Chapter 1: Prologue
She has always believe in magic. In the old gods. But had never thought they would take an interest on her. She was, after all, an ordinary person. Ok, maybe her ways were out the norm in the society, so ordinary, ordinary, she was not.
But she's not a hero.
She wasn't driven to help people. Most of the time she didn’t even cared about people. She was a selfish person who only got concerned when her health and future was on the line.
But this, this, unique opportunity was something she couldn't refuse.
“Alright.” She says; doing her best so her voice doesn’t tremble. Maintaining visual contact with the eldritch being in front of her. “If you´re going to give me a wish. I´m going to ask for this: Let me go to the World of One Piece. In time to save Cora-san and Law from Doflamingo. Give me the chance of changing fate and refuse destiny; I want to be able to save and protect my dearest ones. To kill and destroy my enemies.”
Her mind is already forming a plan. She´s enthusiastically thinking on how many life’s she can save. On the few lives she is going to destroy.
One Piece is one of her favourite series; and the one that has too many broken hearts in its story. She wants to fix that; wants to see her favourite characters smile bright and happy.
She´s being vague enough that her wish is open to interpretation, but clear enough that some things just were meant to happen.
The God in front of her laughs; otherworldly. Ethereal. Alluring. Terrifying.
It´s the most terrible and beautiful sound she has hear in her life.
At hearing it her heart clenches and her already shaking body gives, she falls forward, listening a deep but chirping “Deal.” as the darkness of unconsciousness devours her.
It's cold. The snow dances around her. Being so thick that she can barely see what's in front of her nose. Thankfully, the heavy white fur coat that covers her form is enough to maintain her warm and allows her to keeps advancing without doubt or pause as the storm howls above her.
She huffs a curse under her breath as she removes her (new) long and bright red hair off her face, for the ten time in the last few minutes, with her naked hand. Which is beginning to become irritating very fast. She´s going to cut it the first chance she gets.
Now, she can admit that she´s quite curious about how much her appearance has changed and can´t wait to find a mirror or some water body when she can see her reflection. But at the same time, is the last thing in her mind, as she´s concentrating in the task at hand.
She won´t admit it, but she´s afraid.
When she realized that it hadn´t be a dream –that she was inside One Piece– alarm and panic curled around her heart, squeezing it, as she can´t avoid think in the terrible possibilities that this could have. Which were a lot, mind you.
She had stomped them, of course. Because, she didn´t had the time for that kind of stupidities. She has to find Cora-san and Law.
She's been sure she's on the right island from the moment she wake up in the middle of the storm, lying over the snow, seeing white as far as she´s able to see. This storm is strong now, but she´s sure it’s going to stop soon enough. It was fading when Cora-san died, after all.
She´s running against time. And that worries her. But keeps herself as calm as she can, moving forward, not minding in the least that every step is a battle. She´s been walking for two hours straight, certain that if she keeps going she will find them, sooner or later.
Why? Well, it's hard to explain.
It's a deep feeling in her gut; an awareness of the terrain and the living forms in it that is present inside her head all the time. Like a sixth sense she just has discover but had been within her all her life, making it feels natural even when it obviously shouldn't.
She thinks giddily; a dreamy smile forming in her face. It's almost intoxicating knowing she's inside One Piece. And furthermore, that she has the opportunity of becoming a monster in the same leagues that Luffy or Ace were in the anime.
Because under her good intentions is hidden her selfish desire of gathering power, gold and luxury, as well of living incredible adventures. But above all: Playing God. ´Cause that's what this is; changing fate, defying destiny. Taking the path already marked and shattering it.
It happens fast. There's no sound that announces Corazon presence. He appears in front of her, sliding from the curtain of snow. They almost collide with each other but Corazon reacts on instinct.
He moves out her way even as they eyes connect and they open their mouths, showing their surprise and alarm. Then, he trips. He lost his balance and falls forward, right into a slop they had been unaware it was there until that moment.
Her body reacts faster than her mind. She moves, griping his coat with her left hand and pulls with all her strength, which is a lot more than what she thought she had, because it's laughable how easy is for her to haul him.
The force behind the movement takes her with him and both of them end up rolling in the snow a few times and a pair of meters in the other direction. (Resulting with them safe and sound, at least for the moment.) When they stop, she´s over him; her hand still gripping the fluffy coat and their faces are a few centimetres away.
They stare each other; with surprise and incredulity.
“W-Who are you?” Cora-san asks her shaking his shock; narrowing his eyes and putting his hands on her coat. Preparing to push her off. “Are you part of the Barrel Pirates?”
He really has such a beautiful eyes. Is her first thought; which is completely out of place. She shakes her head, making her hair falls over the blondʼs face. “My name is Akane. Flourite D. Akane.” It´s obviously not her real name, but one she´s going to use from now on.
Akane means “Brilliant Red.” in reference to her hair, which is a thing that parents tend to do so is not weird. And “Flourite D.” in Tsubasa Chronicles Fay´s honour. Because he was her favourite character when she was a child.
“I´m not a part of the Barrel Pirates.” She says defiantly, boring her gaze on Cora-san eyes. “Nor I am you´re enemy, Cora-san.” She ignored how he freezes when she says his nickname and continues without pause. “I´m been looking for you and Law for a while. I want to help yo—“
She´s on her back at the next instant. A knife on her neck. Cora-san shacking figure over her and a perfect view to his tremulous brow eyes. “How do you knows that?”
“I´m clairvoyant.” Akane says calmly, as if her life wasn’t being threatened. She´s bluffing, of course. But that kind of shit tend to made curious everyone, even the ones who thought themselves not believers. “I know you´re were born a Celestial Dragon. I know Doflamingo killed your father. I know Sengoku take you into the Marines. I know you want to gift the Ope Ope no Mi to Law so he can be healed form the Amber Lead.”
She knows no one is able to hear them, so she doesn’t keep to herself what she knows is going to put her on Cora-san good side. Or at least get his attention enough for her to convince him she´s an asset.
He relax his grip; shocked and confused.
“I also know that you´re going to die here if you don´t let me help you.” Akane sketch a cruel smirk. “And Law will be taken by Doflamingo. He will die in two years, after performing the surgery that would give him eternal life.”
She knows she has him when he quickly steps back and gets off her, letting the knife fall on the snow as the trembling of his hands is too much for him to keep it in place.
“Let me help you, please.” Akane says fervently, sitting up. “Let me help you, Cora-san.”
“Alright.” He says, nodding, his eyes unfocused by the horror of the future I had described him.
She needs to shake him off that. “Don´t worry about it. We can made that future disappear. Make a new one. A good one. One when Law can live happily far away Doflamingo claws.” She touch his face, caressing his cheek, whispering in an alluring dream.
A dream Akane knew that Rocinante would do anything to make a reality.
Cora-san eyes hardens. “Yes. You´re right.” He nods, this time sure and determined.
“We need to hurry, tough.” Akira added, making a face. Remembering that they had little time until Doflamingo arrived and they needed to be far away before that happened.
“Follow me.” Cora-san says smirking.
He didn’t lift the charm. And they descended carefully to the base of the Barrel Pirates. This time around they had the upper hand, being two and having he surprise element. Still, it wasn´t an easy extraction.
They were outnumbered and outgunned, after all.
Akane was not a warrior. But she wasn´t shy about violence either. And when the time came she discovered that she was a natural for this kind of thing. She was fast, agile and strong. She hit hard and without mercy.
Cora-san was quite graceful for all his normal clumsiness. It made sense, as he was a high ranked Marine. He showed his abilities as a spy and assassin in this attack. Akane was impressed, and thankful, that they had only ended up with a few scratches.
They took the fruit and blow up the place. Getting away as fast as they could. Returning over their steps so they could find Law.
The storm has already started to fade.
Akane had forgotten how sick was the little boy and her heart crumbled at the sight. She stays back, apart from them, not wanting to interrupt in their moment. Until Law –after being forced to eat the Ope Ope no Mi– finds her at Cora-san´s back.
“Who´s that?” He asks wary on his tone of voice and with narrowed eyes.
“W-Well…she´s…” Cora-san hesitated, not sure of how he was going to explain it to Law.
“I´m Corazon´s friend.” Akane told the child sweetly, getting closer to them. “I´m glad that you´re alright, Law-kun. But we need to keep moving.” The last part was directed to Cora-san, who nodded, turning grim at the reminder.
“Let´s go.” He took Law on his arms and they started walking into the port direction.
She had forgotten Vergo in her awe and happiness of being in One Piece and able to help Cora-san as she had thought that avoiding the issue with the compromising letter they could avoid the battle. She was wrong.
She didn’t know exactly what had alerted Vergo that something was wrong with them because he shouldn´t knew they (Corazon and Law) were traitors to the Donquixote Pirates but it didn’t mattered. Because before any of them could react the ex-executive was over them.
Vergo is brutal.
Akane was lying on the snow, gasping for breath. Her left arm was broken, so were some of her ribs. Her face is buried on the snow. She can´t breathe and the pain is numbing her mind; she hasn´t had a broken bone before and it notices.
“No! Please leave Cora-san. You´re going to kill him!”
Law´s desperate voice break through the cloud of pain that envelope her brain. She gritted her teeth and forced herself up, just to see in horror how Vergo hurt Cora-san again and again.
This is bad. Really bad.
I need to do something!
“Stop!” She screams before her mind catches with her mouth; filled with panic and dread.
The moment the word leaves her lips she feels a wave of power emerge of her body. It encompass the entire clear. Law, Corazon and Vergo faint and fall to the ground with a heavy thump.
Conqueror Haki, she thinks in hysterics. A laugh bubbles out of her lips and she´s on her feet as fast as she´s able. She stumbles over to where Vergo is. He´s not going to be out for long. I need to finish it before he wakes up.
Akane steps over the unconscious man and takes the rifle he has on his back. She has never use a fire weapon before.
She puts the tip of the cannon against his head. At this distance, is impossible to miss.
She empties the gun cartridge. There´s no way Vergo is alive after that.
But that doesn’t mean they´re safe.
Doflamingo is going to be here very soon. They need to go now.
She walks back to Cora-san side, kneeling a few centimeters away of his body. The adrenaline is pumping on her veins, numbing her, but she knows it´s not going to last.
They need to get out.
Get away from the island.
“Forgive me.” She whispers before pressing her fingers into Cora-san wounds, hoping the pain was enough to wake him up, because she couldn’t carry both of them to safety.
“Thank god.” Akane says in relief when Rocinante starts to wake up. “Come on, Cora-san.” She slaps him softly to help him back on the world of the living.
“Vergo?” He asks worriedly.
“Dead.” She answers with a trembling laugh. It´s her first kill. She´s not sure how she´s taking it; right now she´s not feeling anything but maybe latter she will have a meltdown.
“Can you get up?” She asks not letting him ponder on that. “Your brother is going to be here soon and we need to go.”
“Yes.” He forces in a breathless whisper. He´s in pain. Akane is sure that he, too, has some ribs broken as well as many other bones.
“Let´s go then.”
She rises and goes to where Law is, taking the little boy on her good arm, carrying him against her chest. Trying her best to protect him. She turns to see Cora-san staggering on his feet. He looks terrible, but he quickly recovers his stance.
He even smiles at her; obviously trying to reassure her.
He´s too good. Too kind.
They wander to the port and Akane almost cries as she sees the boat with the navy sigil on the sails. She´s never been so happy to see the Marines and probably will never be gain, but in this moment she could kiss the admirals themselves.
“Marine Code: O1746. Commander Rocinante of the Navy Headquarters” Cora-san says as the Marines came to face us; the Marines salute as they hear the range and the code. “We need to go, now.” He barked at them and air of power emanating for him; it’s quite sexy and alluring if Akane is being sincere with herself.
“What about Captain Vergo?” One of them asks worried.
“He´s dealing with the pirates who did this to us.” Akane intervened, still with Law in her arms, allowing one of the marines to help her aboard the ship. “He´s so brave. A true hero.” She adds with tears on her eyes, sounding like a scared civilian who truly believed what she was saying, making some of the officials nod along but some others exchanged worried glances between them, clearly not wanting to leave their commanding officer.
“Captain Tsuru is going to arrive soon. She will back him up. But he agreed with me that the priority is taking them to safety.” Corazon added hastily.
This seemed to be enough for the other officers because they moved them to the medical bay, Akane answered the questions with soft voice and let the entire crew believe that Law was her son and that her husband has just been murdered by the Barrel Pirates. That Corazon saved them, but was quite hurt before the good captain Vergo come to their rescue.
When the cage of threads covered the island they were far away enough that it was barely noticeable form the boat.
They had made it.
They were safe.
If you want me to keep updating at this pace, please let a review.
It keeps me motivated!
Law awakes slowly, relaxed, as he´s comfortable and warm. He also feels better than he has in months: the fever had disappear and he can breathe with more easiness. He blinks a few times before noticing that he´s tucked in the embrace of a sleeping woman.
He immediately tenses –Confused; scared.– but doesn’t move. Afraid at the idea of waking up the unknown woman and seeing himself in danger.
“Hey. It´s fine, Law.” Cora-san voice´s is only a whisper but does the trick and Law calms a little, the warm hand touching his hair also helps a lot to convince him that they´re safe and things are alright.
He, then, pays more attention to the face of the red-haired lady. Is the same woman that had introduced herself as Cora-san´s friend. She´s on her back, has a bandage around her chest and cast on her right arm. Law himself was resting on her left arm, being hugged against her form.
Seeing the wounds he remembers the way they were attacked.
“Cora-san.” His voice is full of urgency as the last thing he recalls is lying on the snow and the way Vergo (The man looked like a Marine, but that had been the name she had screamed in shock before the attack started) had been hurting the blond and the worry he felt.
That worry that had just returned with full force.
“I´m fine.” Cora-san answers his unvoiced question. Walking until the other side of the bed, so Law could see him. He, too, has bandages over his chest. But he also has some on his face and arms, he has removed his coat and hood. He looks tired. But the smile on his face is genuine.
Law returns it without thinking.
“Akane defeated Vergo. He´s dead.” Cora-san sounded relived, but his eyes were distant. “We´re now on a Marine boat. They´re taking us as far of the island as possible…But less not talk about that right now. How are you feeling?”
Law made a face. They´re on a Marine ship! The evidence about Cora-san being one grew more and more, but Law doesn’t want to talk about that, so he pushed the thought at the back of his mind and answers. “Fine.” He says with a scowl.
“I´m glad.” Cora-san closed his eyes, feeling absolutely relived, as it meant the fruit had worked and that Law was in his way to recovery.
“I´m also glad.” Akane chirped, startling the two of them.
“Sorry to wake you.” Rocinante said with an awkward smile and a sheepish laugh.
Akane opened her eyes and smiled down to Law, before turning her face to Corazon. “It´s fine…” and looked into his eyes with an obvious worry. “How are you?”
“Vergo broke some bones, but they will heal.” Rocinante admitted with more detail that he would like in front of Law, but aware that a simple answer will not be sufficient. “I feel fine, but that probably are the meds are talking. How are you, Akane?”
“Same.” She said, still sounding sleepy. Probably the meds.
Law scowl deepened.
“Would you mind getting up so I can sit, Law-kun?” Akane directed her attention to the child. Law startled and quickly moved, a blush on his face, with had make Akane chuckle. Once she changed the position, Cora-san, gently pushed Law back to her side, so the raven was comfortable too.
The blush on his face didn’t vanished for a few minutes. The feeling of warm and security returning in the moment he was tucked at her side. It felt similar to what he felt when Cora-san hugged him or carried him.
It was weird. But not uncomfortable. So he allowed Akane to hug him as Corazon took a seat on the chair that was a few feet of the bed.
“It´s safe to speak?” She asked bluntly.
Rocinante nodded again, his eyes reflecting the solemnity that was shining in Akane´s stormy eyes.
“Good.” She sighed. “We had a lot to discuss.”
“We´re safe from Doflamingo for the time begin. But we can´t get too comfortable about that. Our best option is getting as far as we can of the North Blue. And if we can’t avoid the Marines much better. ´Cause the last I want is for Law to get trapped in their games.” Akane added, using a poisonous tone as he pronounced the word Marines, making Rocinante flinch and Law nod in agreement.
“I agree.” Cora-san said slowly. He had already pondered the idea, because having stolen the Ope Ope no Mi they had made themselves an enemy of the Government as whole. So the best for them was to go hiding. “Where do you think we should go?” he asks, trusting that Akane with her abilities would had the best answer.
Akane ponders this for a few seconds. “East Blue.” She stated with confidence as she nods to herself. “That´s our best option right now.”
“How do you know?” Intervened Law, looking up at her with narrowed eyes; curiosity and suspicion being evident on that golden gaze.
“Oh, right.” Akane says, surprised. “We haven’t being introduced.”
“My name is Akane. Fluorite D. Akane. I´m clairvoyant.” She explained to Law, who at hear this showed a range of emotions in his face, going from shock, to confusion, to incredulity. “That´s how I knew where and when I needed to be to be able to help you out of this mess.”
“She says the truth.” Says Rocinante, making Law to see him and then Akane for a few times, then, nodding his acceptance of this fact. “So East Blue?” He says tentatively as he gets use to the idea that Akane is going to be travelling with them for a while.
“Yes. Is the calmest of the Blues and a good point to hide if we do it right.”
“So, we steal a boat and disappear before they notice we are gone?”
They knew the longer they stayed, the biggest the chance of they being caught. So they planned to do it as soon as the night fell again. It would be difficult with their wounds but they would manage the best they could.
They had to.
“Is that a Polar Bear?” Cora-san asked with incredulity.
“Bepo.” Akane whispered to herself, before nodding to answer the blond question. “He´s a mink. I think we should keep him. He was meant to be Law´s second in command.”
“In the Heart Pirates?” Law asked with curiosity, his eyes never leaving the figure of the trembling cub bear.
Akane had shared with him and Cora-san a lot of her “visions” about the future as she explained how her clairvoyance worked, telling them that she could see a path and that changing things eliminated that path, as a way to explain why she couldn´t see Vergo´s attack before it happened.
“Let´s save him.” Law say with determination. Then, turned his gaze to Cora-san and used his best impression of puppy eyes. “Right, Cora-san?”
Rocinante gulped. He was really bad saying no to the adorable child, who, had only gotten better at this art under Akane´s careful tutalage.
Akane laugh was bright and joyful.
“You should keep it.” Akane says startling Rocinante, who yelps and trips, falling to his back, his hands never letting go out of his dark feathered coat.
Akane chuckles and kneels so she can help him up. “Sorry, I didn’t ‘meant to scare you.” She offers a smile that he returns with easiness.
“It´s alright.” He says, once he´s again on his feet. “But…isn´t it best if I just throw it away?” He wonders, returning his eyes to the offending clothing, not even trying to pretend he doesn’t know what she´s talking about. He knows better by now.
“No.” Akane sighs; guiding him to the table and forcing him to take a seat. They´re staying in a little village, wanting to rest a little of the long journey they´re having. Law and Bepo are playing outside, both of them can hear their laughs.
They had bonded as it was predestined. And formed a friendship that made both, him and Akane, very happy because it was a proof that their little boy was on track to get away from all the shit that had happened to him and have the carefree existence he should had form the beginning.
“I´m going to give you a few reason why and then you can decide what to do with it.” She informs him as she takes seat as well, once she put the groceries on the table. “One. It´s a gift of your brother. And we, both, know that no matter what he has done or how evil he is, you can´t avoid loving him. That’s why the coat is especial for you and you´re having so many problems to decide if keep it or not. I think you should keep it exactly for that. Yes, Doflamingo give it to you. But it’s more than that. It’s a gift form an older brother to his loved younger brother.”
He makes a face at hearing the last part. Doffy doesn’t love him. He´s sure of that. Because he would have kill him. God, he still would. That´s why they´re running as far away as they can of the North Blue!
“No, hear me out.” Akane says, her eyes shining with ferocity. “He loves you. I know that. Even if tis in his own twisted way. That he would have shoot you that night doesn’t change that fact. I know this because in his place I would have done the same.”
This admittance makes Rocinante blood freeze on his veins and he pales dramatically. Akane continues without pause, like if she doesn’t notice.
“You betrayed him. Put the entire Family on danger. Of course, you should be dealt with it. But. He loves you in the same way you love him. You should keep the coat to remember that not everything about him is bad. I know that you had times when it was hard to remember that you hated him so much because he was there, and he was your big brother before anything else.”
Rocinante gulped, colour not returning to his face and his stomach still twisting in anxiety, but he nodded anyway. Because Akane was right. All she had said was entirely true.
It makes him feel guilty. Despicable.
That´s why he wants to get rid of the coat.
“Two. For misdirection proposes.”
“Huh?” Rocinante face is one of confusion.
“It´s very distinctive.” Akane explains with a smirk. “I want us to have a low profile. But we have to move with the certainty that we are being watched. Both, the Government and the Donquixote Pirates have spies and, even I, don’t know every one of them.”
Rocinante doesn’t get it. If it´s like that, shouldn’t he get rid of the coat and the hood, like, for yesterday?!
“I want Doflamingo to think something is wrong.” Akane continues. “It doesn’t make sense, you see. You and Law disappeared. Vergo is death. Tsuru doesn’t find him anymore. Points are pretty easy to pull together, right? But, then. How do you explain my presence at your side? How do you explain that you and Law are not trying to be inconspicuous as possible? Why are you follow my tune? How do you explain that the two of you, who are not people persons and have truth issues, for all he knows, are so comfortable around me?”
That´s when it hits him.
“If you put it like that…” Rocinante says with big eyes and trembling voice. “It seems like you´re controlling us. Like your using some kind of fruit to make us think like you belong in our life.” This, of course, isn´t true. Akane is not a devil fruit user. She has rescue him a few times from the ocean to be sure of that. But that´s not what makes him afraid.
“It appears like I´m showing off that I got you and Law for all to see.” Akane confirms. “Like I want him to know he failed. That you´re mine now.”
“You´re painting a target on your back.” He whispers terrified.
“I want you to be able to survive. No matter if he ends up finding us or not.” She shrugs. “I think that he would want to hold on to the little spark of hope that you´re loyal to him. I would, in his place. So I´m trying to get you the chance to pretend you still are and survive the first encounter if they do find us.”
“I don´t like it.” Rocinante tells her.
“I know. But it´s our best shot. Law´s best shot.”
And that is the only thing that matters in the end.
“I think I will keep it…” Rocinante says deflated.
“Good.” Akane says, smiling brightly. “Because, three? I really like how you look on that.” She informs him as she bow and press her lips on his cheek in a quick kiss. She giggles as Rocinante flush violently and falls of the chair.
She rises of the table, fleeing to the garden, so she could tell the boys to get inside and help with dinner.
Just so you know, I head canon that Cora-san has days were he just prefers not speak and communicate as he did when he was with the Donquixote Family. He and Akane are totally on sink and she normally speaks for him when this happens.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Shh.” Law hissed, putting a hand over Bepo´s mouth. Moving his head left and right, trying to see where was hiding the enemy, so they can run on the other side and pray that they made to Cora-san on time.
“You can´t escape from me.~” The enemy sings in a sweet voice that send shivers under their spines. Up? He thinks, stunned, as looks up to the tree canopy. His golden eyes opening in fear as he eyes the depredatory smile on the lips on the foe that´s been hunting them.
He pushes Bepo as their opponent pounces.
“Run! You have to escape! Go to Cora-san!” He screams at the teary bear, who sobs his name, nods, and runs as fast as his feet can take him.
Law attempts to get away, running in the other direction, but is of no use. The hunter is faster and stronger than him. He gets caught in a second.
His mouth opens to let a scream…
“Buahahahaha.” He can´t avoid the joyful laugh that lefts his lips as he´s being tickled merciless by Akane, who blows raspberries over his stomach the moment she has him on his arms. “Akaneee….hahaha….that´s not…not…haha…f-fair....”
“I win!” She laughs before putting him on the ground; very careful and pointedly ignoring the pout on his lips.
“You´re mean.” Law states.
“W-What?” Akane lets with a hurt tone. “I´m not!” She adds childishly, sticking out her tongue out and putting her hands on her hips.
“Yes, you are.” Law insist, pointing his finger to her face.
“No, I’m not.”
Then her eyes open in shock; Law smirks and hides his eyes with his hat.
“You little shit.” She says impressed, her lips forming her own smirk. Law had buying Bepo time enough to get to Cora-san, finishing their game and getting the victory for the boys. “Well done.”
“Thanks” He bows playfully.
“Alright, let´s get back.” Akane laughs. “You and Bepo can have all the desert you want this night.”
She extends her hand and Law accepts it without a second thought. They walk together the path that remains to get to the house they staying for the time begin. She likes this game a lot and the children enjoy it greatly too.
As they get closer to the house they renting, both of them smile, Cora-san has Bepo in his arms and he´s waving at them with a big smile. He seems a lot happier now than whatever they seen before. His smile is sincere and his stance relax.
It makes both of their hearts fill with warm as they wave back.
The day they enter the East Blue, the sun shines above them. There no clouds in the sky and the breeze of the ocean wraps them from time to time. It´s a peaceful day all in all. So all of them jumped when the den den mushi (that they had stolen form the navy ship) started ringing. It had been weeks since the last time it had sounded.
Law and Bepo rambunctious conversation falls silent. Akane and Rocinante exchanged a worried look. By now the Marines should know that number belonged to them and so the call couldn´t be a mistake. Furthermore, there was only a person who could be interested on calling them.
Corazon gulps, but picks it up.
“Yes?” He asks hesitantly.
He winces as he hears the voice of his father figure. Sengoku doesn’t sounds mad; he sounds disappointed. He´s not sure if that´s better or worse. But before he has time to answer Akane has taken the sail of his hand and has a terrifying smile on place.
“Hi, there, Admiral of the Navy, Sengoku-san.” Akane sings, trying to conserve her calm. But was quite difficult. She was so angry at this man.
“Who are you?” Sengoku asks slowly. Making the snail look at her with narrowed eyes, but the little face shows his confusion as well as the confusion he´s feeling. It´s kinda funny.
“You can call me Akane.” She tells him, sitting on the rail of the ship, crossing her legs and keeping the little thing on the palm on her right hand. “I´m Rocinante´s partner.”
“The woman with the red hair.” He says; confirming what they had been suspecting from the beginning. They were being watched.
“Exactly.” Akane smile grows. “I´m the person who saved his life and offered him a new future. You´re the person who did the same for him in the past. So let´s jump the niceties and go directly to the point. Shall we?”
Rocinante has a bad feeling about this. “W-Wait Akane there is no need to…”
“What were you thinking?!” She hisses, as she didn’t heard him and Cora-san knows that is of no use. This is going to happen. “Sending him into a mission to be a spy inside the Doflamingo Family! Are you insane?! What the fuck do you think it would happen?! How were you expecting this to end when you send him into a suicide mission?!”
Because that was what that mission was.
Doflamingo is not stupid. He would connect the dots sooner or later and he would kill Corazon for what he had done; as punishment for his betrayal.
“If I hadn´t be there. He. Would. Have. Died. And that night, you would have recuperated only a corpse full of bullets.” She tells him with gritted teeth, trembling hands and tears on her eyes. Her voice full of pain and hate for the man she´s talking to.
“You would be to blame for that. I blame you for that.” She growls at him. “Think of it before calling again because I will not let you guilt Cora-san into returning with the Government when the only thing you can offer him is a painful death.”
She hung up with rage. The poor snail trembled a little after that but, fortunately, she hadn’t hurt it and even purred at her when she pet it in apology.
She was breathing hard when she looks up, back at where his family where, finding the two children with starts in his eyes and looking her with indisputable awe. Corazon, on the other hand, has a very sad gaze.
Akane immediately feels bad. She, maybe (surely), had overstepped some boundaries. But she couldn´t help it. She still can see it with clarity. It´s a recurrent nightmare now; a dream that haunts some of her nights and she wakes with a silent scream, just to calm herself as she drinks in the sight of the sleeping blond at her side and the knowledge that she in fact changed destiny. That Cora-san is alive.
But, then, he smiles at her. Kindly and forgiving. Telling silently that it was fine.
She has her arms full of children the next instant.
“That was so awesome!”
“How did you do it, nee-san?”
“Do…what?” Akane says confused, tiling her head to the right. Screaming at Sengoku? That couldn´t be. ´Cause neither of them knew who he was and why screaming at the old man the way she did was indeed impressive.
“The thing with your hair!” Law says, pointing the red threads that fall free from her shoulders.
“Huh?” Akane touched the strands with curiosity, blinking owlishly at it, as she remembered braiding it in the morning. She hadn´t discarded it. She was sure of tit. Then, why was it loose?
“When you were talking the braid got loose and your hair started to float. It formed something like tails? It was quite impressive. It even felt like Haki.” Corazon explained; sounding curious and impressive in the same amount.
Well, it wasn´t Haki. That´s for sure. Akane thinks with a grimace. The last time she tried it, she had made everyone faint once again. She has no way of controlling the strength of that. Wait. Floating like tails? Impressive aura that feels like Haki but isn’t? What the fuck. I´m Kushina now?!
“I wasn’t aware I could do that.” She answered truthfully to the children disappoint, a light frown on her face. “Maybe I really should cut it.”
“No!” She received three answers in unison from all the males in the ship who looked rather put on with the idea.
“I like your hair, nee-san.” Bepo told her innocently.
“I like it, too.” Law, admits as wells, looking to the side with puffy cheeks.
She really has adorable sons.
“Do you like it too, Cora-san?” She asks playfully, chuckling at the way the blond blushed violently. She didn’t need a spoken answer after that. “Alright, I will keep it as it is.” She says softly, petting the boys in their head, before animating them to go back to what they were doing before the den den sounded.
Cora-san came to sit at her side. Both of them seeing their children with a soft smile. Once it passed a few minutes Akane told Corazon in her characteristic happy-playful intonation. “Ne~ I think I know where I want to go next.”
He smiled fondly at her as he asked: “Where?”
“Conomi Islands. More specifically to Cocoyasi Village.” The smile on her lips only means trouble, but Rocinante wouldn´t change it for anything. He chuckles before saying “Alright” and start planning the rout they need.
Bell-mère sighed tiredly. Things were not going well this year. The tangerines were not selling well and so the money was scarce, which in turn made the situation in her house a little tense. Both of her daughters were starting to get anxious.
She was cooking when she noticed something off—Four unknown presences in front of her house. For the feeling, both of them were strong. Stronger than most people in this Blue, including most Pirates and Marines.
She immediately stopped cooking and went to see what it was about. The presence weren’t aggressive so she didn’t took her rifle with her. “Hello, there.” She greeted the estrangers with an easy smile, taking in sight the weird looks of the four individuals.
The woman was of Bell-mère´s own height; she looked like she was on her nineteen’s or twenties. She was smiling kindly but her grey eyes were sharp and knowingly. She was dressed in a blue top with puffy short sleeves that let her stomach uncovered, as well as shorts of the same colour, which contrasted very well with the black choker on her neck and the roman sandals with 10 centimeters heels of the same color, and fiery red hair she carried on a long braid with some bangs framing her face.
The man, on the other hand, had a feathery black coat and a fuchsia hood over his blond hair. He had also tattooed his face; a purple mark under his right eye. He was tall, at least fifteen centimeters over the redhead height.
The child was short, skinny, black-haired and mushroom hat over his head. He was taking the right hand of the lady, an affronted expression on his face. On the side contrary was a…bear – a polar bear– that was semi-hiding behind the legs of the woman with curious expression on his animal face.
“Hi.” The woman waved with her free hand. “My name is Akane. We´ve hear that you have the best tangerines on the Island. We were wondering if we could buy some? My children would love to try them.”
Hearing this Bell-mére felt her mood change and the smile in her face become more sincere. “Of course! How much do you want?” as she talked the man threw her a bag. A big and heavy bag. She caught it without difficulty and when she opened she gasps at all the gold that was inside.
“As much as we can buy with that.” Answered Akane still smiling. “We´re staying for a little while and when we part we want to take some with us. So how much we can have?”
“All I have in existence.” Answered truthfully Bell-mère with a shocked expression.
“That´s great!” Akane laughed brightly.
“That’s a lot of tangerines.” The child said, conserving the scowl in his face, as he saw the three rows.
“Not really.” Answered Akane, still laughing at what apparently was an inside joke that only she could understand. “You´ll see, Law. That we had bought just enough.”
The child huffs, he opens his mouth to answer but his attention is taken by the figures of two girls that are running on their direction screaming “Bell-mère. He tenses immediately. “Is alright.” Akane assures him, then redirects her attention to the other woman. “Are they yours?”
“Yes.” Bell-mère nods. “My daughters.” She says proudly.
“They´re very cute.” Akane says and Bell-mère smile only grows. “Yes, they are.” She says without an ounce of modesty. Both of them laugh as the girls came to stop, seeing the newcomers with curiosity and suspicion. Most of their attention is on Bepo, though, as they had never seen a Mink before and the sight of a cub is quite babbling for them.
Bell-mère introduces her daughters. Akane does the same. Then, she asks, “Would you like to play with my boys?” noticing the stares. Giving Law a little nudge as the boy is making a scary expression sending vibes of Back off and Don´t mess with my friend.
Nojiko is holding Nami´s hand, she hesitates a little but nods when Akane adds. “They´re just a little shy because they hadn´t have the opportunity of making a lot of friends.” and extends her hand in and invitation with a determinate stance and a nice smile.
Law hesitates, but Bepo sends him a hopeful look. The Mink likes people a lot more than Law, but they had never played with other children in the villages they had stayed. And he really wants to be friends with this girls–They smell nice and everything!
He ends up accepting the offered hand and Bepo runs until his at Law´s side, smiling at the girls, who, valiantly don´t react to the pointy teeth.
“Would you like some tea?” Bell-mère ask to the couple.
“We would love to!” Akane exclaims beaming at her, Bell-mère chuckles. She then sees the man and he nods, smiling kindly to her.
“Is he your husband?” She asks curiously (and maybe imprudently) to Akane, as sees how they seat together, while she prepares the tea.
The man blushes violently and sputters, failing of the chair as the red-haired lady laughs so hard her sides hurts. “No, no, nothing like that. Cora-san and I are just friends. Partners.” Akane tells her confidently as she leans forward.
“Law is our son, tough.” Akane adds, leaning back as the blond puts himself together and sits back in the chair. Bell-mère notices he´s still blushing as he nods, reaffirming what Akane has said.
Cora-san is a weird name, Bell-mère thinks, but smiles at them. She decides she likes Akane and her silent partner.
They talk about many thing as the children play in the threes, hearing the loud laughs that float to the house.
“No way!” Bell-mère exclaims, hitting the table with her hands. Staring at Cora-san with open eyes and mouth in shock, he´s looking pretty calm as he shows her a paper. It reads: It´s true. I was a Marine until a few months ago. When we meet and adopted Law.
She didn’t expect to have so much in common with him as a first sight it looks like Akane is more in tune with her, but Cora-san (Or Rocinante) and her share a lot of experiences and she finds it heartwarming that Law (And Bepo) were found for these people who obviously love him this much.
They connect easily and by the time the sun goes down the three of them are friends.
Akane apologizes for taking her time and invites them all to the Village to eat dinner (their sons and daughters are best friends too by this point) and Bell-mère accepts much to Nami and Nojiko surprise, but insist that she will pay for herself and for her daughters.
Akane agrees, shaking her head at the resolute determination on her eyes but completely understanding it.
They had a superb afternoon that ends with them saying their goodbyes and promising to see each other in the morning before separating their paths so they could go home to spend the night.
A few days later, they are eating tangerines in Bell-mère´s garden. Cora-san is telling them one of the adventures he had as a Marine and they all are listening avidly when he suddenly stops and the three adults turn to the dirt way that connect Bell-mère´s property with the rest of the Island.
“They´re here.” Cora-san says somberly.
“Law, Bepo. Take Nami and Nojiko and hide inside the house.” Akane says firmly.
Law doesn’t need more explanation that that. He, too, can feel it. Enemies are getting close to them. His job is to protect the girls with Bepo´s help in case things go wrong, but he has faith in Akane and Cora-san, he´s sure that the ones who will end up regretting something are those pirates. So he takes the hands of the girls and obeys, taking them to the safe place.
Bell-mère goes with them shushing the girls, promising that everything is going to be fine, and taking her musket with her as she returns where Akane and Corazon are. Both of them are slightly tense; like a predator steadying himself to pounce on his victim.
She can see the Marine inside Cora-san. It’s in the way he stands. Like a well-trained soldier. But Akane? She´s raw and wild. Untamed. Dangerous.
Bell-mère doesn’t had time to analyze them, tough. Because soon enough the enemy appears in front of them.
They´re Fishmen. Bell-mère has hear of them, but never saw one before this. Even then is easy to identify them. Her eyes narrow as she takes the way they walk; like they own the place. And grimaces, thinking sourly, Pirates.
“Be our backup.” Akane whispers, Bell-mère nods as she prepares her gun. The red haired lady steps forward and shows her teeth in what could not be called a smile.
“Arlong Pirates.” She says out loud, without fear. Causing the fishmen to stop. They still are too close for Bell-mère desires, but well, what can you do? “What would want a Grand Line Pirate in a village like Cocoyasi? It will be that you want the island as part of your territory. Huh?”
Arlong laughs. “Exactly. From today on the Isla—“
“A shame the Island has already an owner” Akane interrupts non-pulsed at the evident anger in the other pirate expression.
“Is that so?” He grits his teeth. “Who would that be?”
“Me.” Akane says simply.
The fishmen laughs. It´s an ugly sound. Cruel. Mocking.
Akane disappears in front of her eyes.
She´s fast. Bell-mère thinks. She doesn’t see it happen but can say that Akane hit Arlong with enough strength to send him flying a few meters. Because in less than a blink she´s standing in middle of the fishmen and Arlong is nowhere in sight.
The laughs had died. Replaced by a heavy silence full of shock and incredulity.
In the next instant two of them fall to the ground with a hole in their heads.
Bell-mère knows it was her companion even when she doesn’t get how the gun didn’t made a sound. Not that it matters. They´re on the middle of a battle. She points her gun and shoots. Her shot does make a sound and shakes the shock out of everyone.
They move as Akane does. The octopus is the first one to engage her, he has sword son every hand.
Bell-mère keeps shooting. Doing her best to cover Akane and maintain the enemies at bay. A black shadow past her and joins the fray. Cora-san is quite agile and graceful for someone that can trip with the air and ends up on fire a few times per day.
Bell-mère screams as Akane slips and two swords came in her war. The redhead blocks with her arm, but for a terrible moment Bell-mère is afraid that it will not be enough and she´s gonna get killed. But the blades stop with a metallic “clank” and she gasp, because, Akane´s right arm looks like it´s made of obsidian.
The octopus surprise allows her to grasp one of his arms and pull. She´s able to lift him and stamp him to the ground with her free hand. She´s back on her feet the next instant. “Stay here, Hatchan.” She growls as she stamps her foot on his ribcage. He howls in pain and lets the swords fall of his hands.
Then, Cora-san hits the ground. His lips parted in a silent scream.
Akane turns just as a heavy hand descends over him. Her hair gets loose, floating without air in what seems like seven tails. Of her lips gets a blood-freezing howl and she lunges against the fishman that is over her partner.
The air feels heavy. It´s difficult to breath.
It´s not Conqueror Haki, though. No one pass out.
Her first connects with the face of the unfortunate soul that hurt Rocinante. The bone cracks under the pressure. The sound resonates in an ugly way. This time her left hand is covered with haki. She hits him five times more, just as hard, until the bone sinks under her fist and the enemy lays death.
“Are you alright?” She ask, her grey eyes full of fear and concern, as she looks Cora-san. He does a gesture with his hand and she sighs, relived. Then, both of them are back on his feet. Facing new enemies, doing their best to keep them from the house and the children.
The fight is messy and bloody, but quicker than Bell-mère was expecting.
All of the fishmen are down by the time Arlong comes back.
His rage is evident.
Cora-san back off until he´s back at Bell-mère´s side. He´s breathing heavily and his brown eyes are fixed on Akane. She doesn’t back off. She stands firm, her posture aggressive, but at the defensive at the same time. Like a panther protecting her cubs.
Her hair has fallen and covers her back in soft looking waves.
“You fucking bitch!” He growls as he moves forward. “I´m going to destroy you!”
What follows its difficult to explain, as Bell-mère only catches a few glimpses before the fight is over.
She sees blue connecting with pink. She hears screams and curses. She sees peeks of black. She sees blood spreading to the ground.
She sees one of the most savage fights she has witnessed, one that finished before she can comprehend what happened.
Akane has deep bite marks all over her skin and a few cuts on her face, she´s bleeding and her breathing is harsh and difficult, but Arlong is the one lying death at her feet.
“Hatchan.” She says, looking at the octopus, who’s the only still alive. The poor thing looks heartbroken and has tears falling of his eyes. He flinches violently when she speaks. “Leave this Island. Take them with you if you want. But you better had leave by the sunset or you will fare the same destiny.”
Her voice is soft, sweet even. It´s incredible cruel.
Something she can´t believe comes from the same women that plays tag with the children and laughs with the same joy of an infant, who is always happy and smiling, who is amazed for the beauty of the world that surround her.
“You´re human…how…” He whispers, not moving for his place. Obviusly, still shocked.
“Human?” Akane ask, showing him her teeth. Her hair is floating again and the dense aura returns. “No, Hatchan. I´m not human. I´m a Gorgon. And if you or yours came back again I will free my wrath over you. This? Will be nothing compared to what I will do if I see you here again.”
She´s bluffing, of that Bell-mère is sure, but the fishman isn´t.
He pick himself up slowly, trembling, he moves so he can take some corpses with him, including the one of his late captain, and starts walking back to the port. The villagers opening a path for him to leave.
Is only in that moment that Bell-mère notices them. They´re all looking at Akane in a mix of awe and fear, which quickly transforms in worry as she falters, only to be caught by Cora-san.
“I´m fine.” She says, smiling. Allowing him to sit her on the floor as he starts to inspect the wounds.
Bell-mère snaps out of her shock and runs back to her house so she can retrieve the first aid kit, in the way, she finds her girls, who are crying, scared by the sounds, but happy to see her safe and sound.
When she comes out, Law is sitting next Akane with a concentrated expression on his childish face. He, Bepo, Cora-san and Akane are all inside of a deep blue bubble. Law is muttering things under his breath, Akane is insisting that she´s fine, Bepo is nuzzling her and Cora-san is petting her hair. I´ts a heartwarming sight.
Bell-mère smiles back when Akane looks at her, still smiling and gives her a thumps up.
The tension finally leaving her body.
Her girls are safe.
The village is safe.
Akane is going to be fine.
Everything is good in the world. At least, for now.
Remember letting a review keeps me motivated and the chapters being published
continuously! Also, I really like when you guys tell me what you think of my stories.
I know this is short and I apologize for that. But´s necessary for how I want the story to go. Anyway, I´m already writing the next chapter.
Soon we´ll see the ASL trio!
I´m so excited about that and I can´t wait to show you how the three siblings are added to this mismatched family.
Also, please let a review. It makes my day and keeps me motivated as it shows that you guys are liking what I write.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I wasn´t aware you could use Armament Haki” Rocinante told Akane with a frown of concentration as he carefully followed Law´s instructions to bandage the bite marks on her arms.
“Me neither.” Akane shrugged, unconcerned, petting Bepo´s furry head like nothing was wrong with the statement that had left out of her lips.
“What.” He and Bell-mère squeaked in shock.
“I mean, I assumed I could because I´m able to use Observation and Conqueror Haki when the situation requires it. But I didn’t had the opportunity to try it before today.” Akane added, looking calm and relaxed, like she wasn´t speaking nonsense. “I´m glad it worked, tough. It would had been terrible if it didn’t.”
Slowly, the horrifying implications of that fallen in place: Akane had just picked a fight with Grand Line pirates without knowing if she would be able to survive.
“Are you insane?!” Bell-mère screamed at her as she hit her in the head. Like she would do with Nami or Nojiko after they pulled a stupid stunt. Akane pouts at her and rub the sore spot in her head, but didn’t say anything to defend herself.
“What´s Armament Haki?” Law intervened, before Bell-mère could start scolding Akane for her imprudence (Because what if she hadn´t been able to use it! She would have been killed!), and sending the ex-marine a dark look for hitting his patient.
“Is when you create an armour with your aura. It turns your skin black and more resistant than any metal.” Rocinante explains in simple terms, petting Law´s head, abstinently ignoring the scowl in the child´s face. “Not everyone can do it. But most D can…Is that what you were thinking, Akane?” He wonders as he gazes to his partner.
“I´m new on this thing of fighting and I don´t have a very good control. But…I´m also a natural. And you know I couldn´t back off on this. They needed to go. So they couldn´t do more damage that they already had.” Akane admits softly, looking directly into Cora-san eyes, and he sighs, tiredly. He knows. He understands.
It´s a moment so intimate that Bell-mère blushed slightly. She wasn´t a romantic person, but in that instant she wanted for a connection like that. Then, shook herself, there was no time to think about things like that. She didn’t need a companion. She has her daughters and that´s enough.
(She also wonders what is what Akane means with her words but knows better than asks right now.)
“At least try to not pick up fights with bigger and meaner pirates than you. Ok?” He asks as he returns to bandage her arms.
Akane chuckles. “I can try.” Then winces. “But I´m starting to think that maybe hand to hand combat is not really for me.” She adds with a grimace. This is better than broken bones for sure but is not something she would like to repeat and as she knows she is going to fight bigger and meaner things than her, she´s open to find something that allows her to not end up wounded like this so often.
“Why?” Asks innocently Bepo, blinking his big eyes at her.
“Because, unlike you, darling, I don´t have claws or pointy teeth to maim my enemies.” She kisses his furry face and the cub chuckles and nuzzles her back. Then, looks back at Cora-san and Bell-mère. “Maybe a sword?” In a way that can only means Would you teach me?
“Marines are taught the basics.” Bell-mère says, smiling brightly. “I can teach you if you want.”
“That would be lovely, thanks.”
Akane smile is gentle, but her eyes are like a tempest; powerful, devastating and incredible beautiful. In that moment Bell-mère has no doubt that she´s a D and that the say she heard a long time ago (The D will bring a storm.) was right and couldn´t wait to see what Akane would bring to the world.
Nami, one day, a boy with a straw-hat will come to see you and ask you to become his nakama. You can accept his offer and roam by the oceans free and unbound. You will live incredible adventures and you will never be alone, because he will be at your side and you will see the sun every time he smiles at you.
Or you can stay here and will find yourself happy with Nojiko and Bell-mère. You will find a boy who will love you and have a big family. But you won’t know what hides in the unexplored oceans behind the Grand Line.
They stayed a month in Cocoyasi. When they left, the villagers gift them a bigger boat –where they could take all the tangerines they wanted– in thanks for saving them from the unfortunate destiny at Arlong´s hands.
Bell-mère gifted Akane her old sword as a parting gift and in return Akane promised that she will return to visit her and the girls again. But Bell-mère was aware that they wouldn´t see each other for a long while.
She could felt it in the air.
But promised that she would keep tracks of her on the newspaper, completely sure that Akane would hit the news sooner or later. People like her just couldn´t avoid it. It was on their blood.
“Where to go?” Asked Corazon on they were on the ocean.
“Goa Kingdom.” Akane breathed out with hardened eyes and her heart clenched with trepidation, she had postponed that visit too much already. She could only hope she wasn’t too late. It had been luck that they had arrived before Arlong and had been able to avoid Bell-mère´s death.
She had been enjoying her time with Cora-san, Law and Bepo, than anything that challenged that happiness had been pushed out of her mind without a second thought. But it was time.
Wait for me, Ace, Sabo, Luffy.
Please, be alright.
Please, let me arrive in time.
I´m also playing around with the timeline a little, please forgive if the times don´t really match with the canon.
This might be a little graphic, so take that on count before reading it.
Anyway, I hope you like the chapter and that you leave a review so I can know what you think. Remember, leaving a comment makes my day, even if it’s just a heart! I love when you guys tell me what you think about my stories and keeps me motivated to keep posting as quickly as I´m doing it right now.
“I will do anything you say.” It was difficult to say but Sabo forced the words to come out. The idea of Bluejam hurting or killing his brothers danced in front of him, filling his heart with fear and dread. He couldn´t let that happen. No matter what. “I will do everything you tell me. I will not disobey again. The only thing I ask in return is that you let them go. Please. They are my irreplaceable brothers.”
His father never stops looking at him with dark eyes full of disgust and aversion. “In that case.” He says, toning demanding and cold. “Come back home with me right now. And you leave that stupid game of pirates right then and there.”
Sabo gulped hard. Oh, god. He turned his back to his brothers and tried to control his desire to cry because this was the right choice. The only choice they had. And even if it meant returning to his golden cage, he would take it. For Ace. For Luffy. So they could survive.
Ace and Luffy´s pleas ended up shattering his mask, tears started to run free down his cheeks and he bit his lips hard, trying to contain his sobs.
Then, as he was to take the first step into the path that would take him back to the cage he had barely escaped; He froze.
Every cell on his body told him to not move. Because if he did, he would attract the attention of the big depredator that had his eyes on the mob. And for the way Ace and Luffy fell silent, they could feel it too: The strong killing intent that was covering Gray Terminal.
It didn’t make any sense.
The only animals that could transmit this terrible sentiment were the Big Beast that lived in Mount Corvo: The Bear and the Tiger. Neither of them ventured this south. They never left the top of the mountain where their lands and territory were. And to topcoat, he (and his brothers) knew intimately how their killing intent felt like and this wasn´t it.
This was worse, much worse.
The screams started not much after that. At his back, the pirates screeched in pain and shock. In front of him, the soldiers did the same as they were slaughtered by a quick and agile figure who identifying trait was the long red hair that moved with the wind (or so it looked) as he cut through their ranks.
Her grey eyes look at him for an instant and Sabo knew; she´s the predator who´s aura is so strong and big that he´s still incapable of moving. The instinctual fear it´s so buried in his being that is not shaken even when she doesn´t seem interested in him (or in his brothers).
On the other hand, Ace´s had been the one to see how it had started. Just before the heavy aura surrounded them, Bluejam fell, hitting the floor with a heavy thump. He was dead. A bullet right in the middle of his forehead.
He didn’t hear the gunshot. Neither did any of the pirates or the soldiers. Ace´s noticed how his own shock reflected on every one of them and for a moment there was an incredible tense silence, one that transformed into mayhem in seconds.
The man that was over him screamed in pain; he fell to the ground with a sickening gurgling noises, freeing Ace, who could only see with big eyes how a bear cub had his snout around the man´s neck.
It didn’t need to be a genius to put together what was happening.
At the same time a male voice, that belonged to a boy a few years older than him, who was standing at his right side said. “Room.” And they were surrounded by a light blue bubble. “Don´t move until the battle is over.” He adds, like that is even an option.
Ace´s knows better than to do that (If you move, you die. Is what his instincts are telling him in response to the oppressive aura that is all over the place.), even when his mind is screaming at him to take Luffy and Sabo and run, the only thing he can do is stay where he is and see how the battle –No, the massacre– takes place.
Things are different for Luffy.
His captor is kicked off him by a tall figure dressed in a long feathered black coat. The kick is brutal and the man screams in pain, before hitting the ground and never getting up again. Two holes in his chest. Dead.
This tall figure lift him with easily and carefully, hugging him against his chest. Luffy was trembling; he was scared and wanted his brothers. Nevertheless, when the man whispered a soft “Shhh. It´s alright. Everything is going to be fine.” the trembling started to fade and he lets himself to be hugged because he feels safe inside the man´s arms.
It was similar to what he felt when Ace or/and Sabo holds him when they´re sleeping or when they pull him out the water. Like he can trust them completely. Luffy knows he´s a good person and only wants to help, so he obeys when he´s told to close his eyes and don’t look until he´s told.
The screams fade and he allows himself to relax. Trusting in his savior promise that he and his brothers are going to be alright.
The battle ends in less than five minutes but for the three children is like an eternity.
Akane stormy eyes fall on the shaking and sobbing figure of Outlook III, who´s lying in the dirty ground, trembling like the coward he is. He´s babbling nonsense. “P-Please…I will gi…give you money…I have a…a lo...a lot…I will pay y-you…plea…please.”
“I don´t want your money.” She cuts him forcefully. His voice is a horrible whine and it’s starting to give her a headache.
“…w-what d-do you want t-then?”
“For you to die.” She tells him coldly. “So you will never threat my family again.”
There is no mercy in her heart for this man. He´s trash, after all. The only thing she regrets is that she can´t made him suffer as she has to finish it quickly for the children sake. She pierces his chest in a fluid move and looks as life drains of his ugly eyes.
She sheath the sword, then, turns to Sabo with kind eyes and a soft smile. “Are you alright?” She doesn’t get closer to him, respecting his personal space, a sincere concern clear in her light grey gaze.
He nods, more in auto-pilot than other thing. He´s still in shock.
She´s sorry about the brutality of it, but the situation required it.
They had arrived last night, during the storm. Just in time to quickly explain things to Makino and get her help to find where was Grey Terminal. That´s why she had allowed Bepo and Law presence on the battlefield, because, Cora-san liked it or not, Law was already a pirate and Bepo would never let his side.
Furthermore, they were outnumbered. Again. Even when the enemies where, well, weak. It had installed a sense of urgency at seeing the children being threatened.
“I´m glad.” She told Sabo sincerely, then, look behind him where Ace and Sabo where. She flickered his right fingers in a quick sign to tell his family to retreat a little so the boys could have some room to breathe.
Sabo copied the woman’s action. The tension leaving his body as he saw his brothers safe and sound.
“Sabo!” Luffy yelled for him with tears in his cute eyes. Ace had already moved to where their youngest was, hugging him, his eyes were fixed on Sabo and even if he didn’t called for him, it was all written on his face.
Sabo ran to where they were. He joins into the hug.
He´s so glad they are fine!
Ace is aware of the movement of their saviors. They were all dangerous. He was still high on instincts and he felt territorial, he wanted to go as far as he could of them and return to their home, but was scared of getting the attention of the woman one more time.
“Makino-chan, you can come out. It´s over now.” The redhead announces loudly. And all of them turn back, to where she´s looking, only to see the sweet bartender standing in the border of Grey Terminal, a hand over her mouth and watery eyes.
“Makino-san…” Sabo whimpers. For all they have to grow and mature, they were still children and the presence of one of the few adults that they could trust was enough to broke their mask and both, him and Ace, dragged Luffy to where she was, wanting to get comfort.
Wanted to hear her to tell them that everything was fine.
“Oh my boys…” Makino was so grateful that they were alright. She hug them and kiss their heads.
It was an intimate moment that Akane and Corazon decided to respect by focusing their attention on their own children.
“Good job, both of you.” Cora-san allowed with a sincere smile, even when he would like that Law and Bepo were not part of the battles they had, he had to accept that sometimes it happened. And in truth he was proud of them.
Law blushed at the praise and allowed himself a smug smirk. He beamed at the gentle pat on his head, over his hat, that the man who was the sun in his life gift him afterwards.
“Oh, sugarpie.” Akane grimaced and moved right in front of the cub. She took a cloth and started cleaning the blood of his fur, not that it helped much, tough. Which was only making it worse for Akane´s motherly nerves. “I´m very proud of you. But I really think we need to find you a martial arts master.”
“Why?” Bepo tilted his head curiously.
“Because I don´t want you biting humans!”
The statement surprised the three of them. It had never occurred them that she had an issue with that as Akane supported the idea of Bepo using his fangs and claws to defend himself and Law had the occasion arise.
“You don´t know what they could have in their blood! What if they´re sick?! What if you get sick too?! Oh, Arukne! No. Let´s not think about that.” She shivered. “You see, is better if you can beat them in hand to hand combat than letting their blood enter to your system!”
Corazon and Law thought relaxing. That made more sense. And now that Law thought about it…Akane was right. He too shivered at the idea of Bepo getting sick of something that was on the body of their enemies.
He was working into becoming into a good doctor (The best one in the entire world) but he didn’t want that in his future.
“I agree.” He says, nodding. “You mentioned once he was a great martial artist in the future, right? Let´s get him a teacher as soon as possible.”
“Let’s focus first on the matter at hand. Shall we?” Cora-san reminded them.
“Oh, right.” Akane nodded. “Makino-chan!” She called, enthusiastically. He liked the angelic bartender a lot and was sorry she had to see this, but well, they didn’t had the time to spared the sight. “Why don´t you take them to Dadan´s place whereas I clean this up?”
“Alright, Akane-chan.” Makino´s voice is tremulous as she forces a smile on her face (Akane beamed at her at hearing the familiar term, she really hoped they could be friends). She´s completely sincere as she adds “Thank you for saving them.”
“It´s nothing.” Akane says. And she´s being absolutely sincere, too.
Sabo takes notice with a frown. His blue eyes look at the four individuals with curiosity and suspicion, thus, because of the timing and the familiarity she used to say Dadan´s name, as well as in the way she and Makino use the “chan” in the others name.
In the words she said before killing his father.
It´s was just too weird.
“You three go with them.” Akane says, shooing her family. “I can do this on my own. And I will join you when I take Bluejam and the ugly one to the mountain. Let´s see if we have luck and the animals fest on them.”
Ace arched an eyebrow. She sounds too nonchalant about that. But, then, he thinks. Her idea makes sense, if she took the bodies to the mountain they would be taken apart by the animals by the night fell.
“If there´s no body, then there´s no crime.” The boy who had helped him nodded, voicing what Ace had been thinking.
“More like it will buy us time if the city thinks Bluejam kidnaped the ugly one.” The woman says with a shrug.
Sabo had to laugh –and if it sounded hysteric, well, he had been a stressful day. Ok?– at the irreverent way she spoke of his late father.
(And god´s, he´s dead. He would not take him back to that horrible place. He won´t have to leave his brothers.)
“I want to go with you, Anee-san.” Bepo said using his best impression of puppy eyes.
“Alright.” Akane allows easily, pretending to not notice the way Law and Bepo exchanged a satisfied look. Her cubs are not as subtle as they think they are. “I will see you later. Now go before more of them come.”
She shoo them again, and this time, Cora-san took Law´s hand and he walked to where Makino was, she bowed and whispered her thanks again before dragging the kids with her, serving like a guide to the Bandits Mountain lair was.
Makino explains what Akane had told her to Dadan and the kids, once they are all inside the bandit´s lair, she does hesitantly and avoiding the terrible part where Sabo dies trying to escape, tough. Letting it be only that Sabo was forced to stay with the nobles.
The matriarch of the band is torn into feeling grateful and horrified as she listens. Because she had been aware of the treat of the Bluejam pirates but still had let the children –Her brats. – live alone in the forest and wander like it was not her business.
She had been this close to lose the blond one. It made her sick just even think about it.
Her eyes wandered from time to time to the strange looking man who was sat in w corner with a sulking boy on his lap. The man had not intervened once while Makino spoke, but the boy made weird faces, like he wanted to say something but the steady arms around him silenced him.
So she had an idea of that it was more on what had happened than Makino knew or was willing to share.
“Sorry for intruding.” A female voice said as the door opened and a young red-haired lady entered accompanied of a…bear?
Dadan, Dogra and Magra had a wtf face (Neither of them had saw a mink before and so Bepo´s presence shook them out of their comfort zone) but snapped to attention when the woman sat in front of them. The bear having join the man and the child.
“I´m sorry for the way we meet.” She stated, looking to the children with a soft smile. “The storm made arrive difficult for us to arrive sooner. I´m very sorry you got hurt before we could intervene. For that, please, forgive me. Sabo, Ace, Luffy.”
She bowed and Dadan could not avoid being surprised by the sincere tone of her voice and the warm that filled her grey eyes as she had looked at her boys. It was similar to what she´s seen on Makino´s eyes, in the eyes of her bandits and in her own.
It´s a sincere love of the three children.
Ace huffed, scowling at her. Still feeling defensive and not wanting to have anything to do with her. Sabo, blinked, his curiosity growing with every second that passed, he had some doubts about the fact the woman (Akane) was a seer –and many more about why would she be interested in saving them.
Luffy on the other hand smiled genuinely at her, with bright white teeth and big starred eyes. “You look like Shanks! Do you know him? He´s the best pirate ever!” She not only looks like his hero but also feels like him. Familiar; warm. Safe.
Akane blinked. Surprised. She hadn´t thought about that before…but well, she could see how Luffy reached to that conclusion. They did have the same shade of red in their hair.
“I will take that as a compliment.” Akane told him with a chuckle. “But, no, Luffy…I haven´t meet Shanks before.” Her eyes adopted a sad glow and her voice had a longing air as she mentioned the older pirate, thing that was not lost for anyone (of the adults) in the room.
The little boy made a pouty face.
“We forgive you.” Sabo intervened, quickly, as he´s the one with manners. “Thank you for saving us.” This is added with one of his most sincere smiles. He would have bowed too, but he had Ace tucked on his right side and Luffy on his left and getting up would meant disturbing them and that he did not want.
“Yeah.” Dadan huffs. “Thanks for saving my brats.”
Akane looks directly at her for the first time. Her smile grows, and becomes as impressive as Luffy´s “It was nothing, Dadan-san.” The sincere respect that is in these words that makes her blink, her name hadn´t been say that way ever before.
“Chief.” Magra whispered, awed, clutching his hands together. This, was copied by every member of the Dadan´s family.
They had just hear how this women had utterly destroyed the Bluejam Pirates and a group of soldiers like it was a game. So they didn´t expect that kind of attitude of the Pirate Captain that had just barged into their home like she owned the place. But they were happy for their Boss, she deserved it.
“The three of them mean a lot to me.” She added, truthfully. And Dadan find herself believing her, even as she wondered why it was like this. Could it be for her powers as a seer? Could have Akane create a connection so deep with her brats that she travelled a long way just to be there for them when they most needed her?
“That´s bullshit.” Ace growled, getting on his feet and his fist trembling at his sides. He couldn´t accept what she was saying. She didn’t even knew them! She didn´t know…!
“Ace!” Sabo hissed, putting his hand over the raven wrist, trying to contain him.
Law tensed and scowled at the freckled boy. Fully prepared to go and kick his ass for speaking to Akane that way. “Easy, Law. Bepo. ” Cora-san told them in a whisper and they both back off, with sulking stances. Even if they knew he was right and it wasn´t worth it to start a fight with the kids right now.
“What would you say if the Pirate King had a son?” Akane said softly, her smile nowhere in sight and her grey eyes darkened.
Sabo gaped at Akane.
“How do you know…?”
“I don´t think that your blood-line matters.” Akane says firmly. Her words are not only for Ace, though. But for Sabo and Cora-san too. She loves them for who they are, not for what they are and she wants them to be aware of this. “So, no. That Gol D. Roger was your sire it doesn’t matter to me.”
She ignored the way Ace flinched at the name.
“I came here because I wanted to save you. Because I wanted to avoid Sabo´s death.” She continued, but was interrupted by the horrified whispered “…Death?” coming of the three children; Ace´s legs give up and he was sitting again, Luffy using his arms to trap his brothers in a hug as he wailed about how he didn’t want any of them to die. Sabo just look at her petrified.
“Makino-san didn’t mention that part.” Cora-san told her with a tone that said he agreed with the cute bartender. The kids were ten and seven, for gods sake! They didn’t need to know how close one of their own had come to be murdered.
“Akane-chan!” Makino started to scold her but Akane stopped her with a gesture of her hands.
“Makino-chan.” Akane sighed. “I don´t believe that just because they´re children we should hide from them this kind of things They´re young, not stupid.”
Law nodded along as Akane talked, he had felt grateful that she had shared with him all the information she had, not shying of the dark and painful parts just because of his age. She knew he had seen hell before and even if she wanted to protect him, she respect him enough to treat him like an equal.
She was offering the same to this kids.
“I want them to be aware of what destiny had for them. And that even if we changed what was meant to happen today, that doesn’t mean they´re safe.” She continued, silencing the other woman. Makino looked very distraught, but no one could blame her, she was a civilian, after all. They lived in different worlds. “I want them to be aware that how thing would be so they can decide what they want to do. Stay here and take the bet on their lives. Or came with me and mine when we leave Goa.”
She, then explained everything that would had happen if no one had interfered. Once she finished, she was meet with a dismayed silence.
“The people in the Grey Terminal…” Sabo whispered, sickened of what his fathers and the other nobles were going to do.
“I warned them.” Akane told him, trying to tranquilize him. “And the revolutionaries are going to be there for the ones that are stubborn enough to stay even after my warning.” She was sure, she could felt it in her bones.
The storm was coming. Dragon would be here by the time the fire started.
“Thank you.” He told her, again. Now, it made sense why she had helped them. And any doubt he had about she being a seer had evaporated. He also got the feeling that she truly cared for them and that her offering of giving them a family, a home, a future, were absolutely sincere.
He also knew that Ace didn’t think the same.
She seem to know it too, because she smiled at them as said “Just think about it. Ok? We’re staying two months just to make sure that everything goes as it should and neither of you are in danger for what happen today.” and gets up, motioning the boy and the bear cub to come with her.
“We only have the best intentions with this offer, please, forgive Akane if she offended you.” The man, Cora-san, says to Dadan and Makino in an apologetic tone before following his captain to the exit of the house.
It´s dinner time, but none of them are hungry.
Sabo takes a deep breath and forces himself to take his brothers to their room, they have…a lot to think about. He catches Dadan saying that Makino should stay the night and hears the soft acceptance before they start climbing the stairs.
“Sabo.” Ace sounds lost and it breaks his heart. So he forces a smile and takes his hand. “It´s going to be fine.” He promises, as they sit together, with Luffy in the middle, they had a long night before them and so much to discuss.
Rocinante is looking at the sky. Is starting to rain, the column of smoke still visible. He feels sick. Sick of what these people did; it was one of the most despicable act he had hear about and he felt bad just remembering what would Akane had said it would happen.
He could imagine the fear and desperation they would feel at being trapped in a fire and find that the doors of the city were closed.
But he was also sick at how nonchalantly Akane had mentioned it. Like it didn’t mattered. Just like his brother would; with disinterest. She even had been taken back when he said they should save them, like the idea had never crossed her mind.
…It scares him. A lot.
He didn’t even knew what to think. Because on one hand, Akane is this kind and wonderful woman that had saved his life and is the best partner he could think of to raise Law. He likes her, a lot. And he finds that he loves the connection they had and would not change their little family for anything in the world.
Akane is the type of person who would fight to death for others and would only ask that the person she saved smile and does their best to be happy in recompense….
But she’s, also, a person who enjoys violence and fighting. Who had admitted that she could relate to Doffy and that she respected him for the way he cared for his “Family” (What if he, Law and Bepo were like that for her), and that thought nothing about some circumstances that should made her squirm.
Like the “purification” of Gray Terminal.
But it didn’t.
He had to mention the White City to get a reaction of her. And even then, she had look more annoyed than anything when she promised that she would warn the ones living in there. He had hesitated into staying with her –fearing she would go back on her word– but in the end he decided that he had to put the children’s safety first and so, he escorted them to the bandit´s house.
“Law and Bepo are already sleeping.” Her voice shakes him of his thoughts. She sound a little off, there is no smile on her tone. “I think we need to talk.”
Of course, Akane knows.
He knows her powers don´t work that way but sometimes he thinks she can actually predict the future. However, reality is simpler. Akane can read him like a book. Most of the time it doesn’t bother him at all.
It makes things easier. And a proof of how close they become.
Now, he loathes the idea.
“Yeah.” He says, tiredly, still without turning.
“Will you seat with me?” She asks, still using the same tone.
Rocinante wants to refuse, but he can´t. So he sighs and turns, his breath caught in his throat. She looked beautiful in a very sad way; her long hair was loose and fell in waves under her back, it rocks softly at the compass of the changing wind. Her grey eyes are shinning like if she was containing the tears and her lips were forming a melancholic grimace.
“Come.” She pats the wood of the porch, offering a place to sit. He goes silently. Once they´re sitting together, she touches his hand, a soft, superficial thing, that just makes him sadder because Akane is always open with her affections.
“You think I´m like your brother.” She tells him, looking at the sky. And he filches. Because, yeah, the idea has been growing in his mind.
They are very similar in some aspects.
“You´re not wrong.” She continues. And his blood freeze in his veins, he wants to scream, to plead that she takes it back, that she says it´s a lie. He doesn’t…! He can´t…!
“The difference is that I don´t want the world to burn.” She continues and Rocinante forces himself to listen her, hoping for something that could avoid their relationship breaks in the most painful way. “Is just…that I don´t mind if it burns around me. While I and my loved ones are safe, everything else is unimportant for me. That´s why I couldn´t care least about the thief’s that live in the Grey Terminal.”
Is difficult for her to admit this, but she lies so much already and this is important so she wants to be sincere with Corazon.
She´s not a good person. Never had been.
But she´s not a villain either.
“I easily could be the same kind of monster he is. That´s true. But I´m not. I don´t want to be.” She forces the words of her lips and does her best to not start crying, because gods, she doesn’t want to lose Corazon but this may be something that he can´t forgive. He´s too kind, too good. And she just isn’t.
Rocinante intertwine their fingers and the both of them are trembling by this moment. “That´s enough, Akane.” He says her with a shaking voice, he´s crying. He, then, hugs her and press a kiss on her brow. “That´s more than enough.”
And he means it.
Because that proves that she´s not evil in the way Doffy is. And that her acts are genuine, that, whatever they have, is not a lie.
And he couldn´t be more relieved.
Chapter 7: Sweet and Soft.
Ok, guys. Let me start by apologizing for the delay.
I´m really sorry about that.
Most of you would probably not care, but I had a terrible week in my final days of the last semester. I kind of stressed myself to the point of becoming sick and then, fell of the stairs and broke my hand.
So yeah, I wasn´t able to write at all. Anyway, I will try to follow the same pace of before but have me some patience, ok? I´m still not at my best :(
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Law never ceased to be amazed at how easily their family could assimilate in every village they decided to stay. He was sure it should not be that easier to get accepted by the locals when they were evidently pirates, but maybe it was because they didn’t act like most corsairs did and the way Akane placed herself as she belonged right where she was and they –he and Cora-san– followed suit.
(And yeah. He was aware that she had done exactly that when they meet but didn’t want to go there anytime soon. He liked Akane a lot, after all.)
Still, it worked like a spell. And so, it wasn´t a surprise when just after a few days after they arrived at the mountain, both, the bandits and the children, were comfortable enough to allow them to see how they normally acted.
It was kind bizarre.
And what was even more bizarre was the way the children eat. It just was mind-blowing.
The first time he saw it was at breakfast the next morning after the day they arrived. Akane had brought tree big alligators for breakfast! She had hunted them at down, doing three journeys to the forest, so she could get enough food for all of them.
She had also brought the tangerines that were on the boat; offering to share them with the bandits and the trio. It all started to make sense of why she had laughed when she bought that amount of tangerines from Bell-mére.
She had roasted the alligators. The trio of monsters had devoured two of them and half the tangerines! Akane had only chuckled fondly at his and Cora-san disbelief and shake her head.
But that was only the beginning.
In the following weeks, he would discover just how much the auto-proclaimed ASL trio was a box of wonders and nightmares.
“What are they doing?” Law asked with an arched brow, standing a few meters to where a violent brawl was taking place between the three children.
“Training,” Akane answered with a chuckle.
She knew exactly to what he was referring to and she found it amusing. Because for all that Law was a D he liked to pretend he had common sense and so the more normal actions of this kind of people, like Ace and Luffy, made him huff in incredulity at the nonsense.
“Training?” He repeated, arching his second eyebrow.
“Yeah.” She smiled at her son, mischief on her grey eyes. “Why don´t you join them, Law? I´m sure you will have fun.”
Law looked back at the fight and grimaced. “There is something I should be aware off?”
Akane´s smile grew. That was as good as a Yes from Law. It made her happy to know that her not-so-little boy was gaining more social skills than the last time; as well as accepting the presence of the ASL trio in his life.
“Ace and Sabo have a nasty punch.” She told him with a smirk.
It was true. The older two were quite the skilled fighters, stronger than most children their age, even stronger than most adults in this Blue. They tend to fight like thieves and rogues; a mix between graceful and brutal. Almost like a predator. Much like she did.
It was a warning, but also an incentive.
Law was a genius. And he had been trained in how to fight by the Donquixote Family; he knew from and had the basic abilities that could let him take bigger men than him. Plus his Devil Fruit. Which he had been gaining control with her guide of what she remembered of his adult version way of using it.
He was a talented boy.
“I see.” He nodded, his grey eyes shining with interest.
“Have fun~” Akane told him. He nodded and started to walk to where the other children were, he had taken a few steps before she added. “Ah! Just another thing, Law. Be gentle with Luffy, alright?”
He blinked at the serious tone in Akane´s voice. It was weird hearing it. So he nodded to show he had understood, though…he didn’t see why she was warning him to be careful with the boy with the straw-hat.
Maybe because he was the youngest?
“Can I join?” He asked once he was in front of the three boys. Just in time to see how Ace punched Luffy and send him flying.
“Sure.” The blond kid, Sabo, said with a smile that remembered him of Cora-san. They had the same air around them.
Ace scowled when he hears Sabo´s answer but didn’t refute it as they were still thinking about taking or not Akane´s offer and Sabo had said that the best for all of them was no alienate them until they were sure what they wanted to do.
He knew Sabo was right on this so he had decided to shut his trap and follow his brother lead on this.
“Your brother uses his devil fruit. So that´s permitted. Any rule that I should be aware of?” He asked, curiously.
“You have a devil fruit?” Ace asked before Sabo could answer.
“Yeah.” Law said nonchalantly. “The Ope Ope no Mi”
“What does it do?”
Law smirked. “I think you will discover.” His words were a dare and he enjoyed the way Ace bristle like a mad kitten.
“50 rounds. First hit wins.” Sabo intervened; his blue eyes shining with interest.
“Alright.” He nodded, it was actually simple. Then, he added with a grimace. “Just a warning: My ability may look…macabre. But it´s not harmful. Alright?” As he said he looked in the eyes of the older boys, so they would not get scared if he decided to use it on them.
Not that he planned to.
But better safe than sorry, right?
“I want to see! I want to see!” Luffy intervened, shining black eyes and bright smile. And in a blink, he was all over him, in what may look like a hug but he felt more like being trapped by a snake.
“Luffy!” Ace hit the boy in the head and hauled him off Law much to his chagrin. “Thank you.” He said, relieved. He still didn’t like psychical contact that much; at least not with strangers.
“It´s nothing.” Ace shrugged.
“Well, let´s start.” Sabo said smiling. “I will go first. If you don´t mind.” The last part was directed to Ace, who shook his head before taking Luffy and back up off the training area. Both of the ravens were really interested in seeing the following battle.
Akane hummed happily as she heard how much fun were having her beautiful children. She was practicing her Kenbunshoku Haki by maintaining herself inside the house; looking for the children training in the woods and for Cora-san and Bepo (who were in Foosha with Makino-chan) as she played poker with the bandits.
“Ha! Full house!” One of the bandits’ screamed, putting the cards down. A victorious expression on his face.
Akane laughed as the other players lamented their bad luck.
She wasn’t upset for losing even when she was quite sure he had cheated somewhere along the game but didn’t know where. It was really interesting. And wanted to see if she could see how he did it.
Maybe, then, she could have better chances against Cora-san —who was the indisputable Poker champion as he had razed with all of them, including Dadan.
“Another round?” She asked playfully, batting her eyelashes.
“Yeah!” They agreed, laughing.
They started playing again and Akane chuckled. They were actually a pretty funny bunch.
“Whoa! That´s so cool!” Luffy said when he used his fruit to replace himself for a leaf so he could take Ace down and avoid the punch the younger raven had thrown to his face. Sabo had to admit that he agreed with their youngest, Ace too, but he wasn’t going to admit it anytime soon.
“You win.” Sabo said brightly to Ace´s disappointment. He never liked losing but he respected strength and Law was definitely stronger than him. It wasn´t a bad thing, though. The presence of the older boy brought a chance of growing that he liked a lot. “45 with me. 43 with Ace and 50 with Luffy. You´re pretty strong, Law.”
“…Thanks.” Law said awkwardly. This experience was different from anything he had experienced before. It was almost like a game. Like when Akane helped him and Bepo to train his abilities by training them as they played tag-you´re-it.
Nothing like he had experienced with the Family; with Baby 5 and Buffalo.
It was more….friendly? But not really? Because this training was actually more violent than anything he had with the other children (as they weren’t allowed to hurt each other under Doflamingo´s rules). But it still felt less hostile?
He didn’t actually know how to explain it.
“I brought you some bandages and ointment.” Akane cheerful voice intruded in the clearing. Making them all jump as none of them had heard her coming. ”So you could treat your wound before joining us for lunch.”
They all had different reactions to her sudden appearance:
Ace tensed and glared at her; which makes Akane giddy as it’s a big chance of how the older raven treated her like an enemy and this was closer to how he acted near Luffy at the beginning. Like a nuisance in his life. One that he didn’t like but was slowly accepting in his future.
Sabo tensed as well, although, his tension was produced partially more from surprise than for feeling threatened by her presence. His sharp blue eyes studying her intently but a timid smile forming on his lips.
Luffy blinked at her and then a big, sunshine-like, smile formed in his face and he screamed her name. He would run at her with the intentions of receiving hugs and cuddles if it wasn’t for Ace putting his arms around his waist, forcibly stopping him.
Law, on the other, hand. Smiled at her. Something small, but genuine. “Thanks,” He said as he got closer to retrieve the items Akane had mentioned before. “Cora-san and Bepo returned already?”
“Yes. They also found everything I needed to prepare the food. So we are having a feast today!” She answered animatedly, passing him the first aid kit things and petting his head once in silent congratulations for his win.
Law chuckles. “I see.”
Akane had not made a secret that she liked cooking or that she was looking for specific things to share with them. Apparently, she had found them thanks to Makino´s help. He wondered if the green-haired bartender was going to join them again. She and Akane were friends. But it was different from how Akane acted when they were around Bell-mère…but maybe that was because Makino was a civilian?
“We will be there soon.” He added, Akane nodded and turned, returning to where the bandit's lair was.
“Are you a doctor?” Sabo asked, curiously. After Law signed them to get closer and started to treat their wounds with expert hands.
“Kind of.” Law said, working on Luffy´s wounds. “I have a lot of theoretical knowledge but I´m still lacking in the practical part.”
Even when Akane let him “practice” with some nasty looking pirates or marines they had encounter as well as treat her and Cora-san when one of them got hurt, he still had a lot to learn. That´s why he didn’t consider himself a doctor.
Soon he would be the best doctor in the world!
“Scary face!” Luffy pointed happily while Ace and Sabo sweet dropped, a little put off for the frankly creepy look Law had in his face. Both of their fingers twitching to take their youngest and put some distance between the two black-haired boys.
Law blinked when Luffy touched his cheek. “Sorry.” He winced. It was not his intention to do that. And was a little worried he had scared Luffy in the same way he used to scare Baby 5 when he wanted the girl to fuck off.
He didn’t have to worry, though. The kid just continued smiling at him. Like nothing had happened. Running back to Sabo when Law told he was ready, so Ace could take his place.
“You like her.” Ace whispered, low enough so that only the two of them could hear what he was saying. Law answered in the same way “Akane saved my life.” As he got the hint that Ace wanted this to be only between them. “She saved Cora-san´s life, too. Took us away from a monster and show us a future neither of us had imagined.”
A new life. One when he could laugh and be happy again; one when he and Cora-san could relax and just enjoy their time instead of worrying about being captured and killed by the marines and Doflamingo.
They were still running for their lives, sure, but Akane did a pretty good job helping them to feel safe. She had a plan. She was strong. And furthermore, she had vowed to protect them and Law believe her.
He didn’t know how to explain this to Ace´s, though. So he let it at that.
“She does that a lot, then? Saving people?” Ace frowned.
“…Kinda?” Law hums as he continues to work over the bruises and cuts in the other boy´s arms and face. “I mean, Akane does have a tendency of getting her nose in other people business –She´s curious and likes to explore things– but for what I saw the only people she helps are the ones she has seen in her visions. People she cares a lot about.”
The truth is that Akane is not a particularly good person; Law had seen her bloodthirsty and cruel side. Never directed to them, of course. But it was clear as the day.
Akane was a pirate (and if that wasn’t enough answer, Law didn’t what could make things clearer for everyone else.) and one that Law was sure would fit right with the Donquixote Family –for she was powerful, loyal and deadly– at that.
That´s why her affection was something Law was honored to have.
“Well, you´re ready to go.” He says with a sigh, once he finishes, as Ace didn´t add anything else. The younger boy was frowning, looking like he was thinking hard on something. Not that he was going to share anything soon if he followed the trend he had been following the last week. “Come on. Let´s return before the bandits eat everything.”
“You’re not gonna treat your own?” Sabo asked, curiously, as they walked by his side. Luffy is being carried by Ace, who´s still frowning, but he seems happier now that he has Luffy on his back.
“…No.” Law answers, blinking, dumbfounded. Like the idea has never occurred him.
It becomes clear why, after seeing the way how Cora-san frets at Law and treats the few injuries he has with a careful and fond disposition. It becomes obvious that the idea has never occurred him because he doesn’t have to. He has (various) someone(s) who cares about him and is ready to
They are on their own. Always. Even when they lived with the bandits there was always a distance; always a Us and Them energy. Thing that really never bothered them before this; ´cause in reality, they were used to it and preferred it most of the time. The sensation of being free and able to do whatever they wanted when they wanted was liberating for all of them.
They took care of themselves and considered it the natural thing. Liked it, even. Because that meant they didn’t depend on anyone else. It made them strong and capable. Pirate-like.
So being faced with the other alternative was a little bit shocking. Even more when that alternative doesn’t seem much like a bad thing as he always had thought it would be. At least not in the way Akane and Cora-san present it. Maybe because they were pirates?
Sabo didn´t know. But at that moment he experimented a feeling of want really difficult to ignore.
He would like to experiment something like that…
Having a family that actually loves you.
“Food!” Luffy´s scream pulls him out of his musings. He chuckles at the sight of Ace being used as a horse for the little boy who is pushing him so they can move faster and get some of the smelling delicious meat that it´s being presented in the clear outside their house.
“Ah, Lu! Don´t do that!”
“But, Aceee…Meat! Let´s gooo!”
“Argh! Alright, alright.”
He laughs more openly when Akane playfully hits Lu´s hand to keep it away of the meat and the boy pouts, gesture she repeated whit Bepo´s paw “It will be ready soon. Be patient, boys.” with a genuine smile and amused tone.
Makino-san cheerful laugh joined his, before she shushed them to take a seat while they finished preparing the meal.
“So, I was right?” Akane asked Law playfully once he sat right to Sabo and in front a Bepo, who´s now being hugged and petted by a very enthusiastic Luffy. Law blushes and looks anywhere but the ASL trio or Akane as he says “Yeah…”
“Right about what?” Cora-san asks curiously.
They answer at the same time, causing Cora-san pout “So mean.” much to Akane´s amusement. “Absolutely.” She chuckles before peeking his cheek. “Now, take a seat. Food is almost ready.”
The bandits are already seated and all have dreamy faces. They really love Makino-san elegant and delicious food; Akane´s likes cooking and she´s not bad at it…but Makino is a goddess. She makes the best food ever. And she´s so kind and lovely that having her visiting is almost a religious experience for the gang.
What they don´t like that much is the Mayor that accompanies her.
But now that Akane is here the mayor doesn’t come that much anymore. They had bets as to the reason. Fifty-fifty are that the Mayor is afraid of Akane or that he trusts Cora-san for his past as a Marine.
None of them is brave enough to ask Makino-san. And the other two just exchange smiles when asked, so they had no way to know who is in the right. But if they were to find out, it would be that is a mix of the two things.
The Mayor Woop Slap had been horrified at Akane´s brand of brutality but could not say anything because she had saved Luffy and at the same time, he did felt that Rocinante presence put Makino in a safer place as the man seemed to have a sincere and disposition as well as the ability of control the red-haired woman in some level.
Poor man wasn´t aware that for much that Akane loved Corazon and took his word and opinion to heart, there really wasn’t a way for the blond man to control her as Akane was as indomitable as any D and once she decided something there was little to nothing that would stop her from doing it.
It´s better to go with the flow when it came to it, truth to be told. A thing that anyone who had to deal with a D. had to learn sooner or later. Which is why Akane´s enthusiastic babbling and exposition of the dishes, as well as her prodding for them to try all of them, was received with fond resignation.
It´s late, the night has fallen and the stars are shining in the dark blue sky. The mountain makes them seen nearer than any other night she had the opportunity to see them of the time she had been on this world.
It was a beautiful sight.
One that she regrets her family is not there to see it but it would be rude to wake them just because she can´t sleep. It happens sometimes. A night without nightmares, without dreams, just a feeling of restiveness.
Although, is not the kind that fills you when threatened. Which is was she finds herself sitting outside in a relaxed manner, just trying to enjoy the night, until someone else joins her outside the house.
“Are you unable to sleep as well?” Akane asks with an unsure smile, after some minutes in which Ace has been standing at her side glaring at her in silence. For such a little and cute boy, he could be terrifying at times.
“Sit with me?” She adds, patting the place next to her. Sending a silent thank you to the gods when Ace, with the heaviest scowl she had seen in her life, accepted her proposition and sat.
“Why us?” Ace asks boldly. Nothing on his tone or body betray anything than a controlled exterior. It´s quite impressive, but sad as well. For is a barrier that shouldn´t be there in the first place.
Is such a simple question. But Akane takes her time to answer ´cause she knows that her answer would form the future. She thinks carefully on how to explain things to Ace, how to explain how much she loved them, how much she loved him and the terrible things she would and will do to keep him safe.
“My visions show me a path. A possibility of what´s to come.” She starts, letting her eyes wander to the starry night. “In your case, I saw Luffy´s path. I saw his happiness and sadness. His plans, dreams and hopes. I meet his nakama and learn to love them through his eyes. I meet you and Sabo in the same way.”
“His love for you guys is bigger than anything. And so, I learned to love you in the same way. I felt his pain when Sabo died; I experiment first hand your pain, anger and desperation.” Akane continued, remembering how upset she had been as she saw that episodes, even when she had welcome them after the Marinford Arc. “But what sold me the idea of doing everything I could to save you, to ensure you live long and happy lives, was you, Ace. Your death.”
She hears the sharp breath and can feel the same terrified aura when she spoke of Sabo´s destiny after they meet. Just that this time was accompanied by incredulity.
Akane smiled sadly.
“I saw your death from Luffy´s eyes. I saw his sorrow and devastation. It was one of the most upsetting experiences I had from a vision. I cried and raged for days after…and I promised myself that I would do anything it took to avoid it.”
The last part was a little too sincere for her tastes but she had to say it. Because, yes, even if the boys decided they didn’t want to leave with her, she would claim them as hers and would implement the careful plan she had to destroy Marshall D. Teach.
That man needed to die. Would die. Even at the cost of her own life.
“I love you, Ace.” She turned to face the boy; grey eyes shining fiercely. “I want you to know that you are loved. For me, for Sabo, for Luffy. And all of us are thankful to the heavens that you were born. To us that the late pirate king was your sire doesn’t matter. The only thing that matter is that you are alive and able to smile.”
Akane stops there because Ace looks like he´s trying very hard to not cry. She can see how touched her little boy is. It brakes her heart. Because no child should doubt that he is loved, no child should have to think that it would be better if he hadn´t be born.
“My mum died because of me.” Ace whispers; a broken confession. The last thing he could think to make Akane reconsider her words and back off. As if that made him a monster undeserving of love.
“Mothers would do anything for their children, Ace,” Akane says him, kindly, but in a way that leaves no space for arguments. “Even dying for them. Because for a mother, there is nothing more important than the life of her son or daughter. If we could save them just by offering our lives, we would do it without hesitation.”
As she speaks she embraces the boy and hugs him tightly, letting the boy hide his face in her chest so he can cry and let go of all the pain that hides in his heart. “Rouge loved you, Ace,” Akane whispers, kissing his hair. “I love you.”
They stayed that way until Ace fell asleep. After that, Akane took them back to the house and put him back into bed, with the other two. Sabo opened his eyes when she dragged the bed sheet but apparently, Akane was deemed not threatening as the boy ignored her and just cuddle the older raven when Ace was lying next to him.
Akane giggled a little at the cute display.
She hesitated a little to what to do next, she still didn’t think she would be able of sleeping but at the same time, she wanted to return to her boys’ side. She sighed and directed her steps to where Cora-san was; with Law and Bepo sleeping on his right side, Law in the middle, with Bepo cuddling him in a protective way. Cora-san hugging both boys with his right hand.
The sight made her smile fondly.
It makes her happy to know they all were sleeping better than when they meet.
Her decision made, she slipped into Cora-san other side. Resting on the taller man chest, and sighing in happiness when Rocinante hugged in his sleep. It was comfy and warm thanks to the feathered coat that she loves so much and once again she gives herself a well-deserved high-five for convincing her partner to keep it.
Miraculously, Morpheus took her and she drifted into the world of dreams easily enough.
Anyway, I hope you like the chapter and that you leave a review so I can know what you think. Remember, leaving a comment makes my day, even if it’s just a heart! I love when you guys tell me what you think about my stories <3
Chapter 8: Free and Young
I´m so, so, sorry about the delay. But between my hand and my new job I didn’t have it easy. Just wanted to reassure you that I´m still planning to continue this story. The only issue is that it will take some time for me to post new chapters.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Garp always made the effort of visiting his grandsons at least two times every six months, to make sure they were doing alright. He had the tradition of taking the decision on a whim; taking his things, board his ship and call Sengoku to inform he was taking a vacation when he was already entering the East Blue.
This time, his visit took place just two months after his last visit.
He was curious and a little concern to see how his kids were doing after receiving a letter from Makino, who had asked him if he could come to Goa as soon as possible.
The letter assured him that everything was fine, but contained a note of urgency that bothered him just enough to start his journey right after reading it. As always, the trip happened without unforeseen events.
Being a walking legend had his perks, Garp musses as he walks by the dusty road with a carefree posture and large steps. His smile grows bigger when the house appears in his sight and the rumbustious laughs of the children float to his ears.
The heavy lump in his chest fades as the relief washes over him. It seems like they´re fine after all.
Is more instinctual than anything; an easy move that is muscle memory than a conscious thing. He effortless dogs the kick aimed for his head and jumps back, putting distance between his attacker and him.
His shock, over the fact that someone had dared to try and hit him (Here, of all places), is big enough that it shows on his face. It doesn’t last long, though, he narrows his eyes and studies carefully the face of his assailant.
The girl´s face is one that shows her disappointment.
“Tch.” Akane puffs her cheeks; once she has risen to her feet. She didn’t have any hope of actually hitting his target (Garp´s ugly head) but at the same time, she was somewhat crestfallen for the easiness of how the old war hero had sidestepped.
Rocinante´s scolding tone reaches her and she does not flinch but is a very nearly thing. Her partner had not been aware of this part of the plan and was justifiable upset; the anger that hid anguish in that tone made her feel like a child again.
She didn´t like it.
But, then, she does deserve to be chastised by her recklessness. She was the Captain, the protector and if she went without thinking she would drag her family with her. Now, Luffy´s grandpa was not a threat, but Cora-san didn´t know that, so his distress was understandable.
“You´re Sengoku´s kid.” Garp interrupts Cora-san hysteric shakings with a simple but curious statement.
“Yeah,” Corazon admits, changing his posture to something defensive. He is not a happy person right now and Garp recognizing him is not doing anything to change that.
“That should make you…”
“Flourite D. Akane.” She introduces herself with a gentle smile; she´s all flowers and rainbows in a way that looks entirely too natural to be true. The way his eyes narrows shows he knows and so, her smile only grows. “Is a pleasure to meet you, Hero of the Marine, Monkey D. Garp-san.”
This girl has a big pair. Garp thinks, impressed, before bursting into laughter.
“I´m also Ace, Sabo and Luffy´s new mum.”
…and he chokes on his spit.
Akane just smiles evilly at him, enjoying the way his laugh was replaced by coughs. Ah, taking him by surprise is an achievement that she will cherish for a long time.
“I have adopted them.” She continues, before he can recover, gesturing for Cora-san to go back to the house as she walks until she´s right in front of the old marine. Having to tilt her head a little so she can connect her eyes with his. “And as their new mother, I think we have to discuss things a few things with you. Don´t you agree, Garp-san?”
The sweetness on her voice tastes like poison.
Her eyes burn in a frozen fury and her smile is a red flag for it speaks of hunger and desires of devouring everything that crosses her path.
She´s here to conquer.
To take. To kill. To destroy.
To protect, to save, to love.
“…I see.” Garp´s voice is hoarse and his expression is one of grief.
Akane does not feel any empathy for him. He deserves to suffer from the knowledge of what he had done to Ace. To Luffy.
The explanation had been long and difficult. But once she had started, she couldn´t stop. The anger and hate she felt over the Marinford War was an inferno that blazed in her soul and having in front of her one of the responsible of Ace´s –her son.– demise was a difficult experience.
You stood there and saw him die.
You stood there and do nothing to avenge him.
You stood there and choose your duty before your family.
She would never forgive him for that. And knew he wouldn´t do it either. Because no matter if he didn´t know how to show it, Garp loved his grandsons dearly.
“A man who chose a dirty organization over his family is not someone I can respect.” She told him, cold, unforgiving. “And certainly, not someone that I want near my boys.”
Garp eyes narrow at her. The sorrow turning into anger. He straights his back, clenches his fists and takes a step on her direction as a vein starts bubbling on his forehead. The air changes and send trills under Akane´s back and her own muscles react to the danger the man in front of her represent to her wellbeing.
“They´re still my brats.” He growls.
“No, they´re not.” She hisses furiously. “They´re mine.”
“Listen, you little— “
“You´re unable to protect them.” Akane forcedly interrupts him by getting in his face, bared teeth, and shining eyes. “If it wasn´t for me, Sabo would be dead by now. If it wasn’t for me, Ace would still believe that he´s a monster undeserving of love. If it wasn´t for me, Luffy would be suffering the loss of his older brother.”
She´s trembling with rage; her killing intent growing and covering the entire Mont Corvo, making every animal go silent. So silent that the whispers of the trees can be heard if you pay attention.
They whisper with malice and cruelty: You’re as guilty as Akainu is. Just as Kurohige. You´re as dangerous to them as the monsters that will try to kill them. You know why? Because they´re pirates and you´re a Marine. One that already proved where his loyalty lays.
The veteran of war hears them. He believes the voices are an echo of his heart. They are, in a way and after hearing them (painting a terrible truth he is incapable of denying for he knows it´s a very possible future) he deflated, losing his desire for fighting due to his sadness and bitterness.
Akane forces herself to back up as well. Letting an upset huff left her lips and relaxing her posture, knowing better than to push her luck now that she had avoided getting physical. Her intention isn´t to start a fight, after all.
Just make some points. Put things out in the open so they wouldn´t have any misunderstanding; so she can avoid being hunted by the war hero by having “stolen” his grandsons. She had more than enough with Doflamingo trailing after them and wanting to skin her alive for what she had done.
They stood there, in silence, looking anywhere but each other. Both of them still pretty mad about this entire ordeal. Still, knowing better than to escalate their encounter into a fist fight ´cause it would put their boys (probably the only thing they agreed on) in distress.
Neither of them wanted that. In fact, they wished for the contrary. The problem is that they have opposite views about what exactly concerned said happiness.
Garp´s path was one that would never be. It was just not in their (Ace and Luffy´s) natures to be controlled by a tainted government, they had been borne to be free, to roam the seas as if they belonged to them. But he had problems accepting that.
Even after hearing of what was to come if Akane hadn´t interfered with destiny. Because he couldn´t fathom the path Akane wanted to try; because he was a Marine and she a Pirate. They were opposites in every way that mattered.
The threes start whispering once again: Ace and Luffy love you. They would love you until the end, even after what you did. You were still their grandpa…Let them go… They will be happy with Akane…She will protect them. Always.
These words were said in a soft, kind and gentle way that could only be a reassurance. They were also the push Garp needed to accept the new reality he was facing. He strains his back and pours his gaze into hers.
Garp´s haki is oppressive. Terrible.
It makes Akane´s legs tremble. Her entire form shaking. But she´s smiling; brightly and freely. She´s excited and all her being is vibrating with emotion. She´s not scared as much as she´s trilling in the feeling of facing someone who´s undoubtedly stronger than her.
It´s a test.
One she seems to have passed because Garp laughs.
“You´re a ballsy brat.” He says in what sound like a light tone, but both of them know better. “Alright. You can take them with you when you leave the island.”
Akane bows, showing her thanks.
“I will kill anyone who threatens them.” She promises, grey eyes shining with a promise of violence. Of death. Is something that shouldn´t be reassuring, but somewhat it is. Garp relaxes, finally accepting that his boys will be better with her than with him.
Then, she laughs.
“Come on, Garp-san,” Akane says, with sunshine like smile adorning her face. “You must meet your two new grandsons?”
Akane doesn’t like Garp. But doesn’t hate him, either. He´s in a grey area in her book. Something quite curious as she´s quite stubborn and for much she, herself, is on the grey side of the spectrum likes to consider thing Black or White.
In this case, enemies or allies.
Allies are mostly people Luffy´s fond of. Who´re the enemies, should be obvious. They’re anyone who presents a danger to herself and the ones who belong to her.
Garp is not an active threat. But he could become one. He already shows her that. Which is why she doesn’t want him anywhere near her children. And she won´t have it once they part form Goa…but as the ASL trio still consider family she will allow him the fantasy for the time they stay on the island.
For that will soften the separation for both: Garp and the trio.
Law finds himself incapable of staying inside the house as Akane and Cora-san requested. He knows Cora-san has problems to stay put as well, but having Luffy and Bepo with him is helping him to conserve his calm as he plays with their youngest.
Ace and Sabo are nervous too, but for entirely different reasons.
Law lets a relieved sigh when he sees Akane walking towards the house, she´s smiling and waves at him the moment their eyes connect. He waves back, but his eyes move to where the old geezer is and he frowns.
He distrusts him immediately.
Law narrows his eyes at him and quickly goes back to the house. When Akane and Garp enter, the kids are nowhere to be seen. Cora-san is blinked confused at his hands, the bandits are gapping and Makino-san is smiling warmly at them.
Cora-san looks at her. Brown eyes shining with concerns, he´s silently asking if everything is fine. He had opposed to her idea of confronting Garp and had wanted to sail before he arrived, but in the end, had allowed himself to be convinced that this was for the best.
She walks to where he is and hugs him, sitting at his side, in what could only be cuddling. “Things are alright now, Cora-san.” He relaxes on her grip. She turns to Garp with a shit-eating smirk. “I think Law is playing hide-and-sick with you. May want to find them before dinner, Hero of the Marine-san.”
“Fine, brat.” Garp laughs loudly. Interested. Amused. “But don´t blame me if I return them to you a little roughed.”
“Fine with me.” Akane allows with a purr.
“W-What? No! Wait, Garp-san…!” Rocinante tried to get up, just to find himself trapped on Akane´s embrace. “Aw, shit. He´s gone.”
…of course, Garp-san ignored him. The war hero had always been like that. Oblivious. Stupid. Dangerous.
“Really?” He asks, arching an eyebrow at his partner.
Akane shrugs. “It´ll be good for them.”
She really thinks so. As she and Cora-san can only do much with their methods of teaching. They tried very hard to not harm them and focused heavily on stealth. She hadn´t into her to actively training the boys.
The possibility of hurting them was something she was to fight until her last breath to avoid. So her boys limited themselves to what they already know.
Law worked hard on his fruit, but he conserved everything he had learned from Doflamingo. Bepo used his instincts and based his fighting in heavy use of his fangs and claws. Ace, Sabo and Luffy fight with his fist and pipes, their style is very similar to Bepo´s.
Garp would help them to fine tune his abilities. He was kind of brutal and savage, but would never injure them more than a few bumps on their heads.
“On another hand, Law´s getting better with his rooms. I didn’t notice them leaving the house.” She said, thoughtfully. Cora-san chuckles, “Yeah, me neither.” He had heard the soft whisper but had failed to react before Luffy and Bepo were gone.
“They will be occupied for a few hours. Makino-chan, do you mind if we go to the bar while we wait for them?” Akane asked her friend, doing her best impression of a puppy.
The far they from the kids, the less she will be jumpy. She´s forcing herself to maintain her observation haki inactive.
“Sure, Akane-chan.” Makino smile is understanding. She´s such a kind person.
Corazon is hugging her, kissing her hair. A silent comforting presence at her side.
She gets up. Tells “Thank you.” to Makino, tipping her head in her friends’ direction. Then, bashes her eyelash to her partner in a playful manner “Would you do me the honour of going with me, good sir?” to what the male chuckled and tangled his finger with hers and depositing a kiss on her knuckles.
“It would be my honour, my Lady.”
Their fingers never untangled as they walked down the road.
At first, Ace and Sabo had been a little put-off, but Law´s quick analysis that Garp´s “training” was just a more savage version of hide-and-sick calm them just enough and were encouraged to do their best to keep themselves far away from Garp.
It was hard, with a sense of danger that made his heart beat harder.
Law was static! It had been a time since the last time he felt so good after training. Because even if he wanted to admit or not, both, Akane and Cora-san, were soft compared with the regimen the Donquixote Family gave him before his sickness gets the better of him.
The training had been everything he had secretly wanted.
But on the other hand, it put on perspective a few things Law had been happy to ignore until that moment. Between it the fact that the ASL trio were, now, his little brothers.
Law still wasn´t sure he actually wanted to have brothers.
But that didn’t mean he had forgotten one of the most important rules that existed: It was the oldest brother to take care of the younger ones.
That’s why during Garp´s training, he had done his best to keep an eye on them and to help them if he could, but it had been a more difficult affair than he thought it would be at the beginning.
The first day it had been a disaster. For Ace and Sabo took offense in his attempts to help them once it became obvious what he was doing, it reminded a little of how he was before he allowed Cora-san into his heart.
He didn´t have the patience to explain himself when they were all in peril. So he decided to send it all to hell and focus his attention on Luffy and Bepo. The ones who didn’t actually mind he used his fruit to snoop them out Garp´s fist trajectory in the last moment.
As a result, he ended up being so tired he couldn´t stand on his own and Bepo had to haul him all the way to the house. It had been worth it, though.
“You did a good job taking care of them. We´re really proud of you, Law.” Akane whispered in his ear, just before kissing his brow. Law had smiled, or at least he tried, but the land of dreams was already reclaiming him.
He woke up in the middle of the night. Being shaken by Bepo and quickly shushed by Sabo, who, apparently had plotted the entire afternoon. He knows for personal experience that the next morning would be even worse (they had allowed a break thanks to Akane´s presence firmly at their side all afternoon. But as Garp promised to stay a few days more, he knew that it wouldn’t last). And so, they were going to escape.
Their best shot was to separate into two groups and put some distance between them and the War Hero before the morning arrived.
Law agreed with the plan since their last attempt of trying to outrun the Marine had proved unsuccessful.
They agree on separating themselves on two teams. The first, being composed by Ace, Law, and Luffy. And the second, by Sabo and Bepo. They would go to the south and west respectively.
They were gone by the time the sunrise.
“Alright,” Law said, frowning heavily. “Do you have a problem with me?”
Ace was being difficult. Had fight him the entire way to the ports. It would normally not be a problem, but his attitude was being shadowed by Luffy, making the kid even more difficult to control than he normally was.
It certainly was not the time for this shit. But well, the sooner they resolve this, the best.
Law´s using his power to hold Luffy on the air. Floating. The little boy is laughing and seems not to be paying them any kind of attention. Law´s looking directly to Ace´s eyes. Tilting his head a few centimeters to be able to do it, which only seem to infuriate the younger raven, even more as his posture turned more aggressive.
“Yeah,” Ace says, snarling at him. “I´m not a kid. Stop treating me like one!”
Law´s eyebrow twitched in annoyance. Really? That was it?
He breathed deeply. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Patience was not really his forte. He had a temperament, he knew, but also it had gotten better since he allowed Cora-san inside his heart. For having the older man at his side allowed him to be weak and felt strong.
Easier to laugh, to think and be calm, when the older man was such a dork and had pyromaniac tendencies when angry.
“Alright.” He says tightly, glaring at Ace. “So many things wrong with that. Let´s start with the most important ones. First fact: You´re Ten. You´re a child. Now, second fact: I´m almost fourteen. I´m also a child.“
Ace´s face had become darker and darker until the last part of fact number two. After that, his face showed surprise. Open eyes, open mouth. It would have been funny if Law wasn´t so upset.
“Third fact: Akane is your mum, now. That makes us family. Brothers. Fourth Fact: The older one takes care of the younger ones. Which is something I thought you were already aware of?”
The last part is heavy with sarcasm, as he has seen the way he and Sabo treat Luffy. Ace winces, making a face. Not refuting, but not happy either. The laughs over them had stopped, Law lets the straw-hat boy down, right in the middle of them, Luffy takes Ace´s hand and smiles at him, but keeps himself in silence, noticing the mood.
“Look. I´m not trying to make you or Sabo feel less.” Law shakes his head. “It just we haven´t really had time to adjust to this reality.”
Which was true, seeing that the last month had been a trial and error from both of their sides trying to unite themselves. He wasn´t a jealous person and he thanked the gods for that because it would have gotten ugly if he was. For he had to share Akane and Cora-san attention and affection whit someone who wasn´t Bepo. And that was new for him.
“Furthermore, we haven´t really had the time to consider this: Us. Being brothers.”
Which is also true.
“Never had been a little brother,” Ace admits, twisting his face like it´s painful. He hadn´t really thought about it, but Law was right. They were brothers. They all had the same mother and father now.
(Ace loved it in truth. The idea of belonging to Akane and Corazon rather than Roger and it´s cursed shadow. Although, he was kind of sad for Rogue but hoped…hoped she would be glad for him. That she would be glad that Akane loved him.)
Law´s face softens a little.
“It´s not a bad thing!” Luffy exclaimed happily. “It means you get hugs. And the big pieces of meat. And smiles. And praise if you do things right! It means heavy but kind hands. And comfort in the nights and of bad dreams!”
Law has to fight hard so he could avoid going Awww. Ace´s face said he had to do the same, but allowed himself a soft smile and hugged the little raven to his side, Luffy giggled in joy at the affection.
“I lost my little sister when I was nine. “ Law told them, cold and detached. Eyes dark and lost. “She was six.”
He hated to remind that. But…it needs to be said. No matter how painful it was.
Ace gulped; horror is his face, his hands trembling slightly over Luffy´ back and arms. Before Akane, he had never thought about losing them. Now, the notion is always present in some part of his mind. A present fear because is a possibility that had come too close to become a reality.
“I´m not sure I can be a good older brother. Too many memories.” Law grimaced. ”But I want to try. Because I will not go over that again.” Not without a fight.
He can cure any sickness thanks to his fruit. So the only way that Death to take the trio is by the sword of an enemy, but he´s not weak anymore. He can fight. Even more important, he´s not alone anymore. Bepo stands at his side. So do Akane and Corazon. And the trio does as well.
They all Pirates at heart.
Not civilians. They know better than to trust the government, that to expect others to save them. They´re ready to fight for themselves with nail and teeth’s. To do anything to survive.
“I will protect you all with my life,” Law says, firmly. Golden eyes shining, hands curled into fists, jaw set in a determined line. “We´re family. We´re Nakama.”
“Family,” Ace nods, after a moment of hesitation. “Nakama.”
“Brothers.” Luffy adds. Looking back at Law with, deep, dark eyes that hold a promise. Serious for a moment, before gifting him the biggest smile Law had ever seen in his life.
Garp still swept the floor with them as much as. They´re all had nasty bruises and some bumps when he dragged them back to the house. Corazon had hissed darkly to the War hero once they were back, obviously not agreeing with the rough regimen. Akane, on the other hand, had smiled and tipped her head to the Marine; but her eyes were certainly darker.
It was curious seeing them interact. Akane was not scared of Garp. Maybe the only one in the house who wasn´t at least a bit and it noticed.
She treats him in the same way she did her sons. Putting limits to what they could do and pursuing manners during meals. Just without the fond and caring air.
The poor man was at lost the first time it happened. Then, he growled at her but end up following her wishes and behaving himself for it was counterproductive for his honour when the only thing he got was an unimpressed stare.
Once they finished, the children were allowed to rest. They quickly moved to the trio´s room. Once there they discussed what had happened in the morning between them. Sabo had agreed easily enough, smiling and laughing, like he had already been aware and was just waiting for them to catch on.
(Bepo just nodded; the mink didn’t consider himself their brother, nor Akane or Cora-san´s son. He was Law´s. His friend, partner in crime, as well as future second in command and navigator. Family. But not quite. All of them were aware of that. Understanding. Content, even.)
It was a good thing, though. They were all more in peace with themselves after speaking of the topic and reaching a conclusion.
Yes, they still had a long way to go but this was a good start.
The third day was better.
Akane had taken on herself to join the training. Hunting Garp as he hunted the children. It was quite interesting for all involved but if they were to be absolutely sincere…none of the males wanted to repeat the experience.
The woods felt wrong when Akane was in them.
Garp didn’t feel intimidated as much as he felt uncomfortable. The children? They knew better. Their instincts were more tuned as they were used to being hunted by bigger and stronger things than them.
Of course, they weren´t in danger. But the sensation was still there.
They had avoided being tossed, punched and kicked, thanks to her involving into the exercise, though. Which was always a good thing. If not to them, then to poor Cora-san´s peace of mind. The man was going to get grey before time with all that D´s inside his life.
This third day, was also the day they will part ways. Garp needed to return to the Headquarters soon or they would be uncomfortable questions for part of his superiors. And that´s the last thing he wanted, after all. That´s why his visits lasted only a few days each.
In their case, they would stay another week before sailing.
“What´s you plan, brat?” Garp asked, curiously, while they were eating lunch.
“Please, finish chewing before talking.” Akane sighed, rolling her eyes. “And I was thinking of going to the Grand Line.”
Garp wasn´t the only one that choked at hearing that. Of course, Akane didn´t seem to mind, not bothering in hiding the twitch of her lips.
“You do remember we have five children with us, right?” Surprisingly it was Rocinante who asked, tone full of incredulity. Pale-faced and with an arched eyebrow.
“Indeed, I do.” Akane answered with frosty calm.
For their part, the trio was looking her with awe. Their minds flying to the many adventures they were going to live at her side. Law, on the other hand, frowned. It didn´t make sense to him, he wished for more information.
Akane didn´t disappoint.
“I know it sounds insane. But I do know what I´m doing.” Her words were still covered in an icy disposition. She was looking directly to Garp, uniting their gazes. “I had seen many options. But the best one is to seek the protection of one of the Yonko.”
“Whitebeard?” He asked, understanding what she was referring to.
Akane nodded, her smirk growing.
“Ace trusted him enough to call him Oyaji.” She shrugged. “That alone is enough for me to trust Newgate.”
And well, it was a good point.
Sabo winced. Garp grimaced. Ace huffed. Luffy blinked, immediately deciding that if his older brother liked the man, then he did too.
“Of course, it´s also our best choice if we want to survive. He´s the strongest man in the world. Everyone in the oceans knows his name. Everyone respects or fears him. And if you´re wearing his mark you´re untouchable.” Akane explained, her voice warming up. “But what is more important: Whitebeard is a good man. I respect him. He would go to War for his sons. No mattering who´s his enemy.”
Corazon blinked, stunned. That…
That was true. He, as ex-marine, knows it´s true. But he hadn´t thought about it in this light.
“We would be safe from Doffy if we´re wearing his mark…” He realized, staring at Akane with incredulity.
Akane nodded. Smiling brightly.
“How do you know he would take you?” Garp bitted, eyes narrowed.
“Well.” Akane started. “Two reasons. One, as I said, he´s a good man. He likes protecting people, that´s why he has many islands under his care. He would not deny us his protection since we have five children whit us. And two, he likes hidden gems.”
Now, she used his finger to point to herself, baffling her eyes at the older males devilishly. Garp groans, just as Rocinante burst into laughing.
“Furthermore, sailing under him. Will give us not only protection but freedom as well.” Akane tone is fond and bright. Making evident that the idea makes her enthusiastic, which at the same time makes her family ease into the possibility.
“It´s not a bad plan.” Garp ruminates.
Akane is young, for all the promise she shows, so seeking Whitebeard’s help is actually a good idea. For it´s a big crew and has many potential allies, but…
“But what about him?”
“Maintain your friends close. Your enemies even closer.” Is Akane´s vague response.
Garp nods. So she´s planning on killing Blackbeard.
“You will have to be careful.” He warns.
Akane laughs. It´s not a nice sound.
“Oh, I will. But between us, he doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Him?” Corazon asks, frowning.
“I will tell you all when it´s needed.” She says, waving her hand dismissively.
He sighs. “Alright.”
Rocinante doesn’t like this, neither does the children. But Akane´s visions area lot and varied, many of them are not nice. She already shared with them some facts they will never forget. Something they wish they could.
So if she´s not sharing, she must have reasons.
“Why not Shanks?” Garp asks after a few seconds.
“…Shanks?” Akane asks, tilting her head to the side, like a pretty bird.
“Never mind.” The Marine quickly adds, seeing Cora-son shook his head hurriedly with big scary eyes. “It´s not important.”
“Anyway.” Cora-san intervenes forcefully. “What do you think of visiting the Baratie in our way out East Blue?”
Akane blinked, feeling like she was missing something (and she didn´t like it much) but let it pass as Cora-san´s question was a topic she wanted to touch.
“I would love to, actually.” She beams at her partner, before turning to the War Hero and smiled at him, causing Garp to freeze. That smile was not a good thing. “Which reminds me…Garp-san. The treasure in your ship would do as a fine parting gift.”
Garp stared at her.
The children looked at her as if she was crazy.
She just continuing smiling.
“BHAHAHHAHAHA!” Garp couldn´t avoid it. He laughed until his sides hurt. “I think not, brat. My superiors would have my head otherwise.”
“Oh. But I have an excuse that will save you from any scolding.”
“Indeed.” Akane´s channelling her inner Cheshire Cat now. “If someone asks, you say this: Sengoku told me to give it as a reward for the person that saved his son live.”
“Akane!” Rocinante chastises. His face red and his voice a whine.
“What?” She asks innocently.
Garp is laughing again.
Anyway, I hope you like the new chapter!
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