So this is my newest One Piece fanfic and my first AceLu couple story. I actually have 4 chapters done already but I'm going to release them when I don't have anything else to update (Skip will hopefully be up tomorrow). As a general warning, the plot's start is going to be the slowest of all of my fics. This is partially due to it being a full AU story (though the setting is very similar to the canon) and, that being the case, I want to fully create the setting. Hopefully you won't mind because this story as a general rule will have the longest chapters of all of my stories thus far (I've gotten 11,677 words in just the first 4 chapters) and will include lots of fluffy AceLu romance later on :)
Though it's marked as an AceLu story, Sabo is also a main character. For the first little while he's going to show up most often because he's basically the connection between Ace and Luffy, as well as the person who propels the story forward most often.
Warning: Because it's an Alternate Universe story, expect the characters to be OOC to some degree. I will not apologise. If you don't like how they act or what they do then I suggest you stop reading. I don't mind constructive criticism, but please don't flame me because I changed the characters up a bit. Also it has a T rating because of language and violence and, eventually, there is a possibility of implied intercourse. Relax, nothing outright, just implied. That's it, I promise.
Disclaimer: You tell me - do I own One Piece? I think we all know the answer to that.
Tiny, frail limbs danced across the dirt, feet muddied and drenched from the ongoing downpour. The child ran faster than his legs could carry him, panting hysterically as the raw sensation in his throat scraped the inner workings of his flesh. It didn't matter how much it hurt. It didn't matter that he was tired. He just had to run.
Turning the corner, the boy slammed into something and his head met the ground. He paused to rub his sore back and skull, taking in the additional pain with only a few tears.
"Are you ok?" a young voice beckoned. Opening his eyes, the child stared blankly at the person and the outstretched hand before him. Looking the other boy up and down, he noticed that he was probably the same age, or a little older. The other boy's face was dotted with tiny freckles and accented by the long, black waves draping slightly over his eyes.
Still curiously analyzing the other kid, the boy nodded slowly and was helped to his feet. He watched the larger boy strangely once he noticed his clothes – they were tattered and worn, a dull brown that contrasted very clearly with his own neat and refined ensemble. He hadn't seen anyone wear such odd clothing before and noted that he would never see a family member or friend in such dingy clothes. But he liked them—they looked comfortable. Easy to run in.
Then he remembered. Entering a frenzied panic, he scurried his vision all around. No one was there. He was relieved, but in no way felt safe. He had to get out of there.
"Hey, is something wrong?" The other asked. His attention was brought back to the other young—though much taller—boy. The stranger had given him a look-over, most likely noticing the blood and bruises scattered across his face and hands. Or maybe he was looking at the huge, infected, x-shaped gash on his chest. Or his tiny, frail body that was thinner than it should be. Whatever it was, he looked concerned. "What happened?"
"I can't!" the younger stuttered, knowing that every second wasted there would risk his recapture. He had to get moving. He had to get out of there. "They'll find me! I have to go!"
He started to dash off when he was pulled back by a hand on his wrist; small like his but with strength he did not possess. He wasn't scared, though. This hand was reassuring, so very unlike the one that had been thrust upon him so many times before. Turning slowly, he took the other boy's form in with a questioning stare.
"Wait," he commanded, voice firm and protective, "I'll help you."
The men dashed through the dark, secluded streets. Looking over their shoulders now and then, they waited for their pursuer to emerge from the blackness they left behind. Nothing. Being heavily out of breath, they started to lose momentum and entered a slow jog. Even their adrenaline was starting to wear off. It was only a matter of time.
"Think we lost him?" one asked, panting uncontrollably as his feet faltered under his weight. Before the other was given the chance to answer, the sound of wood clacking against the ground entered their ears. The steps were even and unwavering. Bold. Calm, even.
"Who, me?" a youthful voice teased, smile clear in his tone.
The two shot their heads backwards, mortified by what they saw. A short, lanky teen stood behind them. Though it was a challenge to see, they made out a simple, red vest and dark blue shorts. A straw hat sat atop a matted mess of black hair, strands making their way into his eyes. The man didn't look tough by far but the ones he was chasing knew otherwise. They had heard the stories and the wry smile the teen wore paled their faces into a sickly white. That smile was deadly.
"Straw Hat!" they screeched, frozen in place by barely visible eyes.
"Where were we again?" He cracked his knuckles, wooden sandals clicking as he took a few intimidating steps.
"Luffy, how many times have I told you not to go out on your own?" a red-haired girl asked, threateningly tapping her finger in her impatience.
"Don't give me that! You never keep a low profile. You're on the front page. Again!" She was ready to tear out her own hair, watching her leader's pout as she so frequently did. Really, he would be the death of her one day. His constant antics were succeeding in stressing her out to new levels.
"At least they still don't have a picture of him," a long-nosed boy with black curls announced, trying to calm his fuming friend in an effort to save their leader from a beating. Though she was not as formidable an opponent in battle, she was able to put every one of their nakama in their places. That included the one they admired and followed, Luffy.
Luffy grinned at his friend, Usopp, in a silent show of gratitude. He knew that he would always have his back, even when he was the one at fault. Of course, he knew this wouldn't help calm the angry strategist, but the sentiment itself was enough.
"They may not have a photo but now they have a description!" She tore the paper from the table and began reciting the tiny section she was referring to. "The deviant has been spotted wearing a red vest, blue shorts and sandals. In each encounter, he has been scene with a straw hat either atop his head or strapped to his back." Then she proceeded to glare daggers at the man in question, giving him a chance to explain himself before she ripped him to shreds.
Before he had a chance to retaliate, a lean blonde clad in black answered, speaking in elation at the sight of the woman in front of him—the one he had been swooning over for several years. "That's not much for them to go on. They didn't mention any of his features, so it should be fine. I wouldn't worry too much Nami-swan." He normally would take Nami's side regardless, but the description was hardly a development. Luffy was infamous in the Underground and his straw hat was known as his signature item, so that being mentioned in the paper didn't matter much; it just meant that he was being recognized above ground, too. Sure he would have to watch out for guards and officers and other law enforcers, but a quick change of clothes would be enough to fool them. Because their group always worked at night it was easy for them to hide their faces in the darkness. None had bounty posters… yet.
"But Sanji, he never takes his damn hat off!" she whined, pointing to the raven-haired boy with a furrowed brow. "We all know that he's going to be stupid at some point and wear it above ground in the daylight. It's only a matter of time."
"Well…" She had a point. Their leader wasn't exactly tactful. In fact, he was dimwitted and never thought his actions through. That accounted for the previous night, as well: some thugs had been snooping around the area, trying to find their base of operations, and he had taken it upon himself to beat them to a bloody pulp without so much as a word to the other Straw Hats—at least not until he got back. Sparks had been flying ever since.
"I'll be careful, Nami," the boy beamed, trying to rest her worries. She had a short fuse but it was only because she cared for her nakama. In a way, Luffy found them to be quite similar; when the people he cared about were in danger he didn't think rationally. The night before, he had gone after those two jerks and broke most of their bones because he feared their hideout would be discovered. If it was, all of them would be in danger. He didn't need to risk that. The nine of them were like family, after all.
Nami sighed. "You'd better. No wearing that hat in public, alright? It's really noticeable."
Luffy nodded. "Okay!"
"Anyways," a deep voice bellowed from the corner of the room. The sound came from a tall, muscular man with green hair and tanned skin. He stood slightly away from the rest of the group and leaned against the wall with his arms folded. "Why did you call us here? Got something planned?"
"Oh, right!" The leader placed his fist in his palm, recollection apparent on his face. The man's mouth curved into a slight smile at this—he knew that when they were all gathered it was because their "boss" had something big planned. Hopefully this time it would result in some fights because he wanted another chance to use his swords. Practicing was only entertaining for so long. "So, you know those guys from last night?"
Five of the members nodded while the rest replied with a firm "yes". Of course they knew! It was plastered all over the news that morning!
"They were from the Whitebeard gang, right Leader?" a tall, eloquent woman with ebony hair asked, blue eyes reflecting in the dim lights of their base. The girl, Robin, held her usual soft smile on her face, sitting at a table near the main group.
The rest stared, dumbfounded for a brief moment. They didn't know that, but somehow Robin did. They didn't like the sounds of it, either. The Whitebeards were a dangerous group which currently held the most territory and power in the area. Definitely not to be messed with. The group could only imagine the reasons they were hunting around for information on the Straw Hats, but each possible scenario left knots in their stomachs.
"We're gonna take 'em out," Luffy beamed, not a shred of hesitation in his voice. The other members stared at him with blank faces that quickly shifted to horror and disbelief. He was putting them up to a suicide mission.
After sneaking away from his gang, Luffy slipped back into his part of town—a place foreign to his friends from the slums. Entering a gated area that kept the rich separate from the poor, he made his way down the stone streets and past the extravagant restaurants to the residential area, slipping into his house when no one was home. He knew he had to get out of his street clothes; that attire, though extremely comfortable, was unacceptable in his society. Wearing informal garb was equal to being a savage in the eyes of the nobles.
Racing up the stairs and to his room, Luffy rummaged through his closet. As he did so, he was reminded of how careful he had to be from now on—not of the government officers in the middle and poor areas of the city, but of his friends from there. He'd known them for many, many years and they had become more suspicious as of late. This was because they, essentially, knew nothing about his past. He never mentioned his family or home, or anything related to his personal life outside of the gang, for that matter. It was all a big secret. If they knew, he would be tossed aside. They hated nobles.
After slipping on a dark suit, he hopped back down the stairs and inhaled a quick meal which resulted in an empty fridge. The young noble hurriedly headed out the door to a rather desolate area of town. This was the only place in High Town that remained, for the most part, empty. It was his favourite place. There he didn't have to watch a myriad of self-righteous bluebloods act nice to each other to keep up relations. He hated the nobles and himself for being born into such a twisted society. Though Low Town had more violent crimes and significantly worse living conditions, he preferred it because the people were real. They didn't care who you were; they would speak their minds regardless. Brutally honest.
"Hey!" he heard a voice call from behind as a firm grip rested on his shoulder. Luffy's face lifted from his dark thoughts as he recognized the sound. He spun around cheerily to see a tall, slightly older blonde standing behind him.
"Sabo!" With that greeting, the man took a seat next to his friend. He was wearing his usual blue suit and top hat that was so like yet unlike the attire of the other nobles. He was one of the few bluebloods Luffy didn't mind. In fact, the two were very close; brothers by bond and not blood.
"I saw the paper," he teased, resting his arm on the back of the bench they were on. Luffy gave him a proud laugh and Sabo watched him curiously, knowing full-well that he was up to something. It was rare for the boy to plan, but when he did he always went to new lengths and surprised him. It was both unnerving and exciting to see that grin of his. "So what are you plotting this time?" He took the unnatural silence that followed as a cue. The noble was all too familiar with his friend's serious atmosphere.
"…I think I can start looking for him soon."
Sabo stayed silent and pondered the bug-eyed teen's words momentarily. It clicked quickly. "You mean the kid who saved you, right?"
"Yeah. It's because of him that I'm still here and that I'm strong enough to protect my friends. I want to thank him properly for what he did back then."
"But…?" Over the years, Sabo had become accustomed to Luffy's uncharacteristic moments. Whenever his friends or saviour were involved, he was suddenly more mature and focused than his usual, brainless self. It was strange, but equally charming.
"But there's one more thing I have to do first."
"Take out Whitebeard's boss!" He watched the older noble's face turn to an expression identical to the ones on the faces of his friends from the slums and his smile widened. "Shishishi!"
"You…" The blonde pinched the bridge of his nose, predicting the headache about to ensue. Luffy had always been reckless. He knew that all too well—he was the one who was left cleaning up his messes—but lately he had taken it to a whole new level. Whitebeard was the strongest gang around and he knew that Luffy was also aware of that fact. Too aware. "…You're serious, aren't you?"
Sabo's face contorted into a resigned anguish and he knew he was going to somehow get roped into helping his little brother out… again. He heaved a sigh and turned to the tiny teen, watching his grin with half-lidded eyes. "Why them, of all people? They're the strongest power in this city."
His older friend groaned. Of course. "Well, I should have expected something like this from you. Have you heard the rumors?" Watching his friend's vacant expression, he had his answer. That kid was going to get him killed one of those days. "The old man's retiring. Apparently his successor is ridiculously strong."
"Good," Luffy stated, flashing a wicked, toothy grin. It wouldn't be any fun if he wasn't strong. He needed to fight the strongest. He needed to prove himself to his hero. When he finally met him again, he would show him that he was strong—that he was able to protect the people he cared about. Only then would he be able to properly thank him for that day twelve years ago. "How'd you know that, anyways?"
"Well," Sabo began with a grin identical to Luffy's, "their old man's been trying to track me down lately." He seemed rather proud of himself, gaining the attention of the Underground's biggest influence. Of course, no one other than Luffy knew who he was. He hadn't been in the papers or media even once. His antics were, though. Even after six years no one knew who was causing such a mess in the Underground. Now Whitebeard was searching. If anyone could discover Sabo's identity, it was him. He had connections. Still, the smug blonde wasn't worried in the least, or so it appeared. He was pretty happy with himself, actually. "I've been keeping an eye on their movements."
"Why are they after you?"
"No idea." The man slouched back in his spot on the bench, a posture foreign to most nobles, and gave in to his exhausted brain. In all of his searching he hadn't come across the reason yet, which was abnormal. His information network was so far-spread that he was aware of all of Low Town's workings. Everything. Only that eluded him. "I can't be certain, but it might be for the same reason they're looking for you."
He felt his younger friend tense beside him. Luffy was always very protective of the people close to him, especially the ones from Low Town. They were his friends. His family. And though he and Sabo bonded as brothers, he worried more about his nakama in the slums. Sabo could take care of himself, but the Straw Hats were new to the kind of violence they were now a part of. Though both Luffy and Sabo were bluebloods by birth, they went through hardship and life-threatening danger throughout the entirety of their lives. The two nobles had indispensable experience and knowledge that the others did not.
Feeling the tension grow too thick, Sabo felt it best to change the subject.
"Let's just say you do take down Whitebeard's boss; how do you plan on finding that kid?"
"By searching," Luffy stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. This only caused his older brother to sigh.
"What's his name? I'll see what I can find." He knew that the chances of Luffy finding some guy from twelve years ago were slim, at least without help from his information system.
He slapped his palm to his forehead. "Of course." Luffy had never been a very bright little brother; that was certain. "Then what does he look like?"
"Can't remember." Sabo glared daggers at the boy who, in turn, shrunk away from his accusing expression. "It was twelve years ago! It's all a big blur."
"Then how do you expect to find him? You don't know anything about the guy!"
"He was really strong!"
Logic going over the boy's head, Sabo gave in. He could only deal with that little brother of his for so long. He loved him to death but sometimes the lack of brain cells in the boy's head would wear him down. Nobody could defeat him… except Luffy.
A/N: So there you go! Thoughts? Opinions? If you're upset that Ace wasn't in the first chapter then don't worry because he's in chapter 2 which is my favourite so far (mainly because of Sabo being an ass). So like I said, slow start. Also Ace won't be in it too much until around chapter 5 because of the way the plot is laid out. After that, though, he'll be in it just as much as Luffy and Sabo! Also feel free to tell me any predictions you may have :D
Luffy as a noble...it's just so wrong, isn't it? XD
Wow, for once I don't have a string of replies to write... Make sure to review, my lovlies! I have more chapters done already and I'll release them more often if it's popular. I waited to upload it until now so that I'd have something to update even when I get busy and can't work on writing. Hopefully it lasts for a while.
UPDATE: Since my hand is hurt I'm bored and I decided I would reread the chapters of this story and put a hunt count in the Author's Notes for the people who are also bored and wanna catch the little things I left. That way you'll know if you missed something! :) To clarify, these hints consist of tiny bits of the characters past/how their pasts affected them, foreshadowing, important things to note ect. (Since we're backtracking, some of the hints may have been revealed in chapters that are already up.)
Until next time, lovelies~