Author: The Dark Crimson Blood
Story Title: A Different Take: Human trading
Word Count:
Disclaimer: Don't own it.
Warnings: AU, OOC .
: A different take on what might have happened if Sabo and Ace didn't arrive on time to save Luffy...

Breathe, but breathe slowly.

Move, but move slowly.

Obey and never disobey.

These are three rules that Luffy has tried his best to follow. He breathes slowly, trying to calm his body and prevent himself from going into shock from all of his injuries. He stops every couple of seconds, as if not to choke on the blood leaking from his mouth. It drips past his quivering lips and runs down his face, eventually piling onto the cold ground beneath him. He moves, but he moves slowly. If he moves to quickly then surly his fragile bones that try to heal themselves will snap under the pressure, and he'll be unable to move. He carefully and slowly pulls himself upward into a sitting position, he couldn't fall asleep. He wasn't planning on dying today. Briefly, he becomes lightheaded, but he keeps himself up without ducking his head too much.

Luffy doesn't obey. He doesn't obey anyone here, he doesn't listen and he pisses off just about everyone in his wake. Of course, disobeying always made things worse. It lead to injuries, some were far worse than others; so it was rather obvious to avoid everyone who was above you if you didn't want to get killed or punished. It wasn't as if anyone was going to treat his wounds anyway, that was simply how it worked around here. Obviously, none of this stopped Luffy from being the free spirit he was. Yeah it hurt, but Luffy wasn't going to give in. He was... He was strong. Like Ace.

Three years had past since Luffy has seen the outside world, and he has to admit, he misses it. He misses seeing the sky and he misses running around like an idiot. Now ten years old, Luffy wonders if he was lucky that he hadn't been killed by Bluejam. He wondered what it would have been like if he had been given the chance to befriend Ace. And he wondered what it would have been like to be saved.

'No' He thinks as he shakes his head ever so slightly. Surly, someone weak and as stupid as he was would be useless to people like Ace and Sabo. He was a dead weight, someone who only would have pulled them down rather than helping them. Though, he can't help but wonder how nice it would have been. He sighs, dejected, as he stares out the small window blocked with sea stone bars.

The wind blows through his hair, and a frown appears on his face. It was a reminder of his hat-less head. His hat had been lost the day he had taken from his home, ripped off his head and left on the ground for anyone to find. It's depressing to know that he'd never be able to return it to Shanks... He wouldn't even be able to become the Pirate King anymore! He couldn't do anything now, he was just so useless. Surly this was his fault; his fault for not being strong enough to save himself when in the face of danger. He was so pathetically weak that it made him feel sick, as if he wanted to puke up the only thing that remained in his stomach; acid and blood.

For a brief moment he wondered if he was still useful in some way; he had survived this long, so it had to be a good thing right?

Then again, what was waiting for him in the future? Would there be more of this horrid torture, or would he be freed?

No one answers.

Luffy had wanted to be pirate king. He wanted to be the man with the most freedom in the whole world; he wanted tons of friends by his side and a ship and family! He nods to himself because surly he'd never give up on his dream, not after all of this meaningless torture and dream crushing words he's seen and heard and experienced. He wouldn't break like that, no, it just wasn't him.

Luffy stands strong for another two years.

Then something big happens. He's moved from one location to another, and this time it was overseas on a ship. Even though he could barely see it the small part of the ocean he loved so much was visible. He could smell the salt water and hear the birds and he could see just a tiny bit of freedom. Even though he was chained to the ground with sea stone he felt just a tiny bit freer that he was before.

The day wasn't as dull as Luffy was used to, he made a new friend; he was a child who looked to be about a year older than him. Age didn't matter to Luffy, what attracted him to the other child was his eyes. His blue eyes stared at the sea with the same excitement and bewilderment Luffy had in his eyes. However, this child looked worse than Luffy did. Scrawnier, duller, sadder, and more miserable. Luffy talks to him.

As it turns out, the two children had a lot in common. Together they made a decision that if they got out- no, when they escaped together, Luffy's nameless friend would join Luffy's crew as his first mate. For a while, Luffy's smile returned. For a while, things seemed to be getting better. For a while, things began to look up. For weeks, maybe months, Luffy had something to look forward to when he was returned to his cell after a long day of hard work or auctioning or anything else that he'd rather not speak of.

They had a lot in common, and they had even decided that if they got out—no when they escaped, he would join Luffy's crew as a first mate; and things had begun to look up from there, Luffy had something to look forward to when returning to his cell after either a day of work, auctioning, or anything else he'd rather not speak of.

Though continued to smile

A smile he knew hadn't appeared on his face for years.

It was all because of a small, malnourished boy who somehow made things better than they actually were. However, his nameless friend died. Luffy had been there on the ship when his blue eyed friend made the mistake of tripping and falling off of the mast he had been cleaning. The bucket of water hit the man who was in charge of them, and even though the poor boy was unable to move he advanced and made things worse. Without a word, the man kicked the child into the ocean and watched him drown, and Luffy watched too. He tried to help. He tried to pull his thin limbs out of the chains that were holding him back but he couldn't, the only thing he could do was force the metal into his skin even further than it already was. He was forced to watch his first and only friend struggle for his life before drowning in an endless sea.

Luffy had been forced to clean up the mess of blood on the ship, but really all he did was sit next to it and stare. The guard shoved his head into the puddle and as he sits back up all he can do is stare at his bloody, shaking hands and wonder what his friend did to deserve such a fate. Growling, Luffy jumps to his feet and forces his body to move. The only sharp thing left on his body was his teeth, considering his nails had been ripped out a while ago. He digs his teeth into the man's leg, and he's then pushed back and kicked in the face. As the man continues beating him, Luffy realizes just how hopeless this situation was. He was never going to escape.

At least, he was never going to escape alive.

Yeah, it was impossible. Even more so with the sea stone chains that were attached to his body. From that point on, he never utters a word. Not a single sound leaves his mouth; no complaints, no groans, no sobs, just silence. He didn't even react to their attacks anymore. The 'Masters' had tried everything to get him to react, to cry out in pain and beg for mercy. Nothing worked, and Luffy soon became boring to them. It happened suddenly and Luffy noticed far too quickly how they stopped feeding him the two loafs of bed and a cup of water that he usually got each day. Now, his daily meal was half a cup of water and a quarter of a stale bread loaf. In a way, things were normal for Luffy.

This lasted until he turned thirteen; it was just a couple of weeks after his birthday that he met a small group of children. They had round, childish faces and big innocent eyes that Luffy just couldn't turn down. They didn't look to be any older than seven, which was the same age he had been when he was forced to live in this hell hole. He just couldn't watch as they were put through the same things he was, so he tries his best to save them. For the first time in his life, he did something right. He forces his chains off by constantly beating them against the ground and just about anything else he could find until they finally broke; they broke into hundreds of pieces and revealed raw, bleeding, angry red skin in their had been overjoyed that they were off, but something inside him told him that he couldn't celebrate yet. He calms himself down, knowing full well that he had been lucky and nothing else.

The two guards had fallen asleep watching him, so he had quickly and silently stolen a small boat and packed it with the rations he had been saving for weeks. He helps them onto the boat, using the spot that had been reserved for him for food and water and blankets that they would most likely need on their trip. He wishes them luck, and pushes them off. The small compass he had stolen from one of the masters was placed on the lap of the eldest child and went unnoticed at the time, and before long, the three children were felt as if he had finally accomplished something, and so the ear to ear grin never once left his face that day. It stayed when the guards found him shortly afterwards and roughly threw him back into his cell. His smile remained when they chained him up even tighter and with heavier equipment so he wouldn't escape again. Finally, his smile remained even as they alerted the master and he was punished for his crimes.

For a week, nothing fazed him. As the week passed by, things went back to normal and Luffy just had to accept it.

By the age of fourteen, a miracle came in the form of pirates.

They raided the floating slave boat with swiftness and speed that Luffy's never seen before. He doesn't know whether to be scared of excited when he hears that the prisoners have been released due to the orders of whatever captain the pirates had. Even as Luffy's cell doors opened, the child made no move to leave. He was injured; ten sea stone bullets had been buried in his chest for days, a couple of his ribs were broken, and there was a large gash running down his side that just wouldn't stop bleeding. Luffy didn't have the strength to pull himself to his feet and run for his freedom, so he laid, unmoving and barely breathing.

The thoughts running through his mind barely make any sense as a man picks him up and carries him down the dark hallway and takes him to the pirate ship. It's big and amazing and everything Luffy would have wanted his ship to be. The fresh air finally reached him and it comforted him; the sparkling ocean, the clear sky, everything was just so nice and almost new to Luffy. His eyes lit up as a question runs through his head, 'Is this freedom?' he thinks to himself as he feels himself being placed on the ship's deck.

His eyes move away from the ocean and he looks up just in time to see a man with a worried expression written on his face. He stops himself, nearly stopping his breathing as he stares back up at the man. He can't but wonder if there was something wrong with him, why else would the man be staring at him like that? Then again, it was impossible that there was something wrong, he didn't feel a thing... Everything was okay.

He blinks, and when he opens his eyes again he's lying on some sort of hospital bed. His gaze remains on the ceiling and he wonders where the big blue sky went. Had he been enslaved again? "We couldn't stop the bleeding" Someone to his side says, and he can't help but wonder what 'bleeding' they had been trying to stop. A frown appears on his face as he carefully shifts his head to the side, catching drift of the two people who just walked through the door. A boy with raven black hair down to his shoulders and a boy with curly blond hair.

They looked so... familiar.

Of course.

It was them.

"Sa… Sabo" Luffy stutters, eyes never once leaving the blond haired man's face. It was clear that it pained him to talk, and yet the blond was more intent on finding out why this stranger knew his name. Luffy's head turns towards the other man in the room, the one with hair down to his shoulders. "Ace?" Both of the boys looked completely and utterly confused, their eyes ran over his appearance and yet not a single bit of recognition sparked. A look of misery appears in Luffy's eyes, he doesn't remember how to hide it. "My name's Luffy." He forces out and all of a sudden, his body jerks and he coughs violently into his arm. Blood drips from his already red stained lips; he wonders just what was injured.

"Luffy?" Sabo was the first to speak up; Ace was far too shell shocked so say a word. The memories playing through his head right now were just too much to handle.

"What did you do to Luffy?" A boy no older than ten years old shouted at his enemy, a bo staff held tightly in his hands as he holds his fighting stance.

"Ah, you weren't quick enough. I see. Luffy's the name of that brat? We sold him to human trading, it turns out children with devil fruit abilities sell at a rather nice price. We got back the money you stole from us too, so we're even!" Bluejam laughed loudly; it's such a simple and normal action and yet somehow it pisses Ace off to the highest degree. Sabo stands, speechless as the bo staff drops to the ground.


"You heard me!" He laughed even louder than before, throwing his head back and towering above the two children with a cruel look in his eyes. "Slave trading, such a horrible torturous place; isn't it? Who knows what will happen to him! He'll be lucky if he survives for more than a month- no, a week!"

"And to think, what would have happened if you had come just a little sooner; or given my money back in the first place! That brat's pretty much dead by now, maybe he should've told me where your treasure was… All he did was whine on and on about how that treasure was yours and crap. Congrats; you get to keep your treasure! HAHAHAHA" Bluejam finished, laughing even as he turned away and left the two in devastation.

The lonely straw hat lies on the ground, it's owner long forgotten.

The only thing that remained was guilt.

"You remember!" Luffy laughs and he finds it odd that both of the brothers are unable to laugh with him, maybe they hadn't meant to save him in the first place. He stops himself. "Up until a couple of years ago I kept thinking that you'd save me; I gave up though, and yet here you are! I wish I could have been stronger and protected myself... I was scared and everything they did to me hurt so much..." His voice cracks and yet he continues, oblivious to the blood trailing out of his mouth as if he were a sink faucet turned halfway on. The pure white sheets soon become stained in a dark red.

"T-Thank you... for saving me," Luffy stutters, never once noticing the look of guilt that the two boys give him as his eyes close and his body goes limp and his mind drifts into a never-ending sleep that he would never wake up from. His heart stops beating, the bleeding finally stops, and his pulse disappears completely. His body goes cold.

Yet, a bright smile remains on his face.

The guilt Ace and Sabo once felt came at them ten time harder.

Luffy was dead, and it was their fault.

Rewritten: It's longer and less pathetic now. :)

Original word count was 1,943. It's 3,013 now.

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