Watching Willow and her attentive excitement and awe was almost as good as watching the show. She was smiling, on her hands and knees with her head tilted back. On occasion she'd let out a whispered 'whoa' and even fewer times she'd look back at me and ask if I had seen the previous one, as if she thought that i had blinked and happened to miss it. She also muttered to herself about the strange color they had manifested or the design or shape that she hadn't seen before.
In all honesty her excitement and the fact that her eyes were glued to the sky reminded me of Luffy. Hell if I tried hard enough I could see him right there next to her, on his hands and knees leaning out over the water as far as he could without falling in with his big mouth hanging agape as he ooed and aahed in pure delight with bright shining eyes.
When the loud and grand finale ended so did her excitement and she seemed to remember that she was not alone out here that I was here with her. "D-did you . . ." she covered her face with her hands before muttering, "You just saw all of that didn't you?"
I laughed at her and stood, offering my hand out for her to take. As she took it I said with the index finger of my other hand pressed to my lips, "It'll be our secret. I won't tell a soul." That's what she was probably the most worried about, which was quite amusing considering that I was Fire Fist Ace, second division commander of Pops' crew.
"Promise?" She asked giving me this dubious look.
"Pinkie swear." I confirmed hooking our pinkies together. "Do you want to go home or ride around a bit?" However before Willow could answer my question I made up my mind and said, "Nah. The night's still young; we've got some time to kill."
"Wait Ace!" She began to shriek as I turned around and began speeding around. A hand grabbed me by the belt loops of my pants.
Oops I suppose I should have made sure that she wasn't going to fall off before I started moving. But I wasn't used to other people being on my little boat with me.
There was a bit of movement behind me before arms wrapped around my chest and legs around my waist one again. She also buried her face into my shoulder again.
"Open your eyes." I tried again. I could feel her heart pounding through the fabric of the dress that she was wearing that's how tightly she was holding on to me.
"I-if I do w-will you stop yelling at me?"
"Sure." And sure enough she lifted her head. After that she didn't put it down.
After god only knows how long of zooming around in the water, in the moonlit dark and mostly in silence I asked, "Ready to go back in?"
"Not really. This . . . it's kind of fun. But we should probably head back."
So that's what we did. When my boat would go no farther I hopped out, helped Willow out and after a word of thanks and a splash as her sandaled feet slapped into the shallow water before she said, "Thanks for the entire night. It was really fun."
"It's not over until we're back at your house silly." I told her even though I had no farther plans, nothing else for us to do.
"W-what?" she looked baffled and asked, "Wh-what do you mean?" As if my words didn't have an already rather clear meaning behind them.
I just ruffled her hair and said, "Nothing much."
She grumbled something incomprehensible and was about to say something when a slightly familiar sounding voice cut her off, "Are you having fun you little whore?"
Willow's laughter instantly died and she shifted behind me as I whorled around to face the voice.
"YOU!" I shouted while pointing at the blonde, his words from the bar coming back to me. The 'if I couldn't have her then no one can' echoed around my head as though he had just repeated them.
As the blonde threw back his head and laughed I twisted around and asked another rather obvious question. I just wanted to make sure that I was going to get the right guy before I actually got him. "Is that the guy?" She nodded her head, giving me her answer, her seal of approval. "Don't worry your pretty little head." I added with a quickly flashed smile at her before turning around.
"W-Wait." She whimpered. "D-don't kill him."
I nearly hung my head. How else was I going to take care of this guy if I left him alive and kicking? "What else am I supposed to do Willow?" I asked with a heavy sigh.
"A-anything but kill him."
"If I let him live he can do things to other people." I informed her hoping to change her mind. Things would be so much easier if I could just kill the guy.
"I-I know but-"
"You'll be doing the world a favor." I tried again. "Besides you don't have to watch." Maybe she didn't want to see the grotesque result of a human coming in contact with my fire.
"Please don't." she begged.
"Why don't you head on home and I'll catch up later? Would that make you feel better?" I could understand if she didn't want to watch me burn this guy into an unrecognizable crisp, it would probably traumatize her if she did, but I wasn't just going to scar the guy beyond recognition. What would the point of that be?
"O-ok." She muttered obviously defeated.
And with that she started towards the festival without me with her head down and her eyes downcast. But that didn't stop the blonde bastard from walking over to her and grabbing her around her waist and pulling her into his chest. She struggled but failed to break free as he said things that I couldn't quite hear to her.
I frowned. Shit, I should have thought to tell her how to kick the shins, stomp on the toes or elbow the guy in the gut. However she wasn't in the position to really the guy or kick him in the shins. "Hey!" I shouted before sending a blast of fire towards the pair. It dissipated before it reached them and therefore didn't hurt Willow. Which meant that it also didn't hurt whatever his name was.
The guy's attention turned from Willow and harassing her to me with narrowed eyes. He roughly shoved her away from him. And of course since Willow wasn't the best coordinated person that I had met she fell into the sand. She began crawling away. Willow was half way to her feet when the order to sit down and stay right there until he was done with me was harshly barked at her. A threat followed and she obeyed.
"What? That bitch is mine." He growled at me slowly walking towards me as if he were controlling his plain to see anger. Jeez he was a bit temperamental. It was as though he thought that his angry and threatening aura as well as his puffed out chest could scare me away.
I couldn't help but laugh at this guy. We had already had a little tussle and I had been the victor of that. And now he was trying to intimidate me. Well I guess he didn't have a very good memory. The situation was laughable; the person who had done those things to Willow was laughable.
It wasn't until he was close enough for me to not have to raise my voice did I choose to childishly say, "You know I didn't see your name written on her."
"Did you look?" He sneered as if he thought that he had me there.
"Of course I did." I lied with a smile. "You know I made Willow a promise to take care of you-"
The guy cut me off with a forced laugh before pulling out a switchblade that i couldn't help but laugh at. He let out an enraged growl as he began swinging it around like a novice, as though he didn't even know how to use his own weapon. I dodged every swing, stab and arc easily, occasionally even letting the blade slide through my fiery chest like butter for nothing more than for the fun of it.
As I did so I didn't let the conversation drop.
"I've got no qualms about killing you. But fortunately enough for you Willow is just such a generous person. She just wants me to scar you beyond recognition." I lied yet again just to get a reaction out of him since it wasn't near as hard as getting a decent sized response out of Willow.
Actually fighting him wouldn't be very hard or satisfying either. And it didn't promise to be a very fun fight, which kind of sucked. But I was going to make it as fun as I possibly could. I didn't even have to be serious about this or him. I've fought more experienced, more enraged, more jealous men (and occasionally a woman) then him before. I'd compare him to a piece of cake or pie but I didn't want to insult the pieces of pie and or cake.
The guy whose name I didn't even know, let out yet another enraged shout before he lunged at me, tossing his blade aside with outstretched arms and hands aiming for my neck. Turning into fire yet again I let out a laugh and spun around to face him. "You know you're going to have to try harder than that if you want to beat me."
For a fight there was certainly a lot of laughter and rather silly looking hopping around on Ace's part. There weren't many physical blows that were exchanged and every time I caught a glimpse of Ace's face illuminated by his body turning into fire; he was smiling, grinning almost devilishly, as if he were having fun. Ace was having fun! He shouldn't be having fun. He should be taking this seriously, not lightly.
When I saw Masa's face I saw that his eyes were narrowed and his face was contorted in a mask of murderous intent, the polar opposite of Ace's face.
I sat there feeling both completely and utterly helpless and grateful at the same time. I was glad that Ace was taking care of Masa for me, but he shouldn't be doing this for me. It wasn't his fight to fight, his battle to win. This wasn't his business but mine. Really he had no place in this, even though I had dragged him into it.
"A-Ace." I called out after a long while of watching them dance around the beach. Once I got his attention I stood and waved him over to me, unwilling to put myself closer to Masa then I needed to be.
Ace turned his back to the guy and their fight and jogged over to me after tripping Masa face first into the sand. "Pleeease tell me you want me to actually kill him now." He begged as though he needed my permission to kill Masa.
I shook my head and wet my lips as I wrung my hands. "N-no. you . . . you see I-I was thinking th-that . . ." I trailed off as I watched Masa get up and head our way looking even more pissed then before. "ThatIcouldtakecareofhimmysel f." I rushed out trying to speak before the petrifying fear took over and before Masa could reach us. I was scared and nervous but I had made up my mind. And Ace and him being here was what was inspiring me to keep to my decision.
Ace raised an eyebrow and stepped aside before making a sweeping gesture with his arm towards the charging blonde. "He's all yours. Do you need a weapon?" He asked reaching for the small dagger strapped to the middle of his pant leg.
Had he always had that on him? I wondered with a frown. What if he had? Jeez if I knew he had that before we went on his boat I certainly wouldn't have gone with him.
"I-I was . . . well you see I was hoping that I could use your . . . fire?" I was still torn between making him suffer the rest of his life as a terribly scarred man or to simply deliver him a very painful death. I knew that I had no chance against him with a simple dagger and my own skills. Even though he had looked as though he had been flailing around when he was facing Ace. The problem was that I was not Ace, I'm not sure i could wield even a pencil or something that's not really a weapon correctly.
I bit my bottom lip before nodding my head without a sound. He was quite an open guy and he was now obviously quite shocked at what I had just said but at least he wasn't the angry kind of shocked. I didn't know what I'd do if he were.
"Did I hear-Did you ask-That-Are you possessed?"
I shook my head no. I was not possessed. But said, "Y-yeah you heard me correctly." I muttered taking a step back as Ace delivered a good solid kick to the middle of Masa's chest and sent him flying back, almost all the way to the shore line, giving us a bit more time to talk.
"Do you think you're up to it?" He looked the most unsure that I had ever seen him look. It was as though he wanted me to rethink my decision. I nodded and he asked another question, "Do you think you can handle it?"
I nodded again and said, "Y-yeah. I mean you-you have no reason to fight him, let alone take his life. But you have enough strength and the ability to do so . . . I-I mean I know what you promised out there but-"
A hand landed on my head and when I looked up I saw that not only was Ace grinning widely but there was a spark of something that I couldn't quite name in his eyes. "No worries I get it. You just need a bit of help."
Those words seemed to lift the weight off my shoulders. That was a relief because not only was Masa circling the two of us now, searching for the best time and place to strike but Ace was holding him at bay with small blast of fire.
"Just tell me when you're ready." He said grabbing my shoulders, spinning me around and then pulling me into a backwards hug with his arms out in front of us, forearms resting on the tops of my shoulders. I nervously said ok as the thought of him being able to spontaneously combust came into mind. "I'll blast 'em at your word."
Masa laughed, stopped his wide circling, and began strolling towards us sneering, "Aaaww how revoltingly cute. But honey you aren't delusional enough to really think that you have the guts it takes to follow through with your fruitless little plan. Step away from the damn pirate, can't you see he's leading you astray form yourself, form your goals and morals? See how he's using you as a shield? What kind of man does that?"
I let out a choked laugh. What the hell was he trying to say? Was he trying to convince me to step out of the safety of Ace's arms, out of the security that Ace was providing for me at the moment? Was he trying to tell me to get closer to my would be demise? I wet my lips and began speaking, "Get out of here Masa. Go be-before I do something I know that I-I'll regret." It was comforting to know that someone as strong as Ace was at my back and willing to help me, that I wasn't facing Masa alone, that he was stronger than my wavering voice.
But instead of heeding my warning he lunged at us, his knife catching the light of the not too far away festival. I tried to take a step back but only pressed into Ace's strong and solid chest. "ACE!" I screeched beginning to panic. He had the real control of his devil fruit, of his fire, not me. This wasn't like pulling a trigger, not when the trigger was a word that we hadn't even decided on.
"I think that's my cue man." Ace's voice said with a laugh and a feigned apologetic tone.
A laugh! Ace was still laughing!
How could he laugh at something, at situation like this?
The stream of fire hit his entire figure but I hesitantly grabbed his arms and directed it at his hands and arms shouting something about this was for hitting me. That had taken place since the start of our short lived relationship. I really didn't know what I yelled at him but I knew that I was. And I must admit it felt good, really good, fantastic even despite what I was doing to him.
He was screaming and trying to convince me to stop but I felt like the bolder of emotional build up had been put into motion and until it hit the bottom it wouldn't stop, i wouldn't stop.
After both hands were blackened and charred I directed Ace's flame at his face, at his mouth specifically then began yelling about how that was for all of the foul things he had said to me, the things he had called me. I paid no mind to the fact that the flame had gotten small enough to only really affect his mouth a lower face, to scar only that part of his face. Next to be scorched was his groin. It's what he deserved really.
All the while Masa was screaming curses and threats at me, yelling and shouting over my screams and shouts. He was howling and grunting, wreathing and crying out in pain and agony. And the sick thing was that it made me smile, I was glad that he was suffering, it was almost as if it were making me high.
His screams were long gone but his voice wasn't, he was making lots of pleading sounds and his eyes were begging me to stop, to put him out of his misery or something of the sort. Ace's fire revealed streaks left by tears running down his face. He had fallen to his knees and had the charred remains of what were his hands collapsed together his eyes were no longer filled with anger and rage but instead fear and shock.
I found it kind of funny that he was willing to try and negotiate now, now that I had ruined his strong face, now that his hands and face were beyond repair, beyond recognition, now that he would have to suffer the rest of his life with more than just scarred flesh. If I let him live, every day he would remember me. His hate would probably fester and build but what could he do to me without hands and without a mouth to abuse and hurt me with?
"That's enough Ace." I said quietly in a voice that sounded foreign to even my own ears.
"What are we not going to kill him?!" How could he sound so upset that I wasn't willing to actually kill the guy.
"Ace, I can't kill him." I whispered as I took in the sight before me.
Had I done that? Was I to blame for the permanently damaged being before us?
Instantly I let go of Ace's wrists and clutched my hands to my chest.
Ace let out a curse and asked "Did I burn you too?" His voice was far away but I knew that he was close; I could feel his strong chest pressed against my back. I couldn't move, my eyes were fixated at the moaning and whimpering, still obviously human figure not ten yards before me. When I didn't answer my shoulders were grabbed and I was turned around, my gaze was torn form Masa and turned to Ace's concerned freckled face.
My hands were grabbed and were examined before deemed unburned.
Despite that and Ace's still talking close to me voice, it sounded far away from me. I was going to cause Masa to suffer a miserable life until he died or committed suicide because he couldn't stand the shunning and rejection. He would lose all of his miserable friends and be unable to find love- as if he was going to find that ever. I could just imagine the horrible things they'd say behind his back and the even worse things they'd say to his face. He'd be isolated and alone, miserable and I'd be to blame for that.
Every day he'd suffer, I was the sole person to blame for that and he wouldn't soon forget it. He knew where I lived and the human mind could be such an unbelievably conniving, crafty, cunning and unpleasant thing.
"Hey . . . Willow?" I heard his voice but it didn't register until I was lightly shaken by my shoulders. "Hey, are you alright?"
Willow began shaking in my arms but she was silent, her gaze fixed on the pathetic excuse of a human before us. He couldn't even take death graciously or quietly. Granted that death by fire was quite painful and surprisingly enough Willow hadn't gone straight for the kill.
I was rather surprised when she had decided to burn certain parts of him such as his hands, his mouth and his groin- that last one looked and sounded painful, it even made me a bit squeamish just watching my fire and hearing his screams.
I hadn't burned her so why was she acting like this?
To be honest I didn't know that I was supposed to do. I asked her if she was ok but it took a few minutes for her to respond. Her eyes focused on me, not whatever else she was seeing and she shook her head before reaching up and lightly removing my hands from her shoulders.
With an almost sad shake of her head she said, "I-I wanted . . . I want to th-thank you for th-the wonderfully . . . fun week. You -you were great company. . . .But. . ." trailing off she took a few steps back with another shake of her head. "Wh-when I'm gone you can finish him. B-but this," she wet her lips with a short pause, "is-b-bye." And with that she turned around and dashed off.
I could have ran after her and caught up pretty easily. I could have stopped her but I just stood there with an unfinished job to complete.
"Wait what?" I asked aloud feeling stupid as I stood there dumbfounded and scratching the back of my head.
What the hell had just happened?
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