Title: Baby On Board
Word Count: 3500-ish
Summary: The Whitebeards second division have an encounter with the user of the Aka-Aka no Mi. Ace is the target. Shennigans with baby!Ace ensue.
Baby on Board
When the second division returned and sheepishly told Thatch what had happened to Ace, the chef's first reaction was to believe it was a joke. A prank to pull on the master of all pranks. After all, who would believe such a ludicrous story? Seriously, a little more effort need to be put... put into... a p-prank...
His thoughts were immediately derailed as one of the crew members – a large man named Teach, he believed – handed over a wailing bundle of blankets with an exasperated expression. "He's all yours, commander! Zehahahahaha!"
Thatch gulped and tentatively peeled back the fuzzy blue blanket to reveal a tiny but undeniably familiar freckled face, surrounded by a thick head of black hair. Tear-filled silver eyes gazed up at him and the little fist that slipped free of the blanket's folds was loosely clenched and waving aimlessly. "A-Ace?"
"You've got to be kidding me," Izou breathed over his shoulder, peering down at the little one, his face suffused with delight. "Oh my god, he's adorable!"
"He's not adorable!" Thatch hissed in a panic. "He's a baby! What the hell are we going to do?"
Izou rolled his eyes at him, even as he gently teased Ace's little hand open with his index finger, laughing as the little one suddenly gripped on tightly. "Honestly Thatch, it's the work of a devil fruit. Either it will wear off, or we'll find the guy and make him reverse it. Until then, we get to deal with baby Ace—OW!"
Thatch nearly jumped three feet in the air. "What? What?"
Izou wrenched his hand back and stared in shock at his hand. "He broke my finger!"
"Figures Ace was a tough little monster." Thatch gingerly brought Ace a little closer to him. Izou had a point – Ace was ridiculously cute like this. "Guess I better bring him to Marco and Oyaji and explain what's going on, eh little guy?"
He leaned forward to nuzzle the baby automatically but little Ace's fist was still waving around and since Thatch's defences were down (seriously, it was a baby and his brother, why would he have them up?), the little punch that clocked him in the jaw actually – as Haruta later put it – knocked him completely the fuck out. He sank to the floor like a stone, and only another member of second division's quick reflexes prevented the baby from hitting the floor.
Izou, still shaking out his injured hand, stared at the baby in disbelief. "Well, this is going to be even more interesting then I thought."
"Near as I can tell, he's just under a year old," Whiskey said confidently, poking Ace's chubby little baby belly. The child giggled at her, a sweet sound that made Marco feel he was about to sprout cavities in each of his teeth regardless of his healing factor. "A very healthy and advanced one-year-old. Well. Ten and a half months, if I had to get specific."
"Is that because he still has a part of his adult self in there trying to show us, or was Ace just an early bloomer?" Izou sat on a nearby table, allowing one of the twins to splint the finger Ace had snapped with his absurd strength.
"Good question," Whiskey replied briskly. "And no clue. Ace never told me a thing about his early years, and I'm not about to speculate without proof."
"Ace catches on fast to just about everything we show him," Marco said musingly, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "I bet he's been like that his whole life."
"Have fun exploring that conclusion." Whiskey picked up Ace, gave him a quick cuddle, and then neatly dropped him into the arms of the First Mate. "He's all yours. Now get out, I've got work to do."
"So do I!" Marco snapped, looking slightly panicked at the thought of having to babysit. "What do you expect me to do with him, yoi?"
Suddenly a stench that no one wanted to identify wafted through the air. Whiskey tossed a fresh diaper at Marco's head. "Well, you can change him, for one," she said with a smirk.
Marco pulled the diaper off his head and glared at her.
Life on the Moby Dick became very interesting during the hunt for the Aka-Aka no Mi user, as the commanders took turns watching over the mini-second commander. The child was small but mobile, ludicrously fast, and was apparently the most curious thing on the face of the earth. And naturally, being Ace, he possessed absolutely no fear whatsoever. This led to many interesting situations that the Whitebeard pirates could honestly say they'd had no idea they were in for.
Haruta had given visual Den Den's to her entire intelligence department with orders to document the entire episode for as long as it lasted. Whitebeard ignored Marco's complaints about being photographed with a naked Ace throwing a used diaper at his face and instead, ordered additional copies – he was certain Garp would adore seeing his beloved grandson bullying the legendary Phoenix.
Jozu held Ace at arms length, peering at him warily. Ace kicked his feet happily and sucked on his thumb. The third division commander was acutely aware of the flash going off ahead and to the side of him – Haruta was going to wear out the visual Den Den's at this rate.
"He's so cute!" gushed Haruta, snapping another picture. "Ace! Ace! Over here!"
Ace ignored her and kicked out again, this time connecting solidly with Jozu's forearm. The fruit user had already turned it to diamond – he'd heard about Izou and Thatch's injuries and wasn't eager to join them. He frowned at the little one. "No kicking."
"Bah!" said Ace, and he kicked again.
Jozu sighed. "Why am I doing this?"
"Because Fossa's getting the guys to help make a crib and a change table and stuff, and Izou stole Thatch and Curiel to go shopping for food, formula, more diapers and clothes that will fit him," Haruta rattled off quickly. She raised the Den Den again. "Smile Joz!"
"Nuu." Ace pursed his lips and sputtered out the word before grinning widely, spittle rolling down his chin. "Nuu?"
"Close enough," Jozu decided.
Haruta grinned wildly. "The blackmail photos alone from this..." she cackled loudly. "Seriously, this is the best thing to happen to us in a long time."
"I beg to differ," Jozu said sternly, before moving to set Ace down on the galley table. "Ace is extremely vulnerable like this, and anyone could harm him-"
He paused as Ace kicked out again at the table just before he could let go and watched, dumbfounded, as a large crack appeared, jagging its way through the entire length. After a moment, the entire thing cracked in two, collapsing to the floor. Ace chortled and clapped his hands.
Jozu eyed the table, and then the little one he was still holding beneath the arms.
Haruta nearly bust a gut laughing. "Harm him?" she guffawed. "Damn, we'll be lucky if the Moby's in One Piece by the time we get him put to rights!"
Jozu watched the giggling baby with a fair dose of apprehension. "Your words may be more accurate than you realize."
Fossa blinked as he watched tiny little Ace cheerfully punch another hole into the floor, giggling at the spray of sawdust that exploded into the air, and staring with awe at the spiderweb of cracks that encircled the hole itself. He'd heard of the galley table but he'd thought Haruta had been exaggerating again. "Sunova-"
"Bitch!" finished Ace from the floor. His hearing was remarkably good and he was more accurate than a parrot when it came to repeating things out loud.
A blade slid over Fossa's shoulder, and he gulped at the appearance of Whitey Bay perched on his back, leaning over his left side. "What did I tell you about watching your language around young ones?" she purred in his ear.
Marco folded his arms and glared at Namur, who stood there dripping with his head hung low. On his back, gripping as tightly as a baby monkey to its mother, was Ace, glaring at Marco for making the fishman stop the water ride. "Sim!"
"No swimming," Marco snapped at the baby commander. He would have felt bad for his tone, but the little one was clearly not impressed with his attempts at proving he was the one in control, and resumed tugging on Namur's black hair.
"Nay-nay, sim! Sim!"
"He really wanted to swim, Marco," Namur said, poking his index fingers together. "Um... sorry? Whitey confirmed he doesn't have access to his fruit powers right now so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal..."
Marco closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Were it not for his healing factor thanks to his devil fruit, he was quite confident he would have been the lucky owner of at least three ulcers by now. "Just... no more swimming, okay? At least not in the ocean, yoi. You know, where the sea kings live and the weather changes by the minute?"
"How?" Blenheim asked, staring upwards in disbelief. "Just...how?"
Rakuyo was still gaping in shock, eyes trailing up the main mast. He was following the little indents of broken wood made by tiny hands pushing in and crushing it. A baby. Crushing Adam's wood. "Holy fucking hell."
"What he said," Curiel muttered, rolling up his sleeves and heading for the ladder. Someone had to retrieve their destructive little bundle of joy. He fingered the splintered ends of the impact craters. "Who gets to tell Marco about this?"
Two heads shot up at the same time. "Not it!"
Whitebeard smiled tenderly at the tiny one-year-old giggling hysterically as he rolled around the giant's palm. By cupping his hand, Whitebeard had made a fleshy bowl that Ace found incredibly amusing. He would climb up his oyaji's fingers and then let go, tumbling head over heels back into the palm. Then he'd try the other way, only to repeat the experience. He'd been at it for almost half an hour now.
Marco found it to be the most restful time he'd had since Ace had been miniaturized. "Would you care to do that for say, about eight more hours, pops?" The first commander yawned loudly, sending a mild glare (mixed with obvious affection, though no one dared point that out) towards the active little chibi. "Little bastard refused to sleep through the night again."
Whitebeard chuckled. "It's not his fault, son. He's a baby, and a D baby at that. You've seen how they eat as adults. What makes you think they're any different as infants?"
Marco rolled his eyes. "But there has to be a limit!" he protested. "What ten month old needs three feedings a night?" And a feeding for a D was considerably different than a feeding for a normal child. Thatch had an entire squad from his division set aside that did nothing but puree baby foods and fill massive bottles with perfectly mixed formula, and they were constantly on the go. The only time they weren't filling bottles and jars was when they were cleaning them. "I can't believe he hasn't exploded yet!"
Whitebeard smiled down at his tiny son, who was tiring himself out and curling up at the base of his hand. However, the captain knew there would be no true sleep for the youngster until he'd had something to replenish the energy he'd just expended. "D's are a mysterious bunch," he said softly.
Marco hopped up on his Oyaji's hand and peered down at the weary toddler. "That's one way to put it, yoi," he agreed, and then reached down. Ace raised tired little arms in return. "C'mon, you little terror. Let's get you yet another snack and then see if we can both nap for a little bit."
"Nuu nah," came a drowsy grumble.
"Yes, nap," Marco returned as he hopped to the floor and began making his way to the galley.
"Yes, yoi. Despite what you seem to think, you don't actually get a say in this..."
Marco's voice trailed off as they disappeared below deck. Whitebeard chuckled again, louder this time. While he missed having his strong and capable son with him, he had no doubts he was going to miss his tiny incarnation when this all ended.
Kingdew shifted to the north and raised his spyglass. There was nothing to be found in the northern waters. He then raised the spyglass above his head. "Well? What say you, young one?"
"Very good." Kingdew lowered the glass and then made a quarter turn to the west and repeated his actions. "Anything to report?"
Kingdew blinked at the questioning tone. "Do you see something?"
"We are looking for ships, not birds."
"Don't you think he's a little young for watch duty?" drawled an amused voice from behind him.
Kingdew turned and saw Marco perched on the edge of the crow's nest. The First Mate had his arms folded and his mouth was turned down in a frown even though his eyes were laughing at him. Kingdew shrugged. "He was going to try climbing up here again as it was. I just decided to spare the mast anymore damage."
"Nuu buhdee?" Atop his head, Kingdew could hear the sad tones of a baby Ace about to cry, and he shot a glare at the first commander who sighed and turned back into his phoenix form. Kingdew winced as Ace's feet kicked at his head in his excitement. Tiny hands that had been gripping his hair suddenly yanked a little harder. "Buhdee!"
"Phoenix," he corrected absently. One was never too young to begin a proper education, in his book.
Kingdew's eyes widened. Marco shot him a deadly glare, obviously not amused.
Kingdew winced. Marco transformed, ignoring Ace's cries for the 'pee-niss' to come back.
"Thanks a lot for that, yoi."
Vista had no idea what anyone was complaining about. Watching Ace was no more difficult than training a bunch of newbies – even easier, actually, as he didn't have to worry about stray swords being flung in random directions. Oh sure, little Ace was stronger than most grown men, but it was nothing the commanders couldn't handle.
He beamed down at Ace who was staring up at him in fascination. "You're not any trouble at all, are you? No, you're nOOT-" He screeched as Ace's tiny fingers latched on to the right side of his moustache and yanked hard. There was a ripping sound, and indescribable pain ripped through the lower part of his face. His eyes watered and he actually let go of the child in order to grip at his face instead.
"Vista!" Haruta had been standing nearby and she launched herself at him, sliding into his legs and catching Ace before he could hit the deck. "Careful! He could have hurt himself!"
Vista doubted very much that there was anything capable of hurting Ace on board the Moby Dick. He ignored Haruta's fussing over the child instead to pat at his face, feeling the wetness of blood and-
He froze. Patted again. A stinging sensation where his fingers pressed but no...He forced his watering eyes open.
Haruta was trying to pry something from Ace's hand. "Ace, sweetie, let go for me, okay?" she cooed at the little hellion.
Vista eyes locked on to the black tail of hair protruding from Ace's fist. Even more tears welled up as Vista realized just what it was he was seeing. "He... he..."
Haruta succeeded in opening Ace's hand and she held up the limply dangling half of Vista's moustache that had been completely ripped out. "Umm... she glanced up at Vista and her eyes widened. "Um... You... you're bleedin' kinda bad there, Vista-"
"Here ya go... I'm just gonna set this down here, and, uh, well, I think it's just about lunch time, right Ace? So we're gonna just... yeah." She whirled around and vanished before Vista could make a move in their direction.
Vista didn't even see them leave. His eyes were on the sad bundle of black hairs lying before him, one hand still gripping his bleeding face. "Heee..."
Rakuyo grinned. Now this was how one babysat a chibified commander. Thankfully Macy apparently adored children.
The living ball-and-chain jumped and clanked its way across the deck, little Ace sitting behind her head(?) and gripping the little gouges by her mouth to hang on. The tiny commander had one hell of a grip; Rakuyo had to give him credit for that.
Macy garbled out an amused roar as she crunched into a sun chair – oops, that was Izou's, wasn't it? Ah well, he should know better than to leave it on deck – sending pieces scattering all over. Little Ace whooped and cheered, and the two of them turned and went in search of more things to destroy. A table that usually held a spare Den Den Mushi but was thankfully empty, was crushed in their mission.
Rakuyo laughed and tossed a few barrels past them. Macy practically yipped with excitement and tore after them, Ace screaming with joy the entire way.
"Like there hasn't been enough damage already?"
Rakuyo grinned at the shipwright who had joined them. "Ah, think of it this way – they'll tire themselves out and maybe sleep a bit longer tonight, especially if Marco feeds that one - " he jerked a thumb at Ace,"- a decent amount beforehand."
Blenheim blinked at him for a moment before a considering look overtook him. He eyed the screaming and hollering Ace, bouncing on Macy's back(?) with each crushing landing she made; he shrugged, and then kicked a few more barrels in their direction. "Worth a shot."
Rakuyo laughed out loud.
Bedtime again. Marco finished changing Ace's diaper (and no, that would not stop sounding weird, no matter what Whiskey said) and started wrangling his little arms and legs into a onesie Izou had provided. Ace normally slept in his boxers if he slept in anything at all, but without his devil fruit access, he was at the mercy of the temperature just like the rest of them, and Whiskey had warned them that young children got cold very easily.
The small crib that Foss and Blenheim had whipped up that first day was next to his bed for easy access. Marco sat on his bed and settled Ace into the curl of his arm before handing him one of the three bottles Thatch had prepared for his bedtime feeding. The rest were in the cooler under his bed, just waiting for that special moment around one in the morning when Ace would go off like an all points alert – which was then repeated around five.
"You are being so very spoiled," Marco murmured, unable to stop a small smile as Ace's grey eyes stared right back at him. "You are going to be run ragged to work off what you owe me after this."
Ace spit out the nipple of the bottle and giggled, one hand reaching for Marco's face. Marco obliged him and lowered his head enough that Ace could pat his cheek. "Nuuu."
Marco nuzzled the small hand. "Oh, yes. Ragged. Look forward to it."
"I told you, you don't get a say in this."
Ace finally decided his bottle was more interesting and fumbled for it. Marco helped get it situated again and let the baby work on finishing it off. For a moment, the commander had to admit to feeling more content then he'd been in a long time. He rolled his eyes, wondering what the Marines would have to say if they could see him sitting there, cuddling a baby.
"So much for the feared Marco the Phoenix," he chuckled.
Marco paused in his thoughts and looked down. Ace was staring up at him curiously. Marco grinned. "Wanna try that again?"
"Now you're being the stubborn brat I know you to be."
"Oh, yes you are." Marco took the empty bottle away and handed the tyke the second one. "Down the hatch, brat."
Marco let out a deep laugh. The brat was playing him, even when he was reduced to an infant. He grinned at Ace who had finally latched on to the second bottle and was inhaling it like it would disappear if he didn't hurry. How he didn't choke was a mystery to him.
"... I am going to kill Kingdew."
When the word got out that Thatch's division had found the Aka-Aka no Mi user and was on their way home, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Even Marco, though he did feel a bit sad as he contemplated packing things up as Ace would no longer require the use of a crib and changing table. His gaze slid over to his bed where Ace had curled up into a tiny ball and was sound asleep, little high-pitched snuffles and snores drifting up from the pillow and he had to smile. It was too cute not to.
But even with Ace back to normal, the excitement wouldn't end – every day was a new adventure on the Moby Dick, and Thatch was apparently bringing back a Devil Fruit he'd found during the hunt, so at least there was that to look forward to.
One week later:
"Look at this one, Senny! Bwahahahaha, that's my grandson! Chip off the ol' Fist he is!"
" Garp, get the HELL out of my office!"
Feedback adored! Sick!Ace apparently wasn't a huge hit, so I hope this is more to your liking! I contemplated putting in the LaJtWBP series but everyone's already waiting for the second part of Initiation Oops and might not appreciate this. :)
Hope you enjoyed!