I started this story because there isn't a pairing that my heart belongs to more than these two and I wanted to write a story that I knew many would enjoy reading; including me. It may not be as dark as my other stories but I am warning you this story will be very angsty and in need of many, many tissue boxes.
Pairing: Ace x Luffy
Warnings: Character Death, Supernatural, D-Cest, Self-blame, Sorrow and altered mental states.
Rated M for obvious reasons.
I do not own One Piece; because if I did it would have been rated much higher than it was and strictly yaoi.
That's it for now; please enjoy.
"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night."~Edgar Allan Poe
The harsh drone of the Autumn winds against the small inn easily set the sign creaking on its hinges; making the copper plate sway back and forth from the gusts of cold, unforgiving wind. The wind carried with it a sense of frosty foreboding that could not be quelled by the warmth of the heart. It could not be stopped and would tear apart an innocent heart with mourning and ultimate pain. It was the promise of the coming winter and the paralyzing fear of failure and pain.
A flash of harsh white illuminated the dimly lit room briefly; mere milliseconds later the roll of thunder could be heard. The sudden noise making the small form curled up on the fluffy bed jump slightly; a small but detectable whimper passed sakura tinged lips. The small human curled tighter around the pillow he was hugging tightly to his chest for comfort. The sleeping figure tossed and turned in his interrupted sleep; completely unaware of his surroundings and the dark figure that leaned against the wall - observing the young captain with soft chocolate brown eyes that shimmered in sadness. Those dark eyes hidden from the world by a familiar hat of tan, red, and the unmistakable smiling and frowning faces of carefully carved and painted beads. There was only one person in the entire Grand Line that wore that hat; just as there was only one person who would carry on wearing the hat of Gol D. Rodger without knowing it...
Portgas D. Ace had been following his beloved otouto since he could remember entering this cold and unforgiving realm of the dead. No matter the place and the pain he felt drifting from those living around him; Ace was always watching over Luffy. A distant but untactful fear of what might happen if he wasn't there to protect his precious Luffy. Every time he was forced to watch a single drop of blood spill from his brother; Ace felt letting lose his wrath for the world to know. But even the spiritual world had its bounds...
No matter how much he wanted to rip apart those who had dared to hurt his Luffy; he couldn't form enough energy to be more than a deadly aura surrounding the teen in a cloak of protection. Ace needed to conserve his energy for the next time when Luffy let out the 'King's Disposition' - that way his brother would unknowingly catch a glimpse of him and know that he wasn't as alone as he thought. Ace never ran; he never turned back from a fight and sadly so did Luffy thus making it much more difficult to help Luffy in this state and yet; there was nothing stopping the elder of the D. brothers from trying everything in his power to always stay with his beloved younger brother. Even though he was now wandering the spiritual realm with his father close to him; the Pirate King always watching with interested dark eyes the progress of the child he had now claimed as his 'youngest' son and successor. Ace dutifully ignored the eccentric man in favour of always being by Luffy's side and making an excuse that he was needed there...
Depthless chocolate brown eyes watched sadly as Luffy suffered through the harshness of the storm; flashing tenderly when Ace remembered how Luffy would crawl into his bed at night when a storm would start - desperately afraid of the sheets of water that fell from the heavens. A deep seeded fear of loud noises, bright flashes of light and also the sometimes flooding waters. Even now as Ace was a mere silent observer; he could see the same fear in Luffy's restlessness that night. Those whimpers of fear and pain making the elder brother want nothing more than to pull Luffy in his arms and never let go; whispering sweet nothings that he knew Luffy craved to hear but was too afraid to ask for.
With a soft sigh, Ace tipped his hat forward and stepped out from the shadows. The flashes of light illuminating his body as if solid but tinged in a light that was clearly transparent; it was true - Ace was tangible but only when it was on an island where the spiritual realm was much more connected to the living than other's and the fact was that on that night the veil that had separated life had death on the island had completely vanished the moment he stepped on the island beside Luffy. Making him appear as if he were alive; but sadly not the truth...
Ace was afraid of giving Luffy false hopes; knowing that the pain is little brother hid was far deeper than he even showed at the battle of Marineford. Careful not to disturb Luffy's restless but deep sleep; Ace sat at the foot of the bed with a sigh of exhaustion. A gentle smile of promise and affection drifting across his lips unwittingly.
The one time he could offer comfort and protection Ace was too afraid that if he touched a human being they would crumple in his hands like dust. As if his Logia powers had intensified in the spiritual realm and could destroy the living without a minutes' notice. He was afraid that he would hurt Luffy more by appearing in front of him; yes - the legendary brother of Monkey D. Luffy was afraid - not for himself but for his precious otouto. Everything he did was for Luffy these days. Being dead really made Ace wish that he could at least have stayed alive long enough for his beloved otouto; he hated seeing Luffy cry but now as he watched over him, Ace saw the unshed and shed tears in those dark eyes everyday and every night when Luffy didn't think his crew was looking - he cried his eyes out in grief.
'Mah, Luffy; it's been four years now. You shouldn't be so sad anymore.' Ace thought to himself; a sentence he had whispered in his brother's ear more than once but Luffy never heard him. His hand that had been reaching towards Luffy's soft hair stopped midway as he let it drop again; fingers baling into a fist at his side in frustration. Ace berated himself harshly; he was no longer there, he no longer shared the same world as Luffy - he shouldn't touch him. Ace was afraid of hurting Luffy even more than the teen was hurting now. How long was one supposed to mourn for a brother's death? Someone once told Ace that grief never went away and the only way to deal with it was to take it a day at a time and hope that one day it become just a tiny bit easier. Was that what Luffy felt every day? The constant pain in his heart that even his crew was blind to? That loneliness that he knew something was wrong with him but not matter how hard he tried nothing could fill the void in his heart where Ace once lived and had complete control over?
Such thoughts were painful for not only the youngest of the D. brothers but to the older one as well. He too mourned the loss of his life and the ability to fully protect his precious Luffy.
Eyes the colour of molten chocolate closed behind tanned eyelids; the emotional aspects of this reverie making Ace tired. Scooting back and pulling his legs in a crossed legged position; Ace finally allowed himself - just this once - to let his guard drop a tiny bit. This was also much more comfortable than leaning against the wall for the rest of the night and Ace knew that Luffy wouldn't really mind; they often shared the same bed when storms came and went or even when Luffy just felt like it.
Making sure to be careful and not to disturb Luffy, Ace smiled softly and leaned over his little brother; placing a soft kiss on a smooth forehead that was for once not shadowed by the infamous red and yellow straw hat. Maybe just this once to make Luffy relax in his sleep. The heat from Luffy's presence warmed Ace's heart and pushed away the desperate remorse and guilt he had been feeling for a mere second before it came crashing around him again. If only...
If only life hadn't been so harsh on his little brother then Ace would have been able to protect Luffy much better. Feeling disgusted in himself; Ace turned away sharply and turned his back on Luffy's sleeping form - a strange but not unfamiliar sting in his eyes that alerted Ace that he was experiencing deep and dark emotions again. With a huff he rested his forehead in his hands; dark eyes closing to try and avoid the painful experiences that he could remember. If he had one regret in his life; it was not being able to be right beside Luffy...
No matter how frustrated he became with himself; even Ace did not have the will power to look away from Luffy for too long. No longer able to look away; Ace carefully turned around again - chin resting in the palm of his hand as he made himself comfortable for the evening. He was content to just watch over Luffy for now. Despite his own tears that threatened to fall...
He couldn't deny Luffy anything; couldn't keep his eyes off of his beloved little brother anymore - no matter how hard he tried.
'Uhh! Ace! I'm sorry! I-I-I didn't m-mean to!' Big brown eyes filled with large tears; tiny fists desperately wiping away at the tears that stained soft cheeks as the eight year old stared at the ground guiltily. Water dripped from his small body and onto the ground below; the floor of the bar now wet where little Luffy was standing. Tiny arms winding around his waist to try and find a semblance of comfort after the horrifying experience he had just lived through. He was so afraid; his entire body trembling at the feeling he experienced as his body had hit the water...
Emptiness, darkness, pain and fear. Such a potent combination for such a small body. He had never meant to fall in; Luffy had merely been fishing when he had lost his balance and plummeted into the freezing water. The only thing that Luffy was afraid was that Ace was going to hate him for causing trouble again; he really hadn't meant to...
Large tear filled black eyes snapped up when the door to the bar flew open; revealing a panting Ace who had no care for those in the bar and rushed into the room at full speed. Dar eyes widening at the scene before him; was it possible to have a heart attack at ten? Ace wasn't so sure but he never wanted to experience this feeling again; it felt as if his heart was breaking in his chest as his knees nearly buckled from beneath him. He had never seen such sad eyes; his brother had always been so strong but was this who Luffy really was?
'Uugh! Ace!" Luffy shouted through his sobs; arms reaching up so that Ace would pick him up. He was hurting; his heart was heavy and only his brother could save him. He never needed anyone as much as he needed Ace now. Not even Jiji-chan could help him now. He had never felt so much pain than on that day; his lungs were still hurting with the sea water that had flooded them and his limbs was heavy, useless, and it took all his strength to beg for his brother's affection.
'Luffy! What happened?' Ace voice was distressed as he stared at the clearly dishevelled state of his little brother; a lance of fear launched itself through his heart. Seeing his little brother like this made his possessive and protective side flare dangerously as he ignored Makino completely and pulled Luffy into his arms the moment they reached out to him desperately. It was the first time Ace saw Luffy like this outside of a heavy storm.
Ace was refusing to think of the possibility that he could have lost his little brother forever and kept thanking whatever entity had decided to save his little brother. He wouldn't forgive himself if anything happened to Luffy. No; he had decided he was going to be dying long before Luffy ever did and if possible by his side. That would make Ace happy to give his life in exchange for his brother's but even he couldn't predict the ultimate pain that it would cause his beloved.
'Hush Luffy; it's alright. I'm here now, I'm here.' Ace soothed the distraught boy; never flinching when his shirt got soaked through by Luffy's tears, soaking clothes and dripping hair. When Dadan had came to get him and told him Luffy had fallen in the ocean; Ace could have sworn his heart had stopped completely. Now as Luffy was again safely tucked in his arms - Ace felt a long breath leave his lips and his heart stopped stuttering in his chest. His hearing now desperately trying to make sense of the sobbed words that Luffy was hollering in his ears.
Luffy clung desperately to Ace; afraid to let go - if he did then he would find himself struggling in the ocean again and no one would be there for him. He would be all alone. No one would love him anymore. Luffy cried harder; he didn't want Ace to hate him. Ace was his favourite person in the whole world, his best friend and his Aniki. Luffy would do anything for Ace; no matter the pain he would experience but he was afraid of Ace leaving him and never coming back. He didn't want that; anything but that...
'Luffy, I'm not angry at you. It's ok. You're ok now.' Ace whispered softly; fingers running through wet black locks that stuck to his fingers. Ace rocked back and forth lightly; cooing softly to calm Luffy down before he passed out from his exhaustion - both mental and physical. No matter the eyes that fell on the two boys on the ground Ace refused to let go of Luffy; nothing would separate them again. Not after this terrifying nightmare.
'Ace I'm sorry, I won't do it again. I promise.'
'I know you won't Luffy.' Ace whispered softly; finally picking up his little brother in his arms as he headed towards their home. It was best now to get Luffy to bed and let him rest; he could have picked up a fever from his time spent in the cold water of the ocean.
Ace was however surprised when he found a yellow and red straw hat being pushed on his hair when Luffy's sniffs and sobs stilled to a few hiccups every now and then. Merely frowning in confusion; Ace turned towards the face that was hidden on his shoulder only to find large black eyes staring at him.
'Luffy?' Ace asked softly; his eyes looking deep into the depths of deep black yes - he could see a wisdom beyond Luffy's eight years and it startled him slightly. The determination in those eyes; it was frightening to behold. Just what was going on? Ace knew how much Luffy treasured the yellow and red straw hat so why was it currently resting on his head?
'Keep it for me until I feel better, please Ace.' Ace sighed and with his free hand he pushed the straw hat more firmly onto his head. Shifting Luffy up his hip to carry him better; there was nothing Ace wouldn't do for his precious otouto. If Luffy asked him to jump off a cliff he would merely ask when and where; such was the devotion that they shared even at such young ages.
'Alright; but only until you feel better.' Ace agreed; knowing that Luffy was asking Ace to look after his precious treasure. If only Luffy knew what a precious treasure he was to Ace. A treasure not to be found in the form of One Piece or in the vast ocean known as the Grand Line but something much closer to home and to the heart where it resided.
"'m s'rry Ace." Luffy slurred; tears sliding from sleeping eyes and running down smooth cheeks. Hand twisting in sheets as Luffy unconsciously clung to the only thing he could find that would comfort him. Desperate for the feel of his brother's touch even if he was no longer alive to give it to him. Regret, remorse and guilt were strong in his every dream, every thought and even his actions as he now relived every painful second without Ace by his side or knowing at least that his brother was alright where ever he was. Was he happy or in pain? Was it like the hell of Impel Down? Would Ace have to suffer through so much again because of a sadist who wanted to destroy the world.
If only Luffy had been stronger his Nii-chan would still be alive...
The suffering teen whimpered in his fitful bouts of consciousness and unconsciousness - crying in his sleep for the pain that had been tearing at his heart for years on end. He wanted to die now; he wanted to be with Ace forever but then he remembered the promise he made with his brother and his Nakama and now he was forced to live with that pain settling in his heart and eating away at his strong will day by day. How long would he be able to keep up this facade that nothing ever got to him? Luffy knew that they were mere days away from Raftel and reaching all their dreams but he couldn't find an ounce of happiness in that thought; just what had Ace meant to him if he was affecting his life like this? To Luffy he was the only one that had taken his heart with him when he died; there was nothing left but missing pieces that had scattered with the winds to the ends of the earth and something Luffy knew he would never be able to find.
'Live for me Luffy; live for the both of us.' A dying breath that left Luffy reeling with pain and desperation; how could he break that promise? A small moan passed parted pink lips; the sadness in his heart building to an extent where it was no longer bearable for Luffy. This was why he no longer shared rooms with his Nakama because he knew every night he cried in his sleep. One never realizes that you found your beloved until it is too late. He knew he would never have the same positivity that he had always harboured; no longer have the happy go lucky attitude - Luffy was forever changed and yet he still put on a facade that fooled even those closest to him but how long? How long until he cracked behind that mask and dissipated into nothing?
"Ace!'M s'rry." He repeated in a continuous pattern; curling in on himself tightly - wishing that he would wake up from this nightmare of loneliness that had settled over him and the huge gaping hole in his heart where Ace had lived ever since they were children. The brother that he loved and cherished; no he was more than a brother - so much more...
"No more." He whispered; eyes clenched shut as he relived the horrifying images of that day. He was supposed to save Ace but now who was going to save him from himself? That was a question that Luffy couldn't answer no matter how hard he tried. In his half awake state he felt his bottom lip trembling in sadness; no longer able to hold back the stream of tears that dripped from closed eyes.
Ace who had fallen asleep whilst sitting on the bed was startled awake by the desperate yell of his name; dark eyes desperately blinking to clear the sleep from his eyes - Ace tried to comprehend what the hell had just happened. The sight that met his eyes was pitiful and heart wrenching at the same time. Luffy had managed curl in on himself in a way that only he can; arms wound around his waist in a desperate attempt of self comfort. It nearly broke Ace's heart on the spot to see Luffy's small frame trembling as fingers clung to his blue vest to try and ground himself. It was too much for the older brother so after making sure that Luffy was still fast asleep; Ace's determination shattered...
He had sworn that he wouldn't allow Luffy to suffer anymore but he also promised not to touch him in his ghostly state. But by now he could no longer hold back. He pushed his hat from his head so that it rested against his shoulder blades and crawled in behind his little brother; arms easily lifting Luffy's sleeping form into his body as his arms curled around Luffy's small waist protectively.
Just this once; just this once would he offer Luffy true comfort instead of the words that he whispered in his ear for those gruelling four years of pain. Luffy deserved much more than what life had given him and Ace was sure that it would come in due time. It was after all his duty to make sure that his brother be named Pirate King long before his death. As a brother it was his duty; what Ace failed to realize was that Luffy was breaking inside. A hole only his brother could fill dead or alive was slowly but surely eating away at his will and completely breaking his spirit.
After a while Ace sighed in relief when Luffy's trembling stopped and his breaths evened out . The younger of the D. brothers finally slipping into a deeper sleep against Ace's chest. It was then that Ace silently thanked the island for having such a strong energy field and that he was almost completely solid; it meant he could comfort Luffy in his sleep better with his tangible presence. If only it was this once...
Ace smiled when Luffy snuggled closer to him; the younger continued to wiggle himself as close to the strange warmth that Ace was giving off as possible. Just like old times - still blissfully unaware of his brother's soul providing him with the comfort he was now feeling. Ace couldn't help but chuckle at the movement; that was naive little Luffy for him - desperate for affection and when he received it he never really knew what to do with himself. Ace buried his fingers in soft strands of black hair; it was getting long and was just as unruly as his own...
"Sleep Luffy." Ace said softly; his own eyes falling closed at his words. Maybe it was time he also allowed himself to bathe in the warmth of Luffy's presence. Within moments Ace felt himself drifting off into sleep; not caring if Luffy were to wake up again and discover him there. Maybe that was what he desperately wanted - for Luffy to know that Ace never left him and was still with him everywhere he went.
The soft snores of his brother finally lulled him to sleep; even if he was now without a body he still liked to sleep - it ran in the family after all. Narcolepsy that was and their stupidity. Although neither of them would ever admit it. Ace tightened his arms around his little brother to keep him safe from the nightmares that seemed to plague him - dark brows slightly furrowed in sleep as he fought off deep emotions that wanted to spill over into his body. Ace soon fell into a dream realm; the darkness of comfort a welcoming embrace for him as he waited for it to pass and let him be.
A sworn promise to never leave his little brother again; never again. Not even for a single moment in time.
A clap of thunder sounded through the small inn; startling Luffy from his nightmare. He shuddered at the cold that assaulted his body but brushed it aside at the sudden fear he felt that swept through him. Someone was in his room and that someone was holding onto him possessively - dark eyes managed to make out the hands that held him captive against a strong chest. Luffy shivered; suddenly afraid of what was happening. The scent that hit his nostrils was filled with the metallic touch of blood and a familiar tinge of open forests, new leaves and the potent smell of a kindles flame that burned with the fire of eternity.
"Nggh." Luffy moaned slightly as those arms tightened around his waist; his sudden fear dissipating as memories assaulted his mind. Luffy knew the owner of that scent but his mind wasn't agreeing with his logic because he knew that Ace was no longer supposed to be alive. Pushing down his desperate hope; Luffy turned his head to look over his shoulder - a small noise leaving his lips as he came to face to face with the one person who he knew for a fact could not be there. Something made Luffy want to scream; but something also held him back. The odd sensation of Ace's body so close to him was making his head spin. Luffy didn't know what was going on and in all honesty it scared him a little. Had all this been a nightmare up until now and he had finally woken up safe in his brother's arms?
His logic was fighting with his heart and telling him that this was a mere dream; shattering the small amount of happiness he had felt glimmer in his heart. Ace was dead, he wasn't coming back anymore. A blush dusted his cheeks as he watched his brother's features - twisting around in Ace's arms to curl closer to his brother's scent. If it was only a dream then he would enjoy it for once; chuckling as Ace scrunched his nose - brown freckles standing out cutely on tanned skin.
Was this Ace's ghost? Luffy wondered to himself; wiggling his arm free and laying a hand on Ace's cheek. It was then that he noticed the skin was warm but it had an odd texture to it; it shimmered in a light blue colour and almost made Ace look transparent. And yet, the arm around his waist was solid and so was the chest he was tucked against...
Luffy wanted to stay awake for as long as he could and savour this moment lest he wake up alone again; he didn't want to miss even a moment of this. Ace was too precious for him and even if it was only a dream - it was one that didn't want to wake up from. He missed his brother so much that every breath that he took hurt his chest. Was this what it was supposed to be like.
"Ace." Luffy cried softly; he was afraid. Luffy started when chocolate brown eyes suddenly opened and locked with his; Luffy felt his breath hitch in his chest as a small sob lodged itself in his throat. Those eyes were just as he remembered them; dark, intense and could stare through any soul that it chose - picking apart their deepest secrets before closing the inner wounds they sustained. Luffy clenched his eyes shut and pressed his forehead against Ace's. He wanted the comfort that Ace had always given him. Luffy's hands clenched and unclenched on Ace's bare chest - desperate to ground himself from the emotions that rushed through him. His brother didn't seem to mind that Luffy's finger nails were scratching his chest harshly as the younger of the brother's fought his inner turmoil.
"Please! Don't go." Luffy begged; tears now flowing freely. In the last few years he had cried enough tears to fill an ocean but he didn't care; Ace was his everything and now he was gone. He stilled when he felt calloused fingers rest in his hair and card through his locks softly. Luffy felt his body respond to the calming touch. His eyelids becoming heavy and his blood pressure dropping considerably.
"I'm here now; I'm not going anywhere." Ace's voice was soft - the familiar voice echoing through his mind and making Luffy relax even more unconsciously. Luffy tightened his arms around Ace's shoulders; desperately afraid to let go. Luffy shuddered when he felt the touch of soft lips across his forehead; a deep blush spread across his cheeks. He always liked it when Ace was affectionate with him; it made him feel wanted and looked after at the same time. But not something he would ever admit; sometimes he blushed around his brother because of the emotions he invoked inside of him.
Luffy was happy; relief flooding through his veins. Ace never left. Without thinking Luffy flipped them over; now straddling Ace's lap as he rested his ear against Ace's chest. Desperately searching for a heartbeat he knew should be there; fear once again prominent in his heart when there was nothing but a hollow echoed of silence. The only thing that proved Ace was really there was the strange warmth that Ace radiated from his body; it was soaking into his skin, warming his heart and melting away his grief.
"Sleep, Luffy." Ace's voice rang in his mind and in that instance Luffy was once again aware of the pull of exhaustion. No matter how hard he tried to fight it; it was useless.
"NO! I don't want to! I'll lose you again." Luffy shouted; eyes clenched shut as he gripped onto Ace's hat - refusing to let go. He didn't want to move; he was comfortable where he was - laying over his brother's chest with his face tucked into Ace's shoulder. He didn't want to go to sleep. It was instinct that told him he would be alone when he woke up; with a heart more broken than it already was.
"It'll be alright; I'll never leave you again." Ace assured softly. He could no longer keep the feeling of dread from resting in his stomach and tying it in knots. This was exactly the reason why he didn't want Luffy to see him in this form; now Ace was sure that he couldn't ever hide his presence from his little brother anymore and that was something that worried him greatly. Luffy would feel obliged to always be with him and look after him even if he was no longer a living breathing human being but a mere soul wandering the realm of the dead.
Ace sighed; fingers burying in dark locks - cooing softly when he felt Luffy's tears stain his shoulder. Ace couldn't stand to see his little brother cry; it hurt too much. Allowing for some of his energy to flow into Luffy's body; Ace let him know how loved he was. It was a spoken promise that he would always be with his little brother.
Ace was startled when he felt a soft straw hat being pushed onto his head; dark eyes looking at him with a seriousness that made Ace's breath disappear for a moment. When had he missed the fact that his little brother was growing up? He was about to ask a question when a finger pressed on his lips - silencing the elder of the two immediately. That commanding presence that came so easily yo Luffy in the form of Haki washed over him in a gentle caress of caring, love, understanding and immense sorrow.
"Keep it for me until I feel better." Ace stilled at those words; he knew them well. A small but sorrowful smile flitted across his lips. He gave a small nod of consent.
"Alright, but only until you feel better."
Thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate it. Please leave me a rating and a review if you enjoyed the story; I would really appreciate it. it is after all I get as payment :) the choice is yours.