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Death: noun; plural noun: deaths;
Synonyms: demise, dying, end, passing, loss of life

The action or fact of dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism.

The state of being dead.

The destruction or permanent end of something.

Reincarnation: noun;

Someone who has been born again with a different body after death.

Rebirth in new bodies or forms of life; especially: a rebirth of a soul in a new human body.

A person or animal in which a particular soul is believed to have been reborn.

o.O.o

Death wasn't what I had been expecting it to be.

I wasn't sure what exactly I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the dark emptiness that met me. I had gasped and struggled for air, each breath being drowned out by the deep thumping of my heart, desperately reaching for where I knew my freedom lied and–

I was consumed by nothing.

Of course, it's probably not the nothing one would expect – it wasn't a lack of awareness or a deep sleep, no, it was nothing, and there is no way I could possibly begin to explain it, no way to understand it without experiencing it for yourself.Seeing nothing, hearing nothing, feeling nothing, being nothing, my very existence was slowly erased, every last trace of my being eaten by the darkness until, eventually, nothing. I try not to dwell on it.

Reincarnation also wasn't what I had been expecting it to be.

Although that's mainly because I hadn't been expecting it at all. I had thought that once I died that was it, game over, no redo's, and my soul would cease to exist. I also hadn't really cared much about what happed after death.

Finding that my soul was given a second chance…that I could live again…

It was honestly disappointing.

I didn't want to live again. My life was so full of shit, unending trial after trial, that I wanted nothing more than to rest; to just let go of existence and find some form of freedom. I didn't want to go through life again.

That's what I wanted when I…

Too bad I don't have a say in it.

o.O.o

I didn't notice it, at first.

"Luffy…why would you do something so stupid?" I muttered as I carefully put the bandage on the wide cut under his eye. There was no doubt he would need stitches later.

"Ah, it didn't hurt one bit-" he grins at me as tears falls from his eyes.

"Liar, don't do anything so stupid again!" Shanks hollers and Luffy glared childishly.

"I'm not afraid of pain at all!" he shouted back, "Next time, bring me out to sea; I want to be a pirate too!"

Shanks stares for a moment, before bursting into raucous laughter. I glare at him.

"Not being able to swim is a pirate's greatest weakness!" he laughs, "You can't handle being a pirate!"

"As long as I stay on the ship I'll be fine," Luffy says angrily, "besides, my fighting's pretty good too!"

Luffy stood up on his stool and proudly punched the air while proclaiming, "I've rigorously trained before! My punch is as strong as pistol fire!"

Shanks snorts and averts his eyes away.

"Pistol…wow really..?" He says blandly and props his head up on his hand.

"What kind of tone is that?!"

"I think Luffy can do it…" I mutter quietly, a lifetime of memories proving it to be true.

Shanks quirks an eyebrow at me and I flush. I hadn't meant for him to hear that. In the background the rest of his crew are happily telling Luffy about how great the pirate's life is.

"Hey Captain why don't you take him with us one time?" asks one of the crewmembers, "It's not a big deal."

"Yeah I agree," nods another one and Shanks waves his hand submissively.

"Well then, next time one you get off the ship and let him take you place," he says and the rest of the crew immediately turns away.

"Whelp we've said enough! Let's drink!" They cheer.

"What kind of friends are you?!"

"Well, the most important part," Shanks says, pointing his spoon for emphasis "is that you're still too young. Wait another ten years and maybe then I'll take you out to sea."

"Dang it Shanks, I'm not a kid anymore!" he whirls on the pirate, and I maneuver myself out the way of his flailing arms.

"Don't be mad, here drink some juice."

"Wow, thanks!"

"You really are a kid!" Shanks howls with laughter, tears streaming gleeful tracks down his face. I feel myself heat up with second-hand embarrassment.

"What a dirty trick!" Luffy shouts and stomps off, muttering angrily.

I watch him go and sigh before turning my attention back towards the bar. I grab the small glass of orange juice Makino placed before me and begin taking tiny sips. Next to me, Shanks makes fun of Luffy's lack of ability to swim.

It took me seven years to realize just where I had been reborn. Which was embarrassing, to say the least.

I never really connected the dots, hadn't equated my twin brother Monkey D. Luffy with the Monkey D. Luffy of One Piece. I hadn't even thought to think about that manga I had read a literal lifetime ago.

But then…Shanks docked for the first time at our little island and it just-

Made sense.

I had been lost and confused for days. I'm still lost and confused. I'm not really sure what I should do; what I can do. Those seven years gave me enough time to get attached to my brother, enough so that I can't bring myself to see him as just some character in a book. He's my brother. My family. Everything that's going to happen to him…

I can't let him face that alone.

I've been given a chance, a way to repent for what I…or perhaps this is my punishment.

Luffy was so much more than the manga portrayed him to be – larger than life, innocent, naïve, happy – and I can see the person he will become as easily as breathing. Luffy was made for greatness, will draw in those who are lost and fill their life with brightness, give them hopes and dreams, and I–

I can't take that away from him.

Monkey D. Lucy should not exist.

I should not exist.

Strangely, despite my mental age, my body will act and react without my will – childish actions and innocent interactions, and because of this I have managed to fool the people of this village. I am mature for my age, this everyone knows, but not overly so, because despite everything my body will still giggle at stupid miniscule things, will still perform actions that only a young child would, will prove that I am in fact a child, and not a 45+ year old stuck in a 8 year olds body. It only sets in stone how much I don't belong. How wrong I am. How-

Sometimes I think about running away.

About leaving Luffy and everyone behind, about letting him live his life unhindered, about just…disappearing. Luffy is young, and my leaving could have disastrous affects, but going by that logic maybe nothing would change at all; maybe he wouldn't even remember me. Is the risk really worth it?

But then I look at him, see how happy he is, how free, seethe innocence and hopes and dreams he holds, and I can't bring myself to do it. I want to stay with him. I want to protect him.

But can I do it? As I am now…I am weak – both physically and mentally. I have not recovered yet from my death, my mind is still broken, and every day is a struggle for me. I am still not sure whether this is reality, if this is all just a hallucination my mind has concocted to deal with the trauma I have endured while I lay on my deathbed in the real world. If this is an illusion my mental health is only going to deteriorate. I recognize and understand my minds current stability, which is relieving, but I don't know how to get better.

I obviously can't go around telling people that I am actually a reincarnated soul who shouldn't even exist in the first place, and oh yeah, all of them are just inanimate characters from some old guys mind. That'd go over real well.

I'm stuck at square -100.

Sighing, I slouch deeper in my stool and eye the bottle of sake sitting innocently next to Shanks. Damn underage body.

"What's on your mind kid?" he asks me, a wide grin tugging at his face. It was no secret that Luffy was definitely the favorite of the Red Haired Pirate's crew, but being Luffy's twin sister had its perks too.

"It's nothing," I reply mildly, downing the rest of my juice and turning to scout Luffy's current position. Shanks lifts an eyebrow, but says nothing, obviously not believing me.

"Luffy, would you like something to eat?" Makino asks, lugging in a large barrel of beer with surprising ease.

Luffy immediately turns away from Beckman at the prospect of food and sits next to me, happily banging his fork and knife down on the table.

"I'll pay you with my treasure!" he grins, and Shanks barks out a laugh.

"What treasure? You're lying again."

"No! I'll definitely be a pirate, and I'll pay her with the treasure I find!"

"Ok Luffy," Makino laughs kindly, "I'll be waiting."

I say nothing and kick my feet off the stool in a steady tempo. Being a kid was boring, even with pirate's roaming around.

"Hey Shanks?" Luffy asks after his food's been delivered, and tears a huge chunk of meat from his steak.

"What?"

"How long are you gonna stay?" I turn my attention toward them, and cock my head curiously.

"Well it's almost been a year since we made this town our base," the redhead replies, "I plan on setting sail a couple of more times, then leaving this island and heading north."

"A couple of times…" Luffy trails off thoughtfully before turning to Shanks with a grin, "I'll learn how to swim by then!"

I can't muffle my snort and Luffy sends a scowl my way.

I open my mouth to say something, when the door to the bar suddenly bursts open with a cracking bang. All of our attention turns toward the disruption of our fun, and I shrink away at the man who walks confidently through the door. The bandits…I forgot…

Give me a break; the last time I read One Piece was over fifteen years ago.

"Excuse me!" the bandit's leader calls out, grinning lazily as he walks through the door, "So, this is what pirates look like? This is my first time seeing pirates; they look pretty dumb to me."

Luffy looks on curiously, picks up a fruit, and munches on it. I can't help but sigh exasperatedly, but don't move to stop him, tugging him away from the bar. This kid…

The bandit comes to a stop before Makino, letting his hand rest on the hard wood of the bar.

"We are bandit's," he says, "were not here to cause any trouble, we just wanna buy ten barrels of sake."

"I'm so sorry," Makino smiles, nervous sweat trailing down her face, "but we are out of sake."

"Oh?" the bandit asks, eyeing Shanks and leaning in close, "that's strange, what are they drinking then? Is it water?"

"No, it's the last of the sake…"

Shanks looks up from the bar and gives the bandit a subtle glance over.

"I'm sorry," he grins, "it looks like we've drank all of the sake here, I apologize."

He grabs the bottle I had been eying earlier and offers it to the bandit. I tug Luffy closer to me, and move us behind the bar. He doesn't resist.

"Here, if you don't mind, take the last bottle."

The bandit says nothing, the tension in the air is palpable, then he takes the bottle from Shank's hand and cracks it over his head with a smash. Luffy gasps and struggles against my hold.

The bandits all snicker and smirk, Shank's says nothing, and Makino looks shocked and worried.

"Just who do you think I am?" the bandit leader asks angrily, "don't take me so lightly! One bottle is not enough!"

"Oh no, now the floor's all wet," Shanks says.

The bandit scowls angrily and holds up a wanted poster, "See this? My head is worth eight million beli! I'm one of the prime fugitives here, and I've killed fifty-six people before, you cocky bastard!"

"Now that you know who I am, don't mess with us again! Mountain bandits and sea pirates don't mingle well."

Shanks doesn't reply and begins to pick up the broken pieces of glass that litter the floor, "Sorry about that Makino, do you have a mop?"

"Ah, it's fine! I'll clean it up," Makino replies nervously, eyes shifting back and forth between the bandits and Shanks.

This seems to anger the bandit's leader further, and he unsheathes the sword lying at his waist. Luffy is dead silent, eyes darting back and forth, and I keep my hold firm on his arms. This needs to happen…I can't interfere…this is an important lesson for Luffy…I just have to keep reminding myself of this.

He swings his sword, Shanks is sent flying backwards, and the bottles and cups littering the table fall to the floor with a crash, while Makino screams. Luffy jolts and I can't help but let a squeak escape my mouth.

"Well it seems you really enjoy cleaning," the bandit grins, "You can now enjoy doing it more."

He makes his way toward the door, lazily putting his hands in his pockets, and tosses a "Later, you bunch of chickens," over his shoulder. The rest of the bandits snicker and follow him out.

"Captain, are you okay? Did you get hurt?" Makino asks worriedly, and kneels before him. I release Luffy and he shakes angrily.

"No I'm fine," he sighs, a smile beginning to overtake his face. The rest of the crew grins at each other before bursting into loud, chaotic laughter.

"Our Captain looked so silly!"

"He fixed you up good Captain!"

Shanks pulls his straw-hat off his head and joins in with the laughter while Luffy look on in angry disbelief. I inch away from him.

"That was disgraceful!" he shouts at last, veins throbbing on his forehead, "So what if they have more people?! Who laughs after getting picked on? You're not a man and you're not a pirate either!"

Shanks says nothing, and smiles after a moment, "Look, I know how you feel, but it's just a bottle of sake. It's nothing to get worked up over."

"I don't want to see you again coward!" Luffy mutters angrily and stalks away towards the exit.

"Oh, c'mon, don't go Luffy," Shanks grabs Luffy's arm, and I pad my way over.

Instead of being pulled back by the strength of Shank's grip, Luffy's arm stretches insteadand he keeps walking. I pale and can't help but cringe; it looks a lot weirder and creepier in person. It was just…wrong.

"Wha-?!" all of the pirates exclaim, eyes bulging from their head.

"His arm! It's stretching, that's..!" Shanks exclaims in shock.

"No way, you-!"

I let out a shaky sigh, but don't say anything, I let this happen after all, and force Shanks to let go of Luffy's arm. It snaps back to him with a crack that sends him tumbling over.

"What's happening?!" Luffy shouts, looking between his arm and Shanks wildly.

"It's gone!" Lucy Roo exclaims, "The Fruit of Rubber we took from the enemy is gone!"

He turns on Luffy and shows him a picture of the fruit I watched him eat earlier, "Luffy, did you eat this?!"

I don't know why he's asking when it's pretty obvious that's exactly what he did.

"Well, yeah, wasn't it dessert?" Luffy says; sweat pouring down his face, "it tasted pretty bad though…"

"That's the Gumo Gumo no Mi!" Shanks shouts, shaking Luffy wildly, "It's one of the fruits of the devil and one of the rarest treasures in the sea!"

I sit myself down at the bar to watch the events unfolding; all of the pirates were shouting and running around in panic. It was beautiful.

"Whoever eats it will turn into a rubber man and will never be able to swim!" Shanks continues to shout, and Luffy's eyes bulge as his jaw hits the ground.

"Whaaaaaaat?! You're kidding right!?"

"You idiot!"

o.O.o

"They've been away for a while now…" Makino sighs as she cleans out a glass, "Do you feel lonely Luffy?"

"Nope! I haven't forgiven them for the bandit's incident yet!" Luffy exclaims and I roll my eyes.

"I overestimated Shanks!" Luffy says, and rolls his glass full of ice around, "I thought he was a tough pirate!"

"Really?" Makino asks, "I thought people who could laugh it off after getting picked on are pretty brave…"

"That's because you don't understand!" Luffy grouses, "There are times when a man has to fight back!"

He flinches after he realizes what he's said, and glances at me nervously. Sighing, I raise my hand, form a fist, and punch him firmly in the face. His head snaps back about a foot, and once again rests on his shoulders after a moment. He lets out a sheepish laugh.

"Don't underestimate women!" I say loudly, and he nods quickly.

"S-sorry!" he says, hand scratching the back of his head, and Makino lets out a little laugh.

"Excuse me?" a voice calls out from the front of the bar, and we all turn our heads simultaneously.

It was the bandits. Of course.

Shit, I forgot about this too.

What the actual hell, this is like, one of the most important parts of the series, there's no way I would've forgotten this. Did my death affect my memory..?

"Were back again," says the bandit leader, "well, it looks like the pirates aren't here today. It sure is quiet."

Ambling in, the bandits begin to take their seats and the leader pounds his fist against the table obnoxiously. I flinch.

"What are you waiting for?! Were customers! Bring us some sake!" he shouts.

"Why you!" Luffy mutters, anger simmering in his eyes.

"Luffy don't!" I exclaim quietly, and push him down from where he stood up on his chair. While I didn't want Shanks to lose his arm, more than anything I don't want my brother to be placed in that kind of danger – even if it's the most defining moment in his life. I'm his sister, I'm allowed to worry.

Makino sets to work on serving them food and sake, and thirty minutes are spent like this in peace until-

"Remember the faces on those pirates the other day?" One of them laughs, and I tense in my chair, holding tight to Luffy's rubbery arm.

"He didn't even say anything after being hit by the bottle, what a pansy!" laughs another, and Luffy's grip on his juice tightens.

"It's not worth it," I whisper to him.

"When I see a chicken like that, it makes me so mad," the leader grins, bringing his drink up to his lips, "I really wanted to kill him."

"Pirates only know how to act cool!" he laughs, and Luffy's body goes rigid before he shoots out of his seat.

"Luffy, no-"

"Shut up!" he roars, "Don't underestimate Shank's, he's not a coward! Don't underestimate Shanks!"

"Luffy let it go!" whispers Makino worriedly, eyes darting toward the bandits and nervous sweat pouring down her face.

I shoot from my seat and drag Luffy back as best as I can, but his skin merely gives way from me and begins to stretch. I stop, out of fear of the bandits noticing.

"Please, Luffy..!"

"Huh?" the bandits turn their heads, and the leader rises from his seat. His height intimidates me.

"What'd you say you brat?" he asks, his face shadowed by his hair.

"You heard me! You're the coward; you wouldn't even fight him..!" Luffy hollers and I can feel tears of fear and desperation tug at my eyes. Damn young body..!

The bandit leader stalks closer and picks Luffy up by the front of his shirt.

"S-stop!" I yell, somehow managing to find my voice, but he just ignores me.

"You need to be taught a lesson, brat," he says, and I can see angry veins throbbing on his forehead, before he turns and stalks out of the bar. The rest of the bandits follow him, snickering and making snide comments. They remind me of hyenas.

Darting forward, I attempt to stop them, but Makino grabs me before I can.

"L-let me go!" I shout and struggle against her hold, but her arms do not give way, "That's my brother! I have to help him, I can't just watch! He's my brother!"

Makino is pale and shaking when she turns me and kneels down, making firm contact with my eyes.

I am thunderstruck, tears dribbling down my face, and I don't know what to do, how to help.

"Listen Lucy," she says desperation I've never heard before in her voice, "I want you to stay right here. Don't leave the bar no matter what!"

"But-" I start, but she cuts me off by grabbing my shoulders gently.

"I'm going to go get the mayor," she says, "he can stop this."

"I-"

"Don't leave!" she says firmly, before turning on her heel and rushing out the door.

I can't help but stare at the space she previously occupied in befuddlement. There's no way in hell I'm just staying here without doing anything. Panic bursts through my veins, a throbbing overtakes my head, and I take a moment to simply gasp for air. In the original timeline Luffy turned out okay, but...what if I changed something? What if me simply existing kills him? I can't-

Maybe if I-

"Right," I mutter to myself, and nod my head mutely. I take a shaky breath, wipe my face, and harden my resolve.

Mind made up, I stalk from the room without a glance back.

If I had maybe I would have seen-

o.O.o

Rushing to the port, I sidestep any villagers that stumble in my way. If I hurry..!

Blue water begins to come into view, and I hold my breath in anticipation. Dashing as fast as I can, my eyes dart around in search of my target.

There!

"Shanks!" I shout breathlessly, trip over a loose board in the dock, and my knee's scrape against the harsh wood. Hissing, I feel a small trickle of blood run down my leg, but I ignore it.

"Woah, little lady, what's the rush?" Shanks grins, but there is concern in his eyes and he attempts to help me up. Pushing his hands away from me, I look up desperately.

"There's no time!" I say, the gravity of the situation becoming apparent, and tears once again prick at my eyes, "its Luffy!"

"What happened to Luffy?" Shanks asks me calmly, and kneels down to be at eyelevel with me.

"It's the bandits! They kidnapped him!" I gasp, and his shoulders tense with what I know to be suppressed rage.

"I see," he says, and lays his hand on my head, "I was wondering why no one welcomed us at the port."

Sniffing wetly, I look up at him. His face is shadowed by anger, but I can see the veins in his neck throbbing painfully. His crew is deadly silent.

He ruffles my short black hair and rises to his feet.

"It's okay Lucy," he says, and his crew begins to inch towards him. There was something heavy in the air.

"I'll get him."

Nodding my head, I stumble to my feet and latch onto the back of his cloak. Mental age or not, I was scared. My body was tense and shaky, the blood trailing down my leg forming a messy pool at my feet, and the terror running through my veins was thick and prominent. I'm one step away from an anxiety attack, and any form of comfort is much appreciated.

"Let's go," Shanks says, and the rest of his crew nods as they begin making their way from the port. I stay close to Shanks, and he lets me cling to his cloak.

Not even a minute later were standing in front of the bandit leader, and I see Luffy is lying at his feet, dirt smudging his clothes and skin. The bandit's leader's foot is resting on his head.

"Luffy…" I mutter, and twist my hands nervously.

"Hey, you guys were the bandits from the other day," Shanks says, an easy smile on his face.

"What's wrong Luffy? I thought your punch was as strong as pistol fire."

"Shut up!" Luffy shouts.

"Pirate…why are you still here? Do you plan on cleaning the whole town?" asks the bandits leader, "I suggest you leave now, come any closer and I might have to open fire on you, coward."

Ignoring him, Shanks continues to walk forward, and a nearby bandit flips his gun out and points it at Shank's head,

"Didn't you hear? You were told not to go any closer!" he laughs, "do you want to get shot?"

The other bandits all laugh and Shanks eyes him, "Well, since you pulled out your gun, I guess we'll have to fight."

"Huh?! What did you say?!"

"I said don't use this to scare people," Shanks says and points at the gun for emphasis, not even a hint of fear on his face.

There's a sudden bang as Lucky Roo appears behind him and shoots the bandit dead. He takes a large bite from the meat he's holding as the man slowly falls, a trail of blood following behind.

Makino screams, the mayor gasps, and Luffy looks shocked. I am unable to do anything more than stare. This…this was different form the manga. This was real.

"N…now you've don't it bastard!" One of the bandits shouts, and they're all pale, eyes darting to their fallen comrade. I can feel death surrounding him.

"That was dirty!"

"Damn!"

"Dirty?" asks Yasopp, arms crossed over his chest.

"Don't make us laugh," says Beckman, puffing out smoke from his cigarette, "Do you think were saints or something?"

"The people standing in front of you are Pirates," Shanks says calmly, drawing out the last word, before patting my head and draping his cloak over me.

"Shut up, this is none of your business!" One of them yells, and I can see the fear on his face.

"Listen well bandits," Shanks says slowly, "You can whip food or sake at me, or even spit on me; I can laugh it off…but!"

The glare on his face intensifies, I can see why he's one of the strongest men on the seas; can see what makes him a Yonko, a man unafraid to go against Whitebeard himself, and I find myself unafraid.

"I don't care what reasons you have! I won't forgive anyone who messes with my friends!" He shouts, and I can feel his Haki thrumming in the air. I clutch his cloak closer to me.

"Shanks…" Luffy whispers, awed.

"'Won't forgive me' Hahaah!" the bandit leader laughs, "You, a bunch of pirates who float around on a ship all day, want to challenge us?!"

"We will destroy you!" His words seemed to have rallied his men, and they all grab their weapons to charge at Shanks, who doesn't look concerned in the least.

"Go to hell!"

"Let me take care of this," says Beckman, pulling out his long rifle and brandishing it, "I can handle them myself…"

He takes a long drag from his cigarette before crushing it on a nearby bandits eye with a 'tss', and the bandit lets loose a scream as he falls to the floor clutching his face. The other bandits scream in rage, as they continue their charge, brandishing their swords. With a lopsided grin Beckman brings his rifle up and-

Swiftly knocks them all out without firing a single shot.

"Woah…" I mutter, and collapse to the ground. Shank's cloak is large and pools around me. I kinda feel like a princess or something.

"Don't overestimate yourselves, bandits!" Beckman light a new cigarette, "If you want to fight us, you better get a fleet of marines to back you up."

"Wow..!" says Luffy from where the bandit's leader was digging his foot into his face.

"Amazing…" Makino says, awed.

"Wait a minute!" the bandit leader shouts, sweat pouring from his face like rain, "This little brat messed with us first!"

I growl under my breath and glare as fiercely as my seven year old body would allow. It probably wasn't very intimidating; I needed to work on that in the future.

"It doesn't matter, after all, there's a reward on your head," Shanks replies evenly.

"Nngh," the bandit grunts, and he looks around wildly for a moment before whipping something from his coat pocket and smashing it on the ground. A large explosion of smoke bursts forth, and I immediately jump to my feet and dash as fast as I can to Luffy.

"Lucy..!" I hear Makino shout, and I feel a small wave of shame and guilt before I stomp it down firmly. I won't just sit idly by while those I care about are in danger.

"Come with me brat!" The bandit leader shouts, and I push myself from the ground sharply, smashing my body into him. My hit doesn't really do much, except stagger him maybe, and I feel frustration tug at me edgily.

"W-what?" I hear him mutter, before I'm punched on the head and dragged from my feet. The punch causes stars to explode behind my eyes, and I can do nothing more than let him throw me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

This wasn't my most…thought out plan…

"Let go of me!" I hear Luffy shout, and I struggle against the hold the bandit has on me.

The smoke was starting to dissipate and the bandit's sweat was soaking through to my skin when he turned sharply and made a mad dash between a nearby row of houses. Darting between alleys and side streets, we eventually come to a stop at the dock, and I increased my struggling as he throws me and Luffy into a nearby boat and jumps in.

It's only moments later that were out to sea, and I am paralyzed.

I…

I'm terrified of water.

I know how stupid and silly that sounds, considering where I am, but it's true. Water…it calls to me in a way nothing else ever has, it calls to me so strongly and hauntingly that I have found myself standing at the docks more times than I can count and…it terrifies me. Considering what happened in my last life, I suppose it's only natural but-

I won't survive in a world like this.

I can't-

Luffy is struggling wildly, flailing his rubbery limbs before he seems to realize the type of trouble were in.

"Looks like we got away!" the bandit says cheerfully, a sick grin on his face, "Who would've thought a bandit would escape by boat?!"

"Well I only used you as a hostage, but you're useless now," he says, turns to look at me, anger simmering in his eyes, "And you girl…"

Tensing up and I try to back away from him, but the dingy boat is so tiny I merely run into the wall. He talks half a step forward, sharply raises his hand, and I am assaulted by intense pain that throws me harshly against the edge of the boat. Stars once again explode behind my eyes, and I let out a whimper as I clutch my cheek.

"I've killed fifty-six people who messed with me before y'know," he laughs, and Luffy leaps to his feet.

"You bastard!" He shouts, and attempts to punch the bandit only for him to be easily dodged. I watch the bandits leg raise and-

Luffy is kicked overboard.

"Luffy!" I scream, hands reaching out to grab him, but he misses my grasp by an inch.

"Ha!" shouts the bandit gleefully, "Good riddance!"

I can see Luffy's shocked tearful face before he hits the water, and my body freezes of its own accord. I have to help him, I have to save him, I have to-

I'm dragged upward by the back of my cloak and turned around to face the bandit leader. Tears are streaming down my face in a messy stream, but I keep my expression carefully blank. This is merely my body's reaction. Not mine.

If I keep telling myself that-

"Do you enjoy this?" I ask him as calmly as possible, even while my heart is beating an untamed tempo in my chest and my blood is rushing through my veins wildly.

"Huh?"

"Do you enjoy killing children and slaughtering woman?" I clarify, and his grip tightens.

"Who do you think you're-"

"Does it make you feel powerful?" I continue, ignoring his words and the warning in the back of my mind, "Does it make you forget your own cowardice? Perhaps it amuses it, or perhaps it arouses you?"

"You-" he splutters, his jaw slackening slightly, and I feel satisfaction bubble in my chest. How strange this must be to him.

"Does death arouse you?" I stare him straight in the eye; his face is red with rage and his fist is trembling, "Is that how sick you are?"

I lean in closer, "Well listen up," I whisper, eyes narrowing, "I have intimate first-hand experience with death, and let me tell you-"

I pause, let him look into my eyes, and my face forms into a snarl,

"It isn't that fun."

I can see a hint of fear in his eyes now, and he bears his teeth angrily before punching me and tossing me into the ocean. Even though I can feel the terror beginning to consume me, can already feel the first laps of cold and water and salt, can feel death and darkness-

I can't help but feel pleased.

Luffy is spluttering and gagging next to me, and I somehow manage to force my way to the surface just in time to see the Lord of the Coast swallow the small ship whole. Terror freezes my movements and I am dragged down by the strong current of the ocean, am forced to swallow a mouthful of salty water and I gag desperately.

"Lucy!" I can hear Luffy shout distantly, before he too is dragged under, the curse of the Devil Fruit baring itself.

This catches the Sea King's attention and it turns toward us with a great roar.

Tears are mixing with the water of the ocean, I desperately reach for the surface, darkness consuming me – and it is dark and cold and endless and I am becoming nothing, every inch of who I am draining away-

I'm pulled to the surface.

Spluttering and coughing, I let my eyes drag up to see my savior. Shanks, of course, is there, calmly staring down the large beast. I feel hope and happiness fill me, relief and weightlessness accompanying it. We were saved-

"Get lost," Shanks says, and the Sea King stops, I can feel his Haki, and the ocean is calling to me, hauntingly and brokenly and endlessly, it hurts so much, I can feel everything, the Devi Fruits are out there, waiting, calling, and I can-

The beast turns on its tails and disappears into the blood filled waters. Sighing, Shanks turns his head up to the sky before looking down on us with a smile.

"Thanks Luffy!" he says, "Makino told me about everything. Thanks for sticking up for us."

Luffy is sniffing tearfully, and I-

I can't focus on anything.

I can only stare blankly at the water, watch the blood slowly drain into it. My mind feels broken.

"Oh c'mon, boys don't cry," usually I'd hit him for such a comment, but I stay silent.

"But, Shanks…" Luffy cries, clutching to him closely, "Your arm..!"

Letting my eyes fall on the bloody appendage, I blink slowly. I couldn't stop it after all.

"It's nothing," Shanks says, and pats Luffy's head lightly, "it's just an arm…as long as you're alive."

Luffy cries harder, and I lay my head on Shanks' shoulder. I couldn't…

The world is swallowed by darkness.

o.O.o

A week passes after 'the bandit incident' and the village settles somewhere between relief and peace. Everyone was relieved that Luffy and I were okay, but we've been coddled far too much for my comfort. Makino, who nearly had a breakdown after we were kidnapped, scolded me for an hour when we got back, but most of it was just 'I'm so happy you're okay's. She's been indulging us with food and juice since then, and Luffy couldn't be happier. On the other hand Chief, the mayor, has been giving us the 'cold shoulder' if you will. He was angry that Luffy started such trouble, and he was not afraid to show it – but everyone knew he was really just worried. Shank's seems to be taking Luffy's dreams of being a pirate more seriously, and doesn't tease him as often. As for me, well, I was never really close with anyone but Luffy to begin with, so it's not like much has changed.

"You're really leaving this time?" Luffy asks, staring up at the tall pirate, and Shanks laughs and turns his head away.

"Yep. We've stayed here long enough, it's about time we moved on," he says, and looks at Luffy from the corner of his eyes without turning his head, "are you upset?"

"Yeah, but I won't force you to take me along anymore, I'll become a pirate by myself," Luffy grins, and I poke him in the back.

"It's about time," I say, "that 'take me with you, take me with you' was starting to get annoying."

Luffy pouts at me, and Shanks sticks his tongue out at us, "I wouldn't take you even if you begged!"

He pointed his finger at Luffy and grinned, "You don't have what it takes to be a pirate!" he exclaimed.

I laugh at Luffy's angry expression, and poke him in the cheek. It boings against my fingers.

"Yes, I do!" he shouts, "one day I'll find myself a crew that is as strong as yours, and I'll find the greatest treasure!"

Everyone stops what they're doing to look at Luffy, and I can't help but hide behind him a little at the attention. Being social was never my strong point.

"And become King of the Pirates!" he finishes with a grin, and everyone grins.

"Oh, so you want to be bigger than us, huh?" Shanks comments idly, and I poke my head out from behind Luffy's shoulder.

"Well then…" he trails off, reaches up and grabs the legendary straw-hat resting on his head, "This hat is my gift to you."

He pushes it on Luffy's head, and the younger boys head bows, tears beginning to leak from his eyes, "This is my favorite hat, y'know."

"When you become a great pirate in the future, you'll return that hat to me," he says as he walks away, towards his crew.

"Ah," I realize suddenly, and dart ahead to catch Shank's attention just in time to catch the tail end of his conversation with Beckman,

"…he reminds me of my early years."

"Shanks!" I call out, and the man turns his attention towards me.

"Yes, little lady?"

I dig around in the dark leather satchel tied to my waist and bring out a familiar cloak.

"Here," I say, holding it out to him, "I cleaned it for you, so I thought you'd want it back."

Shanks says nothing for a moment, then reaches out his hand and grasps it. I start to let go, but am startled when he merely pushes it back towards me.

"Keep it kid, I wouldn't want to take away something that 'makes you feel like a princess or something," he grins roguishly and I flush furiously.

"I- I said that out loud?!"

He ruffles the hair on my head and begins walking towards his ship, something overcomes me and-

"The ocean is scary," I call out suddenly, and he looks at me over his shoulder, "and water's scared me for as long as I can remember."

He doesn't turn around, but I can tell he's listening so I continue, "But, Luffy's an idiot. He'll probably do something stupid like challenge the World Government or break into Impel Down if I'm not around, so…"

I look down at the soft, smooth material of the dark cloak and pull it closer to my chest before looking up at him with a grin.

"I think I'm going to become a pirate too!"

Shanks throws his head back and laughs, a deep sound that travels through the air and echoes lazily on the dock.

"I think my cloaks in good hands then!"

I let Luffy cry on my shoulder as we watch their ship sail away, and I pull the cloak over my body. The material's long, and I'm going to have to figure out a way to make it work, but…

There's no denying the happiness tugging at my chest.

o.O.o

The next five months pass in relative peace, Luffy attempting to get a grip on his rubber powers, and me attempting to get the damn cloak to stay on. The thing is more trouble than it was worth.

So, the town settled back into their daily routines and all was well.

That is, until Grandpa Garp came home.

Then all hell broke loose.

Chapter Text

I used to think the world had it out for me.

Every slight, every small piece of resistance, every tiny immeasurable consequence hit me in a way they would hit no other. I overthought things. I let my anxiety get the best of me.

I was unhappy.

o.O.o

"You're still going on about that pirate stuff!?" The words echoed loudly throughout the bar, and I let out a small flinch.

Monkey D. Garp was an intimidating man. Not just because he was a Marine Vice-Admiral, is the strongest existing Marine at the time as a matter of fact, but also because he was my Grandfather. Who'd I'd like to think is also insane.

Garp…well, he showed his affection in strange, and violent, ways. Interestingly enough, while he does shower Luffy with his affectionate 'Fist of Love', he isn't nearly as harsh as he was in the manga. I think that might be contributed to me. He's made it pretty obvious that he wants Luffy to become a strong Marine, which, well, we all know how that's going, but he treats me completely different. Because I'm a girl?

"There's my beloved Granddaughter!" He cries out and crushes me to his chest. I wheeze. Luffy is practically splattered to the floor.

Yes, I decide silently, because I'm a girl.

We've mainly been talking to him through the Den Den Mushi, so this is the first time we've seen him since Shank's left nearly five months ago. And the first time he's seen Luffy's new hat.

"What's that on your head?" he asks suspiciously, and he turns his attention to me. I'm still imprisoned in his grasp.

"And what's that you're wearing?"

I flush. I've somehow managed to figure out how to wear the damn cloak Shanks gave me. The thing was ridiculously long.

Having looped it around my body several times, it comes to a rest just above my feet and falls against my body comfortably – the only problem was that it kept slipping off. I improvised by sewing a small ornate latch where the two sides of it come together to secure it in place, and the long material hides most of my body. The only parts of me visible are my head, feet, and the occasional leg when I'm walking. I feel rather cool when I wear it.

"Shanks gave it to me," I say, and Luffy nods his head happily.

"Yeah, and he entrusted me with his hat!" he adds, and Garp looks between us.

"That damn red-hair!" He shouts angrily and smashes his fist against the table. Luffy giggles and I muffle a snort.

"I've decided Grandpa!" Luffy shouts, "I'm going to become the Pirate King!"

There's a long moment of silence.

Garp looks flabbergasted, merely staring at Luffy before a thick vein ticks in his forehead. I stay silent, letting my eyes drift back and forth between them.

"And you?" he asks me, gritting his teeth.

"I'm going to become a pirate too," I reply, and he slams his head on the table, "Oh, by the way, you should know, but Luffy ate a Devil Fruit."

"What."

"Yeah, the Gumo Gumo no Mi or something like that, he ate it by accident and then we got kidnapped by a bunch of bandits."

"What."

"We almost died."

He is silent. Luffy is looking between us curiously. I can hear Makino scrounging around the back of the bar.

Then, suddenly, he grabs Luffy by his cheek and picks me up to settle on his shoulder. He stalks out of the bar with heavy steps, and a bad feeling settles in my stomach as I cling to him.

"I knew letting you two live in that village would be a bad idea. It's time to take drastic measures," he mutters, and I can only hear him because of how close I am.

"Where are you taking us?" I ask worriedly as we stalk further and further from the village and into the trees surrounding it.

"It's time you met Dadan and Ace," he says, and his grip on me tightens.

Dadan and Ace. I wasn't expecting this to happen so soon – I lost track of time, and the manga never really gave us a definitive timeline on Luffy's childhood. This…this was bad; meeting Dadan and Ace puts me one step closer to Sabo and that whole mess. And I still have no idea what to do.

Great.

"Who's Ace?" asks Luffy from where he was tugging against grandpa's hold. His skin kept stretching and slurring his words, and he looked…weird.

"The guy that's gonna be your big brother from here on out," grandpa replies, and I look down.

I feel…off. Like I'm intruding on something important. Like this isn't mine.

"I already told you I'm gonna be the Pirate King Grandpa!" Luffy shouts as his struggles increase.

"Pirate King my foot!" Grandpa shouts right back, "Not only did you eat a Devil Fruit, but you have the gall to speak to me that way?! Luffy, you and Ace are gonna be the strongest Marines that have ever lived when you grow up!"

Luffy growls angrily and attempts to pull himself away, but grandpa merely shifts him so his feet aren't touching the ground.

"What about me?" I ask curiously, and squeak when I'm shifted to his other shoulder.

"You're gonna live a peaceful life, settle down, marry, and have kids."

Huffing, I look to the side. Somethings never change. No matter what world you're in.

Luffy has begun slapping Garp repeatedly on the leg in an effort to be set free. The other man isn't even fazed.

"Why does this hurt if I'm rubber?!" he slurs, face still being stretched by grandpa's fingers, "Lemme go grandpa!"

"It was a mistake for me to leave you here in this lukewarm village," grandpa says, and a house begins to come into view from between the trees.

Gulping, I feel a nervous sweat trail itself down my face. I'm in way over my head.

Grandpa stalks up to the door and begins banging on it loudly, while Luffy hangs limply. I kick my legs against grandpa's chest in a thumpy rhythm.

"Dadan, get out here!" he practically roars.

The door opens slowly and out comes a woman. A…large woman flanked by two other men. The shortest one dons a turban while the taller one looks eerily similar to a rooster. What the hell is up with the fashion sense in this world?

"G-Garp-san!" says Dadan nervously, "You need to hurry up and give me a break already! That Ace boy's already ten y'know! I'm not gonna be able to handle much more of this, take him back already would you!"

Garp drops Luffy and sets me on the floor, and Dadan's eyes dart between the two of us.

"W-who're those rugrats?" she mutters carefully, and Garp grins.

I ignore them and move to Luffy, poking the side of his face that grandpa stretched.

"Does it hurt?" I ask, and he pouts at me.

"Yes, I don't get it!"

I nod and open my mouth to explain when something comes flying at Luffy. We both stare at each other, then, slowly, Luffy brings his hand up to touch his face.

"Spit?! Gross!" he shouts and I laugh loudly at him.

"D-don't laugh Lucy! Hey! Who did this?!"

Snorting, I turn my attention to where the spit came flying from. Sitting on a large, dead, buffalo was a boy. A boy I knew to be Portgas D. Ace.

"Hey, Ace!" calls grandpa, and the bandits all start.

Ace was a lot more intimidating in person than I thought he would be, kid or no. From the angle I could see him at, he looked to be taller than me by several inches, hell, I probably barely come up to his shoulders, and in his hands he wielded a metal pipe that's dripping with blood. A shiver goes down my spine. My body twitches.

"That's Ace, he's three years older than you," Grandpa explains, and hits Luffy on the back of the head, "from this day forward you'll both be living with him, so you better get along, got it!"

Ace is silent, merely staring at us. Creepily.

Honestly he looks like he's debating which one of us to kill, and I subtly point at Luffy from behind his back. Ace looks confused for a second before his expression evens out to resting serial killer face.

Luffy looks angry, which honestly just looks adorable on his little face, and I hide behind him a little. Just a little.

"I'm entrusting him to you!" laughs grandpa, before he just…leaves.

"Right," I mutter to myself as Dadan drags us, and the buffalo, inside.

The next 20 minutes are spent in awkward silence as we watch the bandits cook up the meat. My mouth waters, but Dadan places a small bowl of rice and a glass of water in front of us. It's…small. Ace is heartily tearing into a thick piece of meat and I pout at him. He notices, twitches, and awkwardly looks away. Beside me Luffy is staring at the proceedings blankly before he raises his hand, opens his mouth and-

"I hate mountain bandits!" he says loudly and I nod my head agreeably.

"Me too!" I add, and Dadan glares at us.

"Shut it brats, were already tired with the likes of you!" Dadan hollers and I try to tune her out. I'm not very successful.

"If you don't like it here get out and starve to death!"

"You're annoying," I tell her, and she faceplants. Manga world is…weird – somehow these things just make sense. Even though they don't.

"This is too little, I want meat too," Luffy whines.

"This meat is from the buffalo Ace caught!" says Dadan as she tears into a piece of meat, "he gives us some and that goes on our plate. Mountain bandits aren't in shape recently…So you will have a lot of work tomorrow!"

I look up from my bowl and give her a blank stare as she continues talking. How annoying.

"You will clean, do the laundry, polish our shoes and weapons, as well as rob, steal, swindle, and murder people!"

She pauses for a moment to look us both in the eye.

"And you will not tell Garp what you are doing here."

"What happens if I do?" I ask, and she starts.

"What?"

"What happens if I tell grandpa about what you're making us do," I say slowly, as if speaking to a small child. She seems flustered for a moment before she bangs her fist on the table.

"T-then I'll kill you!"

"But then grandpa will kill you," I point out, and her face turns even more red. Magenta maybe?

"Shut up and don't complain!" she shouts, tick on her forehead beating angrily.

"Okay!" says Luffy.

"So you're basically just a bunch of lazy cowards who enjoy making children do your dirtywork," I say.

"You were supposed to cry!"

"Grandpa abandoned us in the jungle one time," Luffy replies, and I shiver at the memory…he may treat me differently from Luffy because I'm a girl, but he has the same expectations for me. "We can eat worms, frogs, snakes, and mushrooms as long as we want. If we're going to become pirates we must be able to do that much!"

I look around the room while Luffy is saying this, and nudge him when I notice Ace is leaving. He looks at me and grins.

"Where's Ace going?" I ask as Luffy pulls me to my feet so we can follow the older boy.

"Wait, where are you going?!...Did you just say pirates?!"

We both ignore her as we dart from the house. Up ahead, Ace is walking into the trees and we both start running to catch up. I may not know Ace personally, but I had always liked his character. I hope Luffy can befriend him – it'd be good for both of them.

"Hey I'm Luffy!" He calls out happily, "I'm not angry about you spitting on me anymore! It's not something to be angry about, so let's be friends! Where are you going?"

I hide my smile and stop behind Luffy. I'm proud with how much he's grown mentally; the bandit's incident was hard on both of us, but we've only grown since then.

Ace says nothing, resting serial killer on his face, before he promptly hits a nearby tree with his pipe. The tree is knocked over by his blow and comes tumbling down, rolling toward us quickly, and I barely have enough time to think before I'm jumping into action.

Shit, he's strong..!

I grab Luffy's arm and drag us to the side as quickly as possible, and we just barely avoid being hit by the massive thing. Ace is running ahead without bothering to look back, and I feel a surge of anger run through me. Taking a deep breath, I calm my thoughts. I was expecting this, preparing for it, and I need to remember Ace is in a bad place right now. It's only natural that he'll act out like this, that he'll be so violent. Still-

"You stupid brat!" I shout angrily, and I can feel a vein ticking on my head, "Is that how you treat you're elder?!"

My words cause him to pause and he turns toward us in confusion,

"I'm older than you!"

I snort and turn my head away from him, "Not with that attitude…" I mutter, and he sweatdrops.

"That isn't how it works!"

"Let's be friends!" Luffy shouts and Ace clamps his mouth shut before turning around and darting off.

"How rude..!" I holler at his back. Luffy giggles.

"Do I amuse you?" I ask him as we start running after the (kinda) older boy.

"Yep, shishishishi!"

"Good," I smile.

It's gonna be a long day.

o.O.o

Coming to a stop before a long, wooden bridge I tug Luffy behind me as we cross. I make sure to be quiet. In the original timeline Ace had knocked Luffy off of the bridge – while there was no doubt that a fall like that was something he could survive, being rubber and all, I wouldn't be so lucky.

"Ace!" he hollers, and I facepalm, "Let's be friends!"

"You idiot!"

Ace starts and turns towards us. He says nothing, merely walking toward us calmly and I flinch back a bit. Damn.

Raising his pipe he promptly flipped Luffy over the edge of the bridge and I watched my older brother fall with blank acceptance. Slowly looking up at the maker of my doom I give him a weary salute. He looks at me strangely.

"You know, I'd prefer to just jump if you're gonna toss me over," I say casually, and he raises his pipe menacingly.

"Right…" I mutter and let him hit me in the stomach with that damn pipe, and I go hurtling over the edge. There's no way in hell I'm gonna win against him as I am now and more than that I don't want to.

As I fall I grab as many vines and branches as I can, and my momentum decreases only a little. The ground was hurtling toward me fast, and I could feel fear crawl up my spine. With an 'oomph' I finally crashed into something spongy and smooth.

"Luffy?"

"That was fun!"

"The hell it was!"

Huffing, I pull myself off of him and help him up before promptly brushing off his clothes. Straightening my cape, I let out a deep sigh.

"We should head back to the bandits house," I say, and Luffy pouts grumpily at me.

"We can always find Ace tomorrow," I try to appease, "he's long gone by now, and there's no way I'm just letting this go."

Fixing his hat, he blows his cheeks up before nodding. I smile and grab his hand.

"Right, I suppose we should head this way then," I say, and head back to where we came from. Next to me, Luffy begins to chatter away about anything and everything, and I nod every once in a while to show him I'm listening.

In the distance, I can hear a wolf howling.

It takes us a week to get out of the damn forest.

I'm going to kill Ace.

o.O.o

"Boss Dadan!" yells one of the bandits, and I glare venomously at him, "Luffy and Lucy came back alive!"

"They're still alive?!" yells the boss, and I direct my heated gaze on her instead, "Where the hell have you been?!"

"Calm down boss,"

"We," I hiss at her, fury in my tone, and she takes a step back, "were chased by wolves, and fell off a cliff, that's where we've been!"

"The cliff? Why'd you go there for?!"

"Why don't you ask Ace!" I roar, and Luffy giggles.

"Where is Ace?" he asks, and I whimper.

Dadan grabs both of us and tosses us into a nearby room.

"For now, sleep!" she shouts, "From tomorrow on you're going to work hard for us!"

"Damn lazy bitch!" I holler at her, but she ignores me.

Luffy, of course, immediately falls asleep the second his head hits the pillow. I take a second to take a deep breath, and let my gaze cut across to the other body in the room. Crawling close, I stare at his limp form.

"I," I hiss at him quietly, "am going to friend you so hard, you'll wish I had never been born…"

His body tenses for a fraction of a second before limping again, and I nod in satisfaction before crawling into the futon next to Luffy.

Serves the brat right.

o.O.o

The next morning dawns early and I'm tugged awake by Luffy who points at Aces empty futon. Groaning, I nod and roll over. Why have I agreed to this..?

Getting up was a task that was hard and not helped by Luffy's insistent prodding and whining, and it takes a while before we're out the door and trailing after the other boy.

"Hey Ace, you going somewhere again?" Luffy calls happily, and I rub my eyes sleepily. Being seven was hard.

"Take us with you," I mumble tiredly, and Luffy nods in agreement, "Let's be friends…"

Ace is silent and only stares at us for a moment before suddenly taking off, small legs pushing him far ahead of us.

"Hey wait!" Luffy shouts, grabs my hand, and drags me after him, "This time I'm not gonna lose to you!"

The past week's trauma floats through my mind, running from the wolves, falling off the cliff, nearly dying, having to spend the week eating bugs and frogs, and I feel invigorated.

"You're not getting away that easily!" I roar, and this time I'm the one dragging Luffy.

"Damn you brats!" I can hear Dadan yelling behind us, "You're supposed to do errands for us!"

Darting through the trees and low hanging branches, I push my legs as hard as they could to keep up with the taller kid. Luffy was laughing and running cheerfully, and I let his excitement fuel me.

I could do this..!

o.O.o

I can't do this.

The past two months have been nothing but chasing Ace and failing miserably. Coming across a den of crocodiles, dodging an avalanche, running from snakes, being attacked by giant birds, falling into a pack of piranhas, nearly drowning, being attacked by a tiger, being attacked by a bear, the list never ends.

"Damn you Ace," I hiss to myself as I trail after Luffy, "now you have to be my friend. I have made it my life's mission! You can't escape me…"

I noticed that every day we seemed to get further and further into the forest, and I can feel my own power growing. My strength, stamina, and speed have increased drastically, but that didn't diminish how hard and annoying the whole ordeal was. The thing that made it worse was the fact that Ace didn't seem to give a damn at all.

How strong must Ace be to be able to do this daily, without any hardships whatsoever..?

"Huh?" I heard Luffy say, and I leaned around him to see what grabbed his attention.

"Is this the end of the forest?" I ask him, and he shrugs.

"We finally did it..!" I say, tears streaming down my face, and he giggles.

"What the hell is this place?" Luffy asks, and gags, "it stinks!"

"The Gray Terminal," I mumble quietly.

When I had first read about the Gray Terminal, I had felt sympathy for those this place calls home. I had felt angered at the injustice of this country, had felt disgusted by those that call themselves nobles. For a brief period of time, I had felt excited and alive to be reading about something so tragic and interesting. And then, I moved on. Stopped reading the manga, because, after all, it was just a comic and I needed to grow up eventually. It wasn't real, all of it just an idea in someone's head…

But this…

This was as real as life itself. I could feel the blistering heat setting the tall mounds alight, could smell the burning trash and human waste this place calls home, can hear the muffled screams of children being killed and people being mugged, and I am once again reminded of how in over my head I am. Luffy looks at me curiously.

"This place is called the Gray Terminal," I explain to him carefully, "it's home to many criminals, and is the dump of the nobles who live in the capital. There are no laws and no doctors here, and it is full of crime and disease. We need to be careful."

Luffy looks confused, but nods at my seriousness. I grab his hand firmly, and he lets me.

"Out of my way kid," says a lumber of a man, and I tug Luffy and myself far away from him.

"He's a murderer!" someone shouts, and I feel nervous sweat pool in my collarbone.

"Let's go find Ace," I say quietly, and Luffy nods.

It wasn't as hard to find Ace as I had thought it would be, listening to the other people here mutter about 'those damn brats, Ace and Sabo' I got a pretty good idea of where they were. Plus, I kinda knew from the manga. Details, details…

Tugging Luffy behind me, he follows without fuss as I lead us into the forest and general direction of where I believe them to be.

After walking for a while, we come upon a pair of voices…

"…wonder how much we'll need to buy a pirate ship," says one cheerfully, and I can hear a rustling that indicates something being put away.

"Who knows, but we still have a long way to go!" says Ace, and I'm taken aback at the tone of his voice. He sounds…happy. Excited.

"Hurry up and close it, who knows who will see us," he continues, and Luffy darts ahead of me excitedly.

"Pirate ship!" he yells up at the tree the other two boys are perched in, "You want to be pirates?!"

Ace and Sabo's mouth's drop in shock and they both stare at Luffy dumbly. I walk up behind Luffy and they're attention is drawn to me.

"We do too," I add in.

"So Ace, this is where you come to everyday?" Luffy asks.

"Shut it!" Ace hollers.

"So this is the Luffy guy you were telling me about…" says Sabo, and I take a moment to study him.

Tall top-hat, adorned with goggles of course, and a fancy expensive looking suit accompanied by a rusty, bloody, pipe. Just like the manga depicted him.

"You look very Steampunk," I tell him, and he looks at me in confusion.

"Steam-what?"

I sigh and shake my head, "Just forget about it…honestly, no one knows anything…"

"So you finally came all the way here," Ace interrupts, "and you did it by using a path even a human couldn't walk through."

They both grab a rope and begin to creep up on us. Luffy watches curiously.

"W-wait," I say quickly, "tie me up instead! Luffy won't do anything to harm you."

I mustn't let Porchemy get ahold of Luffy. I can take his abuse…I'm so much older than Luffy, he's just a child. I can't…

"Please," I add, "I promise."

"I don't know if we should trust her," says Sabo, and Ace nods, crossing his arms.

"Tie them both up," he says.

"But-" I start desperately, but am cut off.

"Why should we trust a word you say?" asks Ace, and I stay silent.

"Hey, are you a friend of Ace?" asks Luffy after we had been tied to the tree, "Let's be friends!"

"Shut it!"

"And this is why I told you to live here with me! That so called 'Mountain Path Training' really bit you in the ass…what should we do?" asks Sabo worriedly.

"They know our secret, if we leave them they'll tell someone," replies Ace evenly.

"We won't!" I shout, "We won't tell anyone, so please…let Luffy go!"

"Let's kill them," says Ace, ignoring me completely.

"I agree," replies Sabo.

"Whaaaaaat?!" screams Luffy.

"If you kill us…" I whisper darkly, "then I will come back from the dead, haunt your miserable lives, and make you wish you're pitiful existence never came to be!"

I know they won't do it, but times running short. Porchemy will be here soon..!

Luffy starts sobbing and wriggling, struggling to escape, and I try my best to help him.

"Don't move you idiots!" shouts Sabo, pushing both of us back.

"I didn't think you guys were gonna kill us! Help meeee!" Luffy blubbers.

"Sabo do it!"

"What?! You do it!"

"I've never killed anyone!"

"Me either! I don't know how to do it!"

"S-shut up you guys..!" I shout, "You're gonna attract someone's attention!"

"HEEEEELP!"

"SHUT UP!"

"Hey I heard voices over there, children voices!" a voice suddenly rings out, and we all freeze.

"Crap someone's coming," Ace whispers.

"Take the ropes off them, we have to get out of here or they'll find our treasure!"

"Untie Luffy!" I shout at them, and Ace flinches back, "You untie Luffy right this instant or I'll tell them where you're treasure is!"

Sabo and Ace both glance at each other in panic and quickly move to untie us, and a moment later were all hiding behind a large bush.

"Those children Ace and Sabo are famous around here," I can hear Porchemy say, and I bite back a whimper, "you're sure it's Ace that took your money, right?"

"Yes," says another pirate, covered in wounds and bruises, "I'm ashamed but he caught me by surprise."

"What a stupid child to take money from our crew, if Captain Bluejam hears about this, he'll kill us both!"

"Damn, that guy was a trader for Bluejam!" whispers Ace hurriedly.

"He has a real sword; that's Porchemy," Sabo whispers back, "Have you heard of him? He's crazy He skins the heads of his opponents!"

"Let me go damn you!" whipping my head up, I watch in horror as Luffy is grabbed by Porchemy. This whole thing could have been avoided if-

"Help me Ace! Lucy!" whimpering under my breath, I move to dart forward, but Ace grabs me.

"Lemme go!" I whisper harshly, tears tugging at my eyes, "I have to help him..!"

"You'll give away our position!"

"Did you just say Ace?" asks Porchemy, and Luffy grins.

"Yeah! He's my friend, although he did just try to kill me…"

"Damn him, he keeps talking!" whispers Ace nervously.

"I'm going to ask you one thing," says Porchemy, and my struggles increase, "do you happen to know where he is?"

Luffy is horrible at lying. He couldn't lie if his life depended on it. They're going to hurt him because he won't tell the truth. LuffyishorribleatlyingIneedtohelphim..!

Breaking free from Ace's grasp, I dart forward and into the pirate's line of sight. Taking a breath, I walk forward.

"I know where it is," I say as calmly as I can, sweat trailing down my face and pooling in my collarbone.

"Oh?"

"Yes, and I will take you to it," I say, and Porchemy turns towards me, "On one condition."

"And what's that?"

"You let him go," I say, and I can feel my body shaking in fear, my fists trembling, and Luffy is staring at me with an expression I can't read, "but only if you let him go. Then, I promise, I'll take you there gladly – I owe Ace some payback myself."

Porchemy stares at me, before dropping Luffy harshly and moving towards me. He brandishes his sword threateningly.

"Fine," he says, "you will lead me there. If you are lying, I will kill the boy."

"I'm not lying," I say confidently, and his two henchmen flank me on both sides. Making sure I don't run away.

Luffy is deadly silent, and I wonder what thoughts are running through his mind, the anger and confusion he must feel-

Never abandon Nakama, always fight for your dreams!

"Lead the way," Porchemy says, giving me a mocking bow. Nodding shakily, I steel my resolve.

Slowly, I take a step forward-

o.O.o

There is nothing I wouldn't do for my brother…

He showed me what happiness is, what it means, gave me hopes, and dreams, and he taught me how to live, how to feel, and I love him more than he will ever know. Than he can begin to comprehend.

I would destroy the world if he asked of it, would slaughter anyone who would get in his way. Anyone who tried to harm him.

Even if he doesn't want it. Even if he doesn't know.

Chapter Text

"Oi, brat…" mutters one of Porchemy's henchmen, whose name I don't know, "are you sure you're leading us the right way?"

"Of course," I reply evenly, "now why on earth would I lie to you? I told you didn't I, that Ace owes me quite a bit for the hardships I've endured."

Porchemy says nothing and merely stares at me for a moment. He kinda creeps me out.

"We're almost there," I continue, "just a little while longer…"

"We'd better be you bitch!" hollers the other henchman, "We've been walking through this fucking forest for over an hour now!"

Shrugging, I keep my steady pace and they follow me irritably. Many more minutes are spent like this.

"What'd that brat Ace do to you anyway?" asks the first henchman, and I grin before coming to a complete stop, lowering my head so my hair hides my face.

"Ah, you see, that's the thing," I say, "it's true that Ace owes me a lot, and I do have some serious revenge planned out, but…I also made a promise to myself."

"A promise?" asks Porchemy, his eyes narrowing, and I see his hand reach for his sword out of the corner of my eye.

"Yeah, a promise," I say.

"What kind of promise?" his sword is held loosely in his hand now, and I tense my body in preparation. The henchmen haven't seem to have gotten the clue yet.

"Well," I look up at him and grin so wide my eyes crinkle shut in the process, "I promised I would become his friend no matter what!"

He swings his sword downward, and I just barely manage to avoid it by throwing myself to the side. The henchman yelp in surprise and move to grab their weapons, quickly positioning themselves to pounce on me.

I take off, darting through trees and branches, letting my feet run a beaten and familiar path. This past month of chasing Ace, of cursing him and Luffy, have taught me a lot about this forest. I know it like the back of my hand now, and people like Porchemy who spent their entire lives in the Gray Terminal would never be able to find their way through here. I hear his henchmen hollering at me, and grin.

"As if I'd ever tell you where the treasure to their dreams is!" I yell at them, and snicker at the infuriated look plastered on Porchemy's face.

"Catch her no matter what!" he screams, and his henchmen scramble to obey.

"R-right boss!"

"You think you can catch me?" I laugh, "Come on then, just try!"

I slow my pace down to where they can just barely see me and dart through the trees; dodging branches and animals nimbly, weaving in and out of the foliage while my pursuers were struggling and shouting obscenities.

"Damn bitch!"

"I'm gonna rip your throat out!"

Turning sharply to the right, I leap from dry land and into the crocodile infested water. I jump from rock to rock, steadily avoiding the scaryscaryscary water, and I can hear them slipping and cursing behind me, their large body's not able to find a grip as easily as mine. Grabbing a small batch of nearby vines, I swing the last few feet to dry land, and blow a raspberry at their backs.

"You call that catching me?" I say, leaning down to give them a full grin, "You guys really are pitiful!"

They struggle up the small cliff to meet me, and I jump back a few steps, waiting for the first signs of their heads to show before taking off again.

Come on, come on…

Dodging vines and trees, I see my destination coming up ahead and scramble up a tree, my feet finding nooks and cranny's to grip onto as I hide amongst the leaves.

My prey comes into view moments later and they spend a long moment looking around for me, checking nearby foliage and bushes and coming to a stop just before where I'm hidden.

"Where they hell did she go?" asks one crossly.

"How the hell would I know?!" the other irritably snaps, "we better find her soon or it'll be our heads..!"

"She couldn't have just jumped off the cliff…" the other mutters and I hide a giggle.

Jumping nimbly from my perch, I come to rest just behind them, slowly reaching my hands out and-

"That would be a shame, wouldn't it?" I say softly, and they flinch before beginning to whirl around to meet me, but they don't get a chance to finish.

"Have a safe trip!" I say cheerfully before giving their backs a hard shove, which sends them toppling over the cliff Luffy and I had fallen from so long ago, "I'm sure the wolves will appreciate a snack…"

"You stupid bitch!"

"F-fuck!"

I watch them slowly fall, and place my hands behind my back. Serves them right.

"That leaves only one," I say to myself, and turn around to leave-

"Did you say something?"

Squeaking, my head jerks upward and my eyes widen at the sight of Porchemy, who looks worse for wear. Fear creeps into my veins.

He is soaked, a large gash trailing blood on his head, while more litter his arms and legs in a bloody pattern. I suppose the crocodiles didn't treat him too kindly. He's gripping his sword like a lifeline, fist trembling with barely concealed rage. His eyes are wide and infuriated, the pupils constricted and barely visible, and a shiver creeps down my spine.

"There's only one what?" he asks, his eyes getting wider and his lips forming into a snarl.

He reaches for me and I dart between his legs, small body giving me an advantage. I scramble through the foliage and branches, trying to find somewhere safe. Up ahead, a tiger blocks my path.

"What the actual hell," I holler in frustration, turning and once again climbing up a tree as quickly as possible, praying that Porchemy doesn't see me. He comes into view only moments later.

Porchemy stops just in front of the tiger, and it roars at him angrily before leaping. I watch them struggle with wide, fearful eyes, and shrink back against the bark. The tiger forces its large fanged jaw into Porchemy's shoulder, trailing blood and bone, and he takes that moment to stab his sword through its neck. Blood splatters and pools across his front, and the tigers lifeless body falls into a large heap. His shoulder pulses with blood, which slowly trails a steady stream down his clothes to mingle with the rest, and he looks terrifying.

Slowly, steadily, he turns his gaze to meet mine, and I squeak. I move to scramble down the tree, but he's there in an instant, large hands grabbing my small body, and crushing me in his grip. I gasp for air, and he smiles grimly.

"You're gonna tell me where that treasure is," he hisses, his grip becoming tighter and my bones crack from the weight, "or I'll kill that little boy you left behind…"

"N-never!" I somehow manage to whimper, and he snarls in fury.

"I see you'll need some persuading," he says, and begins making his way back to where we came from. I struggle futilely, wriggling and straining against his hold, and his hand grows tighter and tighter with each passing moment.

He comes to a stop before the river I had jumped across, I feel myself sweat and stiffen, shrinking away from the wet surface, and he turns to me with a large smile.

"I noticed earlier," he says, "that you're movements were jerky and your body was stiff while crossing this river…could it be that you're afraid of water?"

"N-no!" I whimper, head shaking madly.

"If I don't find that treasure," he hisses, "Captain Bluejam will have my head! Never underestimate pirates, you hear me?!"

He shoves me under, and I strain and struggle against his hold, tears pooling with the rest of the water and my lungs inhaling the mucky substance. I heave, and gag, and spit, and he pulls me up after a moment.

I throw up as much water as possible and I can barely feel myself breath against the muddy substance. My eyes are clasped shut, and I can feel snot dribbling down my chin.

"Still have nothing to say?" he says, and my body shivers in fear.

"N-no…"

"Very well then,"

And I'm plunged back under.

o.O.o

Did you know that drowning is considered one of the absolute worst ways to die? One of the most painful?

Did you know that women who commit suicide will more commonly drown themselves?

Did you..?

o.O.o

I don't know how long is spent like this. Porchemy asking me where the treasure is, me refusing and being plunged back under. Minutes, hours, days, it doesn't matter. I began to lose sight of myself – the only thing ringing through my head-

Don't tell him where the treasure is don't tell him where the treasure is don'ttellhimwherethetreasureis-

And in return for my unwillingness to betray my brother and his friends I–

I told him many other things instead.

"I know what you're going to do…" I mutter quietly, mind broken and scrambled and- "the kingdom will burn this trash heap down to nothing and you, you will help…all for the hope of something you'll never receive…it will all be for naught..!"

"What the hell are you talking about?!"

"Ace will…Sabo will…Luffy will…"

On and on I prattled about things Porchemy's small mind can't even begin to comprehend. Things about life and death and the stars – what will happen, what won't, and I couldn't stop myself-

"Do you know what it means to be nothing..? To neither live nor die, to have no conscious and yet feel the vastness of the universe itself…to understand everything…to become one with the stars and have your existence erased piece by piece-"

"What?!"

"Can't you feel them calling? The ocean's fruits are screaming, won't you join them?"

"I can't fucking hear you, speak up bitch!"

"It will be all be your fault!"

"Let her go!"

"That's enough!"

And then-

Darkness.

o.O.o

"…see, I told you!" I could hear someone shouting happily, "there's no way my little sister would betray us!"

"Shut up you idiot! How were we supposed to know that?!"

"…L…Luffy?" I somehow manage to stutter out, and all movement around me halts.

"Lucy!" he shouts as he leans over so I can see him. The sun is bright and hurts my eyes, and I'm thankful that his huge stupid head blocks it out.

"What happened..?" I ask dazedly.

"That Porchemy guy, he…" Ace trails off.

Luffy suddenly bursts into tears and I shriek in panic.

"I was so worried..!" he garbles, snot and tears dribbling messily down his chin.

"Stop crying you idiot!" shouts Ace and Luffy struggles to obey. I turn my thoughts back to what happened before I woke. My head is pounding painfully.

I can only remember bits and pieces, but…

"Ah," I say, eyes tracing the clouds in the sky.

"I knew you wouldn't tell them where the treasure was!" Luffy cries, eyes crinkling shut in his euphoria.

"Of course!" I reply, "As if I'd ever tell them something so important…"

I turn my eyes to Ace and Sabo, and give them a hard look.

"You want to be pirates right?" I ask, "Well listen up, because we do too. I'll never turn my back on my nakama, and I'll never betray their dreams! That's a promise!"

Ace flushes in embarrassment and Sabo gives a sheepish grin.

"A-ahh…"

"Sorry about that…"

"Anyway, how did you know where I was?" I ask curiously as I try to ignore the increasingly loud pounding in my head.

"W-well, we didn't know what do when you led them off," Sabo says, "so we hid the treasure as fast as we could. We thought for sure you'd lead them back, but Luffy kept saying you wouldn't. He kept crying–"

"No I wasn't!"

"You're crying now!"

"and begging us to come back and save you…after sunrise we became worried so we went back to where you started leading them and found you by chance. We managed to grab you and run-" he pauses to give Ace a hard look, and I know immediately what he means, "and now here we are."

"I see," I muter.

Things…have changed drastically. I took Luffy's place on pure impulse, the need to save my brother overwhelming any rational thought I might have had. I have a fearful moment of trepidation on whether this will change Luffy's relationship with Ace and Sabo, but put it in the back of my head for now. I might as well focus on the current situation.

Sitting up, I grimace at the pain in my lungs. They're sore and aching, I can see scratches littering my arms, my throat feels stiff, and I didn't notice how raspy my voice was before. That's right, Porchemy kept…drowning me. Shaking my head sharply, I glance at Luffy to gauge his health. There was a splatter of blood on his head and reaching out, I let my fingers brush against his hair. A long cut crosses diagonally across his forehead and I wince, moving to inspect the rest of his body.

"I'm okay..!" Luffy whines, but I ignore him as I tug off his shirt and pants to properly look over the rest of his body. Finding no more wounds, I sigh heavily.

"Right," I say, clapping my hands sharply, "first things first! We need to get our wounds bandaged and cleaned up."

Turning my eyes on Ace and Sabo, I look over them for wounds too. Pushing myself to my feet I stalk over to Ace first and let my fingers trail across his skin, searching for things my eyes can't see.

"What the hell are you-?!" Ace begins.

"Shut up and sit still!" I bark and he stiffens.

Nodding my head I turn him around, tug off his shirt, and let my eyes rest on the multiple scratches, gashes, and bruises littering his body. I turn my gaze on Sabo sharply and he freezes.

"I-I'm fine?"

I walk calmly to him and he squeaks.

By the end of it they're all looking at me somewhat fearfully and I smile happily.

"I think we all deserve a nice hot bath," I decide, and Luffy cheers.

"The Gray Terminal is too dangerous for now," I mutter to myself before once more turning my gaze on Sabo, "You should stay with us, Dadan won't mind too much. Staying in the Gray Terminal will only get you killed."

"Ahh," Sabo agrees, and Ace looks cross.

"Problem?" I ask him and he looks down at his feet for a minute.

"I don't get it," he mutters quietly before looking up to shout, "why didn't you spill the secret?! Those are criminals who would easily kill women and children!"

I keep forgetting that Ace is in a bad place right now, that he's trying to find himself and settle.

"But if I told them," I say gently, "we couldn't be friends anymore could we? Besides, Luffy would never forgive me anyway…"

"But it'd still be better than dying wouldn't it?! Do you really wanna be friends that badly?!" he hollers, and I feel my heart squeeze, desperation pouring into my veins, "Do you know how much shit you put me through?!"

"I told you didn't I?!" I scream at him, and he stops in surprise, "I will never betray a nakama! Luffy is all I have, and I'm all Luffy has! We can't go back to Windmill Village, and we hate mountain bandits too..!"

"If we didn't chase after you, we'd be alone," Luffy adds in, tapping the ground awkwardly, "and being alone is the more painful than pain itself..!"

"What about your parents..?" Ace asks.

"Grandpa's all we have…" I say and Luffy nods in agreement.

"So when I'm with you it doesn't hurt…and when I'm gone it'd be a problem, huh?"

"Yup," Luffy says, tears once again beginning to form in his eyes.

"So you want me to live..?" he asks, his face turned downward, shadowed, and I heave a sigh.

"Of course we do!" I reply, sharply hitting him in the back, and he wheezes, "And I'm sure Sabo wants you alive too."

Sabo looks between us, obviously not understanding the conversation, but nods his head furiously.

"Of course, Ace is my best friend!"

"Listen Ace," I say, leaning forward to give him a serious stare, and he stiffens, "never ever take your life for granted. Every life in this world is precious, special, and there is no such thing as someone who shouldn't exist-"

Except for you, a voice hisses at me, and I ignore it.

"always stand proud, and be happy that you're alive! To regret living…it's the worst thing there is..!"

I can tell he doesn't really understand what I'm saying, but I smile at him nonetheless.

"Now then," I turn back to Sabo and Luffy and clap my hands, "let's go take that bath!"

o.O.o

"You-!" Sabo shouts, voice strained.

After a long trek we managed to find our way back to Dadan's home. She had been shocked at the sight of Sabo-

'Another one?!'

But gave into our whims nonetheless with a little persuasion. Of the threat sort.

"You're a girl?!" Ace finishes for him, and I can feel an angry tick throb on my head.

"What do you mean 'you're a girl?!' Of course I'm a girl you morons, what made you think I wasn't?!" I holler and punch them both firmly in the stomachs. They both heave and hunch in pain.

"You look nothing like a girl!"

"Yeah! You're hairs too short..! And, and you're body is-"

"Stop right there!" I yell, "There are children in the room!"

"Huh, where?" asks Luffy.

I pat him gently on the head and shake my head pitifully.

"Nowhere dear, nowhere…" I mutter.

"You're still a child too!" Ace shouts back.

"What was that, you brat?!"

"I'm older than you!"

"Shut up!" Dadan hollers and bursts into the room, "If you're gonna take a bath do it quietly! I'm trying to sleep!"

"Shut up you old coot!"

"What was that?!"

The rest of the night was far from peaceful.

o.O.o

A month passes like this. We healed from our wounds, and stuck together.

"Luffy, Lucy, we'll bring food back for you so you don't need to come along!" Ace shouts as we run to catch up.

"The hell we don't!" I holler at his back and Luffy giggles.

"We're coming too!"

We also found ourselves becoming closer.

I was full of hope.

o.O.o

"Listen up Lucy!" Sabo says seriously, and next to him Ace nods his head.

"W-what?" I ask suspiciously.

They both had waved Luffy off to find some meat and took me aside to 'have a serious conversation.' We were now seated in our shared room, both of them sitting across from me.

"You're a girl right?" Sabo continues, while Ace keeps nodding his head.

"Yeah, so?" I drawl.

"So, there are things that a lady can't do!" Ace suddenly jumps in.

I feel myself straighten and let a glare take over my face.

"Like what?" I mutter dangerously at them.

"Like taking baths with us!" Sabo shouts desperately.

I blink in surprise and look at Ace who is once again nodding his head furiously.

"It was okay 'cause you're a kid, but we have to grow up sometime!" Ace says, "You also need to stop undressing us when looking for wounds..!"

I stare at them both blankly.

"Is that all this is about?" I ask, and they look at me in confusion.

"What else would we be here for?"

"So…" I continue slowly, eyes darting between them, "you don't have a problem with me fighting with you or..?"

"Er, why would we?" Ace asks.

Looking at their confused faces, I can't help but throw my head back and laugh. I guess I jumped to conclusions too quickly.

"So you won't do that stuff anymore?" Sabo asks hesitantly after a moment, and they both scoot away as if I'm about to explode.

"Sure."

"That easily?!"

"I thought you'd kill us for sure..!"

"Well," I say, "the only reason I would take baths with you is because Luffy is used to it and it makes him feel better. You're just a bunch of kids, so I had no problem with it."

"How many times do I have to tell you, we're older than you damnit!"

Sabo looks about ready to cry tears of relief. Can't let them off that easily.

"But," I hiss at them both, letting a pleasant smile settle on my face, "if you ever, and I mean ever, make a sexist comment in my presence – no better yet, in your life, I won't hesitate to bring you down."

They're both staring up at me fearfully and quickly nod their heads when my smile widens.

"W-we won't!"

"We promise!"

"Good!" I say happily and drag them up from the floor, "Now then, let's go. Luffy's probably done something stupid in the time we've left him alone."

"Yes…" they say miserably.

"Oh, and by the way" I add in absently, "I'm still gonna undress you when looking for wounds."

"What?!"

"But you just said-"

"Don't argue with me!"

o.O.o

"Gomu Gomu no…" Luffy shouts, bringing his arm back and spinning it in preparation for his attack, "Pistol!"

He lets his fist fly and it hits the ground before promptly swinging back to punch him in the face.

"What the hell," Ace says before promptly kicking Luffy in the face, which sends him flying back, "do you think you're even doing?!"

"Ace is the winner!" calls Sabo and Ace scoffs.

"Is that ability of yours really good for anything?"

"It's not working properly…" Luffy mutters sadly, "once I get it working how it's supposed to you won't know what hit you!"

"One more round!" Luffy jumps up from the ground invigorated, and I sigh before sharply pushing him down again.

"Sorry, but it's only 100 rounds per day per person," Ace says, "try again tomorrow."

"Better luck next time Luffy!" I say and he pouts at me.

"So, as usual," Sabo says as he inspects their makeshift board, "Luffy lost to me and Ace 50 times each, Lucy lost to Ace 45 times and me 36 times, while me and Ace are at 24-26…damnit."

"When I'm ten years old, I'll beat both of you up!" Luffy shouts irritably.

"When you're ten we'll be thirteen," Ace replies, "come on, let's go catch dinner."

"How's crocodile sound?"

"Crocodiles delicious!"

"Try not to get eaten this time, all right Luffy? It was sheer luck that the crocodile ate you whole last time!"

"I'll just leave this to you guys," I smile and sit on a nearby boulder. Ace stares at me for a moment before turning to follow Luffy and Sabo to the river.

Clenching my fist, I stare down at the floor.

My fear of water has only gotten worse. It's gotten to the point where it's hard for me to even take a bath. The fear of being pulled under was so strong it's like I was back then, like none of this is real and I begin to lose sight of myself once again. I felt so…weak and insignificant.

It was hard to keep up with the boys. Ace and Sabo were strong and had been doing this for years, while Luffy had his Devil Fruit power to rely on. I was a normal human. My body couldn't do amazing things like theirs could, and every day was a struggle, a struggle to get up and follow and fight and protect-

Even though I won more fights than Luffy did against Ace and Sabo that was only because he can't control his power yet. He keeps sabotaging himself and I'm sure that if we were to go one on one in a purely physical fight he would win every time. As it is, I refuse to fight him. I would never be able to bring myself to. Not fully anyway, and most certainly not honestly.

I can feel my body becoming stronger with each passing day, but with it I can also feel myself fading.

I'm not sure how long I can keep this up. I've never considered myself to be a fighter, or even someone who's violent, but I know that I won't be able to survive in this world like that. I want to protect Luffy, and Ace, and Sabo so badly it hurts. I want to become strong.

I stole a glance at Dadan's newspaper this morning and I know…it's will soon be time. The Tenryuubito would be arriving soon and the whole kingdom was in a flurry of activity. Luffy and the others haven't noticed yet, and I can feel the trepidation and tension creeping around me growing stronger with each passing day.

I can't let Sabo anywhere near the Goa Kingdom.

No matter the cost.

It's been so hard, trying to think of a way to avoid all of this, but…I think I might have a plan.

It'll just take time to execute it.

o.O.o

"We should go to the city and steal some stuff," Sabo says one day, and I immediately stiffen.

"Yeah, it's been a while hasn't it?" Ace says absently from where he's trying to keep Luffy from falling off a cliff.

"No," I say.

"What?"

"What'dya mean 'no'?"

I feel my teeth clench and I turn my head downward.

"No," I say again, more clearly this time.

Ace is frowning at me, while Sabo and Luffy merely look confused.

"I need you to listen to me very carefully," I say seriously, stalking forward to grab all three of them by their shirts and drag them close.

"What's the big idea?" Ace says irritably.

"Lucy..!" Luffy whines.

"In a few weeks, a very important person will be arriving on this island," I tell them, and they all stop at the desperation in my voice, "and until they come and leave, we can't go anywhere near the Gray Terminal or the Capital."

Ace opens his mouth to say something, but I quickly cut him off-

"Please," I say, and I can feel tears beginning to tug at my eyes, the thought of losing Sabo so strong and painful and Luffy having to endure- "Please just listen to me. I'll never ask anything of you ever again just…stay away from there until it's over."

I can feel their stares on me and my fists begin to shake, because I was scared. So, so scared. What if I fail? What if Sabo still almost dies and ends up with Dragon anyway? What if he actually dies? I can't- I can't let that-

"Please trust me!"

"O-okay…" Ace mutters, "but just until this person leaves the country, okay?"

"I don't know what has you so upset," says Sabo, "but it'll be okay. We'll stay away from the Gray Terminal."

"Yeah!" adds in Luffy.

I heave a shaky sigh and nod before letting them go.

"One day I'll explain," I tell them, "but until then, I need you to trust me…"

"Please."

This is the only thing I can do.

o.O.o

Time passes.

One week, two, and then-

I know it's time to begin.

o.O.o

"I'm going out for a while," I say, and the others look up at me from where they're tearing into their dinner.

"Again?" asks Ace, scrutinizing me carefully.

"Where are you going?" asks Luffy as he nimbly steals from Aces plate while he's distracted.

"Nowhere important," I smile, "I'll be back in a few hours."

"But it's already dark out…" Sabo mumbles into his food.

"I'll be fine!" I laugh, "See ya!"

I dart from the house and into the gloomy night. I have no problem traversing the dangerous area now, and could practically do it in my sleep…even if I do go out of my way to avoid the crocodile infested waters.

It takes about a half-hour to reach the Gray Terminal, and I'm careful to avoid the homeless and less savory people that are puttering about.

I nimbly dart around and through the heaps of trash and feces, and before I know it I find myself at my destination.

Looking up at the large ship, I take in a deep breath.

It's time to set things into motion.

I can't sit on the sidelines forever.

"Okay," I mutter to myself and make my way forward.

I stalk through the large thing, passing rooms and halls until I find myself where I want to be.

"Huh? A kid?"

"Hello," I greet pleasantly, making sure my back is always towards a wall.

"Are you the one who sent me this?"

"Yes," I say, nervous sweat pooling in my collarbone, but I keep my smile plastered onto my face, "I have many things I would like to discuss with you, Captain Bluejam…"

And so it begins.

Chapter Text

 

o.O.o

The thing about the world of One Piece is that the technology is skewed. Messed up, weird, wrong.

There isn’t really a simple way to put it.

In comparison to my own world, the technology here is so much more advanced, and yet so far behind it was…ridiculous. Perhaps this was because of the addition of Devil Fruits, or maybe the layout of the world and its strange islands, I don’t know, but the point is – it’s almost impossible for me to get my hands on something even a little technologically advanced. I’m not sure what energy this world’s technology ran on, but it certainly wasn’t electricity. And more than that, what technology that does exist is expensive.

I still haven’t exactly…adapted to this world, but I’m getting there. As it is, it’s hard for me to settle when before technology was literally everywhere. It was what ran my world, what made it turn, and many people’s lives were dedicated to advancing and perfecting it. The mass majority of the populace (that I knew of, and had personal experience with) couldn’t survive without it. This world was almost the complete opposite. Technology didn’t really matter here – the only thing that mattered was reaching One Piece and exploring the world.

The most advanced thing I’d heard of in this world so far would be Sky Island’s selection of rare dials, however I probably wasn’t going to be getting my hands on that any time soon though, so I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with this line of thought.

So, as simply as I can possible make it, technology is incredibly advanced as well as incredibly behind, ridiculously expensive, and almost impossible to get my hands on.

Almost.

It was easy to forget just where exactly I lived while I ran through the forest with my brother, and it was easy to forget just how rich this kingdom was as I fought off tigers and bears and any manner of predator. It was just…so easy.

Getting what I needed though?

Not easy. Not even a little bit.

Digging through trash heaps at the dead of night, avoiding murderers and pedophiles and any manner of evil-doer that may creep through the darkness, for hours, no days – no weeks, I was ready to just…give up. The chances of finding what I needed? Close to impossible, if not outright so. I wasn’t even sure if it existed here. I was getting more weary and desperate with each passing day, ready to just throw in the towel and find some other way when I finally found it.

It was broken, which was to be expected I suppose, but not something I couldn’t fix.

Holding my hope closely, I presented it to the scruffy Captain staring down on me with cold eyes.

“Would you like to know a secret?” I asked and his eyes trailed over the small device in my hands.

His interest piqued, I smiled.

Perhaps there was a way after all.

o.O.o

The people of Goa Kingdom are incredibly arrogant – outrageously so. They don’t even try to hide it, so confident in their prestige and money they are. The thought never fails to make my skin crawl, to make my hair stand on end and disgust to curl in my stomach – if there’s one thing about this world that needs…improvement on, it was definitely the rich. I could be enslaved at any moment – legally at that – and no one would give a damn because money. Not even my grandfather would be able to save me from the right, or wrong in this case, people. Sometimes, it was hard to ignore just how scary this world is.

However, this is something I could easily take advantage of. Arrogant people also tend to be ignorant people – stupid people. People who refuse to acknowledge the facts and face reality. People who believe nothing could ever touch them. The entirety of the Goa Kingdom was the personification of arrogance.

This proved to be very useful.

If I played my cards right these people could be practical putty in my hands. If there was one thing these people proved to be – it was stupid. I mustn’t become overconfident though – that would just…ruin me. I had to be careful, mark my moves, and stay wary.

It was hard though.

Like, really hard.

Not just physically, but – mentally.

Emotionally.

I often found myself getting lost in my thoughts, becoming trapped in memories that no longer matter – once again becoming victim to my own depression and anxiety, my fear and helplessness and I – and my brother learned long ago that nothing will rouse me from that dead-eyed state, that it was best to just leave me be and let me find myself back to reality. On these days I would merely lay in bed, covered by the thick weight of a blanket and the cool comfort of the darkness, and Luffy would bring me food before going outside to do, well- Luffy things. Our routine was disrupted because of the addition of Ace and Sabo, but they too quickly learned that there were moments where I just- needed to be alone. We never acknowledged it, mainly because despite everything they were still children and didn’t really understand, and I tried my best to dissuade their worry, to prevent it from happening again, but I could still see the pinched tightness around Aces brow and Sabo’s worried eyes. It’s hard to look them in the face after these…episodes.

So, I smile, I laugh, and I try to look past the ache in my chest.

It’s the least I can do, after all I-

I-

I was never supposed to exist in the first place.

o.O.o

I’m making my way back to the bandits hide-out when I notice it.

It’s bright, and gleaming, and something about it just…catches my eye. I stop to let my eyes run over the ground, pinpointing that sharp brightness before I-

See it.

I let my feet guide me forward, reaching out a hand to grasp and pull it out from under the heaps of trash and another one falls with it. I let my fingers run over the hilt, bright gold swirling in with shining black, and my breath catches in my throat.

They were somewhat large, but that was to be expected with my small hands and young body, yet even so…they somehow fitted perfectly, naturally.

They were perfect.

With these I might have a chance.

With these I-

I could get stronger, better, I could protect my family and home and-

I take in a shaky breath, wipe the beginnings of wet tears from my eyes and carefully put them in my dark satchel.

My meeting with Bluejam shook me up more than I thought. I don’t regret it, not yet at least, but that didn’t really dissipate the mind-numbing worry and fear sinking into the pit of my stomach. I don’t know what he’ll do with the information he’s been given. I don’t know what I’ll do from here on out. I let my fingers glide over my shiny find.

It’s a long shot, and it will take years for me to be able to properly wield them with deadly force and expertise, but with these I-

I might have a fighting chance.

o.O.o

“Lucy,” I hear Ace say as I creep into the room, and I freeze guiltily, “we need to talk.”

Glancing over my shoulder, I wince when I see him situated next to the door, arms crossed and pipe held in one hand. His dark strandy hair caught the moonlight.

“Right,” I say, let my hand scratch the back of my head tiredly, “let’s do this outside, yeah?”

He nods and leaves the room first. I slump slightly and look back at Luffy and Sabo’s prone forms. It seems they were still asleep. I sigh and trudge my way outside.

Ace was settled against a nearby rock, flipping his metal pipe in his hands. I make my way towards him and lean back against the rock, hands behind my back.

“…what’s up?” I ask casually, turning my eyes up to the moon.

I suppose I was due in for a lecture. I’m sure I’ve worried them, with all of my sneaking about and absolute refusal to go to the Gray Terminal or the Capital.

I hear him sigh and watch him tug his hand through his hair out of the corner of my eyes.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” he asks me.

“What’dya mean?” I continue, digging my foot into the ground.

“Enough of this,” he says sharply, and I can’t help but flinch instinctively, “Lucy, what’s been going on? Every night you keep sneaking out, disappearing for hours at a time, and when you come back you reek and look so…sad, so disappointed.”

I stay quiet, guilt gnawing at me, and drag my fingers through my hair. It’s been growing longer, I haven’t been paying as much attention to keeping it short, and now reaches just past my chin. I don’t think I’d mind letting it grow out. The black silky strands twist through my fingers and I let out a small sigh.

“I can’t tell you,” I start, and quickly cut off his angry glare, mouth opening to retort, “not yet, at least.”

He closes his mouth, clenches his jaw and motions for me to continue irritably. Despite everything Ace could be calm and collected when it was needed, could hold back his aggressive nature to get the facts. It’s something I really appreciate right now.

“I have my own reasons,” I say, “and there are things I don’t think I’ll be able to tell anyone, but…I want you to know, that no matter what, I only have what’s best for you, Luffy, and Sabo in mind. I will always stand by you, and I will always love each of you.”

I turn to look him in the eye, and he looks surprised, awed, and there’s something there I can’t quite recognize but-

“I won’t be leaving anymore,” I continue, look back up at the sky, “and soon we’ll be able to go back into the Grey Terminal and the Capital, but for now…”

He says nothing, watching me silently, and I hope and pray my words reach him.

“Please trust me.”

o.O.o

“So then,” I ask carefully, hiding my nervous sweat and the tremor of my hands, “what do you think?”

The pirate is silent, staring down at the small device in his hands and a long moment passes. The other pirates around me utter not a word, not even daring to whisper a breath, and despite myself I feel intimidated. I don’t know what a man like Bluejam will do with the information he’s been given.

The proof he’s been given.

It probably won’t be pretty.

A large crunching crash echoes throughout the room, and I wince as the device I had spent weeks fixing is destroyed. I inch towards the door subtly.

“To be born a noble,” says Bluejam, face shadowed, “means to be born under a lucky star.”

I stay silent.

“That is what I’ve always believed.”

The pirates around me shift and look at each other nervously, uncomfortably.

“What are you going to do now?” I ask.

There was something heavy about his tone, something frightening about his stance and I fight the urge to flee.

“…” he stays silent for a moment, moving to stand up.

“I don’t know,” he says, and it is then I notice the anger in his eyes, the snarl on his face.

He pounds his fist against the nearby wall, and I flinch despite myself.

“Leave,” he roars, pounding his fist once more, “I need to think.”

Nodding my head, I begin to back out of the room, keeping my eyes on his form. The pirates around me are silent.

It is only when I’m safely encased in the darkness of the hallway, when the door shuts and the last fleeting images of Bluejam I see is him throwing a table wildly, mad shouting leaving his lips, that I turn on my heel and run.

What happens next is out of my control.

I set the field, played my cards, and now the only thing I can do is wait.

And hope for a miracle.

o.O.o

Perhaps it was cruel of her to do what she did. Perhaps it was-

Selfish.

Even before she did it, she’d heard it all before – how selfish people such as herself were, how undeserving they were to have what they did, how sad and miserable their existence was how- how they needed help.

Even so, that didn’t stop her, didn’t dissuade her in the least – nor did it exactly spur her on. She didn’t care what others thought, she would do it regardless, after all it’s not like it would-

It’s not like it would matter anyways. In the end.

The only thing that mattered was getting away, the only thing that was left was empty words on a blank page and-

The water.

o.O.o

I dodge to the left and flips back, hands springing myself away and feet coming up to kick at my attacker before I twist to land firmly on my feet. The other splutters and falls back with an oomph, and I quickly darts forward to deliver the finishing blow. The other curses and pushes themselves up to dodge my swing, twisting around and punching at my unprotected back, sending me flying forward. I land on my hands and once again flip myself away, putting a suitable distance between my opponent and myself. Facing them, I slide into a simple fighting stance, legs spread and arms pulled in tight to protect my vulnerable points.

My attacker smiles and darts forward, raising their weapon and I don’t even think when I reach into my cloak bring my own up to meet them. The others eyes widen in surprise before narrowing in concentration and aiming at my unprotected stomach. I dodge just barely, slashing my weapon forwards, and I am surprised at the speed my swing provides, arm shooting forward and just barely missing the others chest. Letting out a grunt, the other swings their weapon once again, and I raise my arm to take the blow, twisting myself around to deliver a solid kick to their back, following up to punch them firmly in an effort to keep them down. My opponent lets out a cry of pain and I dig my knee into their back, brandishing my weapon threateningly against their neck.

“Checkmate,” I grin.

“Alright, alright, you win,” Sabo heaves, grunting when I roughly pull myself off of him. He rolls over to lie on his back and spreads his arms wide, panting in exhaustion, “Where the hell didja get that anyway?”

It takes me a moment to get what he’s referring to, and I laughs sheepishly when it clicks. Holding up the slightly large dagger, I present it to him.

“I found it,” I say truthfully, and hand it to him when he motions for it. He twists it in his fingers with a whistle.

“It’s real pretty, you’d probably get a bit of money from this,” he scrutinizes, and I have to agree.

The dagger is set with a long, silver blade and a gold and black hilt. The blade itself easily surpassed the length of my palm, curving first inward, then outward into a sharp point – it looked as if it had been recently sharpened, although I don’t know how that was possible seeing as it was probably lost within the heaps of trash that call the Gray Terminal home for weeks or even months. The hilt was designed with golden swirls clashing against a stark black, each color twisting into the next until it formed into a complex design of patterns and curves. I don’t know if any of it was authentic, but it definitely made for a fine blade. The power and force in my swing surprised me, and I’m thankful I had missed hitting Sabo. I don’t know how much damage I could have caused.

He hands it back to me with a smile, moving to sit up and mark off the scoreboard.

“Are you going to sell it?” he asks as he erases the previous day’s numbers to mark in new ones.

“No way!” I can’t help but shout, and he turns to me with raised eyebrows. I flush.

“I mean,” I clarify, “I don’t have Devil Fruit powers like Luffy, and I’m not strong like you and Ace so I thought…”

I trail off and reach into my dark satchels pocket to drag out the other one. I look at them both, sitting so comfortably in my palm. I can see my reflection in the blade – inky hair and charcoal eyes set on a baby-face. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

“I thought it would be good to learn how to use these,” I continue, “we’re going to pirate’s right? It’s going to be hard so…I need to be strong.”

“You are strong,” Sabo says matter-of-factly, turning to give me a meaningful look, “or else you wouldn’t be able to keep up with us day after day like you do. You might not see it, but you’re strong in your own ways; in ways Ace or Luffy, or even I can’t ever hope to be.”

I look at him in surprise.

‘I can’t keep up with you’ I want to say, ‘every day is a struggle and I’m not sure I can keep going’ I want to tell him, but keep silent. Sabo was a lot smarter than he let on, a lot more mature than he wanted to be. I kept forgetting that he was in fact the son of a noble. Letting a smile tug at my face, I nod and grip the daggers tighter, ignoring the guilty hollow in my chest.

“Even so,” I tell him, “I’m going to learn how to use these – properly.” I give my right dagger a small swing and smile at the sharp sound it produces. Sabo shivers fearfully.

“We’re doomed…” I hear him mutter sadly and grin cheerfully, stowing them away in my satchel.

“When’s Ace and Luffy getting back anyway?” I ask, jumping up to settle on a nearby bolder.

“They said they’d be back before sundown,” Sabo says, turning his eyes towards the sky at the slowly descending sun. I grimace.

“I hope they don’t bring back crocodile again, there’s only so much of the stuff I can handle.”

Sabo laughs and turns to finish marking the scoreboard. He hums as he looks over our progress for the day.

“You’ve gotten a lot stronger,” he says thoughtfully, “You only lost to me 28 times this round.”

I hum back and settle back to look up at the clouds. I take in a deep breath.

“Hey Sabo,” I call, and he makes an answering noise back, moving to jump up on the boulder next to me.

“Promise me you’ll stay away from the Terminal and Capital?” I ask, eyes picking out shapes in the sky and legs kicking a restless tune.

“I promise I’ll stay away from the Terminal and Capital,” he sighs. This was hardly the first time I’ve made him do this.

“Good,” I nod.

Several minutes of silence pass.

“You know, keeping your daggers in your satchel is kinda unconventional,” Sabo says conversationally, “you should probably get some holsters.”

“You know I can’t afford one, and I’m trying to stay away from the Terminal right now,” I point out, and he laughs.

“Right,” he smiles.

Being with Sabo is a lot calmer than being with my brother or even Ace. He was the balance that made up our little group – the voice of reason. I don’t know how we’d survive without him; heaven knows I’d have killed both Luffy and Ace by now if it wasn’t for him. I let my eyes slip close and bask in the silence that was the forest around us. I can hear Sabo breathing beside me, bird calls in the distance, and the trickling of water nearby.

“Hey Lucy,” Sabo asks, lying back next to me, “why are you so afraid of water?”

I can’t stop myself from tensing up and forcefully relax my body against the heavy weight in my chest.

“I’ve always been afraid of water,” I tell him, only being half-honest, “water is…scary – and painful. Water is something nobody can compete against; it will always win. It’s just my luck I happen to live in a world that is almost entirely made of water.”

Sabo says nothing and we both fall into silence once more.

“You don’t have to worry,” Sabo says suddenly, and my eyes snap open against their will, “me, and Ace, and Luffy…we won’t ever let that happen to you again.”

I close them once again and ignore the scraping feeling in my throat, the sting of tears against my lids.

“Y-yeah,” I croak.

The next few hours are spent in complete silence, only the sounds of our breathing accompanying us until we were eventually interrupted by my wild brother and Ace, our world once again thrown into noisy chaos.

I’m still finding my place in this crazy world. I still don’t quite belong, but…

I’m getting there.

o.O.o

“What the hell is this” I ask blankly, staring at the cup presented before me. Ace gives me an annoyed look. Luffy looks excited. Sabo is indifferent but happy.

“Didn’t you know?” Ace asks, grinning as he pulls out a corked bottle from who knows where.

Memories hit me with a smack and I try to hide my cringe. That feeling of intrusion, of unbelonging, is back once again – and it’s here to bite with a vengeance. I glance at Luffy, am swallowed by guilt when I see his cheery face, and look down at my feet. This should be his moment; not mine.

“You stole some of Dadan’s sake!” Luffy cheers and I bark out a strained laugh, struggle not to hit him, because, honestly, that is not something to be proud of. No matter how annoying the woman may be.

Ace ignores him and begins to pour the clear liquid into each of our respective cups. I stay silent, eyes darting between each of them.

“If you exchange drinks,” he says, “then you can become bro-“

He cuts himself off sharply, perhaps sensing my narrowed eyes, and glances at me nervously before quickly correcting himself, “er, siblings.”

I smile happily at him, fakely, and all three boys scoot back an inch. I’m somewhat proud.

With a clearing of his throat, he once again brandishes his bottle to finish his speech.

“When we become pirates, we may not end up on the same crew,” Ace continues, and I don’t point out that I will be on Luffy’s crew, “but the bond of siblinghood we share will never die!”

Luffy grins tearfully, Sabo’s wide smile overtaking his face, and I hide my own sad, lopsided grin behind my cup.

“No matter where we are or what we do,” Ace finishes, “this is one bond we can never break!”

He lifts his cup and each of us follow suit, clinking the glasses together with a laugh and a cheer, “starting today, we’re siblings!”

“Yeah!” Luffy shouts.

“Siblings huh?” I mumble to myself and eye my cup.

Doesn’t sound too bad I suppose.

o.O.o

I awaken to the sounds of talking and laughing.

I blink blearily at the ceiling and resist the urge to roll over and just go back to sleep.

“Lucy wake up!” Luffy suddenly bursts into the room, and I squeal as I dart up and back against the wall.

We both stare at each other for a long moment.

“You scared me!” I yell tearfully, tugging my blanket up to hide my body.

“Makino’s here!” Luffy says at the same time, grin covering his face.

Another moment of silence.

Luffy grins once again and leaves, and I spend a long moment revaluating my life’s choices.

Makino is holding several shirts up to Ace and Sabo’s body, measuring and deciding which ones to give them, when I finally measure up the courage to leave our room. There are several large bags scattered throughout the room, and she’s happily talking with the two boys. I like Makino, I really do, but I’m just not as close to her as Luffy is. She tries to act like a mother, or older sister, to us, but I can’t really reciprocate when I know my real parents don’t exist in this world.

My parents from- before, they weren’t exactly…the best, but they…tried?

They loved me with all of their heart, even if they couldn’t love each other, and they sacrificed so much to love and care for me. We had our ups and downs, which every family has, but at the end of the day – we still loved each other. No matter how stifling or harsh that love may seem.

“Ah, Lucy,” Makino smiled kindly at me, “I’ve brought some new clothes for you too!”

“Thanks,” I smile back and move to look through the bag she indicated. Luffy was happily describing what we’d been doing for the past few weeks, and Makino was nodding along and smiling at all the right moments.

Settling on my knees in front of the bag, I begin to sift through it, pulling out cloths of various sizes and patterns. To my disappointment I find that the majority of the clothes are made of skirts and dresses – which Makino is always trying to get me to wear.

It’s not that I don’t like skirts or dresses – sometimes I even enjoy wearing them – it’s just that pants are so much easier to move around in. I don’t have to worry about flashing anyone, or the ends getting caught on something – or even any animals grabbing onto the tail of the cloth. I appreciated Makino’s efforts, mainly because anime and manga make wearing the same outfit everyday look easy, but I’d appreciate it more if she thought about what I’d want to wear.

No use complaining about it, I suppose.

“Ahh, Lucy,” Makino called out, and I turned towards her curiously, “would you like me to wash your cloak? I can tell it hasn’t been cleaned in a while.”

Glancing down, I wince at the stains and tears on the poor cloth. There really hasn’t been much time to properly tend to it, so caught up in staying ahead of the plot I’ve been, so I really wouldn’t mind giving it a thorough bath.

“Yes please,” I tell her, shrugging it off to hand it over. Makino gives me a once over and raises her brow.

“What..?” I ask warily.

“Let me wash your other clothes while I’m at it,” the woman sighed, reaching into my bag of clothes to pull out a long red cloth, “wear this for today.”

She shoves the dress in my hands and I stare at it blankly for a moment. I look back up at her, but find she’s already pulling a clean shirt onto Luffy. With a sigh, I gather the long, short sleeved dress into my arms and head to the bathroom.

Straightening it out, I quickly tug off the rest of my clothes and slip the ruby cloth over my head. It falls around my waist comfortably and loosens out into a bunch of frills that fall down to my knees. The collar falls into a V-neck, while two thin straps keep the dress secured to my shoulders. Makino has good taste.

Glancing in the mirror to straighten out my hair, I turn and head back out into the rowdy living room.

“Neh, Lucy!” Luffy calls out happily, “look what Makino got me!” he points at the shirt he’s been given, which proudly proclaims ‘Meat!’.

“It fits you,” I smile, and turn when I feel someone poke me in the back.

“You actually look like a girl,” Ace tells me, brow furrowed in what I can only guess is confusion. I feel my pulse tick.

“What do you mean ‘actually’?!” I yell, strained, and promptly punch him in the arm.

Ace yelps and I hear a muttered, “that’s your own fault” from Sabo. I turn on him sharply and he freezes before offering me a nervous smile and hiding behind Makino.

“Coward!” I shout, and Makino acts as if nothing happened at all.

“Ahh, you look so pretty Lucy!” Makino coos at me, before promptly pulling me forward to hug (note: strangle).

“T-thanks,” I wheeze, and Luffy glomps both of us.  

I somehow manage to wiggle my way out from both of them, and gratefully inhale some fresh air.

“So Makino,” I rasp, “what are you doing here anyway? Can’t be just to give us some clothes.”

Makino smiles once more and nods her head, “I also brought some food,” she says, reaching behind her to grab a large sack, “and I came to give you a message from your grandfather. He said he’s going to visit to check on your progress.”

Luffy, who had been digging into the meat Makino brought with almost disturbing glee, freezes, a look of slow horror overcoming his face. Ace, who had been looking through one of the nearby bags, also froze in what I can only assume is fear. Sabo looks confused, yet nervous.

“D-do you happen to know when he’s coming..?” I ask hesitantly, tugging at the bottom of my dress in my nervousness.

“No,” she sighs sadly, pushing my hands away from the silky material, “he wouldn’t tell me. Just said to ‘be prepared’.”

“R-right,” I mutter faintly.

Don’t you fucking judge me, the man is terrifying.

“I-I know!” Ace suddenly shouts, and each of us flinch at the volume of his voice.

“W-what?” I ask warily, and he leaps forwards to grab Luffy’s and my wrists, “c’mon.”

“I’ll go ahead and wash your clothes…” I can hear Makino trail off as we’re pulled away from the room.

Sabo trails after us confusedly, and Ace drags us up the stairs and into our shared room. Slamming the door shut, he gives each of us a measuring stare.

“I think it’s about time,” he tells us, “that we moved out.”

“What.” I ask blankly.

“Huh?” Sabo asks in confusion.

“Yeah!” Luffy cheers excitedly.

“That old geezer can’t bother us if he can’t find us!” Ace explains impatiently, “besides…this house is starting to feel stuffy, don’t ya think?”

“Ace has a good point,” Sabo agrees, nodding his head and putting his chin in his hands in the classic ‘thinking position’.

“That sounds fun! Shishishishi,” cue Luffy.

I take a moment to gather my thoughts and accept the fact that regardless of what I think, we’re going to be moving out anyway. Besides, I really don’t mind – it might be best for us.

“Alright,” I sigh, “I think we should move too.”

Ace smirks. Luffy grins. Sabo smiles.

“But, where?” I ask, settling on the floor.

“We’ll make a fort,” Ace replies, grabbing a nearby piece of paper and pencil, scribbling something out before presenting it to us.

‘ASLL’ the paper parrots back at me.

“What’s this?” Sabo asks, tugging the paper from Aces grasp.

“That’ll be our forts name!” Ace grins, flashing his teeth, “It’s the first letter of each of our names.”

“Cool!” Luffy grins, “When are we going to go?”

“Soon,” Ace replies, putting his hands on his hips, “but first, we need to actually build our fort.”

“Let’s make it far away from here,” I add in, “and away from the Terminal. How about deep in the forest?”

How long has it been since I’ve been thrust in this world?

How much longer here do I have left?

Can I protect my brother’s?

What can I do?

I’m not sure.

“Far away from the Bluejam Pirates, and far away from the nobles,” Sabo says, voice faltering on the word ‘nobles’.

“So, are we all in?” Ace asks.

I suppose the only thing I can do is my best.

“Yeah!”

Both for myself, and those I left behind in that faraway world.

“Of course!”

This is all I have left. I won’t let it be destroyed.

“Then let’s do this!”

No matter the cost.

 

Chapter Text

“We’re finally done..!” I cried out, collapsing upon the hard wooden floor that made up my new home in euphoria, “I’m so tired…”

“You barely did any of the work! You just lied around and said you were ‘supervising’ and ‘directing’ us!” Ace shouted angrily, throwing his hammer onto the floor, and I purposely turned my eyes away from him and towards Sabo.

“So,” I ask innocently, completely ignoring my fuming brother, “what’s for dinner?”

“Lucy..!” he shouted, strained.

“Meat!” Luffy put in loudly.

“I don’t know,” Sabo replies, also ignoring Ace, “but I was thinking we should cook up that tiger that’s been hanging around so it doesn’t cause us any nuisance…”

“You’re right,” I nod, painstakingly sitting up and letting out a groan at the twinges of pain that lance up my back, “yosh! Let’s do that then.”

“What’s nuisance mean..?” Luffy whispers at Ace in the background, and I hear him groan.

I take a moment to look around our new little home and smile. It was a simple tree-house filled with only the meager possessions we owned, but I loved it already. The boys really put all they had into building it – I had never been so proud of them.

A cheery flag declaring ‘ASLL’ wavered in the wind and I could feel a sense of peace washing over me. Everything has begun to settle – I could feel it.

We’d be fine.

“Luffy!” I hear my brothers shout and I sigh, letting my head hang. Looking over my shoulder, I watch as they cling to Luffy’s slowly stretching arms as he falls out of the window dramatically, crocodile tears escaping his eyes as he cries out.

Tilting my head back to stare at the ceiling for a moment, I pray for guidance. Then I shuffle to my feet, dust off my shorts, and make my way towards the screaming trio.

“What are you even doing?!”

Thunk.

“You didn’t have to hit me!”

“What the f-“

Thunk. Bang.

“No cussing..!”

“Ow, shi-“

“You do it all the-“

Crash.

o.O.o

“Did you hear about..?”

“Yes. It’s best not to think about it – we’re mountain bandits. We don’t get caught up in the affairs of nobles or pirates.”

“But boss..!”

“No, we’re staying out of it. Those brats aren’t under our roof anymore, who the hell cares about what happens to them?”

“But Garp-san…”

“Gah! H-he’ll just have to deal! Nobody can control those stinkin kids anyway!”

o.O.o

There was a tension in the air.

It was palpable, chilling, and it left my hair standing on end, tingles running up my spine and settling in the goosebumps on my skin. Something was wrong.

What was it?

What had the people of the Terminal so off? What had them glancing at each other nervously, skulking about shadowed corners more than usual, straying far from the high gates that separated trash from pedestal?

Was it something I did?

Had I changed something?

What was it?

I don’t understand.

“Lucy..?” Ace asks hesitantly, clutching his pipe tightly.

“Mmn,” I nod, daggers of my own held in my belt at the ready, “let’s just get this over with quick.”

“R-right,” he nods, and we both take off through the piles of stinking trash.

Try as I had, yelled as I might, nothing would change the fact that we did in fact need money, and just because some overpowered noble would be visiting the country, it didn’t mean we could just sit back and laze the days away. Although it frustrated me, I did understand that and had given up the battle with little fuss. I had at least won the argument of Sabo and Luffy staying behind, but I didn’t feel satisfied in the least.

Finding a high perch of trash, we both settle down and lay low among the foul smelling rot and watch as people enter and leave the gated city. It was interesting, seeing just who would be allowed within with little more than a nod and a grunt, the others who would be barred all together, and those who sneaked in, stolen goods cradles in their arms. We sat and we waited and we watched, until Ace nudged my side with a nod at a man whose cloak was pulled deep over his head, a satchel situated on his back and a cradled bundle of something in his arms. He had polished shoes, what little of his skin to be seen was clean and washed, and I could immediately tell he didn’t belong in the piles of slowly burning rubbish. He looked incredibly skittish and out of place. The perfect prey.

I nod at Ace, and we both begin to slide down our own trash heap. Grabbing the odd pipe or sturdy piece of wood as I neared the bottom to slow my descent, we both split up and make for the man’s location. Once I’m close enough, I hide behind a pillar of trash and watch him closely for a moment. Nodding to myself, I hide my daggers into a side pocket of my cloak and reach down to smear some dirt across my face. Tugging my bangs into my eyes and tussling it up, I slap my cheeks and let out a breath, willing tears to come. Once I’m satisfied with the stinging wetness in my eyes, I dart forward with a sob and collapse in front of him.

“O-Ojii-san-“ I cry out, pretending to wipe away some tears and feeling mud slide across my nose, “p-please h-help me,”

The man freezes and clutches his possessions closer to his chest.

“G-go away,” he rumbles out, “I will not help you.”

“B-but,” I continue to cry, slightly peeved at the rude response, “I can’t find my m-momma or p-papa..!”

My crying intensifies and I can see the man becoming agitated.

“Listen you,” he starts, waving his hand for emphasis, the package drooping slightly, and I dart forward immediately, dagger drawn.

Ace meets me from behind and swiftly knocked the man’s head with his pipe while I slice at his arms, willing him to drop his bundle.

He falls with a thump, motionless.

“What an asshole!” I begin immediately as Ace makes sure he’s unconscious, “’I will not help you’, who does he think he is?!”

Ace rolls his eyes, tugs the clothed something out from under the man’s arms, and I begin to rip the satchel off the man’s back, taking care to not be gentle.

“When a young child comes crying for help it’s an adults responsibility to check on and help them!” I angrily wave my arms around for emphases and force the satchel open with a grunt, dumping out its contents and muttering under my breath.

With a last dirty look at the figure on the ground, I turn towards Ace and let my fingers run over him, dodging his swatting hands.

“Are you hurt?” I ask, tugging off his shirt after a moment and peering closely for any bruises or blood.

“Lucy I’m fine damnit!” He shouts, struggling to get away from me, “He didn’t even touch me!”

“Are you sure? You’re not in pain anywhere? Take off your pants, he might have kicked you!”

“Lucy! That’s enough damnit,” he growls, looking highly annoyed, and I purse my lips at him.

I look him over once more and nod slowly, pulling back and placing my hand on my hips.

“Right then!” I say, “Time to get to work!”

I plop onto the floor next to the man and begin going through his bag.

“Watch’a got?” Ace asks as he looks over the man’s prone form, still looking annoyed, and I grunt at him.

Different scraps of paper of varying colors lay scattered around my knees, and I pick my way through them with a smile.

“Some good ol’ Beri’s,” I say proudly, gathering the scraps to stow away in my own satchel, and grabbing some miscellaneous jewelry as well, “What about you?”

Ace grins, and shoves the bundle in my arms. I’m surprised by how heavy it is.

Tugging the cloth away, my eyebrows raise of their own accord at what I find.

“A chest?” I ask somewhat skeptically, “what’s he luggin that around for?”

It was small for a chest, a crest – a familial one most likely – adorned upon its smooth surface in a plated gold, and weighed down by jewels and designs of all kinds. It looked fancy and expensive.

I traced the lock lightly and gave the lid a small tug. It didn’t budge.

“Is there a key?” I ask, settling the thing between my legs.

Ace shrugs and crawls toward the unconscious man to tug off his cloak with a grunt. He throws it at me and I begin patting down the pockets while Ace himself looks through the man’s clothes.

“Got it!” Ace shouts cheerily, showing off the silver and gold ingrained thing before handing it off to me to stow away in my satchel.

“Right,” I nod, “we should leave before he wakes up. We made quite the killing today!”

“Yep!” Ace pops the ‘p’ and ambles to his feet, “I’ll carry the chest.”

Lugging it over, I jump to my feet and grab my satchel, putting my dagger away with its twin and looking around to make sure I didn’t forget or leave anything behind.

“Hopefully Sabo and Luffy will have some food ready when we get back…” I hear Ace grumble as I step over the prone figure lying before us, ‘accidentally’ stepping on his hand.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” I call as I trail after Ace, “you should really be more careful about where you take naps…”

He doesn’t reply.

“C’mon Lucy!” Ace calls from up ahead.

“Coming!” I call back with a smile.

My satchel was heavy – the strap of it digging into my shoulder painfully and thumping against my leg with every step I took, my eyes stinging with the remainder of my tears, and my palms sore with the weight of my daggers – but I felt somehow accomplished. I won’t admit it, but it felt nice to finally get back to doing something other than watching over the boys and training my ass off with my new weapons. Like I was finally moving forward.

“I can’t wait to see what’s inside this thing!” Grunts Ace with a grin, taking a moment to lift the chest up better before continuing forward.

 I huff a breath but say nothing, sticking close to Aces back. Making our way through the thick foliage the forest provides, it was a relief to finally come into view of the fort.

“Luffy!” I call out, hoping that they’re back, “Luffy, are you there?”

“Yeah sis?” Luffy calls out cheerily, popping his head out from the window to look down on us.

“Give me your hands and bring this up for me, okay?” I call up with a smile of my own.

“Okay!”

With a pinched brow and a concentrated expression, he rears his fist back and winds it up like some type of toy before shooting it forward with a shout. Reaching out and latching on when it comes near me, I hold his fist down and nod my head for the other one. Following the same procedure, it isn’t long until Ace is plunking the chest into his awaiting hands and it’s shooting up towards Luffy’s face.

Neither of us even blink when Luffy falls back with a pained whine and muffled shout, instead making our way up into the treehouse via random branches and subtly placed ropes.

“It’s about time, you guys were gone forever!” Sabo grins as he greets us at the hatch. He helps Ace up and into the house.

Ace punches him in the shoulder with a grin and I punch them both for being in the way and pull myself up with a relieved sigh.

“It’s good to be home!” I sigh, falling back with my arms spread eagle as soon as I get the chance.

“Geez, you guys really brought back a haul…” Sabo mutters as he pokes through my satchel.

“And that’s not mentioning the chest we took off that prick in the Terminal,” I tell him, sitting up and crawling towards Luffy’s whining form.

“You’re not dying,” I tell him, poking him in the cheek as he pouts at me.

“I am dying,” he tells me, “I’m dead.”

Rolling my eyes, I heave the chest off of his legs and drag it into the center of the room.

“All right you scoundrels!” I shout, bracing a foot against it, “who’s ready to see what’s inside this sucker?”

“Aye!” the three shout with grins, and Ace throws the key towards me.

“Open ‘er up Cap’n!”

Nodding seriously and flipping my cloak back dramatically; I stoop down and carefully nudge the key into the lock. The three boys in front of me crawl forward excitedly and I have to push them back a bit with a huff. I hear a small click and lean forward in anticipation, hand slowly lifting the lid in a dramatic and probably over the top fashion. Darting my eyes up to look at my brothers, who were all leaning forward on their knees excitedly, stars in their eyes, I can’t help but smile. It’s okay for them.

The lid falls all the way open with a near silent crack and we all stare inside silently.

“It’s…” starts Ace.

“It’s-“ I reply evenly,

“It’s!” Sabo whispers excitedly.

“Gold!” Luffy shouts, throwing his hands into the air with a laugh and collapsing onto the floor with gleeful giggles.

“Look at it all!”

“We’ll have a ship in no time!”

“What was that old oaf doin’ carrying this around? Was he crazy?!

“I don’t know, but I’m grateful he did. Even if he was a dirty piece of-“

“I thought you said we weren’t allowed to cuss?!”

“I said you weren’t allowed to cuss. I said nothing about me.”

“Lucy’s a hypocrite…”

“What was that?!”

“Gyaa!”

“What does hypocrite mean?”

o.O.o

The rest of the night was spent celebrating, the boys breaking out booze that they stole from Dadan with hopeful eyes that I didn’t have the heart to tell no. Different world, different rules? It doesn’t really matter. It was loud and rowdy and for a moment I forgot the worries and troubles that had been aching me for so long.

With a sigh I climb out of the treehouse and onto the sloped roof. The kids were passed out inside, Luffy clutching Ace’s shirt like a lifeline and Sabo positioned on both of them awkwardly. The night air was cool and tasted fresh, flickering stars forcing their way through meager foliage to illuminate everything around me. The moon seemed impossibly large.

Staring up into the sky, I would often forget. Forget who I am, where I was – what I was. The stars, the moon…it was all the same.

It felt cruel.

It felt like my previous life was dangling in front of me, always, just barely out of reach and every time I reached out to grasp it I would suddenly realize that it was miles and miles away. I looked at the trees, the people, the sky…and I would be filled with nostalgia. Everything was so similar. Everything was so different. It was a dream.

But then-

Luffy would come to me with a hug and a grin and I would wake up. He pulled me to reality, reminded me of what I’m fighting for – and he didn’t even realize he was doing it. He was just…him. And that was enough.

But today…

I’m worried.

It’s nagging at me. What was wrong with the people in the terminal? I just don’t understand. That noble…why was he leaving the capitol with so much money? There’s no way a man like that would-

I can’t make sense of any of it.

There’s something in the air, something calm and deadly and alive and I am scared. I’ve done my best to shield my boys from the hurtful path they were headed on, but…

It doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

It feels like I’ve opened them up to something worse.

“…Lucy?”

“Huh?” blinking, startled, I look behind me to find Sabo staring at me with worried eyes.

“Are you okay?” he asks, “I’ve been calling your name for a while.”

“Oh,” I say, mind working its way out of its tangled knots, “I’m fine…just lost in thought.”

He nods and settles beside me silently.

We both say nothing, but it was nice. Comfortable.

We stared at the stars.

“Hey, Lucy?” he asks, and I turn to see him tugging on his lip with his teeth.

“Yes?” I hum absently, thoughts still caught on a loophole of stars and dust.

“Can you keep a secret?”

I raise my eyebrows and turn towards him in surprise. He looks conflicted.

“Of course I can,” I say, “you know that.”

He smiles at my words, bringing his knees up to his chin and plopping his hands in his lap with a sigh.

“The truth is,” he starts, words slow – like he was carefully planning them out – and I tilt my head curiously, “I’m not what I seem. I’ve been lying to you, to Ace and Luffy, and I understand if you’re upset with me about it, but I think it’s time for the truth to come out…”

He falls silent, and my heart is frozen in my chest because-

Could he be?

Is he…confessing about his noble heritage?

I don’t understand it, why would he reveal himself, why would he-

Why to me?

“When I was looking at that chest earlier I noticed something,” he continues, and I try to look as if I’m listening intently even though my mind is in a million different places, “that crest…this is going to sound strange, but that symbol on the front of the chest…”

He stops, bites his lip, and glances around nervously – to the sky, the floor, his hands – in a desperate attempt to not look at me.

“That symbol was my family’s crest. That chest…it came from my family.”

He stops, glances at me briefly, and twitches his fingers. I can see sweat on the side of his face.

“Your family?” I can hear myself say, distantly, “then that would mean you’re a noble…”

He nods, somewhat frantically, and scrambles onto his knees to address me better, explanations and excuses falling from his lips in a tangled mess of words, but I’m not really listening.

If Sabo was telling me this…what does that mean?

From the brief, distorted memories I can think back on I know that Sabo hadn’t told Ace or Luffy about his family willingly. He was forced – the why or how eludes me, teasing my brain with grasping murmurs, just out of reach, and I want to scream because why can’t I remember – and the full effect of what it could mean wasn’t really making itself clear.

I wasn’t that important, I-

I’m not meant to be that important.

I wasn’t planning to really get involved with how the story plays out – I was just going to…protect Luffy.

Somehow Ace and Sabo became a part of that equation, but the reasoning still stands-

I had decided, decided that I would do whatever was necessary to protect my family, but I’m causing more ripples than I had previously thought possible.

I’m losing control of the situation – but did I ever really have it? – and I’m not sure what to do.

Where to go from here.

It wasn’t the act of Sabo revealing himself that had me reeling, no, it was the fact that it was happening at all.

And Sabo’s family crest? What does that even mean?

Why the hell was that man from earlier carrying something like that out of the capitol? Could that have been Sabo’s father? And if so-

What does that mean?

He can’t possibly know Sabo was alive, I made absolutely sure of it, and he should have no reason to be wandering beyond the city’s walls. He can’t-

I can’t-

I shake my head, forcing away the rising anxiety and shattered memories, attempting to snap myself out of my thoughts, and focus my attention outwards.

Now wasn’t the time for that; I had a little brother in need of comfort and I’m going to give it to him.

This, at least, is something I know. Something I can do.

“Sabo,” I start, softly, and he freezes – hands stilled in front of him, mouth open to continue spouting nonsense – and I smile, soothingly, “I don’t care where you came from, or who your family is…I care about you.”

He closes his mouth, looks considering, and falls back to sit down with a somewhat weary grimace. He looks anxious, hesitant, and hopeful all at once, and my heart aches slightly.

I hate those nobles, hate them so much for forcing a child to run away from home – for murdering hundreds with little to no care, for being so caught up in something as materialistic as money that they began to block out their humanity.

I hate them, so much so my chest burns with anger and fury because he is just a child.

He shouldn’t be looking at me with sad, hopeful eyes – shouldn’t be stealing between heaps of trash and facing the prospect of murdering someday – because there was no doubt, this world filled with liars and cheats and bastards left no room for the innocent, left no room to be soft. It was a fact; we would all murder someone at some point. He shouldn’t, and yet he does because nobles.

I take a breath, steel my mind, and give Sabo a hard look.

“Those people, no matter who they are – what they are, that claim themselves as family mean nothing,” I tell him, “who you used to be and what you had before is something that I don’t care about in the least. You are Sabo, our Sabo, who can knock a grown man out with a single blow and is as smart as a whistle – who can calm Ace and Luffy down with just a few simple words, and who we love more than anything.”

He’s staring at me, mouth open once more-

“Sabo.” I stop him, “Sabo, we love you. We love you for you, not for your money or your heritage.”

I smile, again, and lean forward to wrap my arms around him.

“If you can’t see that then I’ll just have to beat it into you.”

I can feel his shoulders shake, a muffled sob, and I begin to pull back in concern when he brings his arms up to wrap around me tightly.

He shakes his head.

“There’s no need,” he tells me, voice broken and shaky, “I’m Sabo of ASLL…not those rotten people…”

“Well then Sabo of ASLL,” I say lightly, leaning my head against his shoulder, “it’s nice to finally get a proper introduction.”

He huffs a strangled laugh and nods.

We stay like that for many hours, not saying anything, until we both can hardly keep our eyes open.

I’m not sure what any of this means, why any of this is happening, but that doesn’t really matter right now.

What’s in front of me, in my arms, is all that’s important.

I’ll take this one step at a time, with my brothers by my side.

o.O.o

“Alright! First order of business,” I say, the next day, after Ace found me and Sabo passed out outside and Luffy was complaining of a headache, “is that from this point forward Sabo isn’t allowed anywhere near the grey terminal or capitol.”

“What?!”

“Why?!”

“Lucy…”

“Shut up!” I shout over their protests, “I have a good reason for this. I need you to trust my judgement.”

“Oi, oi, oi,” Ace says, shaking his head and crossing his arms, “I’m not gonna accept this! Why can’t Sabo go to the grey terminal or capitol? You can’t tell him what he can and can’t do!”

“Because,” I reply evenly, “it’s too dangerous for him there right now.”

“You keep going on about that, but you won’t even tell us what it is! What’s the danger?! Why have you been acting so strange, Lucy?!”

“What do you mean? I haven’t been acting strange!”

“You were sneaking out all the time, you won’t let us near the terminal or capitol and now this! Tell us what’s wrong already, damnit!”

I clench my fist and look down at my feet. I know I’ve been acting strange. I know that I’ve been worrying them, but I just-

Can’t tell them these things.

These memories, this knowledge…this is my burden to bear.

They can’t know anything – it would only hurt them more.

“Ace…” I hear Sabo mutter, quietly, “I agree with Lucy on this.”

“What?! Sabo, why!” Ace demands angrily.

“Lucy is right, it’s too dangerous for me to be there right now, and besides…I’d really rather stay away from there at the moment.”

“You’re not making any sense!”

“It’s complicated, but Lucy only has our best interests in mind. I trust her.”

“Sabo…” I choke out, collapsing to sit on the floor and bringing my knees up to my chest.

“Would one of you just explain what’s going on-?!”

“I’m sorry,” I interrupt Ace, tears escaping my eyes, “I know this must be so confusing for you. I know things have been weird lately and it’s making you anxious and I’m really sorry about that…I can’t tell you everything, but I will tell you what I can…”

I rub at my eyes for a moment, cursing my body’s youngness, and sniffle. The stress of it all – the not knowing, the death, the future, all of it-

It was catching up with me.

I really don’t know what to do.

“That’s why, please trust in me.”

I look down at my hands and wait for a response, hoping it would be okay-

“Of course we do!” I hear Luffy say brightly, and I look up to find a beaming grin aiming straight at me, “You’re my sister after all!

He bursts into laughter and leans forward to hug me.

“I don’t really get what any of this means, and I don’t know why you’re crying, but I trust you! We’re family after all!”

“Luffy..!” I cry out, wrapping my own arms around him.

I really had the best brother in the world.

“Lucy,” I hear Ace mutter, before I hear a shuffling and feel an arm wrap around my shoulder.

I look over to see his head turned away from me, a scowl on his face.

“I trust you,” he says, “so stop crying all ready. It’s gross.”

“Mmn,” I nod, burying my face into Luffy’s shoulder.

It’s quiet.

“Ah,” Sabo says suddenly, “Ace made Lucy cry.”

“No I didn’t you bastard!”

“Yeah you did, look, she’s crying right now.”

“W-well, I didn’t mean to! It’s Lucy’s own fault for being so soft!”

“And now you’re blaming the victim. You’re such a jerk Ace.”

“Yeah, a jerk!”

“And a bully.”

“A bully!”

“Shut up before I kick both your asses!”

“And there he goes again…is anyone safe from Ace?”

“Bastard!”

I giggle and watch them from my place against Luffy’s chest, cradled under Aces arm.

After a moment of taunting and teasing Sabo jumps at us and lands on top of me with a happy laugh, Ace grunting at the force and Luffy chattering away about how hungry he was.

Yeah, I really do have the best brothers in the world.

o.O.o

“Now listen,” I say, “have you ever heard of a Tenryuubito?”

“A Tenryu-what?” Ace asks.

“No,” Sabo shakes his head.

“Huh?” Luffy replies.

I sigh and rub my temple. I wasn’t really expecting them to know – especially Ace and Luffy – but it would have made matters easier.

“Listen, a Tenryuubito is the highest official ranking in the world. They’re the very best of the best – they’re World Nobles.”

“World Nobles..?” Sabo mutters, “I think I’ve heard that before…”

“I’m not surprised,” I reply, “they hold an incredible amount of money and influence. If one is attacked and Admiral is summoned to protect them automatically.”

“An Admiral?!

“Woah…”

“I don’t get it,”

“Someone stronger than jii-chan Luffy,” I explain gently, and struggle not to smile at his widening of eyes.

“Oooo-!”

“Why are you telling us this Lucy?” Sabo interrupts Luffy, who continues on in the background, and Ace nods from his place against the wall.

We’re scattered about our treehouse, Sabo swaying in one of the hammocks and Luffy braced against window. I’m settled at the table.

“Because,” I continue, “one such person is visiting this kingdom soon.”

“What?”

“Why is someone like that coming here?”

I nod, “it’s quite alarming isn’t it? Tenryuubito are very obnoxious, privileged people. They even wear suits with helmets so that they don’t breathe in the same air as common people.”

“Then what does all of this mean..?”

“It means,” I say, “that one of the most powerful and influential people in all of the world is going to be coming to this kingdom – a kingdom where nobles block out the common folk with walls and a heaping pile of trash is right outside their front door. It doesn’t make a very good impression, does it?”

“No,” Sabo says, arms crossed and brow creased, “it doesn’t. If these Tenryuubito people are as you say they are, then there’s no way they would stand for a thing like a mountain of trash…and with the way the nobles are in the palace, there’s no way they would let a Tenryuubito see the Grey Terminal.”

“That’s why we need to stay away. Ace, you saw what the Terminal was like yesterday, didn’t you? Something was off, everyone was scared and skittish. Something more is going on, and we don’t know what it is. That’s why I think that for now, until the Tenryuubito has come and gone, we should stay away.”

“Mmn, I don’t really get what any of this means, but I’ll listen to Lucy!” Luffy cheers.

“I see…then, in that case, you’re right Lucy. Let’s stay away from there for now.” Ace says, plopping onto the floor and giving me an apologetic, slightly guilty look.

“I have a bad feeling,” I say, smiling at Ace to show it’s fine, “that something is going to happen soon. I just can’t figure out what it is.”

That’s a partial lie though-

I have my own ideas, of course, but I really don’t know which one is most plausible.

The original timeline means nothing right now.

Things have been changed too much – as it is now, the story seems to be following its own script. Nothing I say or do is going to set things right, and my best plan of action is simply riding out the storm.

“All of this serious talk has made me hungry. Let’s go get some crocodile!” Sabo shouts, dropping out of his hammock with a flop and rushing towards the hatch.

“Again?! I’m tired of crocodile..!” I whine, but let Luffy drag me up and towards the window.

“Meat!”

“Don’t fall behind Lucy; we won’t wait up for you!”

“Huh?! Who’s falling behind?! Don’t forget who you’re talking to you bastards!”

“Ah shit, run! Lucy’s mad!”

“What did I say about cussing?! Luffy is just a child!”

“You’re mad woman!”

“Stop running you brats!”

“We’re older than you!”

o.O.o

“Captain, are you sure about this..?”

“Are you second-guessing me?”

“N-No, sir, it’s just, isn’t this a bit…”

“Shut the hell up! If those nobles aren’t going to let us in then we’ll just have to burn the capital to the ground…and make our own kingdom.”

“…Captain?”

“We’re the Bluejam Pirates! I’ll be the strongest, wealthiest, noble in all of the land! Even if I have to take it by force! Even if I have to kill every fucking noble in that kingdom!”

“Y-yes sir!”

“Gather the others, and grab your weapons because from this point forwards-“

“We’re going to war!”

Chapter Text

She'd lived a relatively simple life, if not a particularly happy one.

Her parents didn't really notice her suffering, her...problems, and she preferred it that way. They were good people, simple people, that weren't equipped to deal with her baggage. Her depression.

It was this that, over time, drove them apart - to the point where even the sight of each other nurtured hatred. She was somewhere lost in its midst, tugged back and forth in a desperate attempt to one up each other, and there was only so much she could take.

In the end, all she can remember is the water and-

A promise.

o.O.o

"I'm bored! Bored! Bored! Boooored!"

"Shut up Luffy! So annoying!"

"Lucy! I'm bored..!"

I sigh, pinching my temple irritably. Raising one of my daggers, I turn towards my brother slowly.

"What in the hell," I mutter, raising my arm, "do you want me to do about it?!"

I end my question by lashing out at him, hitting him upside the head, and the way his head bounces back from my swipe only serves to annoy me further.

I was bored too, damnit! You don't see me whining about it!

"A-ahh! Lucy's mad!" Sabo squeaks, scooting away from me desperately, "L-Luffy! Shut up! Don't anger the beast!"

"Why won't that damn overpowered noble just come here already?!" I roar to the sky, hitting the ground with my fist repeatedly, "It's been weeks already! I just want to get this story arc over with already, damnit!"

"W-what's she talking about? Story arc..? Has Lucy finally gone off the deep end?" I hear Sabo whisper to Ace, whose leaning against a tree and flipping his pipe in the air.

"I think Lucy's always been off the deep end," Ace replies blandly, and I whirl towards them with a snarl.

"What was that you bastards?! I'll kick your ass!"

"Don't get cocky Lucy! There's no way you could take me on!"

"I'll make you eat those words..!"

"Ace..! Don't rile her up…"

"I'm bored...Lucy! When's that noble guy you were talkin about gonna show up? I wanna go the Terminal!"

I look over at Luffy, dropping Ace from the choke hold I had him in - he drops with a thud, panting, and Sabo kneels beside him shaking his head - and scratch the back of my head.

"I don't know...it should be any day now, though. Ah! This is so frustrating! Why couldn't I have brought a handy-dandy guide along with me?! Maybe even one of the manga's…"

"Lucy's doing it again…"

"Just let her talk. The sooner she gets it out the better for all of us."

"And whose fault is it that I'm even here anyway?!" I start banging my fist against the ground once more, tears of sheer annoyance escaping my eyes, "Why?!"

"Is it really okay for her to continue like this?"

"There's no stopping her when she gets like this. Just let her rant."

"Lucy is funny..! Shishishishi!"

"Damnit all!"

And so the days pass.

o.O.o

I stare up at the sky listlessly, arms spread eagle, and listen to the sounds of my brothers fighting. I've already had my matches, against each of them, and the searing boredom that continues to haunt us day after day is really starting to get to me.

I try to think on what I could do to make it stop. To alleviate it.

Ace plops down next to me, and I give him a speculative once over as I tap my fingers restlessly.

"You know you're probably…" I humm thoughtfully, rolling over onto my stomach and plopping my chin in my hands.

"A Gryffindor." I nod my head resolutely, and he gives me a blank stare.

"What."

"You're brave, stupid, courageous," I begin to list off, lifting a finger for each word, "you always rush into battle without thinking, you refuse to run from a fight...yeah, I don't think I can see you in any other house."

"Any other what? What the hell is a Gryffindor?!"

"Gryffindor! House of the brave! House of the lion! Also the stupid - ah, except Hermione I suppose…"

"I feel like I'm listening to a one-sided conversation…"

"And Luffy...my first impression is that he'd be a Gryffindor too, but...maybe a Hufflepuff? I feel like it suits him better. Sabo would definitely be a Hufflepuff! Or a Ravenclaw…" I chatter away, mind rifling through what I remember about each house, and I ignore the baffled look Ace shoots me.

"I wonder what I'd be?" I roll onto my back again, "I always thought of myself as a Hufflepuff, but...neh, Ace, what do you think?" I turn towards him.

"I think you've lost it, Lucy," he tells me seriously, reaching forward to put his hand on my forehead. I try to push him away with a huff, but he persists.

"You're not running a fever…" he mutters, now placing his hand on his own forehead, "maybe I am..?"

"Ace, you're not making any sense," I sigh, shaking my head with a tut.

"The one who's not making any sense is you!" he shouts angrily, slugging my shoulder.

"Ow! Bully!"

"I'll show you bully..!"

"Ah, Ace and Lucy are fighting again."

"No fair!" Luffy shouts, "I wanna fight more too!"

"They're not doing that kind of fighting Luffy…"

o.O.o

She sometimes wished she could go back to those peaceful days. To the days before she became increasingly aware of the world around her, of her own morality and sense of self. Before she truly became aware of just how fucked up she was.

Of what she'd do.

o.O.o

"Ace, let's go to the Terminal," I call out, popping my head into the treehouse and blinking up at him.

"Eh? Sure, but why?" Ace asks, turning towards me from where he was sitting cross-legged on the ground, "what about that noble guy you were talking about?"

"I'm sick of waiting," I explain with a huff, brushing my steadily growing bangs out of my eyes, "and besides we need the cash anyway right? I want to get some proper food in town instead of more crocodile meat…"

"What? You're going into town? I wanna go to!" Luffy shouts, pumping his fists into the air, and Ace pushes himself from the ground.

"No," I say sternly, "only Ace and I will go - you wait here with Sabo, Luffy,"

"Ehh?! No fair..! Lucy!" Luffy pouts at me, and I reach forward to tug his rubbery cheeks with a smile.

"We'll be right back. Don't worry, we'll be able to go into the Terminal together again very soon! Sabo, look after him for me, would you?"

"Yeah, Lucy!"

"Ready? Then let's go,"

"Mmn!"

The walk to the Terminal is a quiet one, as Ace and I tend to be in each others company - when we weren't fighting, of course - and I hum as we jump across rocks and over streams of water.

"It's been a few weeks since we've been to the Grey Terminal huh..?" I ask idly, kicking a rock out of my way.

"Yeah, I wonder if anything's changed...ah, who am I kidding? It's the Gray Terminal, nothing's ever gonna change," Ace laughs, flipping his pipe and catching it rhythmically.

"I can't wait to beat down some crooks!" I grin, pulling my cloak up and patting my daggers, which are hidden away in small pockets I sewed on the inside, reassuringly.

"You're becoming really bloodthirsty aren't you?" Ace asks me warily, drifting from my side a bit, "at this rate, how are Sabo and I ever going to be able to handle you?"

"Handle me? What the hell are you talking about, 'handle me'?! I'll have you know that I can handle myself just fine-!"

"Yes, yes, you bloodthirsty beast," he drones, "please calm down,"

"I'm gonna kick you ass if you keep calling me that! You make me sound rabid or something-!"

"Well, you practically are rabid after all…"

"What the hell happened to my kind, cute brothers?! I change my mind, I want Luffy back! Give me my precious, sweet Luffy!"

"Oi, we're almost there so keep it down already!"

"Don't tell me what to do! I'm having a crisis, can't you see! A crisis! I've been tricked! Fooled! Bamboozled! Lured in with promises of kind, sweet brothers and instead tricked with you! It's not fair..!"

"Ah, I think I see the trash - Lucy, I'm running up ahead," Ace shouts, beginning to run from me and towards the distant light of the end of the forest.

"Eh? Wait!" I shout, running after him and tripping over a root, "I said wait damnit!"

I take a moment to dig my foot out from the roots twisting nethers, grumbling the whole while, and my head snaps up in shock when I hear Ace's distant shout.

"L-Lucy! Come quick!"

"What's wrong, Ace?!" I scramble to my feet, panic coursing thick and heavy through my veins, and I kick my foot from the root that entrapped me desperately.

Did something happen? Was Ace hurt? I knew I shouldn't have left him out of my sight, not even for a second-

We should've never come here-

"Ace!"

I run to the forests edging light quickly, smacking leaves and vines out of my way, and come to a stop beside my brother.

"What's wrong?!" He's staring ahead in something akin to shock, mouth dropped open and pupils dilated, but I pay no attention to it and instead start running my hands over his body, looking for injury.

"D-Did you hurt yourself? Neh, Ace, say something!" I bite out, tugging his shirt up and inspecting his stomach.

He slaps my hands away with a huff, brows tugging down in frustration, before grabbing my chin and pointing it forwards forcibly. I let him, confused, and blink when his hand comes to a stop.

I take in the sight before me.

"W-what the..! What the hell happened here-?!"

o.O.o

The first time they met, they were children. Small, excitable, barely contained children that had no qualms with the world and didn't truly know the struggle of adulthood. Whom didn't know what it meant to feel misery, or strife, or hunger-

Yes, this was how they met.

On a warm summer's day, the sun high in the sky, on a grassy hill not too far from their homes. Overlooking the sea, a seagulls distant call, their paths crossed for the very first time.

"What's your name?"

It's amazing, how simple words like that can change the course of a person's life entirely. That they can bind two people together so strongly.

Perhaps that was their tragedy.

o.O.o

"Over there?" Ace shouts to me from atop a burning pile of trash, wiping sweat from his forehead tiredly.

"No," I call back, puffing my bangs from my eyes irritably and wiping my sweaty palms on my pulled back cloak, "no one here either."

"Where'd they go..?" Ace asks wonderingly, looking out across the bloody, foul smelling rot that takes up every possible inch we can see.

They were gone. Every last crook, murderer, and pedophile that made the trash their home...they just. Disappeared.

There wasn't any seeming reason, only telltale hints and subtle clues to guide us, but even so-

An entire society can't just...vanish like that.

What was going on?

All we could find, despite our so far countless hours of scouring, was the remnants of dried blood spread across the trash, and the tall gates of Goa Kingdom inexplicably blown open. We haven't yet searched inside the nobles walls, but from the small angles that I have seen it looks to be empty. Maybe we could find someone further in, but for now we spend our time scaling the trash piles and calling out for someone, anyone.

"I have a feeling...that a battle took place here," Ace grunts, landing next to me and pulling me up to my feet from where I'm kneeling.

"A battle?" I ask, looking around, "Now that you mention it, that does seem to be the case. The blood, the scorch marks on the gate...like it was blown open, with force."

"Yeah," he nods, settling his hands on his hips, "in any case, it's obvious something went down here when we were away. Let's go check out the kingdom, maybe then we'll get some answers."

"Right," I nod, falling into step next to him as we leap across the piles of trash and dodge the random burning excess that occasionally falls off.

"I'm worried," I tell Ace as we go, "this is unusual isn't it? Especially when you think about the fact that the Tenryuubito is coming here soon…"

"There's nothing we can do about it for now, except try to find out what happened," he tells me, brows pinched seriously, and it is in this instance that I can see a brief flash of who it is that he will become.

"Firefist Ace huh..?" I mutter to myself with a silent laugh, and shake my head ruefully.

I often find myself forgetting that the boys I spend my days with now, running through trees and beating up crocodiles, will one day come to be the most powerful men in the world. It somehow seems like a dream.

"What was that, Lucy?" Ace asks, running close, and I freeze up.

"U-uh, n-nothing!" I lie quickly, letting out a bite of shaky laughter, "just talking to myself, as usual! Nothing to concern yourself with, nothing at all..!"

"Okay then," he gives me a weird look, frowning at me, and turns forward to focus on running, "for now let's split up. Maybe we'll find more clues that way - shout if you find something."

"Okay!" I grin, splitting off from him and towards the Great Gate.

I speed inside, ignoring the burning scorches I inspected earlier, and through the streets I have already tread upon hundreds - if not thousands - of times as I gathered information before.

It must have been a huge explosion, to have completely taken down such a large gate as that-

It's a wonder we didn't hear it.

I shake my head, turn my eyes forward, and look over the streets carefully - looking for an answer, for-

Anything.

The streets were completely empty, not even those pompous children from before running about, and it felt eerie as I took in the complete silence that should not be natural in such a carefully carved out piece of society like this.

I pass by more scorch marks, the splattering of spilt blood, and spy some burned, broken down houses. There are swords scattered about, I find, as I trip over one. I get back up, run again, and feel a vague sense of dread as I try to piece together just what happened, just what-

I had caused.

I slow to a stop, in the middle of the street, and peer around to see which house would be prime for searching. I pick a large purple one, with strange shaped hedges - that were slowly dying - and a garden of roses - also dying - in front of it. The door appeared to have been left open, cracks of sunlight filtering into the abandoned home.

I step forward, through the doorway, and take a moment to simply stand in the foyer, taking it in. The house smelt musty, cloyingly like dust, and I know immediately that it has been abandoned for awhile now. I glance down and notice a small stuffed bunny lying abandoned on the floor. Its ear is dangling over the edge of the doorway, its body face-down.

I pick it up, finger the worn-stitches, and squeeze its plush body in my hands. Its button eye was loose, and it was covered in a thick layer of dirt and dust. It had the feel of a well-loved object about it. I drop it, feeling nauseous.

I track echoing footsteps through the halls, stopping in the kitchen to crack open the fridge and wrinkling my nose at the rotten tomato that falls out. Everything else was moldy, a foul smell coming to me, and I slam the door closed to continue my track through the house.

Through the bedrooms - each of them empty, beds a mess - peering into the bathrooms, puttering about the living area, the dining room, and up the stairs to even more abandoned bedrooms and-

A study.

I step inside carefully, keeping my daggers at the ready, and take in its abandoned state.

There were papers strewn across the floor, the desk, and a lamp seemed to be toppled over and broken. A closer inspection of the desk reveals a Den Den Mushi to be lying on its side, the receiver having come off its shell.

"Looks like someone tried to make a call."

I look around, start at the way a painting seems to be standing out sharply from the wall, and walk close to see an open and empty safe.

"A safe behind a painting? Really? How stereotypical," I murmur quiety, inching forward to rub my finger across the thick layer of dust inside the safe and blowing it with a frown.

"It's empty," I think aloud, "and everything seems to have been left in a rush - almost panicked, in fact. The food is spoiled, the door is open, all of the beds are unmade...and yet they still made sure to come back here and grab whatever it was in the safe. Probably money, knowing nobles."

I puff out a huff of air and slowly turn in a circle as I inspect the room one final time, "In any case, there wasn't much here in terms of clues...I guess I'd better check out further into the city."

Nodding my head, I crack open the window behind the desk, coughing at the dust that blows into the air at my motions, and jump out and into the street below. Just as empty as before.

I begin running further into the city, weaving around lampposts and the occasional abandoned wagon - food all spoiled - and begin to feel a small sweltering of sweat at the complete absence of people.

I don't understand.

I couldn't have caused something so drastic could I? No matter how much I thought back, no matter how desperately I searched, I can't remember anything like this happening in the original timeline.

"What did I do..?!"

I bite down harshly, grind my teeth, as the stinging sensation of tears begins to tug at my eyes, and I wipe my arm across them angrily. There isn't any time for that.

"Lucy!"

"Ah, Ace!" I turn around at the voice, feet sliding to a stop, and watch as he runs his way toward me, sweat pouring down his face.

"Lucy," he says when he comes to a stop, resting his hands on his knees as he pants, "I found some survivors of whatever happened here - they said they'll tell us what happened. They're from the Terminal though,"

I startle, relief spreading through me sharply - survivors! Survivors! - and grab onto Ace's hand.

"Lead the way," I say, determined, and clutch his hand tight as he nods and begins to run, following close.

o.O.o

She had been a coward, through and through. Running, constantly running, from her problems and troubles with seemingly no regard for others.

There was a lot of things she hated, she remembers, too many to count.

Her life, herself, and her cowardice was just a few of them. Even so, there was at least one thing she didn't regret, in the end.

Even if, sometimes, the memory of before leaves a thick sensation of guilt clogging her throat, leaves her heaved over and empty.

At least then she can say she only has a few regrets.

o.O.o

"It was an all out battle, there was nothing we could do. We in the Terminal had known for a while, of that group's intentions, but even so..! We didn't expect it to end like this."

"So then it was…" I utter out, shocked, and watch blankly as the old man before me nods.

"Yes, it was Captain Bluejam and his pirates...they destroyed everything," the old man wheezes out, scratching his bearded chin, and the men next to him nod "they came in the middle of the night with explosives - the same ones that the nobles had apparently given them to burn down the Terminal in preparation for the Tenryuubito…"

"How…" I hear myself asking, vaguely, and I clutch my robe covered knees tightly, "how do you know all this..?"

"He told us," the old man says, "before he attacked. He said, 'those nobles are rotten and don't deserve their title. So I will use the weapons they gave me against them and create a new society for myself.'"

"What a cocky man," Ace spits, lips curling in disgust. He always did seem to hate Bluejam, after the...incident.

"After that he blew the gates open, and they attacked the nobles inside. There was screaming all night...now the Bluejam pirates are holed up on their ship, making plans, and what's left of the nobles have made a barrier in the center of the Kingdom. The King seems to have closed off the palace completely, and is trying to save himself…"

"W-what does all of this mean..? I don't understand I-" I bark out, mind racing, and Ace is looking at me worriedly, putting his hand on my shoulder.

"Lucy, calm down," he tells me, voice soothing, "there's nothing we can do about it. Oi, old man, what about the Tenryuubito that was supposed to be visiting?"

"Ah, that?" The man rubs his beard, "it's only rumors, but I heard that the Navy is sending some higher ups to resolve the situation...and then the inspection will continue as normal. It's Government - Tenryuubito - orders after all..."

"A-Ah," I choke out, a little bitterly, and I let Ace tug me to my feet.

"Thanks old man, we'll be going now," Ace says, latching onto my wrist and tugging me away - which I allow, with nary a sound of protest.

I was drained.

I think back to the stuffed bunny I found, lying so close the steps of the entrance, and feel queasy. I wonder if that child made it out alive.

After all, all of this it-

It was my fault.

Completely.

In my efforts to save my brothers, to selfishly protect them from things I knew they could handle I-

I ruined the lives of so many - killed, so many.

"What are you going to do now?"

"I don't know."

I clench my eyes closed, fighting against the tears because I-

"Would you like to know a secret?"

This was all my fault! I should have just stayed out, should have just-

Let things continue the way they were? Let that horrible thing happen to Sabo? To Luffy? To Ace? Would you really do that..? Would you really be okay leaving things like that?

"What's your name?"

"Lucy..!"

There's something shaking me, roughly, but I ignore it, sitting on my heels and resting my head in my hands.

"You don't really mean that, do you? Saying such terrible things...please, don't die! Don't leave me alone! Ta-"

I can't stop the sobs now, can't stop choking on them, and I gasp desperately against my own fingers.

"I don't know what to do-" I cry, "I don't know what to do!"

Because I don't. I don't know what to do. I've already destroyed things - already forced this world into no semblance of its previous self, and I feel like I'm drowning against the weight of it all.

The water - the horrible, beautiful water, that could carve any shape it wanted into the world - was filling my lungs, choking them, and I could taste the salt of it in my mouth, feel it in my nose, dragging me down, down, down-

"Lucy, snap out of it!"

A stinging pain in my cheek makes me gasp, pull in desperate wheezes of air, and I fall backwards. The world is suddenly quiet, shockingly so, and the only thing I can hear is my own breathing and my heart pounding through my veins. I pant, desperately, against the weight of everything, feel something settle on me but ignore it, and stare up at the setting sky. I could smell burning trash, thick and cloying, in the air - could feel the weight of the dead on my shoulders.

I look down at my chest, see Ace sitting there with a frantic look on his face, and choke on a sob.

"Ace, tell me?" I ask, voice shaking and breaking pathetically, "what do I do now?"

"I don't know!" Ace shouts, grabbing my shirt and hauling me forward suddenly, "But you're not alone! No matter what you're going through, we're going to be there too! Lucy!"

The words are screamed, loud and startling, and I stare up at Ace for a long, shocked moment. My momentarily stopped tears start up again, carving paths into my cheeks, and I blink at the stinging sensation.

"M-Mmn..!"

o.O.o

"W-what?!"

"I don't get it…"

"Yeah, so that's everything that happened."

"To think that such a thing could have happened...who could have predicted it…"

I clench my teeth.

"For now, I think it's best if we stayed out of it altogether. We don't gain anything by becoming involved, and it's more of a pain than anything."

"You're probably right, Ace. Let's just stay out of it."

"I don't really get it anyway...Lucy, what's going on?"

"It's nothing important, Luffy. Ace is right, for now we should just stay out of it...the Navy will come to handle it, anyway."

"If you say so...then, dinner!"

"You just ate!"

"Meat! Meat! Meat!"

"Luffy, you're really a bottomless pit aren't you?"

That night, as I settle into my hammock and listen to the soothing sounds of my brother snoring, I find myself restless.

What was the point of me even being here, if I was just going to make things worse?

What was the point of me even-?!

"I found a cool show! Let's watch it together, okay? Ta-"

No! I abandoned that name! I'm Lucy. Monkey D. Lucy. Sister to Monkey D. Luffy, Portgas D. Ace, and Sabo!

I-

I-!

I roll over, onto my side, and bite back my tears with clenched teeth.

I can't afford to be weak now!

I will bear this guilt and take it in stride. It's too late to change my mistakes, too late to go back, and so now the only thing I can do is...move forward.

The person who held that name before could not have possibly lived on, could not have admitted to her mistakes and make herself better of it, but Lucy…

Lucy can.

I will.

For the sake of my brothers and even myself, I'll-

Never give up!

o.O.o

"Is Lucy okay..? She's been so quiet since you two came back…"

"Ah, she'll be fine. Even if it takes a while, we can wait."

"Let's get stronger and stronger! So we can protect her properly!"

"Yeah you're right...we can't let her do all the protecting around here. Let's do our best too!"

"Yeah!"

o.O.o

"C-Captain..? I-Is this okay? If the rumors are true-"

"Shut up, you fool! Rumors are just rumors! There's no way they'd send someone like that here, over something like this. Now get back to work! Our new world is waiting for us..."

"Y-Yes sir!"

"We'll take over this whole damn island...all of it! Everything will belong to us! That's why - hunt down every last noble and slaughter them! Don't leave anyone alive!"

o.O.o

She remembers dying.

Remembers the feel of it - the taste. Remembers how every last inch of who she is, was, was stripped down from the inside out, unravelled and stitched back together into a broken version of what she thinks she could have been. She remembers it so heavily, so vividly, that it's sometimes hard to remember who she no longer is.

What's real.

What's fake.

In the end, it's not that important, she supposes. Not when she's here-

In this place.

This abyss.

So, for now, she'll simply wait and remember.

Wait and remember.

Wait and remember.

Wait and…