Lovelies! I hath returned. Probably should explain... I sorta went on an unannounced hiatus. Personal things were happening, and... yeah. I didn't really write my ongoing stories. So now I'm trying to get back into it! I've already updated Imagined Life and Flame and Phoenix, and I've posted new stuff that you can check out if you want. And now, Skip! I'll apologise in advance if it sounds choppy. I literally just finished this and haven't looked it over like I usually would (figured you'd waited long enough) and since I'm out of practice I can't guarantee quality, but... I tried u_u; Hopefully by the time the next update rolls around I'll be writing better quality!
Also, we're over 600 review ;_; Thank you all so much!
Anyways, enough rambling. I hope you guys enjoy!
A sun-tanned arm hooked around his shoulders and pulled him close as laughter, loud and full, floated across the deck. Luffy found himself smiling along with it, the excitement the redhead exuded contagious even when paired with a conversation as foreboding as the one that brought them to meet.
"Look at you!" he exclaimed. "You're all grown up!"
"Well duh! I'm twenty-seven!"
"You are, aren't you? Dahahaha!"
That was what he loved about Shanks: he could always brighten even the most dreary of moods. Luffy supposed he should be more concerned as he'd likely changed yet another major event in the past, especially seeing as the Akagami pirates had stayed well into the evening, but he couldn't bring himself to care. No, as he sat there eating all the food Thatch had to offer with the yonko drinking himself into a stupor, adhering to the rules he had up until that point was far out of mind.
For the most part, the crew had kept their distance. Once everyone woke up they returned to their duties, decidedly not bothering the three captains seated on the deck. Marco was there but kept quiet-and far away from Shanks, if he could help it-and Thatch was in and out preparing more food. The pirate king would have felt bad about that, except the cook was the one insisting on doing the work and making more. His injury was mostly healed, or so Luffy was told, so he was trying to get back into his old routine.
For the most part, Shanks took the time travel thing pretty well. "With as many users as I've seen, nothing surprises me," he'd said. Luffy was just glad he believed him; he didn't want a repeat of the whole 'Ace' incident.
The old man's stare brought an abrupt end to their idle chat and both men returned to focus. Most of the crew had gone off to bed early-to give the captains some privacy, as the study wasn't quite large enough to seat the three of them comfortably. All the tension from their earlier conversation returned with full force, Luffy furrowing his brow as his thoughts drifted to his brother, sailing alone across the waters. He hoped he was doing fine. Was he lonely? He hadn't fallen into another river, had he?
...He hadn't found Teach… had he?
Newgate leaned back in his chair, the machinery attached to him beeping and blinking as it did whatever it was supposed to do. The sight had Luffy's eyes softening, his mouth pulled tight. Sometimes he would forget that the old man was in poor health. With how he fought at Marineford it was hard to believe, but looking back maybe even then he hadn't been at his best.
If he had been, would the outcome have differed?
Luffy closed his eyes, deciding to speak up first. "Ace won't die. I won't let him." He could feel their eyes on him as he dropped a stripped-clean bone onto one of the plates spread between them, but said no more.
"Hey, Anchor…" That name was nostalgic. He hadn't heard it in about two decades. Shanks wouldn't have dared to call him that after he became king of the pirates; he'd moved past it. "It's been bugging me since you said it earlier. Your brother… He didn't make it, did he?"
His fingers dug at the fabric of his shorts, ready to tear under the crushing force of his grip. "No."
It's my fault.
"But this time he will. I'll make sure of it."
The weighted air around them seemed to intensify with that, and he was sure he knew why. But he didn't address it.
And neither did they.
Two days later found the pirate king waking from his slumber in the room of the second division commander. He yawned and stretched, automatically heading to the deck of the ship. Today he would set out to reunite with his brother. He wasn't as excited as he imagined he'd be, mainly because of the talk a few days ago. With two yonko and the pirate king wanting Ace to live, one would think his mind would be at ease, but… it wasn't.
Luffy winced as the sun's harsh glare assaulted his vision, instinctively blocking the light with his hand. Dragging his feet across the ground, he wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. Or eat. Eating sounded good.
Oh look, Marco.
"Can I eat you?" he asked drowsily, uncaring of the glare and smack upside the head that he received for those words. It took a while for him to realise he'd even said them, and when he did he simply laughed.
The blond rolled his eyes, folding his arms across his chest as he leaned his weight against the outer wall of the mess hall. "Thatch is fixing something up for you, yoi. He'll bring it to you when he's readied your provisions."
"Shishishi! Thanks, Pineapple-guy."
Luffy didn't receive more than an eyeroll for the nickname before the first mate disappeared inside, leaving him with the few men manning the deck. As his mind tried to fight through the haze of sleep, his legs systematically led him to the bow of the ship and he plopped down on the figurehead, looking at the sea stretching into the horizon. He smiled. It wasn't Sunny, but it was nice. He liked that spot.
His stomach growled. He should've eaten Marco while he had the chance.
Shaking his head of stupid thoughts such as those, the pirate had a flash of recollection and shoved his hand into his shorts, digging around until he retrieved a baby transponder snail. He always get yelled at for storing things there, but he had no pockets! What was he supposed to do?
He looked at the snail and grinned. Should probably tell Ace he was going to be heading his way, shouldn't he? His brother might get mad if he didn't; he'd said he would, after all. So Luffy dialed and waited, that distinct, repetitive sound filing his ears.
As it went on, Luffy's expression started to fall, his smile replaced by honest confusion. It just kept ringing and ringing and ringing until finally he hung up. And tried again. And again and again.
The pirate king pouted but reasoned with himself that his brother probably just had another sleep attack. They happened at such horrible times! Geez, he needed to tell Ace that he was going to go meet him! But he supposed he could just try again later; it would take a few days for them to meet up.
...But how would he find him if Ace didn't tell him where to go? He didn't have his vivre card…
An image off paper crumbling into nothingness had his anxiety peaking, and he almost crushed the snail with his grip.
The pirate's focus was stolen when his eyes caught on the faint silhouette of a bird against the backdrop of the blue sky. He blinked at it in silence, watching as it neared the ship. A seagull. A news coo. Huh.
Luffy reached out as it dropped a rolled-up newspaper and fled, his arm stretching and retracting. He watched with a blank expression as it disappeared into the distance once more before looking down and unravelling the paper.
His eyes locked onto his brother's face and he felt himself pale.
It was the photo from Ace's bounty poster-one he had tacked to the wall on Sunny, so he recognised it well-and soon he found himself reading below, an article about the second division commander's capture and detainment, a short snippet on Blackbeard becoming the newest warlord, and a statement about his impending execution.
He felt like he was going to be sick. No, no, no, this was too soon! He-his younger self-he wouldn't have even met Brook yet! He wouldn't make it to Impel Down!
Luffy wasn't sure how long he sat there, his body still as he stared at his brother's poster with wide, disbelieving eyes, the paper tearing under his grip. No. Nonono he wouldn't accept this. He wouldn't let it happen again. Not this time. Not again. Not when he came back-
"Oi, Straw Hat," a voice called from behind-Marco's, he registered-and he hadn't even noticed him approach.
"You about ready to leave?" another voice asked-Thatch. "I've got everything ready for you. Probably wanna eat before you go, though, eh?" The cook chuckled, soon silenced and worried when the pirate king turned back to him.
Luffy's face masked his anxiety well, but he didn't smile. His mouth was pulled taut, and he stared at them with complete seriousness.
Marco narrowed his eyes. "What is it, yoi?" He was handed the paper. Everything was quiet as he read it over, his expression slowly falling to grim concern as he reached the end, and he looked up at Luffy. "...This is what happened in your time?"
Thatch snatched the newspaper next, eyes wide and jaw slack as he read the headline. "...Shit."
Luffy turned back to the ocean, its view now tainted by the feelings rolling in the pit of his stomach. "...It's sooner than last time," he stated, his fists clenched tightly around the fabric of his shorts. "Other-me won't make it on time."
The redhead cursed again, and again and again until it turned into a long slew of angrily-spat syllables, running a stressed hand through his hair as he paced back and forth on the the deck. "...We gotta tell Oyaji. I'll-I'll go do that. Fuck. This wasn't supposed to-" His voice dropped again into a mutter and he spun on his heel, making a beeline for the old man's room.
The first mate watched his brother go before turning back to Luffy. "What's your plan, yoi?"
"I'm not waiting. Don't care what the giant old-guy says."
"He'll tell you it's not your fight."
"It is! Ace promised me. He said he wouldn't die!" The pirate bit his lip, reaching his hand to his head and his anxiety peaking when the tips of his fingers were met with nothing but strands of hair. He missed his hat. "He's my brother…"
Marco sighed. "We better make sure he keeps that promise, then."
Luffy slumped over the railing with a groan. Stupid mustache-guy. It had taken all day for the captains to finally agree on the first steps to take in rescuing Ace, as both were stubborn, and now that it was over his stomach caught up with him, and he realized only then, in the dead of night, that he hadn't eaten.
Where was Marco when he needed him?
Pouting, he stared at the water below. The yonko wanted to go with the same strategy he used last time-travelling underwater with coated ships and showing up at Marineford. Luffy wasn't smart, and he didn't plan things-his crew made up for that flaw-but he at least knew he didn't want to go with a repeat of the same scenario. If it didn't work once then it wouldn't work the second time around, right? The best they could do was try to avoid such a large-scale fight as the one at Marineford and, more importantly, keep away from Akainu…
He just hoped that he didn't make it to Impel Down late this time-that he could take his younger self's place. Luffy was stronger now. He could take on that stupid poison-guy, no problem!
So… why was he still worried? Why did all of this feel so wrong?
"Hey," a lazy voice called, and soon there was another leaning heavily on the rail.
The pirate king glanced at Marco, his frown never letting up, and returned to staring out at the water. "Can I eat you now?"
"But I'm hungry!"
"You're always hungry, yoi."
"No fair…" This time he had a reason, too. He hadn't eaten since the night before. How long had it been since he last skipped a meal? Too long, anyway. He needed meat.
Both pirates were quiet.
"What's on your mind?" the blond finally asked, his eyes on the stars hung overhead, not the murky depths like his company.
For a moment Luffy didn't answer. It was rare for him to hesitate, but over the years that trait only seemed to grow. Maybe he was getting old. After a stretch, he looked up to that same sky. "When my bounty became higher than Ace's, I was really happy. 'Cause I felt stronger, you know?"
He felt eyes on him but wasn't interrupted.
"But then… it wasn't fair, right? Because Ace was stuck. He couldn't get it any higher, 'cause he couldn't do anything. So I wasn't excited anymore. I wanted to surpass him, but I didn't really get to." He shifted his weight, his face blank as he thought back to that day. Determination returned and his brows knitted together in a hard look. "I wanna beat him. Properly this time. Because it's no fun beating someone who's dead."
Heavy lids closed over blue eyes. "You'll get your chance."
Luffy grinned and nodded, some of his earlier doubts lifting with those words. "Yep, shishishi! But you know…"
"I still kept my promise. Even though he couldn't keep his."
"We'll live with more freedom than anyone else!"
Well there ya go. Crap update is crap, but at least I'm back :'D
To my lovelies~
(I can't remember which ones I replied to already, so I'll just reply to them all :'D)
samettikettu: Yes, I managed that and then disappeared for months OTL I'm horrible...
MeikoKuran999: Pfft well they knew he probably would, but they were hoping for the best XD
Spadenon: You know, a lot of people forget this is a prequel. I'm glad you remember *cough* I WILL KEEP IT UP I PROMISE. I just had a shitty long slump OTL
Fairy of the Friz: *pets* Shhh it's okay. Sabo's dead in this fic ._. It's a prequel to Resolve, and in that he's dead, so. Hehehe you'll see, my lovely, you'll see~
Fi Suki Saki: It will be okay *pets* ...Maybe.
xXxWolvesInTheNightxXx: I'm glad you enjoyed it XD
HayleyComet: Ugh this Luffy is by far the hardest to write out of all the Luffys from my fics. Seriously. No, wait-the Luffy from Imagined Life is worse in some ways. But this one's a close second. Just... lots of guessing. And failing :'D As for your questions... *cough* Luffy's kinda given up on being careful, let's say. Unfortunately I didn't fit a lot of Shanks in, but he'll show up again~ And about Impel Down... *more coughing* Well he's an update, though I'm not sure it's up to par X'D
kickassdani: Glad you liked that! Here's more~
Silver Dragonfly: Unfortunately short's all I can manage right now since I'm out of practice, but at least there's an update :'D
Popian3: Yes, Luffy and food XD
ShoesSOS13: *cough* Yes, I meant their battle :'D
Big Sis of 8: Glad you like!
Reference D. Anime: Gotta love Shanks XD
xXnazaraXx: Hectic indeed... *shifty eyes*
Ghostunderasheet: Yep, very Luffy. As for Ace living or dying, the ending's already been written, so. Whatever happens, happens. You'll have to wait and see.
scatteredPhilosopher: Shanks'll show up again later, worry not XD And yes... the battle... *cough*
shadowmarialove: Luffy just cannot listen when he's hungry XD
NightHunterDeath: Repeating 'Ace is stupid' will not change the outcome, I'm afraid.
general yumi: Yep, just wait and see :P
Guest: Nah, I wouldn't say Marco was an idiot for that. Luffy would have ratted himself out and he knew that, so. Luffy will NOT be happy with Ace, I assure you.
sisimiura: You'll have to wait and see if he's saved XD
Girl-luvs-manga: Yep, hunger makes people horrible, especially Luffy.
Kiki1770: Well you got to see a bit of it here XD
ichigo1508: Nah, cliffies are much worse.
JoojooBrother: Yes, gotta love Luffy XD
Yvonne Park: Well you'll have to wait and see about him living or dying XD Here's more!
0Chrissie0: Glad you like! Legacy's being posted as a separate story. I plan to post part 2 when I post the epilogue of Skip, so you'll have a bit to wait. But we're almost there.
Seangeline Akira: He really, really should've just listened... Glad you like!
bloodynightmares: Glad you like!
Yuu3: Yeah, exactly. He never says goodbye. There was a reason for that particular line, it wasn't just a slip-up. *pets* Shh it's okay. You'll live, don't worry.
readthishit: I didn't write their fight because you guys have already seen it XD I try to avoid things unless they greatly differ from canon.
69AnimeFreak69: I'm happy you liked it :) But please be patient. I have other obligations, yeah? Resolve is the sequel to Skip. That's basically all I can say.
Caigdimo: I'm glad you like it and thanks for your patience 3
My 'update' reviewers (there were a LOT of you, so I put you all into one clump): hannah, ace is the best, i am a fan, Cocoaflower, Ace Portgas D, samira vangola, sticy17, Trufflerabbit13, Tadelle, WolfoftheMoonStorm, Ireadtomuch
Reply-Here's an update, but please remember to be patient. Real life comes first, yeah?
(Thanks for all of the lovely reviews and I'll see you all next update!)