Edward Newgate was a great man on the sea, standing tall on the deck of Moby Dick as he made his name soared on the Grand Line and very much beyond, sharing the fame along with the glory he earned with all of his sons without a trace of avariciousness or covetousness; he, the man who bore the fearsome title as the strongest man in the world, dominating the Grand Line along with three other Kings, was truly the very man of the ocean.
It wasn't hard to imagine how vast the sight and the mind of a true man like this, therefore it definitely wasn't hard to imagine the sheer freedom one would receive and luxuriate in once he or she decided to bear the name of Whitebeard Pirates for the rest of his or her life, proving loyalty through the very simple action of entwining one's body with the proud mark of pride and honour and even joy, permanently. Joining the huge, loving family of Whitebeard Pirates did sound like a huge mass of fun if we put it this way, all pros and no cons, very wise choice indeed.
But, there were… rules.
Rules which were never spoken out loud but were ever and always known by heart, rules which determined one's survival rate on the oh-so-dangerous deck of Moby Dick, rules which, on some occasions, might just sound utterly insane and ridiculous yet so crucial for one's survival on Whitebeard's ship… Yes, there were rules.
And they were, still yet to miss on any single occasion, always being kept away as a secret from the newly "acquired" sons.
Just for the fun of it.
So now, poor, poor Portgas D. Ace, the young energetic lad who was better known as Fire Fist Ace just happened to be the new kid in town, or better else, the new son on Moby Dick, he knew nothing. Nothing about the sake, nothing about the nurses, nothing about the slight tendency of Whitebeard Pirates to flash their chests, hairy or not, heck he didn't even know much about his own bad case of narcolepsy, so we could positively assume that he didn't know shit about the rules, especially the unspoken ones.
Rule number one, don't ever make a bet with Marco, just don't.
"Hey pineapple head, wanna bet?"
Lazy voice, lazy look, lazy eyes, lazy peek at the person who started a bet with him, yes Marco was a package full of laziness at the highest quality, none to be found anywhere else other than the very deck of Moby Dick. He might seem harmlessly lazy or lazily harmless most of the time… and perhaps a little not-so-witty due to his hairstyle so distinguished he could be identified just from the shadow of it, but Marco would undoubtedly be the last person you ever wanted to start a bet with.
Everyone on the ship knew, Whitebeard knew, even the seagull resting on top of Moby Dick's massive mast knew, Ace didn't.
"One on one, fist to fist, no regenerating flame or burning flame or whatever shit like that, I bet I could win in a hand combat."
"What if you lose yoi?"
Again with the lazy appearance, looking the most undisturbed by the challenge with his heavy lids half closed, Marco had to admit then, that the kid did have some guts.
"I'll burn my own clothes, stand proud and naked, and SING on the deck of Moby Dick."
Or perhaps he simply didn't have too much of a brain.
"Bring us some seastone cuffs yoi!"
Rule number two, when you make a bet with Marco and you lose, you lose BIG.
"Lookin' good, Ace!"
"That's one nice package hangin' between your legs aye! Bet the ladies love it!"
"Enjoyin' the view eh Marco?"
"You lots are enjoyin' it too yoi!"
The atmosphere on the deck was cheery, in fact, a little way too cheery on a night when lightning and thunder broke free from the ninth clouds and cracked the earth along with the sea in blazes of pure white fury. Still, buoyant laughter and crude comments could be heard roaring among the ruder men on deck, slyly escaping the veil of a horrendous thunderstorm then happily making its way to the very heart of every single Whitebeard crew.
They were jolly fellows after all.
"Oh fuck y'all."
"Ain't gonna spread my legs for you, you shitty brat!"
Ace didn't sing much, didn't want to.
He was bloody pissed.
Not because of he lost the fucking bet, not because of he had to sing naked on the deck in the middle of some thunderstorm (on second thought, perhaps yes), not even because of some dickheaded crewmates of his decided that grabbing his crotch seemed like a fun thing to do when he was wearing only his very much transparent birthday-suit, no, it was simply because Marco was being one. true. fucking. asshole.
Shitty turkey using that pineapple head of his to manipulate his previous promise on what he would do if he lost the bet, then restructuring the sentence into a whole new level of meaning then "advising" him to be a man and act like one, then finally, finally making Ace the only person on Moby Dick who was currently without a single piece of clothing on his body, in his closet, or anywhere else near the fleet of ships coursing through Grand Line under the proud name of Whitebeard Pirates.
Marco fucking made him burned ALL of his clothes.
And damn those shitheads for not lending a single piece of clothing to him, not even a teeny-weeny piece of boxer, not even the panty which Thatch somehow… obtained from a pretty maiden on some summer island they landed a couple of months ago. Yes he was that desperate. Made it a pure white panty donned by pretty baby blue coloured lace or made it a pair of pink shorts with tiny loves and strawberries printed on it, he still would wear either one of them.
But he had none.
So, reaching up to swipe his wringing wet ebony hair to the back of his head down to his delicate nape all in one glorious sexy move, Ace jutted out two of his slender fingers, the longest ones, igniting angry red flame on the calloused tips then slowly spreading it downwards to his bony knuckles, smirked, and then flipped the rest of his crewmates off.
"Fuck y'all assholes! Especially you! You fucking blue... burning turkey!"
Rule number three, don't address Marco as a turkey… PLEASE.
"That brat said it."
"Yeah he did."
"And so I heard it."
Considering the eminently high popularity of the First Division Captain - Marco the Phoenix among both the marines and the pirates, it was common knowledge for all the men on the sea that Marco was the very one person whom you didn't want to mess with under any circumstances. But, considering the apparent lack of common sense and perhaps a small portion of brain as well, Portgas D. Ace was sadly not among those who understood this particular unspoken rule, hence the outright and very colourful name calling against the other man.
Fucking blue burning turkey.
Ace was young, way too young. Ever easy to rile up, mostly ending with his temper burned near to a stage of boiling if someone happened to push the wrong button, one could say that Ace's Mera Mera fruit ability actually corresponded to his temper in a very harmonious way. Angry red flame would blaze as he saw fury, slithering on his body like a treacherous snake waiting for an opening to charge and strike while warm orange flame would light up in a shy yet playful way, little bundles of flames dancing in tiny steps with every taste of happiness or at times, cheekiness. As mentioned before, Ace was young, way too young to understand how keeping his true emotions deep within might just be the most crucial part in saving his sorry ass from yet another beating.
"He's gonna be dead."
"Yeah he's gonna be dead."
"And so he's gonna be dead."
Getting beaten up in the hands… claws of the First Division Captain wasn't all that bad to say the truth. At least one would die in honour battling the first mate of Whitebeard, fully knowing that the opponent was Marco the fucking Phoenix, the pirate who was infamous for not gaining a single wound during battles due to the rare regenerating power, thus making a lost in fight against a man of this calibre sounded so reasonable it was just a fine line away from being honourable. Pretty much as expected, none of the crewmates felt bad for Ace. That brat had fought well during the hand combat, fists precise and fast while kicks merciless and strong, but Marco fought better. They sincerely thought it was very honourable for the younger man, with all sincerity a pirate could manage.
Then again, Ace was too young to understand.
He didn't know that when Marco opted to raise his brows and remain silent, it probably meant that the older man was pissed. Taking this action as a retreating signal of the other man, therefore happily curving his eyes into perfect little crescents, putting a hand on his waist while pointing another at the pineapple head, Ace yelled. Completely forgetting about his glorious nudity, with all his might, he yelled.
It was something so loud that it sliced through the thunderstorm and reached the very ears of Whitebeard who was resting in the cabin, scared the shit out of Thatch who was bonding with the toilet bowl as he ate some rotten pies during dinner, then peeled the poor, poor souls out of his audiences a.k.a. crewmates who were gathered on the deck to watch him as he broke yet another rule, again.
"I'LL REMEMBER THIS, YOU FUCKING CHICKEN!"
Rule number four, chicken is always worse than turkey, much worse.
The crew was convinced that Ace was better than dead.
First the brat challenged Marco into a bet, then he lost a bet, then he lost his clothes. And then he sang, not wearing a single thing, voice cracking a little due to the strain on his larynx as Marco made him sang in a thunderstorm. Didn't know how, but Marco had this secret ability to make people do things the way he wished. Of course, Ace was freaking pissed. He was naked and shivering and so wet that he was dripping hard, yet he wasn't getting any.
He was pissed, so very.
But Marco might just be even more so.
At least that was what the crew confidently thought, before Marco decided to smirk and threw his jacket to the poor kid standing in the middle of the deck, then waved dismissal to the rest of the crew single-handedly as he chirped in a way too cheerful tone unfitting to his usual demeanour.
"Fun's over you lots! Get your asses back to work!"
The crew wasn't all that convinced anymore, about Ace being better than dead that was.
The brat lost against Marco in a bet and paid dearly with his sorry ass, yes this course of events was absolutely normal. The problem was how Marco acted so calm, or those with sharper eyes and mind would say, amused, when Ace addressed him as a fucking blue burning turkey. Not a single bulging vein was spotted, fleshy lips were fitted together into a trim line yet so far away from being an actual scowl, a small frown was formed between the tightly knitted brows but still anger clearly wasn't the right word for Marco's expression back then.
Then again, Marco wasn't the kind to write everything on his face.
Unlike a certain brat they knew.
So for now, they weren't all that convinced anymore. No one could read Marco as well as the man could read himself, being all self-enclosed most of the time as he needed to shoulder the full responsibility as the First Division Captain as well as the first mate of Whitebeard Pirates, refusing to show any weaknesses when he still had to stand firm to withstand his crewmates' pain and fear. That was why Marco was respected as a leader and as a man, by his division's members, by other divisions' members, and even by Whitebeard himself.
But respecting someone was a far cry from understanding someone. Every single one of Whitebeard crew respected Marco for who he was, but none truly understood him. And this was exactly what which led them to their current situation – not being able to phantom why on earth Marco did not act like usual, brutally educating the person who addressed him as a turkey or a chicken in his own scary ways, not stopping for a single second until the person knelt in front of him and vowed never to repeat the same mistake again. That was when a victorious smirk would show up, and then the lesson would stop.
Ace was somehow treated special, no educating, no lesson, nothing, which brought the crew to create a new rule while betting their life savings on whether this rule would hold up against the passage of time, or not.
Rule number two hundred and fifty six, if you're Portgas D. Ace, Marco ain't got shit on you.
This was in fact proven true, with time as its sole and strong witness, having seen the theory held firm even after Ace broke every single rule from rule one to rule two hundred and fifty five. The brat did not just survive against Marco, he survived and successfully planted his feet on top of the other's head, happily getting away with everything he did and every rule he broke simply because Marco ain't got shit on him.
No one knew the exact reason why.
Some said it was simply because Ace was young, and being the youngest in the family definitely had a couple of advantages here and there, especially when the oldest brother of the family had lived so much longer than the young lad who had joined their family just a few years back. Some said it was because Ace resembled a young Marco, hot-headed and straightforward and strong, they heard rumour about how people felt a sense of connection to those who resembled them in a way or another, thus the special treatment towards Ace because Marco might just felt like looking into a mirror which reflected his pasts when he looked at the brat.
Last but not least, some of the most ridiculous crew – yes, they were Izou and Thatch - deduced that Ace was Marco secret lover of some sort, or the other way around. They even created a complete love story about how the two started to have feelings towards each other, which in their version was because of Marco sported a hard-on when he saw Ace singing naked for the first time, then how they fought to top in which Thatch voted for Marco while Izou rooted for Ace, then how they had their lovey-dovey little quarrels from time to time when they thought no one was looking, and finally not forgetting how they screamed their orgasms from the shared bedroom of first and second division captains.
Claiming that Marco was sporting a face of finally-getting-some after Ace went onboard, Izou was one hundred and ten percent convinced that his wonderful creation of "The Tale of Two Flamers", co-produced with Thatch, should be offered a place in Moby Dick's information lodge as future references for the newer family members in case they were interested about the family history.
Marco burned the book when he found out.
So, it remained a secret.
No one knew why Ace was the only one who could do every single thing which would anger Marco in normal circumstances, yet only received a smile and a soft knock on the head as punishments. No one knew why Ace was the only one who was allowed to hold Marco when the man finally broke down after all these years, witnessing the death of Whitebeard, his father, their father.
Wrapping pair of battered arms covered with layers of bandages around the older man, Ace cradled the shuddering form into his thin chest while mouthing a "please leave" to the rest of the crew who were there to visit at a wrong time, all the while carrying an apologetic smile on the freckled face which had never before looked so mature.
No one talked about that after, they understood.
Maybe because Ace was the youngest, maybe because Ace was Marco's own reflection, maybe even because Ace really was Marco's lover, they couldn't decide, but they all knew that Ace was special to Marco, and they would fight tooth and claw to protect the very person who was important to their oldest brother who now took Whitebeard's place and shouldered the responsibility as their captain.
It wasn't solely because of Marco, Ace was special to them as well. As a family member, as the used-to-be-youngest member, as the current first mate of the crew who had grown so much after all these years, they loved him just the same.
And therefore this brought upon yet another new rule, a rule which was never kept a secret.
Rule number three hundred and sixty two, whoever hurts Marco or Ace, DIE.
- The End -