AN: Finally putting this back up on this site, lol. Crossposted from AO3~

Triggered/encouraged/influenced by Augment's No Shirts, No Shoes and truly inspired by the song A Pirate Looks at Forty by Jimmy Buffet. Each scene in this story is directly based on a stanza from the song. I've always thought that that song had an incredible message and since I've gotten into One Piece it's been a serious goal of mine to apply that message to Luffy. I just don't think there's anyone who better embodies it. Drawn, unerringly, to the sea when, in our time, it's just not practical to make a life of it like people used to. At the very least it's undesirable to many. The life Luffy deserves to live, wrought with adventure and danger and uncertainty, just doesn't exist here.

Like Augment, this is one of the main reasons why I've never written a modern au, I love them to death but I can't ever figure out what to do with Luffy. He doesn't belong at a desk job, or in a factory. He's not a teacher or a scientist. He can't keep his thoughts together enough to be a writer and he doesn't have the desire or skill to be an artist. Being a thrill seeker or a diver or a blogger is probably most accurate but maintaining a presence and supporting his following takes more organization than he has- more devotion to the publicity part when all he really wants is to be out on the ocean.

That's all he wants, to be on the ocean with his friends, having fun.

A quote at the beginning to set the mood is from "A Pirate Looks at Forty" by Jimmy Buffet, the linebreaks are original poetry written by me.

So now, a tribute to the sea, and to those who belong on it.

"Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late...

Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I've found

My occupational hazard being my occupation's just not around"

Jimmy Buffet, A Pirate Looks at Forty

There are those that call me crazy

for knowing this as sure

but one morning, I know, you promised,

for my lost heart, a cure.

"Oshin!" Luffy babbles and Ace is at his side in an instant, tugging on his younger brother's hand as the toddler makes another break for the frothy white caps shining just before the horizon.

"No, Luffy, picnic, picnic. Food."

"Oshin?" The younger looks up at him hopefully as the sand trips him up and leaves him sitting in the dunes.

"No ocean," He shakes his head and bends over, heaving his baby brother into his arms. "You can't swim yet. Another year or two and then you can go in the ocean properly. Ugh, you're too heavy already, you'd sink!" Together the pair wobble back to the picnic blanket and Ace plops the other down in his spot.

Across the blanket Rogue laughs and Roger smiles down at 'his' boys. Luffy is more a part of his family than Dragon's anyhow. Funny how these things work out.

"Daddy, why does he like the ocean so much?" Ace sits down behind Luffy, capturing the other with his legs before he can try to wriggle back out onto the sand. "It's just a bunch of water… He probably doesn't even know what it is."

"Now, that's not true, Ace." Roger shakes his head and his son scowls at the slight chuckle in his voice. "I'm not laughing at you!"

"Then what are you laughing about! There's nothing funny!"

"It just isn't funny to you, sweetheart." Rogue explains, and then, capitalizing on the moment- "Just like you don't understand how Luffy feels about the ocean."

Roger smiles and kisses her hand in gratitude which makes Ace wrinkle his nose.

"How can Luffy understand something that I don't?" Ace demands. "He's only one and a half!"

"What your Mama is saying, son, is that some people are meant for the sea." Roger explains. "For some people the land just ain't, uh," He falters at Rogue's tight squeeze of his hand. "Just isn't good enough. To people like that there's nothing in this world that means more than the ocean."

"Your father was one of those people once," Rogue leans against him and in the same movement offers Ace and Luffy a bowl of goldfish. Luffy happily snatches up a handful but Ace carefully picks out the ones he wants, laying them in the palm of his hand. "He wanted nothing but to sail around the entire world! He had a ship and several friends who helped him run it and together they went to all sorts of places."

"I've got to admit, there's nothing like the open ocean." Roger stares out at the horizon, the same one Luffy moves toward unerringly every time they visit the beach. "It's just you and the waves, and every moment is precious to you. Nothing's ever still out there."

"That sounds fun but I get why you stopped. You got tired." Ace concludes, crossing his arms. "There was probably a lot of stuff going on all the time."

"Oh, there was, but that's why I loved it, not why I stopped."

"What, then why?"

"For your mother." Roger seizes his wife around the waist and pulls her close again, she laughs and tries to resist his embrace playfully but he insists, finally landing a sloppy kiss on her cheek. They lean against each other for a moment, Ace looking fit to burst with the red of his blush. "Your mother was the only woman to successfully anchor me to the shore. And once I had her I realized that there was no where else for me, but at her side."

"Mhmm, Roger…"

"Ewww, stop!"

"Eh!" Luffy agrees, clapping. The two adults separate with a laugh, reluctantly pulling apart- and not quite succeeding as their hands remain within one another, fingers laced together.

"Luffy might be one of those people, or maybe he's not. He's still very young, to him it probably just looks like somewhere he's never been."

Above them the sun glints brightly off a choppy sea and the gulls cry in outrage at the mere notion.

To those who see you as an obstacle,

how could you ever be more?

But when I look I see a world

I could never fully explore.

Luffy's eyes track the sailboat as it dips and weaves and bounces across the waves. The man in a wetsuit is a black blur from this distance but he can see how the man leans off the side of the ship to turn. It's a single person vessel and for sport only but he looks like he could cross the entire ocean with the confidence he uses to command his ship.

A great wave crests in front of him and the boat leaps into the air, the man a slight dot struggling to keep his craft together and-

A motorboat peels out of its port near the cafe window and the roar pulls Luffy's attention away. It sounds like a tiger's growl, low and guttural as the engine starts up and the water in its wake turns to white froth.

When he looks back to the sailor he finds the obstacle surmounted and things back at ease, but he's been forced to acknowledge the harbor traffic, the yachts and the speed boats and the tourist water skiers and the parasailers, cluttering the blue sky with angular patches of bright colors.

The sailor seems so small.

"Hey Lu, I got the food." he glances away from the window and up at Sabo who slides into the other side of the booth and sets down the tray with their order on it. He glances at the book that's open in front of Luffy and smirks at the abandoned scrap paper and pencil. "And you've got no math problems done. Distracted again?"

"I don't know how to do them right." he explains with a pout. "That's why you're here, Sabo, to teach me!"

"Yeah, but whenever I give in and we meet here you get nothing done." Despite his words, Sabo doesn't look upset or sorry or disappointed. He looks happy and patient and he clearly thinks it's funny that Luffy is predictable like that. Luffy is lucky he doesn't have to pay his own brother for tutoring sessions because between the two of them most of their hour is spent staring out the window rather than critiquing essays and re-explaining chemistry formulas with a generous use of the word 'mystery'.

Sabo explains how to do the conversion between degrees and radians again and the pair work through their meal as well as two or three math problems. Sabo nurses his coffee and Luffy steadily cleans his plate of any and all remnants of french toast. The boats pass across the harbor, in and out and around circuits. The sailor is still out there, being tossed up in the waves, every time he crests one it looks like the ship is dancing to a choreography that comes naturally and could never ever be planned... Luffy notices suddenly that he's stopped paying attention to Sabo. He turns back to the table and finds Sabo is staring at him with a soft smile on his face, stirring his straw in a milkshake. Huh, when did that get there?

"Both feet back on land, little brother?" Luffy nods and pulls the shake towards him, slurping up a mouthful of chocolate. "You're especially distracted today, aren't you?"

Luffy shrugs but Sabo can always tell so it doesn't matter.

"There are a lot of boats out today," he says, "But not many sailors…"

Sabo hums and nods back, regarding the harbor before them in contemplation. He knows what Luffy means because he brings it up often. Very often.

"It's the way of the times. Most people are all about what's safer or easier- sailing isn't easy."

"That's why you do it!" Luffy exclaims and Sabo laughs at his expression because yeah, he knows. "Because it's an adventure and because it's always new and, and, and changing and stuff!"

"Not in their minds," he rests his scarred cheek in his hand and points out into the harbor. "He feels like you do, right?" Luffy follows his finger and finds the man in the wetsuit, turning his prow towards shore but still sailing, still skipping off the tops of waves. A jet skier crosses in front of him and Luffy's eyes follow it.


"But he's only one guy." Sabo finishes. Luffy nods. "Look at it this way, no one else is going to feel the way you do about this, it's just you." Luffy frowns at him and Sabo smiles placatingly, just let me finish. "But you don't have to be like them- just like they don't necessarily have to be like you. If you keep an engine on your boat but don't use it you can sail anywhere you want- and then you don't have to stop if the winds do. Or you could use it to tow other boats along if they can't keep up with you, or make more harbor runs to refill your fridge." Luffy still doesn't look impressed so Sabo sighs, pushes the rest of the shake over, and switches tactics. "Or you could not carry an engine and be a crazy guy who gets out of storms and still days with oars and gets lost on his way to harbor and loves sailing all the more for it." Luffy grins at him and finishes off the shake. "Yeah, I thought so."

"I'm not gonna get lost though," Luffy confides, "Nami is teaching me about the compass and her maps and things so I won't."

"Maybe I should stop with the math and give you some astronomy lessons." Sabo jokes and, at Luffy's blank look, he explains "You can navigate by the stars if you aren't gonna carry a GPS with you."


"Oh yeah. And if you want you can use an ice box instead of a fridge. And a sun dial instead of a clock. And- Luffy you know I'm kidding right?"

Luffy blinks out of a daydream and frowns as Sabo starts laughing.

"Using this stuff isn't cheating. You can't just abandon all modern technology, Luffy."

"Why not?" He doesn't get that most of all. It's not that he dislikes technology, microwaves are great, for instance. But, some of it just takes out all the fun and all the risk. Isn't there something beautiful about finding your own way on a paper map, instead of the GPS telling you just where to go? Or even to just drift, and not know where you'll end up. He doesn't know about an icebox for a fridge, that means less food, but who needs a clock in the ocean, you live by the sun and stars no matter what time it is. He doesn't get why they mostly make sailboats for sport and not practical use and travel. And when they do why it's such a big deal when someone really uses them for it. Living on the ocean used to be an occupation- not like the cargo ships and oil rigs that go out now- but to set out with vague, maybe-probably ideas of a destination and no promise of reward or return. Luffy doesn't need the whole world to be like that, but if there were just a few more than himself he'd have someone to point to when people asked him what he was talking about.

Luffy's not very good at planning, or explaining things. So yeah, he'll do it with or without an example to follow, but Makino and all his friends and everyone would probably like a better idea of what he's so interested in.

He watches another group of tourists climb the gangplank onto the whale watching tour ship that is gearing up for its second round of the day. He wants to put his life on the line for the sake of a ship and a glimmering horizon, these people want to give half their attention to a throttle and steering wheel as they ferry people around for kicks.

He thinks Sabo was right when he started. Even if it's just him sailing the way he wants to, he'll be sailing the way he wants to. If no one else can see what they're missing he'll just have to be the first, for other people like him who don't have an example to follow.

Your unknowable mysteries stretch

from depths to surface sheen,

but sometimes I stumble upon a hint

of what lies ahead unseen.

Luffy likes the aquarium almost as much as Sanji does. And as anyone can tell when they look at the blond's face, washed in blue, eyes tracking the flittering forms of fish- that's saying something.

"The fish you see in this tank are all saltwater fish," Sabo is explaining to the school group he's giving a tour to. They'd intended to spend the day together, Sabo, Luffy, and Sanji, but then the aquarium had gotten a big crowd out of nowhere and Sabo had had to work. "Does anyone know why salt water fish are typically more colorful than freshwater?" Just Sanji is fine anyway, (as if any of his friends, especially one from his 'pirate league' as Nami likes to call them, could ever be not enough for anything) as long as Luffy isn't wandering around with no one.

A girl raises her hand and makes a guess about Sabo's question and Luffy snags Sanji's arm and starts walking around the big tank, looking for some of the sea horses that hang out in the kelp. He knows all the tanks as well as Sabo does but he didn't get hired as a tour guide because he can't explain the facts properly. He's not really upset about it.

"Luffy, look at those shrimp in there!" Sanji points and Luffy presses his nose against the glass, tracking the little pink shapes through the water.

They tail Sabo's group for a while but split off when they head outside in favor of looking at the deep sea exhibit. Sanji doesn't like it as much but Luffy loves to see the angler fish the aquarium has. The glowing bait is super cool, plus there are all those fish whose skeletons light up! Sanji likes it too, after a bit. He can't help it.

They wander through the exhibits, neither bothering much with the informational signs or activities. Their eyes remain trained on the tanks, soaking in everything that they see. Luffy's favorite part is all of the colors at once. Every tank has a different kind of blue that matches up with the fish and the fake coral and sends light spraying through it till the coral doesn't look fake. They've fooled the fish, anyhow, and Luffy's never been to the bottom of the sea so he doesn't technically know what the true stuff looks like.

Sanji tends to list seafood dishes under his breath, and he always elbows Luffy when they see a species poisonous enough to require special preparation. Still, he's not fooling anyone. His wonder lies in more than just the aquarium's ability to supply a restaurant with marine delicacies for months.

Such things are most apparent when they arrive in the jellyfish exhibit.

Jellyfish are one of the ocean's greatest dangers and living in a coastal town they both know it. They've both known people that have been scarred by jellyfish, can even remember articles where divers had been killed by them, and yet they can't deny the brilliance they present.

Majestic and deadly, they drift, up and down in their floor to ceiling tank, lit with fluorescent lighting that catches their colors and makes them perfectly visible.

They don't live on the ocean floor, but they are seen rarely enough that one might think they reside as far from human contact as possible. Only their hunting marks remain in the surface world.

In the open ocean few can notice their transparent, trailing tentacles. They are a rarely realized treasure.

Sanji breathes out a sigh of reverence, not even for how jellyfish can be dried and eaten like carrot sticks or drained and pickled kinda and make a yummy salad. (Luffy has heard all that before.) It's just. Understanding. But a moment later he is moving away from the tank, to the next exhibit, eager to see it all.

Luffy loiters a moment more and when he finally looks away there is a sense of kinship that he sometimes finds at the aquarium. He wonders how it must feel to have once had the ocean, from sandy depths to white caps, and to now be locked in this cylindrical space that is only as tall as fifteen feet.

And if those are just the shiny things

people find in dreams,

they are still what keeps me

held together at the seams

He dreams of sailing the oceans.

When he was little he had two rooms, one with Makino and one with Ace. Makino painted his ceiling blue, lots of blues, and called a friend of hers over to help her make it look like ripples. Ace and his parents put fish stickers all over the ceiling of his room at their house (which was really just a guest room but he was a guest four days out of seven so it was mostly his) and they hung posters around too, big wooden ships with vast white sails and tiny rowboats on a dark ocean lit by the moon.

Now, whichever house he's staying at, he can keep himself awake just by looking at it, and thinking of being there. If he lived on a boat he could have a porthole right by his head, and every time he looked out there would be aquamarine and bright turquoise and pale yellow glinting through, or, at night, deep blacks and purples and soft washes of midnight.

He'd be happy, he thinks, with just a rowboat, if only for a little while. Eventually, he'd need a bigger boat, to fit all the new friends he found while out sailing.

He can feel it though, really well, and see it imprinted on the backs of his eyelids. He'd be sunburned everywhere, always, and his hands would always be wrinkled because he would be constantly soaked and every time the horizon crowded with storms, he'd tie the ropes on the sails extra tight and hold on for dear life as he rocked in the waves like an ant drowning in the sink.

Except he would float and when the storm ended everything would be coated in salt and lashed with rainwater and stronger because of what it had survived.

And if nothing survived, well, somehow that was fine too. A bitter, short-lived threat that made the survival sweeter

Now he's starting high school, so they don't much anymore, but when he was a kid teachers always asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. Lots of kids wanted to be doctors and even more wanted to be firemen, and police officers and lots of other stuff. But there were some with different answers, more when he was young-young. He remembered when one girl answered that she wanted to be a mapmaker, though she hasn't been in his class in two years (he thinks she skipped a grade) and another boy who he still sees sometimes that said he wanted to be a brave warrior and adventurer (close but not quite like Luffy).

Now, he thinks he heard that she wants to be an accountant and the boy wants to be an author.

Luffy has never changed his answer.

'What do you want to be?' 'A sailor!'

What kind of sailor? Where will you go? What will you do?

The free kind, everywhere, everything.

He thinks it's a good answer and people used to agree but recently his teachers give him looks like 'that's not the right answer'. (It's a look he gets a lot).

He asked Makino once, what kind of sailor he should be and she said 'whatever kind you want' so he thinks it's fine.

And every night between then and now (and between now and when he sets sail) he looks at his ceiling or sometimes the sky when he goes camping (tents suck) and he pretends that the future is now and the fish and the water and the stars are really real and that he's out where he belongs.

But he knows that one day it's gonna feel a lot different.

So much better.

How can the world chug along

barely acknowledging you are here?

Once upon a time, at least

they treated you with fear.

"Trick or treat!" Luffy beams up from under a mustache and eyepatch at the woman who opens the door, a smile already on her face and a bucket of candy held under one arm.

"Oh, my, who's this that has come to my door on this dark and spooky night?"

"I'm Luffy, I'm gonna be the pirate king!" He yells obediently. "Uhhh, ARRR!" He lifts the hand that holds the metal hook from Miss Rouge's baking mixer and waves it at her. "Did I do it right Ace?" He turns and looks up at Ace who grimaces again, adjusting his cowboy hat.

"Yeah, you're doing it right." Luffy pumps his fist excitedly and looks back to the amused woman leaning in the door frame. She smiles at his grin and when he holds out his almost empty pail.

"If you're a pirate does that mean that you're going to take all of this candy from me?" She jokes, pulling the bucket into her chest defensively. "I'll call the marines if you try to plunder this house!"

"Plunder?" Luffy screwed up his face, "Huh?"

"She means steal," Ace supplies, "Attack her and steal her stuff."

"Wha- but she seems nice!" Luffy looks up at her imploringly. "You're nice, right?"

"I like to think so." She smiles.

"Right, so I don't want to steal from you!" Luffy decides and Ace facepalms, trying to suppress and cover a dopey grin. The woman picks up on it all the same and recognizes exactly what he's feeling. Fond exasperation.

"So you're all dressed up like a pirate but you're not going to act like one?"

"Pirates aren't thieves!" Luffy argues immediately. "They're adventurers! They sail all over the world and meet all kinds of cool people and live on a ship and dig up treasure and-!"

"Steal stuff, you dumb sh…" Ace cuts himself off with a glance at the woman and continues with a strained smile. "Kid…"

"Well I'm not gonna." Luffy decides with a firm nod. "I don't think that's what pirates should be at all and you said I could be anything I wanted for Halloween so I'm gonna be what pirates should be."

"Good for you." Luffy startles at the clattering of candy into his bucket. The woman smiles at him, dropping another few starbursts and jolly ranchers into the bucket. "You're right, Halloween is a time to be whatever you want and honestly?" She tweaks Luffy's cheek, where the fake mustache is already starting to kinda itch, and giggles at his affronted yelp. "I think you'll make a great pirate, whatever kind of pirate you decide to be."

I feel as though I've missed

My era, my age, my time.

Today, for every lonely or lost rhythm,

they think they've found a rhyme.

"Hurry Makino, go faster, go faster!" Luffy bounces in his car seat, his fully stuffed backpack clutched to his chest, eyes trained determinedly out the window, watching the coast whip by. Makino smiles at the sight as she glances in the rearview mirror but does not change her speed. The captain warned her that they were setting sail at seven today and she can't let Luffy get there before that.

Even though she thinks it's admirable that the child is so eager to see his red-haired idol once again that he wants to get to the docks an hour before Shanks had told Luffy they'd be leaving, which is eight.

"Faster, Makino, what if they leave? I've gotta make sure they know I'm coming too!"

"Didn't Shanks tell you you couldn't come?"

"Yeah, but I'm gonna go anyway. When he sees I'm all packed there's no way he can turn me away!"

She smiles again, she wishes that were true, she wishes Luffy could get out on the sea like he has wanted to since before he could actually tell anyone what he wanted. But… It's not safe for a toddler on a ship that sails far from the shore. Shanks is a man with a rich inheritance not bound to the land or money or family or any other sort of responsibilities. He's sailed to what seems like an endless list of country names running deliveries for small change and brings back souvenirs if he ever stops in their humble port for long.

It's very nice of him, and Makino appreciates every trinket he shows her seven-year-old charge. But… to see the places he visits is all Luffy has really wanted for a very long time. And that's just not something he can do.

The road peels away from the coast and she guides them down the street and toward the port. A glance at the clock shows 6:58. Shanks should be gone, which is fine because he'd said goodbye last night.

It's a little early for you to be up, Anchor. So I better say 'see you' now in case you miss us. But I'll tell you what, if you can make it to us before we set sail I'll let you come with me!

He really should have learned that Luffy was capable of anything he put his mind to.

Luffy's unhooking his seatbelt and tugging at the door handle before she even puts it into park. The second she does the doors click and Luffy tumbles out, backpack bumping against the backs of his legs. Careening down the docks toward a familiar ship which is just pulling away.

Mhmmmawwww… Makinooo, I'mma ready to ghoaaw... The clock had read 5:30. Makino you look tired. Should I drive?

You were so close, Luffy. She thinks, forlorn. But I'm sure you'll get there another day.

"Goodbye, Luffy!" She can hear Shanks' yell as she gets out of the car and starts walking down the docks. Luffy is sitting on the edge of the dock, holding something familiar and yellow tightly in his hands and waving like mad.

"I'm gonna find you Shanks!" He screams, "I'm gonna sail the seas too! And see all kinds of people and places just like you! I'll see you again!"

And from out on the sea she can see him waving back, red hair gleaming in the sunlight without his usual hat to hide it away.

"I can't wait!"

Neither can she.

You know what's out there waiting,

You know I'm meant to see.

And just searching for the place that calls

Makes me lost no longer but free.

"For me?" He can't believe his eyes. It's too… incredible to actually true. He can't believe what's in front of him.

The sun is high on the sky and it's abnormally warm for early May. The water is frigid still (he knows that from experience) but the shore is as beautiful as ever.

Perhaps more beautiful because this shore is equipped with all the makings of a feast and a big sign that reads 'Luffy's sweet seventeenth biggest ever birthday beach barbeque bash!'

He was not expecting this when he mentioned at Vivi's party that he never had a sweet sixteen and it sounded fun but wasn't that for girls? Actually, he hadn't been expecting anything.

Especially not the boats.

"Is that for me?" he asks Franky because Franky's standing next to it looking proud but not protective like he is of the cool robots he makes for those big ticket competitions. So he can only assume that since it's his birthday and it's got a bow tied out of red ribbon and sailing ropes that maybe, just maybe, they built that for him?

"Sure is, Luffy-bro! All yours."

Luffy suddenly realizes that he may never stop smiling ever again.

It's a smooth white sloop with a red stripe, blue stripe and yellow stripe running around the hull, the words The Far Off Horizon running down the yellow one in crisp black script. The sails are tied up but Luffy can see that they're thick and white, strong enough to face any gale the sea can whip up for him.

Beside it are two other boats, one a solo vessel, bright orange, and then another sloop colored brown and green. Those two are not for him, he can tell, because Zoro and Usopp and Sanji are by the one labeled Green Viper Sting and Nami is standing in the water besides The Melting Gold and clearly his friends recognize that part of his love for the ocean came with the idea of exploring with them at his side.

Their ships were as much a gift to him as his own.

Franky explains how to work the sails and the steering and Nami follows up with simpler instructions just in case he didn't get it. Most of it goes in one ear and out the other but he thinks he understands it all the same. It makes sense after all, that this rope would cause that and this piece controls that and those sails do this and with all that happening the ship will sail. So he pushes it away from the shore and leaps inside, deck boards new and tough but for the first time feeling the touch of the sandals that will wear them down into a well-loved, often used sea-stained deck.

He guides the ship out to deeper waters and watches the surf part beneath her prow, watches the waves behind them merge back together from the force of his wake. Watches the horizon lay before him, like something unattainable and golden that he can spend a lifetime looking for, and never tire of the sight.

It's more than he ever imagined.

They convince him to come in for the meal but he's out again before they can show him any of the other games they planned. Ace and Sabo laugh at him as he pushes out for the second time and Nami just grins and hops in her ship again, racing him out to the mouth of the harbor.

Two hours later and the sun starts to set, his movements begin to lag with fatigue, but his eyes are wide as the sky fades from bright blue and instead pulls forth curtains of stars.

"Luffy! We're gonna turn in now," Sanji calls and Luffy pulls himself from reverie to see the other two ships turning their prows toward land. There's a bonfire lit on the beach, burning brightly like a homing flare and the others turn into it like moths to a flame. Luffy, however, can't stand the thought of heading anywhere but seaward. His friends have no such reservations and he won't lie that the sea is instantly lonelier than before, that without them at his side it's harder to stay…

But he doesn't forget what it is to not have the waves roiling beneath his feet, doesn't forget how different the sky looks from the beach.

He doesn't want to leave it.

Luffy sails across the mouth of the harbor a few times more, skirting the edge of the open ocean and letting it lap at the sides of his vessel. Turning in feels wrong, but so does leaving, because half of his dream is here, with his friends.

Half and half. Clean down the middle. He's not sure which way to choose.

A few more passes and he notices the bonfire begin to dim, people are leaving, not all of them (he can hear Nami screeching from clean across the bay) but the party has less than it started with.

In an instant he pulls the sail out to turn around, coasting along the waves, pointed toward the beacon of flame and family.

But not for a moment does he forget the wild abandon and dark unknown places that lay behind him, lit not by fire but by the gentle light of the moon.

They'd always turn back to the shore, to their lives where he's just one small part. And he'd always need to join them, sooner or later. Half and half, neither one of his dreams could touch the other, neither one would ever hold more than half of his desire. But he's survived seventeen years without the entire ocean at his fingertips, and he wouldn't have without them at his side. He'd always have to choose- between their complete happiness and his.

And so I'll search the world over

for what I'll probably never find.

You may have the cure I need

But no one ever said it was kind.

The AU puts Roger and Rouge as still alive. Ace and Sabo are more like five years older than Luffy than three, just cause it was easier to deal with. Timelines are messy anyway and the scenes are not in chronological order- though the last scene is last and the first scene is first.

I hope everyone enjoyed and regardless of the opinions you may want to voice you're encouraged to review, thank you!