AN: Look at me! Posting two fics within a week! I'm such a prolific writer! O.O Yeah, not really, I put this together last year for Luffy's birthday but I didn't post it because I didn't have an account at the time. Anyway, I pulled it out and cleaned it up a little (shoeshine works wonders) and hopefully now it's presentable because I'm posting it as a birthday fic and I don't want to be late!

So yeah, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUFFY! (Kind of, it's not really a happy fic, more like contemplative... which is really not very Luffy at all! Oh well, here you are anyway.)

A gift in commemoration of our favorite rubber man!

And please remember, I own nothing.

Luffy doesn't like thinking. It makes his head hurt.

Fantasizing is different- sort of. His mind tends to take the initial idea off on its own, he doesn't have any say in it; it can go any number of places, each one crazier than the last.

He hasn't done it for exactly one year. Day dreamed.

He hasn't needed to, he's been living the dream.

He has the best nakama in the world! A ship, two ships, each were- are just as much a part of the crew as each human/animal/monster/robot member. They travel everywhere, following Nami's direction and the little needle of the log pose. He's saved people, he didn't always mean to, but he usually realizes he did when people start bowing and thanking him. He's met so many people, like Vivi, Aisa, Paulie and Iceburg, the cool giant dudes, Coby, the weird knight, he has so many friends now, at least one for every single adventure. Who has time (or desire) to think up a fake adventure when they are in the middle of so many real adventures?

But, he guesses that's the problem. He's not adventuring anymore, not really.

It's that in between time again, like it once was, waiting for his own seventeenth birthday after Ace's had passed. He's waiting, all over again! But it's okay, really, he's willing to do it because just like before, it's to make sure he's ready.

It's been a year since he'd last daydreamed, staring off into space on a little row boat as he sailed away from his village. No person to talk to but himself, unable to understand how to navigate but content to drift. He'd easily fallen into the habit he'd formed for when he was alone, it happened often after Ace left. It was sufficient then, in that little boat. But once he had his first crew member, even when he got lost and Luffy was alone for a number of hours, even when the ship started to go slower and the sea's blue faded to just a hint less vibrant, he'd never wanted to leave, not for a second, not even to his own ideas.

He'd wanted to be with his nakama.

It's been a year since he'd last day dreamed on a little boat, sailing towards the horizon. He'd met Coby, and hadn't since had the time nor the desire to begin again.

He is eighteen now. No one is here now, Rayleigh had to go do something, Luffy can't remember what.

And here he is, on a cliff, as high as he can get, while staying away from the animals he can't beat (yet).

His mind wanders off towards somewhere he'd visited once; lived in once. A place with people and laughing and parties and seasoned meat. It's the place that he first saw in his mind, then built up carefully into existence. The place he'd seen a little less than a year ago, when he last bothered with the future, the place he'd built, and then lost in less than ten hits.

And then Ace…

A sob clambers into his throat, uninvited, and unwelcome. Luffy swallows it with a breath, re-locking the cage he's built to keep it hidden.

He had day dreamed, after Ace had left home, before he met Coby, and Zoro.

Now after Ace… left again. And before he meets Zoro again.

Maybe not tomorrow, nor the days after that. But today Rayleigh had said to rest, and though Luffy is not the type to rest, (too boring), there is one place he can do it and still have his adventures.

He'd dreamt of his life as a pirate sailing the seas for a long time, and he'd finally seen it for the first time a year ago, when he'd built it, when he'd lived in it, when it'd been torn down.

Oh well, he can't let it matter too much. What it took to build it, it's still there, and in another year he'll be able to piece it together again.

Until then, well, he's never been good at waiting, what can it hurt? He misses them, he wants to go home.

And maybe he can't go back yet, because it's not there anymore. He can't go back but it's there anyway, sort of.

It's there because he can imagine how it'll be, because he can only begin to imagine what it'll look like when he builds it again. When they all build it again.

It'll be even better, because he has an Franky to help and Usopp to paint it and Nami to keep it going in the right direction and Robin to plant flowers all over and Brook to fill it up with music and everyone else to help defend it.

It'll be even better, because this time it won't be just him laying the bricks.