Their newest brother crashed through the wall into the lunch-busy mess, breaking tables and flattening shouting crewmates before Marco stuck out a foot and stopped his momentum.
“And you better fix that hole, brat!” came the old man's bellow. Marco grinned down at the kid.
“What's that, fifty-one, eh?”
“Shit, shut up,” the Mera Mera kid—Ace—spat blood and batted off Marco's boot to glare back through his massive entrance hole. Suddenly noticing the destruction he'd wrought, he automatically leapt up to face the grumbling but amused crew.
“Ah, oh, sorry for disrupting your meal,” he said with an apparently reflexive bow, then checked himself and scowled, “Though it's the least you deserve, kidnapping bastards.”
As he stalked out, pointedly kicking a plate, Marco huffed a laugh. “What a nuisance, that one, eh.”
“Oi, Ace. Welcome home.”
The kid looked twenty kinds of better without the seastone sapping his strength—meaning only half-dead instead of mostly. His eyes—bright and relieved when on his funny brother, cavorting with his reunited crew—shadowed as they picked out the holes in their own ranks.
When he reluctantly turned to Marco, his gaze went straight to the bandages around his face and stayed there.
“You all—” Ace dug his fingers into the bruises on his own arm, hard. “I promised I wouldn't demean—but you shouldn't have—”
Marco rolled his remaining eye, hooked an elbow around Ace's neck, and pulled him in, ignoring the kid's stiff resistance and blithely smashing Ace's face into his shoulder. He bonked the dark head lightly with his fist until the kid's tense frame loosened a little, and Ace grabbed the back of Marco's shirt, careful. He didn't try to look up.
“Still a nuisance. But you're ours, eh. Always.”