Chapter Seventeen : Start

Roger watched sideways as the three brothers do their best in fighting the tiger. An amused smirk was plastered on his lips. Simple things like that always kept him entertained. Whenever he's with those three, he never felt bored and rather more alive than ever.

After their breakfast consisting of wild boars, the trio quickly went to action in finding the said tiger. They seemed to be excited more today, unlike the other days where they complained about beating it. There was a new profound motivation in them something Roger would like to ask later on.

"They are strong at their age, noshi," Naguri commented with a smile.

"They want to be pirates. I can't just let them go without proper training." Roger replied with a soft sigh, attention was still on the three kids.

"Luffy told me that he wanted to be the King of the Pirates," Naguri said, turning to face him. A curious gaze was visible on his face, seeking an answer. "Are you fine with it? Wouldn't you want your blood son to be your successor?"

Roger's lips formed a soft smile. "I already asked Ace about it. He told me that he doesn't want to steal Luffy's dream. He and Sabo just want to freely travel the sea."

"I'll be honest with you. I wasn't expecting Ace to be your son. I thought it's Luffy."

Roger chuckled, putting a hand on his hips. "Ace grew up in a harsh way but it doesn't mean that he's not similar to Luffy."

"Similar? In what way, noshi?"

"Ace is still young. There is still innocence in him. Sabo and Luffy are there to remind him that. That's why I'm thankful for them."

"They are an interesting set of brothers."

"This is just the start. I'm excited at what the future holds for them. I know that they will cause the world to go uproar." Roger grinned with a new profound proudness within him.

It was exciting to see what the future has planned for the brothers. If only he has the time to see it through.

Dealing with the tiger was harder than Luffy and his brothers had anticipated.

"I'll go now!" Ace screamed, launching himself forward before his younger brothers could even protest.

Luffy watched as Ace was the first to attack it. Ace was always impatient and harsh like that. He never even think of a plan when attacking, unlike Sabo who would always use his brain. Ace would rather use his sheer strength to overcome his opponents.

But the tiger was different than their usual opponents. You can predict a person's movements because they can analyze a situation. Animals on the other hand don't, making their attacks harder to pinpoint. The tiger was larger than any animals in the forest of Mt. Columbo. quicker though. Just with the mere sight of it, Luffy felt his body shudder in response. Luffy gulped, his eyebrows furrowing in an attempt to make his expression braver. He needed to win this one if he wanted to prove that he was stronger now.

The tiger immediately took notice of Ace. It growled as a warning but it already decided. Using its long tail, it hit Ace's head on making him fly backward.

"Ace!" Sabo yelled out in concern. And just as Sabo was rushing to check Ace, the tiger had used that time to went over his next prey.

"Gomu Gomu no Pistol!" Luffy stretched his arms in an attempt for defense. He gritted his teeth, wanting to protect his older brothers too. He cannot be the weakest all the time. His dream was harder than theirs so he needed to be the strongest.

But the tiger was stronger and more ferocious. The punch of the rubber boy was not enough to even bruise it. It roared back loudly making Luffy fall back in the ground in fear. He screamed at the top of his lungs, brown eyes were wide open as he stared in terror.

Luffy hated this feeling the most. The feeling of being helpless and not being able to do anything. He first experienced it when Shanks saved. He promised himself it will never happen again. He wanted to be strong to overcome his fear. But despite all the hardships of training he has in the past months, it became worthless when face

to face a stronger opponent.

Luffy braced for the impact with his eyes closed but the tiger's claw didn't hit him though. At the last seconds, his two older brothers appeared in front of him stopping its attack.

"Sabo... Ace..." Luffy quivered with a shaky breath. A slight relief washed over him.

"We can't hold him for long," Sabo said, hazel eyes glancing at Luffy. The tiger was heavier than they had expected but his little brother's safety was a higher concern.

"We need to win!" Ace exclaimed in determination. "Give me a hand, you two!"

Luffy stood up on his feet, not wanting to waste any more time. Once Luffy was out, Ace and Sabo let go of the tiger. The three then ran away from the tiger at full speed. They knew it to themselves. The tiger was way stronger than them and they cannot take it on. Ace and Luffy ran back into the forest together.

"We're not fast enough but if we used your ability, we might be able to defeat it!" Ace ordered looking back at the blond. "Sabo! Be the bait!"

"I know!" Sabo replied, not looking back. His attention was turned on the ferocious animal. "Hey, stupid tiger! Come and get me!"

Luffy didn't understand what Ace was planning but he always trusted his brothers. He nodded firmly, believing in Ace fully. He will do whatever Ace has planned if it was a way for them to win.

"Luffy, stretch as far as you can," Ace ordered, turning to look at him.

"Aye!" Luffy agreed as his hands stretched while holding two trees. He looked at Sabo who was being chased after the tiger. Sabo was running in their direction at full speed.

And as the tiger closes by, Ace and Luffy started their assault.

"Gomu Gomu no..." Luffy called out his attack.

"Rocket!" Ace finished as he was spent flying towards the tiger. With a pipe in his hands, he hit the tiger on its head.

It snarled in pain once it embraced the impact of Ace's attack. It fell on the ground hard, not moving an inch. Its eyes were white indicating that it was unconscious. Still, Luffy did not let his guard down. He was still worried since they cannot afford the tiger to awaken once more. They don't have enough energy for another round. After a few seconds, he breathed out a sigh of relief. Looking at his brothers, the three of them shared the same type of cheerfulness.

"We did it!" The trio exclaimed happily. Their clutched hands were raised in the air, celebrating their victorious moment.

"That makes Ace the captain, huh?" Sabo said, pointing the agreement they made with a heavy breath.

"But I trained so hard, too!" Luffy complained, pouting. He ruffled his hair in frustration.

"Captain?" Roger echoed as he went over to their location.

"Yeah, we had a contest that whoever defeats the tiger, gets to be the captain once we became pirates!" Luffy explained their agreement with a laugh. It was something Luffy came up with and one of the few ideas his brother ever agreed with.

"Tch," Ace expressed, looking down. "I won't be the captain."

"Eh?" Sabo and Luffy exclaimed in shock.

"I didn't defeat it on my own. You two helped me." Ace closed his eyes. He put his hands on his waist then smirked looking so smug. "Someday, you'll beg me to be your captain anyway."

"You gonna beg?" Sabo asked his younger brother.

"Not gonna happen. Pirates don't beg!"

Roger simply laughed. "It's still too early to know if you three will end up traveling together."

"You did great, noshi," Naguri commented.

"Are you leaving?" Ace asked.

Naguri grinned before nodding. "Yes. There's no more reason for me to stay here."

"See ya then!" Luffy cheerfully bid.

Pirates never stayed in one place. They are always up for adventures. Exploring islands and traversing the seas. It was something that Luffy and his brothers want once they turned to the right age. They understand why Naguri wanted to travel again. The sea was a very beautiful place that Luffy cannot imagine not like.

They went over the docks where Naguri's repaired ship was located. They still help him boarding some non-perishable goods the man needs in his journey. And as the sun started to set, and so was the ship.

"Are you sure that you'll stay here, Roger?" Naguri questioned for the last time.

"I need to train these three here," Roger replied, throwing his hands back on his head.

Luffy looked up at him, wanting to ask further about it. He cannot understand why Roger would rather stay in one place than go on the seas. Wasn't he the King of the Pirates? Why wouldn't he want to travel again? Or was it because of them? If the latter was the case, then Luffy didn't like that idea. Roger can do whatever he pleases without them holding him back. That's what freedom is for Luffy.

"We'll see again." Naguri declared as he grew the sail allowing wind to carry the ship again.

Between the orange-red skies and the illuminating sea, the scene of the ship sailing as the sun set down will forever be painted in Luffy's mind. It was very beautiful especially if you shared it with the people you loved.

"Haki training?" Roger asked after a while. He turned at them, smiling.

"Of course! You promised!" Luffy exclaimed with an overly excited tone.

Sabo groaned loudly. He opened his eyes slowly and glanced at the window. The sun had not risen yet and he was already woken up. Dawn can be a beautiful thing to watch upon but not now. He was tired from yesterday's happenings. Defeating a tiger was not easy and his body felt so sore.

"Ace, Sabo. Wake up!" Luffy whined as he continued to shake both of his brothers.

Sabo breathed heavily. "Luffy... Don't shake us like that. Can't you see we're still sleeping?"

"But Roger's gonna teach us that Haki thingy!"

"He always trains us every day." Ace surprisingly replied with a scowl. He threw a pillow at Luffy, wanting to shut him up. "What makes today any different?"

"It's cool to learn a neat trick like that!" Luffy snickered, removing the pillow away.

"I'm up. I'm up." Sabo said as he stood up and stretch his arms. He let out a yawn and rubbed his eyes.

It was not usual for Luffy to be up early in the morning. His younger brother tended to be the first one asleep and the last one to wake up. Luffy must be excited about the next training session. As much as he loved his brother's energetic mood, doing it at dawn was ruining their sleep schedule.

Sabo was already grimacing. Roger's training was hard. He wondered what today's training would be like. The Haki thing that Roger told them seemed to be harder. But if Sabo and his brothers learned it, it would be a pretty neat trick.

"Let's hunt now. No point in sleeping when Lu's already ruined my morning." Ace said finally standing up.

"Let's go!" Luffy said, not bothered by his older brothers' reaction.

Sabo grabbed his black top hat on his desk and put it on. By that time, the first rays of sunlight were finally visible. Sabo was the first one to go down, next was Luffy, and then Ace. That was their usual pattern. Keeping Luffy in the middle so that his brothers can watch over him.

As he descended, he looked down only to find Roger already there trying to make fire. The man had matches in his hands and having a hard time. His brows were furrowed as he cannot lit it up. Besides him were three alligators that needed to be skinned.

"Good morning! I'm not expecting you guys to be up early! I thought I can surprise you." Roger greeted with a huge grin.

"Luffy's been pestering us none stop," Sabo said with a sigh.

"Surprise us? You can't even make a fire." Ace stated dryly.

And so they help out Roger with his struggle with making breakfast. Sabo was the one who managed to make a fire for roasting. Ace and Luffy had skinned the alligator. Their breakfast was relatively at ease with just a casual argument between the brothers.

"Now, let's start." Roger stood up and clapped his hand.

"What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?" Luffy chanted, fidgeting his feet.

"We'll start with Observation Haki. The problem is, I can't train you three at the same time." Roger picked up a lone stick in the ground. He snapped it in pieces. "Whoever gets the shortest stick is the one who will go first."

The trio stood up and went over to Roger. They shared a look and nodded. They pulled out their respective sticks at the same time to which would be the so-called lucky winner.

"Ah! Sabo gets to be the first!" Luffy yelled, clearly unhappy about the result.

Sabo threw him a grin. "You'll have your turn later."

Roger grabbed something from his pocket. It was a black cloth and handed it over to the blond boy.

Sabo's hazel eyes started twitching. "You're not throwing rocks at me, aren't you?"

"Don't worry. Just put it on." Roger stifled a burst of laughter.

Sabo shared one last look at his brothers. With a heavy sigh, he put on the blindfold. He breathed in and out, calming his aching nerves. He also mentally prepare himself by thinking of encouragements.

"You're gonna hit him with that!?" He heard Ace's concerned yelling.

"Ah! Sabo, look out!" Luffy screamed in an attempt to warn his older brother.

Before Sabo even processed Luffy's words, a hard object had hit him straight in the head. He yelped in pain and started rubbing the area. He can tell that it was made from wood whatever it was. Probably a baseball bat that Roger had stolen.

"Heighten your senses," Roger said, calmly. He can hear the slight amusement in his voice.

"Don't hit him that hard, bastard!" Ace scoffed, hating whenever people would hurt his two brothers.

"Sorry." Roger apologized sheepishly. "Don't worry, Ace. You will have your turn later!"

"I'm fine, Ace," Sabo replied casually, knowing how protective his brother can be.

Before Ace could yell any more curses towards his father, Sabo was hit again. This time it was in his shoulders. It wasn't as bad as the first one but it was still enough for Sabo to groan.

But he did not complain. This was what they asked for. You need hard work to achieve anything you want. The ability Roger wanted them to learn was not an easy one. That was why Sabo was striving hard to be better. He had to be strong not because he wanted to. He had to be strong because he needed to. Sabo has things he wanted to protect. He was willing to do anything for Ace and Luffy.

Ten more minutes had passed and Sabo was not doing any better. He cannot know when or where Roger would strike next. In the end, he was breathing heavily unable to predict where Roger's attacks would be.

"That's enough. You did great, Sabo." Roger stated.

With that, Sabo removed his blindfold. A deep frown was present on the boy's face. "I could've done better..."

"This is just the first day. I'm not expecting any of you to dodge my attacks." Roger let out a laugh making Sabo relaxed. "We should hurry."

"Why?" Ace inquired, raising his eyebrows.

"It's gonna rain. Look." Sabo replied, pointing at the clouds. The clear blue sky earlier was gone and replaced by dark clouds. They could also feel the wind blowing harshly on their faces.

"Who's next then?"

"Me next! Me next!" Luffy exclaimed, waving his hands in the air. He was the one who was most excited about their training so his reaction was understandable.

Ace sighed before grabbing the blindfold from Sabo. He put it on Luffy's eyes and made sure the boy would see nothing. He could never change Luffy's mind whenever he decided on something. Especially now that he was excited about today's training.

In the end, the same thing happened to Luffy and Ace. Both were full of bumps after their training.

A/N: Plot will move next chapter ^^

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