The magma burns a hole through my chest and I feel the heat eat away at my body. The pain takes my breath away and my knees stagger but don't give way until the magma fist leaves my body in a puff of smoke. Bitter blood bubbles up my throat, spilling out of my mouth. I hear screaming, collision of metal, explosions, as fights arise around me, but I can't pay attention to any of it. The pain, the unbearable heat, is all I can feel.

It's as if my life is a short rope and all this time, it's been burning with fire. I can feel the rope running out. The fire is nearing the end of the rope and it's going to burn out. I know I have little time left.

I fall to my knees, leaning on to my little brother who is holding me up. I can feel Luffy shaking as his hands hold me and touches the blood on my back. "Ace..." he stutters.

"I'm sorry, Luffy..." I manage to utter. "I couldn't make it all the way."

Ignoring me, he starts to scream. "Please! Please help Ace!" My heart aches, because I know it won't matter.

The doctor's words soon confirm it. "Okay, let me see the wound!"

I feel the hope arising in Luffy as he holds me even tighter. "Please!"

"This is...!"

"What's the matter? Hurry and help him!" Luffy's frightened voice shouts at the doctor behind me. My tears burn the back of my eyes as I hear the urgency in my little brother's voice. I love him with all my heart, which is why I can't bear to leave this world. Leave him. He's my only little brother, the oldest family I have, and even though I know he's going to make it in this world and become the Pirate King, I don't want to let him go yet. Luffy... he's the only brother I have left.

"I'm sorry," the doctor says quietly.

"What's going on?! Do something!" Luffy screams at him, still carrying my weight in his arms.

"It's no use," I croak, "I can tell that my life is ending."

Even now, Luffy still refuses to listen to me. I know, that he doesn't want to let go either. We're brothers, we have to stay together. We can't lose each other again, but none of us wants to face reality. "Inject that stuff into Ace! Please! Hey, I beg you! Please! Help! Help Ace!"

Finally, Ivankov forces it into him. "Ace boy... can't make it!"

"You promised me," Luffy finally says to me, his voice quivering with tears and hidden pain. "Ace... You promised me... No matter what, Ace!"

My old life flashes before my eyes. When I was a child, I had believed that because I was the son of the most evil pirate, no one would want me. I was nothing. I wasn't supposed to live. I didn't deserve to live. Even if I didn't tell myself this every day, everyone instilled this thought into me. No one wanted me to be born. I should've been killed as the son of Gol D. Roger. There was no point in living anymore.

But then I started to live with Dadan, under the force of Garp. It started out bitter but then I met two boys who became my best friends, and then my brothers. Those years became the best years of my life, the ones I treasure the most. Luffy, Sabo, whether they liked it or not, they were my family.

"Oh yeah, if you see Dadan someday, say hello for me," I say to Luffy, "When I face my own death, I even miss a woman like her. There is one thing that makes me wanna stay. But I'm sure you can do it! Like we promised that day, I have no regret in my life. Did I deserve to be born?" Pops... Luffy... Tears come down my cheeks like a waterfall. "Could you tell them... Pops! Everybody! And you Luffy. Thank you for loving me!"

The bottled up tears start to flow down my cheeks as the world flashes and blurrs around me. All these years... I have no regrets in my life. I'm happy that I was able to live with my crewmates, my family, my brother. Even if I'm going to die earlier than I expected to, I did it. I've lived with no regrets. It didn't matter if I was the son of the most terrible man on earth or if I was to be dead, because out on the seas, I had become the freest man and lived life to the fullest. I have travelled the all around the world, met people big and small, and found happiness in life. I was free to die.

I fall to the ground and feel the impact shatter my brittle bones as I meet the floor. My eyes close and all I can see is darkness. Screams and explosions echo in my ears. I hear Luffy's crying but then all the sound fades out and I hear nothing.

I'm sorry, Luffy.