Information and a Reunion
Ace was pissed.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this mad. He had to watch as Darius came into their cell gagged and tied up his little brother before putting him in a bag and taking him away. Luffy had tried to fight but had been unable to. It was obvious that the younger boy was scared but he hadn't cried during the entire process. Not even once. It made Ace proud of his brother and more pissed because he couldn't tell Luffy that he was. Not that he would tell Luffy that he was proud, but now he didn't even have the option.
Then one of the men had come in and cut the rope that hung him from ceiling. He didn't bother with the gag or anything else. He just picked him up and carried him off.
Sabo's terrified voice had followed him out of the small room and all Ace could think of to say was, "remember our promise!"
He had been carried, in broad daylight where anyone could see, to a shop. He was placed on a table and the man that had been carrying him asked, "How much will you give me for him?"
They had talked for a few minutes before a deal was struck. Ace was then stripped, scrubbed, had a collar strapped to his neck, given what looked like a burlap sack to wear, and shoved into a small room with a clear wall so that customers could gawk at him.
It was annoying.
And really didn't improve his mood.
Every time one of the overdressed customers even came to look at him he would give him his darkest glare, the one that promised plenty of pain if they tried to mess with him.
At one point the shop keeper came and knocked on the glass telling him to behave or he'd be punished. Ace just stuck his tongue out at the man. He didn't like that too much. Ace was taken to a back room and beaten for his attitude.
He'd had worse beatings. They were probably trying not to damage the merchandise too much.
That had been hours ago. And now he was mad. And bored. But mostly mad.
And the stupid sack itched like crazy.
He just needed to figure a way out of here so that he could go back to the ship and rescue Sabo. He remembered where it was, it wouldn't be that difficult to find again as long as he left soon enough.
If it wasn't too late already.
He glared down at the sea stone cuff that was still around his ankle. If he could get the stupid thing off then he could get out of here.
If he could get the bomb off soon enough.
Out of the corner of his eyes he noticed another group come up to his room and look at him. He huffed and turned to glare at them until they left only to be shocked out of his mind.
Vista, Jiru, and Rakuyo were standing in front of his room. Vista was talking with the shop owner, pointing at Ace. The owner was shaking his head and tried to turn their attention to another slave but Vista stepped forward and said something to the man.
Ace stood and pressed his hands against the glass. Had they actually come after them? Were they here to save him or were they just passing through; happened to see him and decided to help?
Were they actually here or was he imagining this?
He tried to keep his hope down that they had come specifically for him but he couldn't help but wish that they had.
Rakuyo was watching him and smiled softly. Jiru waved.
He slowly waved back. Still not sure if he should believe his eyes.
Rakuyo motioned for him to move to the side and away from the glass. Ace, not sure why, did as he was told.
Vista and been searching the lawless area for a few hours now. He, Jiru, and Rakuyo decided to search the different human shops they saw just to make sure that one of the brats hadn't ended up in one of the shops. He was glad they did after he got Namur's call.
Apparently Ace was supposed to be in one of the shops and Sabo was somewhere unknown so they needed to be on the lookout for a man named Darius.
But at least Luffy was safe.
That was one brat down and two to go.
He walked into another shop. It was repulsive that there were so many and that the military turned a blind eye. They were supposed to protect all people, not just nobles.
"Hello gentlemen, how can I help you on this fine day?" a man asked appearing out of nowhere.
"We're just looking. We'll let you know if we need anything," Rakuyo said dismissing the man.
They walked around the shop looking into the different rooms.
"Vista, Rakuyo. Over here," Jiru called.
The two commanders traded hopeful looks before making their way to Jiru.
They smiled when they saw Ace sitting in one of the rooms, glaring at his foot.
He looked really annoyed.
"Is there something I can help you with now?" the salesmen from earlier appeared suddenly.
"Yes," Vista said. "How much for the kid," he asked pointing to Ace who was now staring at them in wonder and disbelief.
"Uh, you don't want him."
"Yes I do."
"No, you really don't. We just got him today and he's a bit of a handful. We haven't even had a chance to break him yet."
Vista bit back the angry retort. "I'll do my own breaking," he said as pleasantly as he could in the situation. Judging by the salesman's face it hadn't been all that pleasant.
"No, I really must insist so that I can retain the reputation of this shop. How about a nice young adult. This one over here is very well behaved."
This guy had to be the worst salesmen ever. Vista was saying that he wanted to buy something and he was trying to talk him into something else. It was really starting to annoy him. "No. I want the kid. Why would you have him on display if you weren't going to sale him?"
The man continued without answering his question. "How about-"
"Sale me what I want or you will not be happy about what I do."
"Please sir be reasonable."
Vista was done talking. They had searched for the brats for weeks and now Ace was standing right in front of him, eyes begging to be freed. He had tried to play nice. He had tried to just pay for Ace's freedom and be done with it, but the man wouldn't get out of his face. He pulled out his swords and, noting that Ace was out of the way, sliced through the glass.
"Come on brat. We're leaving."
Ace carefully made his way out of the cage and turned toward the pirate, the same disbelieving look on his face. Vista noted that he was wearing what looked like a sack and didn't have any shoes on. "What are you doing here?" the boy asked.
"We're looking for you and your brothers. Sorry it took us so long. Your grandpa is surprisingly hard to follow."
"You followed the geezer?"
"We've been looking for you brats for over a month now. So what do you say we get back to the ship?"
The boy shook his head. "I can't. I have to save Luffy and Sabo. I promised."
"Luffy is safe. He's with Marco and probably back on the Moby Dick by now," Vista said. "We're still looking for Sabo. Luffy said that someone called Darius already had a buyer for him so we're searching for the ship that you guys were on. Hopefully we'll be able to find this Darius and he'll tell us where Sabo is."
"I can take you to the ship. I know where it is. Well where it was a few hours ago."
"Wait just a minute!" an annoying voice demanded.
Vista frowned. He had forgotten about the salesmen. The man latched onto Ace's arm and pulled him away from the pirates. "This boy is my property. I paid for him! You can't just take him. That's stealing and the bomb caller will go off if he takes a step outside this shop."
Vista watched as Ace's eyes grew wide in fear before narrowing in annoyance before trying to throw the man off.
The swordsmen stepped forward and grabbed the wrist of the hand that was around Ace's arm. He squeezed the wrist until the salesman released the boy. He gently pulled Ace away and stepped so that he was between the ten year old and the shop keeper. "I tried to pay for him but you wouldn't let me."
"So why don't you just hand over the key to the collar," Rokuyo said throwing an arm over the salesman's shoulder. "And while you're at it throw in the key to the sea stone cuff around his ankle."
"Why would I do that? He's worth more dead to me than alive. If I let him leave the reputation of my shop will-"
"If you don't you're going to have the Whitebeard Pirates to deal with," Rokuyo cut the man off. The salesman's eyes grew wide and shot to look at Jiru's hat as if confirming that they were indeed part of the most notorious crew in the world. "Including the captain."
"I-I'll just go get those keys."
"And be quick about it!" Jiru snapped. "We're in a hurry."
The man scurried off before returning less than thirty seconds later, out of breath. He shoved both keys into Vista's hand. "Here. Just leave."
The swordsmen paid no more attention to the man. He turned towards the kid and quickly took off the collar, making the brat smile. Then he bent down to take off the sea stone cuff.
The kid's smile grew. "That's much better," he said standing on one foot and rubbed where the cuff had just come off.
"So you said that you know where Darius's ship is?" Jiru asked turning their attention the next task at hand.
"Yeah. They didn't cover my eyes or anything when they carried me here so I know how to get back to the ship."
"How long ago was that?"
Ace shrugged. It had been around noon that he was brought here but he didn't know what time it was now. "Hours."
"Alright then, what are we waiting for? Let's go find that ship." Vista said pulling out the mini transponder snail and tossing it to Jiru. "Call the others and tell them that we have Ace and hopefully a lead on Darius." He knelt down and motioned for Ace to get on his back. The boy gave him a confused look. "You're not wearing any shoes. It's not a good idea to walk around barefoot in a place like this. You never know what kind of stuff you might step on."
Ace couldn't believe it. He had actually been rescued and Luffy was safe.
The Whitebeard Pirates had actually come for them.
The only thing that was keeping him from outright grinning was the fact that Sabo still needed to be rescued. He directed the three pirates towards the Darius's ship and was surprised that it was still there. If it had been him he would have left right away.
Not that he was complaining.
"So that's it?" Vista asked.
"I've only actually seen the ship twice and only for a few seconds but I'm pretty sure that's it," he said from the pirate's back. The man refused to put him down no matter how many times Ace insisted that he would be fine.
Jiru was using the transponder snail to inform the other commanders of their location and the fact that Ace was alright.
It gave Ace more pleasure than he was willing to admit when he heard a few of the other cheer after hearing that he was alright.
"We just need to wait for the others before we make our move," Vista said as he crouched down. Keeping an eye on the ship and a hand around Ace's leg so that he wouldn't slide off his back. Ace thought about pointing out that he was made out of fire so it would matter if he stepped on anything. It would just go through him but decided against it.
If he moved around too much it made him dizzy.
Ace stayed where he was, watching the ship with Vista and the others. He clenched his teeth when the man that had used to spiked club on Luffy stepped out on deck. Jiru gave him a look.
"I recognize him," he told them confirming that this was indeed the ship they were looking for.
"Who?" a voice Ace had longed to hear for over a month now asked from beside him. His head turned and he saw Thatch smiling at him.
Without thinking Ace launched himself at the man and wrapped his arms around his neck causing him to laugh quietly. "Did you miss me or something?"
"Shut up," Ace mumbled into the man's shoulder.
He felt Thatch's arms wrap around him and for the first time sense he could remember he felt completely safe. As if nothing in the world could get to him in that moment. "Hey, I'm going to take him back to the ship. Are you alright without me for a while?" Thatch asked turning towards Namur.
Ace's head shot up. "No! I have to stay! I promised Sabo that I would save him when I escaped. Please don't make me go back without him," he pleaded.
"No offense kid but you look like crap. I think it would be a good idea for you to get on the ship and go see Lyra. And I know Luffy would like to see you. He was worried about you guys."
"You saw Luffy? He's okay?"
"He'll be fine. And so will you and Sabo. Just let us do what we have to do and you will be back with your brothers causing havoc soon enough."
Ace bit his lip. He was really tired, cold, his clothes itched, and it would be really nice to see Luffy again. But he had promised Sabo. "Please. If I don't get Sabo back he's going to do something really stupid. I need to get my brother back," he begged.
"How about Ace can come onto Darius's ship with us and if Sabo is not there he goes back to the Moby Dick," Namur suggested trying to make a compromise. It wasn't exactly what Ace wanted but it would have to do.
He turned to Thatch. "Fine but stay close."
He smiled at the man. "Thank you."
"Yeah, yeah." The man looked at him and his face grew confused and disgusted. "What on earth are you wearing?"
"They made me wear it at the human shop," he said sticking his tongue out. "It's really itchy."
"We'll find something better when we get back to the ship," the man promised with a laugh.
"What's everyone waiting around for?" a very familiar voice asked. Ace turned to see Marco standing with one hand on his hip and an eyebrow raised. "We're racing against the clock. I highly doubt that Sabo is still on that Ship so we need to hurry and get the information we need so we can go after him."
"Hey Marco," Ace said imitating the way Luffy would greet the man every time he saw him.
Thatch pointed to his back and Ace got the message that he still wasn't going to be allowed to walk. He rolled his eyes but climbed onto his friend's back.
"Feeling alright?" Marco asked eyeing him critically.
"Uh, I might be a bit dizzy every now and then but other than that I'm fine."
The pirates around him frowned. "Yeah. Luffy said he was dizzy too," the blonde said thoughtfully. "I wonder why that is."
Ace was pretty sure it had to do with the lack of food they had for the past month but he wasn't about to say anything. He didn't want any of them to worry too much about him or be mad that they hadn't been eating the way they knew they should have.
"If you start to feel worse let me know right away," Thatch commanded before the group started towards the ship. The crew could only watch as the notorious pirates all bordered their ship with ease.
"What do you want?" one of them asked. He was one of the ones that liked to hit Luffy back and forth.
Ace clenched his fist at the memory of his little brother swinging back and forth screaming at them to stop.
"We're looking for Darius," Marco said casually, stepping forward. "Is he here?"
"What do you want with him?"
"We have business with him."
"What kind of business do you have with me?" And there he was the man that had allowed them to be tortured and starved. The man that had done something so horrible to Sabo that he refused to talk about it and the man who took Luffy away.
He was just a few feet away.
Without thinking Ace allowed his anger to consume him, and he leapt at the man fire already raging.
"ACE!" he heard several voices call his name.
He was beyond caring though.
He kicked the man in the chest and he went down hard. Ace landed on top of him. His arms were swinging before he realized what was going on. He punched the man over and over. He felt Darius grab both his upper arms and try to throw him off. But the hands were suddenly gone replaced by an arm around his waist trying to pull him way.
"That's for putting the sea stone on me," he cried as he put all of his strength behind a punch, making the man's head turn. He was thinking clearer now and knew that he only had a few seconds before he was pulled away so he had to make every one count. "That's for letting those guys hit Luffy with a spiked club!" he said hitting the man on the other side of his face causing his head to snap to the other side. The arm stopped trying to tug him away from the man. "That's for making Luffy cry! That's for making us slaves! That's for separating us! That's for taking Luffy away!" His punches grew weaker with every reason but then he thought of Sabo and how he had refused to talk about whatever the man did to him and he felt his anger rise up enough for one more punch. He socked the man right in the nose smiling when he felt cartilage break. "That's for whatever you did to Sabo that he wouldn't tell me about!"
Ace was breathing hard as he fully came back to his senses. He looked away from Darius's bloody and broken face and noticed that Namur was holding the man's arms down. He had never seen the fishman look so mad. Not even that time when that guy had attacked Pops and tried to shoot Luffy.
He turned to see the rest of the commanders all with looks of fury. He tried to shrink into himself worried about whatever punishment was coming his way. The arm around his waist tightened and he was pulled off Darius.
"Feel better?" Thatch asked smiling at him. At least Thatch wasn't mad at him. He shrugged. He did feel better but now he was really tried and dizzy.
He felt a hand wipe his cheeks. He hadn't realized he had been crying.
He turned to look at the other commanders again to gage just how mad they were but none of them were looking at him. All of their furry was directed towards the man that was bleeding on the floor.
Marco stepped forward and grabbed the man by his shirt and forced him up. "Where's Sabo," he asked in a low voice. Ace shivered at how dark it was.
The man smiled. "Now why would I tell you that?"
Marco growled. "You captured three of my friends- three children, sold them into slavery, allowed your men to torture them, messed with their heads; there's probably more but right now if I knew about it I'm not sure I could stop myself from killing you. Now do you really want to piss me off more or are you going to tell me where the kid is!?"
Ace shivered at the power he felt coming from the man. He had never seen anyone this mad before. Ever.
"He's with a noble heading to the North Blue. They were getting ready to leave about an hour and a half ago."
"What kind of ship?"
"I don't know! It was really big and purple."
Marco smiled coldly at the man. "Thank you. You've been a great help." He flung the man over bored and into the water. He nodded to Namur and the fishman followed the man into the water. Marco turned to face the remaining commanders. "Start calling the crew members that are watching the docks. Ask them if there are any big purple ships getting ready to leave or have already left within the past six hours."
He walked towards Ace. "You alright?" he asked concerned. Ace nodded in response as he watched Namur surface, noticing that Darius didn't come with him. "Good. Now Thatch is going to take you to the Moby Dick. I promise you that we will get Sabo back. No matter what. You just worry about yourself for now. Luffy will be happy to see you."
"You have to find him. Fast. He doesn't like being trapped."
"Luffy said the same thing," Namur said.
Ace bit his lip before quietly admitting, "He said he would rather die than be a slave, and the guys told us all about the bomb collars and how to make them go off. He said that he wouldn't do anything stupid but I don't know if he will or not. He doesn't like to be trapped."
"Don't worry Ace," Thatch said. "We'll get him. I bet by this time tomorrow you'll all be together again."
"I hope so."
The pirate smiled down at him. "Come on kid."
Ace allowed the man to carry him on his back all the way to the dock and into a small boat. Ace shot Thatch a confused look.
"If we docked the Moby Dick here it would cause panic which we don't really need to deal with right now. Not that people aren't panicking anyway seeing us in this part of the Grand Line. Don't worry it's not far."
Ace sat on the small boat for about fifteen minutes before he saw the Moby Dick. It was a sight that he didn't want to admit that he missed. A few minutes later he was climbing on board and was met by cheers. He smiled and waved at the men around him that all looked happy to see him.
They all looked happy to see him.
It was a nice feeling.
"Come on. Pops wants to see you. He said that he would let us do what we needed to, to get you guys back on the condition you were brought strait to him," Thatch said putting a hand on Ace's back and started pushing him towards the old man.
He couldn't help the smile as he saw an exhausted looking Luffy, wrapped up in Marco's jacket sitting on the mighty pirate captain's knee, listening intently as the old man told him a story.
The man spotted him and paused in his story, smiling. Luffy wondering why he stopped turned to see what he was smiling at.
Luffy's face broke into a wide grin. "ACE!" he yelled before jumping down and tackling Ace to the ground. This was the best feeling ever. Knowing that he could make his little brother this happy just by being there. "I missed you!"
"You saw me this morning."
"I know but I didn't know I was going to see you again so soon so I missed you."
Ace smiled and enclosed his brother in a hug.
It felt so nice to hold him.
Just because he knew that it made Luffy feel better.
The little boy was very affectionate and thrived off of physical affection. He loved it when Ace would ruffle his hair, or bump his arm as if to say good job. But most of all he loved it when either one of his brothers would hug him. It was something that Sabo and Ace only did when Luffy was hurting in some way. One of the worst parts about being on Darius's ship was that he wasn't able to comfort his little brother the way that he wanted and he knew Luffy craved
He loosened his grip on the younger boy so that he could move away. He wasn't surprised when Luffy clung to him a little tighter.
"It's good to see you again Son," the deep voice of the captain got Ace's attention.
He looked around to see who he was talking to but saw that he was staring right at him. Was the captain talking to him? He wasn't his son.
"You seem a little worse for wear. Come sit with me. I have no doubt that you, like your brother, will refuse to go see Lyra until after Sabo is back."
Ace nodded numbly, still shaken by Whitebeard calling him son.
He walked forward and was surprised when the man scooped him and Luffy up and placed them on his thigh. "How about we wait for him together?" the old man said kindly before turning towards one of the pirates at his side. "Will you please go fetch some water and maybe a little food? Maybe Luffy will feel like eating now that Ace has joined us and we have a good lead on where to find Sabo."
The pirate nodded and ran to do his captains bidding.
"I'm not really hungry," Ace said holding his stomach. It was strange. They had spent weeks starving and now he didn't want to eat when food was being offered. In fact the very thought of eating made him slightly sick.
"Well, the food will be here for when you want it. Now how about we continue our story?"