Chapter 1: Irony
Fate has a cruel sense of humor, it is cruel and it is whole. It takes and takes and doesn’t ever give back. And when it does give something in exchanged for what it has taken, the reward isn’t something that one would want.
Fate had taken everything from him. It took his innocent, his childhood, his teenage years, and his family. It took away his reasons, his abilities. In return Fate gave him power he did not want, it gave him a destiny which he did not need. It gave him abilities and knowledge, gave him his so-called ‘great destiny’. It gave him the curse of not aging. Not dying. And out of all the ‘gifts’ Fate had given him, he wished with all his being immortality was not one of them.
It wasn’t noticeable at first. They all thought he was just aging well. It wasn’t until he hit age sixty that they started to realize what was going on. He wasn’t aging, he was still as young looking as he was when he was twenty five. He could still move fast and could still do the things young people could do. When they did tests on his bones and his life span, he was still twenty five no matter how many years had passed and there was no definite answer to when he would die. His friends grew afraid, shielding away from him. He couldn’t understand what was happening to him, he couldn’t believe after all he had done he was cursed in this manner.
He watched as his wife grew gray hair, and the light in her eyes faded. He was the one to bury her, and it didn’t matter how many years had passed. He continued to bring flowers, standing in front of it like he was waiting for something. He had no idea what he was waiting for though. He continued to watch over his kids, watched as his own had kids and their kids had kids and so on. He buried his children, and his children’s children. He could do nothing as the people he fought with, endured with, aged and died, leaving him behind. He buried them like he did his family. And when they were dead, when no one was there anymore to keep an eye on him, he found out the horrible truth of the people he thought were his friends.
Afterwards, when no one really remember his face and no one really knew him, when there was no one left in the world that was there for him, he tried to kill himself.
He lost count of how many times he tried to join his loved ones in the afterlife, he stopped counting when he reached five hundred eons back. He tried poisoning himself, overdosing. He set himself aflame, hanged himself, his wrist covered with deep gashes never to heal. He threw himself off the highest tower and drowned himself in the same day. He starved himself for a year, every moment not bringing him closer to death than the last. If his heart would just give out for one second, just a sign that he was closer to the end than ever before, he wouldn’t hurt himself so much. But his heart never faltered, never weakened, it pumped blood through his veins no matter how much he bled out and he could tell, he was nowhere near the end of his life. And maybe the reason he tried to kill himself was more out of the want, no need, to end this torture than anything else. He just so desperately wanted to close his eyes and not for them to open ever again.
But his eyes never closed.
His heart never stopped.
And he continued to live.
Only the pain was constant.
Every time he tried to kill himself, every time he tore his limbs off or broke every bone in his body, his body would repair itself. Each muscle, each cell regenerating and stitching itself together again. It mattered not what he did to himself, didn’t matter how many scars he would have had if he was normal, his body would return to the way it was before, all marks erased like they had never been there.
When he reached the age of three hundred and fifty, when there was no one left to whisper about his name and his doings in the past, when he still looked to be in his twenties, his mind broke and he laughed like a madman. He laughed like there was nothing else to do, like there was no tomorrow to bother with. He laughed at his situation, he laughed about the curse that had been thrust upon him. He laughed at the irony of his life.
He, who had no goal in mind but to live for the next day, to get away from the people he was forced to call family; he, who didn’t believe he would make it passed the age of seventeen, lived as the people who had goals and ambitions died. His archenemy who craved immortality died before him who never wanted immortality was granted it.
Fate was a cruel bitch.
Centuries passed like decades at first, each day agonizingly slow and a heartbreaking reminder that he was alone in this world. He had come to terms that he could not off himself no matter how hard he tried, and so with that realization in mind he tried to move on with this pathetic excuse of a life. He tried to make new friends and fall in love. And he did, until it all came to an end. The fact was people, friends, died, relationships grew apart with secrets, and in an immortal life nothing was constant besides his own heartbeat and pain. So instead of going through the pain of losing anyone close to him ever again he threw himself into his studies. He had long learned that he had a photographic memory, and with the way the world was tearing itself apart, he decided that he would learn everything there was for when a time when there was nothing left of this civilization. He didn’t particularly like thinking that the world would die and he would continue to live all alone, but he had always been a realist and not even the thought of being alone would stop that.
He learned the languages of his time, learned both sides of the world from which he came from. He wouldn’t allow himself to be ignorant in any world, whether it be this one or the next. He learned many things (some noticeably: architecture, art & design, biology, Psychology, civil engineering, conflict resolution, economics, environmental studies, finance, gunsmithing, healthcare, hospitality management, human resources and services, journalism, law, liberal studies, management and marketing, mechanical engineering, music, medical billing and coding, nutrition, nursing, organizational leadership, philosophy, physics, public health, social work, etc.) and then he went to the world he knew most didn’t know about. He learned all there was for if this world was ending, and he did survive, someone might need to guide the next generation. Someone had to have the answers they were looking for, and he wouldn’t allow magic to just end. He couldn’t, because while he might no longer practice it, the idea it was gone hurt more than he wanted to admit. Even if he forsaken his own.
And the civilization of his day did end. It ended in fire, everything burning in flames as they fought and fought and repeated the mistakes of their elders. Before everything went up in flames he grabs his finances and had it transferred into golden bars. If he was going to live in a new world after this one was over, he wasn’t going to allow himself not to be prepared.
The war took everything from the people. It took their lives, their hope, family, friends, belongings, and their identities. The world moved on, and he watched not only his former name die out but also his family line.
When he turned five hundred and another war had taken thousands of lives he could no longer bare the name he was born with. He threw it away to be lost in the travel of time, he knew he would never hear the cursed name from anyone lips ever again. It was after he had thrown his name away that he realized that names didn’t really matter. You could go by John or Zackary, George or Fred, Julie or Vicky and it would mean nothing. A name did not define you, it did not make you the person you are. He learned that names where just titles to people who wanted to be different from people, needed to be defined because they had nothing else to define them.
After the fire came the explosion of the sun. Everyone, the animals, the people, the plants and water were burned up, the world in chaos. But at the end of the day he still stood in the pile of rocks, freezing and hungry and alone. Always alone.
He learned to deal with the loneliness, learned that while he couldn’t deal with the death of those he knew he was fine with the solitary. He lost count of the days, no longer being able to tell day from night and from a year to a decade. But after endless darkness for such a long time, the world exploded into light and the world started to rebuild itself.
The world became flooded, islands being the only thing that lets inhabitants live outside of the ocean. Many things happened in the short span of time. Civilization rebuilt itself, the world was more corrupted than ever. People not of this world or time came and tried to help, brought their advance technology with them and was betrayed by the ones they assisted. But before they were killed off, they had spread their line out and set the secret of their history in stone, a language he was honored to learn from the creators. He never bothered to bring about what they wanted, for it wasn’t him that needed to do so. And the world wasn’t ready yet, he didn’t know if it would ever be.
They gave him a gift though, a map to the gift I guess he should say. He searched the land and soon found himself on what was to be known as the Red Line. There, where evil would take place in the future, was a tree much like the old legend of Eve and Adam. And there, on the highest branch, was a fruit they had left him. It was shaped like a heart, blue the base color and golden swirls covering the skin. He had no idea what it was, they had refused to tell him. He half-heartedly hoped that it was a poisonous fruit that would kill him, but he knew that would be too good to be true (though if it was he would forever thank them in the afterlife). And so, with nothing left to lose and nothing really to gain, he bit into the fruit.
It was rotten, like it had been waiting for him since the day he was born a millennium ago. He had to choke it down as he ate it, and even when he had just taken a bite out of it, he refused to leave the fruit to waste so he ate it all, even if it was disgusting.
Nothing happened for ages, and so he just sat there, remembering the words they had told him. Eat the first fruit that has bloomed, and never eat another again. It sounded like something bad would happen if he did, and with how smart they were it would probably lead him to a terrible death. But since he could not die he figured he wouldn’t bring another scar onto his skin that no one but him could see.
A lot of time had passed by since then. If he had to guess it would have been near 700-900 years since the world started up again. He learned a lot of the fruit he ate. Apparently they gave the eater a special ability. The one he had eaten was what they had classified as zoan. He was a phoenix now and forever more, and he couldn’t help but think of the ironic situation. A phoenix was immortal, and the fruit had been eaten by someone who already was. He guess the best thing was that he could fly once more, even if it was not like how he used to be. And in return for this ability, he could no longer swim. He was fine with that. He would much rather have the sky than the sea.
As time passed his memories blurred and faded. The name he threw away he could no longer remember. He could no longer remember the faces of his dear friends, the people he had considered family for the ten years of his early life. The only thing that remained of the person he had been were the fears and the teachings and abilities he had learned. The constant fear of being hurt and the need to finally find peace never went away, the loneliness he dealt with was always there and he couldn’t remember what it felt like to be happy. He remembered a war he wanted no part of. He remembered to never put his trust lightly and to always be on guard. But the reasons behind those thoughts and instincts were gone, faded into the wind as if it was nothing but a passing thought.
Fifty more years passed when he met the man that changed his view on life. He remembered walking down the street of a no-named island that he couldn’t bother to remember and going to get a drink. He remembered the man who came to sit by him was tall and had the smell of the sea about him, much like he himself smelled of the sky and the wind. He had asked a simple question, a question that would forever change his life. Of course, it wasn’t until later that night he had asked it, after they had both gotten semi-drunk and got to know each other did he ask.
“Join my crew. Become my son.”
He had stared at him, wide eyed, and asked him if he had had too much to drink. It took him forever to agree, took the man he now called his father (even though he was much, much older than him) almost three months to make him see that he wasn’t just going to disappear or betray him. That he wasn’t going to be afraid of what he was.
And that’s it. He had become one of his sons.
Only there was one problem. He didn’t have a name.
When he, the man he would follow to the ends of the earth, had asked his name, he had responded he no longer had one. And then he gave him a name.
It was simple, it was nice. It was common name but not so common that it wasn’t unique.
He had smiled, a true smile that he hadn’t been able to wear for who knows how long.
Whitebeard, the man he called Oyaji, gathered more and more sons and daughters. Their little makeshift family grew and grew, and it didn’t stop. Whitebeard was the father, the captain of the crew, and he the oldest brother, the first mate, and was a constant figure that was always two steps behind and one step to the side of their captain.
He could no longer remember who he had been, who he was or what his family had been like, but it no lingered mattered. He had made one with the man he saw as a father, he built his personality and any resemblance to the man he once was were gone long before he decided to become his son. The black hair that was like a rat’s nest had turned to a nice punk-rock blonde long ago, and his startling green eyes had faded to blue, the color of the sea and sky for that was what he was. His soul, his home, was always to the sea and his family were children of the ocean.
He had everything he had wanted, and while he was still trying to figure out how to end his life one day, it was no longer that desperate need he couldn’t ignore. His main purpose here was for his family, and him ending his life was a side job now a days.
He met his youngest brother, and lover, after a new era had risen. He had come to take his father’s head, like so many before him, and had become his son after months of trying to kill him. He finally confronted the boy, telling him it was now or never, and in return the brat had asked him a question.
“Why do you call him Oyaji?”
It was a simple question, and yet it meant more than anything to everyone on board. He had already known the answer before he had said it though. Because he had went through the same thing, but at the time no one had been able to give him an answer.
“Because he calls us his sons. It might not mean a lot to outsides, but to us, the outcasts of the world, it makes us happy to have a family, a place to call home.”
Because it means we have a place to belong, even if the world is forever against us.
Even if time never lets us rest.
He never said these words to the boy, never wanted his family to hear his sores and to see his wounds that he would forever carry for while he could not scar on the skin, it never meant they weren’t there.