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She transfers to your school during your last year there, and you would not have noticed her had the boys' martial arts club not been asked to help out with the girls'. You are popular and well-liked, and quite a few of the girls come up to you to demurely ask for your help. And then, she edges through them and says, "You are strong. I want to fight you."

She is tall and lean, and you can see the curve of muscle on her arms. She waits for your answer, and you realize, vaguely amused, that you cannot say no to such a statement. So you say yes, well aware of the glares the other girls shoot her, and follow her to an empty section of the gym.

She is much stronger than you first expect, fights almost like a man and has so much endurance and strength coiled in that body that does not impress either men or fighters. She gets in a few hits, but you are still stronger (at this school, only Newgate-sensei can defeat you), and you eventually have her pinned onto the ground.

She looks up at you, cheeks flushed and black hair slipping out of her bun, and says, "I'm Monkey D. Luffyko." You laugh, say, "Portgas D. Ace. It's nice to meet you."

She waits for you after school the next day and asks you if you will spar with her. It should be easy to refuse her the same way you have refused all the other girls who have asked, but you cannot say no to her. She is good, possibly the person closest to your level at your school, and you need the practice. That's what you say to justify it to yourself, but it's really because there's something about her, the way she asks you, so earnest and cheerful and expectant, that you do not know how to say no.

After that, you begin to notice her. You see her around school, usually surrounded by a group of friends, face open and honest and unbearably cute at times, and in some way, it feels like you know her, have always known her, but you do not know why.

You begin to look forward to sparring with Luffyko. She improves as the semester goes along, and you do as well. You look at her, tall and lean and so much power packed into that small body, and you want to always be better than her so you can protect her.

She smiles graciously, always, when you win, but you can see the determination to be the best in her eyes, and you admire that strength. You do this for fun, because you can, but this is her life, and you can only hope that she does not forget you once she reaches her goal.

You are surprised, even though you shouldn't be, when you hear about Luffyko's abysmal grades from the girls' club advisor, grades that can threaten her place on the team. You bring this up with her after sparring, and she looks at you, shrugs and smiles. "It's not like I really need all that stuff anyway," she says easily, and more than ever, you feel the difference between her and the rest of the world.

You offer to help her with her homework, and although she refuses at first, saying that it would be too much of a hassle for you and don't you have your own studies to worry about, anyway, especially with the entrance exams coming up, you eventually convince her that it's not a problem. Not when she's concerned anyway, because you feel like you should be doing this.

Luffyko does not have a mind for schoolwork, you discover. It's not that she doesn't learn the material because she does, eventually, but she distracts herself a little too much. You make her focus, though, and her marks slowly improve, enough that she will be able to stay on the team without any problems.

You do not stop because it has become a routine. Student council, club, sparring with Luffyko, then tutoring her. It's comfortable, easy, and you can almost believe that this is how it has always been. But when she turns to you after finishing a maths problem, face so close you can see the edges on the scar underneath her eye, you kiss her.

She blinks when you draw away, laughs and asks you again to check her work. You do, and somehow you end up kissing her again, and she does not resist. She is utterly familiar to you, but you do not know how or why. All you know is that no one else matters as much as she does.

It continues, slow and lazy and sweet, and you have never experienced anything like this before. You think you may be in love with her, whatever that means, and although it should intimidate you, it doesn't. It feels almost natural.

Luffyko's mother invites you to dinner to thank you for helping Luffyko. Her smile falters when she sees you, and she whispers your name. It sends shivers down your spine, and you nod hesitantly. Then, she's in front of you, hugging you tightly and murmuring to you about how she thought she would never see you again.

After the initial shock, she tells you that you are the son she had with her first husband, and you vaguely remember a life with two parents, vaguely remember leaving with your father one day, wondering where you were going and not receiving an answer from anyone.

Your mother sobs while she tells you the tale, and all you can do is look at Luffyko. She merely looks at you, usual faint smile on her face, and although you know you should feel sick, you don't, and that unnerves you.

After dinner, as she walks you out to the gate, she smiles and says, "I don't really care. You are everything I have needed." Somehow, everything becomes almost okay, and you think, this is everything I have ever needed.

06.11.10