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Before, Ace never knew what fear meant; he knew of the concept and that other people felt it, but as an emotion it was completely alien to him.

Now, here in Impel Down he can smell it, taste it and hear it. It's all around him, in the voices of the other inmates and their shouts for help, in their cries at night and drifting down from the places of torture.

It hangs around him, surrounding him day by day like a fog, an unhealthy miasma he can keep at bay during light hours, the few of them he manages to see.

He can fool himself during those hours and plan an escape, disguise that feeling as anger and draw some comfort from it.

It's different in the darkness.

There are hands in the darkness; grasping, pulling, trapping hands encircling Ace's neck and robbing him of breath and freedom at the same time.

Ace fights them but is unable to move, unable to gasp in much needed air and the darkness is closing around him, taking him deep under.

There are also voices in the darkness; whispering, mocking, caressing Ace's ear with filthy words and not-so-veiled threats.

Ace tries to ignore the taunts, ignore the feelings they provoke in his body while his mind fights back shouting, "I'm not weak, damn it! I'm not. I'm not afraid!"

"You are," they say, "you are."

And his voice, throat chocked with previously unknown fear, is unable to respond.