Luffy was an idiot and a trouble magnet, both were traits that Sabo and Ace had to adapt to when they decided to formalize their brotherhood. If Luffy wasn't getting eaten by a gator or chased by a boar then he was he was unintentionally picking fights with the residents of Grey's Terminal. Ace and Sabo were used to the harsh life of Dawn Island so while they found it a bit annoying, they never stopped covering for their lovable rubber brother. Luffy got into and bounced back from trouble so fast that the brothers were surprised Luffy never got whiplash.
"Seriously Luffy, can we go one month without something trying to eat you!" Ace yelled frustrated. Luffy just laughed and Ace bonked him on the head.
"But AAAAAAcceeeeee, it's not my fault that gator tried to eat me, you started it." Luffy whined. Sabo sighed and tapped Ace on the arm in an attempt to keep the freckled boy's temper from boiling over.
"He has a point, it's partially our fault for running across the river and leaving Luffy behind when we know he can't swim." Ace glared at Sabo for the retort which he shrugged off. "At least we got some gator meat out of the deal. Speaking of, I think it's done cooking." At those words Luffy started drooling and pawing at Sabo in hopes of getting some food, to which the blonde rolled his eyes and tossed a chunk of gator tail at him, which was devoured in seconds.
"You're too nice to him." Ace scowled.
"You're starting to show some of your jealously Ace." Sabo teased, which caused Ace to start fuming and blushing while Luffy laughed, not really getting what was going on, but enjoying Ace's funny faces.
"What's jelly-sea?" Luffy asked.
"It's jealously Luffy, and Ace is angry because he thinks you like me more than him." Luffy look wholly offended by that as he stretched his arms around both his brothers. "But you're both the best big brothers and I love you both so much, I can't like one more." Luffy explained it like it was the simplest thing in the world but even Sabo could feel a bit of embarrassment and mirth bubble at him at the statement as Ace's red face seemed to have tripled in Luffy's stranglehold.
"Let go Luffy! Sabo don't say stupid things."
Not wanting to have Ace be mad at the rest of him the rest of the day, no matter how fun it was to tease him, Sabo thought of an idea. "I think I saw a ship in the distance this morning, if we go to the cliffside's we could probably get a better look, it might be a pirate ship." That piqued the interest of the brothers as Luffy untangled himself.
"Cool! Let's go! Come on!" Luffy was bouncing on his feet and Sabo and Ace thought the only thing from rocketing off was the fact he wasn't entirely sure which way he was supposed to go.
"Did you forget the last pirate you met almost killed you?" Ace retorted to Luffy, but Sabo could tell he was interested as well and within minutes they were making their way to the cliffside.
Once they finally got to the cliff it appeared that the ship that Sabo spotted unfortunately wasn't a pirate ship but rather a huge merchant vessel. The brothers were marginally disappointed but after a second Luffy was jumping around exclaiming how cool the ship looked and how many sails it had. He was gesturing wildly and exclaiming how many cool pirate adventures could be had on the ship. He ranted on about cool pirate fights and how Ace and Sabo could steer the ship to take out enemies and jump between fighting ships and how he would use his rubber powers to rocket everywhere and take out other pirates. Sabo and Ace listened in fondly, though Ace seemed to have growing frustration as his little brother continued to rant about crazy adventures as they popped in his head.
"Calm down, it's just a stupid ship." Ace huffed and Sabo laughed as Luffy leaned over the cliff using his hands as binoculars as if that would allow him to see better, his straw hat hanging from his neck to rest on his back.
Luffy swiveled around suddenly at what certainly would have been some grand exclamation of how Ace was being mean and the ship was actually really cool, when Luffy's sandals didn't want to swivel with him and he was caught off balance with a pout.
Suddenly, Luffy slipped and the world seem to go in slow motion as his face twisted to one of surprise. Before either of his brothers could make a reach for him, Luffy plummeted over the cliff and it took a moment for him to realize before he let out a yelp and tried to stretch out his arms to cliff but missing horribly. Without much more fanfare Luffy plopped into the water and felt paralyzed and drained. The drop off the cliff made him gasp out any air he had and within seconds Luffy was swallowing sea water as his lungs burned.
"LUFFY!" Both Ace and Sabo cried from the top of the cliff. "That idiot!" Ace cursed, already taking off his shirt and shoes with Sabo, who also removed his hat. Ace dove in and Sabo took a second to survey the surrounding a bit more before diving in after Ace.
After a couple dives under the surface, Ace was the first one to spot their wayward brother slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea and grabbed him to the best of his ability while kicking upward which proved to be difficult since the waves seemed intent to thrash them around harshly close to the cliffside. Sabo joined a second later helping to the best of his ability while they made their way to the surface.
Once at the surface Ace and Sabo made gasps for air and they both glanced at each other while Luffy remained worryingly quiet, straw hat still dangling loosely from his neck.
"How the hell are we supposed to get back up?" Ace cursed while still kicking to remain at the surface.
"There's a tree root that runs down most of the cliffside we can use. Hold Luffy for a second, I'll climb up a bit then you can hand him over." With the plan in place the boys slowly made their way up the cliff, being mindful to keep their balance in the merciless lapping of waves on the cliffside. The cliff wasn't that tall, but with the deadweight of their brother it took a couple more minutes than either would have liked to get back to solid ground, and Luffy had yet to stir even slightly.
Ace placed Luffy down on the ground at the clifftop and both him and Sabo looked worriedly at the boy who had yet to move since hitting the water. Luffy had fallen in the river and fished out more times than the brothers could count, each time the boy bounced back in seconds sputtering about how he was gonna die and then only to laugh at the scolding of his brothers before bouncing off to his next adventure. They had never seen him this still and pale. Even in his sleep Luffy would toss and turn and mumble.
"Why isn't he moving?" Ace panicked. Sabo immediately bent down over their brother listening from breathing, only to feel his stomach drop.
"He isn't breathing!" Sabo tried to check for a pulse, but found his shaky hands weren't doing much good and he had yet to feel a heartbeat under his fingers as his panic rose.
"What?!" Instead of answering, Sabo opted to make sure Luffy was properly rolled on his back, putting his straw hat to the side and placed his hands together over his chest pushing rhythmically, hoping beyond belief he was remembering how to do CPR correctly. The situation seemed to hit Ace as he went to his knees besides Sabo and Luffy, hands hovering hesitantly around them, unsure what to do.
Sabo gave Luffy a couple rescues breaths and cursed at his little brother's unresponsiveness as he continued chest compressions. Ace's expression shifted to horror and he paled at the increasing desperation Sabo showed, tears springing to their eyes.
"Stop joking around Luffy, you're going to be the Pirate King, remember? You can't be beaten by some water!" Sabo flinched at Ace's words as he continued his task, slowly feeling exhaustion seep into him that he fought to keep at bay. Rest could wait.
Ace's shouts got more frantic and Sabo could feel himself weakening as his chest compressions became less steady. At some point both of them had started crying as much as Sabo tried to push it back to focus.
"Please Luffy." Ace whispered, and it was probably the most broken Sabo had ever heard his older brother, knowing that if he dared to speak his voice wouldn't be any steadier.
After another few seconds, which felt like hours, a miracle happed. With a sudden jerk Luffy was sputtering and coughing up what must have felt like gallons of seawater and Sabo immediately stopped CPR to instead helping his brother to his side as he continued to cough, Ace appearing beside him and started rubbing comforting circles on his little brother's back in a rare display of affection. Their little ball of sunshine seemed to fold into himself when he finally stopped coughing, looking around his surroundings blurrily. Sabo found himself grateful that their little brother was made of rubber because if he had fractured some ribs in an attempt to save Luffy, the puppy dog eyes he was receiving now would have made him feel immensely guilty.
"A-Ace, Sabo…?" Luffy mumbled and immediately both brothers slumped, apparently being fueled entirely by adrenaline. Sabo was the first to gain his bearings.
"Yea Luffy, we're here." That seemed to be all the encouragement the little brother needed to nestle himself closer to his brothers, Ace placing Luffy's hat back on his head, before immediately falling asleep. Ace panicked for a second, checking over Luffy before calming down once he noticed the steady rise and fall of his chest. The uneasy silence stretched for a bit as the brothers took a breath and tried to regain their bearings after the ordeal, relief washing over them in waves. Luffy was okay, he was alive.
"I forget sometimes." Ace muttered quietly. Sabo eyed Ace curiously, fighting his own urge to sleep as they made their way against a tree, laying Luffy between them.
"How easily he could be taken from us. Luffy bounces back from trouble just as easily as he attracts it, nothing ever seems to bother him. Sometimes it is hard to remember that he could just…die. Is it really alright for him to be brothers with…us?" Sabo realized Ace had probably wanted to say 'with me' but decided to leave it for now.
"I forget sometimes too, even when we constantly scold him for being reckless. But you and I both know Luffy hates being alone and should we so much as imply we shouldn't be brothers he would have a fit and refuse to leave our side for several months until we took it back." Ace smiled ruefully but fondly.
"You're right, he's an idiot like that."
"But he's our idiot."
"You just want me to say you're right again." Sabo smirked.
"Maybe." The silence after that was much more comfortable, only to be broken by Ace a few moments later.
"Let's go hunt for a feast when Luffy's up."
"That sounds nice, I'm sure Luffy will be giddy to get some food in him when he wakes up."
Both boys smiled each other before settling down for a much-needed nap, making sure their little brother was situated them between them. Yea, they could lose him and that was a sobering thought, but at least they didn't lose him today.