Ace had not liked it when his baby brother Luffy was born. He could not sleep the night his brother was born; he was up all the time, crying and screaming from the mysterious absence of his mother while he was being watched by Makino. It was almost 2 in the morning when Makino then took him to where his mother was.
Youre very lucky, Ace, the young girl told the sniffling toddler as she led him gently by the hand. Its great having another sibling in the family. I have a twin sister and shes living in another town called Fuchsia Village. We both share the same name! she added, with an amused smile. But Ace wasnt paying attention at all.
Ace found his mother, Portgas, lying on the bed with the doctor beside her. She looked weak, but she was beaming. She was holding a small baby swaddled in blue cloth in her arms.
Mama! the three-year-old toddler cried, running to his mother but the doctor held him back.
Careful there, your mamas still weak, he told him. But Ace struggled to be near with his mother.
Its all right. Let him go, she said weakly. Ace hurried to his mothers side, afraid she might disappear again. Ace, meet your brother. His name is Luffy, Portgas said.
Portgas glanced down on the sleeping infant and she brushed his soft black hair with her fingers. She noticed the curious expression on Aces face and he prodded his pink fleshy face gently at first before pressing harder and harder, a small frown began to appear on the infants face
Ace! Dont do that, Portgas scolded him gently. Youll make him cry.
Ace stopped and fell silent under his mothers warning tone. Soon afterwards, he found out that it wasnt so much joy and excitement having a baby sibling. In fact, it was a nuisance.
The baby cried in the night and woke Ace up. It seemed his mother was always hanging over his crib, and often when Ace tried to get their attention, he found that he could not. Luffy messed up his daily schedule as well: meals came late and Ace noticed that his mommy is spending less time reading him bedtime stories before going to sleep. For one of the few times in his life, Ace became angry and frightened. He was angry that Luffy is getting so much attention and he feared that his mother might throw him out in favor of Luffy.
A year passed. While Portgas is working at the bar while Ace is grudgingly playing with Luffy in the corner, a Marine captain and his men came in for some drinks after a long voyage at sea. The captain was smitten by Portgas beauty and cheekiness and he invited her for a boat ride on the ship. Portgas was amused that he did not recognize her as a pirate, and at first refused the offer but Ace, who had been listening, begged to go on the boat ride. Unable to resist his cute freckled face, Portgas reluctantly agreed. Ace got thrilled. Not even the presence of his brother can spoil his excitement.
AAACE!! LUFFY!! Portgas cried with relief after the Marine seaman rescued her two sons from drowning.
Earlier, a sight of dolphins playing nearby caught Luffy and Aces attention and they wanted to get a closer look. Portgas asked her son Ace to be careful and not to get Luffy excited. While the captain flirted with her (which she find annoying rather than amusing), she heard a loud splash, followed by frightened wailing. To her terror, Ace and Luffy had slipped through the railing and they fell into the sea.
Fearing that they might drown, she was about to jump in and save them but one seaman managed to reached them first.
Both Ace and Luffy were covered in thick blankets and they were drenched, but they are safe.
Portgas took Luffy in her arms, her worried expression never leaving her face. Oh, Luffy! she sobbed. Im so glad that youre safe!
Luffy merely giggled. Portgas then turned to her son, who was grinning but his smile faltered when he saw how furious she became.
YOU LET HIM FALL! she screamed at him. I told you not to excite him! Didnt you realize that hes still a baby?! Then she slapped his face. Fat tears formed in his eyes.
Hold on, maam, the seaman holds up his hands, trying to calm her down. It was an accident, and your boy was trying to save his brother from drowning
Dont defend him, she said coldly. She took Aces hand and demanded to the captain that she wished to get ashore immediately.
That afternoon, Ace was sitting alone in the corner in his room while his mother is busy bathing his brother. His butt cheeks were sore and he had been sobbing. His mama never punished him before.
He never meant to excite his brother earlier. He had noticed how much Luffy was laughing when he saw the dolphins and he puts him closer to the rail for a better look. However, Luffy accidentally had fallen over and Ace, fearing of losing someone close to him and his mommy, and without thinking, dived in after his brother to save him. Unfortunately, he had not learned how to swim.
Ace remembered his mothers angry face and the worried expression when she thought Luffy might die. He remembered the times his mother paid more attention to Luffy than him.
Mama doesnt love him anymore. She punished him for getting his baby brother in danger. She loved her new son more than her first.
Fresh tears trickle down his face. Ace wiped his face because hes a man.
And men dont cry.
Portgas finished dressing up Luffy and soothed him to sleep. She placed the sleeping baby in his cradle and goes to the room where her other son was.
Guilt coursed through her mind and it reminded her of the incident. She wished she had never yelled at her son like that and slapped him. But she was scared that both her sons might drown and she was angry at Ace for getting himself and Luffy in trouble. She already lost her nakama a long time ago, and she did not want to lose her family too.
It might be her imagination but she could have sworn she noticed small frowns on little Aces face when she was taking care of Luffy. She wondered if Ace is feeling jealous that shes spending more time with her second son
She opens Aces bedroom door gently and saw her son still sitting in the corner.
? she called out to her son gently.
? Ace turns around to see her. It hurts her to see that his eyes were still red and he was sniffling.
I want to show you something. Would like to come with mommy?
Aces eyes widened, but he nodded.
They both went into Portgas room and she was taking out a thick picture album under her bed. It read Baby Pictures in the cover. Ace wondered if shes going to show him baby pictures of Luffy. He frowned bitterly.
But he was wrong
Instead, the pictures all featured a different baby with freckles. Ace realized they are pictures of him when HE was a baby. There are pictures of him laughing, being fed, sleeping, his diapers being changed, bathed, played and hugged by his mother. All of the activities were exactly like the ones his mother does to Luffy.
Confused about what was going on, he looked up to his mother, who was smiling at him.
Honey, do you know why I was angry at you earlier? she asked him.
Is it because I was bad? he replied softly.
she wrapped her arm around him and held him tight. Its because I was afraid.
This shocked Ace. But mama isnt afraid of anything.
I was today
I didnt want to lose you and Luffy.
Her words, her comforting touch, and her fears of losing HIM and his brother made Ace oddly numb and light. Mama really cared about him
Im sorry I didnt pay so much attention to you lately, Portgas spoke, resting her chin on top of her sons head. Your brother is still a baby and he cant do much. Since your father isnt around
She paused, chocking back tears. Luffy needs so much attention and I have to work and take care of you as well
When you were still a baby like Luffy, I almost never took my eyes from you. Its the same thing with your brother now.
Ace hugged his mother as he listened to her talk.
But I havent forgotten you, Ace. Im always thinking you and I loved you as much I loved Luffy, and Id be damned if I forget any one of you.
Ace bursts out crying and hugs his mother tighter. Mama! he sobbed. Portgas rubbed her sons back and soothed comforting words.
I have a gift for you
I wanted to give this to when you are ready to become a pirate, she released herself from Ace and browsed through an open chest near her bed.
Ace stopped crying when he felt a hat placed on top of his head. It was an orange cowboy hat and it was too big for him.
I made it myself, Portgas said. She then grinned. You look handsome.
Ace touched the hat and he felt a rush of happiness running through his veins. He smiled at his mommy and hugged her. She hugged back.
Mama, can I go to Luffy? he asked shyly.
Why, of course you can, she said with surprise. But be careful, hes now sleeping.
Ace ran out of the room with his mother following behind. The little boy walked silently into his brothers room and peeked through the bars of the cradle and watched his brother sleeping peacefully, who was unaware that his proud big brother is gazing lovingly down at him.
A small smile broke Aces face. Luffy is really cute, he said quietly to his smiling mother.