They started their relationship very subtly, as it was all quite new and uncovering for Ace. The freckled man had never formed a homosexual relationship with anyone before, so it was indeed a little foreign- but it didn't deprive Ace from any relationship experience, for he had a number of girlfriends throughout high school and college- but this was under a whole different criterion. Because being in a homosexual relationship required attentiveness; there was much to consider and they both knew of the adversaries that they will, sooner or later, encounter down the road. But so far, Marco made being with him the most fulfilling and loveliest experience Ace had ever had with another person; because the blonde man was careful to go at Ace's pace; Marco was cherishing, compassionate and so knowledgeable – Ace could listen to him all day and learn more from the older man in 2 hours than 4 years at his stupid college course. Talking about stupid things; Ace believed himself to be one, because it had somehow come up in a conversation with Marco one afternoon on a train-ride back, and it was actually going to happen this evening. Dinner, with Marco- boy, did Ace wish it was only just that- but it was worse. Dinner, with Marco AND his own family. Oh God, set me on fire now.

"Ace, anymore stressing and your freckles will fall off soon, yoi" the blonde man asserted, eyeing the agitated ebony-haired beside him who bore a small anxious frown and knitted eyebrows that furrowed in uncertainty. With a small assuring grasp on Ace's shoulder, Marco continued, "They're your family. You're not the one who needs to impress them, yoi."

Ceasing their walk in front of the weathered garden gates of his home, Ace turned to gaze into the azure orbs of the older man beside him, "Marco… It's just that…My grandpa and little brother will be there… I've told my mum about me being gay, but I'm not sure if gramps or Luffy will accept me…" Suddenly reaching out to Marco; Ace fisted the silky fabric of the man's shirt within his shaking hands and drew Marco closer to dig his troubled face into the stern blade of the blonde's shoulder. With an edgy low voice, Ace wearily sighed, "I'm not sure if they will accept us…"

"It can be hard at times…" he heard Marco say before the older man gently pulled the ebony-haired away to console him with the ocean that dwelled in his azure eyes, "but know that I will always be there for you, yoi. And if you're really uncertain about this, we can wait for as long as you need before coming out, okay?"

But despite how tempting and almost beneficial it would be to take on Marco's insistence; Ace could do nothing but shake his head and pronounce with a determined certainty, "No. I need to do this. I can't keep myself hidden away any longer. I need this."

Marco was quite taken aback from the younger man's sudden burst of confidence but nonetheless, he was proud to see that Ace was opening up more to his sexuality; because it's always the first and most vital step, but also, the most difficult. Before the blonde could tell him how pleased he was, Ace pulled a small smile before continuing his last statement, "and I want them to know just how amazing you are."

Trying to purge the abashment that was swirling inside him at Ace's flattering words; Marco coughed, "That was the corniest line ever, yoi."

"Oi! Don't go calling me corny when clearly; you are the romantic of our relationship."

Interesting, perhaps Marco should test the hypothesis out. The older man simply could not restrain himself then from asking the younger man, "Why does it feel like the most beautiful person in the World is in front of me?"

"SHUT UP!" Ace bellowed at Marco, face flushed in red all-too embarrassingly quick before he ferociously stormed over towards the front door and violently knocked it; his stupid boyfriend lowly snickering in amusement not too far behind.

Okay, so far, so good, Ace breathed as everyone situated at the dinner table began indulging into his mum's delectable cooking; sitting next to him on his left was Marco, and across from them was his little brother Luffy and his mum, and finally at the end of the table was Grandpa Garp, who began dropping a whole essay on how delicious the meal was, followed through with agreements by Luffy, Marco and of course, himself. Oh thank the lord for his mum's cooking being so good; it's always an ice-breaker! Ace noted to vastly thank her for that later.

"So," Rouge started with a benevolent gaze towards Ace's new companion, "what do you do for a living, Marco dear?"
The ebony-haired probably suffered from 2 heart-attacks during the time the question was being asked; Oh God, oh god; here come the get-to-know conversations!

An appreciative smile made its way to the blonde's lips as Marco kindly replied, "Why, I work as a midwife at the Newgate Hospital."

"Huh?" Luffy intoned, his fork of stabbed meat paused amidst the path to his mouth as he curiously gawked at the blonde man next to his older brother, "What's a midwife? Aren't wives female? Are you a girl?"

Alright Ace, you are going to lose your freckles soon if you keep it up like this. Time to pitch in and make tonight as much of a normal dinner as possible!

"No Luffy, Marco is a man." Ace corrected, a small sincere smile edging to his lips, "And a midwife is a medical professional who helps women deliver new-born babies."

Rouge clapped her hands in delight, "Oh! It's so uncommon to hear of a male mid-wife! What brought you to such an intriguing occupation, Marco?"

"I guess…" Marco conscientiously trailed before finding the right words with a poignant smile, "Life brought me to become a midwife, yoi… To be able to help mothers every day; deliver the gift of birth and new-life is the most fulfilling thing ever." The freckled mother found that her eyes softened to Marco's words; she was quite moved by his sincerity and was grateful to know that such an individual existed to help women during of the most significant moment of their lives; Rouge knew then, that Marco was a good man.

Across from Ace, Luffy loudly complained with a tongue poked out in repulsion, "I don't like babies! They scream and cry too much!"

"Oi Luffy!" Ace called out before leaning over the table to flick his idiot little brother's forehead, "You can't just say that when you, yourself was once the biggest cry-baby I've ever known!"

And while the D. siblings continued their fit of whines and bawls, Garp interestedly inquired the blonde male midwife, "Marco son, it must be excruciating horrible to see women during labour all-day, every day."

Puckering her lips and rolling her hazel eyes; Rouge couldn't help but sigh to Garp's rather sexist prompt, "Men will never understand the pain of giving birth…"

"You have no idea, Mr Monkey, yoi." Marco softly chuckled as he took a small sip from his swirling glass of wine, "I believe at this point of my career, I am completely turned off from women forever."

Garp threw his head back with a booming laugh, slamming the table as cutlery and chinaware jumped to the Marine's every pound. Looking over next to him, Ace found it impossible not to smile as Marco gave him a quick sly wink. "Bwahahaha! You know, I never knew Old Man Newgate built a hospital."

"Yes, Edward Newgate is quite the accomplished man. I am very proud to be working under his name, yoi."

"And you should be! I respect Newgate despite our corporal rivalry!" Garp humbly assured before averting his attention over to his oldest grandson, "You have quite the acquaintance here, Ace my boy."

"Actually Gramps…" the ebony-haired began with a slight shift in his seat. Ace somehow thought that this was perhaps the most appropriate time to announce the big news and to formally declare his relationship with Marco as well as his homosexuality towards the closest family he had. After all, they had every right to know and although he preferred that they wouldn't, Ace recognised that they also had every right to not approve. "Mum… Luffy… Marco is my boyfriend."

A deathly silence suddenly befell before the dinner table, and to Ace, who began to sink into his seat in repentance; it felt like a thousand blunt, rustic knives had mercilessly stabbed into his heart. I'm such an idiot… He couldn't bear to look at the reactions of any of his family members; but most of all, he couldn't bear to see how Marco was feeling. God, I'm such a fucking idiot…

"Shishishishi, Ace is in love!"

A childish snicker abruptly sounded and Ace buoyantly perked his head to see that his idiot little brother was laughing with that stupid toothy beam on his face. Oh Luffy, you lovely moron… And then, as quickly as it happened; it felt as if those thousand blunt, rustic knives had evaporated and was replaced with a new kind of hope that made Ace believe that perhaps coming out wasn't something to regret. You lovely bastard…

Turning with a marvelling gleam in his onyx eyes to the person who was now known as Ace's boyfriend, Luffy continue his fit of titters and cackles; "Shishishishi, is Marco really-" But then, a deep dissatisfied grunt sounded throughout the room; cutting Luffy mid-sentence before the harsh scrapping of a wooden chair pierced into evening, leaving a seat on the table vacant and empty as Garp gravely left the room without a word or a look to anyone. The knives came back all too quick, only this time; it sadistically twisted and viciously slashed within Ace as he gathered that his grandfather didn't approve of him being gay with Marco at all. I'm such an idiot…

"I'm so sorry Ace…" Marco quietly uttered, a faint apologetic frown creasing his pale subtle lips as the older man grazed his calloused hand over Ace's on the table.

And although Ace found some form of comfort in entangling his fingers between Marco's, it wasn't enough for him to not ask for forgiveness from his boyfriend, "No, I should be the one saying sorry."

"No, none of you should be apologising." Rouge spoke up in a definite tone that surely garnered the attention of everyone on the table, "Understand that this is new to your grandfather; he had certain expectations for you Ace. And you know from growing up that he always wanted you to-"

Luffy interjected with a frustrated shout, "That's not right! Ace didn't do anything wrong! And Marco seems to be a pretty good wife" – although it was probably not ideal, the older man couldn't help but arc an eye-brow to this – "for Ace! Gramps is the wrong one!"

"And you are absolutely right Luffy, but right now, Grandpa Garp thinks elsewise; so give him some time to accept this" Ace's mum urgently stressed before looking over to her son's partner with a sympathetic smile, "Marco dear, it has been a pleasure meeting you today. I understand that Ace is in good hands with you but I do hope we can have dinner together soon."

Marco warmed up to the prospect with a grin, "Of course Ms Portgaz, it would do me great pleasure to have your exquisite cooking again, yoi."

"Hey Ace!" Luffy giggly called, leaning over the table to flick the forehead of his older brother.

Jumping slightly to the small attack and rubbing the brow of his head, the freckled man irritably countered with a staggered cry, "Oi! What was that for?!"

"If you're happy with Marco, then everything is okay" the younger D sibling widely grinned with a thumbs-up shoved before Ace's face, "I will beat up anyone who disagrees. Shishishishi!"

Ace was at loss for words; he didn't know what to think or what to say. He at least expected gramps to condemn his sexuality but his mum and little brother? The freckled man was quite shocked. It came to him with blow of conflicted feelings and he still couldn't register it in his mind; until Marco leaned in against his ear to tell him in an encouraging whisper, "You have a good family, yoi."

Looking up with indebted eyes to the 2 people that meant the most family to him, it never felt more right then to finally voice everything he ever wanted to say to the amazing woman who singly raised him into the person he was now, and the idiot little brother who always got him worried yet insanely stood by him through thick and thin, "Thanks mum… Thanks Lu…"

Closing the front door behind him, Ace let out a tired sigh before turning to the blonde man beside him with small anxious frown and knitted eyebrows that furrowed in uncertainty, "I am really sorry Marco. I totally screwed us up before; I should have stayed quiet…"

"Ace, yoi. It doesn't matter, what's done is done, yoi" with that, the older man moved to enclose Ace's body within his securing arms, trying to smother all of Ace's anxiety as he whispered words of assurance to the younger man, "And whatever happens now, whether it's good or bad… Know that I will always be there for you."

But Marco could tell that Ace was still upset and it saddened the blonde to see Ace like this when he was so accustomed to the high-spirited and confident side of the freckled man.

"Hey" Marco suddenly spoke, lifting Ace's chin so that those metallic grey eyes could read his own azure orbs, "A zombie angrily laughed at the dancing cake, yoi."

In response, Ace made an incredulous facial expression at the random remark; an inevitable grin lining his face the more he fabricated the ridiculous image of Marco's wild imagination in his head as he laughingly questioned, "What?! Where did that come from?"

"Nowhere" Marco lamely shrugged, though there was an obvious sense of accomplishment that could be found within his torpid face, "I just wanted to see you smile. Besides, I still need to introduce you to my family."

"Are they anything like mine?"

Marco let out a sudden low darkly chortle; making Ace believe that the reaction could probably be made out as a snort if the older man didn't have such an elegant façade. "Trust me" Marco said, shaking his head with laughing smile that told of many embarrassing stories and dysfunctional relationships, "They are worse."

A/N: You can probably guess what the next chapter will be about: Meeting the Whitebeard Crew ! * A * I really hope you enjoyed this chapter despite Garp's reaction ~ And Dialogue is not my strongest point in writing so I do hope you excuse the shallowness of the speech in this chapter ~ But I am kicking myself right now, my face is just like ( ._. ) when I realised how OutOfCharacter everyone seems to be and how horrible the pacing is from re-reading the previous chapters! Hahahaha, too late to turn things around, so I guess you lovely readers out there will have to deal with it; though I promise to make Ace and Marco more in character in the next few chapters !

Speaking of lovely readers: Kitsune Foxfire, Guest, KashixKashi, TheLegendOfFangirl, azab, Anjelle, Son Goshen, StrawberryGirlKairi, Kenouki & Stuff'nStuff ; I cannot emphasize enough on how much your support and praise means to me ( ; A ; ) Seriously, you saints have me crying happy tears by your every word ~ Thank you so very much!

Preview for Chapter 9 :

F . A . M . I . L . Y

"I told you they were worse, yoi." Marco exhaled, snaking an arm around Ace's waist to bring the younger man closer.

"No, they're actually pretty awesome."

Marco leaned in to quickly plant a kiss on Ace's freckled cheeks, a smile curling the longer he locked gazes with the coal of Ace's eyes, "I am so fortunate to have someone who can tolerate my family of brats, yoi."

From the distance, a certain masculine feminist clasped his hand over his mouth in awe of the scene that just unfolded before him; and anyone didn't need a second glance at the curdled fine line of red lips or the handkerchief that crinkled between pale slender fingers to know that said man was tearing in his eyes.
"Oh my god" Izo gasped to the beauty of an unconditional love between his brother and the new kid, "they are so going to get married."

Thatch was also there beside Izo, nodding his head in solemn agreement as he spelled out the supreme truth in words, "So. Going. To. Get. Married."