Summary: Ace contemplates on his feelings for Luffy while noticing about the great change he went through as he spent his life with him.
Luffy had always been with Ace for as long as the older teen could remember.
When they were young, Luffy was really attached towards him, especially after Sabo's death. At first, Ace found it troublesome because he wasn't used to other people's presence. However as time went by, he grew more comfortable with having Luffy nearby and felt strange whenever he wasn't around. He changed after being brothers with Sabo and Luffy. He changed even more as the importance of Luffy's presence grew along. The quarrels they used to have wasn't as harsh anymore and sometimes, they could go on for a month without fighting. Gradually, Ace became more like how a real kind and caring big brother should be.
While Luffy didn't change much, Ace became more calm and composed. The people around him knew that it was only his outer appearance as Ace could never control the terrible temper he always had. Whenever someone insulted a person close to him (especially Luffy), he would quickly flew into a fit of rage. But he could never get as angry at Luffy anymore.
Even Ace realized that it was weird. There was no way that a normal person would change so drastically out of nowhere, right? As he went for a little soul-searching, he found that he didn't see Luffy the same way as he did when he was a child anymore. While Luffy had grown more important to him, there was some special, mysterious feelings he felt towards him that he couldn't put a finger on. His smiles, his hugs, his compliments and his everything. They all became a huge part of his life.
It wasn't normal at all. It was unusual for a big brother to feel this way towards a younger brother. He could've sworn that he once even daydreamed about kissing Luffy on the lips. How was that supposed to be alright? But then again, they weren't exactly related by blood. In normal circumstances, Ace would've be the first to say that it doesn't matter. However this time, Ace was really glad that they weren't blood-related. If he was in love with Luffy, then it would mean that it's okay for him to do so, right? Even though they are guys, Ace didn't care about that at all and anyone who did would have to answer to his fists. And Luffy... Ace knew that the guy couldn't take anything seriously other than his meat.
Speak of the devil.
"Hmm?" Ace gave him his usual smile and patted his head when Luffy came closer.
"I caught a deer all by myself this time! You see, I saw it while I was chasing that bird and thought that I should catch it for dinner! We're going to have meat for dinner! And that was a really fast bird, by the way. Oh, I wonder where it went now," Luffy rambled.
In Ace's standards, catching a deer wasn't that impressive but...
"That's great. Glad to see that you're reliable too," he praised.
"We're going to have lots of yummy meat!"
"And you're going to share it, right?" Ace teased.
Luffy froze and stared at him in silence before he slowly looked away. "No! The meat is all mine!"
"So selfish. You're not going to share some with your big brother?" Ace continued teasing as he brought Luffy into one of his arms. "How about that time whereby you promised to do anything if I helped you with the chores before Dadan got back, hmm? You still haven't repay me back for that."
"Uwah! But the meat IS mine," Luffy whined as he tried to struggle free.
"You eat too much. You're going to grow fat someday."
"But Ace is heavier than I am!"
"Muscles are different from fats, you little joker," Ace argued back and ruffled his hair even more. "And while I eat a lot too, at least I can control myself. You're always trying to raid the fridge and ended up having me to save you from Dadan all the time."
Luffy pouted, something that Ace always found it adorable. "I can't help it! I was hungry," he complained.
"You're always hungry," Ace pointed out. "If you aren't going to let me have the meat then you'll have to do something else for me."
"Something else? But Ace hadn't told me what you want..."
"Think about it yourself. I won't dislike whatever you give me," Ace said before pausing. "Just no more animal poop."
"How about Gramps's poop?"
After that, they parted ways as Ace needed to do his job for a store in Goa Kingdom. Since he was staying at Dadan's house, he felt that he should provide some financial income to sustain it and give it more furnishing for all of them. Although Dadan was surprised at Ace's goodwill, she understood how much Ace cared for Luffy (he does care for the other bandits too but he just didn't admit it) and wanted him to stay under a better shelter. Dadan hardly interfered with what Ace was doing since he became more sensible and responsible. She did have to pull Ace out from troubles whenever he got into fights with the adults in Goa Kingdom who turned their taunting from him to Luffy who was always by his side.
It wasn't fair that Luffy had to be part of their attention because he was close to Ace. The freckled teen had never wanted Luffy to get involved with their daily taunting. Ace felt that it was also partly his fault since they wouldn't have spoken bad about Luffy if their usual mocking towards Ace himself had worked.
Luffy... he never seemed to care about the adults who spoke bad about him. Ace couldn't imagine Luffy being in his shoes. The guy was easy-going, carefree and happy-go-lucky wherever he went. Living in a life with people constantly judging him put Ace on the edge. He didn't want it happen so much that he would lose his cool in that instant and proceeded to shut their mouths up with any means possible. Their mouth were shut but he wouldn't say the same for the wounds he inflicted on them.
Today was good since there weren't anyone stupid enough to rile him up and it became better when Luffy welcomed him home upon his return.
"Welcome back, Ace!" Luffy greeted cheerfully. Too cheerful to be his normal cheerful.
"I'm back," Ace replied with a grin and kissed his forehead. "Did you have your dinner yet?"
"Nope! They're cooking the deer now."
"You better finish it quick once it's done or else I'm going to steal some for myself," Ace said teasingly.
Luffy puffed out his cheeks at him. "You won't do that," he said confidentially, making Ace raised an eyebrow at him in question. "Because I finally found something to do for Ace! If I did that, Ace wouldn't take my meat away anymore."
"Oh? What kind of weird tricks do you have up there this time?"
"Shishishishishi," Luffy snickered and placed his hands on his hips.
A few seconds passed and Ace could see Luffy's body frame shaking slightly. Looking down, he saw that he was tip-toeing. Was he trying to put poop on his head? If Luffy did that, Ace would drag him to the bathroom and make him get the poop off his head. He wouldn't care if Luffy complained and whined about how much he hated water.
Luffy finally gave up in the end and landed his feet fully on the ground. Before Ace could ask, Luffy suddenly tip-toed again and pressed his lips against his.
"Ace is always giving me kisses on the forehead so I wanted to do that too. But Ace is too tall!" Luffy whined.
The older freckled teen remained still in shock at what Luffy had done. Sure, Luffy didn't mean it in a way that normal people would but Ace couldn't push off the mixed feelings in his stomach. Luffy just kissed him on the lips. It literally felt like a dream come true... and it did. He hoped that Luffy would've done it with a different intention but Ace wasn't the kind to nitpick on these sort of things. Their lips touched and Ace was already happy enough.
"Ace?" Luffy called out, confused. "You don't like it? If you want forehead kisses then you could sit down so that I can reach it better!"
"N-No, it isn't that I don't like it!" Ace quickly protested. Although... another kiss on the forehead by Luffy sounded enticing. However, it was too late right when Ace had spoken up. "I like it. It's just... unexpected, that's all."
"Shishishishi! If you like it then it's alright!"
"You're really..." Ace mumbled before shaking his head.
"I like it too," Luffy admitted and turned his back towards him. "Maybe Ace can have some meat. Only a little!"
As Luffy ran into the kitchen, Ace looked at his back in surprise. What Luffy said was really... unexpected.
Ignoring Dadan's cursing and some loud noises that followed upon Luffy's arrival in the kitchen, Ace placed his fingers on his mouth and chuckled. Everything was starting to look better day by day. For once, Ace didn't have to question on his life. As long as Luffy is around, Ace didn't care about that anymore.