Wordcount: Pages, 5. Words, 2837. Characters, 14560. Characters excluding spaces, 11744.
"Coming after tiny fractures
Call it post-traumatic
What comes after tiny fractures?"
There were stories about some poor random fuck ending up stuck in the body of a 'canon' character from one of their favourite fandoms. The true version of self-inserts, that's what I'd always called them, laughing at the idea of inserting someone into someone else's body. I never expected them to become real or find myself in such a situation. It had been just fanfiction to me- a story, and I thought that was how it would always be, but now I was staring at a familiar and yet also unfamiliar face in a river creek and having to force myself not to fall into a mental breakdown or panic attack.
It wasn't like I was uncomfortable with my new body, I'd always been someone more concerned with what someone was on the inside compared to the outside, but the person I had become was someone I felt no one should be unlucky enough to end up as. Portgas D. Ace, about four years old, with wounds and blood all over him, stared at me from the river's depths and reflections. Pulling back, unable to stare any longer, I plopped down on too small and too childlike limbs and onto the ground where I shakily brought the small but tanned and freckled hands up to rub at my face aggressively.
It was a bid to calm myself down, but all it did was make me feel more hysterical. Being a child again was weird, sure, but I could deal with that. I had never really grown up in the first place. Hell, I could also deal with the guilt of somehow taking over someone else's body when all I remembered was going to bed the night before, but becoming someone destined to die before their twenty fifth birthday? I didn't know how to deal with it. A pending mortality, I suppose it could be called, and I was so damned scared. It didn't help that I knew I'd never be able to live up to what made Ace such a good person. I was so much more selfish, and although I had suffered from self hatred issues before, I had never truly wanted to die.
I knew I could avoid the entire process that ended in Ace's death if I wanted to, but the idea of derailing 'canon' events terrified me almost as much as dying did. Not from fear of the unknown or anything, but because I knew Ace's death had been a needed catalyst to get Luffy strong enough to survive the second half of the grand line. If Ace hadn't died, he'd have no reason to keep getting stronger until he wouldn't lose anyone else. If Ace didn't die, Whitebeard didn't die, and if Whitebeard didn't die then the new age of pirates would not start. If the new age of pirates didn't start then a lot of canon events wouldn't happen, and it was an entire smorgasbord of problems that were overwhelming and made me feel just as small as I'd become when I'd been dropped in the body of a four year old.
It didn't help that I knew I was hurt, and as I sat there, I began to come to a very dark conclusion. I should not exist. This should not be possible. Breaking the fourth wall was only Deadpools thing, and I was most definitely not Deadpool even if I was a fan of chimichanga's. Tilting my head back and ignoring the drying blood on my new body, I closed my eyes and tried to come up with HOW this would be possible, and why I did not sense 'Ace' himself in my mind nor find myself suffering from probable multiple personality disorder to the extreme.
My mind, so used to coming up with macabre ideas, went to the pain I was in and the amount of blood I'd found upon my new body, and came to a chilling conclusion that Ace may have died.. But early, and something, or someone, had interfered and dropped my unsuspecting ass into him so that 'canon' could mostly continue on as planned. The idea that I was that small a part of the universe didn't bother me as much as the fact I had been practically shoved into a death sentence unless I wanted to completely bring things off the rails and maybe cause the death of Luffy and his entire crew- the main heroes of the world.
It came down to how selfish I was. Was I selfish enough to cling upon life or let myself go? Was I selfish enough to sacrifice Luffy and so many damned others just because I didn't want to die? Even as I thought this I wondered if there was a way to make it where neither of us had to die. I also wondered if perhaps I was paying too much attention to the shitty ideas about time travel and messing with what was 'supposed' to happen causing utmost destruction via the butterfly effect. I began to rub at my face harder, and barely noticed I was shaking slightly as I took in a choked breath.
My head hurt, but I had a feeling it had to do with shoving metaphorical memories of a almost twenty three year old into the brain of a four year old, not just my current existential crisis. I felt exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically, and wondered exactly what had happened to the four year old body I now inhabited that had caused so many wounds and so much blood. Forcing myself to open my eyes again, I looked up at the large trees that hid most of the sky from view and squinted.
It seemed that it was maybe mid day, but I couldn't be sure since I could not see the sun through the canopy of trees above me. Licking my dry lips, I forced myself to begin moving. There was no use thinking about all of this until I was sure I wouldn't get myself killed from my own stupidity in an unfamiliar place while wearing an unfamiliar face. I felt myself snicker somewhat hysterically at the very thought as I dragged myself back to the river I'd 'woken up' next to. Taking a calming breath, I leaned over and took in my features once more.
An adorable toddler stared back at me. Wavy hair that went down to his shoulder blades as black as coal, silver grey blue eyes, and tanned freckled skin. The kids, my- I mentally corrected myself- deciding to get used to things as they were now as quick as possible, cheeks were chubby from baby fat that had yet to disappear from the-my features. There was dried and caked blood all over Ace-MY- throat and sleeveless shirt that must have been orange before but was now more a brownish red than anything else. Bringing my hand up to touch hi-MY- throat, I found that there was no scarring nor wounds to indicate a torn out throat, but the blood and the way it seemed to have come onto this body indicated something like that must have happened.
A wild animal attack maybe? Wolf most likely, if my memories of the jungle and the series said anything.
Deciding to think on it later, I notice that there was some extra blood that had dripped down onto some shorts that used to be tanned but were more brownish red and green by this point from both the blood and multiple grass and dirt stains. I wore no shoes, and I wiggled my toes into the earth as a frown pulled across my new features. I jerked slightly in shock as soon as I saw it appear on the image in the river of my new self, because damned if that growing scowl didn't look natural on Ace's- my- face. Growling in frustration, I kicked at the image and in the water to disturb it, only to yelp as I tripped over myself and instead found myself falling face first into the water.
I pulled myself up and mostly out of the water into a standing position by pure will and stubbornness alone and sputtered while spitting out a good amount of water. My scowl had only grown from the situation I found myself in, but I wasn't paying attention to that anymore. Instead I was annoyed because I found myself so damned small that the water literally went up to my shoulders now when it would have only gone to below my waist had I been in my original body. Being this short, this small again, was going to be a difficult thing to get used to. I could already tell that much.
Since I was in the water, I decided I might as well get as much of the blood off of me as possible. I was in a forest, a jungle even, and that could attract more danger than even my size now would. Yanking the shirt up and off of my body, I shoved it over to the edge of the river and then looked down. The blood that caked my front seemed to flow from the neck, making my idea that Ace may have died prematurely and that was now why I was in his body become a more believable idea of mine. That didn't make me happy though, instead it made me sad. Ace never deserved what he went through, so the idea that he had died so early only for me to have to swoop in to 'keep balance' hurt me.
Didn't Ace himself deserve so much more to live?
The most I had done was way less than he had. He'd been so large and full of life. The idea that I was now part of the reason he was technically gone and instead in his place hurt me, especially since this Ace was too young to have ever realised how loved and cherished he was. He'd just been a kid, a poor kid who had been hurt more than he deserved. Taking a shuddering breath, I forcefully grabbed a handful of sand from the riverbed and began to use it to help scrub the blood off of me. As I did so, I allowed myself to stop thinking and instead just do.
By the time I was done I found myself mostly clean of blood and felt slightly relieved. The tips of my hair were still clinging together from dried blood, but I could fix that soon. Shuffling through the water to grab the shirt, I then shoved it into the water and furrowed my eyebrows in concentration as I began to try and get as much of the blood out of it as possible. As I did so, more orange began to show, but the blood sure as hell would be staining a good amount of it. I gave a tsk under my breath in annoyance and jumped from the childish sounding voice that came out in the process, surprised and yet not all at once since it was my first true vocal noise I'd made in this new body.
Once I'd gotten enough of the blood off of the shirt it looked more like an old stain than a recent one, I noticed that the shirt looked very worn out now and decided that, once I could, I'd get rid of it. Pulling myself out of the river, I went to a nearby tree and hung the shirt on one of the lowest branches to dry before heading back to the river where I slipped off my shorts to begin washing in the same way I had the shirt.
I'm not sure how much time passed as I did all this, but the light seemed to be getting less obvious so it must have been a while. I jumped back into the water to duck and harshly wash at my hair, making sure it was no longer coagulating together due to the blood on the ends, before I got out and watched the blood flow downriver until it was completely gone. "Okay." I said out loud, wincing slightly from my new voice but forcing myself to get over it as quickly as possible. I spoke again, louder, more sure. "Okay. I can do this. I've cleaned up. Now I just need to find some kind of shelter. Going missing isn't.. There's no way that no one will come looking for Ace- for me- so I just need to survive until then."
Going over to the same tree I'd hung my shirt on, I put my shorts up to dry too and then leaned against the tree and tried to THINK. "What do you know about wilderness survival?" I asked myself, only to wince as I remembered how little it was. "Stay away from water sources." I suddenly said, eyes widening as I remembered and sitting up straighter. The reason wasn't because having a water source was bad, but because of how many animals would be drawn to said water to drink from it- most of them probably dangerous carnivores.
Cursing, I rubbed at my face harshly again and wondered if that would become a habit as I then looked at the tree I was leaning against in assessment. Even with the threat of the animals, I needed the water. A human could survive weeks without food, water though? Not so much. I was lost as well, which didn't help anything. Still, another rule I remembered was, when lost, continuing to keep moving was a bad idea. It was best to stay in one place. This was the only water source I knew of, but I needed to be careful due to the threat of wild animals. Being up high in a tree and unable to be reached while also near a water source would allow me to get water when no animals were around and also keep me mostly safe.. I think.
As for food, I had no idea what was and wasn't edible around in a jungle or forested area, so I was definitely fucked over on that end. I was already cold, so I left my clothes where they were to dry and gripped onto the thick trees bark, looking it over for good hand and foot holds that would help me climb it. I had not climbed a tree in almost twenty years, and I had absolutely no fucking idea what I was doing. How had I done this so easily as a child? What the utter fucking hell had I done to be able to act like a spider on these things as a child in my original childhood? Mentally praying to whatever higher power was up there, I grit my teeth and forced myself to try climbing the gigantic tree that seemed to have no end in sight.
I'd like to say that I immediately got the hang of climbing the tree again, that some weird muscle memory kicked in, but that was the farthest from the truth that existed. Multiple times I fell, only getting a few small painful feet of climbing and ruining both my bare hands and feet with scratches from the bark as I did so. They joined the other scratches on my arms and legs I'd been ignoring that had already been there when I woke up in this body. I didn't think of them as important, and it wouldn't be until later that I realised how damned stupid I had been. Anyway, if there was anything I was good at it was being stubborn and not giving up easily, so I kept trying and trying even as my hands and feet began to bleed and it began to hurt more and more to try, until finally I succeeded.
It must have been hours, because I was now covered in a thin sheen of sweat and panting while the light seemed to have dimmed to a low glow. Groaning and letting my head thunk back against the tree branch that was at least three times as thick as my very waist now was, I brought a shaking arm up to cover my eyes with and just laid there trying to catch my breath back. I didn't think I had it in me by this point to actually crawl back down, and the jungle was humid enough I felt I should probably be okay if I took a little nap. Hypothermia, I hoped, was the least of my current problems.
That decided, I fell into an uneasy sleep.