Title: Ten Years Difference 1/?
Word Count (chapter): 2871
Summary: It's amazing what difference there would be if there were a ten year age difference between Ace and Luffy. For one thing, how on earth could Ace possibly feel good about himself leaving Foosha Village if his brother had been six-and-a-half instead of the canon fourteen?
Notes: you will see a bunch of people you will think of as OC's. They are not. They are the nameless members of the Spade pirates I found in the picture of them on the OP Wiki - I am merely naming them and giving them back stories to fit my story. You should be able to identify which is which if you compare their intros and stories to the people on the wiki. If they have actual canon names, it's too late - I'm not changing them. If this bothers you, feel free to leave. I write for myself and people who want to see the same story-lines I do - I care not for canon nit-pickers.
Chapter 2 – 100% complete, edited, ready for posting.
Chapter 3 – 100% complete (written), now on 2nd editing.
Chapter 4 - 50% finshed.
Chapter 5 – outline 50% finished.
Marco watched carefully as the black-haired teen went down for what had to be the final time. Pops had given him a solid hit but nowhere near his hardest – if what Jinbei was panting about over in the company of the nurses was true, then this kid had been fighting for five days solid – and had won. Jinbei was a Warlord of the Marines – one of the toughest fighters Marco knew, and for this kid to actually eke out a win over him, well, that was something amazing.
Pops meanwhile, had turned to him with a relaxed smile. "I like him," he said, gur-ra-ra-ra-ing as he did so. "He's far too valuable to lose to something like this, Marco."
Marco knew what that meant, and nodded. Striding over, he carefully turned the kid over and checked him out. Bruises, cuts, possibly some internal bleeding but the nurses would take care of that, no prob-
Marco's head shot up. Was that a kid? The flaming wall the teen had put up to protect his crew – and by doing so, had bought him a lot of brownie points with Pops and his own – was still flaring high but he could see something, someone racing back and forth along the other side. A tiny someone – oh no...
"Ace! AAAACCCCCEEE!" came a second cry and then a small body threw itself through the flames, tiny arms up to cover a tear-streaked, snot-covered face. "Ace! ACE!"
Marco gaped in shock as a small boy leaped over the damage wrought by one determined teenager and one equally determined fishman Warlord, ignoring the small flames that seemed to have ignited on his clothing. He reached out automatically to help; without missing a beat, the kid avoided his hand and dove around him."Hey kid, you're on fi-"
"L-u-f-f-y," came a pained exhalation from the teenager Marco could have sworn was out for the count. He lifted a shaking head just in time for the child to slide to a stop next to them, angry, black, tear-filled eyes glaring up at Marco. The teenager slowly gripped the child's shirt and a second later, the flames were gone. "N-no...not hu-u-rt?"
"I'm fine, Ace," the child sobbed into Ace's hair, wrapping his arms around the teenager's head. Marco was thusly ignored. "I'm okay."
Marco watched, astounded as the young man – who should have been deeply unconscious by now – raised his head to look at him with a pleading expression. Gone was the angry wrath, the determined fire that had propelled him through his five-day match with Jinbei and his subsequent encounter with Whitebeard. All that was left was a begging look that didn't seem right at all on him. "Kid.."
"Do-on't hur-rt... Lu-u-f-fy?" he breathed out. The child had buried his own head in 'Ace's' hair, sobbing loudly. "Pl-e-ease..."
Marco nodded slowly, still trying to process what he was seeing. He had a feeling if he threatened this child in any way, five-day exhaustion and injuries aside, the teenager would somehow get back on his feet, ready to go again and that just wouldn't be wise – or healthy. "You have my word, yoi," he said calmly, reaching out one hand to place on top of Ace's. Behind him, he could feel the approving stare of his father, backing up his words. "No one will hurt the kid. He's safe, yoi. I swear it."
The teen searched his eyes for a moment, and nodded, apparently satisfied with what he saw. Then his entire body went limp as he gave into the wounds plaguing his body. The child went, to put it mildly, bat-shit insane.
"Ace! ACE! Wake up Ace! Please, wake up! Ace! AAACCCCCEE!"
Impulsively, Marco reached out to the child again. "Hey – Luffy, was it? Luffy!"
Still clutching the older teen like a lifeline, the young boy looked over – with a glare that would have guaranteed Marco a place six feet under if looks were able to kill. "What did you do to Ace?" he practically spat out, still clinging to the teen's head.
"He's alive, yoi," Marco said in his most soothing voice. "He's just really, really tired right now."
The child rubbed his cheeks with his arm, still sniffling and breathing hard. His eyes darted from the teenager to Marco's and back again. "He was fighting the fish guy for five days," he said in a low but undeniably proud voice. "No breaks even."
"That's impressive, yoi," Marco commented calmly. He didn't even have to lie about that. The boy had stopped crying and was giving a tiny smile – sort of. It seemed that drawing the child into a dialogue was definitely the best way to calm him down apparently. "Luffy, no one wants to hurt him, I promise. The fight's over. Can I have a nurse come over here and look at the two of you?"
Luffy stared at him for a long moment before nodding slowly. "Why me?" he asked, curiously, obviously still suspicious, but making an effort. "I didn't fight the fish man. Ace never lets me fight. He always makes me hide somewhere so no one can find me."
Marco had waved at Hannah, one of the older and more experienced nurses but had also signalled at her to approach slowly. "You jumped through the fire wall. I'd like to get you checked for any burns." He smiled at the boy, trying to appear friendly. "It seems you didn't hide very well today, yoi."
The child sent him a look that screamed, 'the hell I didn't.' "This is the first time Ace-nii lost," he stressed. A worried look replaced the sarcastic one as he saw the nurse move closer. "You promise you won't hurt Ace-nii?"
Ah. That made more sense than 'son' – there was an age difference there but not enough of one for that. Marco made a big show of crossing his heart, watching as the little one gave him another tiny smile when he did. "I promise, kiddo. The fight's all done now. This is Hannah - " He introduced the pink-clad woman who was slowing down as she crossed the final few feet. She waved at the little boy who shyly gave her a tiny wave back. "- and she's gonna check you and your brother."
The child nodded slowly and let her sink into a crouch right next to older teen. She reached for Luffy first who backed away and shook his head. "Ace-nii first," he said sternly. She shot Marco a look, then shrugged and reached for his brother. Luffy's black eyes were fixed on her every move as she gently turned Ace over from his side to his back and began checking the wounds inflicted on him by Jinbei and Whitebeard. "He was fighting a long time and he never lets me check him."
"Is that right, yoi?" Marco smiled at the boy. "Well, I can see some small burns on your hands from when you ran through the fire. Do you think Ace-nii will be happy to see those?"
Luffy immediately stuck his hands behind his back. "Don't tell him!"
"I won't – but only if you let me clean them up. Okay?"
The little boy hmmm'd for a moment before nodding and thrusting his hands in Marco's direction. Reaching into the nurse's first aid kit, Marco pulled out some wet wipes and began to wipe down the small, thankfully superficial burns on the child's hands and arms. Luffy was a surprisingly good patient – though with a brother with those particular powers, it probably wasn't the first time he'd gotten singed. He certainly didn't seem surprised at seeing them, nor at the treatment they needed. The thought made Marco frown, an expression he quickly hid when the boy peered up at him in confusion.
Hannah was palpating the older boy's stomach carefully. "As near as I can tell, he likely escaped internal injuries," she said with a sigh of relief. "But three of his ribs are definitely cracked, and I don't like the look of his head wounds, Marco. His skull might be fractured – I felt some strange bumps under his hair. I want him back to the Moby five minutes ago."
Marco nodded. "Vista went to get the stretcher my Phoenix form can carry. Once you and I get him on it, I'll fly him to the infirmary. Which means, someone needs to watch over the little one." He motioned with his chin at Luffy who had become bored of their conversation and had pulled away from Marco in order to curl around his brother's head again.
Angry eyes snapped back up at him, proving he'd still been listening. "I wanna stay with Ace-nii," he said, rather insistently. "Gotta make sure no one hurts him anymore."
Marco decided it was a good idea Thatch and Izou were still aboard the Moby Dick. Thatch would be sobbing about brotherly loyalty and Ace's injuries by now – never mind that it was the stubborn fire-user's fault he was in such rough shape to begin with – and Izou would just plain out kidnap Luffy for the sheer adorableness being presented. "I promised you no one would hurt him anymore, didn't I?"
Luffy nodded slowly, eyes darting to Ace's prone form and back to Marco. "Yeah, but..." He was twisting and wringing his little hands in anxiety.
"I know, yoi," Marco said quietly. "You're still worried. You're a very good brother, Luffy."
"Ace-nii's better," came a mumbled reply.
Marco wondered about that, as a child being a part of the Spade Pirate crew did not actually speak well of the captain to begin with. There was a story there, and it would have to wait until the captain was able to tell his side of it. Movement caught his eye – Vista was swiftly moving over the beach, carrying the specially-rigged backboard that allowed Marco to lift it by himself in his Phoenix form. "Luffy, Hannah and I are going to move Ace in a few minutes. We're going to take him to the infirmary. Do you know what that is?"
The little boy nodded. "S'where the doctor lives," he chirped.
Marco grinned, and Hannah let out a small giggle at the adorable answer. "Absolutely right," he said, patting the child on his head, who giggled himself at the light contact. "So I'm gonna need you to stay with Hannah for a little bit. She'll watch you just until we get Ace checked out and then you can stay with your brother, yoi. I promise. How does that sound?"
"Okay." The child stared at him again, head tilted cutely to one side, and Marco waited calmly, letting the boy come to whatever decision he had to. After a moment, Luffy nodded again, smiling this time. "You're a good guy."
"I'm glad to hear it," Marco replied good-naturedly, intent on humouring the child to keep him in good spirits until his brother could be treated and an actual conversation could be had.
But Luffy shook his head, still smiling. "I mean, a really good guy. I know you won't hurt me or Ace-nii. I can tell."
"And how can you tell that?" Marco cast a quick glance over to where Vista and Atmos had finished setting up the specialized back board. Hannah was now guiding them into carefully moving the fire-brat into position to be lifted onto it. "Magic powers?"
"No, silly. I just know." Luffy caught his gaze and held it this time. Soft brown captured bright blue and Marco felt that somehow, in some way, he was being judged. Then Luffy gave him a cheeky grin. "I can tell. Sometimes."
Apparently he had passed judgement. Marco blinked at that, staring mutely at the little boy who beamed broadly at him, and then turned to watch his brother being carefully manhandled onto the backboard. That had been... different. Hannah moved over, wrapped an arm around Luffy, and began cheerfully pointing out how careful they were being and how Ace was going to be just fine. She then turned to Marco and raised an eyebrow. "Well? Let's get moving!"
Vista locked the two handles over the backboard into the v-shape point over the centre of the contraption and pulled out the two poles that also locked into into place, making a long, horizontal handle – perfect for strong talons to grip. Hannah was whispering to Luffy to watch Marco to see something really cool, and the little boy's wide eyes were focused on him expectantly.
Marco winked at him and then shifted into his phoenix form. Normally it was a quick and smooth transformation, but he decided to drag it out a little for the boy, starting by setting himself on fire. Blue and yellow flames spread up along his body, turning into glowing feathers before he disappeared into a ball of white and blue light, reappearing as the immortal phoenix. Spreading his wings wide, he bowed his head at the awestruck little boy, and then gently fluttered into the air.
He landed gracefully on the extended poles, one talon clutching each one, and with a powerful stroke of his wings, he rose into the sky, carrying the braced backboard with him. Haruta and Jirou had designed this particular litter transport specifically for his zoan form for times when they needed or simply wanted quicker yet stable transport to the infirmary. Whitebeard had even allowed the construction of a side door to be built into the port-side wall of the Moby Dick, leading directly into the back of the infirmary which negated the need for running across the decks and down the stairs into the belly of the ship.
As he neared the outer infirmary door, it swung open, and he could see the head nurse Whiskey, waiting with a rolling bed on the extended platform. Marco pulled up as he arrived, hovering over the bed and slowly lowered it, letting Whiskey manoeuvre it into place and lock the litter securely on top of it. Once she did, he released the handles, and Whiskey folded them back into their slots, unlocking the stabilizing bars and pushing them back down. Only then could she grip the handle at the foot of the bed and pull the whole contraption inside the infirmary.
June and July, twin nurses-in-training, had already cleared a secure spot away from any other patients. A good idea, Marco thought as he changed back into human form and helped push the litter/bed into place. Ace was unconscious now, but he had been anything but amiable thus far, and if he woke up in a bad mood – which was likely, considering he'd been beaten into the ground by Whitebeard and subsequently kidnapped by the crew – they didn't want him to have easy access to any potential hostages. Not that that was a huge concern though – Marco looked over the bruises really starting to come to life on the young man's skin, and figured that even disregarding the severity of the head wound, he'd still be out for a couple of days at the very least.
Which meant they were going to have to be responsible for the child that had come along with him. Marco shook his head, still not sure what to think of the situation, and walked back to the door he'd flown in through. He transformed and flew back to the group that was slowly making their way to the Moby Dick. Hannah was holding the hand of trusting little Luffy who seemed to be telling her his entire life story in thirty second spurts of breath.
"-an' then Gramps hitted me again and I landed in the wolf's place at the bottom of the big hill and they were gonna eat me up but Ace arrived and beat 'em all up and took me to Dadan's house and Dadan and Gramps were sleeping and they smelled really bad and there were bottles everywhere and Ace said a really bad word and told me not to say it, and then he said we were goin' to Foosha Village 'cause he couldn't leave me there 'cause Gramps would just make me fight the monkeys again and- Hi Marco!"
Marco blinked at the snippet of Luffy's life and then looked at Hannah who was smiling in that way that said she was doing so in order to keep the child calm but what she really wanted to do was go and kill something – likely the 'Gramps' in the story she was hearing. "Hi, Luffy. Your big brother is safe in the infirmary with one of our best nurses – besides the lovely Hannah of course," he made sure to add. Hannah rolled her eyes at him. He squatted down beside the little boy, reaching out automatically to ruffle his hair. Something about the wild, black mess on the kid's head just screamed 'tousle me!' "Wanna fly up there and see for yourself?"
"Fly?" Luffy's eyes grew even wider. "Like when you turned into the big blue birdy?"
"Well, I'll do the changing. But you can ride on my back if you want to, yoi."
The look on the kid's face said it all.
to be continued...
I'm enjoying writing this fic. I am a childfree women (haven't changed my mind in over 25 yrs) who nonetheless adores kids and kid!fics (then they are done well and not with random OC's) and I taught kids in China for over 10 years, so despite not possessing a mommy gene, I like to think I have a handle on what they're like. Since I like to challenge myself, here it is – kid!fic. Stormy style.
All comments and con/crit is welcome. I do two proof-readings on top of the multiple re-reads I do while writing yet I NEVER seem to post without at least one or two mistakes somewhere over here, or a dangling plot thread over there. My goal in ficcing over the years has been 'tighten it!' and I'd like to know how it's showing (if at all) to readers. Otherwise, I will not improve. So yeah, I can take con/crit meant in the fashion its supposed to be.
Chapter 2 will be up in a day or so. I'd ideally like chapter 4 done before I post chpt 2 to give myself a buffer.