Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece.
Nothing in his wildest dreams could Ace have ever cooked up the gruesome scene painstakingly playing out in front of his eyes as a testimony of how cruel reality was, shattering fantasies and dreams into a million pieces by its sheer bloody truth. He could only watch helplessly as the people he embraced openly as family fall one by one in a vain attempt to protect him, the insignificant, ungrateful source of their trouble. As the world he had grew to know crumbled into dust, he did the only rational thing that sprang into his distraught mind.
Ace turned swiftly around and ran. He never looked back and left his precious heart behind, leaving a large, gaping wound in his chest clawing painfully at his conscience.
At the ripe age of 20, Portgas D. Ace was arguably the most famous and influential pop star in the entire music industry, charismatic leader of popular boy band Spade Pirates. Debuting with stunning looks and unrivaled talent five years ago, the rookie band quickly rose to the top, conquering country by country with their catchy songs and dances until they took the entire world by storm. There wasn't a single person that hadn't heard of their name, nor a musical chart that did not have their songs in the top ten. Managed by well-known agency Whitebeard Entertainment, shortened as WB Ent, the young aspiring idols held concert after concert, and there was never a time where their fans were unsatisfied with their meticulously planned performances.
Fame, however, had its dark sides. Their popularity also led to the rise of overly dedicated fans with almost stalker-like tendencies, comprised of mostly teenage girls who lacked any boyfriends or social lives as they spent all day chasing after their idols, constantly chanting facts about them like one would recite verses from the Bible. Seemingly innocent, these fans intruded upon the idols' privacies by breaking into their houses, installing GPS tracking devices in their cars, and other even more horrific acts that would drive a normal person insane. Some, because of their frightening possessiveness, would cause repeated harm to the ones they admired or even attempt homicide. "I don't want to share him/her with anyone else," they would say.
It was no surprise that the Spade Pirates began to have hordes of these kinds of fans after them on a daily basis, and it was one afternoon when Ace finally realized the threat the very people that loved him had posed to his life.
Every night after a tiring schedule, he would retreat into the dormitory with the rest of the members and log onto his computer to check for emails, absent-mindedly deleting countless marriage proposals and spam that came from fans that got their hands onto his personal email, more often than not through questionable means. One, though, caught his attention. Ace raised his eyebrow when the email had no subject, no sender, no time; simply, untraceable nothing. Out of pure curiosity he clicked it and carelessly scanned through the contents, but with each word he read he paled further.
My dear Ace, it was prescribed in plain text. It angers me greatly to see you flirt openly with your members and other people. You are mine, and no one else's. If I see one more scandal between you and another celebrity, I will personally come and take you away to a place where our love can flourish without outside interference. That is a promise.
It wasn't the first time the freckled idol had received threat letters, but somehow these words sent an unexplainable chill down his spine as irrational fear briefly clouded his head. But he quickly dismissed it as another of those threat letters he constantly got anyways and decided to not take notice. Yet the words lingered stubbornly in the back of his mind throughout the next day.
A week later, a tabloid paper released an ostentatious headline, claiming to have steaming pictures of Ace engaged in a fierce make out session with another female celebrity that was also signed onto WB Ent. Upon careful study, however, it was only a very fine work of photoshop. The article did contain lines of undeniable truth; Ace was close to Haruta, but only on a strictly platonic level agreed by both sides. He especially favored the younger because she was like a sister that he never had, a very introverted and shy girl back in their trainee days (of course she was the complete opposite now, thanks to exposure to the public). There was no romantic inclination in the slightest bit, but rabid fans immediately jumped on the chance to form a new pairing to obsess over, bringing on the new wave of AceHaruta shippers that promptly began a rampage of AceHaruta fanfiction, fanmade videos, and photoshopped images that could almost rival MarcoAce.
Three days later during Ace's nightly email checking, he received another bone-chilling letter.
I thought I told you that you were mine and only mine. Now your lover will have to suffer the consequences.
Chain threat letters were a little bit more disturbing, but Ace once again promptly sent it to the trash, and only after a second of hesitation, stored the email away in a folder and left it there to rot. Just in case. Yeah, that was it. He wasn't worried, not at all, it was just in case if something really happened he'd have that piece of evidence to track down the culprit. Ace wasn't quite sure if the self-reassuring was actually effective when he woke up screaming out his lungs next morning, tangled in his bed sheets and drenched from head to toe in sweat.
Another day later in one of Haruta's fan meeting, a fan handed her a bottle of her favorite juice. Thanking the person, she happily uncapped the bottle and chugged its contents down. Just a few seconds later, she froze, eyes bulging out, and fell to the ground in painful spasms. A second after that, she was completely still. Haruta was immediately sent to the emergency room after the incident, and only several days later when she was put in a normal hospital room because the doctors had reported it was a very strange and rare poison she consumed, and that if they were late by another minute she would have been past the point of saving. Edward Newgate, CEO of WB Ent, swiftly dispatched officials to track down the person but all they reached was a dead end when no one could remember the slightest detail of who gave Haruta the drink.
One thing was clear, though. The entire happening was entirely, utterly Ace's fault. In his fear and worry, he kept the threat letters a secret and prayed to whatever deities that actually existed in this world for his situation to end. As if to prove that gods sadly did not exist, he obtained another letter. I did warn you. You were lucky I did not use an even more lethal poison. I don't want to hurt you, my love.
"What are you looking at?" Thatch's words shocked Ace as he nearly fell out of his chair, a hand slamming close his laptop roughly.
Spinning around to meet the older's amused gaze, he shook his head vigorously and said, "Nothing."
The older man crossed his arms in front of his chest and smirked. "Oh really? Unless it's porn, I don't see why you couldn't share it with me. Well, I don't think I would mind very much if it was, on second thought."
Ace's face instantly brightened several shades. "T-Thatch!" he spluttered. "What the hell?"
Snickering devilishly, the other sauntered away towards the small kitchen for any snacks he could scrounge up. "Gosh, you're so easy to tease. What grown man doesn't watch them special videos?"
Flipping his computer back open, Ace reread the ill-intentioned words and could only hope it will stop soon.
But it didn't.
Incident after incident began to build up, none as obvious as Haruta's case, but as car crashes passed off as drug influence or alcohol intoxication, sudden sicknesses blamed because of the erratic weather, and other natural accidents that none would even suspect to be foul play. Ace knew better though, as his email became filled with the buildup of threat letters after each subsequent discreet attack the mysterious stalker dealt out. He had attempted to dabble into hacking and tracing the internet IP, but they would lead to obscure locations scrupulously spread out all over the place, not even the barest connections between them.
Then Thatch fell into a coma when his car was completely totaled on a dark, rainy night.
"I'm sorry, but I cannot tell when he will wake up. His brain activities are at a minimal rate." The doctor's grim words still continued to echo through his head eerily, with the image of Thatch's deathly pale body as he lay there unmoving, hooked on dripping IVs and various sterile machines, the heart monitor beeping ominously. The other members of the Spade Pirates stood tiredly in a loose ring around his bed, speechless in the quiet night.
"Do you want to pull the plug?"
Ace distinctively remembered punching the doctor squarely in the face when he had tentatively suggested the option, and he stalked angrily out, slamming the door shut. Hurrying back to their shared dorms, he had sent back an email as a desperate shot. Who are you, and what do you want?
To his surprise, he received a new email an hour later, albeit from a completely different source.
You know what I want. You.
This time though, a name was signed at the bottom. Blackbeard.
He felt his heartbeat began to race as he ran a search with the name. Finally, this was a lead he could work with. Except…
Blackbeard, notorious pirate. That was the foremost result that he yielded, and nearly the entire first page was related to this legendary pirate, along with a smattering of miscellaneous Blackbeards who appeared in movies, books, and other forms of entertainment, all of them only fictional characters. Grinding his teeth in frustration, he ventured onto the second page, then the third, until he took a look at the clock and realized with horror that it was far past midnight. Rubbing his sore eyes tiredly, he briefly wondered if he should finally tell Marco about all the threat letters and decided against it when the older would most likely blame him for Thatch's coma. It was his fault, after all.
He refreshed his email one last time, and his heart skipped a beat. There was a new email.
If you tell anyone about the letters, you can bid farewell to Thatch. Oh, and your friend, Marco.
That erased any lingering traces of his previous thought to enlist help. Ace was utterly on his own. It was so creepy though, as if the stalker knew what he was thinking. Out of paranoia, he casted a brief glance at the open window by his side, and his eyes widened when a lone, red beam of light shone onto a spare piece of paper sitting on top of his desk. I'm watching, it spelled out, burning itself and leaving a smoldering trail, the smoke tendrils polluting the air as Ace choked. Snatching the piece of paper, he hastily shredded it unrecognizable and dumped the content into the trash before slamming the window close.
"What are you still doing this late, yoi?"
Ace whirled around to the new arrival, a half asleep Marco with a cup of water. He regarded the younger with weary eyes, running his free hand through the unkempt clump of blond hair, lips turned downwards into a displeased frown.
"I-I…" Ace stammered, unsure of what to say. "Just… checking my email… yeah… I'm still kind of shaken by what happened to Thatch." He winced at the sharp, suspicious gaze Marco used to regard him.
"You know," he said quietly, "you've been acting very strangely lately. It's not just Thatch's condition, I can tell."
Ace's eyes widened. "What are you talking about?" he denied.
"I don't know what's going on, but you've been talking less and eating less. You haven't been yourself these past months, anyone who knows you well enough can tell there's a huge difference. You may be fooling most people, but not me."
Ace flinched at the brutal accusation.
In a gentler tone, Marco continued, "I don't know what you've been doing, but you know I'll be here right? If you ever need someone to talk."
Ace smiled weakly and nodded. "Yeah, I know."
Marco took a long drink of water. "… Go get some rest… We're going to visit Thatch in the morning." He left without another word, leaving Ace to wallow in his self-pity and guilt.
Sighing resignedly, Ace stumbled into his room and fell onto his bed, fast asleep and fully clothed.
A few days later, Whitebeard Entertainment released an official statement to the public and declared their rapper, Thatch, comatose in the hospital after a near-fatal car crash. It was unknown how long the beloved idol would take to recover from the unfortunate accident, and until the Spade Pirates were able to find a temporary replacement all activities would be put to a regretful halt to the heavy disappointment and worry of their dedicated fans. The Spade Pirates were on indefinite hiatus, to the relief of the members themselves.
This, to no one's apparent surprise, garnered the attention of multiple media outlets and tabloid magazines. They immediately seized this golden opportunity and milked it for all its worth, issuing inside interviews with the distraught members, leaking the exact information of the Spade Pirates' rapper's unfortunate accident, and a multitude of far-fetched conspiracy theories of the "true story" behind Thatch's coma. It was for attention, some said, as if the boy band needed anymore. It was foul play, said others. That explanation couldn't have hit closer to home, but only Ace knew, and as every day passed without any improvement on his good friend, his dark secret continued to burrow a hole in his heart, eating away at his conscience.
One insignificant website brought forth the discovery of the series of well-covered but connected attacks throughout the months on an assortment of celebrities, most of them female, all passed off as unlucky occurrences or faults on the celebrities' part. The shocking connection? They were all involved with golden boy Portgas D. Ace at some point. The website vanished off the face of the internet within a matter of hours, with only two views. One of them was Ace, who had sat there shell-shocked and horrified someone caught on. He was going to get arrested, wasn't he? But a tiny, coherent part of his brain acknowledged it as a good thing. The truth could finally be out without him actually spilling it, therefore saving Marco and Thatch's lives. He was a little more than disappointed when he checked back to the website and discovered it no longer existed.
As dreary days inched away, Thatch's health only worsened. Ace pretended not to hear the muted conversations the assigned doctor would hold with their CEO Edward Newgate, or father, as Ace liked to fondly think. Thatch wasn't going to make it. That was what they all said. But something burned fiercely in Ace that forbade him to believe Thatch was going to die. No, he'll make it, Ace was nearly certain. He had to.
Thatch simply could not die.
His entire world would be shattered, this world he had come to know and love since he was a trainee at age ten. No one would ever replace Thatch in the Spade Pirates; everyone subconsciously acknowledged the fact very well. Without their rapper they could not function anymore. Soon they would become nothing but a distant legend as the days stretched into months, into years, nothing but a tale during their youth the parents would tell to their children. Other similar groups would take their place of the top, and eventually become a vague memory.
It was another month of hard work and reworking their choreography when they could finally go on stage again, despite the gaping hole in their hearts that grieved for Thatch's absence, the man who still remained comatose upon what everyone had unconsciously dubbed his death bed.
Little did Ace know that all their accumulated efforts would crash down as he did his daily email check up the night before they were due for their comeback on stage, one hand absentmindedly twirling a lit red candle, playing with the flame.
There was only one email in his inbox.
I'm coming for you, my love. Be prepared.
And all hell broke loose when a loud, terrified scream pierced the silent night. Ace was momentarily blinded when the room flashed brightly as the lights switched to a bright ruby red as the indoors P.A. system began to blare, "CODE RED, CODE RED!" They were under a serious security breach. He rushed to the window and looked out, standing shell-shocked as he saw a horde of figures clothed in black pour out from all directions towards their dorms, overwhelming and incapacitating the security guards through sheer massive number.
Ace distantly heard the heavy footsteps of all the other members as they made a mad dash to the emergency escape. A frantic hand tugged incessantly at his shoulder. "What are you doing, Ace? C'mon, let's go!" Marco urged as he shook the younger. Then the still glowing monitor caught his eye, and his grip slacked, falling limply to his side. "… What… is this?" He did not try to hide the accusation in his voice.
"… I'm sorry," Ace whispered and pushed past Marco, making a beeline for the door.
The blood red candle was left forgotten and abandoned on the floor, its flickering flame slowly igniting the soft fibers of the carpet and devoured it hungrily. Steadily the bright orange fire covered the vacant room, consuming everything in its way and finally reached the laptop, sending acrid smells of burning plastic as it ate eagerly away at the hard drive.
Ace barely made it to the front lobby and was petrified by the scene that greeted him.
Fighting. Fighting everywhere.
He couldn't tell who was who with the lack of light, only hearing strangled screams of pain and nauseating snapping noises of bones being brutally snapped to pieces. His eyes made out bodies littered carelessly on the ground, spread-eagle in awkward positions, whether dead or unconscious he could not tell. Sticky liquid suddenly sprayed forth onto his face, and gingerly dabbing it with a finger, his eyes widened when he realized it was blood.
"God, someone save-" the plea for help was cut in half as the man's voice gargled and choked. His throat was slit.
Amidst the chaos rocked a sudden explosion, shaking the entire building frame as the people shouted collectively out in surprise. Clink, clink, clink! The ground was showered with delicate glass shards, bursting into dust upon contact with the hard asphalt pavement. The dark night was briefly illuminated by the dazzling flash of red, orange and yellow. Crackling of flames joined in and mingled with the screaming and struggling.
Ace could only stand there helplessly as his world collapsed bit by bit. And something inside snapped when a still body fell forth with a loud thud in front of his feet, the man's face frozen with eyes wide open and mouth gaping in the middle of a scream, blood dribbling out of his bruised lips and bubbled sluggishly at the jagged cut at his mangled throat.
His animalistic instincts called out to him, and consumed by terror and primitive impulse, Ace turned tail and fled, away from the pandemonium, away from the twisted reality. Away from his life.
Somewhere far away, Thatch's heart monitor beeped once, twice, and flat-lined.
Months after the incident, no one ever truly understood the sudden fall of the Spade Pirates in the most fantasy-like and unbelievable way, and along with them what used to be the great empire of Whitebeard Entertainment was razed to the ground, its headquarters completely fallen apart.
Too many were declared dead that day, from the bodyguards to makeup artists to backup dancers. But the greatest loss of all was the passing of their rapper, Thatch, and the mysterious disappearance of Ace, as he was not accounted among the bodies. But he was regretfully declared legally dead by lead singer and best friend Marco. It was just not possible for him to have survived that night unscathed, not when so many of them had perished in the attack.
And thus was the end of Portgas D. Ace, charismatic leader of the Spade Pirates, and the end of the legendary boy band itself.
But the case was left open and unsolved in the police department as the cunning perpetrator was never discovered, waiting hopefully for that one day when light would be shone once more on the mind boggling event.
So basically this is another version of how Ace died, except this time he actually didn't die but he ran away and was never found, which made people believe he died. Two years later one man from the police reopened the case… and I'll leave the rest to your imagination of who that was. ;) It's open-ended enough so if I want to continue it I could, and for anyone to speculate. Also, this is me not so subtly hinting that I'm currently very immersed in the K-pop fandom, more specifically, DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (except ironically I end up listening to their J-pop songs much more…). So anything music business related thing you did not understand, feel free to ask away! And I've been watching too much crime shows, like this one yesterday where the police managed to solve a 14 year old case.
I would like to make it clear that things like what I have depicted are very realistic. Not this exaggerated like an attack and building set on fire, but more of the idea of creepy stalkers. Search up 'sasaeng fans'. Sasaeng means "private life", so what these obsessive fans do is to intrude on their idols' private lives like breaking into their homes whether to grope them while they're sleeping, leaving that-kind-of-dirty underwear, GPS track the cars, follow them around all day, steal their social security numbers, and more. Some also intentionally hurt their idols like how Blackbeard has done in this story. An example would be Himchan of B.A.P. There's a cult of his fans who compete with each other of how big of a mark they can inflict on him, or how ever-lasting an injury. Yunho of DBSK was poisoned by a crazy fan and nearly died. The issue of stalkers in celebrity life is very real, and very much a threat.
Anyhow though, hopefully you have enjoyed this weird one-shot! :D Please review! It will motivate me to update my other stories because I will know there are still people who want read and care for my works.