Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece.

Sorry for the long wait. I'd like to thank mangalover26 for helping me get this chapter published.

Ch 4: Not What They Seem

"Did you know? If you exchange drinks, then you can become brothers?" Ace said pouring sake into three cracked cups."When we become pirates, we may not end up on the same crew…But the bond of brotherhood we share will never die! No matter where we are or what we do…This is one bond we can never break! STARTING TODAY WE ARE BROTHERS!"

The sake burned Sabo's throat as it went down. He didn't mind; it was supposed to do that. But after awhile the burning intensified. As he looked up to ask his brothers for help, he found himself surrounded by fire and smoke.

He glanced toward Ace only to find a much older version standing in his place. His name was tattooed down his left arm and for some reason Sabo's Jolly Roger was integrated into it. Angry fire engulfed his body starting from a hole where his heart should have been. Sabo made to grab him but his hand kept becoming part of the flames every time he reached for Ace.

"Luffy! Help! Ace is—!" He turned find an older version of Luffy with his back turned. Luffy was standing in front of an ancient stone throne that looked like it hadn't been used for centuries. Behind the throne was a window and outside the window stood, on one side, a massive wooden ship the likes of which had never been seen before. On the other, a giant mermaid with flowing pink hair was talking to a multitude of sea kings. And in the center a semi- transparent bridge lead over water to a giant castle nestled in the clouds.

"Lu?"Luffy wore an unreadable expression. All of a sudden Sabo felt heavy, like gravity increased. Luffy pulled back a giant, black fist and smashed it through the throne and leapt out the window.

Sabo tried to follow but something wrapped around his leg and yanked him down into a sea of darkness. As he fought the darkness he heard a woman sing:

When the cold of Winter comes

Starless night will cover day.

In the veiling of the Sun

We will walk in bitter rain

But in dreams

I can hear your Name

And in dreams

We will meet again

When the seas and mountains fall

And we come to end of days

In the Dark I hear a call

Calling me there

I will go there

And back again.

"I'm sorry; it wasn't supposed to end like this." She whispered as the darkness swallowed him.

Sabo woke with a jolt. It took him a second to remember where he was: an orphanage on an island in North Blue. A few hours ago he met an interesting fellow named Hunter and gave himself a new name. He sighed. Starting awake after a nightmare…It seems I've been doing that a lot lately. But this one was different from the ones about the night of the fire and the day after. This one made his blood run cold.

He shook the negative thoughts from his head. He shouldn't be sleeping right now anyway; Sabo had to come up with a plan to either convince Trafalgar to let him go to dinner with Hunter or sneak around him somehow. Trafalgar didn't look like the type who could be easily swayed, so sneaking would have to do. But how to go about it? Sabo hadn't been outside the room yet and didn't know his way around, so there was a high probability that he would be spotted. There was always the window; but, in his current condition, he didn't think he could survive the four story drop. He could always say that Mother Ada gave him permission to go by himself…Nah, Trafalgar would just check in with her to see if it was the truth.

Sabo was so engulfed with his musing; he didn't notice Hunter until the blond clambered onto the bed, "I took the liberty of inviting myself in."

"I can see that," Sabo scooted away uncomfortably while Hunter made himself at home on the edge of the bed. "Why are you here so early?"

"Well, lessons ended early today and, since dinner's not for another few hours, I figured I'd show you around town."

"What about my roommate problem?"

"That's the easy part. Once a week Trafalgar goes to town to work with the local doctor and usually stays for dinner. He's been gone for most of the day, right?" Hunter didn't wait for an answer. "Then that means he won't be back till later this evening. He'll never know you've been outside the orphanage and dinner will already be over, so he won't be able to gripe at you for leaving the room."

"So what's the hard part?"

"Getting out of the orphanage." Hunter pushed his glasses back on his face. "Sarkies is out for blood because of your little stunt and Bellamy's ordered his goons Ross and Rivers to keep an eye out for you. Even if you were to ignore them, there's still Mother Ada.

"What'd you'd need is someone who knows all the secrets this old place has to offer as well as the caretakers' routines."

"Who's that?"

"Why, me of course."

"Then why'd you say it was going to be difficult?"

"Because you asked," Hunter said it such a straight face; Sabo had to resist strangling his new friend.

"Can we get going already?" Sabo clambered out of bed.

Hunter grinned and pulled a package out of the bag. He tossed it to Sabo, "I stole those from the laundry room. I figured they'd be more comfortable and less noticeable than what you're wearing now."

Few minutes later Sabo found himself wearing an outfit similar to the one he wore back in East Blue with a few minor differences. Instead of blue shorts, he wore brown pants with a patched knee. The tail coat was black with the sleeves still rolled up. And, instead of his trademark top hat and goggles, he had to settle for an old casquette.

He followed Hunter out of the room and into the hall. Hunter crossed the hall and knocked on the door opposite of Sabo's room. While they waited for a response, Sabo glanced up and down the hall. It had the same dreary feeling the room had and it was abnormally quiet. You'd think an orphanage would be filled of the sounds of children playing around and running through the halls. Sabo pulled the coat collar tighter around his neck.

The door cracked open a hair to reveal a single blank black eye.

"Hey there, Rena," Hunter said casually. "Do you know if Bellamy and Sarkies are still around?"

The eye bobbed up and down as the figure inside nodded.

"Are they?" The eye moved side to side. "Excellent!"

The eye trained itself on Sabo. Hunter answered casually, as if knowing what the figure was asking, "This is Sabo, Trafalgar's new roommate. He's responsible for the commotion outside your door earlier."

Sabo held out his hand and tried to introduce himself when the door slammed closed in his face.

"Don't worry; she does that to almost everyone," Hunter stifled a laugh. "She nearly broke my nose when I first met her."

"Is she always like that?"

"She's been a recluse for as long as I've known her." Hunter started walking down the hall. "In the three years that she's been here, not once has she spoken a single word."

"So what's her story?" Hunter dropped his gaze in a somber silence.

"It's not my place to say," He stopped by an old tapestry and disappeared beneath it. Sabo heard a creaking. The other boy pushed back the tapestry to reveal an open door. "And to be honest even I don't know all of it."

The door led to a secret passage that looked like it hadn't seen the light of day until very recently.

"Cool!" Sabo took a look around. The passage was narrow and built with simple planks of wood. The walls were even barer than the hall outside. The exposed floorboards creaked and squeaked with every step, adding to the overall feel of the secret hall.

"I found this while running from Bellamy," Hunter chuckled as he lit a small lantern. "Who-knows-how-many-years of corrosion ate away at the latch, so when I ran into a seemingly solid wall; it gave way and I fell through. As it turns out, the whole orphanage is riddled with these passages and almost all the passages are connected. And the best part is that very few people know they exist."

Sabo followed Hunter down the passage. "Why does the orphanage even have them?"

"This house is centuries old. I suspect that at one time long ago these were used as escape routes for the family living here. In the not so distant past, they were used by servants during an era where they weren't meant to be seen or heard."

Why doesn't that surprise me? Sabo shook his head in irritation.

"Now they serve as my getaway from unsavory characters. Hope you're not afraid of spiders!" Hunter went down uneven stone steps that were hidden by a curtain of cobwebs.

"Wouldn't Mother Ada know about them?" Sabo pushed his way through the cobwebs.

"If she does, she doesn't know about my passage." Hunter said thoughtfully, "I fixed that latch and put a locking mechanism on this side of the door. So far I've never seen any evidence of the door being forced open."

"Wait…How would you be able to tell if someone tried to break in just by looking at the door?"

"A knack for detail and a decent understanding of physics," Hunter replied, then laughed nervously. "Sorry, I'm naturally curious and have a tendency to talk too much."

Sabo laughed, "You're apologizing…Why?

"How shall I put this?" Hunter scratched his head. "Being curious and asking questions doesn't exactly win you favor with the adults here."

"Why not?"

"I guess it's considered a form of self-expression and the grownups don't like it. I don't really understand it myself but from what I've heard the government here is afraid that there will be uprisings if people started having their own thoughts."

Sabo was silent as he pondered this news. He recalled the ominous feeling he'd gotten while reading the book. And what Law said about the book's importance. "Is that why you don't care for the book?"

"Yep."

"Count Ragnar said that the orphanage was one of the few safe havens left on this island." Sabo hadn't cared much about it at the time but this conversation made him curious. "Mother Ada also said something about hiding children here. What did they mean by that?"

"You're new here so I'll let you come to your own conclusions about our pleasant little island, but I will say this though: Don't be fooled by what you see. Things aren't as quaint as they seem." Hunter stopped in front of a small nook and glanced at the floor. "Now, how would you like to get a breath of fresh air?"

He slide open the wall and lead Sabo into a small pantry. After blowing out the lantern and leaving it inside the passage, he closed the wall. Then he opened the pantry door just enough to sneak a look around the room outside. The coast was clear. Hunter opened the door fully and beckoned Sabo to follow.

The first thing to hit Sabo was the smell of cooking food. The aroma reminded him of his empty stomach. The sounds of the complaining organ echoed in the empty kitchen.

"Are we hungry?" Hunter snickered.

"If we are, it's because you 'failed to bring the guest his lunch,'" Sabo retorted as he swiped a small loaf of bread from an island counter.

"Oh, are we adding theft to the assault charge?"

Sabo just shrugged as he wolfed down his bread. He briefly wondered how Hunter would react if Sabo told him about his rap sheet from Goa.

Said person waved him over to another door, this one lead down to a basement. It was cold; Sabo could see his breath. Hunter led him down to a metal shoot.

"The coal shoot comes out on the street side of the gate surrounding the orphanage; lucky for us," he said. "However, I've got to make sure it's not frozen shut first."

While he went to work on the gears, Sabo wandered around the basement rooms. Most were filled with crates and boxes. The laundry room looked to be as large as the kitchen upstairs and was currently empty of staff. He noticed that several rooms had small rusty wood burners; these must have been servants' quarters.

"It's open! C'mon!" Sabo was just about to head back when he noticed that one of the rooms looked like it was occupied. As he went to investigate Hunter called again.

"Let's go; the coast won't stay clear forever!"

To be continued…

A/N: It's been almost a year since I've been able to update. Between college and work and writer's block, it's been hard to find enough time to work on my stories.

I know I promised more Bellamy interaction and more Law POV in this chapter, but it would have been a really long chapter and I find that it's harder to keep a reader's attention if the chapter is too long. But not to worry Law, and Bellamy will definitely be in the next chapter. The song is In Dreams from Lord of the Rings.

And *Squeal* A few more chapters and we'll get some real Sabo and Law interactions. I have a feeling Sabo going to join the fray against Joker, 'cause Joker has answers that Sabo wants. That and his little brother's in a bit of a pickle.

As always please read and review and I'll see you soon in chapter 5.