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Ace of Spades

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Hello everyone, this is only an AN, the first chapter of the story is the next chapter. This AN is here to explain some stuff and warnings

This chapter 1 AN will be updated when I get questions and need to clarify some stuff that wont spoil the story

I do Not own One Piece

There will be violence, lots of violence, hence the rating.


It also contains sex and Male/Male relationships.  (read the AN at the start of each chapter to know when a sex scene is and how to skip if you don't want to read it.)

Yes, Ace is still the son of Gol D Roger

Luffy and Sabo grew up with Ace

Sabo is alive, and both Luffy and Ace know this, I will explain this later

Ace and Shanks know each other pretty well

Luffy, Sabo and Shanks know about Ace being an assassin

Ace never ate the Mera Mera no mi, he ate an another fruit

Yes, Ace will handle the Teach incident

Yes, the Whitebeards is still known as the strongest crew in the world. This is because they are pirates, not an assassin like Ace

Why Ace is an assassin and not a pirate, will be explained

Ace is feared, not only by the government, but by other pirates to, thus explaining the ooc-ness of the Whitebeards in the first chapter.

This story will focus mostly around ace and the Whitebeards, how they will be connected will come later.

I will have references to other animes, literature and games, nothing big, but I have taken a lot of inspiration from different animes, literature (such as books, works or phrases) and games, if its important or a big thing i have taken, I will mention this at the end of the chapter, how often this is, i do not know

If you wounder about something else, feel free to ask

Chapter Text

The Moby Dick was quiet, more quiet than usual. The only sounds that could be heard where the regular sounds of the ocean and seagulls than flew above the boat. The upper deck, where the Captains chair was placed where almost empty. The only ones on the deck where Whitebeard and the commanders, they had sent the others away, told them to stay beneath the deck until they got the answer.

The atmosphere was tense. Everyone, aside from the first commander, Marco and Whitebeard, where fiddling with something. Some twiddling thumbs, playing with their shirt or their weapons. Even though the Captain and first commander sat and stood still, they still added to the tense atmosphere. They were tense, the Captain and first commander looking out at the sea, waiting for a sign that their request had been heard. And most important of all, accepted.

Red haired Shanks had been the one to tell them what to do. That they needed write a note of what they wanted and who they were, but not explain it. Just a simple ¨I need information about this or him, or I want you to kill/assassinate or sabotage something or someone¨, nothing more. And then they would need to tie this note to a raven or crow, and tell the bird to deliver the message to him, how it worked Whitebeard didn't know, and Shanks refused to tell if he knew how.

And the next day the answer would come in the form of his messenger, a bird had Shanks said. And they would know what bird when it arrived. And even if he accepted, he could still decline if they did something wrong when he himself showed up. And when he showed up, they were to have a file ready, a file with details about what they wanted him to do. And at the bottom, the reward would be listed. And the reward needed to be right, he could very well just hand the folder back and leave if he was unhappy with it.

Then as they waited, a sound could be heard. It was different from the other sounds of the ocean, it stood completely out, and only intensified the tense atmosphere on the Moby dick, as everyone froze for a moment before looking up in the sky. A complete black raven flew towards them, the size bigger than most, it let out an another cawing sound causing many of the commanders to swallow, this was what they had been waiting for.

The raven landed on a ledge, not too far away from the captain’s chair. It looked at the Captain and let out an another cawing sound and moved its wing a bit, something red could be seen behind the wing, most likely an envelope. Marco was the first one to move, he was the one that was going to get the envelope, they had talked about it, about who should get the note when the messenger arrived. Marco had been chosen since he was the best choice at the moment, mostly because of Whitebeards size, they didn't know if he was able to get the envelope with his big hands.

As Marco was nearing the raven, he notices something and hesitates. He shoots a look towards his Captain and adoptive father, seeing if he had seen it to. The way he looked back at Marco and the bird with worry, signalized that he had noticed it to. The raven’s beak and claws had something that resembled a type of armor, and there was no doubt what material it was; seastone. Which meant that not even Marcos power could help him if the raven decided to attack him.

Marco took a deep breath and walked up to the bird. When he was an arm’s length away from the bird, it moved. The raven lifted its wing, showing the envelope that was tied to its side. Marco moved his hand with caution toward the envelope, the bird made no movement as he untied the envelope. As the envelope was removed and Marco retracted his arm, the raven lowered its wing back to its side, before it flew up to the mast and stared at the captain, waiting.

Marco moved back to Whitebeards side, and handed him the envelope. Whitebeard looked at the envelope: it was deep red, almost like blood. It had a wax seal with the imprint of a spade. He carefully opened the envelope, ripping the seal. Inside was a single note. Whitebeard took the note out, and opened it. On the note there was only a few words written, written with red ink on a white paper.

I Accept.

I will arrive tomorrow at noon, be ready.

Whitebeard read the note one more time, just to be sure he had read correctly, even though there was absolutely no way the note could be fake or deceiving. On the bottom of the note, there where a single mark that proudly stood out and gave Whitebeard the complete certainty that the note was legitimate. It was a spade, not just a plain spade mark, it had a design. It was simple and elegant with a skull in the middle, smoke oozing from the mark. (1)

There was no denying it, the mark was exactly the same being left behind, either branded into a victim, card left behind to show that he had been there to either sabotage or gather information. The mark of the greatest, most dangerous and deadliest assassin to this day, had answered their call and was coming; the Ace of Spades.

As Whitebeard lowered the note, having checked it out and was giving it to Marco, the raven made its move. It gave a cawing sound, before it flew off, clearly waiting to be sure they read the note. As Marco looked the note over, Whitebeard sat quietly waiting. He knew his sons where getting impatient and more nervous by the minute. When Marco finished reading, clearly checking the mark just as Whitebeard had, Thatch broke the silence, ¨Well, what did he say?¨. Marco looked up at Whitebeard, getting a nod from him, then at the other commanders, ¨He accepted, yoi. He will be here tomorrow at noon¨.

And they only hoped they would not mess this up.

Chapter Text

They were ready, or as ready as they could get. After the shock and happiness by not only getting an answer, but getting their request accepted was shocking for most of them. They had heard rumors he only accepted if there were a reason behind the request, he often showed up and looked though the file, handed it back and left. Not only this, but they had never had any contact with the Ace of Spades. It was even up until 6 months ago that they still believed he was just a myth, a story people told to scare each other. But what they had seen that day, had been anything other than just a myth.

~6 months ago ~

The Moby Dick had docked at one of the more hidden island in the New World, it wasn't a well populated island, but it had many strong inhabitants. After they had docked and Thatch had taken a few of his division to check the island out, to talk to some of the inhabitants to see if it was a place where they could restock and take a break from their duties. Go to a bar, have a party and just have fun. When they got back to the ship, they had news, good and bad. They could restock, the few they had talked to had been nice. But they talked about a man who always terrorize them and made their life's miserable.

The man went by the name Samuel. An admiral who had been forced to retire by the Marines, he was apparently way too violent and vicious, even for their standards. Going as far to kill, sell and rape children, doing experiments on babies and pregnant woman, experiment that went beyond inhuman. He was injecting bleach into the womb of pregnant women, to see how much it would take for the fetus to die. And everything he did he kept on a record, a detailed record. When he was found out, he was forced to retire, and had apparently fled here.

When Thatch had told his father what he had found out, Whitebeard instantly ordered a meeting. He had heard about Samuel and he had wanted to stop him from doing anything more, Samuel was less than human in his eyes. And it was decided that Marco and Izou would take 20 of their best men from their divisions, try to get inside his mansion and bring him to their ship. If not, they should try and threaten him to leave the villagers alone, telling him that the island was now officially under Whitebeards protection.

Four hours later they returned, no Samuel in tow, looking a bit worse for wear. The news they brought made Whitebeard indignant. Even with Marco and his 10 best fighters and tacticians and Izou and his 10 best lock pickers and thieves, they had seen no way inside without starting a fight. A fight that they could not afford right now. Whitebeard knew his sons, if the best of the thieves and tacticians had seen no way inside, it was practicality impenetrable. He needed to come up with a plan, and he needed to do it fast. If they didn't leave this island by the next 2 days, they would never reach their destination by time.

After having talked with his sons, Whitebeard had come up with a plan for the time being. Izou, Thatch, Marco, Vista and Jozu would each take 10-12 men and observe the mansion for a way inside, or if Samuel went out, so they could take action. There was no way Whitebeard would leave this island without taking Samuel of his high chair, he was a detestable being, not even human. Everyone who had heard about Samuel and his sick experiments, wanted nothing to do with him. But so many where utterly terrified of him and did not dare do anything. That had to change.

Everyone was in place, the commanders having their own platoon that they had divided around the mansion and island. Each commander also had a Den Den Mushi to keep in contact with each other, and their captain. They had asked around the island and had acquired a detailed map of the island. With the map, it was easier to manage and arrange post to each platoon and individuals.

Izou was in charge of the snipers and outlooks, him having more experience with long distance combat and tactics. He was also joined by Vista, who stood by for backup if something should go wrong. Marco and Thatch was places in front of the mansion, the mansion only having one exit: the front. They had hidden themselves in between the trees, waiting for orders from Izou or Jozu, who had been placed a bit of the side of the mansion. Watching for any kinds of passageway. though both the map and villagers had said there were none, the wall surrounding the mansion was impenetrable. But they had to be certain.

No one was going to get in or out without being seen. Or so they thought.

They had held their position for 3 hours when Marcos Den Den rang, he looked over to Thatch, who looked right back at him, both having the same thought; maybe it was time to move. He answered, ¨Marco It was Izou, he was just about to ask what he wanted, when he cut him off. ¨There are villagers coming towards you, they don't look armed, but be on alert.¨ Marco looked at Thatch, ¨Do you know what they want Izou?¨ Asked Thatch, why would the villagers come now? ¨No, but I can't be sure whether they are headed to you or the mansion, keep your guard up.¨ Izou then hang up.

Marco and Thatch looked at each other, Marco signalized for the others to stand ready, not to attack, but to be wary. Thatch unsheathed his swords. He didn't hold them in a battle stance, but he held them at his sides, at the ready if danger was sighted. Marco made his way towards the clearing, intending to be the one they met, seeing as Marco is the one without any weapons on him, his Devil fruit let him battle without it. Hoping that meeting a weaponless person was better than someone with a weapon, less threatening.

Then the villagers came into sight. Izou had been right, none of them had any weapons, they just walked calmly. When they reached Marco, they didn't look at him, they just walked a bit past him and stopped, never taking their eyes of the mansion. Marco looked back at Thatch, who only shrugged his shoulders, clearly having no idea as too why they were here. Marco looked back at them, opening his mouth to ask what they were doing here, ¨Wha .-¨ He was cut off by a villager, ¨ Thank you

Marco stared at them perplexed. W hy had they said thank you? Where they thanking them? What di-. A thud from behind him had him turning around, back towards Thatch, who had lost one of his sword, clearly the source of the thud, eyes open in shock, staring at the mansion. Marco looked behind Thatch, too see many of the others also having a look of utter shock and astonish, everyone was looking towards the mansion. Marco turned his head towards the mansion, what could get all of them so sho-. Marco froze, eyes widening as all air left his lungs.

He was there.

On the wall of the mansion, on top of one of the gargoyles, he sat crouched, eyes piercing and seemingly glowing as he looked at them. His cape like jacked, blowing in the soft wind, the color obsidian black with deep red markings, the end of it had been torn. Possibly from fighting and being used for a long time, making it looked like black fire in the wind. The top of the cape was like a scarf, it was hanging around his neck, secured by two buckles, it moved over his shoulder as a hood. A formfitting deep red shirt could be seen, moving down to the middle of his upper arm.

He had a mask on, which covered half of his face. From his neck to his nose, obsidian black with a deep red line at the top. The blackness matched his hair, deep black and blowing in the wind. On his arms there where gauntlets. They started at his elbow and went all the way to his hands, the design reminded of dragon scales. The ‘scales’ where big, consistent of scale like form, possibly connected to the glow they could see at the end of the gauntlet, where his finger poked though. The scales forming something akin to a blade where his left hand was bent.

Underneath the cape, there were a formfitting, deep red bodysuit. At his knees his boots started, they were obsidian black, and had two holster at each leg, both holding a dagger. The buckles that went up the boots was deep red, like the suit. Around his waist there where a belt of some sort, it held holster to a gun and dagger at it sides, it also had a few pouches. In the middle of the belt was the buckle, the buckle was his mark; the mark to Ace of Spades.

The sight was truly magnificent and horrifying at the same time.

He's real. Was the only thought going through Marcos head, The Ace of Spades existed, it wasn't just a myth or legend, it-, he was real. And Marco felt, for the first time in a long time, he felt fear. All the legends and myths, the most feared and notorious assassin of all time was real. And he was standing right in front of him. The shock and fear of finding out the rumors, the rumors they had thought to be just that, where true, paralyses Marco for a few seconds. And before he could utter a single word, move a single muscle. A strong gust of wind blew through the forest, making Marco shielding his eyes. When he opened them, he was gone.

Maybe, Thought Marco, Maybe I only imagined it. But when he looked over the others he knew it was real . Everyone was still in a state of shock and fear. There was no way he could have imagined it. Thatch the moved his head to look at Marco, eyes still wide. He opened his mouth to say something, to ask if he saw him to. Not one syllable had made it out of his mouth when everything went crazy. A scream tore them back to the mansion, people running out of it, running away. Marco saw Jozu coming towards them. Marco signalized for him to stay there, while he and Thatch went inside the mansion.

As Thatch and Marco made in inside the mansion, there were only chaos. People running and screaming, trying to get out of the mansion. In the gigantic room, ballroom maybe, there was something in the middle of the room, underneath the gallery; a body. Not just any body, but the body of Samuel. His body badly mutilated. Each of his finger joints had a nail though it, his left eye missing completely and replaced by a marine medal. His mouth having been cut open in an eternal smile, his tongue completely gone. But what stood out the most was his chest. There on the middle of his chest, the mark was. It was branded into his skin, black smoke oozing from it, just as the myth had said.

¨ He was suddenly here.¨ Marco and Thatch turned their focus to a man sitting on the floor, seemingly petrified. ¨There where people everywhere and suddenly a girl screamed. And he suddenly laid there, gurgling, before he suddenly stopped. No one saw anything, how could no one see anything ?¨ Marco and Thatch looked at each other. The Ace of Spades had broken into an impenetrable mansion, killed the owner after mutilating his body, and no one had seen or heard anything until he was gone? He truly had earned the name of the greatest assassin of all time.

When they arrived back on the Moby, Whitebeard was worried. He had heard the screams from the mansion and he almost went there. But was stopped by a call from Izou, telling him that they were fine, and that they were heading back soon. When they told Whitebeard what had happened, he could not believe his own ears. The myths where true. And not only that, his sons had seen his work. He had managed to sneak in the mansion, without anyone, the people in the mansion and Izou’s platoon, noticing anything. And then gotten out, showed himself to the villagers and his sons, Izou had nearly fainted when he saw him he was told. And left before anyone noticed that he had dumped the mutilated body in the middle of the ballroom?

He truly was the best. And that terrified them.

~ Back to present time ~

There were even fewer on the deck than the day before. Whitebeard had decided that only commanders would be allowed to be on the deck. He didn't think that The Ace of Spades would attack any of his children. He had heard from many that he was an honorable man, no matter what the rumors may say. He would never attack without a reason or warning if he showed up for a meeting. But if they were to do anything disrespectful or anything to make him mad, they would lose their one chance of contact with him. And in the worst case scenario, he would attack.

They could not afford that either. Yes, he trusted all of his children. But right now, he could not afford one of them make an accident. Many where not used to someone as powerful as him. Only the name sent shivers down many of their spines.

The ones up aside from Whitebeard was Marco, who was standing next to his father’s chair, looking bored. But his shoulders where a bit tense, just like his father’s where, showing their nervousness. Jozu, who was leaning on the railing and trying to look like he wasn't anxious about the meeting. Haruta sat on the railing next to Jozu, dangling her feet, her face clearly showing nervousness. Namur and Rakuyo sat a bit of the side, close to the railing, playing a game of cards, trying to look as little nervous they could.

Thatch, who stood on the opposite side of Marco by his father’s chair, held a folder in his hand, looking at it. The others were either doing something to occupied themselves or where on a mission, like Teach and Vista. One of their island needed help, and they had been the best choice. Whitebeard had told not long ago, that if they wanted to either come up to deck, or go under it, it would have to be now. He didn't want any of his sons moving around the deck, and accidentally making a wrong move that may cause a misunderstanding between them and the assassin.

The folder Thatch held, was the same folder that was meant for The Ace of Spades. It consisted of 3 pages. The front which held a summary of the work they wanted to be done, the second page was a detailed description of the request, and the third held the reward he would get. They remembered clearly what Shanks had said, the reward needed to be right. But they didn't know what was right. So the moment they had gotten the acceptance for the meeting, they had held a meeting and counted their funds, seeing how much they could afford.

For them, this request was a big one, and therefor required a generous amount. They had come up with 20, 000, 000. They had 5, 000 000 extra if it was needed. They only hoped it would suffice. If it didn't, they didn't know what to do.

It was almost noon now, only a few minutes’ left. Thatch did still hold the folder. But the moment they saw sign of the assassin, he would hand the folder back to Whitebeard or Marco. He did not want to be the one delivering the folder. He would not admit it out loud, but the rumors, myths and what he himself had seen that day, terrified him.

As they were looking out at the ocean, waiting for any signs of a boat of some kind, something that signaled the arrival of the assassin, a sound startled everyone above deck. Every occupant of the deck instantly shot their gaze towards the side, towards the main mast rope that was bound to the railing, towards the cawing sound. And there, sitting on the rigging at the rail, was the raven. Was this the sign he was close by? Thatch was about to hand the file back, when an another noise startled them. The noise of a pair of feet touching the deck. A sound like someone just walked off a small ledge, right in front of the captain’s chair.

And just like the last time, he was suddenly there.

There was no sign that he was close by, other than the raven. No boat had been seen, no sound could be heard, there was absolutely not anything that had signalized he was close by until he was standing on the deck, only 10 feet from the captain. Black smoke coming from his back, Devil Fruit maybe?

He wore the same outfit as the time they had seen him. The same cape that hung around his neck and down his back. The same formfitting deep red suit, which they could now see wasn't a suit, but a shirt and pants, seeing as the pants where a shade darker. Some black markings could be seen moving about the pants and shirt, fitting perfect with the rest of him.

On his back they could see a sword sheath, its handle red, the sheath black. A gun was at his waist. Connected to the belt, as where a dagger, both deep red with black markings. His gauntlets making him look more intimidating, the scale like design promising strength. His mask covering half of his face. And the belt buckle, his mark. Completely black, with the outline of the design being a color between light red and silver.

But his eyes.

It was the first time they could see them clearly. They were completely obsidian black, just like his hair and most of his outfit. But even though they were black, they could see that they held so much power, talent, and a tremendously amount of authority. He held himself with grace and dignity. Head raised, shoulders pulled backwards, arms at his sides, back straight and feet a bit parted, standing tall and eyes looking straight at Whitebeard. He looked to be a bit young, but not too young. Maybe his late twenties or early thirties. But he could be mistaken. The way he held himself, and the fact they could only see a bit of his arm, fingers and top of the head, could give of a wrongful age.

Everyone had frozen when they saw him. Whitebeard was a bit shocked at how he just stood there, calm and collected. Most people when standing in front of him, usually either cowered out of nervousness and anxiousness, or show as much as their power as they could. Either by Haki, or standing at the ready to fight. But him, The Ace of Spades, did no such thing. He just stood there like he was meeting an acquaintance, standing without any form for resignation, fear or overpowering, just like he was meeting with someone he considered equal. Even though they were nowhere near equal, Ace of Spades clearly having the upper hand, even if only half of the rumors was to go by.

¨Edward Newgate, it's a pleasure to meet you Said Ace of Spades, as he gave a small bow, giving him his respect. His voice held no anger, no spite or hostile tone to be heard. He spoke them like Whitebeard himself spoke to his colleagues, like Jimbei; with respect. As Whitebeard watched The Ace of Spades, he realized something. The assassin had honor, giving them his respect. The realization put him more at ease, knowing he would not just attack them, threaten them, or treat them with disrespect.

He would treat them as equals.

As his back and arm fell back into place, the same stance he stood when arrived. His brow and eyes frowned a bit, seemingly displeased with something. A quick glance towards the right made Whitebeard nervous, was there something wrong? Whitebeard looked over himself, towards the stairs that led to the navigation room, not seeing or sensing anything out of place, only a few of his sons and daughters being inside the navigation room. He knew they could not hear them, the navigation room was almost soundproof. When his gaze returned to the man in front of him, his eyes where once again looking at him, the frown gone.

¨It's a pleasure to meet you too, Ace of Spades Said Whitebeard, nodding his head a bit, paying his respect back. He was not going to be disrespectful, especially since the man spoke to him in a matter of equal and respect. Then, The Ace of Spades shifted his gaze towards Thatch and held out his arm, seeming like he was waiting for some-. Whitebeards eyes widened as he looked down at his side, Thatch still held the folder.

Thatch had completely frozen on the spot when the gaze was on him. His breath left him when the arm was held out. H e could not move. He was terrified . He could feel the worrying gaze of both his father and brothers on him. He had to move, to do something, anything. He used all of his power to raise his arm a bit, to hold the folder out. Now he only needed his feet to move, why would they not move? And then, the folder was gone from his grasp. A sound of shock leaving his mouth as he realized what had happened, the raven having flown and taken the folder out of his hand. The raven landed on his master shoulder, handing him the file, getting a pet on the neck before he flew back to his spot.

¨I apologize if my raven scared you, that was not my intent His voice still held no anger, no malice, same with his gaze which still was on Thatch. A slight nod of his head showed his apologize to the Fourth commander. He had not changed his demeanor. And for that Whitebeard gave a relieved breath. Thatch still could not speak, but he did nod his head back. He looked up at his father and he looked back with a smile of relief and comfort, he knew Thatch feared this man. Thatch looked at the Ace of Spades, who had averted his gaze towards the now open, folder. Thatch swallowed and took a step towards his father.

Ace of Spades looked at the folder, scanning the first side, before lifting it and assessing the next one. Eyes frowning a bit, without looking up from the folder he was holding, he began to talk, ¨You want me to get information from the Marines. To find out where they are keeping,¨ His eyes scanning the page, ¨ 12 of your crew-members, who have been abducted last month? ¨ His gaze lifted so he could look at Whitebeard in the eyes, waiting for a confirmation. Whitebeard nodded his head. 12 of his sons had been abducted from their last mission. They could find no leads on them. And they were growing desperate.

Ace of Spades nodded his head a bit, as he looked through the page one more time. ¨And He continued, ¨You only want the information? You do not want anyone taken out, or for me to set them free for you?¨ Gaze once again back to Whitebeard. Whitebeard held his gaze the best he could. Did he want that? He closed his eyes for a moment, thinking. ¨No He opened his eyes again, gaze locking onto the Ace of Spades, ¨I thank you for the offer, but I neither want anyone dead, or for you to free them. I want the honor of that myself.¨ His gaze hardened at the assassin, ¨ However , if you do find out that they have been either tortured or killed, you are allowed to take them out.¨

The assassin held his gaze, a type of understanding shining in his eyes as he nodded his head, before he looked down at the folder again. When he raised his hand to get to the last page, Whitebeard understood. The deal is not yet made, he could just leave if he was unsatisfied. He closed his eyes for a moment, a tiny bit of fear growing in his stomach. If he declined, they may never find their sons and brothers. He opened them and looked at the assassin as he scanned the last page. The assassins eyes hardened as a frown presented itself on his face, eyes going straight to Whitebeards, voice hard, ¨ Is this some kind of joke.¨

Whitebeards stomach dropped at the words. The reward wasn't big enough, going through his head. He wanted to close his eyes, but decided not to, he was just about to open his mouth, to ask what was wrong, even though he knew. But the assassin beat him to it, ¨You want me to get information from the marines His voice was hard, not angry or spiteful, just a bit more forceful, ¨You do not want me to set them free, or take anyone out, as long as they have not touched them,¨ His gaze hardened, ¨And you are offering me 20, 000, 000?.¨ Whitebeard could not form any words, he did not know how to respond. ¨ I should,¨ He continued, voice still hard, ¨Just give the file back and leave, seeing as it is a disrespect to my honor.¨ Whitebeard closed his eyes, it was over.

¨ But,¨

Whitebeard opened his eyes in shock, the assassin still had his piercing gaze at him. His voice was now back to the normal level, as it was at the beginning, ¨Someone I care about is quite fond of you.¨ Whitebeard sat there shocked, someone he cared about? The assassin continued, ¨This assignment,¨ He moved back to the second page, ¨Will be at a price of fifty,¨ He paused for a bit, thinking. Whitebeard closed his eyes, they had nowhere near that amount, ¨Sixty thousand¨ Whitebeard opened his eyes again, completely in shock, ¨If something goes wrong, and an extra hundred for each I may need to take out.¨

Whitebeard stared at him shocked, the assassins gaze never faltering. He was serious. ¨Why ...¨ Whitebeard could not form the question, ¨Why only take 50, 000 when you offered 400 times as much Whitebeard nodded. ¨It is because I have honor He closed the folder, ¨ Taking the amount you offered would be like abandoning my honor as an assassin, accepting a reward clearly misgiving and as ridiculous as yours His gaze hardened again, ¨I may be an assassin, but I still go by a honor and a code Whitebeard understood. He was being disrespectful by offering an amount that clearly was to ridiculous, acting like he was bribing and mocking the assassin.

¨I am sorry Ace of Spades. I did not think the amount wound be disrespecting your honor Whitebeard bowed his head, giving him his apologies, ¨I guess I was a bit too worried about my sons and had not though it through. You have my deepest apologies for coming forward as disrespectful Whitebeard lifted his head back up, looking at the assassin with soft eyes, hoping he would accept his apology. The assassin assessed him for a moment, then averting his gaze towards the commanders, they had the same look as their father, regret and apology shining in their eyes. Everyone gave a slight bow to the assassin. Then the gaze was back at Whitebeard.

¨ I accept.¨

Whitebeard closed his eyes, a weight seemed to be have lifted off his chest, a breath escaping him. ¨ Thank you.¨ He breathed out. The captain could feel the assassin still looking at him. ¨I will have the information delivered to you by tomorrow, in two days should anything go wrong.¨ Whitebeard opened his eyes again, his gaze going to the assassin as he spoke, ¨I will either have the information delivered by my raven, or by someone I trust. The assignment will be in detail and the price will be at the bottom of the page,¨ His gaze hardened again, ¨Even if I do send my raven, do not try to give a false amount of money. Believe me, he will know.¨ Whitebeard did not doubt it for a second.

¨I will now take my leave He gave a bow and stood back up, ¨ A pleasure doing business with you, Newgate.¨ Newgate gave him a nod back, noticing his sons did the same. He turned to leave, Newgate hearing his sons sight, a sight of relief no doubt. They would get their brothers back. The thought made him thankful and happy inside. Everything was going to be al-.

¨ And one more thing, Newgate,¨

The assassin started, a dark glare piercing over his shoulder, straight at Whitebeard. He felt dread building up inside him. ¨If you ever decide to call for me again, and that gunman of yours, at the top of the stairs, points his guns at me, ¨ His eyes frowning even more, ¨I will use his own guns to shoot a bullet into every one of his joints, before I kill him.¨

Then he was gone, just as fast as he had showed up. Disappearing in a cloud of black smoke.

Everyone's gaze instantly went to the stairs that went up to the navigation room, where Izou reluctantly stepped out into sight. A look of fear, regret and apology in his eyes, knowing he had almost messed the meeting up and gotten the assassin angry. Whitebeard was shocked, not only that Izou had been hiding, pointing his guns at the assassin, but that he didn't feel him standing there. Whitebeard closed his eyes, he needed to talk to his sons. This was bad, and it was only a miracle that The Ace of Spades hadn’t attacked them or Izou.

Chapter Text

Ace sat crouched at the top of the tree, on a branch that stood out. Watching the Marine base, waiting. Finding out which Marines that had taken the crew-members had been easy. There had only been 2 Marine vessels that had big enough stupidity to abduct someone from the strongest man in the world. And only one of the vessels had taken off to a base, and there was no doubt in his mind that they had been the ones behind the abduction. It was most likely that they had been moved, seeing as it was only a Marine administrator base, not a prison. But the information he wanted, was going to be inside the base.

When he had showed up at the meeting, he had noticed the gunman, the Sixteenth Commander Izou, at once. The only reason he did not attack, was because he could see the Captain, Edward Newgate, did not know he was hiding atop of the stairs. But if he had made a move, he would have attacked. He did also notice the fear in the Fourth Commander Thatch’s when his gaze was at him, especially when he held out his hand. He was clearly not the one that was supposed to have the file, a small mishap.

As the matter about the payment. Had it been any other crew, he would just leave. Not accepting the mission. But, seeing the look at Newgate’s face, told him that he did not know what the usual amount was. And seeing that the brat was fond of him, adoring his mustache. He would give them a change to right the wrong, to apologize for the action they did not know was disrespectful. The moment not only he, but the other commanders had given him their atonement for their fluke, he knew Shanks was right. They were well-mannered and kind-hearted.

Beside him he could hear his raven, Dust, making a cawing sound. It was time to go. He disappeared in a cloud of smoke, reappearing atop of one of the walls. Looking for the room where the Captain had his files. Dust flew over his shoulder and landed on the top of a door to the right. The door had a bold frame, giving the raven a good place to stay. The door was either to the room he was looking for, or led the way to the room. He knew from experience, room that was the Captains or a room that held important files, usually was enclosed within the base. To keep pirates, thief’s and other unwanted individuals out.

Ace jumped down the wall. Down to a flagpole a few meters down, now at a better angle to the see the door, and the balcony it leads out to, still stay hidden. He then took out a crossbow that was secured to his back, and gave a slight signal to Dust, a nod of the head, so the plan could take form. Dust then spread his wings, and gave a shrill of a cry, before he leaned down to peck on the door. His armored beak making it sound like a hammer being used. The door was quickly opened, a marine coming out, obviously to see what the noise was. And the moment he was outside, Ace pulled the trigger on the crossbow, sending a small arrow, a dart, at the Marine. A few seconds later, he fell over, out cold on the balcony.

Ace then disappeared again, and reappeared at the railing of the balcony. He then jumped down from the railing, onto the balcony and went over to the Marine. He had promised not to kill anyone, unless it was required, and he would keep that promise. Ace leaned down and extracted the dark from the marine’s neck, before he moved the marine to a pose that would make others believe he was passed out drunk. Sleep darts made this an easy task, seeing that his belt did have a pocket bottle. And guessing from the smell, it was filled with whiskey. Ace then emptied the bottle, being sure to let some drip onto the marine, further making him seemingly passed out cold from intoxication.

Ace went over to the door, opened it just a crack before he was inside. His devil fruit really did come in handy in situations like this. When inside the hallway, he stood still, waiting for any sounds of someone moving or breathing. When he heard nothing, he moved slowly in the hallway, making no sound as he moved, his boots being the best there where in stealth.

As he moved a towards what he believed to be the right room, the hallway he was in went to into an another hallway. He then crouched down and moved close to the wall, towards the hallway, hearing some sound to the right. As he sat crouched at the end of the hallway, before the other on started, a marine walked in the hallway, not noticing the assassin. The moment he was a bit past Ace, he moved behind him and pressed on his neck. The marine instantly went down; his pressure point being hit. As the marine was out cold, Ace heard Dust making a small cawing sound behind him. He sat atop one of the doors a bit further down the hallway, the door being locked with a padlock and a regular lock. His destination no doubt.

He moved up to the door and crouched down, his hand going out to hold the padlock. He made a small hum, the padlock was designed so it could not be pick locked. As he held the lock in his right hand, he moved his left to hover over it, black smoke erupting from the keyhole as the lock opened. Ace did the same to the lock on the door, making no sound as the lock opened or when he slowly and carefully opened the door.

Inside there sat a marine in a chair, trying not to nod off, but having difficulties. He was most likely someone put there to guard the room. Ace crouched down and slowly moving inside the room, the marine not noticing his presence, or the small light from the hallway. When he got inside, he closed the door behind him. Ace slowly moved up to a crouched position beside the marine. When he was only a few feet away, he rose a bit and held out his hand, palm flat. The marine was about to react, when Ace’s hand change to a darker color, a bit of smoke rising from it, Ace then blew at the smoke, blowing it at the marine’s face. The marine’s eyes glazed over, as he went slack in his seat. Oblivious to what was going around him. Trapped in an illusion.

As the marine went slack, ace went over to the files, looking for the one on the Whitebeards. After a bit of looking, he found a folder, the size was one of the more massive ones. It was no surprise seeing the size, especially if you considered the size and reputation of said crew. Ace leaned on one of the counters, opening the folder.

Ace hummed as he looked it through. The information was extensive on most of the crew-members, notably on the commanders. It mentions how The Fourth Commander was a Nobel, abandoning his family at a young age, joining the Whitebeards at an age of 18. The Sixteenth Commander being a decent gunman, mocking and terrorizing the marines, before he joined the crew. The twelfth Commander, the youngest on the crew. But, even if she was young, she had talent. Starting fighting against the marines, protecting herself from a young age, 14 if the file was right, and joining the crew at 16. Their doctor, White Bay, being one of the best doctors in the new world. And the folder continued like that, information about everyone of Whitebeards crew.

Nothing that he didn’t know from before.

But what’s this? The First Commander, Marco the Phoenix, suddenly raising 30 years ago, no birthplace, no family or familiars mentioned. And no ageing, blaming it on his devil fruit. Ace went over to the file cabin again and found an another file, looking at it, before started grinned a bit. Seems like the marines have no idea who their dealing with. He did know they were bad at figuring certain things out, connecting the dots. But this? Even Ace was amazed at their imbecility.

But back to business. He wasn’t completely sure when the guard shift was, but it was probably soon, seeing as the clock was almost at midnight. He did have another 10 minutes, more than enough. Ace went back to the first folder, looking through it. And after a bit of searching, he didn’t find the information he wanted. The information he wanted, was not going to be inside this file or room. But it would be inside an another folder, that was located inside the captain’s room. After a bit of thinking, he took the files he had looked at, and put a card in the first, now empty folder, his mark. And promptly burned the second folder he had found, storing the first one in his pouch.

Ace then went out in the hallway, closing the door, being sure the locks were locked again. Before he left, he did release the guard from the illusion, making him think he only fell asleep. After he was sure the door was locked completely, erasing any kind of trace that he had been there. The only way they would know he had been there, was if they looked in the file and found his mark. And by then, he would be long gone.

Ace made his way out to the balcony and made his way on top of the railing. A cawing sound from under him, a bit to the right caught his attention. Dust sat atop of a door. The door was a slightly different from the other ones, this one having a golden frame around the window. The Captain’s room no doubt. Ace scouted the grounds and could see no one. Eyes closing slightly, a small frown making itself known, it was a bit weird. It was a marine base after all, shouldn’t there be more guards and marines walking about?

He would investigate where everyone was later. First, he was going to find the folder.

Ace made his way down to the grounds, barely making any noise as he landed. He made his way over to the door, standing beside it, signalizing Dust to check the window. A flap of the wing, signalized that there where someone inside, the captain most likely. Ace looked at the door, the keyhole to be more exact. It was a keyhole that required one of the older kinds of keys, making the keyhole relatively big. Especially if you compared it to some of the new ones, making for a perfect way inside without alerting the captain.

Ace held his hand out again, palm flat. Black smoke rising from it, crouching in front of the door and blowing the smoke through the keyhole. He waited a few seconds, to be sure the smoke had gotten to the captain. When he was sure the smoke had made it to the captain, he opened the door and made his way inside. Inside the room, there where various cabinets, most likely containing files and folders. A bookshelf that had different books inside of it. And placed close to wall, was a desk placed, the front of the desk pointing towards the door. And behind the desk sat the captain, writing at a parchment. Oblivious to Aces presence, the illusion making Ace basically invisible.

Ace made his way over to one of the cabinets, opening them and looking for the folder from last month, when the crew-members had been abducted. It was easy to navigate, seeing as the folders where labeled by date. Ace looked them over, none of them had the information he wanted. He closed the cabinet and made his way over to the captain’s desk, there being a lot of files lying about. He was not worried about the captain noticing him. The only way the illusion could be broken, was either by touch, someone saying his name, or Ace himself removing it. Any other sound or movement, would just seem like a small creak to the captain.

Ace took a quick glance at the files at the desk, seeing if anything looked like it might be what he was looking after. As he looked them over, a file at the top right had a name that was familiar; Whitebeard. Ace reached for the file, it was the only file on the desk that looked promising. He leaned on the desk as he looked it through.

And it was the right file.

Everything was standing there. How the marine had seen the Whitebeard pirates and had attacked to detain them. How the pirates had not really fought back, most likely because they were seriously outnumbered and one of them was already injured. How they had been taken well cared off, seeing as they were a part of the Whitebeards crew. The marines were terrified of Newgate coming after them. Guess I won’t need to take anyone out then. It also said where they had been taken, to an offside Island in the New World. Ace was not surprised that Newgate was stuck and had found no information. This island was really well hidden. He had the information he wanted, but he was still curious as of why there were more files. Maybe it said anything about why there were so few marines walking about the base.

Oh, what’s this? He looked at the information he was seeing, eyes frowning, before they furrowed in anger. Seems like I’m going to make a small detour. Ace then took the file, left his mark behind one of the files, and left. As the door closed, the illusion on the captain faded. Continuing on his task, knowing nothing of what just transpired.

As Ace got outside, he instantly disappeared, before reappearing on top of the wall. As he sat crouched, he looked around. Looking for a window or door, either with bars or locks, something that would signalize that it was a dungeon. A small window stood out, it was close to the grounds and did have bars on it. Ace looked at it, ¨Dust.¨ The raven instantly flew down to the window, looking inside. A cawing sound could be heard from the bird. There’s no one inside. That could only mean they were somewhere else. Ace looked around a bit more.

There. A window, a lunette window, high upon the wall, maybe leading to a stateroom. There was obviously something going inside there, if all the light was something to judge from. Especially seeing the other rooms where barely lit.

The lunette window did have a ledge, something that was perfect for the assassin. Ace moved the moment he could hear a sound, a small scream, from the room. Crouching on the ledge, looking inside the window. The room was filled with marines, everyone seemed to be cheering and watching something at the end of the room. Ace moved a bit, so he could see the rest of the room, to what the marines was looking at.

And there they were.

Children They were being pushed around by marines, yelling at them to do moves; jump, twirl, sit, sing and other things the he told them to do. Like they were animals, only to entertain the marines in the room, who was cheering, yelling and drinking.

Ace could see 3 children, being ordered around by a marine. They were standing on a stage, chained by their left leg to the stage, having a bit room to the moves, making all the marines see them. The kids looked to be around 12-14 years old, dressed in pink dresses, with their hair in pigtails with a bow on top, giving them the appearance of childlike burlesques. It was sickening.

In front of the stage, on the floor. He could see two more children, who were also dressed up as the other ones. But they were chained to the stage, by a collar around their neck. The chain between the collar and the stage was not long, forcing the kids to sit on the floor. Being mocked by the marines and drowsed in alcohol as the marines screamed and spilled their drinks at them. They were chained bit of distance from each other, clearly terrified. They looked younger than the ones on stage, maybe 10-11 years old.

Ace could now also see an another girl, same outfit only blue, walking in between the marines, filling up their cups. She looked to be around 17 years old. She hastily moved about, not wanting to stand by the marines for too long, as their hands was groping her.

Ace got out his dagger and carefully stuck it between the window and the frame. Moving it a bit up and down until he heard a click, and opened the window. The air inside was heavy, filled with the smell of booze. Ace could hear shouting, laughing and commands from the marines. Ace held his hand up to his mouth and blew into it, blowing black smoke into it. After he had produced what he believed to be enough, he moved his hand away and blew the smoke into the room.

And everyone, aside from the children, the girl and the marine on stage, froze. Just standing there, arms at their sides, staring at the marine on the stage. Complete silence.

The girl in the crowd, froze for a few seconds. Terrified of what was happening, why everyone suddenly froze, before she started to move backwards, still frightened. The marine on stage, clearly not understanding why everyone had stopped, got angry, face going red. ¨ What’s the matter? Want more entertainment?¨ He moved closer to the children, who also had stopped moving, and started to raise his hand. He stood behind the children, ready to strike, when foosh, an arrow went through his neck, protruding the marine’s neck as he gurgled, before falling down, dead.

The girl in the crowd was just about to scream, when Ace put his hand over her mouth. ¨Don't worry,¨ He started, getting the attention of the girl. ¨I'm here to help.¨ The girl nodded and Ace let go of her. ¨What’s your name?¨ The girl stared at him, fear shining in her eyes. ¨E-Elizabeth.¨ Ace nodded. ¨Elizabeth,¨ Ace moved to one of the guards at the side, extracting a key-chain from his belt, throwing it to Elizabeth. ¨I want you to go to the stage, and release the children.¨ Elizabeth nodded, and started going towards the stage.

The children on stage, had not turned around when the marine fell, too afraid of being hit or kicked. When they saw him, they had just stared. He could hear Elizabeth telling them to look at her, to just be calm and that they were going to get out of here as she moved towards them. Ace moved towards the girl chained to the stage, the one on the right. She had blond hair and big blue eyes, filled with fear at him approaching her. He crouched down in front of her.

¨ Sumiko?¨

The child looked at him, and nodded. ¨Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you.¨ Ace then leaned over, unlocking the collar, making it fall to the ground. Sumiko looked at it, transfixed at it. ¨Sumiko,¨ Started Ace, getting her attention, ¨If you want, you can go with Elizabeth,¨ He pointed towards the girl, now making her way towards the other chained girl, the ones on stage following behind her. ¨And she will bring you and the others to a safe island.¨ Sumiko looked at Elizabeth, ¨Or,¨ Continued Ace, getting her attention again ¨You can come with me, and I will bring you to your brother.¨ ¨Nii-san?¨ Asked Sumiko and Ace nodded. She held out her hand towards him and Ace helped her stand.

¨Can you walk?¨ Asked Ace, seeing the girl having a bit of trouble getting up to her feet. She nodded, even though her legs seemed a bit shaky. Probably from sitting too long. When she was standing, she was still a bit small, her height being maybe a bit over 40 inches. Ace then pointed towards Elizabeth, as she stood by the door with the 4 kids. ¨Go wait beside Elizabeth, I need to do something before we go.¨ The girl nodded, and made her way over to Elizabeth.

Ace then made his way up to the stage, over to the marine’s dead body. Blood had pooled abound his head. He deserved nothing else, Ace just wished he could have played a bit with him. He crouched down next to him, opening his shirt and holding his hand over his chest. His mark branding itself into his skin, displaying who had freed the girls. Ace then rose, and made his way over to the girls by the door.

As he made his way over to the others. He could see that the children who had been on the stage, had bruising on their ankles and a bit on their arms. The two girls, who had been chained to the stage, had bruising around their throats and arms. Elizabeth had a bit of bruising on her chest, arms and legs. All of them, especially the kids, looked a bit shaky. Other than that, they seemed to look fine.

When Ace was beside them, he saw that Elizabeth was looking at the marines that just stood there, still staring at the stage. ¨Don't worry,¨ He started, as he brought his dagger out. ¨They won't come out of their trance until we are far away from here.¨ Ace then cut the ribbons in the children’s hair, making the hair fall down, and removing the bow. He offered the dagger to Elizabeth, who did the same, before handing it back to Ace. They looked better without the horrid pigtails in their hair, more like real children and less like burlesques. The dresses, they would do for now.

As they moved out of the room, Sumiko raised her hand to hold onto Aces, still being afraid of what might happen. When they got outside, they walked over to the entrance in the wall. Before they opened it to walk though, Ace looked up at Dust, who cawed, telling them that the cost was clear. They went out of the base and closed the door behind them, hoping to never return again. And they walked towards the shore, where Ace had seen a boat earlier.

When they arrived to the shore, Ace helped Elizabeth get the boat in the water and the children inside it. Elizabeth did cast a glance full of worry towards Sumiko, but Ace assured her that she was safe with him, that he was going to be bring her somewhere safe. He pointed out in the ocean, to a barely visible island. ¨Go to that island over there,¨ He then reached down in his pocked, grabbing a emblem that had the Whitebeards mark on it, knowing the island was under their protection. And handed it to Elizabeth, ¨When you get there, show this to the villagers, they will help you.¨ She thanked him and then they left, waving to them, Sumiko waving back.

When they were out of their sight, Ace turned to Sumiko, holding out his hand. ¨I'm going to use my powers to get us somewhere safe, it may feel strange and scary, but nothing will happen to you.¨ Sumiko looked up at him, a bit of fear shining in her eyes, but she still nodded and took his hand. And they disappeared in black smoke.

The moment they were gone, alarms started echoing and ringing at the base.

-x-

Ace landed on the deck of the Moby Dick the next day. Sumiko hiding behind him and under his cape, scared of who they might meet on the gigantic boat. Deciding to hide until her brother was there, knowing Ace would not hurt her. Ace was safe.

As soon his feet touched the deck, he could instantly feel the shock and fear of the pirates on the deck, clearly not expecting he himself shoving up. He had told them that either Dust or someone he trusted would show up. But he was here for more than just the mission. He scanned the crowd, seeing several more than just the few commanders that had been above the deck the day before. He could feel the piercing look from the captain, clearly being concerned and wondering what he was doing here, but not voicing his concern. Ace’s eyes stopped, finding the one he was looking after.

¨Seventh commander Rakuyo.¨ Said Ace, looking him straight in the eyes.

The reaction was instant. Rakuyo himself froze, a bit trapped in Aces gaze. The other pirates’ attention instantly going to Rakuyo, clearly concerned what Ace might want with the seventh commander. Rakuyo slowly opened his mouth, stammering out a yes. Ace then moved his left hand, grabbing onto his cape, before lifting both his arm and cape, giving Sumiko the clear.

He could feel the stares going to him the moment he lifted his cape, the noise alerting them. Ace could feel Sumiko moving a bit behind him, probably to peek out from behind him. Ace could see the flabbergasted look at the pirates the moment they saw Sumiko hiding behind him. But the moment he saw Rakuyo falter a bit, recognition shining in his eyes, Ace felt Sumiko’s small hands stop clutching his shirt as she took off towards her brother.

¨ Nii-san!¨ She yelled as she reached him, clutching at his shirt, tears of happiness falling from her eyes. (1)

Rakuyo, the moment his sister reached him, crouched down to hug her. Not really knowing what to do or think. The other pirates watched the reunion in astonishment. Rakuyo leaned a bit back, looking his sister over. Ace had change her out of the horrid dress, dressing her in a red shirt with a black sweater, red tights with a black skirt that went down to her knees. Rakuyo stared at her, clearly happy and shocked at seeing her. ¨ S-Sumiko? H-how?¨ He asked, looking at the girl. Sumiko tried to answer, but only ended up chocking on her words.

¨She was at a marine base, about 2000 miles to the South from here.¨ Started Ace, getting everyone's attention. Rakuyo hugging her sister again, as he stared at Ace. ¨She, along with 5 others had been captured by the marines. When searching the base, I found a file on them, saying that they had been apprehend from their home island, to serve as entertainers for the marines.¨ Ace could see Rakuyo tighten his arms around his little sister, trying to keep her closer. ¨I do not consent , nor approve of children being held captive, or used against their will. When I found out they had the children there, I decided to free them. They had recognized Sumiko as your sister, and I decided to bring her here myself.¨

Ace then averted his gaze towards the captain, ¨The other 5, one of them being between 17 and 18, and the rest between 10 and 14, should now be at one of your controlled territories. Not too far away from the base, Kiyomizu island if I'm not mistaken. The older one’s name is Elizabeth. She should be at one of the inns or with one of the residents.¨ Ace could see the small nod from the captain, clearly approving his decision. Giving a small command to one of his commanders, Jozu, to check in on the island. To be sure they were well cared for and see if they could help.

Ace bought his attention back to Rakuyo, who was still staring at him. ¨ S he does have a bit of bruising. Around her neck from a collar,¨ He could see Rakuyo looking at her sister, now seeing the marks. ¨And a bit on her arms. I do think this is the extent of her injuries. However, I still recommend having a doctor look her over.¨ Rakuyo nodded a bit to himself, shooting a look towards his captain, who gave him a small nod. Rakuyo then looked at Ace again, ¨Thank you.¨ Said Rakuyo, and Ace nodded back. Rakuyo then got up, and took Sumiko’s hand, possibly to lead her to the infirmary.

When they were in between the captain and Ace, Sumiko tugged her arm a bit, making Rakuyo halt. She then let go of her brother’s arm, and ran towards Ace. When she was in front of him, she stopped, looking up. When Ace looked down at her, she threw herself at him, giving him a hug. ¨ Thank you,¨ Said Sumiko as Ace gave her a small pat on the head. She then let go and ran back to her brother, grasping his hand again. Rakuyo stared at him a bit, giving him an another nod, before he and Sumiko started moving again. When they went around a corner, Ace brought his attention back to the captain.

He then reached to his side, to bring a folder out from his pouch. ¨The information you asked for, Newgate.¨ Said Ace, as he held the folder out. The First commander, Marco, was the one to walk up to Ace and get it. Bringing it back to his captain. ¨They have been moved to an offside island, they should also not have been mistreated and everyone is alive. However, one of them do have an injury. He acquired this before the marines apprehended them, the reason for their easy capture.¨

Newgate nodded as he looked over the folder. When he reached the bottom, he got a bit of a confused look on his face. ¨You do not want payment for freeing the children and Elizabeth, as well as bringing Rakuyos sister here?¨ Asked Newgate, gaze on the assassin. Ace shook his head, ¨No,¨ He started, ¨I freed them seeing as children should not be held captive. The fact I brought Sumiko here, was only because I already had business with you. If not, I would have sent her to the island with Elizabeth.¨

Newgate nodded, understanding shining in his eyes. ¨Then I would on the behalf of my children and myself, thank you for freeing both the others and Rakuyos sister, as well as bringing her here.¨ The captain then gave a small bow, as did the others. Newgate then gave a small signal to the Fist commander, and he brought out a small pouch, handing it to Ace. Ace opened it, and it was filled with money. He then closed it and put it in his was just about to give his regards to the captain and crew, when a small noise made him avert his gaze to the captains right side, towards the Sixteenth commander.

¨I-I...¨ He was stumbling across his words and took a deep breath before he tried again. ¨I apologize for acting a bit hostile y-yesterday, and pointing my g-g-guns at you. I will not do it again.¨ He then did a deep bow, clearly knowing his mistake and showing regrets towards it. The expression Newgate and the others had, told Ace that he had taking his own initiative to apologize. When the Sixteenth commander was standing straight again and looking at him, still fear in his eyes. Gave Ace a nod, signalizing he accepted the apology. A Sigh escaping from Izou as he gave an another bow back, clearly relieved he accepted.

¨Again, Newgate,¨ Started Ace as he bowed a bit, ¨A pleasure doing business with you.¨ He then disappeared in black smoke.

When he rose, back straight, he was at an island. Ace sat down on the ground, leaning against a tree, closing his eyes. He could hear Dust giving a small cawing sound above him, as he found a place on a branch, settling down. Maybe I should visit my brothers soon, it's been a while now. Though Ace before he fell asleep, listening to the waves hitting the cliff he was on.

Chapter Text

¨Luffy, where are you?¨ Screamed Ace, as he searched for his little brother. Luffy had, once again, decided to play hide and seek. Ace usually didn’t mind the game, but his time, Luffy had gone and hid deep in the forest. And Ace didn’t know here the 3 year old was and he needed to find him quick. They had never been this far in the woods, and Dadan had told them to be home by sundown. Ace looked behind him, the sun was almost gone. He needed to hurry.

As he was running and screaming for the little brat, Ace could hear some rustling behind him, and froze. Maybe it only was the wind, hoped Ace. But no, there it was again. Ace turned around, and bent down to pick up a stick, a weapon if he needed it. He moved slowly towards the sound, and moved some of the bushes away, and fell backwards as a small body attacked him.

¨Ace is bad at hide and seek.¨ Laughed the kid as he sat on top of Ace. Clearly happy that he managed to surprise him. ¨Luffy, you idiot. We need to hurry back or Dadan will be mad.¨ Said Ace as he got up, and dusted himself off, sending Luffy a glare. ¨Aww...¨ Started Luffy. ¨ But Ace-.¨ ¨No Luffy,¨ Started Ace as he cut him off, ¨We need to go now.¨ Said the older one, as he took Luffys hand and dragged him after, clearly ignoring the complaints.

¨Itai!¨ Said Luffy as he stumbled and fell, tripping over a root. Ace turned around and crouched next to him, ¨Are you okay Lu?¨ Luffy just shook his head, his hand cradling his injured foot. Ace could see the ankle was clearly swollen. He only hoped it wasn’t broken. Ace looked back at Luffy’s face and could see he was in pain, and probably couldn’t walk back. Luffy looked at Ace and could see the concern and fear in his eyes.

 

Ace the helped Luffy sit, then crouched in front of him, back towards Luffy. Luffy understood, he stretched out his arms and Ace put him on his back, as he started the walk back. Ace could feel Luffys arms hanging around his neck. ¨I’m sorry,¨ Started Ace, and felt Luffys arm tighten. ¨I’m sorry I yelled and dragged you, causing you to fall.¨ Ace hung his head a bit, feeling bad for casing Luffy pain. And his head shot up the moment he heard Luffy laugh. ¨Ace is stupid, I always fall. And Ace would never hurt me.¨ Said Luffy as he moved a bit, as he started a story on how he fell down the roof once, causing Ace to lose his balance for a few seconds, before he also started laughing at his antics.

As long as Luffy was happy, he would also be happy.

----x----

¨BOYS, GET DOWN HERE!¨ Yelled Dadan up to the rooms where Luffy and Ace were. A door could be heard opening and banging shut. ¨WHAT YOU CRAZY BITCH?!¨ Screamed Ace back as he walked down the stairs, Luffy close behind. ¨Get down here you stupid brat, and stop calling me that. There is someone I want you to meet.¨ Said Dadan as they came down. ¨I’ll stop calling you bitch, when you stop calling me brat.¨ Said Ace as he was down the stairs. ¨And who do you want us to meet?¨

When the kids stood in front of Dadan, she moved a bit to the side, showing a boy that stood behind her. ¨This is Sabo, he’s going to be staying here. Be nice to him.¨ Ace and Luffy looked at the blonde boy, he looked to be the same age as Ace, 6 years old. Ace looked skeptical at the boy, clearly not liking him since he did look like a Noble. ¨Hi!¨ Said an overly enthusiastic Luffy, ¨My name is Luffy, I’m 3 years old.¨ He waved, then pointed at Ace, ¨This is Ace, he is 6 years old.¨ Said Luffy, and earning a glare from Ace.

The blond kid, Sabo, took his hat off and bowed, ¨My name is Sabo, also 6 years old, pleasure to meet you.¨ As he put the hat back on, Dadan opened her mouth, ¨Why don’t you go up to their room, and get to know each other better?¨ She then pushed the kid a bit, and they went upstairs. Luffy running and dragging the boy and speaking on how they were going to be best of friends, Ace trailing behind them.

As they arrived to the room, and Ace closed the door, they sat down on the floor. ¨Sabo,¨ Started Luffy, ¨Why are you here and how long are you staying.¨ Luffy was almost vibrating where he sat, clearly happy for meeting someone new, hoping he would stay. Ace was a bit more reluctant, Sabo looked like a Nobel and Ace didn’t like those.

¨I’m going to be staying awhile,¨ Started Sabo, getting a happy sound from Luffy. ¨My family is Nobles. I don’t want to be like them, so I ran away. The woman, Dadan found me and brought me here.¨ Luffy looked at him, head tilted, ¨But, why don’t you want to be with your family?¨ Sabo looked at him, ¨It is because they are stuck up and won’t let me follow my dream.¨ This caught Aces attention, ¨Then, what’s your dream?¨ Sabo smiled as he looked at Ace,

¨Easy, I’m going to be a pirate.¨ Before Ace could fully comprehend, Luffy spoke, ¨Me too! Same with Ace!¨ And then, his grin widened. ¨And I will be the Pirate King.¨ Ace just looked at him, ¨Then, why don’t we set out together?¨ Said Sabo, ¨We will be famous, The Ace, Sabo and Luffy pirates, no, the ASL pirates!¨ Luffy grinned, clearly liking the idea. ¨What about we be the captains, and little Lu be the errands boy.¨ Joked Ace, getting a yell of annoyance from the kid. Sabo just laughed, soon they all were laughing.

A week later, they shared a cup of sake, becoming brothers, promising to always be together and protecting each other. The start of something new.

---x---

¨Hey Ace! Come and check this out!¨ Yelled Sabo. They had been together for a year now and were exploring more of the island. They had just found some wreckage from a ship. ¨What is it, Sabo?¨ Asked Ace when he got there, Luffy trailing behind him. When they were close to Sabo, he turned around and held out his hand, showing what he had found.. ¨What is it?¨ Asked Luffy, ¨Some kind of food? Can I eat it?¨ He asked enthusiastically. ¨No, Lu,¨ Started Ace.

¨It’s a Devil Fruit.¨

¨What’s that?¨ Asked Luffy, ¨If it’s a fruit, why can’t I eat it?¨ Ace hit Luffy on the head, ¨Its a devil fruit, it gives you a power if you eat it.¨ He could see Luffy looking at it, ¨But if you eat it, you can’t swim anymore.¨ Knowing that Luffy loved to swim and was training to be better. ¨Aww, but I wanted to taste it. It looks so COOL.¨ Complained Luffy.

And it did look a bit peculiar. Ace had never seen a Devil Fruit and didn’t know if it looked special from others. He had heard that the shape and color could give away what powers it had. This Devil Fruit was shaped like a skull, the color was a deep black, obsidian black even. And it had blood red patterns, it looked like a fruit form hell. ¨What should we do with it?¨ Asked Ace. ¨You should eat it,¨ Answered Sabo. Ace was just about to say something back when Sabo continued. ¨No, hear me out.¨ Ace closed his mouth and looked at him, waiting for him to continue. ¨You always say you want to be strong and different from your father.¨ At the mention of Roger, Ace flinched. ¨This is your change, he never wanted a Devil Fruit.¨

Ace looked at him, then at Luffy, who seemed to somewhat understand and nodded at him. He hated his father, and wanted nothing to do with him. Especially being like him. And Sabo was right, Roger had shoot down the offer of a Devil Fruit many times. This was his chance. Ace nodded and held out his hands, taking the fruit as Sabo handed it over. Ace looked at it, he was going to do this. He closed his eyes and took a bite.

 

¨BLECH¨ Said Ace loud, as the foul taste made itself known after he swallowed. ¨It tastes bad?¨ Wondered Luffy. Ace only nodded, too busy with trying to get the foul taste out of his mouth. ¨HEY,¨ Luffy suddenly screamed, clearly wondering about something. ¨If a Devil Fruit gives you power, what can Ace do now?¨ Luffy tilted his head a bit, clearly curious. Both looked at Ace, seeing if he could do anything. Ace just stood there, looking at his hands as he clenched and unclenched them. ¨I don’t feel any different... I think.¨

Ace then held his hand out, palm flat and upwards, trying to make something happen. He tried with all his effort to make something happen, anything. When he tensed his hand, his fingers bending a bit, something did happen. Black smoke rose from his hand. ¨Wow,¨ Said Luffy, ¨Do it again!¨ Ace tried again, and smoke rose up from his palm, which Luffy tried to touch, making Ace close his hand. He didn’t know if it was dangerous, but Luffy had managed to put his through it. ¨It didn’t hurt,¨ He started, ¨It was like smoke.¨ Said Luffy. Ace looked down at his palm, making the smoke again and both Luffy and Sabo touched it, no reaction.

What a stupid power, thought Ace.

---x---

Ace had eaten the Devil Fruit 5 weeks ago. The only progress he had made, was that if he concentrated really hard, he could make something that looked like a scorch mark of some sort. It was not hot, but black and some smoke would rise from it. And that was all Ace could do and he hated it. He wished that a fruit that looked at evil and power full as the fruit had, would give him more power than just produce smoke, or if he really concentrated, the scorch like mark.

Luffy did of course think it was cool, saying he liked how he could make smoke and freak out people, same with the scorch mark. They had decided to use it as pattern to where they had been in the woods, so they would not get lost. Sabo said that it probably had more power, but that he just didn’t know how to use them yet. Ace didn’t believe him.

They were now out investigating a new part of the woods. They had not been here before, mostly because they had heard that other people was here. And that they were not friendly. But they were curious and had decided to check it out. They had taken pipes from a scrap yard as weapons in case they met someone and needed to protect themselves.

After they had walked around a bit, they heard someone talking. It sounded like men and there were 2 voices. The boys sneaked up to a bush, trying to not make any sound. When they were beside the bush, they sneaked a peak over it. They could see 3 men that were standing around a fire, clearly drunk and still drinking. They were talking about some heist they had just done and how they should spend the money.

While they were listening, they suddenly heard Luffy yelp and looked behind them, and froze. There stood an another guy, holding Luffy. ¨Look at this boys,¨ Started the man. ¨Seems like we have gotten new toys to play with.¨ Before Sabo and Ace could react, the other men had come up behind them, and was holding them. They tried to struggle as much as they could, but to no gain. The men had taken them in the clearing, to where the fire was. The man holding Luffy had taken him to a rucksack and was searching through it. Sabo and Ace where a bit away, being held by the other two. The last man was just laughing, as he went on about trying to get money from them.

¨Now little boy,¨ Started the man holding Luffy, ¨Why don’t you tell me where your parents are?¨ As he said this, his hand reemerged from the rucksack with a knife, ¨We don’t want you to get hurt, right?¨ He continued as the knife was held against his throat, almost cutting into it. Sabo and Ace froze, they knew Luffy would never answer. Yes, Dadan was sometimes mean and had some rules they were against. But she was the only family they had right now, aside from their grandpa, Garp.

¨Not talking, are you.¨ Said the man, taking the knife and cutting into Luffys cheek. ¨Then, I’ll just have to make you talk.¨ Sabo and Ace gulped, Luffy would rather die than to betray Dadan and outing her. But the moment the knife drew blood, Luffy went rigid, trying to get away. Something snapped in Ace. Luffy, Luffy, Luffy, Luff-. Was the only thing going through his mind. He needed to save Luffy. As he looked at the blood coming from the wound, the chanting in his head got stronger, He needed to save Luffy. Ace closed his eyes, trying to think of a way. The moment he heard Luffy let out a small sound, his mind screamed LUFFY.

And suddenly he held Luffy in his arms, scaring the man that held him as he backed away.

The other man also let go of what they held and ran away, clearly terrified. ¨He’s a devil, run!¨ Yelled one of them as they ran. Luffy looked at Ace shocked, not knowing what had happened. ¨Ace,¨ Started Sabo, ¨How did you do that? You just disappeared in smoke, and suddenly you held Luffy, reappearing in smoke.¨ Ace only shook his head, he had no idea how he had done it either.

Maybe this Devil Fruit power wasn’t as bad after all.

---x---

It had been a year. A. Whole. Year. And Ace had not once been able to do the thing, teleportation, again. And it was driving him mad. When he actually managed to do something awesome, he could not do it again. Sometimes he wondered what deity he had pissed off. He was Gol D Rogers son, his mother had died when giving birth, and his devil fruit was terrible. What more could go wrong?

 

They were now going around town, Makino had told them that someone famous was coming and they wanted to be there to see who it was. They were in town, but at the abandoned side. So they could still see the docks, but no one was around them, making them able to watch without being noticed. But nothing really happened for a while. Sabo decided to go back to the bar, to Makino. She was nice and had decided to teach the kids stuff about the world. Luffy was doing something stupid and Ace was watching the docks, waiting.

Then a ship came. It was big, bigger than what he had seen before. But who came from the ship and onto the docks, made Aces heart skip a beat. Nobles. And they headed for the bar. The bar where Sabo was. Ace got Luffys attention, telling him to go back to Dadan. He could not risk Luffy, he would go get Sabo while Luffy went home. Luffy listened, the mention of food got him running. And Ace headed for the bar, hoping that all the villagers would be able to keep him from getting there first. They did want to talk to him and ask him questions, prolonging his arrival.

When Ace got to the bar, the Nobles was only feet away from the door. Ace took the back way in and found Sabo. He ran up and dragged him out, ignoring his protests and told him to shut up. The moment the back door closed, the front opened and the Noble walked inn. ¨What’s the matter with you, asshole.¨ Said Sabo the moment they were outside, Ace let go. ¨The boat Sabo, it is Nobles. There are Nobles here.¨ Answered Ace. The moment the words left him, he could see Sabo growing pale. Ace said that they should head back to Dadan, Sabo nodded and they were off, running back to Dadan.

When they were in the woods, on the trail and halfway home, a noise froze them in place. A gunshot. They slowly turned around. And there, a bit behind them, stood the Noble, a gun in hand. ¨Sabo, Sabo, Sabo.¨ Started the Noble. ¨Think you can run away from home, and no one will come and bring you back?¨ The Noble cocked his gun, ¨Come now, your parents is waiting for you.¨ Sabo gulped and Aces anger flared. ¨No,¨ He started, ¨Sabo belongs here, with me and Luffy, you can’t take him, I won’t le-.¨ Sabos hand touched his shoulder, making him stop.

¨Ace,¨ He started, face neutral. ¨It’s okay, really, I knew this would happen sooner or later.¨ Then he started walking towards the Noble, who now was grinning.

No. Ace could not believe it. Sabo was leaving them? It could not be true. Ace opened his mouth, but no words came out. Why... Sabo never liked his parents, Sabo wanted to be a pirate, Sabo was his and Luffys brother. And he was leaving? When Sabo was close enough, the Noble took his arm and started to drag him. No... He can’t take Sabo... Sabo was hi-, theirs. Ace looked at them feelings mixed, anger, pain, fear and betrayal. The Sabo turned around, face still neutral, but his eyes, they were full of pain. Ace was about to shout, to jump, run, anything, when the Noble stopped and fell. An arrow sticking out from his neck.

Sabo, too shocked to do anything just stood there. Then a man walked into the clearing. He had pink long hair, going down and a bit past his shoulders, some of it in a ponytail. He had reddish eyes and wore a completely white coat, the insides a color between red and pink. His gloves, pants and boots was also completely white. His shirt was dark and the sides on the coat gray.(1)

He walked completely calm to the body, took the arrow from his neck and took something from his pocket, a card, and put it on his chest. He’s an assassin, was the thought that ran thought Ace’s head. The assassin looked at Sabo. ¨Are you okay?¨ He asked as he looked at him, his face had a soft look on it, a small smile even. But he still looked like the most powerful man they had ever seen. Sabo nodded, making the man give a small nod back before he made his way towards the town.

¨WAIT!¨ yelled Ace, startling Sabo who looked at him. The assassin only stopped and turned around, face still the same passive and calm one.

¨Please,¨ Continued Ace, ¨Please teach me how to be like you, how to protect people.¨ Ace was almost begging, he needed to become stronger for Sabo and Luffy. The assassin looked at him, face not changing a bit. ¨No,¨ He started, making Aces shoulders slump. ¨I don’t teach anyone, let alone kids.¨ He then continued to walk away. ¨Come on Ace,¨ Said Sabo, having walked up to him. ¨Lets go back to Dadan and Luffy. They are probably worried.¨ He then tried to grab Aces hand, to lead him back. But Ace only hit his hand away, he was going to do this.

¨Please,¨ Ace tried again, ¨Please teach me, I need to become stronger! I... I...¨ Ace could not talk anymore, he could feel tears in his eyes, his throat closing up. He needed this, he needed him. He had to become stronger, to protect Luffy and Sabo. He tried to talk again, but got no words. He was desperate, he could feel Sabo holding onto his shoulder, stopping him. No... NO! He needed this, He need to become stronger, to protect Sabo and Luffy... Sabo and Luffy... He opened his mouth, ¨STOP!¨ He yelled. And he was no longer being held by Sabo, but was standing in front of the assassin, shocking him.

Ace took a shaky breath as the assassin looked at him, assessing him. ¨You ate a Devil Fruit?¨ A nod. ¨Was it shaped like a skull, obsidian black with blood red markings?¨ Ace could only nod. How did he know? ¨ You get 2 minutes to say goodbye to the boy, before we leave.¨ Ace stared at Sabo and made his way over. ¨I’m sorry Sabo, I need to do this.¨ Sabo only shook his head. ¨I need this to be able to protect you and Luffy. I will visit every time I can, I promise.¨ Sabo was still shaking his head, tears flowing from his eyes. ¨Tell Luffy, I will be back, I will visit. I won’t leave you alone, I promise. You and Luffy train to be good pirates okay?¨ Said Ace as he hugged Sabo.

Then Ace let go, and went over to the assassin, not looking back at Sabo as they left. His own tears flowing down his cheeks.

---x---

¨Try again Ace, you will do it.¨ The assassin, Azuruko, said. Ace had been with Azuruko for a week now and he had made a bit of progress. He could somewhat teleport now. It was still hard, but he could do it. ¨Look at the spot, imagine you standing there, see the picture in your mind. You standing on the spot under the chandelier.¨ Ace closed his eyes, trying to catch his breath. He was exhausted, but he was going to do this. He opened his eyes and tried again. He saw himself standing there, under the chandelier, he needs to be there, NOW. Ace closed his eyes in concentration and when he opened them, he was there, under the chandelier. He smiled at Azuruko, who smiled back. His legs then gave away and Azuruko caught him before he hit the floor. ¨Maybe a break now.¨ Ace could only nod.

---x--- 3 months later. ---x---

Ace stood atop of a wall, Azuruko standing below and watching, at the ready if something should go wrong. ¨Concentrate, Ace.¨ Said Azuruko, knowing Ace was nervous about this. He was going to try to teleport from the top of the wall to a boat in the ocean; a moving boat. Ace had never done this before, he had only tried teleporting to places that did not move. He could see Ace closing his eye, obviously getting his mind to calm down. He could do it, Azuruko believed he could. Ace opened his eyes and he was gone. Then, not a second later, a splash could be heard. Azuruko sighed, as one of his subordinates fished the kid out of the water. ¨Again, Ace. You will do it.¨ Ace went up to the wall, tried again and a splash and sigh later, Ace lost his patient. ¨I can’t fucking do it!¨

Azuruko went over to the kid, and placed a hand on his shoulder. ¨Calm down Ace, you can do it. Just take a deep breath and calm down.¨ Ace went up the wall again, Azuruko could see he was anything but calm. This was going to be a long day. ¨Ace, calm down.¨ Said Azuruko with force and power. The kid would never be able to do it if he continued like this. He could see Ace closing his eyes, taking a deep breath, and an another one, and an another one. Finally, though Azuruko. Ace opened his eyes, looked at his target, and he was gone. One second, two seconds passed and no splash. Azuruko looked at the boat, where Ace stood, clearly happy and proud. ¨Good Ace, now again. But this time, you are going to be landing on a mark, to make your placement better.¨ Ace only groaned. Yes, it was going to be a long day.

---x---6 months later ---x---

Ace could now teleport without much problem, as long as he could see his goal. Azuruko was trying to get him to teleport to places he knew, but could not see. Like from the hallway to the living room. This was hard, but he was slowly making progress. And the progress was better then what Azuruko had thought. Which was why, he was going to challenge Ace a bit today. ¨Here,¨ He said and handed Ace a small pot with a plant. ¨You are going to teleport from here and to the table, while you hold the plant. ¨ He could see Ace swallowing as he looked at the plant. He knew this was going to be hard, but he also knew it was possible.

Ace nodded and held the plant tight in his hands, looking at the table 10 feet away. This distance was easy for him now, but he had never tried while holding something. ¨See yourself standing on the table, but with the pot and plant in your hands.¨ Said Azuruko. Ace took a calming breath and looked at his goal. He clutched the pot in his hands and disappeared in black smoke. Reappearing on top of the table, the pot in hand, but no plant or dirt. The place where he stood before, had a pile of dirt and now a broken plant lying there.

Aces shoulders hunched, as he thought he had failed. ¨Don’t worry.¨ Said Azuruko, ¨I honestly though the entire pot and flower would fall to the ground.¨ He went over to Ace and put his hand on the kids shoulder, ¨You did more than I expected.¨ Ace grinned at him. Yes, he was making fast progress.

---x--- 3 months later ---x---

Ace’s teleportation skills had gotten magnificent. He could now teleport from room to room, if he knew exactly where the room where and where he would land. If he had never been in the room, even if he could see it through a window, he could not do it. He needed to have been there before. And it was only at small distances. But they were still training at it.

Azuruko was now standing in Ace’s room. It was one of the places he knew in his heart and teleporting from the hallway to here, was no problem for him. ¨Anytime now, Ace.¨ He said to the boy on the other side of the door. He knew the kid was nervous, but Azuruko knew he would have no problem with it. And then a cloud of black smoke was now inside the room. The smoke faded and Ace stood there, holding one of his subordinates in his grasp. Ace looked at him, a smile on his face. ¨See?¨ Azuruko started, ¨I told you, teleporting with a person was going to be easy.¨ Ace just smiled back.

---x--- 3 months later ---x---

Ace had now been with Azuruko for a year. He had mastered teleportation and could do more than Azuruko ever thought he could learn in a year. So today, they were going to test some of his other powers out. A subordinate was sitting in a chair, looking a bit nervous. ¨Listen Ace,¨ Started Azuruko. ¨This will most likely be hard, but you will be able to do it one day.¨ Ace looked at him a bit nervous as he nodded. ¨You are going to hold your palm out and produce the smoke, while you do this, imagine an empty room with Peter sitting in the middle, then blow the smoke at him.¨

Ace was looking a bit nervous, but he nodded. He made his way over to the subordinate, Peter, and held his hand out, palm flat. Smoke rose from the hand, ¨That’s it Ace,¨ Started Azuruko, ¨Now see the scene in front of you.¨ Ace closed his eyes, concentrating. ¨Imagine Peter sitting in an empty room, alone.¨ Azuruko could see the smoke changing a bit, growing a bit more dense. ¨Now, blow it at him.¨ Ace did. The moment the smoke was at Peters face, he went slack, scaring Ace a bit. ¨Don’t worry,¨ Said Azuruko, ¨This is what I wanted to happen.¨ Azuruko then snapped his fingers in front of Peter, startling him. ¨But…¨ Started Peter, ¨I was alone, you weren’t here… right?¨ Azuruko smiled at Ace, ¨Perfect Ace, you manage to throw an illusion and trap him in it.¨ Ace stood dumbfounded a bit, before smiling.

This Devil Fruit is amazing.

---x--- 6 months later ---x---

Ace was getting better at casting illusions and could hold 5 people under it. Loud noises or touch would break the illusion, but Ace was still proud of himself.

But still, he wondered.

¨Azuruko?¨ Asked Ace, ¨Yes?¨ Was the answer he received. Ace didn’t really know how to ask. When he didn’t say anything, Azuruko turned towards him, seeing him fidgeting. ¨What it is, Ace?¨ He asked as he put some papers down. ¨I just wonder… How you know so much about the Devil Fruit and the powers it gives?¨ Azuruko sighed, he knew the kid would ask sooner or later. The kid had not asked him this once during the one and a half years he had been there, so he knew Ace would soon ask.

¨Come with me Ace.¨ Said Azuruko, as he made his way out of the room, and towards the file storage, Ace trailing behind. When they were inside, Azuruko closed the door and asked Ace to sit. ¨Your power,¨ Started Azuruko, as he looked through some files, ¨Is special. In the world we have different Devil Fruits and all have their own ability.¨ Ace only nodded, he knew this. ¨But, a very few is special.¨ Ace tilted his head, special? ¨You know the types of Devil Fruits, right?¨ He ask as he looked at Ace, who nodded. Azuruko the motioned for him to explain. ¨You have the Paramecia, which is the most common and usually gives superhuman abilities. And there is the Zoan types, which gives the ability to transform into an animal and acquire every trail from the animal. And last, there is the Logia type, which is the rarest and allows the user to transform into an element.¨ Azuruko nodded, ¨You are right,¨ He started

¨But, there is a fourth type too.¨

Ace looked at him, shocked. A fourth one? ¨You’ve never heard about it?¨ Ace shook his head, he though there were only 3 types, what was the fourth one? Azuruko took a file from the cabinet, opening it. ¨Devil Fruits have been around for a long time, but some longer than others.¨ He flipped though some pages, ¨Zoan types are the ones people believe is the oldest, but they are wrong.¨ Ace was getting more curious, there were a fourth one, did he have that one? ¨The fourth type is called Legendaries.¨ Ace tilted his head, Legendaries?

 

Azuruko continued, ¨Legendaries were the first kind of Devil Fruit to exis, and they are rare, they make Logia’s look common.¨ Aces eyes widened, they were that rare? ¨There is only 4 types and you got one of them, the reason I choose to train you. I have seen two of them myself, Chiaroscuro, and Sfumato. The other two is called Tyndall and Porous. ¨ (2(It will explain what the words mean.))

Azuruko looked at Ace, ¨You have the Sfumato one.¨ Ace tilted his head, not knowing what it meant. ¨This means you can control and use shadows in a way no other one can. You know the smoke you can make, and the cloud of smoke you disappear and reappear in?¨ Ace nodded. ¨It’s not smoke, but shadows. You can make the shadows bend and make manifest itself, making it look like smoke.¨ Ace looked at him amazed, shadows?

¨When you teleport, your body becomes a shadow, and moves faster than light. You can hold onto things and that will move with you. When you cast an illusion, your shadow will manifest itself in the brain of the person, and create more darkness in his brain, this can either shut it down, like when he sleeps. Or erase people, sounds and movement from their eyes and ears. You can’t erase touch, remember this. When you brand something, your shadows completely erasing the light, and everything dies, creating a mark that looks like it has been branded by fire.¨

Azuruko handed him a file. ¨The first know person to acquire this power was Erebus(3), who lived centuries ago.¨ Ace looked at the file, not really understanding what it said and looked back at Azuruko, confusion in his mind.

Azuruko, seeing the look of confusion, decided to explain. ¨Erebus was said to not be human, but to be a demon. No one understood how he could teleport, cast illusions, make cold and smoking brands, as well as moving around so quietly and being an amazing assassin.¨ Ace looked at Azuruko, amazed. ¨He always used his power for good. Yes, he did kill. But only the ones deserving it. He was the greatest assassin there ever was.¨

Ace made a decision. He was going to be an assassin. And he was going to be like Erebus, the best. ¨Tell me more.¨ He said, Azuruko smiled, before he continued.

---x---6 months later---x---

Ace had now been with Azuruko for 2 years. He had learned to control his Devil Fruit amazingly. He could teleport, cast illusions and make brands almost perfect. The brands he could make was not complicated ones. He could make perfect shapes and simple patterns, and he was training at making them more detailed. Azuruko had started training him in combat and he was making some progress. Azuruko was a bit annoyed, seeing as he made really slow progress. He could not block or get any attacks in on anyone and it made Ace furious. And Azuruko had decided to give Ace a break, a real break.

Ace was going to visit Sabo and Luffy for the first time in 2 years.

The boat was closing in on the island and Ace was growing nervous; what if they didn’t want to see him again? He knew, that if they didn’t and Ace would want to leave immediately, Azuruko would do that for him. But he hoped they would be happy to see him again. Mad, yes. But still happy. The boat reached the dock and Ace jumped off, instantly running towards were Dadan lived, waving at Azuruko to show him that he was leaving for his brothers.

As Ace stood in front of the door, he took a deep breath, before he knocked and slowly opened the door. ¨Dada-.¨ Ace never got the name out of his mouth, before he was engulfed by to gigantic arms, being hugged by Dadan, who was crying, bawling, her eyes out. Saying how much she had missed him, how worried she had been when Sabo had gotten home alone and how happy that he was finally home. Ace could not help but to hug back. Yes, he had missed Dadan. The moment she let Ace down, he was instantly tackled to the ground, a crying 6 year old Luffy lying on top of him, hugging him.

Ace instantly hugged back, feeling tears threatening to fall. When he got up, still holding onto Luffy, he saw Sabo. He was standing in the doorframe, looking angry, worried, happy and pissed, all at the same time. He moved to Ace, hitting him before hugging him, holding him tight. ¨You told you would visit,¨ Started Sabo, ¨We heard nothing for 2 years, do you know how worried we were?¨ Said Sabo as he hugged harder, tears falling from his eyes. ¨We thought you were dead.¨ Ace hugged back, feeling sorry for causing them to think he was gone, feeling tears falling from his own eyes.

After the reunion, the boys went outside. Ace explained how he had gained control over his powers and how Azuruko had helped him. Even showed them how he teleported, even taking Luffy one time. ¨So what now Ace?¨ Asked Sabo, ¨Are you coming back?¨ Ace looked at him, then at Luffy. A sigh escaping him, ¨No,¨ He started and could see the look on Luffy and Sabos face falling instantly. ¨I’m staying with Azuruko for a bit more.¨ He looked at his brothers, feeling them staring back, ¨Why?¨ Asked Luffy, ¨We are going to be pirates together… aren’t we?¨ Ace closed his eye, it was now or never.

¨I’m not going to be a pirate,¨

He started and could see the shock in their eyes, ¨I have decided to be an assassin.¨ He could see how Sabo looked at him shocked, Luffy tilting his head, ¨What’s an assassin?¨ He asked and Ace explained. How they got information, killed and fought. But they only did it if the one they hunted, deserved it. ¨But Luffy,¨ Started Ace, ¨You and Sabo can still be pirates. I will be with you, not as a pirate, but as an assassin.¨ He looked at Sabo, ¨I did promise and I will keep it. I won’t leave you alone, I’ll always be with you, no matter what.¨ Sabo nodded, he did somewhat understand. They continued having fun together, until a sound made them look behind them. Azuruko was standing there. ¨I’ll have to leave now, I’ll come back, don’t worry. But, I need to get better.¨ They said goodbye, as Ace went with Azuruko.

Life was good.

---x--- 2 years later ---x---

Ace had gotten better at fighting. He could now beat some of the subordinates to Azuruko and somewhat beat the more experienced ones. Azuruko had also caught onto something. After doing a bit of research, he had found out he was the son of Gol D Roger. When he had asked Ace about it, he could see the hatred, sorrow and loneliness in his eyes. And no matter how hard Azuruko tried, he could not make Ace accept it. The pain of what he had heard was marked in his brain. Azuruko would need help to fix it and he knew who could help.

¨Ace.¨ Said Azuruko, getting his attention. ¨I need you to go out and get information for me, fast.¨ Ace nodded. He sometimes did assignments like this. Easy ones, never any killing, being told he was not ready. ¨I need you to go and get information from a guy named Shanks, captain of the Red Hair Pirates.¨ Ace nodded as he frowned. Why did that name sound so familiar? He shook his head, probably nothing. ¨He is expecting you, he should be outside of the village we visited yesterday.¨ After getting a nod from Ace, Azuruko left, letting Ace get on with the ‘assignment’.

Ace was at the island and was watching the boat. He could see the captain moving about the ship and decided to get a move on. Ace teleported to the skip, reappearing a place where they could not see him appearing, before he walked into sight. ¨Oi, kid,¨ Said someone on the crew, ¨Who are you?¨ Ace was just about to answer, when the captain, Shanks, beat him to it. ¨Ace, right?¨ Ace nodded. ¨Ah, calm down Benn, Azuruko sent him.¨ They then made it into one of the rooms, some privacy was always nice. When the door closed, Shanks turned to him, ¨Kid, Ace, right?¨ He asked, and Ace nodded. ¨You look familiar, but where…¨ He then put his hand on his face, covering his freckles, a grin placing itself on his face.

¨Are you by any chance related to Roger?¨ He asked, making Ace freeze. ¨Why do you think that?¨ Ace asked the captain. ¨Easy,¨ He started, ¨You have the same hair, eyes and face, aside from the freckles of course.¨ He suddenly started laughing. ¨I knew the old man had a secret, but a kid? This is amazing! How old are you? 11-12?¨ Ace could only glare at him, ¨So what,¨ He started, getting angry. ¨So what if the bastard is my father? You going to tell me how much of a mistake I am? How much I shouldn’t exist? How I shoul-.¨ He could not finish as the captain glared at him, the glare instantly taking the words from him.

¨Benn,¨ He started, voice hard. ¨Leave us.¨ Benn did, leaving Ace alone with the now mad captain. Ace opened his mouth to apologize. He should not have lost his temper like that, but the mention of his father always made him angry, sad and made his hearth hurt. Remembering all the things he had been told by others. But the captain spoke first, ¨Do you know who I am kid?¨ Ace had a faint idea, but shook his head,

¨I am Shanks, former crew member of Rogers crew.¨

Ace froze again, he could not speak. Shanks had been with Roger and he was angry at him. What was he go-. His thoughts stopped as Shanks began speaking again. ¨I do not know what you have been told,¨ He crouched down in front of him, laying a hand on his shoulder, ¨But Roger was a good man, he never betrayed his crew. He was kind and caring, never attacking anyone, except for the stupid ones to attack him, or hurt some of his crew. He was a good man.¨ Ace could only nod, not really comprehending what he said. When his mind got back on track, he understood something, he has only heard what others have said. Not what his crew thought, the ones that actually knew him. He looked at Shanks, who now looked calmer. ¨Will you…¨ Ace took a deep breath; ¨Will you tell me about him? What he really was like?¨ Shanks smiled and sat down, patting his leg, inviting Ace to sit.

When Ace got back to Azuruko, he no longer hated who he was. A newfound respect for the late Pirate King.

---x---1 year later---x---

Ace fell on his back, air leaving his lungs. ¨Take a break kid, you need it.¨ Azuruko said as he sat down. ¨NO!¨ He yelled back, ¨I will do it, I can do it.¨ Ace had managed to beat everyone aside from Azuruko, he was just too good. ¨No, Ace,¨ He answered, ¨You are too worked up, relax.¨ Azuruko said as he sat on the ground, relaxing. Ace just fumed. He wanted to continue, not relax. ¨You will never be able to do it if you don’t relax, you are easy to read.¨ Ace glared at him, ¨Oh, Yeah?¨ What about the others then? I beat them.¨ Azuruko snorted, ¨They are weak, like you. Too mad and worked up. You need to relax.¨ Ace stood and paced around a bit, before he sighted and sat down besides Azuruko, relaxing.

¨I can see it Azuruko, wipe the grin off your face.¨ Azuruko only grinned more.

---x---6 months later---x---

¨What kind of bird is that?¨ Asked Ace, pointing towards a gigantic black bird. ¨That’s a Raven, Ace. They are magnificent.¨ Ace looked at it, he liked it, thinking it looked pretty. It looked elegant and powerful. ¨Wait…¨ Started Ace, ¨Isn’t that the same bird that have been around for the last few weeks?¨ Azuruko looked at the bird and nodded, ¨I was beginning to wonder when you would notice.¨ He then looked at Ace, ¨I think it likes you.¨ The Raven cawed and Azuruko laughed.

The next few days, Ace began to feed the bird. He started liking him and decided to name it Dust. Every time Ace was training outside, Dust would be there. Every time he was outside, the raven was close by. Ace started thinking of the raven as his friend. A few days later, they were trying to make bombs. They always did this outside, in case something went wrong.

And it did.

The one handling the explosives managed to somehow slip, making a small spark. Knowing it was going to go bad, he yelled for everyone to run away, that is was going to explode. As they ran away, Ace saw something, Dust was flying towards the bomb. He looked at the ground, some guy had fallen and was not going to make it. Ace screamed as Dust took the bomb in his mouth, the bomb being small enough and the raven being rather large, and flew up, getting the bomb away. Then the explosion happened and the raven fell down on the ground, not moving.

Ace ran over to the bird, tears flowing down his cheeks. When he got to the bird, he cradled it in his arm, saying its name, hoping for a reaction, but got none. Azuruko then arrived and was crouching next to him. He knew Ace was fond of the bird, even naming it. ¨Ace…¨ He started, trying to comfort the 12 year old, ¨NO!¨ Ace screamed, ripping himself from the hand on his shoulder, cradling Dust to his chest. When he opened his eyes, he could see smoke coming from his hands. The Devil Fruit! Maybe I can save Dust. Ace put Dust on the ground, holding his hands out, making smoke coming from them. ¨Ace, it’s gone.¨ Azuruko tried gain, voice soft. No, though Ace, His power could manipulate and manifest right? He closed his eyes, and concentrated, he wanted the bird to live. To make the cawing sound gain, to be with him.

To be his friend again.

¨Ace!¨ Said Azuruko shocked, making Ace opening his eyes, and looking at the bird. And his hearth skipped a beat. Dust was moving, standing up and making the beautiful cawing sound. It fluttered his gigantic wings, smoke, the same that Ace could produce, dusting off them. Ace looked at Azuruko for answers. Azuruko had none.

After this, they learned, that the bird was somehow connected to Ace. Ace could instantly teleport to where ever the bird was, same could the bird. It also seemed the bird knew what Ace was thinking, doing what Ace though. Azuruko had no idea how or why this had happened, he had never heard about it. But he enjoyed the fact that Ace had a familiar now. The bird also seemed to be really smart and could fight. His gigantic claws and beak making a perfect weapon. After finding this out, Azuruko had made armor for it, seastone armor.

The bird was old, maybe 7 years when the explosion happened, and now? It seemed younger. Azuruko had guessed that Aces Devil Fruit had done something to its age. He had managed to manipulate the birds structure, his power giving it life and giving the bird some of his power. It seemed to have gotten the same mind as Ace, even stopping to age. It was a miracle. And Ace could not be happier. The next time he visited his brothers, he showed off his bird, Luffy instantly loving it.

---x---2 years later---x—

Ace watched Azuruko as they moved in circles, no weapons in hand. This was a hand to hand combat. Ace was decent at weapons like daggers, swords and had a magnificent aim. He was now practicing his hand to hand combat. He was up against Azuruko, already beating the others. Ace moved first, going for the first blow, but Azuruko was ready. He grabbed Aces arm, throwing the body over his head, trying to get Ace in the ground, winning the battle. But Ace was also ready. When he was above Azuruko, he twisted himself around, back straight, legs bent as he cached himself on his legs, using Azuruko as a leveraged to stay bent. A grin flashed when Azuruko looked at him.

Ace then used all his force to twist Azuruko around and throw him over his head, same as he had tried, only he had more speed and leverage. Azuruko flew towards the wall and turned so he landed with his feet first, so he could jump from the wall, straight towards Ace. Kicking him to the ground. But Ace was fast, he grabbed Azuruko leg, trying to throw him at the ground. Azuruko braced his hands at the ground the moment he felt Ace’s hand on his leg, and spun around, making Ace having to let go as he lost his balance. Giving Azuruko a chance to stand up. And they jumped at each other again.

Azuruko grabbed Ace’s arm, twisting it around, trapping Ace in his grasp, Ace brought his other arm to Azuruko shoulder, his leg tripping him as he dragged him down. Azuruko fell to the ground, Ace on top. ¨I win¨ Grinned Ace. Then he was at his stomach, Azuruko sitting on his back, ¨Never celebrate to early brat.¨ Said Azuruko as he got off and helped Ace to his feet. ¨Good job.¨ He whispered, making Ace smile. He had won.

---x--- 6 months later---x---

¨ Azuruko!¨ Yelled Ace, as he ran towards his mentor. ¨Look! Look!¨ Ace shoved a stone in his face, on it a Spade was branded. It had markings and a skull in the middle, still oozing black smoke. ¨I want this to be my mark!¨ Azuruko smiled as he looked at it, ¨Then kid, what’s your name?¨ Ace smiled, as he took the stone back.

¨I’m going to be The Ace of Spades.¨ Azuruko smiled, what a good play on his name.

---x---6 months later---x---

Ace was going on his fist mission. He was going to take out a Noble who had abused children for years. The plan was easy: go in, kill him, leave his mark and leave. Ace was 15 years old and he needed to start making a name for himself. He was already master at stealth, fighting, both with weapons and without. His power making the mission easy. He got inside and stood on a ledge. He could see 20 or so people around. Ace blew into his hand. He had learned, if he did this, he could trap more under his illusion. He blew the smoke in, trapping everyone expect the target. The moment he was the only one moving, Ace shot him with his crossbow, the arrow going straight though his neck, dying instantly.

As he was going to leave his mark, he got an idea. He opened the Nobles shirt and held his palm against his chest, branding his mark into his chest, also leaving a note, saying he was The Ace of Spades.

And so started the legends of an assassin managing to break into the impenetrable and kill without being noticed. The assassin by the name; The Ace of Spades.

---x---1 year later---x---

Ace teleported to Shanks ship, starling the crew. The captain instantly recognizing him, and gesturing for him to come inside with his right arm, having lost his left a couple of years ago. Ace hadn't been able to speak with the captain out of his work for a while, not being able to thank him for saving Luffy. ¨Ace,¨ Said Shanks, ¨What brings you here?¨ Ace stood in front of him. Back straight and shoulders calm. Azuruko had told him to always speak to people with respect, to never act weak or almighty. Treat the people he spoke too with respec, and as an equal. ¨I would like to thank you for saving my brother, Luffy, a couple of years back, I was never able to before now.¨ Ace gave bow to the captain. ¨You're Luffy’s brother?¨ Shanks asked shocked. Ace nodded. ¨The one he calls idiot for leaving them, and the strongest assassin he knows?¨ Ace’s lip twitched as he nodded.

¨So, tell me Ace of Spades,¨ Started Shanks, using his assassin’s name. ¨What would you say about working as acquaintances? I could use an assassin.¨ Shanks smiled as Ace though it over and nodded. ¨How will I reach you? A Den Den Mushi?¨ Ace shook his head, ¨All you need is to find a raven or crow, give it a note and tell it to find me. My raven, Dust,¨ Dust flew to his shoulder, ¨Will make sure the note then gets to me.¨ Shanks nodded, what a great ability.

And thus, Shanks started spreading the rumor on how to reach The Ace of Spades, making him more known and feared.

---x---1 years later---x---

Ace was now 16, his name was known around the seas. His named used as a threat and his mark and name send shivers down people’s spines. Ace was standing at a grave, putting down flowers. On the grave was a single name, Azuruko. He had died of sickness a few days ago. Before he died, he had given Ace his current outfit, saying he was saving it for Ace’s 17 birthday, but he would not make it. Realizing his time was coming.

The boots and gauntlets where made of the best leather there was, his cape made to keep him warm, and making him seem more intimidating and friendly at the same time, depending on how you saw him. His pants and shirt made to look like the fruit he had eaten. His mask was there to hide his freckles, which made him look young. With the outfit, he looked older, maybe 19 or 20 instead of 16.

He paid his last respect, before leaving, teleporting to Luffy and Sabo, deciding to stay with them for a bit. He would still do assignments, saving money and giving them to Sabo and Luffy, who decided to wait until Luffy was 17 before setting sail. Making his name more known and feared in the world.

---x--- 3 years later---x---

Ace was now one of the most feared names there was. No one dared to speak ill of him or try to take him out. Those who tried, wounded up dead, their body unrecognizable. More and more requests got to him every day. And he answered every single one. Dust was only sent to the more special ones, the others got a regular crow with the answer. He had mastered the art of stealth and killing. He always paid his associates and clients with respect and dignity, never acting overpowering and almighty. Acting like they were equals, gaining respect of the ones he worked with. He often visited Shanks and did information run for him. Which he in return helped to look after his brothers.

He sat outside a house he had bought for himself and his brothers. It was located on an island, on top of a clip. His mark caved in a tree, making so he could always teleport here. He opened his newest request and hummed. Seems like the Whitebeards have taken water over their heads. If he remembered correctly, they had been at the island he had an assignment on 6 months ago. Where he had killed a retired admiral. They had seemed so shocked when they saw him. He smiled a bit as he called for Dust, giving him his answer and sending him away.

Life was good.

Chapter Text

Newgate sat and watched his sons mess around. Thatch was being scolded by Marco, after he had pulled a prank on him. Something about laying eggs in his bed while he slept. He could see the first commander was angry and Thatch was trying to act like he was sorry. The other commanders were watching the scene and laughing. Even Newgate himself had laughed a bit. Thatch was the prank master and no one, no matter what they said, wanted him to change.

A splash could be heard, seems like Marco finally lost it and threw him overboard. This happened way too often and Newgate didn’t want to change it for anything.

They had just been at Rakuyo’s home island and dropped his sister off. When Ace of Spades had showed up, Newgate instantly thought something had gone wrong. When the assassin mentioned the seventh commanders name, he felt fear that it had something to do with the commander. He was about to ask what he wanted with one of his sons, but when he lifted his cape and a kid peeked from his back, his words died in his throat. When said kid ran for his commander and hugged him calling him his brother, Newgate could not really believe what he was seeing. But the look and reaction on Rakuyos face, was enough to prove that the kid really was his sister.

When the assassin told them how he had found a file on the kids and freed them, seeing he did not approve of the imprisonment of kids, had decided to free them. When he told them how the others were at one of his island and Rakuyos sister, Sumiko, was here, safe . Newgate felt something in his chest, he felt happiness and admiration. The greatest, most feared assassin, The Ace of Spades, cared for children. Even asking for nothing in return for rescuing them. And Newgate understood, had Sumiko not been Rakuyos sister, they would never had known that the assassin had saved them. He and everyone was great full to see that the assassin had honor and was a good man inside.

When the assassin even told Rakuyo of his sister’s injuries, telling that he thought the bruising was all the injuries. But still recommended a doctor looking her over, even giving her a pat on the head when she hugged him. The feeling only grew, alongside the respect he held for the assassin. When he then gave them the folder on the mission, even giving them a summary. He only felt happiness to know his sons was okay, even when he explained that the injury Paul had, was not caused by the marines, the reason they had been easy captured. When Izou had apologized and the assassin accepted, Newgate felt proud of his son, and relief that he accepted. And the way he phrased his last sentence, he didn’t think the assassin would mind if he called again. A thought that put some peace in the captain’s heart, knowing that if they needed it, he would maybe help again.

¨Stupid bird,¨ Muttered Thatch as he climbed back over the railing, glaring at Marco. ¨You asked for it,¨ Answered Izou, ¨You know he don’t like it when you mess with his bed or beauty sleep.¨ Newgate watched his sons argue and having fun, it was the best feeling in the world. Having a family. ¨Hey Pops,¨ Started Marco, walking towards him. ¨What are we going to do now?¨ Asked the first commander, getting the attention of the other, who also as curious where they were going, now that Sumiko was back at her island.

¨We are going to an island up North,¨ Started the captain, ¨There have been rumors that Red Haired Shanks have been there and he stayed for more than a week.¨ It was Jimbei that told them that the captain had been staying at the same place for about 7 days, that was rare for the captain. He never stayed the same place for too long, and this had cough his attention. ¨He stayed the same place for more than 2 days?¨ Asked Thatch, water dripping onto the deck. Whitebeard nodded. ¨Why did he stay there for so long? He never does that.¨ Asked the fourth commander. ¨That’s why we’re checking it out, yoi. Something must have caught his attention.¨ Answered the first commander, looking bored at the fourth commander. Thatch looked at the first commander, glaring. ¨I got that, stupid bird. I wondered if we knew why.¨ Marco only shook his head, saying something along the lines of never know with your small brain. And was promptly hit in the face with an egg. And the chase was on again, Marco running and yelling profanities at the chef, who was laughing and running away, even hiding behind Izou at one point. The others soon joined in on the laughing, even the captain. He really did love his family.

---x---

The Moby Dick docked at the island. They had already visited 4 others in the area with no luck. Usually they would say it was a coincidence that Shanks happened to be staying around here for so long, and just ignore it. But the captain had never been the same area for more than a maximum of 3 days. The area they currently where at, had 6 island, all in close proximity. There was no reason for him to stay here so long without a reason. They had met up with Vista on the way to the island. Teach had apparently said something about needing to check up on something and left. Their mission had gone well, the island was no longer in trouble. A few pirates had apparently decided to cause havoc, but was easily dealt with.

When they were ready to go to the island, Thatch, Marco, Izou, Vista, Jozu and Rakuyo went to check it out. The other who wanted to go and check out or have fun was allowed, but the 6 commanders were the ones that was going to be checking if anyone knew why Shanks had stayed in the area. They also decided to split up, Marco, Thatch and Rakuyo going one way, Vista, Jozu and Izou going an another, promising to call of they found something out. Then they were off to see what they could find.

Marco, Thatch and Rakuyo was going through the market in the island, when they, or rather Marco, noticed something. A rather large woman was standing beside on of the restaurants, screaming at what looked to be 2 kids, one of them being around 18 and the other 14 or 15. She was yelling something about eating too much and how the red haired idiot had spoiled them. It wasn’t the fact that the name red haired had been used that caught the first commander’s attention, but the hat that one of the kids had. It was Shanks old straw hat . He could be wrong, there existed many straw hats, but it looked exactly like the one Shanks had had. They knew he had given up an arm and his hat for someone he believed in, but a kid?

He got Thatch and Rakuyos attention, pointing towards the kid, wanting to see if they thought the same. Based on their look, they also though the hat was the same. They looked at each other and nodded, they needed to check this kid out. They approached the 3 people, the woman continuing to yell at the two kids. The oldest seemed bored and was looking out at the marked, the young one however seemed to be smiling and laughing, making the woman even madder. When they were closing in on them, maybe 20 feet away, the oldest kid changed his gaze and looked at them. When he seemed to realize they were heading for them, he elbowed the younger kid, getting both his and the woman’s attention. Making so all three stared at them, the woman fuming and still looking like she wanted to continue yell at the kids. The oldest kid looked at them curiously, while the younger just tilted his head wondering who they were.

¨Oi kid,¨ Started Marco when they were closer, voice filled with authority. ¨The straw hat, yoi. Where did you get it?¨ Marco was going to be blunt, he really was curious. The kid only tilted his head the other way, clearly not understanding why they wanted to know where he got his hat. ¨And why,¨ Started the older kid, ¨Should we tell you that?¨ He then looked at them with frowning eyes, daring them to do anything. The kid had balls, they would give him that. Either that, or they did not know who they were. Thatch elbowed him a bit in the side, making Marco wince. ¨Don’t mind the grumpy pants,¨ Started the fourth commander, earning a glare from said commander. ¨We are just curious, it looks like a hat to someone we know.¨

The older kid was about to open his mouth, when the smaller one beat him to it. ¨You know Shanks?¨ He asked enthusiastic, clearly excited. Earning a hit from the older, who was unhappy, probably since he just outed who the hat belonged to. The way the kid seemed to instantly think it was Shanks they were talking about, was proof enough that the hat belonged to him. ¨Yeah kid,¨ Started Thatch, ¨We know him.¨ The older one looked at him skeptical, and Thatch decided to illustrate a bit, ¨You know, captain of a ship, red hair, missing an arm and either frowning or smiling?¨ The kid them tsk-ed, Muttering ¨That’s shanks.¨ The younger however, got even more exited, bombarding them with questions like how they knew him, how they recognized the hat, if they were friends, never giving them a chance to answer.

¨Oi,¨ Said the woman suddenly, making the kid stop talking, getting all the attention. ¨Aren’t you from the Whitebeards crew?¨ The moment the woman had recognized them, the older kid frowned even more, clearly having heard of them. The younger one only seemed to somehow get more exited. ¨Whitebeard! Shanks talk about him often!¨ Marco suppressed a groan and pinching his nose, what have the moron told these kids. The older one did seem a bit wary, but the younger seemed really interested to know if it was true. ¨Yeah,¨ Started Thatch, ¨I’m Fourth Commander Thatch,¨ He pointed towards Rakuyo, ¨This is the Seventh Commander Rakuyo,¨ He then pointed towards Marco, ¨The grumpy one is the First Commander Marco.¨ Well, at least he called me my name. Thought Marco. Thatch often called him the blue turkey, annoying him to no end. ¨Who are you?¨ Thatch then asked.

¨I’m Luffy and this is Sabo.¨

The kid then suddenly got a really big smile on his face, ¨And I’m going to be the Pirate King!¨ He then laughed, even as the older kid, Sabo, punched him. Clearly upset that the kid, Luffy, just shouted it. The woman who had been yelling, turned around and started walking away, ¨And I’m leaving.¨ She said as she left. Luffy then looked back at her, before yelling after her, ¨But, how are me and Sabo going to get home?¨ The woman just continued walking, not caring. ¨Oi,¨ Started Rakuyo, getting the attention. ¨Where do you live?¨ Did they not live here? Why would they need the woman’s help if they lived here?

¨We live at Bur… Borem… Borum.¨ The kid stumbled at his words, clearly having issues with the name and looking at Sabo for help, who sighed before speaking. ¨We live at Boreumdo, next to Jeju.¨ This shocked the commanders a bit, the island was a fair distance away. It would take at least 6 days to get there. ¨Why are you here? Are you alone?¨ Asked Thatch, clearly curious and a bit worried. ¨Ah, you see…¨ Started Luffy, ¨This Noble showed up at Dadan’s while we were visiting her at Dawn island. They were acting mean and ruining the houses, so we ran away.¨ So the woman’s name was Dadan, and Dawn island wasn’t too far away from here, so that made sense. But had she just left them with them? ¨How old are you, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, he was curious. ¨I’m 15,¨ Started Luffy, ¨Sabo is 18.¨

Marco nodded a bit, clearly assessing the information. ¨Hey,¨ Started Thatch, getting an idea. ¨Why don’t you come with us to Moby Dick, our boat, and we’ll ask Pops if he can get you home?¨ He then looked at Marco, who sighed a bit before nodding, that did seem like a good idea. The kids should get home. They could have parents waiting for them. ¨Pops?¨ Asked Luffy, tilting his head. ¨Our captain,¨ Started Rakuyo, ¨Or Whitebeard as many call him.¨ Luffy’s head tilted the other way, ¨Why call him Pops if he’s your captain?¨ He wondered. ¨Easy,¨ Answered Thatch, ¨It’s because he calls us his sons.¨ Thatch was smiling as he said it, causing the kid to smile as well. ¨Well,¨ He started, ¨Lets go!¨ And they started walking, heading for the Moby Dick.

---x---

¨WOAH!¨ Said Luffy as he looked at Whitebeard, ¨Hey old man, are you a giant?¨ He asked, clearly impressed by his size. Whitebeard only laughed a bit before speaking, ¨What if I am, brat?¨ Luffy only smiled, before answering with ¨Awesome.¨ Whitebeard assessed the kids a bit, before speaking again, ¨So, you live at Boreumdo?¨ A nod from the kid, ¨Do you have parents or any other people there?¨ He then asked, he was wondering if they had any family. The kid, Luffy, shook his head, ¨No, but our brother, Ace, visits often though.¨ He then smiled like a fool, ¨He’s really awesome.¨ Newgate the smiled, ¨How old is Ace? And is it your house?¨ Luffy smiled even more, ¨Ace is 18, like Sabo. He bought us the house with money he made fro-.¨ Sabo elbowed him, making him stop.

¨Ace is working for Shanks, getting money for the house.¨ Answered Sabo, looking at him. ¨Ace you said?¨ Asked Whitebeard, getting a nod. ¨I have never heard of an Ace on Shanks ship.¨ He said, Sabo then thought a bit before answering, carefully. ¨He doesn’t live on the ship, he only does small stuff for him. Errands like delivery, information and stuff like that.¨ Whitebeard nodded. That did make sense, being 18 was a young age to be with Shanks. It was nice of him to take the boy in, and giving him money for small jobs. ¨So you live with Ace?¨ Luffy nodded, ¨Yeah,¨ He answered, ¨But he works a lot, so he is often gone. But he is the best brother there is!¨ Luffy smiled as he spoke, even getting a smile out from the captain and everyone around. ¨He sounds like a good brother.¨ Said Whitebeard. Working for pirates to make money was hard, he knew Shanks could be though.

¨Is he home? I would like to meet him.¨ Asked Whitebeard, he sounded like a good kid, maybe he even could get him to join them. Luffy seemed to be thinking a bit before answering. ¨I don’t think he is home now, we were visiting Dadan when we had to leave. But Ace will get home in a few days I believe.¨ He said, before looking at Sabo, getting a nod. He had heard from Marco what had happened, that they had fled here. He nodded before saying that he would take them home, he really wanted to meet this Ace kid. He sounded young, talented, even working for Shanks, who was harsh. And it sounded like he had a big heart. He would fit perfect. He though, but before the kids walked away, he had one last question.

¨What are you going to do when you get older?¨ Sabo groaned, as Luffy started smiling like mad. ¨I’m going to be the Pirate King!¨ He said as he threw his arms up. Whitebeard only smiled, he liked the kids.

¨Why don’t you go with Thatch and get some food.¨ Whitebeard said, motioning for his son to show them to the galley. ¨FOOD!¨ Yelled the kid, before practically jumping at the chef. ¨Thank you Giant banana mustache man!¨ He said as he followed Thatch, making the captain laugh. Sabo only shook his head, mumbling something about Luffy being idiotic, before following after the kid and fourth commander.

---x---

They had been sailing for 3 days and where about halfway to their destination. The moment Thatch had lead the kids to the galley, he had learned how much Luffy and Sabo ate. Well, Luffy ate 4 times as much as Sabo, making the chefs work and make more food than they ever had for two single people. Luffy also loved to listen to Whitebeards stories. Every time he told a story, Luffy would sit and look up at him, his eyes shining. Luffy still called him giant banana mustache, and Sabo had told them it was because Luffy liked the giant mustache, saying how it looked like a banana. And Luffy apparently always gave nicknames. Making everyone present laugh.

¨Ne, ne,¨ Started Luffy, looking up at Whitebeard. ¨Why are you called Whitebeard when you have no beard?¨ Whitebeard laughed, before answering. ¨Some people calls mustaches beard and my hair is white.¨ Luffy tilted his head, ¨So you’ve always had the mustache and white hair?¨ Whitebeard laughed before saying no, ¨Then WHY?¨ Asked Luffy, clearly wanting an answer. Whitebeard only grinned, ¨That kid, is for me to know, and you to find out.¨ He then laughed as Luffy pouted. He then started one of his stories of his fight with Roger, knowing Luffy liked the man, as well as fights.

¨Ne, ne,¨ Started Luffy when he was finished, getting the captains attention. ¨Are you strong?¨ He asked with a gigantic smile on his face. But instead of Whitebeard answering, Thatch did instead. ¨Of course he is brat!¨ He said, almost looking offended that Luffy had asked, ¨He is known as the strongest man in the world!¨ He said, getting Luffy to gape at him, before getting a gigantic smile on his face and a groan from Sabo. ¨Then,¨ He started, ¨If Ace is home, why don’t you fight him?¨ The others, aside from Sabo, who was pinching his nose, clearly expecting the question, only stated at him stupidly. ¨Why would I fight your brother?¨ Asked Whitebeard, clearly wondering what the kid thought.

¨Easy,¨ Started Luffy, ¨You are really strong and Ace is really strong. It would be fun to watch!¨ The pirates stared at him dumbfounded. ¨You want Pops to fight your brother since he is strong?¨ Asked Thatch, clearly not understanding why the kid asked. ¨Your brother could get hurt.¨ Luffy then looked at him, like he was the one to have said something stupid. ¨Ace won’t get hurt,¨ He started, getting even more looks from the crew. ¨Ace is too strong!¨ He said as he started laughing, smiling like a fool. ¨Just ignore him,¨ Started Sabo, ¨He always asks people to fight Ace.¨ Whitebeard laughed. ¨If your brother agrees, I’ll duel him.¨ Luffy smiled even more, screaming a yes, looking extremely happy, before he ran over to Thatch, asking for food. Sabo just groaned even more.

---x---

They were now only 3 days from Boreumdo and the crew had taken a shine to the kids. ¨Hey Luffy,¨ Asked Thatch as the kid ate, getting his somewhat attention. ¨Why don’t you join our crew?¨ Luffy looked at him like he had asked the most obvious thing there ever was. Then he swallowed the food he had in his mouth, ¨Why would I do that?¨ He asked, shocking Thatch a bit. ¨I’m going to be the Pirate King, I can’t be apart of you crew. A captain can’t serve under an another captain.¨ Luffy said and started eating again, leaving Thatch to think over his words. It was true, and Luffy did seem really dedicated. Although he could not really see the carefree kid running a crew, but he had seen weirder things. Thatch then went out onto deck, to were Sabo was, who was looking a bit worried about something.

¨Whatcha doing kid?¨ He asked, getting the attention of the kid and the others around, including Whitebeard. Sabo looked at him, a small frown at his face. ¨I’m worried Ace have found out we’re sort of ‘missing’¨ Answered the kid, making everyone look at him curiously. ¨Why do you worry about that, brat?¨ Asked Whitebeard. ¨Well…¨ Started Sabo, ¨Me and Luffy is not at home, neither at Dawn island, were we are supposed to be. Or with Dadan like we should.¨ He then leaned a bit back, looking up at the sky. ¨Ace can be really overprotecting, and when he finds out were not at home, at Dawn, or with Dadan. He is probably going to get worried.¨ The crew looked at each other, ¨Why are you worried over Ace being worried, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander.

¨Easy,¨ Started Sabo, ¨Ace sometimes get mad when he’s worried.¨

---x---

A pair of black eyes frowned as he watched the destruction on Dawn island, before disappearing in a cloud of black smoke.

---x---

The kids were running on the deck, Thatch in front them as Marco ran behind them, completely covered in blue feathers, making everyone who was up this early laugh. This had been Luffy’s idea, putting a bucket of glue and feather above the door, making them fall on the first commander. Thatch, when he heard about it, had instantly gotten to work, thinking the idea was amazing. Now they were running away from the angry commander. When Marco was gaining a little on Luffy, he reached out and grabbed his arm, and stopping. Expecting the kid to stop to, seeing as he held his arm.

But no, the kid continued, making his arm stretch, startling Marco who then let go.

Thatch, who had watched, stopped in his tracks as Luffy’s arm shot back at its original place. ¨What was that?!¨ Asked Thatch, clearly shocked and dumbfounded. ¨Oh,¨ Started Luffy, ¨I ate the Gomu Gomu no Mi,¨ He smiled, ¨I’m a rubber man now.¨ Luffy then pullet at his cheek, to prove his point. ¨You ate a devil fruit, brat?¨ Asked the captain, making Luffy look at him and nod. ¨I thought it was food, so I ate it. It tasted awful.¨ He then made a face, making the crew laugh. Only Luffy would do that. Was the thought than ran though their minds.

¨Ah, Giant banana mustache,¨ Started Luffy, getting the attention from the captain. ¨When are we arriving at Boreumdo?¨ Whitebeard looked at the kid, ¨In 3 days I believe. Why are you wondering, brat?¨ Whitebeard was curious. Not once had the kid asked how long it was, so why now? The kid the smiled before answering, ¨Ace have probably noticed we are gone by now.¨ He ran towards the galley, screaming about wanting meat. Hmm… Thought Whitebeard, this was the second time he had heard about Ace finding out they were gone. He only hoped he would not panic, not being able to find the kids.

---x---

Two hours later, Sabo and Luffy sat on deck, listening to one of Whitebeards tales. Marco had washed and thrown Thatch in the ocean after catching him, making it so he had to fix his hair again. Everyone was listening on the tale, even though most of them had heard it before, it was calming. They loved to listen to the stories their father told, no matter how often they had heard it. While everyone was relaxing and listening, Sabo suddenly got up, and started walking towards the galley, startling everyone. He did like the tales, so why leave? ¨Where are you going?¨ Asked the captain, it was still early, the clock was not even 10 yet. ¨Inside,¨ Answered the kid, voice annoyed, what had annoyed him? ¨Why, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, curios about the change in his demeanor.

¨It’s too early to deal with an angry Ace.¨

An angry Ace? Was he speaking about their brother? They were about to ask what he meant, when a sound made everyone freeze, aside from Sabo who was walking, and Luffy who was still smiling. A cawing sound. They looked up and saw it, the raven. The Ace of Spades raven. And then, right in front of Sabo, Ace of Spades appeared in a cloud of smoke. The captain and commanders was about to yell out, telling the kid to move, when Sabo opened his mouth. ¨Yes, I know we should have told you. No, I don’t care that you are mad. And yes, we are fine.¨ He then just walked around the assassin, continuing on his path. Shocking everyone on deck, aside from Luffy, who had gotten up and was now running toward the assassin.

¨ACE!¨ Luffy yelled, when he was almost at the assassin, he stepped a bit to the side, making the kid fall to the ground, groaning as he sat up. ¨Why, Ace?¨ He then pouted, ¨Stupid big brother.¨ He mumbled, loud enough for the crew to hear, shocking them even more. ¨B-B-Brother?¨ Stammered Thatch out, looking at the assassin in fear. Luffy looked at him, ¨Yeah,¨ He started, ¨Ace is our brother.¨ He then smiled more as he looked at the assassin. ¨Ne, ne, Ace. This place is really awesome. The food I amazing, and the Giant banana mustache man tells really cool stories, almost as cool as Shanks.¨ He was even lifting his arm, empathizing how much he enjoyed it on the ship.

The assassin, Ace, only pinched the bridge of his nose. ¨Why,¨ He started, ¨Are you on board of Whitebeards ship?¨ He asked, making the crew look at each other. The Ace they had heard about, the one they thought to be kind, caring and young, was The Ace of Spades? They could not believe it. ¨Some stupid Noble showed up at Dawn,¨ Started Sabo, reappearing from the galley, a sandwich in hand. ¨He attacked the village and we fled with Dadan to an island. But she would not bring us back or home.¨ He then pointed at the captain, ¨They showed up and offered to take us home, we said yes.¨ He took a bite of the sandwich, looking at Ace. ¨You should stay,¨ He said, ¨A free ride home and it is really nice here.¨

¨Yeah!¨ Screamed Luffy, ¨You should stay! We will be home in 3 days! Like an adventure! It will be awesome and the food is really good!¨ He then looked at Sabo who was eating, stomach rumbling as he also was hungry. ¨Yes Ace,¨ Said Sabo, looking at the captain. ¨I’m sure the captain won’t mind you tagging along.¨ Luffy then also looked at the captain, giving him the best puppy eyes he could manage, ¨Please Gia-, Whitebeard, can Ace also stay?¨ Ace had removed his hand from his face, and was looking at his brothers, glaring almost. Whitebeard did not really know what to say. But the look on Luffy’s face spoke thousands of words, this was the same Ace that he had talked about,

Their brother, was The Ace of Spades.

¨Of course he can stay,¨ Started Whitebeard. ¨Your brother is welcomed to stay as long as he want.¨ If what the kids had said about their brother, he was overprotective, but he was also kind and caring. Whitebeard wanted to meet the kids brother, just because he turned out to be the Ace of Spades was not going to stop him from doing just that. Maybe they will get to know the assas-, no, Ace better. Whitebeard was already intrigued by what the brothers had told, the fact that he was the best assassin there was, only intrigued him more. He wanted to see him relaxed. To see the person Luffy had spoken about. ¨Pleaseeeee Ace,¨ Started Luffy, giving his best puppy eyes, looking at his brother. ¨Give it up,¨ Started Sabo. ¨We both know you can’t deny that face.¨ Ace sighted,

¨Fine, I’ll stay.¨ Luffy then jumped up, hugging his brother, clearly happy.

Yes, thought whitebeard, this was going to be an interesting 3 days.

Chapter Text

---x--- Day 1 ---x---

The atmosphere was a tense and had been for the last hours. After the Ace of Spades had showed up and had been reviled to be the kids brother, they had been in shock. When Sabo had asked if he could stay and Luffy had given Whitebeard the best puppy eyes he had seen, he had agreed to let him stay. He was also curious, the way the kids had talked about the assassin, he had a feeling he was a caring person. That and the fact that they knew he cared about children. The moment he had agreed, Luffy had given an even sadder puppy eyes too Ace. The comment Sabo made, made him feel like the assassin was more than he seemed.

But still, after the shock of figuring out who their brother was had mostly gone away, they realized something; Ace of Spades was going to be staying with them for 3 days. No one really dared to look at him or speak to him, aside from Whitebeard and a few of the commanders. He had been on the ship for 3 hours and had found a spot on a ledge on the mast. Sitting about 30 feet above the deck, leaning on the mast, eyes closed. Relaxing. After he had arrived, he had interrogated his brother and let them run about. He apparently trusted them enough to let his brother run around. It made Whitebeard happy to see he trusted his brothers around his crew.

Some of the tension broke by a door banging open. Luffy, Thatch and Marco running out and onto the deck. Marco clearly chasing the other two, who had somehow managed to dye his hair pink. Making a few pirates snicker at the funny sight. The first commander managed to catch up to the kid and dragged him down by his shirt, having learned that grabbing his body would not work. When Luffy was down, Marco sat atop of his back, pinning him to the ground. Luffy let out a small yell of annoyance, ¨Get off, stupid bird!¨ Said the kid, only making a vein in Marcos head throb as he began to tousle the kids hair, annoying him more. Thatch had stopped and turned around, probably going to try to help the kid. But the next words out of the kid’s mouth, stopped him in his tracks, making everyone freeze. Fear filling them.

¨No, stop. Ace help me!¨

Marco, in the spur of the moment forgotten one important thing. He was the brother to the Ace of Spades and he was here, only feet away. Marco was just about to get off the kid and apologize when an another voice stopped him. ¨And why would I do that?¨ Started Ace, ¨You clearly brought this upon yourself.¨ Luffy then let out an another wine, ¨Ace is mean! Sabo help!¨ He tried to get the others brother help, but he only ignored him, continuing to read a book. ¨No Luffy,¨ He started, ¨Ace is right, you did brought this upon yourself. You do this all the time, we’re not going to help.¨ Marco, still sitting on top of the kid, was a bit dumfounded. Yes, the kid had dyed his hair pink and he did deserve it. He just didn’t think the assassin would let him. Luffy suddenly bit his hand, making the commander move a bit, giving the kid an opportunity to escape. When he was free, he stretched his arms and dragged himself up to Ace, deciding to hide from the commander there.

¨If you are going to pull pranks, don’t hide behind me.¨ Said Ace, softly kicked the kid down from the ledge, making him fall and flail his arms, trying to catch onto something, anything to hold onto. And managed to grab Ace’s cape, both startling the assassin and making him fall towards the deck with Luffy. Ace would have landed on top of Luffy, but Ace grabbed Luffy and twisted them around, so when Ace fell to the deck, Luffy landed on top of him, laughing. ¨Really Luffy,¨ Started the assassin, lifting the cape that had landed over his face, and sitting up, making Luffy fall down from his stomach to his lap. ¨You can be really annoying.¨ Luffy only pouted and hugged his brother.

Laughter reached their ears and they looked over at Sabo, who was laughing. Ace sent a glare his way, only causing more laughter. ¨Sabo,¨ He started, ¨Stop laug-.¨ He was cut off as the kid had grabbed Ace’s cape, dragging it over his head and ran away, trying to escape, laughing. Ace took his cape off his head, his eyes twitching as he looked at Luffy, who somehow managed to stumble and fall on his face. Making Sabo laugh even more, even Ace giving a snort, shaking head. The crew just looked at the scene, some smiling and a few trying to hide some snickers. When Luffy sat up, rubbing his face, he looking at Sabo and Ace and started laughing himself. Then, suddenly Whitebeard also started laughing, and suddenly everyone was laughing, the tension broken.

The assassin didn’t seem so bad after all.

---x---

After the event earlier, the atmosphere had lightened. The crew realizing the assassin wasn’t going to act like… well how they thought. They had thought he would act the same way, as when he was with them about the mission. This was obviously not the case. He seemed to still be a bit rough and on guard. But he also seemed a bit carefree and relaxed.

They were now sitting on deck. Sabo and Luffy listening to a tale from Whitebeard, looking at the captain with shining eyes, especially Luffy, clearly enjoying the story. Ace sat by the railing this time, the one at the other in front of the captain’s chair, facing the captain and sitting behind his brothers, leaning back on the railing, reading a book with his legs crossed. Thatch then came out, a couple of plates in hand, filled with kind of snacks like doughnuts, croissants, baguettes and such. Even before he could say anything, Luffy was instantly in front of him, taking all kinds of food. He put a doughnut in his mouth and moved away, letting others get some too. Seeing Luffy’s movement had made Whitebeard stop the story, alerting the others to the chef’s presence.

When Luffy turned around, he did not walk back to the spot he had been sitting at, but towards Ace, who was still reading the book. When he was nearing his brother, Ace lifted his book up and to the side, holding the book in his left hand, giving Luffy room to sit down in his lap. Shocking the pirates, seeing how the assassin was expecting it. As Luffy sat down, he wiggled a bit, trying to get comfortable, before leaning back and resting against the assassin, continuing to eat the scone he held. As he now had made himself comfortable, Ace moved his right arm around his waist, letting it rest there, as his left arm, holding the book was lowered a bit so he could read it.

It looked really adorable, making most of the crew smile. Clearly understanding the brothers often did this, seeing how Ace had anticipated the move and Sabo snort. Luffy sitting in his lap, leaned against the assassin, head tucked under his chin. Ace’s arm laying across his waist, some sort of comfort and security, while his other arm held a book, reading over his head. After eating his scone, he looked at the captain, waiting for him to start the story again. When he did, Luffy somehow managed to lean even more against Ace, his head resting on his neck, eyes closing a bit. It was getting late. It had already begun to darken and it had been an eventful day. So it was no surprise the kid was tired.

An hour later, the story was finished. Sabo had gone somewhere inside the ship, saying something about finding a new book. Luffy had completely fallen asleep in Aces lap, snoring lightly. When the pirates looked at them, they could not help too smile. It was nice seeing the most fearful man having a kid, his brother, sleeping in his lap. Showing the caring and soft side they had heard about from the kids.

Hearing the story was over, Ace closed his book, putting it down on the deck. He then moved Luffy a bit, so he was laying across his lap. Ace took one arm under his knees and the other on his back, standing up and holding Luffy in his arms. Luffy did not wake up, but moved a bit, turning towards Ace and clutching his cape a bit. ¨Newgate,¨ Started the assassin, getting his attention, voice soft, trying not to wake the kid. ¨Do you have a room I can put him in, so he can sleep?¨ He asked, as he looked at the captain, eyes calm. Whitebeard nodded, ¨Yes,¨ He started, ¨He and Sabo have been sharing a room. Marco can show you.¨ He then motioned for the first commander to show the assassin the way. Marco nodded, and started walking, Ace following.

When they reached their destination, Marco held the door for Ace, letting him get inside. Marco stood in the doorframe as Ace laid the kid down on a bed, trying to be as careful as he could, not wanting to wake the kid. When Luffy was lying on the bed and Ace moved to stand up, he stopped, Luffy’s hand still clutching his cape. Instead of prying his hands off the cape, Ace rather took and opened it and taking it off, letting Luffy hold onto it, before dragging a blanket over him. He really cares about him. Thought the commander, seeing how he behaved. He looked like a real caring and loving big brother, putting Marco a bit at ease. Ace then ruffled Luffy’s hair, and went out the door, Marco closing it carefully when he was outside. And they walked back to the deck, leaving the tired kid to sleep.

---x---

Not even a minute after Ace had left with Luffy, Sabo came out from the door leading to the library. The first thing he did, was to look at the spot where Ace and Luffy should be at. Finding nothing, he looked at the captain for any answer where his brothers where. ¨Luffy fell asleep,¨ Started the captain, noticing the look on Sabos face. ¨Ace is putting him to bed.¨ Sabo nodded and started walking to where Ace had sat and took his book from where it lay on the deck, placing it in a bag he held. He then leaned against the railing, relaxing. ¨Hey Sabo…¨ Started Thatch, getting Sabo’s attention. Thatch did hesitate a bit, not really sure how to ask. ¨Do you know that your brother..?¨ He stopped, not knowing what to say next. Sabo only smiled a sly smile, looking at the chef.

¨You mean how he is an assassin, or that he is the famous Ace of Spades?¨

All of the crew stared at Sabo for a moment, shocked that he knew what his brother was doing. ¨Brat,¨ Started Whitebeard, getting Sabos attention. ¨You know your brother is an assassin?¨ Sabo nodded, ¨How can I not know?¨ He started, ¨It’s not hard since he left and trained with an assassin for years and how he leaves for assignments all the time.¨ Sabo then shrugged his shoulders, ¨And he did kind of tell us the moment he decided his name, asking if hot it sounded, after that it was easy to find out.¨ Sabo then looked at the captain, who only looked back. Clearly not expecting the kind of answer.

¨So,¨ Started Thatch, ¨When you said he worked for Shanks, you lied?¨ Sabo looked at him, seeing he was curios, the same with many of the others, including the captain. ¨No,¨ Started Sabo, ¨I did not lie. He does a lot of work for Shanks, he does not live on the ship and mostly do delivery, information runs and other stuff. I only didn’t mention he was an assassin.¨ Whitebeard nodded, understanding. ¨So he works a lot for Shanks, do you know why?¨ He wondered why he worked a lot for Shanks. ¨I believe,¨ Started Sabo, ¨Shanks asked Ace to work for him after he found about Aces father and that he was Luffy’s brother. They are sort of something between friends and acquaintances.¨

Whitebeard looked at him questioning, ¨His father and being Luffy’s brother?¨ Sabo nodded, ¨Shanks saved Luffy a few years ago, losing his arm. And you have to ask Ace if you want to know about his father.¨ Sabo then leaned back again, after seeing the nod, from the captain. So, thought the crew, it was Luffy Shanks was betting on. ¨One thing you always need to remember, is that my brother Ace, and Ace of Spades is two different people.¨ Sabo continued, They where just about to ask what he meant about tit, when the door opened, Ace and Marco walking out the door and out on deck.

Ace was not wearing his cape, which caused a bit of curiosity spark in their heads. ¨Was he clutching your cape again?¨ Asked Sabo, laughing a bit. Ace only nodded, walking to stand beside his brother. ¨Clutching you cape..?¨ Said Thatch, making Ace look at him, making Thatch a bit anxious. ¨Yes,¨ Started Ace, ¨He often clutches it when I carry him, it’s too much trouble to pry them off and I don’t want to wake him up, so I let him keep it.¨ He then leaned a bit back, closing his eyes. The pirates looked at each other, then at Marco and getting a nod.

He really cared about his brother, was crossing all their minds.

¨Ace,¨ Started the captain, making Ace opening his eyes, looking at the captain. ¨Do you know Red Haired Shanks?¨ He asked, making Ace shoot a glare at Sabo, who only shrugged. He then sighted and looked back at the captain. ¨Yes,¨ He started. ¨I did an assignment for him many years ago, and when I met him he told me about my father, clearing some wrong assumptions I had.¨ He tilted his head back a bit, ¨I then visited him a few years later, thanking him for saving and looking out for my brother, and he asked to be acquaintances, and I accepted. Have worked with him ever since.¨ Whitebeard nodded, satisfied with the answer, ¨Who is father, if you don’t mind me asking?¨ Continued Whitebeard, curious who it might be. Ace, without looking at the captain, head still tilted upwards, eyes closed answered.

¨Gol D Roger.¨

This shocked the crew, they had heard rumor that the Pirate King had a son, but only that; rumors. ¨The Pirate King?¨ Asked Marco, getting a nod. ¨What’s your name?¨ Asked Whitebeard, wondering if Ace had the same name. ¨Portgas D Ace, my birth name was Gol D Ace, but changed it to honor my late mother, Portgas D Rouge.¨ Said Ace. Whitebeard nodded. He understood he took the name of his mother, seeing she was dead. And being named the same as the Pirate King was a death sentence. He also had met the woman, she was a feisty one, matching Roger perfect. He also now understood what he meant by Shanks clearing some stuff up about his father, people must have told him how horrible he was. He was glad Shanks had told him about the truth about him. Yes, he and Roger had fought a lot, but he still respected the man as a pirate and rival. He was a kind man; no matter what others say.

And his son seemed to resemble his father a lot.

---x---

It was almost three at night, most of the pirates had gone to bed for the night, only the few on watch was out on deck. And near the railing in the front of the ship, near the whale head, stood Ace, eyes closed as the wind blew at his face, making his hair flow around him. He contemplated about maybe taking his mask off, but decided against it for now. He really enjoyed nights like these, clear sky, wind softly blowing and the calming sound of the ocean.

¨You know,¨ Said a voice behind him, ¨When I imagined Roger having a son, I wouldn’t think he chose to be an assassin.¨

Ace turned his head and looked at the captain, who had come outside for a bit of fresh air. Ace turned his head back to the sea, ¨I don’t think he would either.¨ Whitebeard then walked up and stood next to the assassin, looking out at the sea. ¨But,¨ He continued, ¨He would have been proud of you.¨ He looked at the boy, who still looked out at the sea, eyes closed. He looked like he was relaxing. Ace gave a small laugh, ¨Shanks says the same thing.¨ He answered, also making Whitebeard laugh a bit. ¨Why are you up,¨ Started Ace, ¨Couldn’t sleep?¨ Whitebeard looked at him, he had still not moved. ¨No,¨ He started, ¨Needed a bit of fresh air.¨ He could see the kid nodding. ¨What about you?¨ He asked.

¨I’m enjoying the tranquility.¨ Answered Ace.

Tranquility? Thought Whitebeard, ¨What’s that?¨ He asked, curious about what he was referring to. ¨It this time,¨ Ace started, feeling the confusion in the captain, he continued. ¨Between 2 and 4 at night, when most is asleep and everything is calm. No one will judge you and the world is silent for a moment.¨ He then leaned a bit forward, head tilted a bit upwards. ¨It’s comforting.¨ Whitebeard understood. He himself had a few nights, when he liked to just go out on deck and enjoy the silence. And Ace was right, it was comforting. Whitebeard also leaned a bit forward, enjoying the wind on his face. ¨You seem to care a lot about you brothers, and they look up to you.¨ Said Whitebeards, closing his eyes a bit.

¨Yeah,¨ Answered Ace, ¨They can be annoying from time to time, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I only hope they go their own path.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he understood the feeling. ¨Don’t worry, they seem like good kids, they won’t let anything stop them, especially Luffy.¨ Ace laughed a bit, ¨Yeah,¨ He said, ¨He is really determined on being the Pirate King.¨ Whitebeard laughed a bit, nodding. The brat did seem determined and Whitebeard had no doubt he would try his best.

¨You know,¨ Started Whitebeard, Ace opened his eyes a bit, looking at the captain. ¨I knew your father well, I know he would have been proud of you.¨ He could see Ace looking back out at the sea, ¨If you want, I can tell you about him.¨ Ace nodded, ¨I’d like that one day.¨ He then tilted his head up a bit again, looking at the sky, ¨Shanks always say I remind him of my father.¨ Whitebeard nodded, deciding to also look up at the sky, it was a beautiful night. Whitebeard and Ace just stood there, enjoying the peace and quiet. After a while, Ace sighted, standing up completely. ¨I better go and rest a bit, so Sabo won’t be mad at me for staying up all night.¨ Whitebeard laughed a bit, telling him a goodbye for the night. He watched as he went inside, probably to the same room Luffy and Sabo used.

After a while, Whitebeard also decided to head in. As he walked inside, he thought how much Ace did remind him of Roger. Both was calm, caring and had one hell of a reputation. He really did like the boy.

---x--- Day 2 ---x---

Most of the pirates sat in the mess hall. Breakfast had started about 10 minutes ago and they were contemplating if they should go find their guests, seeing as they had not showed up yet. They were a bit worried, Luffy had always been the first in the mess hall the last days, and the fact they had not seen or heard from them yet was a bit weird. Whitebeard did not seem worried and the commanders was wondering why he was so calm, maybe he had talked to them? But before he could even think more about it, or ask him about it. The door bust open, a kid with black hair stood in the door, a cape being hold up by his hands.

¨I am the night,¨ Started Luffy, waving his cape a bit. ¨I am death and darkness, FEAR ME!¨ He then started running inside the mess hall, the cape blowing behind him. They could also now see the other two brothers, who were both standing in the doorway, pinching their noses, clearly annoyed and a bit irked by his behavior. When Luffy somehow managed to trip on his cape, sending him flying to the floor, everyone bust out laughing, clearly enjoying the way the kid was playing around.

¨How did you manage to let him get out with my cape?¨ Asked Ace, sending a glare at Sabo. ¨He said he needed to use the bathroom, then he bolted.¨ He then glared back at Ace, ¨And you should have taken it back when he woke up if you needed it.¨ Luffy, hearing what Sabo had said, had gotten up and walked over to his brothers, standing in front of them. Ace then crouched down and started to opening the cape, ¨You’re leaving?¨ Asked Luffy, voice small, but everyone had heard it. And the crew looked at each other, not understanding why he would leave so suddenly. Whitebeard frowned a bit, did he not like it here? He didn’t seem like he wanted to leave when they talked during the night.

¨Don’t worry,¨ Started Ace, as he took the now opened cape and fastened it around his neck. ¨I will be back in an hour, hour and half at most.¨ Luffy then tilted his head. The pirates was expecting him to start whining or telling him not to go. But he instead did something that shocked everyone, he started smiling. Why would he smile when his brother was leaving for some reason? ¨Ne, ne¨ Started Luffy, excited for something, ¨Can Dust stay here?¨ The pirates looked at each other, Dust? Who was that? ¨Luf-,¨ Started Ace, but was cut off by Luffy, ¨Plleeeaasseee?¨ He pleaded, eyes watering. Ace sighted before saying ¨Fine¨.

Luffy then turned around, pointing up towards the roof. When they looked up, they could see the raven, was that Dust? ¨Dust!¨ Started Luffy, ¨You are now my servant.¨ Ace pinched his nose again, ¨He’s not a servant, he is a raven.¨ ¨Oh,¨ Said Luffy, ¨Your my raven now! I command you to be my servant!¨ Dust cawed at Luffy, ruffling his feathers a bit, clearly unhappy. Some of the pirates laughed a bit, seeing the little one’s antics. Ace just shook his head, ¨Sabo,¨ He started, getting his attention. ¨I’ll let you handle this.¨ Then he was gone, black smoke dancing in the air a bit, before disappearing in the wind.

Luffy then went and sat down at the same table were some of the commanders and the captain sat and started eating, holding up some food that Dust flew down and ate. ¨You only did that to annoy him, didn’t you?¨ Asked Sabo, walking up, and sitting beside Luffy and Thatch. Luffy only nodded, mouth full of food. Sabo shook his head and started to fill his own plate with food. The pirates at the table looked at each other. ¨Luffy,¨ Started Thatch, getting the kids attention. ¨You’re not sad that Ace left? What if he’s gone longer?¨ Luffy stared at him, tilting his head before smiling. ¨I said it before, he works a lot. I’m used to it.¨ He then grabbed a chicken leg, putting it on his plate. ¨And if he said an hour, he’ll be back in an hour. He always keeps his promises.¨ He then started eating again.

The pirates understood. Luffy had said it earlier too, he did work a lot, probably more than they imagined. He was one of the most wanted and the best assassin, it would be weird if he didn’t work a lot. But the pirates still were amazed on how well Luffy was handling the fact that he just left. He must really be used to it. They thought. When they looked at Sabo, they could see that he was also calm, but a bit annoyed, probably because he did suddenly leave. They could understand that he might be a bit annoyed, mad even.

¨Ne, Giant Banana Mustache man,¨ Started Luffy, getting the captains attention. ¨Where are we now?¨ Whitebeard looked at the kid, he was looking at him, feeding a piece of bread to the ginormous bird. ¨We’re about a day from Boreumdo, we’ll arrive tomorrow afternoon I believe.¨ Luffy then nodded, before he looked back at the captain, eyes shining, clearly wanting something. ¨That means we’re close to Muuido! Can we visit it? Please!¨ Said the kid, looking at the captain, with big eyes. Whitebeard though for a bit, he had heard about the island, it was big and had a small village. And it would not hurt to stock up on some things. They did have time to visit the island, it would only take an extra hour to get there and they could spend a few hours on Muuido.

He looked at the kid, giving him a yes, they could manage that. Luffy got the most blinding smile they had seen, clearly overjoyed. Maybe he had some friends there. Was what the captain thought. ¨Can we do that, and still make it to Boreumdo by tomorrow, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, probably worried about the time they would waste. But before Whitebeard could answer, Luffy did, ¨Did you not hear what Giant Banana Mustache man said? If he says yes, he means it’s okay. You need to listen better, Birdy Blue Breast!¨ Marco just stared at him dumfounded, what did he call me? Everyone who had heard him, started laughing. ¨Did you hear that Marco? Or should I say Birdy Blue Breast?¨ Said Thatch, making everyone laugh even more. Luffy just continued eating, while Marco threw some food at the chef, shutting him up. But Thatch only got mad, and threw food back. And then the food fight started, Luffy eating everything that was thrown his way, and Sabo snuck out, not wanting to participate.

---x---

They were almost at the island, Luffy was running around and happy about going to the island. What is so special about the island? It was just an ordinary one. It had a lot of forest and open space. It did have a village with the usual marked and shop, so why was the kid so excited? He was about to ask, when Dust suddenly cawed, making Luffy stop, looking even more excited, ¨Yey! Ace is back!¨ Just as he said it, Ace appeared. Maybe the cawing is the sign that he is going to appear? Whitebeard would have to ask about it later. Ace was instantly tackled by Luffy, but not losing his balance, clearly expecting it. He had been gone about an hour, so he was speaking the truth when he left.

Ace looked around a bit, ¨Why are we heading for Muuido?¨ He then looked at the captain for an answer. ¨Luffy wanted to go there, and we can restock on some things. It won’t put us to far behind schedule. We will still reach Boreumdo tomorrow.¨ Answered the captain, making Ace nod a bit, before looking at the kid, who was still hugging him. ¨Why did you want to go to Muuido?¨ He asked his brother. Luffy looked up at Ace, then at Whitebeard, a gigantic smile at his face, making some of the pirates think they had forgotten about something.

¨I want to go so you can have the fight!¨ Answered Luffy.

Whitebeard froze for a moment as he remembered. He had told Luffy, that if his brother was home, he would duel him. How had he forgotten that? The others who also knew what Luffy meant, had also frozen, both worried and curious what would happen now. ¨What fight?¨ Asked Ace, clearly not knowing what Luffy was speaking about. ¨Ah!¨ Started Luffy, ¨Giant Banana Mustache said that if you were home, he would fight you!¨ They could instantly see the annoyance on the assassins face, ¨Luffy,¨ He started, the pirates tried to listen the best they could, clearly curious about how he would response. ¨You need to stop telling people to fight me. Also,¨ He then moved his hand, flicking Luffy on the forehead, ¨Stop calling people names, it’s not polite.¨

¨But,¨ Started Luffy, a hand cradling his forehead. ¨He said he would and you would do the ‘fight until last move’, so no one will be injured.¨ Ace then pinched his nose, ¨That was probably before he actually knew who he would be fighting, I’ve told you hundreds of times; stop telling people to fight me.¨ Luffy then let looked at Whitebeard, eyes a bit big, ¨Gia-, Whitebeard,¨ He started, using the actual name, ¨You said you would, right?¨ He looked pleading at the captain, who was a bit at a loss. ¨And no one will be injured, at least not terribly, since you would be doing the ‘until last move’ thing he does with Shanks and the others!¨ Whitebeard looked at him, until last move? What was that. He looked at Ace, who was now glaring at Luffy, before he looked at Sabo, maybe he knew.

¨What Luffy means by ‘until last move’,¨ Started Sabo, ¨It is when you duel,¨ He threw a glare at the kid, emphasizing the word, ¨And when you are one move from getting the upper hand and most likely winning, you hold your hand like a gun,¨ Sabo did and pointed at the captain, ¨Say ‘bang’. And the duel is over.¨ Sabo put his hand back to his side, looking at him, waiting for an answer. Whitebeard though it over, it was a smart way of dueling. No one would really get hurt, maybe a bit from scraps and such, but no actually finishing moves. Luffy looked at him with his adorable eyes, hoping he said yes. He then looked at Ace, he did not seem to be apposing to the idea, only a bit annoyed at Luffy for asking him when he had no idea who he was. Whitebeard made is decision, Ace was truthful to his word, he would not really cause any injuries, only until either he or Whitebeard had the upper hand, then stop.

¨If Ace says it’s okay, we can have the duel.¨ He answered, making Luffy extremely happy, his crew doing a double take and Ace only sighted. ¨If you agree,¨ Started Ace, looking at the captain, no malice or real annoyance in his eyes, ¨I don’t see the harm in it.¨ Luffy hugged his brother again, Sabo only shook his head. His crew, especially the commanders was staring at him like he was mental.

This was going to be interesting , thought the captain.

---x---

When the ship had docked and they had restocked on the items they needed. They headed towards a clearing in the woods, where they would have the duel. Everyone was a bit worried, they knew the reputation the assassin had. He was an amazing fighter and they were worried about their father. Whitebeard had his bisento with him, being allowed to bring it to the fight. He was a bit worried himself, but he did trust the judgment and truthfulness from the brothers, that there would be no serious injuries, that they would stop when they were a move away from having an upper hand and winning.

When they got to the clearing, they could see Sabo and Luffy, who were playing cards. Luffy looked like he was really concentrating and Sabo looked relaxed. But they could not see Ace, wasn’t he supposed to be with them? When the brothers noticed them, Luffy smiled and pointed towards a big tree. When they looked over and saw, on top of one of the branches, sat Ace, reading his book. When they got a bit closer, Sabo stood up, dusting some dirt off, before walking towards the pirates. ¨Before we start,¨ Began Sabo, ¨A few cautionary rules, just to make sure everyone is okay with this.¨ Sabo could see the pirates staring at each other, clearly worried. Sabo sighed. ¨It’s not to scare you, just to make sure you know how it’s going to happen and that no one is going to get seriously injured.¨ That did seem to put them a bit at ease, Whitebeard nodded and walked a bit forward and sat down on the ground, Sabo doing the same.

¨First ting first,¨ Started Sabo, getting everyone’s attention. ¨Luffy will draw a circle and no one, aside from Ace and Whitebeard, will be inside it. If anyone crosses it, the duel is over, even if it’s an accident.¨ He then looked at the pirates, seeing them nod. Whitebeard had a feeling they knew what they were doing, probably having done it many times and wanted to keep accidents from happening. ¨Secondly,¨ Continued Sabo, waiting for the pirates to understand he was serious. ¨The duel will end when either Whitebeard or Ace is one move away from getting an upper hand. Like the opponent falling to his knees, back or stomach, or otherwise is unable to fight for 2 seconds.¨ Sabo looked at them, being sure he still had everyone’s attention.

¨Thirdly. If for whatever reason, something goes wrong and you need to stop the duel. You say ‘Gipsy’. If either say this, the duel is over , no matter what .¨ Sabo looked at them, emphasizing the end, making the pirates nod. ¨And only 4 persons is allowed to use this word.¨ Sabo the paused, to see if anyone had any reaction or objection, seeing only confused faces, he continued. ¨The ones allowed is Ace and Whitebeard, seeing how they are the ones dueling. Also, I am allowed to use it, if I think it have gone too far, or see anything to my dissatisfaction. The last one is someone you will choose Whitebeard.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he understood what he meant, they were both strong and things could go wrong. He felt pleased by the fact that they had these rules. They really don’t want any accidents or misunderstanding.

¨I choose Marco.¨ Said Whitebeard. He trusted the first commander to make the right decision if it was needed. Seeing the first commander nodding, Sabo continued, ¨Then me and Marco will not be standing with each other, with crowd, to avoid distraction and manipulation.¨ Seeing the pirates nodding, he continued. ¨The last rule and precaution, is in place if for whatever reason you do not stop the duel, when it’s over. Like if the word is spoken, someone crosses the line or you go for the kill.¨ He then reached behind him, taking a hold of two bracelets and two remotes. ¨Whitebeard and Ace will wear a bracelet. They are special in the matter that they don’t only take the power and strength from Devil Fruit users, but everyone, even no devil fruit users, making them unable to move. Marco and I will have the remotes to active them, each remote activates both of them.¨ He handed them over, ¨Feel free to try them out, to be sure they are working.¨

Whitebeard nodded, he understood the rules and why they were there. ¨Have there ever been the need to use the remotes to the bracelets, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, looking at Sabo. Sabo sighed, before nodding. ¨Yes, there have been incidents. The reason why we have them in the first place.¨ He looked at the pirates, seeing concern and anxiety on their eyes as they looked at either him, Whitebeard or Ace. ¨But there have not been any caused by Ace, if it helps. We don’t have these rules because we don’t trust you, we have them to be sure it is under safe conditions.¨ He then looked straight at the captain, ¨It is no secret that Ace and Whitebeard is both decent fighters and have immense power and strength. We don’t want the fight to get out of control, either by injuring each other, or any one in close proximity, either knowingly or accidentally.¨

Whitebeard nodded, he did understand the rules. He did not want any of his sons to get injured, neither one of the brothers. He felt content and relieved that they had been thorough with the rules, there have probably been people that broke the rules . ¨If you have anything to add, like limitations or questions, now’s the time. You are also allowed to use the bisento if you like¨ Said Sabo, giving him a chance to say if anything was wrong or if he wanted more clarification or limitation. Whitebeard thought a bit, ¨What about Devil Fruit abilities?¨ He asked. Sabo nodded, ¨You are allowed to use your Devil Fruit power, but if you wish, we have braces that will subdue the Devil Fruit and not your strength.¨ He then shoved two braces, he could see seastone, but it was a weak and poorly made, only taking the Devil Fruit away, not their actual strength. Whitebeard shook his head. He was okay with a fight where they could use their powers.

¨Good,¨ Said Sabo, ¨Whenever you are ready, Whitebeard.¨ Sabo stood up and moved a bit to the side, Luffy had used a stick to draw a big circle around them, maybe 150 feet across, more than enough room for the duel. He could see his sons moving behind the line and Sabo showing Marco to a spot outside the circle, where there was an another, smaller one drawn. He also saw that on the other side of the circle, an equal one was drawn, probably where Marco and Sabo will be standing. Marco was then handed the remote and shown which button to press. Sabo walked up to him, giving him the bracelet, seeing as his hand was bigger than normal, it was placed around his thumb.

When Whitebeard looked towards where Ace had been, he saw that Ace had jumped down from the tree and was removing his gauntlets, his cape laying on the ground already. He then removed his dagger, gun, pouch and belt. Was he not going to use a weapon? Whitebeard did feel a bit bad about using his bisento now, seeing as Ace was not using any weapons, but decided it was his own choice and went with it. But what happened next, made him rethink the duel.

Sabo had thrown both the remote controlled bracelet and seastone bracelet at Ace and took them both on.

Whitebeard thought the duel would be unfair, especially seeing as he was using a weapon and his Devil Fruit, while Ace decided to use none of them. Whitebeard was not really sure how to react to this, but when Ace looked his way, after securing the bracelets and seeing the look on his face, he spoke up. ¨Don’t worry Newgate, I am not doing this to make you falter.¨ Started Ace, ¨It would not be a fair battle if I could just teleport behind you or above you and knock you down. The bracelet only takes away my Devil Fruit, I can still fight.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he did understand what he was doing now, it did make him feel a bit better, but still. He held his hand out towards Sabo, who got the idea and handed him the seastone bracelet. Ace watched him out it on and nodded. He understood the captain was trying to be as fair as possible.

The pirates all went outside the circle, Marco and Sabo standing in their own small one and Luffy seated in the tree Ace had been sitting in, watching them, grinning. Ace went to stand inside the ring, a bit from the middle, Whitebeard did the same, facing Ace, bisento in his hand, holding it straight. ¨Ready!¨ Yelled Luffy from his place in the tree and Ace got in a battle stance, ¨Set!¨ Whitebeard got ready,

¨GO!¨

Whitebeard moved first, swinging his bisento straight at Ace. But Ace was ready, he jumped over it and landed on the handle, kicking off, straight for Whitebeard. Whitebeard, seeing the attack, blocked the attack with his hand, hitting Ace away. Ace, before landing on the ground with his back, held his hands over his shoulders, taking the fall and doing a somersault, landing on his feet and jumping straight at the captain again. Whitebeard used his bisento again. Expecting Ace to jump on it again, he raised it a bit. But Ace ducked under it, crouching and kicked the handle, making Whitebeard lose his balance, giving Ace an opening. Whitebeard planted the head of the bisento in the ground, using it as a leverage for a somersault, avoiding Ace’s attack, giving him a change to kick. Which Ace avoided by an another somersault.

And that was how it went for the next hour, one of them attacking, the other either blocking or avoiding, trying to attack back. Everyone who was watching was amazed. It had been awhile for Whitebeard to have an opponent on his level, not since Roger, was the general thought of the crew. And Whitebeard was smiling during the fight, he did seem to be enjoying himself. And by the looks on Luffy and Sabos faces, they could say the same about Ace. His eyes did also seem to gleam, probably a smile under his mask.

It was a magnificent sight; the strongest man in the world, fighting the best assassin.

After an another hour, both where panting. The fight was starting to take its toll, no one had managed to make a real attack that hit their opponent. Both of them had a bit of dirt and scratches from attacking and avoiding the others attack. Ace then dove in for an another low attack and Whitebeard retaliated by using his bisento. They had done this a couple of times, Ace either going under or above it. But when Ace ducked under it and kicked it, like at the beginning, he used his hand to hold onto the handle, being thrown over Whitebeards head.

When Whitebeard realized what was happening, it was already too late. Ace had let go and was behind him. The moment his feet touched the ground and the captain was on his way to turn, swinging his bisento at full force. Ace jumped, avoiding the bisento and getting in a chance to hit the captain. He used his hand to press a point in the back of his shoulder and Whitebeard lost his grip on the bisento with his right arm. Whitebeard used his left arm to swing the bisento, Ace ducked under it, giving it a solid kick, putting the captain off balance. When he faltered a bit, his balance lost, and right arm a deadweight. Ace put his hands on the ground and used his legs to trip the captain, making him fall backwards. When his back touched the ground, Ace held his hand out, thumb up, and index finger pointed at the captain.

¨Pow,¨ Ace said, and the duel was over, Ace winning. Both tried to catch their breath, the duel had been a tough one. Whitebeard laughed a bit, as he sat up. ¨You are a good fighter. The duel was good.¨ Said the captain, looking at Ace with a smile. Ace nodded back, leaning on his knees a bit. ¨It was a good fight, you are a skillful figh,-¨ Ace never got to finish, as Luffy tackled him to the ground, making Luffy sit on top of Ace, as Ace just glared at the boy. ¨That was AMAZING!¨ Yelled the kid, clearly impressed with the duel. He then went on about how awesome the fight had been, making most of the people around laugh.

When Whitebeard stood up, Luffy moved from Aces stomach, seeing the captain heading for Ace. When Whitebeard was in front of Ace, he crouched and offered his left hand, Ace accepted and stood up. When he was up, Ace lifted his arms, stretching them and his back. ¨It’s been awhile since I had a decent duel.¨ Said the assassin, making a few joints pop when he stretched. ¨The same goes for me,¨ Answered Whitebeard, ¨I have not had fight as good as that since your father was still alive.¨ Ace nodded as he looked at him, ¨I have heard of some of your battles, they sound spectacular from what I have been told.¨ Whitebeard laughed a bit, it was true, their battles was spectacular, but never once had Roger outright won, only tied with him. Ace was strong and cunning.

¨What did you do to my arm?¨ Asked Whitebeard, still not able to move it like usual. ¨I pressed a pressure point, it will go back to normal in 10 minutes. I didn’t press to hard.¨ Answered Ace, the captain nodded. He had heard about it, but never seen anyone do it before. Maybe he can teach them? He then watched Ace get his stuff, getting a clap on the back from Sabo. As Whitebeard watched him put his stuff back on, he smiled,

Roger would have been proud.

---x---

When they were back at the boat, most of the pirates where enjoying the nice day out on the deck. The sun was shining and they were almost ready to set sail, just a few more things to be done. Their guests were not on the deck, but had gone to their room, saying something about Ace needing to do some small work. Based on the fact, that they had not saying about him leaving, they guessed Ace only did some paperwork. It would not surprise them if he did, assassins probably had that too.

When they set sail, the door opened, Luffy ran out on the deck and started screaming about being the dark, night and death, like he had in the morning. He was once again wearing Ace’s cape, but not only that, he was also wearing the mask. When they did notice this, they remembered something, they had not seen the assassin without the mask. The mask did cover half if his face, it did make him look intimidating and was a part of his look. But it also took away his identity, not being able to put a face on the name Portgas D Ace.

¨Hey Luffy,¨ Started Thatch, getting the kids attention. ¨How did you get the mask?¨ It was a good question, Ace never took it off. Luffy looked at him, head tilted, then his eyes lit up, and based on his eyes, he was most likely smiling. ¨Ace have no work for a few days, so he changed.¨ He then started running again, seeming to enjoy himself. Changed? Had he switched clothing maybe? Then the door opened again and Sabo and Ace came out, talking about something or another.

And everyone could just stare at Ace. Luffy was right, he had changed. He was no longer wearing the clothes he had worn for the last few days, but was regular ones. He had a regular black singlet, and a pair of red pants. He also had a hat on his head, a cowboy hat. He did have a dagger fastened to his belt, but that was probably more for incase, just like everyone of them usually had their weapons on them. But his face was what shocked them the most. He looked young. Yes, Luffy had said he was 18, but he did not look that age with the mask. They could now see freckles and a young like appearance. The reason for the mask did make a lot of more sense. The person they were seeing, was not Ace of Spades, the famous assassin. But the kid, son of Roger and brother of the brats, Portgas D Ace.

And he looked a lot like his father , was the thought on the people that knew Roger, save for the freckles.

The fact that the kid now looked like… well a kid. Put many of the pirates at ease, knowing that he was just a kid. Looking nothing like the demon they had heard about; he looked like a normal person. Sabo and Ace went over to the railing, leaning against it as they continued the conversation, something about Shanks and going to his ship. ¨Ace,¨ Started Whitebeard, getting his attention. ¨Are you going to visit Red Haired Shanks?¨ Ace looked at him as he answered, ¨Maybe, he said something about needing information, he also asked me to bring Luffy and Sabo for some reason.¨

Before they could react, Luffy had skidded to a halt and was looking at his brother. ¨Are going to visit Shanks?¨ He asked, head tilted. ¨We don’t know yet,¨ Started Sabo, ¨We might, when he says why he want us to come.¨ Luffy then ran up to Ace, eyes shining, probably a smile under the mask. ¨Can we go Ace? Please, I want to see Shanks!¨ Ace sighted a bit, ¨We’ll see Luffy, I won’t just take you because he asks, I’ve sent Dust to see what he wants.¨ Luffy nodded, and went back to running around deck.

And the pirates did understand, and it made them a bit happy, to see that even if they might be friends, Ace won’t just take his brothers with him. He needed to know why he should bring them and would probably need a good reason too. ¨Ace,¨ Started Whitebeard, when he and Sabo stopped talking for a bit. ¨When are you going to get the answer for why he needs you?¨ Ace though for a moment, ¨Dust should be back soon, the reason we are outside now. Why do you ask?¨ Whitebeard nodded, looking at him. ¨I was wondering since Shanks had been staying at Oseum island for about a week, when your brothers,¨ Whitebeard could see Sabo’s eyes widening, looking at him pleadingly for some reason, Luffy stopping running around, looking at him with scared eyes. ¨Was there after fleeing with the woman, staying with them.¨ Sabo then put his hand to his face, messaging it, why was it making the brothers look scared.

But when they looked at Ace, they knew why. He did not know. His eyes were shocked for moment, before frowning, an angry look on his face. He apparently had no idea that Shanks had been at the island. ¨NO!¨ Started Luffy, startling many of them. ¨Don’t k,¨ And Ace was gone, ¨ill, Shanks…¨ Luffy stared at where Ace had been, black smoke was the only prof that he had been there. ¨Jupp,¨ Started Sabo, a tired look on his face. ¨Shanks is as good as dead.¨ This shocked the pirates a bit, ¨Why would he kill shanks, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, wondering why the fact made Ace react the way it did.

¨Shanks said in the letter that he had wanted to meet us, seeing as he has not spoken to either me or Luffy in months. Ace don’t like lying.¨ And they understood, Ace had been told they had not seen each other and Shanks could have told them about what had happened at Dawn, no wonder he was mad. ¨So Ace will…¨ Stared Thatch, not really knowing how to say murder Shanks. ¨Murder him?¨ Started Sabo, getting a nod. ¨Probably,¨ But when seeing the look on Luffy’s face, he started again, ¨Well, maybe not murder, only maim a bit.¨

Then Ace was back, not being gone for more than 3 minutes. ¨Did you kill him?¨ Asked Luffy at once, ¨No.¨ said Ace, causing Sabo to look at him as well, ¨What did you do to him then?¨ Ace then started walking towards the galley, ¨Nothing.¨ Said Ace, continuing to walk, not caring most of them thought he had killed the captain. Sabo seemed to stare at him dumbfounded, before his eyes went big, ¨You didn’t do what I think you did?¨ He asked, making all the pirates started at them. ¨I did.¨ Was the answer as he disappeared in the galley.

And then Sabo started laughing, shocking them even more. Why was he laughing. Luffy started to giggle, running in after Ace, telling him how Shanks looked when he planted the spiders. Spiders? Thought Whitebeard, looking at Sabo, who had stopped laughing a bit. ¨Ace probably planted a bunch of spiders on his ship,¨ When he saw the confused look on the pirates, he elaborated. ¨Shanks is utterly terrified of spiders.¨ Then he walked after Ace and Luffy, laughing a bit. The pirates looked at each other, before busting out laughing, Shanks was terrified of spiders? Even Thach, who himself was terrified of the bugs, was laughing.

So Ace did have humor. Thought Whitebeard, he reminds me more of his father every day. Rogers also did these kind of things, especially to people he liked.

---x---

¨You know,¨ Started Marco, getting Ace’s attention. ¨The freckles make you look young, yoi.¨ Ace looked at him, laughing a bit, ¨I know, that’s why I wear the mask.¨ Started Ace, ¨It also hides my identity better.¨ Marco nodded, he did understand what he meant. He probably was easy recognized without the mask, he did look like his father and he was young and talented. ¨I understand, yoi.¨ Ace nodded, before he suddenly lifted his and Marco’s plate. Marco was just about to ask what he was doing, when Luffy ran across the table, spilling and knocking everything on the table down. Ace then sat the plates down again, seeing Sabo had done the same with his and Thach’s plate.

¨He really have a lot of energy and run around like a kid.¨ Said Marco looking at Luffy who continued on the tables, making many people curse and laugh. ¨Yeah,¨ Started Ace, ¨He do, but he is still really observant, so be careful what you say or do around him.¨ Marco nodded, not really knowing what he meant about the last bit, but before he could ask, Ace had moved and was walking out to the deck. Leaving Marco to puzzle over his words.

He really was a curious person.

---x---

¨Umm..¨ Started Izou, standing in front of Ace, getting his attention as he was relaxing against the railing. ¨The thing you did to Pops while fighting, the pressure point thing. Could you teach me how to do it?¨ He bowed a bit at the end, hoping he would say yes. Ace sighed as he stretched his arms a bit, ¨I can show you,¨ He said as he stood up, ¨But I need someone to use as a demonstration.¨ Izou nodded, as he motioned for Jozu to come up to them. Ace looked at him, ¨And he is okay with being used at demonstration?¨ Jozu nodded, making Ace nod as he told him to go a bit out on the deck, standing with his back towards them.

Ace lifted Jozu’s arm and pointed at some spots at his shoulder, ¨Press here and his arm will become immobile, the harder and more precise will cause it to last longer.¨ Back, ¨Press here for immobile waist and down.¨ And lower back, ¨Press her on the right for right leg and left for left leg.¨ Izou nodded, ¨I don’t ask you to do it on him now, but remember it for when you have someone to try it on.¨ Izou let out a sight, and Jozu’s shoulders relaxed, expecting to be tested on. ¨I will remember it, is it hard to do?¨ He asked, Ace shook his head. ¨You probably won’t be able to get full effect the first times. But when you know where to press, you will get some effect.¨ Izou nodded, he was happy with that. ¨It does also not hurt when you press the points, only making the limb immobile.¨

¨Also,¨ Continued Ace, now pointing at his neck, ¨Press here to make him unconscious.¨ Izou tilted his head, that he did know about, but never been able to do. He now saw that he had been a few centimeters wrong, Izou nodded, trying to make a mental picture. ¨And,¨ Said Ace, getting the attention again, ¨There is one more thing I can show.¨ Izou looked at him, waiting for what he was talking about, there were no more limbs to make immobile. Ace then reached for Jozu’s arm, lifting it, ¨Just hold it like this for a moment.¨ Jozu nodded, doing as the assassin said. ¨This will not hurt or make your arm immobile, so no need to be nervous.¨ Jozu nodded again. Ace then made a line from his left arm and to his back, Izou followed with his eyes, ¨You start here,¨ Said Ace, then he gave 6 quick raps with his hand, 3 on his back towards his should, and 3 from his shoulder to his elbow.

Jozu stood there, completely still for a moment, everyone on deck was looking at him, especially the captain, waiting for his hand to be immobile. But nothing happened. Jozu still held his hand to the side, even moving it a bit. ¨If I am not mistaken, you should now be unable to use your diamond power for the next 5 minutes.¨ Everyone eyes widened. Jozu tried, when nothing happened, he coated his right arm, which worked. He looked over his shoulder at Ace, how had he done that?

¨This only work on Devil Fruit users for obvious reasons.¨ Izou nodded, looking in awe and shock at what he had done. ¨What I did was press 6 points that send the impulse of the devil fruit from his body to his arm. I did not press hard or fast, so it should be back too normal in a few minutes as I said. The harder and faster you do it, the better the effect.¨ Izou nodded. He was impressed, he did not know that it was possible to disable the user of his devil fruit. And by the look of it, so was everyone else to, save for Luffy and Sabo. ¨If you want,¨ Continued Ace, ¨I can show you how to disable the entire body of its devil fruit ability.¨ Izou could only nod, he was really impressed.

For the next few hours, Ace was showing Izou, and some others that had joined, where to press to immobilize the body or devil fruit.

---x---

It was getting late, the sun was setting. Ace was sitting and leaning on the railing, like last evening, reading a book. Sabo and Luffy was eating while listening to some of Whitebeards stories, Luffy was more into the story than Sabo, but he still sat beside his brother. When the story was finished, Luffy looked at the pirates, and stopped at Thatch. ¨Hey, Pompom guy,¨ Started Luffy, making a few pirates snicker and getting a stern Luffy, from Ace. ¨Are you a swordsman?¨ He asked, tilting his head. Thatch looked at him, nodding. ¨Yeah,¨ He started, ¨Why do you ask?¨ Luffy then smiled, ¨Are you good?¨ Thatch actually looked a bit offended, ¨Of course I am br-, Luffy.¨ He decided not to say brat, he was more at ease, but the assassin still made him a bit nervous. Luffy only grinned more, ¨Are you as good as Mihawk?¨ Thatch gaped at him, he knew Mihawk? Thatch shook his head, he was nowhere near that good. Luffy tilted his head, smile still present,

¨Maybe Ace can teach you.¨ Said the kid.

Thatch stood completely still for a second, ¨W-What?¨ He finally got out, Luffy still grinning, even more when he spoke next. ¨Yeah! Since he is just as strong as Mihawk! They always tierd.¨ Ace sighed, ¨It’s tie Luffy, not tierd.¨ Luffy looked at him, and back at Thatch, still grinning as he said ¨Yeah, tie with each other.¨ And once again, the crew was shocked, he was equal to Dracule Mihawk? They looked at the assassin, still reading his book, not caring that they stared at him. Ace was that good with swords? ¨Y-Yeah,¨ Started Thatch, ¨It would be nice to get better, but only if it’s okay with Ace.¨ He said, not wanting to sound desperate. Being able to fight someone who was able to tie with Mihawk, was a big chance for him. Luffy went on to annoy his brother, even giving him the puppy eyes, until he said yes.

And for the next few hours, Ace gave Thatch pinpoints as Thatch was showing him what he could do.

He is really kind and helpful, though Whitebeard. He had now helped his sons with fighting and he only wanted to ask him to join even more.

---x---

It was in the middle of the night again, Ace once again stood at the front of the ship, enjoying the night. Even feeling the breeze on his whole face. ¨You enjoying the tranquility again?¨ Said Whitebeard behind him, Ace just nodded, leaning a bit forward. Whitebeard went and stood next to him, the calm and carefree look on Ace’s face made him happy, seeing he could actually truly relax and enjoy himself. Actually looking his age.

¨How did you find out about Shanks fear of spiders?¨ He asked, he was curious about how he found out. Ace snorted a bit, a small smile on his face. ¨He once called for me, telling that I needed to get there as fast as I could.¨ Ace shook his head, a small laugh escaping him, ¨When I got there, I found out Benn was gone for some reason, and a spider was in his cabin, stopping him from going inside.¨ He then looked back up at the sky, ¨He didn’t want to tell his crew about his fear, so he rather call me. Luffy laughed for hour when he found out, even mocking him.¨

Whitebeard laughed a bit himself, that was funny. Shanks would rather call the most famous assassin, instead of telling his crew he was terrified of spiders? ¨Won’t he be angry that you told us?¨ Ace shrugged, ¨Probably. But he promise to tell me if Sabo or Luffy was in trouble, so I just made it even.¨ Whitebeard laughed at that, he liked the kid.

¨I wanted to thank you for showing my sons a few tricks, I think you managed to stun everyone at some point.¨ Said Whitebeard. Ace just stood with his eyes closed. ¨It was nothing.¨ He then opened his eyes, looking at the captain without turning his head. ¨They do learn fast and have potential.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he was proud of his sons, and he knew they was fast learners. Whitebeard the decided to take a chance, knowing he had to ask at some point. ¨Ace,¨ He started getting his attention.

¨Why don’t you join my crew?¨

Ace just laughed a bit, shaking his head. ¨I don’t think I would to that, I usually don’t like to stay the same place for too long.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he was an assassin, so he could understand it, but still. ¨Haven’t Shanks asked you to join?¨ Ace laughed, ¨Of course he have, but he said if I joined, I needed to stop being Ace of Spades.¨ Whitebeard frowned a bit, ¨You like being an assassin?¨ Ace leaned a bit forwards as a gust of wind came. ¨Not always, but I enjoy the freedom and helping people. They need someone to be there for them, help them when everyone have given up. Give them hope.¨ Whitebeard understood, even he had called upon Ace of Spades in a time of need.

¨If you do join,¨ Started Whitebeard, also leaning a bit forward, he could see why Ace enjoyed this. ¨I would not keep you from your work, but giving you a place to belong.¨ He looked at the assassin, ¨My sons have taken a shine, not only too you, but your brothers as well.¨ Ace laughed a bit, ¨Most of them still fear me you know?¨ He then looked up at the sky again. ¨I do thank you for the offer, but I belong with my brothers and Luffy would never join an another crew.¨ Whitebeard laughed, that was true. Luffy was hell-bent on being the pirate king, having his own crew. Always saying how a pirate captain never could sail under an another captain.

¨You are right about that.¨ He then looked down at Ace, ¨But the offer still stands, Luffy and Sabo could even join until they set out themselves.¨ Ace nodded, ¨I’ll think about it.¨ He then leaned forward a bit, looking at the captain, ¨But it’s good to know we have somewhere to go if something happens.¨ Whitebeard nodded, looking back, smiling. ¨My door is always open, even if you only need a place to stay for a bit.¨ Ace nodded. Then they leaned forward a bit, enjoying the silence and calmness of the night. When the sun started to rise, Ace said his goodbyes as he went back inside. Whitebeard stood a bit longer outside, even giving a nod to Marco as he came out for his shift, looking at him disapprovingly for staying up all night.

---x---Day 3---x---

In the morning, they could find Sabo and Luffy in the galley, eating breakfast. They had been up for a somewhere about a half hour, and they were wondering why Ace was not with them. They had not mentioned anything, and seemed to be acting like nothing had happened. ¨Hey,¨ Started Whitebeard, ¨Where is your brother? Is he not coming this morning?¨ He asked the brothers. He wanted to talk to the assassin before they arrived at Boreumdo, which was only a few hours away.

Luffy looked at him, tilting his head a bit, ¨You mean Ace?¨ He asked, getting a nod, not only from Whitebeard, but from the others as well, it was not common for him to not be with his brothers. ¨He got a call from someone and needed to leave for a bit.¨ He then went back to eating a bit, earning a few looks from the pirates. Sabo sighted as he shook his head. ¨He is back, it did only take a hour or so.¨ He then took another bite of his food, ¨He is doing some filing of some sort, saying how he needed to get it done. He will be out soon.¨ He then looked at the young commander, ¨Why are you wondering?¨ Whitebeard nodded at the information, ¨I wanted to talk to him before we arrive at Boreumdo.¨ Sabo nodded, ¨He will be out soon, if you want, I can get him for you.¨ Whitebeard shook his head, ¨There is no need for that, he’ll come out when he’s done.¨

An hour later, they sat out on deck, Luffy running around, and Sabo having a conversation with Marco about some tactics and how running a division was like. Then the door opened, and Ace walked out, looking a bit irritated, ¨Remind me to never answer the Green Horns again.¨ He said to Sabo, making him laugh a bit. ¨A false request again?¨ Ace nodded, as he went to sit down by the railing, his usual spot. ¨You get false requests, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, a bit surprised people actually dared to do it. Ace nodded, ¨They try to get me to be their private assassin, it’s really annoying.¨ He then leaned his head back a bit, resting it against the railing. ¨Then,¨ Started Thatch, ¨Why do you answer it? Why not just ignore the request?¨ He was curious, as well as the others. The assassin seemed to be annoyed by the fact some faked a request.

¨I can’t just ignore it,¨ Started Ace, ¨Even if they annoy me, they do sometimes have real request, they are good people. They just sometimes decides to try make me only work for them, they think I am someone they can buy.¨ The pirates nodded, they could understand what he meant. They started to see more and more what Sabo had meant the first day. The assassin and Ace, was two different people. Ace seemed to act like a somewhat normal 18 year old, getting annoyed, having fun, caring for his brothers and being civil. The assassin seemed to act different, not having fun, only acting professional, and not being civil, but professional. They had no doubt, that if they called for the assassins help again, he would not act like Ace, but as the assassin. And they expected nothing else. It gave some comfort to speak and ask for a request, he would act professional.

¨Ace,¨ Started Whitebeard, getting his attention. ¨You are pretty young, when did you start training to be an assassin?¨ He asked, he could see almost all of his sons and daughters who could hear the question, stopped talking and looked at the assassin, curious about when he started. ¨I met my mentor when I was 7, and he though me how to fight and control my powers.¨ Started Ace, ¨I did not start to train to be an assassin, until about 1 year and half later.¨ That was pretty young, thought the captain. ¨Why did you not train to be an assassin until you were 8, when you started training to fight at 7? And who was your mentor?¨ Whitebeard had heard about many assassins, the one who thought Ace, must have been a good and talented one.

Ace leaned a bit back again, ¨I did not want to be an assassin, until I was 8. That’s when I was though more about them, and it was interesting.¨ He then closed his eyes, ¨My mentor was Azuruko.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he could understand that. ¨I have heard about Azuruko, but not for the last few years, has he stopped working?¨ Ace sighed a bit. ¨A bit over 2 years ago, he got sick. He unfortunately died a few months later, his body giving out.¨ Whitebeard nodded, a somber look at his face, ¨My condolences, he was a good man I heard.¨ He could see his children also giving a small nod, giving their own condolences. Ace nodded, leaning his head back, eyes closing. He must have meant a lot to the assassin.

Luffy then suddenly propped down on his lap, giving him a hug. The pirates looked at them for a bit, questioningly, but when Sabo also sighted a bit, looking up, they understood what was happening. He was comforting his brother. The realization made Whitebeard think about something, being an assassin could not be easy. He did have a lot of work, he heard and saw a lot of stuff, stuff no 18 year old should see. Does he have anyone to talk to? He wondered, he would never give away his fear and concerns to his brothers, he was the oldest of them. He hoped he did have someone to go to, life could be hard, even if he had started at a young age.

Maybe he goes to Shanks? Thought Whitebeard, he hoped he would. Living with burdens was not good. And probably having used to go to Azuruko for advice, or when something got though. But seeing he had passed away, he was a bit concerned for the boy. He was by no means weak, but everyone needed a pillar to lean on. When they arrived at Boreumdo, he would offer the assassin a place with them again, even if he declined. He wanted to let the kid know he was not alone, and his door really was open for him, no matter what.

---x---

5 hours later, they arrived at Boreumdo and Luffy gave a big goodbye to everyone. Before running off and stopping at some way into the woods, waving at them. Sabo made his farewell, bowing and being polite, before going after his brother. Ace looked at them go, shaking his head. ¨They look happy to be home.¨ Said Whitebeard, making Ace laugh a bit. ¨Yeah, I guess they are.¨ Ace went to the railing, looking at where his brothers were waiting for him. He then turned around and looked at the captain. ¨I thank you for your hospitality, Whitebeard.¨ He then bowed, giving his respect and thanks to the captain. ¨It was nothing, it was nice to get to know you, Ace.¨ He answered back, giving a nod, the same did several of his sons.

¨And Ace,¨ Started Whitebeard, getting his full attention, ¨My offer from last night, still stand, should you ever need it.¨ He could see Aces eyes softened a bit, before nodding, ¨Thank you, I will remember it.¨ Whitebeard could sense Marco looking at him, he would tell them what they had talked about later. Ace then Turned around, but before he left, he paused a bit. ¨And Newgate,¨ He tuned his head around, face a bit hard, professional, the same face he had used when accepting their request. ¨A piece of advice; Do not trust Marshall D Teach .¨ Then he was gone, appearing besides his brothers as they went inside the woods, probably to head to their home, Luffy waving as they went.

What had he meant by not trusting Teach? Was the thought on most of the pirates mind, after a while, they set sail. Deciding that they would maybe be a bit weary with the man, he had been acting a bit weird the last weeks, and it was a bit concerning.

Chapter Text

It was quiet. No one knew what to say. Everyone sat in silence as they waited for news from White Bay, hoping for good ones. Two days ago, they had raided a boat and Thatch had found a Devil Fruit onboard. Since he had found it, he was the one who was going to decide what to do with it. He was unsure if he was going to eat it or not and decided to think about it. And during the night, it had happened,

Teach had betrayed them.

He had snuck into the Fourth commander’s room and was going to take the fruit. But Thatch had stayed up late, doing some paperwork and had still been up when Teach snuck in. He did not notice him sneak in, when Teach saw Thatch still up, he had made a noise, alerting Thatch. And when Thatch looked at Teach, he had attack the fourth commander, ending up beating him up bad, even stabbing him in the back. Then he took the fruit and left, leaving Thatch to die.

But since they had noticed the strange behavior in the second commander and the warning from Ace, they had been keeping him under tight watch. When one of his subordinate had seen him leave his room, not returning in half an hour, he went to Marco, informing him, since he was the one on watch. When Marco had heard about it, he decided to check it out, and seeing how large the ship was, he asked the others on watch to help him. Izou, who had also been on watch, decided to go and get Thatch, knowing that he was up late, doing paperwork.

When he got to his room, he instantly froze for a second, before starting to scream for the others, screaming to get the doctors up there now.

2 hours later, every commander was in the meeting room with Whitebeard. It was easy to connect the dots, Teach had betrayed them. He had tried to kill Thatch for the fruit and he had fled the ship, knocking out some of the people on watch, thankfully not hurting them. They had decided to wait for answers on how Thatch was, before they decided what to do. Many wanted to go after Teach, but Whitebeard had told them to stay, seeing as he most likely was stronger than they believed, and he did not want to send anyone after him. The fear of more of his sons either getting hurt or killed was to strong.

And so they waited.

They had waited for almost 10 hours. The tension was high, no one wanted to say anything. When the door to the meeting room opened, everyone tensed. When White Bay walked in, a stern look on her face, they only hoped Thatch was anything but dead. Everyone sat down, looking at the doctor, waiting for her to speak. She sighted, ¨Thatch is not dead,¨ Everyone gave a small sight of relief, ¨But his condition is critical. He is still unconscious and will be for a while.¨ Whitebeard looked at his daughter, she looked tired and probably was. She had been up for hours, working on Thatch. And knowing Teach was behind it, must be hard on her, it was on all of them.

¨Do you know how long he will be unconscious, yoi?¨ Asked Marco. And Bay shook her head, ¨He can be for a few more hours or days. It’s hard to tell.¨ They all nodded, hoping that he would wake up soon, and that he would be fine. After a bit of update on how he was, that the surgery had went well, Bay left to go to the infirmary again, leaving the commanders and captain to discuss what to do next.

¨What should we do Pops?¨ Asked Marco, looking at his adoptive father, face looking more tired that it had in ages. He sighted and looked at his commanders, everyone was looking tired, upset and distraught. Izou was one of the worse ones. He had not said anything and seemed to just be looking out in space. They knew the chef was important to the sixteenth commander and seeing his this distraught, showed them just how much he cared about the fourth commander. Whitebeard closed his eyes, gathering his thoughts. He needed to be strong, not only for his commanders in the room, but for Thatch as well, they could not act hastily. ¨We will wait for Thatch to wake up, we can’t just rush into this, we need to know what Thatch think, he was the one that was injured.¨

The commanders nodded, they understood what he meant. If they just rushed after, without hearing the chefs point of view on what to do. They could maybe make a grave mistake. ¨For now, we need to stay calm and on guard. Tell the others and tell them of Thatch’s condition.¨ He then looked at Izou, who still sat completely still, staring at the wall. He sighed and looked at Marco, giving him a silent order while he looked between him and Izou. Marco nodded. As everyone started to leave the room, he got up and went over to Izou, putting a hand on his shoulder, making him look at the first commander.

¨Why don’t you and I go and visit Thatch, yoi.¨ He said softly. Izou only nodded and silently followed the first commander.

---x---

It had been 6 days, Thatch had not yet woken up. Izou had never once left his side and the other commanders made sure he slept and ate. It made their heart ache, seeing how much he cared for the chef, how distraught he was. Whitebeard knew that the people around the world, had noticed something had happened and that it had to do with Teach. He had declared to not be a part of their crew anymore, covering the mark he had on his shoulder, taking the name Blackbeard. There was also rumors about Thatch being injured by the man and hoped no one dared to attack them. If someone did, they would not hold back.

¨Pops,¨ Said Marco, walking up to Whitebeard as he sat on his captain’s chair on the deck. ¨Red Haired Shanks is approaching us, yoi.¨ He said, making the captain frown as he looked out at the sea, he could see a ship in the distance. ¨They don’t seem battle ready, yoi. But what do you think we should do?¨ He asked the captain. He looked out towards the ship, sighing a bit, ¨If they do not show any signs of an attack, let him board.¨ Marco nodded and went to tell the ones on watch what Whitebeard had said.

20 minutes later, Shanks boarded the ship.

Shanks boarded the ship alone, his crew being ordered to stay behind and wait, even Benn. ¨Newgate.¨ He said as he approached the man, standing in front of him. ¨What do you want Shanks?¨ Asked the captain, looking at the other captain, face strong. ¨I have heard what happened with Teach. I am sorry that Thatch was wounded and hope he is doing well.¨ He could see many of his sons giving the captain looks of sadness and betrayal, they did not like to be reminded of what had happened. Shanks reached behind his back and took an envelope out, giving it to the captain. He looked at it and opened it carefully, inside there was a single feather. It was large and black, it looked like from a giant bird, and his mind instantly thought it belonged to Ace’s raven, Dust.

¨If you decide to get revenge,¨ Started Shanks, getting everyone’s attention. ¨Burn the feather, Ace will show up within minutes.¨ Whitebeard looked at him questionably, ¨I know you have called on him once,¨ Continued Shanks, ¨And that he and his brothers spent some time here.¨ He looked at the captain with a look of understanding and abhorrence on his face. It had been 9 months since they had stayed on the ship, and they had told Shanks at some point, either that, or Shanks had somehow found it out. ¨If you want to get back at Teach, he will help you.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨Thank you for this, how did you acquire it?¨ Shanks looked at him, face calming a bit, ¨Ace gave a few to me, they are from Dust, he will know where the feather is when you burn it and show up momentarily.¨ He then looked at him straight in the eyes, ¨He knows I am giving it to you.¨

Whitebeard closed his eyes, that meant the assassin wanted to help if they needed it. And the realization he was there if they needed it, was comforting.

He looked at shanks, eyes thankful. ¨I thank you for this, if we chose to call him, I want all my commanders to agree on it.¨ Shanks nodded, face filling with compassion as he understood the sentence, Thatch was wounded bad. Shanks then said his goodbye, wishing the fourth commander well, and left. Leaving the pirates to thank the other captain and assassin.

---x---

Two days later, Thatch woke up.

When he woke up, he felt groggy and his body ached. When he blearily opened his eyes, he could feel something holding his hand, and looked down. There on the side of his bed, sat Izou, his body was resting on the side of the bed, eyes closed and looking exhausted. When Thatch looked at his hand, he could see Izou was clutching it. Thatch smiled a bit and tried to move his other hand, to show he was okay. But the movement caused him pain and made him groan, waking Izou from his slumber. And when he sat up, Thatch got a look on how he looked,

Izou looked terrible.

His hair was a mess, his makeup looked smudged, and he could see dark circles under his eyes. Thatch figured out he must have been unconscious for a while, and based on how Izou looked, he had not left his side. It made Thatch’s heart swell, knowing the other commander cared for him this much. He also felt bad for the commander, he didn’t need to stay with him all the time, by the looks of it, not eating or sleeping regularly, he needed to take care of himself. Izou the rubbed his eyes a bit, getting rid of some sleep, when he looked at the fourth commander, he did a double take, before throwing his hands around the man, hugging him.

Thatch did wince a bit, but he looked down at the other commander and managed to lift his hand, softly stroking his hair. When he felt Izou shake a bit, hearing something like a small sob, his eyes widened, he was crying. ¨H-hey,¨ Said Thatch, voice breaking a bit, both from lack of use and emotions. It made his heart ache seeing the other commander in this shape. ¨It’s okay, I’m okay.¨ He said. Izou shook his head a bit, leaning back and wiping his eyes. ¨I-I thought you would never wake up.¨ He said, making Thatch give a sad smile. He tried to lift his hand, to stroke his hair, cheek, anything. But once again, the movement made him flinch and groan. Izou looked at him, ¨I-I’ll go and get Bay.¨ Izou stood up and ran to get the doctor.

When Izou retuned, White Bay was walking behind him. ¨Ah, Commander Thatch,¨ She started, a smile on her face. ¨Good seeing you awake.¨ She walked over to the bed, lifting a clipboard. ¨I will be doing some routine examination, to see that your body is healing nicely. Then, if you feel up to it, Pops would like to talk to you.¨ Thatch did understand that, Pops probably wanted to see that he was okay and ask what had happened. He still could not believe Teach had attacked him. Thatch was starting to nod his head, but flinched again, a groan escaping him. Bay clicked her tongue, ¨The aching and pain in your body is mostly normal. I will give you something for it after the examination.¨

She then put on some gloves and helped the commander sit up. He groaned as his muscles ached, Izou giving him a look of concern. ¨Commander Izou,¨ Started Bay, getting his attention, while she was looking Thatch over. ¨Why don’t you go tell Pops and the others that Thatch is awake while I examine him?¨ Izou nodded and left, giving Thatch a last look before leaving. When the door closed, Bay still checking his wounds and stiches, ¨He never once left your side.¨ She said, making Thatch look at her. ¨He always sat by your bed, holding your hand.¨ Bay then looked at Thatch, ¨He really cares for you a lot.¨ Thatch nodded. He would be lying if he said he didn’t feel the same.

---x---

As soon as Izou was out of the infirmary, he leaned against the wall a bit, trying to compose himself. Knowing that Thatch was awake, and was most likely going to be okay, was a huge relief. And for the first time in 8 days, he felt like he could breathe normal again, a huge weight lifted of his chest. He stood up, took a deep breath, dragging a hand over his head, making his hair seem a bit better. And wiped a bit under his eyes, getting rid of any makeup that had smudged and gotten there when he cried. He knew his eyes probably was a bit bloodshot, but he had something to do. Based on the time, Pops was most likely in his room, so Izou headed that way.

When he stood outside the gigantic doors, he took an another deep breath, preparing himself to speak when he got inside. He could feel so many emotions inside him, all the ones he had held inside himself for the last 8 days, but he was going to be strong. The ones he had passed on the way to his destination, had stared at him in concern. They knew he had not been out of the infirmary for the last 8 days, and seeing he was out, heading for Pops room meant that something had happened, and they only hoped it was nothing bad.

Izou then lifted his hand, and knocked at the door. He heard a ¨Come in¨ from Pops, and slowly opened the door, stepping inside.

When he got inside, he could see Pops, Marco, Jozu, Haruta, Namur and Vista. They were all sitting around the table in the room probably talking and discussing something. When they saw who entered, he could see Marco putting his hands on the table and standing up a bit, at the ready to leave if something was wrong. Whitebeard and the others tensed a bit, looking at him. ¨Son,¨ Started Whitebeard, when Izou made no move or said anything. ¨Did something happen?¨ Izou could see his face was calm, but his eyes were full of worry and concern. Izou opened his mouth a bit, but no words came out, he could feel his eyes tearing up again, why was this so hard? He could see the others growing more concerned by the way he was acting, thinking something was wrong. He closed his mouth and took a deep breath and tried again,

¨Thatch is awake.¨

He could feel everyone letting out a sigh of relief, Marco sitting down again. And Izou couldn’t hold in it anymore, he was happy, relieved and exhausted. He let the tears fall as he continued, ¨Bay is looking him over now,¨ He wiped his face a bit, why was he acting so weak? ¨He’s going to be okay.¨ Whitebeard got up and crouched in front of Izou, opening his arms a bit. The moment Izou looked at him, seeing him standing there, he all but leapt into his chest, just letting it all out. All the emotions he had been keeping in for the last 8 days, came pouring out. His father just hugging back and giving him the comfort he needed. Even if he seemed weak, it felt good to finally let it out, leaning on his father. He was always there for them, he was the foundation that kept the together, that helped them when they needed it.

When he finally let go, everyone aside from Marco had left, probably to tell everyone the good news. ¨Feeling better?¨ Asked Whitebeard, as Izou wiped his face. He nodded back, giving a thankful smile to the captain. ¨Did Bay say anything else?¨ Whitebeard asked his son, hoping Thatch was well enough to talk to him. Izou nodded, looking a bit more composed. ¨She is going to check him over, if he was feeling up to it, he is going to talk to you. I think Thatch wants to do that.¨ Said Izou, and Whitebeard nodded. It had been 10 minutes since Izou had arrived, and he had probably used a few minutes to get there. He looked at Marco, who nodded and went up to Izou. ¨Why don’t we go and wash you up, yoi. You need to change clothes anyway.¨ He said, getting a small laugh from Izou, he probably did stink. He had not changed for days. He nodded and they went to his rooms, as Whitebeard headed for the infirmary.

---x---

Whitebeard opened the door to the infirmary, a smile graced his lips as he saw his son sitting up in bed, Bay telling him to take it easy, to not pull his stitches or reopen any other wounds. The way the bed was placed, made it so when Thatch looked at Bay, his head was turned away from the door. But Bay was facing the door and noticed him coming inside. ¨I will go do some paper work,¨ She said to Thatch, ¨And you will stay in bed, and call if you need anything.¨ She then looked up at Whitebeard and gave a nod, before leaving. This made Thatch look towards the door, a smile making itself know as he saw Whitebeard standing there.

¨Pops.¨ Said Thatch, sounding happy and relieved, as he moved to sit on a chair next to the bed. ¨How are you son?¨ Asked Whitebeard, looking at his son. He did look okay, there were a lot of bandages and scrapes and bruises on him, but he did look okay. ¨I feel mostly okay,¨ Started Thatch, ¨Just a bit sore and achy.¨ Whitebeard nodded, that was good to hear, they had all been worried. They then chatted a bit, just letting the chef relax before he started the conversation they needed to have. ¨What happened?¨ He asked, looking at his son with a serious look. ¨We figured it was Teach, seeing as he has left and declared he is no longer a part of our crew.¨ Thatch looked at him, he had been told he had been unconscious for 8 days, and they was sure it was Teach who was to blame.

¨I didn’t know he had done that,¨ Started Thatch. ¨Bay told me Teach was the main suspect, and that he had fled, but nothing more.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨Why don’t you start from the beginning, son.¨ He said and Thatch sighed. ¨I was doing some paperwork and was up late,¨ Started Thatch, ¨And I thought I heard something and turned around, only to see Teach standing there. I was about to ask what he wanted, when he suddenly attacked.¨ He could see Whitebeard frowning, ¨I tried to fight back, but he was much stronger than I thought, and managed to bet the upper hand.¨ He put a hand to his head, messaging it, ¨I then remember a piercing pain in my back, then nothing.¨ He ended, looking at his father.

Whitebeard nodded. ¨It seems Teach is a lot stronger than he let on.¨ He said, Thatch nodded. Teach had never been strong enough to beat any of the commanders before, the fact he had managed to singlehandedly beat Thatch, proved that he had been holding back. Thatch sighed and looked at Whitebeard, ¨What are we going to do now?¨ His brows furrowed, ¨You haven’t send anyone after him, have you?¨ He asked, scared for his fellow brothers and sisters. Whitebeard shook his head, ¨We have not. I feared he might be stronger than we thought, it would be dangerous to send someone after him, especially now that he also have the Devil Fruit.¨ Thatch nodded, a sight leaving him, glad everyone was safe.

¨We do plan to get revenge on him.¨ Continued Whitebeard, getting the attention again. ¨We however need to have a plan and we need to be prepared.¨ Thatch nodded, ¨Do we have any thoughts for a plan?¨ He asked, Whitebeard nodded. ¨We do,¨ He started, ¨We know he is a lot stronger than we believed, so we have to be careful.¨ He then stretched his hand towards his back, ¨2 days ago Shanks visited,¨ He could see Thatch frowning a bit. ¨The news about the event had got out, and rumors had started.¨ He took the envelope out, handing it to Thatch. ¨Shanks gave us this.¨ Thatch looked at him, before opening the envelope, and started at shock at the feather, ¨Is this…¨ He started, looking at Whitebeard in shock. Whitebeard nodded,

¨It is a feather from Dust, Ace’s raven.¨

Thatch started at the feather for a bit, ¨What does it do?¨ He asked, looking at Whitebeard. ¨If we choose, we can burn the feather. It will instantly alert Ace we need his help, and he will show up.¨ Thatch nodded, looking at the feather again. ¨And we got it from Shanks?¨ He asked, Whitebeard nodded. ¨Yes,¨ He started, ¨He had a few and decided to give one to us.¨ When Thatch looked at him, he continued, ¨Ace knows Shanks gave it to us.¨ Thatch’s eyes widened as he understood what it meant, Ace wanted to help? It made him feel a bit better, knowing the assassin was at their side in this. ¨Will we be using it?¨ He asked, looking at his captain. Whitebeard sighted, ¨If you want to, we will use it.¨ Thatch nodded and looked at the feather, thoughtful. Teach was strong, but Ace was really strong, hopefully stronger than Teach. It would be real helpful to have the assassin help them, he was one of the best, he knew how to deal with situations like this. He looked at Whitebeard,

¨I think we should call him.¨

Whitebeard nodded, and took the envelope from Thatch. ¨We will call him tomorrow,¨ He started, ¨For now, you need to rest.¨ Whitebeard then rose, and moved towards the door. ¨Pops,¨ Said Thatch, halting Whitebeard in his movement, tuning around and looking at Thatch. ¨Who found me?¨ He asked, he was curious and felt bad for whoever it was. Whitebeard sighed, eyes saddening a bit, ¨It was Izou.¨ He saw the shocked look on Thatch, before it turned to a somber one. He knew the fourth commander felt bad for how Izou looked, knowing it was him who found the commander, was probably heart wrenching. Whitebeard then went and opened the door, Marco and Izou standing on the outside. Izou looked better, he had changed his clothing, and seemed to have taken a quick shower, his hair and face looked better. The moment he saw him opening the door, he went inside and sat by the chefs side, looking at him relived, his hand clutching Thatch’s. Marco and Whitebeard shared a knowing look, before closing the door, leaving them alone.

---x---

The next day, Whitebeard and most of the commanders where on the deck. Izou was still with Thatch in the infirmary. When Thatch had said he wanted to call Ace, Whitebeard had taken all the commanders, except Izou and Thatch, and put the folder together. They did not know if he needed one, seeing as they would use an another way to contact him, but it didn’t hurt to be ready. They knew the one they would be calling was not Ace, but the assassin, Ace of Spades. He would not act so carefree as he had, when he and his brothers had stayed on the ship. But the fact they now knew him better, made it easier for them to act relaxed and professional, not like the first time, when everyone had some level of fear for the man.

They did not know if the feather needed to be somewhere special, so they had placed it on the deck, a few feet from the captain’s chair, the commanders standing at the captains side. Marco then lighted a match, and burned the feather, before moving back to Whitebeards side. The feather burned up, leaving only ashes behind. Everyone looked at the ashes, waiting. A few seconds later, Dust appeared, the same way Ace did; In a cloud of black smoke. This made the pirates look at each other, they did not know the bird could teleport. The bird turned its head a bit, looking around. Dust then flew a bit up, making a cawing sound,

And Ace appeared in a cloud of black smoke, Dust landing on his shoulder.

He was wearing his assassin’s clothes and he was looking at the captain with the same look and body language he had during the first meeting, professional. He was here as an assassin, not someone they knew. ¨Newgate.¨ He said, giving a nod to the captain, who nodded back. ¨I understand you have someone you want me to take care off.¨ He said, and the captain nodded. ¨Yes,¨ Whitebeard then motioned for Marco to give the folder to Ace. ¨His name is Teach and we want him to pay.¨ Ace nodded as he took the folder and opening it and taking a quick look. But even before Marco had managed to move a step away,

Ace closed the file, handling it back to Marco.

¨I won’t take this assignment.¨ He said, shocking many of them. He had known they wanted him to take care of someone, and Shanks had said he was okay with giving them the feather, so why? But before anyone could say anything, make any objection to his harsh rejection on the assignment, Ace lifted his hand, making everyone halt. ¨I do understand,¨ Continued Ace, ¨That all of you feel betrayed by Marshal D Teach. But you are not the one he attacked.¨ He then relaxed his hand, placing it against his side again. ¨If you want me to assassinate Teach, I will speak to the Fourth Commander Thatch, seeing it was him who was attacked.¨

They stared at him, many of them to shocked to say anything. Whitebeard nodded, he did understand what the assassin meant. Teach had betrayed them, but it was Thatch he had attacked. It would be fair if he was the one to talk to the assassin. ¨I understand,¨ Said Whitebeard. ¨He is in the infirmary, do you want to talk to him alone?¨ He asked. He understood if Ace said yes, but still hoped to be present himself. Ace shook his head, ¨You are allowed to join, there are some questions you need to answer too. But if you try to influence his answers, I won’t let you join the conversation.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he could accept that. ¨You can also alert him before we go, he can say no if he wants to. If he do not want to make the decisions, I won’t make him.¨ Said Ace, making Whitebeard nod. He then signalized for Marco to go check with Thatch, also telling that Izou probably should wait outside while they talked.

---x---

Ace and Whitebeard walked to the infirmary. It was located not too far away from the deck with the captain’s chair, and the trip was short. Thatch had agreed to talk to the assassin, he was glad to know he was going to be included in the assignment as much as he was going to be. He knew Whitebeard would have listened to him if he wanted anything special, but had been tired yesterday, and seeing that everyone wanted the revenge, he was okay with that. He was wondering what kind of questions he was going to get, and hoping he could manage to answer all of them a way everyone would like.

When Ace and Whitebeard arrived and walked into the infirmary, the only ones present was Thatch and White Bay. The others having been told to wait outside, White Bay had stayed seeing as she was head doctor, and didn’t want to leave Thatch, and Ace had accepted it. They got their own chair, Ace sitting at the bottom of the bed, and Whitebeard sitting next to Thatch, both facing the assassin. Ace took out a pen and a notepad, being able to write the details down. When he was ready, he looked at the fourth commander. He looked a bit worse for wear, but not too bad. He then opened the notepad, still looking at the chef.

¨First things first,¨ Started Ace, getting the attention. ¨Do you want Teach dead?¨ He asked, looking at the chef, who nodded. Ace wrote some things down. ¨Do you want him to have a fast or slow death?¨ He asked and Thatch thought for a minute. He had heard about how the assassins sometimes prolonged the death, making the person suffer for hours and hours. They were good at imagining and doing different kinds of torture that many could not even believe were possible. Thatch looked at the assassin, ¨I don’t want him to have a painless and fast death,¨ He started. ¨But I don’t want you to prolong his death to much either.¨ Ace nodded, and wrote something down ¨I know what you mean, I will make him suffer, but I won’t pick him apart piece by piece, prolonging the death and making it the most painful I can manage.¨ Thatch nodded, glad Ace understood. He looked at his father, getting a nod.

Ace then looked at the captain, ¨This question is for you, Newgate.¨ He nodded at the assassin, ¨If I understand it correctly, your crew have some sort of mark, signalizing they are a part of you crew?¨ Whitebeard nodded, that was right. ¨And Teach have his on his left upper arm?¨ Whitebeard nodded, Teach had covered the mark after he left, not wanting to be associated with them anymore. Ace looked him dead in the eyes, ¨Do you want me to remove it?¨ He asked, making whitebeard furrow his brows in confusion. ¨Remove it how?¨ He asked. Ace looked at him, ¨I will either cut it off and give it to you, or rid of it forever, signalizing he is no longer a part of your crew.¨ Said the assassin, Whitebeard thought for a moment, ¨I want you to remove it and get rid of it.¨ He then looked at Ace, ¨I never want to see the mark on his body again.¨ Ace then looked at Thatch, and getting a nod from the chef. Ace nodded, writing something down again.

¨There is also the issue with marking him.¨ Said Ace, making both the commander and captain look at him questioningly. Ace sighted, ¨When I do assassination for someone and the target is from their crew, squad or organization. You have the choice of me either leaving only my mark on his body, or adding yours to it. Showing the world you was the one to send me to kill him.¨ Whitebeard thought again. He had heard about this, the assassin leaving two marks on the body, his own, and an another one. Both marks were left the same way, so there was no mistaking who had done it and was responsible. He wanted no one to think they took lightly to people betraying and attacking his crew. ¨You can use both marks.¨ Said Whitebeard, looking at the assassin in a serious way. Ace looked at Thatch, who also nodded, and wrote in his notepad again.

¨That will be it,¨ Said Ace, closing his notebook. ¨I will search him down, and take him out. It should be done within 2-4 days.¨ Ace looked at the captain and commander, ¨I will return when I am finished with the assignment, telling you if it went accordingly or not.¨ He put the notebook away, ¨Is there anything you would like to add, or have questions about?¨ He asked them. Whitebeard got a confused look for a moment, ¨You don’t want payment for the assignment?¨ He asked, clearly wondering why there had been no questions about the payment. When he asked, Thatch brows furrowed to, he thought there was a price set. Ace shook his head, ¨I do not want payment for this,¨ He looked at them, seeing the confusion. ¨Consider it a thank you for helping my brothers.¨ He said and their looks softened as they nodded.

¨If that is all,¨ He said, motioning with his hand, seeing if they had anything else to add. ¨Umm…¨ Started Thatch, getting the attention to Whitebeard and Ace, ¨I know you are here as Ace of Spades and not Ace,¨ He looked at the assassin, eyes soft and hopeful, ¨But can you maybe bring your brothers by sometime?¨ He asked the assassin, wanting to see the other two kids again. Ace looked at him, he did not seem angry, offended or annoyed with the question. He simply nodded his head a bit, ¨I’ll think about it.¨ He said, making the commander smile a bit.

The assassin stood up, ¨I will then take my leave, I hope you get well soon, Fourth Commander Thatch.¨ He said as he looked at the commander, giving him a nod. Thatch nodded back, and his gaze shifted to Whitebeard, ¨Newgate.¨ He said, giving him a nod. Whitebeard looked at him, giving a nod back. Then he was gone, black smoke dancing in the air. Both of them then closed their eyes, letting out a sight. Delighted the meeting had gone well, and that Teach would pay for what he did.

White Bay the clocked her tongue as she looked at them, getting their attention. ¨Now that he has left, you should rest a bit Commander Thatch.¨ She said. And they nodded, Whitebeard needed to go inform the others about what they had discussed, and was going to leave anyhow. Before he had managed to move, the door opened, and Izou pecked inside. ¨Dust disappeared, so we thought the assassin had left.¨ He said, as he walked inside, seeing no signs of the assassin. ¨He just left, the meeting went well.¨ Said Newgate, as he stood up, walking towards the door. ¨I am sure Thatch will tell you about it, as long as Bay accepts that you stay here.¨ Everyone looked at the woman, who sighted before nodding, and the sixteenth commander went over to Thatch, sitting down next to the bed.

Whitebeard left, giving a last look at the smiling commanders inside, before he closed the door. A feeling of gratitude Teach was going to be dealt with, and that all of his sons and daughters were safe and happy. Glad that Thatch was recovering nicely from the attack, and he was smiling and laughing as normal. Glad that Izou was back to normal, no longer looking like a kicked puppy.

And glad that everything would go back to normal, or as normal it could be.

Chapter Text

Ace sat and looked through some files and newspapers, searching for anything on the man he was hunting down. He had not made any bold or notice worthy moves and many though he had gone into hiding. There was also rumors that he had started to look for people to join a crew of his own and was going to use the name Blackbeard. Ace had managed to pinpoint his location somewhere to the South, and was heading that direction. He had gotten a hold of the newspaper that was from the south and was looking them through for clues. As he was reading an article the door opened and a coffee cup was placed at the table.

¨You found anything out yet?¨ Asked Shanks, leaning against the wall, looking at Ace.

When Ace had heard about Teach proclaiming to no longer be a part of the Whitebeards and had showed off a Devil Fruit, he knew something was up. The moment he had heard rumors about the fourth commander being injured, he knew Teach had betrayed them and attacked Thatch. He had visited Shanks when he found out, seeing as he believed the same, they agreed to let them have one of Dust feathers, so they could call for him if they needed it, without waiting for a response. He also wanted the fourth commander to make the decision if he should kill Teach, and what kind of death he would get. He could feel the stares and confusing when he denied, but he saw the captain understood when he explained why.

Ace nodded, looking at Shanks, ¨I believe he is either at Meokdo or Yukdo.¨ He said, showing the captain a newspaper from the sister islands. Shanks looked at it and hummed. They mentioned something about a shady, dirty and loudmouthed pirate trying to recruit people, causing havoc. ¨This do sound like Teach, I’ll tell the navigators where setting course towards the islands.¨ Ace nodded, it was good to be able to rely on Shanks to get him where he needed to be. He knew he could not always rely on it, but he also wanted to make Teach pay for what he did. The fact he had betrayed and stabbed the Whitebeards in the back, was something unforgiving, and Shanks wanted to help Ace get to the man.

Ace had also talked to Shanks, about why he had not told him about Luffy and Sabo fleeing with Dadan. Shanks had said that he had heard rumors of nobles going to attack the island and he had told Dadan to get to Oseum if anything happened, they would alert him. When he had arrived to the island, Luffy had begged the man to not tell Ace what had happened, that they were going to get home safe and without injuries, and didn’t want to worry their brother. Shanks had reluctantly said yes and had decided to stay for a while, but had to leave when he got a call from someone and needed to leave. He had apologized for not telling, and Ace said it was okay, seeing that they didn’t get injured or anything. But told the captain, that if it ever happened again, to call him, no matter what Luffy or Sabo said. Shanks had nodded, promising to do just that.

When Shanks left the room, Ace stretched a bit. He had been searching for clues since yesterday, after taking the assignment. It was going to take a bit to reach their destination, somewhere between a day, day and a half. Until then, Ace would relax and prepared to take Teach out. He had an idea on how to kill him. He was going to heed what Thatch had wanted, not going to prolong and keep the man alive for too long. But he was going to suffer, Ace would make sure of it.

Ace then looked through some other files, to see if it stood anything more, Ace stopped at one of them, reading it over and over. And he felt dread and fear filling him, his eyes staring at the page. How did he know? He was sure the Whitebeards had not told him, they would be careful with information like this, especially around him after his warning. And even if they had told him about them, how did he know who they were? Ace then got up, heading outside to find the captain.

He needed a favor from him, and he needed it now.

---x---

Ace and Rockstar appeared at Boreumdo, Ace opening the door and almost being tackled by Luffy. ¨Rockstar!¨ Screamed the kid, launching himself at the pirate, hugging him. Sabo stood in the doorway and looked at them. After seeing Rockstar was there, he frowned, thinking something was wrong. Ace looked at him and motioned for him to step outside. ¨Luffy,¨ Started Ace, getting both his and Rockstar’s attention. ¨Why don’t you show Rockstar your room?¨ Luffy looked at him for a second, knowing something was up. He and Rockstar went inside, Sabo closing the door behind them. Sabo looked at Ace, he knew something was up. Why else would Rockstar be here and Luffy being sent inside.

¨Don’t worry,¨ Started Ace, ¨Shanks and his crew is fine.¨ Sabo nodded, that was good to know. ¨Why is Rockstar here then?¨ Asked Sabo, ¨You wouldn’t bring him for no reason.¨ Ace sighed, ¨I’m doing an assassination for Whitebeard,¨ Sabo only looked at him confused, not seeing why an assassination was any reason to bring Rockstar here. ¨The target is someone from his own crew.¨ Sabos eyes widened. He knew the captain was fond of his crew, even calling them his sons and daughters. ¨Why?¨ Asked Sabo, looking at Ace with shock and confusion. ¨What happened?¨ Ace sighed and moved them a bit from the house, just in case Luffy was listening.

Sabo motioned for him to speak, wanting to know why the captain wanted to kill one of his own. ¨The Fourth Commander, Thatch,¨ Started Ace, Sabo staring at him in a serious manner. ¨Found a Devil Fruit during a raid. The Second Commander, Teach, apparently have planned to abandon the crew for a while. But when he saw the fruit, he attacked Thatch and took the fruit, before fleeing the ship, knocking several others of the crew out.¨ Sabo stared at him, remembering hearing about this Teach before, also getting a warning to stay away from him. No wonder Whitebeard wanted Teach dead, thought Sabo, he had attacked and betrayed the crew. ¨Thatch was badly injured, but is doing mostly okay now.¨ Sabo nodded, the chef was a caring and humorous person, he did not deserve this. Sabo looked at Ace, ¨But why is Rockstar here?¨ Ace looked at him, ¨Thatch wants to see you.¨ He said.

Sabo started at Ace, ¨He asked if I could bring you and Luffy by sometime.¨ Started Ace, ¨If you want, Rockstar will bring you to the ship.¨ Sabo nodded and thought for a bit. He knew Luffy was fond of the chef, he was a bit to. He was a strong and honorable person. And wanted to see that he was well, he also knew Luffy would want to visit. ¨It would be nice to visit them again, Luffy never shuts up about them.¨ Said Sabo, making Ace laugh a bit. It was true, Luffy really enjoyed it there. ¨Then I will get you, Luffy and Rockstar to an island, not too far away from their current position.¨ Said Ace, and Sabo nodded. ¨He will then bring you to the ship, also bringing Dust so he can get back to Shanks ship that way.¨ Sabo nodded, he knew Dust could transport with a person, but only if Ace concentrated really hard on it.

Sabo looked at Ace, there was something more. Thatch being attacked was bad and dishonorable by Teach. But Ace won’t just bring them because of that. ¨There’s more, isn’t it?¨ Ace sighed, he hoped he would not figure out there was more. ¨Teach knows about you being my brother and where you live.¨ Sabo nodded, he knew Teach probably had figured it out from the Whitebeards. Ace looked at Sabo, straight in the eyes,

¨He knows who you are, both of you.¨

Sabo froze, now understanding. Teach knew he was the son to a noble and Luffy the son of Dragon? ¨How?¨ Asked Sabo. Ace shook his head, ¨I do not know, but I want you to stay with the Whitebeards until I have taken him out. I don’t know if he figured out that I am Ace of Spades, but he knows I am the son of Roger.¨ Sabo nodded, he understood why he wanted them with the pirates. If Teach managed to capture them, it would be bad news. Luffy was wanted by the marines, being the son of the leader of the revolutionary army was a death sentence if he was captured. And he himself, would either be killed or sold back to the nobles.

¨I will tell Luffy what is happening, and you can go and get ready.¨ Said Ace, making Sabo nod. And they walked back to the house, going inside.

Luffy and Rockstar sat at the table, Luffy telling some tale of some sort. ¨Rockstar, why don’t you go and help Sabo a bit.¨ Said Ace. Rockstar nodded, knowing he was going to tell Luffy what was happening. Ace sat down and looked at Luffy. ¨Did something happen?¨ Asked the kid, looking concerned at Ace. Ace sighted, he knew Luffy would eventually find out, and Ace wanted to tell him what was happening himself. When Luffy found out, he would want to visit the Whitebeards. Luffy also was great at getting people to laugh and be happy, one of the reasons he decided to take them to the crew. And Thatch did want to see them, so they could stay there while he did the assignment.

¨Shanks is fine, Rockstar is here to bring you to the Whitebeards if you want to go.¨ Said Ace, making Luffy smile, before frowning, ¨Why is he bringing us and not you? Did something happen?¨ Asked the kid, he was really observant sometimes. Ace sighed, ¨Someone attacked the crew, injuring Thatch.¨ Ace would not tell him about what Teach knew, at least not now. Luffy tilted his head, ¨Pompom is injured?¨ He asked, Ace nodded, he would let the name go for now. ¨He is okay, a bit hurt, but will be fine with time.¨ Luffy got a deadly look on his face, ¨Is the person that hurt Thatch going to pay?¨ He asked. Ace nodded, ¨That’s why Rockstar is bringing you and not me. I am hunting him down.¨ Luffy nodded, the look softening, a grin placing it on his face. ¨Ne, ne,¨ Said Luffy, ¨When are we leaving?¨ Ace smiled, ¨We’re leaving now.¨ Luffy grinned as they moved to Sabo and Rockstar who waited outside.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in the infirmary, he was glad to see Thatch was recovering nicely. Marco, Izou, Jozu and Vista was also in the infirmary, deciding to keep the chef company. It was yesterday Ace had agreed and left for the assignment to kill Teach, and they were waiting for the assassin to return with the news of Teach’s demise. They were speaking about where to go next, after Ace had returned. They didn’t plan on moving their position until he returned, making it easier for the assassin to find them. Not that he would have any problem either way, but decided to just stand by. When they were discussing, Haruta suddenly burst through the door, startling some of them. ¨Pops,¨ She started, getting everyone’s attention. ¨There is someone here that wants to see you.¨

Whitebeard frowned, he wasn’t expecting anyone. ¨Who is it?¨ He asked Haruta, who seemed a bit uncomfortable, ¨It’s Rockstar, from Red Haired Shanks crew.¨ And Whitebeard was a bit shocked, he knew the captain was nowhere close to them, so why was he here? ¨He is also not alone,¨ Continued Haruta, making everyone frown a bit, who was with him? Before Haruta could continue, a small figure ran past her and basically jumped onto the bed, sitting on Thatch’s stomach. ¨Pompom!¨ Yelled Luffy, making many of them just stare at the kid, who was somewhat bouncing on the commander, happy to see him. ¨Luffy?¨ Started Thatch, staring at the kid, ¨What are you doing here?¨ Luffy stared at him confused, tilting his head. ¨Ace said you were hurt, so why wouldn’t we visit?¨

¨Who’s we?¨ Asked Whitebeard, was Sabo and Ace also here? Before Luffy could answer, a voice from the door cut in, ¨Luffy!¨ Said Sabo, glaring at his brother. ¨I told you not to jump on Thatch, he is injured.¨ Luffy did stop jumping, and looked at Sabo. Sabo, seeing all the looks of confusion, sighed. Sabo looked at Luffy, ¨Luffy, why don’t you go and get some food from the galley?¨ Luffy puffed his cheeks up, ¨Why?¨ He whined. Sabo sighed again, ¨I need to talk to the captain and commanders.¨ This caught the pirates attention, there was a reason they were here. When Luffy made no move, Sabo glared at him, ¨ Now , Luffy.¨ He ordered. Luffy moved off the commander, leaving the infirmary, pouting.

As he left, Sabo told Rockstar, who was standing outside the door, that he could leave. He nodded and left, they also swore they could see Dust on his shoulder, but was not sure. Sabo closed the door, looking at the pirates in the room. ¨Sabo,¨ Started Whitebeard, ¨Did something happen?¨ He asked, seeing the worried look on Sabos face. Ace would not just let them visit them seeing that Thatch was injured, and based on the fact that Sabo had sent Luffy away, he might not know the real reason they were here. ¨Luffy knows that someone attacked Thatch, he does not know who and that’s what he knows. Me and Ace would like to keep it that way for now.¨ Sabo said, looking at the pirates, who nodded.

Sabo then sighed, ¨I know what happened between you and Teach, and that Ace is currently hunting him down.¨ The pirates nodded. ¨Is there something wrong with the assignment, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, looking at Sabo, who sighed again. ¨I need you to be honest, even if the answer is yes.¨ He said, looking at the captain, who nodded. ¨Did any of you, at one point or another, tell Teach about me and Luffy being Ace’s brothers and were we live?¨ The pirates looked at each other, now understanding why they were here, Teach knew about them, and Ace had probably figured it out. ¨No,¨ Started Newgate,. ¨After Ace told us not to trust him, we decided against it.¨ The captain frowned, ¨Does he know?¨ He asked, looking at Sabo, who nodded. ¨We did not tell him, you have my word.¨ Sabo nodded, ¨We hoped you would not tell and I do believe you did not¨ He started, looking straight at the captain,

¨He figured out something else too.¨ Said Sabo.

Something else? Thought Whitebeard, looking at the kid, waiting for him to continue. ¨If he only knew that we were Aces brothers and were we lived. It wouldn’t been so bad.¨ Sabo sighed, ¨He figured out I am the son to nobles, Luffy the son to Monkey D Dragon, Leader of the revolutionary army. And that Ace is the son to Roger.¨ They stared at him in shock, before understanding what was the big issue, being the son to the leader of the revolutionary army, and the son of nobles, even running away, was a death sentence if they got caught. ¨Do you know how he figured it out?¨ Asked the captain. Sabo shook his head, ¨We do not, seeing as you have not told him. we also believe he do not know Ace is an assassin.¨ He then sighed again, ¨When Ace found out he knew, he asked to borrow someone from Shanks crew, Rockstar, and he helped us get here. Ace wants us to stay here until he have dealt with Teach, and figured out how he found out.¨

Whitebeard nodded, ¨Of course you can stay. You and your brothers are always welcomed here.¨ Sabo looked at the captain and the commanders, a grateful smile on his face.

---x---

Ace stood atop of a building, looking, searching for the house Teach was at. Ace had visited Meokdo first and had found nothing. No one knew or had seen the man he was looking for. After finding this out, he had teleported back to the ship, telling Shanks that Meokdo was safe and that they could dock there. Then he left for Yukdo. When he arrived, he had asked some of the inhabitants if they had seen someone that resembled the man. Ace did not wear his assassin’s clothes, so he looked like a normal person passing by. When they asked why he was looking for him, he mentioned he had heard rumors that he was searching for a crew, and wanted to see if he could join.

And many looked at him with angry and disgusted eyes when he told them this.

After a while, he had found out that Teach had been seen most around the south part of the town. Most likely living in one of the abandoned buildings that was there. Ace had thanked the woman and walked away. When he was out of sight, he teleported back to the ship. Telling Shanks he had a lead and went to change. Lucky for him, it was getting dark outside, making it easier for him to hide in the dark. He had taken his usual assassins clothes, but not wearing his gauntlets, he had a plan, and the gauntlets would be a bad combination. And he decided to bring 4 different daggers, 2 of them was seastone, and the others was made of SM100, the best material to make daggers from. It was tough to break and bend, if it did, it was a memory metal, easily shaped back too original. He also brought his crossbow instead of his gun, it was easier to use darts that bullets sometimes.

Ace had localized the south part of the town and found a high building. Ace standing atop of it, looking for any signs for the man. Dust was flying around, and doing his own search from the sky. It had already become dark outside, but Ace had a feeling it was at night Teach moved. After standing atop of the church for almost an hour, Ace felt Dust calling for him. He then looked behind him and saw the raven sitting on a house. Ace teleported over there, when he appeared, Dust flew down from the house and landed on the ground, next to a house. And Ace looked at the house, something must have caught the bird’s attention.

The house was old, and had clearly been abandoned for ages. It looked ready to fall apart, no one in their right mind would choose to live there. He could see different windows, all of them had no sign of life, only darkness. But near the ground, there was a small window. It was most likely a window that belonged to the cellar, seeing as it was half buried in the ground, having a square dug around it. And there was a weak light inside the window, even some movement it looked like. But the window was too old and dirty to be able to look through. He ordered Dust to stand atop of the house, telling if anyone approached or left the house.

Ace then teleported to a ledge of one of the windows, the window was long broken, so he could easily look and get inside the old house. Seeing the state of the house, it would probably make a lot of creaking and other noises if he moved on the floor. So when Ace had a view of the inside, and saw a staircase that went down, and next to it, there was a commode. Ace teleported to the commode, making no sound as he appeared on top of it. From where he now stood, he could see down the staircase. He could see something resembling lights shining from under a door. But he could not see any furniture he could teleport to and decided to think where the best spot was.

He remembers Azuruko telling him that it was at the bottom and top of the staircases that was the most dangerous places, the same with door openings. He remembers being told, that if he needed to choose a place on the floor, a corner would be the safest choice. Ace could see a corner at the bottom, and teleported, landing on the floor in a crouching position. There was no sound. When he looked around, he saw an another commode, and teleported atop of it, being safe that he would make as little noise as possible. When he appeared and was safe, he took a real look around.

He could see 3 doors in the hallway, there was 2 which had no light on the inside, signalizing they was unimportant for now. But the last door had light behind it. He could see it coming from under the door, and though the keyhole. Ace could not see or hear any movement from behind the door. Ace was about to move towards the door, when he felt Dust alerting him; Someone was approaching the building. Ace looked around, it was an old house, they often had small room and compartments around to store items in.

And there, on the wall behind him, there was a small room, close to the ceiling. He could see a few old dusty books lying there, and it was big enough for him if he crouched and held his head low. When he heard a door opening, and footsteps above, he teleported to the small compartment. He was in a crouching position, and held his head low. It was a bit of a thigh fit, but it would have to do for now. The compartment was most likely made for bedding or a small storage, seeing the size.

Ace waited quietly as the footsteps creaked on the floorboards above him and down the stairs. It was a man that then came into sight. He had short blond hair and shaggy clothing. He looked to be around his mid-thirties, and was maybe a bandit or pirate based on the clothing and scars he had here and there. He walked to the door, and knocked at it. ¨What?¨ Yelled a gruff voice from the other side. Ace furrowed his brows, it did sound like Teach. The man opened the door, he seemed to be a bit afraid to go inside, he was tense and his hand shook as he opened the door.

The man took a step inside, and looked to the left, probably to where Teach was. ¨B-Blackbeard,¨ Started the man, even stuttering a bit. ¨Boss. The Yonko, Red haired Shanks is at Meokdo.¨ So they had figured at Shanks was here, what would they do now. He could see the man flinch a bit, probably because Teach glared at him. ¨What!¨ He heard the man yell. ¨Why is he here?¨ The man shook his head, ¨We don’t know, but he seem to only be visiting.¨ He said. ¨That’s good, they are probably too stupid to realize I am hiding here.¨ Said Teach. ¨If he makes any moves towards this island, kill them.¨ The man nodded, and went out the door, closing it. He let out a sight, probably glad to be out of the man’s sight. When the door closed, Ace blew into his hand, ready to put him under. When he moved, and was somewhere under and in front of him, he blew at the man, and he stopped. His body no longer moving, and eyes glazed over.

Ace then moved down to the floor, making a bit of noise. But seeing that the other man had not moved, Teach would not know he was here. He then moved to the door, taking his crossbow out, having a dart ready. He would normally use his powers to put him under an illusion. But seeing he might have eaten the Devil Fruit, and had no idea what the fruit was, he decided against it. His power was a bit weaker against Devil Fruit users, especially Logias and Zoans, seeing as they have more feeling of what happens around them. It did work, but it took more of his concentration and he could not keep to many under at the same time. He loaded the seastone dart in the crossbow and put a hand on the door,

It was now or never.

Ace opened the door, and stepped inside, pointing the crossbow at where the man had been looking, straight at Teach. He could see Teach was shocked, not expecting anyone other than the man to be in the house. And Ace pulled the trigger, the dart flying towards the man. But Teach was fast, he Kicked the table he sat behind, making the dart hit the table, lodging into it. Ace dropped the bow and took a dagger out, holding it ready.

Ace moved towards the now overturned table, walking slowly. Teach jumped out, swinging his fist at him. Ace acted fast, he used his right arm to avert the direction of the arm, and making the man stumble. He then stepped behind him, taking his left arm in his grasp, locking it behind his back, holding it in place. He was just about to move the knife to his neck, when Teach swing his head with all his power straight backwards, hitting Ace square in the nose. Ace stumbled a bit backwards, losing his balance and releasing Teach.

Teach instantly turned around and swung his left fist towards Ace. Seeing it was a small distance between them, no more than an arm’s length, Ace took a hold of Teachs hand, dragging it backwards, startling Teach. He then turned the arm quickly, making so the palm was upward, then Ace moved his knee upwards with as much power and force he could manage; Straight into Teachs elbow. He could hear the scream for Teach, his legs giving out as he cradled his arm, as the elbow was both dislocated and broke, his tendons ripping apart. The pain would be unbearable and the arm would be useless.

When Teach fell to his knees, Ace moved behind him, kicking him forward, making him land on his stomach, arms out in front of him. He then sat on the man’s back, leaning over him and stretching his hands as far as he could, making Teach scream out in pain as he stretched the broken joint. He then used his dagger, and stuck in clear through his palms, pinning them to the floor. Teach let out a pained whimper, as the knife cut through his palms. Ace then turned around, and did the same to his legs, putting a knife through each of his ankles, being sure to lodge the knife through the joint, dislocating it and cutting his tendons, making him scream in pain as blood poured from the wounds and down to the floor. Before he pushed the pressure point in his neck, making him go slack.

Ace breathed a bit, Teach was strong, but he relied on brute strength to much. He would use his strength to take out his enemies, and no tactics, which was his downfall. He had planned to push the pressure point in his neck from the moment he broke his elbow, but pinned him to the ground using the daggers just in case. Ace then stood up, and touched his nose a bit. It was clearly bleeding a lot, as his hand came back bloody, his mask hiding the blood and stopping the blood running or dripping, and it was swollen. Teach had managed to use quite a bit of force when he swung his head at him, his nose was hopefully not broken. He would need Shanks or Benn to look at it when he got back.

For now, he was going to check the small office room first.

Ace then looked around the office a bit. If he had calculated right, Teach would be out for 20 minutes, giving Ace enough time to search the room. Ace looked at the floor, where all the stuff from the table had fallen when Teach kicked it. There was a lot of files on the marines, pirates and the different Yonkos and Warlords. Ace looked them over, and put the interesting ones in his pouched, the others, he burned with a lighter. When he had spent about 5 minutes of looking the files over, he saw one that had the information he wanted.

It was the file on him, Luffy and Sabo.

It mentioned how Luffy had been raised by Garp, before disappearing for years. It was the time he was with Dadan that was missing. It also mentioned who his father was, and that he was worth a lot if he was handed over to the marines. Under the information about Luffy was about Sabo. How he had run away from his parent when he was 4, and also had disappeared for years. He was wanted by the nobles, a bounty and promise of wealth if he was retuned. Under this, was the information about him. It mentioned how he was the son of the Pirate King, Gold D Roger. And that he had also disappeared, for years. It luckily did not mention anything about him being an assassin, that was good at least. The file also mentioned how they all had been seen at Boreumdo, and was living there together as brothers. Teach probably was going to get their bounties, selling them to the marines and Sabo to the nobles.

But at the bottom om the file, there was a mark that made Ace frown; It was a red cloud, with the picture of a Belly sign in the middle.

He knew who had gotten the information, and selling it to Teach. Seems like I am going to make a small detour. The mark belonged to one of the Assassin guilds that was around. And he knew their leader, who had been one of Azurukos friends. He also knew he had no idea that someone had gotten this information and sold it, they were assassins, but they still had a code. And this person, probably one of the new ones, had broken the code. Ace then put the file in his pouch, and make quick work of the rest. It was still about 5 minutes until Teach woke up, but Ace decided to make him ready for him to play a bit with the man.

Ace took the daggers out, and lifted him to a chair. He then dragged the chair to the wall, putting the back against the wall. He then looked around, and on the floor he found a knife. It was a regular one, but it had a handle that was quite a bit bigger than the blade itself. Ace took the knife and lifted Teachs left hand, stretching it as much to the side as he could, and a bit upwards. Then he took the knife, and dug it through the hole in his palm, and pinned it to the wall. Ace repeated the same with his right arm, but used one of his seastone daggers. Teach had not used any Devil Fruit ability, but he might have been too worked up, and to unskilled to have used it, and Ace took no chances.

The way Teach was stuck, would make it basically impossible for him to escape. Since his hands was stretched as far as they could, a knife pinning them through the palm to the wall. It was absolutely no way he could get his hands free, without tearing them in two, and that would be painful, and take time. Especially seeing as his left elbow was broken. He could also not stand up, seeing as Ace had put a knife through his ankle joints, dislocating them, cutting the tendons. His feet where useless, and if he tried to use them, he would feel immense pain, maybe even falling from the chair, which would only cause him even more pain in his arms.

Ace then looked a bit more through the room, waiting for Teach to wake up. He found a lot of stuff, maps, money, names on people he wanted to kill or sell. But behind a picture, he could see something. He removed it, and found a safe in the wall. It was a regular safe, with a code lock. Ace hummed as he brought his hand to the safe, his smoke going in between the cracks around the numbers, and making a click. He was just about to open it, when a voice stopped him,

¨Don’t you dare open that, you filthy monster!¨

Ace looked towards Teach, ¨I don’t like it when people call me monster.¨ He answered the now conscious man, as he opened the safe. He could hear the man grunting and groaning in pain as he moved around. ¨I wouldn’t move around too much, it is impossible for you to escape.¨ He said, looking inside the safe. ¨I don’t listen to monster!¨ Yelled Teach, continuing trying to move. And Ace hummed as he saw what was inside the safe. Seems like the man did not eat the fruit. He thought as he took the Devil Fruit out from the safe.

It was purple, and had many small cloud sized patterns on it. Ace had heard about this fruit, it was called Yami Yami No Mi, and was a Logia. He also remembered it was one of the Logias that resembled Legendaries, Azuruko had warned him about them, there was 4 of them existing. They were not as powerful or special, but was close. I need to put this somewhere safe, Thought Ace, as he moved to place the fruit on a commode. When he placed the fruit, a sound of something falling over and a yell of pain had him sigh.

Seems like Teach decided to try to stand up.

He looked over to the man, and saw the chair had fallen, and Teach was hanging by his pinned hands, having ripped the wounds even more, making blood steam down his hands and walls. His face was a picture of pure pain, as his ankles, elbow and palms pulsated with pain. ¨I told you not to move.¨ Said Ace, approaching the man. ¨Fuck You!¨ He screamed. Ace moved to stand in front of the man, crouching down. Teach looked at him, ¨Who the fuck sent you?¨ He screamed, spitting in his face as he forced to words out through his pain. ¨It was Edward Newgate. He wanted revenge after you attacked one of his crewmembers and betrayed them.¨ Said Ace. Teach then tried to move forward, either to head-butt, attack or maybe even bite Ace, but it only caused him even more pain, as the knifes in his hand moved, cutting even more into his palms. Teach fell back to the wall, breathing hard. Ace could even hear him grinding his teeth together, trying not to scream.

Marshall D Teach, the man that had betrayed his crew and captain. The man that was going to kidnap and sell people, even planning to go after his brothers. The man that many people on the island hated and feared, and was planning to start his own crew. Was pinned to a wall, trying not to scream out in pain, completely at Aces mercy.

It was a beautiful sight in Aces opinion.

Ace moved his hand, taking a dagger from his belt. Teach watched him as he moved the dagger and hands closer to his left arm. Teach seemed to maybe try to say something, but he only made a pained sound. Ace then cut of his black shirt, making the sleeve fall down his arm. And there on his upper arm was the mark; the Jolly roger of the Whitebeards crew. Ace used the dagger to cut a square around it, even having to move Teach a bit forward to get around the mark. Teach tried not to scream as Ace cut, but he could hear the uneven breathing hitching at some points. When he had cut around the mark, he paused a bit. ¨What the hell are you doing?¨ Screamed Teach, eyes closed in pain. ¨Easy,¨ Started Ace, as he put the knife to one of the corners, making a small cut under the skin. ¨You betrayed the Whitebeards,¨ He then lifted his hand, and took a hold of the corner, ¨They no longer want you to bear their mark.¨ And then Ace pulled. Teach screamed as he pulled the skin off, slowly. He was going to enjoy this.

When the square had been pulled off, Ace used his powers to dissolve the square of skin. Making it so there only was a tiny small piece of black crumpled piece left, completely unrecognizable, and making it look like dust as he crushed it, making the small flakes disappear in the room, mixing with all the dust. Ace then moved in front of Teach again, his eyes was closed, and he was grinding his teeth.

¨You know,¨ Started Ace, making Teach opening his eyes a bit, glaring at the assassin. ¨You should consider yourself lucky.¨ The man looked at him, opening his mouth, probably to ask why, but only getting a pained noise out. Ace really did enjoy playing with his victims. ¨If I had free reigns, I would have kept you alive for hours, taking my time in pulling your organs out, seeing how long you would be alive until your body gave up.¨ He then moved a hand to his face, ¨I would start with your eyes, without them, you would feel me pulling your tongue, intestine and nails of extra much.¨ He then moved his hand down his face, almost in a caring manner. ¨But even after you betrayed the Whitebeards, they don’t want you to suffer for hours and hours.¨ Teach looked at Ace with terrified eyes, ¨But,¨ He said, as his other hand took the dagger from his belt, ¨I was allowed to make you suffer for a bit.¨

Ace then plunged the knife into his stomach, making a cut before retracting his hand with the dagger, covered in blood.

Teach had opened his mouth in a silent scream, eyes going big. He had fully concentrated on Ace, and the way his hand was at his face, and had not seen the move. Making it so shocking and painful, that he could not even scream. He loved to do this, speaking words of torture, and what he would have done or was going to do, while his hand stoked down their cheek, distracting them. Before doing a move, it made them feel the pain even more.

Ace moved his right hand, opening the cut in his stomach a bit with his hands, making some of the intestine fall a bit out. And this time, Teach did scream. Ace waited for him to be silent again, before he made Teach look at him. ¨You know,¨ He started, as he held the man’s head up, making him look at him. ¨Newgate really do care for his crew,¨ He started. ¨You broke his heart when you attacked the Fourth Commander.¨ Ace then moved his other hand to the cut in the stomach, moving some of the organs that was visible around. ¨So, I figured.¨ Continued the assassin, pushing his hand inside, making Teach groan in pain, still looking him straight in the eyes, eyes filled with fear. ¨Why don’t I crush your hearth?¨ Teachs eyes widened in shock and fear, then Ace moved his arm,

He plunged it inside the man, under the sternum. His entire body arching, his mouth opening in a silent scream and eyes going wide. In so much pain he could not make any noise or movement. Ace then felt the beating of the heart, and put his hand around it. He looked at the man, ¨Goodbye, Marshall D Teach.¨ He said in a emotionless voice as he clenched his hand, crushing his heart.

And Teach fell limp against the wall; Dead.

Ace stood up, removing the knife and dagger from his palms, making his hands fall limp to the ground. Ace opened the rest of his bloody and teared shirt, holding his hand over his left part of his chest, marking him with his mark. Ace moved the hand to the other side, marking him with the Jolly roger from Whitebeards crew. Ace turned around and used a towel that was beside the overturned table to clean most of the blood of his hands. When he was done, he moved to the commode, picking the fruit up, before going out in the hallway. He left the door open, and looked at the man from before. Ace raised his hand and snapped his fingers, both taking the illusion away and alerting the man to his presence.

He turned around, ¨You!¨ He screamed in shock and fear and Ace disappeared.

Ace landed atop of the building outside, looking at the house. A minute later, the man came running out, screaming that Blackbeard was dead in the night. That the assassin was here and had killed him. Ace then disappeared again, reappearing on Shanks ship.

---x---

Shanks was on the ship. It was only him and Benn, the others was at the island, having fun. Ace had been gone for over two hours, and Shanks was beginning to be a bit worried. Ace was fast, and had a clue of where Teach was, so why was he taking so long? Benn knew he was starting to get worried, but he had faith in the assassin, he knew what he was doing. 5 minutes later, Ace appeared, making Shanks give a sigh of relief. ¨How did it go?¨ Asked Shanks, looking at Ace who nodded. ¨It went well, Teach is dead.¨ Shanks nodded slowly, Ace sounded a bit off. ¨Are you okay?¨ He asked, looking sternly at the assassin. Ace sighed, removing his mask.

The moment Shanks saw the blood, he instantly was in front of the assassin, asking what had happened.

Ace glared at the captain, as he tried to prod him in the face. And swatted his had away, ¨Quit it.¨ He said. Shanks could sometimes be a real mother hen. Shanks removed his hand, but glared back at the assassin, ¨What happened?¨ He asked again. Ace sighted again, ¨I stood behind Teach, holding his hand, and was about to put my knife to his throat, when he threw his head backwards, really hard. ¨ He then looked at the captain and Benn, who started at him in shock, someone getting a hit on Ace was rare. ¨He managed to startle me and hit my nose, I think it might be broken.¨

Shanks massaged his face with his arm, ¨Benn.¨ He said, and the first mate moved to look at Aces nose. He moved the kids head a bit to the side, before feeling and touching the swollen and bleeding nose. It had a cut on top of the nose that was bleeding, and the nose was dripping a bit still. It had already started to bruise a bit around his nose, and under his eyes. Ace stood completely still as Benn felt and moved the nose a bit under his thumb and index finger. ¨It’s not broken, only badly bruised.¨ Said Benn, moving to the kitchen and getting a frozen pea bag, handing it to Ace.

Ace put the cold bag on his nose, enjoying how it felt. His nose was throbbing, and had for a while. He sighed as he remembered he had to explain and show to Sabo what had happened, he is not going to be happy. Sabo could get real mad if he got injured, especially if he tried to hide it. Ace knew he was only worried, and he showed that by acting irritated and mad. When he saw the look Shanks was giving him, he explained how the assignment went.

Shanks nodded when he was finished, ¨So what are you going to do now? Go back to Whitebeard, or to the Red Cloud?¨ He asked. Ace sighted. He needed to visit the assassin guild, and he wanted to get it done with. It would take him a few hours to visit them, before he could go back to the Whitebeards. ¨I will visit the Red Cloud first, I need to talk to them as soon as I can¨ Shanks nodded, before clapping him on the back. ¨Let Benn patch you nose a bit first, at least clean it up.¨ Ace nodded as he followed Benn, showing him the way to the infirmary. Benn then cleaned it up, and decided not to put anything on it, seeing as it was not broken, but put a small strip on the cut. Ace then went and showered, glad he decided not to wear his gauntlets, they would have been filled with blood. He then put his clothes back on, and used his reserve mask, seeing as the other one was filled with blood. He was glad the mask hid the bruising and cut on his nose, he didn’t want the leader of red cloud see that someone had gotten a hit on him.

Then Ace left to speak with the Red Cloud.

---x---

Ace appeared on the island. The rain was falling from the sky, and he looked around. This was the same place Ace had been with Azuruko during his training, the leader, Daisuke, had taken over after Azurukos death. Ace visited him every now and then, sharing findings, and sometimes helping the assassins that was training. He had a mark on one of the trees, making so he could get here any time he wanted, seeing as he did visit Azurukos grave that was located here, and had meetings with Daisuke. He moved a bit farther into the forest, the rain making his clothes and hair wet. It always rained here, it was one of Daisukes members Devil Fruit power. If anyone was on the island, she would know they were there, and tell Daisuke, so he could send someone out to check if they were unfamiliar ones. It was really handy to have her around.

Ace walked until he came to a wall, and waited for the door to be opened, knowing his present was known. He would usually use Dust to just teleport inside, but had sent the bird to the Moby Dick, seeing as it would be easier and faster for him to get to the boat. It was 3 days since he had accepted the assignment, and he was expected back soon. He heard noises as the door was opened, an assassin greeting him as he walked inside. He followed the assassin to the meeting room, where Daisuke should be.

When Ace got to the room, the assassin left, closing the door behind him. ¨Ace, what brings you here?¨ Asked Daisuke, sitting at a desk in front of a window. Ace looked at Daisuke. He was a man in his mid-thirties and had been running this place for 2 years now. After Azurukos death, he had taken the people that was living in this place in, also taking in more assassins, acting like their mentor. He knew Daisuke was a good man, and he had a lot of assassins to keep track on. So Ace did not blame the man for someone getting the information on him and his brothers. Ace moved up to him, nodding at the 4 assassins that was in the room, the guards.

When Ace stood in front of the desk, he took the file he had acquired from Teach, handing it to Daisuke, who looked it over, frowning as he did. ¨I did an assassination earlier. His name was Marshall D Teach, or Blackbeard as he called himself, he had bought this information from one of you assassins.¨ Said Ace, looking straight at Daisuke. Daisuke sighted, putting the file down. ¨I am sorry for this Ace,¨ He said, looking him in the eyes. ¨It is one of my new ones, Jasper, that have acquired it, and sold it.¨ He frowned a bit as he looked at Ace, ¨It will not happen again.¨ He said. Ace nodded, happy with how he seemed to be handling it. ¨He also had sold a lot of information about the marines, Yonkos and Warlords.¨ Said Ace, looking at Daisuke, who nodded, frowning a bit.

They were assassins, but they had different rules they followed, called The Assassins Code. It was not too many rules, but they needed to be followed. One of the biggest rules, was to not kill each other. There were assassins that went rouge, and they got blacklisted by them, and was being hunted down. You don’t kill or sell information on your fellow assassins, it was the most dishonorable you could do as an assassin. Everyone also had families, or someone they cared greatly about, these people were protected, which meant that no assassin they worked with, was to acquire information on them and sell it, or do missions that had something to with them, unless the assassin that had placed the protection knew about it, and accepted. Luffy and Sabo was on this list, and Daisuke knew about it. He was also supposed to approve every mission his assassins did, and this Jasper, had clearly not done that.

Ace then looked at Daisuke, ¨I also need a favor.¨ He said, and motioned with his head. And Daisuke understood. ¨Mika, Soul, Trevor, Peter,¨ He said, looking at the others in the room, getting their attention, ¨Leave us.¨ They nodded, and bowed, leaving the room. When the door closed, Ace took the Devil Fruit out, placing it on the table. Daisuke looked at it, humming a bit, recognizing it. ¨This Teach,¨ He started, ¨He had the fruit?¨ Ace nodded, ¨He attacked one of the Whitebeards commanders, after it was found during a raid, taking the fruit, and fleeing the ship.¨ Daisuke nodded at the information. ¨Wasn’t Teach a part of the Whitebeards crew?¨ He asked, looking at Ace, who nodded. ¨It was Newgate who wanted me to take Teach out.¨ Daisuke nodded, taking the fruit,

¨Moira,¨ He called, and a woman walked in the door.

Ace nodded at her, she had been with Azuruko for years, and was now working with Daisuke. He knew Azuruko had trusted her, and he did to. ¨I want you to put this fruit in the chamber .¨ Daisuke handed the fruit to the woman, he then looked at her sternly, ¨Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone see it.¨ She nodded, and bowed, before placing the fruit in a bag, leaving the room. ¨I will make sure the fruit is protected.¨ He said, and Ace nodded. He then said goodbye, before leaving. Deciding to visit Azurukos grave before returning to the Moby Dick. He borrowed an umbrella, and made his way to the grave.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in the infirmary, having a conversation with Sabo about living with Ace was like. Luffy was sitting with Izou and thatch at the bed, telling them a tale he had heard from Shanks. Marco, Haruta, Jozu and Vista was also in the infirmary, keeping the chef company. Bay had not decided to let him out of bed yet, seeing as his wounds still needed to heal a bit more. But had said she was maybe going to let him out tomorrow, if he behaved.

After they had found out why Sabo and Luffy was here, they had promised to never let the information out, not telling the others on the crew. Every one of them understood why Luffy being the son to Dragon was a big deal. The marines had tried to get rid of him for ages, if they found out he had a son, he would be killed, most likely in a public execution. The fact Sabo was a noble, was something Thatch understood better than anyone else, seeing as he was one himself, even running away. He had bonded more with Sabo, after telling him this, and that his birth parents also wanted him back, and had promised great wealth for him. They also understood that if Sabo got kidnapped, he could be either given to the marines, seeing as he was the brother to Ace and Luffy, or sold to the nobles. Both was bad, and Whitebeard decided to tell them that they could stay with them for as long as they liked. Which Sabo had been grateful for.

It had been 3 days since Ace had left for the assignment and was expected to get back soon, either today, or tomorrow. It was early in the morning, they had just eaten breakfast. Bay had allowed them to eat in the infirmary, seeing that it was easier to let them stay, than to have them walk in and out all the time. They had opened a few windows, seeing as a bit of fresh air was needed. It was a bit crowded in the infirmary and the air got heavy fast. While everyone was talking or doing something, a noise startled many of them. As they looked towards the sound, they saw Dust sitting in the window, looking at them.

¨Dust!¨ Yelled Luffy, and the bird flew over to a table close to him, looking at the kid. Luffy tilted his head, looking at the bird, ¨Is Ace coming?¨ He asked the bird. All the occupants in the room looked at the bird, waiting for him to do something. Dust then ruffled his feather a bit, before leaning down and eating some bread that was on the table. Luffy then puffed his cheek up, clearly a bit unhappy with the reaction to the bird. ¨Is Ace coming, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, not knowing what the ruffling meant. Luffy looked at him and shook his head, not saying anything.

Sabo sighted, ¨Ace probably had to do a detour, and sent Dust here. He will be back sometime later.¨ He said, before going back to his conversation with the captain. Luffy then started to tell some tale about how Ace had once used Dust to break into a fortress, making many grin, seeing how much Luffy looked up to his brother. And that was how it was for the next few hours. Sabo talking with either the captain or first commander, and Luffy telling tales, making many smile.

After 4 hours, Sabo suddenly frowned as he looked at the bird. This caught many of their attention, and they also looked at Dust, and their brows furrowed a bit. The bird had lifted its wings, and was standing outstretched on top of a chair, what did it mean? Wondered the pirates, it meant something, seeing how Sabo reacted. ¨Luffy,¨ Said Sabo sternly, getting the attention of the kid. ¨Let’s go outside for a bit.¨ Luffy tilted his head, and looked at Dust, before pouting, looking at Sabo. ¨But I want to be here when Ace arrives.¨ Whined the kid. Sabo sighted as he walked towards the door, ¨You know Ace is working right now, we will greet him after he have talked to the Whitebeards.¨ Luffy pouted while he walked after Sabo, closing the door as they left.

When the door closed, Dust cawed and Ace appeared.

¨Newgate.¨ He said as he stood in the infirmary, nodding at the captain, who nodded back. Ace then reached and took a folder out from his pouch, handing it to the captain. ¨The assignment went fine, Teach have been dealt with.¨ He said looking at the captain. Whitebeard nodded as he looked through the folder, he took a newspaper from the folder, reading the headline: Guy calling himself Blackbeard found dead, the assassin Ace of Spades strikes again. Whitebeard handed the article to Marco, who looked it over. It had no pictures, but did mention a bit of his state he was found in. Marco then looked at the assassin, before handing the paper to Thatch. Ace then looked at the fourth commander who still was in the bed.

When Thatch had read the article over, he looked at the assassin, eyes filled with contentment at finding out the man was dead. ¨Teach did not die a painless death, but I did not keep him alive for too long.¨ He said to the commander, who nodded. Based on the article, his death was gruesome and Teach had been in horrible pain based on the article. ¨He did suffer,¨ Continued Ace, seeing the look in the commanders eyes. ¨But I killed him within 30 minutes of finding him.¨ Said the assassin, knowing the commander was worried he had gone overboard with the man and kept him alive for hours. Thatch then nodded, a sigh leaving him. He was mad and felt betrayed by the man, but Thatch was better than ordering someone to torture someone to a slow death. He was glad the assassin had held his promise.

¨Teach had not eaten the fruit,¨ He started, shocking many of them, they had been sure he had eaten it. ¨He seemed to be saving it for something.¨ Ace then looked the fourth commander straight in the eyes, ¨I have left the fruit with someone I trust to keep it safe, I can give it back to you if you want.¨ Thatch looked at his father, but he made no move to what he should say, he then looked at the assassin. ¨No,¨ Started Thatch, ¨I don’t want the fruit, it caused so much trouble. If you believe it is safe, I trust your judgement.¨ Thatch then looked at Whitebeard who nodded, a small smile on his face. He seemed happy with the fact he didn’t want the fruit back, and Thatch was glad he understood. ¨Thank you for doing the assignment.¨ Said Whitebeard, nodding at the assassin, who nodded back, before relaxing a bit, and stretching.

When Ace put his hands back down by his sides, he looked at the captain with a soft look. ¨I also want to thank you for watching my brothers.¨ He said, looking at the pirates. Whitebeard understood what Ace had done, he was no longer the assassin, but Ace again, the assignment completed. ¨It was no trouble.¨ Said the captain. ¨Did you find out how he acquired the information?¨ He asked Ace, who nodded. ¨He had managed to get an another assassin to find the information, and buying it from him.¨ He said, ¨I have handled the issue.¨ Whitebeard nodded, it was good to hear it was okay now. He was worried more people knew about it, and it seemed like Ace had talked to the assassin he was talking about, and cleared it up.

Then the door opened, and Luffy ram in and hugged his brother, while Sabo walked slowly in. Ace looked at Sabo, ¨How did you know I was finished?¨ He asked. Sabo then pointed to the door, were Dust flew in, landing on the table eating a bit of food. Ace shook his head, ¨Of course Dust told you, sometimes I wonder who he works for, the little traitor.¨ Dust ruffled his feathers, and cawed at Ace, making everyone laugh, almost everyone. Sabo was frowning, looking at Ace. The pirates looked at each other, why was he frowning? Sabo then glared at Ace, ¨Ace,¨ He started, voice stern, maybe even a bit annoyed,

¨Why are you wearing the spare mask?¨

And the pirates looked at Ace. And Sabo was right, the mask he was wearing now, was not the same they had seen before. This mask had a blue line at the top, not a red one. Was it uncommon for the assassin to change masks? Thought Whitebeard, seeing that Sabo had such a reaction to it. When Ace only sighted, looking at Sabo, they knew it was uncommon. Sabo then started massaging his face, ¨What happened, and how bad is it?¨ He asked, making the pirates worry a bit, was he injured? They looked over at Bay, who also had heard the sentence, was walking towards the assassin. Luffy, who was now staring at Ace, had his head tilted. Ace looked at the kid, and sighted at seeing the worried look. He then reached behind his head, opening the mask, taking it off. ¨He managed to get a hit while I was holding him.¨ He said. And when the mask was off, all the pirates started at him in shock.

His nose was swollen and had a strip atop of it, and they could see a cut under it. He had bruising from his nose, to under his eyes, and the bruising was bad . And when they understood what he had said, they looked at each other in shock,

Teach had managed to hurt the assassin .

The revelation made them glad that they had called him for help and not sent anyone after the man. He had managed to injure the boy that was equal to Mihawk, the boy who had managed to beat the captain in a duel and that was without his power. The boy that was only a kid, and stronger than most people they had met, had been injured by the man that had betrayed them. The fact that he also had gotten injured, made them angry at Teach, and more glad that he was dead. They actually believed no one could manage to injure the boy, but Teach had done just that.

Sabo started at Ace in shock for a few seconds, ¨He broke you nose?¨ He said, sounding just as shocked as they felt. ¨No,¨ Started Ace, ¨It’s only bruised a bit.¨ And Sabo seemed to get even more annoyed, ¨A bit?¨ He started, ¨That is not a bit .¨ He then moved to Ace, turning his head the same way Benn had done, looking it over. ¨It looks like he tried to bash your face in.¨ Said Sabo, looking at Aces face, ¨Funny,¨ Started the assassin, ¨I think that was what he was trying to do.¨ He said, laughing a bit nervously.

Sabo looked at him in shock, before actually hitting him over the head, ¨It is not funny!¨ He said, ¨And how do you know it’s not broken?¨ He asked his brother, who just looked back at him. ¨I had Benn check it out.¨ And Sabo looked even more annoyed by the answer, ¨Yeah,¨ He started, ¨Because Benn is a frikking doctor!¨ Ace just looked at Sabo, a somewhat annoyed look at his face. Luffy then chirped to, ¨Why don’t the doctor lady look at you?¨ He said tilting his head, looking at Bay who stood close by. ¨Yes Ace,¨ Said Sabo looking at Ace, ¨Let Bay look at your nose. It could be in pieces for all we know.¨ Ace stared at Sabo, ¨Benn is no doctor, but he is no idiot. He knows when something is broken.¨ He said to Sabo, who only glared back, ¨Fine, fine. I’ll let Bay look at it if it makes you happy.¨ Sabo nodded, clearly happy with that.

As Ace sat in a bed, Bay looked over his nose. And saying he was right, it was not broken, only badly bruised. The pirates realized something, he was a normal person. The pirates knew it was stupid, but they had imagined the assassin to be invincible. And the fact that he had gotten hurt, was almost like a hit to the face for them, and it made them realize something else, the assassin could have gotten killed. Teach was strong enough to hurt him, and it could have been a lot worse. They were now thankful he had not eaten the fruit; the outcome could have been a lot different. They just sat in silence as Bay put some lotion on, feeling remorseful for not thinking that he also could get hurt.

Ace then shoot a smug look at Sabo, who only sighed. ¨Fine, you was right, it was not broken.¨ Ace then smiled as Luffy hopped at his lap when Bay moved away, ¨Ne, ne,¨ Started the kid, ¨You look like a weird raccoon.¨ Ace stared at him in shock, and Sabo burst out laughing. ¨He’s right Ace, you do look like a weird raccoon.¨ He said, laughing as Ace just looked at him. Ace then laughed a bit, ¨I do, don’t I?¨ He said, and Luffy nodded vigorously, ¨I am going to call you Rascal! The same as the raccoon we found when we were small!¨ Said the kid, a gigantic smile on his face. And when he said it, everyone burst out laughing, even the pirates.

The kid was perfect to rid of the tension in situations that came up.

Chapter Text

Ace had been back for about half an hour. Luffy had been telling Ace how fun he had been having there, and telling that the doctor, Bay, was a really good doctor. Ace was also happy to see the fourth commander getting better, and was going to be let out of the sickbed soon. Luffy had also decided to name Ace; Rascal, the Ace-coon. Which made his eye twitch, as many laughed. Ace could only sigh and enjoy it, it was normal for Luffy to behave like this and it was good to see him enjoying himself here as much as he did.

¨Ne, ne!¨ Started the kid, getting the attention of everyone in the infirmary. ¨Can we stay?¨ Luffy tilted his head at Ace, ¨The nice doctor lady did say you should stay.¨ Ace sighed. Luffy was right. Bay wanted him to stay for the next couple of days, saying she needed to put lotion on his nose, and that it was best they did it. Ace looked at Sabo who shrugged, not wanting to say no or yes, Ace knew he liked it here. Ace sighed again, massaging his face a bit, but flinching inwardly when he touched his nose. He looked at Luffy, having made a decision.

¨If,¨ Stared Ace, looking at Luffy, ¨You behave and Whitebeard say yes, we can stay for a bit.¨

Luffy let out a sound of happiness as he looked at the captain, who did of course nod, saying they could stay. Ace knew he would say yes. He had made it clear they had a home here, a place to go to. It was comforting for Ace to know this. He did know Shanks would always stand up, but he was… Well he was Shanks, he did stupid stuff all the time. Ace could still remember the time he had left Sabo and Luffy with Shanks when they were smaller and when he returned, both was located in the infirmary, having second degree burns. From what Ace gathered, Shanks had tried a magic trick with fire and had failed, horribly. He tried to not to let them stay alone with Shanks after that.

Sabo stood up, ¨Ace.¨ He said, as he motioned with his head to follow him, as he walked towards the door. Ace looked at Luffy, ¨Lu, stay here and behave. I need to talk to Sabo a bit.¨ He ruffled Luffy’s hair, before following after Sabo, closing the door behind them. Luffy puffed his cheeks up a bit, before looking at Thatch. ¨Ne, Pompom,¨ Started Luffy. ¨Do you know any good stories?¨ He asked, tilting his head. Thatch nodded, before starting a tale from a raid way back, making the kid smile.

Whitebeard and Marco looked at each other when the boys left. They thought it was a bit weird for them to leave Luffy like this, but then realized Ace needed to tell Sabo about how Teach had gotten the information on them. Whitebeard had already told all of his commanders he had offered Ace a place amongst them, even for his brothers. Everyone had agreed, saying that even if they were a bit nervous around the assassin at times, they liked him and his brothers company. Marco, being the observant man he was, had stayed after the meeting, asking if there was more to it. Whitebeard had told him about his concerns about the assassin, about how young he was and must have a lot of burdens. Marco had agreed, saying he was going to tell the assassin he also wanted him to stay with them.

But now, after finding out about who everyone was, the concern only spiked even more.

The fact that he cared about his brothers could be though, especially when he was gone for days, not knowing if something was wrong, like how they had found the brothers after fleeing from the island. But also the fact that they were all wanted and would most likely be executed, must be real though at times. The captain could only imagine the worry Ace must have at times. Whitebeard could not even imagine the fear he must have felt when he found out Teach knew who they were. He hoped to speak to the assassin in private, so he could see if there was anything he could do to help.

Half an hour later, Sabo retuned alone. When he walked inside, Luffy was still listening to Thatch, eyes big and a big grin on his face, he really enjoyed stories they told. When Sabo sat down beside the captain and first commander, they looked at him. ¨Hey Sabo,¨ Started Marco, getting his attention. ¨Where is Ace, yoi?¨ Sabo looked at them, before sighing. ¨He’s sleeping.¨ Sabo looked at Luffy, smiling at how happy he looked. Whitebeard and Marco looked at each other again. It was more to it than that. Sabo looked a bit concerned about something and they wondered why. When Luffy leaned forward, to hear Thatch better, Sabo spoke again, voice soft so Luffy would not hear.

¨Ace is really tired.¨ He said, looking at the first commander and captain, eyes holding an emotion they had not seen in Sabos eyes before; worry.

And they understood, nodding at Sabo who then went back to look at Luffy. The revelation that Ace was not only tired, but most likely exhausted, made them worry a bit. He had found out Teach had information about them, and that would be worrying for the assassin. And on top of that, finding out the information was gathered by an assassin, could be something that bothered Ace, making him worry even more. How long has he been awake? Thought Whitebeard. He knew concern and worry could keep people awake. And they knew Ace cared a lot about his brothers. They had no idea how he felt about the fact that an assassin had basically sold him out. I need to ask him about it. Thought the captain, before going back to looking at Thatch, who was still telling the tale, a smile on his lips.

---x---

It was now closing in on dinner time. Ace had been back for 7 hours,

And he had not woken up yet.

This caused a bit of concern in the pirates, after not only finding out he had gotten hurt, but was exhausted. Was almost an another blow in their faces, only showing how normal and human the assassin was. They all know he was sleeping, the fact it was closing in on dinnertime, made it so many thought if they should wake him or not. The assassin needed to eat. Half an hour later, they decided to get dinner. Sabo had gone to the library to find a new book, saying how he wanted to read up on folklore or something. When Jozu and Vista got up to get the food, Luffy asked to join them in the task. This made Whitebeard laugh, ¨Of course you can brat, but only if you don’t eat the food on the way here.¨ He said, looking at the kid. Luffy nodded, before following after the two commanders.

When they left, Thatch looked at his father. ¨What about Ace?¨ He asked, frowning a bit. Whitebeard sighed, ¨I’m not sure,¨ He started, ¨I think he should eat. But based on what Sabo said, he should also sleep.¨ After realizing that Ace wasn’t so invincible as they had imagined, they had all decided to look out after him. He was young, even younger than anyone on the ship. And the fact he managed to work as an assassin and still look and hold himself up as good as he did, was quite amazing in their eyes. He never faltered.

Marco sighed as he stood up, ¨I can go and check on him, yoi.¨ He said, looking at the captain who nodded. Whitebeard knew Marco would see how he looked and if he didn’t look to tired, he would probably wake him up and say dinner was ready. Marco had gotten a lot less nervous and anxious around the assassin, he was the only one aside from himself that was getting less and less intimidated by the reputation the assassin had. There was Bay to, she never faltered, not even when she checked him over. That was why Whitebeard made her the head doctor, nothing seemed to faze her. Marco left to check in the assassin, who most likely was in the room Sabo and Luffy had used.

After he left, conversation started up between the occupants of the room. After 5 minutes, Sabo entered the infirmary again, a book ender his arm. When he looked around, and saw no Luffy, he looked at the captain, ¨Where is Luffy?¨ He asked. ¨He went with Vista and Jozu to get dinner.¨ Said the captain. Sabo nodded, before frowning a bit. ¨Where is the First Commander?¨ He then asked the captain, who felt a bit uneased by the frown on his face. ¨He went to check on Ace, to see if he wou-.¨ Whitebeard stopped when he looked at the expression at Sabos face.

He had frozen, before his eyes going wide and turning on his heal, running out of the infirmary.

This caused the pirates too look at each other, why had he run out? Before they could say anything amongst themselves, the door opened, and Vista, Jozu and Luffy went inside, holding lots of food in their hands. When they got inside, Vista looked at the captain, ¨Why did Sabo run past us?¨ He asked, as he put the food down and went to help Luffy put the food he held onto the table. ¨We don’t know,¨ Started Thatch, a frown on his face. ¨Pops mentioned Marco checking on Ace, then he just ran out.¨ Luffy then hopped back on his chair, taking a piece of meat. ¨Sabo is probably going to stop Rascal from injuring Birdy Blue Breast.¨ He said, making everyone look at him. ¨Luffy,¨ Started Whitebeard, making the kid look at him. ¨Why would Ace hurt Marco?¨ This made no sense, Ace had made no move to injure them, so why now?

¨Oh,¨ Started the kid, ¨Its not smart to wake up Ace.¨ He took a bite of the meat, ¨He sometimes attack.¨

---x---

Marco stood outside the door to the room, and opened it carefully and went inside. Ace slept on his side, faced away from the door. Marco then went up to the boy, walking as silent as he could, holding his hand out to shake his shoulder, hoping to stir the assassin, so he could tell him dinner was ready.

His hand and inch away from the assassin, when his hand was suddenly grabbed and he was dragged to the bed, laying on his back, Ace on top of him and a knife to his throat.

Marco had no time to react or comprehend what was happening, before it was too late. The knife did not cut him, but was touching him, and Marco could instantly feel it was a seastone knife. He froze, before holding his hands out a bit, showing he meant no harm, fear in his brain. Ace blinked at him, ¨Commander Marco?¨ He asked, before removing the knife and standing up. ¨I didn’t mean to scare or injure you.¨ He said as he helped the commander up. ¨Its okay,¨ Answered Marco, ¨I should not have snuck upon you.¨ Ace laughed a bit, ¨Yeah, it’s not so wise to do that.¨ He said, looking at the man. ¨Why are you here?¨ He asked, looking at the man. ¨Its dinner time,¨ He started, ¨I came to tell you.¨ Ace nodded and they made their way outside, where they was almost ran down by Sabo.

Ace looked at him, he was even panting a bit. ¨I hoped to catch the First Commander before he woke you up.¨ Said Sabo, looking at them, a bit relived to see Marco in one piece. Ace had accidentally injured people when they decided to wake him up, especially if it was at a new place and someone unfamiliar was the one trying to wake him up. Ace snorted, ¨Then you were too late, next time you should warn them.¨ He said, looking at Sabo sternly. ¨I didn’t know they was going to wake you, Luffy and I was somewhere else.¨ Said Sabo, looking at them.

Marco then cleared his throat, ¨It was a bit my fault to,¨ He started, ¨I should have not have sort of snuck upon him.¨ He then looked at the assassin, ¨But I must say, your reaction was amazingly fast and accurate.¨ Sabo snorted at that, ¨What did you expect?¨ He said, ¨For the raccoon to not react having someone sneak up on him and try to touch him?¨ Marco rubbed the back of his neck, a nervous laughed leaving him. He actually did not expect that, but it was stupid not to. Ace was an assassin, and he didn’t know them so much. He was not surprised it had happened.

Ace sighed, ¨I wish you would stop calling me a raccoon,¨ He started, ¨Its bad enough with Luffy calling me Rascal.¨ Both Sabo and Marco laughed at that, before heading to the infirmary again.

---x---

Whitebeard made his way out onto the deck, most of the pirates had already gone to bed. The captain both hoped to find the assassin outside, so he could talk to him, but also hoped he was inside, relaxing or sleeping. He had talked to Marco and figured out what had happened when he went to wake him up. When he found out the assassin had almost attacked the commander, he felt guilty for sending Marco, not waiting for any of the brothers. But Marco had said it was okay, that it was partly his fault, even telling how impressively fast the assassin’s reaction was. The captain was happy to see that his son was not at all fazed or frighten from the incident; The assassin was only a flick away from cutting his throat.

When he was out on deck, he was happy to see that the sky was clear. No clouds present in the night sky, the stars shining and the moon was almost full. Whitebeard then saw the assassin standing at the front of the ship, hands on the railing and facing the ocean. It was not much wind tonight, so it was almost no sounds that could be heard. Only the small waves hitting the ship, and maybe a seagull sound every now and then. It was relaxing. The captain went up to the assassin,

¨You know,¨ He started, getting the attention, ¨Sabo don’t like it when you stay up I think.¨ Ace laughed, shaking his head. ¨He worries too much.¨ He said, facing the ocean again. Whitebeard went and stood beside the assassin, looking out at the silent ocean. ¨Do you think he’s wrong to worry?¨ He asked the kid. Ace sighed, ¨I guess not,¨ He then shook his head a bit, ¨But I wish he would worry a bit less.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he understood that, he did not like it when his sons worried to much about him. He looked at the assassin, he looked a bit better in the face, the lotion Bay used worked extremely fast. ¨How did Teach manage to almost break your nose?¨ He started, ¨I know he was strong, but he wasn’t the best at tactics.¨

Ace shook his head. ¨It was stupid,¨ He started, ¨I was standing behind him, holding his left hand and going to put my knife at his throat, to stop him from fighting.¨ Ace shook his head, looking up at the sky. ¨I didn’t expect him to think about throwing his head backwards and he managed to catch me off guard, hitting me square in the face.¨ Whitebeard nodded. He felt bad about the assassin getting hurt, even worse by the fact he had not thought he could get hurt. He was about to say he was sorry for not thinking Teach was as strong as he was, and that he felt bad for his train of thoughts. But Ace beat him to it,

¨It okay,¨ He said, looking at the sea, a content look in his eyes. ¨I’m used to people forgetting I’m human.¨

Ace looked at the captain, a small smile on his face. ¨I thank you for the concern, but it is nothing, really.¨ Whitebeard nodded, smiling back. ¨Even if it’s okay,¨ He started, looking at the young assassin, ¨You can always talk to me about anything.¨ He said, looking Ace, who sighed, a look in his eyes Whitebeard could not name. ¨I’m not used to rely on others, but I’ll remember it.¨ He said, smiling as he looked at the captain. Whitebeard nodded, he was happy with that response, he knew the boy probably was not used to it, but it was always nice to know someone was there if you needed it.

Whitebeard looked at the assassins face, wanting to see if he showed any reaction to his next question. ¨You said Teach had bought information from an another assassin.¨ He started, Ace nodded, showing nothing he could decipher. ¨Was it from someone you know?¨ He asked. Ace sighed, looking at the sea, shaking his head a bit. ¨I don’t know the person who sold it, but he is a part of The Red Cloud and I know the leader.¨ He said. Whitebeard nodded, he had heard about The Red Cloud. It was a guild or group of some sort, many of them was informants and assassins. ¨So you talked to the leader?¨ Asked the captain. Ace nodded, ¨Yes,¨ He started, ¨It was one of the new ones, he will handle the situation.¨ Whitebeard nodded, frowning a bit. Ace seeing the frown in the corner of his eye, continued.

¨We are assassins, but we have a code. We don’t sell information on each other, it’s dishonorable.¨

Whitebeard nodded, an understanding look at his face. He did not know about this, but had a thought about it, and was happy they seemed to be following certain rules. They then had small conversation about the world, and what they thought about some of its leaders. After a few hours, Ace bid goodbye and went inside. Whitebeard stood a bit longer outside, before also heading inside, happy with the talk they had had.

---x---

Most of the crew was on deck, the three brothers were also present. Ace sat by the railing, as he usually did. And the other two was listening to a story told from the chef, everyone listening to it. It was one of the stories from before he joined them, when he was running away from his family and staying in a city. It was still a silent day, the wind was not bad, and there were surprisingly few seagulls around. Thatch had been let out of the infirmary and was doing pretty well, but still had limitation that he needed to follow. It was easy ones, like no fighting, easy training, no hard work and a lot of rest.

When he was in the middle of telling about how he tried to rob a bar, he stopped and swallowed, a bit of fear in his eyes. And almost everyone had the same reaction as him, aside from Marco and Whitebeard. The reason or this was a sudden surge of Haki, and it was strong . They could also see a few of the less experienced and weaker people of the crew falling to their knees a bit, who was doing this? Just as Marco was to ask what was happening, the assassin rose, an angry look at his face.

¨Sabo, Luffy,¨ He said, voice hard and powerful. ¨Inside, now.¨ He ordered his brothers, who obliged, Sabo throwing a knowing look at the assassin.

Ace pulled his mask from his pouch and put it on. Whitebeard was about to ask what was going on, but the words died in his throat at what happened next. He could see something falling from the sky, straight towards the deck. It was big and looked like an inhumanly big crow, just before it hit the deck, a pair of wings spread and a person landed on the deck, in front of Ace. ¨Takayuki.¨ Said the assassin, shocking many of the pirates.

Takayuki was a name known through the seas, he was a notorious man. He had influence of most of the marines by his wealth and strength. He had been offered to be a warlord, even being offered a place amongst the admirals. But he always shot them down, saying he liked to be on his own. He was a man that had an almost as big reputation as the assassin. He was a dangerous man.

¨Ace.¨ Said the man, his wings transforming into hands. So he is a devil fruit user. Thought the captain. It seems he was a Zoan, and could transform into a crow of some sort. ¨ Why are you here?¨ Asked the assassin, voice low and dangerous, making some of the pirates, even commanders having shivers down their spine. The voice just sounded evil and dangerous and they were glad I was not directed at them, and hoped it never would. ¨You know I don’t approve of you showing up unannounced, Takayuki.¨ Spoke the assassin, glaring at the man. He seemed unfazed, and only moved his hand behind his back, taking a file out, throwing it to the assassin. ¨I need the information.¨ Said Takayuki, before actually glaring back at the assassin. ¨I know you have it.¨ He said, eyes strong, holding the assassins gaze.

Ace closed the file, looking at the man. ¨I’ll give you the information.¨ Said Ace, before fixing his gaze directly at the man’s eyes, brows furrowing in anger. ¨And if you ever show up unannounced again, I will not act so nice.¨ The way it was spoken held no room for any doubt, Ace would kill the man. The man held his gaze, before nodding. Transforming and flying off. When he was out of sight, Ace took a deep breath, the feeling of crushing Haki was gone, making many give a sigh of relief.

Ace looked at the file again, seeming to be more like himself. They had seen Ace act as an assassin before, but never had he acted as powering as he had just now. The fact that Ace managed to get Sabo and Luffy inside, even giving the warning, they had a feeling it was not the first time it had happened that someone had showed up unannounced, and the assassin clearly did not approve of it. The way he had spoken, held himself and the power they felt, made it so they wowed to never make the assassin mad. It was a terrifying sight and they understood why many thought of him as a non-human, he sounded like a demon.

A door opened and Luffy ran out, hugging his brother. Sabo waked out onto the deck slowly. ¨Are you leaving?¨ He asked. Luffy moved his head so he also could look at his brother, eyes big. ¨Yes,¨ Said Ace, ¨But only for a few minutes. I only need to get some files from The Red Cloud.¨ Sabo nodded. ¨Luffy.¨ He said, and Luffy went over to Sabo and Ace disappeared.

¨Is it often for people to show up unannounced, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, back to being composed again, he had faltered a bit from the immense power and authority Ace had used. Sabo shook his head, ¨No,¨ He started. ¨There is very few, but some do it. Takayuki have done it one time before, as has some else.¨ He then looked at the first commander with a stern look. ¨Ace never lets anyone do it to many times, some only gets to do it once.¨ Marco nodded, looking at his father, who also seemed to assess the information. They guessed Ace had taken means to some that had showed up unannounced. ¨Do you know why Ace took the assignment, even after he showed up unannounced for the second time?¨ Asked the captain, looking at Sabo, who nodded. ¨ Takayuki is a strong and a man with a certain reputation as you may know.¨ The pirates nodded, ¨People would know if he disappeared. And he have never done anything else than just show up unannounced.¨

The pirates nodded, understanding. If he had acted out of his way, the small meeting of sort, would have taken a complete different turn. And it seemed that even if he just showed up, angering the assassin a bit, he knew where the line was. Whitebeard frowned a bit, ¨Do you know why he needed to go to The Red Cloud?¨ He asked Sabo, who nodded a bit. ¨Ace works a lot with them, and usually store information there, seeing as they have good security and room for the information he gathers.¨ He said. The pirates nodded, it did make sense. They were impressed with how different Ace was from the assassin. They knew they were two different people, but the assassin they had just seen, was even more intimidating from the one they were used to.

¨Ne, ne!¨ Started Luffy, sounding excited about something. ¨Where are we now? Are we close to Marado?¨ Asked the kid, looking at the captain with hopeful eyes. Whitebeard thought for a bit, they were not too far away from the island, maybe a few hours. The captain nodded, ¨We are not too far away from the island, why do you wonder?¨ Asked the captain, and Luffy grinned. ¨The island is really awesome!¨ He said, grinning even more. ¨Can we visit it?¨ He asked, tilting his head as he looked at the captain. Whitebeard thought again, the island was uninhabited and had beautiful nature, it would be a nice break for all of them. ¨We can visit, we all need a break.¨ He said, smiling as the kid screamed yes, clearly happy.

Dust then cawed, and Ace appeared. As soon as he was on the deck, Luffy ram into him ¨We’re going to Marado!¨ He screamed in happiness to the assassin, who then looked at the captain who nodded. Ace then patted Luffy on the head, shaking his own, saying how Luffy always got what he wanted, making Sabo laugh a bit.

---x---

Ace, Sabo and Luffy was walking on the island. The Whitebeards was preparing to dock, Luffy wanted to go ahead and gave Ace the puppy eyes until he accepted. Sabo decided to also join them. Whitebeard had said it was okay that they went ahead, they would arrive in somewhere around 30 minutes to an hour later. The brothers had visited the island before and Luffy enjoyed it here. There were no inhabitants and there was a lot of nature, even waterfalls, fields of open grass and forests. The island was big, but the best part according to Luffy was the animals that was here. It was here Luffy had found the raccoon Rascal 6 years ago, when they had visited it. They usually visited every now and then just to make sure no one had done something to the beautiful island.

¨Ace, look!¨ Screamed Luffy, pointing towards some bushes in between the trees. Ace looked over, and in between the bushes, he could see some movement. They had walked a bit into the woods, knowing the raccoon was almost somewhere around here. It had also been almost a year since they had been here, and hoped to find the raccoon again. When they walked a bit closer to the bushes, a small creature jumped out, ¨Rascal!¨ Screamed Luffy, as the raccoon climbed into the kid’s shoulder. Sabo and Ace laughed, they loved to see Luffy happy, it made them happy too.

¨Seems like Rascal is doing okay.¨ Said Ace, patting the creature on the head. Luffy nodded, a gigantic grin on his face. ¨Ah, Sabo,¨ Said the kid as he patted the raccoon, ¨The food.¨ He said. Sabo nodded and took a small pouch out, opening it. They had found berries and edible plants, and had taken them to feed the raccoon when they found it. ¨Here Lu.¨ He said, as he handed the small pouch to the kid. Luffy smiled even more when he held the small pouch. When he showed the pouch filled with food to the raccoon, he took the pouch from Luffy, and ran down, back into the bushes. ¨Rascal! Wait!¨ Screamed the kid, running after it. Sabo and Ace laughed a bit, running after. They could see Luffy suddenly stopping beside a bush, ¨Ace, Sabo! You need to see this!¨ He yelled, making the brothers look at each other, what had he found now? When they got besides Luffy, they stopped. Rascal had emptied the bag, all the fruit was on the ground. But the surprising part was the other raccoons that came out.

¨Rascal have a family.¨ Said Luffy, smile even more blinding than before. And it seemed Luffy was right, one of the raccoons was about the same size as Rascal, but the other 3 was a bit smaller, clearly kids. ¨Seems like you’re right Lu.¨ Said Ace, also smiling. Sabo then crouched down next to them, ¨A happy small family, and look how happy they are from all the food.¨ He said. And they looked happy, eating the food. One of the smaller ones went over to Luffy, sniffing at his hand. ¨Hey there little one,¨ He said to the tiny creature. ¨I’m Luffy, and this is my brothers.¨ The small raccoon then licked at his hand, making Luffy smile and laugh. ¨He likes me!¨ He said happily. Ace could only smile at it,

life was good.

They stayed with the raccoon family for a bit, before moving along. They started to slowly head back towards the beach, seeing as the time was moving along and the pirates had likely docked already. Dust was flying around on the island, enjoying to be in the nature and being able to fly and hunt. Ace suddenly felt Dust cawing in his mind and smiled. ¨Luffy, Sabo,¨ He said, getting their attention. He held out his hands, ¨Come on, and we’ll do something fun.¨ He said, and Luffy instantly smiled, taking his hand. Sabo gave him a curious look, but also took his hand. Then they were gone.

When they reappeared, Luffy let out a gasp, Sabo opening his mouth in amazement as Ace just smiled, sending a smile to Dust that was flying over them. In front of them was a big field, and in the field was herd of horses. They were all completely white, with beautiful long manes. ¨Do you remember what we thought you?¨ Asked Ace, looking at Luffy. Luffy looked at Ace, eyes big as he nodded. Ace whistled. The moment the sound left him, a few of the horses reacted, lifting their heads looking at them. Luffy squealed a bit as they made their way towards them, happy knowing what they were about to do.

When the herd was close to them, 2 horses came even closer, standing in front of the brothers. The trio had been here at least once a year for the last 6 years and liked to stay for a bit. When they had found the horses, they had tried to ride them and had of course been thrown off numerous times. But there was 4 of the horses that would allow them on their back, they had used months to make it happen. One of those horses was surprisingly the one that seemed to be the leader, and Ace usually used that one, being able to steer the heard. Luffy and Sabo switched between the 3 others. Luffy always rode with Sabo, seeing as he had been having a hard time at riding the horses, but was getting really good at it.

Sabo then went and mounted one of the horses, holding onto its mane a bit. Ace shared a look with Sabo, motioning for Luffy and the other horse. Sabo seemed to be thinking a bit, before nodding. ¨Luffy,¨ Started Ace, getting the kids attention. ¨See how Sabo is holding on?¨ He asked. Luffy looked at Sabo and how he sat, back straight, legs holding around the form of the horse and hands softly clutching the mane. He nodded, looking at Ace questionably.

He then made a squeal as Ace lifted him and put him on the other horse, looking at Ace with big eyes.

Ace took his hands, ¨Hold here and don’t drag to hard.¨ He said as he put his hands on the neck of the horse, Luffy nodded. Ace pushed him a bit forward, making him sit in the right position. ¨Keep your legs around the horse, and remember to keep your back straight.¨ Luffy nodded, he remembered all the times Sabo and Ace had thought him how to sit and how to hold on, not to lose his balance. ¨Sabo will be riding next to you, if not a bit behind you, tell him if anything is wrong.¨ Luffy nodded, looking at Sabo with a blinding smile, making him smile back. Ace went over to the heard and mounted the leader, it was a bit bigger than the rest, and always ran in the front.

When he was on, he looked at his brothers, as the horses moved back to the herd, Luffy smiling like a fool, clearly happy. Ace nodded at Sabo, who nodded back. He would tell Ace if something seemed wrong. He had faith Luffy was ready, but still felt a bit unsure, so he would take it slow in the beginning. Ace kicked a bit, making a soft noise and the horses moved slowly, walking. Seeing that everything was fine, Ace sped up a bit, so they were trotting. After seeing Luffy was handling this well, not faltering or dragging the horse in the mane to hard, he looked at Sabo, getting a nod.

He heard Sabo telling Luffy to lean a bit forward, to hold a bit harder around the horse with his legs. When Ace looked back, seeing Luffy in the right position. He also did the same, giving a small click with his tongue, making the horse go faster. Then they were galloping through the field. Ace could hear the happy sound of Luffy laughing and looked back, only to see one of the most blinding smiles he had ever seen. Luffy looked like the happiest kid ever. And based on the look Sabo had, he was enjoying it to. Ace looked forward again, riding towards the beach, feeling the wind of his face, closing his eyes.

This was perfect.

---x---

The Whitebeards had just gotten on the beach, and was setting up a fireplace. They decided to stay for a bit, maybe overnight. And they needed a fireplace for light, warmth and just for the party’s sake. It was never a real party without a fire. They had been docked for 10 minutes and was starting to worry about the brats. They had left for almost an hour ago, and told them that they were going to meet them at the beach, so where were they? They decided to wait 10 more minutes, before maybe sending Marco to look for them, seeing as he could fly and scout. 5 minutes later, a sound made everyone halt, it sounded like a herd of something running. Dust then came flying over them, even making a cawing sound.

They looked at each other and got in a battle stance, in case it was a flock or herd of wild animals that was going to attack. They faced the woods and stood ready. But what they saw made them lower their stance and weapons. It was a herd of maybe 15-20 horses, completely white horses.

And on three of the horses, sat the brothers.

Ace was in the lead, Sabo and Luffy a bit back. They could hear the laugher of the small kid, and he had a blinding smile on his face, looking so happy everyone who saw him had to smile themselves. Sabo also looked happy, smiling and looking at his brother. But Ace, he looked more relaxed than they had ever seen him, a smile on his lips. And this made the captain and commanders smile. It was good to see the assassin so carefree and happy. But it was not only happiness all of them felt. The first commander, when seeing the happy and carefree look on the Ace’s face, made his heart skip a beat, he looked stunningly beautiful. Marco had not felt that about someone for a long time. When he felt his father stare at him, he realized he had been staring at the assassin and blushed a bit, shaking his head. Whitebeard smiled a knowing smile, looking back at the happy trio.

Ace, when seeing the pirates had arrived, made a lap around the beach, and stopped when they were a bit away from the pirates. The horses could be a bit skittish around people they did not know and he didn’t want anything to happen. So when the horses stopped, Ace waited for Luffy and Sabo to get of first, before dismounting himself, making sure the horses stood still. When they were off and the horses moved back to the forest, Luffy ran towards the pirates. ¨Did you see that!¨ He screamed, still smiling like a madman. ¨That was so amazing!¨ Whitebeard laughed, it was an amazing and extraordinary sight. ¨We saw it,¨ Said the captain, looking at the kid who stopped to look at him. ¨It was an amazing sight. Was it fun?¨ He asked. Luffy instantly nodded and started to tell how amazing it was. Sabo and Ace went up to the pirates to. Ace stretching as Sabo laughed at Luffy’s overenthusiastic story on how amazing it was.

¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said the first commander, getting the assassins attention. ¨Wasn’t that wild horses? How did you tame them, yoi?¨ He asked the boy. Ace laughed at he looked at the commander. ¨They are wild yes.¨ He then propped down on the ground, Marco deciding to sit down to, still a bit away from the assassin, giving him his personal space. ¨My brothers and I have been here many times, and we decided to try and ride them.¨ He laughed a bit, leaning backwards on his hands. ¨We were thrown off at first, but after a while, they let us ride them.¨ Ace then looked up at the sky, closing his eyes. ¨It’s an amazing feeling to ride them, you just feel free.¨ Marco nodded, they seemed to enjoy it a lot and was good at it. Marco and Ace sat on the ground, watching the other fiddle around, making a small camp.

While Ace sat leaned back, eyes closed and seemed to be relaxing. Marco was looking at him, he looked to be in a good mood, and happy to be at this island. Marco decided to take a small chance. ¨You know,¨ He started, making the assassin open an eye, looking at him. ¨Your brothers seems to really enjoy it on the boat, yoi.¨ Ace nodded at that, it was true. ¨So why don’t you stay? Join us until they can set out, yoi. We do need a new Second Commander anyway.¨ Ace laughed a bit at that. ¨It is a nice offer, and I know they like it here.¨ He sighed a bit, ¨But it’s not wise for me to stay the same place for too long, it causes unwanted people to show up and cause havoc. I also want to keep them outside my work, they worry too much already.¨ Marco nodded, he understood what he meant.

¨But,¨ Continued the assassin, sitting up a bit. ¨It would be nice to have them somewhere safe, and for me to stay the same place without being too concerned about them.¨ He looked at the commander, ¨I’ll think about it.¨ He said, looking sincere at the man. Marco nodded, he was happy with that. He could understand the assassin not accepting, he was an assassin. He had a lot of work and was a wanted man, not only wanted by the marines, but many pirates too. And if it got out he was seen a lot around them, even the other two kids being seen too often, it would most likely cause some havoc. Marco decided to tell his father about it later, maybe he had some idea at what to do that will make it easier for them to join, too not be targeted when the marines or other pirates found out.

Two hours later, a nurse came up to them. Marco looked at her questionable, when he saw a familiar jar in her hand, he knew it was time to put more lotion on the assassin’s face. Marco the looked at the assassin, he was still leaning a bit backwards, eyes closed. The bruising was much better, almost gone, hopefully gone by morning. When she was almost by their sides, Ace opened his eyes a bit, looking at the nurse. ¨Time for the lotion again I see.¨ He said. ¨Yes,¨ Answered the nurse. ¨It might be the last time, we’ll see how it looks tomorrow.¨ Ace nodded at that. When the nurse had opened the jar and was about to start applying it, a noise had her look towards the campfire. She sighed, Thatch had managed to set himself on fire again. ¨Commander Marco,¨ She said, getting the attention. ¨I need to check Thatch over.¨ She then handed the jar to him.

¨You put the lotion on.¨ She said and left. Giving him no room to react before she was gone.

Marco looked at the assassin, a bit nervous. ¨I can get on of the other nurses if you like, yoi.¨ He said, not knowing if the boy was okay with him doing it. The assassin only laughed a bit, waving his hand. ¨It’s okay, I don’t mind if you don’t.¨ He said, a smile gracing his lips as he looked at the commander. And Marcos heart skipped a beat again. Stop it, he thought as he applied the lotion, you are way too old for him. Marco tried to convince himself it was stupid to feel this way, there was no way the assassin would ever feel the same. ¨There,¨ He said to Ace. ¨All done.¨ Ace then smiled again, before stretching again. ¨Thank you, commander Marco.¨ He said, and Marco could swear his heart skipped a beat again. The assassin looked really cute and stunning when he smiled, especially when he smiled at him.

Marco was just about to open his mouth, most likely to say he was welcome, when Luffy was suddenly there, dragging Ace of towards the campfire. Marco sighed as he looked at the brothers and the other having fun. What he didn’t see was the smile on the captains face, as he took an another swing of his sake.

---x---

Marco felt someone nudging him and slowly woke up. He could see Izou crouching next to him, telling him to be quiet and follow him. Marco stood slowly and looked around. Most of the pirates was out drunk, having passed out. Their parties usually got a bit out of hand, and this one had been surprisingly calm, most likely based on the fact that Thatch could not drink, and was therefore not drunk. And seeing as the kids was here, Luffy was still young. And no one knew if the assassin was okay with all of them drinking as bad as they did. Marco could also see Sabo and Luffy not to far away from the still alive fire, sleeping soundly, but where was the assassin?

Marco could see Izou motioning for him to follow him again, Marco did, stretching a bit as he walked. Izou walked him through the woods, and he could see something similar to a clearing ahead of them. When they got out in the small clearing, he could see that it was a small cliff they were standing on. Izou went to the right, and Marco turned towards Izou, and halted for a second. It wasn’t just Izou that was here, but also Thatch, Haruta, Jozu and Whitebeard. Izou went and sat down besides Thatch and Marco stared at them. ¨What are you doing here in the middle of the night, yoi?¨ He asked them. Thatch motioned to the field down below the cliff, Marco looked down and his eyes went big.

In the field, that was lighted up by the moon, was Ace.

He was riding the horse again, there were no other horses around, only the one Ace was on. Ace was riding it around, sometimes going faster, other times going slower, making the horse swing and make circles. ¨How long have he been doing this, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at them. ¨We don’t know, son,¨ Started Whitebeard in a low voice. ¨But we have been watching for the last half hour.¨ Marco nodded and went to sit beside his father, looking at the assassin that was on the field, like a show the assassin didn’t know they were watching.

After a while, they heard a noise. It sounded like a howl of some sort and it made the horse stop in the middle of galloping. Ace, not anticipating the sudden stop, went flying over the horse and landed on his back. Marco was about to stand up, and about to fly down and check on the kid, when a gigantic hand made him halt, ¨Don’t worry,¨ Said Whitebeard, ¨He’s okay.¨ The hand was then lowered and Marco stared at him, how did he know? And when he was about to ask, he heard it; small laughter. He looked at the field and could see the horse shaking its head, as Ace laughed on the ground. The horse nudged Ace with his head and Ace rose and jumped right on again, and started running in circles again.

Marco relaxed, sitting back down. They then watched as Ace pushed the horse to run faster that they had seen, before halting completely. This time, Ace did not fall off. Ace petted the horse on the neck, having somehow made the horse gone from mid gallop, to a complete halt. Ace moved a bit and the horse moved backwards, before halting again and turning around and galloping the other way. It was a magnificent sight. ¨He’s really good.¨ Said Haruta, that sat next to him. The others could only nod, the assassin was amazing. And it was no surprise, seeing as he was a highly skilled assassin, he probably had a lot of talent. But they really did enjoy watching the young assassin, he looked so carefree and happy as he rode around.

They watched for about an hour more, before leaving, seeing as the sun was starting to rise and they wanted to leave before the assassin noticed them. They had a feeling he knew they were there, but he had made no move to show that he knew they were watching.

---x---

In the morning, they went and got back on the boat. Many of the pirates went to their room to sleep off the rest of their hangover. Luffy was running around with the gigantic dog Stefan, Ace and Sabo was inside the ship. They thought Ace maybe was doing some work related stuff, and Sabo was either with him or in the library. After half an hour, Sabo came out on deck. He went over to the captain and caught his attention. ¨Bay says Ace is good to leave, but we’ll probably stay a few more hours.¨ He said, making the captain nod. Luffy was suddenly in front of his brother, ¨Where are we going when we leave?¨ He asked, tilting his head. The pirates looked at each other, was they not going home? Sabo dusted some dirt of his brother, ¨We’re going to visit a certain old man.¨ He said making Luffy smile,

¨We’re going to visit Rayleigh?¨ He asked, a gigantic smile on his face. Sabo just nodded.

¨Brat,¨ Said the captain, getting the kids attention. ¨You know Dark King Rayleigh?¨ Luffy looked at the captain, smile still on his lips. ¨Yeah, we do!¨ He said, before running off to play with Stefan again. Sabo only shook his head. ¨Luffy managed to meet him one time and he kind of took a shine to him.¨ Sabo stretched a bit, ¨When he found out who Ace was and he was Luffy’s brother, he wants to see us every now and then.¨ Whitebeard nodded, it did make sense. Luffy did have Rogers old hat and he was the brother to not only Rogers son, but also the most famous assassin. Rayleigh would want to get to know them and meet them when he could. He was type of man that was wise, and probably decided to have them on his good side, even being friends with them, was a good thing.

Whitebeard was also having some other thought. Rayleigh was a strong, relying and never faltered, he could be a good mentor for not only Sabo and Luffy, but Ace as well. He was a person that seemed to be there when you least expected it, but needed it the most. Whitebeard had a feeling he knew Ace was a bit on edge after Teach and the fact someone had sold information about him and his brothers, therefore wanted to see the boys. Rayleigh did seem to know everything that was going on around them, even before anyone else knew.

Luffy, who was now somehow managed to get on top of Stefan, was suddenly thrown off, and went over the railing. Before anyone could react to what had happened, Dust cawed, and suddenly Ace was on the deck, holding Luffy in his hands. Luffy wiggled out of his grasp, ¨Thanks Ace!¨ He screamed and went to play with Stefan again. Ace just shook his head, clearly not at all fazed by the fact he could have drowned. But seeing how energetic the kid was, it was not the first or last time it had happened. The kid be a real handful. Ace did seemed to be real used to it, and handled it with ease.

His face also looked normal again, the bruising was gone and there was no swelling. The only thing was a small scratch were the cut had been. It was good to see that the lotion Bay had used, had worked as greatly as it had. The assassin stretched a bit, making a few popping sounds, before relaxing again. ¨I assume Sabo have already told you we are leaving today?¨ Asked the assassin, making the captain nod. ¨He have, he also mentioned were you are going.¨ Ace nodded, not seeming surprised by the fact. They then went about to relax on the deck. Whitebeard was happy to see that no one of his sons and daughters was anxious around the assassin, they seemed to be at ease around him. Many of them was a bit intimidated, and didn’t look at him for too long, but it was a great difference from before, when no one dared to make any move around him.

2 hours later, Haruta made her way towards Ace. Luffy and Sabo hand gone inside the ship to look around and try to get the layout of the ship. It was a big ship, and had a lot of small passageways, and Luffy wanted to find all of them. Seeing how bad Luffy was at finding his way back and how he often managed to get lost, Sabo had tagged along. ¨Umm,¨ She started, getting the assassins attention. ¨You showed Thatch and Izou some tactics and fighting tips and I wondered if you could show me anything..?¨ The assassin looked at the commander, before nodding and standing up, stretching when he was upright. The other pirates were a bit surprised by the request from their youngest. They knew Haruta was a bit jealous, seeing as she also wanted to learn more tactics, but she had been too scared to ask the assassin last time. And it seemed like she was taking a chance and decided to ask. She looked relieved and happy that the assassin had accepted.

When Ace put his hands back by his side, he motioned for the twelfth commander to get in battle stance. The young commander obligated and took her saber out, holding it in front of her in her right hand. Haruta was nervous as the assassin was assessing her stance and seemed to be thinking about something. While she tried, Haruta could not stand completely still, which made her a bit crestfallen, seeing as the assassin had told Thatch to stand still in his stance. Haruta was not used to be standing completely still like Thatch, but she always tried her best, seeing how much stronger the man was than her. She wanted to be stronger and better.

The assassin hummed a bit, making the commander a bit more nervous. ¨You seemed to have an issue with standing still,¨ He started, ¨Don’t you fight with speed?¨ He asked, looking at the fidgeting commander. Haruta nodded. She was one of the fastest swords wielders on the ship, based on how light and small she was. Ace nodded, ¨Then don’t try to stand still, it will make you slower.¨ He said, making many of them look at him in question and curiosity. He had told Thatch to stand still, to have a firm and powerful stance. So why was he saying something different now?

Ace sighed, seeing and feeling all the looks he was getting. ¨You’re probably wondering why I said something different to you than Thatch?¨ Haruta nodded. Ace went and took a sword that was lying about and held it up at the ready, the same way Thatch had stood, feet planted in the ground, sword held in front and body straight and still. ¨Thatch is a bit stronger built than you and therefore need to use his weight and stance to fence of attacks. He can do this best with his feet planted in the ground and standing still with his body at the ready for an attack, on the defense basically. Using his strength in his attacks, he gets more force if he stands still in the right stance before attacking.¨ Haruta nodded, she understood that.

Ace moved his body a bit, standing like Haruta had. ¨You on the other hand,¨ Continued Ace, ¨Are much smaller and lighter, meaning you don’t have the necessary strength to fend of attacks and defend like the fourth commander, you could be easily knocked over or lose you balance.¨ Haruta felt her shoulder hunch a bit at that, maybe she was to weak. ¨But,¨ He continued, making the commander look at him again. ¨You are already used to fight with you speed. You need to start using your movement and stance to get more speed and be more at ready, at the offence shortly said.¨ Ace then moved his form a bit in place, ¨If, instead of standing still, you move around, never standing still. You will be more ready to go for an attack or dodge, getting a upper hand.¨ Haruta nodded and went back to the stance she used, only this time, doing small movement, small jumps and switching from leg to leg like the assassin had.

And it felt much more natural and better than trying to stand still.

Ace looked at her, nodding. ¨It will also make you less nervous in battle, since you focus more on what’s happening around you, than trying to stand still, your body feeling ready.¨ Haruta nodded, amazed that she was supposed to move around. She had always tried to copy the other sword wilders on the crew, no one was moving about as she did. ¨There are not many that do this,¨ Started the assassin getting the attention again. ¨But if you manage to never stop the movement, you can get more speed during your attacks and surprise the enemy.¨ Haruta nodded, it did make sense. ¨I use this fighting style every now and then, but I am not to skilled at it myself. But I know someone who are.¨ Said the assassin, making a sense of hope fill the small commander. ¨I can ask him for some tips and see if he can come by sometime.¨ The small commander nodded, a smile on her face, ¨I would really like that.¨ She said. And for the next hour or so, Ace gave her small tips on how to use her speed at a more reliable way.

While Ace was busy with this, the other pirates smiled. The small commander had had issues with not being as strong, but she was fast, the reason she was chosen to be a commander. The fact that none of them used speed as the way she did, made it so she had to figure a lot out herself, which could be hard. It was good to find someone that could teach her how to use her skills. The assassin was really helpful. They were glad they had checked out the island all those months ago. If they hadn’t they would never have met the kids and seen the other side of him.

As Ace showed and walked around Haruta, giving pinpoints. Whitebeard could only think that Ace would have fitted in perfect. He would be a good commander, and he could teach them a lot. The assassin was really talented, and was willingly to learn them how to better their skills, even teaching new skills.

He only hoped the assassin would say yes at some point.

---x---

Some hours later, after dinner, the kids had packed and was ready to leave. ¨You sure you didn’t forget anything?¨ Said the assassin to Luffy. Luffy nodded. Ace lifted an eyebrow. ¨Well, I think I remembered everything.¨ Ace sighed, ¨If your forgot anything, we’ll get it later.¨ Luffy nodded at that, before looking at the crew, waving his hands. ¨Goodbye everyone!¨ He yelled, and many waved back, saying their own goodbye. ¨We promise to visit again soon!¨ Said the kid, and the other two only shook their heads a bit, before patting the kid on the shoulder, making him turn around.

Ace had sent Dust off a bit earlier, making so they could just teleport there. When he was at their destination, the kid had gone to pack his stuff. They were a bit disappointed that they had to leave so soon, but hoped they would visit again soon, as Luffy said. Sabo then said his goodbye, tilting his hat a bit, and getting a few nods back. ¨I thank you again for the hospitality.¨ Said the assassin, looking at the captain that nodded back. ¨It was no problem.¨ Said the captain. ¨It’s nice to have you here, hope you can come again soon.¨ He said, with a smile on his face. Ace nodded, ¨We’ll probably visit again sometime.¨ Many of the pirates smiled at this, happy that they would come by again.

Luffy then hugged his brother, and Sabo put his hand on the assassin’s shoulder. Ace gave a nod, a small smile on his face, and disappeared.

Chapter Text

Ace was tired, no that was an understatement, he was exhausted . For the last week, he had been doing an assignment for Daisuke. Someone had been targeting the guild and they needed all the help they could need. Ace had barley slept during the assignment. He was one of the best and was often called upon by the others. He knew Daisuke would let him sleep, but he wanted to get rid of whoever it was that was stupid enough to target an assassin’s guild. It had apparently been some x-marines that had targeted them, all of them had some reason to hate the assassins and had joined forces and gathered many others that wanted rid of the assassins. It had been a battle that had lasted for 5 days, they just kept coming. It was finally over and Ace just wanted to get home and sleep.

But some deity apparently had other ideas.

When Ace arrived on Boreumdo, he instantly felt something off. He hoped it was nothing big, seeing as he was exhausted and was in no shape to fight right now. Ace walked through the woods and headed to the small village at the other side. The house he and his brothers owned was on the other side of the forest, he trusted the inhabitants to not out them, and in return, he would protect them and give them a place to stay where they had all they needed. The money Ace made from his work, made this pretty easy. When he saw the small village, he froze at what he saw;

Marines.

He could see two marine ships, and he could see some marines in the village. The village seemed fine, but he needed to check it out. He was thankfully not in his assassin’s clothes, having changed out of the bloodied and teared clothing, and had borrowed some from Daisuke. He slowly made is way towards the village, and made sure to hide so no one would see him coming. When he was next to one of the houses, the tavern actually. He knew if the marines wanted anything, they would go there. Ace crouched down under a window and tried to listen if anything was going on inside. ¨We know they are here!¨ He could hear someone yell, a gruff male voice. ¨We don’t know who you’re talking about, please leave.¨ A woman, Lindsey the barmaid, said. He could hear a growl and froze at the next words;

¨We know the son of The Pirate King, the son of The Leader of the Revolutionary army and a runaway from nobles is here. Where are they?!¨

Ace could hear Lindsey say she didn’t know as he sat frozen on the ground, he needed to do something. Ace disappeared and repapered next to their house, going inside. The moment he was inside, he could instantly see Luffy smiling and was probably going to hug him, but they had no time. ¨Luffy, go pack!¨ He said. He could see Luffy frowning, looking at Sabo, before running to his room, packing the emergency bag they had. ¨What’s going on?¨ Asked Sabo, standing up and looking worried. ¨Marines,¨ He said, looking at his brother, ¨They are here and know we are here.¨ He could see the shocked look on Sabo’s face. ¨You can’t fight them!¨ He said, in an worried and angry tone. ¨You look exhausted!¨

Ace knew Sabo was right, but he could not let the villagers pay for them. Luffy came out of his room, holding his bag. When he saw the look on Sabos face, he started to feel more uneased than before, ¨What’s happening?¨ He asked. Ace looked at him, he could see he was scared, they had never had this happened before, Ace knew it would at some point. ¨Luffy, come here and hold Sabo’s hand.¨ He said, trying to speak softly and not look as tired or nervous as he was. Luffy obligated, looking at Sabo with big eyes.

He could see Dust in the window behind them and started to think. Where could he teleport to? Shanks was in the new world, doing some raid, so that was a no. He didn’t know where Rayleigh was, and The Red Cloud was unavailable. He made a decision, he hoped and knew they would help. Ace closed his eyes, he knew Sabo would be mad at what he was going to do. But he had no choice, he needed to keep them safe. He called for Dust, making the bird land on Sabo shoulder, the moment he caught on, he could see the shock and fear as he understood was Ace was doing.

¨I’m sorry.¨ Said Ace. He could see Luffy trying to reach for him, Sabo opening his mouth, then they were gone. Leaving Ace alone, having sent them to safety.

Ace took some spare weapons, made sure no signs of his brothers was living in the house was visible and headed out. He only hoped they did not know that he was an assassin, and that he could win this battle. Ace was already tired from the last days, and the fact he had used Dust to transport Sabo and Luffy, took more on his power than he liked to admit. He would have issues with teleporting himself around, his exhaustion was getting bad, but he needed to help the villagers, they had helped them so much. They always were there for Sabo and Luffy, making them food, presents, playing games with them and everything. Ace was not abandoning them.

Ace made his way to the village, he was just outside the woods when he saw the marines had started to head to the woods; towards him. It was a vice admiral. Ace didn’t know not too much about him. But Ace knew one thing, he was strong and hunted for bounties. ¨Let the villagers go!¨ He yelled at the vice admiral heading for him. ¨Oh,¨ He said. ¨I’m guessing you are the famous Ace, where are your brothers?¨ Ace held the man’s gaze, ¨I don’t know who you are talking about, I live here alone.¨ He could see the man frowning at that, motioning for his lackeys to get by his side.

There was maybe 30 of them, two of them being vice admirals. When the marines were heading towards him, he could see Lindsey looking out the window and Ace motioned for them to run. She looked a bit concerned, but seemed to gather the others and closing the windows and door, hopefully locking them. In the tavern there was a hatch that led to the bottom of the cliff, where they had a boat, so they could run away. Ace got his sword out and stood ready. He was tired and exhausted, but he was going to do his best, and hopefully manage to run away after a bit, so the villagers could get away.

Then they charged.

Ace manage to dodge their attacks and get some hits in. They were uncoordinated and seemed to be just attacking at random. Normally Ace would use his powers, but he could not afford to use up his strength, so he was going to keep to normal combat. Ace managed to beat some of the marines unconscious, but every time he knocked someone out, a new was there, charging at Ace. Ace could feel himself getting weaker, the edges started to blur. But he was not going to give up this easy. He kept fighting back, which he had for the last 2 hours. He was up against the vice admiral and a few regular ones, when he made a mistake. When he moved his sword to cut the vice admiral, he took a step forward, and in his tired and blurred mind, did not see the rock in the ground, and tripped. The vice admiral used the mistake and mishap to kick him in the stomach, making him fly backwards. When he hit the ground, a sword was put to his throat.

He could do nothing, he had lost.

His powers were useless; the sword was seastone. Ace was breathing hard, hoping this somehow would turn out alright. ¨Don’t get ahead of yourself.¨ Said the other vice admiral, ¨We need him alive.¨ Ace then felt shackles around his wrists, ¨Go check the island out, kill everyone you find that’s not the ones we’re looking for.¨ Ace could see some of the marines nodding, before running off. He heard a yell, ¨The villagers are gone!¨ Ace smiled, that was good. The villagers and his brothers was safe. He could hear a growl from the man, and saw his foot move straight towards his head.

Ace fell unconscious as the foot hit.

---x---

Sabo could only stare as his brother apologized. The moment Dust was on his shoulder, he understood what was happening, and was just about to stop Ace from doing what he was going to do, but was too late. When the smoke disappeared, he could see they were in a forest. Next to him was a tree with a mark in it, the mark that let Ace transport here any given moment. He as just about to curse Ace, when something, or someone tugged on his arm. ¨Sabo!¨ Said Luffy, eyes big and filled with tears and fear. ¨Where’s Ace? Why did he send us here alone?¨ Sabo cursed Ace in his mind, before crouching down and wiping a stray tear that fell down Luffy’s cheek. ¨It’s okay, he needed to check something in the village.¨ Sabo tried with all his might to not sound concerned, worried, scared, angry or any of the other feelings he was feeling.

He closed his eyes and hoped Ace was okay.

Luffy looked at him, ¨Then why did he send us here!¨ Luffy was almost yelling, wanting to know why Ace was behaving the way he did. Sabo took a deep breath, I need to tell him . He knew Luffy would be even more worried and concerned, but he could not hide it, Luffy knew something was up. ¨Some marines shoved up and Ace is helping the villagers get away.¨ He said, and Luffy nodded. ¨Why was the marines there?¨ Asked the kid, Sabo sighted. ¨You know how Aces father was the pirate king and my parents was nobles?¨ Luffy nodded. He knew about their heritage, but not his own. ¨The marines want to capture us, and Ace sent us here to stay safe, so he could get the marines away.¨ Sabo spoke slowly, he was worried and didn’t want to show it to Luffy, he needed to be strong. He needed to be like Ace right now.

Luffy nodded, ¨So Ace is coming here later?¨ He asked, hope in his eyes. Sabo tried to smile his best. ¨Ace always find a way.¨ Said Sabo. He could not lie to Luffy, therefore could not say yes. Luffy did nod at the information, but was frowning a bit. He was worried and Sabo’s answer was not exactly what he wanted. ¨Where are we?¨ He asked, looking around. Sabo did to, ¨I don’t know, but we’ll go check soon.¨ He took the bag from Luffy and opened it. The bag had money, food, water and almost every emblem from the pirates Ace worked with, in case they needed to show them to prove they knew he pirates. ¨Why don’t we eat a bit first and see if Ace comes.¨ Luffy nodded, and sat down.

Then they tried to relax as they ate, hoping Ace would show up.

An hour later, no Ace had showed up. Dust was staying with them, but refused to tell them anything. Sabo did not like that. He only hoped Ace was not to tired and managed to fight the marines. ¨Hey Lu,¨ He said, looking at the kid. ¨Let’s check the place out, maybe we are somewhere we know.¨ Luffy nodded, and stood up. Sabo packed the bag again, and took the main emblems out; Shanks, Whitebeards, Mihawks and one they had gotten from Garp. Sabo put them in his pockets, and started walking, Luffy trailing behind him.

After walking for about half an hour, they saw a small village, and headed slowly towards it. When they saw a woman with two kids, they got her attention, hoping to find out where they were. ¨Excuse me,¨ Said Sabo, a smile as he looked at her. ¨But may I ask what island this is?¨ The woman seemed to be looking at them weirdly, ¨You don’t know where you are?¨ She asked, not sure she had heard right. Sabo nodded, ¨Our brother sent us here. And we’re not exactly sure where here is.¨ He said as he massaged his neck. The woman nodded, face softening a bit, believing that. ¨You are at Maldo,¨ She said shocking Sabo a bit, that’s in the grand line.

The woman then continued. ¨We are under protection of Whitebeard, so you should not cause any problems I hope.¨ She said with a warning look. Sabo looked at her, before shaking his head a bit, ¨We wouldn’t do that,¨ He reached for the emblem in his pocket. ¨We actually know them.¨ He said, showing the emblem and shocking the woman a bit. ¨Is there a way to contact him? We kind of need to talk to him.¨ He told the woman, who nodded, still a bit shocked, before smiling. ¨Of course there is.¨ She then motioned to her kids, ¨Let me just get these two home, then I’ll show you to the mayor.¨ Sabo nodded, smiling himself, happy the woman would help. Sabo reached for Luffy and they walked towards her house.

¨How old are your kids, miss…¨ Said Sabo, deciding to try a bit of small talk. ¨Oh, call me Maria.¨ She said. ¨And this is Marlo who is 6, and Tarlo who is 4.¨ The two kids waved a bit, nervous around the strangers. Sabo smiled at them, ¨I’m Sabo, and this is Luffy.¨ He said, as he motioned to Luffy, who had not said anything yet, and was starting to worry Sabo a bit. The woman nodded and they continued, doing a bit of small talk as they walked. When they got to her house, the woman told them to wait outside, while she went inside with the kids.

Sabo turned to Luffy, who still had made no sound. ¨Are you okay Lu?¨ He asked, and could see so many emotions in the kids eyes as he looked at him. ¨Why haven’t Ace showed up yet?¨ He then clutched Sabo’s hand, ¨Is he okay?¨ Sabo looked at Luffy, trying to say something. He did not know what to say, and he was really worried himself, Ace was taking a long time. But he could not show it to Luffy, that would only make things worse. ¨He probably ran into some problems, he is a strong fighter, he’ll pull through and meet us later.¨ He said, smiling a strained smile, trying to make himself believe his own words. He was starting to get real worried, and the fact he needed to act strong in front of Luffy, was staring to stain a bit. He wasn’t as good as Ace when it came to acting. Especially when some of them was in trouble, it was really amazing Ace managed it so well as he did. When Luffy nodded, Sabo took a deep breath, hoping the pirates was close by, he could feel himself falter.

Luffy was by no means weak, but he often did rash decisions when he was worked up, upset or worried. And Sabo could also see he was scared, not knowing if Ace was okay. And Sabo was scared for that too, but he knew, the moment he showed that to Luffy, he would know something was really wrong. Sabo knew Ace was exhausted, which caused him to worry even more, feeling more scared by each minute that Ace was not okay, that the marines had managed to get him. He shook his head, trying to get the thought out of his head. Maria then walked out the door, and looked at them a bit concerned seeing the look Luffy had. She wanted to ask, but Sabo shook his head softly, hoping she would not. The woman pushed her lips together and frowned a bit, before leading them to the mayor.

When they made it to the town hall, Maria lead them inside and asked them to show the emblem to a young woman that sat behind a desk. When Sabo did, she smiled and asked them to follow her. She knocked at a door and a come in was heard. The woman opened the door, and inside sat an old and kind looking man. The woman motioned for them to go inside, which they did. ¨What can I do for you?¨ Asked the man in a friendly voice, making Sabo feel a bit better. Sabo showed him the emblem, making him smile at them kindly. ¨I was hoping you could call Whitebeard, we need to talk to him.¨ Said Sabo, trying to smile, but felt he failed and only looked nervous and concerned. The man looked at them with a concerned look, ¨Is something wrong?¨ He asked, looking kindly at them.

Sabo took a deep breath, he felt the emotions bubble inside him, but he needed to be strong. He tried to look as calm as he could, and spoke slowly. ¨Our brother sent us here, something happened and we kind of need their help.¨ Sabo then bit the inside of his lip, not likin the fact that he admitted they needed help, and that Ace probably was in danger. He could feel Luffy clutching his hand, and almost trying to press himself into Sabo, it made Sabo worry more. Not only for Ace, but for Luffy as well. The man nodded, ¨We can try to call them.¨ He rose up, ¨Lets go to Sadie, our communicator, and see what we can do.¨ They nodded and followed him.

They got to a room and met a woman, Sadie, and told what they needed, she nodded and motioned for the to sit. They then sat at the table, the man, Max, sat on the other side of them. Sadie got a Den Den Mushi out and handed it to the major, who thanked her. Max dialed something on the Den Den and it started ringing. (1) After a few rings, someone picked up. ¨This is the Moby Dick, you are speaking to Claus. State your name and business please.¨ Max then leaned a bit forward, ¨This is Max from Maldo calling, we have two kids here that need to talk to Whitebeard.¨ He said to the Den Den. There was a bit of silence, before the Den Den spoke again. ¨Kids you say?¨ Max nodded a bit to himself. ¨They have an emblem with your mark, so they have been with you before.¨ The Den Den then nodded, ¨I’ll go and see what I can do, hang on for a minute.¨ Max said okay, and the Den Den went silent. But then Sabo noticed something that filled him with dread.

Dust was looking tired, his body slouching a bit. His wings were hanging by his side, resting on the table, his head was hanging a bit. That was bad and could only mean Ace was in real trouble, and was losing the battle. Sabo looked at the Den Den, wishing for it to respond and hoped Luffy didn’t notice.

¨Max,¨ Said the Den Den. Sabo immediately recognized the voice, it was Whitebeard. The realization they managed to communicate with him, made him feel a bit better. ¨Why are you calling, is something wrong?¨ Sabo could actually hear the worry through the Den Den. Sabo hoped he was close by. ¨There is nothing wrong on the island.¨ Said Max, voice still calm and friendly. ¨But there is two kids here that need to talk to you.¨ He then looked at them, a friendly and worried smile directed at them. ¨What ki-,¨ Started the Den Den, but Sabo tuned out at what happened;

Dust fell over, passing out.

Luffy, hearing the thud, let out a small yell. This was really bad . Dust fainting could only mean Ace was unconscious and had his power taken away. He could see the bird’s chest moving, so he knew the bird was alive, which was a bit good, meaning Ace was alive. But Sabo could still feel the dread and fear, knowing Ace was out, and most likely captured by the marines. Before either Max or Sabo could react, Luffy was screaming at the Den Den, tears falling down his face. ¨Giant Banana Mustache!” The Den Den reacted almost immediately, ¨Luffy?¨ It asked, and it sounded like Whitebeard was worried, really worried . Luffy continued, more tears falling from his eyes as he started to sob a little. ¨You need to help Ace! Somethings wrong and you-, you-, yo-.¨ Luffy stopped, not able to get the words out, only chocking on them.

Sabo reacted, going over to Luffy and hugging him, trying to not look scared or nervous. Knowing Ace was in real trouble, his worst fear coming true, aside from Luffy also being taken. He tried with all his might to look strong, but know he failed when he looked at Max. Max looked really worried about them, understanding the situation was bad. When he saw the helpless look on Sabos face, he looked at the Den Den,

¨I think you need to get here, it seems bad.¨

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his meeting room with most of his commanders. They did not have a meeting, but they were there in case someone needed to find them, and was just small talking and relaxing. After Thatch had made a full recovery 2 months ago, they had left for the Grand Line, deciding to check up on some of their territories. The ones present aside from Whitebeard himself, was Marco, Thatch, Izou, Jozu, Rakuyo, Haruta and Vista. It was a relatively calm day and everyone was relaxing.

They were in the middle of a small discussion were to go next, when a knock was heard.

¨Come in.¨ Said Whitebeard, wondering who it might be. The door opened, and Claus, their communicator came in. ¨Son, is everything okay?¨ Asked Whitebeard, it was rare for Claus to come to them unannounced when he was on duty. Claus came in, a Den Den in his hands. ¨Max from Maldo is calling, he said someone needed to talk to you.¨ Said Claus, making Whitebeard and most of the commanders frown. Maldo was an island that never had any issues, and was filled with calm and caring people, it was really rare for them to call. He gave a nod to Claus, signalizing it was okay, and he would take the call. Claus then put the Den Den on the table, and took a step back.

¨Max,¨ Started Whitebeard, ¨Why are you calling, is something wrong?¨ Maybe they should go to Maldo next. ¨There is nothing wring on the island.¨ Started Max, sounding like his usual calm self. ¨But there are two kids here that need to talk to you.¨ Whitebeard frowned a bit at that, looking at Marco, who shrugged a bit. ¨What kids are yo-,¨ He stopped when he heard something like a small yell in the background, it sounded familiar and made him worry.

¨Giant Banana Mustache!¨ Yelled an all too familiar voice through the Den Den. The captain and commanders worry instantly went up, dread filling them. ¨Luffy?¨ Said Whitebeard, his voice full of concern, why was Luffy there? The Den Den continued, and they could hear the kid crying, ¨You need to help Ace! Somethings wrong and you,- you,- yo-.¨ They could hear the kid choking on his word, the sobs growing. Whitebeard sat there in shock, as well as everyone else. Ace was in trouble? They were shocked, the happy and always smiling kid was sounding so heartbroken and scared. It made them worry even more.

¨I think you need to get here,¨ Started Max, even sounding worried himself. ¨It seems bad.¨

Whitebeard nodded to himself, he could hear the faint crying of Luffy in the background, he could see Haruta running out the door, probably going to the navigators to set their course. ¨We’re changing our course towards Maldo, based on the good weather and wind, it will take maybe a day.¨ He said, and tried to hide his worry a bit, it would not make anything better for him to sound worried. ¨Thank you Whitebeard, we’ll be waiting.¨ Said Max, sounding a bit relieved. ¨Max, yoi.¨ Said Marco, his face, although having the bored and usual look on his face, seemed a bit concerned. ¨Who else is there?¨ He asked, wanting to know if the other brothers was present. He looked at his father, and could see eyes full of concern. ¨There is Luffy and an another boy, Sabo.¨ Said Max,

¨There is also a bird, but it seems sick or something, it collapsed.¨

Everyone’s eyes opened in shock, dread completely filling them. They knew Dust was connected to Ace somehow. The fact that the bird seemed sick, even collapsing, could not be good. No wonder Luffy was so distraught. Marco looked at Whitebeard, both of them feared what might have happened to the young assassin. They said a few more words to the man, before hanging up, hoping that they would get there fast and that they could help. That Ace was okay, even though it seemed that was not the case, but they hoped.

---x---

Sabo sat and held Luffy. Luffy had fallen asleep after the conversation, they was staying with Max for the time being. Sabo was thankful for how helpful he was, and that the pirates were coming to help. After Luffy had broken down and basically cried himself to sleep, Sabo had managed to just shut everything out. Seeing Luffy so distraught and scared, and the fact that Dust had collapsed, made his mind go into protection mode and he was able to just be there for Luffy, not showing his own emotions, locking them away. Right now Luffy needed him and he was going to be there for him. No matter what.

After the meeting, Sabo had carried Luffy to Max’s house and sat down in the living room. Luffy laying on the sofa, with his head on Sabos lap, his hand running through his hair, comforting him in his sleep. After just sitting like that for a few hours, Max came back, his day over. He smiled at them calmly and friendly. ¨Its almost dinner time, you want anything special?¨ He asked Sabo, who shook his head, looking at Luffy with caring eyes. Max nodded and went to make some food for himself and the boys.

30 minutes later, he returned with plates and placed them on the table. Sabo shook his younger brother, making him stir. ¨Lu, wake up.¨ He said, his voice calm and caring. ¨It’s dinner time.¨ Luffy sat up, rubbing his eyes a bit. When Max returned with the food, a stew, Luffy smiled a small smile, ¨Thank you, Mister Mayor.¨ He said, looking a bit happy. Max smiled back, ¨It’s no problem, I’m glad I can help.¨ He said, and they sat down, eating their food. Even though Sabo hadn’t eaten for a while, he could not eat everything on his plate. His stomach was queasy with worry and offered his food to Luffy, who ate it down. Sabo smiled at how Luffy at least ate, maybe a bit less than normal, but it still made Sabo happy seeing him act more like himself. This is what Ace feels like all the time. Was what he thought, he could not understand how he managed it day after day. No wonder he is as exhausted as he is sometimes.

After eating, Luffy and Max started a conversation about different animals, and how much Luffy liked them. It made Sabo happy to see Luffy talking again, and having a conversation. Max really is a good man, and they were happy he was as helpful as he was. Sabo made his way over to Dust. They had put him in a nest made of a blanket, just so he was as comfortable as he could be, it made them feel a bit better. Sabo was a bit saddened by the fact the bird had made no movement, but it was still alive, which was somewhat comforting.

Dust fainting and collapsing had only happened one time before. That had been when Ace was younger and had been exhausted and fallen in the water. They had at first though Ace was gone, but he had been fished up and was just unconscious. This made it so they knew that if Ace was unconscious and his power taken away, Dust would react to it. If Ace died, the bird would most likely die to.

Sabo hoped that never happened. Sabo took a deep breath, composing himself again. Remembering Ace was not here and in trouble, sometimes made his mask falter a bit. But he would not show it to Luffy. Luffy needed him, and Sabo was going to be there for him.

¨Ne Sabo,¨ Said Luffy, making Sabo look at him. ¨What should we name Rascals family?¨ Asked Luffy tilting his head. Sabo could see Luffy trying to take his mid off of Ace, and therefor was talking about happy stuff. But Luffy’s eyes held all the worry and concern he tried to hold in. Sabo hummed a bit, ¨I don’t know, there is his girlfriend and 3 kids, 2 boys and a girl I believe.¨ Luffy looked at Max, ¨What do you think?¨ He said, tilting his head. ¨I think you should choose, you found them after all.¨ Said Max, smiling. Luffy thought for a bit, ¨I know!¨ He said, looking at Sabo and Max with a smile. ¨The girlfriend can be Lindsey, like the barmaid!¨ Sabo nodded, smiling as Luffy did, ¨What about the kids?¨ He asked. Luffy thought again, ¨I know,¨ He started. ¨The girl can be Maria, and boys can be Marlo and Max!¨

Max looked shocked for a second, ¨You want to name it after me?¨ He asked, and Luffy nodded. ¨Yeah,¨ He started, ¨The little boy was cute and seemed to help his sister and brother. You don’t mind, do you?¨ He said, tilting his head. Max laughed a bit, ¨Of course I don’t mind, it’s and honor actually.¨ He then smiled happy at Luffy. ¨They sound like a happy family.¨ Luffy smiled at that, ¨They are! I can’t wait to tell the names… to Ace…¨ Luffy trailed a bit off, his face falling. Sabo made his way back to the couch, sitting down next to Luffy, putting his hand on his head. ¨We’ll tell him the names when we speak to him.¨ Luffy looked at him, eyes shining with tears as he nodded, before leaning on him. Sabo started a conversation with Max while comforting Luffy.

He could do this.

---x---

Marco, Thatch and Izou went to the Mayor’s house. They had just arrived, and they were the ones chosen to get the two kids. The others wanted to come with them, but Pops had said that fewer was better, so they caused as little questions as possible. It was usually Marco that talked to the inhabitants, if not Whitebeard himself went. Marco wanted to take Izou and Thatch witch him, seeing as the two boys was comfortable around them. They knew the kids most likely was with the mayor, and hoped they were okay. When they got to the house, Marco knocked. They heard some movement and Max opened the door. ¨Commanders,¨ He said, looking his happy and calm self. ¨Please come in.¨ Max moved aside, giving them room to go inside.

¨How are they, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, wanting to know how they took the fact something was wrong with Ace, they seemed really attached to him, especially Luffy. Max shook his head, ¨The kid, Luffy, tries to act normal. But sometimes, especially when he talks or is reminded by his brother, gets depressed.¨ Marco nodded, he understood that, they seemed close. When Max made no more sign to continue, he frowned a bit. ¨And Sabo, yoi?¨ Max frowned a bit, making them worry. Max sighed,

¨I’m not sure.¨ He started, ¨He seems okay, but something also seems off.¨

They nodded, frowning a bit to themselves, ¨Where are they, yoi?¨ Max signalized them to follow, and they went to the living room. When they got to the room, they could see the two boys. Luffy and Sabo was talking to a woman, they seemed to be okay, at least for now. When Max came in after them, he got the woman’s attention, ¨Maria, the boys ride is here.¨ The woman, Maria, looked at them, a kind smile on her face. ¨Of course.¨ She looked at the boys, ¨Be good now.¨ Se said, before leaving, nodding at the pirates. ¨Pompom! Birdy Blue Breast! Pretty man!¨ Yelled Luffy, sounding really happy to see them. It made the commanders smile. ¨Hi Luffy.¨ Said Thatch, waving at him. Making Luffy smile a bit more, they could see the smile wasn’t as happy as it used to be, but happy he was smiling. Sabo also had a smile, also seeming happy to see them.

The commanders were happy to see that they seemed fine. Thatch went a bit inside the room, ¨Are you ready to leave?¨ He asked, smiling and trying to keep the mood up. Luffy nodded a bit, before his smile fell, looking depressed. This made them frown a bit, especially Thatch, did he say something wrong? Luffy got up and went over to a small table and lifted some blanket, cradling it to his chest. This made them frown again, but understood the reaction when they saw the unconscious bird. Luffy looked at them and they smiled a bit back. Sabo went up to Luffy and put his hand on his shoulder. ¨Lets go, Lu.¨ He said, smiling at Luffy when he looked at him. Making Luffy nod, a small sad smile on his lips. Luffy and Sabo left with Thatch and Izou, Marco staying behind a bit. When the door closed he turned to Max.

¨We thank you for taking care of them, yoi.¨ He said, looking at the mayor. Max smiled back, ¨It was no problem, I only hope their brother is okay.¨ He said, looking at Marco with an understanding look. Marco nodded, ¨We hope that too, yoi.¨ He said, nodding at the mayor. ¨Before you go commander,¨ Started Max, ¨Could you give me an update on how they are later?¨ Max looked at Marco, a concerned look in his eyes. ¨I’m worried about them.¨ Marco nodded, ¨We’ll do that.¨ He said, before bidding goodbye and following the others.

Marco was also worried, Luffy looked sad and defeated, they had expected that. But it was still weird and a bit heart wrenching seeing the happy kid so sad and concerned. Luffy was always happy and they wanted him to stay happy. But they were also concerned about Sabo. Even though he seemed to act like himself, there was something off, like Max had said. His smile seemed forced and he was tense, really tense. Marco shook his head, they would handle it.

They only hoped Ace was okay too.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in the meeting room, waiting for his sons to return with the boys. Seeing as they had for the last few weeks been checking up on their territories, it was no by means weird for them to stop here for a bit and send the three commanders to the mayor. Not long after sending them to fetch the kids, they retuned. Thatch walked in first, holding the door opened for the rest. When Whitebeard saw Luffy, who came in first, he felt his heart ache. Luffy as cradling what he could tell was Dust to his chest and looked lost and scared, eyes full of unshed tears. They had a feeling Luffy would be looking like this, but seeing the happy and full of life Luffy so down, was still something they hoped to never see in the first place and hopefully never again.

Sabo who came in after, seemed to be fine. And when he looked at the captain, he smiled. Whitebeard could tell the smile didn’t reach his eyes, it looked sad and forced. His posture also seemed tense and forced. This caused some concern in the captain’s chest. Sabo looked like he was trying with all his might to not falter, and was actually doing a somewhat good job of it. Had it not been for the fact he had seen Sabo as often as he had, he would not have noticed this. One look at Marco, who came in last, showed that he had noticed this too.

Luffy looked at the captain, eyes full of tears, before looking down in his hands, looking at Dust. Whitebeard smiled a small smile, looking at Luffy. ¨Why don’t you put Dust here on the table?¨ He said to the kid, motioning for the end of the table, outside of the map that was constantly on the table and had spots on it signalizing where islands, territories and other pirates where. ¨So we all can make sure he is okay and see if he wakes up.¨ Luffy nodded a bit and went to the side of the table. When he stood there, he seemed to be hugging the bird a bit closer, not wanting to let it go. It broke many of their hearts when they could see him shaking a bit, trying not to cry.

Whitebeard was on his way to comfort the kid, when Sabo beat him to it. Sabo went up to Luffy, and put a hand on his shoulder. When Luffy looked at him, he smiled, ¨Its okay, Dust is safe here.¨ He said, making Luffy nod a bit, before slowly putting Dust on the table. When Dust was placed, Luffy fixed the blanket a bit, making it look like a nice little nest. When he was done, he took Sabo’s hand and leaned on his brother, trying to keep the tears at bay. When Luffy did this, Sabo looked up, and they could see his eyes shining a bit, before they looked normal again.

Thatch suddenly piped in, ¨Why don’t you go with Izou to the galley and get something to eat?¨ He asked. Shoving Izou a bit, making him look at Thatch questionably. One look from him and Izou understood, ¨Yes Luffy, let’s do that. After that we can visit Bay and ask her to check on Dust.¨ Luffy looked at him and Izou smiled a kind smile. Luffy nodded and went to the door, Sabo following a bit, still holding onto Luffy. But let go once they were at the door and Luffy left with Izou. When the door closed and Sabo turned around, he was instantly embraced by Thatch. They could see the shocked expression on Sabo’s face, and when Thatch tightened his arms a bit they could see tears forming, Sabo fighting to keep them from falling. ¨Its okay,¨ Said Thatch, voice calm and caring, ¨You did good, we’ll find Ace and everything will be okay.¨

That was it for Sabo. The tears started to fall as he clutched at the chef’s jacket, letting out a sob, just feeling overwhelmed by everything, was finally able to let go.

The others in the room could only watch as Sabo finally was able to let all the emotions out. Whitebeard felt proud of his son for comforting Sabo, too just be there for him. By the looks of it, it seemed like Sabo had been holding everything inside for the entire time. Knowing they was here and would help, was a huge comfort for him, and just let go. And it felt good, to just let it out, knowing he was not alone, knowing he and Luffy was not alone. And that was how it was for the next 10 minutes, Sabo being comforted by Thatch, telling him that it was okay.

When Thatch let go, Sabo wiped his face the best he could, trying to compose himself again. ¨I’m sorry,¨ He started, sniffing a bit. ¨I just…¨ The others smiled an understanding smile. ¨It’s fine,¨ Said Whitebeard, giving his best comfort he could without touching the boy. ¨We understand.¨ The others nodded inside them, they understood this must have been hard on Sabo. Not just the fact that Ace was in some kind of trouble, but that he could not show it in front of Luffy. It must have been hard and exhausting for him to act neutral around Luffy. When he seemed a bit more composed, Whitebeard asked the question everyone had on their mind. ¨What happened, Sabo?¨ He asked, looking concerned at the boy.

Sabo started the tale. On how Ace had done the assignment for The Red Cloud, gotten home exhausted for then to tell him about the marines, that they knew who they were. On how Ace had sent them to the island and went to help the villagers, how Dust had then collapsed, also how Dust and Ace was connected. When he was done, he had tears in his eyes again and blinked them away.

The pirates were really worried about Ace now. They knew he was in some kind of trouble, but the fact that he was most likely captured by the marines, who knew who he was, was a big concern. Whitebeard nodded, and looked at Sabo in a comforting matter, ¨Why don’t you join Luffy and Izou in the galley?¨ Sabo nodded and took a deep breath before leaving. When he left, the occupants of the room got a serious look on their faces. ¨What should we do Pops?¨ Asked Thatch, looking at his father. Whitebeard sighed, ¨For now,¨ He started, ¨We try to listen in on every marine communication we can and the news.¨ He leaned a bit back against his chair. ¨I also think we should head towards Impel Down, they will most likely bring Ace there. And any marine ship we see, we will attack. ¨ The commanders nodded, it sounded like a good plan.

¨And while we do this,¨ He continued, ¨We must be there for Sabo and Luffy, they need it more than ever.¨ Everyone nodded. Whitebeard was right, they needed someone to lean on, especially Sabo.

---x---

Ace slouched in his chains. He had been chained at the wall for the most part of the last 4 days and hated it. The moment he was not chained at the wall, he was being interrogated by the marines. They had found no signs to say he lived with anyone, which Ace was thankful for. Seeing as they knew he was the son to Roger, they had used the damn spike chains on him. They were made of seastone, and had spikes on the inside, so any movement he made, made it so the spikes could cut into his wrists or ankles.

Ace was also still exhausted.

Every time he was able to fall asleep, he was either kicked or hit, never getting any time to get his energy back. When he was being interrogated, they either whipped his back, or dunked his head in water, before being chained to the wall again when he said nothing. It was at times like this, he was thankful for his assassins training. He was trained to not break under torture. What the marines did, was no match for what he had been through before. But Ace was still exhausted and hoped they would slip up soon, giving him a chance to escape, or contact someone. He hoped Sabo and Luffy had gotten to the pirates and was safe. Ace had also heard the marines talking, which gave him some idea on how they go the information.

Ace hoped he had heard wrong.

He also knew where they were taking him. They were heading for an island near a marine base called Gogado and was supposed to hand him over to someone else. From what he had heard, they did not know who he was, only that he was someone special. It seemed like the vice admirals decided not to tell, keeping it a surprise, hoping for a big promotion. Even though Ace was exhausted and had not gotten any real sleep for almost 2 weeks, he had a plan. For the last day, he had acted more exhausted than what he really was, hoping for the marines to think he was close to dying. He was only 19 years old, it was no surprise for an 19 year old to take badly to interrogation.

It had worked.

The marines had gone a bit easier on him, giving him a bit more to drink, less interrogation, seeing as he was getting rapidly ‘weaker’, and they did need him alive. He knew he could not escape, he was chained by seastone, but there was one thing he could try with the small bit of energy he had saved up. When the marine watching him fell asleep. Ace closed his eyes and concentrated hard. He knew he was chained to seastone and was exhausted, but he could hopefully get through to Dust. He started sweating a bit, his body shaking. He had tried with Azuruko while chained by seastone, but he had not been as exhausted as he was now. He could feel dust was out and tried with all his might to get Dust awake, to get him to stand up and give a sign to where he was. Ace started to breath hard, body shaking, sweat dripping from his face, he needed to do this.

5 minutes later, he went slack in the chains.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in the meeting room. For the last 3 days, they had almost always been in the room. After Bay had checked Dust over the best she could and said the bird was exhausted. Luffy didn’t want to move him, wanting to stay around the bird in case it woke up. Sabo often joined Luffy and just sat with him, trying his best to comfort him. Whitebeard also used to stay with them telling stories or having small conversations with the, trying to keep their minds a bit calm, making them remember they were there. That they were not alone. It was no different today. They were eating lunch, and most of the commanders was in the room, trying to cheer the kid up, when Luffy suddenly sat straight, eyes big and full of hope and tears,

¨Dust?¨ he said softly and hopefully, before tears fell down and he screamed the birds name, launching at the table. When the other occupants looked at the bird, everyone halted for a second; the bird was moving.

Dust slowly got up and sluggishly moved a bit on the table. When the bird ignored Luffy standing next to him, Luffy stopped and stared at the bird. ¨Dust?¨ He said slowly. The bird hopped slowly on the table. Its wings hanging by its side, not being strong enough to keep them by his side, entire body being a bit slow. Everyone watched its movement, before it suddenly stopped at the table, in the middle of the map, pecking a spot at it. When he lifted its head, Sabo checked the mark and his eyes went big.

¨Is Ace at Gogado?¨ He asked slowly, trying to not get his hopes up. When Dust gave a small tiny caw, all air left his lungs. They knew where Ace was. And seeing the bird up, meant he had some strength in him.

When Luffy also understood, he instantly hugged Sabo in happiness, letting out something in between a laugh and sob. Sabo put his hand out, patting Dust who leaned in at his hand, enjoying the touch, before falling over again. ¨Haruta,¨ Said Whitebeard, getting all the attention. ¨Tell the navigators to head for Gogado as fast as possible.¨ Haruta nodded and ran out of the room. When Luffy let go off Sabo, and put Dust back in the nest, both smiling and crying of happiness. Sabo put his hand on the mark, closing his eyes, taking a deep breath. Ace was going to be okay. And he sent a watery smile at the captain, who smiled back at him.

---x---

Ace was being dragged off the boat. His ankles hurt from the chain they had refused to take off, the spikes digging in his skin with each movement. They had just arrived at Gogado and was going to put Ace in a cell at the island. And was keep him there until the other marines arrived, which was in 2 days. He hoped he had managed to get through to Dust yesterday and hoped the pirates was close by. He knew the pirates was in the Grand Line, not too far away from the island Ace sent his brothers, and hoped they were not too far away now either. If no signs of them was there by the next 2 days, he would need to take drastic measures. Ace hoped he would not need that.

He was still weak and they were still harsh on him, but he got water every day, which was more than Ace had thought he would get. He wished they would take the chains off his feet, or at least change them to regular ones. The way he was chained to the wall, made it so he had to stand on his feet, and that hurt . The same with his wrist, blood was dripping down his arms. Ace could see the sun setting and was feeling the edges of his mind blur. The walk here had exhausted him, seeing as he was exhausted from before, the walk did not help. Ace tried his best to relax against the wall, but it was impossible since he had to stand on his legs. If he tried to slouch a bit, his wrist would be pulsating with pains. He wished he could lean on the wall behind him, but his back was full of open wounds from the interrogation torture they had used.

So Ace waited, trying to stay awake so his hands, feet and back would not get any worse. But he passed out a few hours later.

The next day, he was kicked awake and given some water, before being left alone. His body was tired. Ace was only hanging by his hands now, his legs too tired and hurting really bad. He had a feeling the wounds might start to get infected, which would be really bad. After a few hours of small silence, he heard something that caught his ears, ¨Boss! The Moby Dick is closing in!¨ Ace smiled to himself as the marines started to freak out, getting ready to attack, not understanding what they were doing here.

It was a few hours later, that he heard sounds of battle, but was too tired to try to look out the window in his cell to see how it went. If he did, he would need to stand in his feet, so he just waited. Half an hour later, the door to his cell was opened, ¨Ace, yoi?¨ He heard and recognized the voice as the first commanders. He managed to lift his head a bit, looking at the commander, making a small smile as he was saved. ¨Izou!¨ Yelled Marco, before going to Ace, crouching in front of him. ¨We’re going to get you out, yoi.¨ He said, trying to comfort and reassure him. Ace could see Izou coming in and going to his side, fiddling with the chains. Not even a minute later, he fell forward, being cached by Marco before he hit the ground. His legs were also freed and Marco helped him walk outside, his legs hurting with each step, but he wanted to walk out by himself.

When he was out he leaned on Marco, closing his eyes as he enjoyed the feeling of sun and wind on his face. He leaned on the first commander the entire way to a boat, wanting to walk by himself, but still needed a bit of leverage of his injured ankles. He could possibly be carried, but he did not want that, he was not that exhausted, he could walk by himself. When they boarded the boat and started the small sail back to the Moby Dick, Ace leaned his head on Marco’s shoulder, closing his eyes. ¨Thank you.¨ He said, before succumbing to the darkness, finally being able to rest.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his chair on the deck. After finding out where Ace was and that they were going to be able to get to him, everyone had calmed a bit down, everyone starting to get ready for battle. The brothers had been more open with them and was acting a bit more like themselves, which made them happy. Sabo was a big brother and was always there for Luffy if he needed it, ready to comfort him. But Sabo also had gone to some of the other pirates, mostly Thatch, for a bit of comfort himself. He was tough and an amazing brother, but he was not invincible.

Luffy usually either was with Sabo if he felt a bit depressed, but had one time, when Sabo was getting a bit of rest, went to Whitebeard, and just sat with him. When he had asked why he just sat there, he had shocked the pirates that was close by with his words. ¨Sabo is tired and needs to sleep. And I don’t want to be by myself right now.¨ Luffy had then leaned back on Whitebeard, since he sat on his lap. And just taking the comfort he could get. It seemed like Luffy knew Sabo was tired from acting like he was, staying strong, so he decided to use Whitebeard instead.

It made the man happy knowing the kid trusted him.

They were now closing in on the island. They decided to use a smaller boat to get to land, seeing as there were not too many marines and that the water was a bit of shallow. Making so the Moby Dick could get stuck. Whitebeard was also not going to join the fight. Don’t get it wrong, he wanted to join, but they figured out it was best for him to stay on the ship with the two brothers, to make sure they didn’t try to join the battle themselves. So they had decided to send in the commanders, seeing as the ship they used was not too big and could not hold to many at the same time.

It was decided that the ones that would go to the island was Marco, Thatch, Izou, Haruta, Jozu, Vista and Rakuyo. They also had the best fighters from their division, and was a small army of 20 people. Bay was ready in the infirmary, they had a feeling the assassin was injured and wanted the doctor to be ready in case. When they closed in on the island, the commanders could see the marines was ready, but did not expect them to come in a smaller boat, so they still had the moment of surprise. Marco flew off, to scout from the air, to see if he could locate the assassin and orient the other commanders on the island, looking out for sneak attacks or other marines trying to get away.

Marco was in the air and could see somewhere around 20 or so marines on the ground. He had a feeling there was more, but they were inside the boat, or what be believed to be some kind of small jail. Marco could also see 2 vice admirals and decided to have them in his sight most of the time. He had a feeling Ace was in the small jail, seeing as both the vice admirals was in front of the door. He then made an eight pattern in the sky, the signal for his brothers to charge.

And charge they did.

They were not holding back when they ran at the marines. Thatch used all his force in every one of his attacks, managing to take out 3 of the marines before they even knew what was happening. Izou used all of his tactics to surprise the marines, either them from a distance, or sneak up and shot them right in front of them. Haruta, after getting the pinpoints and tips from Ace, had managed to gotten better at just dancing around the enemy, getting hits in directly before they could understand what was happening. She was really fast. When one of the Vice admirals went to join the fight, deciding to take on Thatch it seemed, Marco dived and pinned the other Vice admiral under him.

¨The key, yoi.¨ He said, sitting atop of the man. ¨Why are you here? You have no business with the son of Roger!¨ He screamed in anger and panic, trying to get lose. But Marco had the upper hand and only pinned him more to the ground, even taking a dagger out holding it to his throat. ¨The key.¨ Hissed Marco, threating to cut the man’s throat. ¨Like hell!¨ Screamed the man, not giving in. ¨I’ll never let you free that devils son!¨ Marco had had it and just cut the man’s throat, before searching his pockets, finding a key. It looked like a key to the door to the small jail. When Marco went to open the door, he looked behind him. It seemed the battle was coming to an end, they winning by a long shot. The marines were no match for them. He could see Izou walking his way, having decided to come in case he needed to lock pick anything. He was the best at that. Marco opened the door and walked inside.

Inside was a single dark room. The only openings were a small window and the door. And chained to the wall, was the young assassin. He looked a bit worse for wear, hanging by his hands in chains. His legs were also chained to the wall, but he didn’t stand, only hanging by the hands. He looked to be unconscious.

Marco made his way over, ¨Ace, yoi?¨ He asked as he walked towards the boy. He could see the assassin moving his head, giving a small smile as he recognized him. Marco could see the locks on the chains and knew the key he had would not fit. ¨Izou!¨ He yelled before crouching in front of the assassin, ¨We’re going to get you out, yoi.¨ He said, as he could see Izou get inside, lock picking the chains. When his arms were freed, he fell forward and Marco cached him before he hit the ground. The first commander felt his anger grow when he saw what kind of chains it was and the state of his wrists. They were torn and bloodied, really bad. Bay would need to fix that. When his legs were freed, he could see the same kind of chains and was contemplating on just lifting the assassin, and carrying him back. When Marco went to stand up, he noticed that Ace stood up with him, seems like he can walk stand by himself.

Marco took his arm over his shoulder and helped him stand and walk out of the cell. When they got out, he could see the assassin smiling, closing his eyes, feeling the freedom. They walked slowly to the boat, Marco helping the assassin walk on his injured legs. He knew the assassin had much pride and dignity and wanted to walk by himself. Marco figured he could manage that. Ace did not stumble the entire walk, just walking slowly and taking small steps. Marco could see the others staring at them, clearly concerned by the state of the assassin, but let them walk past them, before following them to the boat.

When they got to the boat, Marco helped Ace board it, before sitting down, helping the assassin sit down. When the boat was pushed from the shore and made its way back to the Moby, Ace leaned his head on Marcos shoulder, ¨Thank you.¨ Said the young assassin, before falling asleep. The other pirates were a bit concerned when he went slack, but when they all saw he was only asleep, they smiled a bit. Happy that he was safe and would be okay.

When they were at the Moby Dick, Marco decided to carry the boy to the infirmary, not wanting to wake him up, seeing the tired look at his face. When he had put the kid in the infirmary, Bay looking him over. He went to tell his father on how it went.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in the meeting room, waiting. His children had been gone for almost 2 hours and hoped they would be back soon. Sabo and Luffy was sitting beside him, also waiting to hear how their brother was. When the door opened and Marco walked in, Luffy was instantly in front of him, bombarding him with questions on how Ace was. Marco used his hands to halt the boy, so he could speak. ¨Ace is with Bay, yoi.¨ He said, looking at the kid. ¨It went fine and Ace is going to be okay.¨ Luffy nodded, ¨Can we see him?¨ He asked, tilting his head. Marco shook his head, making Luffy’s shoulder hunch. ¨Bay is checking him over, yoi.¨ He started, ¨You can see him when she’s finished.¨ Luffy looked at him with hopeful eyes, ¨You promise?¨ Marco nodded, ¨I promise, yoi.¨ Luffy nodded, smiling a bit, before he went and sat with Sabo.

Izou then came in the door. ¨Luffy, Sabo.¨ He said, getting the attention from the boys. ¨Why don’t we go and eat, while Marco talks to Pops.¨ The kids nodded and went with Izou to the galley, were Thatch was making some food for them. Marco and Whitebeard watched them go, a smile on their faces. When the door closed, Marco turned to his father. Face a bit serious and worried, while still having the same bored look on it.

¨How did it go, son?¨ Asked Whitebeard, looking at Marco. Marco sighed, before looking up. ¨It went fine, the marines was easily dealt with, yoi.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨And Ace?¨ He asked. Marco sighed again, ¨He is a bit injured and looks to be exhausted, yoi.¨ He looked seriously at his father. ¨They used the shackles with the spikes, his legs and wrist looks teared up.¨ Whitebeards eyes hardened and brows furrowed in anger. Those shackles were only used in special cases. Seeing how they did not know he was an assassin, only Rogers son, made him want to go and kill the marines again himself. Those shackles where the worst there was and they only put them on because of his heritage.

Marco shook his head, ¨And even though he had been held in them for days, he still walked back to the boat, yoi.¨ Whitebeard started at Marco in small shock. He knew the shackles was painful and would tear into his flesh, bringing extremely pain. ¨He walked by himself?¨ He asked, looking at his son. Marco shook his head. ¨Not entirely, yoi. I did help a bit, but he walked on his own legs. He fell asleep in the boat.¨ Whitebeard nodded, closing his eyes. He knew the assassin would want to walk by himself if he had any strength in him, and he was a strong person. But it was still amazing that he had managed to do it. Whitebeard had met and seen people that had been shackled for only hours in those chains, and had not been able to walk by themselves for a bit. The kid was strong, and would do his best to stand on his own feet.

Whitebeard and Marco then made some small talk, and was soon joined by the other commanders, aside from Izou and Thatch that was with the other two kids. Half an hour later, Bay opened the door and walked in. All the conversation stopped when she walked in and they took a deep breath when they saw the look at her face; she looked furious. ¨Daughter,¨ Said Whitebeard, looking at the doctors angry strides. ¨Is something wrong?¨ Bay said nothing as she marched up to Marco,

And hit him over the head. Shocking them a bit.

¨Are you stupid?!¨ She almost screamed at him, ¨You let him walk by himself, even after seeing what chains that held him?!¨ Everyone stared at them, Marco rubbed his head a bit. ¨He wanted to walk by hi-,¨ Started Marco, but was silenced by an another small hit from Bay. ¨I couldn’t care less even if he was the king of the world and said he was fine, you should have carried him!¨ Marco held up his hands in front of him, stopping Bay from landing an another hit, ¨Okay, yoi. I get it, I won’t do it again.¨ He said, looking at the fuming doctor, ¨You better not.¨ She said, before turning towards Whitebeard, taking a deep breath. ¨Is he okay, daughter?¨ Asked Whitebeard, when she had calmed a bit down. Bay could get angry if they did something that made bad worse, and guessed his legs was worse than they thought. Bay sighed, ¨He is mostly okay now, I have bandaged him up.¨

The others let out a relived sigh at this, happy he was with them and seemed to be better. Bay then continued. ¨His wounds are not too bad, but his ankles,¨ Bay threw a glare at Marco, ¨Is the worst. They have some deep cuts in them, and have a small infection, which I have given him treatment for.¨ The others nodded, and understood why she was mad that Marco had let him walk. Infected wounds, was bad, and using the limbs with infected wounds, was even worse. ¨He have wounds on his wrist from the shackles, but they are not too bad. He also has wounds on his back, most likely from some kind of torture.¨ Whitebeard closed his eyes, knowing the young kid had been tortured, even if he was an assassin, was something he did not like. Bay sighed again,

¨I also found a bit of water in his lungs.¨

Everyone stared at her in shock, ¨You mean he was…¨ Started Rakuyo, but trailed off. Bay nodded. And everyone wanted to go back, and kill the marines again. The kid, who only was a kid to the marines knowledge, had been waterboarded? Only because his father was the Pirate King? That was just inhumane. Bay continued when they seemed to have calmed down, ¨I have fixed this, and he is now sleeping. He was a bit dehydrated, so I put him on some fluids. He is exhausted and will most likely sleep for a while.¨ They nodded, ¨Thank you daughter.¨ Said Whitebeard, looking at her in a proud manner. Bay nodded, ¨The kids brothers can also see him if they want to.¨ She then looked at them, ¨You are allowed to visit, but only if you keep it down.¨ When they nodded, she left to go back to the infirmary, staying with his patient.

Marco sighed, ¨I’ll go and tell Sabo and Luffy they can see Ace.¨ He then nodded at Whitebeard, and went out the door. Whitebeard closed his eyes, he knew being the son of the late pirate king was bad, but being treated like an animal was just wrong. He got up and headed towards the infirmary himself. He wanted to see the kid, and make sure he was okay.

---x---

Luffy and Sabo went in the infirmary. They had been told by Marco, that they could see Ace, and that he was sleeping. When they were inside, they could see Bay bussing around, and fixing some stuff. Whitebeard sat in a chair, and smiled when he saw the kids. And in the bed in front of the man, lay Ace, sleeping soundly. He was placed on his side, to keep the wounds on his back from being put pressure on, an IV in his arm. Luffy was extremely happy to see Ace, even if he was asleep. When he got up to the bed, he instantly crawled onto the bed. ¨Luffy, you sho-,¨ Started Marco, but was silenced when he saw what the kid did. Luffy, seeing Ace laid on his side, arms stretched out in front of him on the bed,

Crawled into the arms and laid down so he could be held by his sleeping brother. Laying completely still, just staring at his brother, before he closed his eyes.

It was a hearth warming sight. Marco looked at Bay, and she looked at them, without interfering, so he guessed it was okay. Luffy had not moved the IV and was careful when laying down. The kid was almost 16, but looked much smaller than that in his brother’s arms, and it both warmed their hearts, and made it ache at seeing how much they meant to each other. Sabo went up, and sat beside them, putting one arm on Aces shoulder and one on Luffy’s head, stroking his hair. A smile on his lips, his brother finally with them again. The other occupants in the room, watched them with smiles on their faces, happy to see the three brothers together.

When a few hours later, Thatch and Izou came in the room, bringing food. Their hearts broke at the sight. Luffy laying in Aces arms, sleeping. And Sabo resting his head on the bed, one hand on Ace, and the other draped over Luffy, sleeping with a smile on his face.

They looked really adorable.

They decided against waking them up, but spared some food until they woke up. When they left again, they told the others how cute and adorable it was, and almost everyone peeked inside the infirmary to look at the brothers at some point. And everyone who saw them, had a smile on their faces when they left.

---x---

Ace slowly blinked his eyes open. He felt better than he had in days, and knew he was safe. When his eyes focused, he saw the sleeping face of Luffy in front of him. Ace smiled, happy to see him okay, and moved his hand a bit, trying not to wince at the pain in his wrist, and put it on Luffy’s head. He then moved his fingers through his hair, and Luffy moved a bit, opening his eyes. ¨Hey.¨ Said Ace, voice soft, when Luffy looked at him. When Luffy heard Ace talk, and saw that he was awake, he clutched at his shirt a bit, and pressed his head into his chest, tears of happiness falling from his eyes. Ace still holding his hand on Luffy’s head, continued to stroke his head. ¨It’s okay,¨ Said Ace, holding Luffy a bit tighter. ¨I’m okay. I won’t leave you, I’ll always keep my promise.¨ Ace held Luffy as he cried, happy to see his brother awake.

When Luffy moved away a bit, wiping his face. Ace managed to sit up, only wincing a bit. When he was upright, Luffy hugged Ace again, just holding his brother, and hearing his heart beat. Ace placed his hand on his head, and let him hold him. Ace then looked around. He was in the infirmary on the Moby Dick. Not too far away from his bed, he could see Whitebeard and Marco sitting, having nodded off in their chairs. Ace looked towards the windows, and saw it was dark outside, probably in the middle of the night. ¨Hey Luffy,¨ Said Ace, getting the attention of his brother. ¨Where’s Sabo?¨

Luffy looked at him, before turning his head towards the door to Bays office. ¨Sabo!¨ He yelled, before hugging his brother again.

The door to the office opened, and Sabo stood there, a small panicked look on his face, probably from Luffy yelling, but instantly started at Ace in shock when he saw him awake. Ace then held out his other hand, signalizing for Sabo to get there. Sabo just stared at him for a second, before moving. When he was by Ace side, Ace hooked his arm around Sabo, and brought him close, hugging him. ¨You did great.¨ Ace said in a low voice, hugging his brother. Sabo stood there for a second, before hugging back, a stray tears falling from his eye. Ace just smiled, closing his eyes, happy to be with his brothers again.

The two pirates, hearing Luffy’s yell, woke up. And stared at Ace, smiling at seeing him awake and upright. They only smiled more, when Sabo got there and watched the reunion smiling. Bay then came up to them, standing next to them. Also coming out of her office after hearing Luffy’s yell and Sabo leaving their conversation. They then watched as Ace let go of Sabo, and he stood up a bit, wiping his eyes a bit, a relived smile on his face. ¨Don’t you dare do that again!¨ He said, looking at Ace. Ace looked at him, eyes full of relief and comfort. ¨I’ll try not to.¨ He said, stroking Luffy’s head. Sabo looked a bit irritated at the answer, but sighed, ¨I’m glad you awake.¨ Ace smiled at him, and held his arm out. Sabo stepped a bit closer, and Ace dragged him close, ¨I’m sorry for leaving you and Luffy alone.¨ Sabo closed his eyes, just happy to hear Aces voice.

Bay the cleared her throat getting the attention. ¨Luffy, why don’t you and Sabo go and get some food, I’m sure Ace is hungry.¨ Luffy moved away from Ace looking at her, then at Ace. When Ace gave a small smile and nod, he got out of the bed, and went with Sabo to get some food. Leaving Ace alone with the doctor and the two pirates. ¨How are you feeling?¨ Said Bay, moving towards Ace, holding a clipboard. Ace looked at her, smiling a bit. ¨I’m feeling fine, just a bit of aching here and there.¨ Bay hummed at him, ¨Here,¨ She said, handing him the clipboard and a pen. ¨Write your name.¨ Ace sighed, and took the pen and clipboard.

When he started to write the first letter, he flinched and dropped the pencil. Bay looked at him sternly, lifting her eyebrow ¨Okay, maybe a bit more than just aching.¨ Said Ace, a small laugh escaping him.

Bay shook her head. Muttering something about being just as bad as the first commander, making the occupants laugh. Bay then checking him over quickly, and took the IV out. ¨You are healing nicely, and you will feel pain in your arms for a bit when you use them. Your legs is a bit worse off, you had a small infection, so it’s taking a bit longer to heal.¨ She then moved her clipboard and looked at Ace, ¨You back is healing nicely, and your lungs should be clear of fluids, but you should take it easy for a bit.¨ Ace nodded at her, and moved a bit up in the bed, leaning against the pillows in a sitting position.

The door opened, and Sabo, Luffy, Thatch and Izou came in, holding food. ¨Ace!¨ Said Thatch, happy to also see the assassin up., ¨Good to see you awake.¨ Luffy jumped on the bed, sitting in Ace’s lap, ¨Yeah, you slept for an entire day.¨ He pouted a bit, ¨It was boring without you.¨ Ace laughed and hugged him. Ace moved a bit to the side, dragging Luffy with him, looking at Sabo. ¨Get in.¨ He said and Sabo just looked at him. ¨The bed is big enough for all of us, so some on.¨ Sabo sighed. When Luffy gave him the puppy dog eyes, he went and sat next to them on the bed, Luffy hugging him. Luffy then settled between his brothers, and looked at Thatch, waiting for him to serve the food.

After Thatch dealing the food out, they sat and ate, talking about what had happened while Ace was away. Ace ate slowly, trying not make his wrist hurt, and just smiled, hearing Luffy tell what they had done. A bit later, Dust flew in when the door opened, and landed on Aces lap. Ace patted the bird and gave it a bit of food. Dust gave a small caw, then settled down, happy to see his mater was okay.

And that was how they spend the most of the day that came. The brothers sitting in the bed, relaxing and happy to be together again, and talking with the pirates.

---x---

Whitebeard walked out of his room. He had been ordered to rest a bit by Marco, and had done that. It was nighttime, and almost everyone was asleep. After Ace had visited them the first time, and staying up during the night with him, he had started to the same. It was really comforting and relaxing to watch the sea during the night. Marco had cached him a few times, and was always a bit mad at him for staying up during the night. Whitebeard laughed a bit every time, telling Marco to not worry. When he made his way to the front of the ship, he stopped at what he saw.

At the front of the ship, on the railing, sat Ace. He was not standing as usual, but sitting on the railing, and looking out at sea. Enjoying the night as he used to.

Whitebeard wondered why he was sitting at the railing and not standing as usual. But when he moved a bit closer, and saw the bare feet’s and bandages around his ankles, he understood why. His ankles are probably hurting. He moved closed, and stood besides him. ¨I don’t think Bay will be happy when she finds out you snuck out of the infirmary.¨ Ace looked at him, laughing a bit. ¨You are probably right,¨ He looked at the sea again. ¨I just needed some fresh air.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨What about your brothers?¨ He asked, looking at the sea himself. Ace shook his head a bit. ¨They’re sleeping.¨ Ace then sighed, ¨Whitebeard,¨ He said, getting his attention. He looked at the captain, eyes filled with content and serenity.

¨I can’t thank you enough for watching my brothers again, and for helping me.¨ He said to the captain.

Whitebeard smiled back, ¨It was nothing, we are glad to help.¨ He looked at the sea, ¨You and your brothers will always have a home here, and we will always help if we can.¨ Ace nodded, looking out at sea, closing his eyes. ¨About that,¨ Started Ace, getting the captains attention. ¨Luffy is soon turning 16, and needs to learn how to be a pirate.¨ He then sighed. ¨Rayleigh offered to take him and Sabo in and train them how to defend themselves, fight and be captains on a ship before they set out. Me and Sabo are still discussing it, but,¨ He then looked at the captain. ¨If we decide to say yes, I might take up on you offer.¨ Whitebeard smiled at him,

¨You are always welcomed here, the second commander space is still open after all.¨ He said.

Ace laughed a bit, ¨I have never been a commander before.¨ Whitebeard also laughed a small laughed, ¨I have a feeling you will be a great commander.¨ He said. Ace sighed, ¨You think I will be, even though I am an assassin? I am gone a lot.¨ Whitebeard looked at him, a fatherly look on his face. ¨I know you will do great, even if you are gone a lot. I meant what I said, if you join, I won’t keep you away from your job.¨ Ace looked at him, a thankful and curios look in his eyes. ¨How are you so okay with me being an assassin, most don’t want me to continue.¨ Whitebeard looked at him,

¨It is who you are, and I won’t take that away. I will worry when you are gone on assignments, but I won’t stop you from being you. You will be free as you are now, I offer a place to return to, where no one will judge.¨

Ace looked at him, an understanding look taking place in his eyes as he nodded. ¨Thank you.¨ He said, as he turned to the sea. Whitebeard nodded, also turning to the sea. He understood people wanted Ace to stop being an assassin, but as Ace said before, he enjoys helping other, being there for them. Whitebeard would not stop him from doing that, it made him proud to see someone so young doing his best to bring hope to others, he would love to call him his son.

Whitebeard thought about something. ¨Ace,¨ He said, getting the attention. ¨Do you know how the marines found out who you are?¨ Ace sighed, looking at the sea, shaking his head. ¨I have an idea how, I overheard something the marines said.¨ He then closed his eyes, ¨I only hoped I heard wrong.¨ Whitebeard looked at him concerned, ¨What did you hear?¨ He asked. And When Ace looked at him, seeing the concern, decided to tell some of his troubles to the man. ¨They said something about an assassin, wearing a Belly mark,¨ He sighed, looking at the sea, ¨If it’s true, it is the same man that sold the information to Teach.¨

And Whitebeard understood. If it was true, the assassin had sold him out twice, even after getting some sort of warning from the leader of The Red Cloud. ¨What are you going to do?¨ He asked, concerned of how it was affecting the young assassin. Ace shook his head. ¨I’m sending Dust in the morning, asking if the leader know anything.¨ Whitebeard nodded, and then he realized something that made him smile a bit inside him. He trusted me with his troubles. He knew it was only one thing, but it was a start. They then sat and stood there in silence, enjoying the night. Whitebeard just being there for the assassin.

After a while, when they could see the faint rays of the sun in the distance, Whitebeard spoke up. ¨I think we should head in soon. It is getting rather late, or early.¨ Ace laughed, and turned around, swinging his legs over the railing. ¨I guess you are right.¨ He said. And before he made any more movement, Whitebeard held his hand out, crouching a bit down. Ace looked at him, and put his hand on top of the captain’s big ones. Whitebeard helped the assassin down from the railing, making the small jump down easier on his ankles. When Ace landed on the deck, he still flinched a bit.

¨You know,¨ Said the captain, still holding his hand out, ¨There is no shame in asking for help every now and then.¨ Ace looked at him, laughing. ¨I guess your right about that too.¨ Ace then held onto Whitebeards giant hand, using it as a leverage as they walked to the infirmary.

When they got to the infirmary and opened the door, they were met by an angry Bay. ¨You, mister I am okay, in bed. Now.¨ She said, and helped Ace walk to the bed, sending a glare at the captain. Whitebeard laughed a bit inside him. Bay was though enough to order the assassin around, even only having met him two times. She was a great doctor. He then watched as Ace laid down in bed again, next to Sabo and Luffy who still was asleep. He then sent a smile to the captain, before laying down, draping one hand over Luffy to lay on top of Sabos hand, while the other was cradled around Luffy’s head. Whitebeard then left as Ace closed his eyes.

---x---

It had been 4 days since Ace woke up. He was feeling much better on his feet and could walk around without much pain in his feet. If he did walk a lot, used shoes or jumped down from places, like railing, he did still flinch a bit. He usually sat on the deck, at his usual spot, and read his book. He and his brothers had decided to stay for a bit, at least until his ankles was better. Ace had sent Dust to Daisuke for 3 days ago, and almost immediately got a response, that he would investigate, and get back to him when he figured anything out.

They were all just relaxing, when a scout suddenly came down from the outlook. ¨Pops,¨ He said, getting the attention. ¨There is a ship approaching, we are not sure who it is.¨ Whitebeard frowned a bit, they knew almost everyone at the sea, so it was unusual to meet someone they could not recognize. ¨Do they have a flag, son?¨ He asked, and the man nodded. ¨Yes, it is a red cloud of some sort.¨ Ace frowned a bit at that and stood up, looking out at the sea. He could see a ship in the distance, not really too far away, he could see the mark on the flag. Seems like Daisuke found something out. The fact he showed up, did not fare well with Ace. Dust flew over his shoulder, heading for the ship.

Ace went over to Luffy, who sat near the mast with Sabo. ¨Why is Daisuke here?¨ He asked, tilting his head. Ace smiled at him, ¨I need to talk to him for a bit.¨ He said, as he took the cape of the kid, putting it on. ¨Why don’t you and Sabo head inside for a bit?¨ He said, looking at them. Luffy pouted, but went inside with Sabo. Ace then put his mask on, and looked at the captain, getting a comforting look and nod,

Then he disappeared.

Marco went up to his father, ¨Do you know who it is, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at the man. Whitebeard nodded, ¨It is an assassins guild, called The Red Cloud.¨ He said, and Marco frowned a bit, ¨Why are they here, yoi?¨ Whitebeard looked at him, before looking around him. There were almost only commanders on the deck. The others being busy or sleeping, it was a bit early. He trusted everyone on the deck, they had been with him for a long time, and already knew who Ace was. ¨It is one from The Red Cloud that told the marines about Ace.¨ Everyone stared at him in shock, before going to the railing, wanting to see what was happening on the ship.

---x---

Ace appeared on the ship. Dust standing on the mast, looking at them. ¨Daisuke.¨ Said Ace, nodding at the leader, who nodded back. Ace looked a bit around, and could see many familiar faces. There were many assassins on the ship, and every one of them, knew who Ace was, and who his brothers was. Daisuke then moved a bit, and behind him stood Jasper, he guessed. He was not old, but not young either. He looked to be about 26-27 years old, and looked like he was prepared to face him. He moved a bit forward, looking at Ace.

¨Ace of Spades.¨ He said, and Ace nodded. ¨I am terribly sorry for what I did.¨ He then gave a bow, and rose again. ¨I did not know about the protection the first time, but I did the second time.¨ Jasper then moved his hand, and took a sword from Daisuke, holding the handle, and pointing the sword downwards, holding it like a warrior when facing someone they respected. ¨I know words are only words, and I am ready to face the consequence of my actions.¨ Ace then moved forward, placing his hand on top of Jaspers. He looked at the man. Jasper had broken the codex, even breaking them after being told his mistake, and getting a warning. He knew Jasper was attracted to money, that was the reason for the Belly sign. What he did was unforgiving, and Ace hated what he had to do, but it needed to be done. He moved his other hand, placing it on Jaspers shoulder, and moved the sword, pointing it towards the man.

Jasper looked at him understandingly, he knew he had messed up bad. He helped Ace push the sword through his chest.

Ace held him as he fell down on the ground, a bit of blood trailing down his mouth. He looked apologetically at Ace, before his eyes went dull. Ace then put him on the ground, and closed his eyes, removing the sword. He then stood up, and handed the sword back to Daisuke. He had broken the codex, but he had faced his consequences dead on, and died the most honorable death he could. ¨He deserves a funeral, and to be buried on Amegakure (2) .¨ Daisuke nodded at him, and motioned for two of the assassin at the side, Soul and Trevor, to take the body inside.

Ace then joined Daisuke inside the ship, to talk and catch up on how The Red Cloud have been after what happened almost 2 weeks ago.

---x---

The occupants on the Moby Dick, started at the boat in shock. ¨He… killed him.¨ Said Thatch, stunned. They could not see everything, or hear anything from the boat. But they could see Ace driving the sword through the man, and the man falling down, before being taken away. Whitebeard had a feeling there was more to the story. ¨He didn’t just kill him.¨ Said a voice behind them, making them turn around.

¨What do you mean, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, staring at Sabo, that apparently had walked back out on deck. Sabo shook his head, and went to the mast, picking something up, Luffys hat. ¨He did not only break the biggest rule once, but twice.¨ He then removed some dust from the hat. ¨He could have run and been hunted down by them, and being killed, his body hidden from everyone, never getting found. But he instead he faced the consequences.¨ He then looked at the commanders and captain,

¨Ace gave him the most honorable death he could get after what he did.¨ Then Sabo went back inside.

When the door closed, and the pirates understood his words, they understood. He knew he had done wrong, and the fact he had done it twice, was even worse. He had died a fast and noble death, facing the one he had wronged. Whitebeard ha heard about this before, and had even witnessed it once. Someone betraying their own crew, and then faced the consequences, getting a death worthy for what they had done. If they did this, they would not be hated, and spoken bad about. They would be remembered, even getting a funeral. Sabo was right,

It was the most honorable death he could get.

---x---

The pirates sat on deck, Ace was watching the sea, relaxing. Sabo and Luffy was running around somewhere in the ship, having fun. After a bit, someone came out on deck, going to the captain. ¨Son,¨ Started Whitebeard, looking at Namur, that looked a bit troubled. ¨Is everything okay?¨ Namur shook his head, he was annoyed, and a bit angry. ¨I got a call from some allies in the north, they need me to go there.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨I understand, you can leave if you need to, son.¨ Namur, being a bit rough and was already angry, opened his mouth again, ¨I only hope it goes well, we don’t want to lose anyone.¨ The pirates, used to Namur saying these kind of things, but only said them in anger, never holding any truth to them, paid no mind to it. The commander was a good and kind man, he only sometimes had a bit of short fuse.

But Ace didn’t know this.

¨Anyone who has raised their hand against a comrade, even once,¨ Started Ace, getting the attention, ¨Never dies a decent death. Remember that.¨ They stared at his back, he seemed as calm as usual. The fact Namur was looking like a shark, who was known to eating their own kin, felt the sentence was directed at Namur. Whitebeard was about to tell Ace Namur was kind, he would never do that. But Namur, wo already had a short fuse, retaliated before he knew what he was doing.

¨Which means you and I are both worthless.¨ He said. And everyone froze, even Namur, understanding what he just said.

They knew Namur had done some stuff when he was younger. Being a merman was not easy and he had sometimes taken that anger out on others. He knew it himself and beat himself up by it. He hated that people looked down on them, and wished they could be equal, they were all humans after all. But he had just called the assassin worthless. He was about to speak again, to say he was sorry, that he did not mean it. But the assassin spoke first.

¨No.¨ He said, making them stare at him, ¨ We aren’t fish, we’re human.¨

The assassin stood up, and turned around. He didn’t look or sound mad. He started walking slowly, ¨ No matter who you are, you don’t know what kind of human you are until the very end.¨ He walked past Namur, heading towards a door, where they now could see Sabo standing. ¨One realizes their true nature at the moment of death, that’s the way to view death.¨ Then he walked inside, closing the door behind him.

Everyone just stood there in silence for a moment, before Namur actually smiled. ¨I like him.¨ He said, making everyone look at him in a questionably manner. ¨

Why do you say that, son?¨ Asked Whitebeard, not understanding what part of the sentence made the merman like the assassin. Namur shook his head, ¨Not only did he call me human, but he told me I wasn’t worthless, even after the mistakes I have made.¨ He laughed a bit, ¨And he’s right.¨ He then turned around, heading for the door that lead to the anchor room, where he would leave. ¨I have never heard that reasoning before, it makes sense.¨ He said, sounding calm, and left the deck.

The others just stood there, before they understood. They had tried to make the merman think he was just a good as them, but still had doubts. And it seemed the assassin made him question his own doubts, and maybe even erasing some of them. The captain smiled, he would fit perfectly with them. He then looked at his sons and daughters that was on the deck, seeing some of them had already understood what he meant, and some still trying to figure it out.

---x---

Ace stood at the railing, enjoying the night as usual. The sky was almost entirely clear, only a cloud here and there. He was relaxing when he heard footsteps behind him. ¨You gave a habit of staying up at night to?¨ He asked, as he turned to watch the captain. Whitebeard laughed a bit, ¨Only when you join me, I like our conversations.¨ He said, standing next to the assassin, who laughed a bit too. ¨The words you said earlier,¨ Started the captain, ¨To Namur. I thank you for it, he is a bit fond of you now.¨ Ace shook his head, ¨It is nothing to tank me for, I only spoke the truth.¨ Whitebeard nodded, having a feeling the young assassin knew what he was talking about. Whitebeard looked at him,

¨When The Red Cloud visited,¨ He started, ¨What kind of death did the man get?¨

Ace looked out at the sea, a solemn look in his eyes. ¨He got an honorable death. He faced his consequences and died knowing his mistakes.¨ He then looked at the captain, ¨He will also get an honorable funeral. He have done a lot of good in the world and will be remembered by them.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he understood what he meant.

They stood in silence for a bit, before Ace sighed. ¨Me and my brothers are leaving tomorrow,¨ Said the assassin, getting the attention. Whitebeard nodded. Aces wounds was a lot better, and he could move like normal, and only feeling a bit of pain if he did jumps or tried to lift heavy things. Whitebeard looked at Ace, ¨Where are you going, if you don’t mind me asking.¨ Ace looked at him, a soft look in his eyes,

¨We’re going to Rayleigh.¨ Whitebeard smiled. Maybe they were going to decided. Whitebeard then turned to the sea, looking out and closing his eyes, hoping he would have an another son and second commander in the near future.

---x---

Ace and his brothers stood on the deck of the Moby Dick. Almost everyone on the ship was there, wanting to say their goodbyes to the three brothers. Even Bay who was telling Ace to take it easy, and to not do anything that made his wrist of ankles hurt. His brothers were going around, and saying goodbye, thanking them for helping them and Ace. ¨Hey Luffy,¨ Said Thatch, when the kid passed him, making him stop. ¨Where are you going, home?¨ Luffy shook his head, a big smile on his face.

¨We’re going to visit Rayleigh.¨ He said, making many of the commanders wonder a bit.

¨But,¨ Started the first commander, ¨You visited him not so long ago, yoi.¨ Sabo nodded, looking at the commander. ¨You are right commander,¨ He started. ¨But we have some business we need to speak to him about.¨ Luffy looked at Sabo, smiling the blinding smile, and getting one back. ¨What business?¨ Asked Thatch, curious about what they was going to talk about. ¨Ah,¨ Said the kid, looking at Thatch, a sly smile on his face. ¨We’re not telling, it’s a secret.¨ Luffy then ran to Ace, almost jumping on the spot, really excited to see the man again for some reason. Sabo then also made his way over, shaking his head.

¨Goodbye everyone!¨ Yelled Luffy, being sure everyone heard him, as he hugged Ace. Sabo gave his own goodbye and held onto Ace. Ace just shook his head, looking at everyone that waved back at them. ¨Be careful brats.¨ Said the captain, looking at them. ¨We will!¨ Screamed Luffy. ¨Please visit again soon, its so boring without you.¨ Said Thatch, wiping away fake tears. Ace looked at the captain, sharing a nod. Then disappearing, leaving black smoke dancing in the wind.

¨Don’t worry, son.¨ Said Whitebeard, looking at Thatch, ¨I have a feeling they will be back in not too long.¨ Everyone looked at him curiously, ¨Why do you think that, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, looking at his father with an eyebrow raised, he knows something .

Whitebeard laughed, ¨Just a hunch.¨ He said, looking at the sea, hoping Ace would take his offer.

Chapter Text

Ace and Sabo sat with Rayleigh, discussing what they would do. They had spent a few days with the man, and was leaving soon, and decided to discuss what Rayleigh had offered now. Luffy was running around outside, playing with Dust. Ace and Sabo had talked with Luffy, and he wanted to take up on Rayleigh’s offer. Ace and Sabo was discussing the finer details, like where they would be, and when they would start the training. Luffy had been present at the start, but got bored quickly and had left with Dust. This far, they had figured out if they said yes, they would meet up in a few days, giving the old pirate a chance to prepare for the training. They would move around, and Ace would always know where they were, and the would visit each other every now and then, and Ace would give them money as usual, to help them. It sounded like a good plan, and Ace knew Sabo wanted to say yes. Ace sighed, looking at Rayleigh, who looked at them.

¨What do you say? Do we have a deal?¨ Said Rayleigh, sitting calm and smiling.

Sabo looked at Ace, ¨What do you think?¨ He asked Ace, wanting to know what he thought about all this. ¨It sounds like a good plan, and if you think so too, you should say yes.¨ Answered Ace, smiling at Sabo, who smiled back. Sabo then looked at the man in front of them, ¨We say yes to the offer, we wat to train with you.¨ Rayleigh smiled, ¨I’m happy to hear that.¨ He said, shaking their hands. ¨I’ll see you again in about 3 days then and we’ll start then.¨ Sabo nodded and went to find Luffy, telling him the good news. Ace stayed behind, when the door closed, he looked at Rayleigh, sighing.

¨I thank you for offering and agreeing to start so fast.¨ Said Ace. Rayleigh smiled, ¨Its no trouble, I’d like to help anyway.¨ Started Rayleigh, ¨What about you? Where are you going to be while they train?¨ He asked, looking at the young assassin. Ace sighed, and looked at the man. ¨I will either just continue as normal,¨ Started Ace, ¨But I got an offer from Edward Newgate to join his crew, but haven’t completely decided yet.¨ Rayleigh nodded, ¨He is a good man.¨ Said the man, ¨But what about your work?¨ Ace shook his head, laughing a bit, ¨He apparently does not care that I am an assassin and will let me continue.¨ Rayleigh laughed at that, ¨That does sound like him.¨ He then looked at Ace, a soft look in his eyes, ¨I think you will be happy there.¨ Ace looked at him, smiling as he nodded. They said their goodbyes and Ace left.

---x---

Ace, Sabo and Luffy landed on Boreumdo. Luffy and Sabo went inside the house to pack, while Ace headed to the village to check after the villagers and see if they had retuned. He had sent Dust off to find the Moby Dick, so they could teleport when they were ready. If Ace aid yes to the offer, he would put one of his marks on the ship, so he could teleport there at any time he wanted to, he would discuss this with the captain first though.

Ace walked out of the forest, he could see the village, and it seemed to be calm. He walked a bit further, and could see some movement in the tavern, and headed to the house. ¨Ace!¨ Said Lindsey, giving him a hug when he was inside. ¨I’m glad to see you’re fine.¨ She said, and looked him over, before turning around to the other occupants of the tavern. ¨Everyone!¨ She yelled, ¨Ace is here!¨ Ace could then see everyone giving him a toast, before going back to their conversations. Ace smiled at them and looked at Lindsey. ¨I’m glad to see everyone is okay.¨ He said, and the barmaid smiled, ¨We would not be so fine without you.¨ Ace smiled at her, happy she didn’t blame him, even though it was his fault the marines were here. He sighed, and motioned for the woman to step outside with him.

When they were outside, Lindsey looked at him worriedly. ¨Don’t worry,¨ Said Ace, smiling. ¨Nothing is wrong.¨ Lindsey nodded, and seemed calmer. ¨What is it then?¨ She asked, looking at Ace. ¨My brothers and I brothers are leaving.¨ Started Ace. ¨They are going to train to be pirates, and I will leave with them, but might return later.¨ Lindsey nodded. She knew Ace was an assassin, and that this day would come. Ace then took a small bag from his belt, giving it to Lindsey. ¨This is a flag from The Read Haired Shanks ship, signalizing you are under his protection, I’ll still send some money to make sure you have everything you need..¨ Lindsey nodded, ¨When are you leaving?¨ She asked, looking at the kid.

Ace shook his head, ¨We’re leaving today, my brothers are packing now.¨ Lindsey looked at him, before frowning and pointing at him, ¨You young man,¨ She started, using her stern voice, ¨Will not leave until everyone have said their goodbyes, and we have had a farewell party for you and your brothers.¨ Ace laughed, before nodding. ¨I’ll go and help Sabo and Luffy pack, then we will come back here, okay?¨ Lindsey nodded, and Ace left to his house, helping them pack before going back to the village with his brothers.

When they got back to the village, the flag had been put up, and everyone was ready to hold a farewell party. Luffy really seemed to enjoy it, seeing as everyone was present, and there were a lot of food. Sabo also seemed to enjoy himself, seeing everyone safe, and having conversation with the villagers. Ace just watched them, sitting beside Lindsey. Lindsey then handed him a drink, ¨You promise to stay safe right?¨ Ace looked at her, taking the drink. ¨We will, I might even join a pirate crew.¨ Lindsey smiled, and asked Ace to tell her about the Whitebeards, and is he took up on his offer, he would not return for a while. When he was finished, she smiled. ¨They sound like good people, I think you should join.¨ Ace looked at her, before looking at his brothers, smiling. ¨I might just do that.¨ He then drank his drink, and relaxed a bit more, before he told his brothers they would leave.

When they were ready, everyone said their goodbyes. Ace saying thank you for being as kind as they were, and for protecting his brothers, and promised to visit when they had the chance. After everyone had said goodbye, and Luffy and Sabo was standing beside Ace, holding onto him, they disappeared, smiling at the villagers as they waved.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his chair on the deck. Many of his sons and daughters was out on deck, going around their business for the day. It had been 5 days since the kids left, and the captain still waited and hoped Ace would take his offer. He had not told his sons that Ace might join them if his brothers took Rayleigh’s offer. He didn’t want to give them false hope, or try to pursue the 3 brothers or Rayleigh someway. If Ace was to join his family, he would do it by his own choice.

The weather had been really good for the last days, no clouds and only the sun shining brightly. Everyone who had chores to do, wanted to do it out on the deck, in the beautiful weather. The weather also caused the mood to be really good, everyone just seemed to be extra happy these days, and this made the captain happy. Knowing his family was happy, always made him happy and peaceful.

He was sitting and watching his children bussing around, and some sitting on the deck, enjoying the nice day. He was watching Haruta and Jozu playing a game of cards, when a noise took his, and many of the others attention. They looked at the railing, and Whitebeard smiled when he saw what had caught their attention.

It was Dust. He was sitting on the railing, the sound they had heard was his wings flapping as he landed. The bird was big, and did sometimes make a lot of noise sometimes.

¨Dust, yoi?¨ Said Marco, sounding a bit concerned. Whitebeard looked at him, and he did seem a bit concerned, but it was hidden behind his usual expression of boredom. And Whitebeard did understand his concern. They had never gotten a visit from the kids without something being wrong, and Marco, as well as others he could see, was worried something was wrong. Thatch then walked a bit towards the bird, looking worried and wanted to see if the bird could tell them anything. ¨Is everything alright with the kids?¨ He asked, looking at the bird. Dust somehow seemed to actually nod, before letting out a cawing sound. Whitebeard laughed a bit, ¨I think that means yes, son.¨ Everyone seemed to calm down, and look less worried after the cawing sound and the captains words. Thatch then seemed to realize something, and stared at the bird, looking exited. ¨Is the kids coming?¨ He asked.

Dust then cawed and made some sort of nod, making everyone smile.

Izou then came up and stood beside Thatch. ¨When are they coming?¨ He asked, looking at the bird. Dust shrugged at that, making them frown a bit. ¨They will come today?¨ He continued, looking at the bird. This time Dust did nod a bit, letting out a caw. Thatch smiled like a madman hearing that they would arrive today, ¨I’m going to cook up my specialty!¨ He then headed for the galley. Izou then also followed him, ¨I can help with the layout.¨ He said, and they left. Whitebeard shook his head. They did obliviously love each other, but none of them had done anything, and they just seemed to be dancing around each other, not wanting to say the words they wanted to hear. The others did not want to interfere, they wanted them to do it by themselves, but they were slowly losing patience.

Whitebeard sighed, he hoped his sons would get together soon. They were both happy, but he knew they could be even more if they just said the words. ¨Pops, yoi.¨ Said Marco, getting his attention. ¨Do you know why the brats are coming so soon, yoi?¨ He asked. Whitebeard looked at him. He knew Marco had some idea that he knew something was up, but not really sure. Whitebeard looked at him, eyes shining, ¨They probably want to visit, and we’ll see if they have some news about what they’ll do next.¨ Marco looked at him his brows furrowing a bit, before going up. He then laughed and shook his head, before moving away and going inside. Whitebeard watched him go, seems like he caught on. He did hope Ace would say yes, and he also hoped Marco would come to realize his feelings for the assassin. He had seen the look on his face when Ace had ridden the horses, and the way he seemed to glance at him from time to time.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his chair, his sons and daughters relaxing on the deck. They had delayed the dinner for a bit, hoping the kids would manage to arrive before they ate. But if they did not arrive within the next hour, they would start dinner, it was getting a bit late. Dust had found a spot on the mast, a small ledge some feet up, and had even taken some abandoned linen and made a small nest. He looked to be comfortable, and was looking like he asleep. Everyone was relaxing and waiting for the brothers, sending a look towards the bird every now and then, hoping for a reaction. It seemed like every time Ace appeared, Dust would caw, and they waited for that. It was maybe a half hour later, when the bird finally made some movement. It stood up, flapping it wings a bit, before cawing.

And Ace appeared with Luffy and Sabo.

The moment they stood on the deck, Luffy looking around, and seeing everyone, he instantly raised his arms and yelled. ¨We’re back!¨ The kid then smiled happily, and waved his hands. Ace and Sabo just laughed at his antics, before looking around them, smiling at seeing how everyone waved back and smiled at them. ¨Hi Luffy.¨ Said Thatch, coming out of the galley, ¨I hope you and your brothers are hungry, we are going to have dinner now.¨ Luffy stared at him with big eyes, before yelling out a yes, and ran into the galley. Ace shook his head, ¨We literally ate 5 minutes ago, and he’s still hungry.¨ Sabo laughed, slowly moving towards the galley. ¨Don’t tell me you are surprised,¨ He started throwing a look over his shoulder at his brother. ¨It is Luffy after all.¨ Ace laughed a bit, shaking his head. Luffy then appeared in the doorway, ¨Why is everyone still outside?¨ He started, looking at everyone. ¨It is dinner time!¨ He then went inside.

Whitebeard laughed, enjoying the energy the kid had. ¨You heard the kid.¨ He said, and rose from his chair. He then watched as all of his sons and daughter moved towards the galley, a smile on their faces. Whitebeard waited until everyone, aside from Ace, had walked inside the galley, before moving himself. When he was beside Ace, the kid also started walking. ¨Whitebeard,¨ Started Ace, getting the captains attention. He was smiling, and looking at Luffy who already had started eating in the galley. ¨I would like to speak to you tonight.¨ Whitebeard laughed a bit. ¨Of course,¨ He started, ¨Same place as usual I guess?¨ Ace nodded, and the captain moved into the galley with the others, watching as the assassin sat down besides Luffy and Sabo.

Whitebeard then sat down in his usual spot, and started eating himself. Hoping the conversation they would have tonight, was going to say if he would get an another son.

---x---

Ace stood at the front of the ship, Luffy and Sabo was asleep in their room. He had done some paperwork, when he was finished, both of them was already asleep and Ace moved out on the deck. He was happy to see the sky clear, and stars shining. He was looking at them, and naming the constellations he could see in his head while he waited for the captain. It was maybe 20 minutes later, when he heard footsteps coming towards the front of the deck. He didn’t need to turn around to know it was the captain. The way his footsteps made a bit of noise, seeing the captains size, was a tell enough.

Ace didn’t look at the captain as he moved to stand beside him, leaning a bit on the railing himself. ¨It is a beautiful night.¨ Started the captain, looking at the sky. Ace nodded, ¨It is.¨ He said, before casting a glance at the captain. The captain looked to be calm and pleased as he looked at the sky. Ace turned his gaze to the sky again, and breathed in the cool night air. ¨How did the meeting with Rayleigh go?¨ Asked the captain, staring at the stars in the sky. Ace closed his eyes as a breeze came. ¨It went fine,¨ He started, and looked at the captain. ¨We decided to take up on his offer.¨ The captain then looked at him, ¨I’m going to bring Luffy and Sabo to Rayleigh in 3 days, and they’ll start training then.¨ Whitebeard nodded, Ace looked happy and content with the deal they had made.

¨What about you?¨ Asked the captain, looking at Ace.

Ace sighed and looked out at the sea again. ¨I have been thinking about your offer, it would be nice to stay the same place, without having to worry, especially now that Luffy and Sabo is going to train with Rayleigh.¨ Ace leaned a bit back, looking at the sky. ¨I still have some affairs I need to settle. But,¨ He then looked at the captain,

¨I think I will take up on your offer.¨

Whitebeard smiled, ¨I’m happy to hear that.¨ He said, as he looked at the kid. ¨What affairs is it you need to settle, if you don’t mind me asking?¨ Ace sighed, looking out at the sea again. ¨I need to settle some things with the Red Cloud, back at Boreumdo and some small stuff with the marines.¨ Whitebeard nodded and frowned a bit. He could understand that he had some Affairs with The Red Cloud and on Boreumdo, but not with the marines. ¨What are the things you need to settle with the marines?¨ He asked, looking at the kid. Ace looked at him, and smiled a bit.

¨You don’t think people would wonder why some unknown kid suddenly was chosen to be a commander?¨ Said Ace.

Whitebeard thought for a moment. The assassin was right. For him to suddenly take an unknown and really young kid in, and instantly making him a commander, would cause some suspicion. ¨You have a point,¨ Started the captain, ¨You have any thought on how to make it less suspicious?¨ Ace nodded ¨The marines you took out last week, when you helped me, they have no perpetrator for the attack.¨ Ace leaned a bit back, ¨I know some people in the marines, and I will have the blame put on me, not the assassin, but the young Portgas D Ace.¨ Ace then looked at the captain,

¨I will get a bounty and a reputation to be able to take out vice admirals on my own. This is obviously something that would get much attention, and no one will think twice about it¨

Whitebeard looked at the kid for a moment. That plan was quite brilliant to say the least, and he expected nothing less from the young assassin. ¨That do sound like a good plan.¨ Ace nodded at him, before sighing again. ¨This do also mean I can’t be dressed as an assassin while I am on the ship, and have to be a bit cautious when leaving and returning from assignments.¨ Whitebeard nodded, that was true. Every one of his commanders knew that Ace was an assassin, but here was many other on the crew that didn’t know it yet. ¨Do you want to come out to the entire crew about you being an assassin?¨ Ace shook his head, sighing. ¨I am not sure. I know your crew is loyal, but I don’t think everyone would agree on me joining, even continuing as an assassin after I join.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he understood that. It was as the assassin himself had said, many wanted him to stop. Having an assassin, especially someone like The Ace of Spades, could be a concern to many of them. Whitebeard looked at Ace,

¨I can ask what my commanders think and we’ll take it from there.¨ He said, knowing most of them was okay with the Ace of Spades joining their family.

Ace nodded at that, ¨I would like that. It would feel wrong if someone was against it.¨ Whitebeard looked at the kid, a fatherly look at his face. ¨I am sure they won’t mind, especially after getting to know you.¨ Ace laughed a bit, ¨I don’t blame them from being a bit cautious, and I have other places I can stay.¨ Whitebeard looked at him, ¨I am sure there will be no problems, and I’ll talk to my commanders tomorrow.¨ Ace nodded, ¨I will be gone a bit tomorrow, settling some affairs. Even if I don’t join you crew, I still would like to have some reputation in my name.¨ Whitebeard nodded. He understood the kid wanted to make himself known, not only as an assassin, but as a pirate to, just so he could easier be with his brothers when they set out.

Ace sighed, looking out at the sea. ¨Even if I don’t join you crew,¨ Started Ace, ¨I would like to be acquaintances.¨ He said and looked at the captain. Whitebeard smiled at him, ¨I would like that myself, but I still would like a new son even more.¨ Ace laughed, ¨It would be nice to have a place to call home.¨ He said. When Luffy and Sabo left with Rayleigh, Boreumdo won’t be as it used to be. The villagers would always be a part of him, but it would not be the same without his brothers.

Ace looked at the captain again, ¨One more thing Whitebeard,¨ He said, getting the attention. ¨If I either join your crew, or we continue as acquaintances, it would be nice to be able to teleport here without using Dust.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨Is there a way for you to do that?¨ He asked, looking at the boy. Ace nodded, ¨I can make a mark with my powers somewhere on the boat, and I will be able to teleport to that mark.¨ He then looked at the captain, small smile on his lips, ¨It would be helpful to be able to teleport here without Dust, but only if you agree.¨ Whitebeard laughed, ¨Of course you can do that,¨ Said the captain, smiling at the kid. ¨Where would it be the best place to put the mark?¨ Ace shook his head, ¨I’m not completely sure, but I think at the main deck would be good.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨What about next to place where you usually sit?¨ He asked, and Ace nodded, ¨That sounds nice.¨ He said, as he closed his eyes, facing the sea.

They stood on the deck for a bit, looking out at the sea in silence, enjoying the night. After a while, Ace decided to head inside, and the captain did the same. It was getting late. The captain went to his room with a smile on his face, pleased with how the conversation had went, and hoped no one would be against the assassin joining their family.

---x---

The next morning most of the crew was already up and in the galley, eating breakfast. Sabo and Luffy was eating and sitting with some of the commanders that was already up. ¨Hey Luffy,¨ Said Thatch, getting the kids attention. ¨Where is Ace?¨ Luffy tilted his head, ¨He needed to do some stuff, he said he will be back later.¨ Luffy then went back to eating his food. When Thatch looked at Sabo, he only shrugged, not having any more information. Izou then came in the galley, and sat down. Thatch served him food as he smiled at the crossdresser, who smiled back, before sitting down himself, continuing to eating his food.

¨Izou, yoi.¨ Started Marco, getting the other commanders attention. ¨We’re having a meeting after breakfast, Pops wants to discuss something.¨ Izou nodded, ¨Do you know what he wants to discuss?¨ He asked, ¨No, yoi. But he seemed happy about something.¨ Said the first commander. Izou nodded, and continued eating his food, sending glances at the chef, who was having a conversation with Curiel on a table a bit away. ¨You should tell him.¨ Said Luffy suddenly, startling the sixteenth commander. Izou looked at the kid, who was now looking at him. ¨Tell who what?¨ He asked Luffy.

Luffy tilted his head, ¨That you love Pompom.¨

Izou almost chocked on his own spit. ¨I-, you,- What?¨ He managed to get out, looking at the kid. Luffy then tilted his head the other way. ¨You love Pompom, don’t you?¨ Izou continued to stare at the kid, opening and closing his mouth, not sure what to say. Do I love him? Thought the commander. He did care a lot for him, and always felt calm and safe around the chef. When he had been hurt by Teach, he felt like his world fell apart, and was fixed when he woke up, feeling emotions he didn’t know what to call.

And just like that, Izou felt like a fog had been lifted as he realized what he felt. I love him.

¨Izou?¨ Asked Marco, looking at the distraught commander. He looked a bit lost, and Marco didn’t like the scared look on his face. Marco knew they only needed a push to realize their feeling, but he didn’t know the other male would react like this. ¨Pretty man?¨ Asked Luffy, head still tilted. Izou, not sure what to do with the newfound information, did the only thing his brain thought up;

He stood up and ran out of the galley.

Thatch seeing Izou suddenly standing up, and basically just running out of the galley, made him worry for the other male. He excused himself from the conversation he had with Curiel, and went after Izou. Curiel then went over to the table Izou had sat at. ¨What was all that about?¨ He asked the occupants of the table. Luffy took a piece of meat as he answered, ¨Pretty man realized he loves Pompom.¨ Curiel looked at the kid with a thoughtful and worried look, ¨Why did Izou ran out then?¨ Luffy only shrugged as he ate. No one could answer why the sixteenth commander had reacted the way he did, and only hoped he was okay. ¨Pompom and Pretty man is probably going to talk and they will be fine.¨ Said Luffy, as he reached for more food.

¨How did you know Izou loved Thatch, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, looking at Luffy. Luffy shrugged again, ¨Pretty man was looking at Pompom like he loved him.¨ Said the kid. This time Curiel spoke up, ¨How did you know he was looking at him that way?¨ Luffy shrugged again, ¨I just did.¨ Luffy then continued eating. Marco nodded slowly and looked at his father, who also looked concerned. He then looked around in the galley, and everyone seemed to look a bit concerned by what just had happened.

They only hoped everything would turn out alright.

---x---

Izou went to his room and closed his door. The moment the door was closed, he went and sat on his bed. He loved Thatch. And it scared him. What if Thatch didn’t love him back? They had been with each other more than usual the last months, and they did enjoy each other’s company. Izou put his head in his hands, if Thatch didn’t love him back, Izou didn’t know what to do. And even worse, he didn’t know how to tell the other man. As Izou sat and cradled his head, trying to deal with how to tell the man, or just to try to ignore everything, someone knocked at his door. ¨Izou?¨ He could hear Thatch ask, voice full of concern. And Izou could feel his breath stopping in throat, Thatch was outside the door.

Izou tried to open his mouth to say he was okay, but no sound came out. The door was opened and Thatch peeked inside. When Thatch saw Izou, his face turned really concerned and shocked. Thatch then stepped inside the door, closing the door behind why. ¨Why are you crying?¨ He asked, as he moved towards Izou. Izou moved his hand to his face and found out Thatch was right, he was crying . Thatch then sat down beside him, ¨What’s wrong?¨ He asked, looking at Izou worriedly. Izou just shook his head, not being able to get the words out, too nervous and shocked. ¨You can tell me everything.¨ He said. And Izou, his brain trying to figure everything out, decided to work on its own,

¨I love you!¨ He said, and his hands instantly covered his mouth, not meaning to just blurt it out like that.

Izou expected Thatch to leave or tell him he didn’t feel the same. What he didn’t expect was for Thatch to hug him. Izou sat in shock for a few second before he could comprehend what was happening. When his brain finally wrapped around the fact that Tach was hugging him, he felt hope inside him. ¨Thatch..?¨ He finally managed to get out, Thatch looked at him, eyes full of something Izou could not recognize.

¨I love you too.¨

And Izou froze, before turning around, throwing his arms around Thatch, pressing his lips against the other male. Thatch kissed back and held the male tighter, enjoying the moment. When they parted as they needed air, they just stared at each other. ¨Wow.¨ Said Thatch, and Izou could only nod, still dazed from the kiss.

---x---

Whitebeard sat with his commanders in the meeting room, almost all of the commanders. Izou and Thatch had still not showed up. The meeting was supposed to start 5 minutes ago, and they were nowhere in sight. They were about to go search for them, when the door opened, and they walked inside. Everyone smiled as they saw the two commanders holding hands and smiling, looking happier than they had ever seen them. ¨I have feeling everything is okay.¨ Said Whitebeard, looking at his two sons, who nodded, before sitting down in their seats. After they had sat down and everyone was looking at the captain, Marco decided to ask the question, ¨Why are we having this meeting, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at his father.

Whitebeard smiled. ¨I had a talk with Ace last night, his brothers are going to undergo training for a bit, and Ace is not going to join them.¨ Many of the commanders frowned a bit at this. ¨Why, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander. Whitebeard shook his head. ¨He is an assassin, and don’t want Sabo and Luffy to follow his path, a pirate is going to help them train.¨ Marco looked at him, frowning, he had a feeling this pirate was Rayleigh, he looked at his father in small shock, realizing something. ¨Where is Ace going to stay, yoi?¨ Whitebeard smiled, looking at his commanders,

¨He would like to join our family.¨ He said, and everyone looked at him shocked.

¨He is going to join us?¨ Asked Thatch shocked. Whitebeard sighed, ¨He haven’t said yes yet, he want to make sure everyone is okay with it first.¨ As he said this, everyone seemed a bit confused. ¨Why wouldn’t we be okay with it?¨ Asked Rakuyo, not understanding why any of them would say no. ¨If Ace joins us,¨ Started the captain, ¨He will join as the kid, Portgas D Ace. But, he won’t stop being the Ace of Spades. He will still leave for assignments and continue as he used to.¨ Everyone looked at him, nodding. ¨So basically,¨ Started the first commander, ¨He will act as Ace when he is on board the ship, and as Ace of Spades when he is doing assignments and having meetings, yoi?¨ Whitebeard nodded. ¨So no difference from the last few times he’s been here, yoi.¨ Marco leaned a bit back in his seat.

¨I have no objections to it, yoi.¨ He said, looking at the captain with the usual bored look. And the others said the same thing, not caring that he would continue as an assassin.

Whitebeard smiled. ¨I’m glad to hear that.¨ He said, looking at them. ¨But Pops,¨ Started Namur, getting the attention. ¨Why would we object to that? We haven’t cared before, so why would we now?¨ Whitebeard sighed. ¨We’re not the first one to ask Ace to join or crew,¨ He said, shocking some of them. ¨And all of them didn’t want him to continue as an assassin.¨ Everyone looked at him shocked. ¨Why would they say that?¨ Said Haruta, shocked, not understanding what the issue was. Marco sighed. ¨He is not just an assassin, yoi.¨ He started. ¨He is The Ace of Spades, and that terrifies many of them.¨ He looked at his father, ¨If people found out the Ace of Spades joined a crew, the entire crew would be hunted down, yoi.¨

Everyone looked at the captain and first commander in shock, before understanding took its place. They understood what he meant, the assassin was wanted by a lot of people, not only the marines, but by nobles, pirates and other groups. If he joined and stopped doing assignments, he would maybe not be as wanted as he was. But none of them cared that he was an assassin, even continuing the work even if he joined. ¨We won’t care about that,¨ Started Thatch, ¨If he wants to continue to be Ace of Spades, he can do that.¨ Everyone nodded at that. Whitebeard smiled, he knew none of them would really mind, they didn’t judge what people did for a living, and if they wanted to continue what they were doing before joining, none of them would care. It made the captain feel proud of his sons and daughter.

Whitebeard sighed as he remembered one more thing. ¨All of us, and many of the others know Ace is The Ace of Spade, but not everyone.¨ Started the captain. ¨Do you think we should tell everyone about this, or keep it to as few as possible?¨ The commanders seemed to think about that. Marco was the first one to speak, ¨I think we should keep it a secret for now, yoi.¨ Started the first commander. ¨I do trust our family, but many of them have not met the kid, only knowing of his reputation, yoi. I think we should keep it hidden for now, and tell everyone later.¨ The others thought it over, before nodding, that did sound like a good plan. Whitebeard smiled, ¨I like that idea,¨ He started, ¨I will tell Ace about this when he returns, and see what he thinks.¨ Everyone nodded at that, a smile on their faces.

They started to talk about the usual meeting stuff, to see if everything was okay. They were in the middle of talking about where to go next, when there was a knock on the door. ¨Come in.¨ Said the captain, and the door opened, and Claus walked in, holding a Den Den in his hands. ¨Son,¨ Started Whitebeard, ¨Is everything okay?¨ Claus did look a bit uncertain. ¨Red Haired Shanks is calling,¨ Started Claus, shocking many of them. Why was the captain calling? ¨He wants to talk to you.¨ Whitebeard nodded. He understood why Claus seemed a bit nervous, it was rare for the captain to call. Every time he did call, it was usually about something insignificant. Claus put the Den Den on the table, and went outside the door, letting the captain and commander take the call in private. ¨Brat,¨ Started Whitebeard, ¨Why are you calling?¨ They expected the captain to retort in his usual overexcited voice but instead, the other captain sounded humorless and serious.

¨I just spoke with Lindsey who lives on Boreumdo.¨ Started Shanks, making many of them frown a bit, especially the captain, knowing Shanks himself wanted Ace on his crew. ¨She told me Ace was thinking about joining you crew.¨ They could hear Shanks sigh, ¨If he do join, I want you to promise me one thing.¨ Whitebeard frowned, if Shanks was going to ask him to keep Ace from his work, he would not be happy. ¨And what might that be?¨ Asked Whitebeard, looking hard at the Den Den. Shanks sighed again, ¨I want you to take care of him.¨ Everyone frowned at that, did he think they would not do that? Whitebeard was just about to retort, when the other captain continued. ¨I know you care a lot for you crew, but no matter how tough Ace seems, how unfazed and resilient he seems,¨ The other captain sighed again,

¨He’s still a kid. A kid doing a hard job in an unfair world. He is not as invisible as he seems, and I want you to promise me to remember that.¨

The occupants of the room looked at each other, they were not used to hear Shanks as serious as he was. He almost always acting like a child and annoying most of the other pirates that he met. The few times he was acting as serious as he sounded right now, was when someone he cared about was in trouble or when he was concerned about something or someone. Whitebeard had a feeling the captain knew more about the kid than he thought he did. Shanks seemed to have seen more of the kid than they had, and maybe even in a hard time when Ace may have faltered. The fact that Ace was just 19 years old, and had been an assassin for years, could not be easy. He was amazed on how well the kid held himself up, and he had told the captain himself he was not used to relay on others.

¨You have my word,¨ Started the captain, speaking in a fatherly manner. ¨We will be there for him. We never let anyone face the world by themselves, we will always be by his side.¨

Whitebeard could see the others in the room nodding, agreeing on his words. ¨Thank you Newgate.¨ Said Shanks, sounding a bit more content, ¨I have a feeling he will be happy if he joins.¨ Shanks hung up, the Den Den making a click. The pirates looked at each other, making a mental note to keep the red haired captains words in their head.

---x---

It was now closing gin on dinner time, most of the pirates was outside and going about their day. Marco was standing by the railing with Sabo, looking at the sea, and Whitebeard was telling a story to Luffy, who was sitting on his knee. Izou and Thatch was sitting on a crate, Izou on Thatch’s lap, and listening to the story, relaxing together. Marco was watching the ocean, and had for a bit, so he decided to turn around and look a bit more around. He could see Luffy looking happy, Thatch and Izou seeming to enjoy the clam day, and some others that was bussing around. When he looked towards Namur, that sat on the other end of the boat, something caught his eye. It seemed to be some sort of spot or mark. He moved to it, and crouched down, looking at it.

It looked like the same kind of mark Ace left behind.

He was about to stand up and ask his father about it, when Sabo got his attention. ¨It is a way for Ace to teleport here without Dust.¨ He said, still looking out at the ocean. ¨If Ace is joining your crew, it would be best for him if he can just teleport here when he wants to or needs to.¨ He continued, looking at Marco with a smile on his face. Marco nodded, and stood up, walking so he stood beside Sabo again. ¨Do Ace have his mark other places, yoi?¨ He asked the kid. Sabo nodded. ¨He have it on a few islands here and there, as well with his acquaintances.¨ Marco nodded, ¨So he have a mark on Shanks ship, yoi.¨ He stated more than asked. Sabo nodded, and looked at the first commander, ¨I have a feeling you don’t like the man so much.¨ He said.

Marco looked at the kid, he seemed to be curious. ¨I don’t like him.¨ Started the commander, ¨He is a good man, he takes good care of the people he cares about.¨ Marco sighed, ¨But he sometimes is just so childish, he is always asking me to join his crew, and he does a lot of stupid stuff.¨ Sabo laughed a bit at that, shaking his head. ¨You are right about that, he is a good man, but he can be really annoying.¨ Marco nodded, seems like Sabo agreed with him. ¨I don’t have anything against him, yoi.¨ He started. ¨I respect him as a captain, even though he annoys me more often than not.¨ Sabo nodded, before turning back to the sea.

¨Commander Marco.¨ He started, not looking at the man. ¨Do you like Ace?¨ He asked, shocking the commander a bit. Marco looked at him, before looking at the sea, ¨I respect him and wants to have him in my family, yoi.¨ Sabo shook his head. ¨Not like that.¨ Started the kid, making Marco look at him. ¨I noticed the look you gave him on Marado,¨ Marcos beat skipped a beat, he had seen it? Sabo looked at the commander,

¨Do you have feelings for my brother?¨

Marcos brain almost stopped for a second before he could come up with an answer. He could not say yes, he was way too old for the kid, and Sabo was his brother. But he could not say no either, he had a feeling Sabo would know he was lying. ¨You realize I am over twice his age right, yoi?¨ He decided to say. And Marco was even way older than that, there was barley anyone who actually new his age. Sabo shook his head, a small laugh escaping him. ¨Based on the fact you didn’t say no, I take that as a yes.¨ He looked at the commander, ¨And age has no meaning to Ace, he wouldn’t care that you are over twice his age.¨

This caused some hope in Marco heart, he wasn’t sure if he was in love, but he could tell he had some feelings for the young assassin. Sabo sighed. ¨If you decide to do anything, I want you to be careful.¨ Marco looked at him, a small understanding in his head. ¨Don’t worry, yoi.¨ He started, ¨I won’t hurt your brother.¨ Sabo shook his head, causing the commander to frown a bit, ¨I didn’t mean it like that,¨ Sabo looked at the ocean, ¨Ace is used to be by himself, not leaning or relaying on others. Not after Azuruko died.¨ Sabo turned to the commander, ¨I don’t want you to get hurt. Ace have a wall around him, and he is not good at letting people in.¨ Marco looked at him, a bit of confusion and understanding in his head. ¨Why are you telling me this, yoi?¨ He asked, wanting to know why the kid suddenly decided to tell him all of this. Sabo looked at him, a smile on his face,

¨You remind me of Azuruko.¨ He said, shocking the commander.

Sabo turned back to the sea again. ¨You are both calm and collected, and have this relaxing as well as a powerful aura around you.¨ Marco could only nod, he had never met the man himself, but had heard from others. And from what he had heard, he was a calm and caring person. He was always calm and always helped others. ¨The only difference,¨ Continued Sabo. ¨Is that you are more a friend and companion, instead of a mentor and teacher.¨ Marco nodded, and he could feel himself smiling. The fact Sabo had called him a friend and companion, was good news for the commander. He would also take Sabo words with him, and act slowly and carefully. He knew Ace was a person that would not be easy to gain the trust to, he was an assassin, and was used to be on his own.

Sabo looked up at the sky, a smile on his face and a content look in his eyes. He felt like the commander would be good for Ace, as well as the captain. Whitebeard reminded Sabo of a mixture of Dadan and Azuruko. He was caring, strong, dedicated and let them do their own things and live their lives, a perfect father figure. ¨I have a feeling Ace could be happy here, he only needs to realize his own feelings and start relaying on others.¨ Marco nodded, and looked out at the ocean. ¨We will take good care of your brother, yoi.¨ Sabo nodded at that, closing his eyes as a breeze came. Marco just stood beside him, looking out at the sea and feeling happy and content, making a promise in his heart that he would do everything he could to be there for the young assassin.

---x---

It was now only a short half an hour before they would start dinner. They decided to wait a bit and see if Ace would show up. According to Sabo, that was going to be soon, and they wanted to wait for Ace if it was possible. Most of them was still on deck doing what they had done before, the only difference was that Luffy was now listening to a story from Namur that had joined them. The kid was really interested in what the merman had to say, and Namur felt happy that the kid wasn’t scared or anything. Based on that he was Aces brother, was probably a reason for that. Ace was a person that didn’t judge people by who they were, but by what they did. It made many happy to see Namur bonding with the kid.

Namur was in the middle of the story, when Dust appeared. The bird appeared in a cloud of smoke, and settled on his ledge on the mast. ¨Dust!¨ Yelled Luffy, happy to see the bird. A short second later, Ace appeared. ¨Ace!¨ Yelled he kid, a gigantic grin on his face. Sabo, seeing his brother, frowned a bit. ¨Why are you eating? We are going to have dinner soon.¨ Said Sabo to his brother. The pirates saw the food too, it was a piece of toast of some kind. Ace shook his head, a sigh escaping him. ¨I know, but I have to leave for an assignment.¨ Said the assassin, tearing a small piece of the toast off, and giving it to Luffy, who ate it with a smile. Sabo looked at his brother, looking a bit mad, ¨But you said you would not take any assignment for the next days!¨ He said angrily. Ace sighed, looking apologetic at Sabo,

¨I know,¨ Started Ace, ¨But I can’t not answer this call.¨

Sabo sighed, and nodded, a somber look at his face. Ace walked inside the boat, probably to change, Dust flying after him. Whitebeard looked at Sabo, a bit worried, and was about to ask, when Sabo stopped him with the shake of his head, sending a look at Luffy. Whitebeard understood, he knew Sabo and Ace wanted to keep Luffy out of his work as much as possible. ¨Luffy,¨ Said Thatch suddenly, getting the kid attention. ¨Why don’t you come and help me prepare dinner?¨ Luffy nodded, and left with the chef. When the door closed, Sabo sighed.

¨When Ace can’t say no to an assignment, it usually means children are involved.¨

Sabo shook his head, ¨Ace hates it when children are involved, they should live carefree and happily, not dragged into his work.¨ Whitebeard and the others on the deck nodded. They themselves hated when they found kids dragged into adult business and fights. ¨Is it often for Ace to get assignments like this?¨ Asked the captain, wanting to know how often Ace had to help children. Helping pirates and adult was one thing, but kids was something he had not thought about. It could not be easy when children were involved, Sabo was right, they shouldn’t need the assassins help, they should live a calm and peaceful life.

Sabo shook his head, ¨I don’t know how often,¨ He looked at the captain, ¨But I know it happens way too often.¨ Whitebeard nodded. He knew Ace didn’t tell his brothers about his assignment, trying to keep them out of it. And based on the look Sabo had, he knew based on Aces reaction when he had one of these assignments. It seemed Ace had some tell when an assignment involved children. And it didn’t surprise the captain, helping kids that was held captive, abused, left for death and such could not be easy, and would upset any regular person. Whitebeard only hoped Ace would be okay, not only physical, but emotionally as well. Shanks words playing in his head again.

The door opened, and Ace came out, dressed in his assassin outfit. He seemed to be fastening his gauntlets a bit as he walked out on the deck. ¨How long will you be gone?¨ Asked Sabo, looking at his brother. Ace seemed happy with his gauntlet, and looked at Sabo. ¨It will take a few hours, I will be back around night, hopefully before midnight.¨ Sabo nodded, ¨Be careful, okay.¨ He said, looking at Ace. Ace nodded, and disappeared. Sabo got up, and headed for the galley. The others on deck, could only hope the assignment went fine, and Ace would return okay.

---x---

It was night, the clock was maybe around 1, and Whitebeard made his way out on the deck. Ace had not showed up yet, and the captain was starting to worry. The brothers had gone to their room, and Sabo seemed a bit worried himself, but decided to wait and see what would happen. When the captain made his way out on the deck, and looked around, hoping to see Ace in his usual spot. He was saddened to see the place empty. He walked to the front of the deck, looking out at the ocean. It was a cloudy night, and no stars could be seen. After Whitebeard had stood there for a few minutes, something landed on his shoulder. The captain was startled a bit, but calmed down when he saw it was only Dust.

Whitebeard brought his hand, and petted the bird carefully with his index finger. The bird seemed to like that, and leaned into his touch. When the captain stopped, Dust ruffled his feather a bit. ¨Is Ace back?¨ He asked the bird, hoping to get some sort of affirmation he was back on the ship. The bird gave a tiny nod, and small caw. Whitebeard smiled at that, happy to know the kid at least was on the ship. ¨Is he okay?¨ He asked hoping for the same answer. But frowned when the bird didn’t make any sound. Dust only moved a bit, and settled on his shoulder a bit, leaning against the captains neck, almost like the bird was seeking comfort from the captain.

Even though it was not the reaction the captain was hoping for, it was better than what the bird could have done. From what he had gathered, the bird was smart, and did care about his master a lot. And seeing as the bird didn’t give him any indication the young assassin was in any kind of trouble, was a bit of comfort to the captain. The captain decided to wait until the morning, and hoping to see the assassin . If he saw no signs of the assassin, he would need to do something. He stood on the deck, looking out on the ocean, Dust sitting on his shoulder, leaning on his neck.

What the captain didn’t know, was that Ace was not far away, sitting only feet’s below him.

Ace sat on a ledge on the whale head. He had found out the figurehead had a sill like ledge where the whale’s teeth were. And it was enough space for Ace to sit there. Based on how the teeth was a bit inside the whale, he had a somewhat roof over his head, hiding him from view. He could hear and feel the captain stepping out on deck. He also heard his conversation with Dust, and felt Dust leaning on the captain, sending some of the comfort to him. Ace leaned back against the boat, taking a swig of his bottle with whisky.

He hated assignments where children were involved. He had gotten back an hour ago, and didn’t want to face anyone, just sit alone and drink, his way to cope. He had placed himself at the sill of the whale’s teeth, seeing as he wanted to be outside, getting the comfort of the night. The assignment had gone almost according to plan. He was asked by a kid to save her friends from a marine that had captured them. There were 6 children, all under the age of 8, and Ace had only managed to save 4 of them. One of the kid was already dead, while the other one had died while Ace was escorting them to freedom. He hated it when kids were his assignment, and hated even more when he couldn’t save them.

Ace closed his eyes, feeling the breeze on his face, taking an another swig of the bottle and feeling a bit of comfort from the captain that was above him. Just knowing he was there, made him feel a bit better.

---x---

The next morning, most of the commanders was already up and in the galley, eating breakfast. The ones missing was Marco, Izou, Thatch and Rakuyo. Rakuyo was doing some paperwork and Thatch and Izou had decided to eat breakfast by themselves, wanting to have some alone time together. Marco was with his captain, who also was not present in the galley. After the night, and his concern growing, he had asked Marco keep an outlook for the assassin, and if he saw him, to tell the kid he wanted to talk to him. Whitebeard had not had any chance to talk to him after his meeting with the commanders, and wanted to tell him what they agreed on before the assassin left to drop off his brothers.

It was not long before the door to the hallway that led to the kids room opened, and the three brothers walked out, heading for the galley. Ace was in his usual mood, and wearing his usual casual clothes. They were halfway to the galley, when a voice halted them. ¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said Marco, standing a bit off their side. When Ace looked at the first commander, he continued, ¨Pops would like to talk to you, if you don’t mind.¨ Ace smiled at the commander, and told his brothers to go and eat, he would come when he had talked with the captain. Ace went up to the commander, and walked besides him. Ace had a feeling he knew what the captain wanted to talk about, seeing as he didn’t get to talk to the man yesterday or during the night.

As they walked, Marco decided to try some small talk. ¨When are your brothers leaving to train, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at the assassin as they moved. Ace smiled at the commander, ¨I’m taking them later today, maybe after breakfast.¨ Marco nodded, that was quicker than he thought. ¨Is it Rayleigh that is going to train them, yoi?¨ Ace nodded, ¨Yes. He offered some time back, and it sounded like a goof offer. They need to learn from a pirate.¨ Ace shook his head, ¨I can’t believe how fast they have grown, it’s going to be weird when they set out.¨ Marco nodded, he understood what the assassin meant, time seamed to pass quicker sometimes, and even Marco felt like it was just last week Haruta was promoted to commander, she being the youngest of them, aside from Ace. ¨I know what you mean, yoi. I sometimes feel the same myself.¨ Ace smiled at him, and Marco felt his inside warm up. The assassin looked carefree and happy, and that made him happy himself.

They arrived outside the captain’s room, and Marco motioned for the kid to go inside. ¨You’re not joining us?¨ Asked the kid, looking at the commander. Marco shook his head. ¨No, yoi. He wanted to talk to you alone.¨ Ace nodded, ¨I’ll see you later then commander.¨ Said Ace, giving the commander a smile before opening the door, and going inside. Marco smiled back, and when the door closed, he went back to the galley, deciding to eat a bit.

When Ace got inside the room, and closed the door behind him, Dust flew and landed on his shoulder. ¨Hey,¨ Said Ace, patting the bird. ¨So it’s here you’ve been.¨ Ace patted the bird a bit more, before it flew off, landing on a chair, staring at Ace. Ace shook his head, and looked at the captain, that sat in his chair, smiling at Ace. Ace smiled back at the man, ¨Good morning, Whitebeard.¨ Said Ace, as he took a seat in a chair not too far away from the captain. Whitebeard was happy to see the kid looking as cheerful and relaxed as he was, and his concern seemed to lessen. ¨Good morning Ace, how did the assignment go yesterday?¨ He asked, wanting to know if the assignment had gone well. Ace sighed, looking at the captain with a melancholy look, a small smile still present,

¨It could have gone better.¨ Said Ace, and Whitebeard frowned a bit. He was about to ask about it, but Ace shook his head, not wanting to speak about that right now.

Whitebeard nodded, if he didn’t want to talk about it, he wouldn’t ask about it. He hoped Ace one day would come to him when he needed it, but he would not push him into telling him his troubles. ¨I spoke to my sons and daughters yesterday,¨ Started the captain, the melancholy look leaving Ace as he nodded. ¨They have nothing against you joining, even continuing your job.¨ Ace nodded, eyes closing, happy to hear they didn’t mind him being an assassin. Whitebeard felt himself smile, seeing the content look on the kids face when he told him this. ¨When are you leaving to see of your brothers?¨ Asked the captain, and Ace opened his eyes, ¨I think we will leave a bit after breakfast.¨ The captain nodded, ¨Will you be returning after that?¨ He asked, looking fatherly at the young assassin. Ace nodded,

¨I will, I would like to join your crew.¨ He said, making the captain smile. ¨Welcome to the family, son.¨ He said, making Ace feel warm and delighted inside.

Ace looked at the captain, feeling really happy to know he had somewhere to belong, knowing both Sabo and Luffy also liked it here, no one judging them. ¨Did you decide whether or not to tell the entire crew of my job?¨ Asked Ace, looking at the captain. Whitebeard nodded, ¨We decided to not tell everyone for now, we might do it later.¨ Ace nodded, he was fine with not telling everyone. Just the fact the captain and all the commanders didn’t mind, was more than enough. Whitebeard liked to see Ace didn’t object or felt not accepted. He seemed okay with the fact they would not tell everyone right away.

¨And also,¨ Started the captain, ¨Do you want to tell everyone your joining now, or when you return?¨ Ace thought for a bit. He had a feeling Sabo would be mad if he didn’t tell he was going to join while he was still here. Ace shook his head, a laugh escaping him, ¨I think it would be best to tell everyone now, I have a feeling Sabo would be angry if he wasn’t here when we tell them.¨ Whitebeard laughed, before standing up. ¨Then I guess we should get to it, seeing as almost everyone is in the galley.¨ Ace nodded, and stood up, and headed outside with the captain. When they got out on the deck, Whitebeard spotted some of his sons, ¨Sons,¨ Said the captain, getting their attention, ¨Can you go and tell everyone to meet in the galley?¨ The 4 men nodded, and walked off, telling the few that was not eating, that they were wanted in the galley.

When Ace and Whitebeard got to the galley, the captain went to sit in his seat, and Ace went and sat beside his brothers. When Whitebeard sat down, he got many looks from his commanders, wanting to know if they had a new brother or not. But the captain gave them no indication on what had happened, he just sat down, and started eating as normal. The same did Ace. He sat down with his brothers and started some conversation with Sabo. It was 5 minutes later, when Thatch and Izou arrived, the last of the ones missing from the galley, when the captain stood up, getting the attention. ¨Everyone,¨ He started, a fatherly smile on his face. ¨I have some good news!¨ When he said this, he could see all of his commanders smiling, knowing what he was going to say.

¨You all know Ace, who have stayed with us a few times.¨ He looked ta Ace, who stood up, getting a confused look from Sabo, and a smile from Luffy. ¨I am happy to say he has decided to join our family!¨

Everyone sat socked for a second, except the commanders and Luffy, who started clapping and cheering. The other soon joining in, and Luffy hugging his brother. Sabo shook his head, a smile on his face, happy his brother looked as happy as he did. Everyone went to gratulate the kid, the commanders going first. They had a small celebration party, everyone always happy to celebrate a new family member.

---x---

It was a few hours later, when everything had calmed down, that Ace decided it was time to leave. His brothers now ready to leave for their training, standing beside Ace with their stuff in a small rucksack. ¨Bye!¨Yeller Luffy as usual, waving his hands. Everyone did of course wave back, a bit sad to see the two kids go, but happy knowing Ace would return. ¨You will visit right?¨ Said Thatch, looking at the brothers. Luffy nodded, ¨Of course we will!¨ He started, hugging Ace. ¨I want to visit my brother and hear more stories!¨ Everyone smiled and laughed at that, happy to see the three brothers smiling. Sabo also laughed, sending a smile to the captain and first commander, happy that Ace had somewhere to stay while they were gone.

They gave a last goodbye, before Sabo also put his hands on Ace. And they disappeared in black smoke.

Chapter Text

Ace hugged Luffy, he could not believe he was not going to see his brothers for a while, it was going to be weird. He was used to being around them almost all of the time, unless he was at a long assignment. ¨Be good, okay? And listen to Rayleigh.¨ Said Ace as he let go of Luffy. Luffy nodded and looked at Ace, ¨Of course we will!¨ He said, and smiled a big smile. ¨Me and Sabo will get really strong and be great pirates!¨ Ace laughed a bit, and ruffled Luffy’s hair, ¨I know you will.¨ Said Ace, and watched as Luffy walked inside a house where they would stay for now. Ace went over to Sabo, who shook his head as Ace hugged him,

¨We’re not going away forever you know.¨ He said to Ace, as he hugged back.

Ace laughed a bit, ¨I know, it’s just going to be weird with you gone.¨ Ace said, and let go off his brother, looking at him, ¨I’m going to miss you, you know.¨ Sabo laughed a bit, ¨We’ll miss you too.¨ He said, giving a reassuring smile to Ace, ¨And we will be fine.¨ Ace nodded, he knew they would be fine, they were strong, and Rayleigh was with them. ¨I know, but be careful and take care of yourself.¨ Sabo laughed, ¨Don’t worry, I will.¨ Sabo looked at Ace with a calm and brotherly look, ¨And you take care of yourself,¨ He started, ¨The Whitebeards are good people, and you can rely and confide in them.¨ Ace sighed and looked at Sabo,

¨I know, and I’ll try, okay?¨ Said Ace, looking at Sabo, who nodded.

Ace knew Sabo was worried about him, and knew he didn’t go to people for help if he could avoid it. Ace had never been good at relying on others, telling them of his troubles. The only one he had really relied on, was Azuruko. Sabo knew Ace often missed the man, especially after a hard mission or when something went wrong.

Sabo only hoped Ace would open up to the pirates. He knew it would take some time, but that Ace one day would trust them enough to rely and confide in them, especially the captain. He was a good man, and could be good for Ace, as well as the first commander.

Ace gave a last pat on Sabos shoulder, before he also went inside the house. Ace turned around, and looked at Rayleigh, ¨You know he is right?¨ Said the man, looking at Ace. Ace sighed as he nodded. He knew Sabo was right, and from the past experiences, he knew the pirates would not judge him and would be there for him. But Ace was not used to that, and was not good at relying on others. He was used to be by himself.

Ace looked at Rayleigh, ¨I will still send money to you and them, I have no use for all off it.¨ Rayleigh nodded, ¨That is fine, we will use what we need, and save the rest for when they set out.¨ Ace nodded. He did not have use for all the money he made, and would send half of it to them. The rest of what he made, he would split in two, and give one fourth of it to Lindsey on Boreumdo, and keep the rest. Now that he had joined the pirate crew, he would just give the money to them.

Ace shook Rayleigh’s hand, ¨I’ll see you later then, Rayleigh.¨ Said Ace, and the man nodded, ¨We will, and I will take good care of them.¨ Ace nodded, sending a thankful smile at the man. He knew Rayleigh would take care of them and teach them what they needed. He watched as Rayleigh went inside the house. And when the door closed behind the man, Ace disappeared.

---x---

Ace appeared on Amegakure. When he landed, he took on his hood from his cape, and started walking in the rain. Ace was dressed casual, with a black singlet and black pants. He did have a cape on to signalize he was a part of the assassins, and the cape was black and red with a hood. He did also have his usual assassin shoes on, they were comfortable and could be used in all kinds of terrain. He would use Dust, seeing as that would save him from walking in the rain to much, but he knew dust didn’t like the rain, and he himself was okay with walking in the rain. He had sent Dust to the Moby Dick, seeing as the bird did enjoy it there.

He rarely ran into some of the new ones when he visited the Red Cloud, so he wasn’t concerned that someone would see and recognize him without his mask, and he wasn’t here for a normal work related matter. He wanted to inform the leader on what he would do now, and that he had joined the pirates. Daisuke was kind of like a friend to Ace, and they did work a lot together. Ace wouldn’t call them friends exactly, but they were somewhere in between acquaintances and friends.

When he got to the wall, the door was instantly opened, and he was let inside. When he got inside, he took off his hood, and shook his head a bit, to get rid of some of the water. ¨Here.¨ Said a voice to his left, and when Ace looked, he could see Moira holding out a towel to him. ¨Thank you.¨ Said Ace, as he used it to dry his hair a bit. Ace walked with Moira to Daisukes office. When they got to the door, Moira knocked and opened the door, letting Ace go inside, before she closed it. ¨Ace, what brings you here?¨ Asked Daisuke, seeing the young assassin there, also asking in a friendly and calm matter, seeing him out of his usual assassin outfit. Ace went up to his desk and sat down in a chair, looking at the man.

¨I just wanted to update you on some stuff.¨ Said Ace, looking at the man.

Daisuke nodded, and moved to pull something up from a drawer. ¨I have a feeling it have something to do with this.¨ He handed a piece of paper to Ace. Ace took the paper and looked at it. And it was his wanted poster, not the Ace of Spades, but Portgas D Ace. Ace could not help but laugh a bit, ¨You are right.¨ Said Ace, smiling when he looked at the poster. It seemed like Garp had used photo he had lying about; it was maybe a year old. Ace was also a bit surprised by his bounty. He knew he would get one that was a bit impressive to be someone unknown, but the amount shocked him.

Portgas D Ace, Wanted Dead or Alive , Bounty 350, 000, 000.

That bounty was even a bit extreme for a nobody, but had a feeling Garp had blamed him for some other stuff too, making the bounty bigger. Even though the bounty was a bit big, it was nowhere near his assassin bounty. He was one of the most wanted persons in the world, having a bounty on 10, 000, 000, 000.

Ace shook his head a bit, handing it back to Daisuke. ¨I have decided to bring some reputation to my name, I need it if I can be with my brothers and roam around.¨ Daisuke nodded, ¨I understand that, and I must say the bounty you got was impressive for a nobody.¨ Ace laughed as he agreed, it was, and he would thank Garp for it later. Daisuke looked at Ace, ¨I have a feeling your brothers have either set out or started training.¨ Ace nodded and sighed. ¨They have started training, and will set out in a year.¨ Daisuke nodded, ¨What about you? Will you be staying at Boreumdo?¨ Ace shook his head, ¨No, I have actually joined a pirate crew, one of the reasons for the bounty.¨ Daisuke looked at him questionably, and Ace continued,

¨I have joined Edward Newgates crew..¨ He started, ¨I will be the new second commander.¨

Ace could see small shock on Daisukes face, before he smiled. ¨I would never have guessed you would join a pirate crew.¨ Daisuke shook his head, looking at Ace in a calm manner. ¨I know Newgate is a good man, I’m glad you joined them.¨ Ace nodded at him. ¨I will still continue as Ace of Spades,¨ He started, ¨And I will be staying on the Moby Dick when I’m not working.¨ Daisuke nodded, ¨Being a pirate, even a second commander on Newgates crew, is going to be relaxing compared to your other work.¨ Ace laughed at that, it was true, it will be nice and relaxing, especially now that he didn’t need to worry for his brothers all the time.

Ace talked to the man for a bit, before he headed out again, deciding to visit Azurukos grave before he headed back to the boat. Wanting to tell his old mentor of what had happened, and how his life was at the moment.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his chair and enjoyed the sunny day. It was a beautiful day again, and everyone was lazing about, just enjoying it. Ace had left yesterday to see off his brothers, and he hoped the young assassin would return soon. It made the captain happy to see all his sons and daughters being happy about Ace joining their family, and the kid himself looked to be glad that he was as well received as he was. He had a feeling Ace was not used to that, based on the fact he was one of the most wanted people in the world, and most people feared him. He was thankful they decided to check up on why Shanks had stayed at Oseum all those months ago, if they hadn’t,

Everything would have been different.

It was Ace that had warned them about Teach, ultimately resolved in they keeping the man under tight watch, and making it so Thatch survived. Without Ace, they would neither have managed to take the man out, at least not without any of them getting injured, or even killed.

Whitebeard closed his eyes, he owed Ace a lot. And he would repay it by giving him a place where he could belong, where no one would judge him, a home. He knew Ace had a home with his brothers, but they would set out one day, and Ace didn’t want to set out with them, keeping them away from his work. And they would be there for the young assassin, he spoke the truth when he spoke to Shanks; They never let anyone in their family face the world alone.

It was maybe an hour later, when signs of the assassin arriving finally came.

Dust appeared and sat on the railing, giving a caw as he looked at the pirates. ¨Dust, yoi.¨ Said Marco, looking at the bird. ¨Is Ace coming back today, yoi?¨ Dust nodded and cawed, making everyone on the deck smile. ¨Do you know when he comes, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, wanting to know if it was long. Dust cawed, and used one of his armored legs to make a thump against the railing. Marcos brow furrowed a bit, before he understood. ¨He will come in one hour, yoi?¨ He asked, just to be sure. Dust nodded, and cawed. Marco nodded, smiling. The bird was really smart. Dust flew up to his small spot on the mast, the linen he had found, still there, and Dust settled down in his small nest. The pirates went back to continue their day, waiting for their new family member to return.

It was almost an hour later, when something happened. They were all still relaxing, when the chef appeared in the door that led to the galley, and looked to be scared by something. ¨Marco!¨ He almost yelled, making the commander look at him. ¨What, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, looking bored at the chef. The fourth commander made some sort of motion with his hands, almost flailing them around. ¨There is this gigantic spider on the wall!¨ Said the chef, ¨Can you remove it? Please?¨ Marco sighed, and started to move towards the galley. He could hear some of the others on the deck snickering and a few shuddering. Everyone knew about the chefs fear of spiders, and he wasn’t alone, there was quite a few that was scared of the small creatures. When Marco walked in to the galley, and looked to where the chef was pointing, he stopped for a bit, a bit shocked at what he saw. Thatch had not overreacted when he called the spider gigantic.

On the wall, there was a spider. And its body alone, was the same size of Marcos palm. It was gigantic.

Marco was not afraid of spiders, don’t get him wrong. But that creature on the wall, was just so gigantic, and the fact even he was vulnerable for poison, made him a bit unsure. And based on the size of the spider, it would have a lot of it. Marco could even see its fangs from where he stood, and that was some feet from the wall where the spider was located. The spider was high up on the wall, and Marco would not reach up there when standing on the floor. Marco looked out on the deck. ¨Jozu,¨ Said Marco, getting the mans attention. ¨It’s a bit high up, you think you can reach it?¨ Jozu nodded, and headed for the galley himself.

Even though none of them was any fan of the spiders, they didn’t want to kill the creatures. They had done nothing wrong, and didn’t deserve to get killed just because someone didn’t like them.

When Jozu was standing in the door, and saw the spider, he stared at it. ¨I am not touching that.¨ Said the commander, ¨That’s not a spider, that’s a monster.¨ Continued Jozu, getting the attention of almost everyone on deck. When the rest of the people on deck saw the spider, even the captain himself, they had to agree; the spider was big. ¨I have an idea.¨ Said Vista, getting the attention. They looked at him, they knew Vista wanted to save the spider if he could, he had grown up a place where spiders where a bit sacred, and everyone respected that he didn’t want to kill the creatures, even Thatch. ¨Marco, if you take that box and put it under the spider, I will use a broom to make the spider fall in the box, and we’ll release it on the next island.¨ They nodded, and Marco got the box, placing it underneath the spider. But when Vista was nearing the broom, he stopped.

On the broom, sat Dust. When Vista reached for the broom, the bird cawed at him, making him retract his arm.

Vista, not really sure what to do, looked at his father for help. ¨Dust,¨ Said the captain, frowning a bit, not understanding why the bird was stopping Vista. ¨Why are you standing on the broom? We won’t kill the spider.¨ Whitebeard hoped Dust would move, knowing they would not kill the creature, thinking either or both Dust and Ace not waiting that. But instead of moving, Dust only ruffled his feathers. Everyone frowned, ¨Why are you against it, yoi?¨ Asked the commander, looking at the bird.

¨Because,¨ Started a voice behind them. ¨The spider won’t survive the fall.¨ Said Ace, moving to walk past the pirates, going inside the galley.

¨What?¨ Asked Thatch, perplexed. ¨The spider is huge!¨ Ace laughed a bit, ¨It is a bit big,¨ Started Ace, moving a table to the wall. ¨But a fall from that height will kill it.¨ Ace took a chair, and jumped on top of the table. ¨It is a fragile creature in reality.¨ Ace placed the chair on the table, and stepped on top of it. At this height, he could reach the spider if he stretched. ¨Hey! Hey!¨ Almost yelled Thatch, ¨You’re not going to touch it, are you?! What if it bites?!¨ Thatch sounded really worried and scared, knowing poison could kill and make real damage, even on devil fruit users. Ace stretched, and held one hand in front of the spider, and one behind it. ¨It won’t bite,¨ Started Ace, slowly moving his hand so the spider walked into his other. ¨It only bites when it feel threatened.¨

The spider walked onto Aces hand, and he stepped down from the chair and table, holding the eight legged creature.

Thatch actually let out a small whimper, ¨ Oh god, he’s touching it!¨ Thatch moved to stand behind his father, not wanting to look at the spider that tried to move in Aces hand, its legs moving and trying to walk away. Many of the people in the galley and out on the deck, snickered, some even laughing. Thatch, the man known to be an amazing and fearful swordsman, the fourth commander on Whitebeards crew, the strongest crew in the world, was hiding behind his father because of a spider.

¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said the first commander, making Ace look at him. ¨You’re not scared of spiders? And what if it did bite, yoi?¨ Ace smiled at the man, holding his hand in front of the other, making the spider walk from hand to hand. ¨I’m not scared of them, they are fascinating creatures.¨ He made the spider stand on his right hand, and stroked the spider a bit with his left, ¨And as I said, they only bite when threatened.¨ Marco nodded, Ace seemed to not be even a little bit uncomfortable holding the gigantic spider. Ace moved the spider a bit up to his face, looking at it. ¨You’re from a summer island.¨ Said the assassin, looking at the creature. Ace looked at the captain, ¨I’ll be right back, I’m going to drop this little hunter here off at an island where he can live.¨ Whitebeard nodded, and Ace disappeared.

¨ He touched it!¨ Said Thatch again, sounding horrified. ¨ He actually touched it.¨ Thatch sounded like he could not believe what just transpired. Whitebeard laughed a bit, ¨He did son, he also got rid of it.¨ Said the captain, making Thatch nod a bit. Then Ace reappeared, making Thatch jump a bit. ¨Is it gone?¨ Asked Thatch, looking at Ace. Ace nodded, and showed Thatch his hands; No spider. Thatch the let out a relived sigh, ¨Thank you!¨ He said, sounding like Ace had just saved his life. ¨You are a beautiful human being.¨ Ace laughed at that, as did many others, including the captain.

After everyone had walked back out on deck, Whitebeard got everyone’s attention. ¨Please continue what you were doing, the day is still young.¨ He started, he looked at his commanders and new son. ¨I will have a small meeting with my commanders and Ace, we will be back soon.¨ Everyone nodded, and went back to what they were doing, which was mostly lazing about. The commanders plus Ace, walked after captain, moving to the meeting room.

---x---

The pirates made their way into the meeting room, and sat down. They didn’t really have any fast spots where they sat, but Whitebeard always sat at the end of the room, at the top of the table. They usually did sit the same places, but it was not fixed, and they could move if they wanted to, and they usually did that every now and then. The only few who never moved, was Marco, who always was by his captains side, Curiel who always sat with the window, and Jozu who liked to sit more at the end, where there was a bit more space, letting him have some arm room. The last days, Izou and Thatch always sat together, usually holding hands, or Izou sitting on Thatch lap if they didn’t talk about anything serious. If they did, they would sit separately and act like professional commanders.

All of them sat down, Ace choosing a seat at the other end from the captain, sitting down and putting his hands on the table in front of him.

As the others also sat down, Ace got a good look at the room. He had not been inside the room himself, and was a bit interested. It had a good layout, the big table in the middle was an oval one, and had a world map on it. Ace could see markings and pins in the map, probably signalizing different island under different pirates and marines. It was a thorough job, and Ace was glad to see the pirates having gone the extra mile and added small figures to where different people where. They had the same kind of map at The Red Cloud, and Ace could see some figures was placed wrong. He knew a lot about many people, and still hadn’t decided how much of his knowledge he would share.

On the walls, he could see different wanted posters. He recognized almost everyone on the wall, seeing as there were only the ones with bounties over 200, 000, 000. He could also see that some poster that was irrelevant, seeing as the person was no longer alive, being taken out by either Ace himself, or by The Red Cloud. But he was still a bit impressed by all the work the pirates had put in the room, it must have taken a long time, and Ace did enjoy when he could there was a room like this, he himself liked to keep track of different people and groups. Ace could also see, that on the other wall, all the wanted posters of the crew was hanging.

When everyone had sat down, Ace put his attention at the captain. When the rest of the commanders also did that, Whitebeard started talking. ¨As you all know, Ace have joined our family.¨ Started the captain, and everyone smiled and looked at their new member. ¨Seeing as Ace is quite talented, and we do not have a second commander, and I would like to offer the position to Ace.¨ Ace could see small shock on the commanders faces, before they all nodded, looking at either Whitebeard or him. ¨I agree, Ace would fit perfect. yoi.¨ Started the first commander. ¨But won’t it be a bit strange for us to promote someone no one have heard about to a commander, yoi?¨ Ace could see many nodding, and Ace decided to clear that matter up himself, seeing as he had already seen his wanted poster.

¨That won’t be an issue.¨ He started, getting all the attention. ¨I have spoken to someone I trust in the marine, and he made it so I got the blame for different attacks they had no perpetrator for, getting a reputation and bounty.¨ Ace leaned a bit backwards. ¨My wanted poster is on its way, and will be released to the world either today or tomorrow.¨ Ace could see them nodding, a bit shocked that he had managed to settle it so fast. ¨Do you know what your bounty is, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, wanting to know since all of the commanders had an impressive bounty, and they knew Ace needed an impressive one to be sure no one thought to much about it. Ace nodded,

¨My bounty is 350, 000, 000.¨ He said, and could see the shock on every one of the pirates.

¨That is shocking for a nobody.¨ Said Thatch, looking at the kid. ¨No offense.¨ He added, making sure Ace understood what he meant. Ace laughed a bit, ¨I actually agree, I was even a bit shocked myself.¨ Ace shook his head a bit, ¨I am not exactly sure of everything I got the blame of, but I have a feeling no one would bat an eye if I was made a commander.¨ Ace could see everyone nodding. A starting bounty of over 100, 000, 000 was rare, and Ace would start off with a bounty that would shock the world. And the moment the marines found out he had joined them, even given a commander position, they would not be surprised if the bounty went up a bit.

Marco shook his head, ¨You never cease to amaze, yoi.¨ Said the first commander, making many of the others nod and laugh a bit, agreeing.

Ace even laughed a bit himself, he was happy that none of them seemed to be regretting letting him join their cre-, family. Ace could feel himself enjoying it with the pirates, and hoped no one would have any resentment for him being an assassin. He knew the captain and commanders was okay with it, also many of the others on the crew. But there was still a few that didn’t know, and that made it so Ace had a bit of fear they would one day stop being as comfortable around him. He did a lot of gruesome stuff, and he had never really met anyone as welcoming as them, and Ace wasn’t completely sure what to do; He had never had a family aside from Luffy and Sabo.

Ace shook his head a bit, he would figure it out as he was more around them. Ace decided to bring up some other stuff he was wondering about. ¨I also wondered about something.¨ Started Ace, getting everyone’s attention. ¨As you know, I will still continue my work as an assassin, and I will therefor leave for assignments.¨ Ace could see everyone nodding, ¨I do sometimes have a bit of time before I need to leave, but sometimes I will leave right away. And I suspect you would like to know I will leave, and when I return.¨ The pirates nodded, ¨I might not always be able to tell you personally I will leave, especially if I have to leave right away, and was wondering how I would notify you if that happened.¨ Ace could see them nodding, and the captain thinking. ¨If you can’t tell anyone of us you are leaving, tell one of the others on the crew.¨ Started the captain. ¨You don’t need to tell them you are leaving for an assignment, but that you are leaving to do some stuff, and when you will return.¨ Ace nodded, that sounded like a good plan.

¨Also,¨ Continued Ace, ¨I do make money from my work. I send most of it to my brothers and some of it to others,¨ The pirates nodded. ¨Seeing as I have no use for it seeing as I am joining you, I was wondering where I would put the money I make.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨Curiel can show you where to put it, he is in charge of our savings.¨ Ace nodded, and looked Curiel, ¨Do you know how much you make?¨ Asked the tenth commander. Ace shook his head, ¨How much is different from every assignment, and depends on how many assignments I do.¨ Curiel nodded, ¨I can show you where you can put it.¨ Curiel said. The pirates knew the commander was a man that liked to know how much they had, and did count their funds once every 2 weeks. He was good at managing their money, the reason he was in charge of it.

¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said the first commander, getting the assassins attention. ¨How much do you usually take for an assignment, yoi?¨ Ace looked at the commander, he could see the looks from the other pirates too, wanting to know. Ace shook his head. ¨It all depends on what they need me to do, and how tough the assignment will be.¨ Started Ace, ¨For example, an assignment where I need to get information, it all depends on where the information is located. When I take someone out, it all comes down on who the person is, and how many I take out.¨ The other pirates nodded, understanding there was not set a fast price.

Ace sighed, ¨There is also one last thing.¨ Said Ace, ¨I am an assassin, and have been one for years.¨ He looked at the pirates seeing them nodding. ¨I do know a lot of information about different people and groups.¨ Ace looked at the captain. ¨I won’t share the information I know just because I have now joined you crew. I might share some of it, but don’t expect me to tell you all of the information I know and acquire. You are allowed to ask, but don’t expect me to answer.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨That is okay, we don’t expect you to share your information.¨ Said the captain in a sincere manner, and the other commanders nodded. Ace nodded, feeling content the pirates didn’t expect him to share his information with them. He had a small worry they wanted him to tell them, and share what he knew. Ace couldn’t help but close his eyes and smile, feeling happy that the pirates was as okay with him being an assassin as they were, not even wanting the information he knew.

Whitebeard looked smilingly at Ace, he understood what Ace meant, and why he seemed so content with his answer. He knew Ace was worried they wanted to use him for his information. He was the best assassin there was, and had basically information on everybody. The captain knew people tried to buy the assassin, he had told him that himself. But they were not that kind of people. The wanted a family member, not an assassin. The fact he would work as an assassin, was different. They would let him do that, they would worry and support him, but they would never use him. Whitebeard looked at his commanders, seeing that most of them had made the same conclusion as him, and smiling reassuringly at the assassin.

They then talked a bit about what kind of routine’s they had, and what they expected of a commander. Everyone had a feeling Ace would have no trouble being an amazing commander, he was really talented and was used to look out and take care of others seeing as he was a brother and helped others during his assassins work. After that, he was showed quickly around the boats commanders rooms, and showed what room he would get. Ace would get Teach old room, and the room had been cleaned out, and was empty, besides a bed, desk and chair, giving Ace the room to decorate and do what he wanted with the room.

After this, Curiel showed Ace where he could put the money he made from his work. It wasn’t anywhere special; he was just supposed to put the money in the treasure room. After this, they rounded up everyone during dinner and told them Ace was promoted to a second commander. The other commanders could see some of their brothers and sisters wonder why someone so young was chosen so fast, but they seemed to go with it. They had a small celebration for Ace, happy to have a new commander.

The ones that would now be in Aces division, especially those who didn’t know who he was, was a bit unsure, seeing that he was as young as he was. When dinner was over, Ace asked his division to meet him in their quarter, seeing as every division had a small quarter where their commander could talk to them. His division was not too big, having maybe around 50-60 people. When they met up after dinner, he held a small speech to them, telling them some basic stuff, where they could find him, and that he would be there for them and do his best. When he was finished, and let them go, everyone seemed more content with their new division commander.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in the meeting room with Marco, Thatch, Izou, Curiel and Rakuyo, talking about some stuff they would do the next weeks. Usually all the commanders were included in this, but they already knew where they were going, and the only spoke about some small stuff, seeing as they needed to stock up on some items, and the commanders present was discussing what they needed, and how much they could spend. They were allowed to ask what they needed at any time, and the 5 commanders had already figured out what they needed, and decided to get it over with. They were finished, and was now just talking about random things, and how they thought Ace would be a good commander, when someone knocked on the door. ¨Come in.¨ Said the captain, and the door opened, and a young man walked inside.

¨Joshua, yoi.¨ Said Marco, recognizing the man. He was a part of the second division, and they knew Ace had just talked with them. He hoped he was not here to complain about Ace being as young as he was, or anything else about the new commander. Marco knew Joshua was a person who never really took orders from people that was younger than him, and Ace was quite younger than the man, Joshua being 35. ¨Son,¨ Said whitebeard, looking at Joshua, ¨Is everything alright?¨ Joshua looked to be thinking about something, and looked at the captain. ¨Ace just gave this small speech to us, as you may know¨ The occupants nodded, ¨And, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, looking at the man. Joshua looked at them, a small smile on his face,

¨I was wondering if he could give the speech to everyone, he had some really good points, and he seems like a vise kid.¨ Said the man.

They were a bit shocked for a second, before they smiled. They weren’t really surprised, Ace did have some good points and was a smart kid. Whitebeard nodded at his son, ¨Of course,¨ He started. ¨I’ll ask Ace to do it during supper.¨ Joshua nodded, smiling. ¨I was a bit worried,¨ Continued Joshua, ¨When you mentioned he was a commander, he is so young.¨ He looked at the captain and commander in an content manner. ¨I think he will be a perfect commander.¨ Joshua said his goodbyes, and left. Leaving the 5 commanders and captain alone.

Marco shook his head, ¨He has not even been a commander for a day, and he has already impressed his division, yoi.¨ The other laughed a bit. ¨He is impressive, and I’m not really surprised.¨ Said Thatch, making the others nod. ¨I can’t wait to hear his speech.¨ Said Izou, looking at them. ¨I have a feeling it is going to be good.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨You are probably right, son.¨ Whitebeard felt delighted people already liked him. He did fit perfectly with them.

---x---

Ace made his way towards the galley, knowing supper was soon. He had just gotten a request, and was going to leave to do it tomorrow. He would inform the captain of this when they ate, and knew it would take a bit of time, but not too long, maybe 7 hours or so. As he was closing in on the galley, he saw Marco and Izou also walking towards the galley. ¨Ace!¨ Said Izou, waving at the man. Ace smiled and walked up to them. When he was close to them, Marco looked at the kid, he looked to be relaxed. ¨Ace, yoi.¨ Started the commander, getting Aces attention. ¨Joshua told us you gave your division some sort of speech, yoi.¨ Ace nodded, and looked questionably at the man, making him continue. ¨He wondered if you would give the speech too everyone during supper, yoi.¨ Ace nodded, ¨I can do that.¨ The two commander smiled at that, and they made their way towards the galley.

When they got in the galley, Ace sat down near the end of the galley, close to where the captain sat. When Ace sat down, the captain looked at him. ¨I suppose Marco have told you that Joshua want you to hold the speech again.¨ Said the man, looking at Ace, who nodded. ¨He have, and I have agreed to do it.¨ Ace could see the man smiling when he said this, ¨I am happy to hear that.¨ Said the captain. ¨We will wait until the rest show up, then you can start.¨ Ace nodded, ¨And Whitebeard,¨ Started Ace, ¨I will be leaving a bit tomorrow, I’ll leave in the morning and be gone for 6-8 hours.¨ Whitebeard looked at Ace, and nodded. They stared eating a bit, waiting for the rest of the crew to come to the galley. When the rest of the people made their way into the galley, Whitebeard stood up, getting the attention.

¨Everyone,¨ He started, ¨Our new family member and commander, Ace, have some words he would like to say.¨ He motioned for Ace, who stood up.

¨Hello everyone,¨ Started Ace, speaking a bit loud making sure everyone heard him. And the other commanders and captain had a feeling Ace was not new to holding speeches. ¨As you may know, my name is Portgas D Ace, and I am glad to be able to be a part of your family.¨ The captain could see many of the occupants in the room smiling, and Ace looked to be relaxed as he talked. ¨I know many of you have mixed feelings of me being a commander, seeing that I am no older than 19.¨ Started Ace, and everyone looked at the young assassin. ¨But even though I may be young, you should never be afraid of coming to me with your troubles, I will try my best to be here for you, and do my best as a commander. I am going to going away for some business every now and then, and when I am here, I can usually be found on the deck, the meeting room or in my room.¨

¨I also want to tell you one thing.¨ Ace seemed to stand a bit straighter, and hold himself in a bit more in a professional manner, and Whitebeard had a feeling he was not just Ace, but someone in between the kid and the assassin. Ace looked calm and serious at the occupants of the room. ¨If you have any kind of troubles, no matter how insignificant you think they may be, you should never be afraid to come to either me, or any of the other commanders or Whitebeard. We are not here to judge or blame you for your past mistakes. We are here to help and support you. If you feel like you have done anything, and I do mean anything, you are feeling unsure off, we are here, even if you only need to talk about your day. It is better to tell us about it early, than to wait you are in to deep.¨

Ace smiled at everyone in the galley, ¨We are not here to control or tell you how to live your life, and you might not realize it, but you are irreplaceable.¨ Ace seemed to relax a bit, ¨I do hope we will get along, and I don’t expect everyone to like me, but I will never hold anything against you. I am always here if you need to talk.¨ Ace gave a last smile, before he sat down, and everyone gave a small applause. The ones who looked a bit unsure before, now looked more reassured and okay with Ace. He sounded like a vise kid, and that did probably put them at ease, showing them that he was a serious and genuine person, not joking around.

And while Ace had spoken, he had had all the attention from the pirates in the galley, and everyone agreed on his words, especially the captain. He knew Ace had a lot of experience with people hiding their troubles and needing his help when they got in over their heads. And seeing he spoke the words in a serious manner, proved that he cared a lot about others, he didn’t want to see one of the crew falling in some kind of trouble and going in over their heads.

They continued the to eat their supper, the commanders feeling content at the kid’s words, and the first commander understood what Joshua had meant, the speech was spoken from experience, and he hoped Ace would listen to his own words too.

---x---

Ace stood at the front of the ship. He had used a few hours after supper to fix the layout of his room, just to make it more after his taste. He had a lot of small memorabilia from Boreumdo he wanted to place, things like pictures, weapons and other small things he had acquired during his years. He had gotten a dresser and closet from his house in Boreumdo, and had his assassin outfit in the closet, seeing as it had a secret room behind a false back. He also had different documentation and weapons in his dresser, that also had a few hidden compartments. He felt better when his assassins equipment was hidden, he trusted the crew to not search his room, but it never hurt to be a bit cautious, and Ace wasn’t exactly a trusting person and liked to keep certain things a secret.

Ace could feel his eyes closing as a gust of wind came. It was a beautiful night, the stars were shining, the water was calm and there were no sounds to be heard, aside from the water hitting the ship. It was a real peaceful night. He was looking at the stars, when he noticed something blue shining a bit to the left in the sky. He looked over, and saw the first commander landing on the ship, his hands transformed into his wings, and returned to normal when he landed.

¨You got the night shift tonight?¨ Said Ace, looking at the other commander. Marco nodded, and went and stood beside the young assassin. ¨Why are you up, yoi?¨ Asked the commander, looking at the kid. Ace smiled at the other commander, before turning to the sea again when a small breeze came. ¨I like to enjoy the calm of the night.¨ Marco nodded, ¨You usually stay up during the night, yoi?¨ He asked Ace, knowing others had told him they often saw Ace out on the deck during the night when he was on the ship. Ace nodded, ¨If I can, I usually stay up and look at the sea or the sky.¨ Started the assassin, ¨I like how quiet the world is.¨ The first commander nodded, and leaned a bit on the railing, looking out at the sea like Ace.

¨I heard you are leaving for an assignment in the morning, yoi.¨ Said the first commander after a bit. Ace nodded, and looked at the man next to him, ¨I am, it won’t take too long, and will be back before dinner.¨ Marco nodded, ¨When are you leaving, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at Ace. Ace sent a smile at the man, ¨I am leaving around 8, and will be back around 3 in the afternoon.¨ Marco nodded, that wasn’t too long. ¨You should get a bit of sleep before you leave, yoi.¨ Said Marco, looking at Ace. The clock was nearing 4 at night, and he had a feeling Ace hadn’t slept yet. Ace laughed at that, and shook his head, looking out at the sea again.

¨You sound like Sabo.¨ He started, before he looked up at the sky, ¨I’ll head in soon, and get a bit of sleep.¨

Marco nodded, and they stood in silence for a bit, looking out at the sea. ¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said Marco after a bit, getting the attention. ¨The words you said at supper,¨ He started, looking at the young commander, ¨They were really good, you. You spoke like you knew what you were talking about.¨ Ace nodded, and gave a small smile to the other commander, ¨I have seen way to many get in situations where the outcome could have been better if they asked for help a bit earlier.¨ Ace shook his head a bit, a mournful look at his face, ¨A lot of people could have still been alive.¨ Marco nodded. He understood the young assassin had seen a lot of situations that could have turned out different, and the first commander had a feeling his work had a bigger impression on the kid than what he let on. ¨You know,¨ Started the first commander, making Ace look at him. And Marco gave him a reassuring and comforting smile,

¨We are here for you too, yoi. You can always come to us with your troubles.¨ Ace smiled content at the commander, and nodded, ¨I know.¨ He said, before he turned back to the ocean.

Marco smiled, and also turned to the ocean. He knew the kid had a lot of responsibility, and saw a lot of the horrible and unfair world. And that could not be easy. He would continue to tell the young assassin he himself and the others was there for him, that he should never feel afraid of coming to them with his troubles. It was never good to hold all of your emotions inside, and Marco had an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach that the kid did that. Not only had Shanks told them he wasn’t as invincible as he might seem, but Sabo had also told him that Ace never really had relied on anyone since his mentor had died. After Shanks had called, they had all made a promise to be there for the young assassin, and they were going to do everything they could to keep that promise.

It was maybe half an hour later, when Ace said goodnight and goodbye for the night, and headed inside. Leaving Marco to finish his night shift.

---x---

The next morning, around 10, the newspaper arrived. It was dropped off as usual, and Haruta was the one to pick it up. When she picked the it up, and read the first page, her eyes got big, and shock was present on her face. She opened it and read a page, as she read, she started to smile, before she ran towards her father’s chair, knowing most of the other commanders was going to be there. When she reached them, and they saw the running commander and seeing the look on her face. ¨Haruta,¨ Started Thatch, being the first to see her, ¨Why are you running?¨ The others on the deck looked at the commander, hearing Thatchs words. When Haruta was not far from her father’s chair, and had the attention of everybody, she opened her mouth,

¨You need to hear this!¨ Said Haruta, and she sounded thrilled about something.

She opened the paper, and started reading, ¨The marines have finally managed to find the perpetrator for different attacks and ambushes. His name is Portgas D Ace, and do not be fooled by his age , he have managed to take out large groups of marines, captains and even vice admirals by himself. He is a dangerous man, he is to be apprehended and arrested on sight.¨ Haruta held up Aces wanted poster.

¨Let me see!¨ Yelled Thatch, and took the newspaper and read it himself. Haruta handed the wanted poster to Marco, who wanted to look at it himself, and could not help but smile. Ace looked a bit younger in the picture, and had his cowboy hat on. He handed to poster to his father, who smiled when he saw it. Whitebeard looked at his sons and daughters, everyone seemed to want to read the article.

¨Everyone!¨ Said the captain. getting the attention. ¨I believe this calls for a celebration!¨

Everyone agreed, and when Ace returned, they showed him the article, and they celebrated. It was Aces first bounty, at least as a pirate. And as usual, the party got a bit out of hand. Even though almost everyone was drunk beyond logic, Ace did seem to enjoy himself. He didn’t drink a lot, and sat by Marco when almost everyone aside from them was drunkenly dancing and singing, Marco could see Thatch and Izou making out somewhere to his let, and them heading for their room. ¨I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of parties.¨ Said Ace, looking at Marco, amusement in his eyes. Marco laughed, ¨You are right, yoi. We aren’t known for our wild parties for nothing.¨ Ace laughed at that, and held his cup up. Marco got what he wanted, and toasted him. They sat together and watched their brothers and sisters fool around.

---x---

The next day, everyone was nursing different kind of hangovers. Those who had duties, did them slowly and groaning every now and then. They did probably have a headache, and the blazing sun probably didn’t help. It was still early, and they had just eaten breakfast, and the galley was not as full as it used to be, seeing as many still was in their beds. The commanders that was up and the captain was heading towards their meeting room, wanting to show off Aces wanted poster as they now had hang it on the wall. Every one of them had their poster hanging in the room, the captain at the top, and the commanders under him, and under the commanders where their division members. It was something the people liked, and they felt like they were remembered. They knew it was nothing big, but Thatch, being the energetic man he was, wanted to show it off right away.

When they got to the room, Thatch managed to trip over a chair, wanting to give a small reveal of the poster, even putting a small cloth over it. Thatch got up, trying not to look fool after tripping, and went to the wall. When the rest of them, who was Ace, Whitebeard, Izou, Marco, Curiel and Namur got inside, and looked at the chef, he gave a small bow. ¨Ladies and gentlemen,¨ He started, ¨May I present our new second commander, now getting a spot on the wall of fame.¨ Thatch took the cloth off, ¨Portgas D Ace!¨ The others clapped at the small reveal, enjoying Thatch antics. And Ace had to say, Thatch reminded him a bit of Luffy, and that only made Ace smile a bit more, trying to put away the small feelings of worry for his brothers, knowing they were safe.

When they stopped clapping, and Thatch had given one last small bow, Ace walked a bit into the room. ¨While we’re here,¨ He started, getting the attention as he walked where all the other wanted posters where. ¨There are some of these people that no longer poses a threat, or is no longer alive.¨ Ace then proceeded to take down 4 of the posters, and putting them on the table. ¨I though you would not share your information, yoi.¨ Said Marco, while Ace proceeded to take down 2 more. ¨I never said I would not share anything.¨ He said, and looked at the pirates not too far away,

¨There are some stuff I can share, and I see no harm in telling you about a few dead or now neutral people.¨

Ace could see the pirates nodding, and the captain giving him a nod. Ace felt really accepted by these people, and he had a feeling he was going to really enjoy it here.

They then went back out, and continued their day, which mostly consisted of being on the deck and relaxing.

---x---

The next day, Whitebeard decided they would hold their annual weekly meeting a bit before dinner, and told everyone this at breakfast, just so everyone had a chance to tell them any concerns. It was about 4 hours before they would have the meeting, when Joshua came up to his adoptive father. ¨Pops,¨ He said, getting his attention. ¨Commander Ace said he had to do some business and would be back in 3 to 4 hours.¨ The captain nodded, ¨Thank you for telling me, son.¨ He said, smiling at the man.

Joshua seemed to struggle with something, and before the captain could ask, he had started talking again. ¨Is commander Ace in trouble?¨ He asked, looking at his father, worry in his eyes. Whitebeard smiled at the man, he was glad to see the man being worried and caring for his new commander. ¨He is in no kind of trouble, son.¨ Started Whitebeard, ¨He just have some things he needs to do every now and then.¨ Joshua looked at him, and when he saw the calm smile on his father face, he smiled himself. ¨I’m glad to hear that, I was a bit worried, since he left so fast.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨That is understandable.¨ Said the captain, and Joshua nodded, before he went off to continue his day, feeling reassured his commander was okay.

4 hours later, Whitebeard and all his commanders, aside from Ace, was in the meeting room. They all sat and talked about some usual stuff, waiting for Ace to start the actual meeting. They knew he would return soon, and they decided to wait in the meeting room, so they could start right away. It was maybe 10 minutes later, that the door opened, and Ace walked inside. And when he walked in, and the occupants of the room looked at him, they all stared at him in shock;

He held an ice pack at his left shoulder.

Ace walked in like normal, and sat down on the nearest chair at the end of the table, laying his left arm at the table. ¨Ace!¨ Said Thatch, looking shocked at the young assassin, ¨Your arm!¨ Ace looked at him and shook his head, ¨Its nothing,¨ He started, ¨I dislocated it. It is okay now, only a bit sore.¨ The others nodded slowly, clearly wondering how Ace had managed to dislocate it, and worried about the kid. But Ace seemed to be okay, he let his arm rest on the table as he held the ice pack on his shoulder, and they decided to ask him about it after the meeting. They started the meeting, and maybe half an hour in, Marco noticed Ace turning the ice pack. It’s probably starting to go warm. Marco shot a look at his father, and based on his look, he had also noticed it. Half an hour later, the meeting was over.

¨Ace, yoi.¨ Started Marco, getting his attention. ¨Do you want me to get a new ice pack?¨ He asked. Ace had taken the pack of his shoulder 10 minutes ago, and he seemed to have no pain in his shoulder. Ace looked at him, and smiled. ¨No, I don’t need a new one.¨ He said, ¨It feels a lot better, but thanks for offering.¨ Marco nodded, Ace seemed to be okay aside from the shoulder. He had a feeling Ace still had some pain, but didn’t tell them. ¨Son,¨ Started Whitebeard, ¨How did you dislocate your arm?¨ Ace sighed, he knew they would ask, and he didn’t like to tell people when he was injured, especially how he got injured.

But he had promised Sabo he would try. Ace looked at the other commanders and the captain, they seemed to be worried and didn’t seem to think any less of him seeing that he had gotten hurt. ¨I was climbing a building,¨ Started Ace, ¨And I lost my footing and fell down. I used my arm to catch myself on a ledge.¨ He motioned to his shoulder, not wanting to tell anything more, not used to tell people when he was injured, and felt stupid for managing to lose his footing, a rookie mistake.

Ace was expecting different things to happen, but what he didn’t expect, was for them to look at him in shock, before looking at him in relief, ¨I’m glad you are okay, son.¨ Said Whitebeard, sending a fatherly look at Ace. Ace looked at him in a bit of shock, before he smiled, feeling some emotions bubble in his chest.

He was not used to this, and therefor wasn’t really sure how to react or act. Ace decided to put the emotions in the back of his head, and try to figure it out as time went by. They wrapped the meeting up, and headed for the galley. Ace had some of the commanders ask him if he really was okay, and Ace just smiled and nodded at them. After dinner, Ace was mostly in his room, doing some paperwork, and trying to figure out some stuff.

---x---

The next day, Ace got an another assignment. It seemed like it would be an easy and normal one, but the assignment was anything but. The assignment was only supposed to be an information run, and it was in a small base in a secluded area where almost no one lived or visited.

And what Ace had found, had made him want to kill everyone in the small base.

He had found years of slavery and torture. There was not many who was still alive when he got there, but based on the files he found; it had been going on for years, and over hundreds had been killed. And it had been people in all ages, from small children, some only being a year old, and some being over 70. He had found 8 people still alive, and had freed them, putting them on an island where he knew they would be taken cared off. He had gotten the information he was after, finished the assignment and sent Dust to Daisuke, telling him what he had found.

When he returned to the Moby Dick, he was happy to see basically no one out on deck, and made his way into his room without anyone noticing him. And that was where he was now; sitting at his desk with his head in his hands. He never understood how some people could be as evil as they were. Kidnapping and imprisoning people, innocent people, was just wrong. And knowing children had been imprisoned, even killed by the horrendous torture they had to endure, was just something Ace hated to find out. And it was at days like these, that Ace really did miss Azuruko.

Dust appeared and landed on Aces desk, using his head to rub against his master’s arm, trying to comfort him as a tear fell down Aces face and landed on the desk.

---x---

Whitebeard made his way out on the deck. It was night, and he couldn’t sleep; He had a bad feeling in his stomach, feeling something was wrong. When he got out on deck, and made his way to the front of the ship, he could see Ace standing there. The captain felt himself smile, seeing that the young assassin was okay. He knew Ace had to leave for an assignment, and had not seen him after that. He knew Ace was back, but he had stayed in his room for the most part, and he was a bit worried.

But the captains smile faded as he walked towards the kid.

Whitebeard could see a bottle in Aces hands as he stood by the railing. And he could see it was a bottle filled with whiskey, and he knew the young assassin rarely drank alcohol, and could only guess the assignment had not been a good one. When he was a few feet away from the kid, and was just about to open his mouth, to ask if he was okay, to comment on the clear sky, just to say anything really.

Ace shook his head, not wanting to talk.

Whitebeard felt his inside twist a bit as Ace took a swig of the bottle, before putting his hadn’t by his side again. He wanted to comfort him, but he could clearly see Ace didn’t want that. Whitebeard did the only thing he felt he could do; he went up to the railing, and just stood there, not talking, not looking at the kid. Not doing anything else than just being there. He knew from own experiences, that sometimes you only needed someone to just be there. No talking or hugging, just the comfort of knowing you wasn’t alone.

He hoped Ace would one day come to him for comfort, he knew Aces job was hard, and he had seen the looks Ace sometimes had when he or anyone else was genuinely concerned for him, or acted like they did to the others; like a family. And he could tell Ace wasn’t completely sure what to do all the time, he looked a bit lost and shocked. It made his heart ache, knowing Ace was not used to be accepted as who and what he was. No one should feel that way, and he was glad he was able to give him a home. And he would do his best, he would try all he could to make the young assassin feel at home with them.

And he knew all of his sons and daughters, especially the commanders, wanted to the same.

Ace took an another swig of the bottle, and felt a bit comforted by the captain’s presence. He was feeling content that the captain understood he didn’t want to talk, and that he just was there. He had thought about going and sit on the sill like ledge at the whale’s teeth, but decided against it, seeing as there was a bit windy, and he was a bit tipsy and didn’t want to accidently fall asleep while sitting on the small sill like ledge. And he was content with his decision, especially seeing as Whitebeard understood what he needed right now; just someone to be there, not talking or doing anything.

Ace was contemplating on telling the man of his troubles, to share his feelings and lean a bit on the captain. Everyone who knew Ace was thinking about joining the man’s crew, had told him Whitebeard was a good man, and that he wouldn’t judge him. And Ace did believe their words, but he was used to be on his own, he was used to deal with his own issues alone. Ace closed his eyes, he was scared to rely on others, knowing they could use it against him.

Ace took an another swig of his bottle; He wasn’t ready to rely on others.

They just stood there, Whitebeard just being there for the assassin, and Ace taking the comfort he could get from the man. It was a few hours later, when Ace decided to head back inside to see if he could get any sleep, that he looked at the captain. ¨Thank you.¨ He said, and got a fatherly smile back, before he headed back to his room. Leaving Whitebeard to feel a bit happy, knowing he at least could be there for his new son, knowing he managed to comfort him a bit.

---x---

The next day, Ace made his way out of his room, to go and eat breakfast. But even before he had made it halfway, he was almost run down by Thatch, ¨Ace!¨ He yelled, as he took a hold of Aces arm, dragging him a bit after him. ¨You are late!¨ Ace looked at the man in confusion, ¨Late for what?¨ He asked, not knowing what the chef was talking about. ¨Its James birthday! We are all having a feast!¨ Said Thatch, dragging Ace to the galley. And Ace remembered being told about James birthday yesterday, but had forgotten they would start early.

When they got to the galley, almost everyone was up and dancing or having fun. And Ace, seeing everyone looking as happy as they did, could not help but smile a bit himself. The tables had been put together, and was filled with food. He could see James being gratulated and looking happy and embarrassed by all the attention. ¨Oi Marco,¨ Yelled Thatch, ¨I found him.¨ Thatch walked with Ace to the table were some of the commanders sat, looking at everyone having fun, and sat down himself when he was next to the table they sat on. ¨You finally made it, yoi.¨ Said Marco, looking at Ace. ¨You slept in, yoi?¨ He asked, as Thatch grabbed Izou from beside him, dragging him to the dancefloor. ¨Something like that.¨ Answered Ace, taking a drink the first commander offered him.

Ace and Marco made some small talk, enjoying seeing everyone happy around them. And Ace could not help but laugh when Thatch managed to trip on his own feet, sending him and Izou to the ground. Ace could also feel the stared of both the first commander and the captain, and see the smiles they had at seeing him having fun, and looking relaxed.

¨To James!¨ Yelled Thatch, when he had gotten up, and gotten a hold off a cup. Everyone lifted their own cups, those who didn’t have one, just lifted theirs hands. ¨To James!¨ Yelled everyone, and the birthday feast continued for a few hours.

As everyone started to dance again, everyone having fun and laughing. Ace couldn’t help but close his eyes, this is what a family is like.

Chapter Text

Ace sat on a branch in a tree. He was looking at a mansion he was about to infiltrate and was thinking out the best way to get inside. He could see guards outside the main doors and a few on the grounds, as well as outlines of people, most likely guards, through the windows. Inside the mansion, there was a man he was going to assassinate. He had been called by a small village that the man had terrorized for a while, taking their money and abusing them. They had had enough, and called for him. He was supposed to only take the leader, a man called Edward, out, but he was allowed to take out as many as he needed, if it came to it. But Ace knew the villagers didn’t have too much money, so he would keep the deaths to a minimum.

After waiting for some time, Ace felt Dust calling for him in his mind, and he disappeared. When he reappeared, he landed on a branch in an another tree. When he landed and got a look around himself, he saw why Dust had called and told him to get there. He could see a window up near the roof, probably to an attic. Ace then gave a nod and silent order to Dust, who sat on a branch beside him. Dust then flew towards the attic window, the window seemed old, and would probably not need much force to break. When dust was in front of the window, he used his armored legs to break the window, before he flew back to Ace, landing on the branch again.

The armor on Dust was useful in situations like this, and the few times Dust attacked. Even though he was just a bird, albeit a big one, the bird was a really good fighter. Dust had managed to help him in fights often. Either by pecking or clawing the attacker’s eyes out, or inflicting wounds in the persons face or arms. Dust was a perfect companion in Aces eyes, Dust was always there for him.

Ace then waited for a few minutes, to see if anyone noticed the window shattering. When nothing happened, he gave a nod to Dust, who flew up and inside the house using the window, making it so Ace could teleport inside. When he appeared in the attic, he sent Dust outside again, so he could keep watch, as well as being his way out when he had assassinated Edward. Ace looked around in the attic, and could see a door, and a hatch in the corner. Ace made his way to the corner, and lifted the hatch a bit, so he could see if anyone was underneath it. When he saw no one, he took the hatch door off, placing it beside him carefully. Ace then used his Haki carefully, and when he could not sense anyone in the room underneath him, he took a hold off the ledge and let his body down. When he hung by his hands, he let go, falling the last few feet to the floor, making barely any noise.

Ace noticed he was in a closet of some sort. He could see shelves filled with different kind of stuff, and a door to his left. If he remembered correctly, the room Edward would be in, was not too far away from where he was located. Ace made his way to the door, and looked through the keyhole. He could see a hallway, as well as 2 guards. One of the guards, was not too far away from the door, and Ace could take him out with his powers. But the other guard was going to be a bit tricky. Ace moved to stand next to the door, and made a can of paint fall down, making a lot of noise. He could hear the guards asking each other if they had heard the noise, before footsteps were closing in on him. Ace then got ready, holding his hand to his mouth, making a bit of smoke.

The door opened, and the moment it was open, Ace blew the smoke at the guard’s face. He halted for a second, before looking around.

¨There’s nothing here, probably just a rat or something.¨ Said the first guard, even though he looked straight at Ace, but did not see him in his mind. When the man went to close the door, he stopped, his eyes going hazy. ¨Oi, moron!¨ Yelled the other guard, not understanding why the man suddenly stopped. Ace heard the man grumbling as he made his way towards them. When he was only a few feet away, Ace moved quickly from where he stood, startling the man. And before the guard had time to react, Ace had given a punch in his gut, and a small punch in his neck, causing him to go limp. Ace then slowly lowered him to the ground, making sure he didn’t fall and make any noise.

Ace then made his way out in the hallway, and could see 3 doors. One on his left, one on his right and one at the bottom of the hallway. Ace made sure he mentally remembered the layout of the mansion, and moved to the door to the left, that according to the layout he had found, should be the right room. Ace moved to the door, and looked through the keyhole. He could see no one, and slowly opened the door. When he got inside, he could see an empty bed, chair and desk. But when he moved into the room, he felt something was wrong. Ace instantly crouched down as a sword slashed over him. Ace saw a man that had been hiding behind the door, and used his leg to trip him. The man fell, but managed to catch himself on his hands, and used them to push himself back up to his feet.

Before the man could try to attack again, Ace had gotten his dagger out, and in one swift movement, had sliced the man’s throat.

Ace was still a bit crouched, and when he sliced his throat, blood started to pool from the cut. The man then fell down to the floor, gurgling a bit before he died, his body going still. When Ace got a good look at the man, he saw it wasn’t Edward. Ace looked around in the room, and could see a door that probably lead to a bathroom or a walk in closet. Ace made his way over, and opened the door slowly, holding his dagger ready.

When he opened the door, he was instantly met by a sword that tried to slice him. Ace ducked again, and kicked the man in his knee making him fall forward.

As the man fell, Ace used his dagger to cut his throat. The way the man was standing, made it so a lot of the blood that sprayed out in a pulsating matter, covered Aces entire form. As the man continued his descent, Ace grabbed his hand, and dragged him to his back, and sat on his stomach, using his hands to pull his head backwards, making the cut in his throat bigger and more blood gushing out. The man fought a bit, before going limp. Ace then used his hand to wipe some of the blood away from his face, before looking at the body. And he was pleased to see it was Edward. He had promised the villagers to make his death quick, and he had done that.

Ace then ripped his shirt, and used his hand to make his mark, before he stood up. He tried to wipe some of the blood away, but it didn’t help much. Ace sighed, he really needed a shower. He made his way over to the other body, and marked him as well. Ace then teleported out to Dust, who now had flown off to the shore, where a man stood. Ace landed and looked at the man. ¨Trevor.¨ He said, making the man nod. Seeing as this assignment was an easy one, he decided to send Trevor, one of Daisukes men to deliver the news to the villagers. He gave the man a quick update, before Trevor left to tell the villagers, who were living on an island not too far away.

When Trevor left, Ace waited for Dust to get to his room. The moment he landed on the shore, and saw Trevor, Ace sent Dust to the Moby Dick, and told him to not be noticed. Ace usually kept his window opened, and if Dust could get to his room, he could make his way into the commander’s shower without being noticed. At least not noticed by anyone who wasn’t not a commander. Seeing as he was covered in blood, some blood even dripping to the ground, he didn’t want to be seen and scare anyone. The commanders room was in a hallway where no one aside from the commanders went, unless some of their division needed to talk to them. Ace then felt Dust caw, and he disappeared.

Ace reappeared in his room, and took some clothes from his closet, before he moved to the shower, which was just a few feet away from his door in the hallway. He was happy to not see or meet anyone as he moved. He walked into the shower, and closed the door behind him. After he had undressed, and was able to stand under the water, he could not help but let out a relieved sigh, enjoying the feeling of the warm water washing the blood away.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his chair on the deck, some of his sons and daughters were up, but not too many. It was mostly the ones that usually woke up early, which were Marco, Thatch, Izou, Haruta, Namur and some of their divisions. The day before, Ace had told him he was going on an assignment during the night, and would return in the morning. He was due to return soon, and Whitebeard was thinking about having a commanders meeting when he returned, as long as he didn’t seem too tired. If he did, Whitebeard would let him sleep before they held the meeting. Ace had been gone for the most of the night, and Whitebeard wasn’t completely sure if Ace actually had slept before he went to do the assignment. The captain had a sinking feeling Ace slept very little, and he had been thinking about bringing it up with the kid.

It was nearing breakfast, when the captain noticed John, a young man from Aces division, somewhat running towards them. He looked a bit worried and frightened, and this caused some concern in Whitebeards chest, especially after seeing he was coming from the commander’s quarters. ¨Son,¨ Started Whitebeard when the man was a bit closer, ¨Is everything okay?¨ John now had the attention of everyone on deck after all, and it was rare for someone to run around this early. The man stopped a bit in front of him, and tried to catch his breath. ¨Pops,¨ He started, and he looked up at his adoptive father, worry shining in his eyes.

¨I think something is wrong with Commander Ace.¨ He said, causing the commanders on deck to stand up and look worriedly at the man.

¨Why do you think that, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, who was ready to run if it was needed. John opened his mouth a few times, trying to get any sound out. ¨I went to Commander Aces room, I wanted to talk to him.¨ Started the man. ¨I knocked, but there was no answer so I was going to leave, but the door was open so I peeked inside.¨ Marco gave a small disapproving look to the man. It was not okay to look into others room without their knowledge or without a good reason. ¨I know it was wrong of me.¨ Said John, seeing the look.

¨But there was a lot of blood in Commander Aces room, and it looks fresh.¨

This caused the people on deck to stare in shock at the man. Every one of them that knew Ace was an assassin, had figured out that he was still continuing his work. And the captain and commanders knew Ace had an assignment that he would return from at any moment. And if what John said was true, Ace had returned and could be injured. Marco started to walk a bit, sending a look to his father, seeing the worried look in his eyes. ¨And Ace wasn’t in his room, yoi?¨ John shook his head. ¨I couldn’t see him, but I think the shower was running.¨  Marco nodded to himself, ¨Thatch.¨ He said, and could see the chef nodding, before following the first commander, heading for the commanders quarter, walking at a fast pace.

When they got to the commander’s quarters, they went to Aces door, and opened it. It was already a bit opened, so they only needed to push it some. And when the door was opened, and the light from the hallway got into the dark room. Both Thatch and Marco felt their hearts skip a beat, it was a lot of blood on the floor. They had hoped John was overreacting, but the two commanders could see a small pool of blood, and some footprints that walked around in the room, fading as they moved more around. Marco turned around, and could clearly see the worried look on Thatchs face. When he was about to go to the shower room, he could see most of the other commanders and some other people from different divisions outside of the hallway, still standing out on deck. Marco did still have the bored look on his face, but he knew Thatchs expression made them nervous that their new family member might be injured.

Marco then moved to the door leading to the commanders shower. Marco knew the door didn’t have a lock, seeing as there were more than one shower in the room, in case of an accident or something and everyone needed to shower, it was better to have more than one shower for the commanders. There were stalls so you had some privacy, and Marco knew a knock on the door would be loud enough to be heard from the room. When Marco stood in front of the door, he could not hear the shower running, and lifted his hand to the door and knocked hard a few times. It was only a short couple of seconds before a response was heard.

¨I’ll be out in a minute!¨ They could hear Ace yelling from the other side of the door.

Marco could then not help but let out a small relieved sigh. Ace did sound okay, and that was most important. It was a couple of minutes later when the door opened, and Ace walked out. He had a pair of black pants and black shirt on, and was using a towel to dry his hair a bit. When he got out, and saw everyone staring at him, the assassin lifted an eyebrow, ¨Is everything okay?¨ He asked, looking at everyone that was out on the deck as well as the two commanders that was in the hallway. Marco, seeing Ace looked okay, sent a look to the others that was out on the deck, so they could close the door. When the door closed, Marco looked at the young commander. ¨John was looking for you a few minutes ago, yoi. When he looked into your room, which had a lot of blood in it, we got worried.¨ Ace nodded slowly, he also frowned as he walked past the two commanders, towards his room.

When he got to the door, and looked inside. He gave a small smile to the two commanders. ¨I didn’t know the blood got on the floor.¨ He said to the two commanders. They nodded slowly, and Thatch looked at the young assassin, he looked completely fine. ¨You’re not injured?¨ He asked slowly. Ace shook his head, ¨I’m not.¨ He said, and when Ace saw the looks on the others faces, he elaborated, ¨It’s not my blood.¨  Ace could see the two commanders understanding, and nodded. ¨Also, yoi.¨ Started the first commander, getting the kid’s attention. ¨We’re having a commanders meeting in a bit.¨ Ace nodded. ¨I’ll just clean this up,¨ Started Ace, as he motioned for the mess in his room. ¨And then I’ll head to the meeting room.¨ The two commanders nodded, and headed out on deck again, as Ace went inside his room.

When they got out on deck they gave a reassuring look to everyone, telling them that Ace was okay. When they asked about the blood, Marco only said it was a misunderstanding and Ace was not injured. The first commander didn’t tell them that it wasn’t his blood, seeing as a few of the people on the deck didn’t know Ace was an assassin, like John.

---x---

Ace gave a sigh as he leaned back on his feet. He had just finished cleaning up the blood in his room, it didn’t take too long seeing he had a lot of experience with cleaning up blood, his job often got a bit messy. He then stood up and stretched. He was tired, it had been a while since he had slept. Ace shook his head, he would see if he could relax after the meeting, he wasn’t too tired and knew he could go a long time without sleep. It was more usual for him to go a day or two without sleep. He knew Sabo hated it when he went over a day without sleeping. Ace had had a bit of trouble sleeping for some years, it wasn’t too bad before, but it got worse after Azuruko died. Ace shook his head as he let out a yawn, he would sleep later. He then made his way to the meeting room, putting on a mask so he didn’t look as tired as he was.

When he got to the meeting room, he could see everyone were already present. Ace smiled as he closed the door behind him, ¨Good morning.¨ He said, as he moved to sit down. He could see everyone smiled at him, and most of them gave him a good morning back. Ace sat down in the middle of the long side of the table, next to Izou and Namur. When he had sat down, and looked at the captain that sat at the end of the table to his left. ¨Son,¨ Started the captain, looking at him.

¨What happened this morning?¨

Ace smiled a sheepish smile, it seemed like Marco and Thatch had not told them. Ace shook his head a bit, ¨The assignment got a bit… Messy, and when I returned I didn’t think it was bad and so I didn’t notice the blood dripping to the floor before I went to shower.¨ Ace could see many of them nodding, having a concerned and worried look. Ace knew they would ask, and decided to answer the question before the question was asked. ¨I’m not injured, the blood wasn’t mine.¨  He said, and could see the captain looking more reassured by that. Ace could also see some of the commanders, Speed Jiru, Haruta and Blamenco, looking a bit uncomfortable at the mention of him being covered in so much blood from his assassins work, that it was bad enough to make a pool of blood. Ace knew some of them was a bit unsure of his work, and didn’t feel comfortable to hear about his work, especially the more ‘messy’ ones.

Ace did a lot of gruesome stuff, and knew it made many uncomfortable. The reason why had kept his distance from others.

As soon as the uncomfortable look came, it disappeared as they looked at their captain again. Ace was used to people being uncomfortable around him, and was okay with it. And it made him a bit warm inside, seeing as they usually only looked unsure or uncomfortable when he mentioned his work. None of them seemed to regret letting him join their family, and was okay around him. There were some of the crew members that knew of his other work that were a bit unsure around him, but Ace paid no mind to that, and kept smiling and acting like usual around them. They did start to be more comfortable around him, but he was rarely approached by them, and could see them fidgeting a bit when he was close by. Ace hoped everyone would one day accept it, and hoped no one would mind the day they decided to tell everyone.

Ace then put his attention on the captain, as did everyone else. They then started the meeting, and talked about the usual stuff. They talked about where they should go next, seeing as it had been silent, they were thinking about visiting some of the islands they controlled, and if they did, which island they should choose. It was a discussion that took longer than usual, as some of the commanders had some island they wanted to visit, seeing as they had both family and friends at some islands. They normally used 15 minutes for this, but today, it took almost 45 minutes. And they decided to visit 3 different island towards the East, making everyone happy.

It was also the biggest discussion they were going to have this meeting, as the other things they would discuss wasn’t as important, but needed to be discussed, like what they needed to stock up on and any other issues they or someone in their division had. Seeing as not all the commanders had a division that needed to stock up on certain things, like Thatch was in charge of the food, and Vista in charge of the reconstruction and other materials on the ship, was needed for this. But commanders like Ace and Marco had no charge of things they needed to stock up on that was essential to the crew, but liked to be present in the meeting and hear what they needed, and give their own thought on how to minimize over usage of materials and how they could help if there were any issues in the different divisions.

As soon as they had decided where to go, some of the commanders said they were a bit hungry, seeing as they had hoped the meeting would go quicker than this. So Whitebeard decided they could go get some food before they continued the meeting. Seeing as everyone was a bit hungry, Whitebeard sent some of them to fetch food to all of them. The ones to go was Thatch, Izou, Namur and Haruta. The trip would maybe take 10 minutes, and the other occupants started talking with each other while they went to get the food. Ace, already being a bit tired, started a small conversation with Marco, who sat not too far away from him. As he talked with the first commander, he put his arms on the table, and relaxed his head on his folded arms. After about 5 minutes, Rakuyo got the first commander’s attention, and Marco started a conversation with him.

Ace, seeing the man he was talking to talked with an another, decided their conversation was over. Seeing as Marcos attention was at the seventh commander. He decided to rest his eyes a bit, seeing as the others wouldn’t be returning for at least 5 minutes. He hadn’t been around the pirates too much, but he did feel safe around them, and they did accept him for who he was. So he wasn’t too scared to close his eyes around them. He would normally not do this around others, especially not when they were in the same room. But he trusted the pirates to not do anything, they had helped him when he got captured those months ago.

As Ace laid with his eyes closed, listening to the pirate’s conversation he felt safe and peaceful. It managed to slowly make Ace relax, truly relax. And within a couple of minutes, he was asleep.

---x---

Marco talked with Rakuyo, about some of their division members that had had a small dispute, and if they should meddle a bit and see if everything was okay. They had heard from others that they had sorted it out, while some others said something different. After a few minutes of discussing this, they decided to wait and see. If they had not heard anything before tomorrow, they would step in and see if they could do anything. When they finished, Marco looked over to Ace again, to see if he had something he wanted to talk about. And when Marco looked at the kid, he felt himself smile.

Ace had apparently fallen asleep, and looked really relaxed as his head rested on his hands. The kid was really cute in Marcos opinion.

Marco had a feeling Ace had not slept in a while especially seeing as he had been on an assignment for the most of the night, and before that, he had been with the crew on the deck, trying to get to know everyone better. Seems like he was more tired than he let on. Was the thought the first commander had. The kid had not seemed tired, but the fact he had fallen asleep, indicated how tired he was. Marco, also knowing Ace was a reserved and cautious kid, seeing as he was an assassin, felt warm inside at seeing that Ace trusted them enough to sleep around them.

Marco then locked eyes with his father, and made a gesture towards the sleeping assassin. When the captain also saw the sleeping kid, he smiled a fatherly smile. Marco knew his father was worried about the kid’s sleeping habits, and the first commander was actually a bit worried himself. Seeing the young commander asleep, made him feel a bit reassured that he did sleep if he was tired, even during the day. They had noticed the young assassin rarely slept, he was almost always up every night, and he was rarely in his room for long periods of time.

¨Should we wake him, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, looking at his father. The captain knew they did have a meeting, but the most important part was over, and the sleeping boy was not needed for the next part. And the captain had a feeling the young assassin was really tired. The captain shook his head, ¨I think we can let him sleep, I have a feeling he needs it.¨ Marco nodded, and stood up walking over to a couch they had in the room. The conversation between the first commander and captain had caught the attention of most in the room, and when they also noticed the sleeping commander, they smiled themselves, coming to the same conclusion as Marco had earlier.

Marco made his way to the couch, and took a blanket that was draped over the armrest, and moved back towards the sleeping assassin. The commander walked slowly and relaxed, knowing the young assassin could be a bit on edge when asleep, thinking back to the time when he was trying to wake the kid, only to almost gotten his throat slit. The commander laughed a bit inside himself when he remembered the incident. When he was almost by the sleeping commanders side, the door opened, and the ones that went to fetch the food came in. Marco could see Thatch opening his mouth, probably to announce the food had arrived, but Marco silenced him with putting his finger in front of his mouth, making a hushing gesture. Thatch did look at him confused, but when he saw Marco draping the blanket over the assassin’s shoulders, he understood and smiled.

Marco was pleased at seeing the assassin didn’t wake up when he covered the kid. The man knew their new family member was cautious and on edge as a result of his work. The ones that came with the food placed it on the table, before sitting down again. Everyone were smiling as they noticed their new family member asleep, looking relaxed and peaceful. They then continued the meeting, talking a bit lower than usual, wanting to let the sleeping boy sleep. They would have maybe carried him to his room or to the couch, to make it a bit more comfortable. But everyone had a feeling he would wake if they did that, or maybe attack as he had when Marco had tried to wake him up by touching him. So they decided to let him sleep at the table for now, and wake him up when they were finished with the meeting.

It was maybe 10 minutes later, when Dust flew in from an open window and landed on the table, not far away from his masters sleeping form. Marco could see an envelope in the bird’s beak, and the first commander was about to tell the bird Ace was asleep, just so the raven didn’t accidently wake his master up. But before he could say anything, Dust had ruffled his feathers a bit, and placed the envelope on the table next to his master, and placed himself on top of it, and seemed to relax himself. Everyone looked at the bird in a small shock, before they smiled. The raven was really smart. It seemed like Dust knew Ace was tired, and therefore could not deliver the envelope, possibly a request, and decided to guard it until his master woke up. The bird often did amaze them with how intelligent he was. They then continued the meeting, sending a look at the sleeping boy every now and then.

It was maybe 15 minutes later, when the meeting was coming to an end, that Dust stood up. Everyone looked at the bird as it stood up, and as the raven looked at his master, tilting his head. Those who sat on Aces left side and could see his face, could see black eyes slowly opening. Ace then gave a small sigh as he sat up. When he was upright, and noticed the blanket covering his shoulders, he sent a tired smile at the pirates, ¨You could have woken me.¨ He said, looking at them. The captain laughed a bit, ¨You looked like you needed to sleep a bit.¨ Said the captain. Ace nodded, a content smile on his face.

Ace then looked down on the table, seeing as Dust made a noise, alerting Ace. Ace then took the envelope and opened it, while petting the bird a bit. Ace then hummed as he read the note. ¨Are you leaving, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, getting Aces attention. Ace closed the note, and looked at the man, a smile on his face as he nodded. ¨I am, but I don’t need to leave for an hour.¨ Ace then put the envelope in his pocket, and petted the bird again before it flew off. Ace then took a sandwich from a plate in the table. ¨What did you talk about while I slept?¨ He asked. And the captain gave a small summary of what they had discussed, before ending the meeting.

When the meeting was over, Ace looked at the first commander as some of the others moved out of the room, ¨Marco,¨ He said, getting his attention. ¨Didn’t you say John was looking for me before?¨ Marco nodded. Ace then stretched, ¨I’ll go and see what he wants, then I’ll leave for my assignment.¨ When he put his hands by his side again, he looked at the captain ¨It won’t take more than 2 hours.¨ The captain nodded. ¨That’s okay, son. Be safe.¨ Said the captain, looking at the young assassin. Ace smiled as he nodded. Whenever he told the man he was leaving for an assignment, no matter how long it was, he always said ‘be safe’, and Ace really enjoyed that. It was comforting to know the captain cared and was there. It wasn’t much, but it was the small things Ace liked.

Azuruko used to say ‘stay safe’ before he left for an assignment.

Ace realized with time that the captain reminded him more and more of his late mentor, and it made him feel more secure and warm inside. Ace sometimes felt like he had his mentor back when he talked with the captain, and that made his heart swell, both in happiness of finding someone that was like the man, and also making him a bit pensive when he remembered the man was gone. But it was nice to know there existed people that who were like Azuruko. Ace never thought he would meet anyone like the man again.

Ace then rose and walked out of the meeting room, a smile on his face. He felt sort of at home here.

---x---

Ace put on his assassin’s clothes. He had just talked with John, and he was worried about one of his friends, young man called Jason, that had been acting a bit weird lately. Jason was also a part of Aces division, and Ace gave a reassuring look to John and promised he would see what he could do. He decided to watch the man a bit for the next few days, just to see if he noticed any weird or worryingly behavior in the man.

Ace then fastened his gauntlets, and waited for Dust to call for him. He was only going for a meeting, seeing as the ones that he was meeting with wanted to discuss some possibly truce and work as acquaintances. Ace was ready to meet with the man, and was ready for what might happen, he had a bit of history with the man he was meeting with. Ace felt Dust caw, and he disappeared. When Ace reappeared, he stood and held himself with power and dignity,

¨ Donquixote Doflamingo.¨ Said Ace, voice hard, not bowing or giving any form of respect to the man. Eyes locked onto the mans in a scowling manner, holding his gaze.

¨Fufufufu,¨ Started the man, in his usual menacing laugh. ¨Why so hostile, Ace of Spades?¨ Ace felt his eyes scowling even more. ¨You know why, Doflamingo.¨ Said Ace, voice not spiteful or hostile, but low and powerful. Even though he did not like this man, Ace would not act out of his way. He would treat the man with a bit less respect than usually, not bowing or taking his eyes away from the man.

He would not let his guard down around this man, not even for a second.

Doflamingo was a name everyone in the Red Cloud was familiar with. The man had been trying to buy many of them, trying to get information on them and even attacking and threatening them if they didn’t do what he wanted. Ace remember Azuruko telling him to stay weary of the man, his late mentor having worked with them years ago, ultimately saving Doflamingos brother when he was reviled to be working undercover for the marines. Ace could feel said man somewhere to Doflamingos left, as well as someone that felt like a younger person. The brothers had some sort of truce, working together in ruling Dressrosa. Ace knew Doflamingo did some shady business, but was held back by his brother a bit, who had a small truce with the assassins. And Doflamingo managed to get away with a lot by throwing others in the crossfire and keeping himself out of their and the marines main focus.

He was a dangerous man, one of the most dangerous in the Donquixote family. He’d even tried to attack Ace one time when he called for him. And Ace had given the man a clear warning and a scar on his chest as a reminder to never try that again, before leaving. The only reason Ace decided to show up now, was because Doflamingo apparently had been behaving for the last year according to Daisuke, even helping them a bit, and Ace was willing to give the man one last chance.

If the man did anything out of his way, or gave any indication of acting hostile, Ace would attack.

Doflamingo smiled his menacing smile. Sitting at his throne with his legs crossed, acting like he was above the assassin. ¨Fufufufu,¨ Laughed the man, ¨I want to ask for a small truce, maybe working as acquaintances.¨ The man then got an even more menacing grin on his face. ¨I also need a favor.¨ Ace assessed the man, ¨What kind of favor?¨ Asked the assassin, looking at the man. Ace didn’t feel good when Doflamingo asked for a favor. The man held the assassins gaze, ¨I need you to help little Law out.¨ Ace looked at the man, the menacing glare still on Doflamingos face.

Ace thought for a minute, Law must be the famous Trafalgar D Water Law, a young kid that had stayed with the man since he was quite young, having a reputation and known as the Surgeon of Death, courtesy of a devil fruit power. If Ace remembered correctly, Law was 20 years old, and was a talented boy. (1) Ace looked at the man, he would see what Law wanted, but the truce and working as acquaintances was an another story. ¨I will hear why you need me to help Law,¨ Started the assassin, ¨But I will not accept the truce, or work as acquaintances.¨ Ace decided to decline the offer, Doflamingo was acting like he used to, and Ace would not work with him. Doflamingo then moved a bit, and Ace followed his movement, getting mentally ready to attack.

Ace knew about his devil fruit, and one twitch from the man’s hand, would make Ace pull his gun out. Both him and Doflamingo knew Ace was faster than him, and Ace would be able to pull the trigger before he managed to trap him.  Doflamingo learning this from the last time he had called for him.

The man then stood up, and put his hands in his pockets and walked a bit to the side, heading for a door to his right. ¨I’ll let you talk to the kid himself.¨ He said as he laughed, taking long strides. Ace watched him as he went, not taking his attention away from the man for a second, knowing that it was all it took. When the door closed, Ace changed his attention to the other two occupants in the room, giving Dust, who sat on top of a curtain rod, having a view of the entire room, a silent order to be on the alert.

When Aces attention was on Law, he gave a small bow to the assassin, ¨Ace of Spades-ya, thank you for agreeing to listen, and I apologize for Doflamingo-ya rude behavior.¨ Ace gave a small nod back, he had no reason not to treat this person without respect. And it seems like the boy used ‘Ya’ as a suffix, Ace did not know that, and would remember that. ¨What is it you need help with, Trafalgar Law?¨ Asked Ace, looking assessing at the young man. Law didn’t seem fazed, even looking a bit bored, and Ace was happy with how he acted and held himself. ¨Before we continue,¨ Started Law, ¨I would like for Corazon to put up one of his barriers, but only if you agree.¨

Ace looked at him, before sending a look at Donquixote Rosinante, or Corazon as Law called him. He was a trustworthy man according to what he had heard. He was also pleased by the fact Law had asked. Ace knew Law was a straightforward person and knew not to act rash around him. Ace also knew about Rosinantes power, and knew it was some kind of sound barrier, making it so no sounds could be heard from inside of the barrier, but he was not completely sure if it worked both ways. Ace gave a nod, ¨That is okay,¨ He started, ¨But only if my raven is kept outside of the barrier.¨ Ace would be cautious, and ensure he knew what was going on in the room, just in case the sound barrier worked both ways, and made it so they could not hear what was going on outside of the barrier.

Law nodded, and gave a gesture to Rosinante, who put the barrier up, and was pleased to see the barrier stopped before it reached Dust.

Ace gave a small gesture to Law, signalizing he could continue. ¨As you may know, I do have some reputation in my name.¨ Started Law, and Ace nodded. Law did have a kind of impressive reputation based on his age, being the captain of the Heart Pirates, naming them as an honor to Rosinante if he was right. ¨But I would like to try to become a Warlord, and wanted to ask if you’d be willing to be acquaintances.¨ Ace looked at the man. He did have potential to become a Warlord, and he was in close approximately of both Donquixote brothers. The only thing he needed was to impress the marines with his powers. And Ace was acquaintances with Mihawk, also a Warlord, but as Azuruko had said, it was good to make acquaintances that were cunning and powerful with influence, and he had a feeling Law would turn out to be a one of the big ones with time.

Ace nodded, ¨I accept to be acquaintances,¨ He started, and could see Law nodding, and Rosinante looking a bit shocked before he smiled. ¨But, agreeing to be my acquaintance, means you’ll be watched and protected by the assassins as long as you don’t act rash or out of your way.¨ Law nodded, ¨I understand,¨ He started. ¨I still would like to be acquaintances, Spades-ya.¨ Ace felt himself frown a bit at the nickname, sending a piercing look at the man. And it seemed like Law got the hint, as Ace saw a bit of fear and regret quickly shone in his eyes at the look Ace gave him. ¨I’m sorry, Ace of Spades-ya.¨ He quickly said, fixing the small slip. Ace nodded. They might be acquaintances, but Ace did not want Law to think they were allies or anything more than acquaintances.

If it came to it, Ace would not hesitate to take the man out.

¨How do you plan on becoming a Warlord, Trafalgar?¨ Asked Ace, wanting to know if the man had a plan. ¨You need to impress the marines quite a bit, seeing your young age.¨ Law nodded, ¨I plan on giving them an offer.¨ This caught Aces attention quite a bit, ¨What kind of offer?¨ Law held up his hand a bit, creating a small circle with his power. ¨As you may know, I have the powers to take body parts and organs of people without killing them.¨ Ace nodded, he knew the basics about the man’s power. Law then got a smirk on his face, ¨I plan on offering them a hundred wanted people’s still beating hearts.¨ Ace hummed inside him, seems like the man is a bit sadistic.

But it was a brilliant plan, and it would most likely work too.

Law then put his hand down again, the sadistic grin disappearing. ¨Seeing as you agreed to be acquaintances, I won’t take any hearts of people you do not accept, Ace of Spades-ya.¨ Ace nodded, he felt content that the man said that. He felt like agreeing to be acquaintances was a good decision, and Law knew how it worked. ¨I can give you a list of people you can take, and I will have my raven deliver it tomorrow.¨ Law nodded at that. ¨Thank you, Ace of Spades-ya,¨ Said Law, giving him a courtesy nod. Ace, sensing the meeting was over, none of them having anything else to add, decided to wrap it up. ¨If that is everything, I will then take my leave.¨ The other two nodded, giving a small respective bow.

¨Before I leave,¨ Started Ace, ¨If you need to contact me, do not let Doflamingo be that person that contacts me.¨ Ace then gave a piercing look, ¨I will not answer if you do.¨ Law nodded, ¨I will contact you myself next time, Ace of Spades-ya.¨ Ace nodded, and gave a small bow, ¨Until next time.¨ He said, and disappeared.

Ace then landed on Amegakure, and started walking to the assassins base, wanting to update Daisuke, and let him in on deciding which people to choose.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in the meeting room with some of his commanders, Thatch, Izou, Marco, Namur, Blamenco, Rakuyo, Fossa and Curiel. They decided to just sit together and talk a bit, and just relax. They had been sitting there for maybe an hour, when Haruta came rushing in. ¨You need to hear this!¨ She said, as she held up a newspaper. She then closed the door, and opened the paper, and started to read.

¨The young, but dangerous Portgas D Ace, has now apparently joined The Whitebeard pirates. And not only that, but he has already been promoted to their second commander. This man is not to be taken lightly, every time he attacks, he always kills everyone, leaving no one to tell the tale. He is a highly dangerous man who might have eaten a devil fruit, but no one can know for certain. He has managed to not be noticed for a long time, seeing as no one has been able to tell who the assailant was. Only recent discoveries have lead the marines to figure out who he is, and how dangerous and deadly he is, earning him the name,

Portgas D ‘Death’ Ace. He is to be apprehended and killed if sighted.¨ (2)

Haruta then held up a wanted poster. It was Aces new one, which included his nickname, as well as a raised bounty. His bounty was now 400, 000, 000. Which was impressive. He had not only gotten a staring bounty that shocked everyone, but he also got it raised by 50, 000, 000 within a week, and gotten a nickname that would terrify people. ¨But not only that,¨ Continued Haruta. She then grabbed some other wanted posters, putting them on the table. And everyone could only stare in shock, it was the commanders and Whitebeards posters; And everyone’s bounty had gone up with 50, 000, 000.

Marco lifted his head and stared at Haruta, ¨They raised everyone’s bounty, yoi?¨ Haruta only nodded. ¨Apparently Ace is that a dangerous man.¨ She said, ¨Him joining us, and becoming a commander, was enough for the marines to raise our bounty.¨ Haruta then looked grinningly at them, ¨Even as a pirate, Ace is still someone the marines fears greatly.¨ Everyone could only nod, that was amazing. Haruta then sat down, and handed the newspaper to the others, letting them read it too. They then relaxed together, looking the article over, as well as their wanted posters.

It was an hour later, when there was a knock at his door. ¨Come in.¨ Said the captain, the door opened and Bay walked inside. ¨Daughter.¨ Said the captain, smiling at the woman. Bay gave a nod, and handed a folder to the captain. ¨Last week’s patients Pops.¨ She said. Whitebeard smiled as he took the folder, before opening it and looking it over. They had an agreement with Bay, that everyone that came into her infirmary, would be in the folder, and she would report to him once a week. And no matter how little the injury, he wanted it to be in the folder. And as he looked through the folder, he frowned a bit, Ace was not mentioned. And he should be, seeing as he dislocated his arm. ¨Daughter,¨ Started the captain, getting her attention. ¨Why is Ace not mentioned?¨ Bay frowned as she looked at her father.

¨Why, would he be mentionedShe asked in a dangerous tone.

Marco also frowned at this. ¨He dislocated his arm a few days ago, yoi.¨ As he said this, Bay looked at him shocked, before looking utterly furious. ¨I have not seen Commander Ace since we helped him two weeks ago.¨ She then glared at them, ¨And you tell me he had dislocated his arm, and none of you decided to ask me about it?¨ Most of the commanders swallowed hard, Bay was terrifying when she was angry. And the worst thing you could do, was to hide an injury from her.

Whitebeard frowned as he looked at the furious doctor, ¨I though you knew.¨ Started the captain, ¨He said his arm was fixed, and he had an ice pack.¨ Bay seemed to somehow look even a bit madder at that, ¨Where is Commander Ace?¨ She asked in a low voice. Whitebeard looked understandingly at her, he was not happy knowing Ace had not visited Bay, he thought Ace had visited the infirmary. ¨He is on an assignment, he will be back in an hour or so.¨ He said to the angry doctor. Bay took a deep breath, ¨When he returns,¨ She started, ¨Tell him to come to the infirmary immediately.¨ She then glared at them. ¨If he do not do that, tell me so I can drag him there.¨ She then turned on her heel, and walked out of the meeting room, mumbling something about nerve damage and such.

When the door closed, the occupants looked at each other. ¨Poor Ace,¨ Started Thatch ¨Bay is going to be furious with him.¨ The others could only nod.

---x---

Ace appeared on the ship in his usual casual clothes, having changed at The Red Cloud. The moment he landed, he was almost immediately met with a fidgeting Thatch. ¨Ace!¨ The man almost yelled, making Ace look at him. ¨Bay wants to see you in the infirmary, now.¨ Ace frowned a bit at that. He had no reason to go to the infirmary, and he wasn’t fond of the place. He could see the others on deck, even the captain giving him a look between a frown and concern. ¨Why?¨ Asked Ace carefully, looking at the chef in front of him. ¨She wants to do a quick checkup.¨ Ace nodded slowly, ¨Okay.¨ He said, and slowly headed towards the infirmary.

Ace had no mind doing a quick checkup, just as long as it went by quickly. He knew the doctor was a stern one, and took her job seriously. The only thing was that Ace had never liked infirmaries, he never liked people to fuzz over him, telling him to rest and relax. After Azuruko had died, he disliked the place even more; It reminded him about his mentors last moments. Ace shook his head, he would get the checkup done, he knew the pirates wanted to know his health status and know if he had anything concerning. Ace would not willingly go to the infirmary when he was injured, he had a lot of training in patching himself up, and would continue to do that. He hated staying in sickbeds and being in the infirmary for long periods.

Ace arrived at the infirmary, and walked inside.

The moment he was inside, and felt the angry glare of Bay, he felt like he was missing something. ¨You!¨ Said Bay, pointing at him as she walked towards him. When she was up with him, she grabbed his arm and dragged him into the room and to a bed, forcing him to sit down. ¨Why am I just hearing about a certain dislocation?¨ Ace gave a nervous laugh at that, he hoped Bay would not find out. ¨It was nothing, and it is all fixed now.¨ He said. And Bay actually almost growled a bit. ¨A dislocated shoulder is not nothing!¨ She said, glaring at him. ¨You could have a nerve trapped! And who fixed it anyway?¨ Ace gave an another small laugh,

¨Don’t tell me you fixed it by yourself?¨ Bay basically growled out.

The sheepish look Ace gave the doctor, was an answer enough. Bay gave an angry sigh, then began to prod his shoulder. ¨Why did you not come here?¨ She asked as he checked the shoulder. ¨I don’t like infirmaries,¨ Started Ace, ¨It brings back bad memories.¨ Bay sighed as she moved away, grabbing a clipboard. ¨Your shoulder is fine, but do not avoid coming here next time.¨ Ace only gave a sheepish look, not being able to answer the question in a way Bay would be happy. Bay then asked the regular checkup questions so she could create a file on his health. When she was finished, she nodded happily, ¨That’s it, you can leave now.¨ Ace smiled, ¨Thanks.¨ He said, and walked out of the infirmary, giving a relieved sigh when he was out.

---x---

Ace was sitting on the railing and petted Stefan. The gigantic animal was beautiful, and it apparently shocked everyone that Stefan let Ace pet it. The animal was apparently mostly hostile towards others, only letting Whitebeard, Luffy and maybe Marco close to it. Ace then sent a look at the captain as he petted Stefan. ¨Whitebeard,¨ He started, getting his attention. ¨Where did you find Stefan? His kind is not a common one.¨ Whitebeard seemed a bit shocked, before he answered. ¨We found him on an uninhabited island up North.¨ Said the captain. ¨And I though war dogs were normal for the Grand Line, even though he is a big one.¨ Ace then looked back at Stefan, starching him behind his ear. ¨You’re right, War dogs is not uncommon.¨ Started the assassin,

¨But Stefan is not a war dog.¨ He ended, shocking everyone.

¨What!¨ Yelled Thatch, ¨How do you know that?¨ Ace sent a smile to the pirates, ¨He is way too big for one thing.¨ He started, ¨War dogs can grow to impressive sizes, but not this big.¨ Ace then moved his hand to Stefans neck, ¨He also have other features than war dogs, like the extra big canines, wrong eye color, lack of barking, too long fur and other small things like that.¨ The pirates frowned, the assassin was right. Whitebeard looked at Ace, ¨Do you know what animal he is, son?¨ He asked, and Ace gave a nod as he smiled. Ace then moved his hands away from Stefan, and put them on the railing. Ace then took a deep breath, and let out a small howl. As the sound left him something extraordinary happened.

Stefan stretched his neck, closed his eyes, and let out the loudest and most impressive howl they had ever heard. And Stefan looked absolutely stunningly elegant as he howled for the first time around the pirates.

¨He’s a wolf.¨ Said Ace, as the wolf stopped the howling. The pirates could only stare at him for a second. That did make a lot of sense. They then watched as Stefan nudged Ace, and Ace gave out an another small howl, and Stefan joined in. Stefan seemed to really enjoy howling, and they wondered why they never had heard him howl before. ¨Son,¨ Started Whitebeard when the wolf stopped howling again, getting his attention. ¨Is there only few of them? And he have never howled before.¨ Ace nodded, and sent a small smile at the captain. ¨This breed of wolves where hunted down years ago, there is very few of them.¨ Ace then scratched the wolfs ear again.

 ¨And they don’t like to howl alone, wolves are flock animals.¨

Whitebeard nodded, and felt a bit mournful, knowing Stefan had no one to be with. Ace then looked at the man, a smile on his face. ¨I’m guessing you found him as a cub?¨ The captain nodded, ¨How did you know that?¨ Ace sent a smile at the captain. ¨They are not found in the North, they are not found in the Grand Line at all, but in the New World.¨  Ace then petted the beast a bit. ¨I think he might have been captured and escaped from there. He must have been all alone when you found him.¨ Ace then looked at the captain,

¨You probably saved him from dying on the island.¨ He said, causing the captain to smile, knowing he had helped the wolf.

¨Do you know where they are from, son? What island?¨ Asked the captain. Ace nodded, ¨They are from an island called Palmido. It is located a bit South, not many have heard about it, or been there.¨ The captain nodded, and decided that they maybe should head there, and see if they could find a home for the wolf. Whitebeard didn’t want to keep it if it didn’t like to be alone. Ace seeing the look on the captain’s face, opened his mouth again. ¨He seems like he enjoys it here, and he looks happy.¨ The captain smiled at that, and watched in fascination as Ace let out a howl again, Stefan following. Stefan did look like he enjoyed it, and looked real elegant.

Izou then nudged Marco a bit, getting his attention. ¨It seems like Ace have a gift with animals.¨ Marco nodded, and wondered where the commander was heading with that. Izou then looked smugly at Marco, ¨Think his gift would work on your phoenix?¨ Izou said with a wink, making Marco blush a bit. And Izou gaped at him, before grinning like a mad man, ¨You like him!¨ Marco glared at the other commander, ¨Shut up, yoi.¨ He said, as he moved away, deciding to go to his room a bit. Leaving Izou grinning and shocked behind him.

When Izou looked at his father, and saw the look he had, seeing as he had seen and heard their conversation, gaped even more. ¨You knew?!¨ He asked shocked. Whitebeard raised an eyebrow, as if saying how could he not know. ¨Know what?¨ Asked Thatch, coming to stand beside Izou, putting his hand around the others waist. Whitebeard shook his head,

¨Nothing, son.¨ He said, making Izou close his mouth as he stared back at Ace, who gave an another howl with Stefan. ¨No, seriously.¨ Said Thatch, ¨Know what?¨ Izou also shook his head, ¨Nothing important.¨ He said, as he gave a kiss to the chefs cheek.

---x---

It was night, and Ace stood at the front of the ship as usual. It was cloudy and a bit windy, but Ace paid no mind to that. ¨Is Stefan really happy here?¨ Asked Whitebeard, coming to stand beside his son. Ace nodded, ¨He is, I didn’t lie when I said that.¨ Whitebeard nodded, he felt glad that the wolf was happy. ¨You did the right thing, Whitebeard.¨ Said Ace, sending a smile to the captain. ¨Stefan would most likely not made it if you didn’t find him.¨ Whitebeard nodded, content with knowing he had most likely saved the animal.

They then stood in silence for a bit, before Ace broke it. ¨I wanted to bring something up, Whitebeard.¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨What is it, son?¨ He asked, he had a feeling it was something the assassin had been thinking about. ¨I know almost every one of your crew have a tattoo signalizing they are a part of your family.¨ Ace sighed, ¨I don’t mean it as disrespect, but based on my work, it won’t be wise for me to have a tattoo like that.¨ Whitebeard nodded. He had not thought about that, but Ace had a point. ¨It’s okay, I know what you mean.¨ Started the captain, seeing the reason behind it, he didn’t think it was disrespectful. ¨Maybe we can make something else for you?¨ Ace nodded, smiling as he looked at the captain, feeling content that he understood.

¨I was thinking about maybe using some clothing instead. Maybe a cape?¨ Said Ace, and whitebeard nodded.

That did sound like a smart idea. The kid was used to wearing capes, and the mark could be stamped pretty big on the back. ¨That do sound like a good idea, son.¨ He said as he smiled at Ace, who smiled back. ¨You should talk to Izou about it, he is the best when it comes to clothing.¨ Ace nodded, and turned to the sea when a gust of wind came. ¨I will ask him about it tomorrow.¨ Whitebeard nodded at that, and also turned to the sea. It was a bit later when the captain decided to bring something up with his new son. ¨Son,¨ He asked, getting his attention.

¨Do you get enough sleep?¨ He asked, looking at Ace.

Ace sighed a bit, he knew he would ask soon. He was rarely not on deck or on an assignment. Ace felt like he got enough sleep, but he knew he slept less than others. And there were days when Ace got way too little, even to his standards. ¨I’m okay, there are times when I don’t sleep as much as I should. But I catch up when I need too.¨ Said Ace, it wasn’t the entire truth, he often went way to long, and even sometimes had collapsed due to not getting enough sleep. But he didn’t need to tell the captain that, at least not yet. Maybe later when he was more comfortable around them. Yes, he did trust them. But telling them about his personal things was a bit too hard for Ace.

Whitebeard nodded. He felt Ace didn’t tell the entire truth, the young assassin sometimes looked really tired, and this concerned the captain. But he would not ask too much about it, knowing the young commander was cautious and didn’t like to tell others about this kind of things. ¨You know I am here for you, you never have to fear telling me about anything, son.¨ Said Whitebeard, sending a fatherly look at Ace. Ace nodded, and smiled at the man. ¨I know, and I will remember that.¨

They then stood in silence, enjoying each other’s company. They stood and enjoyed the night, before Ace decided to head inside, deciding to try to get some sleep. He bid the captain goodnight, and went inside. The captain stood a bit longer, before he also headed inside.

Chapter Text

¨Hey,¨ Started Haruta, who sat with the others in the mess hall, getting their attention. ¨Did we tell or show Ace his new wanted poster?¨ The twelfth commander asked. The other occupants, being the rest of the commanders and captain, aside from Ace, who was on an assignment, thought for a moment. It had been yesterday the new poster and article were in the newspaper, and they realized they had not showed or told the assassin about it. Thatch lifted his hands and grabbed his head, ¨How could we forget!¨ He sort of yelled in shock, ¨How could we forget to tell or show him!¨ The fourth commander grabbed Marcos shoulders, ¨We need to fix this!¨ Thatch then stood up and ran out of the galley.

Marco shook his head as he sighed. ¨He is way to energetic, yoi.¨ He said, causing the others to laugh. It was early in the morning, and the first commander was right. It was way too early to run around like the chef. They could even hear some of the others in the galley groaning at hearing Thatch yell and run around. Everyone knew it could not be anything good, and hoped it was not an another prank. Izou shook his head, before standing up. ¨I’ll go and make sure he doesn’t injure himself, or anyone for that matter.¨ Whitebeard laughed, ¨Yes, son. Make sure he also doesn’t set anything on fire again.¨ Said the captain, before letting out a laugh again, the others joining in. Thatch had managed to set himself or anything in close proximity on fire a multitude of times. Izou then walked out of the galley, shaking his head.

When the laugh died down, Haruta looked at her father. ¨When is Ace returning, Pops?¨ She asked. Whitebeard looked at a clock in the galley, it was almost 8 in the morning. ¨He is returning in 2 hours, daughter.¨ He said, sending a fatherly smile at her. Haruta nodded, and went back to eating. ¨How does he always know how long he will be gone?¨ Asked Rakuyo, looking at the others at the table. The others frowned as they thought. The seventh commander was right; Ace never was gone longer than he said. The first commander shook his head a bit, ¨He probably have learned from experience, yoi.¨ He said, looking at the others who nodded.

---x---

Ace appeared on deck, and stretched. He managed to wrap everything up a bit early and managed to get back before 9. When he relaxed again, and looked around himself, he saw a bunch of smiling faces. ¨Good morning, son.¨ He heard the captain say. Ace turned and smiled back. ¨Good morning.¨ He said back, smiling. ¨Did everything go fine, son?¨ The captain asked, looking calm at the smiling face the assassin had. Ace nodded, the assignment had gone by flawlessly. ¨It went surprisingly well.¨ He said, and this made everyone around him smile.

Ace then noticed Izou somewhere to his right, ¨Izou,¨ He said, getting the other commanders attention. ¨Think I could talk to you for a moment?¨ Izou nodded, looking at him in curiosity. ¨Why don’t we go to my room.¨ Said the sixteenth commander. Ace nodded, and followed the commander.

When they got to Izous room, the crossdresser motioned for him to sit on a chair, as he leaned on his desk. ¨What do you want to talk about?¨ Izou asked. Ace smiled, ¨I had a talk with Whitebeard last night, about the mark you have to signalize you are a part of this crew.¨ Started Ace, ¨And based on my work, a tattoo is not the best decision.¨ Izou nodded. ¨And I thought to maybe use a piece of clothing instead, possibly a cape. And Whitebeard told me you were the best to speak to when it came to that.¨ Ace smiled as he ended. Izou seemed to get really excited about that.

¨What kind of cape?¨ He asked enthusiastically.

Ace smiled, it seems Izou liked to fiddle with clothing and designs. ¨I was thinking about something similar to my assassin one, but not the same material or color.¨ He said, and Izou nodded before moving to a closet and opening it. Ace was mildly surprised to see different cloth rolls in different color and material. Izou thought for a moment, and pulled on a deep red one, dragging it out a bit. ¨How about this?¨ Ace moved to see the fabric a bit closer. ¨Maybe something a bit brighter and resilient.¨ He said, making Izou nod as he looked thoughtful for a moment. Ace wanted something brighter than what he used to wear, just to further separate the assassin and himself. Hoping no one connected the dots.

Izou then dragged an another fabric out, ¨How about this?¨ He asked, and Ace looked at it. The color was a bit lighter than strawberries, somewhere between red and pink, and seemed to be real resilient. Ace nodded, ¨That looks good.¨ Izou nodded and pulled the roll out and placed it on his bed. While Izou was doing this, Ace couldn’t help but touch an another roll in the closet. This one was white, and was the same color and material of what Azuruko had used. Ace could not help but smile as he touched it, thinking back to his mentor, before shaking his head as he got a bit emotional. He had not felt this fabric since Azuruko had been alive, it was a rare kind, and it reminded Ace a lot of his late mentor. Ace then turned back to Izou, who now was rummaging through a drawer.

When he turned back to Ace, he held a measuring tape.  ¨How long do you want it to be?¨ Asked the man, looking at Ace. The young assassin thought for a second. ¨I was thinking about maybe knees length, as well a hood if that is possible.¨ Izou snorted, ¨Of course I can make a hood.¨ He said, before starting to measure Ace a bit. ¨Do you want the same width as your other one?¨ Ace nodded, ¨That would be perfect.¨ He said smiling. When Izou was finished with the measurement, Ace looked as the man wrote some numbers down. ¨Do you want a buckle, or something else to fasten it?¨ Asked Izou. Ace smiled, ¨Maybe a buttons instead?¨ Izou nodded, and wrote it down. ¨It will take a few days, I’ll give it to you when its finished.¨ Ace smiled, ¨Thank you, it will be prefect I believe.¨ Ace then gave his goodbye, and left.

When the door closed, Izou went over to the material closet and took out a certain white roll, before starting to work.

---x---

¨Marco!¨ Yelled Thatch, coming out from the meeting room. ¨What, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, wondering what the chef wanted now. ¨I heard from Curiel that Ace was back,¨ Started the chef. ¨ I can’t find him and I want to show him his new poster.¨ Marco nodded, ¨He is with Izou, yoi. He wanted to talk to him.¨ Thatch nodded, a small frown on his face. ¨Why did he want to talk to Izou?¨ Marco shook his head, ¨I don’t know, yoi.¨ He started, raising an eyebrow. ¨You jealous?¨ Thatch blushed, ¨Of course not! I was just wondering.¨ Marco laughed a bit. He always enjoyed to make the chef embarrassed, a payback for all the pranks he had played on him. He could also hear his father laughing behind him, having heard the conversation.

Marco then noticed their new family member coming out from the commander’s quarters and nudged at Thatch, motioning for the kid. ¨Ace!¨ Yelled the chef when he noticed the young assassin. When Ace looked at the man, and made his way towards them, Thatch spoke again. ¨We need to show you something!¨ Ace lifted an eyebrow, ¨Show me what?¨ He asked. Thatch, not being able to hold his mouth shut, too excited, just blurted it out. ¨You got a new wanted poster!¨ He yelled. Ace looked a bit shocked at that. ¨I did?¨ He asked, making Thatch nod, face grinning. ¨Yeah! New bounty and even a moniker!¨ Marco noticed an ever so small twitch in the kids eye, ¨I got a moniker?¨ He asked, and Marco had to frown a bit, Ace seemed a bit annoyed. ¨Son,¨ Asked Whitebeard, getting everyone’s attention. ¨Is a moniker a bad thing?¨ He asked, looking worriedly at Ace.

Ace shook his head, giving a sigh. ¨No,¨ Ace then massaged his face a bit. ¨Just please don’t tell me it has anything to do with Demon, Devil or Reaper.¨ He said, knowing Garp had something to do with his nickname, and the man knew Ace hated to be called any of those words.

Thatch looked a bit uncomfortable at that. ¨Not directly,¨ Started the man, before taking the wanted poster from a pocket, ¨It’s ‘Death’.¨ Ace took the poster, and stared at it for a second, before giving a small laugh. ¨That’s not too bad.¨ He said, handing the poster back to Thatch with a smile, who gave a small relieved breath. ¨Would it be bad if it was Demon?¨ Thatch asked Ace. This made the ones in earshot listen a bit closer, wanting to know why he was so against the other names. Ace shook his head again. ¨The person in the marines that framed me, and essentially make so I got a bounty.¨ Started the assassin. ¨He knows I don’t like any of those names, and I know he had something to do with the moniker.¨

The commanders and captain nodded as they understood. The assassin was often believed to be a demon or a non-human. Getting a name like Demon, Devil or even Reaper on his pirate poster would probably make him annoyed. ¨Son,¨ Started the captain, ¨Who is it in the marines that helped you with the bounty? If you don’t mind me asking.¨ Ace shook his head, a small smile on his lips.

¨It was Vice Admiral Garp.¨

This caused many of them to look at him in shock. ¨Garp?¨ Asked Thatch, making Ace nod. ¨Garp The Hero? The crazy man that throws cannonballs?¨ Ace lifted an eyebrow as he nodded. ¨How can you trust the man?! He is a crazy senile old man!¨ Ace shook his head, as he looked a bit around himself. There was mostly only commander out, and a few others, but everyone knew who Ace was. He looked back at Thatch, ¨He is all that,¨ Started Ace, ¨But he is also Luffys grandfather. He used to take care of me and my brothers when we were small.¨ If the two commanders looked shocked before, they was stunned now. Whitebeards laughter reached them. ¨Garp The Hero is Luffys grandfather?¨ Ace nodded smiling at the man. Thatch then realized something, ¨That means he is the father to-.¨ He stopped when Marco elbowed him, and sending a glare at him. It was only the commanders and captain that knew about their heritage, and Thatch was not supposed to just blurt it out.

Ace laughed, ¨He is.¨ He started. ¨He is also the reason me and all my brothers are still alive.¨ Ace sent a smile to the others. ¨He might be a marine and a crazy old man. But he have always been there for us.¨ Ace then massaged his head a bit, ¨He wasn’t the nicest, but he was there.¨ Marco shook his head, ¨I can imagine, he is quite the loudmouth, yoi.¨ Everyone laughed at that. ¨He is,¨ Started Ace, ¨He even tried, still trying actually, to make Luffy become a marine.¨ This made everyone laugh even more, knowing that was impossible. Luffy was dead set on becoming a pirate, even saying he was going to be the Pirate King. The pirates could only imagine the old man fuming when Luffy told him he was going to be a pirate.

---x---

Everyone sat eating dinner, and were having a good time. It was calm, and everyone were in a good mood. Jozu was telling some tale, and had most of the attention. Ace was having fun, and feeling calm. He really did enjoy it here and liked to have a place to return to. A place he felt safe. It wasn’t often or many places Ace would call safe, but he did already feel at home here and enjoyed being around the pirates. ¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said Marco, who sat next to him. When Ace looked over, he was handed a new bottle and realized he actually had no more to drink. He gave a thank you to the man, and opened the flask, pouring some of it in his cup.

Ace really enjoyed being around the first commander, and he wasn’t sure why. Ace just felt safe and calm around him.

Ace decided to sit a bit longer after he was finished, listening to the others talk, even talking to some himself. When about half of the crew had moved out of the galley to continue their day, Dust flew in and landed in front of Ace. Ace petted the bird, and took an envelope he had in his beak. Dust then took some bread and started to eat as Ace opened and read the paper. As Ace read, he frowned a bit inside him, something did seem a bit weird, but he could not pinpoint it. Ace then folded the paper, and put it in his pocket. ¨Are you leaving, son?¨ Asked Whitebeard, getting Aces attention.

Ace looked at the man, and nodded. ¨I won’t need to leave before later tonight, I think around 10.¨ The captain nodded, ¨How long will you be gone?¨ Ace thought for a moment. He was going a bit far away. ¨I think I will be back around 10 in the morning.¨ Ace could see some of the commander frowning at that. After he had joined them, it was the longest he would be gone. ¨That’s pretty long, yoi.¨ Said the first commander. Ace sighed, as he nodded a bit. ¨I most likely will be returning before that.¨ He started, ¨It will take around 10 hours.¨ Ace could see them nodding, as they continued their conversation.

Ace could also see the captain smiling, even though he did look a bit concerned. He had probably seen the way Ace looked at the letter, even though he tried to hide his frown. When Ace left the galley half an hour later, he got the same ¨Be safe.¨ From the captain, and felt glad he had accepted the captains offer.

---x---

Ace sat in his room, doing some small paperwork, when there was a knock at his door. ¨Come in.¨ He said, as he closed the folder he was writing at. The door opened, and Jason walked in. ¨Commander Ace,¨ Started the man, as he stood in the door. ¨Could I talk to you for a second?¨ Ace nodded ¨Of course you can.¨ He said, as he motioned for the second chair he had in the room. The man closed the door, and sat down. ¨What do you want to talk about?¨ Asked Ace, smiling at the man. Jason seemed to fidget a bit, before he started to talk. ¨You know Jensen?¨ He started, and Ace nodded. Jensen was an another man in Aces division. ¨We, or he might have done something bad. Or not bad, but we’ve been hiding something. And I think we need help.¨ Ace smiled a calming smile, ¨What did you do?¨

Jason looked at Ace with regret and worry, ¨I know that you are…¨ He trailed off, and Ace nodded. Jason knew Ace was an assassin, but not Jensen if he remembered correctly. He motioned for him to continue. ¨Jensen’s niece disappeared according to his brother, and I told Jensen we maybe should ask for help.¨ Jason then shook his head. ¨I think Jensen called for some…¨ He motioned towards Ace again, who nodded. ¨I am not sure, but I noticed his savings was almost gone.¨ Ace frowned at that. He had not heard from Daisuke that anyone of the crew had called for anyone. If what Jason said was true, it could be someone that was not a part of The Red Cloud, and that could be bad. Yes, there were a lot of assassins that wasn’t a part of the assassins guild, but many of them was not truthful and honorable ones.

They often betrayed or scammed the ones they worked with.

Ace sent a small serious look at the man, who he could see got a bit uncomfortable. ¨I hoped he would tell me before he did anything, so we could go to you.¨ Ace nodded. ¨You don’t know if he have called or made a deal?¨ The man shook his head. ¨But,¨ He started, ¨He has not been alone a lot, so I am not sure if he had had the time.¨ Ace nodded, and looked at the clock on the wall. He needed to leave soon. Ace gave a sigh. ¨I need you to go and ask him if he have, and tell him to be truthful.¨ The man nodded. ¨If he has, I need you to come get me at once. If not, tell him I want to see him tomorrow around noon and to not do anything.¨ The man stood up, ¨I’ll go find him now and ask him.¨ Ace nodded and the man left.

When the door closed, Ace sighed. He hoped the man had not called for anyone. He decided to wait for a bit, hoping to not see Jensen, knowing that meant he had called. 10 minutes later, there was a knock at his door. ¨Yes.¨ He said and looked at the door. The door opened, and Jason got in again. Ace felt less worried, seeing it was Jason and not Jensen. ¨He didn’t call, and he promised not too.¨ Ace nodded, that was good.  ¨Did you tell him I want to see him?¨ The man nodded and Ace smiled. ¨It will be fine then.¨ The man nodded and left, looking more reassured.

Ace sighed as he stood up and started to put on his assassin’s clothes. He knew that meddling with others business was not good, not when he was who he was. And Jensen did not know who he was and that could scare him. He knew with a sinking feeling that kidnappings and disappearances had to do something with their own family and he didn’t feel like it was his right too just meddle with his family. He did however send Dust with a note to Daisuke, just to check if his niece was gone, and if he knew anything. Daisuke would not have any information for a couple of days, it did take time to gather information. That was why he was so sought out as he was, he was the fastest since he could just teleport.

But for now, he had a mission to do. He would handle everything else when he returned.

---x---

Ace ran through a hallway, cutting down different people that tried to either shot or hit him with their own weapon. He needed to get out now. He knew the assignment was going to be a bit hard and time consuming. But it was already turning to night, he could see darkness out beyond barred windows. Ace had used the first half of the night to figure out where to go, and had gotten to the mansion hours later. He was supposed to save a young girl from some noble that was in the mansion. When he got there, and made his way into the room where the girl was supposed to be, which was in the middle of the gigantic mansion, there was no girl.

It was a trap.

The moment he had stepped inside the room, the door had shut close behind him. When he found out there was no girl, he was instantly going to get out of there. But the trap was well thought out, and Ace was instantly captured, and was dragged to a basement and chained to a wall in a small dungeon. The people escorting him, had not taken his mask off, saying something along the lines that their boss wanted that pleasure himself. He was actually impressed with the people that had chained him to the wall. They decided to only chain him by his hands. A big mistake, seeing as Ace could move his legs. He wanted to use his legs to strangle the men, but decided to hopefully be stealthier than that.

When the door to his cell was closed, Ace started to think how to get out. He could see regular seastone chains holding him, and wanted to roll his eyes at their imbecility. He quickly kicked his right boot off, and used his feet to get a hairpin from his shoe. He always had a few of these on him, just in case. With great flexibility, Ace managed to lift his foot high enough, and concentrated on lock picking the chain. After a few minutes, he was out, and headed for the door and took the guard out. All he needed now was to teleport to safety.

But the ones behind the trap, a noble Ace had neutralized years ago, already had a plan for that. Not being as stupid as Ace had first thought.

They had cameras watching him, and when they saw that he was out, they acted. With just one punch of a button, they had activated seastone bars that were in every single room, making Aces devil fruit useless. He felt weak and tired, he had not slept for 2 days. Everyone that the man sent at him was a none devil fruit user, and Ace had trouble taking them on. He sent gratitude towards Azuruko who had trained him in fighting under the effect of seastone. He did still feel the effect, but he could manage for a while. He was glad he was not in direct contact with the seastone, that did help a bit.

But he was closing in on his limit.

The mansion was big. One of the biggest one Ace had been in and he was met with new attackers in every turn, making his escape take way to long. Ace had already fought for close to 6 hours. He only hoped the pirates had not done anything rash, like calling Shanks or his brothers, he was supposed to be back 12 hours ago. He would have used Dust to tell them he was going to be late, just to be sure they would not be worried. But Dust was also affected by the seastone, as he sat in a hallway, not being able to communicate with Ace. The only way for him to escape was to either get out, or stop the seastone from working. And Ace was trying to get out, he had no idea where the marine with the remote was. There was not long left until freedom, only a few rooms, big rooms. He could have taken a quicker way out, but that would mean abandoning Dust and Ace would never do that.

It was just 4 more rooms to go and Ace would be out. In the next room, Ace found 12 new people, and Ace cut each and every one down, getting blood spilled in the entire room, even on himself. He wiped blood from his eyes, as he moved to the next, which was the same as the last. It was taking too long. The last two rooms had taken over an hour if Ace was right. Every move Ace did was done on instinct, he was so close to escaping, and he was not giving up. Ace got through the next room in record time, and when he opened the door to the last room, a hallway, he saw a woman throwing something at the ground. Ace realized too late what was happening, and not even a second later, a bright white light blinded him.

A flashbang, Ace realized as he could not see anything, his ears ringing a bit.

The moment he understood he was momentarily blinded and would not get his regular sight back for a while. He used his most basic instinct; Kill everyone you sense. Right now, everyone around him was an enemy, and Ace needed to get out, no matter what. Ace managed to take everyone in the room out, only getting a small cut on his face and arm. The moment he felt the last person falling, he tried to sense Dust, knowing his sensitive eyes was also not seeing anything. As he moved around, he was on alert, he was not letting his guard down, still in assassin mode as Shanks called it. Ace managed to find Dust, and got out of the mansion a few seconds later. 

The moment he was out and far enough from the house. He felt his body getting his powers back. His mind went into overdrive and he disappeared, only having one thought in his head; He needed to get to safety. He was not sure where he landed when he reappeared, he could not see anything around himself. But he could feel and hear sounds of the ocean. Before he could even try to get his mind back on track, exhausted from fighting and lack of sleep, he heard a sound to his right, and felt someone closing in on him. Everyone is an enemy, was still in Aces head as he grabbed the person’s arm, pulled it to his back, hearing a yelp of pain. Before he forced him on his stomach. Ace was sitting on the persons back, holding his arm in a dead lock. Ace then got out his dagger and plunged it towards the person’s neck, a move that would be fatal, when a panicked voice pierced his brain.

¨ACE, YOI!¨

---x---

Marco woke up like usual, and went to breakfast. He hoped for a calm day, seeing as he had had the night shift. He arrived to the galley, and went inside. There were not too many that were eating, seeing as he was a bit late, wanting to get a bit of sleep before the day started. He was always pleased if he managed to get more than 3 hours of sleep each night, and had managed to sleep for almost 7 hours, and felt real refreshed. He saw his father as well as Izou, Thatch and Haruta still sitting and talking with each other. Marco went over, ¨Son,¨ Started his father when he saw Marco. ¨Good morning. You slept for quite a bit.¨ Marco nodded, as he sat down. ¨I guess I was more tired than I thought, yoi.¨ The captain smiled, and they started small conversation as Marco ate.

It was about half an hour later when Jensen, a man from Aces division, approached them. ¨Pops,¨ Started the man, getting their attention. ¨Have you seen Commander Ace? I was supposed to speak with him.¨ Whitebeard frowned a bit as he looked at the clock. It was almost 12, Ace should have been back 2 hours ago. The captain looked at the man, ¨Ace is probably running a bit late, he had something he needed to do, son.¨ The man nodded, and went his way. As the man walked away, Marco looked at the clock too, and frowned as he saw the time. ¨Is Ace not back, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at his father. Whitebeard shook his head, ¨I have not seen him this morning.¨ Answered the captain, looking a bit worried.

Ace had never been late before.

The captain looked at his sons and daughter, they did look worried. Whitebeard hoped Ace was okay, he was more than capable to watch out for himself. Whitebeard talked a bit with his children, and decided to wait a couple more hours before they would see if there was anything they could do. Ace probably ran into some small trouble, and was a bit late, and would hopefully return soon.

1 hour went. 2 hours went. And when the third hour went by, Whitebeard was worried, really worried. ¨Pops, yoi.¨ Said Marco to his left. ¨Should we do anything? He should’ve been back by now.¨ Whitebeard thought for a moment, was there anything they could do? They had no idea where he was, or how to reach him right now. Whitebeard closed his eyes, ¨I don’t know, son.¨ He said, looking worriedly at Marco. ¨The only thing we can do is wait.¨ Marco nodded. He was worried himself, Ace should have been back 5 hours ago. Marco then went and tried to do anything to keep his mind of his comrade. Whitebeard did the same. Trying to keep his mind off Ace by talking with his children, as he kept telling himself Ace was strong, he would come back.

5 hours later, every commander sat in the meeting room. Everyone except Ace. As they settled down, Rakuyo asked the question the captain didn’t want to answer, ¨Where is Ace?¨ Whitebeard shook his head, ¨We don’t know, son. He never returned from his assignment.¨ This caused everyone to stare at the man in shock. ¨What?!¨ Screamed Thatch, looking a bit horrified. ¨But he should have returned hours ago!¨ Marco shook his head, ¨We know, yoi.¨ He said, getting everyone’s attention. ¨That’s why we’re having this meeting.¨ Marco looked at everyone’s faces, ¨Do any of you have any information, or heard anything about where he might be, yoi?¨ He asked in a serious manner. He got a bit more worried, when everyone shook their heads. Marco closed his eyes. He knew it was a long shot, but needed to try. And it just proved his fear,

They had no idea where he was, or if he was okay.

¨Is… Is there anything we can do?¨ Asked Haruta, looking worriedly at the captain and first commander. Both of them shook their heads. ¨Unfortunately not, daughter.¨ Said Whitebeard, causing many to feel crestfallen. Not only was their youngest family member missing, but they had no way of knowing if he was okay or not. Namur scowled, ¨There must be something we can do! We can’t just sit here!¨ Said the merman angrily. Marco sighed, Namur could seem angry when he was worried. Marco sent a look at his father and could clearly see the worry in his eyes. ¨For now,¨ Started the captain. ¨We can only wait and hope for any sign of either Ace or Dust.¨

¨If we hear nothing for the next 5 hours, we will call Shanks.¨

The others nodded, many of them frowning or closing their eyes. Hoping it didn’t come to that. They then decided to keep everyone that did not know of Aces work off the deck, just in case he arrived in a not perfect condition. Which no one hoped for. Just as long as he showed up, they would feel better. The commanders then got shifts to see if Ace had returned. They would have one at the hallway leading to his room, to see if he got there, while two stood on the deck. Everyone hoping for their family member to return.

2 hours later, Marco and Thatch were on the deck, hoping for Ace to return. Thatch had one moment thought he heard Dust, but was crestfallen when it was only a seagull. None of them wanted to talk, everyone were worried for the young assassin. Ace had never been late, and they had no idea what to do. When Ace returned, they would ask him what they should do if it happened again. Ace would return, there was no way he would not. He had just joined them, and they were not going to lose him this fast.

15 minutes later, Marco heard Thatch let out a gasp, and turned to the man. He saw Thatch looking happy and taking quick strides towards the railing where Ace usually sat. and When his eyes looked that way, all air left him. Ace was there. Marco felt himself calm down a bit, as he watched Thatch approaching the young assassin, before he frowned. Something was wrong. Ace was covered in blood for one thing, but that was not the first time. It was the fact that Ace was in his assassin’s outfit, and did not move. He stood completely still, eyes hard, legs slightly parted and back straight. Marcos eyes widened in shock as he realized what was wrong,

That wasn’t Ace, that was Ace of Spades.

And Thatch was going towards him, possibly to hug him out of relief. ¨Thatch, yoi!¨ He said in a bit of a haste, making Thatch turn a bit around, but not stopping. ¨Don-.¨ Was all he got out. He could only stare in shock as Ace reacted on instinct. Marco watched as Ace took a hold of Thatch arm and pinned it to his back, hearing the man letting out a yelp. Marco saw the horror stricken face, and could only watch in horror as Ace got the man in the ground, and sat on his back, holding Thatch arm in a death grip, pulling his muscle. When he saw the knife, he felt his insides grow cold. The moment the dagger moved, straight for Thatch, Marco opened his mouth in sheer panic.

¨ACE, YOI!¨ He screamed out. The dagger didn’t stop, and Marco could hear the blade hitting the deck.

Marco took a shaky breath, hearing the dagger hit the deck was a small comfort. It did at least mean the knife didn’t go straight into Thatch. Thatch had let out a pained sound, and Marco hoped it only graced him. Marco could see the others in the door leading to the meeting room having heard him yell. Everybody looked shocked, and before anyone could make a move or say anything. Marco held out his hand, giving a silent command to not move and be quiet. He knew he had no right to order his father and captain around, but right now, he didn’t care. He could see Haruta holding her hands over her mouth in shock, and the complete shock on the others faces.

Marco needed to act.

¨Ace, yoi.¨ He said carefully as he took a small step towards the young assassin, still holding his hand to the others, signalizing for them to not move, to let him handle this. He knew the kid didn’t know where he was for some reason, based on the way he sat and looked. And everyone speaking or moving could only make matters worse. ¨It’s okay, yoi.¨ He said, taking an another small step. ¨You are safe, yoi.¨ Marco decided to use his speech habit, hoping hearing it would get through to Ace and calm him down. ¨You are on the Moby Dick, yoi.¨ Marco was close to Ace now, only a few feet away. He could see Ace slowly moving his head in his direction, but not moving off Thatch, still acting like the assassin.

Marco held his hands out in front of him, showing he meant no harm. ¨It’s okay, yoi. You are safe, yoi.¨ He said again, and he could hear Ace mumbling a soft ¨Marco?¨ As the kids eyes frowned. ¨Yes, yoi.¨ He said, moving slowly closer, hands still held out in front of him. ¨You are safe, yoi.¨ Aces eyes seemed to try to focus, but it seemed like Ace could not recognize him completely for some reason. ¨Safe…¨ He could hear Ace say softly. Marco nodded, ¨Yes, yoi. Safe.¨

He was only a couple of feet away, when he could see the kid’s eyes closing, as he fell forward.

Marco managed to catch him before he fell to the ground. When Marco held him, he pulled him towards himself and off Thatch. He then sent a look to the others. ¨Izou!¨ He yelled out, ¨Check Thatch!¨ He could see Izou nodding, and hurried towards his boyfriend. Marco then looked down on the kid. He then took the assassins mask off, and moved some of the assassin’s hair away so he could get a good look at him. He was covered in blood, and Marco had no idea how much of the blood was his. The kid was breathing and was out cold, hopefully only asleep. Marco then lifted his gaze, and looked at Thatch who had managed to sit up, and was holding a hand to his shoulder, blood seeping through.

And Thatch looked absolutely horrified.

Marco took a deep breath, this was bad. He then looked at the kid in his arms, before looking at his father, who looked shocked and worried. Marco then lifted the kid up in his arms, not caring about the blood that got on him. He looked at Izou and Thatch, the latter staring at them in fear. ¨Izou, get a nurse to look at Thatch, yoi.¨ He said, before he took off, almost running towards the infirmary.

---x---

Whitebeard stared in shock at what unfolded in front of him. He and the others had heard Marco shout their missing family member’s name, and it sounded panicked. Marco was never panicked without a reason. The moment they got to the door, they saw a bloody Ace sitting on Thatch, one arm in a death grip, and a dagger in his other; A dagger they only hoped had not struck the chef. Whitebeard was about to try to say something, when a hand gesture from his son stopped him. The captain watched as Marco slowly walked towards the young assassin, saying words of comfort and kept using his speech habit.

Whitebeard understood what his son was doing, and let him take the lead.

The captain felt his worry spike when Ace fell forward and Marco cached him. He saw the panicked and worried eyes as Marco ordered Izou to check on Thatch, before looking Ace over. Whitebeard then saw Thatch sit up with the help of Izou, a hand on his shoulder, blood seeping through his finger, and looking fearfully at Ace. This was bad, Ace was injured and panicked, and he had injured Thatch in his panic causing him to look at Ace in fear. The captain got one last look from his son, before lifting Ace in his arms, and running off towards the infirmary, giving a command to Izou about having a nurse look at Thatch.

The captain stared after his son, before he moved towards Thatch. ¨Son,¨ He said, voice calm, but worried. ¨Are you okay?¨ Thatch looked at him and nodded slowly, still in shock. Whitebeard saw Tifa, a young nurse, rush past him and crouched besides Thatch. There were always a couple of nurses on deck at all times just in case something happened. ¨Pops,¨ He could hear from behind him, and turned to look at Haruta, who pointed towards something to his right. Whitebeard looked over, and could see Dust standing there, moving his body and head a bit oddly. The captain took a step towards the bird, and stood shocked when the bird lifted its wings and snapped at him.

Something was really wrong.

¨Dust?¨ He said slowly, and watched as the bird lowered its wings, and let out a small caw. The captain then crouched down, and brought his hand towards Dust. The moment his hand touched the bird, it flinched. ¨It’s okay,¨ Said the captain, not moving his hand. ¨You are back on the boat.¨ The bird shook his head a bit, before leaning on the captains hand. Whitebeard, seeing the bird calmed down, lifted it and petted it a bit. When he turned towards Thatch, he looked a bit more composed as Tifa looked at the wound. ¨Daughter,¨ Said the captain, getting the nurse’s attention. ¨Is it bad?¨ Tifa shook her head a bit. ¨It isn’t too bad, but it’ll need stitches.¨ Whitebeard nodded. They had an emergency kit in the meeting room, and he thought it was best to keep as many out of the infirmary for now. ¨How about we all go into the meeting room, and you can patch Thatch up there?¨  He said, and the others nodded.

Everyone then stood up, Izou and Tifa helping Thatch, and they moved to the meeting room again.

When they got to the room and sat down, Tifa went and fetched the emergency kit, before starting to work on Thatchs shoulder. Whitebeard lifted a pillow from a stool, and put it on the table, placing the bird on top of it. After Dust looked comfortable, he looked over at Thatch. ¨Son,¨ He said, getting the attention. ¨What happened?¨ Thatch shook his head, ¨I-, I’m not sure,¨ He started, ¨I heard something and saw Ace, and was walking towards him, just happy to see him.¨ Thatch flinched as the needle pierced him. ¨I heard Marco say something, and turned to him, and before I knew anything, Ace locked my arm behind my back and forced me to the ground. I then heard Marco yell, and a piercing pain in my shoulder.¨

¨Marco then spoke to Ace, and Ace mumbled something before he went limp.¨

The others nodded. They had not heard Ace mumble, being too far away. And hoped he was okay. Something must be wrong for him to not realize who he was sitting on. He was also looking straight at Marco without reacting. Tifa then put a bandage on his shoulder, ¨There.¨ She said, before lifting his arm a bit. ¨Does your arm hurt at all? He did bend it harshly and hold it in place.¨  Thatch shook his head, ¨It’s okay, only a bit sore.¨ Tifa nodded, and packed the emergency kit back together. It was at times like this, that the captain was thankful for Bay putting the kits here and there, as well as keeping her nurses out. Thatch looked at his father, ¨What should we do now, Pops?¨ He asked. Whitebeard sighed, ¨For now, we wait for news from Bay or Marco.¨ He said. Everyone nodded, before starting a somewhat tense conversation.

2 hours later, the door opened and Bay walked inside. Before anyone had managed to say anything, Marco walked in behind her, carrying Ace, who now was cleaned up and was wearing regular clothes.

Everyone looked at them in worry, ¨He’s only asleep.¨ Said Bay, making them nod a bit. Marco went and placed the young man on the couch, dragging a blanket over him, before taking a place next to his father, looking tired. ¨How is he, daughter?¨ Asked the captain, looking at the doctor in concern, why wasn’t Ace in the infirmary? Instead of answering him, or looking at him, the doctor made her way over to Dust. ¨Dust,¨ Said the doctor, making the bird lift its head. ¨Was Ace close to a flashbang?¨ The bird nodded, and let out a caw. ¨Was he blinded by it?¨ A nod and a caw again, and realization dawned on them.

Ace could not see when he got on the boat.

Ace had probably teleported back to the ship in a small panic and confusion, not being able to see clearly. Thatch had probably gotten to close before the kid had managed to figure out where he was, and therefor attacked on instinct. The way the kid held himself when he sat on top of Thatch, was the same way the assassin held himself when he was working. He had no idea who Thatch was. Bay frowned a bit, and held her hand in front of Dust, no reaction until she had her hand straight in front of him. ¨Dust, where you blinded too?¨ The bird nodded and let out a tiny caw. The captain closed his eyes, not even Dust knew where they were. It was no wonder why Ace and Dust seemed so disoriented as they were. He heard Bay telling the bird it would go over soon, to just relax.

The captain then looked at his daughter, ¨Daughter,¨ He said, getting her attention. ¨Why is Ace here and not in the infirmary?¨ Bay shook her head a bit, letting out a sigh. ¨If what Commander Marco told me was true, Commander Ace was not sure where he was.¨ The others nodded. ¨Commander Ace told me a few days ago he doesn’t like the infirmary, it brought back bad memories. And for him to wake up there, is not the best solution at the moment.¨ She then motioned for Marco, ¨What Commander Marco did worked, and waking up to familiar voices and faces is the best we could come up with.¨

She then looked at everyone in the room. ¨You don’t all have to be here, but if you stay, speak clearly and don’t make any rash movements.¨ The occupants nodded, and looked at their father. When he nodded, signalizing he agreed with the decision, they all agreed to stay, wanting to know how their young brother was doing. Bay then made her way over to Thatch, checking the arm over herself. When she seemed okay with what Tifa had done, sending an approving look at her. Bay then crouched down and looked Thatch dead in the eyes,

¨Are you afraid of him now?¨ She asked.

When Thatch tried to answer, but not managing, only sending a lost look at her and his father, they understood. Thatch was scared of Ace. Bay shook her head. ¨It’s okay if you are,¨ She started. ¨It is like falling of a horse. You are afraid to get back on, but when you do, the fear disappears.¨ Bay then looked softly at him. ¨No one blames you if you are, and he did not know it was you.¨ Thatch nodded, and took Izous hand, clutching it tightly, and looking at his father, who looked comfortingly back. They would handle it as it came. Thatch was though, only a bit shaken. Ace could be terrifying when he was acting like the assassin. No one did blame him.

Bay then did a quick check on Dust again, and was smiling when Dust nodded when she asked if he could see better. Birds did have sensitive eyes, and a flashbang could have made damage, but it looked good if it got better, the bird only needed to relax. Bay also decided to wait with them, wanting to check Ace over when he woke up.

An hour later, Dust stood up, and flew over to Aces sleeping form, settling on his chest. This caused the pirates to smile, knowing the bird could see enough to orient himself, and hoped the young commander would wake up, just so they could see that he was okay.

---x---

Ace could hear voices, voices talking. Why was he hearing voices? He didn’t remember falling asleep arou-. Ace sat up in a haste, remembering the mansion and not being able to see. The moment he was up, he instantly regretted the movement as his head just hurt. He swore he heard Dust making a noise, but he wasn’t sure. His eyes instantly closed as they opened, everything was blurry and his eyes hurt. ¨Ace, yoi?¨ He heard a voice ask to his right. Ace turned his head, and opened his eyes. He could faintly see the outline of what most likely was the first commander. Ace blinked, trying to clear his vision. When he opened them again, he could see a bit more clearly, and saw not only Marco, but all the commanders, captain and Bay looking at him worriedly.

¨Marco?¨ He asked, as he brought a hand to his head, trying to clear it. What had happened and how did he get back? Before he had managed to think more about it, he heard more than one relieved sigh, and felt some movement on his legs. When he opened his eyes again, and looked down, he was glad to see Dust, who looked okay. Ace smiled as he moved his hand and petted the bird. ¨Are you okay?¨ He asked the bird, and felt happy when the bird cawed.

¨Commander Ace.¨ Ace turned his head to Bay, who had stood up and was walking towards him cautiously. Ace was wondering why she was acting cautious. But when she saw Ace looking normal, even blinking to clear his vision again, she moved with more confidence. ¨How is your sight?¨ She asked, as she was in front of him. Ace shook his head a bit. ¨It’s a bit blurry, but otherwise okay.¨ Bay nodded, and dragged out a flashlight, checking his eyes real quick. When she was done, Ace closed his eyes again, and when he opened them, Bay held out a pill. ¨For your headache.¨ Ace didn’t even try to hide the fact he was in pain, as he took the small pill and a glass of water from Marco, who had walked up to him too.

After Ace had taken the pill, and felt his eyes clearing a bit more by blinking. He looked at everyone in the room, and everyone was looking at him in worry. ¨Why am I in the meeting room?¨ He asked, looking at them. Bay frowned, ¨You don’t remember?¨ She asked. Ace frowned a bit, remember what? He remembered getting out of the mansion, and teleporting to what he hoped was safety. Someone approaching him, and attacking the person, thinking his power had done a mishap… And a voice, Marcos panicked voice. Ace looked at the commanders again, and when he saw Thatchs injured shoulder, as well as the smallest flinch. He felt horrible as he connected the dots.

He had attacked the fourth commander, thinking he was an enemy. This was why he kept his distance to others, he was dangerous.

Ace massaged his face a bit, and sent a look of regret and apology at the man. ¨I’m really sorry, Thatch.¨ He started. ¨I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t know it was you.¨ He could see Thatch nodding a bit, his face looking unsure. ¨Son,¨ he heard the captain say, and Ace looked at the man. Whitebeard had a concerned look at his face as he looked at him. ¨What happened?¨ Ace gave sigh, he owned them an explanation. Ace looked at them, and closed his eyes again, trying to get the last bit of blurriness away.

¨When I got to my destination, a gigantic mansion, I went inside to free a girl.¨ Started Ace. ¨When I was somewhere in the middle of the mansion, where the girl was supposed to be, there was no one. It was all a trap from a noble I sabotaged years ago.¨ Ace could see and feel everyone looking at him worriedly. ¨It all went a bit south from there, and before I managed to get out, someone threw a flashbang and I wasn’t fast enough to shield my eyes.¨ Ace sighed. ¨I managed to get out, and I unconsciously teleported here.¨ Ace sent an another apologetic look at the chef. ¨I couldn’t see where I landed, and only felt someone approaching me. I had no idea it was Thatch. I thought my powers were confused as a result of seastone and was still in danger.¨

Ace looked at Thatch, who nodded, understanding more what had happened. ¨I’m sorry, I reacted on instinct. I hope your shoulder isn’t too injured.¨ He said to the chef. Thatch nodded, a hand unconsciously going to his shoulder. ¨It’s just a small cut, its fine.¨ He said, and Ace nodded. Ace then sighed, and looked at Dust, who seemed to have a concerned look himself as he looked at his master. ¨Do you feel up for a small trip?¨ He asked the bird, who cawed and gave a small nod. Ace could feel the confused looks of the occupants of the room, but ignored them for now. ¨I need you to go Amegakure and tell Daisuke I am taking a few days off.¨ Dust cawed, and disappeared.

Ace could technically just not answer his requests and wait for a few days. But he didn’t like to know people needed help and he was ignoring them. He knew Daisuke could manage to fill in a bit, sending others in his name. He had done this a couple of times. And if it was something he himself needed to do, Daisuke would either tell him, or send a note saying he would show up in a couple of days. Ace sighed, as he turned his attention back to the other pirates. ¨Son,¨ Started the captain. ¨Can you take a few days off?¨ Ace smiled at them, he understood what he meant.

¨I can, Daisuke will manage to fill in.¨ He said. 

The captain nodded, a fatherly smile at his face. ¨Who’s Daisuke?¨ Asked Rakuyo, not knowing who the man was. Ace shook his head a bit, ¨An old friend.¨ He started, and when most of them nodded, still a bit confused on how someone could manage his job, he decided to let a bit of information out. ¨He is a leader of an assassins guild. I have worked with him for years.¨ He said, knowing all of them had heard about the Red Cloud, and could see them connecting the dots. The pirates nodded, and smiled back. ¨So,¨ Started Haruta, looking at him. ¨You won’t get any work for a few days?¨ Ace nodded, ¨I won’t. There is a slight chance if something big comes up, but I have a feeling it won’t.¨ Ace smiled at them, ¨I need a break anyway.¨

The pirates looked glad at that, knowing Ace would not get any work for a few days. Ace stretched a bit. ¨I need to get to know everyone better anyway, and this is a good time to do just that.¨ The pirates nodded, smiling back at him. Ace then moved his legs a bit, so he sat on the couch, legs on the floor. And was about to stand up, when Thatch moved. Ace seeing the small unsure look, decided to remain seated. The occupants watched as the chef stood up, and slowly walked over to the young assassin. When he was in front of Ace, he stopped for a second, a bit of fear in his mind. Ace smiled a comforting smile, trying to look as unthreatening he could.

Thatch wasn’t the first one to fear him after he had accidentally attacked them.

Ace then held his arm out, ¨Help me up?¨ He asked. Thatch took his hand slowly, and helped him stand. When he was upright, Ace dusted some dust off himself, and was about to thank the man, when he was suddenly hugged by the chef. ¨I’m glad you’re okay.¨ Said the chef, and Ace smiled as he hugged back. Glad Thatch didn’t fear him so much he was avoiding him, as many others had. ¨I’m glad to be back.¨ When they let go, everyone were smiling at them.

Dust then reappeared with an envelope in his mouth. Ace took it, opened it and looked it over. ¨Daisuke can fill in for 3-4 days.¨ He said with a smile. The captain smiled at him. ¨That’s good to hear, son.¨ Everyone nodded at that, Thatch putting his arm around Ace. ¨Let’s go and get some night snacks.¨ He said and started walking towards the galley with Ace. ¨Who else is hungry?¨ He asked as he continued to walk. Everyone nodded, some shaking their heads, as they followed. They had stayed up almost all night, and had not eaten for a bit, and food did seem like a good idea.

Whitebeard and Marco was the last ones to leave the room. ¨The next days are going to be good and calm.¨ Started the captain, looking at Marco. ¨Don’t you think so too, son?¨  He said, as they slowly followed the others. Having Ace not going on assignments was going to be nice. He had had a lot of work the last week, and they had seen little of him. Marco nodded, ¨I think so too, yoi.¨ He said, as they followed the others.

Chapter Text

Whitebeard stood up from his seat in the galley. They had just had their midnight snack, and Whitebeard wanted to spend a bit of time around his children before everyone went to bed. Many of them had already left, but a few was left. When Thatch went to do the dishes, Izou, Marco and Curiel joining him, Whitebeard decided to head back to his rooms, deciding sleep was a good idea. It was late, almost closing in on morning. When the captain got out on deck, he gave a smile to everyone on watch, before heading towards his rooms.

Whitebeard was relieved when he found out Ace was okay, but when he understood he had been blinded, and had been confused when getting back on the ship. He thought they maybe should have some sort of plan if it happened again, which the captain didn’t hope for, but knew could happen. He was also worried Ace was still not sure where he was when he woke up. He had sat up in what had looked like alarm and small panic. He was worried when he made no real movement after that, and did look like to be in pain. When Marco said his name, he could see the kid blinking, and he understood his eyes was still not completely back to normal. When the kid opened his eyes again, he looked like he could see better. But he still had made Bay stand up, but she didn’t approach him, still worried he might be on the alert.

When Ace had said the commanders name, even cradling his head. He could not help the relieved sigh, knowing he was no longer as confused as to where he was. When Bay did the small examination, nodding to herself when the kid closed his eyes, he knew it would fix itself. The kid had admitted it was blurry, and that was no surprise, a flashbang was capable enough to cause effect for a long time. When Ace asked why he was in the meeting room, he got worried that Ace didn’t remember getting back to the boat. After Bay asked if he didn’t remember, he saw the kid thinking, and could see when he realized what had happened as he looked on Thatch.

He knew the kid felt bad about injuring Thatch, and could clearly see the regret on his face. When Ace then explained what had happened, he was grateful he was not more injured. It looked like it really had gone south based on all the blood he was covered in, he could only imagine. When Ace sent Dust to the assassin’s base, asking him to tell the leader he was taking a break. He felt a bit confused, but had a feeling it was not the first time he had done it, and felt even more happy knowing he would have a few days off. The moment Thatch stood up, and approached the now sitting kid, and Ace asking Thatch to help him stand, he hoped everything would turn out fine. The moment Thatch hugged Ace, he was completely sure everything was going to be fine.

As he made his way over the deck, and was closing in on his door. He could see a person standing at the front of the ship, looking relaxed as usual. Whitebeard decided sleep could wait a bit longer as he slowly made his way up to the young assassin.

¨How’s your eyes, son?¨ He asked when he was besides the young commander. He felt glad when the kid turned and gave a smile to him. ¨They’re fine. A bit sensitive, but fine.¨ The captain smiled as he nodded. It was no surprise hearing they were a bit sensitive, and would probably be for a few hours. He had a feeling the kid’s eyes hurt when he looked at light, and hoped he would head in before the sun rose. The kid did need to sleep, he had not slept for a day, possibly longer. He knew Ace had somewhat been sleeping after he got back, but that wasn’t real sleep.

Ace turned back to the ocean, and enjoyed a breeze that came. When the wind stopped, he gave a sigh. ¨Whitebeard.¨ He said, getting the captains attention. ¨It does happen that things go wrong when I have an assignment, like this one.¨ Whitebeard nodded, even though Ace was not looking at him. Ace then reached and took a folded piece of paper out and handed it to the captain. Whitebeard opened it, and was a bit surprised to see a number there. ¨If,¨ Continued the assassin, getting his attention again. ¨I am for some reason gone for more than 24 hours, and you have not heard anything, call that number.¨ Ace lifted his head a bit and closed his eyes as a gust of wind came again. ¨It’s the number to Daisuke. He will most likely have some information.¨ The captain smiled at that, and put the paper in his pocket.

¨Does it happen often?¨ Asked the captain. A bit worried it happen more often than he thought.

Ace shook his head. ¨It doesn’t happen often.¨ Started the kid. ¨At least not as bad as this one. I will be late for an hour or few every now and then. And if something comes up, I will send Dust to tell if I’ll be really late if I can manage it.¨ The captain nodded, glad to know he at least had some reassurance. He was also a bit curious about this Daisuke. ¨Are you and Daisuke friends?¨ Ace laughed a bit at that, shaking his head. ¨We’re not friends exactly. We are somewhere between allies and friends.¨ The captain nodded. He understood what Ace meant. Ace then sighed, before looking a bit up at the night sky. ¨I know you won’t, but I still want to mention it, just to be sure.¨ The captain nodded, and waited for Ace to continue. ¨Don’t call Daisuke unless you really need to, even if I am gone for long. And I do trust the others, but I would appreciate if you didn’t tell them about this.¨ The captain nodded, ¨I promise I won’t.¨ He said, smiling at the assassin, who also smiled, hearing his promise.

Whitebeard felt reassured, knowing he at least had something he could do if something happened. And he would not call the man unless he really felt the need to. He was a leader of an assassin’s guild. The captain also knew Ace was a bit reluctant of giving information like this, and it made Whitebeard glad, knowing Ace trusted him with this information. He would not break that trust, knowing if he did, he had a feeling it would be basically impossible to gain it back. Ace was a careful and cautious person. He was glad to know he was gaining his trust. It was a slow progress, but a progress none the less.

They then stood in silence, enjoying the rest of the night. It was when they could faintly see the rays of the rising sun, that Ace stood a bit up and stretched. ¨I’ll think I’ll head in now.¨ The captain smiled, ¨You should get a bit of sleep, son.¨ Ace gave a small laugh at that, sending a smile at the captain. ¨I’ll try. Goodnight.¨ The captain smiled back, ¨Goodnight, son.¨ He said, and watched the young assassin walk towards his room. When the door closed, Whitebeard walked towards his rooms, and gave a nod to Marco, who he met halfway.

---x---

Ace stretched as he walked out of his room. He had slept for a few hours, and felt refreshed and his eyes finally stopped hurting. After he had gone to his room, he had done some paperwork before going to sleep. He was happy that he was going to have a few days off, a small break. He had also sent a note to Daisuke, telling him that Whitebeard had his number in case something happened, as well as sending the number to the Moby to him. Ace hoped he didn’t do a mistake by giving the captain the number. He knew the man was truthful to his words, but Ace was still a bit unsure of trusting others.

The clock was around 10, so it wasn’t too late, and he had had a few rough days, so he didn’t think too much about it. When he got out on deck, he could see most of the commanders and many of the divisions already up. It was a sunny day, and everyone was in a good mood. Most of the ones up on deck had their attention on Fossa and Vista, who were sparring. And Ace managed to go by them and jump on the railing without anyone noticing him. As he sat on the railing and watched the two commanders spar, he could not help but look at their techniques. They were both decent swordsmen, but both had certain things they could improve.

Ace watched them for half an hour, and decided to say what he thought when they took a small break. ¨Vista,¨ Said Ace making everyone turning towards him, many of them shocked to see him sitting there, not seeing him get out on deck. ¨When Fossa goes in for an attack, keep your legs a bit more apart and your left foot more forward as well as a bit turned to the right.¨ Vista nodded, and got into the stance Ace mentioned, and waited for Fossa to go for an another attack. When Fossa did, Vista now standing in a more defensive stance, managed to fend him off easier and keep his balance better. Vista looked at a bit shocked at a such small change had a such big impact.

Ace nodded, and looked at Fossa. ¨Fossa. When you go for an attack, only use your right hand, and when your sword hit your opponent, put your other hand on the sword to push them off balance.¨ Fossa nodded, and went in for an attack. When Vista blocked, Fossa put his hand on the back of the sword and pushed off. Seeing as Vista didn’t have the stance in completely, he was easily pushed off balance, giving Fossa the second he needed to get in an another attack, winning that time. When Vista was up again, they went at it again, using Ace’s tips. Ace sat and watched them, a bit impressed to see how well they adapted. ¨Good morning, yoi.¨ Said Marco, coming up to him. ¨Good morning.¨ Said Ace back, and watched as Marco leaned against the railing. ¨Your tips on improvement is accurate and impressive, yoi.¨ Said the commander, smiling at Ace.

Ace nodded, ¨I give them based on how they fight from before. Small changes can do a lot of difference.¨ The first commander nodded. They then sat and watched as the two other commanders sparred for a bit, getting the hang of the small changes, making their attacks and blocks better. When they were finished with sparring, both a bit out of breath, Fossa made his way over to Ace and Marco. ¨Thanks for the tip, it worked really well.¨ Said the fifteenth commander. Ace nodded, smiling at the man. ¨You are welcome. You only need to work a bit on your stance, it is a bit off.¨ The man nodded, and leaned against the railing too.

Ace then noticed a smell he faintly recognized and looked at the swordsman. ¨Fossa,¨ Said Ace, getting his attention again. ¨Is your sword soaked in flammable liquid?¨ He asked, and could see the small shock on his face. ¨Yes,¨ He said, as he brought his sword out, and Ace could see it glistening. ¨How did you know that?¨ Ace gave a smile. ¨I could smell the liquid, what kind is it?¨ The man smiled, looking excited by the fact Ace was interested. ¨It is Formaldehyde Liquid.¨ Ace nodded, that was a real flammable liquid. That was smart, and Fossa could ignite it with his cigar. But there were other substances he also could use.

¨Have you heard of Chlorine trifluoride before?¨ He asked, looking at the man.

Fossa shook his head. Ace smiled, ¨It’s not a common substance.¨ Started Ace. ¨But it is more flammable than Formaldehyde and it’s also poisonous.¨ Fossa looked a bit shocked. ¨That sounds effective, I have never heard about anyone using it before.¨ Ace nodded. ¨I can understand that. It is a very corrosive substance, but it is manageable with the right precautions.¨ Fossa looked interested at that, ¨You know how to do that?¨ Ace nodded, ¨I have a bit of experience with it.¨ He said, and could see the man looking happy at that. ¨However,¨ Continued Ace. ¨It is poisonous as I said. Just having it around can be dangerous, and accidents happen.¨ Fossa nodded, ¨I’ll talk to Pops about it.¨ Ace smiled and nodded. ¨You should also speak to Bay too, just to be sure she have means to counter the poison.¨ Fossa nodded, that was something he also needed to do.

Fossa gave a friendly look at Ace, ¨I’ve never met anyone interested in this before.¨ Ace laughed, sending a smile. ¨Every technique is special in its own way. It is always good to see different kinds. I have never met one who uses liquids on swords, but I have met people who uses it on maces.¨ That caught his interest a bit. ¨You have?¨ Asked Fossa, a bit surprised and interested. Ace nodded. And for the next hour, Ace and Fossa talked about different liquids and chemicals that people used. Fossa really did enjoy that. He had always had an interest in that kind of things, but never met anyone who knew much about it. He felt happy he now had someone to talk to about it.

---x---

Ace sat and took a bite of a sandwich he had gotten from the galley. It was a bit after lunch, and they were closing in on an island they were going to dock at. Ace had to say he enjoyed having a few days off, it was always nice to get a break every now and then. He did like to sit around and relax, but he didn’t like it for too long. He was used to have a lot to do, and did like that. He was sitting and watching the others enjoy the day, when he felt someone approaching him, and looked over to see Kingdew.

Ace smiled at the man as he went towards him. Ace had not been too much around the eleventh commander, and hoped to get to know him a bit better. ¨Ace,¨ Said the man, when he was closer. ¨I wondered if you had any experience in hand to hand combat?¨ Ace nodded, ¨I do.¨ Kingdew nodded, ¨Could you help me a bit with that?¨ Ace nodded, and took the last bite of his sandwich before stretching a bit. Ace had some skill in almost every fighting style, but he had always enjoyed hand to hand the most. And he did find it easy to bond with others through helping them in fighting. He enjoyed it, and always enjoyed to see others getting better.

The others on deck, seeing Ace and Kingdew move a bit away from the railing, understood what they were doing, and gave them some space. When Ace stopped and turned around to face Kingdew, he could see the man a bit unsure what to do now. Ace had usually just given them tips based on how they stood, and never battled them. The only one he had dueled with was Whitebeard. Kingdew was taller than Ace, but that would not be a problem for him, he had both fought and dueled with people taller than him before. Ace had also not seen how Kingdew fought, and therefore could not give him any pinpoints of the bat. And Ace needed to see how he fought, so he got into a small defensive stance. ¨Why don’t we start off with me defending while you attack?¨ Kingdew nodded, and got into a battle stance himself.

Kingdew focused his attention on Ace, and charged. Ace stood ready, and when the eleventh commander tried to hit Ace with his right hand, Ace used his hands to avert the oncoming fist, and jumped when the other commander tried to trip him. As Ace was in the air, the commanders foot was underneath him as well as the arm going in for an attack again. Ace used his foot to jump off and do a somersault over the man, shocking him a bit. When Ace landed, he got back into a defensive stance, and Kingdew did not hesitate in turning around and lifting his foot into a kick and getting a lot of speed as he turned. Ace did a backflip and avoided the leg.

Ace was impressed by how sturdy the man was. Kingdew had a good stance and Ace could tell he was skilled. Kingdew then started to use his hands most, and Ace decided to mostly block, dodge and avoid the other’s attacks, just to see how fast and adapted the man was. And Ace was pleased to see the man get more confident in the fact that Ace could avoid his attacks, and stepped up the pace, putting more speed and force in his attacks. As Kingdew tried with all his power to get a hit on Ace, but could not seeing how adapted Ace was in evasive maneuvering. Kingdew was fast, but Ace was faster.

Ace could feel the looks of the others on the deck, especially the captain’s. None of them had seen Ace use his speed, and they were impressed. It was after a bit, that Ace decided to change it up a bit, and started to throw in his own small attacks, too see how the man could defend himself. And after a bit, they were both throwing in attacks. Ace was holding back, using the same kind of speed and force as Kingdew was using, to make a small challenge for the man, but not too much. Ace was also intentionally sending his attacks in certain places, to see how the man would block or avoid. It was after Ace avoided an attack to his head, and threw his own towards the other, that he decided to end it.

When Kingdew went in for an attack on Aces left side, Ace used extra force on the man’s arm when he blocked it, knowing he would lose his balance based on his stance. As soon as the man stumbled, Ace gave a quick push to his arm, making him fall to his knee. The moment the man’s knee touched the deck, Ace had his foot headed directly for the commander’s head in great speed and force. When Aces foot was a mere inch from the man’s head, he stopped, not wanting to actually hurt the man. After a second of standing like this, he could hear claps from the others, impressed by the small duel they had had. Ace then lowered his foot, and helped the man up.

¨You have good techniques.¨ Said Ace, when the man was up again. Kingdew nodded, ¨And you are remarkably fast.¨ Ace laughed a bit at that. ¨I guess I am a bit fast.¨ Ace could see many of the crew that had watched them nod in agreement. After Kingdew had dusted himself off a bit, Ace decided to tell him what he thought. ¨You have a good stance,¨ Started the assassin. ¨But when you go in for a low attack with your right arm, your stance is a bit amiss. Making it easy to put you off balance.¨ Kingdew nodded, and understood.  Ace then did a stance like the man did, ¨When you go in for an attack with your right arm, remember to keep your right leg a bit forward.¨ Ace showed him, and Kingdew nodded again, before trying it out.

Ace nodded, he still had to practice, but it was better. ¨Your attacks are also good, you only need to make them a bit faster and stronger with practice.¨  Kingdew looked at Ace before smiling, looking happy Ace had given him a small praise. He thought he would say something different since he had not been able to land a single hit. ¨But your blocking and dodging can get some improvement, just to make it easier to get an upper hand on your opponent.¨ The commander looked a bit curious and interested at that. ¨When you block or dodge, try to use your opponent’s movement to your advantage.¨ Started Ace, ¨When you block, try to make the one you are facing lose his balance.¨ Kingdew nodded, ¨Like you did?¨ He asked. Ace nodded, ¨Yes. Almost everyone have a weak side, usually their non-dominant side.¨

Kingdew nodded, and Ace began telling him how to sight someone who had a weak side, and how to use it to his advantage. Ace could teach him more on how to use his opponent attacks to his gain. But that would be easier when he was a bit more adapt at the easier techniques, and Ace would teach him that later when he had gotten better at what he was currently teaching him.

---x---

The boat had just docked, and everyone were ready to go to land. There were a few that were going to stay on the boat, but seeing as it was an island controlled by them, they didn’t keep as tight watch as usual. It was also at these islands Whitebeard managed to be with most of his commander at the island, seeing as they usually only had one or two commander left on the ship with some other from different divisions. It was a bit after dinner time, and everyone were ready to have some fun and relax.

Everyone were getting ready to go to land, the ones that had friends, even family, were really excited. Ace had borrowed a piece of clothing from Izou, just to show he was a part of the Whitebeards, since his cape was not finished yet. It was a scarf, and Ace had tied it around his waist. When he had made his way out on deck, and everyone had seen him wearing the scarf, many smiled seeing him wearing the mark that signalized he was a part of the family.

Ace was making his way towards the side of the deck, when a voice made him stop. ¨Ace, yoi.¨ Ace turned, and faced the first commander, who was walking up to him. ¨You want to go to town?¨ Ace nodded. ¨Yes. I would like to look around, maybe visit some shops.¨ The first commander nodded. ¨Do you mind if I tag along, yoi?¨ He asked, hoping Ace would not mind. The kid shook his head, ¨I don’t mind at all.¨ He said, smiling at the first commander, who smiled back.

As they walked off the boat together, the captain and Izou shared a look, before they also walked off, Izou holding hands with Thatch.

---x---

Ace and Marco walked into a bookstore Ace was interested in. They had visited some weapon shops, as well as some other places either he or Ace wanted to check out. They had been walking around for a few hours, and were thinking of heading towards the tavern were most of the others where. When they got inside, Marco could see the shop owner looking a bit shocked, before smiling a smile. This was a usual reaction for Marco, he was not the one to walk in shops and look around. But he didn’t mind it. He then walked over to Ace, who already was checking a book out.

¨Are you looking for a special book, yoi?¨ He asked, wanting to know if he maybe could help. Ace shook his head, as he put the book back, before looking through an another one. ¨I’m not,¨ Started Ace. ¨I just want to see if they have something interesting.¨ He said smiling at Marco before checking an another book out. Marco nodded, before he also went to look through some books beside the young assassin.

They had been in the store for about 10 minutes, and Ace had already looked through a few books, but none seemed to get his attention. It was when Ace got out the next book, Marco though Ace might had found something. Ace had a smile on his face as he looked through it, even reading a few pages. Marco smiled himself, and hoped Ace would buy the book. He looked like he was interested in it. He was about to ask the kid about it, when a noise made him turn his head. And when he did, he could see a young girl had tried to reach a book a bit high up, and had ended up on the floor with a few books strewn around herself. Before Marco could make any movement, a book was placed in his hands as Ace made his way towards the girl, helping her up and placing the books back in the shelf.

Marco smiled as he went to put the book Ace had looked at back in the shelf. Ace was really kind, and it only made Marco admire him even more. As Marco was about to take his hand off the book, a hand stopped him. He looked over to see the shop owner, an old lady, pushing the book back towards him. Marco looked a bit puzzled at her. ¨Give the book to him. He obviously liked it.¨ She said, and smiled a kind smile. ¨And you obviously like him.¨ Marco was a bit stunned at that, seeing as the old lady instantly thought that. But even before he managed to open his mouth, the old lady raised an eyebrow. ¨You must be a fool to not see that.¨ She then shoved him a bit towards Ace. ¨And don’t think about the payment, commander.¨ She said, giving an another kind smile. Marco smiled, and said a thank you, before walking to Ace and the little girl.

 ¨Thank you, mister.¨ Said the little girl when Marco was beside them. The girl then gave a bow, and walked towards the shop owner with the book she wanted. When Ace stood up, Marco handed him the book. ¨Here, yoi.¨ Ace took the book, smiling a bit. ¨Shouldn’t we pay for it?¨ Asked Ace when Marco headed for the door. Marco shook his head, turning towards the young assassin. ¨It is already been taken care off, yoi.¨ He said, sending a thankful look at the shop owner. Ace then gave a really kind smile to Marco, which made his heart flutter. ¨Thank you.¨ He said as he put the book in a pouch. Marco and Ace gave their goodbye to the shop owner, before heading out of the shop.

When they were outside, they could see the sun setting. ¨Should we head to the others?¨ Asked Ace, looking at the first commander. Marco knew they should do that, but he also wanted to be more with the other man. Marco sighed inside him, they should head back, he could spend more time with Ace later. Marco nodded, ¨I think we should, yoi.¨ He said, and they started to walk towards the tavern Marco knew they would be at.

When they were closing in on the tavern, the biggest one on the island, Ace turned to the first commander. ¨Marco,¨ Said Ace, getting Marco’s attention. ¨I had really fun today. I hope we can do it again some time.¨ He ended with a smile. Marco could not help but smile back, Ace looked calm and happy. ¨I hope so too, and I also had fun, yoi.¨ He said, and felt warm inside when Ace smiled even more.

They then arrived and walked into the tavern. Ace going to some from his division, as Marco went and sat beside his father. ¨Did you have fun, son?¨ Asked the captain, looking at Marco. Marco smiled, ¨I did, yoi.¨ He said, and could see his father smiling. It had been a good day, and he hoped the night would be good too.

---x---

Marco sighed as he watched Thatch flirting with the barmaid. The chef was drunk, and based on the fact it was not even really late, the first commander could only imagine on how much of a nuisance the chef was going to be. Most of them was drunk to some level, some more than others. The ones that wasn’t too drunk was Izou, Haruta, Rakuyo, and surprisingly Pops. Marco could also see Ace, who had maybe had one drink, and was having a conversation with some from his division. Marco was also not drunk, his devil fruit preventing him from getting intoxicated. Marco watched as Izou managed to get Thatch away from the barmaid, and somehow making him sit silently.

Marco looked a bit around in the tavern, and was pleased to see everyone having fun. At least the ones that was there. Many of the crew decided to go to a noisier bar, many also going to brothels. The ones in the tavern was the ones that usually liked it to be a bit calmer, aside from Thatch who joined because Izou liked it there. It was a sizeable tavern, and it had music being played in the background and a good atmosphere that Marco was fond off. His father, who liked to party, also liked to have a calm night every now and then. The first commander also knew the captain liked to see his children relaxed and having fun.

Marco was a bit startled when someone sat down beside him. When he looked over, he was pleased to see it was Ace. ¨Having fun, yoi?¨ He asked, and smiled when Ace nodded. The two then watched as some people danced on the floor, some too drunk to stand by themselves and having a good time. It was both a funny and calming sight, seeing the people relax and just have fun. A few minutes later, a slow song started playing from the stage. Marco knew this song, and felt himself relax. ¨Hey Marco,¨ Said Ace suddenly, making the first commander look at him. ¨Do you know how to dance?¨ Marco managed to hide the shock he felt at the question as he nodded, ¨Yes, yoi.¨ He said. When Ace held out his hand, and smiled at the man. Marco felt his chest fill with hope.

¨Do you want to dance with me?¨ Asked Ace, smiling.

Marco smiled and nodded, taking Ace’s hand. When they got out on the floor, where some others also were dancing. Marco wondered what kind of dance Ace wanted to do. And before he could ask, Ace had already taking a hold of his hand, and pulled it to his waist. Before putting his own on top of his shoulder and holding onto the others. Marco could not help but smile, he had always been fond of waltz. He was even a bit surprised when Ace had put his hand on his waist. He didn’t expect a waltz, and he expected even less that he would lead. Marco, not expecting that, didn’t move, and was thinking about asking if he was going to lead. But before he had managed to ask, Ace had pulled him a bit, and Marco automatically started a classic waltz. And Marco was a bit shocked,

Ace was letting him lead.

He was amazed at how easily Ace moved with him, and the fact he was leading, especially seeing as it was usually the woman’s role. He had though Ace would want to lead, but that was apparently not the case. ¨Why am I leading, yoi?¨ Marco had to ask, he was just too curious. Ace raised an eyebrow, ¨Do you want me to lead?¨ Marco shook his head, ¨No, yoi. I was just curios.¨ He said, as he moved around on the dance floor. It had been a while since he had danced waltz, and it felt nice. Ace smiled, ¨I’ve always liked to dance waltz, and sometimes it’s nice to let other lead.¨ Said Ace. Marco nodded at that, and continued the dance.

Ace was a great dancer, at least in waltz. Marco decided to try something out, and let go of Ace’s waist. Ace got the idea, and did a spin, one hand still connected. While Ace did this, Marco could see both Izou and his father smiling at them. When Izou gave them thumbs up, he felt his eye twitch a bit. Then Ace was back, and they got in the original position again. And Marco felt warm inside in seeing the smile on Ace’s face. And could even see his own smile reflected in the young assassin’s black eyes.

This was perfect. Was the only thought Marco had in his mind. They were a great combination, and Marco could even feel his phoenix was happy. Dancing with Ace just felt right. When Marco turned them around, and could see Izou over the others shoulder, he could see the sixteenth commander mouthing ‘Dip him.’. Marco thought for a moment, should he try it? Ace seemed to be enjoying himself and was good dancer, he would probably not mind. Marco smiled as he decided he would do it. The song was coming to an end, and if he remembered correctly, a dip would fit perfectly with the end. Marco decided to give Ace an another spin, and would go for the dip when he was back in his arms. Marco was just about to put his hand back on Ace’s waist, and go for the dip, hoping Ace would not mind, when,

¨KIDDO!¨ Yelled an all to annoying voice, and Ace was gone from his grasp.

Marco could only stand dumbfounded on the floor as he watched Shanks lead Ace away, going on about something the first commander didn’t quite catch. He could see the apologetic look Ace sent him, seeing as the man had ruined their dance. Shanks had the most horrible timing there was. ¨Oi, Phoenix!¨ Said a voice behind him, and he turned to see Benn. ¨You have my permission to hit Shanks for that.¨ Said the man, before following his captain, looking annoyed.

Marco gave a sigh, and went over to Izou and his father. When he sat down, Izou looked sympathetically at him. ¨Where you going to dip him?¨ Marco only nodded, making Izou look a bit annoyed that Shanks ruined it. ¨I’m going to send Thatch at him tomorrow.¨ Marco nodded again, sending a thankful look at the other commander. He would also take up on what Benn had said. When he felt a small pat on his back, he didn’t even need to look up to see the sympathetically look his father must have at his face. Marco gave a sigh, as he took a cup and started to drink. And the day had been so perfect up until now.

---x---

Ace sighed when he was outside of the tavern, Shanks arm around his shoulder, leading him away. ¨Why are you here?¨ Asked Ace, knowing the man usually had a reason, and hoped it was a good one. Ace was a bit annoyed since the man had ruined the moment; Ace had enjoyed dancing with the first commander. Shanks sent a grin at the younger male, ¨I was close by, and decided to visit.¨ Ace felt his eyes twitch, ¨That’s it?¨ Asked Ace annoyed. Shanks nodded and grinned. ¨Do I need a reason to visit my favorite assassin?¨ Ace pinched his nose. Shanks laughed a bit, seeing the annoyed look Ace had. ¨I also have something I want to show you.¨ Ace threw a small glare at the man, making him take his arm off Ace. ¨And why,¨ Started Ace, ¨Could you not wait for a moment?¨ Shanks smiled a nervous smile, sensing Ace was annoyed, really annoyed.

¨It’s about your brothers, and I thought you wanted to know.¨ He said, making Ace sigh again. Ace wanted to hear about his brothers, but he also knew they were safe. Shanks didn’t need to ruin the dance. Ace really felt like someone was playing a cruel prank on him, not letting him enjoy himself as much as he wanted to. Shanks then walked a bit forward, going on about how Luffy and Sabo were training. Benn then came up beside him, and Ace looked at him. ¨Your captain have the worst timing.¨ He said, making Benn nod and laugh a bit. ¨He does.¨ Started Benn, sending a look at Ace. ¨You looked like you were enjoying yourself.¨ Ace nodded, ¨I was.¨ He said, making Benn look annoyed. ¨I am going to hit him over the head. You looked perfect together.¨ Ace laughed at that, before smiling a bit, hoping the first commander would not feel too bad about how their dance was interrupted.

Shanks was then suddenly behind them, ¨What are my two favorite people talking about?¨ He said in his usual excited voice. Ace gave a sigh, ¨I’ll meet you on the ship, I need to put some things away.¨ Ace then disappeared, making Shanks look confused at Benn. ¨Did I do something wrong?¨ He asked, and Benn felt his eye twitch. He used his hand to hit his captain over his head, ¨You are an idiot.¨ He said with a glare, making Shanks look at him in confusion, ¨What did I do?¨ Benn wanted to pinch his nose. His captain was a real idiot sometimes.

---x---

Izou made his way out of his rooms, hoping to the first commander, needing his help for the finishing touches on Ace’s cape. The sixteenth commander had sent Thatch at Shanks, telling him to make his life hell for a bit. The chef was oblivious as to why, but he always enjoyed to annoy the other captain, so he agreed. When the morning came, and after they had finished breakfast, Shanks had showed up again, Marco had just hit him over the head. Shocking the captain, who even had whined to Benn, who didn’t bat an eye. This caused most of the pirates to laugh. It was not unusual for Marco to be annoyed with the captain, he seemed to often annoy the commander on purpose.

And that was not the funniest part, the best was Shanks comment ‘Why is everyone hitting me? What have I done?’ Based on Benn’s look, he wanted to hit his captain, who somehow was oblivious as to what he had done. Izou also had a feeling the man had hit his captain before, based on his comment. And this made everyone who knew what had happen, snicker. Knowing Benn also was annoyed with his captain for ruining the moment between Ace and Marco.

Izou then noticed Marco leaning against the railing, staring intensely on something to his right. Izou looked over and could see Ace having a conversation with Shanks, and Ace seemed to be at ease with the captain. Izou had to laugh inside him, Marco actually looked like he was fuming a bit. ¨Marco,¨ Said Izou, getting the almost fuming man’s attention. ¨I need your help with something.¨ Marco looked at him, ¨With what, yoi?¨ He asked. Izou, not wanting to say out loud he was almost finished with the cape, just in case Ace somehow overheard, just motioned for the man to follow him. Marco gave a sigh, as he moved to follow the man.

When they got to Izou’s room and the man had closed the door, Marco turned to Izou. ¨What do you need help with, yoi?¨ He asked, following Izou as he made his way towards a mannequin where the cape hang. ¨I am almost finished with Aces cape.¨ Said Izou, taking the cape of the mannequin. ¨But I need someone to test it on, and you are basically the same size as Ace.¨ Marco gave a sigh, ¨Fine, yoi. I’ll help.¨ Izou smiled at that, ¨Perfect!¨ He said, as he made his way over to Marco, ¨Just stand still.¨ He said, as he put the cape on the first commander. Izou then walked around the man, just to see how it fit. As he was doing this, Marco was surprised on how light the cape was, and the soft material the cape had.

After Izou had done a round around Marco, he went and got some needles. ¨Try moving a bit around.¨ He said, and Marco obligated, doing regular movement. He halted every time Izou took a hold of the cape, and put a needle in it, before doing some basic movements again. After doing this for some time, the door opened and Thatch walked inside. When he got inside, and saw the back of the cape, he let out a whistle. ¨It looks amazing Izou.¨ He said, as he made his way over. Izou gave a smile and a nod, his mouth holding a few needles.  

It was about half an hour later Izou felt happy with the cape. He took the needles he had in his mouth, and put them back on his desk. ¨What do you think?¨ He asked both Thatch and Marco. Thatch nodded, giving Izou a big smile. ¨It is magnificent. Ace will love it!¨ He said, making Izou blush and smile back. He always enjoyed the praise from the other male. Marco, still wearing the cape, went over to the full-size mirror that was in the room, and looked at the cape. He was impressed by it, clearly one of Izous best works. It was a light red on the outside, with a white color on the inside. On the back was Whitebeards mark stamped in its big and beautiful purple color. The colors went really good with each other.

Marco had to check it out a bit. Trying to lift it and see how it moved. It was surprisingly light and moved easily with his body. The material was perfect and felt nice. The length was also good. Marco was a bit taller than Ace, but not much. Marco also tried the hood on, and he had a feeling Ace would love it. ¨Thatch is right, yoi.¨ Started Marco, turning towards Izou. ¨It is perfect.¨ Izou smiled, clearly glad they liked it. The man then went up to Marco, and took the cape off. ¨I’ll just fix the minor things, then I’ll give it to Ace.¨ Both Marco and Thatch nodded at that, and watched as Izou got some stuff out, starting to make the cape even better.

Both Marco and Thatch stayed a bit, before heading out on deck again, leaving Izou to work on the cape in peace. As soon as they were out on the deck, Marco felt his eyes twitch as Shanks was holding his hand around Ace again. He also gave a glare to Thatch when he laughed. He was tempted to throw both Shanks and Thatch overboard, still annoyed from the night before.

---x---

Izou made his way over the deck. He automatically walked towards the meeting room knowing Ace was there, Thatch having told him a few minutes before. He was finally finished with the cape, and was excited to give it to Ace, hoping he would like it. When he was outside of the door, he took the cape and held it behind him, wanting to try to surprise Ace. Izou took one more breath, before he opened the door and walked inside.

When he opened the door, he could see Shanks was still present, and was still a bit mad at the man for ruining Ace and Marcos dance yesterday. Izou could also see Marco, Thatch, Pops, Namur, Jozu, Rakuyo, Fossa with Ace. When he got inside, and used his foot to kick the door shut, he looked at the young assassin. ¨Ace,¨ Started Izou, getting his attention. ¨I’m finished with your cape.¨ He said with a smile. Izou was glad to see most of the others smile, some of the other commanders frowning a bit, not knowing Izou was making a cape for the kid.

¨You are?¨ Asked Ace, smiling at him. Izou nodded, and brought the cape from his back, showing it to Ace. The way Izou had folded it, was so the mark was visible on the top. He could see everyone smiling when they saw the mark, even Shanks. Ace smiled as he moved towards him, taking the cape. Ace looked like he liked the color of the mark, and how the cape felt. Ace had a smile as he opened the cape, but as soon as he saw the inside, Izou could only watch as Ace’s smile fell, an emotion he could not decipher taking its place.

Was there something wrong with the cape? Izou hoped he didn’t do a mistake by using the white material, and he was growing more and more anxious by the second. He shared a look with the others, and saw they had the same feeling and thoughts as he had. Before anyone of them could say or do anything, Shanks had moved behind Ace. ¨Why don’t you try it on?¨ He asked the kid, making Ace look at him as he nodded, smile coming back. Although it looked a bit sombre, making Izou feel like he had made a wrong choice. Ace then took the cape on, and felt it a bit, before giving a smile to Izou, still a bit sombre. ¨It’s magnificent, Izou.¨ He said sounding more emotional than Izou liked. Izou gave a nod and smile back, not sure how to really react to how Ace reacted. He didn’t expect this reaction from him.

Shanks suddenly spoke up again. ¨Why don’t you show it to Benn? He always liked capes for some weird reason.¨ Ace shared a look with the man, before nodding. When the door closed, Shanks turned to the others. ¨You don’t know why he reacted like that, right?¨ He asked, and Izou only shook his head, as well as most of the others, still a bit shocked by the reaction. Shanks smiled, ¨I have a feeling Ace didn’t pick the white color and material.¨ He said, looking at the sixteenth commander. Izou stared at him in shock, how did he know? Izou shook his head, ¨He didn’t. I saw him staring at it, and thought he might like it.¨ He answered, now certain the white color was a bad choice. ¨Brat,¨ Started Whitebeard, getting the attention. ¨Why would the color be an issue?¨

Shanks gave a smile to the others, ¨That color and material is an uncommon one, making it rare to come across.¨ He started. And everyone looked at Izou, who nodded, just to clarify that it was true.  When they looked back at the other captain, he continued. ¨Do you know who Azuruko was?¨ He asked, shocking them a bit. They nodded, ¨Yes,¨ Started Whitebeard, not understanding what it had to do with him. ¨He was Ace’s mentor.¨ Shanks nodded, and gave a smile to the others. 

¨The color and material is the same Azuruko’s entire suit was made off. Ace have not seen it since he was alive.¨

This shocked them, and everyone understood why Ace had had the reaction. Izou did also feel bad, thinking he had made Ace something that would always remind him that his mentor was gone. ¨He did like it.¨ Said Shanks, startling Izou out of his thinking. Izou looked at Shanks, and saw a kind smile. ¨He liked the cape, he didn’t say anything he didn’t mean. He was just a bit shocked.¨ That made Izou smile, knowing Ace really did like it. He was worried Ace only said it to make him feel better. He would offer to make an another one, seeing as he still had some doubts.

The door then opened, and Ace walked in, followed by Benn. Izou was happy to see Ace was smiling like normal again. ¨The cape is perfect, Izou.¨ Said Ace, making Izou smile, as well as his doubts to disappear. Izou felt extremely happy Ace liked it. ¨Everything I make is perfect.¨ Said the sixteenth commander, pretending to be a bit offended, making most of them laugh a bit. Shanks then walked up to Ace, ¨And Luffy now has an another cape he can steal.¨ He said, dragging the hood over Ace’s face. That made everyone laugh, and everyone felt better at seeing the happy and relaxed look Ace had.

---x---

Ace stood at the front of the ship as usual. It was a clear night, a bit windy, but that only made him enjoy it more. It was something with feeling the cape blow in the wind Ace thoroughly enjoyed. He did like the cape, and thought it was amazing. When he got it, he was content at seeing how well the red went with the mark on the back. He was also expecting it to be red on the inside, and the white color and material had therefore caught him by complete surprise. He had thought about asking Izou to include it, but he decided against it, seeing as it was a rare material. The fact Izou had somehow seen him when he looked at it, even using the valuable material for his cape, made him feel a bit emotional for different reasons. One of them was because of it was the same as Azuruko’s. But it was also the fact that Izou had used it, seeing as it was one of the rarest materials in clothing.

Ace felt real glad Izou was willingly to offer him such a rare material, and it caught him off guard that the man was willing to do that. He did obliviously know a lot about it, and didn’t expect it.

¨The cape looks really good on you.¨ Said a voice from behind him. Ace turned around, and gave a nod to the captain, who walked to stand beside him. ¨It feels really good too.¨ Said Ace, making the captain smile. ¨I think Izou was a bit worried when he gave it to you.¨ Continued the captain, looking out at the sea. ¨Your reaction wasn’t what he, or any of us, was prepared for.¨ Ace let out a small laugh. After Shanks had gotten his attention, and he had seen and felt the looks everyone was giving him, he knew he had been transfixed and could feel his emotions betraying him. He was also glad when Shanks told him to show it to Benn, knowing he would clear it up. ¨It caught me off-guard. I didn’t expect the material, I didn’t even knew Izou had seen me look at it.¨ Said Ace, sending a comforting and happy look at the captain.

Whitebeard nodded. He knew Ace had been caught off-guard, but his reaction was still the most emotional he had seen on the kid’s face since joining them. He had a feeling Ace missed his mentor a lot, and being suddenly given something made from the same material the man had worn, would of course cause a reaction from him. He had heard about the clothes the man had used, his complete white outfit being his trademark. After Shanks had explained, he understood and hoped the emotions didn’t go too deep, making it hard for Ace to wear it. When Ace had returned, he knew it would be fine. Ace also looked good with the colors, and Izou was skillful, making the cape look absolutely wonderful and stunning.

The captain sent a look at Ace, feeling himself smile when he saw the relaxed look. ¨Did you have fun at the island, son?¨ He asked, not being able to talk to Ace after they had visited, Shanks often being in the way. He was also annoyed the man had interrupted the dance. Marco looked really happy and relaxed when they had danced. Ace nodded. ¨I did.¨ He started, sending a smile to the man. ¨It is always nice to go to islands and look around. I also had a lot of fun at the tavern, it’s been awhile since I have danced.¨ Whitebeard nodded. ¨You looked like you had fun, the same did Marco. It was too bad you didn’t get to finish it.¨ He said.

Ace laughed a bit. ¨Shanks is known to have a terrible timing.¨ He said, shaking his head. Ace then gave a small sigh, staring out at the sea. ¨I wished we could have finished the dance too. It was nice.¨ He said with a content look. Whitebeard felt his heart swell at that, and when he saw the look, he knew Ace had some feelings for the other man. The two did fit perfectly together, and both of them deserved happiness. The captain knew Marco had feelings for Ace. He wasn’t sure if it was love, but feelings. He was also extremely happy to see Ace having some sort of feelings too. And the next time they docked, which was not too long, he would make sure Ace and Marco got an another chance to be together.

They stood in silence for a bit, enjoying the night. It was a bit later that Dust suddenly landed beside Ace on the railing, flapping his wings a bit. Whitebeard was a bit worried and crestfallen seeing the bird had an envelope. He had hoped Ace would have more than two days off. And based on what Ace had said two days ago, he would only be called if it was something big. Ace opened it, and looked it over, before putting it in his pocket. When he had done that, he looked at the captain, and saw the look he had. Ace shook his head, a smile on his lips. ¨It wasn’t an assignment.¨ Started Ace, ¨Just some information.¨ Whitebeard smiled as he nodded, glad to know Ace wouldn’t leave for an assignment, still getting a few days off.

¨Are you enjoying your days off?¨ Asked the captain, knowing Ace usually worked a lot. Ace nodded. ¨I am.¨ He started, petting the bird a bit. ¨It is a bit weird too; I am used to working a lot. But it is nice.¨ Whitebeard nodded. He understood it was a bit weird, Ace rarely had a day off. He was also happy with knowing Ace had a couple of more days off. He had already been a lot more around the others, making them open more around him. He was also glad to see Ace teaching his sons how to fight, and he was even surprised when Ace had somewhat dueled with Kingdew. Ace was fast, really fast. He even had a feeling he was holding back.

Whitebeard had only seen Ace duel with him and Kingdew. He, or anyone of them really, had never seen Ace in real action. And the captain knew it probably was a spectacular sight, and hoped to see it one day. They then stood in silence for a bit, before they decided to head in.

Chapter Text

Ace sat in his rooms, doing some paperwork as usual. He had been up all night since he didn’t feel like sleeping. Ace knew he probably should have slept, at least a bit. But he just didn’t think he could. He had a lot on his mind, and he was restless from not working. He knew they were not too far away from an uninhabited island, and would ask Whitebeard if he could go there for a bit. Just to clear his head a bit, maybe get in some training. He knew he could train with the other pirates, but that would be normal combat. Ace liked that, but he needed to train in assassination and that kind of combat, just to keep his skills up. He would also join Daisuke in training every now and then, but for now, he wanted to maybe do some alone training.

It was closing in on morning, the clock was around 6. Ace would soon head out for breakfast, hoping to eat before everyone was in the galley. If the captain was up, he would ask to go to the island for a few hours. If not, he would wait until after lunch. Whitebeard was usually up early, and they had not been too long up in the night. Half an hour later, Ace made his way to the galley.

When he got there, there were only a few people present, and Whitebeard was not one of those. Ace went and sat down next to where Whitebeard usually sat, and started to fill his plate with a bit of food. He was soon joined by Fossa, and started a small conversation with him. It was maybe 15 minutes later that the door opened, and the captain walked in. Whitebeard said good morning to everyone as he walked inside, before sitting down. When Fossa left to talk so someone that wanted his attention. Ace turned his attention to the captain.

¨Whitebeard.¨ Started Ace, getting his attention. ¨I noticed we are close to an uninhabited island, and wanted to take a trip there. Hopefully alone if it’s okay.¨ Whitebeard frowned a bit, looking worriedly and questionably at Ace. ¨Is everything okay, son?¨ Asked the captain. Ace gave a smile to the captain. He was not used to people being concerned about him. It was weird, but also nice. Ace shook his head. ¨Nothing’s wrong.¨ Started Ace, before giving a small sigh. ¨I’m just feeling a bit restless, and I would like to get some training done.¨ Said Ace, hoping the captain understood.

Whitebeard gave an understanding smile. He had a feeling it was more than just training, but he saw no harm in it. He wouldn’t keep Ace on the boat if he wanted to roam a bit. He was used to moving around a lot, not staying the same place for too long.  ¨I see no harm in it, son. How long do you think you’ll be away?¨ He asked Ace, who smiled, glad the captain understood. ¨A couple of hours, three at most.¨ Answered Ace. Whitebeard nodded. That wasn’t too long. ¨When do you think you’ll leave?¨ He asked. Ace shook his head a bit. ¨I was thinking about leaving soon.¨ He answered the captain. Whitebeard nodded, and looked at the clock. It was almost 7, if he left now, he would be back around 9, at latest 10. ¨That should be fine.¨ He then gave a fatherly look to Ace, speaking in a calming voice. ¨You sure you’re okay? You don’t have to go alone, we are here for you, son.¨

Ace nodded. He knew they were there for him. It was all just so new to him. Ace gave a truthful smile to the man, a bit guilty for leaving. ¨I’m okay. I just,¨ Ace gave a sigh, he had a feeling the captain already knew. ¨I need to think a bit too.¨ He said, looking at the captain. Whitebeard nodded. ¨It’s okay, son.¨ He said, giving an understanding and comforting smile to Ace. The captain knew everything was a bit new to him, and Ace probably needed to figure a lot out. And that was something they could not rush. Ace was already opening more to them. The captain then watched as Ace left, hoping he would be able to figure and sort his thoughts out.

---x---

Ace leaned on his knees, a bit out of breath. There were throwing knifes and daggers lodged in different trees and some branches lying on the ground. Ace took a deep breath as he stood up straight again, and moved his hands to his head, taking off the blindfold he had on. When the blindfold was off, he went and looked over the daggers and knifes, too see if he had hit the marks. Ace usually did this kind of training when he trained alone. He always liked to test his senses and make sure his reaction was up to par. He even had Dust making some marks while he was blindfolded, just to make it a bit more challenging. He was a bit irked to see his aim was a bit off on a few of the marks that was a bit of a distance away on the top of some trees. It was still a hit, but not in the middle. He was one of the best with his aim when it came to throwing, even when he was blindfolded.

Ace gave a sigh before he went and gathered all the knifes and daggers, packing them down. He had been training with them for about two hours, and did feel better, less restless. He didn’t train with blindfolds too often, at least not when he was around others. The only few times was when it was without weapons, or when he was training with the Red Cloud. He was confident in himself, but there could still happen accidents. After Ace had packed everything away, he looked around himself. It was a nice island, it had a lot of forest. He wasn’t too far away from the beach, and could see the ship a bit away. Ace decided to check the island a bit more out. Dust had mentioned something about a river not too far away. Ace had a bit of scrapes and dirt on himself. It wouldn’t hurt to clean himself a bit up.

When he got to the river, he gave a sigh of relief. He had always liked these places; they were always calm. When he was next to the water, Ace took his small backpack off him, and crouched by the water, splashing himself in the face a bit. Ace then used a small towel to dry himself off, as he sat down next to the water, watching the calm stream and cliff behind it. Dust then landed beside him, and gave a caw, tilting his head a bit. Ace gave a small laugh, before opening the small backpack again, taking out a piece of toast. Ace split it in two, giving one piece to Dust, and eating the other one himself.

As Ace sat and ate the piece of toast, he couldn’t really believe that he actually had a place to return to. To someone that accepted him for who he was, assassin and everything. He had never met anyone so accepting that wasn’t an assassin or informant. The only ones close was Shanks and Rayleigh. None of them liked his job, one of the reasons he had never joined Shanks crew. He had come to peace that he would never get a crew, a family, where he belonged, aside from with Luffy, Sabo, and somewhat The Red Cloud. And now, he had everything he could dream off and more. Ace knew they cared for him, wanting him to stay safe and help him. But his job was dangerous, and he still found himself having doubts, that joining them might had been mistake after all.

It wasn’t just the fact that Ace was an assassin, but that he was one of the most wanted people in the world. Not only by the marines, but by pirates, nobles, other groups and even rogue assassins. If one of them managed to figure out who he was, and that he had joined the Whitebeards, that would be terrible. Ace would not be surprised if they came for not only him, but the entire pirate crew. It would be an outright war, and he would be the reason for it.

Ace heard a small caw from Dust, the bird feeling Ace was conflicted. Ace looked over, and petted him a bit. ¨Do you think I am making a mistake?¨ He asked, wanting to know what Dust thought. The bird looked at him before shaking his head a bit. Ace gave a small laugh. He knew Dust liked it there. The bird liked to have a place to return to, and everyone seemed to like him. Ace knew Dust was telling the truth, and that did give some comfort. But he needed to talk to someone, just to get an another perspective on everything. But Ace had no idea who he should talk to.

There were a limited group of people Ace trusted with his troubles and feelings. And even though he did trust them to some limit, he never had given away much, only telling small and insignificant things. There had only been one person he had trusted completely, and he was no longer there to give him advice. Ace could possibly go to either Daisuke or Shanks, even Rayleigh in theory. But this didn’t have anything to do with them, and he didn’t want to drag them into his personal business. This had to do with him and the Whitebeards. He knew they often told him he could talk to them about everything. But Ace had doubts about the fact he had joined them, and he didn’t know how they would react to that. He had already almost killed one of them, and for him to say he was doubting both his and their decision on him joining them, could stir up some issues.

Ace shook his head. He did have a lot to figure out, and he wasn’t completely sure where to start. Dust suddenly cawed, and when Ace looked over, the bird had dragged out the scarf he had borrowed from Izou. Ace had decided to keep it, just in case. Dust looked at him, before looking back at the scarf. Ace sighed. Maybe he should talk to Whitebeard about this. From what Ace had both gathered and heard, the captain was a man to confide in, someone that would give the right advice, even if he himself didn’t like the advice. A lot like Azuruko. Ace closed his eyes, he wasn’t sure if he should bring this up. But it would not do anything good to dwell on it either. Ace opened his eyes again, he would think about it. He still had a bit of time to roam on the island.

When Ace had opened his eyes, he looked up at the cliff in front of him. It was not a too tall cliff, about 6-700 feet. It was pretty steep and had a lot of ridges, it even had an overhang about 2/3 of the way up. Ace smiled; it had been awhile since he climbed a cliff. Ace stood up, and took his cape off, just so it didn’t get torn, laying it beside his backpack. Ace crouched down and took some bandages out from his backpack, and put them on his hands, covering his hands and halfway up to his elbow. The cliff had ridges, and getting a few cuts and scrapes was unavoidable, but he could lessen it. And he was wearing a singlet, so his hands and arms were exposed. He would have put some on his feet, but he had some regular pants on, as well as his boots. They would do for now.

Ace then used his powers to teleport to the other side of the river, and started to climb the cliff.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his chair on deck. It was about half an hour ago that Ace had left to go to the island, and he was a bit worried. Ace had looked a bit troubled, and the captain hoped Ace would figure everything out. If he didn’t, he hoped Ace would trust him enough to tell him about it. It did often help to have others tell what they thought. He would not force him to speak about it, but he would hint at it maybe. Whitebeard decided to see how Ace looked when he returned, and he would take everything from there.

Whitebeard had thought about maybe offering to train with him, but he had a feeling the kid was not going to do regular combat training, and therefore also wanted to go alone. But the captain would still have enjoyed an another duel with him, Ace was one of the strongest people he had met. It was rare for him to be able to fight someone on his own level, and Ace, without his devil fruit or weapons had managed to win. Ace was an expert in combat, and the captain expected no less from the kid.

¨Marco,¨ Said a voice to his right, and the captain looked over to see Rakuyo, who was approaching the first commander who was standing next to his chair. ¨Have you seen Ace? I can’t find him.¨ Whitebeard could see Marco somewhat frowning, the captain being able to see past his bored look. ¨No, yoi. Is he not in his room?¨ Said the first commander. Rakuyo shook his head. ¨Don’t worry my sons.¨ Started Whitebeard, getting their attention. ¨Ace is okay.¨ Marco looked at him, ¨Do you know where he is, yoi?¨ He asked his father. Whitebeard nodded. ¨He wanted to train a bit by himself,¨ He started. ¨He is at the uninhabited island we’re close too. He’ll be back in an hour or so.¨

The two commanders nodded, both of them looking a bit concerned by the information. They knew Ace had a few days off so he could be with them, so they didn’t like that he had left. Rakuyo looked back at his father, ¨Why didn’t he ask to train with us? And why did he leave, we have training rooms.¨ Whitebeard gave a small sigh. There weren’t many people out around them, still a bit early and most in the galley. ¨He needed to think a bit too, son.¨ He said, looking calmly at his sons. They nodded, understanding shining in their eyes. Haruta, having heard the conversation, walked up to them. ¨Why don’t we also go to the island?¨ She started. ¨It’s been some time since we were at an uninhabited one, and Stefan loves those places.¨

Whitebeard looked at his daughter. She was right; It had been awhile since they had been at an uninhabited one. And Stefan did like to run around. Whitebeard looked out at the sea, he could see the island in the distance, and it would maybe take an hour to get there. ¨That sounds like a good idea, daughter.¨ He said, looking smilingly at the twelfth commander. ¨We will wait an hour before heading there. I promised Ace a couple of hours alone.¨ He said. The commanders nodded. Rakuyo started his day, while Haruta went over to some others on deck.

When no one was close by, Marco looked at his father, ¨Is he really okay, yoi?¨ He asked. Whitebeard sighed, looking comfortingly at his son. ¨He need to figure some things out, son.¨ Marco nodded, going back to looking at the others on deck, relaxing beside his father.

---x---

The boat had docked at the island, and the pirates were about to go into the island. The ones to go on the island for now was only the captain and some of his commander, seeing as Ace still had half an hour left before he was supposed to be back at the boat. If what Whitebeard thought was right, Ace was doing some assassin training, and he didn’t want any of his children that didn’t know about him being an assassin stumble across him in mid training. They were allowed to be at the beach, but not to go into the forest.

He had thought about waiting until he came back, but they had seen Dust sitting in the trees watching them. And since the bird didn’t stop them from leaving the boat, they thought it was okay. When they had gotten off the boat, Dust had flown into the forest, and the pirates decided to see where the bird went, thinking the bird was leading them to Ace. The ones to go with the captain were Marco, Haruta, Izou, Thatch, Rakuyo and Blenheim. Stefan was also going with them, running around and enjoying to finally be on land and able to run.

The pirates walked into the forest, following where Dust had flown. It was a regular island with a lot of forest, it even had some small mountain further in on the island. They walked in a calm manner, talking about some usual stuff, hoping to come across Ace. They had been walking close to 10 minute, when they came to a small clearing and saw a river and the start of the mountain cliff. It was Haruta that noticed something lying next to the river, so they made their way over. They were a bit surprised to find Aces stuff, even the cape lying on the ground. But there was no Ace in sight, and that did make them a bit concerned. ¨Why would Ace leave his stuff?¨ Asked Haruta, looking at the others concerned.

None of them did have an answer. It was a bit concerning to see the stuff lying alone, especially the cape. ¨I don’t know, yoi.¨ Said Marco, ¨He is probably close by, he wouldn’t go far I think.¨ Everyone nodded at that. It did make sense. The reason Ace had left the cape was probably too keep it from getting torn if he could manage it. The pirates were about to continue to look around, when a noise had them look towards the cliff, where a rock had fallen down. This made the captain frown a bit, if the cliff was unstable they should move. Before he had managed to think more about it, he heard Haruta’s shocked voice. ¨Pops.¨ When everyone looked at her, she was looking up at something, when they followed her line of sight, they could only stare in shock and amazement.

Ace was climbing the cliff, and was a bit over halfway up.

¨That is just amazing.¨ Said Thatch, making the others nod. The cliff was really steep, so it could not be an easy feat to climb it. What amazed them even more, was that Ace was only using his hands and feet to climb. Whitebeard was a bit concerned by the presence of bandages on the kids arms, but he didn’t look to be in pain. Ace was climbing fast, he looked like he knew what he was doing. ¨What’s he going to do when he gets to the overhang?¨ Asked the chef, frowning a bit. The fourth commander was right, climbing all the way up would be basically impossible. The overhang was a bit far out, and continuing the path would mean Ace would almost climb upside down, which they thought would be near impossible. ¨I don’t know, son.¨ Said the captain. ¨But I do have a feeling Ace knows what he’s doing.¨ The others nodded, and everyone sat down, watching Ace climb.

It was a few minutes later that Ace was almost at the overhang, and they could see Ace stopping a bit. They watched in fascination and small uncertainty as the kid seemed to move his feet in better positions, before looking up at the overhang. ¨He’s not going to do what I think he’s going to do?¨ Said the chef, sounding concerned and panicked. Before anyone could respond, Ace had made the move. Ace kicked off from the wall, and was airborne for a few short seconds. The pirates were about to jump up, not really sure what they should do. When Ace somehow managed to get a grip, they could see him holding onto a rock that protruded from the roof-like structure. They watched as Ace swung his body to make his feet touch the overhang, continuing to climb almost upside down, a bit slower than before, seeing as he was basically upside down.

The pirates relaxed again, seeing Ace was fine. Marco gave a small laugh, ¨He never cease to amaze, yoi.¨ The others laughed a bit at that. It was true, Ace did always seem to amaze them with his skills and ability. The fact he was able to climb where he was as close to upside down as one could get without actually being it, was amazing. Ace had an amazing skill to assess where the best place to put his hands and feet was. They continued to watch in amazement as Ace climbed, his feet did sometimes lose its footing, but he always managed to get it back. After a few more minutes, Ace was finally at the end of the overhang. Ace used his hands to get a hold of a small ledge, and dragged himself up until he also had footing.

They saw Ace taking a deep breath, then starting the rest of the climb. It was only about one third left and they had no doubts he would make it; Ace was a great climber. When he was halfway between the overhang and the top, Ace had one foot and one hand in the air, going for the next place to put them, when the rock his other foot was standing on gave away, making him hang by one arm. The pirates were a bit worried, and was tense. But the extra weight on the rock he was holding was too much.

And the moment it gave away and Ace fell, Marco was already upright, on his way to transform into his phoenix.

But Ace, with greater speed they had ever seen, had in one swift movement gotten out a dagger, plunging it into the wall, making his descent stop. Marco, seeing Ace was no longer falling, just stood on the ground, watching at the ready. Ace then managed to get his footing back, took the dagger and put it back into his belt before starting to climb again.

All the pirates let out a relieved sigh, Marco sitting back down again. Ace’s reactions were amazingly fast. They then sat and watched Ace climb the rest, this time no accidents happening. When Ace was at one move away from the top, he used his hands to lift himself onto the flat surface. When he was up, they saw Ace leaning on his knees a bit, looking to be a bit out of breath, which surprised none of them. It wasn’t too tall, but it was still a bit of a climb, and it was steep with an overhang. Whitebeard was certain none of them could manage that without any equipment like Ace had done. It was Haruta that started to clap, but all of them soon followed, giving an applause to Ace for the amazing feature of climbing the cliff.

They saw Ace hearing the clapping and looking towards them. They also saw the smile on his face when he noticed them. Ace then took one more deep breath, before disappearing. Not even a second later, Ace reappeared not far away from them. The moment he had reappeared, he had started to undo the bandages around his arms. ¨Ace!¨ Yelled Thatch in excitement. ¨That was amazing!¨ The others nodded, looking amazedly at him. Ace gave a small laugh and a smile. ¨Thanks, it was fun too.¨ Said Ace, making them smile. Whitebeard looked a bit worriedly at the bandages, ¨Son,¨ He started, making Ace look at him. ¨You aren’t injured, are you?¨ Ace shook his head, ¨I am not.¨ Started Ace, taking the last bit of bandage off his left arm. ¨I do have the usual small scrapes. But the bandages did prevent a lot of them, the reason I put them on.¨

The pirates nodded, now understanding the reason behind the bandages. It was also smart, and easy way of preventing scrapes or cuts from the rocks on the cliff. They could see some scrapes on his hands where the bandages had not covered, but it wasn’t deep or even bleeding a lot. Ace then made his way over to his backpack and cape, taking the last bandage off and putting it away. When he had done this, he took his cape on, and turned back to the pirates. ¨Are there a reason for you to be here, or did you just want to visit the island?¨ He asked in a calm voice with a smile. Whitebeard smiled at him. ¨We wanted to visit the island. It’s been awhile since we’ve been to an uninhabited one.¨ He said. Ace nodded, smiling. ¨Uninhabited islands are nice and comforting from time to time.¨ The pirates nodded, starting to head back to the others at the beach.

---x---

Ace stretched as they walked through the forest. He felt a lot better. He had had a lot of fun climbing the cliff. He had not noticed the pirates arriving while he was climbing since he was concentrating on where to put his hands and feet. He was glad the overhang had enough ridges so he could climb, he was a bit worried he couldn’t continue when he got there. He could have used some of his knifes or dagger to help him, but he thought it was much more fun and giving if he only used his hands and feet. He was a bit startled when the rocks he was holding on standing on gave out, but he was prepared and managed to get his dagger out before he was past the overhang. If his descent didn’t stop, he would just have used his powers to land on the ground.

He was glad the captain had let him go to the island. He had managed to do a bit of training and thinking. The climb was just an extra thing he had time to do. When he was on top, and managed to get his breath back, he was first a bit surprised to hear clapping. But he smiled when he saw them, and realized they had arrived sometime while he was mid climb. He also wondered why they were there, Ace knew he had a bit time left before 3 hours had gone by. But he was happy to know they wanted to visit the island, that meant he could spend more time there. He always enjoyed uninhabited islands.

The pirates then walked out of the forest and back onto the beach where the rest of crew where. Everyone on the beach cheered when they saw them coming back from the forest. They had even started to build a bonfire, and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Thatch had instantly gone ahead, yelling something about having a party, making most of them laugh. Ace shook his head, ¨I’m just going to put my stuff away.¨ He said, getting a nod from the captain. Ace started to head for the ship, deciding to walk instead of using his powers. Sometimes it was nice to walk, and he had no rush.

Ace had walked a few steps when someone got his attention. ¨Ace,¨ Ace turned around, and saw Rakuyo approaching him. ¨Do you have a second?¨ He asked. Ace smiled, ¨I do. I’m just going to put some of my stuff in my room, why don’t we walk together?¨ Rakuyo smiled and nodded, starting to walk beside him. When the commander didn’t say anything, Ace decided to wait until they were a bit farther away from the others, thinking the commander didn’t want the others hear. When they were about halfway to the boat, Ace turned his head to the other commander. ¨Did you want to talk about anything?¨ He asked, knowing there weren’t anyone in close proximity. ¨We’re closing in on Budo, and that’s where Sumiko is.¨ Started the commander. ¨She talks a lot about you from when you rescued her, and I hoped you would maybe visit her?¨ Ace nodded, and gave a small smile to the commander.

¨I can do that, but I won’t do it if she knows I’m the assassin.¨ He said.

The seventh commander frowned a bit at that. ¨I understand you don’t want to mix your pirate with the assassin, but may I ask why? Sumiko won’t tell anyone.¨ Ace sighed, he knew Sumiko looked up to him after the rescue. ¨It’s not that I don’t trust her.¨ He started. ¨But for her to be around the assassin isn’t something good.¨ Ace could see them man was about to say something, but he raised his arm a bit, silencing him. ¨For her to look up to an assassin is not good. I don’t wish for her to want to be like an assassin, it’s not a good choice.¨ Ace gave a smile to Rakuyo who seemed to understand what he meant. ¨She should be a pirate, like her brother.¨ Rakuyo nodded, ¨I understand what you mean.¨ Said the man.

Ace smiled back, glad he did. Ace didn’t want to make anyone want to be an assassin, it wasn’t a kind line of work. He knew he had started early, and he had come a long way. But he saw way too many wanting to be assassins and dying an early and gruesome death, he didn’t want others to wish to become a part of that. ¨I know it might seem harsh,¨ Continued Ace. ¨But she should forget about the assassin. It will do her no good thinking about him.¨ Rakuyo nodded. ¨I will tell her that when we are there.¨ He said, looking understandingly at Ace.

¨Do you like it here, on the ship?¨ Asked the seventh commander, looking at him. Ace gave a small laugh, ¨Its nice here.¨ He started, looking at the commander, smiling. ¨It’s a bit weird too. I am not used to be around others this much, but it’s nice and calm.¨ Rakuyo looked a bit shocked at him, before giving a laugh. ¨If you call this calm,¨ Started the commander. ¨I don’t want to know what you are used to. If it’s one thing we can call us, calm is not one of them. Everyone is always running around and making a ruckus, especially Thatch.¨ Ace laughed, Thatch did do a lot of things. ¨I think none of them can compare to Luffy. He’s always running around and getting into trouble.¨ He said. Rakuyo gave a snort. ¨Luffy is a wild one, I have to agree with that.¨ Said the commander, looking at Ace. ¨You look used to his antics though.¨ Ace laughed. ¨You get used to it with time.¨ Answered Ace.

The two commander then started to talk about their siblings as they walked on the ship, both of them smiling as they shared stories.

---x---

The fire from the bonfire was blazing. Everyone was ready to have a party, and many had already started. The pirates seemed happy that they were able to visit the uninhabited island, especially Stefan, who were still running around. Ace was sitting on a rock not too far away from the forest, looking at everyone who were roaming around. It was structural and calm, Ace enjoyed that. He could also see what Rakuyo meant, they did sometimes look like headless chickens, but they always managed to what they were supposed to do. It was a complete different pace than what Ace was used to when he was around this many people.

The times he was, it was when he was with The Red Cloud. When Ace was with them, everyone was acting like assassin. He was used to that, but he could tell that no one was being themselves. Every one of them were acting, trying to look as professional as they could. He knew they had a reputation to uphold, but the thing he disliked the most, was when the newer ones were there. Everyone was looking at him in fear and apprehension. He enjoyed the times when it was just himself and the more experienced ones, the ones that had been there for a long time and knew who everyone were. He could compare them to how the commanders were. They were the one in charge, therefore acting a bit different time to time when they were around the division members. They still needed to show that they were strong and relaying, so he did understand it.

Ace liked the routines the pirates had, it showed who they were and Ace enjoyed seeing the pirates being themselves. He was sitting and watching Thatch annoying his division, when someone sat down beside him. Ace looked over to see Namur, ¨Good morning.¨ Said the merman when Ace looked at him. Ace smiled, it was still morning, the clock wasn’t 11 yet. ¨Good morning, Namur.¨ He said back. Namur was sitting beside him, but still a bit away. Ace knew the merman always was a bit on edge around others that he hadn’t been around too much. Mermen were looked down upon and Ace had always thought that was wrong. They were amazing people, many of the ones he had met had been more welcoming than most.

Ace also knew Namur mostly was on the ship when they docked, and he hoped the merman would come with them to town when they got on Budo. ¨Namur,¨ Said Ace, getting his attention. ¨When we get to Budo, you should join us to come in town.¨ Ace could see Namur looking a bit shocked at him, before giving a somewhat smile. ¨I don’t know, I like it on the ship.¨ He said, and Ace could tell he didn’t completely mean it. Ace had been on the island once before, when he and Azuruko needed to do something, and they were kind people. ¨They won’t care.¨ He said, looking at Namur. ¨And if they do, they just need to get over it.¨ He ended, sending a smile.

Namur looked at Ace, sending a sheepish smile. ¨I’ll think about it.¨ He said. ¨I’m used to the stares and murmurs I get.¨ Ace shook his head a bit. ¨I know what you mean. But just because you are used to it, doesn’t make it any easier.¨ Started Ace. ¨People will always judge. They will often listen to what others say and think, before they even think about seeing if it’s true.¨ Namur looked at him in small shock, before he understood. Ace was used to people thinking of him as a devil, someone that would kill and destroy, not having morals and honor. Thinking if they paid enough, he would do whatever they wanted.

Ace leaned back on his hands, looking at the sky. ¨But you’ll always meet someone who will accept you for who you are. And when you do, it’s important to remember they are there for you.¨ Ace could hear Namur sigh. ¨I remember when I first met Pops, I couldn’t believe when he told me he didn’t care that I was a merman. Saying that everyone was a child of the sea.¨ Said the merman. Ace smiled, looking back at Namur, who was looking at everyone on the beach. ¨Whitebeard is a good man.¨ Said Ace, and could see Namur nod. ¨He is.¨

---x---

Ace sat on a rock near the ocean, Stefan was lying beside him relaxing as Ace petted him. Most of the pirates were asleep, having gone a bit wild at the party. It was in the middle of the night and the sky had clouded up, making it a bit chilly, making Ace glad he had the cape. When the people had fallen in a drunken sleep, Ace had helped the others that were sober or less drunk to either bring them closer to the fire or giving them a blanket. He was a bit surprised at seeing how often and how much some of them drank, but let them have their fun. It seemed the rumors weren’t lying when they mentioned the Whitebeards were the best and worst at holding parties.

¨Couldn’t sleep?¨ Said a voice behind him making Ace turn a bit around. Ace shook his head as he looked at the captain. ¨I’m not tired.¨ He answered, telling a half truth. He was a bit tired, but knew it would be pointless to try to sleep, at least for now. The captain gave a nod as he went to sit beside Stefan on the ground, also petting the wolf. ¨Did you manage to get some training done on the island, son?¨ Asked the captain when he was seated. Ace nodded, making the captain smile. ¨What kind of training did you do? If you don’t mind me asking.¨ Continued the captain. Ace gave a smile to the man, ¨I mostly did some target training.¨ Started Ace. ¨I like to do that alone, one wrong move can result in an injury.¨ The captain nodded in understanding. Whitebeard then looked at Ace, wanting to see his reaction to his next question.

¨Did you figure some things out too, son?¨ He asked.

Ace gave a sigh. He had been able to think about some things, but he hadn’t managed to figure it out, at least not yet. ¨I managed to get to think a bit.¨ Said Ace, looking out at the sea. Whitebeard frowned, understanding Ace hadn’t been able to figure what he wanted out. ¨You know you can talk to me, or any of the others.¨ Said the captain, looking comfortingly at Ace. Ace nodded, but didn’t say anything, neither did he look at the captain. Both of them continued to sit in silence, petting the wolf that lied between them. Both of them enjoying the others presence.

It was a bit later that Ace gave a sigh, looking up at the cloudy sky. ¨I sometimes wonder if I am making the right choice.¨ Started Ace. ¨I know you are okay with me being an assassin and everything. But my work comes with great risks and consequences. Not just that I am a wanted assailant, but that I am one of the most wanted ones by so many different people and groups.¨ Ace gave a smile when Stefan moved his head to lie across Ace’s lap. ¨The consequences if someone figures out who I am would be awful and a gigantic mess.¨ Ace ended, looking down at Stefan, who closed his eyes as Ace petted behind his ears.

Whitebeard had sat quietly while Ace had talked, not wanting to interrupt. The captain did understand what Ace meant, and he was right. If someone found out about it, it would be bad. Whitebeard sent a fatherly look at Ace. ¨If,¨ He started. ¨Someone finds out about who you are, you won’t be alone. We will stand beside you no matter what, that’s what a family do.¨ The captain could see Ace smiling, but he could also see some emotions in the kid’s eyes. He hoped Ace didn’t regret accepting his offer, and he would stand by his words. No matter what happened, they would stand by his side. They were a family, and they never left anyone behind. They would stand together until the end of the road.

Both of them then just sat in silence, enjoying the night and the calm wind that blew every now and then.

---x---

The next morning everyone made their way back to the boat. The weather had only gotten worse, it had even started to rain a bit. Everyone had helped to gather the stuff and trash that was on the island, not wanting to make a mess on the beautiful island. It did take some time, but with everyone helping, it got done in a good pace. They were glad when they finally were done, seeing as the sky just opened up and rain came pouring down. All of the pirates had gone for shelter from the rain, and many was watching the weather from the windows. Most of the crew that wasn’t to hangover was in the galley, this included most of the commanders and the captain.

¨It’s really pouring down.¨ Said Haruta, staring out a window. Many of the others nodded. It was really pouring down, and they were a bit moody because of it. They had had perfect weather for days, and no one liked this turn of events. Haruta suddenly frowned a bit, trying to lean closer to the window, to focus on something she saw. ¨Why is Ace outside?¨ She asked, brows furrowed, still looking out. This caught every commanders and captain’s attention as they also made their way over to the window, trying to look out.

Haruta was right, they could see someone standing in the rain at the front of the ship. Based on the outline of the cape they saw, it was most likely Ace. ¨Why doesn’t he come inside? He is going to get soaking wet.¨ Continued the twelfth commander. No one did have an answer to that. Izou tilted his head a bit, ¨He seems to be enjoying it for some reason.¨ Said the crossdresser. Everyone tried to look closer, and could see Ace had his head tilted a bit upwards. ¨Why would he enjoy standing in the rain?¨ Asked Haruta, looking at her father. But instead of him answering, it was Marco. ¨Because¨ Started the first commander, getting the attention.

¨No one can see you crying in the rain, yoi.¨

Everyone looked at him shocked, before looking back at the figure in the rain. After Marco’s comment, they swore they could see tears mixing with the rain. Marco then silently walked towards the door and went outside. All of them watched from the window as the first commander went up and stood beside Ace in the rain. They could see that none of them was talking, they just stood in silence.

Whitebeard did have a smile on his face, seeing them standing there. He knew Marco had done that himself at the beginning after joining them, but had stopped after a while, realizing no one would look down on him for having feelings. Marco did only show them to him, trying to look strong for his brothers and sisters. The captain only hoped Ace would also realize this. He was not surprised Ace didn’t like to show his feelings, knowing it could be fatal in his line of work. It was true, if you didn’t know what to look after, no one could tell that you were crying. ¨Thatch,¨ Started the captain, looking at his son. ¨Why don’t you go and get some towels. They are going to need it when they come in.¨ Thatch nodded, and went to fetch some towels from the kitchen.

The ones that stood at the window left after a bit, not wanting to stare at the duo on deck. They started a game of cards, having fun plying different kinds of games while waiting for Marco and Ace to come inside. It was an hour later when the door opened, and both Marco and Ace came inside soaking wet. When they closed the door behind them, Izou was in front of them, offering the towels Thatch had fetched before. Both of them gave a thank you, and started to dry themselves off as they moved more into the galley, eventually sitting down. ¨What are you playing?¨ Asked Ace, seeing the cards. ¨Poker.¨ Answered Thatch, smiling at Ace. ¨Want to join? But I have to warn you, I’m exceptionally skilled at it.¨ Ace gave a grin, ¨Give me a hand.¨ He said, making everyone smile and Thatch feeling unsure about what he just said.

Two hours later, Thatch laid with his head on the table, having lost everything he had to Ace, who was smiling. ¨Anyone up for an another round?¨ Asked the assassin, and could see everyone shaking their heads. ¨How about we play war instead?¨ Contributes the captain, making everyone nod, and Ace laugh.

---x---

The pirates had spent most of the day inside, seeing the bad weather. But a bit after dinner, the sky had cleared up, and many had gone out on deck continuing the day. It was now getting late, and Ace was standing at the front of the ship. He had enjoyed playing cards with the others, it was a lot of fun. Even though it had been bad weather for most of the day, it was almost no clouds in the sky now. Ace enjoyed the biting and freshness of the air after rain. It smelt and felt clearer than before, making Ace enjoy the night a bit more than usual.

¨Can’t sleep, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, coming to stand beside him. Ace shook his head, ¨I’m not really tired.¨ Said Ace, turning towards the other man. ¨What about you?¨ He asked knowing Marco didn’t have the night shift tonight. Marco gave a sigh. ¨The same, yoi.¨ He said, looking at Ace. Ace gave a laugh, ¨Good to know I’m not alone.¨ He said, smiling at the first commander. ¨It’s nice to have company on sleepless nights.¨ Marco looked out at sea, ¨Is it often you can’t sleep, yoi? You aren’t in your room a lot.¨ He said, sounding a bit concerned. Ace laughed a bit, knowing Marco had cached that he rarely slept. ¨I’m doing okay. I think I get enough sleep.¨ He said, and could hear the first commander laugh at the statement. ¨I have a feeling what you think is enough is way too little, yoi.¨ Ace shook his head, giving a small laugh again. ¨I think everyone thinks different on what enough sleep is.¨ Said Ace smiling.

Marco shook his head. He knew the feeling of not sleeping enough, and thinking you did. It was sometimes a struggle, and he didn’t like it when people outright told him to sleep more, thinking it was that easy. It was easy to forget how hard sleeping was for someone, it was no surprise to the first commander that Ace had trouble sleeping. Ace’s job wasn’t exactly easy and required him to be awake most nights, insomnia was probably something he was used to. ¨Did you have fun on the island, yoi?¨ Asked Marco. Ace nodded, ¨I did, it was nice to be able to train a bit and the party was nice.¨ Said Ace. Marco nodded, and looked out at the sea. ¨Was climbing the cliff a part of your training?¨ He asked, thinking it might have been.

Ace shook his head. ¨No.¨ Started Ace. ¨Its been awhile since I’ve climbed a cliff, I enjoy doing it. It was a bit of a challenge.¨ Marco gave a snort at that. ¨It was an amazing feat, yoi. Especially how you managed to climb on the overhang.¨ Said Marco. ¨I didn’t know it was possible to do that without equipment, yoi.¨ Ace laughed. ¨I have had my fair share of training in climbing. You just need to know where to put your hands and feet.¨ Said Ace, closing his eyes at a breeze that came. Marco nodded. ¨You looked like you knew what you were doing, yoi.¨ Started Marco. ¨You were climbing at a fast pace. You even gave most of us an heart attack when you fell.¨

Ace laughed at that. ¨Accidents and flukes happen. I thought the rock would manage to hold.¨ Marco nodded, ¨Your reaction was fast, it almost looked as you were prepared to fall, yoi.¨ Said the first commander. Ace nodded, ¨When you climb, you need to be prepared to fall. I wasn’t waiting for it, but I was prepared for it.¨ Said Ace, making Marco nod. ¨Like a fight, yoi.¨ Started Marco. ¨You are prepared for an attack, and therefore are ready to act.¨ Ace nodded. ¨Yes. You don’t wait for it, but you are ready for it to happen. Things go wrong, and you need to be ready to act.¨ Marco nodded. He understood what Ace meant. He was usually prepared for things to happen, and therefore was on guard most of the time. It never hurt to be ready, and he felt glad Ace thought the same.

Both of them then just stood in the silence of the night, listening to the waves hit the ship. It was an hour later, when Dust appeared and landed on the railing. Marco could see the bird having an envelope, and remembered Ace had his last day off today, it had been 4 days since he took the days off. The commander was glad he got all four days, he had been thinking he only would get 3. The first commander watched as Ace took and opened the envelope. ¨Back to work again, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at Ace, who nodded. ¨It seems so.¨ Ace stood up and stretched a bit, making Marco frown a bit. ¨Are you leaving right away, yoi?¨ Ace gave a nod. ¨I am. It won’t take long, it’s only a meeting. It will take a couple of hours at most.¨ Said Ace, putting the envelope away, and petting Dust.

Marco nodded, glad it wasn’t something big. ¨Who are you meeting with, yoi? If you can tell.¨ Ace gave a smile, ¨It’s an acquaintance.¨ Was all he said. Marco had a feeling it wasn’t Shanks, seeing as he didn’t say his name. He had figured Ace had a lot of acquaintances, a lot of people wanted to work with him and have him on their side. Ace looked at the first commander with a smile. ¨Earlier today,¨ Started Ace. ¨When it was raining. Thanks for joining me, it was nice.¨ Marco shook his head. ¨It was nothing, yoi.¨ He answered. He remember doing the same years ago, and he always enjoyed it when Pops stood beside him. It made him feel like he wasn’t alone.

Then something happened that made Marcos brain stop for a second. Ace leaned up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. ¨Goodnight Marco.¨ He said, and left to change for his meeting.

Marco stood still, not sure if what had happened had really happened. Before he smiled, before he could make a move, he heard a soft laughter and turned around to see his father, and felt his cheek heat up.

Chapter Text

¨Trafalgar, Donquixote.¨ Said Ace with a nod, looking at the two men. Both of them gave a bow, ¨Ace of Spades-ya.¨ Said Law, as he stood back up. ¨Thank you for answering on a short notice.¨ Ace gave a nod to the man, ¨What is it you want to talk about, Trafalgar?¨ He asked, going straight to the point. Law lifted his hand and motioned towards Rosinante. ¨I would like to ask for Corazon to put up his barrier again before we continue.¨ He said. They were on Law's submarine boat, and the only ones out on the deck was them. The rest of Law's crew was most likely inside. Ace nodded. ¨That is fine, Trafalgar. Just as long as my raven is kept outside as last time.¨ Ace answered. Law nodded, and gave a small gesture to Corazon who obligated, also keeping Dust on the outside of the barrier.

When the barrier was up, Ace motioned for Law to continue. ¨I have finished the preparations for me to become a Warlord.¨ Started Law, and reached to take a parchment out, handing it to Ace. ¨These are the people I have taken the hearts off.¨ Ace took the parchment and looked it over. He was surprised to hear Law had managed to get one hundred hearts on such a short time. He and Daisuke had given him hundred and fifty names, just so he could choose some himself. Law did certainly work fast, and he was pleased with the ones he chose. Ace put the parchment in his pouch, so he could also give it to Daisuke, so he could update everyone so they knew who now were gone.

When Ace had put it away, he looked at Law. ¨Where are the hearts?¨ He asked, knowing he had not heard anything about Law delivering it. Law motioned for a chest not too far away, and did not move until Ace had given him a nod. Law slowly made his way over, and Ace was pleased to see Law knew how to act. He had a feeling he had gotten tips from Corazon, seeing as he had worked a lot with assassins. When Law was in front of the chest and opened it, Ace instantly heard the heart beats. He was mildly impressed with the hearts he could see. Law's powers where impressive, he apparently was adapted in using them. ¨I have not delivered them yet because,¨ Started Law, closing the chest again. ¨I have not been able to get close to the main marine base yet, and hoped you could help, Ace of Spades-ya.¨

Ace gave a nod. ¨I can do that, Trafalgar. Do you want me to deliver it now, or wait until a certain point?¨ Law seemed to think a bit, before he answered. ¨I would like for it to be delivered now.¨ Started Law, before he motioned for Corazon. ¨If you'd like, Corazon can come with you, his power is for you to use if you need it.¨ Corazon gave a small bow, signalizing he was okay with the agreement. When he was up again, Ace shook his head. ¨I do not need his help, but I thank you for offering.¨ Ace could see Law looking a bit shocked, wondering how he would manage it on his own, but he nodded none the less.

Ace could hear the ocean waves hitting the submarine, and knew Corazon's powers didn't mute out the sounds to them, at least not now. Ace mentally told Dust to fly to the chest, and both Corazon and Law followed the bird movements as he landed on the chest. ¨It will take a few hours to deliver it, Trafalgar.¨ Started Ace, getting their attention again. ¨I believe it will take somewhere between 3-4 hours. Would you like for me to tell you when I have delivered it?¨ Said Ace, looking at Law. Law gave a nod. ¨If you could, that would be appreciated, Ace of Spades-ya.¨ Ace nodded. ¨I will come back when I have delivered it.¨ Said Ace. Law nodded, and took another parchment out, handing it to Ace. ¨This needs to be delivered with the chest, so they know who I am, and what I want.¨ Ace nodded, and took the parchment, putting it away.

¨If that is all, I will take my leave.¨ Ace could see Law nodding, signalizing he had nothing more to say. But Corazon moved his hand a bit, motioning for Ace's attention. Ace looked at him, and motioned for him to speak.

¨You may know I have worked with assassins before,¨ Started Corazon, as Ace gave a nod. ¨I wondered if you have any contact with a man called Azuruko?¨ Ended Corazon, looking at Ace. Ace knew the man had worked a lot with Azuruko many years ago, and he actually thought Corazon knew Azuruko was dead, but that was apparently not the case. Ace gave a small shake of his head. ¨Azuruko passed away some time ago.¨ He said, and could see the shocked expression on Corazon's face, before he gave a nod. Ace motioned with his hand, to see if any of them had anything else they wanted to say. When both of them shook their heads a bit, Ace gave a small bow. ¨I will then take my leave, I will return in a few hours after I have taken care of the chest.¨ Both Corazon and Law gave a bow back, and Ace disappeared.

Ace reappeared in a forest, Dust landing beside him with the chest. Ace was at a place he knew no one would come across the chest, a hidden uninhabited island, and would leave the chest here until he was in the right position. When he had landed, he took the parchment he had gotten from Law, the one which had the ones he had taken the hearts of. Ace also took out an another parchment and wrote a quick note to Daisuke, and put both in an envelope, handing it to Dust. Before Dust left, Ace wrote a quick note to Whitebeard, saying he would be gone longer than he thought and handed it to Dust. ¨Go to Daisuke first.¨ Said Ace, and Dust gave a nod before he disappeared.

When Dust was gone, Ace checked the chest over, and inspected one of the beating hearts. It was a peculiar ability Law had, and Ace had to say he like what he could do. Ace put it back, and closed the chest. He had a few hours until Dust had delivered the letters and before he made it to the marine base. Ace decided to spend the time relaxing on the island. Ace climbed on a tree, settling on a branch, taking out a book he had, and started to read.

It was a bit over two hours later that he felt Dust call for him. Ace put his book away, and disappeared. When he reappeared, he was at the edge of some trees, and could see the marine base a bit away. It had a bit of security, but it wasn't too bad. It was worse out in the water, and seeing as Ace could skip that part since Dust could fly over, saved him a lot of trouble. Ace could see around 15 guards on the outside, none of them directly in front of the door.

This was going to be easy.

Ace told Dust to get the chest, and waited for him to return. When Dust did, the chest was now beside him, Ace crouched in front of Dust, holding his hands around his wings. Ace only did this rarely, seeing as he couldn't use this on many people at a time. There were about 5 marines that would see him if he was at the door, and he needed those out of the picture. Ace made his hands produce a bit of smoke, Dust's feathers absorbing the smoke. When he was finished, some smoke was dusting of his wings, and he only had a limited time. Dust instantly flew off, and flew as silently as he could over the marines that could see him, and gave a small shrug of his wings over them, making the smoke hit them so Ace could trap them in an illusion. It wouldn't hold as long, or was as powerful as it would be if he had been the one to blow the smoke, but right now it was the easiest solution.

Ace could see two of them noticing Dust when he was above them, but he always managed to trap them in his illusion before they could react, when all of them was trapped, Ace checked the place over again. He could not see any others that would cause an issue so he made Dust sit on the railing with the stairs to the door, so he could teleport there. Ace made quick work of teleporting there with the chest, sending Dust to the woods, placing the envelope on top of the chest, and knocking on the door. The instant he had knocked twice, he disappeared back to the forest, and watched as the door opened. When the man in the door saw the chest, he took the illusion off the marines and disappeared. Ace reappeared on the same island he had been on before, and sent Dust to find the submarine again, so he could tell Law how it went.

When Dust had located the submarine, Ace teleported there, and told Law everything had gone according to the plan, so he would probably hear from the marines soon. Both Law and Corazon had seemed shocked on how fast he had done it, giving him his thanks as well as a reward for the work, before Ace gave his goodbyes and disappeared again. Ace reappeared back on the island, and changed out of his assassin's clothes, putting them in a bag before teleporting back to the ship. He used Dust to teleport to his room, so he could relax without being seen. He didn't mind to be seen when he returned, not when everything had gone well, but he was tired and wanted to sleep for a bit.

-x-

Whitebeard had made his way out on the deck after he had relaxed a bit. He hoped to see Ace out on deck, too see if he was okay. He was a bit worried when Haruta had seen Ace out on deck in the bad weather. He knew what Ace was doing, and was thinking about going outside to be with him. But Marco had done it before he had managed, so he decided to let them be. Ace seemed to be comfortable around Marco, and thought Ace might appreciate it. He was glad when they came inside, Ace looked like his normal self. But he had a feeling Ace was really good at hiding his feelings, so he still had a bit of worry in his chest.

When he got out on deck, he saw not only Ace at the front of the ship, but Marco too. The captain decided to let them be a bit together before going himself. He could not hear what they were talking about, seeing as he was too far away. But after he had stood there for a few minutes, he did hear Dust cawing, and saw the bird having an envelope that Ace read. He knew it was Ace's last day off, and it was only a matter of time until he would get an assignment. Whitebeard was about to walk up to them, when Ace stretched, and the captain understood Ace probably had to leave. And only a minute after Ace had stretched, he watched as Ace leaned up and gave Marco a kiss on the cheek. Whitebeard felt himself smile as Ace walked away, and could see him smiling himself. Ace didn't pass or see him, seeing as he was standing a bit to the side.

When the captain turned back to his first commander, he could see him standing there in shock, and had to laugh a bit as he moved towards him. He laughed a bit more when he saw his son was embarrassed. Whitebeard made his way to stand beside his son. ¨Did he get an assignment?¨ He asked, and could see Marco looking a bit weirdly at him, probably since he thought he would bring the kiss up. Marco nodded. ¨Yes, yoi.¨ He started, turning back to the sea. ¨He said it was only a meeting, and would be back in a couple of hours.¨ Whitebeard nodded, that wasn't too long. ¨Are you going to wait for him?¨ Asked the captain, sending a smile to his son. Marco nodded, ¨Two hours isn't so long, yoi.¨ He started, ¨And he is often back a bit earlier.¨ Whitebeard nodded. Marco was right, Ace often showed up a bit earlier than he said. Both of them then stood at the front of the ship, talking about small stuff, waiting for Ace to return.

It was a bit over an hour later, that Dust suddenly landed beside the captain, holding a parchment. Whitebeard did frown a bit, but did reach out for the parchment. The moment he had taken it, Dust gave a shrug and disappeared again. The captain looked at the parchment, not sure what it meant. ¨What is it, yoi?¨ He heard Marco ask beside him. ¨I don't know, son.¨ Said the captain, opening the parchment. When he had opened it, he saw a few quick words. 'Going to be gone 5 extra hours.' And the note was signed with an A. Whitebeard hoped Ace wouldn't be late because something was wrong, but he was glad he had gotten a note, so they wouldn't worry too much. The captain turned to Marco. ¨Ace is going to be gone longer than he expected.¨ He said, as he handed him the note.

Whitebeard could see his son sighing, knowing Ace would not return until morning. Whitebeard gave a comforting smile, ¨He is probably fine, son.¨ He said, and could see Marco nodding. When Marco closed the note, Whitebeard knew staying out all night was not the best decision. ¨Would you like to join me in my room, son?¨ Started the captain. ¨I don't feel like sleeping, and I have a feeling you don't either.¨ Whitebeard saw the disapproving look Marco sent him when he mentioned he didn't feel like sleeping. Marco never liked it when he didn't sleep. But the first commander gave a nod non the less. Whitebeard and Marco made their way to the captain's room, to talk about some usual small stuff until they either fell asleep, or morning came.

-x-

Curiel stared at the parchment he held in shock. There must be a mistake, was the only thought he had in his head. He had already counted their funds over twice, and the number came back the same. He tried to figure it out, and nothing gave any sense. Then it suddenly hit him, Ace had joined them. That was probably the reason it didn't add up. But still, this change was almost concerning. Curiel took the parchment and folded it, before he made his way out on deck, heading for the meeting room, where he knew his father was, having seen him heading there earlier.

It was still early in the morning, around 6, and many were already awake, and this did include many of the commanders and the captain. He had seen his father and Marco heading for the meeting room, probably to relax and talk with the other commanders that were up. Every time many of them was awake this early, they usually spent some time together on the meeting room, just to speak about different things that they thought didn't need to be mentioned out with the others, and it wasn't as important so it didn't need to be brought up in a meeting. It was a nice little thing they did, and everyone always enjoyed to be around each other. Curiel got to the door and knocked, when he heard a come in, he opened it before closing the door behind him.

¨Good morning, son.¨ Said his father, sending him a smile. Curiel smiled and gave his own greeting. ¨Is everything okay?¨ Asked the captain, seeing Curiel looking a bit unsure and holding the parchment. Curiel walked towards the table and the other commanders. The ones up this morning was Marco, Vista, Izou, Blenheim and Jozu. ¨I just counted our funds.¨ Said Curiel, as he made his way towards his father. ¨And, yoi?¨ Started Marco, worried they had much less than they thought. ¨Do we need to start saving again?¨

Curiel shook his head. It had happened a few times that they needed to save a bit, but it was only when they had under 50 000 000, seeing as they needed a lot of money to be able to stock up on things and do repairs. Curiel could see many of them frowning when he shook his head, not understanding what else could be wrong with the funds. ¨We should have about 120 000 000 according to my last counting and what we have used.¨ Started Curiel, and handed the parchment to his father, who he could see looked shocked at the number.

¨We currently have 750 000 000.¨ Said Curiel, and could see the shocked faces of everyone in the room.

¨How is that even possible, yoi?¨ Said Marco, looking at Curiel and his father. ¨How can we suddenly have six times as muc-.¨ Marco cut himself off. ¨And this suddenly happened within the last 2 weeks, yoi?¨ Curiel nodded, and saw as the first commander came to the same conclusion he had. ¨Didn't Ace say he gave most of what he make away, yoi?¨ He asked, and could see both Curiel and Whitebeard nodding. ¨Wait,¨ Started Izou. ¨We have over 6 times as much because of Ace? How much does he make?!¨ He asked a bit shocked. And none of them had an answer. They knew Ace did probably make a lot. But even if what they had gotten was half of what he made, and it was probably even less, was way more than they ever thought.

¨Isn't Ace here so we can ask him if its right?¨ Asked Izou, looking at them. Whitebeard looked at the clock. It was around 6, and he had gotten the note around 3, so Ace was most likely not back yet. Whitebeard shook his head. ¨He got an assignment, he will be back in a few hours.¨ He said, ¨I'll ask him when I see him.¨ Everyone nodded, and went back to talking about the usual stuff.

-x-

Ace walked out on deck, feeling refreshed. He had slept for a couple of hours, and was happy with that. Two hours of sleep every other day was the usual amount for him. He knew it was too little for a regular person, but he had been doing this for a long time. Every time he slept longer than a few hours, he knew it would be impossible for him to sleep for a few nights, and he would rather sleep a couple of hours every other night, than sleep for a long time once every fourth night. the only few times he might sleep more regularly, was when he was with his brothers. He always felt calm around them, and relaxed enough to sleep.

When Ace got out on the deck, there were many already was up. It didn't surprise Ace, the clock was almost 10. Ace wasn't especially hungry, so he decided to be out on deck for a bit, heading towards the open part of the deck. When he got to his destination, he was met with smiling faces and greetings. He gave a smile back, as well as a greeting. When he was more out on the open part, he could see the captain's chair, and Whitebeard giving a smile when he saw him. ¨Good morning, son.¨ Said the captain, also looking a bit relieved. Ace gave a nod and his own greetings. Before going to his usual spot on the railing, leaning on it. He soon noticed Marco coming and leaning on the railing beside him.

Ace smiled at the man. ¨Good morning.¨ He said, and got a smile back. ¨Good morning, yoi. Did everything go okay last night?¨ Asked Marco. Ace gave a nod, making Marco nod back. Glad that it had gone fine. Ace could see the first commander sending some gesture to Jozu, who nodded and went and got the division members a bit away from them. Ace looked back at Marco, wondering why he made Jozu do that. Making so it was only commanders and the captain in the close proximity. Marco made a gesture towards the captain, and Ace looked at the man, who now was looking at him. ¨Son,¨ Started the man. ¨Curiel counted our funds this morning, and we have quite a bit more than we expected.¨

Ace gave a nod, understanding that they probably didn't know how much he actually made. ¨I haven't made too much the last weeks, but I understand the amount can be a bit shocking the first time around.¨ He answered, and could see the captain nodding. ¨Ace,¨ Said a voice to his right, and he looked over to see Curiel. ¨How much have you made the last two weeks?¨ Ace thought for a bit. He didn't know the exact number, but knew the somewhat full amount.

¨I've made about 2 000 000 000, give or take.¨ He answered, and could see the shock on everyone's faces.

¨Billion?¨ Asked the chef, sounding shocked. Ace nodded. Thatch then held up nine fingers. ¨Billion, as in 9 zeroes?¨ Ace nodded again, lifting his eyebrow a bit, not understanding why it was such a big deal. ¨How is that 'not too much'?!¨ He yelled disbelieving. Ace gave a small laugh. He was used to the amount he made, and didn't think it was a lot anymore. But they apparently thought it was. ¨I am used to making a bit more, around 3-4 billion to be truthful.¨ He started. ¨I have gotten used to it, and didn't think it is as much as it probably is.¨ Thatch let out a shocked sound, looking completely stunned at the amount. Ace could see Curiel shaking his head. ¨I have a feeling we're not going to have a money problems in the future.¨ He said, laughing at Thatch's utterly stunned expression.

Curiel thought the amount was stunning. Based on how much they had gotten the last couple of weeks from Ace's work, he made out they got about a quarter of what Ace made. Curiel was prepared to see some change in the funding's, but never would he have believed the man made this much. He could only imagine how much his brothers got. Ace had said he gave most of it to them, and that had to be a lot. ¨Son,¨ Said Whitebeard, getting their attention again. ¨What do you usually do with all that money?¨ Ace thought for a bit before answering. ¨I mostly give it away to others. Most of it goes to my brothers, and the rest I use to buy the things I need. Certain equipment is quite expensive, and it's always good to have bit of extra money on hand.¨

Ace could see everyone nodding, understanding Ace was talking about his assassin's gear. It was always good to have money on hand, and the few times his assassin's gear got broken or needed an upgrade, it did often cost a lot. Whitebeard gave a smile to Ace. ¨That's understandable, son. It is always good to have a bit of money, we just didn't know it was going to be as much.¨ Said the captain. Ace nodded. ¨I'm used to it, and often forget I make more than most.¨ Ace could see everyone nodding. Ace actually didn't think the amount was that great, and it apparently was. There were always small things like this he forgot was not common. He had been around assassins for most of his life, and had grown accustomed to those routines. Ace would get used to the pirate's routines with time.

Dust then suddenly landed beside him. Ace petted him as he took an envelope and opened it. Ace had to keep his eye from twitching when he read the message. For some reason, Shanks wanted him to get some information for him, and he needed Ace to come now, and not tell the pirates it was him he was doing an assignment for. Ace folded the note, and put it away. ¨You're leaving again, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, looking at Ace. Ace nodded. ¨It won't take long. A couple of hours at most.¨ He answered, knowing Shanks would have told him if it was something big. Ace could see them nodding, and Whitebeard giving a fatherly smile. ¨We'll see you later, son. Be safe.¨ Ace nodded, and disappeared. He had a spare suit at Shanks, so he didn't need to change on the boat.

-x-

Ace had been gone for about half an hour. Whitebeard was a bit saddened to know Ace would be a lot gone, doing his work. He would always support Ace in his job, even though he didn't like the danger of his work, knowing Ace could get seriously injured. Ace was strong and one of the bests, and he rarely got injured. He had faith in him, but he did still worry. He was glad that he could help Ace, and give him a place where he feels like he belonged. The captain did not, and was sure he would not regret giving Ace a place in his family. Ace was smart and kind person. It was at times he forgot Ace was the most dangerous and wanted assassin in the world. He was so young and kind, at least when he was Ace. When he was the assassin, he understood how he had gotten the reputation.

He did read a lot about him in the papers, on how much of a danger he was, and that he was a demon. And he could understand it, but didn't like the names they called him. If anyone had told him he would have the assassin in his family half a year ago, he would call them insane. Ace was a perfect addition to their family. He had thought more and more about telling everyone who Ace was, but he would need to bring it up with Ace first. He did understand if Ace wanted to wait a bit longer. He could understand if some of his children would maybe feel a bit unsettled and unsure when they found out. The captain would take it as it came, hoping everyone would accept it.

Whitebeard was sitting, enjoying the day, his children doing their business and having fun. ¨Pops.¨ Said someone to his left, and he looked over to see Claus coming towards him, a Den Den in his hands. ¨Son.¨ He said, smiling at him. ¨Who is calling?¨ Claus handed him the Den Den, ¨It is Red haired Shanks.¨ He said, making the captain frown. ¨Did he say what he wanted?¨ He asked, and Claus shook his head. Whitebeard nodded, taking the Den Den. Seeing as Claus didn't look unsure or anything, he could safely assume Shanks didn't have anything he needed to say to him in private. ¨Brat,¨ Started the captain, looking at the Den Den. ¨What do you want?¨ He asked. ¨Nothing much,¨ Answered Shanks, sounding like his usual happy self. ¨I just wanted to know if you knew what tomorrow is.¨ He said, making the captain frown a bit.

There wasn't anything special tomorrow to his knowledge. At least not tomorrow, but it was new year's tonight. Thatch was preparing a feast for everyone, and the captain was already ready to party with his sons. He knew it would get out of hand as usual, and he knew Marco probably already had a headache, knowing the party was going to get really out of hand. ¨Other than it being the first day of the new year, I don't know of anything special.¨ Said the captain, and could hear Shanks sigh. ¨I had a feeling Ace wouldn't tell you.¨ Said the other captain, making Whitebeard look at the Den Den in curiosity. ¨What do you mean Ace wouldn't tell us what?¨ Maybe it was a special day for the kid, and it was something they should know. Shanks gave a small laugh.

¨Tomorrow is Ace's birthday.¨ Said the captain excited, making all the pirates who heard it shocked. They had forgotten to ask Ace when his birthday was.

¨He never really celebrated it,¨ Continued Shanks, getting their attention again. ¨He never liked to be the center of attention, so you shouldn't throw a big party. But I thought you should know.¨ The pirates where stunned. Ace's birthday was tomorrow. That gave them no time to prepare or do anything for him. Even getting gifts would be hard. ¨If you want,¨ Continued Shanks. ¨I can hold up Ace for a few more hours.¨ Whitebeard frowned a bit, before he realized it was Shanks that had called Ace away. Probably so he could call and tell them without Ace overhearing. Whitebeard looked out at the sea, there were an island not too far away. It wasn't one of theirs, but a neutral one. It did have some shops, and they should get something for the kid. ¨If you can hold him up until 3 o'clock, that would be great.¨ He said, hoping the other captain would do that.

They could hear Shanks laugh. ¨I'll just send him on a wild-goose chase. And you should get him a dagger, his favorite one broke.¨ Said the other captain, before abruptly hanging up. The pirates could only stare at the now sleeping Den Den. Thatch was the first one to react. He started flailing his arms, saying how he now had an another party to cook for. And he needed to come up with something perfect, and how he had no idea what Ace liked. ¨Son,¨ Started the captain, stopping Thatch in his rambling. ¨We shouldn't make anything too big.¨ Said the captain. He knew Shanks usually spoke the truth, he even had a feeling himself Ace would not enjoy a big party. He was a reserved person and liked his space. He was new in the family. Bombarding him with a party was most likely not the best idea.

The captain could see Thatch was on his way to protest, wanting to have a big celebration. But the captain silenced him with a shake of the head, making him pout a bit. Whitebeard also saw the thoughtful look on his first commander face, and got a plan. ¨Son,¨ He said, looking at Marco. ¨Why don't you, Izou, Namur and Rakuyo go to the island and get him a gift from everybody?¨ He said, knowing Izou, Namur and Rakuyo knew that there was something between Ace and Marco. Izou figuring out when Ace had told them about Stefan, Rakuyo had figured it out when they danced, and Namur having night shift last night and somehow saw the kiss. All of them would understand Marco wanting to get a personal gift to Ace, and Shanks idea for a dagger was perfect. The captain could see Marco giving him a nod, and a thankful smile, understanding what he was up too.

Thatch let out a whine. ¨But I want to get him something too!¨ Izou clapped him on the back. ¨Shouldn't you be preparing for the party tonight?¨ He said, lifting an eyebrow. Thatch nodded reluctantly and walked off towards the kitchen. Making all of them laugh a bit at how he pouted the entire way. Thatch was a drama king, and they always found it a bit funny. Izou then turned around to the others. ¨We will get the perfect gift for Ace!¨ He promised, before heading towards the boats, knowing it would go fast since Namur could help them.

-x-

Marco went inside an another weapons shop. He had already visited 3 others, and had not found a single dagger he thought looked good. He was starting to lose hope he would find one and knew he didn't have a lot of time left. He had split up from the others, letting them find something that would be from everyone, while the first commander tried to find a dagger. He knew that it needed to be light, have a good hilt and look special. He wanted to find one that there weren't a lot of, and he was even using his own personal savings, knowing if he used the entire crew's, it would mean he would be using the money Ace made to buy him a present. And that sounded wrong. Marco would have no issue with spending his own money, as long as he could see Ace smile. It always got to him on how stunning he looked when he smiled a real happy smile.

When the door closed behind Marco, he could see some other people in the shop, aside from the shop owner. When they saw him, and instantly recognized him, the other customers seemed to whisper to themselves, before edging away. Marco hold the urge to sigh. The reputation did sometime ruin what he wanted to do. The last shop he was in, he could tell the owner didn't want to sell him anything, seeing as he was a pirate. And he hoped this was not going to be the same as that one. When he walked more inside, starting to look at some knifes in a glass cabinet. He could hear someone whisper that they maybe should leave, seeing as he was a pirate and that they were bad people. Marco did his best to ignore it, deciding it would only cause trouble if he reacted to it.

When they continued to stare at him, he was thinking about leaving, and was about to stand back up, when a voice made him halt. ¨If you can't accept someone, pirate or not, looking around, you should just leave.¨ Said the shop owner, looking sternly at the others in the shop. They looked at the owner, before slowly walking out of the shop, still sending him looks of uncertainty. When the door closed, the shop owner let out a sigh, as he turned to him. ¨I am sorry about that.¨ Started the man. ¨We have had some bad experience in the past with pirates. My name is Jim, are you looking for something special?¨ Marco looked at him and couldn't help but smile a bit, happy to know he didn't care that he was a pirate, acting like a professional owner. ¨I'm looking for a dagger, yoi.¨ He started. ¨One that is light, durable and a one of a kind.¨

The owner nodded, walking to an another glass display and opening it. ¨How about this?¨ He asked, taking a dagger out. It had a light golden color and had a lot of ornaments and looked pretty. But Marco wasn't out after something pretty, and the light color would most likely be a bad choice for the assassin. ¨Not quite, yoi. Do you maybe have something a bit darker with less ornaments?¨ The man nodded, and put the dagger away, taking an another one out. This one was darker, a pale back with some ornaments and carvings on the hilt. Marco shook his head. ¨It's better, but not exactly what I am looking for, yoi.¨ He said, and felt his hope fade even more. The owner nodded, before putting it away.

When he had done this, he thought for a bit, before looking at him. ¨You want a dagger that is light, durable, dark in color and don't have any ornaments or carvings?¨ He asked. Marco nodded. ¨Yes, yoi. It can have carvings, not anything big, but makes it looks striking.¨ He answered, giving a bit more detail of what he was after. Jim nodded, and seemed to be in thought, before he snapped his finger. ¨Wait here for a second.¨ He said, before going behind the desk and through a door. When he came back out, he held a piece of clothing. He put it on the counter. ¨I don't normally sell this to regular customers.¨ Started the man, opening the cloth. ¨It is for a certain line of work, and everyone is unique.¨ The man ended as he opened the cloth completely, showing the dagger.

And the dagger looked perfect.

The blade was obsidian black and dark silver where it was sharpened. The hilt was made of the same black metal, and shaped different than most, having a tilted shape so it could be held in different ways without making the wielder having to stick with one form of attack. A deep dark red colored thread was around the hilt, making it so the wielder didn't hold directly at the metal. But the best part were the silver carvings in the blade. It looked to be two Y, both of them having a line thought at the top, and one of them upside down, and the top of the Y overlapping each other. (1)

The shop owner lifted the knife. ¨It's made from a rare material, a kind of memory metal. It's light to use, fits well in the hand, real durable and is a one of a kind.¨ Said the man, handing the weapon to him. And Marco was surprised on how light it was, and how well it fit in his hand. ¨Do the carving mean anything, yoi?¨ He asked, tracing it with his other hand. The shop owner nodded. ¨It is old runes.¨ Started the man. ¨The one to the left means life, while the other means death. The overlapping signalizing the connection of life and death.¨ Marco nodded. This dagger was all too perfect. And then he remembered what the man said. 'for a certain line of work.' This wasn't just a dagger, but an assassin's dagger. To find this was a special and perfect find, he could not have any more luck.

Marco looked back at the man. ¨How much, yoi?¨ He asked, deciding he would get it, no matter what. The man smiled, seeming happy he had found what he looked for. ¨It cost 220 000.¨ He said. Marco nodded slowly. That was quite a bit for a dagger. the usual price was usually somewhere between 50-70 000. But Ace had said himself that this kind of stuff was expensive. And the first commander felt himself smile. He had just enough, bringing with him 250 000. He put the dagger down on the cloth again, and got out his pouch. ¨I'll take it, yoi.¨ He said, and paid the man. Jim had a smile as he accepted it, and packed the dagger in the cloth again, handing it to him. He gave a smile, as he said goodbye, Marco doing the same, before he headed out, searching for the others.

It didn't take him long to find them, seeing as they were also looking for him. They had managed to find a pair of gauntlets and a cloak that would go about halfway down his back. When Marco had asked why they had bought a cloak, seeing as Ace had the cape, Izou had answered that the cape could be hard to run and do maneuvers with. Izou knew Ace was used to wearing a cape, but a cloak this size would make everything easier in fast battle, and he would use the rest of the day to sow the mark in it. Marco agreed on it after hearing why. The cloak was a deep red one with a hood, and Marco had a feeling Ace would like it.

Izou would probably like it more if he could make it himself from scratch, but they did not have time for that. Marco also felt his eye twitch when Izou said something along the lines off 'I'll make sure you can give the present in private.' With a wink. Marco had no doubt Izou had his mind in the gutter, and after the comment about Ace's gift with animals worked on his phoenix, he found his mind drifting way more than he wanted. The others just laughed at the comment, and headed back to the ship.

When they got back to the boat, they were glad to see Ace had not returned yet. Whitebeard was also a bit unsure if asking Shanks to hold Ace up was a good idea, seeing as the other captain mentioned a wild-goose chase. Ace would most likely not like that, and hoped he would be too annoyed. They also decided to not have a big party. They would announce it to the others at dinner tomorrow, and have a small celebration, but not a party. Everyone, aside from Thatch who wanted a big celebration, agreed on it. Making Thatch pout, and mumble how everyone deserved a party. Whitebeard had laughed, saying Ace could always get a bigger party next year, seeing as he would turn 21. Thatch had lightened a bit up at that.

-x-

Ace was annoyed, really annoyed. He had just spent 5 hours on a complete wild-goose chase for Shanks, who claimed he had no idea that it would be that. Ace had a good feeling the captain knew exactly what he was doing when he sent Ace on the wild chase, but decided to let it pass for now. He would bring it up later when he could use it against him, a time he could use the man's help when he said no. he wouldn't forget this in the near future.

Ace took a few deep breaths before he teleported back to the Moby, just so he wouldn't look as annoyed as he really was. When he appeared, he was met with smiling faces. ¨Son,¨ Said the captain, looking extremely happy for some reason. ¨Did everything go fine?¨ Ace nodded, but did still feel his eye twitch a bit. ¨It went fine.¨ Was all he said, and could see some of them frowning a bit, probably seeing the twitch. The captain did nod, looking a bit guilty for some reason. ¨We are preparing for new year's. If you want, you can help Marco with the decorations in the galley.¨ Said the captain. Ace nodded, starting to head to the galley. Doing some decoration work would maybe get his mind off his annoyance.

He had actually forgotten it was the night off new year, he often forgot those kind of things. It did also remind him that it was his birthday tomorrow, and he would not be around his brothers for the first time in years. That was going to be weird, and he hoped to visit them soon, but at a time when they were not in middle of training. Ace also knew he had not told the pirates about his birthday, and hoped they hadn't found it out and planned anything big. He wasn't fond of big parties where he was the center of attention. He would tell the pirates later, when they asked. Ace had no plan on being the one to bring it up himself.

Ace entered the galley, seeing many already preparing for the New Year's Eve party. Ace went up to Marco, who was folding napkins. Ace had to laugh as he sat down beside him, ¨This is going to take a long time.¨ He said as he took a napkin himself, starting to fold it like the first commander. Marco laughed a bit himself. ¨Yes, yoi.¨ He started, sending a smile to Ace. ¨But it's a nice small detail. And as long as everyone helps, it doesn't take too long.¨ Ace nodded. It was true. They were a big crew, having a lot of people that could help. If everyone did their part, it wouldn't take too long. Marco took an another napkin, starting to fold it. ¨Did everything go fine today, yoi?¨ He asked.

Ace gave a sigh. ¨It went fine, a bit of a wild-goose chase, but it went fine.¨ he said, deciding that mentioning it would maybe help a bit with his annoyance. Marco gave small nod, ¨That sounds a bit annoying, yoi.¨ He said, sending a look at Ace. Ace nodded, laughing a bit. ¨Yeah, but it could have been worse. It was only time consuming.¨ Marco nodded, sending an understanding look at Ace. Both of them started small conversation as they continued to fold the napkins, some others coming to help every now and then. It was a bit of tedious work, some of the others complaining. But Ace didn't mind doing it, at least not when he had the company of the first commander.

They finished with the napkins after an hour or so, and went to help the others that needed it. Ace enjoyed to help the others out, being able to be more around the others that he hadn't spent much time around. It took some effort, but they managed to get the preparation done before they would have dinner, which was around 8 in the evening. Ace was glad to see he hadn't been called for an assignment. And hoped he would not be during the party. It was rare for someone to call him on this day, but it did happen.

When the preparation was done, and everyone was gathered to start eating. Ace couldn't help but smile, seeing everyone smiling and having fun. It was a relaxing sight, and Ace was glad to be able to enjoy it with them. Ace could see most of the people drinking, a lot. And had a feeling everyone was going to be drunk beyond logic before the countdown rolled around. There were a few that didn't drink, or didn't drink as much. It was always good to have some people that were sober, to keep things from happening and getting out of hand. Ace sat with Marco the entire dinner, and had different conversations with him, seeing as he was not intoxicated, no matter how much he drank. Ace had a feeling that was because of his devil fruit. Ace did enjoy his company, and he felt like Marco did too.

The time went by in a fast pace, at least Ace thought so. They were soon out on deck, everyone ready to count down. It was Izou who was in charge of telling when they should start. The sixteenth commander not having been drinking as much as the others. Ace was sitting at the railing, looking at everyone that were stumbling around, many of them singing and drinking. Marco was leaning against the railing beside him, keeping a watchful eye over everyone. There had already been a few that had been drunk enough to fall over the railing, and needed to be fished out by Namur. It was nice to see everyone having fun, even though many of them was way too drunk to even be able to have a decent conversation. Ace enjoyed to sit a bit away, watching them and speaking with the less drunken ones, especially Marco.

Ace had never been at a celebration that was this big and noisy. The only one he could compare it with, was when he had been with the Red Cloud one time. And seeing as everyone were assassins, it didn't get rowdy and no one got drunk. It was a big change, and Ace didn't really mind, not as long as everyone behaved and he wasn't the only one sober. It was not long until Izou got everyone's attention, telling that the new year was only a minute away. Ace could see everyone cheering at that, really excited for the new year to come. He had a feeling it was so they could drink more, and yell out. Luffy did always enjoy that part of the New Year's Eve. Being able to eat a lot, and scream was Luffy's two favorite things. He hoped both his brothers were happy and having their own fun.

Izou then got everyone's attention again, saying it was only 20 seconds left. And everyone cheered, starting to count. Ace didn't join in, but watched the looks of happiness on everyone's faces. When they reached 0, everyone yelled out, some even throwing their hats or mugs. It was a sight Ace had to laugh a bit. ¨Happy new year, yoi.¨ He heard Marco say to his right. Ace looked over, and saw him holding his cup out. Ace gave him a toast. ¨Happy new year.¨ He said back, giving a smile. It had been a good year. Everyone on deck gave their own toast and hugs to everyone, and it took way over half an hour before it started to calm down. There were a lot of people to toast, and many wanted to try to toast everyone. It was a funny and calming sight to see all of them stumble around, some leaning on each other as they made their way around.

They sat around, enjoying the celebration. It was an hour later when everything died down, many going to their rooms, or just falling asleep on deck. It was a warm night, so they didn't need to worry about anyone freezing, which was good. ¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said a voice to his right, Ace turner around to see the first commander. ¨I have something I need to get in my room. I hoped you would join me, yoi.¨ Said the first commander, sending a smile at Ace. Ace looked curiously at the commander, wondering why he wanted him to join. The party had died down, and Izou, Namur and Jozu seemed to have everything under control. Ace nodded, as he jumped down from the railing. ¨I can do that.¨ He said. Deciding Marco probably had a reason for asking him to join.

They started the walk to the first commander's room, and Ace could swear he saw Izou gave him a wink at his right, but decided to ignore it.

-x-

Marco was nervous. He didn't know why, but he was. He thought it might be because he was unsure Ace would like the dagger. He knew more about what he liked himself, and Marco wasn't skilled in picking weapons out. He felt his annoyance spike when he saw Izou wink at him, and hoped Ace didn't notice. When he got to his room, he let Ace go inside, before closing the door behind him. He could see Ace looking at him in curiosity, wondering what he wanted, and why he asked him to join. Marco walked over to his nightstand, and got the cloth with the dagger inside out. When he turned around, he handed it to Ace with a smile. ¨Happy birthday, yoi.¨ He said. Seeing the shock on Ace's face, not expecting he knew it was his birthday.

Ace stared at him in shock, taking the cloth. ¨How did you know?¨ He asked with a small smile. Marco gave a small laugh, ¨Shanks told us, yoi.¨ He said, deciding to tell him who it was. He could see Ace nodding, his eye twitching a bit, knowing Shanks had outed the information. But opened the cloth. When he saw the dagger, Marco could see the shock on his face. He took the dagger, and held it, even moving it around in his hand. ¨Where did you get this?¨ He asked stunned. Marco lifted an eyebrow, ¨It wouldn't be a present if I told you that, yoi.¨ Ace nodded, and looked at the blade, seeing the carving. Marco didn't doubt Ace knew what it meant, he seemed to know a lot. Ace looked and moved the knife a bit more around, and Marco turned around to close the drawer.

When he turned back Ace was right in front of him, and before Marco could react. Ace had his hands around his neck, kissing him.

Marco froze for a second, before laying his hands on Ace's hips, kissing back, also deepening the kiss. After a bit, they parted. When they did, Ace gave him the happiest smile he had seen. ¨It's beautiful, Marco.¨ He said. Marco smiled, feeling his cheeks heat up. ¨I'm glad you liked it, yoi.¨ he said, and watched as Ace put the dagger down on the desk, before turning back around, kissing Marco again. Marco could not help himself, so he slowly brought his hands up the younger male's shirt, stroking his back. When Ace moaned in the kiss, Marco felt his pants tighten.

Ace's hands find their way to his exposed chest, and he felt himself moan, his brain realizing this actually was happening. They made quick work of his shirt, and Marco helped Ace with his. He was a bit shocked at all the scars he could see, when the shirt was off, but his train of thought was quickly interrupted by Ace going back to kissing him and feeling his body. Marco decided to just enjoy this, and would worry about the scars later. Right now, he wanted Ace. Marco moved them so Ace had his back to the wall, before starting to kiss the younger male's neck, and continued down towards the pants. Marco enjoyed the moans Ace let out as he went lower.

Marco continued to kiss Aces belly as he took his shoes off, and eased the pants down. Marco could hear Ace's moans increase as he started to kiss up his thighs, heading towards the boxers. Marco didn't pin Ace, or hold him in place, giving him every chance to stop him if he wanted. Marco only felt more aroused when Ace let him continue, giving out moans. When he took and lowered the boxers, he was happy to see Ace was also hard. When he slipped the last piece of clothing off Ace's leg, he took the foot and placed it over his shoulder, giving Marco better access to his inner thigh, which he made good use off by kissing it. Marco sent a look up at Ace's flustered face, and decided he would give Ace an another present.

Marco gave an experimental lick to the member in front of him, and could hear Ace's breath hitch, not expecting it. ¨Marco,¨ Moaned Ace, making him halt for a second. ¨You don't need to do-,¨ Marco cut him off by taking the member in his mouth, making Ace give out a moan. He knew he didn't need to, but he wanted to do it. He knew he wasn't the best at blow jobs, but he was decent. And he loved every moan Ace gave, and went all out, even using his teeth a bit, making Ace arch his back. Marco used his hand to go into his drawer, pulling out a bottle of lube. The moment he had it in his hand, he grew a bit unsure, and was about to ask Ace who would bottom. He had no mind by doing both of them, but he liked to top best.

But before he had managed to ask, Ace used his own free hand to guide Marco's hand to his lower back, guiding it to his hole. Marco looked up at Ace, and felt his member twitch at the lust filled eyes and flustered face. ¨Are you-,¨ Started Marco, but Ace shook his head before he could ask. ¨I'm not a virgin.¨ Marco nodded, and coated his fingers, slowly bringing one to penetrate Ace. He could hear Ace moan at the intrusion, and Marco moved a bit, so Ace could get his leg more on his shoulder, giving Marco better access. When he added another finger, he went back to sucking Ace, getting a loud moan in return. Marco loved the sounds Ace made, it made his member twitch every time. After adding a third finger, and feeling Ace was loose enough, he removed them, and stood back up, kissing Ace on the lips again.

Ace kissed him hard and needy, using his hands to loosen Marcos pants, making them fall to the ground, the same with his boxers. When they were off, Marco guided them to his bed, and leaned Ace towards the mattress. The moment Ace's back touched the surface, Marco found himself dazed as he was suddenly turned around, laying on his back instead. Ace using his speed to turn them around. ¨I don't like to be underneath.¨ Said Ace, going back to kissing him. Marco nodded, and when Ace left his mouth, taking the bottle of lube, using it to coat his member. He felt his mouth go dry as his brain figured out what was happening.

Ace was going to ride him. Only the thought made his member twitch like mad. He had rarely been ridden before and he could only imagine what Ace would look like.

Marco could then see Ace sitting up again, using one of his hands to guide Marco to his hole, slowly sitting down on his cock. Marco gave out a moan, feeling the tightness of Ace, and watched as Ace's back arched, his eyes lost in pleasure. When Ace was fully seated, Marco brought his hands to Ace's thighs. This was the most pleasure he had felt in ages, and he loved every second of it. Ace then started to move. And Marcos brain stopped for a second, overwhelmed by the feeling of being ridden by Ace.

Ace was leaned forward, his hands on Marco's chest, using it as a leverage as he moved. Every time Ace moved down again, both of them let out a moan. Marco was sure it could not get any better, but Ace always managed to do more. Marco watched as Ace's hands left his chest and straightened his back, speeding up the pace, back slightly arched, eyes half open in pleasure, looking at him. It was a breathtaking sight, and he was nearing his end. Marco started to meet Ace's trusts, and took his right hand to Ace's member, moving it with his trusts. Marco could see Ace opening his mouth in a long moan, back arching more.

¨Marco.¨ Ace moaned out and Marco almost finished then. Ace's voice laced with pleasure was the most amazing thing he had ever heard. He could feel Ace's movement growing more erratic, and knew he was close too. Marco again sped his pace, thrusting harder, making Ace moan his name more. He could feel Ace clamping down on him, his member twitching as it shot his semen, moaning out Marco's name one last time. Marco was not able to take it, and came with a moan of Ace's name, Ace continuing to ride out their pleasure.

When he stopped, both of them were panting, their stomachs having a bit of cum on them. Ace slowly moved off his member, and laid down next to him, trying to catch his breath, Marco doing the same. Marco looked at Ace in his side vision. ¨That was amazing, yoi.¨ He said, completely out of breath. Ace nodded, ¨It was.¨ Marco then moved a bit up, taking a towel that was at the end off the bed and wiped himself of quickly, before handing the towel to Ace, him doing the same before letting it land on the floor. Marco quickly dragged the blanket over them. He was about to move, to hold Ace, when Ace's hand moved to his own, Ace's middle finger going around his, holding it.

Marco gave a smile as he understood Ace didn't want more contact now, and tightened the hold on his finger. Both of them just lying there in silence, trying to completely catch their breath. Marco was happy too see Ace smiling, and tightened the finger more, enjoying the small contact, hoping Ace would open more later. Marco closed his eyes, wanting to enjoy this moment.

Marco opened his eyes, and realized with a sinking heart he had fallen asleep. The bed empty and cold beside him. And he felt awful for managing to fall asleep, probably leaving Ace to lay awake. Marco slowly got out of bed, and dressed before heading out. Hoping he hadn't slept for long.

-x-

Ace could hear Marco's breath evening out, and the hold around his finger easing up. He laid and watched the man sleep for a bit, before slowly taking his hand away and standing up, putting his clothes on. When he had, he looked at the knife again. It was really beautiful. He had felt at once that it wasn't a regular knife, but an assassins knife. Ace was curious where the first commander had managed to come over such a find, it was a real well made one too. Ace put the knife in his belt, deciding it would be his new favorite one. His last one broke yesterday, making him a bit annoyed. He had had that knife for years.

Ace went over to Marco's sleeping form again, and gave a last kiss on his cheek before leaving. He hadn't planned on sleeping with him, but didn't regret it either. Marco was a good looking man and Ace enjoyed being around him. Ace had a feeling Marco had sleeping problems too, and didn't want to wake him up. Ace walked out the door, closing it silently behind himself. When the door was closed, he could see Dust waiting for him, an envelope in his beak. Ace walked to the bird and took the envelope he held, opening it. He had hoped for a silent night, seeing as it was the first day of the year, but as usual, his work called him. Ace closed the note and put it away.

Ace walked towards his room, the door next to Marco's, and was about to open it, when the door that led to the hallway opened, Izou walking in, supporting an intoxicated Thatch. ¨Izou,¨ Said Ace, as he opened the door to his room. The sixteenth commander looked at him, seemingly shocked that he was there. ¨I have an assignment, I'll be back in 10 hours.¨ Ace could see Izou nodding slowly. ¨What about Marco?¨ He asked, wondering why he told him, seeing as he could have told Marco. Ace shook his head. ¨He's asleep.¨ He answered, and could see Izou look mad at that. ¨Did he really fall asleep on you?¨ He asked, sounding furious.

Ace laughed a bit. ¨It's okay, he needs his sleep. We did a lot of work today anyway.¨ He answered, and could see Izou looking less mad, an understanding look at his face, before looking a bit worried. ¨What about you?¨ He asked concerned. Ace shook his head, ¨I'm fine.¨ he said, and went inside his room to change. Not letting Izou get a comeback, most likely something about how he also needed to sleep. He could hear Izou sigh as he walked by his door, Thatch mumbling something incoherently.

-x- OUTTAKE -x-

¨Come on, Rayleigh.¨ Whined Luffy, even giving his puppy eyes. ¨Its Ace's birthday tomorrow and I want to visit!¨ The man shook his head. ¨No Luffy. We will visit Ace next week, like we planned.¨ He said back sternly, looking at Luffy like he was a young child. Luffy let out an another whine. ¨Come on, Lu.¨ Said Sabo, coming to stand beside Rayleigh. ¨We will visit him later, we don't even have a present for him yet.¨ He said, knowing it would at least help. This was the longest they had been away from Ace, and Luffy was whining more and more. Luffy gave a nod, still pouting a bit. ¨And,¨ Continued Sabo. ¨We will visit him next week.¨ Luffy gave a nod and a sigh.

Luffy then got a smile on his face, his mood doing a complete turnaround. ¨What are we going to do now?¨ He asked, excited. Rayleigh laughed. ¨We are heading towards Sabaody archipelago.¨ He answered, making Luffy light up. ¨We're going to the New World?¨ Rayleigh nodded, and Luffy smiled like a fool. Sabo shook his head. They had not been to the New World a lot, only small visits with Ace. So it was no wonder Luffy was excited. It was starting to become a bit late, and they were headed towards Rayleigh's boat. When they got there, the newspaper had arrived. They had been in the forest the entire day and hadn't been able to read it before now.

Sabo was a bit curious about a part the start page mentioned, and opened it. ¨Something interesting, brat?¨ Asked Rayleigh, looking at him. Sabo nodded. ¨The marines have made a young man a Warlord.¨ Started Sabo, shocking the man. ¨What's a Warlord?¨ Asked Luffy, tilting his head. ¨Warlords are pirates that work for the marines.¨ Answered Sabo, looking the page over. Luffy frowned, ¨Why would a pirate work for the marines?¨ Sabo shook his head. ¨Everyone have a different reason, Lu.¨ He said, and looked at Rayleigh. ¨It's a man called Trafalgar Law, heard about him?¨ Rayleigh nodded. ¨He is a sadistic man, he is called The Surgeon of Death. We should stay away from him.¨ He said. Sabo nodded before he handed the newspaper to Rayleigh, hoping they didn't cross paths.

Chapter Text

¨Please,¨ Begged the man Ace stood over. ¨Please just kill me.¨ Ace gave a small hum as he used his hand to dig around in the wound in his stomach. ¨Why would I do that?¨ Said Ace, continuing his task of mutilating the man. ¨You never listened to the pleads of your victims, so why would I listen to yours?¨ Before the man could plead more, Ace used his hand, which was inside the man’s wound, to poke a small hole in his left pleural cavity, making his left lung collapse. Ace could see the entire form of the man seizing up, trying to take a deep breath, but not able seeing as only one lung was working. The man tried to stammer out a please, but never getting longer than the p, his breath failing him, the pain and shock starting to take over.

Ace had already gouged out his eyes, slit his mouth, put a knife through his joints and was now messing with his organs. He would let him out of his misery soon, he was just going to enjoy this a bit more. He had already kept the man alive for 3 hours, slowing the torture down and doing everything slowly. He always enjoyed to torture the ones that tortured others, especially the ones that tortured innocent people or children. And this man had done that for a few years, so Ace would make him regret every choice he had made, make his last hours the most miserable he could do. He had been given free reigns, and was going to use that. It had been awhile since he had been given free reigns, and he enjoyed it. Some people deserved to die slow and painful, and this man was on that list. Ace was glad he was the one to do the deed.

Ace watched the man trying to breath, his entire body arching every time he breath in. Making a sound between choking and gurgling, one lung collapsed and filled with blood, the other trying to work through the stress. Ace was about to put some more stress on the man’s body, his hand moving back in, when the man somehow managed to get enough breath and adrenaline to speak. ¨I- I’m- I’m so- so- sorry.¨ He managed to choke out. Ace could see his lips moving, trying to say more, but failing. Ace were going to rupture his stomach, making the acid kill him slowly and painfully. He could see the man lips moving, trying to say sorry over and over.

Ace moved his hand towards the man’s chest, slowly bringing his hand towards his heart, using his index finger to pull the aorta from the heart. The man’s body made on last seize, before going limp.

When faced with death, people have limited reactions. They either live in denial that what they did was wrong, some didn’t say anything and a very few realized their mistakes. That was one of the things Ace enjoyed in his work. He always saw the moment they realized what kind of person they were. If they regretted what their life was or if they still thought they were right. This man, Mikhail Winston, used his last breath and thought to apologize. Ace would give the man a quicker death, still painful, but not as painful. He only did this on accomplices to the men behind everything. The man had tortured and killed, but his brother was the main one, the main leader. Ace had taken his time on him, the man never admitting his faults, making his death more painful and much, much longer than this one’s.

Ace stood up, using a cloth to wipe some of the blood off, before looking over his work. There were 5 dead people, two of them tortured and mutilated, the Winston twins gone from this world. Ace teleported outside of the house, taking one last look at the house which had been hell for many over the years, before lighting a lighter, setting the place aflame. Whenever Ace took down places like this, houses, mansions, bases and such, he always burned it down. He had asked one of the prisoners to pour gasoline through the door and in the hallway. All it took was a starting fire, and everything would burn. His mark was placed on the pavement before the door, making sure everyone knew who had been here.

Ace watched and made sure everything took fire, before Dust landed on his shoulder, giving a caw. Ace petted the bird. He had sent Dust to check that the prisoners had gotten to the village a bit away, which they apparently had. Ace took one last look at the burning building before disappearing, preparing himself for the meeting to tell everything had gone according to plan.

---x---

Marco walked out of his door, hoping to find Ace. He felt awful for managing to fall asleep. The one time he wanted to be awake, he fell asleep. Granted, he hadn’t gotten any sleep last night and had done a lot of work during the day. But that was no excuse to fall asleep, not after having sex with the man. He hoped Ace didn’t think he only wanted that, he wanted more than just sex.

Marco was also worried about Ace, his torso was littered with scars, many big and long ones, and even more smaller ones. He had not been prepared for that. He knew his work was though and he had most likely gotten them through his work, but there were just so many. He could also faintly remember feeling scars on the others back and hoped it wasn’t as bad, but couldn’t stop his mind from thinking it might also be worse. Marco shook his head, trying to not think about it.

When he got out on deck, there weren’t many up. Many were sleeping around, clearly having fallen asleep after drinking themselves to oblivion. It was still dark outside, meaning he hadn’t slept too long. He made his way towards the main deck, to his father’s chair. Knowing most of those awake would be there, and that would most likely only be the ones that were sober. He knew his father was drunk, but he would never get so drunk he wouldn’t be able to think clearly. He had an amazing tolerance for alcohol and he knew exactly where his limit was and he never drank more than that, never being incoherent, which Marco liked. He did wish his father would drink less, but he was at least coherent.

The moment he turned the corner and could see the captain’s chair, he was met by an angry Izou, who hit him over the head. ¨How. Could. You. Fall. Asleep. On. Him?!¨ With each word, Izou hit him again. When Izou was done, he gave a disapproving look at him. Marco gave a sigh, messaging his head. ¨I know, yoi.¨ Started Marco, ¨It was wrong of me and I didn’t mean to. Have you seen him, yoi?¨ Izou gave a sigh, looking towards a clock. ¨He got an assignment, he will be back in 7 hours.¨ He said, making Marco feel remorseful. Marco had fallen asleep, leaving Ace to lay awake and going on an assignment. It wasn’t like this the night was supposed to go. What a horrible start on the new year and it was Ace’s birthday no less. Marco felt like a horrible person.

Izou gave a sigh again. ¨He didn’t seem mad, annoyed or anything, he actually looked understanding.¨ He said, giving a small comforting look to Marco. That did make him feel a bit better. ¨But,¨ Continued Izou, now looking furious again, pointing a finger at him. ¨I’m mad! How could you?¨ He hissed out. Marco did look a bit ashamed as he looked at the sixteenth commander. ¨I will apologize, yoi. I didn’t mean to fall asleep.¨ Said Marco, giving a sheepish smile. Izou gave a stern nod looking a bit less mad. ¨Since you have slept already, you can take over my shift.¨ He said, and walked away before he could respond.

Marco gave a small laugh. Izou was always watching over them and he never hesitated in saying what he meant. He would gladly take the sixteenth commander’s shift. That way he could at least meet Ace when he returned. Marco threw a look towards the clock, it was 5 in the morning, meaning Ace would return around 12. Marco looked towards his father’s chair when he heard laughter. He was shocked to see the man awake, knowing he had drunk a lot and it was late. ¨Izou ranted for an hour.¨ Said the captain, looking at him with a soft look. Marco gave a sigh, hoping Izou didn’t rant so everyone heard. The first commander had a feeling Ace would keep their relationship, maybe not relationship, at least not yet, to as few as possible.

Marco could hear the captain giving a laugh again. ¨No one heard, son.¨ He said, ¨Maybe Rakuyo, but no one else.¨ Marco nodded. That was good. He hoped Ace would return fast, he couldn’t get rid of the image of a scared torso from his head. He knew his worry was a bit illogical, seeing as the scars where scars, meaning it was old wounds. But no one that young should have that many. Marco had seen escaped slaves and torture victims with less scars. ¨Son,¨ Said Whitebeard, making Marco look at him. ¨Is everything okay?¨ Marco saw the concerned look his father had. Should he tell him? It was personal and he didn’t have any right to tell anyone on what he had seen. Marco gave a sigh, he knew his father wouldn’t tell anyone and he could need some reassurance to calm his nerves.

Marco took a quick look around, seeing no one within earshot, before looking back at his father. ¨I feel awful for falling asleep, yoi. And,¨ Marco gave a sigh hoping this wasn’t going to be a mistake. ¨Ace has a lot of scars.¨

Marco could see his father frowning, not liking that piece of information, before giving a reassuring look. ¨His work have a lot of risks, son.¨ He started, looking at him with the reassuring look making Marco feel better. ¨He has done it for many years. And if it had any significance or consequence on his health, Bay would have told me and I promise she have not.¨ Marco gave a relieved sigh. He knew his captain was right, Bay would have told them. She had seen Ace’s body before and knew about the scars. And seeing as she had never mentioned them, meant it had no importance on his health. His father always knew what to say and he would tell Ace he had told him about it. Keeping it a secret would be even worse than telling Whitebeard about the scars.

¨Now son,¨ Started the captain, smiling. ¨What did you get him?¨ Marco smiled. He had not told anyone what he had bought, in case someone told or Ace overheard. Marco went to stand beside his father’s chair, and started to tell him about the dagger and how magnificent it was.

---x---

¨Pops!¨ Said Haruta in haste, running up to them. It was around 10 in the morning now. ¨Daughter, what is it?¨ Asked the captain, looking at his daughter, who was out of breath. ¨A marine ship is coming towards us.¨ Whitebeard frowned a bit at that. It had been a while since anyone had attacked them, especially the marines. ¨It looks like it might be Garp.¨ Continued Haruta, ¨What should we do, Pops?¨ Whitebeard thought for a moment. It had been awhile since they had had a visit from the vice admiral. They did drink together every now and then, they had the occasionally fight, but that was it. Whitebeard then remembered what Ace had said a few days ago. Garp was Luffy’s grandfather and he had cared for the brothers when they were young. It was also Ace’s birthday, the man probably wanted to see Ace.

Whitebeard looked at Haruta, ¨If they don’t look battle ready, let the man board.¨ He said, making her nod before running off again.

An hour later, Garp boarded the ship.

¨Newgate!¨ Yelled the marine, throwing a jug of fine sake to the man. Whitebeard opened the jug and took a swing of it, glad to taste it was the kind he liked. ¨Garp,¨ Started the captain, looking at the marine. ¨What brings you here?¨ The marine got a big smile on his face. ¨I wanted to visit, seeing as you have gotten a new second commander.¨ Said the man, before getting a smirk on his face. ¨Now, where is my grandson?¨ Whitebeard was mildly shocked at hearing the man call Ace his grandson. The captain gave a small shake of his head, ¨Ace is doing some work right now and will be back soon.¨ Whitebeard gave a smile. ¨You are welcomed to stay, as long as you don’t cause any havoc.¨

Garp seemed to be assessing him, ¨You know.¨ He said.

Whitebeard gave a nod. ¨I do.¨ He said. Completely sure he was speaking about Ace being an assassin. Garp frowned, ¨And you still have him as a son, even after you know what he is.¨ He said, speaking in a disapproving manner. Whitebeard frowned, as well as his sons and daughters that heard it, not liking the tone or sentence. He had a feeling the man didn’t approve of Ace’s work, but that did not give him any right to judge him and speak in a judging manner, not in front of him. ¨Yes.¨ He said, sending a glare at the marine. ¨Ace is still my son, and I do not like you speaking like that, Garp. Remember, you are a guest.¨  Garp got a challenging look. ¨I can call him what I want,¨ Said Garp. Whitebeard frowned more. If Garp added to that, he would not be happy. ¨He is a de-.¨

¨I am a what?¨ Said a voice to their right.

Whitebeard couldn’t help the grin. Seems like Ace have returned. The pirates were amused by the scared look the marine got on his face. Garp was most likely going to call Ace a name no one would like, especially Ace. And the man was apparently intimidated by Ace, which was no surprise. If Ace could easily beat him, he could even easier take on Garp. Garp suddenly got an angry look at his face, shocking the captain a bit. ¨You,¨ Started the marine, turning to Ace. ¨Are a shitty grandson! You join the Whitebeards and don’t tell me?!¨ Garp lifted his fist, holding it towards Ace. ¨You were supposed to be a marine!¨ They could see Ace rolling his eyes. ¨I’m never becoming a marine, just give it up.¨

Garp got angrier at that and stomped to stand in front of Ace. ¨I will never give up! And where is Luffy and Sabo, shitty grandson?!¨ The pirates grinned, Garp was not going to like this. Ace lifted an eyebrow, ¨They are training.¨ He said. Garp assessed him. ¨To be marines I hope.¨ He asked. Ace shook his head. ¨To be pirates.¨ Garp lifted his fist, and the pirates tensed. Was he really going to hit him? If he did, Garp had a death wish. One look from Ace had him lowering his fist. The pirates were enjoying this, seeing Garp a mixture between angry and concerned. Whitebeard could easily see the concern hidden by the anger and was sure Ace did too.

Garp gave a sigh, seeming to calm a bit down, but still having the angry look. ¨They are safe I hope?¨ He asked, looking at Ace, who lifted an eyebrow again. ¨You think I would put them somewhere not safe? I am not an insane man like you, Garp.¨ Said Ace. Garp lifted his hand again, this time in a more playful rather than angry manner. ¨Start calling me grandad, shitty grandson!¨ Ace lifted an eyebrow again. ¨I will, when you stop calling me shitty grandson, Garp.¨ Garp grinned, ¨NEVER!¨ He yelled. Ace shook his head as he walked past the marine, a smile on his own face. ¨You answered your own question, Garp.¨ He said, as he moved to stand beside the captain’s chair. Making Whitebeard grin more. This looked like a usual behavior for them, and he could see the underlying display of affection.

Garp grinned as he moved his hand to take a small pouch out, throwing it at Ace. ¨Next time I visit, I expect you to be a marine, shitty grandson.¨ Said Garp, grin growing. Ace easily cached the pouch. ¨It will still never happen.¨ Retaliated Ace, smiling. They could see Garp trying to look angry, but the grin staying. ¨And give my other shitty grandsons my regards, shitty grandson.¨ Ace, now also smiling, gave a nod. ¨I will.¨ He said back. Garp then looked at the captain. ¨I expect you to take care of my grandson, Newgate.¨ He said, glaring at the man, still grinning. Whitebeard laughed, ¨I always care for my children, Garp.¨ He said, grinning at the marine. He was glad to see the man caring for Ace, even though he showed it in his own special way.

Garp turned around, and started walking back to his ship. ¨See you later, Newgate. Shitty brat, I want you to be a marine next time I see you!¨ Ace gave a laugh, ¨Still not happening.¨ He said back. Garp waved his hand as he boarded his ship again. The pirates smiled as he went, glad to see how good Ace and Garp interacted. It could be misinterpreted like annoyance and anger, but they could clearly see how fond the man was of Ace.

When the ship started sailing, Ace opened the pouch, smiling when he saw what was in it. ¨What is it, son?¨ Asked the captain, wanting to know what Garp gave to his son. Ace gave a laugh. ¨You know those colorful chocolate beads?¨ Whitebeard nodded, ¨Yes.¨ Ace took a glass filled with black chocolate beads out of the bag, holding it up. Whitebeard frowned a bit. ¨I thought they were colorful, not all black.¨ He said, not understanding why it made Ace smile a fond smile. Ace shook his head, giving a small laugh. ¨It’s a running gag actually.¨ Started Ace, ¨They come in all different colors, but I always liked the black one best, Sabo the yellow ones and Luffy the red ones. After Garp found out, he started giving us entire jars of our favorite color.¨

Whitebeard was a bit shocked at that. That was surprisingly nice and caring for the marine. It would take time to fill an entire jar of one specific color. Garp could make others do it, seeing as he was a vice admiral, but Whitebeard had a feeling the man did it all by himself. ¨That sounds like a nice gift, son.¨ Said the captain. Ace nodded. ¨It’s a small thing, but it’s nice. I’m always surprised he remembers it.¨ Said the young man. The captain nodded. It was a nice little gift and it showed how much the man cared for them.

Ace shook his head as he put it back in the pouch. When he had, he stretched a bit. ¨I’ll go put it in my room.¨ Said Ace, more to himself than them thought the captain. Whitebeard did nod, smiling as Ace moved towards his room. When he walked, he could also see Marco giving a sigh before following.

---x---

¨Ace, yoi.¨ Said Marco when he had turned the corner and saw no one else. Ace, who had his hand on the doorknob to the commander’s hallway, turned to him and gave a smile. ¨Good morning.¨ Said Ace, opening the door, waiting for the first commander. Marco smiled as he saw Ace waiting for him. ¨Good morning, yoi.¨ He said, and walked with Ace inside the hallway to the second commander’s room. ¨How did the assignment go, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, knowing no one that didn’t know of Ace’s work could overhear them. Ace gave a small nod, a serene expression on his face. ¨It went accordingly.¨ Answered Ace.

Marco nodded. Accordingly was a word Ace had only used one time, and that was when he was asked to kill Teach. The first commander had a feeling Ace had killed someone and he was amazed on how calm and content the other male seemed, making him think the one he had killed deserved everything he got. Ace was a calm and collected person, if someone overheard, no one would have guessed the boy had killed someone, most likely in a brutal way. Ace looked innocent and acted like any normal young pirate. He was a completely different person than the assassin. It always amazed Marco on how quick Ace could change between the two personalities. It only further showed how extraordinary skillful Ace was. If Marco didn’t know, he would never be able to connect that Ace were the assassin, at least not off the bat.

They then got to Ace’s door, and Ace opened it before walking inside, Marco following and closing the door behind him. ¨Ace, yoi.¨ Started Marco, making Ace look at him as he put the glass filled with chocolate down. ¨I’m really sorry for falling asleep, it was not my intent.¨  He said, trying to sound as apologetic as he could. He was a bit surprised when Ace let out a laugh, waving his hand a bit. ¨Its fine Marco, really.¨ Said Ace, sounding like he really didn’t care about it. Marco was both glad and a bit of surprised Ace didn’t mind. Ace gave a smile, ¨It was an eventful and long day after all.¨ Marco nodded, before looking at Ace. ¨Shouldn’t you sleep, yoi?¨ He asked. It was true, he had been up most of last night and the night before that. But Ace had been awake longer.

Ace gave a shake of the head, ¨I’m not tired.¨ He said, making Marco frown. He was about to open his mouth again, to say he should sleep, there was no way Ace wasn’t tired. But Ace beat him to it. ¨I’ll sleep later.¨ He said. Marco gave a sigh, he couldn’t force him, but would keep an eye on him. Marco watched as Ace put a small bag in the closet and decided he would bring the scars up. ¨Ace, yoi. Your torso,¨ He started, not sure how he would phrase himself. But before he could continue, Ace had turned around and shook his head, making him stop.

¨I’m an assassin and have been one for years. I have scars, more than most and I will get more. I know this and are at peace with it.¨ Said Ace, sending a reassuring smile to Marco.

Marco nodded. Ace really did seem at peace with it, making him feel more reassured it wasn’t a problem. Marco brought his hand up to his neck, feeling embarrassed he had told his father about it, being caught off guard. ¨I may also have told Pops, yoi.¨ He said, and could hear him giving out a laugh. ¨I didn’t think a few scars would unsettle the first commander.¨ Said Ace, lifting an eyebrow. Marco lifted his own, ¨A few, yoi?¨ He said in small disbelief. What he had seen, was not ‘a few’, it was a lot. Ace nodded, walking towards him. ¨Yes, a few.¨ He said, walking past him and opening the door. ¨Don’t worry so much.¨ He said with a smile, before walking out towards the deck.

Margo gave a sigh inside himself. How could he not worry? Ace could take care of himself, but he would always worry. ¨Are you coming?¨ He heard Ace say from the hallway, now standing in front of the door to the deck. Marco gave a smile, walking up to Ace. Before Ace could open the door, Marco put his hand on Ace’s shoulder, making him look at him. Marco leaned in and gave a quick kiss, shocking Ace. ¨I’ll always worry, yoi.¨ Said the first commander. He could see the small shocked expression being replaced by a sheepish one as Ace gave a nod, opening the door and walking out.

Marco sighed inside himself again. Ace was clearly not used to contact and concern from others. Marco shook his head as he followed after Ace. He would make a slow approach to the relationship he wanted, seeing as Ace was not used to it. He hoped and had a feeling Ace would open up with time.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his chair on the deck, watching his children relax and play around. He had enjoyed the visit from Garp and seen how he and Ace interacted. They seemed to have a routine on how they worked and acted around each other. He could see both of them clearly cared for each other and the captain was glad to see that. It was closing in on dinner time and the captain had a small concern that Ace might get another assignment before they had dinner, making so they couldn’t give him his gift and celebrate his birthday. If it did happen, they needed to either have the small celebration before he left if they could do that. Or they would have to postpone it. None of which would be a big issue, but he would like to do it during dinner.

The only ones who knew of this plan were his commanders, seeing as it was hard to plan something ahead because of Ace’s work. Izou had told them what he was making for Ace and they liked the idea of a fighting cloak.

Ace had no problem moving and fighting in the cape, but the cape was really amazing and stunning, keeping it whole and treating it as a mark of who he was were a good idea. But Ace still needed something to fight in, something he could change to and use in battle and not fear tearing it up. The cape was something he could use when they visited islands, other boats, was on the ship or got into a surprise battle. Having something he could change to when they were prepared to fight was a good idea. They had not had any fights the last few weeks and it was nice, but he could see many of his children growing restless. He also wanted to see Ace in action to, even though he would most likely hold back as a pirate.

Everyone agreed on Izous plan, and they had also liked the gauntlets. They weren’t as special and notice worthy as his assassin’s ones. They were more slick and were made of dark brown leather and would reach up half of Ace’s arm. It wasn’t glove like gauntlets, only a binding around his palm, but a part that went on top of Ace’s hand, giving Ace the possibility to use his hands while wearing them. It would be a nice little gift and everyone were excited for dinner time to roll around, which was soon.

Ace had placed himself on the railing were his usual spot was and was currently reading a book. It was clear that the kid liked to read, he often had a book with him when he was relaxing on deck. Ace was a collected and organized kid despite his age. When the first batch of paperwork after Ace had joined them had gotten to him, he had been a bit shocked to see how flawlessly it was done. The writing and wording was better than most of his commanders. All of his sons and daughters did they duties, many of them complaining every now and then, but it was always done, some more sloppy than others. And everyone who had their first time doing paperwork did it a bit messy, seeing as they hadn’t done it before. But Ace’s was one of the best ones he had seen.

He wasn’t so surprised, seeing as Ace read and wrote many reports during his work and had a lot of training in writing. But he didn’t think it would be as well done as it were. He was thinking of maybe giving Ace some responsibility in teaching the newer ones on how to write reports. It was usually Marco, Rakuyo, Fossa or Blenheim that thought them, but he had a feeling Ace would fit to that work too. It seemed like Ace had no issues with adapting to being a commander, which he was glad to see. The captain was also worried about what Marco had told him about the scars. But he knew Bay would have told him if it was a big concern. But he still wanted to maybe ask the doctor about it, just to be sure himself it wasn’t anything too bad.

Whitebeard thoughts was cut off as Thatch yelled that it was dinner time from the door to the galley. The captain watched as his children all started to walk to the galley, the ones that were doing something, wrapping it up. There were a couple of ones that would stay out on watch, seeing as not having anyone watching for enemies or dangers would be a bad decision. The captain watched as Ace closed his book and put it in a pouch he had, before starting to walk to the galley himself. Whitebeard liked to wait until most of his children had walked and settled down in the galley seeing his size. It was easier for him to get to his seat when there weren’t a lot of people walking around.

When most of his children had walked inside the galley, he got up himself and headed to the galley, Marco walking next to him. They shared a smile, before going inside the galley and sitting down in their spots. Ace had started to sit next to Marco and he could see his first commander liking that. He had noticed Marco did a cautious approach to Ace, and he did understand why. Ace wasn’t used to being in a crew, much less a family. He was glad to see his son understanding that and could see how well the two of them fit together.

They then started to eat as normal, everyone starting a conversation with each other and acting like nothing was out of place. He could see his commanders sending a look towards Ace every now and then, before turning back to what they were doing smiling. He had a feeling Ace knew something was up, but hoped he hadn’t figured out what. They were about halfway through dinner, when Whitebeard decided to tell everyone. He sent a look to Izou, who went and got the gift that they had. He knew some of his children were going to be a bit annoyed they hadn’t been told before, therefore not being able to get their own gift, especially Ace’s division, but for now it would have to do. The captain stood up, getting everyone’s attention. ¨I have some news everyone,¨ Started the captain.

¨Our new son and commander, Ace, is becoming 20 years today.¨ He said, and could see shock on many of his children faces, before they smiled.

¨We will not be having a big celebration,¨ Continued the captain, sending a look at Ace, who he saw give a small relieved breath. ¨But we do have a small gift for him.¨ Izou then sat down next to Ace, sliding his gift in front of him. The captain could hear many of his children cheering and yelling out a happy birthday. Ace gave a sigh as he smiled, taking the gift and saying a thank you to Izou. From Ace’s reaction, he had a feeling Ace didn’t know what they had planned and that made him glad. Ace had all the attention as he opened the gift, taking the gauntlets out first, looking at them. Ace seemed to like them and put them aside to look at the cloak. When he was about to lift it, Thatch who had moved closer to them, nudged him. ¨Try it on!¨ He said excited.

Ace gave a nod as he stood up, taking his cape off, everyone in the galley looking at him, waiting for him to try it on. The cape was soon off and the cloak on. When it was on, Ace turned around, showing the mark on the back. When he did, everyone cheered. Everyone had realized Ace didn’t have a tattoo and therefore used clothing. The captain had not had any questions from his children and was content that everyone accepted it. Seeing Ace wearing his mark on his clothing was something he did like to see. When he turned back around again, someone yelled for him to try the gauntlets on too. Ace nodded and took the gauntlets on too, also showing off his mark on the top of the hand of the gauntlet.

Ace gave a smile as he said a thank you to everyone, loud enough for everyone to hear, before sitting down again. When he did, everyone lifted their cup and gave a toast, yelling out a happy birthday, including the commanders and captain. When everything calmed down again, Ace was smiling as he checked the gauntlets over more. Ace seemed happy with the two items and this made everyone smile. They liked to see their new family member smiling and looking happy, it made them happy too.

They then continued the dinner, Thatch also having made a dessert, a chocolate cake, that was big enough for everyone to get a piece. Ace seemed to enjoy himself, which made the captain glad. He was content with his decision on not having a big party, it seemed this was a better choice. There were some people that decided to celebrate for Ace, drinking extra much, making Marco groan and the captain laugh. Whitebeard knew his children wanted a reason to drink and they used every chance they could get to do that. Ace didn’t seem to mind and let them do what they wanted. He got a lot of congratulations from different people, and Ace smiled and said a thank you every time.

Ace didn’t seem to bothered by the attention, but looked a bit uncomfortable when someone put their hand over his shoulder and gave him a toast. Ace did however recover quick, making so you couldn’t see it unless you were really looking at him. Marco had decided to reside next to him after noticing this himself, making the physical interactions less since Ace was busy in conversing with him. It made the captain smile.

When dinner was over, they went back out on deck. Ace going back to his spot on the railing and reading his book again, deciding on wearing the gauntlets and cloak, making many smile seeing that he liked them. It was relatively calm after that, some partying for Ace and the rest doing their usual business. It was a bit later, that Dust came and got Ace’s attention, an envelope in his beak. Whitebeard gave a sigh inside himself. He had hoped Ace wouldn’t get any work the rest of the day, being able to enjoy and relax. But when Ace opened the envelope and looked it over, the captain was a bit worried to see the kid frowning a bit. Ace had never done that when getting a request. The captain could also see some of his sons, especially Marco, not liking the look on Ace’s face.

¨Son,¨ Started the captain, getting Ace’s attention. There weren’t many out aside from the commanders. And the others weren’t within earshot of them. ¨Is everything okay?¨ Ace gave a slow nod, seeming to be thinking about what he was looking at. ¨Yes,¨ Started Ace. ¨It’s just going to be a longer one than usual.¨ Whitebeard nodded. The longest Ace had been gone was about a day, and that was when his assignment had gone bad. Other than that, he was a few hours most times. ¨How long will you be gone?¨ Asked the captain, hoping it wasn’t too long, hopefully a few more hours than usual. Ace looked at the parchment again,

¨It will take 3 days I believe.¨ Said Ace, shocking them.

That was quite a bit longer than usual. The captain was worried, Ace’s reaction and the time he would be gone would be a concern to him. This was the first time Ace would be gone for more than half a day. If anything went wrong and Ace couldn’t tell them, it wouldn’t be before 4 days that the captain could do anything. ¨That is quite longer.¨ Said the captain, sending a concerned look at Ace. Ace gave a nod, ¨It is, but it will most likely go fine.¨ Said Ace. Whitebeard nodded, he trusted Ace and he needed to trust that he would be fine. The captain gave a nod, ¨Will you be leaving right away, son?¨ Ace gave a nod and reassuring look. ¨I am.¨ He said, as he jumped down from the railing.

Whitebeard nodded. ¨Be safe, son. We’ll see you in 3 days.¨ Said the captain. Ace gave a nod and a smile, before walking to his room to change. ¨Pops…¨ Said Thatch to his right, sounding really worried for Ace, not liking that he would leave for so long. The captain gave a shake of his head and a reassuring smile. ¨We need to trust Ace. If he says he will be fine, we need to trust that judgment, son.¨ Said the captain. He could see Thatch nodding, still looking worried. The captain looked over to the railing to see Dust still there. ¨Dust,¨ Started the captain. ¨Do you think Ace will be okay?¨ Dust gave a nod, making them feel a bit better. Before anyone could say anything else, Dust gave a shrug and disappeared.

Whitebeard closed his eyes for a second. All they needed was to keep their faith in Ace and wait for his return.

---x---

Whitebeard had retired back to his room, deciding relax for the remainder of the evening in his room. He was joined by Marco, Fossa, Curiel, Namur and Haruta. All of them were having calm conversation and enjoying each other’s company. All of them were worried about Ace, but they would try not to worry yet, not until the three days had passed. They had faith that Ace could take care of himself, as he had for the last years, but they still worried about him.

They were talking about how the year had been, when the door opened and Izou walked inside. Izou gave a smile to everyone as he closed the door behind him. When he turned around, he had the attention of everyone in the room. ¨Son,¨ Started the captain. ¨What brings you here?¨ He asked, wondering why Thatch wasn’t with him. They had always been together the last week. Izou took a deep breath,

¨I’m worried about Thatch.¨ Said the sixteenth commander, shocking them.

¨Why, yoi?¨ Asked Marco. He had seen no unusual behavior in the chef. Izou sat down in an empty chair, ¨The last couple of weeks, Thatch have not done or planned a single prank. That’s not like him.¨ Said the crossdresser, sounding concerned. All of them thought for a second and realized Izou was right. Thatch had not done a single prank the last couple of weeks. That was actually a bit worrisome, Thatch never went long without playing pranks. ¨Do you know why he haven’t played or planned any, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander. He knew he always gave the fourth commander a hard time when he played pranks on him, but he didn’t like it when he didn’t play pranks either. Thatch was a prankster and had always been one.

Izou gave a sigh, ¨I have an idea,¨ Started the crossdresser. ¨I think it might be because of Ace.¨ The others frowned at that, the fourth commander didn’t seem afraid of the assassin anymore. Before they could voice that thought, Izou started talking again. ¨I know he isn’t afraid of him, at least not as he once was. But I think he is worried what would happen if Ace got in the crossfire.¨ That did make a lot of sense. It did happen Thatch planned a prank on someone and the prank went wrong and therefore going off on the wrong person. Marco had been this person many times and had always hated it. They didn’t know how Ace would react to a prank from Thatch, but Ace had not minded when the chef pranked the first commander with Luffy. But for thatch to not do any pranks, that sounded wrong.

Marco gave a sigh. ¨I can’t believe I am saying this, yoi.¨ Started the first commander, looking at Haruta who sat to his right. ¨Haruta, try to coax Thatch into playing a prank.¨ Thatch was always the instigator in his pranks. Having Haruta ask to do something would be a dream come true for the fourth commander. Haruta nodded, having a grin on her face. The twelfth commander liked to play pranks herself, but she never liked to do them alone. Izou gave a smile to him, looking extremely happy. ¨Thank you Marco! I knew you would understand!¨ The sixteenth commander then got up, gave a quick goodbye and left.

Marco gave a sigh, looking back at Haruta again. ¨Try to target anyone but me, yoi.¨ He said, having a feeling he would be the one Thatch would go after first. The others laughed, ¨No promises,¨ Started Haruta. ¨Thatch really likes to ruffle your feathers.¨ Marco let out a small groan, making the other occupants laugh more, especially his father.

---x---

¨THATCH!¨ Yelled the now completely blue and feathery commander early the next morning. Haruta, getting the clear to actually play a prank, had immediately gone to find Thatch and plan something big. They had decided to put up a bucket filled with glue and blue feathers over his door. When he walked out for the morning, it had fallen and covered him and both Haruta and Thatch had been waiting for him out on deck, calling him Birdy Blue Breast, getting the idea from Luffy’s nickname. Everyone who were up and those who peeked out from their room after hearing his yell, had to laugh as he chased the two pranksters around.

It was also now they remembered it had been awhile since they had seen this, seeing Thatch running away and hiding behind his father as someone was mad at him for playing a prank. It was weird on how something everyone always complained about was the normal and something everyone loved. Marco was mad, but he was also glad and relieved to hear the man laugh his usual ‘prank laugh’, which was broader and more full of life than his usual one. It was also the same laugh that was a promise of a prank, seeing as the man was terrible at hiding he had planned anything and ended up laughing about it before doing it, alerting everyone to be on their toes.

Marco gave an angry and annoyed exhale, starting to head for the showers. He was both mad and glad. Mad that he was the target, but glad Thatch was back to playing pranks. He was walking past his father’s chair when the man got his attention. ¨Maybe you should visit Bay, she might have something to rid of the glue easier.¨ Said the captain, looking at him with amusement in his eyes. Marco was about to say there were no need to do that, Thatch never used anything but regular glue that was easily washed off. But there was something in the way his father had spoken that made him rethink it. Marco then understood what his father was hinting at and gave a nod, starting to head for the infirmary instead.

When he got to the infirmary, he was met by an amused Bay. ¨Is Commander Thatch back to playing pranks again?¨ She asked, making Marco nod. Bay shook her head. ¨That’s good to know, but why are you here? That glue is easily washable and you know it.¨ She said, taking a feather off him. Marco let out a laugh. ¨I know, yoi. I wanted to ask you about something too.¨ He started, feeling himself smile when Bay lifted an eyebrow. Bay gave a shook of her head again, before motioning for him to follow her into her office. When they were inside, Bay closed the door in a huff. ¨What do you want to ask about?¨ She asked, looking expectantly at him. Marco gave a small laugh, Bay was in her usual ‘I’m a busy person, get on with it’ mood.

¨It’s about Ace, yoi.¨ Started the first commander. And before he could elaborate, Bay had frowned and glared at him. ¨If,¨ Started the now mad doctor. ¨You tell me Commander Ace is injured and not on his way here, I will tie him to a bed, assassin or not!¨ She growled out. Marco gave a laugh again, ¨He’s not injured, yoi.¨ He said. He couldn’t be completely sure, seeing as he was on an assignment, but he hoped he weren’t injured. ¨I saw something on his body and both me and Pops is a bit concerned.¨ He could see Bay frowning at that and knew she was about to ask why they didn’t ask Ace. ¨He’s on an assignment, yoi. I won’t make you to tell something personal about him, but the scars are nothing dangerous to his health?¨

Bay gave a slow nod, still having a small glare at him. ¨I believe I would have told Pops if it would have been something significant, Commander Marco.¨ She said in a stern manner. Marco gave a nod. ¨I know, yoi. It probably looked worse than it is.¨ Bay gave a nod, the glare being replaced by a somewhat amused look. ¨I won’t ask how you saw his back, but it looks worse than it is.¨ Marco frowned, ¨Back, yoi?¨ He asked. And just as the question left him, he remembered what Ace had said. He had specifically said a few, and he just realized how true that statement might be. Marco used a hand to massage his face. He had hoped Ace didn’t have more on his back, but that hope was fading fast. ¨I only saw his front, is his back much worse, yoi?¨

Bay gave him a look that clearly said ‘seriously?’ ¨I don’t know what kind of relationship you two have and I don’t care to be truthful, but I still have patient confidentiality as long as it’s not significant.¨ Marco nodded and was about to leave when Bay let out a sight. ¨I won’t confirm your sentence, but I am neither denying it.¨ She said before starting to go through a folder, ignoring the first commander. Marco gave a nod to himself, closing his eyes. That meant it was worse, but no impact on his health. ¨I’ll leave you alone now, yoi.¨ He said and walked out of the room. He could only imagine how Ace’s back were. Ace had called it a few and Bay had instantly thought he was talking about his back.

Marco shook his head as he headed for the shower. He needed to get his thoughts on other things for now. He was worried seeing as Ace were going to be gone for two more days and could be injured or in trouble. And now he was also thinking about his scars again, his mind giving him pictures of a completely torn back. Marco gave a sigh, trying to calm his nerves. Ace was okay and he would continue to tell himself that.

After he had had his shower and scolded Thatch as usual, he decided to spend the remainder of the day by his father’s side. He gave a comment about Bay telling the glue was no special from before, that there was no reason for concern. His father gave a nod, understanding the scars Marco had mentioned was nothing but scars, having no impact on the young assassin’s health.

---x---

The next day went by in a calm manner. They arrived at Budo and stocked up on some few things, even getting some extra stuff seeing as they had the funds, before heading to town. Many decided to stay on the boat, at least many of the commanders. A few joined the ones that went to bars and brothels, seeing as having someone in charge and someone to be sure everyone stayed in line. There rarely happens anything that made them intervene, but it did happen that some got a bit big in the head and did something they were not supposed to, especially when they were drunk and it was always better to be safe than sorry.

The ones that stayed on the boat were ecstatic when Sumiko, Rakuyo’s sister, came and visited them. She was shy and a bit intimidated by the larger ones on the crew, like the captain and Atmos, but she did seem to enjoy being around them as long as her brother was nearby. She seemed to be really fond of Haruta, seeing as she were a female commander on the World’s strongest crew. Rakuyo had told everyone on what Ace had said to him and everyone had agreed on not mentioning the assassin.

Rakuyo was a bit crestfallen that Ace wouldn’t be able to see Sumiko, but tried not to think too much about it. Rakuyo did talk to Sumiko’s guardian, seeing as both their parents were dead, about not encouraging her in speaking or thinking about the assassin. She had agreed, even though she did think it wasn’t as a big deal, but had a feeling the commander had a reason for telling her to keep her charge from speaking about the assassin anymore.

Everyone was glad to see the little girl was fine. Many of the pirates did have family they cared for around, and the captain treated them with the same kindness as he treated his own children. The captain always liked to see his children show their caring side. Rakuyo was a stern man, but he was a real caring big brother for his little sister. The pirates used the entirety of the day and most of the night to play different games and tell stories from their raids and adventures. The next morning, before they left the island, Rakuyo told his sister that she shouldn’t think about the assassin, seeing as she most likely would never see or speak to him again. Sumiko didn’t understand why he suddenly said it and became mad, yelling at her brother before leaving. Rakuyo knew his sister was bad at holding grudges and hoped she would forgive him for saying it.

When they left, they had planned to go to an another island close by, but seeing as they had everything they needed and no one seemed to mind that they headed for the New World a bit earlier than planned. Everyone wanted to head for the New World, seeing as it had been awhile since they had a fight, raid or anything, and everyone were starting to feel really restless because of that. It wouldn’t hurt to skip one island for now and they could always visit it later. When the captain had told everyone this at dinner, everyone had cheered, feeling joyous that they might get some action soon. It was after dinner had passed that some of the captain and some of the commanders started to worry for Ace again. It was now three days since he had left and was supposed to return soon.

With every passing hour, they got more and more worried he might not show up. They did try to hold their worry back, at least until the day had passed. They had asked their father what they would do if Ace didn’t show up. Whitebeard had not told them what or how, but had told them he had a mean of getting information about Ace if he didn’t show. They had tried to pry, but he dismissed it, saying he would not tell what seeing as he had promised Ace to not tell them what it was. It did make them feel a bit better, knowing the captain had a plan of action if something happened.

They had gotten questions from Ace’s division about their commander’s whereabouts, seeing as no one had seen him for three whole days. It was the longest he had been gone and they had started to think something might be wrong. But the captain had reassured them that Ace had some private business to do and would most likely be back by morning. And while Ace was gone, Marco was in charge of that division and that they could go to him if it was needed. They had reluctantly nodded and gone about their day. They did like their commander and brother, and didn’t like him disappearing so often without a reason. The captain was thinking more and more about telling everyone about Ace’s work, but weren’t completely sure if it would help their concern, make it worse or make some of them dislike the young assassin.

The captain decided to bring it up with the young assassin the next time he spoke with him in private. As the night approached and everything calmed down, the captain decided to wait to sleep until Ace returned. He was soon joined in his room by most of his children, aside from Rakuyo, Thatch and Vista who had watch that night. He had given an order to be informed when they saw any sign of Dust or Ace. All of them hoped Ace would return before midnight, which was only an hour away.

---x---

Ace leaned on a tree. He was exhausted and would gladly appreciate to be able to sleep for hours right now. He had been awake for 5 days and was feeling his body screaming at him to go to sleep soon. He had just finished the assignment and changed out of his clothes. It had been a successful assignment. He had been asked to help lead a small revolution on an island in the New World. They had been taken over by some noble with a somewhat impressive amount of guards and fighters. They had built bases, abusing the people on the island and taking everything they could from them. Ace had helped them train and plan the ambush they would have.

Ace was the main leader and helped the preparations and gathering fighters and weapons, using what they had on hand. Which wasn’t much, they had a few guns and sword, but a lot of farming equipment. The noble taking everything he redeemed a danger away, but some managing to hide their weapons from them. But farming equipment could be great in battle if they used it correctly, so Ace had taught them how to defend themselves using it and was pleased to see them learning fast. It wasn’t often that Ace did these kind of assignments, but he did enjoy to help others in defending themselves. And the people of the island had great potential and were eager to get their island back.

They had taken out small places the nobles had taken over first, before going to the bigger ones. Ace knowing the leaders would only show themselves if they had a feeling the people would fight back. It had taken a bit longer than he thought, but the main leader, a noble that thought he could take everything by power, had showed himself after three days. Making it so they could take him down.

Ace had been in the background during the ambush itself, only helping if they really needed it and pointing them in the direction of the leader. He had been on guard the entire time and watched all the people fight, trying to keep the damage to a minimum. A few had died and many had gotten injured. But it went well considering what they had and how unskilled everyone were. He had joined them a bit in battle a few times, but mainly watched over them. He had hoped everything would be finished after two days, but it had taken all three days.

It was now night on the third day and Ace was contemplating what to do now. He had used a lot of his energy to plan and figure out where everyone should be and how to attack next. Using his connection with Dust to fly and view the battle from the sky, which always took a lot of his energy in the long run. And he had not slept the entirety of the assignment, making him as exhausted as he were. He knew he had enough to teleport himself and Dust before he would collapse from sheer exhaustion. He could go to Shanks, it wouldn’t be the first time he had just shown up and collapsed. He often did that when he didn’t want to worry his brothers.

He didn’t like the thought of showing up at the Moby and just collapsing. That was something he would like to avoid if he could, at least until he was more comfortable around them and knew how they would react to it. Ace gave a sigh, he had promised Sabo to trust the pirates and to lean on them. Seeing as he had done little fighting, he had no injuries and were fine physically, he was only extremely tired. Ace shook his head as he made his decision, he would trust the pirates to handle this situation right. It wasn’t a severe situation and he needed to start somewhere. But this was still a big step, at least for Ace.

Ace got Dust’s attention, telling him to go to the boat and get a commander’s attention and bring him close to his mark before calling for him. Making so he could use both his mark and Dust to get there, making it a bit easier. And to tell them he was not injured and did not need to go to the infirmary, he only needed sleep. When Dust gave a nod and disappeared, Ace tightened his hand around the bag over his shoulder. Every use of his power made him more exhausted. He did hope he somehow managed to stay awake after getting to the boat, but knew that was a long shot, even for him.

It didn’t take long until Ace felt Dust call for him. He wasn’t sure who Dust had the attention off, seeing it would only drain him more, and did the first leap of trust towards the pirates as he disappeared.

The moment Ace reappeared and his feet touched the deck, his eyes instantly closed as his exhaustion took over and he fell forward. He could faintly see the outline of someone in front of him and feel himself falling against a broad chest and arms coming around him before his mind went completely black.

---x---

Rakuyo gave a sigh as he stared out at the ocean from the upper deck. The clock was nearing midnight, only half an hour left. Thatch had annoyed him with his fidgeting so he had sent the fourth commander to keep watch from the crow’s nest. He was worried himself and didn’t need the fidgeting chef to remind him that Ace had not yet returned. The man did still yell out every five minutes to ask if he had seen or heard anything and Rakuyo answered every time, growing more and more annoyed.

It was only a couple of minutes after yelling at Thatch for the umpteen time, that something happened. He was alerted by a sound of flapping wings behind him and turned around to see Dust standing on the railing a bit away from him. Rakuyo couldn’t help the relieved sigh at seeing the bird. He could hear Thatch yelling something above him and started to climb down. But when Dust lifted his wings and started flapping them again, Rakuyo frowned and started to slowly move towards the bird. He was almost in front of the bird and was about to ask if anything was wrong when Dust cawed and Ace suddenly appeared in front of him.

Before Rakuyo could fully comprehend what had happened, Ace fell limp against him, the seventh commander’s hands automatically going around him to keep him steady.

It took the seventh commander a second before he understood Ace was completely limp and unmoving, causing him to fear Ace was injured. He was just about to yell out for Thatch to tell Pops he was taking Ace to the infirmary, when Dust let out a caw, shaking his head when the seventh commander looked at the bird. That was not a reaction he expected and looked down on the unconscious kid in his arms. He now noticed the lack of wounds, blood and assassin outfit. Ace looked completely fine. Rakuyo looked back at the bird, knowing Dust was especially bright for a normal raven. ¨Is he injured?¨ He asked, looking at the bird, who shook its head. Rakuyo frowned, why was he unconscious then?

Dust then suddenly let out a caw again, and when he looked at the bird, Dust closed his eyes. Rakuyo looked at the bird for a second before he understood. ¨He’s sleeping? Is he exhausted?¨ He asked. He had been gone for 3 days and that was long. Dust gave a nod again. Rakuyo gave a nod in amazement at how smart and bright the bird where, before slowly lifting the slender kid in his arms. Thatch was then suddenly beside him, ¨Is he okay?!¨ He asked in alarm, seeing Ace unconscious. Rakuyo looked at the chef before looking at Dust again. ¨And he has no injuries?¨ He asked, just to be completely sure. He understood Ace didn’t like the infirmary. Dust nodded again, also letting out a caw.

Rakuyo looked at Thatch who seemed relieved by Dust’s answer to his question. ¨He’s exhausted. I’m taking him to his room.¨ He said and could see Thatch nodding before turning around. ¨I’ll go and notify Pops.¨ Said the chef, starting to walk towards the captains room. Rakuyo nodded and started to head towards the commander’s quarters.  When he got to Ace’s room, he got in and put the bag Ace had on the floor and put the kid down in his bed, not taking of his shoes or anything, thinking that may wake him or get a reaction out of him. He couldn’t help to smile at how young Ace looked asleep. He really did look like a 20 year old kid, maybe even younger. He couldn’t help the sudden protective feeling towards the young assassin, the same he had felt when Haruta had been promoted to a commander. Ace were the youngest after all.

He had just dragged the blanket over the young assassin, when he heard him give a relieved sigh and a soft thank you as he made himself a bit more comfortable. Rakuyo smiled, that was really cute and had to remind himself that this was the world’s greatest assassin. When he turned around, he saw the first commander come through the door. ¨Is he really not injured, yoi?¨ Asked Marco, sporting the same bored look. Rakuyo gave a nod, ¨He looks completely fine. And Dust said he was not injured, only exhausted.¨ The first commander nodded, before looking towards the desk in the room. When he also looked that way, he saw Dust sitting there. ¨Do Ace really have absolutely no injury, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, staring intensely at the bird. Dust nodded, making Marco give a relieved sigh.

Marco wanted to stay in the room and wait until Ace woke up. But Ace had just come back exhausted from a long assignment. The first commander was pretty certain Ace slept better alone and decided to leave the young assassin to sleep in peace. He would come out when he had rested. The first commander looked at the bird on the desk. ¨You coming with us, or do you want to stay, yoi?¨ He asked, wanting to know since he had a feeling Dust couldn’t teleport when Ace was asleep and they would close the door. Dust shook his head and flew over to Ace, settling beside his sleeping form and closing his eyes. Marco gave a small laugh, Dust was probably tired himself. Marco gave a gesture to Rakuyo, who nodded and stared to follow him as they headed out of the second commander’s room, Rakuyo going back to watch as Marco headed for the captain’s room again.

---x---

Whitebeard sat in his room with most of his commanders. They tried to uphold some conversation and keep their mind off that the clock was slowly inching in on midnight. The captain knew that even if Ace didn’t show up, he could not do anything until the next day had passed. He had promised Ace to wait at least a day before possibly contacting the leader of the Red Cloud, to hear if he knew anything. He knew his children would not like that they had to wait an entire day, knowing Ace should have been back.

The clock was a bit over eleven-thirty when there was a knock at his door. He felt a bit of hope filling him, thinking it might be Ace or news about Ace. He gave a ‘come in’ and the door was opened to reveal Thatch. ¨Son,¨ Started the captain, ¨Have you heard or seen anything?¨ Thatch was alone, so if Ace had returned he weren’t with the fourth commander and that could mean he was injured. Thatch gave a smile, looking relieved, which made his worry lessen. ¨Ace returned!¨ Said the man enthusiastically, making many of them feel relieved. Based on Thatch’s attitude, he guessed the kid was most likely fine, so why wasn’t he with him? Before he could ask, Marco had already started speaking. ¨Where is he then, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at Thatch with his usual bored expression, but the captain could see worry in his eyes.

¨Ah!¨ Started the chef. ¨Rakuyo is bringing him to bed, he fell asleep when he appeared. According to Dust he’s exhausted.¨ Whitebeard could see Marco frowning a bit. ¨And he is not injured, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at the chef. Thatch shook his head and sat down next to Izou. ¨No, at least not according to Dust.¨ Whitebeard smiled at that, knowing Dust would have told them if Ace were. He watched as Marco nodded and stood up and walking out of the room, most likely wanting to check up on Ace himself.

When the door closed, Izou shook his head before looking back at his boyfriend. ¨Did Ace just show up and fall asleep?¨ He asked with a curious look. Thatch shook his head. ¨I don’t know.¨ He started, looking at his father, a somewhat concerned look in his eyes. ¨I saw Dust and the bird was acting a bit weird, getting Rakuyo to go closer. I was behind Rakuyo when he appeared, so didn’t see. But he were unconscious when I got closer, so I think so.¨ The captain nodded. Ace had most likely done that. He had a feeling Ace knew he would collapse when he got back, and was glad to know the assassin trusted them enough to believe they wouldn’t do anything to the exhausted kid.

That was something that would require some level of trust. Being vulnerable around them was a big step and the kid knew what he was doing based on how he sent Dust first.

Before Izou could ask more questions, the captain spoke up. ¨Ace is back, son. That is the most important thing. Let’s relax for now.¨ He said with a smile, making all of his children nod and smile themselves. The atmosphere seemed to lighten as they started conversation up again, knowing everything was okay with their youngest who only needed sleep for now. They were soon joined by Marco, who said Ace was sleeping and seemed to be okay. They could also see his eye twitching as he grabbed Thatch by his arm and dragging him out of the room, saying Ace might be back, but he was still on watch. They could even hear the groan after he closed the door.

Marco shook his head, mumbling something about being lazy as he sat down. This caused many of them to laugh. It was usual for the chef to try to get out of night watch, especially when everyone was awake. All of them started some conversation as they relaxed, some starting to leave, deciding to head to bed for the night. It was an hour later, when only Marco and Whitebeard was left that Marco decided to head to bed himself. They gave a quick goodnight to each other before Marco headed back to his room. When he was standing in front of his door, he decided to do a quick check on Ace.

When he opened the door and went inside the room, he was glad to see Ace still asleep, having changed position so he slept on his stomach. He frowned a bit as he could see one of his legs peeking out from the blanket and saw his shoes still on. Marco slowly walked up to the sleeping form and could see Dust lifting his head to look at him before lying down again. Marco felt glad the bird trusted him enough to not watch him when Ace were sleeping. Marco then slowly and carefully took off the kid’s shoes, placing them beside his bed. When he had, he brought his hand up to Ace neck and stroked it, glad to see him back and looking okay.

Ace gave a small content sigh as he moved his legs back under the blanket, leaning more into his pillow making Marco’s hand hover over Ace. Marco gave a sigh, even in his sleep Ace seemed to lean away from touch. Marco gave a pet to Dust, the bird leaning into his touch and letting out a content sound, before leaving to sleep himself.

---x--- OUTTAKE ---x---

¨Is that a world map?¨ Asked Luffy, looking at the map that laid on a table. Rayleigh nodded, ¨Yes, Luffy.¨ He said, making Luffy excited. ¨Where is the New World?!¨ Rayleigh gave a small laugh as he pointed at the map. Luffy was extremely bad at reading maps, but he liked to look at them. ¨We are here, and the entrance to the New World is here.¨ He said, pointing at the two spots. They had a small toy boat that represented them, Luffy annoying Sabo until he bought one. Luffy tilted his head a bit, looking at the map. ¨But why aren’t we heading directly towards the New World?¨ He asked, seeing the toy boat off course.

That did shock the man a bit, he didn’t think Luffy would notice it. ¨Didn’t you want to visit Ace?¨ He said, making Luffy nod. Rayleigh pointed at the map again, this time at a spot that was in front of the boat. ¨The Moby Dick is somewhere around here, we will cross roads with them in somewhere between 2-4 days, depending on where they exactly are.¨ Said Rayleigh with a smile. It had been awhile since he had spoken to Whitebeard, it would be nice to see his captain’s old rival again. Luffy gave him a big smile before running off, almost running down Sabo who he met in the doorway. ¨Lu!¨ Yelled Sabo, ¨You are not supposed to run around!¨ Luffy gave a laugh. ¨But we’ll see Ace in a few days! I need to finish his present!¨ Said the kid as he disappeared behind a corner.

Sabo gave a sigh as he walked inside the room, Rayleigh lifting an eyebrow at the bottles he held. ¨Here,¨ Started Sabo, handing him a bottle. Rayleigh smelled it and was mildly curious to smell it was booze. ¨Ace always took a drink on his birthday.¨ Ended Sabo, taking a quick sip of the bottle he held, grimacing as he did. Rayleigh laughed taking a quick taste himself. ¨I hope Luffy doesn’t drink too.¨ He said. Sabo laughed and shook his head. ¨He never liked the taste. And he is too young anyway.¨ Rayleigh laughed at that. A pirate that didn’t like booze? That was something new. It was January the first today, and even if Sabo hid it better than Luffy, Rayleigh could see Sabo missed his brother. ¨To your brother.¨ Said the man, holding his bottle up.  Sabo gave a small laugh as he toasted him. ¨To Ace.¨ And both of them took a drink, Sabo grimacing again.

¨How Ace can drink this is beyond me.¨ Said Sabo, making the man laugh again. ¨It’s an acquired taste.¨ He said. He could see Sabo nodding, a somewhat sober look at his face. Rayleigh gave a sigh. He knew Ace had been drinking since he was young, really young. His work wasn’t easy and drinking could help drown some of the feelings and emotions. It was a bad way to cope and he had a feeling Ace had an awful habit of doing that instead of asking for help or comfort. He had caught Ace passed out drunk one time when he was 16 and he had tried to bring it up, but Ace never wanted to speak about it, always avoiding the topic.

Rayleigh looked at Sabo. ¨What is Luffy making for Ace?¨ He asked, deciding to get the man on better thoughts. Sabo let out a laugh, shaking his head. ¨He is making a plushy of an octopus.¨ Rayleigh stared at him in shock before bursting out laughing. ¨Why an octopus?¨ He asked, wanting to know why Luffy chose that creature. Sabo shook his head. ¨Luffy saw an octopus when he was younger. Luffy did of course scare it so it released a cloud of black ink. When the water cleared of the black cloud, the octopus was gone.¨  Sabo sent an amused look at him. ¨How do Ace disappear?¨ Rayleigh laughed. That was the best thing he had heard in a while. Sabo also let out a laugh. ¨I can’t wait until Ace sees it. It’s really, and I mean really cute.¨ Rayleigh shook his head, he wanted to see this cute octopus before Luffy packed it or gave it away.

Chapter Text

Marco made his way out on the deck. It was still a bit early, barley past seven in the morning, but he wasn’t tired anymore. He hoped Ace might be awake and had contemplated to peek into his room, but decided to head out on deck and wait until he came out of his own if he weren’t out yet. When he walked out of the door, he was a bit surprised to see a lot of people out on deck, many of them sitting or staring towards the main part of the deck where his father’s chair was. That did spike his curiosity, so he walked through the small crowd, who he could now see where smiling. Marco heard his father’s laugh before he saw him, as well as an another laughing voice he could not complete place.

When he got past everyone, the first thing he saw aside from his captain was Rayleigh, who was laughing with his captain.

Marco stopped for a second. He did not expect to see the man sitting on the deck so casually and laughing. They had not seen or heard from the man in years. Before he could think more about it, a voice he had not heard in a while had his attention. ¨Birdy Blue Breast!¨ Marco turned towards the railing where Ace usually sat, to see Luffy sitting in Ace’s lap, holding a scone he was eating. He could hear Ace giving a sight, ¨What have I told you about nicknames, Lu.¨ Said Ace, who were reading a book he didn’t take his attention from. Luffy ignored him, sending a smile to him.

He could hear Sabo, who he now noticed beside Ace, laughing. ¨He’s never going to stop with the nicknames you know.¨ Said the man, looking amused at his brothers. Ace gave a sigh again. ¨I know, but I’ll still try.¨ The people around them laughed at that. Luffy would not stop using the nicknames, at least not in the near future. It was a character quirk they did like, even though the names were weird at times, but did fit to some extent. The kid always managed to make them smile with how childish he was. Marco had to admit he could not see how Luffy would be able to be a captain, but the world was full of surprises. And if Shanks managed to be a captain, even a Yonko, he had no doubt Luffy could manage. He would also be joined by Sabo, who he could see more as a captain type of person.

Marco shook his head as he walked towards the railing. ¨How’s training going, yoi?¨ He asked, and leaned against the railing next to Ace. Luffy looked up at him with excited eyes. ¨It’s really fun!¨ Said the kid, eating the rest of his scone before starting to tell how ‘fun’ it were. Marco was shocked when he heard about fighting gigantic animals like tigers and alligators, but it did sound like the kid actually thought it was fun. Both of them did look okay and Rayleigh did probably watch out so they didn’t actually get really injured. If the man let that happen, he would have Ace to answer to and that was a thought that would keep anyone on their toes.

Everyone listened to Luffy talk with amusement in their eyes. They had a feeling the kid had a different view on how training was going than his other companions, based on the shakes of their heads every now and then. Some of the people that were listening did eventually leave to start their day, some did stay to listen to the kid’s adventures, as Luffy referred it to. It was an hour later that Dust landed beside Ace and handed him an envelope. The pirates were sure Ace would make Luffy stand up, seeing as he could potentially read the note the way he was leaned against his brother. But the moment Ace opened it, Luffy automatically leaned forward, making it so Ace could read the note behind his head. This was obviously nothing new, seeing as Luffy did not stop his talking and how Ace expected him to do it.

When Ace had read the note and put it away, he made a small movement with his hand that made Luffy stand up. When Ace also stood up, Sabo gave a sigh. ¨Are you back before we leave?¨ He asked, looking at his brother. Ace gave a nod, ¨I’ll be back in two hours or so.¨ He said, before looking towards Luffy who had a grin. ¨What are the chances of you not raiding my room when I leave?¨ Luffy got an even bigger grin, making Ace sigh again. Sabo gave a laugh, ¨Let him borrow the cape and I’ll keep him out.¨ Ace lifted his eyebrow, ¨I’ll let him use the cloak and you keep him out.¨ Responded Ace. Sabo got a guile smile on his face. ¨Cloak and I get three of your books.¨ Ace looked at him, eyebrow still raised. ¨You can get two, but I choose which.¨ Sabo looked pleased with that and nodded.

The three brothers then made their way to Ace’s room, so he could change and give Luffy his cloak and Sabo his books. The pirates had a feeling Ace had some books that were special and he didn’t want his brother to have them. Marco knew there were books that shouldn’t exist. He remembers reading a book that made him feel sick for days, the book was so brutal and detailed and the images were printed in his brains. Ace did probably have a few books like that around and he understood why he didn’t want his bother to read them. The pirates had also watched the compromise in amusement having a feeling it wasn’t the first time they had compromised over Sabo keeping Luffy away from his stuff.

As the brothers left, most of the pirates around them scattered to go about their day. Marco looked at their guest, ¨Rayleigh,¨ He started, getting the man’s attention. ¨How long are you staying, yoi?¨ The man shook his head. ¨We aren’t staying for long.¨ Started the man. ¨We’ll leave around noon. Luffy wanted to visit Ace and give him something before we head to the new world.¨ The pirates nodded. Luffy probably wanted to give his brother a birthday present, seeing as his birthday was a few days ago. The captain let out a laugh. ¨The New World? We are also heading there, you can travel with us if you’d like, Rayleigh.¨ Said the captain, looking at the man.

Rayleigh shook his head. ¨Luffy and Sabo are still training, we need to visit some islands anyway.¨ Said Rayleigh, looking at the captain with his usual expression. Whitebeard nodded, he understood that. The kids should also get used to not being around Ace all the time. When they set out, he won’t be with them, at least not as much as they are used too. ¨How long have you known the brats?¨ Asked the captain. Rayleigh let out a laugh, ¨I have known them for 6 years I believe.¨ The pirates nodded. That was longer than they had thought. The man acted and seemed like they remembered from before. He came forward as someone who was calm and relaxed, who had a lot of knowledge.

Luffy then came running around the corner, Ace’s cloak around his neck, looking extremely happy. Sabo came after him, now holding a book he was looking through. Luffy came to a sudden stop in front of Izou. ¨Pretty Man! I need your help with something!¨ Said Luffy in excitement. Izou looked at the kid, curious what he wanted help with. ¨What do you want me to help you with?¨ Luffy gave a small laugh and took a small purple octopus plushy from behind his back. ¨I wanna give this to Ace, but I don’t have anything to use for eyes.¨ Izou stared at the plushy in shock. It was really cute. It was a dark purple with white underneath it arms. The best part, at least what Izou thought, were the top hat and mustache.

Izou nodded, ¨I have buttons you can use. But why a top hat and a mustache?¨ Izou had to ask, it was cute and special. Luffy gave a grin. ¨I made a mistake on the top, so I covered it with a hat. And I didn’t find anything to use as a mouth, so I made a mustache!¨ That made everyone smile and some laugh. It was only Izou who saw the plushy up close, but they could see it a bit and it looked cute. Izou started walking towards his room, ¨Come and I’ll help you put some eyes on the octopus.¨ Luffy got an even bigger grin at that and started to follow the man.

---x---

Luffy had just come back out on the deck, showing off the really cute plushy to everyone. Marco did think the plushy was extremely well made, especially when he remembered Luffy had made it. He had probably gotten help from Sabo, but it did seem like the kid had done most of the work himself. After everyone had gotten a look at the gift for Ace, Luffy had sat down on deck and asked for a story from his captain. His father had given a laugh and started a story from way before. Everyone could see the kid liking the story, he did seem to enjoy hearing about stories of the captain’s past, especially his battles. Marco was leaning against the railing next to Sabo, who was still reading through the book.

¨What kind of book is it, yoi?¨ Asked the first commander, looking at the other blond. Sabo gave a nod and closed the book before looking at him. ¨It’s a book about myths and legends of the world. Ace have a lot of them and they are rare to find, especially these one.¨ Said Sabo, showing him the book. Marco looked at the book. It had no writing or picture on the cover, only dark brown leather. Marco slowly took the book and opened it, looking at the first few pages. It seemed to be what Sabo had said. It mentioned stuff like mythical creatures, deities, theories, the afterlife and Legendaries. Marco looked over it again, Legendaries? Where had he heard that before? He could remember one of his books mentioning it, but he never fully read it. Maybe he should.

Marco handed the book back to Sabo. ¨You like to read about that kind of things, yoi?¨ He asked when Sabo took the book. Sabo nodded, taking the book and putting it away for now. ¨Yes. Legends and myths come from somewhere, which means there are some truth in them. It’s interesting.¨ Said the blond, looking at him with a small smile. Marco nodded. It was true. Legends and myths did come from somewhere. Sabo had also said the books Ace had where special, making him more curious about the Legendaries, he would need to check that out later.

Sabo then leaned more back at the railing. ¨How is everything going here?¨ Marco looked at him. He was looking up at the sky. Marco nodded and leaned back himself. ¨Everything is going fine, yoi.¨ He said with content. And it was true, it had been calm and everything was going well. Ace seemed to be settling in and trust them a bit more. It made him glad to see that and the assassin looked glad to see his brothers again and they seemed happy to see him, especially Luffy. He could see Sabo nodding, smiling at that. They then stood and listened to his father tell the story, Luffy’s eyes shining from hearing about battles. It was a bit later that Sabo looked over to his right and suddenly stood completely up. ¨I’m going to check something in Ace’s room.¨ Said Sabo, walking away.

Marco nodded, wondering what he would check out. He did believe Sabo wouldn’t do anything to the room Ace wouldn’t like. Ace would come back soon anyway. Marco watched his father tell the story, seeming to also enjoy himself. He always liked to tell stories.

---x---

Ace appeared in his room and took off his mask. He had some blood covering him here and there, but nothing much. He had gotten Dust to flew to his room, hopefully without anyone noticing. Ace put his mask on the desk and was about to get some clothes so he could shower, when the door opened. Ace turned around to see Sabo coming in and closing the door. Ace frowned a bit, Sabo looked troubled. Ace didn’t like that. ¨Is everything fine?¨ He asked and used his hand to wipe some of the blood on his face away. Sabo gave small nod, looking at him. Ace could see him a bit unsettled by the blood, but Sabo did know he had just returned from an assignment.

¨It’s only months until we will set out on our own.¨ Started Sabo. ¨How will it be when we set out. Will you still visit up like on Boreumdo?¨ Ace shook his head. When they set out, he would visit them every now and then, but not nearly as much as they were used to. ¨I will visit, but not as often. You are able to take care of yourself.¨ He said, looking at his brother who looked troubled again. Ace gave a sigh and sat down on his bed, motioning for Sabo to sit down too.

¨What is this really about?¨ He asked as Sabo sat down. Sabo sighed and leaned back, so he was lying on the bed, his legs on the floor. ¨You’ve always been there for us, watched over us and kept us safe. I’m not sure I can be like that for Luffy.¨ Said Sabo, sounding like he really were unsure about setting out without him.

Ace gave a small sight and moved further back on the bed, making so his back touched the wall, moving his hand to Sabo’s shoulder. ¨Why are you suddenly doubting yourself? You are an amazing brother.¨ Sabo gave a nod, leaning into his touch. ¨I’m not as strong as you. I can’t be like you. I don’t think I’ll be able to be there for Luffy the same way.¨ Ace gave sigh inside himself, wondering how long Sabo had had these thoughts. ¨You won’t be like me and you never will.¨ Said Ace and could feel Sabo tensing. Ace gave a reassuring squeeze before continuing. ¨And neither me or Luffy is expecting that. You are Sabo, and we love you for that. You are an amazing brother and you will never do anything other than your best. That is everything Luffy needs. Everything I need. You should be yourself and not try to be like me. I don’t want that, and neither will Luffy.¨ Sabo nodded, relaxing a bit.

Ace looked at him. ¨Why are you thinking this? You know Luffy looks up to you and thinks you are amazing. I do too.¨ Sabo nodded. ¨I just,¨ Sabo gave a sigh. ¨I just feel like I can do better and I don’t want to disappoint Luffy.¨ Ace nodded. ¨You won’t disappoint him and you never will. You are everything he needs.¨ Sabo nodded, giving a small sheepish smile. ¨Do you remember when Luffy was younger? And when he got upset?¨  Ace nodded and moved his legs a bit, making room for Sabo. Sabo got up and moved to him, placing his body between him and taking his hand around Ace’s form, leaning his head on his chest, relaxing.

Ace took one of his hands around his back and the other across his back to rest on his head. Moving them to a more comfortable position by lifting his knees so Sabo’s legs could be under them, making it so they wouldn’t fall asleep or in an uncomfortable position.

Ace had often done this with Luffy. He always wanted to stay like this when he was younger and afraid. He had rarely done it with Sabo, much less have Sabo do it willingly and mentioning it. But Sabo weren’t invincible. He got upset too, even though he tried to hide it. Ace moved his hands to hold Sabo a bit tighter. ¨Everyone has doubts. And you will overcome them.¨ Sabo nodded. Ace moved his head a bit downwards, making it so Sabo’s head was under his chin. Ace rested his body as he held Sabo. Sabo rarely cried, he only sometimes needed to remember he weren’t alone and get some reassurance. Ace closed his eyes, breathing slowly and gave Sabo the comfort he needed right now. Ace had no doubts he would do amazing when he and Luffy set out, Sabo only needed to realize this himself.

---x---

¨Hey Marco!¨ Yelled Thatch, coming up to him. ¨What, yoi?¨ He asked, looking at the smiling chef. ¨We’re eating lunch now, since Luffy is hungry. Do you know were Sabo is?¨ Marco had the urge to roll his eyes, Luffy was always hungry. ¨He went to check something out in Ace’s room, yoi. I’ll go get him.¨ He said and started moving. Sabo had gone 10 minutes ago, so he was probably finished or close to what he wanted to check out. Thatch was then beside him. ¨I’ll come with you!¨ He said in his way too excited voice. Marco lifted an eyebrow at him. ¨Shouldn’t you help prepare lunch, yoi?¨ Thatch waved his hand at him ¨The others can manage. I want to see my favorite kid anyway!¨ Marco shook his head. Thatch always got excited when they had visit from people he liked.

They walked in the commander’s hallway and headed for Ace’s room. Thatch got there first and opened the door with a gigantic smile and was about to open his mouth, probably to say they were going to eat. When Thatch’s entire form stopped and his smile fell, an uncertain and worried look at his face. Marco frowned as he moved to look in the room, wondering what had Thatch change so suddenly from his overexcited self. When he got a look in the room, he understood why.

Sabo was holding around Ace, who held back, a solemn look at his face. Sabo looked small and vulnerable in Ace’s arms, making Marco understand Sabo was upset about something.

He could see Ace’s eyes opening a bit and looking at them. He could see Thatch was about to say something, when Ace gave a small shook of his head, making Thatch close his mouth, before moving his hands, holding Sabo a bit closer before closing his eyes again, the solemn look staying as he leaned his head back to rest against the wall. Marco moved his hand and closed the door. When the door was closed, he moved towards the exit, ¨Come on Thatch.¨ He said, moving to open the door to the deck. ¨But,-¨ Started Thatch, but Marco shook his head. ¨Let them be, yoi. They will come later.¨ Marco could hear Thatch letting out an uncertain sound, but moved after him none the less.

Before Marco opened the door, he turned to Thatch. ¨Don’t look like a kicked puppy, yoi. You’ll worry Luffy.¨ Thatch was really bad at hiding his emotions and looking like a kicked puppy would cause Luffy to wonder. Marco could see Thatch looking back at the door, clearly concerned what made Sabo upset. Marco gave a sigh. ¨Ace knows what he’s doing, yoi. Sabo will be fine.¨ Thatch gave a nod and looked less worried. When Marco opened the door, they were immediately met by a smiling Luffy. ¨Where are Sabo and Ace?¨ He asked with a tilt of his head. Marco shook his head, ¨They are busy, yoi. They’ll come a bit later.¨ Marco could see Luffy tilting his head the other way, frowning and see his gaze shift to Thatch. A second later, he smiled again. ¨Okay, let’s go eat!¨ He said and started heading for the galley.

Marco looked at him go. ¨Do you think he knows?¨ Asked Thatch behind him. Marco didn’t know what to say. He felt like the kid understood. And Ace had said the kid was really observant. Marco shook his head. ¨Who knows, yoi.¨ He said and started to head to the galley himself, Thatch following. When they got to the galley, Luffy was trying to get Namur to tell a story. Marco had to chuckle, knowing he would give in, especially after Luffy gave the puppy eyes. When he sat down, Pops looked at him, frowning a bit. ¨Son, where is Sabo?¨ Marco looked at him. Luffy was too far away to hear them, being a few tables to their right.

Marco shook his head. ¨He needs some time alone with Ace.¨ Was all he said, before starting to eat. He could see his father frowning, before he understood what he meant. The captain nodded and started to eat himself. Some of the others at the table looked at him in curiosity and concern, especially after looking at Thatch. But all of them knew the look he had, he would not say anything more. They went back to eating and starting their own conversation.

It was 15 minutes later that Sabo came in. Some of the commanders, especially Thatch, looked at him in worry. But Marco could see the looks fading to more smiling ones as Sabo sat down, smiling. Before anyone manage to say anything, Luffy propped down next to Sabo. ¨Where’s Ace?¨ Asked the kid, taking some meat from the table. Sabo looked at him with a smile. ¨He’s taking a shower.¨ Said Sabo. Luffy nodded and leaned his head on Sabo’s shoulder. They could see the blond kid looking a bit shocked, before smiling and putting his hand around Luffy, continuing to eat. Marco had a feeling it had something to do with what had Sabo upset before and was curious on how Luffy knew. He really was observant, so much more than he would have ever guessed.

It was 10 minutes later that Ace came in, hair still wet from the shower. When he came in, Luffy smiled. ¨Ace!¨ Said Luffy in excitement. When Ace sat down, Luffy moved and took the octopus out, showing it to Ace with a gigantic grin on his face. ¨Happy birthday!¨ Yelled the kid. They could see Sabo shaking his head, smiling at them. Ace lifted an eyebrow, taking the plushy and looking at it. When he had looked it over, he petted Luffy on the head. ¨It’s beautiful, Lu.¨ Luffy smiled, liking the pet. Luffy was like a puppy, at least that was what Marco thought. Luffy continued to smile, ¨Sabo picked the color and helped with the hat!¨ Ace laughed, ¨Of course he did. It is the same hat as he have.¨ He said, looking at Sabo.

Sabo lifted an eyebrow. ¨My hat’s awesome.¨ Said Sabo. Pretending to be offended. Ace lifted an eyebrow too, before looking at the octopus. ¨I must say, the octopus wears it better.¨ Sabo lifted an eyebrow again, ¨An octopus looks better than me?¨ He said in disbelief. Ace shrugged. ¨What can I say. It’s a purple octopus with a mustache.¨ Sabo snorted. ¨Point.¨ Ace looked at the octopus one last time, before putting it on the table and starting to eat himself. Luffy grinning the entire time.

After they had eaten, Rayleigh, who had been fixing something on their boat, came and told them that they were heading out again. Luffy had let out a whining sound, but had gotten ready none the less. Luffy had given his usual goodbye by yelling and waving his arms. The kid had given a hug to Ace before heading to the boat. Sabo had shaken his head and given Ace a hug too, before going after his brother. Rayleigh had given a quick goodbye and went to the ship.

As the ship sailed away, Ace knew they would do good. They had gotten stronger, especially Luffy. All Sabo needed was to overcome his doubts, which he was sure he would have the next time he saw them.

---x---

The rest of the day went calmly. Around dinner time, Ace had gotten a new assignment, which he said would take about a day and a half, maybe two. The captain had nodded and Ace had left. He was curious on how he figured out the time that each assignment took. He knew Ace probably knew from experience, but he wondered how he could get the time so accurate based on each time he got an assignment from Dust, it was always only a few words and a name. When they had asked for the assassin’s help all those months ago, all he had written was that he needed information and his name. Nothing more. Ace was probably an amazing strategist and knew how to assess every situation he was in the best way. Whitebeard shook his head, he would need to ask the young assassin about it. Maybe he could help them with strategies when they got to the New World.

Everyone was excited to head to the New World, wanting to have some action and adventure. The Grand Line had been surprisingly calm and some were complaining, while some called it ‘the calm before the storm’. Whitebeard had laughed at that, wanting to know what the storm would be. The man who had said this, Zen, claimed someone would probably show up, most likely someone like Sengoku and start a fight. That had made most of them laugh, it was not likely for something like that to happen. And for Sengoku to suddenly head out after them was even more unlikely. They had not done anything notice worthy the last few weeks and that was probably one of the reasons everything was as calm. They would probably meet some people who wanted to fight them.

They had usually been around their territories the last few weeks, there weren’t many that wanted to challenge them in his own territory. They were heading towards the neutral ones and the other controlled islands. The calm would soon be gone and the captain was looking forward that himself. A battle sounded nice.

---x---

Dracule Mihawk made his way out of his castle, a letter in hand. It had been months, months, since he had had a decent fight. None of the ones he had challenged had been more than mere weaklings. Not standing a chance. He wanted a real fight, with someone who was more on his level. Someone who actually could stand his attacks and power.

Mihawk walked down the porch of his castle and headed for the woods. When he was at the outskirt of the woods, he immediately saw a raven. He marched up to the bird, grabbed it before it could fly off and tied the letter to it. When he had, he glared at the regular raven, ¨Bring it to Ace, now.¨ The bird fought in his hand and he released it, letting it fly off.

When the bird was out of his sight, he marched towards the beach. He knew the Whitebeards where not too far away from his island, maybe a day or so. He had read about their new commander. When he got to the beach, he immediately boarded his coffin boat and started the sail. He was going to fight Ace, no matter what. He was sick and tired of weaklings.

---x---

Ace walked out of a house, stretching. He had finished the assignment, it had been easy, but tedious. He was finally done and was glad to see Dust waiting in the forest. Ace was also a bit annoyed, his cape had gotten ripped a bit and he would need to fix that. It had been a continuous battle that had dragged on for an entire day. He had just told the ones to ask him to take the people out, that everything had gone fine. Because of special circumcises he couldn’t bring Dust with him. The place he had been at, apparently had some field or something that kept Dust away. He could feel something made Dust afraid and wouldn’t had been any help if he brought him with him anyway. When he had walked down the porch, he was met with Dust who landed on his shoulder, handing him an envelope.

He looked at the envelope in mild curiosity, this was from Mihawk. He hadn’t heard from the man in months, almost a year actually. And that had only been about some information. The man had been fighting many lately, even seeming irk by the number of people that had challenged him, none of them standing a chance. Ace opened the letter and read the note, frowning a bit as he did. ‘I demand a battle. Heading for the Moby Dick now. Be there.

Somehow, Mihawk managed to sound annoyed in the letter. Ace looked at Dust, ¨When did you get this?¨ Dust looked at him and gave a caw, making Ace frown more. From where the boat was located, it would only take Mihawk a day to get to the boat from Kuraigana island. If what Mihawk said was true, he was headed for the boat now, without getting a confirmation from him that it was okay. Mihawk had no right to just show up, if he did, Ace wouldn’t be pleased.

Ace closed the note and sent Dust to the boat. A second later he frowned and disappeared.

---x---

Marco sat in his room and looked through his books. He had already checked 4 with no luck. None of them had any name or picture, only a brown leather back. He knew one of them mentioned Legendaries and he wanted to see what it said. For some reason, he felt like the book could say something important. He wasn’t sure what, but he couldn’t get his mind on something else. He quickly checked through the book, before grabbing the next one. He knew it was in one of them. He flicked through some pages, before he stopped and went back a few. Finally, thought the first commander and started to read.

Legendaries are powers that come from mystical fruits. They can easily be confused with Devil Fruits, but Legendaries are different. While Devil Fruits can give superhuman abilities, abilities to turn into an animal and getting that trait or turn into an element. While every one of these abilities can be an unmistakable threat and give strength that no regular human can gain.

Legendaries have more power. Giving the person Godlike power.

Marco frowned, Godlike? That sounded a bit too much. He shook his head and continued.

Legendaries are not only capable of giving a certain type of power, but multiple. Very little is known about Legendaries, but some of the powers are known. One of the people that is said to have had this power could phase through anything, even seastone and flesh. It was impossible to land a hit on the person, almost like he wasn’t there, only an illusion, only for the man to hit a second later, suddenly being back to normal. The man was also apparently able to disappear and reappear on will, even taking other with him to never be seen again.

Marco had to swallow, he didn’t want to say it, but that sounded terrifyingly Godlike. Marco couldn’t stop himself from reading on.

An another legend tells of an another power, which may be connected to the Legendaries. This one made the user able to materialize objects, distinctively a black metal that immediately took all power away from everyone it touched. He could produce this from his body, directly from his hands. The person claiming to have met the one with this power, claimed he could use his hands to freeze and move or push objects away, like an almighty push that destroyed everything with only the move of the hands. Even giving the ability of flight for short time. There were also rumors of seeing people, that had died and had been dead for a while, walking around with the black metal lodged in their bodies like piercings. Rumors also mentioned they were being controlled by the one who made the metal rods.

Marco had to read it again. Could there really be something out there that gave powers like this? If it was, he hoped to never meet or see anything of them. They truly