Warnings: Dark themes, lots of mentions of death, strong language, human experimentation, experimenting on children, child abduction, graphic descriptions of experimenting, lots of needles, lots of violence, poor descriptions of panic attacks, descriptions of blood, rated M for safety.
*If I need to add anymore warnings please tell me in the reviews or a PM and I'll be sure to add it!*
Chapter 100: And so the Adventure Begins Anew
Life on the Mini Moby was relatively quiet. They sailed on through the turbulent waters of Paradise- though nothing was as turbulent as the waters of the New World- and they would occasionally dock at an island to resupply when necessary.
Luffy's birthday was drawing nearer every day, yet their journey was only yet beginning. They still had most of Paradise to get through, but so far they were still on schedule, even with the few setbacks they'd had due to bad weather.
As days passed, they became weeks, and then a whole month. Marco would make sure to call the Moby and tell everyone their progress to the island- Ace, Sabo, and Luffy always hearing a commotion as everyone asked how they were, if everything was going alright, or if they decided they actually wanted to come back to the Moby instead. It was the same every time, and Sabo and Luffy would always reassure them that, no, as much as they loved and missed them, they would not be returning to the Moby anytime soon. Groans and protests would meet this answer, but they only laughed about it and ignored it, Ace smirking as he told them all to get over it, that he was the one who should be begging them to stay, not them.
By the time they were finally in the East Blue, they only had a couple of weeks left to get to Dawn Island before Luffy's birthday would be upon them. None of them were worried though. Luffy was constantly reminding them that even if they weren't there on his birthday, it would be fine because they hadn't escaped the facility on Ace or Sabo's birthdays. This meant that they weren't exactly in a rush to get to their home island, even if they all were excited to go back.
They hadn't been back in a decade, taken from their home island when they were only kids. Now they were adults, save for Luffy who was only turning 17 in the next couple weeks. Ace and Sabo both were 20 now, and while many on the Moby argued that they were still only kids in their eyes compared them, it didn't change the fact that they were adults.
It felt strange to finally be returning to their home, and Sabo was sure Ace felt the same trepidation about returning as he did. There was no need to worry over returning- after all, it's not like they were returning for good. They were only going for a short visit and then they would all be leaving again, but the prospect of seeing it all again, the jungle, the animals, Makino, even Dadan and the Bandits. It was both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Surely, news of them had reached the island and they all knew the brothers were alive and ok, but what if it hadn't? What if Garp never told them that the brothers were ok, and they just suddenly showed up there without any warning?
Thoughts like that these were the ones that Sabo pushed aside; ones they didn't allow himself to think about any longer than a few minutes. With the way Luffy was looking at him, his brother was taking notice of his worrying feelings, but he said nothing, instead giving Sabo a smile and going to sit on the railing, kicking his feet over the water below him.
Times like this, Sabo thought that Luffy was much more mature then he let on, but when only a few minutes later the youngest was picking his nose and flinging what stuck to his finger at Ace, causing a fight, he thought otherwise.
Marco sighing beside him told him the Commander was probably thinking the same thing as him.
It was the day before Luffy's birthday that they finally arrived to the island they called home. Luffy had spotted it early in the morning, having been too excited to sleep any longer and going to sit on the deck like he had been doing most of the journey.
After running into the room Ace and Sabo were sleeping in and waking them, Ace went and confirmed it was Dawn Island -not that there was any doubt- and all three of the brothers felt their excitement rise at the prospect that they were finally there.
None of them went to wake Marco, instead, they all sat on the railing together, watching the island grow closer and closer, the sun slowly rising in the distance and seagulls flying above them.
It was quiet, it was peaceful, and it was probably going to be their last day together in a long while. While seeing the island was nice, and thoughts of a short adventure while they were there crossed all of their minds, this was also the place they would be saying goodbye to each other from. For an entire decade of their lives, they'd always been together, never left each other for no longer than a simple mission from Whitebeard, but now they were about to all separate, follow their dreams, without each other. Sure, they no doubt would visit each other again someday, maybe even relatively soon from now, but the not knowing, the mystery behind when they would see each other again, had never been something they'd needed to worry about before.
Now, though, they were facing that reality, the reality that today was a day of goodbyes just as much as it was a day of new beginnings.
Eventually, the sun was high in the morning sky and Marco was walking out on deck. He didn't bother them except for telling them that they'd need to prepare to dock soon, and then he left them to sit there silently together.
Marco was right of course, and before they'd even had a chance to eat breakfast, everyone was getting the Mini Moby ready to dock. They decided their best course of action was to attempt to dock at the village seeing as the other side of the island was far too close to the Noble Town and trash heap filled with thugs and thieves. While the villagers might be concerned, or scared even, to see a Whitebeards ship docking at their small village, it was better than docking on the other side of the island where they'd be at risk for some desperate idiot to wander on board and attempt to steal from the Moby while they were gone.
Luffy could already feel the concern and fear from the villagers as they slowly grew closer to the island, and soon enough there was a crowd forming at the docks, everyone wanting to see what was happening first hand.
"So this is where you three grew up then, huh?" Marco asked as he secured the rigging.
"Here? Naw, well, at least, Sabo and I didn't live here. We lived in those mountains up there." Ace told him, pointing to said mountains as he helped Marco.
"Ah, makes sense. I was wondering where the giant tigers and bears came into play, yoi." Marco said with a smile, remembering some of the brothers' tales of fighting giant animals for their meals.
"And boar and monkeys and gators. Every animal there is giant really." Sabo piped up from his spot on the deck, doing the most important job; making sure Luffy didn't rocket off without them.
"Yeah! We gotta catch a gator before we leave! Its been forever since we've had one!" Luffy said, fists flying in the air in excitement.
"We'll see. We have a tight schedule to keep." Sabo told the teen in an attempt to keep him wrangled in, though even he was excited by the prospect of catching a gator. It had been far too long since they'd had gator meat, and it was always one of the brothers' favorites.
"First we have to worry about all of them." Ace said, gesturing to the still worried and scared villagers watching them. In the front, he could see an old man that was vaguely familiar to him as the mayor of the town, recognizing him from the brief few times he'd come to visit Luffy up on the mountain with Makino.
Speaking of, the green-haired barmaid was there as well, right beside the mayor as she held her hands to her chest, worry etched into her features, and he felt a bit bad now about not thinking to send a notice ahead to keep this from happening.
"Can we go now?" Luffy asked eagerly, attention back on the island he so desperately wanted to step foot on again.
"Alright, alright, it looks like we're all set. Let's go, yoi." Marco said with a sigh as Luffy cheered, Sabo once again stopping him from rocketing and instead telling him to use the rope ladder like the rest of them. He was met with a pout, but Luffy did it anyways, his smile back within seconds as they threw the rope down and began leaving the Mini Moby.
"I'm Whoop Slap, the mayor of this town. I ask that you please do not cause harm to this village, we'll be happy to pay you whatever necessary for your cooperation." The mayor said as they walked over to the crowd, Marco at the head. Marco looked like he was about to speak, mouth opening and no doubt prepared to ease the crowd's worries, but he was stopped when Luffy slipped from Sabo's grip and pushed past Marco.
"Whoop Slap! And Makino!" Luffy called out loudly and happily, D smile on his face as he greeted them. The mayor's eyes widened in surprise, and Makino gasped behind him, hands flying to her mouth now as tears formed.
"Luffy?!" Makino cried as she immediately recognized the teen. Luffy laughed, which was answer enough for her as she darted forward, hugging Luffy tightly as the crowd began whispering in astonishment around them.
"I can't believe it's you! And Ace and Sabo too! My you boys have grown!" She said, some of those tears falling now, but Luffy could feel just how elated the barmaid was to see them.
"After all these years. I gotta say, I didn't expect to see you three no good brats again." Whoop Slap said, eyes still wide in shock. Luffy laughed again while Makino moved to hug Ace and Sabo, the former flushing lightly at the affection while Sabo got a bit flustered himself. He and Ace had never been as close to Makino as Luffy had been, they'd only seen her a few times after all, so it was a bit strange for them to be receiving the same attention as Luffy was. Honestly, they hadn't really expected the woman to remember them.
"How are you guys? Oh, and who's this?" Makino asked, finally remembering Marco was there, the man having remained silent as he let the three brothers reunite with the woman.
"I'm Marco, yoi." He introduced, Makino smiling to him.
"First commander of the Whitebeard Pirates, of course. I'm Makino, it's a pleasure to meet you." She greeted, bowing to the man who waved off the formalities.
"I've seen your wanted posters and I'd heard you were with the Whitebeards, but I never knew for sure. Garp came every once in a while, but he never said much about whatever it was you three were up to, just that you were safe." Makino said to them, the crowd beginning to disperse from the docks now, though there were still many whispers going around that Sabo could clearly hear.
Many of the villagers seemed to recognize Luffy, all of them happy to see him, but they were all curious as to what had happened to him, and not to mention everything they'd seen about him in the papers. There was also the fact that none of them knew Ace or Sabo, as well as Marco, except for the fact that they were all notorious pirates as well.
To put it bluntly, the villagers were suspicious of them, which was to be expected.
All that was left at the docks was Makino, the Mayor, and the group of Whitebeards.
"That's true, we've been apart of the Whitebeards for about three years now after they, uh, helped us out," Sabo said, Makino and the Mayor seeming to pick up on his meaning as they glanced to his wrist.
"Yes, we've also heard about this, 'Mental Hospital' you three escaped from. Regardless of whether I think that's where you three brats belong or not, the Marines should know better than to think families wouldn't realize they didn't send their children to these places. I doubt that Mountain Bandit up there was going to defy Garp and ship you three off." The Mayor said with a frown, obviously not believing the Marines words on where the brothers had been taken. Ace scoffed, arms crossing over his chest at the Mayor's words.
"I think Dadan would rather get rid of all her alcohol before she would do anything to Garp's grandchildren." Ace agreed, the two nodding with each other at the thought.
"Why don't we head to my bar? I'll make you all something to eat, so long as you all are hungry that is." Makino said with a knowing smile. Within seconds Luffy was cheering and running off towards where he knew the Partys Bar to be while Ace and Sabo could only blink at their brother.
"Oi, Luffy, wait for us, we don't know where we're going!" Ace shouted at Luffy, running after him while Sabo opted to stay with Makino and the Mayor, as well as Marco.
"It seems his appetites still the same," Makino said with a fond smile as she began leading the rest to her bar, Sabo nodding to her words. The barmaid had been there when Luffy had eaten his devil fruit, and consequently when he began having a never-ending pit for a stomach when it came to eating food. She almost longed for the days when she could make one plate for the boy and he'd be satisfied, but then Luffy wouldn't be Luffy if that were the case.
"That's for sure. If anything, it's only grown." Sabo told her with a smile of his own, Marco nodding his agreement. He didn't know Luffy as a child, but since his time on the Moby, it seemed that the boy could eat more and more with every passing day.
"You boys better tell me about everything you've been up to. Newspapers just aren't the same." Makino said as they all reached the building now, Luffy and Ace sitting at the bar.
"Of course." Sabo agreed, he and Marco sitting at the bar as well.
"As much as I would love to stay and chat, I have matters I need to attend to. Don't you brats cause any trouble now, you hear?" The Mayor said, giving the brothers a stern look, pointing at them accusingly. The three nodded, saying their farewells as the man left.
"So, how long are you planning on staying?" Makino asked as she began preparing the food, giving them all drinks while they waited.
"Only for the day." Ace answered, and Luffy could feel the aching pull from the woman at the response.
"So soon?" She asked softly, though she was still smiling.
"Well, Luffy here wanted to set off to become a pirate Captain of his own, but he was adamant about setting sail here on Dawn Island. We all decided we would come drop him off so we could visit, but I'm also going to be joining the Revolutionary Army. A friend is going to pick me up here." Sabo explained.
"Marco and I will be going back to the Moby," Ace added, Marco nodding.
"You boys are all grown up now," Makino said wistfully, making Ace and Sabo flush again while Luffy laughed and grinned.
The brothers shared stories with Makino about their adventures as pirates, told her how Ace was the second division commander, how Luffy and Sabo were apart of the Second division, how they'd visited islands like Fishman Island and Sabaody. Makino listened attentively the entire time, smile on her face as she did. Luffy could feel the joy, the pride, coming from the woman and it made him even happier that they'd had the chance to come visit the island.
Marco would jump in every once in a while, adding his side to many of the stories and making Makino laugh when the brothers got defensive at accusations Marco would make against them. Eventually, the food was gone, and the brothers were full. The stories came to an end and they all sat in silence, smiles on their faces.
Of course, silence never lasts long with Luffy.
"Can we go see Dadan now?" He asked excitedly, Makino laughing at his energy.
"Sure, sure." Ace said with a sigh, standing from the stool.
"Thank you for the food, Makino," Sabo told the barmaid as he stood as well.
"Oh, it was no problem! Now you make sure to come and say goodbye to me before you all leave for good, got it? I don't want you trying to sneak off thinking it's ok to leave me without a proper farewell." She said sternly, narrowing her eyes at all of them.
"We'll make sure to come back." Sabo agreed, smiling to the woman. She smiled back, nodding.
"Good. Now get going, I'm sure Dadan will love to see you three again." She said to them with a knowing smile on her face. They nodded to her, all leaving the bar now with promises to come back later.
"So, who's Dadan, yoi?" Marco asked, only having heard the name a few times in one of the brothers' stories, but never prying to find out who the woman was.
"Ah, she's our... guardian? I guess." Sabo said, trying to find a word to fit the woman.
"Shes a hag is what she is." Ace said with a smirk, leading them towards the mountains.
"She basically raised Ace after Garp dropped him off to her as a baby. Then she was in charge of Luffy when Garp left him and then me when I kind of invited myself to live with these two." Sabo explained to Marco who was still in the dark.
"Shes a mountain bandit!" Luffy told him with a grin.
"Oh? Can't say I'm surprised to know you three were raised by mountain bandits." Marco admitted with a laugh.
As they began their hike to the bandits hut the brothers felt nostalgia rise within them as they were slowly covered by the jungle. Soon they were walking familiar paths and listening to familiar sounds of animals moving throughout the trees around them. They weren't disturbed on their way to the hut, all the animals staying away from them, and the brothers felt a bit disappointed they hadn't been able to fight anything yet.
They didn't have long to feel bad about it, because now they were walking up to the bandit's hut that they all hadn't seen in a decade. There was no hesitation as they walked up to the hut, but once they were at the door, Ace tilted his head in confusion.
"Do we knock or do we just walk right in?" Ace asked, obviously debating his options. While he wanted to just walk in and surprise them all, maybe get in a good fight with the few who would no doubt attack him, he also knew enough from Sabo's drilling of manners that that wasn't polite, even if the bandits were anything but.
"Knowing Dadan, the place probably reeks of alcohol. May as well knock and make her come out rather than go in there." Sabo said, remembering the reek of the place. As a child living in a trash dump, the smell hadn't been bad in comparison, but after living in the open air on a pirate ship, he knew he would think differently now.
"It does. It smells like dirty clothes too." Luffy said, nose scrunching at the smell, sharing Sabo's sentiments.
"Knocking it is then." Ace said, already raising a fist to do so. Marco stood off to the side as he watched the brothers, not wanting to interfere in another of the brothers' reunions. He'd done well staying out of the way at the bar, and he planned to do the same here.
Well, that was until the door opened and a sword was being pointed at Aces throat.
"Give us all your money and you just might walk away with your life." A voice said, not visible to Marco from where he stood, tensed and ready to help if necessary. He knew these people were bandits, practically family to the brothers, but the sword was saying otherwise.
"Ah, Dogra, perfect, go get the old hag Dadan." Ace said with a smirk, obviously not concerned by the sword at his throat, Sabo or Luffy either. Marco calmed at this, knowing that if it was truly dangerous then the brothers wouldn't remain so calm. Plus, Ace was fire, and here in the East Blue Marco didn't have to worry about a few bandits knowing how to use haki or being in possession of seastone.
"I don't think you heard me correctly-"
"Oi, Dadan! Come outside, it's smelly in there!" Luffy called, ignoring Dogra as he stuck his head in the hut, yelling into it. Dogra blinked but was ready to attack Luffy when he paused, seeming to finally connect the dots as to who he was looking at.
"Wait-... wha-?" He stumbled back, falling onto his butt as he did, eyes wide as he looked at the brothers. Marco got closer, interested and amused by what was happening.
"Who dares call for me-" Whatever was going to be said was stopped as a large woman with curly red hair came to the door, Luffy, Ace, and Sabo all grinning widely to her and raising their hands to wave.
"Yo." They all said simultaneously. There was a moment of silence, Dogra still in shock on the ground and Dadan staring unblinkingly at the brothers.
"Ace, Sabo and Luffy?" She asked plainly, no emotion in her voice as she spoke, her eyes narrowing in suspicion.
"Good to know your memory's still intact in your old age," Sabo said to the woman, Marco picking up on the teasing in his voice and wondering just what kind of relationship the brothers had with their so-called guardian. Ever since the Whitebeards had known the brothers, Sabo had been the polite one, even around them. Sure he would sometimes tease them, but there was always an air of politeness to his words when he spoke. Here, Marco could hear none of that, only an uncouth manner as he regarded the woman in front of him.
"My memory is damn near perfect, and who are you calling old you damn brat?!" Dadan roared, making Ace and Luffy laugh while Sabo continued grinning.
"Shishishi! Hi Dadan!" Luffy laughed, grin never leaving his face for a moment as he allowed all of the woman's happiness to drift into him.
"Y-you-... You damn brats!" She yelled, Marco sweat dropping at the exclamation, said with what sounded like anger, but the struggle to keep the facade up showing him that she wasn't angry at all. The fact that the woman was tearing up now didn't help either.
"Where've you three been all this time, huh?!" She asked, Dogra getting up off the floor finally and running off into the hut.
"Ah, you know, here there, pirating, adventuring. The usual." Ace said, waving his hand around as he spoke flippantly, only giving more fuel to Dadan's fire, some of the anger on her face true now.
"I expect a full explanation! First you three go missing out of the blue and I've got to tell Garp about it, then I hear you're with the Whitebeard Pirates of all people, and now here you are without so much as a letter?!" She yelled at them, but again, the brothers looked unfazed, Ace turning and walking towards the surrounding jungle.
"Anyways, nice seeing you again Dadan, we'll go and get you a bear or something. Be back soon." He said, Sabo and Luffy following without a word. Marco looked back and forth between the woman and the brothers, not quite following what was happening. Weren't they supposed to be visiting this woman? Talking? Catching up? But instead, they were leaving after such a short hello, heading right into the jungle.
"Where do you brats think you're going?!" Dadan called after them, though not doing much to chase after them, tears beginning to form again as bandits began pouring out of the hut.
"-Is it really?!"
"-You sure you aren't drunk still?"
Marco didn't know what to do in this situation, and before he knew it the large woman's ferocious eyes were on him.
"And who are you?!" She asked, that anger very much real now as she addressed him.
"Come on Marco, Luffy's wants you to see Tiger Lord and prove how big he is!" Sabo called, turning to look at the Commander.
"Nice meeting you," Marco told the bandits before walking off towards the brothers, still thoroughly confused by what had just happened. Once he caught up with the three they were chatting amicably amongst themselves, entirely relaxed here in a jungle where Marco could hear all sorts of animals moving about. No doubt, the brothers knew what they were doing, knew of the animals surrounding them, and yet they paid it no mind, at complete ease.
"Ne, do you think the treehouse is still up?" Luffy asked, Ace and Sabo humming.
"Maybe. Its been a while though, and no one's been around to repair it after storms. If it is up, its probably in shambles." Ace said as he thought about it.
"Most likely. Hey, what about our pirate fund? You think anyone's ever found that?" Sabo asked, smiling.
"Those idiots in the Grey Terminal? Yeah right, no one ever went anywhere near our pirate fund, not with all the animals they'd have to go through to get to it." Ace scoffed.
"Yeah, Ace and Sabo are good at hiding things! I bet no ones found it!" Luffy agreed. Marco definitely felt like a fourth wheel, but he didn't mind, not with how happy the brothers looked to be back on their home island, their home turf.
It wasn't long after that Sabo was using their silent language to signal that they be quiet, hunching down behind some bushes as he peeked over them towards whatever he was hearing. They all followed suit, crouching behind him and seeing a few large boar moving together a few feet away from where they were hiding.
Marco had to admit, he'd never seen boar that big before, even in Paradise and the New World.
Through another series of quick tapping, the brothers concocted a plan, Marco opting to stay out of it and watch. Luffy was quick to slither up into the tree beside them while Ace began circling the boar, heading to the opposite side of where Sabo was. Marco continued watching as the fight finally commenced, the three brothers all jumping out of their hiding spots at once and taking on one of the giant beasts themselves until they were victorious. Grinning ear to ear, they all grabbed onto their catches, obviously intent on taking them somewhere else other than here.
Another few minutes walk, and they were walking into a clearing, a giant tree in the middle of it and an old worn ladder stuck to it, leading to an equally old looking treehouse, though its condition wasn't all that bad save for a few missing boards.
"Held up better then I thought it would." Ace admitted, throwing his boar into the clearing as he looked up at the house.
"I'm gonna go look inside!" Luffy said, throwing his boar with Aces before flinging his arms up to the treehouse and rocketing up to it, skipping the ladder entirely.
"I'll go check if our pirate funds still there and keep an ear out for that bear you promised Dadan," Sabo told Ace before heading off into the jungle again, but not before leaving behind his boar as well. Ace got to work on making a fire, Marco helping to gather some wood for it before they started cooking the boar. They could hear, and occasionally see, Luffy traipsing throughout the treehouse, laughing ringing through the air as he did. Obviously, the treehouse was in much better condition then they all had thought if it could hold up against Luffy's rampage.
Well, that was until a half-hour later when there was a crack and Luffy's foot was visible from the bottom of the wooden house. More laughter rang out, and a rustle from the nearby trees signaled Sabo was back, the blonde shaking his head as he saw Luffy's foot slip back into the treehouse.
"Honestly, I'm surprised he hasn't fallen out of that." He said as he looked up at the house, a small chest at his side.
"Oi, look what I found!" Luffy called, head peeking out of the window and holding something in his hands; Ace and Sabo's smiles widened if possible.
"Careful with those Luffy! Bring 'em down!" Ace called back, Luffy nodding and disappearing before jumping out of the window and landing on the ground unharmed, three red sake cups in his hands.
"I was able to find both a bear, and our pirate fund while I was out, but I think Luffy outdid me with this find," Sabo said fondly, grabbing one of the cups and spinning it in his hand as he examined it, a look of nostalgia on his face that made Marco realize these cups held more importance then he had first thought.
They didn't say anything more about them though, each placing one of the cups by the chest Sabo had brought back before they divvied up the food. Knowing better than to let the brothers decide his portion, Marco got his own food and watched as Ace and Luffy fought over theirs. Sabo told them where they could find the bear as they ate, Luffy and Ace only stopping in their grudge match momentarily to hear before going back at it again.
"Pirate fund, huh, yoi?" Marco asked, nodding to the box on the ground, talking to Sabo while the other two fought.
"Yeah. All three of us wanted to be pirates, even when we were little- before the facility ever happened. Ace and I started collecting money together and called it the pirate fund, and when Luffy came he helped too. We planned on saving up enough to buy a ship, but we never had much chance to do that. Doesn't mean there isn't a good amount in here though." Sabo said, patting the chest with a smile, and Marco wondered if the brothers hadn't smiled since they'd landed on the island.
Lunch was done rather quickly, more of a snack than an actual meal seeing as Luffy and Ace had only gotten one giant boar each while Sabo and Marco shared one. This was forgotten though as Marco took charge of carrying both the pirate fund and the sake cups for the brothers so they could fight the bear they were now on the way to get for Dadan.
As with the boar, the bear was bigger than Marco had ever seen before, but the brothers were able to take it down quickly and efficiently, Ace dragging it on his own as they headed back to the bandit's hut.
The walk back was relatively quick, an idle chatter coming from them as the brothers shared stories of their many adventures as children with Marco, and after seeing the island for himself, Marco was able to better picture the giant animals that the brothers were describing.
Once they were back at the hut, the three brothers didn't even bother knocking this time, instead kicking the door open and walking in as if they'd been here for years.
"Food, as promised." Ace called out, the room silencing as the eldest of the brothers threw the animal onto the table.
"It's only because you brought us a bear that I'm not thrashing you three for suddenly appearing like you did!" Dadan shouted angrily at them, stuffing a handkerchief into her pocket and sniffling, obviously having been crying before they entered. It seemed most everyone in the room had been crying if the red puffy eyes and running noses were anything to go on.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say you hag." Ace told the woman, smirking again as he spoke. Dadan glared at him, but Marco could see there was no heat to it as she stared the fire user down.
"Sit down you brats and tell me where you've been. And introduce your friend while you're at it!" She yelled, the brothers laughing again as they moved to sit with the woman, Marco following.
It was much like how it had been at the bar, except this time there was a giant food fight happening around them as they spoke. Food flew in every direction as every man fought for his own portion of the meat from the bear Ace had brought. Marco could now see where Ace and Luffy had learned to eat, realizing they had to eat the way they did if they wanted anything at all. He guessed he should be grateful Sabo hadn't been influenced enough to do the same, or else meals on the Moby would have been much more chaotic than they already were.
The brothers told Dadan all the same stories they shared with Makino, even going so far as to tell the bandit where they'd been taken that fateful day. Even though the brothers didn't want the woman to feel any guilt for not getting to them in time, they knew that she had a right to know what had happened to them, and if she found out they were trying to spare her feelings by not telling, she would be highly offended.
Even though Dadan was an old hag, she was still someone they cared about deeply.
Once the story was over and they told Dadan the purpose of visiting the island, they began getting ready to leave. Sabo had called Koala when they'd first seen Dawn Island in the distance from the Mini Moby, telling her they would be there that day, and Koala had told him she would be there a little after lunch. Seeing as this was the case, the group was now going to go back to town and say their goodbyes to the blonde, the first of the three to leave.
Of course, Dadan wasn't going to show that she was sad about the brothers' departure, and instead, she began shouting at them, telling them to get lost and that she didn't want to see their faces again, but the brothers all knew that that was just the woman's way of showing affection.
It really was no wonder Ace had such a difficult time dealing with his emotions when Dadan was the one to have raised him.
Farewells were had, and once again the group was off, but instead of heading to the village like Marco thought they would, they headed back to the forest, Luffy laughing quietly to himself and Sabo and Ace grinning mischievously.
Deciding to just follow and see what was happening, Marco watched as the brothers headed to a large stump where a tree had once been, and Sabo asked for the red cups Marco was still carrying.
Placing them on the stump, Ace pulled out a bottle of sake, Marco realizing he must have took it from the bandits, and poured it into each cup.
"We might not be on the same ship," Ace said as he poured, Luffy and Sabo still grinning widely as he did.
"But our brotherhood will always be with us!" Ace continued, placing the bottle down.
"Wherever you are, whatever you do, we'll always be bonded together!" All three of them picked up a cup, and Marco realized, like with many other things today, that this was another special moment for the brothers, one that they'd probably shared long ago on this island when they first became brothers.
"We'll always be brothers!" Ace said, Luffy and Sabo cheering as the three clinked their cups together before taking drinks from them. Ace and Sabo had no problem with the taste, but Luffy was quick to stick out his tongue afterward.
"Blah! It still tastes bad!" He groaned. Ace and Sabo began laughing, placing their cups down, and even Marco was trying to stop himself from laughing. Leave it to Luffy to ruin the moment.
Done now, Ace collected the cups again, putting them into the chest Marco was still holding, and with that, they headed to the village, the mood much more somber now as it sunk in for them all that one of them was finally going to be leaving. They all still wore smiles, but there were no words spoken, no stories shared, just silence. Luffy could feel everyone's sadness that Sabo would be leaving, but after all his training on the Moby, he was able to block it out relatively well now. That didn't mean he didn't have his own sad feelings on the subject. As excited as he was to begin his adventure, there was that small part that knew it would be lonely for a while until he found his first crew member.
Once they reached the village Luffy could already smell Koalas scent, remembering it from when they'd first met, and Sabo could hear the girl in the bar, talking to Makino. The group headed to the bar at a slow pace, every step reminding them that they were growing closer to another farewell.
Walking into the Party Bar, Koala was sitting at the bar as expected, drinking from a glass as she and Makino had a chat, both women smiling as they did.
"Oh, you're back! I was just getting myself acquainted with your friend here." Makino said, gesturing to Koala as she noticed the groups return.
"Finally, I was beginning to think you were going to ditch," Koala told Sabo with a smile, though Luffy could feel that the woman was only joking.
"Wouldn't dream of it," Sabo told the redhead with a smile of his own.
"Its a bit of a journey where we're going, so whenever you're ready we can get going," Koala told him, knowing that her new coworker was going to have some goodbyes to give. Sabo nodded, and Makino sighed, smiling with a sadder look on her face now.
"Now I don't know much about the Revolutionaries, but you better write when you can. I don't want you thinking you can get out of keeping me updated on how things are going with you." Makino told the blonde, coming out from behind the bar as she hugged Sabo.
"Of course, I'll make sure to do that Makino," Sabo told the woman, knowing he would whenever possible. When he'd first come here, he didn't even know if Makino would remember him but knowing now that she had and that he'd worried her, he'd make sure to not do that again if he could help it.
"Better knock out some doctors for me." Ace told Sabo as he hugged him next, Sabo nodding in agreement.
"That's the plan," Sabo told him, next moving to Luffy who wrapped his rubbery arms around him multiple times.
"Have lots of adventures so you can tell me about them!" Luffy chirped with a smile, Sabo laughing as he allowed the boy to nearly squeeze him to death. When he was finally let go, he took in a deep breath, ruffling Luffy's hair.
"You too Luffy, you better tell me all about whatever it is you're going to get up to," Sabo said, already knowing that his brother was going to have some crazy stories.
"Try and keep Ace from getting himself killed," Sabo told Marco, Ace shouting out in indignation while Luffy and Marco laughed.
"With him, it's a full-time job, yoi," Marco said with a sigh as if he was already exhausted at the thought, but he was still smiling.
With that, the farewells were over, and everyone in the bar began heading out and to the docks. With Sabo leaving, Marco and Ace were going to be leaving as well, and seeing as Luffy's birthday was another day away, he would be staying the night on the island and leaving tomorrow.
They all watched as Sabo and Koala boarded a small ship, waving to them as they set off and left them. They watched them for a minute longer before Ace and Marco began their goodbyes, starting with Makino and then moving to Luffy. Goodbyes were done in much the same way as they were with Sabo, making promises to see each other again and telling each other to stay safe, and when they were finished, Ace grabbed the chest from Marco, handing it to Luffy.
"Seeing as Sabo and I don't need this money for a ship of our own, you can have it, Lu." Ace told him with a smile. Before they'd left, many of the Whitebeards had offered to give Luffy money for whatever he'd need, but Luffy had turned them all down, telling them that he was going to do things his own way and without help. Marco had managed to convince him to take his allowance, arguing that the boy had earned it fair and square through chores and it was rightfully his money, but other than that, he'd turned all other offers for money down.
Now, Luffy frowned at the box for a moment before conceding and taking it, smiling to Ace as he did. Then Luffy was watching the two board the Mini Moby without him or Sabo to go with them.
He and Makino stood at the docks, waving to them until their arms were sore before finally stopping.
"Are you leaving today as well, Luffy?" Makino asked the boy, smiling gently to him despite the sadness Luffy could feel in her. He shook his head, smiling back to her.
"I'm leaving tomorrow, on my 17th birthday." He told her, and the barmaid's smile widened, Luffy feeling a happiness light up within her.
"In that case, you're staying with me for the night." She told him, and the two of them began heading back to Partys Bar.
That night, Luffy did stay with Makino, and when the next morning came he was filled with even more excitement than the day before. Getting up and ready for the day he grabbed his bag, checking it to make sure everything was still in there. The chest of treasure from Ace sat on top of everything else, and he smiled at it, opening it slightly and smiling wider at the glimpse of red from the sake cups that he could see.
Closing both the chest and the bag, he slung it over his shoulder and left the room, heading downstairs to the bar where he could smell both Makino and something sweet.
"Happy Birthday Luffy!" Makino's voice was full of joy as she presented a small cake with candles on it to the boy. Luffy smiled widely at it, blowing the candles out, and Makino laughed, putting it down and grabbing a knife to slice it, plates and forks already ready.
"I was beginning to wonder if I should wake you. Thomas- do you remember him? He's the fisherman that lives in the house closest to the docks," Makino said, Luffy going to sit at the bar as she spoke.
"Mm! He always gave me fish." Luffy said, remembering the man vaguely.
"That's right! Well, he heard today was your birthday and knew you wanted to set sail today, so he offered up one of his older row boats. It's not much, enough for just two people, maybe three if you try hard enough." Makino said as she cut a slice of cake for herself, giving the rest to Luffy.
"Thanks, Makino!" Luffy said as he dug into the cake. He hadn't exactly thought about how he was going to leave the island, so it was good to know that was no longer an issue. It was also nice that the boat itself wasn't extravagant or anything, just a simple row boat.
"It was no problem. I had a barrel of apples and water put on the ship as well because as much as you don't want any help, I just couldn't let you sail off without food or water." Makino told him, watching with a smile as Luffy finished his cake in the time it took for her to get halfway through her one slice.
"I made you breakfast too. You're not leaving on an empty stomach." She added, Luffy realizing he could smell the cooked food, not having noticed earlier.
"Yosh! Food, and then I'll leave." He said with determination, Makino giggling again as she left to get the food. Luffy looked around the bar as he waited, taking in everything he could. It looked the same as he remembered it , and it seemed like so long ago that he and Shanks' crew were sitting in this very bar, Luffy accidentally eating the gum gum fruit and getting his devil fruit powers.
He didn't have long to think on it though when Makino was returning, steaming food in hand, and he was chowing down yet again.
Luffy and Makino had small conversations as they ate together peacefully, but once it was gone, the two-headed to the docks. A few of the villagers were out, and once they noticed Luffy they smiled, waving to him and saying their good mornings to him. Luffy could feel that the suspicion the villagers had felt yesterday was gone, and now all they were feeling was happiness to see Luffy again.
When the two reached the small boat Makino had mentioned earlier, Luffy smiled, hands on his hips as he took in the sight.
His first boat, and soon, the beginning of his new adventure.
A hug to Makino and another promise to meet again, Luffy got on the boat, setting sail almost the second he had both feet in the boat.
"See you again Luffy!" Makino called as he drifted out. Luffy waved back, laughing gleefully as he did.
"First it was Sabo, then Ace, and now me. We're all going on our own adventures now, but I'm gonna become the King of the Pirates!" Luffy told himself in determination, the docks growing further away. Only a few seconds later, there was a shaking and a giant sea king was rising from the water, but Luffy was undeterred, having faced much larger ones in the New World.
Jumping up, a quick gum gum pistol took the creature down, and he laughed some more, watching the stunned Lord of the Coast fall back into the water.
And thus, commenced his newest adventure.
And with that, The Devil Wears White is over.
I have a lot to say, so this authors note is going to be as long as this chapter was. First, I'll start with notes about the chapter itself. I wanted to have the brothers come full circle back to their home island; see where it all started and realize how much they've grown. Also, how could I resist showing our favorites; Makino, Whoop Slap, Dadan, and the bandits? A trip down memory lane was exactly what was needed to end this long story.
Now, onto other notes. This story is something that I thought up all the way back in early 2016. Yes, you read that right. This story was 4 years in the making. Altogether, I tried writing this story three different times. The first version of this story made it up to eight chapters before I scrapped it and moved on, not liking how it was turning out. The next version had only six chapters until that was scrapped as well. Then, finally, this version was born and 100 chapter were written. All of the different versions had the same concept; the ASL trio getting kidnapped, taken to a facility, and eventually joining the Whitebeards. How this all happened though varied.
In the first version, in the facility, each brother had their own doctor, these three being the main antagonists. Rey was basically the early version of Haru and he was Luffy's doctor while Ace's was named Ko and Sabo's was Mori. They also had different numbers, which weren't tattooed onto them like in this version. After that, for the most part, things were mostly the same. There were small differences, like the facility having a different layout, and the brothers having slightly different powers, but other than that I didn't change much. I even kept some scenes from the original and moved them to this version, like Garp on Dawn Island after the brothers were kidnapped.
The second version was much more similar to this one. There was only one antagonist in it, but his name was Mikel rather than Haru. The brothers had their numbers, though they still didn't have them as tattoos, and the facility was a lot closer in layout as well. As mentioned before, I didn't get very far with this version so that's where any similarities or differences end.
And then there was this version which I started planning around the middle of 2017. The original outline that I wrote for this version had just barely 40 chapters to it. As I was writing though, I found that I wanted there to be more detail then what I had. Hence, I wrote the second outline which was a little over 50 chapters. Again, I felt like there was more I could add, and then, I wrote the final outline where I planned for up to 100 chapters. The title of this story changed many different times too. I was never really happy with any of the other ones I had, but eventually I landed on The Devil Wears White which I'm extremely happy with and I posted the first chapter on May 15, 2018. Now, on January 13, 2020, I'm posting the last chapter.
As for the future, I've stated before that I do plan to have a sequel for this story. So far, all I have for it though is a title. I still need to outline it- and knowing my track record, I'll need multiple outlines- and I also want to get a few chapters written before I start uploading it. Because of this, I won't be going into the sequel immediately. I want to take a short break before I start planning though, because this story has taken up so much of my time and thoughts throughout the years. That's not to say it was a bad thing though, I loved writing and thinking up new ideas for this story, but it was draining. With that said, after at least a two week break, I'll start the planning for the sequel, and hopefully I'll have something ready for you guys next month. At the latest, it'll be two months.
Rest assured, I will be back with the sequel, it just won't be immediately.
Finally, to everyone who has read this story, reviewed it, followed it, favorited it, thank you so so so soooo much! I've made sure to thank you all at the end of every single chapter, and even though I've- literally- said it 100 times, I will continue to say it. Without you, I wouldn't have continued writing this story. As I said before, it was draining and extremely time consuming, but it was also fulfilling. Seeing the notifications on my phone that I got a review, a favorite, or a follow was always so motivating. It made me excited to come back to my computer and write more for you guys. After four years in the works, I was able to write you all a story that I'm proud of, and it was all thanks to you.
And now, for the last time in this story, I'm thanking you all for everything you've done for me. I never expected to get this kind of response.
Here's to many more!
Final Story Stats: