In the next thirty seconds Ace was either going to have a heart attack or kill his brother.
They were in the mess hall, eating dinner. Luffy had been happily babbling through mouthfuls of food while the Strawhats ate and boozed and chatted with Ace's crewmates. Ace, sitting with his brother, talked and listened and laughed – avoided sprayed food – and tried to ignore the occasional concerned glances his nakama gave him, result of this morning's confrontation.
And then someone had asked, bemused and a bit concerned: "Strawhat, I gotta ask: did you actually think you were gonna rescue Ace-san from Impel Down? Alone?!"
"Ah, sorry but you're gonna have to repeat that one without the food."
Luffy shoved a last pork joint into his mouth and swallowed. "I would've! Well, the alone part wasn't so good, but I didn't have a choice and I wasn't going to let that stop me! And I only just missed him! If that stupid Poison-guy hadn't poisoned me I definitely would have got there in time!"
The dining room went completely silent.
Ace was going to kill his brother dead.
The Strawhats recovered first, expressions shifting from stunned to "…yeah, this is our captain. He does stupid things, you get used to it."
"Luffy, how about you try to not get poisoned from now on?" Robin suggested. "I don't believe it's very healthy."
"Yeah!" Luffy agreed, "that wasn't fun."
Ace took a deep breath. And another. And then a third for good measure.
His brother shot him a furtive look, half sheepish, half apologetic. "I won't do it again."
The atmosphere in the room remained strained for a moment longer, until Luffy grinned at Ace and continued inhaling food like the bottomless pit he was.
Then he bounced off to make more friends with Ace's crewmates and steal food from new plates. His nakama followed after him, adding their own brand of chaos to the crowded room. Their vacated seats were taken by Marco and Peri, the latter of whom was gaping at Luffy with the incredulous look of someone who had never seen anyone try to stick a pair of chopsticks up their nakama's nose.
"That's one of the Eleven Supernovas?"
"Okay, I'll bite – what the hell is a Supernova?"
Marco started to laugh. "Oh Ace, you missed all the fun, you have no idea. Some weird secret Cipher Poll group abducts Robin, so your brother and his group of rag-tag idiots go to Enies Lobby to get her back. And they wreak holy havoc on the island, so the dumbass in charge orders a Buster Call."
"The long and short of it is: they got Robin back, and Enies Lobby no longer exists."
"No longer… exists."
"No wait, it gets better. Then his group of crazies get to Shabondy at the same time as eight other crews of rookies. With Luffy and Zoro, that makes eleven rookies with bounties over 100,000,000 beri – that's where the Eleven Supernovas comes from."
Peri cut in, "At the time, some brat called Eustace Kidd had the highest bounty – nasty rumours about him, by the way – and Luffy had the second highest bounty."
"The Marines have probably rethought that one," Marco drawled. "But that's not all: when we passed through Fishman Island to get here, the place was in an uproar. Some idiot apparently punched out a World Noble for shooting a Fishman."
"No way…" The Strawhats had mentioned something about the World Nobles, hadn't they?
Marco chuckled. "Hey, Luffy! How do you feel about the World Nobles?"
"I hate them. They shot my friend. And they're stupid! People aren't for selling." Happy, smiling Luffy, who loved everything and liked everyone, suddenly looked grim. Forbidding, almost.
"Didn't anyone warn you that if you messed with the Tenryuubito they'd call in a Marine Admiral?" Ace asked weakly.
"He shot my friend." Luffy said simply.
My brother is an adult.
He'd known this, on some level; Luffy was old enough to sail the oceans, to captain a pirate crew. To do stupid, stupid things like throw himself in the middle a war between an Emperor of the Sea and the World Government.
But seeing him like this, still and solemn and certain in his convictions drove it home like nothing else.
The impression lasted up until Chopper, having argued for twenty minutes that Luffy needed to go to sleep so he could heal, finally lost patience and bodily removed his captain from the dining room. After first growing about five feet.
Ace liked his brother's nakama.