Warning: spoilers for the Whitebeard War and Luffy's past. Only read if you've gotten past this part in the manga.
A/N: Uhm. Well. Call it an idea that's been brooding in the back of my head ever since I read about Sabo.
I love Sabo. The only bit of sunshine in Ace's life until Luffy comes along.
I know there have been so many other stories about Sabo actually being alive because Dragon saves him or whatever, but I thought it might be interesting to twist it a bit. What if Sabo fell into our world when he "died?" This is my take on this little bit of an idea. The story won't be too long, probably just 10 or 11 chapters, and they're very short chapters compared to my other ongoing work, Ghost Princess the Pirate.
And yeah, I admit, I really wanted to try saving Ace and Whitebeard.
So, here's to brotherly love (no yaoi or romance _ )! Even if the work is a bit rough, please understand. I scribbled this up in my spare time during finals week XD. Quality won't be as good, but I still hope it's readable.
"Hey, Sabo! Reading those comics again?"
A red-haired boy in a blue school uniform practically threw his arm around his classmate's shoulder, peering at the open book in other's hands. Sabo grunted, but didn't budge. Instead, he simply waved an arm at his friend, never taking his eyes off the page.
"Get off me, Kyle. This volume is new. It just came out just this morning," Sabo told him.
"Come on, man! I know you've already read the latest chapters online…why do you even bother buying the print editions?"
"So that I can read it in case my computer crashes."
"M-hm. That's a fine excuse. Admit it, you're just a plain old otaku," Kyle teased. "You know what. You're pretty cool, you know? Got a sweet ride, got a bit of money under your belt, and all the girls got the hots for you, but one thing I have to say as your dear, dear friend is…get your nose out of those things and come karaoke with us!"
"For once!" another boy joined in. This one had three piercings on his right ear. The other students sitting in their desks around the classroom turned their faces away, trying their best to ignore the rowdy trio.
Just another lunch break for the senior class of Nabinogi High.
Kyle, exchanging scheming glances with his buddy Matt, took his voice up a notch.
"See, even Matt agrees with me. Sabo, you've got to come karaoke with us. This afternoon, on 3rd street. Be there! Ok? Ok?"
"You've got to come!" Matt slammed his hand down on Sabo's desk. The latter didn't even look up. Sabo flipped the next page of the comic book. He was about half-way through.
"You have to!" Kyle chorused.
"You must!" yelled Matt.
Kyle and Matt stared long and hard at the book in their friend's hands. It was always the same book.
Honestly, they didn't understand how such a smart kid like Sabo could be into such a childish comic.
A lot of kids in Nabinogi High had the impression that Sabo was just another laid-back delinquent at school.
If you're blonde, and you read manga during class instead of paying attention, that pretty much sealed your fate as a misfit.
And the incident 3 years ago only fanned the flames of these wildfire rumors. Although Kyle and Matt didn't witness it themselves, it was common knowledge that Sabo had beaten the crap out of some big-headed, beefy seniors on his first day of high school. Yes indeed, nobody tried to mess with Sabo after that.
Those seniors had gotten hospitalized for over a month.
But despite these rumors, Sabo was actually a decent guy. He'd helped Kyle out when a local gang had him surrounded one night—grabbed Kyle's hand and ran with him for dear life.
Same with Matt. When Matt got arrested for being at the scene of a pretty big gang fight, Sabo had come in as a witness to testify Matt's innocence.
And actually, Sabo got high marks in school. In fact, he ranked #2 in the entire nation. They both knew this, because they'd overheard the principal bragging about it over the phone to his fellow Board of Education members.
They also knew he had some sponsorship from the Japanese Navy or something.
So why was this guy, who by all means had a full ride waiting for him to Tokyo University, always the first one to purchase the latest One Piece volume at the store?
"Not a chance," Sabo replied coolly, maneuvering his beloved mangaout of the reach of his friend's snatching hands. The offending hands retreated awkwardly; Kyle gave an uncharacteristic pout.
"At least change it up a bit! Why is it always this one, anyways? Read Naruto or something, then at least Matt won't complain!"
Matt, a pretty big Naruto fan, nodded eagerly in agreement.
Sabo glanced up at them, and gave a toothy grin. "You know I'm not really into manga."
There it was, his trademark grin. The ragged pair of blue goggles he always wore around his neck seemed to gleam along with his smile.
"That doesn't make any sense, you know?" Kyle sighed, exasperated. "You don't like manga? Don't give me that. You love manga. You'd read One Piece all day and night if you could. Heck, you probably do read it day and night!"
"Sometimes," Sabo answered, grinning.
"Whoa," Matt breathed, awed. "I never realized your love for this series bordered on such obsession. I'm just wondering, if you had to choose between One Piece and our English assignment that's worth 90% of our grade, then which one…?"
"That's seriously obsessive! Why do you love it so much?"
Sabo flipped another page of the volume. Absent-mindedly, he began fingering the blue goggles hanging from his neck. It was a habit, whenever he became lost in thought. "Because…"
Kyle, glancing over Sabo's shoulder at the manga in question, saw a picture of a goofy-looking boy in a straw hat. Despite the lack of color in the comic panels, the black-and-white images seemed to come alive on the page. Sabo rubbed his thumb over the face of Monkey D. Luffy. A fond smile came over his features.
"Because…this guy is my little brother."
"…cool! So you're actually related to this Oda guy? Hey, then can you get me an autograph or something? He's famous, after all…"
Sabo just gave them another smile, before turning back to the pages. Luffy had just punched a Tennryubito in the face, and one by one, the reactions of the other characters panned out on the page.
Sabo chuckled quietly, ignoring the other two boys' chatter. "Luffy…you never change."
Green, yellow, pink, and neon blue lights swirled around the room. Plates of crackers and cheese lined the table, and open soda cans lay strewn about the sofas. The air felt stuffy, and smelled of stale smoke and cigarettes. Trying his best to keep his face impassive, Sabo watched as Kyle and Matt let loose into the microphones in their hands.
In the end, those two managed to drag Sabo over to one of the karaoke places in town.
They were both completely tone-deaf. But they still loved to sing. It was even worse because they always managed to find the songs that required the most belting and screaming.
Shaking his head, Sabo adjusted the laptop on the table and tuned out the ringing voices.
The screen lay open to an illegal download of the latest chapters of One Piece.
"Are you still reading those things, Sabo!?" Matt shouted into his mike. "Give it a rest! Come on, join us!"
In response, Sabo gave them a smile and a wave. They took the cue, and continued belting.
Neither of them noticed that their friend's smile looked strained. As if worried.
Sabo's eyes quickly darted over the digital copy of chapter 572. He allowed himself a moment to linger on the exuberant faces of Portgas D. Ace and Monkey D. Luffy. They both looked happy, emerging from a tunnel of flames.
The blonde teenager bit the inside of his mouth, and clicked for the next page. This battle, this fight…however it ended, it would not end well.
Call it a gut instinct.
Call it intuition.
Call it his brain at work, noting the positions of each of the main players in this battle. The Whitebeard pirates, surrounded as they were, would not be able to escape unscathed.
Just this morning, Sabo had believed that both Ace and Luffy would come out of this safely. Even in the pits of Impel Down, there was no doubt. Luffy was well on his way to saving his older brother. Sabo had even smiled in pride. That little brat…actually growing up to try and save Ace. They really have both grown a lot.
But then, now…
Sabo's clicks began to pick up speed.
Page 16, page 17…
Page 1, page 2…
Kyle and Matt were reaching the climax of their song. Their screams began to blend with the screams Sabo heard in his head, as he played out the Battle of Marineford in his mind. The clash of swords, the smoke of gunshots. Marine soldiers firing at pirates, pirates hacking down marines. The thumping exhilaration of battle. The gnawing pit in his stomach, the flinches every time a blow landed too close.
Page 5, page 6…
All of a sudden, Sabo's hand stilled. His finger halted in midair, frozen above the mouse. A heavy silence settled over his frame, unnoticed by his frenzied classmates.
His eyes lay fixed on the laptop screen.
Then suddenly, he moved his cursor.
The 'back' button.
Gulping down the panic, Sabo went back to the first page of chapter 574. His breath hitched as the page loaded, displaying the title of the chapter proudly at the top of the page.
'Portgas D. Ace Dies.'
Portgas D. Ace…dies.
He began to click furiously again, flying through the pages as fast as they would load. Page 9, page 10, page 11…!
Sabo clutched the mouse in his hand so hard that the little contraption splintered into pieces. Shattered bits of plastic and metal scattered onto the table. But that wasn't important right now. In Sabo's eyes, he could register nothing but the page in front of him.
Ace, lying…dead. Luffy, crying out in despair. In grief. In pain.
For another dead brother.
"No!" Sabo leapt up, hands slamming down onto the table with such force that the whole thing crashed apart into chunks of wood. The laptop broke in two as it fell to the ground. His friends finally stopped singing, to stare at the destroyed piece of furniture. Their eyes widened as they realized what had happened.
"H-hey, Sabo, did you just…did you just do that?"
"…I knew you were strong but, that's just ridiculous! Hey, wait, where are you going? We need to pay for that, you know!"
Ignoring the two, Sabo rushed out of the room without a backward glance. He needed to get back. That was all he could think of right now.
He needed to get back home.