AN: My specialty is writing descriptive fics, I enjoy too much adding too many details and building up the environment. It's a short scene from an AU i'm discussing with my friend.
Tw for past mentions of abuse. (also, pls let me know if this is something you enjoy and I might write something bigger)
The nightmare that night is violent, as it always is. Luffy wakes up, heart pounding in his chest so hard it hurts. Bending over himself he tries to focus on breathing, staying quiet. They can't hear they can't hear-. He's always scared when waking up, even though it doesn't take him very long anymore to realize where he is. Because he's 16 now, he's no longer 11 and living with his grandfather. He's safe. Living under the warm and caring roof of his brothers. They've never hit him, never hurt him. But god, the dreams feel so real, they feel so real he can't help it! Ace's hurtful words are still ringing in his ears, and even though Luffy knows they aren't real they won't leave him alone. A painful echo that repeats itself again and again and again and again- He wants it to be quiet. He wants his head to be as quiet as their apartment is. He doesn't want these images, he doesn't want those false memories of the painful sting against his cheek his brain replicated when Ace struck him. When he felt the palm of his brother's hand slap his cheek. "Why won't you die?!". Luffy doesn't know. By all means he should have been dead now, died under Garp's abuse. But he's still alive. Lived past his 16th birthday, will probably live til his 17th too..
The floor under his feet is cold, sending shivers up his spine. He pushes himself up from his bed, a motion that feels heavy and difficult to do while half asleep- While still struggling to breathe. He gets up though, and shuffles over to his bedroom door. His grip on it is light and careful as he opens it, making sure it makes no noise as he exits his bedroom. The hallway is as dark as his room, a bit darker actually. His room has the convenience of being slightly brightened by the streetlights outside his window. They never turn off in the city... It's still hard to get used to.
His cold feet are still sweaty from the blanket he was under just a minute ago. They stick to the floor, and Luffy tries treading on his tip toes to lessen the noise. Quiet, be quiet, careful, careful. There is no carpet in the hallway to protect him.
There is nothing on Ace's door to show it is his, not like their door back at Dadan's place. This door is just blank. White. Impersonal. His hand is just as careful when he opens Ace's door, even more so in fact. He holds his breath as he slowly opens it. The door doesn't make a noise. Quiet quiet. Its hinges oiled and silent. The door is left slightly agape behind him when he walks in. The hallway is dark, Ace's room is dark. Luffy's eyes have been in the dark for so long now though, the slight light from the window is enough to let Luffy know where his brothers' bed is, and even if that wasn't the case Luffy would have heard him. His brother snores, always has. Standing beside his bed Luffy watches Ace breathe. His chest rising and falling with an even rhythm. Up, and down, and then up again. He's lying on his side, blanket barely covering him anymore. Ace always used to complain that Luffy moved a lot in his sleep, but so does he. Luffy is the one that moves more along to his dreams though. Another good reason for Luffy to sleep alone; he doesn't risk waking up his brothers that way. So Ace and Sabo sleep on, getting hours and hours of sleep while Luffy wakes up after an hour or two. Just like he used to do when he was 11.
"It's okay" Luffy tells himself though, time and time again. He's okay. He's still here. Still breathing. Ace and Sabo still smile at him, they still say 'I love you'. He's okay.
Kneeling down beside Ace's bed Luffy watches him. His hair is a mess, wavy and sticking up every which way. Long, but still short. Izo cut his hair just a few days ago, had complained about the length for days before Ace finally let him. His hair is soft, Luffy knows that. Knows it as a fact after how many times he's played with his brothers' hair. It's soft and turns wavy when allowed to air dry. However it's not as wavy as Sabo's hair. Sabo's hair instead turns curly if left alone. Used to be much more so when it was shorter, when they were younger. The length weighs it down now.
Luffy tries to breathe along to the rhythm in Ace's breath. Tries to concentrate on it so he won't stop breathing again. Ace is here, Ace is right in front of him. He's home, he's safe. Their apartment is clean, nothing is broken. His face doesn't hurt, Ace is sleeping soundly and so is Sabo. They'll keep sleeping soundly too. When morning comes, they'll ask Luffy if he slept well, and like the well rehearsed line it is Luffy will say yes. They'll eat breakfast together before going to school, and his brothers will be none the wiser. Just how Luffy wants things to be. Just how things are supposed to be.