredly and stand up to leave for school.

His cold grasp of hand on my wrist holds me down. "Why so distant, Zoro?" he murmurs, not looking at me. His fingers creep higher, reaching the muscles on my arms, stopping my the scar on my shoulder. "I would love to spend some time with my son, you know."

I feel the enormous desire to throw him and yell at him that I´m not his son. But I´m paralyzed like always – always, when he touches me. I can´t move, I´m frozen to the ground, my legs are wooden and all I can do is imagine white smoke wrap around my body, choking me and suffocating me as I disappear in the thick mist. That´s what my so called father does to me.

He touches the scar he himself gave me few months ago and grins widely. I jerk away.

"Seriously Zoro…" he mumbles under his nose, but loudly enough for me to hear it. He knows I hate his hissy voice, the way he talks, the sinister accent of the tone he uses for his silly speeches. "Zoro… such a handsome boy, and you won´t even let daddy…" I feel him grasp my arm painfully, and as I don´t even have the time to panic, I find myself pressed against the table all of the sudden. He uses his big callused hand to hold my head down, his other hand pinning my one arm down. The other one is trapped below my own body. I feel him press his thighs against my ass and I cry out in fear when I realize I´m not able to move; at all.

Helpless to fight back. Again.

"You won´t even let daddy have some fun with you!" he growls, his one leg spreading my thighs, his knee suddenly pressed in my crotch. I scream some sound and start fighting back, jerking my body from side to side, buckling my head, trying to shake him off. He´s too heavy to be shaken off though. I´m helpless like this.

There, I´m paralyzed again. I see him holding a knife. He could completely let go of me now and I wouldn´t move. I can´t stand seeing a knife, I want to die even before it touches me.

Too many bad memories.

I want to die right then and there, before he can use his tricks on me. He knows how much I´m afraid of knives when I´m not the one holding them. And he uses it to his advantage. This is his idea of punishment.

He grabs the hem of my pants roughly and pulls them down, leaving me only in my boxers. I screw my eyes closed.

No. No no no no no no. You haven´t done this in months. You haven´t cut me in months. You haven´t touched me in moths. No. NO! I try to resist, but I can´t move an inch. I wish I wasn´t so scared, but I just can´t help it. I still remember the way my Mom had cut me once, when I made her very angry while she was cooking. I was a kid back then, and she was perfectly healthy back then. That´s why I´m scared of knives; because even the only person I trusted in my entire life had hurt me with a knife.

A damn kitchen knife.

Smoker presses the tip of the knife onto my skin, the tender flesh of my inner thigh.

The left one.

Right one is already marred with countless scars, deep and not so bad. Many of them. Few are my own job even, but most of them is Smoker´s property. The left thigh is left unmarked, preciously pale and soft as silk. Or so he says. Sometimes he´s in a good mood and compliments me. I guess it´s not today. I feel the cold steel kiss my skin, but not cutting through it yet. I imagine the knife being rusted, therefore the cutting itself much more painful.

I´m not really sure if I enjoy pain or not. Maybe I don´t mind it.

"Well Zoro, whatcha say? Will you be a good boy and give daddy what he wants, or do I need to punish my little boy again?" his free hand caresses my scarred right thigh, his thumb brushing against area between my intimate places 'innocently'. "Tell me Zoro, will you be good to your daddy?"

I gather the last pieces of my pride and spit. "You´re not my fucking father." I grumble, looking him in the eye.

He grins. "Very well then." He says. "Let´s teach you a lesson then. How about I fuck you with a knife instead of my huge dick today, huh? How about that, you LITTLE PIECE OF TRASH!?"

I screams as he tries to rip my boxers off, but before he can do anything, miracle happens. Angels come to the earth from the heavens and save my stupid sorry ass.

"Smokey…" my Mom´s weak voice echoes through the small apartment. "Smokey, my pills…" she wheezes.

He lets go of me entirely, leaving me sprawled across the table.

He walks away.

And then looks back at me.

"Study hard. I´ll see my little boy after school, neh? Zoro?"

I keep silent. I won´t say what he wants to hear.

"Zoro." His voice is sharp.

I know what happens if I don´t respond.

"See you, daddy."


In the school I´m met with the best part of the day, which is the lunchtime on the roof. I sit there alone, staring at the cloud. I´m staring too long and my eyes begin to hurt. I should wear glasses, but I sold them three months ago when our air conditioner broke. Didn´t earn me much, but enough to get a new one. Since then, my eyes got worse, and the winter had come. I´m no good with money management. It´s too smarty-pants for me. I´m not the one to mind that kind of things.

I pull out a sandwich I got from the old lady from the shop on our street for free and look at it melancholically.

What a pain.

I don´t need people to take care of me. I´m not that short of money, I can still buy a damn sandwich.

But in fact, I sort of feel like falling to the ground weeping like a baby. She doesn´t know me. She never saw my marks in school. Never met my family or friends. (Not that I have any). Yet, every morning she waits for me to pass her store and gives me her awesomely delicious sandwich. She might as well be my grandma. I call her Baa-san actually.

I pierce the delicate bread with my teeth, slicing through it easily, letting the tastes roam over in my cavern. I have the urge to sleep, I haven´t had much sleep in years. I can´t sleep very well at home. Either because of Mom, sometimes she wants to stay up and talk, or because of Smoker; not that he´s trying something. He´s just there, and that´s enough to give me another sleepless night.

I´m sleepy only at school.

Across the roof, I see a guy named Johny coming my way. As always, he has a cigarette stuck between his teeth, silently puffing. He´s kind of a loner, too. Hasn´t been one his entire life like me, but happened to be after his best friend died. I think his name was Yosaku ; we used to have biology together. He used to be a total boss of the class, chased after every girl in the school he liked, but after the accident, he closed up and started smoking like a factory. Now he´s something like me.


He stops by my stretched legs, his own mile long ones blocking my view. I look up, but say nothing. I never talk while in public. Almost to no one. And Johny is not one of those I want to talk to. He´s fine and everything, but creeps me out and isn´t much of a reliable person. I´m sort of paranoid, and I don´t really want to talk to people I don´t know well. Or people, for that matter.

Johny mumbles something like 'Yo dude' and sits next to me, cigarette now between his bony fingers.

I´m looking at the bunch of kids he used to be friends with. The popular kids. They´re sitting all together, eating their fancy lunches from expensive bistros, talking about everyday shit and the way their central heating works perfectly. I´m looking at each one of them and see nothing inside.

Johny leans against the wall behind us, handing the cigarette. "Want some?" he asks.

I look at the smoke coming from it and shake my head 'no'. He puffs and continues staring at his once crushes and friends.

He never told me, but I think they let him down when he needed them most.

He doesn´t tell me anything about his personal life, but I have the feeling that he had lived through his own bunch of shits. That´s why we have this weird kind of friendship; more like symbioses. I have a shitty life, he has a shitty life. No one else in this entire school could understand, so we hook up together and share silence. One would thing it would bother him; the fact that I don´t talk. But it doesn´t.

I look up at the sky, thinking if it will start raining.

Then I look at Johny and take his cigarette.


"Ace. ACE. You weren´t listening at all, we you?" my friend Marco asks, making me tilt my head at his direction.

I´ve had a bad morning, so I only look away again, saying "No."

He sighs. "Of course you weren´t. Well, I was telling you that the kid over there is staring our way." Marco repeats his words tiredly and yawns.

Is shrug my shoulders, putting my hands into the pockets of my jeans. Since I´m in the last grade, I don´t necessarily need to wear uniform; not every day. It´s Tuesday. Not that it makes any difference. I will just assure few teachers that I have problems with obedience. Which is nothing but the truth. Well, fuck that. I don´t care about bunch of idiots with the power of making my school life hell.

Marco shakes his head. "You´re a pain you know. You´re no fun." He comments.

"Leave him alone, Marco-san." The tall dark-haired girl from my class says calmly, setting her blue eyes on him. "It´s not very nice of you."

"Keh," Marco turns away. "Whatever." He grumbles gloomily, looking at the skyscraper in the distance. This is the quieter part of Tokyo, if you can say something like that about the Japanese metropolis.

Robin looks at me with worried face. I look away. I don´t need their pity. I´m fine.

She looks away. "Nami-san, have you heard of the school art competition?" she asks with a shiny smile her best friend, the red-head sex bomb with figure similar to Robin´s, just a bit shorter. And yes, by figure I mean boobs.

The long-haired class top pupil I used to like so much but now had become nothing but another girl from the neighborhood looks her way. "You mean the one where you can win a job as an illustrator for the Japan´s most famous newspaper? Yep, heard of it already. Why, are you thinking of trying it?" she bites her piece of onigiri, looking at her friend, totally ignoring me and Marco.

"No, actually," Robin tries to be nice all the time, looking my way this gently. "I thought Ace-san might try. You like to draw, don´t you, Ace-san?"

"Used to." I note dryly, kind of hoping Marco would say something stupid to make the atmosphere less heavy.

Nami and Robin stay silent, exchanging looks of despair. Yeah, I guess I´m hard to entertain. Then Nami makes the move: "It might me good for you, you know. You should get some of your old habits and hobbies back. You used to do beautiful wax statues using fire and stuff, right? They opened new museum of young art in the city, I think it might be interesting if you –"

"Nami," I cut her off before she can go too far. "I appreciate your concern, but no thanks."

With this, they all shut up. No one tries to speak anymore.

Well… shit. Did it again, I guess. I always scare my friends off.

Instead of trying to fix the fucked up conversation, I look at the two boys sitting across the roof from us. One of them is smoking, the guy with short black hair. Johnny, who else. He´s easy to remember. I guess he´s the only one with this weird image in this school. He´s kinda creep, I mean, he spreads depression all over the place just by walking through the school. Not that I have problems with that. I just don´t know what to think of him. I didn´t know him. All I know is that his best friend died not so long ago, and that he had no one to rely on, to relieve his stress with. Poor kid is alone, works in his mom´s pub day/night because she can´t handle it herself.

Not the type to judge.

I look at the other kid who´s been staring at me the whole time. He´s wearing the same clothes as always; I don´t mean the school uniform. We all wear it. But his has still the same dirt on it, still on the same spots, and still the ripped fabric on few places; it´s nearly invisible, but it´s there. I don´t know him, only his name which sounds very nice and musical, but doesn´t suite his… condition.

I´m not the type to judge people.

I don´t know him.

They´re smoking and I wonder what will I do when I come home.

The ring screams, making my head pound. The groups split in the hallways, and I look for the two kids from the roof with my eyes. Nowhere to be seen. I wonder if the green-haired boy is skipping class? He looks like he doesn´t give a fuck.

I wonder what would I do if I knew him personally.

I head for the bathrooms just before I go to my class. I pull out some bandages from my bag and take down my necklace with razor.

I press the steel into my skin.

Don´t think about it.


For the heaven´s sake, the next lesson is double art. Double means we have two lessons in a row, no break, no pause. Kids usually want to start earlier and skip the twenty minutes break so we can finish the lessons quickly. I don´t have to stay till 5pm, 4:15 is enough that way.

I sit at the very last desk, in the back of the classroom. I feel safer that way, far away. Far away I feel okay. Not seen by the world. Not seen by unwanted eyes. Plus my uniform looks horrible, and I smell like sweat. I don´t want to sit in the company of all the rich kids who are all going to have a perfect life. Their future is planned; my future depends on in what kind of mood Smoker is.

They talk for a bit until the teacher appears. He´s tall and exotic, one of the eccentric people who don´t care if the others stare or not. Just let them stare. Professor Dracule is his name and he´s our class professor, that kind of guy who actually minds his classroom, his students and their marks. I´m his favorite one; he loves to give me long lectures about being a good pupil and studying hard. He thinks he can save me.

No one can save me.

Not even I can save myself.

Whatever. Being melancholic again.

He sets his things on the teacher´s table as the class finally shuts up. My head stops pounding for few short moments. I happened to hate loud noises, or noises for that matter. I enjoy silence more.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen." He speaks up in his majestic and strong voice, looking over us with his amber eyes that remind you to shut the fuck up if you don´t want him to cut your dick off. "Today I shall present you to a new competition in this lovely city."

Silence. Dramatic pause.

I´ve seen right through him.

Damn bastard continues as he´s sure everybody´s gone crazy with curiosity. "It´s called 'Japan seeks illustrator'. No matter where you come from, no matter who you are, you can participate in this, and if you´re good enough to make the organizers like your work, your main award shall be job as the illustrator of Japan´s most favorite newspaper."

The class starts humming, which evolves into rumbling and then, making such awfully loud noises it´s making my head spin.

"Now pay me attention." Dracule says as the kids shut up again. For a little moment, I´m at peace.

He talks. I like the way he talks. I listen to his words, not sure what they mean, and I watch the raindrops hit the window by my desk. He keeps talking for some more, probably explaining the competition. I wonder. Wonder for some more. My head hurts. Could I? I don´t think so. I always loved to draw, and I still draw when I have the chance or when Mom asks me to, but I don´t have the will. Or the time. Or the equipment. I can´t.

Dracule pulls out some pictures from his desk. I stare at them, completely amazed.

Does it sound too ridiculous if I say that they make me feel better? The colors are healing me, I feel warm and I want to stare at them for the rest of my life.

"… so if you do something like this, you might have a chance."

"How´s the author, sir?"

The whole class is shocked. I don´t blame them. I´ve never spoke up before.

Dracule smiles gently, looking at me with his golden piercing eyes. "It´s Portgas D. Ace, Mr. Roronoa."

I look away before I´ve had enough of them. I have to stop. I must stop. I keep telling myself that. I need to hold what I want in order to survive.

I wonder. I wonder for some more. My head hurts.


Portgas D. Ace.

Where have I heard his name?

AN: Hi to you all I know it´s not the update you might be waiting for, but I just felt like it. I need to relax myself a bit. Life´s been pretty hard on me lately, so I need to uhh… make it up to myself somehow. Writing about other people´s problems help.

So as you might have figured out, this is about the eternal pains and demons of Ace and Zoro, set in AU. I didn´t want AU, but since they´re so strong in the real OP universe, I needed something else to create the mood. I´m not planning to write them OOC though. (Hahaha, using so many acronyms :P). I´ll keep them as they are, because they are so awesome – all I need to do is create a strong bond between the two, using the more painful side of life. Don´t worry though. They´ll be fine

So, if you like the first chapter, maybe you´d like to consider eventually reading next one, when I post it?

Aaaaand maybe you´ll leave me a review so I have an idea what you think of this?

Love, Barb