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One thought lost is closer than you think

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“Let’s do this.”


Ace and Sabo nodded together and jumped off Tiger’s den. Luffy was waving goodbye, straw hat in grasp. When they found out where Red-Haired Shanks was located, they headed in that direction with purpose. They hadn’t felt this determined in years. 


They found where Shanks was, partying on a Summer Island in the New World. The entire crew was there and had lookouts. Ace and Sabo didn’t want to fight, but they needed to meet Shanks. Luffy deserved to hear about his friend that seemed more of a father than a friend. They didn’t want to disappoint Luffy, who was desperate for anyone to know about his life. Shanks was the last person Luffy had that wasn’t Gramps. 


Ace and Sabo walked to the island's center, passing Red-Hair pirates, watching them go forward. Ace thinks the only reason they allowed them to pass, was because they didn’t attack at first sight. 


Ace was tense, and Sabo fought to keep his hands off his pipe. 


Ace jumped over tree roots, heart beating fast. 


They were about to meet Shanks, an Emperor. Shanks might be Luffy’s friend, but he was still an Emperor. One of the rulers of the sea, and had the power to back it up. From Luffy’s stories, Shanks was friendly and jolly, but they both read in the papers that Shanks was more violent than usual. 


The two walked into the clearing and saw the Red-Haired high officers. They were watching the brothers but didn’t stop the approach. The brothers only had eyes on the one-armed man with a mug in his right hand. Shanks was smirking, seemingly curious why the two were here. 


Ace took in a deep breath and looked at Sabo. Sabo nodded and then turned to Shanks again.


“Red-Haired Shanks, we want to speak to you about something.”   

Shanks raised an eyebrow at the two super rookies in front of him. The blue and orange full-face masks made it hard to know what faces they were making, but Shanks could sense the nervousness and anxiousness with his haki. Pyro shifted his feet and then audibly breathed in the air. 


“Red-Haired Shanks, we want to speak to you about something.”


Shanks was even more curious, looking between the two brothers. Broker was silent, but seemed to know what his brother was talking about. Shanks put down his mug and then put his hand on Gryphon. The brothers tensed but didn’t move back. Shanks got to respect the determination. 


“Than speak.”


The brothers shared a look, and Pyro spoke.


“We want to thank you for saving our little brother all those years ago.”


Shanks looked up and blinked, confusion coming over him. 




Pyro hesitated and then took off his mask. He stuffed it in one of his large pants pockets, but Shanks focused on Pyro’s face. He was slightly smiling, but Shanks saw how nervous he was. He saw the freckles and silver eyes that were oh so familiar. 


“Luffy always speaks about you. Decided it was for the best to meet you.”


Shanks opened his mouth and closed it. He looked at the eyes of Pyro, mind making connections but barely believed them.


“You are…”


Pyro smiled more confidently, relief rolling off his body.


“Portgas D. Ace.”


Broker took off his mask, and Shanks saw the description of what Grap described. Blonde hair with a vivid scar over his left eye. 


“And I am Sabo. Thank you for saving our brother.”


Sabo bowed, and Ace did as well. When they raised again, Shanks tried to make sense of the development. Ace, his captain’s son, was alive, along with Sabo. Shanks thought they died six years ago, and that was what Garp said. 


They talked about Luffy in the present tense. 


“You boys are alive.”


Ace nodded with a smile, relief at Shanks’s question apparent. Sabo looked a bit more relaxed. His crew, at least the ones in the know were staring at the boys with happiness and relief. Yasopp and Lucky Roux had tears in their eyes. 


Shanks kind of wanted to tear up himself.


“We wanted to speak with the man who gave Luffy his dream. He still loves that hat.”


“That's downplaying it.”


The brothers laughed to themselves, and Shanks stood up fast, walking toward the brothers. He didn’t know what kind of expression he had, but the pure relief in his soul was probably apparent. 


“Is… Is Luffy alive?”


Ace looked up at Shanks, seeing his expression. 


“He is. Luffy's at our ship. He didn’t come because he didn’t want to break your guy’s promise. Luffy was very adamant about that.” 


Luffy was alive. His son, not son, was alive and well. 


And he was close by. Shanks remembered their promise, went over the specifics, and made his decision.


Fuck it.


He was going to see Luffy, and nothing would stop him. 

Ace tried to stop Shanks from going to Tiger’s Den, but the man was in a one-track mind, and that was to see Luffy.


The Red-Hairs trailed after their captain, with Sabo and Ace keeping up. They jumped into the trees, trying to get ahead of the group, but they were unsuccessful. They jumped to the ground at the edge of the tree line, seeing the beach with Tiger’s den. 




Shanks yelled, stopping at the edge of the island, water lapping at his ankles. Desperation on his face, and Ace didn’t have the heart to tell him Luffy takes his promises very seriously. Sabo and Ace joined him at the beach, passing pirates. 


“Please, Anchor, say something!”


There was a moment of silence, Shanks’s crew not expecting him to plead to the seemingly empty ship. 


Then a strong but small voice came from the ship, and Ace knew Luffy was hiding behind the railing. 




Luffy’s voice was watery, clearly trying to hold in tears, but still not showing himself. Ace’s heart lurched at the sound. Luffy sounded so distressed, and Ace could do nothing. 


Shanks had tears in his eyes and smiled.


“It’s been six years Anchor, it’s good to hear from you again.”


Ace could hear Luffy sniffling, and knew he had tears in his eyes. Ace stepped forward, but Sabo held him back. He shook his head, making Ace stay back. They knew this was Luffy’s responsibility and had no right to interfere. 




Now Luffy was crying, voice barely audible, Ace saw Shanks fight not to jump onto the ship, visibly holding himself back.


“Can I see you, Luffy?”


Luffy’s response came back louder, but clearly still distraught. 


“No! I haven’t kept my promise yet!”


Shanks grimaced but didn't give up this easily. 


“We promised that we would meet when you become a great pirate. I think that has been achieved. You have become a great pirate.”


Luffy’s small voice echoed.


“Do… you think so?”


Shanks nodded eagerly, even though Luffy couldn’t see him.


“I know so. Luffy, you became so strong. I am so proud of how far you came.”


Ace started to grin, tears in his eyes just knowing how Luffy would feel at this moment. He was right when Luffy’s head appeared over the railing, straw hat on his head. Luffy was crying, tear tracks on his face. He was sniffling, hiccups in his throat. Shanks saw Luffy and brightened. He was smiling so wide with tears in his eyes. 


Luffy couldn't stop himself, launching himself at Shanks with tears flowing down his face.




Shanks caught the living projectile, immediately pulling Luffy into a bear hug. Shanks was crying silently, while Luffy was sobbing loudly into Shanks’s shirt. Luffy clutched at his shirt, crying his little heart out. 


“Shanks Shanks Shanks Shanks!!!”


Shanks closed his eyes, tears escaping, hand at the back of Luffy’s head, pulling Luffy to his chest. Shanks curled around Luffy, grief, and happiness in equal measure. 


“I missed you so much, Anchor.”


Luffy sobbed harder in response. 

After all the high emotions were finished, Shanks went back to the campsite with Luffy in tow. Luffy was curled up at his side, and would not move. Shanks wouldn’t fight it. He was still questioning everything that happened, but Luffy’s warm presence pulled him out of that spiral. 


Ace and Sabo had a careful eye on their brother, but left it alone. They were beaming at Luffy, and Shanks approved of Luffy’s brothers. They cared for him, and it made Shanks feel better that Luffy had people looking after him. 


Shanks sat at the spot he left, alcohol long forgotten. His crew stared at him with confusion, while the ones who knew Luffy stared with relief. Luffy was loved by his entire crew, so to see him alive and well, made his crew happy. 


Luffy curled into his side more when he sat down, silent tears still appearing. He was sniffing, clutching at Shanks's shirt. Shanks patted his back with his sole hand, mind realizing how big Luffy became. Luffy was seven when Shanks saw him last, and now he was thirteen years old, coming to Shanks’s chest. He was still lean, but Shanks could feel the strength held in those skinny arms when Luffy hugged him. 


Shanks had to remember that Luffy, Little Menace Cheshire(Shanks thought that handle was very fitting), had the bounty of three hundred million berries. A super rookie at only thirteen. Shanks said what he meant, and he was so proud. Now he regretted not saving his bounty posters.


Ace and Sabo plopped beside him, not caring what it looked like. Shanks allowed it with a smile. They looked at Luffy and decided to not move him. 




Luffy started sniffling louder, body shaking. Ace sighed, eyes shadowed. Sabo fiddled with his pipe. 


“The Marines were talking, unaware we were listening in. They said the sun was on the horizon, and Luffy bolted, pushing us along. Apparently, Gramps made him promise if he ever heard that phrase, that he would run. We made it off the island before the encirclement was completed.”


Shanks was patting Luffy’s head, relief in his chest. Shanks smiled and looked down at his pseudo-son.


“Good work, Luffy.”


Luffy sniffed harder, the sad and broken noise escaping Luffy’s mouth.


“I didn’t warn anyone, and now they're all dead. Makino, the mayor, the bandits. They’re all gone.”


Ace’s and Sabo’s faces fell.


“Luffy, that wasn’t your fault.”


Ace said that with sadness in his eyes. Luffy curled in tighter to Shanks, not believing his brothers. They looked at Shanks was desperation in their eyes, telling him to say something. Shanks smiled sadly, constantly patting Luffy’s head. 


“Listen to your brothers. There is nothing you could have done. I am thankful you managed to make it out alive. I thought you were dead for six years, along with Garp and Dragon. I never thought I could hold you again Luffy, so thank you for surviving.”


Luffy looked up with tears in his eyes, and Shanks remembered when he lost his arm, Luffy looked up at him with tears in his eyes. Only this time, he was older and more capable. Shanks smiled and ruffled Luffy’s hair. 


Luffy hugged Shanks again, head nuzzling into his neck. Shanks put his arm around Luffy’s chest holding him there. Shanks saw out the corner of his eye, seeing Ace and Sabo look gratefully at him. He smiled lightly, the weight off his shoulders. The weight he carried for six years was gone, and he chuckled with a lightened chest. 


Luffy was here, and everything else started to slot back into place. 

“You talked to Gramps and Luffy’s dad?”


Shanks nodded at Ace’s question, well into the night and party in full swing. Ace and Sabo had cups of alcohol, but only sipped it. Luffy had juice, and he pouted at the drink. Juice forgotten, Luffy was still curled into Shanks's side, probably not moving from that place for the foreseeable future. Shanks had no disagreements with this. Luffy could stay there as long as he wants, and Shanks would not complain. He was clingier than when he was a child, but Shanks chalked that up to Luffy being traumatized. 


“Garp was the one to break the news to me, even before it hit the newscoos. Dragon came by after he talked with Garp, and we have an agreement.”


Ace looked uncertain, but gained more confidence. 


“Can… we call Gramps? We… want to tell him we’re alive without telling the Marines.”


Shanks smirked.


“I can do that. Even better, I know Garp is coming around in a couple of weeks. We meet up every couple of months. Same with Dragon.”


Ace brightened, a smile on his face. He rubbed the back of his neck, but let out a laugh.


“Never would have I thought I would want to meet that old geezer, but it’s been too long. We… miss him.”


Luffy nodded, while Sabo was conflicted. 


“I only met him once, but Ace and Luffy miss him. I can stomach a punch in the head.”


Shanks laughed at that, knowing his reputation. He remembered when Garp’s and Dragon’s meeting times were the same, and Garp punched Dragon with something called the “Fist of Love”. Shanks could see the bump that left. 


There was a moment of silence, Shanks hearing his crew party in the near distance. 


Shanks looked at the brothers, strong for boys their age. Actually, they might be strong as some members of the Emperor’s crews. Shanks hurt, knowing their strength came from just trying to live. 


He wanted to protect them.


“After you guys meet Garp and maybe Dragon, what are you boys going to do?”


The brothers shared a glance and then shrugged.


“We don’t know. We only want to be strong enough until we don’t need masks anymore. And Luffy wants to gather his own crew to achieve his dream.”




Shanks looked down at Luffy, who blinked tiredly, but was holding on to awareness. He looked to the two elder brothers and gave them an option.


“Why don’t you sail with me and my crew? I can teach you boys some haki techniques, and I could help out with my reputation. You don’t need to join, but, apprentice with me for some time.”


Ace blinked as it surprised him. Sabo fell off his log in surprise. Luffy tensed, but then relaxed when Shanks’s head pats returned. The brothers shared a look once Sabo sat again, seemingly having a conversation. 


Sabo beamed at him, once the conversation was seemingly done. 


“We would love to.”