Chapter 1: Soulmates/Soulmark AU - Flowers Bloom
AU Where Ace is a sailor, Ushio works in a flower shop and they're Soulmates
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Ace does not have a soul mark of any kind, and he thinks that means that he does not deserve a place here in this world. He remembers admiring the marks of his brothers on Dawn. Luffy has jagged writing that spirals around his wrist. Sabo has delicate script across his collarbone. Ace only has skin wrapped around him, blank and empty.
Ushio is born the twin of a teller of tales, a boy named Usopp. Usopp and Ushio are born screaming together. Usopp's hair is crowds around his head like a cloud, held back only by his bandanna, while Ushio's hair curls and curls around her shoulders and back. They share a grin, but Ushio's top lip is thinner and Usopp's lips are wider. They share the dark color of their eyes, but Usopp's are round with long lashes, while Ushio's are narrower with a hooded gaze.
Mama always tells Ushio and Usopp the story of how her and Papa met whenever they ask, huddled around her in their shared bed, their twin brown faces watching her with wide, dark eyes.
"Your Papa was visiting the island." Banchina says with a melancholic line in her smile and a shiny gleam in her eye, "I was manning the counter of my folk's shop, with nothing but flowers for company."
She talks about how the first thing she noticed about their father was the way his dark hair looked in the sunlight, made gold by the sun's love. She talks about the way they made eye-contact through the glass window of the shop, and how he nearly tripped over himself, running into the back of one of his crew mates.
She talks about the way the shop smelt on that particular day, humid with wet dirt and all kinds of floral surrounding her, and the way that smell changed the moment their father walked through the door.
"Your Papa...he brought the smell of the sea."
Ushio and Usopp share the same brown, brown skin that gleams under the sun. It's just that...Ushio has closed pale hibiscus flowers spread wide across her back with creeping buds of sweet brier roses traveling up her palms, tangling through her fingers to the back of her hands. Usopp has the green buds of cone flowers and winking honeysuckles that twine up from his wrists like sleeves, like shackles.
"Your Papa came in, full of fake swagger, and started asking me about the flowers. Asking, asking, asking until he finally bought a single rose." Banchina giggles, and they tuck their tiny bodies even closer as she gets closer to their favorite part.
"A rose?" Usopp slurs sleepily, like he hasn't heard this story a million times.
"Yes, honey. A camellia rose."
"How did you know Papa was yours, Mama?" Ushio asks, the question nearly lost in her mother's neck. Banchina squeezes them both a little tighter, and Ushio feels the way she hides her smile in her hair. She shuffles them around, to their protest, until both of them can see her hands from their sprawled positions across her chest. She uses one hand to trace the tiny camellias that travel around the fingers of her other hand.
"He reached across the counter to pay, and his fingers...his hand touched mine." She whispers softly to them, warm breath skimming the tops of their heads. She caress the large vibrant pink camellia rose that blooms across her palm.
"Then my flowers bloomed."
There are soul marks in this world that Ushio has been born into. They are words, usually found around the wrists or across the collarbones. They are the first thing your soulmate says to you. Only...Banchina's family is a little different. She tells them that their family has always had flowers, and the flowers are where their soulmates will touch them first. She tells them that once they meet the one that is Theirs, once that touch happens, their flowers will spread and bloom.
"What about Papa?" Ushio asks when Usopp is snoring. The moonlight allows her to see the flicker of something in her Mama's eyes.
"What about him, Shio?" Banchina asks, lids hanging low over the dark eyes she shares with her children.
"Did his flowers bloom too?"
They're fifteen, and Ushio is there when Usopp meets Kaya for the first time.
It starts because Usopp lies about who stole a pie from a window. Their hands are sticky with sauced apples and their faces are riddled with crumbs from the buttery crust, but Usopp lies anyway. They're laughing, even as they run, and Ushio is whipping around a corner when she hears Usopp's laughter cut off with a grunt that tells her that he's tripped over something. Skidding to a stop, she turns back just in time to see a blonde girl bending down in front of her fallen brother. Usopp is peeking over his shoulder, paranoid about the obasan chasing them. Just as Ushio reaches them, the girl grabs Usopp's wrists to pull his skinned hands closer to her face.
"I think your hands are bleed-"
The flowers on Usopp's wrists bloom suddenly, white and yellow contrasting beautifully against his brown skin. The girl gasps, and it draws Usopp's distracted attention. He looks at the flowers blooming brightly across his forearms first, then his gaze looks past the girl and directly at Ushio. Ushio, with a strange feeling stirring in her chest, finds the strength to give her brother a smile.
"Well...your father didn't have a soul mark. None of ours do."
"Then how do we know?"
"We use our flowers to guide us, Shio, just like they always do."
Boys and girls brush against her back, and Ushio's flowers stay closed. Ushio kisses, touches, and her flowers stay closed. She watches her brother and Kaya, and she watches her parents when her Papa finally ignored the call of the sea. Time flows, years past, and Ushio is thirsty, ravenous, parched...and her flowers stay closed.
"Ushio." The voice startles Ushio out of wandering thoughts, the box in her hands tittering dangerously before a hand reaches out to straighten it. She grimaces as she turns to face her mother. Banchina is frowning, a eyebrow arched and hands on her hips.
"Where's Usopp? He was supposed to help us set up today."
"I told him I would take care of everything today since I knew he had plans to go to the festival with Kaya." Ushio says, turning back to the box and removing the rest of the wreaths they made to help decorate the town square. She smothers a laugh at the way her mother huffs at her words, throwing her a small smile when they make eye-contact.
"It's fine, Mama. This is the last box of decorations anyway."
"You can't keep covering for that boy, Shio." She gripes even as she reaches into the box to help Ushio. They work together to finish hanging the rest of the wreath, with their giggles filling a air heavy with the scent of flowers, and the smell follows Ushio back into their shop. She's patting her hands off of lingering dirt when she feels her mother crowding closer. Banchina draws her close, dropping a small kiss to the side of Ushio's head.
"Go change and enjoy the festival, Ushio. I'll finish putting the rest of the stuff away." Ushio drops the towel and nearly skips her way to the stairs, to her mother's great amusement. Her mother's laughter fills the air, and the scent of flowers follows her up into her apartment.
"We're only going to stop here for a second." Deuce tries to say before the rest of the crew scatters throughout the streets. Ace claps a sympathetic hand on his shoulder with a laugh before he offers a wave over his shoulder as he heads further into the town. There's a festival, that much is obvious from the lit lanterns and the amount of stalls that line the main street. The townspeople are cheerful, and Ace is admiring the flowers that hang as garlands all around the festival when there's commotion in the center of the town. Ace creeps closer, and then he sees her.
The first thing he notices about her is the green flashes of something on her hands and the dirt lingering on her pale palms. They are raised up in the air in a dance, and her smile shines in the light of the lanterns. She twirls on the balls of her bare feet, and the way her curls swing reveals her bare back. She's wearing a white strappy dress that reveals the entirety of her back. Her skirt flutters around her thighs, and all he sees are the closed flower buds, alive and green against the earth of her back.
Ace doesn't think he's ever seen anyone like her.
There is a man staring at her from the edges of the small dance floor, and Ushio, turning in the arms of a boy, finally gathers the courage to look back. He's...kind of pretty. Dark waves of hair brush his shoulders, and freckles spread across his cheeks like stars. His eyes are an intense clear grey that reminds Ushio of cloudy skies. They meet her own dark hooded gaze, and Ushio finds herself swallowing nothing down a dry throat. A slow smirk forms on his thin vermilion mouth, spreading those constellation cheeks, and Ushio, with something like a gasp, is spun away from his gaze.
Leaning against an empty stall, Ushio is waiting for her sister-in-law to gather Usopp when she hears his voice for the first time.
"That's a beautiful tattoo. Perfect for this kind of thing, huh?" The voice is deep, rough and sly in a way that Ushio feels deep in her bones. She turns, and the man is there, hovering close enough for Ushio to reach out and touch. He still has the smirk on his face, and his gaze lingers around the curls that bounced around her shoulders when she turned.
He's not pretty, she realizes, watching the way his gaze flickers underneath the moon and the light of the lanterns. This man is something that simmers underneath the skin and scorches the gaze. She is struck suddenly with how much she wants this stranger to touch her, kiss her. She swallows the need down her parched throat. Ushio inhales to speak and his smell rushes in. It traps the words in her throat. It's campfire, smoky and heady, and it...
She hums in answer instead, softly enough that he leans ever so closer. She's very aware of the scant inches between them, aware of the space that would press his chest against her arm. Aware of the way he laughs a little under his breath when she hums.
"Ace." He says. There's a brief silence before Ushio arches a brow in question, biting her lip to cover her smile.
"Ace?" She questions, brushing her hair away from her face. His eyes dart down to her mouth when she speaks, and his smirk turns into a bright grin that makes her heart stutter in her chest. Ushio's lips answer in kind, spreading into a grin she'd be embarrassed about later.
"M-My name. That's my name." He stutters out with that silly grin. "And I could really listen to you say it over and-"
"Oi! Who's this guy?" Usopp's grumble reaches her ears and a delicate hand tugs her away from the man named Ace. His mouth parts in surprise, and Ushio helplessly shrugs.
"We're already running behind, Ushio." Kaya says into her ear with a giggle. Usopp's complaining fills the air along with Kaya's admonishments, and Ushio can't stop thinking about that way Ace smelt.
He smelt like campfire, smoky and heady...and he smelt like the sea.
The flowers are on her hands too, Ace realizes as he watches the way her curls sway to and fro as she walks away. She doesn't look back, and Ace doesn't try to call for her, even with this strange feeling growing in the pit of his stomach. He can't stop thinking about the way her mouth shaped around the sound of his name. Her voice is husky, littered with an accent Ace has never heard before and he thinks he could listen to it for the rest of his life.
Everyone young and legal is gathered at the abandoned house at the edge of town. Someone is playing music loud enough to shake the floor, and Ushio is enjoying the buzz from alcohol and the way the bass rocks through her body on the small makeshift dance floor. Ushio spins her way through the dance floor like she always does, pressed between sweaty bodies that rock together. Hands brush against her hips and Ushio spins away with a grin, cackling at the groan of annoyance she gets. She winks at the girl, someone who has touched her before, and the girl flushes under the dim light. The music slows, and Ushio winds her hips to the slow beat. Pushing her hair back as she moves, Ushio sees her brother across the room. Usopp is surrounded by their friends, telling his tales with Kaya wrapped around him, and Ushio grins harder when she and Kaya make eye-contact through the crowd. She waves, and Kaya's brown eyes are beginning to crinkle at the corners with a laugh when Ushio sees them go wide.
There's someone behind her, she realizes, and the smell of everything fiery and the sea tells her who it is. Hands, callused and so, so warm, tuck around the back of her own hands, tangling through her own at the same time a broad chest meets her back. Ushio, strangely breathless, allows both of their arms to close around her. A strange tingling starts at her hands and it travels, her face flooding with a heat that sears through her vein. She leans back against him, and the slide of their bodies together causes her head to tilt back against his shoulder. She feels his breath against her ear as he speaks.
"I didn't catch your na-" The words brush her ears like smoke, and the way he cuts himself off startles Ushio more than his touch. His fingers squeeze her own, suddenly and tightly, and Ushio looks down. The flowers that have always tangled through her fingers are blooming, white and bright pinks that get deeper and darker as the seconds past. They both stop moving and watch as the flowers grow and grow, and Ushio somehow finds the strength to speak.
"Ushio. My name is Ushio."
Ace keeps murmuring her name, even as he crowds her into a dark corner in the abandoned house. He won't let go of her hands, constantly clenching and releasing like he's scared to let go. Ushio is finding it hard to breathe, skin aflame everywhere they're touching. In a move she's too dizzy to process, he tucks their hands behind her hips, pulling her close, pressing their hips tightly together in a way that's too filthy for the setting.
"Ace-" She starts to speak with no idea what she's actually going to say, but his kiss, fragile and almost afraid, stops her. Ushio gasps against his mouth even as she presses closer, fingers clinging to his. There's a sound roaring in her ears as his tongue slips into her mouth, and Ushio want to sink her teeth into this, this thing blossoming between them and hang onto it for the rest of her life.
She doesn't remember leaving the party, she doesn't remember how they made it to her little apartment above the shop, but she does remember the way his fingers felt tracing the hibiscus she knows are flowering vividly on her back as he pushed her dress above her head.
Ushio is going to savor that feeling and this until their hands grow wrinkled and gnarled.
She feels the warmth of his hands as they ride the course of her thighs, spreading them further around his hips. His grips bruises and his teeth nip, but Ushio likes the way it stings. He swallows her every gasp with lips chapped by the sea's air, and Ushio feels like she's drowning. He smells like the salt of the sea and that strange heat that clings to him, and Ushio wants it to seep into her skin until she smells just like him. Ushio press her nails in the meat of his back and arches beneath him with a cry that sounds like crashing waves in her ears.
"U-Ushio, fuck." The way he moans her name into her neck makes her clench around him, his answering groan sending chills down her spine, and she whines loud and high. The languid grinding turns into harsh thrusts, and Ushio's eyes roll into the back of her head, breath hitching with every movement of his hips.
"Ace, pl-please. Please, please, please-"
"Ushio, I got you. I have you."
Surrounded by flame and sea, Ushio shatters with flowers blossoming across her skin.
They're tangled together, Ace laying against her chest listening to the sound of her heart and her hand running through his tangled hair, when he finds the strength to ask.
"They mean that you're mine, right?" Ace hates the way his voice comes out soft and timid, hates the way he needs to be certain. "Because they bloomed?"
There's a pause as the hand in his hair stills. She shifts underneath him, and Ace looks up when she tugs at his hair. Ushio, with her tangled curls and swollen lips, smiles a smile that's sweet and soft. She reaches out, and her fingers barely brushes against his face before Ace catches them in his grasp. He pulls her slim hand to his mouth, pressing a kiss to a white rose in the middle of her palm. Ace, chest full and warm, hears the way her breath hitches in her throat.
"Yea, baby. I'm yours." She whispers back as she gently pulls on the hair in her grip, tugging, and Ace doesn't resist when she ruins her sweet smile for an even sweeter kiss, gentle and open-mouthed. There's a soft sound when they separate that has them giggling, noses brushing together and breaths mingling.
"Tell me about them. All of them, yours and everyone else's." He murmurs. Ushio stares at him, a little dazed and languid from the kiss, hooded eyes blinking slowly in a catlike motion that he finds adorable. She hums before the soft smile lingering on her mouth becomes a bright grin.
"My Dad was visiting the island, and my mama was manning the store with nothing but flowers for company." Ushio begins, cadence slow and smooth. Her hand runs through his hair, and Ace lays back down against her chest. He closes his eyes, lulled by the sound of her voice and her heartbeat.
"She says that he was tripping all over himself as he walked into the store, but in a shop full of flowers...he brought the smell of the sea."
Ace does not have a soul mark of any kind, and he always thought that was proof that he didn't deserve a place here in this world. At least until he touched the most beautiful girl he's ever seen, and flowers bloomed underneath his fingertips.
you guys gave me SUCH incredible feedback about writing AUs, so here ya go. this is legitimately just me writing the romance i wish i could write for the main story tbh so i hope you guys like it 💖 love you guys 💖 also dropping my twitter handle here in case you guys have thoughts and want to share there! @yagirlaeroaik
honestly is Shio and Ace OOC? Idk but I loved loved writing this AU of IKIN ALSO IT'S AN AU SO STILL NOT CONFIRMING THE PAIRING. please review and let me know what you guys think! i'll be doing my reread thing as usual cause no beta lmaoooo.
Chapter 2: Tiny Whitebeard AU
eeeeeh someone in the comments said Ushio as a Whitebeard Pirate AU and i had IDEAS. might expand might not
Edward Newgate has a beautiful woman hanging on his arm, cooing words and pressing soft, plush breasts against him. He laughs, hearty and full, leaning down to take a peek at the cleavage winking at him through the cut of her blouse when he see the tiniest child he's ever seen. Standing in the middle of the street, the child's head is tilted up to the side and facing the sky like they're listening to something. The child is skinny, too skinny, with a threadbare shirt hanging off their shoulder, cut off jean shorts riddled with holes, and a bandana, brown with patches, hiding their hair. As Edward and his lady drift closer, he notices that the child's feet are bare, black with dirt, and he notices the strange stares lingering on the child.
The woman on his arm notices his strayed attention, and she looks. Once she sees what has his attention, the woman makes a noise, too soft to be derisive but still unkind. A smile forms on her mouth that makes her rose tinted lips look bloody, and the woman speaks just as they pass the strange child.
"Noticed our little Karasu?" The name is a strange one, but the child's head straightens and turns towards it nonetheless. Their gazes lock, and he understands. Understands the name, understands the stares. The child is a little girl he realizes as he peeks escaping curls around her face and the fine rise of her beauty marked cheekbones.
She's a little girl, and her eyes are black. Deep, endless eyes of the darkest black, pools that draw your attention in order to suffocate you. They are the darkest things he's ever seen, and they're dead. Blank black jewels in the sockets of this starving child in the middle of the street in a thriving island. Something in Edward aches.
A tug on his arm makes Edward realize that he's stopped beside the child, trapped in her unblinking gaze.
"Whitebeard, leave the poor thing to her strangeness. She'll fly away soon enough." The woman simpers, and Edward shakes her off. She makes a noise of surprise, and Edward waves her off without taking his gaze off the little crow in front of him.
"I have some business to take care of." The woman scoffs loudly as she walks away, muttering underneath her breath. The child watches her go only for a moment before that dark gaze lands on him again. The child doesn't fidget under his gaze, but her head tilts back to the side like she's trying to hear something again.
"What are you listening to, child?" Edward asks, and the child blinks, languid and slow as if waking from a nap. For some reason, there's a charged silence between them with the question, and the child's presence pressing down on him makes Edward grin. Cracked lips open, revealing surprisingly white teeth, and the child speaks. The accent that dances in the air surprises Edward. It's the not the accent of this island, and the words that come out are a East Blue dialect he hasn't heard in the New World since the last time he's seen that Red-Haired menace.
"The wind." Edward makes sure not to visibly react, but thinks he failed somehow if the way the child's gaze suddenly sharpens says anything. He softens the grin on his face in response, and the child huffs.
"What is the wind saying to you?" He questions.
"I need to go home, my brother is crying." The child says, cadence slow as she lifts her gaze back up to the sky. "It says...I am lost."
A few silent breaths past after her words, the child says nothing else and Edward has a strange feeling in his chest that feels like excitement. He bends down, tries to ignore how much he still towers over her, and he reaches out a hand. The child flinches but covers it up with a snarl, brows furrowing in a way that reminds Edward of a feral cat.
"Can I help you find your way?"