Chapter 2 - Metempsychosis
The multiverse theory states that there exists countless universes parallel to our own. Those universes may follow the same history that ours did or they may have their own unique history.
The changes that occurred in one when compared to another may be anything. Something small like someone in the world having a different breakfast than he would have had otherwise or perhaps something larger.
Such as a boy being born with the memories of his adult self.
Such was the case with little Monkey D. Luffy who had a consistent headache for the first couple years of his life which made him cry more than other children his age.
But the headache soon ceased to be as Luffy grew older. At the age of five, he was completely liberated from the pain.
However, Garp was even more worried than before. Ever since his grandson was cured of the apparent pain in his head, the boy had went into depression for some reason. He would often sit on his bed and sulk.
So Garp decided to cheer him up the only way he knew how.
Namely, by throwing him into a ravine.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, GRANDPA?!" Luffy shouted three days later as he stuck to Garp's face and pounded on his head with his tiny arms.
"Bwahahaha! So you're back to normal after all! Bwahaha!" Garp laughed like a madman.
"You aren't though! Who throws their grandson off a cliff and tells him to 'cheer up'!? I'll bite you for that!" Luffy proceeded to chomp down on Garp's left ear.
"Gah! Get off brat!"
Ever since then, Garp was relieved to see that his grandson had turned into a fine and boisterous little boy. Just as loud as himself and having an appetite just as big as himself, the boy grew up well. Perhaps the best thing to come out of that was that he now listened to Garp quite well.
"Do hundred pushups!"
"Lift that boulder!"
"Become a marine!"
Luffy was incredibly passionate when it came to training, often times pushing himself above and beyond what even Garp asked of him.
He was also incredibly hostile when it came to the topic of Marines. Although he wouldn't say anything when talking about them generally, any insinuation of him becoming one was met with resistance that almost implied that he'd rather die than become a Marine. When asked 'what else', he replied 'pirate'.
Naturally, this didn't go over well with Garp.
"Brat, that's even worse!"
Garp decided that his grandson was a lost cause. But he trained him anyway since he sincerely hoped that his grandson would stay safe in the future, even as a pirate.
And despite the occasional argument on the topic of marines and pirates, they grew closer and had their moments of serious conversation.
"Grandpa, who's my dad?"
"Monkey D. Dragon. He's a good-for-nothing whose only good deed was giving me a grandson!"
Or sometimes, some not-so-serious conversation.
"Grandpa, what's the D in my name?"
"Do I look like I know!? I'm not the one who named you!"
"But you have the same thing too!"
"I'm not the one who named me either!"
Through it all, they became comfortable with each other. And when it was eventually time for Garp to get back to work, he left Luffy in the care of the local bartender, a woman called Makino.
"Take care of him, Makino! And you better behave, Luffy!"
"I hope you get lost in a desert!"
"Wha-! Come here, you brat!"
Makino stood to the side and simply smiled at the two riling each other up. She was relieved that the boy she was looking after had become much happier than the last time she saw him.
Eventually, Garp left after some liberal usage of his Fist of Love leaving Luffy grumbling while rubbing his head. Sometimes he really missed his rubber powers, not that it would save him from his grandpa's fist.
Luffy went back to training afterwards.
It had taken him some time to get used to the fact that he had effectively transmigrated into his own body. Once his aching head wasn't a distraction anymore, he had went into depression when he thought about how thoroughly he had failed to protect his crew.
That lasted until his grandpa had seen fit to throw him off a cliff. It was during the hike back up that Luffy came to the realization that at the current point in time, all of his crew were still alive and well. That fact was what ultimately cheered him up and cured his depression.
He then easily came to the decision that he couldn't let them down again this time around. With this decision, he actually listened to his grandpa when he tried to train him this time.
Luffy already knew that Garp's training regimen was, in a word, monstrous.
But Luffy's own dedication to training redefined the word monstrous.
Constantly fighting against predatory animals ten times his size, one versus one or one versus many, handicapped by heavy boulders or wading through shallow water, and sometimes even with a hungry stomach. Luffy trained himself above and beyond anything he'd ever tried in his previous childhood.
One thing he noticed early on was that all three forms of his Haki were shot to hell.
Conqueror's Haki wasn't so bad since it depended on pure willpower and after he got out of his depressed state with a renewed determination, it was almost as if it was back to normal.
Armament on the other hand was severely crippled, leaving him only able use it to a minor degree and completely unable to use its Hardening aspect. The reason being that Armament Haki depended on a combination of willpower and body strength.
Observation was hit the hardest since it depended on a combination of willpower and the body's senses. While Luffy's inherited memories may have included the reflexes and instincts of his older body, they were intrinsically different from those of his current body and simply didn't help as much.
His younger body did indeed have limitations in the case of body strength and senses.
However, the good news was that they could still be improved.
And thus Luffy trained.
He trained and trained every day until one day, the sleepy village of windmills was visited by a pirate crew.
"Hey, Makino! Who's the brat?"
Luffy felt terribly nostalgic looking at Shanks. But he wasn't about to let that stop him from retorting.
"Who're you calling brat?! You're the brat, you red bastard!"
"Dahahaha! He's got spunk!" Shanks laughed along with his crew as he drank straight from the bottle.
"Oh, that's Luffy. He's Garp-san's grandson." Makino said absently as she served a drink to Benn Beckman who nodded in thanks.
Shanks spat out his drink and looked incredulously at the kid that was apparently the grandson of the Hero of the Marines.
Old captain Roger's weird luck has apparently rubbed off on me. Shanks rubbed his face and decided to introduce himself. "Well kid, I'm Shanks and this is my crew. We're the Red-Hair Pirates!"
"I'm Monkey D. Luffy! And aren't you the only one with red hair in your crew?"
"Yes and I'm the captain. That's why we're called the Red-Hair Pirates."
"How can the other guys be Red-Hair Pirates? They don't have red hair!"
"No, you're missing the point, kid. I'm. The. Captain."
They immediately hit it off. In just a small while, Luffy and Shanks along with his crew were laughing and eating and drinking happily. Makino made sure to keep any alcohol out of Luffy's reach despite his attempts to snatch some.
Over the next few days, the friendly pirate crew continued to visit Makino's bar and enjoyed their days having strange and funny arguments with the kid there. Luffy had temporarily put his training on hold to spend time with Shanks and his crew.
He listened to Lucky Roux's boasts.
"I once lifted a whale with my own hands and roasted it over a giant spit! It tasted glorious!"
He marveled at Yasopp's skill.
"That was over a mile away! And you still hit it!"
"Hehe. Told ya."
He enjoyed Benn Beckman's company.
"That cloud looks like a chicken leg! It makes me hungry..."
"Haha. Then let's go get some, shall we?"
And he screwed around with Shanks.
"Take me with you!"
"I'm brave enough to put a knife to my face! Take me!"
"What the-? Stop that, dumbass!"
Despite the small incident of Luffy attempting to maim himself, all of them enjoyed the relaxing sleepiness of the windmill village.
Eventually one day, Lucky Roux came to Shanks sitting beside Luffy and gave him a box "Here, captain. Found this nearby."
Shanks opened the box and saw a devil fruit. Before he could even decide anything, Luffy grabbed it and was stuffing it in his mouth.
Everyone around watched in morbid horror as Luffy swallowed.
There was silence.
And that opened the floodgates.
"Luffy! Spit it out!" Shanks grabbed him and tried to make him gag.
"What's the big deal? It's just a fruit. Pretty disgusting though." Luffy said with an eager grin as he waited for the effects to show.
Shanks either didn't notice or didn't care about the grin on the boy's face as he grabbed his legs and held him upside down and shook him. "Spit it out, Luffy! Spit it out! That thing's dangerous!"
Then Luffy's neck stretched and his face smacked into the floor.
There was silence again.
"Whoaaaa!" The pirate crew shouted in delight.
"Read the mood, shitheads!" Shanks yelled at his crew as he put Luffy right side up and on his feet. The boy's head snapped back above his shoulders and he blinked multiple times.
Then Luffy grinned "Cool!"
"Do you have any idea what that was, Luffy?" Shanks asked with a sigh and then proceeded to give a crash course on devil fruits and their effects.
"Now do you get it? You want to be a pirate but you'll never be able to swim again!" Shanks said worriedly.
"But I'm rubber now so it's ok!" Luffy replied with a bright grin. To emphasize his point, he pulled his cheeks away from his face and they stretched to compensate, his smile now looking positively silly.
"Pff-!" Shanks tried not to but he broke out laughing at the sight. The people who were accused of not reading the mood joined him.
This however was interrupted by the door to the bar opening with a loud bang. Everyone grew quiet as a tall man walked in followed by a few rough looking people.
"Woman. Give us ten barrels of sake and I'll leave this place without any trouble." The lead figure said to Makino.
Makino fidgeted for a moment and went to the back room. She returned a moment later with a single barrel. She set it down in front of him and stood in place making no move to get more.
The man looked at the barrel then glared at the woman "I said ten barrels. Not one. You deaf, woman?"
Makino smiled apologetically "I'm sorry but this is the last of the drinks we have."
"Huh? Then what's all this?!" He angrily gestured at the drinks all around him being drunk by the Red-Hair Pirates.
"Hey, hey, relax. Here, you can have this bottle for yourself." Shanks offered up a bottle of sake as a peace offering.
But evidently, the man wasn't interested in peace.
Higuma and his men left a few minutes later having trashed some furniture and thoroughly insulted Shanks.
Back in the bar, Shanks was trying to give some money to Makino "Come on. Just take it. That idiot didn't even pay for the barrel. And besides, you'll need the extra to replace the tables."
Makino tried to refuse but his points were all true and she did need the money after all. She reluctantly took the money and bowed to him while thanking him profusely.
Shanks waved her off and sighed. His crew wasn't lacking money so this was the least they could do. He drank the little sake that was left in the bottle and set it down with a burp. Well, what now?
"Guys..." Shanks and everyone else turned to Yasopp who had spoken "Where's Luffy?"
There was silence as everyone looked around in search of the newly rubberized human boy. He was nowhere to be found.
Shanks was the first to catch on. "Shit." He scrambled off the chair and ran out the door in a hurry. Benn Beckman was right behind him. The rest of the crew also quickly realized the situation and scrambled to follow.
Shanks followed the trail of villagers moving towards the same place and quickly came upon a scene much different than what he expected.
Bodies were strewn everywhere. There were all still living of course but they were thoroughly beaten into unconsciousness. Some of the bodies were hanging off of roof ledges and one was even stuck halfway inside a wall.
In the middle of it all, Luffy was holding a fallen Higuma by the collar and shouting at him while punching his face repeatedly.
"Apologize to them! Apologize to Shanks! Apologize to Makino! Apologize to them, you piece of shit! Apologize!"
Someone grabbed his wrist before it could hit again. Luffy turned to the interloper with anger in his eyes but slumped when he realized who it was.
"Shanks..." Luffy was on the verge of tears. He let go of Higuma and the man hit the ground, already unconscious long ago.
The red-haired man picked up the boy in a hug and carried him back towards the bar. "Clean the place up." He said as he passed his crew. Some of them split off from the group to do just that as the rest followed behind their captain silently.
This kid has a lot of anger in him. What happened to him? He set the boy down on a stool while Makino quickly gave him a glass of juice. Shanks nodded to her in thanks.
"Hey, Luffy. Did I ever tell you about the Grand Line?" He asked with a smile.
He was rewarded with the boy looking up in interest, his eyes covered by a wet sheen. And so, Shanks proceeded to tell him stories of his adventures in the greatest sea in the world. About Paradise. About the New World. About islands in the sky and islands under the sea.
Tales of creatures, strange and exotic. Tales of places, beautiful and unique. Tales of people, strong and memorable.
And Luffy laughed. He laughed and laughed.
And he cried. He cried and cried.
No one made a comment about his cries, so filled with grief that it shocked them.
Instead, everyone chipped in their own stories. Their own wondrous adventures before and after joining the crew.
Everyone spoke and spoke late into the evening.
Luffy lay sleeping with his head buried in his arms on the bar counter having cried himself hoarse. Makino put a blanket on him for now to wait until she cleaned up the place.
Meanwhile, Shanks was sat with his first mate at a table drinking slowly from a cup.
Benn Beckman put his cup down gently "Captain?"
Shanks hummed as he glanced at the sleeping form of the boy that his crew had all grown surprisingly close to. His eyes were sharp as he turned back to his first mate.
"I hope I find whoever made him like this. I want to have words with him."
Red sparks danced across the sword by his side.
Ever since his rebirth, despite the fact that Luffy was happy for his crewmates currently being safe, he had never allowed himself to think of what he had lost.
True, Akainu had killed two of his crew and he had come to terms with his failure to protect them while he was imprisoned.
But until now, it hadn't hit Luffy that by dying to save them, it wasn't just his remaining crew losing him but himself losing them as well.
Because despite them being alive now, they were not the same crew that he shared all those memories with. They were not the same crew who he had laughed and cried and fought alongside.
They didn't even know him right now.
Higuma insulting pirates was just pulling the trigger. Shanks talking about the places he visited, that Luffy knew he himself had visited with his crew, was the spark. And everything came pouring forth with a bang.
He mourned for everything and everyone he had lost. He mourned for the friends he would never see again.
He cried for Chopper who he could not protect in battle.
And he cried for Nami who he failed to save from becoming a hostage, who he failed to protect from getting killed regardless of surrender.
Luffy cried and mourned and grieved.
And then, he made a promise. To protect them better this time. To protect them unfailingly.
To become one who could fight the entire world if he had to.
Shanks stood beside Luffy as he watched his crew carry the supplies onto their ship for their next adventure. It was nice relaxing for a while in East Blue but everyone craved the chaos of the Grand Line by now.
The man turned to the boy who was looking at the sea longingly. Shanks knew the feeling himself and he was happy to see it on the face of someone else. "Luffy."
The boy turned to him but stubbornly looked away the next moment. Shanks grinned and ruffled his hair "We're leaving now. The next time you hear about us will probably be as the greatest pirates you've ever known."
A vein bulged on Luffy's head as he turned back to Shanks with a petulant glare "You wish! I'll make my crew the greatest pirates ever! I'll surpass you and become the Pirate King!"
Pirate King. The words echoed in Shanks' ears. He smiled "Surpass us, huh? Then..." He took off his precious straw hat and put it on the kid's head.
"After you become the Pirate King, bring this hat back to me." He took his hand from the boy's head and politely ignored his shaking shoulders. Captain Roger, I hope you don't mind. He thought with a slight grin.
Luffy sniffed and held the straw hat on his head tightly. This hat was his only connection to Shanks but it was also his only connection to his lost past as well.
Because he would always be Straw Hat Luffy, be it the past, present or the future. From the very beginning to the very end, his crew would always be the Straw Hat Pirates.
A few minutes later, Luffy was waving the Red-Hair Pirates goodbye with one hand while holding a paper with the other.
A map of East Blue? Sure. Hey Yasopp, get me a map of East Blue!
Luffy looked at the map and spotted the Conami Islands halfway across the sea from where Dawn Island was. He gripped the map tighter.
His vacation was over. It was time to get back to training.
A/N: I like divergence from canon in a fanfiction but I'll be the first to admit that it's hard to write. This is also a good time to say that I've forgotten the small details of many of the older episodes of the series so please don't yell at me if some of them are completely wrong.
Updated my bio recently. Interested people with too much time on their hands (or are interested to know what happened to my other stories) are welcome to read.