I started a collab with Kitsune Foxfire/Bedlamwolf over on our new joint account, BedlamAnjelle. (I know, so original right?) It's called Immortality is What We Leave Behind and is a fantasy AU with no main pairings, if you're interested. I'm having A LOT of fun with that story and it's been a ridiculously amazing experience, so I would really appreciate it if you could go take a look. Only if you want to, of course, but I'd love to hear your opinions on it and Kitsune is an AMAZING writer and partner so I think it'll be worth your time.
Also started a new story called The Mirror Lied if you're interested~
The skies were bright, the sea sparkling as they pulled into the docks, but Ace couldn't really focus on that. His mind drifted back to earlier in the day, to a call that ended abruptly, almost worryingly. But as the crew cheered, chattering about what needed to be done during their stay, he brushed it aside. Marco said he was tired, right? He probably just fell asleep.
At some point Luffy managed to sneak away from the ship's doctor to take his place atop Sunny's figurehead, grinning to himself as he watched the island near, absently reaching atop his head for his hat. Actually… that hat was left at the graves, wasn't it? It was left with his brother—with Ace. Why, though? To be honest, the boy didn't understand.
Everyone began anchoring the ship as he just watched from the rail, having been told that he didn't need to help. He didn't know what to do in the first place so it was probably for the best. Ace didn't want to visit the town, to be honest, but Luffy had come to him earlier and practically forced him to agree. If his brother was going despite how sick he was, Ace wouldn't complain. He'd at least try.
It felt weird calling the pirate king that, especially since Luffy never called him his sibling. He never acknowledged it, never boasted. How was Ace supposed to feel about that? What should he think, having a brother who never brought up their relation? Was he mad? Did he do something wrong before he died?
Forcing that thought to the back of his mind, Ace joined the crew in disembarking. His nervousness grew with every step he took, seeing the islanders walking around in the market by the sea, but he swallowed his fear and pressed onward, never hesitating. After everything the crew had gone through for him, how could he not do something in return? How could he not try?
His sandaled feet hit the ground and he relished in it, tiny grains of sand caressing the skin of his feet. It felt warm, a pleasing contrast to the sea breeze blowing onto the shore. It was funny; it'd only been a few days, maybe a week since they were last on solid ground, yet it felt like an eternity. An overpowering sense of accomplishment washed over him as though he'd met a far-off goal and he felt the involuntary upward curve of his lips as he took his first step. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, being around people. Maybe he could to it. He would be okay.
Glancing back at Sunny, he smiled. That ship had carried them across the Grand Line. It brought them to his island, gave him a home and now all of that felt… far-off, like a dream.
"Oi, Ace!" Luffy shouted as he waved from the road, "Hurry up or we'll leave you behind!"
The call broke him from his memories and he looked to the group ahead of him, all looking back just as he did. "Coming!" He glanced back again, a grin on his face. That was where he was given a name, a family. It was where he learned to speak and met his brother, where a talking reindeer treated his infections and a blond cook staved off his malnutrition.
Monkey D. Ace, huh? A smirk crossed his features as his eyes roved over their home. He turned around, spotting his crewmates up ahead. Doesn't sound right.
"Oi! Hurry! I'm hungry!" Luffy exclaimed as the boy walked to catch up and take his place at the pirate king's side.
"You're always hungry," Usopp chided.
He quickened his pace into a sprint, falling in line as they headed away from the harbor and beach.
"So how are we going to find her?" Nami asked, pulling a wad of beli from her purse as she began to divide it up between them. Ace learned quite a while back that she was in charge of the allowances and with how some of the pirates were, it wasn't hard to figure out why. Luffy would probably spend their entire fortune on meat.
"We just have to look," the first mate stated, arms crossed with a deadpan look on his face. "Just don't get lost."
"I don't want to hear that from you!"
"It's not funny!"
"But it is!"
"Anyway," Usopp interrupted, cutting their conversation in an attempt to stay on track, "we need to stock up, right?"
Everyone went silent, heads turning to look at one another as they thought. Eventually Franky spoke up, followed closely by Sanji and Chopper and soon the crew had divided into groups. Ace was, of course, told to go with Luffy and Usopp. Their task was to locate that woman everyone kept mentioning, whoever she was. Admittedly, the boy had been a bit out of the loop since things returned to semi-normalcy. He hadn't been filled in on what he missed but just went along with it anyways, assuming that if there was anything he needed to know he would be told.
"Should we really trust Luffy with this?" Nami asked, though a slight smile was playing on her lips. "He has a habit of getting side-tracked."
The swordsman simply shrugged. "They share the same interests."
With that settled they headed into town, Ace sticking closely to his sibling as the crowds passed them by. The legions of townsfolk ensnared them in a flurry of noise and chattering that made his head spin so he clutched tightly to the pirate king's sleeve. Luffy seemed to noticed, rubbing a reassuring hand through his hair that made everything feel like it was going to be alright.
…Until he got lost.
Whipping his head around in every direction, Ace called for his companions. "…Luffy? Usopp?" The townsfolk obstructed his vision. They towered over him, making him shrink back, feel smaller than before. "O-oi…"
When had they gotten separated? When he let go of the sleeve?
The boy bit his lip. He had to be brave. He was the second division commander of the whitebeard pirates and, damn it, he wasn't going to let loneliness scare him! Despite his resolve, the crowds passing by made him nauseous. Dozens of voices screamed into his ear. He couldn't think—couldn't move.
But amidst the panicked confusion a scent wafted his nose. He swallowed, breaths evening, and took a step forward.
"You lost him?" the redhead screeched, teeth clenched tightly as her captain winced.
"He got separated in the crowd," Usopp provided after a stretch of silence, leaning back against the railing. "We looked around but… no luck, so we thought he might have come back to the ship. He knows where it is."
"Yes but he's scared, Usopp. You know that." The sniper glanced away, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. How would Ace find his way back if he was having a panic attack? She turned to Luffy. "And you. Well? What's your excuse?"
The pirate's eyes were on the wood of the deck, mouth pulled taut. "He was right behind me…"
Eventually Nami sighed, running delicate fingers through her long hair as she stared out at the harbour, watching as people walked along shore. "He'll be alright," she assured in little more than a whisper. "Ace is your brother; he's reliable."
Luffy listened, gathering a strong breath in his lungs. "He never dies. And he'll always come back."
At some point Ace's fear and panic diminished with the growls of his stomach, the sweet scent of sustenance surrounding him mockingly as he dragged his feet along the dirt path. Rows of food stands lined the market square, beckoning him to eat, but with no cash and no Luffy he couldn't indulge in it. That was depressing but hadn't he grown up eating little? Back on the island he wouldn't be able to hunt well when injured and he skipped more than a few meals because of it. He'd just eaten a few hours ago, so why was he already hungry?
After torturing himself enough with the food stands, watching as some man grilled fish for a crowd, he reluctantly turned around and tried to find his way back to the ship. For a reason he couldn't place, he'd calmed himself. His hungry managed to distract him and eventually his racing heart settled into a calm, soothing rhythm. He hardly noticed the people as they passed him by, was barely aware of the voices around him, too busy wondering what direction he'd come from. Being in such a lively place felt… nice.
Ace caught the smell of sea salt as a breeze blew past but before he could follow it his mouth started to salivate and he turned sharply towards the cause, a familiarity to that new smell. His feet moved forward almost involuntarily, being beckoned by his stomach as he tried to recall what he recognised it from. Meat. Definitely meat.
Before long he rounded a corner and found himself facing the entrance of a restaurant. He looked around, finding that the hordes of people once engulfing him had dwindled down to only a scattered few. The isolation only enhanced his unease, suddenly feeling a rise of apprehension. But the tantalising aroma from within was too tempting to ignore and he crossed the doorframe, stepping inside.
The first thing he noticed wasn't the food or customers but instead articles of clothing thrown haphazardly to the ground in piles. He swallowed, eyes scrolling up to see tables covered in meals of all sorts, from meats to fruits to salads and all matters in between. Whatever apprehension he felt seemed to vanish as he rushed over, grabbing hold of a fork—because Robin taught him manners and he would use them, damn it—and digging in.
"Oi," called an irate, effeminate voice from behind, causing him to freeze. "Don't touch that, brat."
Brow furrowed and not particularly feeling like himself, Ace looked over his shoulder to see a woman splayed out across a table, both hands grasping tightly to morsels of food, lacking any sort of manners. Pink hair trailed across her form, resting lightly on her chest and shoulders as brown eyes locked onto his. Ordinarily he would listen, would put the fork back and walk away, but something inside him felt… different. He looked around at the heaps and mounds of sustenance covering the room, then back to the woman as she tore into the drumstick she was holding, raising an eyebrow.
"You're going to eat all of this? Just you?" Even Luffy couldn't manage that… probably. With Luffy it was hard to tell, being rubber and all. Lately, though, his appetite had decreased because of the sickness. Still, an entire room filled with food was a bit excessive, even for the pirate king.
She narrowed her eyes, continuing to stuff herself as she listened. "You think I can't?"
Ace met her gaze evenly, noticing the piles upon piles of empty plates surrounding her. Perhaps she could back it up, but he wasn't going to back down. "I'd like to see you try."
The woman swallowed, wiping her chin with her forearm as she shared an amused grin. "That a challenge, kid?"
He shrugged, "Might be." He honestly wasn't sure himself.
"What's your name?"
"Ace," he replied, hands creeping towards a plate of pasta on the table beside him.
"Alright, Ace," she started in a mocking tone, "you clearly don't know who you're talk—I told you not to touch that!"
"It's mine, you brat!"
"You have more than enough over there!"
"I never have enough!"
They went quiet, eyes locked on one another as Ace raised the fork to his lips, taking his first bite. The only sound was his fork scraping against the ceramic plate, the woman having stopped to glare at him. He never looked away once as he continued to eat, not even sure why himself. It wasn't like him to do that, but… well, whatever.
He swallowed, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"…You little shit."
And thus begins the second-last arc~ It's a short one but hopefully you'll enjoy it! And so sorry for the chapter delay. Just... school, you know? And I've been writing a lot of new stuff. Like we got some oneshots coming your way :D So just be patient, I promise you'll see the end of this story, even if it takes a while.
To my lovelies~
BluePhoenix0101: Yay for veterans~ Don't worry, once this is over we'll move onto bigger and better things :D
Saroth: So happy you've enjoyed it thus far~ Awe don't cry! Things are better now!
xXxWolvesInTheNightxXx: Glad you like!
SkittlesTheUnicorn: Yes, yes he has XD
xpirate3645: Yes, it was a recap chapter. Please read the author's note, I explained it in there...
kickassdani: It wasn't mean, it was nostalgic! Here's an update, though.
CrazySarahify: Thanks for all of the reviews! Here's an update.
Yvonne Park: Awe thanks, that's sweet of you~
Son Goshen: Right?! :,D
Miih-chan: Glad you like~
Bluebird42: And I bet if I rewrote it again I could do a better job XD
MysteriousEyez: Be patient please~ Schools killing me right now, I've been updating all of my stories less OTL
TheAnalei: Glad you like~~ You're so sweet ;_;
Leite Destiny: So happy you like~~
Guest: I'm not going to give spoilers :P Here's the chapter~
Guest (2): Nah, it's fine. She died 2 years ago now. Alright, now look at it from another perspective: your older sister dies for you. BECAUSE of you. You can't just look at it from your perspective. I understand Ace's view on the matter, but as an older AND younger sister I can say that I don't agree with it. Have you been through close familial death? You feel guilty. Like, why didn't you DO something? Now imagine they died FOR you. You can say that you'd be touched, but really, if you were in that scenario, it would leave you pretty messed up. Always does. So while I understand his actions, I don't condone them. Death is like an easy out. The ones who suffer the most are the ones who are left behind. How would you make your sister feel, doing that to her? Just thought I'd put in my 2 cents. Self-sacrifice isn't what I would consider noble. Really happy you like the story, though, and I hope you'll see it through to the end~
Guest (3): Glad you like~
Guest (4): Awe, you're so sweet~ Hope you enjoy~
kairi loves sora: Well here it is~ Actually it's Coby. He's the fleet admiral now. I think I hinted at it a while back. Smokey's innocent 3
azab: Glad you like~
Semitura: Hehe glad to see you're excited~
Thanks so much for the reviews, my lovelies, and I hope you enjoyed the update! And again, sorry for the delay. But I have not forgotten, I promise.