The old man visited again. And this time he brought a kid for him to babysit.
"You're going to be living together now, so make sure you get along." Get along. With the bouncing rubber monster? Why?
Said monster is currently jumping around - and off of - the trees enthusiastically. If Ace were in a friendly, nongrouchy, unresentful frame of mind, he might have been amused by the way the rubber-boy pays no attention whatsoever to where he's running, rebounding violently and picking himself up casually whenever he actually strikes something.
But Ace has been begging Garp and Dadan to let him go down to the village and play with other boys forever and he wants to know just what is so damn special about this boy, that he should be allowed to know about Ace. So he doesn't say goodbye when the old man leaves, and earns himself a smack for his pains. Ace feels marginally better, though, at having communicated his displeasure.
So he slips away while Dadan is showing Luffy around the house. He just wants some space - he's not hiding from a seven-year-old.
For the rest of the day he rebuffs any attempt by his guardian to speak to him and pointedly ignores the intruder while he noisily explores his new home. Ace's home.
Not pointedly enough, apparently, because the nuisance gets bored eventually and comes skipping over to where Ace is sullenly hating the world, and all rubber boys in it.
And he just stands there for a moment, gawking and awkward with his too-big hat, and klutzy injuries and stupid vapid friendly smile. "I'm going to be the Pirate King."
Good for you.
"Do you want to be a pirate?"
"Mmnnmm" And pirate-wannabe is an idiot because he ignores all the "go away" signals Ace is broadcasting LOUDLY and settles himself down comfortably next to him. Before leaning very much in Ace's personal space and asking him if he wants to be part of his pirate crew when he goes after One Piece.
And suddenly Ace has had enough. He's sick of Garp, of hiding, of hyperactive bouncing rubber-home-invaders, and lousy useless Pirate Kings. So he snatches the stupid over-sized hat off the shrimp's head and winds his arm back to throw it as far as he can.
Luffy stops smiling.
He stops bouncing.
And all at once, he's not looking so friendly anymore.
"Give. That. Back." This, now, this is interesting, but before Ace can further investigate the worth of an old straw hat he's assaulted by a solid, compact mass of angry seven year-old. A solid, compact, weirdly compressible mass.
In no time at all he's sitting on his furious, thrashing attacker and Luffy is shrieking at him.
"Give it back! Give it back, give it back, giveitbackgiveitbackgiveitbackgiveitback!"
Ace drops the hat back on its owners head. And Luffy...calms down like he'd never been angry to begin with.
"Sorry." But he doesn't get off his prisoner yet, just in case.
He needn't have worried - Luffy looks entirely unconcerned with continuing his fit now that his precious hat is returned. "It's not yours, it's mine. Shanks gave it to me and I'm going to give it back to him when I'm the greatest pirate ever, so you can't have it. ...But I'll help you find another hat if you want one." Large guileless eyes stare up at him, out of a head that's at the wrong angle from the kid's body, his neck folded backwards unnaturally.
Ace thinks he might maybe like him after all.