YES! The plot, I found it! Finally, after trying for like 2-3 weeks, I was able to write the chapter! Seriously I've been trying for forever and just got into it now. But the next chapter shouldn't take so long! This is where things get fun for me to write! Oh, but I was in such a hurry I didn't proof-read this chapter, so forgive any mistakes, 'kay? (...I haven't read through my chapters at all lately... Oops.)
If anyone's interested I have two new(ish) stories up for you guys: To Be a Boy and Imagined Life. I think the first is a good contrast to this because, while it's kinda sad, it's not nearly as intense as this was in the beginning and will be in the future. (Is that considered a spoiler? No, right? ...You heard nothing.)
Also, I'm surprised no one mentioned in their reviews that Thatch died on Marco's birthday. *shrugs* It's not important, though.
Disclaimer: Don't own One Piece. I also don't own enough caffiene. Seriously, it's likt 9:30pm and my eyelids are already drooping. And I got 10 hours of sleep! The hell is wrong with me?! What happened to the days when I had insomnia?! I miss those days! It was my insomnia that kept me updating!
"C-come on! Thatch…"
As Ace shook the man, his hand ran over a wet substance on his back—blood. It was too hard to see, but there was no doubt. He'd been stabbed, likely not long ago.
"…Ace?" came a quiet, shuddering reply.
The freckled pirate's eyes widened and he looked down at his friend's face, seeing his eyes were just barely open. He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, gathering the man in his arms and doing his best to hoist him up. "Just hold on. You're… You're going to be okay."
Thatch shook his head and weakly motioned for the boy to put him down but was ignored. "Listen…" He leaned in close to Ace's ear, using whatever strength he could muster to keep his torso up. "I-it was Teach."
Ace's eyes once more shot open twice their normal size before narrowing into a scowl. Teach—the bastard was a member of his division. Why would he…?
"H-he… The fruit…"
So that's what it was. He was after that damned Devil Fruit Thatch had. So he tried to kill him. "We'll deal with him later, alright? We gotta get help." That was easier said than done, though. It was the middle of the night. Moving the redhead could cause his bleeding to worsen and shouting wasn't likely to do much, since the sleeping quarters were two levels below.
His train of thought was broke when the body in his hands went limp. "…Thatch?" No answer. "O-oi, wake up! You can't go to sleep, alright? Don't! Come on, Thatch, come on… Don't do this. Open your eyes!" There was still no response. "No…"
"I'm not going to just sit around here and let him get away with this!" Ace shouted, gritting his teeth as he stared at the first mate, eyes locked on his. Thatch died only three hours earlier and he was not in the mood for Marco's bullshit. "He killed one of his brothers!"
"I have a bad feeling about this, Ace," Whitebeard announced. "It's fine, just this once."
Ace's gray eyes darted over to the gigantic man, glaring at him. He may have respected Oyaji over all else but he wasn't about to back down. It was Thatch! Thatch—the first person who reached out to him when he arrived on the Moby Dick. He was his first friend among the Whitebeard pirates. He was the one who always managed to cheer him up—even after what happened with Luffy. Thatch was there for anyone who needed him. And he died at the hands of that traitor, a member of his own division. How could he possibly let that go? No, he wouldn't. He couldn't. Thatch wouldn't be able to rest in peace if he did.
"I'm going," he declared, looking right into his captain's eyes with complete resolve. Ace wouldn't change his mind. No, he never would. Because Thatch was his friend—his family.
"Ace, think about this," Marco began, taking a step towards the youth. "You'll be going against Oyaji's orders yoi."
"I don't care! That bastard killed him! All for a damn fruit! And he tarnished his father's name." The image of the dark, bloodied silhouette of the fourth division commander flashed through his mind once more, just as it had all throughout the night. He cursed himself for not leaving immediately; three hours of sitting idly by on the ship might have been all Teach needed to get away. But he would find him. He would find him and catch him and kill him for the crime he committed. Then Thatch could rest in peace.
Ace grabbed hold of the orange hat strung around his neck and placed it firmly on his head, giving the old man one last look. He turned and strode through the crowd, ignoring his crewmates' protests. Placing his foot on the rail, he hauled himself over and fell to striker below.
Right before he sped off he heard Marco shout his way.
"Don't do this yoi! Ace!"
The last thing he heard was the first mate's call as he careened across the vast blue.
"That was so scary! I thought I was going to die!" Luffy shouted as he sobbed. Across from him stood two slightly older boys, one blonde and one with raven hair just like his. All three were generously bandaged, with the wrappings covering their torsos and heads.
The black-haired boy jumped down from his perch, shoving his metal pipe into the dirt. Brow furrowed, his face contorted into a mask of anger and annoyance. He shouted his frustration. "You're so annoying! Shut up! How long are you going to keep crying?" He paused for a breath. "I really hate weaklings and crybabies!"
Immediately Luffy quieted, biting his lip to hold in his whimpers. He didn't want to be hated, especially not by him. He wanted the older boy's approval more than anything. Sure he still wanted to cry—he was still shaken up by what happened earlier and his body's throbbing reminded him of the beating he endured—but he would keep it in if it meant the other child would like him.
Both of the older boys were surprised by his silence, most likely wondering why he actually listened. They blinked a few times in silence.
"Thank you…" Luffy managed to mumbled without crying, bowing his head in gratitude. Still, his voice shook.
Both looked to each other questioningly.
"For…" The younger's head hung low, leaving the rim of his straw hat to block his face from the others' view. No longer could he hold back the tears that streamed down his face so he bowed even further from his place on the rock, hoping to hide them with his hat. "For saving me…"
The raven-haired boy's anger flared back up. He rose his clench fist threateningly and shouted again. "Why, you—"
The blonde hovered in front of him, raising his hands defensively. "Oi, oi… He's just thanking us." He seemed to be the kinder of the two. The other was easy to set off while he remained calm and understanding.
Luffy trembled, still trying to hold from crying. He didn't look at the other boys and therefore didn't see their expressions.
"Cheh. And why didn't you tell them?" he heard the freckled boy ask. Even when questioning him, he still sounded pissed. "Though guys kill women and children without a second thought!"
"If I told them…" Luffy began, voice breaking as he did so. "I could never be your friend." That mattered more to him than his life. He was the only one there—the only one he could go to. Luffy needed him.
"That'd be better than dying, wouldn't it?" That time the boy's voice sounded more scolding than angry. "Why do you want to be my friend so badly, anyway?"
"After all the stuff I put you through… Why did you still follow me out here?"
Luffy clenched his fist, refusing to speak for the moment. "Because…" His brow furrowed and he raised his head, shouting. "Because there isn't anyone else!" He took a breath before continuing. "I can't return to Windmill Village, and I hate those mountain bandits… If I didn't chase after you, I'd be all alone!" And that was his greatest fear. He never wanted to be alone. Even if it meant putting his life on the line he would follow. If he didn't he wouldn't be able to escape his loneliness. "Being alone is much worse than getting hurt!"
The older one seemed to consider that for a brief moment, still retaining his scowl. "…What about your parents?"
"Just Gramps, nobody else."
The freckled boy appeared to be contemplating what he said. His face told that there was something deeper on his mind than just what they were saying. He seemed… burdened. "…It isn't so bad if I'm around?"
"Mm." Luffy nodded firmly.
"And it'd be bad if I wasn't here?"
Again, the scarred boy bobbed his head up and down in confirmation.
There was a long pause. It seemed to drag on for a long time and the look in the older boy's eyes was both grave and hopeful. There was a weight on his shoulders that Luffy didn't understand. Maybe it was because he was too young. Maybe he was stupid. Whatever it was, he remained unsure. Then the child hung his head low, in a similar fashion to how the younger did earlier, and clenched his fist around his poll. "…You want me to live?" His voice was low and sad—quiet. Then their eyes met and he stared, his face completely serious.
"Of course I do!" Luffy found it hard to believe he even had to ask that. Why wouldn't he want him to live?
"I see," was his reply, said in just as contemplative a voice as before. Then the freckled boy turned around, looking to neither of the others. "But still, I hate spoiled kids like you." He scratched his head sheepishly, quite to the contrast of his earlier behaviour.
Luffy jumped down from the boulder, standing right behind the other boy. "I'm not spoiled! I'm strong!"
The raven-haired boy turned around. "Strong? How are you strong? You're supposed to be a man yet you keep crying all the time!"
"Have you ever been punched by a spiked glove?" he shouted in defense. "I'm only seven! I won't cry when I'm a ten-year-old like you! I'll be much stronger!"
"I didn't cry when I was seven, either! You idiot! Don't compare yourself to me!"
As they continued to bicker, the blonde crossed his arms and closed his eyes. He stood there in silence until their fighting got to the level of blood-lust, then stepped between them and pushed them apart calmly. "Okay, that's enough."
Luffy lay back on the figurehead of his ship, arms behind his head as he stared at the stars. Once more he was grateful to that goat-man who helped with repairs at the last island. When the stupid pirates started shooting cannons at it he knew it would last. At least they made it to an island; otherwise he would have drowned. He supposed he should have thanked those stupid criminals, seeing as he gained the third member of his crew because of them. And he was able to get his ship repaired, dubbing it the Going Merry because of the figurehead. It looked so cool! And Usopp was awesome! He told them the funniest stories and he was such a coward! He was sure that he would gain some courage eventually—especially if he stuck with that crew.
He sighed. That wasn't what he was thinking about—not at all. He had another of those dreams. They ceased after his arrival in East Blue two months earlier, but… They were back. That last one was a lot longer and more detailed than the others. He got to see more of the blonde kid, too. But he didn't want to think about it. He didn't want to because he knew it was part of a past erased from his mind. There was no guarantee he would ever remember everything, especially if he couldn't defeat Gramps when he got back. Still, he was curious…
That boy was Ace, right? Commander of the Whitebeard pirates? It was hard to believe. They were different on many levels. Well, actually, that wasn't quite true. The boy acted in a similar fashion to the way Fire Fist did when Luffy first arrived on the Moby Dick—back when they were at each other's throats—only more distant.
Luffy scowled as he remembered a certain incident where he was being pushed over a rail.
"You still wanna give me that bullshit, Luffy?"
That man had a temper. Of course, the Marine might have deserved it for trying to off him in his sleep, but he was acting on protocol. It was what he was taught his whole—that wasn't right, was it? He wasn't with the Marines his whole life, was he? He just didn't remember. His lack of memories was the cause of such hostility between the two. Though knowing they were brothers didn't completely erase his dislike of the pirate, he didn't think he could go so far as to attempt murder again.
"You have nowhere else to go! We're all you have right now!"
That… It somewhat reminded him of the dream. Ace was all he had back then. Bandits… Did he live with bandits? It didn't feel like he was too fond of him. His grandfather was his only family. What about his parents? He filed that into the back of his brain as something to ask when he returned to the Grand Line. All he wanted was a friend. That's all. And Ace was everything he could ask for: brave, strong, smart—
No. What was he thinking? He was a damned, dirty pirate—the scum of the sea! Brother or not, he would never admire a criminal. He didn't even know the guy! Sure he saw him in his dreams and his dreams were likely pieces of his memory, but even those were foggy and vague, leaving him to recall very little of their time together. In fact, that was the first time he heard an entire conversation, as well as they first time everything was so clear. For once he saw both of those boys' faces with crystal-like realism. Still, he didn't know him. Ace was… a stranger.
Luffy tried his best but couldn't bring his thoughts away from the boy's face as he contemplated what his child counterpart said about wanting him to live. There was something more there than just a simple question and answer. When Ace asked, he looked… broken.
"Luffy?" came a feminine voice.
The captain looked up to see Nami—his new navigator—staring down at him with curious eyes. "Hm?"
"Mm… not really. Just thinking."
He pouted. Why did everyone always react like that? He thought a lot, actually! Sure his mind was normally focused on meat when he was with his friends but otherwise he would think about a lot of different things, like recent bounty posters he saw or what pirate crews were spotted nearby or… Wait. He thought a lot about the enemy, huh? It was so ingrained in his mind from his training that he didn't even realize. He'd have to blame Bakainu for that one—the man hated pirates just as much as Luffy did, if not more. He supposed the Admiral was a good influence on his subordinates that way. Wait… What was he thinking about before? Something about meat? No, Ace? Ah! Who cared about Ace? Stupid pirate bastard.
Luffy: I'm going to be the strongest pirate ever!
Ace: Heh, a weakling like you? Not happening.
Luffy: Oi, I'm strong! Bet I could beat you!
Ace: I've been beating the crap out of you for three months, idiot!
Luffy: Yeah well that's just because I haven't used my secret attack!
Ace: Secret attack? Ha! You don't even have one.
Luffy: Do too! -stretches arm and completely misses-
Ace: See, you moron? You can't even aim right!
Luffy: Yes I can! -tries again, fails-
Ace: And what the hell kind of attack is that, anyways?
Luffy: It's my pistol!
Ace: Pistol? -facepalms- You idiot.
Luffy: You're the idiot, idiot!
Ace: No, you are, idiot!
Sabo: -sighs- That's enough. You're both idiots. How's that?
A/N: So you may have guessed, but I'll say this anyways: I'm not going to rewrite the whole damn canon to include my changes. It's too tedious and it's pointless because the story is about Ace and Luffy, not the crew. I'll be writing parts that have major changes (I wrote the part with Zoro last chapter just to so you know what's going on and what Luffy's course of action is in East Blue) or are completely different from canon. Right now, as you can tell, Usopp and Nami have joined. Well, Nami pretended to join like in canon. They're on their way to Baratie. Also, I know a big chunk of the chapter was taken up by the flashback but that flashback is REALLY important for both the plot and Luffy's interest in Ace and their past. And at the end if you look carefully you can see the contrast between Luffy's two sides. For those of you who may have forgotten due to my slow update (Sorry, the new stories are just so fun and I'm working on two bonus chapters for Resolve...!) Luffy acts very different around those he considers his companions and pirates/criminals/enemies. If you were to reread the first few chapters you'll see a drastic change in his attitude since then. It's not that he's randomly changed character, but that he's now much more relaxed because he's with people he trusts. You can sort of see that in the end scene, though it's a little vague. Just thought I'd clarify since it's been a few weeks.
Remember how I said that Thatch died on Marco's birthday? Well I just realized that Ace left on his birthday, too o.o That was unintentional (both times) but... I feel bad for him now. I'll avoid 'flying blue turkey' jokes for this story as repentance for beign an ass. Sorry Marco! Umm... Go eat the sandwitch Thatch made you before he died! Cheer up, it isn't so bad! At least you have... Oyaji? Yep, Oyaji's awesome. At least you still have him!
To my lovelies~
sakura240: Here's an update! Sorry for the delay ^^;
samettikettu: Sorry :/ Didn't think it would make anyone that sad since it was just a short, rushed thing. Lol I agree Thatch and Usopp would be awesome together. You're welcome~
ClaireWalters: Yep, whole crew as Marines. Though I'm going to skim it because redoing the entire canon would be boring and time consuming :P Well some of them are going to have VERY different experiences in joining, like Robin and Franky. But you'll have to wait quite a while for that. You're welcome~
Starry Roses: Hehe yep, Thatch is awesome like that. I actually think Thatch was in the story more than Marco up until this point. That's kind of shocking for me. That's a bit of his OOC acting up, yes. And if you keep it in mind you'll start to understand why he's indifferent to it in future chapters. (Though it wasn't them being terrorized that he didn't care about, it was the fact they were scared of Marines. He didn't care because there are many places in the Grand Line he'd been to that didn't welcome the Marines or were scared of them. He DID care about what Morgan was doing.)
Galymed: Heh the timeline is VERY different already :P For one Thatch died around a year before Luffy set sail (because Teach was at Drum Island a year before he got there) and honestly I'm screwing with the timeline left and right in this story. If you mean the order of events, even that's going to be messed with. If you mean the plot/what happens, well, you get the picture. Lol really? Everyone was suspecting it as soon as Luffy left the Moby Dick XD Honestly, you probably don't wanna know what happened 3 years ago...
Pokabu: Thanks for all the reviews! Meh, I don't mind spam unless it's Divide because that story updates based on the review count :P Lol yep, this Luffy can be pretty tsundere at times. You'll see that when he encounters Ace again. Glad you liked that part! As you can see from this chapter, the line was much more important than it seemed. And it'll be mentioned again, so don't forget it! Hehe yeah, gotta love that, right? You can even see his tsundere qualities in this chapter if you look :P He's very different from how he used to be that way, since he was originally very blunt about how he felt.
WeissDragon: Glad you did! I'll be doing that for all of the crew joining, only adding the parts that I deem necessary and showing the most important changes to the canon. Don't need it to drag on for 10 years like the actual manga, right? XD Yep, it is. But I guess it would have been sadder if I waited to kill him off :/ Oh well.
spoons-are-evil: Yep, Oda is definitely a troll. If I'm the Troll Empress he's the Troll Overlord. I mean Ace died 3 years ago and he STILL shoves it in our faces! Dick move, right there. Good question :P I actually was thinking up ways of how he might have done it. Came up with some ideas but, well, not sure how he got the furniture to stay still long enough to get it nailed there :P Of course it was Teach! Who else would stoop so low?! Well yes everyone will join, but let's just say that things are DRASTICALLY different once he returns to the Grand Line.
zoel black: I'll be working on Reversed Reverse after I get the Mafia bonus for Resolve done, don't worry!
xXxWolvesInTheNightxXx: Glad you like!
MeikoKuran999: Glad you like!
Lunacii: Sorry u_u It's for the plot.
Bluebird42: Nope, he keeps forgetting! XD
Kitsune Foxfire: Hehehe well, I AM the Troll Empress :P Sometimes. I've been pretty nice lately with most of my stories, don't you think? Yes, yes he is. That's why I was sad to kill him off so early, even though I love the guy :/ Well, at least he's in Skip, Divide and To Be a Boy, right? For now. Well, let's just say that, while things appear almost the same now, drastic changes occur after they enter the Grand Line. (Lol nope he'll never learn, just like he'll never fix his directional confusion.)
Prusse: Hehe actually the title isn't referencing that it's a reverse of One Piece, it's... You know what? I'm sure you'll figure it out! Hehehe your questions shall be answered in time.
Son Goshen: Nope, the person I'm going to kill off IS someone else. Thatch's death was obvious so I didn't count it. I did push back the death I was talking about, though. Messed with the plot a bit. Wanted to make sure you guys started really liking the character before I offed it :P It appears that there's going to be pleanty of canon. There will be, to some degree. But... it'll be different. Very, very different. Nope, Ace isn't going to East Blue. Has no reason to. Oh no. If it was something as simple as Ace's death, I wouldn't really call it that sad. I mean you've already seen Ace die. If it's canon I won't consider it sad, even if it is. Actually I based Luffy's asshole-ness off of Divide!Sabo :P So yes, they're alike.
Cyborgnetics: Lol it's okay XD
Natylol: Sorry, it's for the plot :/ Though now that I've been writing Imagined Life I feel even worse about killing off characters. Just keep imagining Thatch showing up and being like "Why would you do that?!"
Sealing Mistress: Not a prank, sadly.
azab: Hehehe we all wanna kill Teach XD
Neko-VongolaPrimo: Sorry, he's dead :/ I know he's amazing! That's why he's in most of my fics! I love the guy! Well technically no, the person I mentioned was not Thatch, but Thatch still dies. Sadly I didn't bother with their reactions since the story isnt' focused on them :/
Williamgbirkin: Nope not LuNa. I don't ship that couple. Sorry.
SioQu: Hehe yep!
ASLfangirl: Hehe yep, no way he'd wait to rise up in rank like Coby :P
Naru-sama: Glad you like~
caring16: To be honest I leave a lot up to my reviewers/fans. How is the world doomed, exactly? They made a good decision, I think, and they've stuck with me all the way til this point. Their opinions and reviews have helped shape this story and I'd say they did a pretty damn good job, too. Sure it's not my best fic, but it's at least better than Skip which is my most followed and uses no fan opinions to shape it. I don't care what you say, freedom of speech. I personally find that sticking to your own opinion and not asking for help/advice from fans leads to ruin in fanfiction :P Hell, they've helped me out with this, the level of mature content in To Be a Boy, the plot for Resolve, the pairing for Divide, and the length of Imagined Life. Asking them questions is something I will enver regret. But of course you are entitled to your own opinion :) And why wouldn't I want to know what you think? I'm always interested in hearing the opinions of my readers. I don't like the authors that simply ignore what their fans have to say. Don't apologise, you are perfectly entitled to whatever you wish to say :) Though I with you would have mentioned the story itself hehe...
deadlycute17: Yes, Zoro is really going to be a Marine. Shocking, isn't it? XD Here's an update!
Sully-van: You should do your homework and use fanfiction as a prize for finishing it! That's what I do! Like I have 3 or 4 chapters to read but I waited until finishing this to do so. They'll be my reward hehe~ Glad you think it was worth it ^^ Hope you enjoyed~
(Crap. I don't know why but my wrist and fingers hurt. For those of you who know about my hand injury: don't worry, it's the other hand that's hurting. Sadly I don't think I can write anymore tonight because of it, though. I was going to get started on the next chapter because I'm all pumped =3= Damn. Oh and sorry for there not being any omake last chapter. Kinda got lazy :P But you get one this chapter so you'll forgive me, right? Good. Adieu~)