Trial by Error

BY : Demonized
Category: +M to R > One Piece
Dragon prints: 1819
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece, nor do I make any money off of this work.

The Straw Hats watched in wonder as the surface of the water grew farther and farther away. It was a beautiful and mesmerizing sight, one that Ace could never get used to, and though he wanted to watch it with them there was a reaction he wanted to see even more.

Luffy had stars in his eyes, his mouth agape as he experienced his first coated dive into the depths of the ocean waters. His expression was far more precious than the sight of the disappearing surface.

"I remember my first time going to Fishman Island," Sabo stated softly as he came up to Ace's side. "It was much like Luffy's," he added with a grin.

"Mine was the same," Ace responded, tearing his gaze away from Luffy's awestruck expression to look at the former Revolutionary. "Though I wasn't as energetic," he noted, just in time as Luffy began running all over the main deck to look out through the coating at the waters and fish surrounding them.

"I heard you have a bit of a narcoleptic problem." Sabo grinned a little mischievously, his blue eyes gleaming.

"That's all Gramps' fault. All those damn Fist of Love he kept giving us." Plus the old man was narcoleptic himself.

"Yeah, I'd blame that on him too, if I had narcolepsy." It couldn't be a fun thing to experience, because falling asleep at the wrong moment could lead to one's death. "I heard that the Straw Hats' Doctor is rather talented. Maybe he'll have something that'll help you."

"I've heard the same." Ace grinned and knocked the silly top hat off of Sabo's head just so he could dig his knuckles into the blond's scalp. "Don't disappear on us again, okay? We'll come after you if you do."

"I have no intention of disappearing on you guys again," Sabo whispered, his voice thick with emotion. "Ever."

"Good," Ace murmured, scooping up Sabo's fallen hat from where it landed by their feet and handing it back to the blue-clad man. He noticed the reindeer doctor scurrying up to the infirmary, which reminded him of a promise made not even ten minutes ago. "Now, I promised that I would go talk to Chopper, with Luffy, so it's best to take care of that now before we reach Fishman Island." There was no telling what it'd be like once they got there, especially since it had been a territory under his Pops' protection. With Whitebeard now dead... "We should make sure that everyone is at one hundred percent."

"With the rumors I've heard, I have to agree. I'll pass the word around to the crew." Sabo put his hat back on and left to go speak to Robin first.

"Hey, Lu!" Ace called out as Luffy ran past him, making the rubbery human skid to a halt.

"Yes, Ace-nii-chan?" Luffy blinked up at his brother, wondering what he could want. There were lots of awesome things to see and he was missing out on them!

"We promised Chopper that we would go talk to him. I know this is your first time diving in a coated ship, but it's important that we make sure we're all healthy." Ace was ready to explain his worries concerning Fishman Island when Luffy gave him a bright smile.

"If Ace-nii-chan says it's important then we should do it!" Luffy understood very well what important meant, so he had no qualms on missing out on part of the dive to make sure they were all healthy. "Should everyone else get a checkup too?" That was what Doctors did.

"Sabo's already spreading the word." He started walking to the steps leading up to the mid-deck at the stern of the ship. Luffy followed after him, around to the back area of the mid-deck where the infirmary was located. Ace didn't bother knocking on the door, knowing that everyone save for the Doctor was out on the deck. "It's us, Chopper-san."

Chopper looked up from one of his medical books, a slight smile on his face. "Ace! Luffy, too! Good. Come in and have a seat." He motioned to a couple of stools that Franky had made for his patients to sit on when only a checkup was needed. The older pirates sat down as ordered and the infirmary door swung shut, another thoughtful upgrade on Franky's part.

"Before you start, Chopper…" Ace motioned for the tiny doctor to come over, and with a glance at Luffy, who was now looking around the room he had willing entered of his own accord for the first time, he leaned down as far as he was able to and lowered his voice. "I… I haven't done anything with Luffy…" His cheeks began to color slightly, and thankfully Chopper merely nodded. "We haven't had sex."

"I understand, and thank you for being honest with me." Chopper smiled, though he would still do a thorough examination of his captain and one of their newest crew members. "As your doctor, however, I will need to inform you of safe…methods. We wouldn't want anything to happen to either of you, and there have been strange things that have happened on the Grand Line." The book he had been reading was one of the latest published books and it covered all sorts of weird sicknesses and medical phenomena that occurred on the Grand Line alone.

Ace blinked at Chopper's explanation, not sure if he understood what the doctor was getting at—or perhaps he just didn't want to. "Strange things?"

"For example, either one of you could very well end up…pregnant." Chopper blushed a little and went over his desk to pick up the medical book he'd been reading. He flipped to the chapter covering the topic of men getting pregnant on the Grand Line and handed it to Ace.

"What's pregnant? Is that a food?" Luffy interrupted, picking up their no longer quiet conversation.

Ace blushed heavily, as he knew perfectly well what that meant, while Chopper sputtered for a moment.

"Pregnant is not a food, Luffy," the little doctor attempted to explain in a calm voice. "It usually occurs between a ma—a boy and a girl when they have sex. The girl will get pregnant. It can happen to men on the Grand Line."

Luffy's eyes went wide as saucers while Ace nearly choked and proceeded to bury his face in the book. "What's sex? That's not a food, is it? Am I pregnant then?"

Chopper, for the time being, ignored the inarticulate choking noises that were coming from Ace, and also resisted the urge to smack his own forehead, let alone smack his captain. "No, Luffy. Sex is… Sex is something that two people do when they are in love." He needed the posters for this one. Bringing out a board that had the anatomy of a female and the anatomy of a male posted on it, he decided to start with men's anatomy.

Ace quickly shut the book he hadn't gotten to read a single word from and set it down on a nearby table, afraid that if he heated up any further that the book might burst into flames. He was a bright red, even on his neck and a good portion of his upper torso, which Luffy did not fail to notice.

"Ace is going all red! There's something wrong with him, Chopper!" Luffy dramatically pointed at the flame fruit user, worry evident on his face.

Chopper sighed, flipped the board over and closed his eyes. "Ace is fine, Luffy." This was going to be impossible. Maybe he should just give them the contraceptives and let Ace do all of the explaining. Not that it seemed like he would be able to explain anything.

"Y-yes," Ace said, his voice cracking slightly. He coughed and then cleared his throat, though he was still blushing something furious. "I'm perfectly fine, Lu."

"How about I—" Chopper started and then stopped, giving Ace a pointed look.

"Yeah, that'll work just fine," Ace said quickly, understanding precisely what Chopper was getting at.

Luffy watched as Chopper went to a shelf full of various medicines and different bottles. He looked over each of the bottles carefully then pulled one down and brought it over to Ace. Inside of the bottle looked like pills of some sort, which made Luffy blanch. He didn't like pills.

"I have more, and can make more as needed. Both of you need to take one a day, and wait a week after you start taking them before you do anything." The bottle was filled to the brim with the pills, of which they seemed to be a hundred in there. Chopper handed it to Ace, who held the bottle a bit awkwardly.

Ace swallowed and nodded his understanding. He got up from the stool, grabbed Luffy by his wrist and practically dragged him out of the infirmary.

-TbE-

Once Chopper had seen to everyone, and Ace had managed to convince Luffy to take the necessary pill for the day even though they weren't doing anything yet, they all met up in aquarium due to a request that Franky made. When they were all seated and drinks served to them by Sanji, the cyborg cleared his throat.

"Now look," he started, glancing around at the Straw Hats, his expression serious. "There's something you guys need to know. Hachi had volunteered to guide us to Fishman Island, but he was injured for the same reasons as Duval." Everyone, save for Ace and Sabo who merely looked a little confused, nodded. "They were helping defend the Thousand Sunny for the past two years," Franky added, for their expense. "But they weren't the only ones."

They all listened as Franky explained that it was the very man who had torn apart the Straw Hat crew on that fateful day two years ago. They all flinched, as expected, while Luffy started to look angry, the memory of the event still rather fresh in their mind. That quickly calmed, however, when Franky dropped the bombshell that Bartholomew Kuma had in fact guarded the Thousand Sunny as a final mission.

"It would make sense," Sabo murmured, more to himself than anyone else. Several of the Straw Hats glanced at him. "He was a leading member of the Revolutionary Army," the blond dragon fruit user said in a louder voice. "It was perfect opportunity for us to have someone that close to the World Government, but they had started modifying him bit by bit." He had felt the loss of Kuma just as strongly as Dragon and Ivankov had. "By the time of the war at Marineford, he had already been fully modified."

"Right." Franky nodded. "Apparently, he had Vegapunk program him to protect the Thousand Sunny until one of us got back to the ship, as a favor to us and to Dragon."

So really, what had been them getting torn apart had been Kuma saving them. He had known that they wouldn't be able to survive beyond this point two years ago. It was thanks to him that they were now stronger than ever. And also…

"I wouldn't have been able to save Ace-nii-chan if he hadn't done that," Luffy whispered. That realization startled every one of them, including Ace himself.

Sure, it had been Garp who had sacrificed himself to save Ace, but had Luffy not been there… "We all owe him a lot," the flame fruit user murmured.

"We do, but if we do run into him again. He'll be a heartless human weapon," Franky concluded, at which Sabo quickly back away from the group and left the aquarium.

Ace quickly noticed his brother's departure, as did Luffy. With a glance to each other they got up and followed Sabo out onto the deck. There was a lot they could probably say to the blond, but words weren't what he needed right now. Instead, they sandwiched him between them with a hug from each side.

"It wasn't supposed to happen," Sabo whispered out, unshed tears in his eyes. "He wasn't supposed to join the Shichibukai." That mission was supposed to have been… "I was supposed to go, but he took the spot for me."



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