Luffy was kicking a rock as he walked home. Nami had given him instructions in where he lived; turned out he only lived six blocks away from school. School was still dumb, in his opinion. All he got was ton of homework and sympathy from his teachers.
"What a stupid day," Luffy said in a huff. He wanted to do something fun but everyone was busy.
Zoro had to stay after school for a club so he couldn't join Luffy. Sanji worked part-time in a fancy restaurant, and Usopp worked with his dad in a hunting store. Nami just didn't want to do anything. Lastly, Ace had told him in the morning—before he dropped off Luffy at school—that he would be working all day and probably come home late. He worked as a bartender.
"I feel so alone."
Luffy scowled and kicked the rock so hard that it skittered through the air.
I'm used to loneliness anyway. Luffy halted, then frowned. It was that voice again. His? Sure. But it wasn't him saying it. Never would. He rubbed the side of his head, like it would make everything go away.
There was no way Luffy would ever get used to loneliness. He hated it with passion. He preferred to be with his friends and family. Before Ace came along, growing up alone was the worst thing for him.
Suddenly, Luffy was startled when his cellphone rang. He pulled it out from his pocket and stared at it with a blank look. How did these things work again? Were they like den den mushi? Nami also gave him directions on how to use it, except he didn't listen—too distracted with the food from the cafeteria.
Shrugging his shoulders, he answered with a simple Hello.
"Hey, Luffy, how are you doing? Was school okay? Are you home yet?" Ace asked multiple questions from the other line.
It made Luffy grin that Ace was still a worrywart with him.
"Fine. I think I'm almost home." He glanced at the street sign up ahead. "Is the street named East Blue?" How ironic.
"That's the one—What, already? It's only been five minutes!" Ace's voice bellowed over the phone. "Damn it... I have to go, Lu. I'll try to get home early. There's frozen food in the freezer."
Luffy's nose scrunched up in disgust. Gross! He had that on Saturday when Ace was called to work on his day off. It tasted awful. The piece of meat was the size of his palm.
But he couldn't complain, he had to be grateful for what his brother was doing.
"Okay, thanks, Ace."
"And answer your damn texts!" he added before hanging up.
Luffy glared at his phone, slightly pouting. "I'm trying," he mused. His phone kept vibrating all day but he had no clue how to reply. Luffy scrolled down the apps, checking the messages; over twenty-two messages unread. Wow.
Most of them were from Ace, no shocker there. The other half was Nami. Zoro and Usopp texted him a couple of times, too, saying something along the lines: don't get lost. Luffy chuckled, then his eyes widened when he saw another familiar name.
"Torao!" He quickly clicked his name and read it.
Law: Haven't heard from you in a while? I called but you didn't answer, everything okay? I miss you.
Luffy blinked. Law sounded rather affectionate—not that he wasn't. He's friendly and easy-going with his crew, especially Bepo. But hardly with Luffy. Law easily got annoyed with him. Nevertheless, he answered him by typing extremely slow. I miss you too!
He sent the message and continued walking.
As he opened the door to his place, his phone chimed. Grinning, Luffy looked through it.
Was that a smiley face? Law using that was the most amusing thing to Luffy. He seemed fun in this world. Wonder why? he thought.
Ace came home late, around eleven, and he looked exhausted. His black hair was disheveled and the white dress shirt he was wearing was stained with beverages. Luffy greeted him from the couch, munching on cookies.
"What are you still doing up?" Ace barked.
Luffy's lips quirked down. "I couldn't sleep so I'm watching TV."
Ace scrubbed his tired eyes, then sighed. "It's late, Luffy," he said in stern tone. "Go to bed. It's a school night."
Narrowing his eyes at him, Luffy crossed his arms and said in a huff, "Why are you being so bossy? You were never like this." What the hell was up with his attitude?
On any other day, Ace would've ignored it, but working on a fourteen hour shift made him snap. "What the fuck are you talking about? I've always been like this! We have bills to pay and I have to drop you off to school every day. So turn off the damn TV and go to your room!"
Luffy growled and climbed to his feet. "You can't force me to listen to you!" he shouted.
"You spoiled little brat!" They were now face to face, glaring at each other. "I'm taking care of you, so you have to obey me!"
"Says the fucking law, dumbass! I'm your guardian. We're all we got, don't you understand? God, sometimes I wish I didn't have to deal with you!"
And that broke Luffy's heart, because Ace loved him to death, even died for him. Yet, this person who looked like him didn't even want to do anything with him.
With watery eyes, Luffy clenched his hands to stop them from trembling. "I hate you! I want my brother back!" Then he bolted out of the house, ignoring Ace's cries.
Zoro found him an hour later. He was in an unknown park, sitting on the swing, crying. Zoro sat on the free swing. Both didn't move. Luffy wiped away his tears and snot with his forearm.
"Ace called you, didn't he?" he asked as he peered at Zoro.
"Yeah. He was freaking out and wondered where you ran off to."
"Oh." Luffy gazed at the dark sky above, while his hands were clutching the chains from the swing. "How did you find me?"
Zoro paused. "You come here to think sometimes."
He nodded. "How did you know where this park was? You're blocks away from your house." How did Luffy know if he had no idea where anything was?
"I didn't. I just ran wherever my legs could take me," he admitted.
Zoro began to wonder if Luffy was remembering anything. It's strange that he unknowingly stopped here, Zoro mused.
"Ace is a jackass. A big one."
"Want to talk about it?" Zoro offered, somewhat awkwardly.
Luffy sniffled. "I miss my world. This isn't home. It's you guys, but it's not to me. Everything is so different. You're different. The Zoro I know, knows how to sword-fight and lift heavy weights."
"I sound like a badass."
"You are!" Luffy smiled. "You always saved me from drowning, too."
Zoro raised an eyebrow. "But you know how to swim."
"I don't. I sink like a hammer in the water—Well, since I don't have my devil fruit powers, maybe I don't anymore."
Zoro scratched his head, confused by everything coming out of Luffy's mouth. He was going to regret this. "Tell me about our pirate life."
Luffy's eyes widened as his head snapped towards him. "Y-You mean it?" Zoro had always changed the subject whenever he mentioned his 'made-up' life.
"Why not? We got time to kill."
And he paid attention to his best friend. He sighed in content when Luffy's tears vanished, instead laughed about everything they had done together in the other world. He would listen a thousand times if it meant having Luffy smile like that.
Ace found them, after Zoro secretly texted them their location, and he seemed remorseful.
Luffy scoffed and averted his gaze. He was still angry at him.
"Lu, I'm sorry for saying those things. I didn't mean them."
Luffy still said nothing. He stubbornly kept his eyes on the opposite side, and Zoro could see that Luffy was trying so hard to hold his tears. Whatever Ace told Luffy must've hit a nerve.
"I took out my anger on you, and it was the wrong thing to do." He padded towards him, and smiled in the inside when Luffy didn't push him away. Luffy's lips moved inwards when Ace stood in front of him, and then as he craned his head the other way, Ace jumped to block his view, teasing him.
Zoro made a small grin. Luffy desperately wanted to giggle but refused to. It seemed like everything would be okay for them.
Ace began to tickle his brother, prompting Luffy to burst into laughter.
Luffy stood up. "Stop! I give, I give!" He attempted to swat his hands away, but it was fruitless. Ace knew his sensitive spots. "Ace—" He was cut off when arms wrapped around his shoulders and pulled him forward. It made Luffy want to cry but for another reason.
"You're the greatest thing in my life, you know. I would do anything for you. Die for you—"
"No!" Luffy screamed, catching the two older boys off guard, as he embraced Ace. Luffy swallowed when images of Ace's death filtered through his mind. "D-Don't, Ace. Promise me that you'll never risk your life for me!" He couldn't live with himself if the Ace in front of him died as well. He couldn't go through that pain again. Wouldn't.
Ace's eyelids lowered, smiling fondly. "I promise," he lied. He had always kept his promises with him, no matter what. However, this one he wouldn't keep. He vowed himself to protect and be there for his little brother.
Luffy pulled away, relieved. "Does this mean I can miss school tomorrow?" He yelped as Ace smacked the back of his head.
"Keep dreaming! Now let's go." He turned to Zoro, who was beginning to walk away. "Zoro, thanks." It wasn't often he called him, unless it was an emergency. Ace knew all of Luffy's friends, but if he had to rely on someone, it would be Zoro.
"No big deal." He wore a solemn expression but Luffy wasn't fool. Zoro was secretly happy.
"Bye, Zoro! See you at school!" Luffy frantically waved at him, teeth shown as his lips stretched wide. "And don't get lost!"
Zoro flushed. He shouldn't have glanced over his shoulder. "Whatever. Night." He lazily waved back and then grumbled something Luffy couldn't hear.
Luffy bid Ace goodnight once they got home. He didn't realize it was late until he lay on the bed and closed his eyes. A chime startled him. Luffy peered at the nightstand and saw his cellphone flickering a light for a second before going dark. A message.
Opening the message, Luffy couldn't help but gasp. He eagerly replied, then put his cellphone back on the stand. He couldn't wait for Friday now. Only few more days. Luffy fell asleep with a pleased smile on his face.
Law: I'm not doing anything on Friday. Want to hang? I know a great place to get a bite. We can catch up on what we missed and do other stuff.
Luffy: That sounds fun! I haven't done anything exciting lately. Can't wait!