Actions

Work Header

House of Wolves

Chapter Text

It was unbearably hot, flames licked at Ace’s legs as he raced through the bandit pack’s hideout. Other pack members were screaming around him but Ace didn’t pay any attention to them, his focus was finding Dadan to get her out. 

 

Just as Ace reached the main area of the hideout, scanning the area of the pack leader he heard it.

 

“ACE! ACE HELP ME!”

 

Luffy?! Why was Luffy here? Luffy should be with his dad-

 

“ACE! ACE!”

 

“LUFFY?! LUFFY, WHERE ARE YOU?!” Ace screamed, heading deeper into the fire after his brother’s voice, “LUFFY?!”

 

“ACE HELP! PLEASE ACE!” Luffy sounded like he was in pain.

 

Ace ran after his brother, calling out for Luffy the entire time. Every time he thought he was getting closer, his brother’s voice seemed to moved further away. The fire was getting hotter and the smoke was almost too thick for Ace to see through but he had to find his brother.

 

“LU-” cough, “Luffy, Luffy where are you.” Didn’t Ace just go down this hall? Oh Luna the smoke was disorienting him

 

Luffy’s screams where coming from every direction now, Ace turned down hallway after hallway, no longer trying to follow his brothers calls but to get away from them. Something was wrong, so so wrong and Ace had a gut feeling that he had to get away .

 

“Ace! Ace is a monster! Monster! Monster! It’s all Ace’s fault!” Luffy’s voice was right by his ears, his voice wasn’t the happy, go-lucky voice Ace was used to. Instead it was twisted, accusing Ace of what he knew he was guilty of. “It’s Ace’s fault Sabo is gone! It’s all ACE’S FAULT! ACE IS A MONSTER!”

 

“No! Nononono,” Ace dropped to his knees, covering his ears to block out his brother's words, “I didn’t-”

 

“ACE IS JUST LIKE HIS FATHER!”

 

“LITTLE MONSTER!”

 

“SHOULD’VE BEEN DROWNED AT BIRTH!”

 

“SON OF THE DEVIL!”

 

“KILLER!”

 

There was a chorus of people, people Ace loved , that were surrounding him. Each and everyone of them accusing him of being a monster, a murderer, a demon incarnated. Each of them right.

 

“Ace,” Luffy’s voice was right in front of him and when Ace looked up he saw his brother through his tears—when had he started crying?—, “Ace needs to pay for his sins.”

 

“I-I,” oh Luna he couldn’t breathe right, “I’m sorry-I’m sorry, Lu. Luffy, it’s all my fault, I couldn’t save him. I’m sorry.”

 

“Sorry doesn’t bring Sabo back, Ace.” Luffy raised his arm, in his fist was Sabo’s pipe, “But this will.”

 

Luffy brought the pipe down.

 

 


 

 

Ace jolted awake, a scream caught in his throat as he gasped for air, the nightmare faded and slowly the real world came back to him. No longer was he surrounded by fire and smoke but he was back in his new room, daylight peeking in through his bedroom windows, the half shut curtains not doing much to block out the light. 

 

Once Ace managed to calm his racing heart he looked around his room. There were still boxes he needed to unpack but he decided to put the chore off for later when his stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten dinner the night before and he had slept through the morning well into the afternoon out of exhaustion. He had spent the entire day before moving his stuff into his new home, even though he didn’t have much, it was a lot of work. Especially alone.

 

With a grunt, Ace rolled out of bed, he might as well get a shower and head to town for something to eat, seeing as he hadn’t had the chance to stock up on food or go hunting yet. This would also be a good chance for him to explore the town a bit, he wasn’t familiar with this area at all, having chosen a town as far away from his home island or any of the islands near Dawn Island that he had lived before. 

 

Eventually after two years of picking up and leaving town after constantly having the towns he was residing in be made a werewolf packs new territory and said wolves often being ones he knew from his old pack, Ace just decided it was time to move across the world completely. Sure it had taken some time for him to find the right place to settle down-- thankfully being his own employer and running an online store meant he didn’t have to worry about work so long as he could find a post office to ship out stuff while he was moving about--having to navigate which places were off limits and getting into more than a few scuffles with hostile packs or hunters it took him almost a year to find somewhere he could consider safe. 

 

Well, relatively safe, safe-ish… it was the best he could currently do at least.

 

As much as he looked it was nearly impossible to find a town that wasn’t some packs territory, or worse, under the protection of some hunters and Ace wouldn't even dare to settle in a place that was claimed by a witch coven or a vampire den, so Ace had to settle for the next best thing. A town called Sixis that was on the borders of a large pack’s territory. Ace had found a cabin on a nice piece of property in the woods, it was secluded but it wasn’t a terribly long drive to get to town, only about a half hour. The cabin itself was a small with only a bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen-living space on the bottom floor, a loft area, and a small front porch. The problem didn’t lie with the house though, the real problem was how close he was to another pack. West of town was probably the largest and strongest werewolf pack in the world, The Whitebeards.

 

It wasn’t ideal, Ace would prefer to be as far away from other wolves as he could--even if it was dangerous for him to isolate himself as he was. He was risking his health, both physical and mental, by isolating himself, especially as a turned wolf and not a born one, but he couldn’t bring himself to try and join another pack after the first one he was apart of was… for lack of better words, slaughtered. All but the strongest and some of the youngest of the pack were murdered in an attack by another bandit pack when Ace was fifteen. After that Ace left when the other members of the pack either tried to rebuild the pack while Dadan was recovering or even form new packs, Ace left. He hadn’t even wanted to be apart of Dadan’s pack in the first place, they hadn’t wanted him either. The only reason they ever turned and took him in was because Garp the Fist, one of the strongest hunters, forced them to. Ace was barely old enough to walk when he was turned and left with them, that shitty old man had told him it was for his own protection. That no one would suspect the Great King of the Monsters would have a son that lived with a bunch of mountain bandits.

 

Ace couldn’t take being a part of a pack that didn’t want him, and he had heard enough things about his father and what people would do if they found out he had a child to be wary of getting close to people in the first place. Sure he used to dream about starting his own pack when he was old enough, but that was all before Sabo was killed, before Luffy’s dad showed up out of nowhere and took his little brother away, declaring it was too dangerous for Luffy to stay there--and while Ace secretly agreed with him that didn’t make it hurt any less to have the one brother Ace had left get taken away--, and before Dadan’s pack got attacked by another pack that they were supposed to be allied with. 

 

After all that Ace was determined to stay as far away from other wolves as he could, no matter how troublesome it was. Which is what led him to his current location, out of all the other places he looked at, towns bordering Whitebeard’s territory all seemed to be his safest bets. The pack was known for being the strongest but they also had some more pleasant rumors around them, as of now they weren’t interested in expanding their territory and they were rather calm about wolves that didn’t cross their borders . And with their borders cutting off a ways from the town, Ace probably wasn’t going to have any trouble not crossing into their territory. For now, with a town acting as a buffer between them, Ace was safe enough and that’s all that mattered.

 


 

 

Ace drove into Sixis just after noon, it didn’t take him long to find a place to park his jeep in the small town. As far as Ace could tell he was on the main strip, there were several restaurants that he could choose from and decided to pick randomly and hope none of them minded large orders.

 

“Big Eater Pizzeria!” Was written in bold letters on the front window and again on the glass door Ace pushed open. A bell chimed to alert people of his presence and a young woman with bright pink hair peeked out of the kitchen before her eyes landed on him.

 

A wide smile spread across her face as she greeted him, “Hi there! Welcome to Big Eater’s! I’ll be with you in a moment!”

 

Ace smiled and nodded, “take your time.”

 

The woman grinned and disappeared into the kitchen where some shouting could be heard but Ace ignored it. He took the chance to take a look at one of the menus laying on the counter so he’d have some idea of what to order. After a few minutes of browsing the menu, he started to look around the restaurant. It was pretty spacious but it had a casual atmosphere that he felt welcomed in, and the entire place smelled delicious. Ace inhaled deeply and took in the smell. He could also smell the faint scent of other wolves which almost made him turn tail and leave but it was faint which meant they hadn’t been here too recently or at least not too frequently from what he could tell. Other than that the place smelled mostly of humans, which was good.

 

The pink-haired woman reappeared from the kitchen. Ace took the chance to find her scent as she approached him, she was human.

 

“Sorry for the wait, I’m training new cooks--say, I haven’t seen you before. New in town? I’m Bonney, the owner of this place.” The woman--Bonney--said.

 

“It’s all fine. And yeah, just finished moving today. I’m Ace,” Ace gave a small bow, he was eternally grateful Makino had taught him manners when he was younger.

 

“Well, welcome to town, Ace!” Bonney said before pulling out a pad of paper and a pen, “you know what you want to order or do you need a bit?”

 

Ace paused for a moment before nodding, “Yeah I know, um, six large meat-lovers, three large cheese pizzas and… uh, two orders of bread sticks, all to-go please.”

 

“How many people are you feeding?”

 

“Uh… just… just myself…” Ace said, his appetite had always been unusually large. Even before being turned he just ate a lot. Most people were disgusted by how much food he had to eat but he couldn’t help it, no matter how inconvenient and sometimes embarrassing it could be.

 

“Damn! Oh I like you, you know how to eat!” Bonney grinned, reaching over to punch him in the shoulder, her eyes glanced over his bite scar but she didn’t let them linger. “I have a feeling we’re gonna be friends.”

 

Ace let out a relieved laugh, smiling.

 

“Need anything else?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Alright, comeback in about… an hour?” Bonney asked after checking something on her notepad.

 

“Sounds good.” Ace nodded and Bonney gave him one last smile before disappearing into the kitchen.

 

To kill some time while he waited for his food, Ace decided to explore Sixis a bit. Familiarize himself with the area and try to locate any places of interest. Or at least he could try to find the post office, he’d need to find that sooner or later if he was going to keep his shop going. And a grocery store, he needed to get some food in his house soon, there was a full moon later this week after all.

 


 

Ace readjusted the grocery bags in his hands as he stepped out of the supermarket. He’ll need to come back for more later but he was cutting it close to his food being done already so he ended up just grabbing some of the necessities for the time being. He was just about to head back to his car when the wind blew his way and he caught the scent. It was the unmistakable smell of another wolf--no, of other wolves . For a moment he couldn’t breath, sure he expected to run into the nearby pack at some point but he was hoping that he wouldn’t run into them so soon.

 

Trying to be subtle, Ace looked around for the source of the smell. Immediately Ace found them, it was a group of five all clambering out of a car bearing the Whitebeard Mark on it’s back window a few blocks down. Thankfully they didn’t seem to notice him, either because the wind wasn’t blowing his scent towards them or because his own scent was so weak on its own now it was hard to get a scent off of him from a distance. Being without a pack made every part of him weaker, his scent included which worked in his favor when avoiding other wolves. Sure even a werewolf without a sense of smell would probably suspect he was one of them thanks to the scar on his shoulder but without smelling him or a pack on him it would be harder to distinguish him from a human at a distance. All he had to do was keep his distance.

 

With that in mind, Ace took a deep breath and crossed the street to avoid being on the same sidewalk as them. He was on high alert while pointedly pretending he didn’t notice them in hopes that they would ignore him right back but luck wouldn’t have it. Across from him he could hear their chatter died down and he felt eyes watching him, his instincts screamed at him to watch them right back. But Ace stayed stubborn, acknowledging them would just mean he knew, and if he showed he knew then they would know he knew and if they knew he knew then they would know.

 

Ace shook his head to clear it, that didn’t make sense, he was starting to freak out. He really needed to get away from them and get back to his home as soon as he could. The second he rounded the corner onto main street, Ace let out a relieved sigh, his body untensing. It was nerve racking but he did it, he could do this.

 

He was determined to make a living here. 

 


 

 

The Whitebeard pack was feared and respected by both other packs and humans alike. But that didn’t mean there weren’t other packs constantly having a go at them to try and take the Whitebeard’s place as the strongest, Thatch had seen it a billion times and would probably see a billion more packs challenge his pops. It was practically routine for pops to have an attempt at his life and wreck part of the pack’s house in the process of kicking their asses while laughing about it. At this point it was more of an annoyance than worrying and Whitebeard got a kick out of the activity, but that didn’t mean they didn’t need to report when a new pack was nearby so they could prepare to fix any damages that will come with an attack.

 

Which is exactly what Thatch needed to do now. Back in Sixis while making a mail and grocery run with some of his siblings they found another wolf. One they couldn’t get a clear scent off of, and that was worrying. Sure in an outright attack they were pretty safe, but if a wolf could hide their scent and do a sneak attack? That could potentially do some damage and Thatch needed to report on that.

 

“Are you guys good with the rest?” Thatch asked, setting down a box on the kitchen counter.

 

 Namur nodded, “Yeah, we’ll put everything away. Go tell pops whats up.”

 

With that Thatch started up the stairs to Whitebeard’s office. Once he got to the door he could hear voices inside, it seemed Marco was back home from meeting with Red-Hair’s pack. Hopefully his brother wasn’t in too bad a mood, Shanks always ruffled his older brother's feathers.

 

Before he could even knock on the door a voice called out.

 

“Come in, Thatch.”

 

Thatch grinned to himself before opening the door, “Hey, pops. Hey, Marco. How was Red-Hair?”

 

“Shut up, yoi. I’m not in the mood.” Marco scowled at him.

 

“Okay, okay,” Thatch said, putting his hands up in a placating gesture.

 

Their father chuckled and turned his attention to Thatch, “Everything go alright in town, son?”

 

“That’s kinda what I came up here to talk about.” Thatch started, questioning how he was going to explain this. “We might need to be on guard for another attack.”

 

The mood shift was immediate.

 

“What do you mean, yoi?” Marco asked. As the second in command Marco had seen his fair share of attempts at their father's life or at their sibling's lives as well and he always took threats towards his family seriously.

 

Thatch sighed, “In town today, we may’ve… ran into another wolf? I’m not exactly sure yet, none of us could get a proper scent off them. Hell, if I’m being honest I couldn’t tell if they are really a wolf or just someone that was hanging around one recently from the smell, it was pretty faint. If it weren’t for the fact we saw what could be a bite scar on his shoulder… honestly even then I’m not sure. That coulda just been a scar and I could just be assuming the worst.”

 

“But you smelled something.” Marco pointed out.

 

“Barely.”

 

“That’s still something, yoi,” Marco said, “Pops?”

 

Whitebeard had a serious look on his face, obviously thinking the information over, before speaking, “We don’t have enough information as of yet, so no confrontation of this person. The last thing we want is to threaten a human under the pretense that they could have been apart of a rival pack.”

 

 “Pops-” Marco started.

 

“However, I will allow you to prepare and observe this person,” Whitebeard said, giving them a look. “Does that sound good?”

 

“I guess, yoi,” Marco relented, “but if I suspect we’re in danger-”

 

“We’ll discuss that if that time comes,” Whitebeard finished, "For now we will wait and see, I'd also like for you to get in contact with the neighboring packs and see if they know anything. As well as the covens and vampire dens to see if anyone has any information," then after a pause, "I also want Haruta to look into the hunters database, make sure this doesn't have anything to do with them."

 

Thatch sighed, this wasn't a great situation but at least they could prepare for the worse. Hopefully everything would turn out alright in the end.

Chapter Text

Ace was slowly but surely settling into his own little routine. It had been almost a month and he had been lucky so far. As of now the Whitebeard’s had kept their distance from him, yet whenever he was in town at the same time they were he could feel them observing him. Ace wouldn’t acknowledge them but it got a little nerve wracking to see a group of wolves watching him from the corner of his eye while he was picking up groceries or mailing stuff out. But so far they hadn’t approached him at all which Ace took as a good sign that he was either hiding his status well or they didn’t find him threatening enough to confront. 

 

Either way Ace wasn’t going to push his luck. Each time he noticed them he would wrap up what he was doing as quickly as possible without making a scene and hightail it back home. 

 

It wasn’t perfect but it was good enough. 

 

But then the full moon started to approach and Ace was worrying himself sick over what he was going to do. Ace had very few positive experiences with full moons and transformations. In general they were hard on his body, he was always starving and exhausted and in pain after each moon, and that only got worse once he started isolating himself. It took days after each moon for him to recover enough to go out in public even when he was young. 

 

And now, for the first time since he left Dawn Island, Ace actually had land to roam during a transformation rather than hauling himself in his home and making transformations worse on himself than they had to be... but he couldn’t shake the thought that the nearby pack might infringe on his territory. Sure, in his sweep of the woods surrounding his house he didn’t catch a single scent of another wolf but he was still paranoid, especially with the other pack’s less than subtle attempts to observe him. He was too weak to protect himself if anything were to happen. So, to protect himself, Ace decided to hide for the first moon at his new home, the day after he could scout the woods and check to see if he had any wolves peeking into his territory. 

 

In the week leading up to the moon he started to prepare. He cleared out his shed that he was using for his shop out and began to secure the shed for his transformation. He wasn’t securing the shed so he couldn’t get out though. It was more so other things wouldn’t try to get in. He hunted the day before, catching a good sized stag for when he was transformed and he hoped it would keep him sated during the night. He made sure he had enough water. Some blankets-- to either use or tear up-- and for in the morning, clothing.

 

Now all he had to do was wait for the sun to set.

 


 

 

The moon had just began to rise as Ace finished locking himself in his shed. His hands had already started to change into claws and he could feel his fangs growing sharper in his mouth. Instinctively he tried to hold back transforming until he was back against the wall furthest from the door, waves of pain crashed through him as his bones started shifting.

 

For a normal wolf, transformations weren’t this painful but it seemed Ace had gotten screwed over with his bloodline in more ways than one. A new flash of pain took over and Ace crumpled to his knees, letting out a pained whine as his body continued to change. He clawed at the floor in an attempt to ground himself but it wasn’t helping.

 

With each bout of blinding pain his body changed a bit more until it was finally over and Ace lay there, panting for air and letting out small pained whimpers.

 

His senses became sharper and every sound was suddenly too loud, every smell too powerful, even the dim light was too bright. But the worst was over.

 

Or so he thought, as soon as he closed his eyes something moved outside and he jolted up, eyes wide and ears perked as he waited with bated breath for the noise to repeat. Then he heard something from the opposite direction and panicked, he pressed himself against the wall. 

 

He could picture other wolves circling his shed, memories of past encounters with packs and near brushes with death reared their ugly head and Ace let out a whimper, not out of pain but out of fear.

 

Maybe this was going to be a long night after all.

 


  

 

Ace groaned, curling up further on himself as he slowly woke up. His body ached dully and his head pounded in time with his racing heart, he felt like he had a hangover and like he got thrown down a mountain at the same time. Adrenaline coursed through his veins and he was shaking on the dirt floor of his shed. He was completely numb and yet somehow in terrible pain, nothing felt real, it all felt like some sort of fucked up dream.

 

So he just laid there in pain for who knows how long before he could will himself to sit up and assess the damage the moon did.

 

His shed looked fairly intact, the blankets he had brought with him and his clothing were torn to shreds-- maybe he should’ve left those outside the shed-- and the stag he had caught was nothing but bones strewn across the shed. At least he could still use the bones for his shop. He barely remembered the night before apart from the initial transformation and moments of clarity which were filled with fear and pain until his instincts override his human emotions, with each full moon he spent alone it seemed he was losing more and more of his sanity, becoming just a little more feral each time he transformed and losing just that much more control over himself and Ace wondered how long it would be until he could no longer stave off transformations or change outside of the full moon. Or worse, until he was no longer able to change back from a wolf when the sun came up and he would be hunted and captured for being too dangerous.

 

Ace sighed and shook his head, he should head inside and get cleaned up, taking a look at his body he looked numbly at the dirt and blood caked under his nails and the scratches and bruises under the dirt on his arms, thighs, and stomach. He really did a number on his body this time.

 

He pushed up off the ground, wincing as his joints cracked, the grabbed the least tattered blanket and wrapped it around his shoulders. Ace paused at the door for a moment, taking a second to breath deep and listen for any suspicious smells or sounds, once he was satisfied that everything was as it should be he unlocked the door and made his way to his house.

 

There was still dew on the ground as Ace shuffled is way around the house and the porch steps were cold under his bare feet. He luckily had the forethought to leave his house keys in the little lantern-light by the door and he pushed the door open. 

 

As soon as he was inside Ace went into the kitchen, he needed to eat before he cleaned up and then he could sleep. He decided to pop some toast in the toaster and he waited until it was done before sliding down to sit on the floor while he ate. His stomach churned as he took the first bite, he was past being hungry and the thought of food was making him ill but he forced himself to eat slowly while tears slowly built up in his eyes as he started to crash and burn as reality sunk in. A new wave of pain rushed over his body. He covered his mouth to muffle a choked off sob. He didn’t know if he was crying from being overwhelmed or if it was out of relief that he made it through the night or if he was just in that much pain .

 

Ace felt truly pathetic in that moment as he couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down his face or the sobs from bubbling out of his throat.

 

Look at him! He was naked, covered in dirt, sitting on his kitchen floor, eating toast while having a breakdown! This was his life-- what the hell did he do to end up here?!

 

Fuck he knew the answer to that, he was born that’s what he did.

 

Bitterly, Ace rubbed his face, wiping away his angry tears before unsteadily standing up. After taking a moment against his kitchen counter to get his bearings he took a deep breath. He was going to dig himself deeper into a hole of self loathing if he kept just crying on the floor. He got something to eat, now he just needed a shower and then he could sleep or cry for the rest of the day if he wanted. 

 

Ace mustered up the rest of his energy to shuffle his way into his tiny bathroom. He turned the shower on hot and sat under the stream. He didn’t even have the energy to stand for long but at least he could get the dirt and blood off of his skin. The warm water beat down on his back and shoulders, soothing his sore muscles and stinging some of the open wounds. Ace tucked his knees under his chin and closed his eyes, he could feel the dirt and blood washing away as he sat there. Eventually he uncurled from himself and leaned his head back to rinse out his hair, combing a hand through his shaggy locks he tugged the knots out and tried to thoroughly saturate his hair with water. He moved as slowly as he could to wash off each part of his body in turn until the water ran clear. Ace turned off the shower and toweled off, the toweling opened some of his wounds but he shrugged it off before heading into his bedroom. He figured he could treat his wounds after he slept a bit seeing as none of them were in dire need of attention.

 

But right now he was struggling to stay upright so he put on the first clean pair of pajama pants he touched and crawled into his bed. Finally he could get some rest. Everything else could wait.

 


 

 

“Still nothing?” Whitebeard asked as his children came home, Marco, Thatch, and Jozu had gone into town to see if there was any sign of their mysterious neighbor. It had been almost a week since they had seen him and the last time they saw of him was just before the full moon, they were worried about a lot of things. Whether this could mean there was an attack coming or if something were to happen to the other if their suspensions of him being a wolf were true. Him disappearing right after the full moon seemed to fuel his children's theory he was a wolf though they hadn't gotten any solid proof of him to be one.

 

Even now, after several weeks they still couldn't tell, they couldn’t get a scent off of him for long enough to tell as he seemed to be avoiding them like the plague. Each time they were in town it seemed the kid was just leaving as soon as they caught sight of him, it happened far too often for it to be purely a coincidence they hadn’t crossed paths yet but that still didn't mean anything definitive.

 

But if he was a wolf... Now just where was this kids pack then? As it was as he seemed far too young to be starting his own and a few of them got it in their heads that he could be some sort of scout either sent by another pack or even one being used by the hunters to ambush them seeing as the kid seemed far too weak from how he looked alone to be a threat to them.

 

And then, some of them, particularly his more level headed children, just thought he was a human that maybe hung around werewolves or something of the sorts. Whitebeard didn’t know what to believe.

 

“Nothing, yoi,” Marco said, sitting down in the chair across from him, “it’s like he just up and disappeared.”

 

“Maybe he left town because he got tired of us stalking him to try and figure out if he’s even one of us or not,” Izo said, filing her nails.

 

“We aren’t stalking him!” Thatch defended, “We’re just… just… uh…”

 

“Tailing him?” Namur supplied.

 

“Shadowing?”

 

“Hunting?”

 

“Casing!” Haruta shouted.

 

“None of those sound better at all,” Thatch muttered, then shook his head, “Well whatever we’re doing I don’t think that’s why we haven’t seen him.”

 

“Oh pray tell then, why do you think he hasn’t shown up?” Izo questioned.

 

Marco, Thatch, and Jozu all exchanged a look and Whitebeard sat up a little straighter.

 

“We… have a theory… it's not a very good one but it would explain a lot about this guy,” Jozu said after a moment, “he could be a lone wolf.”

 

There was a pretty split reaction at that, some of his children gasped while a few laughed in disbelief.

 

“What do you mean? I thought it was… ya know? Bad to not have a pack?” Haruta asked. They had been adopted by Pops shortly after their parents passed away, having been born a werewolf they had been surrounded by other blood wolves their entire life but still didn’t know everything about werewolves outside of their own family having been pretty sheltered.

 

“It is,” Whitebeard nodded, “wolves are social creatures, family focuses. As are humans to a similar extent. A simple way to think of it is that we are a blend of human and wolf, yes? Therefore we need contact with others to thrive. For us to be without a pack is… dangerous to put it lightly.”

 

“... what about not put it not lightly?”

 

“I’ve told you about my how my uncle was a hunter, yeah?” Rakuyo asked.

 

“A couple of times, yeah?”

 

“Well… he wasn’t very secretive about what they did, a common torture method used was isolation. And that’s not really exclusive to werewolves, no isolation is a cruel punishment to pretty much everyone, any species. But for wolves? For some reason it’s hardwired into our DNA to be around others, without a pack we become weak and susceptible to paranoia, sickness, depression, and they just become overall weaker, ya know? We don’t function right. And for some reason it’s even worse with turned wolves. Something about how they’re DNA changed or something.”

 

Marco nodded, “I’ve seen the… things hunters have done to our kind. Isolation fucks us up. It plays into our need of contact and for a turned wolf to be isolated it messes with their DNA even further. You would think they would have less wolf instincts but it’s more like a complete override. There aren’t many studies on why as… well it’s just like human experiments, like trying to figure out why you need to eat or why a vampire needs to consume blood. It’s not right to do study that, yoi.”

 

“Doesn’t stop hunters though,” Whitebeard said, “I’ve seen many wolves get turned and studied before being thrown back out into the world. Then hunted because they aren’t deemed safe by the hunter organization. Or even used as a way to capture other wolves. Sometimes putting an unclaimed wolf near a pack is enough to set a pack off and that can create an opportunity for hunters to sweep in and wipe out the entire pack cause their focus is elsewhere.”

 

“So…” Haruta began, “so you think this guy is one of those wolves?”

 

“Well the lack of a scent is suspicious in its own right, but what concerns me is his behavior…. something just isn’t right.” Thatch said, sitting back, “something about how he’s so jumpy and he just… avoids us. You’ve seen it, he goes out of his way to avoid contact with us.”

 

“But then again, he may just be avoiding us cause we’re, ya know, a little intimidating.” Curiel said, “even if he is a human he’s probably noticed us or heard of us at one point or another. I mean, to humans we don’t always come off as a nice and friendly pack…”

 

“That is true,” Whitebeard said then thought for a moment, “with that in mind, I think maybe we should pull back a little bit, as of now we have no proof to anything and while I’m agreeing we should stay alert,” he gave Marco a look as he seemed to be about to object, “But as of now, it's been nearly a month with nothing happening and usually the brats that come after us don’t wait too long to make their move, so let’s give him some room and see what his next move is before we make any new decisions or come up with any new theories. As far as we know, he's human and he isn't a threat, got it?”

 

“Aye, Pops,” his children chorused before someone changed the topic and they started chattering amongst themselves. 

 

This was going to be interesting to say the least.

 

Chapter Text

 

Four more moons had passed since the first one and Ace was truly starting to relax. The Whitebeard pack started to lose interest in him and outside of the days after a full moon, they paid little to no mind in him and those moments became less frequent as the months passed. And after the second moon, once Ace determined no one would infringe on his territory, he let himself roam free on his property during the full moon which seemed to help him recover after the moon. He was feeling better than he had in a long time and he was benefiting from it. His shop was doing a lot better too, now that he was hunting frequently and he had the energy craft more products.

 

Ace grunted as he stood up straight from his work desk where he had been hunched over for the past few hours. He had gotten slightly behind on his orders and he was trying to wrap them up before sending them out on time. Lately orders had been stacking up and Ace was happy with that, working on figures and jewelry he made to sell was a good distraction from life, especially with the anniversaries of his brothers death and him leaving Dadan’s pack coming up, he really needed a distraction.

 

But now he had been working for most of the day and he really needed a break and some food.

 

It was early evening and he had skipped lunch, so he decided to finish up his latest project, a deer antler necklace that he was inlaying with some quartz he’d found, and then he’d pack up his finished work and mail them out before getting himself some dinner. Hopefully he’d get into town before the post office closed for the day and he would be able to do that before getting dinner.

 


 

 

Ace waved bye at the post office worker and her daughter, O-Tama was such a sweet kid-- she reminded him a lot of Luffy-- and he had become friends with her and most of the post office workers since he saw them so often. Truthfully, he had made friends with a lot of the people in town, albeit a bit tentatively and he wasn’t very close to anyone and he wasn’t really planning on getting too close to anyone either, but still, it was kinda nice. 

 

Speaking of friends, Ace was hungry and he was really craving some pizza, he was going to place an order at Bonney’s before doing some quick shopping. 

 

Distracted by the thought of food as Ace rounded the corner and collided into someone, someone very solid and very, very large and he stumbled back from the force. He opened his mouth to apologize for not paying attention before his words died in his throat.

 

Staring down at him was a member of the Whitebeard pack, and not just any member, the pack leader himself. Whitebeard was staring down at him with a look of confusion and Ace felt rooted on the sidewalk while he watched as the pack leader took a deep breath on instinct, his eyes widened in realization. Ace knew it was took late as he backed away.


“S-Sorry!!” He blurted out, before running into him and took off across the street, in the direction of his car. Behind him, Whitebeard called out something but Ace couldn’t hear anything over his heart pounding in his ears as the edges of his vision blurred. He had to get out of here.

 

There was no way any wolf-- let alone one as revered and powerful as fucking Whitebeard-- wouldn’t be able to tell he was a lone wolf and his stomach churned at the thought. What the hell was he going to do now?

 

Ace was screwed.

 


 

Whitebeard rarely went into Sixis, aside from the occasional night for dinner, he only really went into the town for doctor visits.

 

Which is why he was in town now. His children were worried over his health after the last attempt at his head ended with him getting a small, non-fatal, knife wound. It was nothing that he hadn’t experienced before but he let his children convince him to get stitches and today he had an appointment to get them taken out-- thankfully his children let him go alone, it was nice they cared for his health but it was a little much when they got all up in a tizzy whenever he got hurt or sick. 

 

His oldest were especially guilty of making mountains out of mole hills but he wasn’t about to scold them for caring for their family. He’d just appreciate if they could take a step back and let him handle his health every once in a while.

 

But, now that he was in town, he could go to that really quant liquor store that made their own sake and none of his children-- or he should say, Marco-- could say anything about how he shouldn’t be drinking.

 

Whitebeard deserved a little treat.

 

Just as he was about to turn the corner someone ran into him and stumbled back. Before he could check on the person who bumped into him, he caught scent of who it was. It was the wolf they’d been watching for months.

 

For the first time he got a good look at--a scent off of-- this mysterious wolf and he knew something was wrong. He couldn’t be older than 19-- maybe even younger--, and he looked, he smelled, sick

 

Whitebeard had experience with wolves being in trouble, he had saved a number of his children from less than ideal situations, he knew what a sick wolf smelled like and this, this child

 

There was something very wrong with him. His scent was weaker than any other wolf’s he had smelled-- even from wolves that had been isolated by hunters, even a human had a stronger scent than this kid--, but there was something lingering in the scent that set off alarm bells in his head.

 

The scent of sickness lingered around this boy and Whitebeard was at a loss for words. What could he even say? They had spent months watching this wolf and debating what his motive could be, or if he was even a wolf and now that he was face to face with him, Whitebeard almost regretted finding out.

 

The air was thick with tension and fear practically radiated off of the other wolf. But before Whitebeard could even open his mouth, the child sputtered out an apology for running into him and turned on his heel before sprinting off across the street. 

 

“Wait! Child!” He called after him but if anything the kid seemed to just run faster, though Whitebeard didn’t actually expect him to stop but it was the only thing he could think to do, he couldn’t just chase after him. Without a doubt that would make a scene and it would also probably scare the poor kid to death by confronting him now if the look of pure terror in his eyes was anything to go by.

 

Fuck getting sake. He needed to get back to his pack, he needed to do something about this and he needed them to be on the same page as him.

 


 

 

“Hey, Pops! How was the docto-” Fossa tried to greet his father as he entered the living room but got cut off.

 

“Pack meeting, now.” Whitebeard’s tone left no room for questions and the volume of his command left the pack scrambling for the meeting room. No good ever came for a pack meeting.

 

As soon as Whitebeard sat down he was bombarded by questions which were silenced with a raise of his hand. He had time on the drive home to think about what he wanted to do and what he was going to say to his family.

 

But first he needed to get the necessary things out of the way.

 

“First of all, my health is fine. This meeting isn’t about that,” Whitebeard said, watching his children visibly relax at that then exchange a look of confusion with each other.

 

“Then what’s going on, yoi?” Marco asked, the worry not leaving his son’s eyes.

 

“The boy, the other wolf,” Whitebeard said, “he’s sick.”

 

Immediately his children erupted in questions once again and Whitebeard waited for the chatter to die back down.

 

“What happened?” Jozu questioned, “And what do you mean by ‘sick’ ?”

 

Whitebeard sighed, “I mean just that. I ran into the kid today and I got his scent. Only his scent, no one else's.”

 

“So,” Haruta started, “he’s alone? And sick?”

 

He nodded. “His scent told me that much. But he ran before I could get any other information. I’m not sure what it is but it wasn’t and I’m worried.”

 

“Think it’s something that could spread to us? Like a plague or something?” Curiel asked.

 

“No, I don’t think he’s some kind of trap or patient zero sent to infect us. He’s too timid for that,” Whitebeard shook his head, “if anything they would have better success in infecting us if they just sent the child to us to take care of… No, I’m worried about him. There’s something familiar about his scent that I can’t put my finger on. The kid might be killing himself, he looked like he had just gone twelve rounds with the universe and lost each one, honestly, forget his scent. I don’t know what’s happened to him but it couldn’t have been good for the kid to end up how he is.”

 

“So what do you want us to do, pops?” Thatch asked, but Whitebeard could tell his children already knew what he was planning.

 

“How do you brats feel about another sibling, hmm?” By their matching grins he knew they liked his plan.

 

Now they just had to get the other wolf to join them.

Chapter Text

 

Ace started looking at new homes as soon as he got home after his run in with Whitebeard. He should have been keeping an eye out for places to move just in case from the very beginning, he should have had a back up plan because of course with his luck he would get found out. As it was, he was now struggling to find somewhere safe to move with recent… events that had happened with some of the other big werewolf packs making it so his previous options were now either a part of Big Mom’s or Kaido’s territory or now under protection of hunters.

 

After hours of researching new places, Ace was almost tempted to ask for help from his shitty gramps and see if he could help. But Ace quickly decided that would be a last resort right next reaching out to Red-Hair or going back to Dawn island.

 

Instead, Ace decided to hunker down and limit his time in town back to dropping off packages and getting groceries for the most part. Until he could find somewhere else to move to, he’d have to put more effort into avoiding the Whitebeard’s. 

 

Which may not be enough as they were now not keeping their distance at all. 

 

Ace couldn’t figure out what they were doing now. Or rather why they were doing it.

 

Each time he had gotten caught by another pack he’d have a few days maximum to get out before being attacked. Or worse in some cases.

 

But now? Now?!

 

Ace had no fucking clue what the Whitebeard’s were doing. 

 

Each time he was in town-- no matter how short his visits were-- they would somehow sniff him out and… have small talk?

 

Whenever he was in town at least one of them would try to approach him like he was a cornered animal-- maybe that was too appropriate of a comparison--, with soft voices and careful movements. They never approached him in groups either, Ace didn’t know if they were doing that because they knew he couldn’t take even one of them or if they were trying to give him some-- false?-- sense of safety, they would try to strike up a conversation or if he was doing something they’d offer him help. He was driving himself mad trying to figure out what they were planning. 

 

With each day they grew more persistent, by now he was sure the entire pack had tried to strike up a conversation with him and nothing he did would deter them. At some point he stopped being outwardly afraid of them and had started threatening them but they wouldn't leave him alone! Each and every one of them would brush off his verbal jabs and continue talking to him like they knew each other. And the most annoying was the fucking pack leader-- a close second were the blond with the wild hair cut and the fucking pompadour guy though.

 

Whitebeard himself would show up in town pretty much every week without fail and find him. Ace could snap and insult the man but he would just laugh and invite Ace back for dinner or some shit like they were friends-- or worse, like he wanted Ace to join them.

 

It was infuriating to say the least and Ace couldn't figure out how he was supposed to react.

 


 

 

“Feisty brat, isn’t he?” Marco asked as Whitebeard came back from their latest encounter with the lone wolf-- who was lovingly dubbed as ‘freckles’ by Thatch because the other wolf refused to give him his name, Marco wouldn’t admit that he had already told him and Whitebeard his name was Ace. He didn’t want to deal with his brother pouting while they more pressing matters on their hands. Over the last few weeks the kid went from timid to full on getting ready to fight them every time they interacted. 

 

It would be amusing to Marco if Ace didn’t look like he was minutes from collapsing at any given moment. Marco would deny it to hell and back but he was worried sick over the kid and he was already a little bit attached to him. When he had gotten his scent and had gotten a good look at him several times before and he knew this kid was sick--even if none of them could pin down what the hell was wrong with him-- and maybe he was a mother hen like his siblings already accused him of being but he couldn’t help that and it’s not like his family was any better when it came to this brat.

 

“He’s got some spirit that one.” Whitebeard chuckled, then his face softened.

 

“What’s wrong, yoi?” His pops had been getting a look in his eyes whenever he had a talk-- or got insulted-- by Ace that Marco wasn’t sure if he liked. It wasn’t sad… more nostalgic maybe?

 

“It’s nothing, son,” Whitebeard said and shook his head, “Let’s get home. I want to see if Bay’s gotten back yet and if she had any news.”

 

Marco nodded and got in the car after him. “Think Teach might try something this moon?”

 

“Not sure yet, with Kaido and Charlotte acting up and the hunters pressing their luck with going into their territories… he’s been using them as an opportunity to snoop around. Even that brat Red-Hair has noticed him in his territory and he’s been getting awfully close to ours as well.”

 

“Anything you want us to do?” They had only a couple days until the full moon so if they needed to do anything to prepare they would have to get on that soon.

 

Whitebeard said nothing.

 

“Pops?”

 

“I’m not worried about us,” Whitebeard said after a moment, “We can take anything that runt throws at us. But…”

 

“... But?” Marco pressed.

 

“But, I am worried about Ace.” Whitebeard said, “He’d be an easy target for Teach and if our suspicions are right…”

 

“He might try to go after Ace,” Marco finished. He hadn’t thought of that, Teach had attacked other wolves unprovoked before and recently he had been trying to secure territory around them, probably to have another go at Whitebeard’s head after his last attempt a few years ago failed spectacularly.

 

For a while, since before the other wolf had even moved next to them, Teach laid off of them, but now he was back trying to gain favors with the hunters, and if their suspicions were right he was trying to get a spot as Yonko pack and he seemed to be doing that by stealing territory close to the other Yonkos, it didn’t matter if it was another packs territory or not to him. 

 

That of course didn’t sit well with Kaido and Big Mom and they had kicked up quite a stink, taking over unclaimed cities, but Neither Whitebeard nor Red-Hair minded too much so long as he kept his distance and didn’t mess with their packs. 

 

But now they had Ace to worry about. He had claimed the area west of them and he would be the perfect target for Teach. Even though the brat definitely had the guts to stand up to another wolf if he got cornered he wasn’t strong enough to even last a minute against one if his life depended on it. Determination meant nothing when he was about as threatening as a new-turned pup. Especially when it came to Teach, that bastard wouldn’t bat an eye at hurting an obvious non-threat if it meant getting himself more power.

 

“What should we do?” Marco asked.

 

“I have a plan… it's not great but unless we can think of something else, I fear it may be our only plan.”

 


 

 

Just as they had feared, Teach had taken over another packs territory north of them and Whitey Bay had came home with intell that he may try for the ‘unclaimed’ territory west of them.

 

“The good news is, no other pack knows about our neighbor, the bad news is, Teach definitely thinks he can take over that land and I doubt he would be deterred by a lone child.” Whitey Bay said, while she wasn’t a werewolf like most of Pops’ pack, but she was just as loyal as one and her coven of witches had pledge their loyalty to him so long as they were under his protections. 

 

“I didn’t want this to come to this, but we’re going to have to take proactive measures it seems,” Whitebeard said, looking over the paperwork she had delivered, “If we can’t catch him in town before the full moon then I want a team to make sure he is safe.”

 

“Meaning?” Izo asked.

 

“Meaning you’ll have to go into his territory,” Whitebeard said. 

 

This was really a last resort for them, while they wanted Ace to join them or at least to let them help him, to cross over into his territory was such a break in trust. Up until now they made sure to stay clear of the west side of town and to back off when he started to get too antsy and to never follow him home. But now if they couldn’t get in contact with him before the full moon they might have to cross over. And with the kids habits before each full moon their chances of finding him in town were pretty slim.

 

They were all quiet for a bit while they processed the information before Jozu spoke up.

 

“Alright, who will go and what do you want us to do once we’re over there?”

 

“I’m not sure who I want to go yet, give me some time to think about that,” Whitebeard said, “But to put it simply? I just want a few of us to go, not many. Just make sure Teach doesn’t try anything and don’t hurt the kid, I doubt he’d be able to do any damage to any one here but I also doubt he won’t… try to. ”

 

“Maybe you should go then, Pops,” Kingdew said, “By now your scent is probably the easiest to identify to him and if you’re there with some of us then Teach might believe we’ve claimed the area.”

 

“I’ll think about it, but I’m not going to make any decisions tonight.” Whitebeard stood up, dismissing the meeting, “In the morning we’ll have another meeting and decide who's going if it comes down to that. For now this meeting is over. Understood?”

 

“Aye, Pops.” His children chorus back before getting up after him.

 

Whitebeard could feel a storm brewing on the horizon and he hoped they were prepared for it.

Chapter Text

 

A werewolf’s territory was something sacred. They were supposed to be safe .

 

Ace was supposed to be safe in his territory but now he was anything but.

 

He was out in the woods, doing a perimeter check to put his mind at ease, because he couldn’t shake the feeling that he wasn’t alone, that was something he had been feeling for the past few days whenever he reached the edge of his territory and it would gnaw at his paranoia until he'd check. It before moon rise in a few minutes when he caught an oh so familiar scent. One that set him on edge in an instant. Ace turned around and in the tree line was a massive white wolf and several other smaller-- well compared to the giant one they were smaller, they were still so much bigger than him-- wolves advancing towards his territory and he panicked. Before they could spot him, Ace took off in the direction of his house.

 

He naively believed-- he hoped -- that this full moon would go the same as all the moons before it. He decided to not go into town those few days before the moon, the last thing he wanted was the added stress of whatever the fuck the Whitebeard’s were trying to do right before the full moon. 

 

Maybe he should have gone into town. Maybe he should have moved away the day he ran into Whitebeard. Maybe he should have never moved here in the first place but it was too late for regrets now, he thought as he sprinted towards his house. He could already feel his body starting to change but he willed himself to stay human. If he let himself transform now he’d be a sitting duck, it hurt him more later but he couldn’t risk it. He had to get to safety first.

 

As his house came into sight he heard the sound of paws hitting the ground behind him and he willed himself to run faster. He was almost there! He just had to push himself a little further!

 

He ignored the way his lungs started to burn and his heart was pounding loudly in his ears as he stumbled and struggled to avoid tree roots and rocks until he reached his porch steps. Ace barely made it up the steps without tripping over his own feet and just managed to stumble inside after briefly fumbling with his door. His hands were almost too sweaty lock the door and deadbolt but the moment he heard that click he collapsed on the ground. 

 

He ripped his sweatshirt off and shoved his face into it in a vain attempt at muffling his whimpers and cries as he finally let the change over take him. He almost didn’t need to muffle himself as his bones shifted and reformed under his skin painfully, his whimpers were drowned out by loud cracks and crunches that filled his otherwise silent house.

 

After what felt like hours of agony did Ace’s body finally stop shifting and he slumped weakly against his door and he strained his ears to listen. Nothing sounded out of place but Ace knew they were out there. They had found him and he didn’t know what to do.

 

Instinctively Ace cowered into the nearest corner and whimpered softly as he tried to hide himself away. Maybe if he stayed quiet and hid they’d leave. It wasn’t likely but Ace still begged the universe to have some mercy on him. Somewhere outside a branch snapped, he could hear them start to circle his home, he could hear gruff barks that he knew were them communicating something with each other. He couldn’t think he was so scared.

 

Ace was barely holding back sobs as his body shook and his claws dug into his carpeted floor in an attempt at grounding himself. His instincts begged him to run, to defend himself but he knew that wouldn’t work. If he even tried to leave his house he’d be dead in an instant, the second they saw him they would know just how alone he was, how weak he was. 

 

There was another bark outside and Ace was ashamed at the loud whine he let out in response and he ripped his claws out of his floor before trying to clamp his muzzle shut, the nails dug into his skin and he could smell his blood before he could feel it rolling down his fur but he didn’t care. He had to keep quiet. 

 

Another bark sounded-- this one sounded like it was right outside his door, when did they get on his porch?-- and his claws dug into his skin harder to prevent himself from crying out again. His mind was racing as he tried to press himself further into the corner, he was wishing he had left town the moment they suspected something but it was too late for regrets. It was too late for any kind of plan, all Ace could do was wait.

 

All Ace could do was wait and hope the Whitebeard’s were as merciful as rumors said cause now, his fate was in their hands.

 


 

 

Morning didn’t come fast enough. At some point Ace must’ve passed out and his body ached worse than it had in awhile and his ribs were covered in claw marks as were his thighs and arms, he was still bleeding from some of the scratches and they stung. Bruises were forming on his skin and there was even more blood drying under his nails and on the floor.

 

Other than the blood, his floor was also riddled with deep claw marks, he had scratched straight through the carpet and into the wood underneath. The wall he pushed himself into didn’t look much better but other than that his house didn’t look like he had transformed inside of it. Fear kept him from giving into his instincts too much and he could definitely feel the toll.

 

Ace didn’t need a mirror to know how bad he looked.

 

He wanted to sleep for a month and eat his body weight in meat but he couldn’t bring himself to move. Not when he couldn’t remember if the Whitebeard’s were still lurking outside. 

 

The last thing he remembered before it all went fuzzy was the wolves outside howling at something and maybe a fight but Ace wasn’t sure if it was real or his imagination running wild. Ace didn’t know how he survived the night with them out there.

 

His relief at still being alive was short lived when a knock on the door startled him out of his thoughts.

 

Ace stayed frozen, staring wide-eyed at the door hoping he was hearing things before there was another knock.

 

What should he do?! Answer? Ignore it?

 

What would they do? What did they want? What if they keep knocking-- What if they break the door down?!  Wasn’t it enough to stalk him all night, why were they still here?! What were they trying to accomplish in all of this?! Was this all a game to them?!

 

There was more knocking and Ace quickly went from scared to angry. They fucked with him all night and now they were doing who knows what! Ace no longer cared that they were probably going to kill him. He was maybe a little out of it and irrational but he was going to give them a piece of his mind.

 

After throwing on some clothes-- which was more of an afterthought than he would care to admit-- Ace stormed back over to the door where whoever was on the other side was still knocking .

 

He threw the door to see Whitebeard himself staring down at him and Ace was even angrier at the man’s concerned expression. He could see a few others from the pack lingering on his driveway, not approaching but just observing them.

 

“What?!” Ace snarled out but it didn’t seem to phase Whitebeard in the least, if anything he just looked relieved.

 

“You’re alright,” Whitebeard said, “We were-”

 

He was alright? HE WAS ALRIGHT?! He was pissed was what he was!

 

Before Whitebeard could say anything else, Ace cut him off.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you all?!” Ace demanded, ignoring the taken aback expression on Whitebeard’s face, “What have I done to deserve this? Huh?”

 

“You-”

 

“I haven’t done anything! I stayed out of your territory!” Vaguely, Ace realized there were angry tears starting to run down his face and he could feel the energy building under his skin dangerously as the smell of smoke started to permeate the air but he didn’t care, “I never even made contact with any of you but you keep pushing me! I don’t know what you want-- I don’t care about what you want. What I want is to be left alone! LEAVE ME ALONE!”

 

Whitebeard’s eyes widened and he stumbled backwards before he could register what Ace had done. Ace slammed the door shut so hard the windows rattled a bit and there was a slight charred mark on the door frame, he made sure to click the locks shut before he fell back on his ass. He was whimpering, cradling his head as it throbbed at the energy he unwillingly sent out.

 

He had really fucked up now.

 


 

 

Whitebeard just stared at the door in shock, behind it, he could hear the other wolf whimpering but he couldn’t yet bring himself to move until he heard his children moving behind him. He raised his hand to stop them from coming any closer before turning and walking down the porch steps, he was trying to wrap his mind around what he just saw but he couldn't really wrap his head around it.

 

“Pops?” Thatch asked, eyeing the house behind him as Whitebeard approached, “What just-”

 

“Later,” Whitebeard said, “first we need to check in on Marco.”

 

His children looked at each other before nodding and they began to make their way back to their own territory.

 

The night before, he had sent Marco and a few of his other children had gone to the outskirts of Ace’s territory to make sure Teach didn’t breach it while Whitebeard and a couple more of his children guarded Ace. They had picked up Teach’s scent on the very outskirts of the woods and they briefly worried they were too late until they saw Ace wandering around before moon rise. The second Ace saw them he booked it back to his house where they followed in. Throughout the night they could hear the young wolf crying out in his house and Whitebeard had a hard time keeping his children, and admittedly himself, from trying to break in to check on him. Marco and his other children were also fairly vocal from the surrounding woods, Whitebeard couldn’t tell if they had found something or if they were just trying to ward off any unwanted guests. Whichever it was, Whitebeard knew they were safe and for them it went well.

 

It was safe to say it didn’t go smoothly for Ace though, especially seeing as the young wolf was clearly made very distressed by the whole situation. The second he opened the door Whitebeard could smell blood and from what he could see, there were dark marks under his eyes, tiny scabs on his face and his arms were bright red from scratches. He looked somewhere between exhausted, scared, and livid. They put him through that, they scared him into hiding and while they believed they were doing the right thing, Whitebeard was filled with regret the moment he saw the child. 

 

Whitebeard hated that they resorted to infringing on Ace’s territory, even if they didn’t feel like they had much of a choice but to do so. He had breached the child’s trust in what could be in an irreversible way and he didn’t blame the boy if he would have nothing to do with them now. He hoped that wasn’t the case but judging from his reaction to them that morning it was pretty likely.

 

All they could do was make sure he was safe from Teach and give him some space before reaching out again. Maybe he could explain their actions, even then, he had a right to be untrusting of them, but maybe he could at least offer some protection from Teach, even at a distance. They wouldn't let him get caught in the crossfire of their own problems with Teach.

 

But they would have to deal with that later, after Ace had a chance to recover. For now he would need information from Marco about how his mission went and see if he had any reason to suspect Teach may make a move anytime soon. He would also need to consult his oldest on the information he had gathered about Ace. He almost couldn't believe it himself.

 

A D., the child was a fucking D.

 

Whitebeard just couldn’t believe it, he also couldn't believe he didn't figure it out sooner, it explained so much. The boy's off smell, his mannerisms and attitude, his appetite, dear Luna it explained his appetite. But still he was left with so many new questions. It seemed with every new piece of information they got on this brat he found they knew less than he had thought. But, Whitebeard did have his suspicions about what bloodline Ace was from. That much was obvious to him. Ace was her spitting image.


And, after all, Rogue always did have a fiery temper.

Chapter Text

After the Whitebeards left, Ace spent the next few days at home trying to recover-- and fix the damage he had done to his house. He was exhausted and frustrated and terrified. Each morning he woke up in a panic after dreaming they came back for him, he would sit stock still while straining to listen for the sound of wolves. 

 

Their smell still lingered outside of his house and that didn’t help his paranoia in the slightest. He could barely step outside without worrying that they were around until it rained one night and the smell washed away. Ace wondered if his own scent was that easily overpowered by theirs or if Whitebeard had consciously marked his territory for himself.

 

Ace also couldn’t figure out why they had shown up in the first place. He fully expected them to linger in his territory even after he screamed at their pack leader to leave him alone, but they had left right after and he hadn’t seen them since. He couldn’t figure out what their motives were. They had to have had a reason for crossing into his territory but they just left . They didn’t stick around or even mess with his house as far as he could tell and it was throwing him for a loop.

 

What did they want with him? He kept asking himself that but he could never come up with a solid answer. They had no reason to have any interest in him. Part of him worried they were interested in him for the same reason Gramps hide him away in the first place but he dismissed that idea out of fear that it could be right. 

 

Ace had a plan though, he was going to relocate himself as soon as possible and avoid the Whitebeard’s at all cost until then. Too bad he still needed to go into town until he found somewhere to move. A little part of him wanted to ask them the next time he was in town, he didn’t doubt that he would see them again, but he wasn’t about to push his luck and approach them. 

 

But that wouldn’t stop them from approaching him.

 


 

 

It took a week for one of the Whitebeard’s to try and talk to him again. It was just like before the full moon, the one with the pompadour approached him just after he dropped off some packages. 

 

Ace was immediately on guard when he smelled the man but pompadour guy just held his hands up in a placating manner. In his right hand was a letter which he held out for Ace who eyed on warily.

 

“Here, we--well, Pops , figured you’d like us to stay away but…” the man said, “he also wants to explain our actions and apologize and felt a letter would be the most appropriate way to do so.” 

 

Ace hesitated for a second before tentatively taking the letter from his hand, watching the man closely as he did. The second he had the letter in his hands he backed up a few steps, not breaking his stare as the man did the same.

 

“Well… I’ll leave you to it,” He said, “Have a good day and uh, please read the letter? When you have the time I mean?”

 

Again, Ace hesitated, before nodding, “I will…”

 

The man smiled and clapped his hands together, “Great! Thank you!”

 

With that the man gave him one last smile before leaving. Ace watched him go until he was out of sight then turned his attention to the letter in his hand after he was sure the man was gone. 

 

It was pretty inconspicuous, just a cream envelope with a purple wax seal which he recognized as the pack’s mark. Turning it over, he looked at the back, in black ink it said ‘For Ace’ in looping calligraphy, whoever wrote it had beautiful handwriting. There was nothing else to note about it but it felt like it was filled with lead in Ace’s hand.

 

Ace was tempted to just chuck it in the nearest garbage can and forget he ever got it but… he was curious. Ace slipped it in his coat pocket, careful not to bend it, and started towards his car. 

 


 

 

Ace sat on his couch, staring at the envelope in his hands. He got home hours ago, and he tried to forget about the letter but his mind kept wandering back to it. He should have burned it, but he couldn’t bring himself to do so. He did say he would read it.

 

He let out a defeated sigh and grabbed his pocket knife from off the coffee table. In a fluid motion he slit the top of the envelope and pulled out the letter inside. Just like the envelope, the paper was a cream white, nothing to note was on the outside, and it was folded over three times on itself. 

 

His unfolded the letter with slightly shaky hands and he held his breath.

 

The letter was written in the same black ink and Ace noted that it was the same handwriting as well.

 

‘Dear Ace,’ It began.

 

‘First and foremost I want to apologize for mine and my pack’s behavior. Invading your territory is something we should have avoided and I deeply regret resorting to such actions. Due to the circumstances I felt it was inevitable at the time but I should have tried harder to find another solution to the problem at hand and I am sorry.’

 

Ace let out a confused noise at the first paragraph. He wasn’t really sure where this letter was headed.

 

‘I suppose I’m not making much sense, am I? While this in no way excuses our actions, I hope you’ll at least understand why we did what we did and hopefully moving we can prevent any further mishaps on our end.

 

As you may know, my pack has quite the reputation and we have our fair share of enemy packs. One of which, Marshal D. Teach, has been sniffing around our territory for some time. Around a year ago he let up and we assumed he had his sights on one of the other packs until recently one of my daughters confirmed he had plans on claiming the ‘empty’ territory to the east of us during the full moon.’

 

Ace sat up straight, he recognized the name. Shitty Gramps had mentioned that man before years ago. He had been a part of the Whitebeard’s pack before he got kicked out for trying to kill several other members in cold blood to gain himself notoriety if he was remembering right. Dadan had some choice words when he brought the news to Mt. Colubo, Teach hadn’t succeeded from what he heard but still, attacking a pack member for no reason wasn’t something most packs were fine with and Dadan was no exception even if she herself wasn't the most honorable person. She was never quiet with her disdain for wolves like that. Ace last heard Teach had formed his own pack and had been rumored to be in Alabasta when he left Dawn Island, but Ace hadn’t heard anything else after he cut contact with his old life. It made sense for him to come back for Whitebeard though, and he probably wouldn’t have realized Ace had moved in as he was a lone wolf.

 

‘He must not have gotten the news that we already had a new neighbor. Although, maybe it's a good thing he didn’t know about you. Teach isn’t someone that grants mercy and I am sure he wouldn’t hesitate to harm anyone that gets in his way, even if it’s cowardly to attack a lone wolf. 

 

Teach did try to claim your territory but I wish he hadn’t. I wish our suspicions about him were wrong because now some part of me feels as though we made the right decision to protect you. But that isn’t right, we are still wrong and I cannot apologize enough, we should have found another way to keep him away from you but in our haste we were reckless and did more harm than good at the end of the day. 

 

I hope moving forward we can fix our wrongs but I understand it isn’t that simple and we need to stop being selfish and let you decide what the next step is. I do hope we can at the very least figure out how to prevent you from getting in the cross hairs of our pack’s own issues so that you can be left alone as you wish. I will leave you with my contact information incase you wish to get in touch with us.

 

Best regards,

 

Edward Newgate’

 

Under the signature was a small card stapled to the letter, on it was a phone number and an email address that Ace assumed was Whitebeard’s. 

 

Ace read over the letter once more before putting it down on his coffee table. He didn’t know what to say, he had his answers but he didn’t know what to do with them. If he took the letter at face value, it really did seem that they had just made a stupid decision that they believed was for the best.

 

But he even if everything written in this letter was true, Ace wasn’t about to forgive them so easily. He wasn’t an idiot, he knew how easily the letter could just end up being a bunch of bullshit and if he wasn’t careful he could end up in a much worse predicament than the one he was already in. 

 

Ace folded the letter back up after taking the card off and putting the information in his phone. According to the letter, all the cards were in his hand, he just had to figure out what play he was going to make next.

 


 

 

It took days for one of them to see Ace again, and Whitebeard was more than a little relieved when Thatch came home from town, no letter in hand and a grin on his face that told them everything. He told them Ace had accepted the letter and he looked a bit on edge. Privately he told Whitebeard the kid really did look like they put him through the ringer but he figured his siblings didn’t need to know all the details. 

 

Now all that was left for them was to wait and see if Ace would get in contact with them or not. While he knew the chances of the child forgiving them were understandable near zero, he did hope they could find a way to prevent him from getting caught in any more of their own problems while still giving him his space, that was the least they could do to make up for the trouble and hurt they caused him if he let them.

 

Two days later an email came in from an account Whitebeard didn’t recognize. When he opened it, he smiled, maybe they did have a chance to fix this.


‘I’d like to discuss what happened, in person.

-Portgas D. Ace’

 

 

Chapter Text

Ace would fully admit he regretted sending out the email as soon as he hit enter. He dwelled on the letter for a couple of days, re-reading it several times to the point that he could almost recite it word for word, before deciding he wanted more answers. So he made a throwaway email account and contacted Whitebeard.

 

At first he wrote several long drafts but deleted each one as they just ended up long winded and never actually got his opinion out. He was never good at getting his feelings out. The more he stared at the black document the more he wanted to actually talk to Whitebeard in person. If he talked in person then maybe he could actually verbalize what he was feeling. 

 

So instead of replying to the letter through email, Ace simply asked if they could talk in person and left it at that. He didn’t say when or where, instead he decided to just let Whitebeard get back to him first before making any plans. Part of him sort of hoped Whitebeard wouldn’t respond at all but he brushed his worried thoughts away and switched email accounts to focus on his shop and hopefully distract himself for a while. He’d check for an email back later when he’s calmer.

 

Ace worked until dinner, emailing customers and working on adding products to his shop, before he called it a night. He almost forgot to check for an answer back until he saw the apology letter on his kitchen counter when he was starting dinner. He made a quick meal and decided to check as he ate dinner.

 

His plan to be calm when responding went straight out the window when he saw the little ‘1’ in his inbox. He held his breath before clicking on the response. Who knew a fucking email would make him want to curl up in a ball and hide.

 

Ace almost felt a little silly for being so nervous when reading the response.

 

’Hello, 

 

Firstly, I’m grateful you’ve chosen to reach out. Thank you. Secondly, I’m more than willing to meet in person to discuss things. Please let me know when and where you wish to meet, my schedule is open for the most part, so I should be available or at least able to work around your schedule.

 

Best Regards,

Edward Newgate’

 

Ace read over the response a few times before sending an email back, asking to meet around lunch in a couple days at the park in the western part of town, there was a small cafe they could sit and talk at or they could go into the park if Whitebeard felt like they needed more privacy and Ace would still be in public enough to feel safe. He almost asked to meet at Bonney’s or close to his own territory but when he thought about it, he really didn’t want to meet somewhere he frequented or close to his territory. 

 

Whitebeard replied quickly, confirming that the time and location worked for him and that he would see Ace in a couple days before wishing him a good night and Ace’s fate was sealed.

 


 

Ace was fifteen minutes earlier for their meetup due to his own nerves. If he showed up early then he chad time to get a drink and hopefully calm down a bit before Whitebeard arrived. He could also think over what he wanted to say. 

 

He was still searching for somewhere else to live but he couldn’t really afford it, and even if he could afford it finding somewhere to move that was safe was slow going. Currently it looked like he might have to move to the complete other side of the world which he really didn’t want to do but it was starting to look like he had no choice. 


Ace was brought out of his thoughts when the bell over the door chimed out and a large figure walked in through the door. Just as he expected, Whitebeard had arrived. With a quick glance at his phone, Ace discovered he had spent the last fifteen minutes stuck in his own head. 

 

Whitebeard found him quickly and walked over, he paused at the table for a second before Ace gestured for him to sit down.

 

“Hello,” Whitebeard greeted him with a warm smile, “thank you for meeting with me, I hope I haven’t kept you waiting long.”

 

“Nah,” Ace said a bit awkwardly, “I, uh, do you want to order anything? Then we can talk?”

 

“That sounds good,” Whitebeard said and got up to go to the counter. 

 

Ace took the opportunity to go back over what he wanted to ask in his head. He only really wanted to know the basics, like why they were interested in him in the first place, what he needed to do to be left alone, and how much danger he was in, from them or from Teach.

 

It only took a couple of minutes before Whitebeard sat back down in front of Ace and took a sip of his drink. He seemed to be waiting for Ace to speak first so after a couple of seconds of silence he started.

 

“So, thank you for the letter, it helped clear somethings up but,” Ace started, “I still have a couple of questions.”

 

Whitebeard nodded, “I’ll be sure to answer anything you ask. That’s the least I can do.”

 

Ace took a deep breath before choosing what to ask first.

 

“I guess, first of all, what can I do to be left alone by you? I… I know this isn’t exactly a normal situation and it may be hard to believe, but I really just want to be alone,” Ace said, “at least until can find somewhere else.”

 

“I can assure you that you don’t have to do anything to get us out of your hair, nor do you have to move. Our main goal here is to keep you from getting caught in our pack’s own problems and as of now we don’t really know how to keep Teach away from you without causing you any more distress than we already have. Sadly that may mean, depending on Teach’s behavior, we might need to find out a way to keep him out of your territory without making you too uncomfortable.”

 

“Meaning?”

 

“Meaning, the only plans we have as of now involve us being in your territory somehow temporarily. Just until Teach starts to believe it’s our territory and we can drive him away.”

 

Ace didn’t hide the grimace that spread across his face, he really didn’t want that but he also saw his point. If Teach believed it was their territory then maybe he would leave it alone and try to claim someplace else. But…

 

“What if he takes that as a challenge, and tries to fight you for the land?” Ace asked.

 

“We’ve discussed that possibility as well,” Whitebeard said rather solemnly, “He isn’t the type to give up what he wants that easily but from our understanding, Kaido has been having some territory trouble lately and if I know Teach then he may turn his focus on that if it looks promising. If we can use that to our advantage then we can hopefully fool him long enough to keep you safe until then. And we don’t plan on doing anything you aren’t comfortable with, if we can’t come up with a plan before the next moon, then I am willing to resort to attacking Teach first to ward him off. Though I’d rather not if it can be helped, the outcome for that is a little too unpredictable for me to be confident in putting my pack or you in that situation. So if we can find a middle ground that you are alright with that would be ideal.”

 

Ace nodded, “Yeah, okay… I’m not going to agree to anything today, but I want to hear your plans.”

 

Whitebeard smiled, he seemed happy that Ace was at least willing to hear him out.

 

“I’m glad you are willing to hear us out on this,” Whitebeard said, “Now our main plan is to make it seem as though we’ve claimed your territory. The easiest way we can do that without overstepping your boundaries too much would be to spend the next moon on the outskirts of your territory.”

 

Ace nodded along, “That way it smells like you all along the outskirts but the majority of my space and I am left alone during the moon?”

 

“Exactly.” Whitebeard confirmed, “It’s not ideal, but…”

 

“It wouldn’t be the worst thing if it keeps Teach away.” Ace finished then sighed, “Listen, I’m not too keen on that plan, but I’ll… I’ll think about it, okay?”

 

“That’s more than okay,” Whitebeard said, “Our other idea was to see if you’d stay in our territory while we keep Teach out of yours but I don’t think you’d want to stay with my children by any chance?”

 

“I think I’ll pass,” Ace said dryly. 

 

Whitebeard just laughed loudly at that, “It was worth a try.”

 

Ace rolled his eyes, he decided to ignore the comment and the odd feeling that bloomed in his chest at the fond look that appeared in Whitebeard's eyes. Ace asked more on Whitebeard’s plans which somehow evolved into Ace asking more and more questions about Whitebeard’s pack. Ace even answered a few of Whitebeard’s own questions about himself.

 

It was surprisingly easy for Ace to talk to Whitebeard once he started he almost didn’t want to stop but before he knew it his drink was cold and the conversation had turned from strictly business into something much friendlier. They had been talking about TV shows for the past twenty minutes when Whitebeard’s phone rang.

 

“Ah, excuse me, I should take this,” Whitebeard said, answering his phone after Ace gave him a nod. He got up and took a step outside for a couple of minutes while Ace waited. They had definitely talked a lot longer than Ace had anticipated.

 

When Whitebeard came back to their table he had a look on his face that was a cross between amused, affectionate, and annoyed.

 

“Is everything alright?” Ace asked.

 

“Everything is quiet fine,” Whitebeard laughed, “I’m not sure what happened but some of my pack decided to cause a little trouble and I should probably head home before they do too much damage. I’m sorry for ending this meeting so abruptly.”

 

Ace waved him off, “It’s fine, I should head home too…” Then he added, “If it’s not too much trouble though, if you hear anything more on Teach, I’d like to hear about it.”

 

“Of course,” Whitebeard said, “I’ll let you know any updates.”

 

“Thank you,” Ace said before getting up and extending his hand, “Till we talk again?”

 

Whitebeard smiled and took his hand, “until we talk again. Stay safe, child.”

 

With that they parted ways, Whitebeard headed back to his territory and Ace to his.

 

Ace wondered how he got so comfortable with someone he was so sure was trying to hurt him just days ago but here he was, leaving a meeting with the most powerful werewolf in the world, feeling like he had just had a friendly lunch with a close friend. It was weird to say the least and Ace didn’t want to admit to himself how much he liked it.

 


 

Whitebeard kept in contact with Ace almost daily until the full moon started to approach. They discussed what they were going to do and after a few days of thought, Ace met him again at that same cafe to tell him that he would be alright with them being in his territory to ward off Teach so long as they stayed away from him and his home. Whitebeard agreed to those terms quickly, while he would be a little more comfortable if Ace would allow one of them to stick somewhat close to him, he knew that would probably be too much for Ace to handle. Hopefully it would be enough just being there to keep Teach away.

 

In the days leading up to the full moon, Whitebeard prepared his pack and made sure they knew what the plan was. It would be him and several of his children patrol the borders of Ace’s territory during the moon, Whitebeard would check in on Ace once during the night and again in the morning without his pack and then they would leave him be unless Ace said otherwise. 

 

Or at least that was their plan.

 

On the day of the full moon, Whitebeard had just met back up with his pack after checking in on Ace one last time before night fell. His children were all gathered in a small clearing while waiting for sunset.

 

Marco looked up from his phone to acknowledge him with a nod before he put his phone away. “Everything is ready back home, Pops. How’s the kid?”

 

“He’s fine, he knows who’s here and he knows where to find us if he needs anything.” Whitebeard said, looking up at the sky. They didn’t have much more time till the moon was up and Whitebeard couldn’t help but feel something was wrong. He wanted to secure the area as soon as possible to calm his nerves. “I want you to take Fossa and Kingdew to do a perimeter check and make sure Teach and his pack aren’t snooping around.”

 

Marco opened his mouth to speak when the wind shifted, carrying an unfamiliar scent into the clearing and everyone froze. The Whitebeard’s turned towards the scent just to see a group of wolves come through the trees. The one leading the group shifted into a human form as they got closer.

 

“Would it really be so bad if we were snooping around, Newgate?” The wolf asked.

 

“Laffitte,” Whitebeard couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice and from the low growls around him, his children felt similar, “What are you doing in our territory? And where is your leader?”

 

“Now, now,” Laffitte said, looking all too cocky for Whitebeard’s liking, “We aren’t here to cause you trouble. We aren’t even interested in your territory.”

 

“Heh, do you take me for a fool, brat?” Whitebeard was quickly losing his patience, “I’ll ask again, where is Teach?”

 

“I’m not lying,” Laffitte said, “Teach isn’t interested in fighting you for this territory.”

 

The sun just started to disappear behind the trees and in the dying light Whitebeard saw Laffitte’s grin turn lethal as the quiet of the forest was broken by howling in the distance.

 

“After all, it's not you he has to fight for it.”