Chapter 1: Taken

I remember the air being extremely cold the day I disappeared from the world of light. I remember the sound of church bells chiming, and the prick of icy fear as it trailed up my spine in violent shivers. It was snowing, and I let the powdery crystals catch on my bare hands and face, melting where they landed. I was smiling. My brothers were smiling. It was a wonderful memory.

And then I remember being taken.

A pair of large, strong hands grabbed me from behind suddenly, wrapping around my waist and mouth and pulling me away from my brothers. The two of them were a little ways away from me, throwing snowballs and insults at each other and completely forgetting about my existence. The instant I was touched, I stiffened. I tried to scream, to yell to my brothers that I was in trouble, but thick fingers blocked any air from entering or exiting my lips and nose and I couldn't speak. My heart began to pound in my chest. The three of us, Ace, Sabo, and I, had been playing in our school's front yard, just across from the track. As the thick snow fell, and I was dragged further and further away, I slowly lost sight of them, and this scared me. What was happening?

After what seemed like an eternity, I was at last shoved to the ground. I landed on my backside, and looking around frantically, discovered that I had been drawn back behind the P.E shed and tossed into the space between the fence and the wall. I scraped my elbow and it stung.

Above me hovered a dark shape. It was a man, a tall, heavy-set man who appeared to be in his late thirties. He wore a long black coat with matching boots and gloves, and had short, scraggily black facial hair. He loomed over me like a great shadow, intimidating, threatening. I felt my eyes widen in fear. Our gazes met, and instantly I felt the urge to get up and run. Something about this man screamed danger, his eyes flickered in an almost sinister manner, and a crazed, gap-toothed smile haunted his lips. I scrambled to get up. I backed away from the man until my shoulders hit the frozen fence. My whole body was trembling now, and I tried desperately to get my voice to work, to get my lips to form a cry for help. They wouldn't, no matter how hard I begged them to.

I was completely paralyzed, my arms and legs also failing to cooperate with me, and as I stood there I was reduced to nothing more than a thin, jittery mess.

In front of me, the man laughed. "Hey now, kid," he said, his voice low and menacing. "What's with the look of terror? I ain't gonna hurt you. Uncle Teach here is just going to take you away for a little while." His smile widened and I felt my insides squirm.

"Wh-what do you want with me?" I finally forced out in a frightened whisper. The man laughed again, throwing his head back and cackling like a hyena. He took a step forward and I flattened myself against the fence. Carefully, he stuck out his hand and placed it gently on my cheek, his touch sending chills through my whole body. He rubbed the cold flesh with his thumb and I began to shake even harder.

"Like I said, Luffy," I was horrified that he knew my name. "I'm going to take you away. You don't belong here, with these normal people. You belong safe with me in my home, where I can protect you and... educate you. You see, Luffy, you're special." He leaned in close so that I could smell his rancid breath. I tried not to gag and dug my fingers into the chain links against which I was painfully cornered. I felt rust under my fingernails. "From now on, you belong only to me."

His words were echoing through my mind when all of a sudden, I heard familiar voices in the distance. My brothers were calling for me. They must have finally noticed that I had disappeared, because their voices were filled with slight concern. "Oi! Luffy! Where'd you go?" The man frowned and turned away from me to look out into the snowy field. He appeared to be slightly annoyed, and his hand fell from my cheek to reach into his pocket.

"It looks like time has run out, kid," he said without looking at me. Before I knew what was happening, he turned swiftly back to me and thrust his fist into my gut. I gasped at the initial pain, but then felt a jarring electrical shock race through my body, burning me from the inside out. I went limp and fell forward, into the waiting arms of the sinister man. He cradled me almost gently, and in my dimming sight I saw him flash me another of his eery grins.

The last thing I heard before I completely passed out were two voices, far away and muffled, but very familiar. They called my name, and I longed to answer, but tiredness overwhelmed me and I eventually succumbed to a deep darkness that I'd become too numb to fight.

I was afraid.

The first thing that I became aware of were the thick coils of twine binding my small arms behind my back, biting into the flesh of my wrist so that it became raw and bloody. I felt warm trickles sliding down into my palm and sticking there, causing my fingers cling to one another and making them difficult to move. I grunted in frustration. I attempted to lift my head up from the grimy concrete floor to look around, only to find that it was a million times heavier than I remembered and to have it come crashing down again.

I stifled a sob.

I had begun to shake slightly, tears of fear and confusion leaking from the corners of my eyes and landing with soft splashes in the filth. I recalled the man carrying me, his coat smelling like rust and something evil. I wondered where he was. From my spot on the floor, I could see a dark red brick wall just in front of me. It extended into a flat wooden ceiling, caked with dark stains and patches of unknown substances, and a single flickering bulb suspended by a wire provided the only light.

I heard a soft groan to my left. I managed to flip myself over so that I was on my other side, and what I saw surprised me. Beside me, also bound, was my brother, Sabo. Even in the low light of wherever it was we were, I could still scarcely make out the bright blond curls of his hair, which was a comfort to me. I watched as he grimaced and wriggled against his bindings, his eyes fluttering open as if from a deep sleep. I felt a small smile tug at my lips. Even if I didn't know where we were, Sabo was still Sabo, and I felt safer by just being near him and feeling his warmth.

Once his eyes had opened completely, they settled on my face and instantly grew wider. "Luffy!" He exclaimed, writhing like a worm on the floor in an attempt to free himself. I saw that his legs were also bound, and he grunted from the effort, sweat beading on his forehead. At last, he gave up and laid on his back, staring up at the ceiling. He turned his head to me and I saw that there was fear in his eyes as well. "Are you okay?" He asked, panting. "That guy didn't do anything to you, did he?"

I shook my head and inched myself closer to him. "Sabo," I choked out, my voice rusty from disuse. "What's going on? Why'd that guy take us? What does he want?... Sabo... I'm scared." My voice broke on the last sentence and tears threatened in my eyes.

"I know, Luffy, I know," said Sabo as comfortingly as possible. "But don't worry, your big brother's gonna figure out a way for us to escape. I promise." I felt my fears ease slightly as Sabo's words, but it didn't stop the harsh pounding of my heart in my chest.

I scooted as close to Sabo as possible, pressing my forehead into his chest because I was unable to hug him. His body was warm, and he let his chin rest on the top of my head. I smelled his familiar scent on his coat, and for a brief moment, imagined myself and him at home with Ace, Shanks, and Makino. They were probably freaking out right about now, calling Grandpa and the police to search for us. I could tell that we'd been gone a long time, even though there were no windows to confirm this thought, because my stomach growled loudly in a I-haven't-been-fed-in-a-while kind if way.

I briefly wondered if the man was going to feed us.

My thoughts turned to what was going to happen when he came for us. By the way he had handled me earlier, I knew that he wasn't a nice person, one to be feared and avoided in fact. The room in which he placed us was solid brick wall on all four sides, save for a metal door that lead out into what appeared to be a long hallway. The light bulb above us was the only source of light and flickered dangerously like it was about to go out. This unnerved me. I had seen way too many horror movies to not know a scary chamber when I saw one. But the thing that scared me about the room most of all was the smell. The air smelled of rust and chemicals, a very unsavory combination, and burned the inside of my nose slightly whenever I inhaled. I tried pressing my face into Sabo's jacket even more to block it out, but to no avail.

My brother was very quiet beside me, his body stiff against mine and his breathing shallow. Through his clothes, I could hear the quick thump of his heart throwing itself against his ribcage. It was beating almost as quickly as mine was. Normally, I would have laughed at Sabo for being scared, but at the moment, I too was feeling the same paralyzing fear, and so shut up. I closed my eyes and pretended we were back home with Ace, playing in the snow.

For a while, I almost managed to convince myself.

And then the door opened.

Hey y'all! For those of you who read my other story, A Fate Worth Dying For, you'll be happy to know that another chapter of that is on the way. This is just something I felt I had to do to get rid of my writer's block, and it's working! This probably won't we as long as my other story, but I do plan to continue it because it's something I've had an idea for for a while now. Thanks! - Mikki