Subject: AU Outtake of nothing new in this world's 'Diary of a Potato Bag'
Timeline: AU set an at undetermined point in the future
Place: Unknown Grandline island
Title: Dum vivimus vivamus
Alternative title: Life lessons
Beta: nothing new in this world *snuggles*
Notes: Be warned. Somewhat a tragedy, somewhat teeth-aching mushiness.

The battleground was unnaturally silent. Individual skirmishes had stopped and most of the wounded were already evacuated. However, the true reason for the overall stillness was an arresting sight that not one marine or pirate could tear their eyes from. For once, even Chore Boy Smoker was holding still.

The scene that riveted everyone's attention consisted of a face-off between one pirate, covered in blood, holding someone's torn off hand and a marine clutching a staff and trying to keep herself calm.

She was managing that incredibly well considering she was the focus of an extremely powerful and enraged, possibly even a little bit insane, Whitebeard Commander.

After a few agonizing minutes that passed in an atmosphere where everyone knew that one wrong move would bring a fiery death to everyone present, be they friend or foe, the bewildering standstill ended with a comment from Ensign Grey.

It was a very Garp-like moment, or so it was later universally agreed, in a sense that it was a toss-up whether there was more courage or insanity involved.

"That was a bit of an overkill, don't you think?"

It was the moment when Kim Grey became a Marine legend. The reputation it solidified for her was a great source of frustration till the end of her days, since she never managed to pinpoint whether it brought her more problems or advantages. To her eternal annoyance and disbelief, Marco never agreed to take the blame for it. Which was ridiculous since the whole thing was obviously his fault. She wasn't the one waving a bloody stump around, now was she!?

What no one ever found out was what went through her head at that moment. This was silly since there was only one proper thing one could do when faced with a man, who in some half-craze, had torn off a limb or two from another man that had apparently committed the sin of striking her – give herself up to the imminent brain shutdown and go into an automatic survival mode. A mode that apparently wasn't working properly!? A fact that would be proven as valid again and again throughout her life.

The look Marco the Phoenix gave her, the message conveyed through his eyes and stance, became a life lesson neither Hina nor Smoker ever forgot.

For Hina, a sweet cotton-candy-like veil that obstructed her perception of male-female relationships disappeared. Flowery and idealized worldview created by romantic novels and whispers with her year mates collapsed when faced with this illustration of a mature love. It was overwhelming, painful and desperate; as magnificent as it was shattering.

This early lesson spared her latter tears and a miserable experience or two. However, in the end it was a bittersweet one. For though she had lovers, loved and was loved, no one ever looked at her like that and no one ever wanted her like that. All of her. Everything.
On her deathbed, after a life worthy of songs, this was her one and only regret.

Smoker, on the other hand, was a young man who worked on instinct and functioned in such a way that once he focused on something, he then pursued it with no–holds–barred attitude. In a way, it was almost worthy of a 'D' in his name. If only he was just a bit crazier and a touch more reckless.

What this moment taught him were two things. Like Kim had tentatively tried to teach him over the few months they knew each other, the world truly was not black and white—pirates were people too, marines had flaws. This connected to the second thing – a finally, completely realized insight that human beings had motives, desires and perspectives that influenced their reactions. He couldn't focus merely on people's actions – they could be and mostly were misleading – motivation was the key to their interpretation, the key to the interpretation of Justice itself.

Unlike Hina, he died with no regrets, even though he was called a traitor and oath-breaker by his peers and comrades he had shared most of his life with. For in the end, he died doing what he felt was right, serving justice as he saw fit. The fact that his life would have been filled with less pain and disappointment had his eyes stayed shuttered was acknowledged, but that was a bitter pill he would have taken again had the opportunity and choice arose

The Phoenix threw the torn hand in front of Ensign's feet.

"Well Girlie, congratulations. You were right. 'One day' came earlier than expected and I was beaten by a 'she'.

"I didn't raise my guard. I didn't notice that I was digging my own hole, every single shovel my own work.

"I'm sorry, love. You didn't want my interest and neither do you want it now. But I am a selfish, ruthless bastard and there's no escaping it now. You caught me."

Marco never did find words elaborate enough to describe and explain his feelings for the one woman he ever loved. It was something he honestly regretted for he was aware that he burst into her life uninvited, muscled his way in and through sheer stubbornness and endurance won his place there. He knew her life was more difficult, in many ways, for the regard she unwittingly won from him.

It pained him that he could never, through mere words and clumsy actions explain why he did this, why the apparent selfishness and disregard. It was a true pity that only one Devil Fruit user for any type could exist at the time and that hundreds of years separated him from his last counterpart. For he knew not if the word 'love' was even the right term for his feelings nor could he make comparison with the emotions he had as a human - no love was given or shared with him before Whitebeard took him as his son.

It seemed odd to him that this one word should, could describe both what he felt for his father, brother, comrades and his feelings for his Girlie. For her, his heart blazed with eternal flame and the fire in it kept growing every single day. He didn't understand how it was possible to burn for someone more and more with each heartbeat and never hit the limit. Till his last breath, Kim Grey remained a wonder to him.

As for Kim, she went to meet her father and grandparents with no regret in her soul. She did her best and struggled till her last moment to push that limit further on. She died with love in her eyes, laughter on her lips and a heart full of realized dreams.