I'm not entirely sure what to call this but it's a bit of a long drabble and concentrates on Jinbei's thoughts about Luffy and Ace. 2000 words roughly and can be read as separate to all my other stories as a one shot or can be tied in with the Ace of Hearts before Luffy's rebirth.

If you squint – Jinbei x Luffy

Mentions of definite Ace x Luffy

I just had to do it; Jinbei is one of my favourite characters; he's like a big cuddly fishmen bear that I want to keep with me forever. For now though I hope you enjoy; it's bit angsty but not too bad all in all.

In the subtlety of the wind I heard it; his shattered cries of disbelief, sorrow and desperate anger that could no longer be used to his advantage because of his utter exhaustion. I was silent as I observed the child like figure break before the whole world. It was not only painful to watch but also painful to feel - the way this kid affected everyone around him was inevitably pushing his sorrow onto the world without even knowing that they all mourned the loss of his Aniki with him. There was no subtle control of emotions; when this kid broke he took the world with him and I know it.

Even without having a reason I had pledged myself for his protection and now as I watched him desperately trying to wake his brother by stroking through bloodied - matted black hair; I knew Monkey D. Luffy's mind had shattered completely. For one to witness the death of a beloved so close was not only traumatising but a piece of one's soul dies with that person in the instant in time. A force within me compelled me to move; anything to help the innocence that I had seen being shattered before my eyes. A desperate innocence that the cruel world had yet to touch and now as I gripped a unresponsive body to my chest I made a run for it. A fierce desire of instinct to protect this young one; his name already echoed throughout the world more than the Pirate King's himself and it would only get louder over time.

"Hang in there Luffy-kun; you need to hang on for him and only him. He would be sad if you died with him." I said in a rush; carefully avoiding the battles as best I could. A silent promise with myself that I will forever protect this young pirate as one of my family and much closer. His innocent vulnerability now exposed for the world to see; I have been called many things in my life from monster to friend but never before have I been called a protector and yet here I was; offering my life to protect one I felt more valuable than my own life.

"A...c...e..." The breathless sound tearing at my heart; despite being of a different species to human - even the strongest of fishmen have compassion and experience emotions. Just as that small whimpered sound broke the last of my control; for the first time I felt it. The wave of mourning that threatened to wash me away into the darkest depths of the ocean before killing me without hesitation.

I had never seen such strength in a human as I had seen Luffy-kun and his brother Ace; even now I can sense a desperate battle deep within Luffy's mind. Trying desperately to understand the situation he now found himself in; out of courtesy I turned my head away - he didn't need other's to see him in such a vulnerable state. This child that had earned the respect of not only his previously defeated enemies but some of the strongest men in the world by merely talking to them once.

"We're almost there." I said hurriedly; for once condemning the World Government for their cunning cruelty. Not only one death but two; both set to make an impact on the world that could not be ignored.

I was placing all my hope into this kid; I knew it wasn't false. His struggle to reach his brother in time; the short while we had known each other I knew that he would be what he said would be. In the next three years he would be the Pirate King; carrying on the will of his brother, Whitebeard, Roger, Shanks and even those powerful men who had gone into hiding and one day he too would carry my will into the new world.

Time was of an issue and even as I felt self guilt pour over into my soul I could do not much to stop Luffy from the painful wound of a bent Admiral that deserved to die more than anyone on this entire Grand Line. His cruelty knew no bounds and even as I felt my own life ebbing away I still did not let go of this precious treasure. I couldn't; not after the pain Luffy lived through. I wished more than anything that there was more that I could have done to protect him.

~Several Weeks Later~

"Luffy-kun!" I could see it; the wound that he didn't want anyone to know about - the one buried so deep in his soul that it would never be soothed or healed even by the passing of time. The way those delicate fingers clutched at the fabric resting over his heart; disbelief and mourning clouding those infinite dark eyes. What could I say to comfort the loss he lived through; witnessed with his own eyes and was forced to relieve in his dreams every night since he had regained consciousness a week ago? I refused to leave him by himself; afraid that he would do something we would all regret.

"What do I do Jinbei? What is wrong with me I couldn't even save my own brother!" I cringed at those words; I should have been the one taking the blame not this innocent that did nothing but astonish me with his powers and open my heart which I had not felt in years. I said nothing and merely bowed my head.

"I'm sorry Luffy; I should have done more..." I said softly; I was surprised when I felt hands curl into my soft yukata. Those large black eyes looking at me with a sense of fear and a conviction I could not place. Even when the tears touched his cheeks in a continuous stream I could not deny the power they held over me.

"It's all my fault; I should have done something. He's dead..." Luffy's eyes were now hooded behind long eyelashes as he clambered into my lap and laid his head against my chest. How could someone like him not be afraid of me; willing touch me for comfort that I wasn't sure how to give. After a while I settled for just resting my webbed hands on soft black locks as I mumbled little comforts I had heard many human mothers do to their children to hush their cries.

"Luffy-kun; perhaps you should count those you still have rather than those that you have lost. They also look up to you; notice your pain and live through your sorrow." I said after a while; it wasn't the words I myself wanted to hear in this situation but something of passing on the flame to the next generation prompted me to use the Nakama card to realize his happiness had not completely faded into the darkness. I hated to see the guilt that my words caused but I also revelled in the small light of happiness I saw shimmering in those tear glazed eyes.

'You truly are an enigma; one of the most dangerous people in the world. Not because of your strength but because you can turn anyone into your ally with your honesty and ideals. Not even the threat of your father could stand up to this power you possess. Come what may child but you will rise above all else to become the light of hope to this world without even realizing it.' I thought to myself. Even now as I watched Luffy suffer with his pain and fears I still pledged my loyalty to only him. I never thought I would meet someone like him.

I could do nothing but smile indulgently; he had managed to borrow a way into my heart before I had even known it. An indestructible strength of will and fire; no matter the consequences - no matter the obstacles. Once he's said something there is no way it will not get done. A collision of trust and bravery; an ability to read the hearts of those around him without even knowing them. That was how he knew I was only wishing to help save Ace when I asked him to free me in Impel Down; my freedom is now owed to him.

The young child that still has a lot to learn but for once I can overlook his recklessness and offer him the comfort he had no doubt never received. I understand now what Ace meant when he said his little brother always did things to make him worry. I too worried for this little treasure I had found; his innocence was that of pure driven snow and now it was stained in the deep red blood of his brother. But even I could not deny the look of relief, happiness, love and pride Ace shot his little brother as he first entered the battlefield at Marineford. Another captured heart that beat only for this young one's happiness.

I listened closely as he told me the story of his life for the first time; I tightened my grip around his trembling frame - if he needed a listener I would be that person. If he needed a friend I would be that friend. If he needed a father I would be that father. A single promise spoken in the depth of hell that even I cannot forget; not only for Ace but for myself I would protect the future of this world.

"It's been so long Jinbei!" That voice; still unchanged just as those black eyes shimmered in the same fire they did two years ago. I could not help but smile happily at the young man now standing before me. Not a kid anymore but his innocence was still the same; only the deeper I looked I could see the pain in those dark depthless pools. I was surprised when rubber limbs clung to me once more as I was enveloped in an embrace; I returned it softly. I would not hurt him; I knew that if he asked me I would never leave his side. Out of loyalty, respect and an admiration that only he could procure out of all those he came into contact with.

"It has Luffy-kun." I said fondly; webbed fingers ruffling black hair as that smile was turned to both me and his companions. Now I could see it; the lives he changed with a single touch and the loyalty his unconscious power brought him. It was a hushed understanding that Nakama share so easily.

I chuckled; it had barely been two years but he had already gotten himself into trouble again. This was why I would always stay by his side; he needed that someone to tell him when he got out of line and when he forgot that the world's cruelty can break a person more than they can destroy an entire island. I smiled; Ace's will lived in this child - a strong fire that consumed his own will and now shared the same body. I knew it; the legend that states it...

Soul mates never die...

I would protect them both; the fire that they both carried - now brighter than I have ever seen. Deep in Luffy's soul was his brother's light; never to be extinguished even in the event of his brother's death. A truth spoken in words that I know now will forever be true to this world.

Come what may; but Monkey D. Luffy will forever remain the centre of this world even in the harsh darkness of his own personal hell.

Yay, finally finished. I just wrote this little oneshot to get over my writer's block at the moment and now I feel ready to start writing again. I ask that you please be nice; thanks for reading thought it makes me happy.

Ja Na