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.

Silence reigns over the battlefield at the declaration made by the Yonkō. No one dares challenge him, not even the not so inconspicuous Buggy who hovers high above the ground to make a getaway of his own. It is the blue-haired pirate's indignation at Shanks having caused such a spectacular scene that draws the attention of nearby pirates and marines alike to him. Buggy blames it on Shanks, of course, who has to respond to him. The Yonkō even has the nerve to give him an order! It is Luffy's own fault if he loses that stupid straw hat that had been rather synonymous with the red-haired pirate up until he had given it to Luffy.

Why the damned hat is so important is beyond him, but Buggy delivers it to Trafalgar Law's submersible with a little bit of complaining. He has every right to complain over the trivial task after everything he has gone through in this brief war between Whitebeard and his allies and the marines. It had been his moment to shine and he had lost it! Not that he had ever had an actual moment to shine from the start of this war. The escaped Impel Down prisoners are far too gullible if they had thought that he would have been able to kill Whitebeard. Maybe he can sneak away with Shanks.

Law has Luffy's unconscious and heavily injured body brought down to his operating theater while Ace is conducted to the crew's cabin with some struggle. The Death Surgeon makes it quite clear that Luffy is in no condition to be bothered, even by the brother he has fought so hard to save, and that he is in great need of immediate surgery. The polar-bear looking person, whose name Ace hadn't caught and can't even care about, has given the Mera Mera no Mi user some salves and bandages for his minor wounds. After that is done he is left alone in the cabin while an alarm starts to blare. A red light above the door flashes as the submersible lurches to one side in its escape from the rapidly growing ice that is being controlled by Aokiji.

The yellow submersible dodges and dives deeper into the water as it heads straight for the Gates of Justice. The ice stops once they are far enough away, though it is more likely that Aokiji has stopped giving chase to them than sheer luck. Ace isn't thinking about any of that, the battle now far behind him, but certainly not out of mind. He has that tucked away in the back of his mind. Right now he is focusing on Luffy, who is no doubt in the midst of very delicate surgery. Even though he can't be there for his little brother, and probably not do anything for him physically, there is always the option of prayer.

Now Ace isn't exactly a religious person, so to speak, but Luffy will need a miracle to pull through this time. "You idiot... You better not die, Luffy." He had been so ready to give up his own life in exchange for Luffy's, despite the promise that he wouldn't ever die. It had been rather foolish of him to make such a hard-to-keep promise, one that his simple-minded little brother would definitely hold him to. "Kami-sama, please save my brother." Somehow he finds himself on his knees as he prays for Luffy's survival, oblivious to the slight creak of the cabin door. Ace does, however, hear the muffled footsteps of the polar-bear creature, but continues on in his prayer to a god he is hoping that is listening.

A familiar yellow straw hat with a red ribbon is set down in front of the logia user, and it brings tears to his eyes to see a bloodstained piece of paper tucked behind the ribbon. Ace reaches out with trembling hands and picks up the straw hat that is older than him. The hat is in pretty good condition, even with the neatly stitched slices going through the top of it, and it is obvious that Luffy greatly treasures it. He runs his fingers along the edge of the brim and rotates the hat until his Vivre Card is in full view. The little scrap of paper is pulled out from behind the ribbon and he balls it up in his hand as he becomes choked up with emotion. Luffy had nearly been killed over this, over him, and he still isn't even out of danger! Ace can very well lose his little brother, and it will be his fault.

Had he listened to Whitebeard and his nakama...surely none of this would have happened. He wouldn't have gotten caught by Teach and thrown into Impel Down. Luffy wouldn't have risked his life breaking into both the prison and Marineford. Garp wouldn't have... Garp wouldn't have sacrificed himself to save him and Luffy. Sakazuki's blow would have surely killed him, despite his logia powers, and it would have happened right in front of Luffy. Ace isn't sure how much the younger pirate will be affected by Garp's death, but he is sure that his own would break the boy's mind and spirit outright. Especially after what had happened to Sabo.

A wave of guilt washes through the logia user as he recalls his childhood. He had been so mean to Luffy the first few weeks...well, the first few months to be honest. It hadn't been until he had been caught by Porchemy and brutally tortured had he actually started to care about the younger pirate. He had been so sure that Luffy would tell Porchemy where their hidden treasure was, but the brat had withstood hours of being beaten. It was from that point on that he had seen Luffy in a different, but still very annoying, light. Luffy is his brother, his everything, and he can't stand the thought that Luffy is dying because of him.

"I don't know Mugiwara-ya very well, but I know he wouldn't want you to beat yourself up over this." Law takes a seat adjacent to the chair Ace is kneeling at, his expression unreadable. He lets the logia user hastily wipe away his tears and move to sit in the seat as he tries to forget the last several hours of extensive surgery. The rubbery nuisance has managed to make a complete mess of his insides, and telling Ace as much will make the fire user that much more distraught. "I managed to get him stabilized, but he's still in critical condition." And will be for a while. Law does relay the information that they are heading to Amazon Lily, where Luffy will be safest while he recovers.

Ace hadn't noticed it when they had stopped because of Boa Hancock's serpent, Salome. Nor had he noticed the submersible rising to the surface. He has been out of it for quite a while since he had been dwelling on what is now the past. "How long will it take for us to reach Amazon Lily?" That Luffy has somehow managed to woo the Pirate Empress isn't news to him. She had been head over heels for his little brother when she had come to visit him in Impel Down. Not only had she helped Luffy break into the prison she had helped him to reach the execution scaffold by attacking the marines. Well, she had attacked any man that wasn't Luffy, but that is the point.

"We'll be there in a few days' time." Law lets his thoughts drift from the topic on hand, his gaze growing distant as he recalls his crew's surprise when they had learned of his intentions. They had been eager to go to the New World, and it is irksome that Kidd has gotten a head start on him, but something had compelled him to go to Marineford. The enigmatic Straw Hat had to be part of the reason, but Law certainly doesn't want to think of it like that. The young captain is dangerous to be around, what with declaring open war against the World Government at Enies Lobby, punching a Tenryūbito, breaking into and out of Impel Down, and last of all keeping Fire Fist Ace from being executed by the Marines. Mugiwara also has the extremely dangerous ability to befriend almost anyone, as proven by his diverse Nakama and his allies, both known and unknown.

"Can I go see him?" Ace's expression turns hopeful, and when Law nods in consent there is a trace of happiness in his eyes. The Surgeon isn't going to keep him from seeing his brother now that Luffy is stable. "He won't be waking up for a while, but he doesn't need to be touched or moved. If those wounds reopen he will die." The finality of Law's tone has Ace pausing as he gets up and goes to the door. The logia user says nothing, can't think of anything to say to that and leaves to go visit his little brother. Law glances at the straw hat that has been left behind, a crumpled Vivre Card next to it, and wonders if he needs to worry about his crew being endangered. Mugiwara is a magnet for trouble.

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