Chapter 2: Fated
"There he is again!"
"Thinks he can come from his hovel of a forest, throw a few punches and coupla' hits o' his pipe and claim the items in our Terminal?"
The "brat" ignored all the whispers and mutters and continued to rummage through the pile of junk, looking for loot.
Despite all the glares and such, the residents of Grey Terminal knew better than to challenge the boy, a few too many having had the misfortune of meeting the end of his pipe, boy could that kid pack a swing. He played dirty too, biting viciously when grabbed.
"Hey, that's mine!"
Oops, looks like someone didn't get the message.
The aforementioned brat, with black hair and freckles, silverish-grey droopy eyes that belied the piercing alertness and cold gaze that shone through, turned around, a frown marring his features, to face another boy who was around his age. The boy gave a cursory glance to the newcomer, noticing that although his clothes was muddy, torn and had seen better days, it was still good quality. A light blue shirt, tucked into blue shorts held up by a thick belt, over which he wears a royal blue coat jacket with coattails, pulled together by a hole-ridden napkin and a top hat of all things, almost too big for his head, was nestled upon blonde curls. The boy was missing a tooth and had a sharp upturned nose and eyes like a clear blue sea. All in all, the boy looked like a noble boy, if the said noble had gotten lost in the forest and had just managed to stumble out after several days that is. The noble brat too, wielded a pipe. Guess pipes were the common weapon choice around here.
The feral boy growled and challenged, "Then come and get it!" He smirked inwardly, for no one in the Gray Terminal had dared to take him on after that one time he gave a couple of men a thorough beat down for taking what was his.
That smirk quickly turned into a frown when the noble boy leapt at him with a battle cry. Despite not expecting it, let it not be said that his reflexes did not make up for that mistake. With an ear-ringing clang, the bodies of the pipes made contact, and the force behind the blow, while nothing he could not handle, still took him by surprise. Then a true smile graced those freckled cheeks. Finally! A true opponent!
The battle was quick but rough. The blondie's swings were amateur, and sloppy, but it packed a punch when it did hit. Whereas the wild boy's own swings were equally as devastating, and it was only through his increased experience wielding a pipe, that he was able to gain the upper hand for a brief second, enough to fling the other away from his loot of the day.
When the noble-esque boy re-emerged from the random pile of junk, one of many that littered the Gray Terminal, the other was already packing his spoils into a worn fabric that functioned as his knapsack.
The blonde grinned, and exclaimed, "That was fun! Let's do it again! I will win this time!"
The wild boy paused, his brows furrowed, and he growled, "This isn't a game!" He barked, before continuing one, tying the ends of the fabric together and swinging the bundle over his shoulders.
He made to go off, back into the forest, before the noble boy scrambled from atop the junk pile and slid down to land beside him.
"What are you doing with all that anyway? What's a boy like you need with so much junk?"
"None of your business!" The other snapped.
"Oh, come on!" The blonde wheedled, "Surely you must need them for something! I would like to know what you intend to do with them, seeing as they were mine first. If it's something useless, then I would like them back, for I believe I will get better use of them."
The raven sniffed. "I'm collecting treasures for my pirate fund."
"Ehehehehe!" The snickering from the blondie earned him a nasty glare from the other, his pipe in his other hand raised threateningly.
"Wait, no no no!" The boy began frantically, waving his hands in front of his face urgently. "I'm not laughing at you!"
The other just raised a sceptical brow. The blonde rubbed his nose and continued, "It's just, if you are going to keep such things for your pirate fund, then its going to be huge, but practically worthless. Heavy only in its size and weight, but not value."
The wild boy stared, uncomprehending and the other sighed. "Look, I meant it when I said these were junk. They may look fancy, all shiny and stuff, but they are truthfully poor copies and fakes with no value. It's why there's so much of it here. Worthless, doesn't mean useless though. Instead of keeping these as it is or trying to sell to merchants who wouldn't want to pay anything for them nor accept them anyway, why no sell them to a blacksmith? They could always use more metal. It's what I would do anyway, they pay more for the metal, than for the look."
The jungle boy continued to stare, and the blonde started chewing on his lip nervously, feeling the need to squirm. Finally, the raven slung the bundle off his shoulders and shoved it into the other's arms.
"Show me." Was the curt reply.
The other gave a tentative, wary smile and began to lead the other to the local blacksmith in the nearby village of Foosha.
"See, what did I tell ya?" The blonde grinned as the raven tossed his newly acquired coins in the air, a satisfied smirk on his face. It wasn't much, but it was a start, better than what he began with anyway.
The raven eyed his companion walking alongside him back to the Gray Terminal and flicked a coin in his direction. The blonde scrambled to catch it, and examined it curiously, looking back to the other with confusion.
"For your help today." The raven responded shortly.
The blonde grinned and pocketed the coin. "Thanks! Now I can add this to my own pirate fund!"
The raven looked at the blonde in interest. "You have a pirate fun also?"
"It's better to use the word 'too' and yes."
"You plan to become a pirate?"
The blonde grinned and answered, "Why not? They have the best adventures! And they have freedom to do whatever they want when they want! Sounds like a dream come true!"
The blonde nudged the boy he had proclaimed as his new friend in his mind. "Why do you want to become a pirate, eh?"
The raven clicked his tongue, "Nothing you need to know."
The blonde pouted, "Oh, come on! Can't you tell me?"
Then he perked up, having just had an idea. "I know! Why don't you and I share a pirate fund!"
"Share?" The raven was wary.
The blonde nodded, "Yeah! Share! Think about it! We both have the same goal and combined, it will be bigger than the two of us can get alone! It's a win-win!" Something in his clear blue eyes glinted shrewdly.
The raven mulled over it for a moment. "You do have a good eye for treasure…" He conceded.
The blonde grinned when the other grudgingly agreed to a shared pirate fund.
"Great!" The blonde cheered. "It's going to be amazing; you'll see!"
Then he patted the boy on his shoulder and asked, "Now I need to know who I'm going to be sharing with, aren't I? What's your name? I'm Sabo!"
"…Portgas D. Ace."
"Nice to meet you, Ace! Let's be friends!"
It was a few years after that they met Luffy. Monkey D. Luffy, who was relentless, annoying and oh so pushy. Who had a heart of gold. Who refused to reveal the location of their treasure fund, even if it could save him pain and cost him his life.
Monkey D. Luffy, who answered Ace's eternal question with an "Of course I want you to live! Being alone is worse than death!"
It was hard, not to like Luffy, who shone like a beacon through a storm, the rays of sunlight breaking through thunder clouds to warm up the damp earth, the light through the gloom.
He fit in like a final piece of the puzzle, he was the unpredictable skies, that sway to none but its own rhythm, the torrential downpour that tempered Ace's wildfire, but did not smother it, and he guides Sabo's bottled rage that is akin to the calm before the storm, and is guided in turn, as how the winds ride the waves.
The day that Sabo was forced to reveal to his friends his lineage, of his shameful parentage, when Ace trusted them with the truth of his blood, and Luffy accepted them both with open arms and a wide grin, was the day they swore brotherhood. A vow that unbeknownst to the trio, shook the earth in the other blues, churned the waters in Paradise, and rend the skies in the New World.
"Hey, did you know? If men share a botte of sake, they become brothers?"
"From today, let's swear a bond of brotherhood! It shall be our greatest treasure! And no matter where we are or what we do, our bond shall never be broken!"
"Let's be brothers!"
CRASH! BOOM! CRACK!
The moment they slammed their cups together and knocked back the drinks, a bolt of lightning struck the tree stump they were crowded around, having used it as a make-shift table, and aside from knocking the trio back and away, they got by with barely a scratch. The stump however, had a smouldering hole struck into its centre, large enough to fit an arm through.
Dazed, the trio of brothers stumbled to their feet. "You both okay?" Ace asked. Sabo nodded, searching for Luffy.
"Hey! Ace! Sabo! There's something in here!"
Of course, Luffy, who was always awestruck by the most mundane things and must have thought the hole in the stump looked cool, was the first to sidle up and examine the destruction.
"What are you yammering about?" Ace groused, even as he stomped up to Luffy. "It's just a hole in a tree-"
He paused, and blinked. Sabo, curious, asked, "What's wrong?"
"There really is something in here!" Ace exclaimed, even as he reached a hand in, and pulled out three brightly coloured rocks -no, crystals- Sabo realised with a start. He scrambled up to get a better look and realised they were indeed, cut crystals, six sides cut into each like a hexagon, and tapered to a point at one end, with the other end being having a hole drilled in it, with bits of string clinging to it. Sabo concluded that the strings they once hung from must have disintegrated from age. These were pendants, and they were old. Whoever hid them must be long gone, even though the crystals showed no signs of aging. The pendants themselves were peculiar. One was coloured a bright fiery orange, with a red flame captured within, looking so real it looked like it was flickering, alive, but that should be impossible, right? The second crystal was a nice ice blue, with a sea blue sea shell within its depths, and it sparkled in the sun like sand on the beach. The last one was a lightning yellow, with a white bolt of lightning eternally frozen in its streaking lance downwards, that seemed to glow. They were beautiful, and thrummed with energy, power.
With a start, Sabo realised that the second one, the shell, matched his birthmark, the one he was told fervently by his nanny to never mention to anyone, least of all his parents.
"Hey, that looks like my birthmark!" Looks like Luffy realised it too, wait, what?
"And that blue one looks just like Sabo's eyes! Pretty!"
"Luffy!" Sabo had to bark to get his attention. Luffy blonked owlishly at him.
Sabo took a deep breath and asked, slowly, "You have a birthmark shaped like a lightning bolt?"
"Mmhm!" Ace was frozen, staring at the pendants in his palms.
"Ahh!" Luffy slapped a hand over his mouth. "Gramps told me never to tell anyone that!" But then he frowned, "But it's ok! It's Ace and Sabo! I trust you!"
Sabo was momentarily touched. "It's okay, Luffy. I have a birthmark too."
Luffy brightened, "You do?!"
Sabo nodded, and pointed to his right side, just underneath his ribs. "It is shaped like a shell. Like the shell in that pendant."
Luffy's mouth formed an 'O' as his eyes darted between the blue pendant and Sabo. "Shishishi! What a coincidence! What about you Ace?"
Ace jolted out of his stupor, "Wha-?"
"Do you have a weird birthmark too?" Sabo patiently asked.
Ace nodded absently. "Y-yeah…A flame, on my left side…"
"Interesting…" Sabo eyed the pendants.
"The person who left it here must have made it for us!" Luffy cheered.
Sabo didn't have the heart to tell him that the person probably never intended it to be found, considering he hid it in the stump, and that he probably lived a long time ago, and wasn't it a little odd? A little suspicious?
Luffy continued merrily, "The orange one is for Ace, the blue one for Sabo, and the yellow one is for me!"
"Yeah…" Ace hedged, looking sceptical. Sabo was inclined to agree with him. Surely, these were too much of a coincidence? In what world would pendants somehow matching each of their birthmarks, in each of their desired colours just- appear out of nowhere, for them to take? How are they even sure these things were safe? Sabo had read about how some items had seemed innocuous, but were invariably, indubitably cursed. Could these be what these were? Cursed items set to burn the wearer or sentence them to an eternity of agony in penance for their greed? For daring to covet such rare treasures?
However, before Sabo could stop him, Luffy had snatched the yellow pendant up and held it up to the light. "It feels nice! Looks pretty! I want this!"
It didn't look like it affected him aversely, perhaps it was a delayed reaction? Still, Luffy's instincts were hardly wrong, as he had come to learn, and so, perhaps it was safe?
Sabo sighed and dug into his pockets for bits of string that he had pocketed from Dadan a day ago.
"Here, Luffy." With that, Sabo took the lightning pendant -huh, it did feel nice, tingly- and threaded the string through, before tying it off to form a necklace. He handed the necklace back to a bouncing Luffy who immediately pulled it over his head, and Sabo could swear that the pendant glowed briefly the moment it touched Luffy's chest.
"SO COOL!" Luffy cheered, snatching the blue one and thrusting it into Sabo's hands. "Here! Sabo! Yours!"
The moment his hand clasped around it, for some inexplicable reason, Sabo felt a sense of calm wash over him, a tranquility that he didn't feel before…it felt like belonging…like coming home, and he felt invigorated.
He threaded his pendant into a necklace and took Ace's one to do the same, all while Ace watched broodily.
Sabo paused as he secured the knot in the string on Ace's necklace as a thought struck him. "Hey…what if…what if we use these pendants as a sign of our brotherhood? Something to keep with us, always? As a reminder? We can do an exchange! Like friendship bracelets, but for brotherhood!" He was giddy just thinking about it.
He held up Ace's necklace. "I can keep Ace's. We will always know that this is his, of course. Think of it as safekeeping. This way, there is always a part of Ace that is with me. Then Ace can have Luffy's and Luffy can have mine. What do you think?"
Luffy was already nodding excitedly and one the verge of exploding with excitement and Ace was solemn for a couple minutes before he sighed and reached out a hand to Luffy, in which Luffy quickly took off his necklace and passed it to Ace. Sabo then passed the blue one to Luffy.
When he wore Ace's pendant, it felt different, like a simmering heat that pooled in his chest, but it was warm, he felt protected. Like Ace made him feel. Sabo smiled. He looked to his brothers and saw Ace's steel-grey eyes soften as he gazed at the yellow pendant resting against his chest and Luffy was looking in awe at the blue one, for once, calm.
Sabo's smile broke out into an uncontainable grin. This were his true family, his brothers, and the pendants were tokens of their brotherhood. Yup, today was a good day indeed.
See image/633966178002518016 for image of the pendants!
This story isn't abandoned, but updates may be slow! Please be patient and tell me what you think! Any ideas, theories on the plot, etc. haha!