Uhh, hey people! Marine!Luffy fic! Yay!
Rated T mostly for language and some blood. Updates should be every two weeks or so. And without any further ado, because I have nothing to say... Oh!
Disclaimer: Don't own One Piece, never will!
Thatch woke up to bright light, which was funny 'cause he hadn't expected to wake up at all.
And he expected even less to wake up in chains.
Swallowing down panic, he checked his surroundings, finding he was in some sort of infirmary, on a scratchy bed with green sheets. Numerous IVs were gathered all around him, the needles and tape pinching the skin of his forearms when he shifted them. He was surprisingly warm, dressed in some sort of hospital gown and underneath several blankets, but his exposed arms were freezing as cold antibiotic flowed through the intravascular tubes. Much less comfortably, there were shackles around his wrists, the chains disappearing underneath his bed. They were seastone, even though he had no devil fruit ability, but it was hardest thing on the seas. Once they figured out he wasn't a fruit user, they'd hopefully switch them out for regular iron cuffs.
They being the marines, who were obviously the ones to capture him seeing as their seagull mark was painted proudly on the wall opposing him.
But asides the chains, he was rather surprised by the good treatment. The infirmary was void of any people but open, curtains of bright colors or pretty patterns lining the walls that could be drawn around each bed, and his own was the one closest to the window. The sun shined cheerily in, and it overlooked a glittering bay, marine warships soaring over the waters. He didn't mind that as much as one might think, because hey, it wasn't Impel Down, and well, that was always a blessing.
Even more of a blessing was the fact that the marines had treated his wounds, apparently even the gaping hole in his back, and not just dumped his mutilated body in an underground cell to die of infection, if blood loss didn't get him first.
He didn't dare sit up, because well, hole, back, spinal cord, guts spilling out... but it was rather nice to be alive, even if he was in custody. Maybe the guys would come and rescue him, if they didn't already think him dead.
The entrance to the infirmary was open, and eventually a nurse wandered in, carrying all sorts of medical supplies, from syringes to cotton balls. She squeaked when she noticed him awake, quickly packing all the stock away in cabinets spread about the room before nervously approaching him.
It took him a few seconds to notice the white wings on her back, sticking out of her pale pink scrubs. A skypeian? Unusual, but she was pretty, with blond hair and full lips.
"Heso." She greeted, probably out of nerve induced habit. He wasn't offended by how anxious she was, because, well, he was a scary pirate.
"How are you feeling?" She smiled a little, relaxing a bit, obviously comforted by his nonchalant response. He thought about the answer for a few moments, realizing he felt no pain despite his condition.
"Pretty good, all considering." The nurse laughed a little, and a white fox appeared from under one of the beds.
"That's the painkillers talking," She teased, before coming closer to inspect his shackles. "Are they alright? Not too tight?"
"Well, they're okay, but I don't suppose you're allowed to take them off?" He joked, and was rewarded with another giggle.
"Ah, no, but you're not in any condition to go anywhere anyway. You probably will not be able to walk for another few weeks." Ugh, that was no good. So escaping this place by himself was off the table, huh? Great. "The doctor will be able to tell you about your condition more, so I'll go fetch him, alright?" He nodded, hoping that the doctor was at least as nice as her. Some marine medical staff were just as cruel as jailers to pirates, particularly big shots like him.
But he was also pretty hungry. He wondered if he'd be able to eat food, or would have to be fed through a tube. "Could I, uh, get something to eat at well?" He called after her as she slipped out of the room, but only received a smile.
Luffy hated paperwork. It was bland, boring, and never made too much sense, because really, those were long words in tiny font and what the heck did cynosure mean?
"Cynosure, sea-no-suuure. Cyan-not-sure? Huh?"
"It's a focal point, sir."
"Ah, 'hank you, 'hankyou. Eh, wait... whatsit point? Eh, who cares." Luffy frowned at the page, before carelessly crumpling it and tossing it over his shoulder. His secretary could get it later. Thoroughly disinterested in the other papers, he focused his attention on the visitor in his office. Rear-admiral X Drake stood at attention, expression as horribly serious as ever, and his eyes were even more grave than usual, though there was a light of excitement gleaming there as well.
"Dino! Hey, you're back already?"
The strawberry-blond haired man nodded, his hands clasped behind his back. "My men and I have reported back from patrol early with bad news, I'm afraid, sir." The answer was curt, ignoring the base commander's informal tone and eager greeting. Luffy barely held in a pout. Everyone was being too serious today.
"The pirates in the area are restless, sir."
Luffy blinked, confused. That hardly warranted Drake coming directly to his office in person. "Uhhh, so? What's the problem? Just round 'em up."
"The problem, sir, is that there are pirates in the area." Oh. Now he gets it. They were a remote base in the New World, the islands beyond them uninhabitable and unfriendly to even the strongest pirates on the seas. No resources were to be found on this strain of islands, resulting in this particular path in the Grand Line where each subsequent island just got hotter and drier. Each was caught in a perpetual summer, and since they were summer islands to begin with, they were known for their record temperatures. Most were nothing but hills of sand rising from the water; sailors that continued onward in hope of land and supplies ended up dying of dehydration. Their base was the first in the line, the only island with a pleasant, tropical climate, and since nothing past them was worth fighting to reach, most navigators just steered their ships for the other two options of the log post. Pirates sailing towards them meant that they were specifically seeking their base out.
"Do they know?"
X Drake reached into his coat and pulled out a magazine, its cover still glossy and fresh. Across the cover was 'Pirates' Monthly' in bold black and gold font, along with a jolly roger with a white mustache. Across the entire page was a red word, as if it had been stamped, 'Captured'.
"Oh... 'Kay, this is no good." He groaned as he flipped through the pages, eventually skimming over the article the cover advertised. "Damn. It doesn't mention our base, though."
"Most likely, Whitebeard's allies are scoping out all the New World navy bases, trying to locate the ship their comrade is being transported on. They have been harassing many of our warships and patrols; currently the Control Tower is directing multiple skirmishes."
"Geez, they should tell me these things." Luffy whined. He was the base commander, if there was trouble brewing they were supposed to report in.
"They are unaware of the situation, you are the first I've informed of the article, and regular pirate activity hardly requires the supervision of the commander." Informing everyone else would be bad, as it would make the troops and staff skittish. Being the direct focus of New World pirates always rattled Marines below the rank of captain, the sole exception being the crazy men of G-5.
"Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. I'll have Usopp alert them that they're dealing with scouts..." He flipped through the magazine some more, curiosity rinsing. "Wow, how'd you manage to get one of these?"
X Drake shifted uncomfortably, obviously baffled by the topic change, but then the secretary poked his head in.
"Luffy, he's awake."
The rear-admiral stiffened, and opened his mouth to advise his commanding officer, but the younger man was already up and across the room, with an excited giggle. "Really?!" And he was gone, down the hall.
Such a child. X Drake sighed. The secretary gave him a sympathetic look. "Don't worry; I called Sanji to go with him. Are you going to be departing again?"
"Yes," The rear-admiral confirmed, already considering tactical moves and where his division would be most needed. He turned to collect the magazine from his superior's desk, only to find it gone.
Ah, the kid had taken it with him.
The doctor wasn't exactly what Thatch expected either.
"Uhhhh..." He blinked at the furball in a pink hat that had clip-clopped in on two hooved feet. He was tiny and covered in brown fur, with big round eyes and antlers, of all things. He wore shorts too, which was pretty strange, because Thatch was certain he was some kind of deer or moose.
But then, the fluffy creature grew, six feet at least, gaining muscle and thinning out his fur until he could probably pass off for a really, really hairy man, with broad shoulders and bulky mass, except for maybe the blue, leathery nose. The abominable snowman shrugged on a white coat and stethoscope was fitted around his neck.
"Hello, I'm Doctor Tony Tony Chopper, nice to meet you!" The beast greeted him cheerfully, pulling on latex gloves over recently gained fingers. Thatch stared as the monster-doctor picked up a clipboard. "Thatch, right?"
"Uh, yeah." He answered hesitantly, figuring that denying it would be pointless. They obviously already knew who they had in custody. "Not to be rude, but what are you exactly?"
The yeti blinked, and scowled a little. "I'm a reindeer."
"...'Kay." A reindeer. Well, that explained everything. The Navy just got stranger and stranger these days. Maybe this was a joke? Entrust the life of Whitebeard's scion to freaky talking animals and see how painfully he dies?
Or was this guy some kind of Zoan fruit user?
The reindeer began to poke and prod him, listening to his heart, flashing a light in front of his eyes, having him look this way and that, say "ahh", wiggle his toes and fingers, and general check-up stuff.
"Well, you're better than expected." The creature told him, measuring his blood pressure. "The knife thankfully missed your spine, and there doesn't seem to be any nerve or brain damage. You managed to avoid a concussion when you fell, which is good, and so far we've managed to stave off any infection. I doubt you want to hear about the damage done to your internal organs, but we already changed your bandages today so you don't have to worry about having to look at it yet either." The reindeer rambled on cheerfully, writing notes down on his clipboard, while the nurse poked her head into the room.
"Tony, Luffy's here." The reindeer looked over to the door and nodded, while the skypeian stood to the side to allow a new figure to literally bounce into the room. It was slender teen with olive skin and thick black hair underneath a navy cap, wearing the typical suit of marine officers, though the jacket was open and the tie hung around his neck in a knot. The coat of a justice hung from his shoulders, though Thatch wasn't quite sure what his rank was.
Tony placed the clipboard aside and stood to attention with a firm salute, but he was also completely relaxed. He even shrunk down to his little form and hurried to his superior's side, beaming up at the teen with big eyes.
"Hey, Chopper!" The boss grinned affectionately, while another man entered into the room, but the newcomer was dressed in the uniform of a chef, an apron hanging around his waist. He was blond and tall with ridiculously long legs, and his hair was combed to cover one of his eyes. Oddly enough for a cook, a cigarette dangled from his lips, and his attention was completely set on the pretty nurse, hearts in his eyes.
"Conis, my love!" The cook announced, spinning in a circle and producing a rose from somewhere in his shirt, presenting it to the nurse on one knee. Conis laughed uncomfortably, accepting the offered flower, if only to get the chef off the floor.
"Thank you, Sanji."
Rituals over and done with, the attention of the marines all turned to the pirate in the room. The officer came to his bedside, pulling along a chair which he set backwards and sat on, arms hanging over the back. He was just a kid, Thatch couldn't help but marvel, couldn't be older than seventeen. The marines were not usually picky about age, but it took years to build up status and ability from the rank of a regular soldier. For someone so young to already hold the position of an officer meant that he was something fierce. Maybe he had a particularly powerful ability?
The kid smiled at him, like a child admiring cool toys in a shop window, before introducing himself. "I'm Monkey D. Luffy, the base commander!"He boasted proudly, a grinning stretching wide and revealing teeth and gums. "That's Sanji over there, we gotta ask you a few questions." This brat was the base commander? What base was this? Was he still in the New World, or had he somehow gotten taken back to Paradise? Most base commanders were Vice-Admiral in ranking, and those of the New World were particularly brutal.
Thatch shifted slightly, searching the commander's face. The infirmary was hardly the place to perform an interrogation, but he was the only patient here. His treatment so far could have been intentioned to give him a false sense of security, soften him up for all manner of nasty tricks. Of course they wanted him for something, otherwise he'd be on his way to Impel Down by now.
He braced himself for the worst when the kid next opened his mouth, but was at a loss at how to respond.
"I said, how'd you end up like this? What happened?" The child looked genuinely concerned for a moment, maybe not precisely for Thatch, but definitely for someone. He was probably mulling over the potential danger someone powerful enough to take down Whitebeard's fourth commander might pose to citizens or their own base, if it was indeed the closest to where Teach had betrayed Thatch.
It hardly seemed like a malicious question, but he couldn't afford to give them any information that could be used against the crew.
The cook must have noted his hardened expression, because he stepped forward. "Your situation is very odd, shithead. One of the immensely powerful men working underneath an Emperor, very nearly brutally murdered on a small island in the New World, and just left in the dirt to die? Unlikely." The blond released a stream of smoke in the air as he spoke, expression grave but eye piercing. He was a sharp one. "Your attacker must either be immensely skilled, powerful, or just lucky. But why assault one of Whitebeard's men but not finish the job properly? Their motive couldn't have been your death, or your bounty, since we picked you up there by sheer coincidence. Which means your near-murderer was after something else." Obviously this guy was way more than just a cook. The commander listened to his man with unfathomable eyes, and the doctor stared at the ground uncomfortably. Conis had already fled the room. "But you were stabbed in the back, a wound meant to get you out of the way and prevent a struggle, possibly kill you, but not quickly or efficiently. A classic traitor's move, correct? Such occasions aren't unusual among pirates, cutthroats most are, but I was under the impression that Whitebeard's lot worked differently."
Thatch gripped the sheets of the hospital bed, ignoring how the movement jostled the needles embedded in his skin and made the cuffs scrape against his wrists. He tried to feel the hole in his gut, through the pain killers, because it was the physical proof that the unthinkable had happened. The memory of the pain was still fresh, the horror of lying in his own blood, his brother-in-arm's laughter ringing in his ears.
"We do." He stated, and knowing that made the betrayal so much worse.
The cook stared him through, contention obvious in his look, clearly believing the contrary. Thatch let that insult against his captain and crew go, he had no need to prove the loyalty of their family to a bunch of marines. Not now, when everything had gone so wrong so suddenly.
The commander frowned pensively. "So Old Beard Man's got a traitor?" No one answered, but the child officer needed no further confirmation.
"HQ is gonna have a riot with this one." The cook sighed, but his commander, arms folded on the chair's back, clenched his fingers around his biceps.
"Who?" The kid asked, and there was some strange worry in his eyes that caught Thatch off-guard. But still he did not answer. Instead he decided to ask his own question.
"Why aren't I in Impel Down?"
The cook bristled, but Thatch could not tell if he was indignant, scornful, or just frustrated. "You'd be dead if you were. But not so worry, pirate shit, we'll have you delivered there soon enough." The commander said nothing to affirm or refute his subordinate's threat, merely standing up and nodding to the doctor before following the blond out the door, having attained no information, but they had already figured out enough to satisfy any superiors, Thatch supposed. He hadn't denied any of their claims, which he really should have, to mislead them at least. If their accusations had been false, he would have scoffed at the idea of a traitor among the crew, but the shock of betrayal was still raising the hair on his skin.
He turned to the reindeer, hoping for a distraction. "Got any food?"
The creature looked horrified. "No, absolutely not! You're stomach is in no state to digest anything, we're having to feed you through gastrojejunostomy and-"
"Oh god, I do not want to hear anymore do I?"
Sanji groaned as he followed Luffy down the hall, tossing away his finished smoke in an ashtray they passed, and lit a new one to calm the nerves. "This is a fine corner we've put ourselves in."
"It'll work out." His commander responded with a blank look, but his usual easy going smile was faded. He was taking the situation seriously, and that never boded well.
He tried not to growl, frustration bubbling in his gut. Luffy was hardly at fault here, but he couldn't help but wish he had someone to blame besides the shitty pirate living in luxury in their infirmary. Preferably someone he could beat the shit out of. "For who? Us, or them?" Luffy shot him a betrayed look, like a naughty child scolded by a supposed-to-be sympathetic nurse. The cook understood his commander's feelings well enough, but some things needed to be said. "Don't try to deny it, we can't keep playing both sides for much longer, Luffy. Bending the rules is one thing, and hiding her is another," Luffy met his gaze, unwavering, but frowned heavily, "but if this all blows up you'll be the chosen scapegoat." With a petulant huff, Lu shifted his eyes, unable to continue the stare down or even respond right away. Now he would at least get that Sanji wasn't out to yell at him or be annoyed, he was worried.
His commander bit his lip, a hand reaching up to grip the shoulder pad of his coat, as if it was a heavy load. But any worry quickly faded from his eyes, and the gloom was lost behind a bright smile of irrepressible optimism. "Stop worrying about it. We're gonna deliver pompadour man, safe and sound. Alive." The fool always had such faith in his subordinates abilities, and the words were almost touching, but equally nerve-wracking. Not only was there the constant anxiety of oh god, I'd die before I let him down, but the resolution seemed so horribly out of place with the looming threat of both a Warlord and HQ's wrath weighing down on them.
"Whitebeard's no fool. They'll find out we have him here, and they'll know they have to get him back before he arrives at Impel Down, probably before he leaves the New World. Meaning, every ship that comes and goes from here will be in danger. Getting him to the Red Line is going to be near impossible, now, and we'll be blamed for not sending him immediately, because we insisted on getting him treatment!" Luffy listened to his concerns gravely, pausing their trek over the bridge that connected to another portion of the base. Sanji was arguably the most compassionate of all his handpicked subordinates, but he was by no means ignorant to the consequences even kindness could bring.
The commander rolled his shoulders, still failing to grasp the tension of the conversation beyond the dampening knowledge that his friend was stressing. "Woah, woah,Sanji, relax. Who knows, maybe beard face will be grateful to us. And, there' no guarantee they'll even find out he's here. We are pretty out of the way."
Sanji tutted, aggravated again, but decided that the rest of the argument could continue in Luffy's office, with the others present. He could hardly hope to get anything through his boss's thick skull without help. "So irresponsible...!"
"Or too responsible?" A smooth voice cut in, causing his heart to flutter. Her tone and melody was always a thick black coffee, vanquishing weariness and worries. A tall, slender woman approached them over the bridge, before doubling back alongside them as they resumed their journey.
"My lovely Robin~!" Sanji could not help but trill, very nearly spinning in a circle. He patted his jacket for concealed flowers to produce for the elegant lady, but disappointedly recalled he had not hidden enough today, and the last had gone deservingly to Conis.
"Yo, Robin." Luffy greeted, ignoring Sanji's flowerless predicament.
"You two just went to visit our guest, correct?"
"Yeah, call everyone together in my office."
A carrier gull turned in a circle in the open air, once, twice, before dropping a single bundle of paper into a waiting hand, catching a coin in its beak as payment. The recipient tutted at the rising price, but hey, it wasn't her money anyway. She unfolded the paper as she sat down at the little table set up on her balcony, placing it down to read while she had her morning coffee and the parfait Sanji had prepared for her.
But then the headline came as a surprise.
'Whitebeard Commander Captured Under Suspicious Circumstances'.
"Oh hell no!" Nami shrieked aloud, snatching up the article and scanning it apprehensively. "How did they find out? We ordered discretion, dammit!"
Then her eyes fell on the reporter's name.
The notorious intrepid reporter that somehow managed to stick his or her nose into everything that happened in the New World recently. Abusa was quickly becoming famous for managing to attain information on anything that went down, particularly the movements of the Worst Generation, but he or she only ever struck against pirates, for the most part. The newspaper was regulated by the government, after all, so how the hell did a classified event like the fourth division commander's capture be published?
But there was no time to investigate, she'd leave that for later.
Newspaper clutched in hand, Marine Captain Nami abandoned her breakfast and dashed for her commodore's office.
Unless they moved quickly, they were all going to die.
Luffy settled down on top of his desk, legs crossed, and pouted as Usopp brought over a stack of papers, all the crisp white of Navy official business. Robin relaxed on the couch against the wall, shifting through her own stack, brow furrowed. Sanji had gone to call Nami from her early morning tea time, something they all would no doubt get scolded for.
His secretary, who was actually the captain of his sniper division, groaned, "Honestly, Lu, I know I have a Masters Degree in the fine art of Organization and am coveted across the seas, but this is all a little much, even for me!" The papers met his desk with a foreboding thunk. It was an awfully tall stack... "You should have just sent the pirate right off."
"We've gone over this a thousand times!" Luffy whined, picking up the first sheet, before letting it go with a wince when he considered the tiny font.
The door to the office opened, and in slipped a tall man with green hair and a harmaki, looking thunderous. "We've been over it a thousand times because this ain't a damn hospital!"
"Zoro!" Luffy grinned, pleased to see someone that could save him from the horrors of paperwork and his merciless secretary. The swordsman shoved aside the tower of printed doom so he could slam his hands on the desk, eyebrow twitching furiously.
"OI! Do you realize how many hours that took?" Usopp shrieked and bemoaned the scattered paperwork, but went ignored as a staring contest commenced between the pirate hunter and the base commander.
"But it's my base!"
"Won't be for much longer when this all goes to shit!"
"You guys are all too wound up. Maybe you're all hungry?"
"Not everything's about food, you imbecile!" Zoro abdomished, but then sighed. Getting through the vice-admiral's skull was a hopeless cause. He was just too air-headed and stubborn, a deadly combination for maximum anxiety. But at least there was still an easy solution. "Just let me kill him!"
The secretary screamed at the suggestion, "Hey, hey, hey! That'll keep us out of trouble with the higher-ups, but Whitebeard would kill us all!" Usopp nearly dropped the papers he had collected during the argument he was shaking so hard at the mere thought of a vengeful Emperor knocking on their gates.
But he did drop them when the doors suddenly slammed open with a bloodcurdling scream.
"We have a problem!" Nami was panting and flushed, a fawning Sanji right behind her with hearts in his eyes.
"What's up, Nami?" Luffy asked, chin in hand, not at all bothered by the varying states of panic between his head cartographer and sniper, the fuming bounty hunter, and the cooing cook.
"This!" The red-head thrust up the paper in her hand, pointing to the bolded headline. Robin was immediately in front of her, scanning the article with a critical eye, while Sanji turned somber.
"What about it?" The vice-admiral turned to his archaeologist, who in his eyes knew everything, "Robin?"
The dark-haired woman crossed her arms worriedly. "There seems to have been a leak."
"Whitebeard's forces will now no doubt know that Thatch is within custody. Considering whether they know his recent movements or not, they may be able to determine that he was taken to this base specifically. The article also mentions his delayed transfer to Enies Lobby or Impel Down, so..." She trailed off ominously.
"They'll come to rescue him." Zoro finished, leaning against the desk, and Usopp shrunk into a corner in terror.
"Indeed. This will not only bring unwanted scrutiny on our base, but also put us all in danger. Even if we survive an assault by an Emperor, due to the circumstances of the delay, all fault will fall on us. Headquarters could even launch a full investigation into our operations here, since Luffy's insistence on the survival of this pirate already seems suspicious."
"Hey, hey, an inspection like that could be really, really bad!" Usopp muttered, a bead of sweat already tracing its way down his brow. Robin in particular shifted uncomfortably, and Zoro frowned, worry wrinkling his forehead as he gripped the handle of one of his swords, but he spoke out, resolute and steady.
"We can fret over technical stuff like that later, for now we need to start preparations for a siege or infiltration. There's no guarantee that anything will happen, but for the next few weeks, until that bastard is okay for transfer and we deliver him safely, we need to be on our guard."
The gathered group nodded, despite their frayed nerves and doubtful expectations for the month that awaited them, and began to shuffle about, picking up the remaining papers just to stay occupied.
"Robin, can you tell the others to come in?" Nami asked, pushing a stack into Usopp's waiting arms, and the other woman nodded, eyes closing as she concentrated on her powers. It was always easiest to strategize when they were all together, to bounce ideas off each other and balance out the wackier members with the rational thinkers. Crazy ideas could be considered and made plausible that way, a technique that had been essential in their rise through the Navy's ranks over the years of their service. But private means of calling their other friends into the office were best, as panic was the last thing they needed erupting in the base at the moment. She was already aware of the magazine article that told of Thatch's capture, but with the most recent leak the scouts would stop harassing the ships on the edges of their territory and turn their eyes on the base itself. Their own men had no doubt also gotten word of the newspaper already, and rumors and speculations were probably spreading. They had to get a handle on the situation and begin giving orders and organizing troops before chaos began to take hold.
The weeks ahead looked stressful.
Thatch was still recovering from the mental trauma of learning how nutrients were getting into his system and exactly what kind of strange tubes were sticking out of his skin underneath the blankets, and struggling with the indignity of how a nurse was going to have to help him pee and all sorts of other unmentionables that he really didn't ever want to even consider let alone experience when a hand popped out of the wall. Not just a hand, but a hand armed with an eye and mouth in its palm.
He thought he had really gone mad for a moment, and honestly, being crazy would explain the mysterious transforming reindeer doctor, the random skypeian lady with some kind of freaky fox thing, and how he could have sworn a skeleton wandered by the window at some point. Maybe the meds he was on were causing some serious hallucinations, or he had given himself a head injury when he fell, but there was a tan hand reaching for the tiny doctor, a wide blue eye set on his antlers, with pursed lips, of all things.
"Chopper." The mouth-hand-eye monstrosity spoke in the voice of an elegant woman, and damn, she sounded hot for, well, a mouth-hand-eye monstrosity. The reindeer turned away from the clipboard he was examining and smiled when he noticed the sexy-sounding nightmare protruding from the wall.
"Robin! What's up?" The reindeer greeted, even though the hand thing was obviously not a bird, but hey, he was just a hallucination too, right?
"Luffy wishes to see everyone in his office." The not-lady said, and Thatch was pretty sure Luffy was the name of the base commander, unless the marine child was just a figment of his imagination as well...
"Okay!" His doctor chirped, and the freaky thing vanished in a flurry of flower petals that dissolved in the air. The little creature began to shed his equipment and fitted a hand remote with a single red button in Thatch's palm. "Press this and a nurse will come right over if you need anything. Don't be shy about it, they're all glad to help. If you get bored, they can bring you some books or if you're cold-" Figuring the tiny furball would go on and on if he let him continue, Thatch summoned an assuring smile and motioned him out. "Thank you, I'll do that." He pressed the button as soon as the doctor was out and down the hall, an assumption based on the odd squeaking he made when he walked, and just a minute later Conis poked her head in.
"Something wrong,, Mister?" She asked, and he shook his head.
"Nah, just wondering if I can get something to read? Maybe a newspaper or something?"
The skypeian smiled and nodded, "Sure. Any magazines?" He nodded. Through a newspaper and the New World's gossip rags, he could probably gain a fair understanding of what was going on at sea. She grinned and hurried out.
True enough, she returned some ten minutes later with both a newspaper and a few magazines, some on ships, resort islands, celebrities, and shockingly the most recent issue of the New World's paparazzi fueled Pirates' Monthly. Now that was a lucky break, and also a roundabout way of finding out his location, because Pirates' Monthly was put out by Pirate Island and impossible to come by outside the Grand Line, and it was hard to obtain recent issues in Paradise. He had no idea how the Navy had managed to obtain such a recent issue, as Pirate Island was always so careful who they sold to, or how such a valuable thing ended up in his hands, but there was no way he could miss this opportunity.
He thanked her warmly, hoping his surprise didn't show on his face, and picked up the resort one with a glossy picture of Dressrosa on the cover, innocent enough. He pretended to find an article on beaches to his liking. After fixing a few cabinets and doing some weird nurse things with the machines attached to his IVs, she eventually slipped out the door.
He immediately tossed aside the resort mag and snatched up the newspaper. It was dated four days after he had last been awake and aware, leaving him to assume he'd been comatose for about half a week.
More baffling was the headline, which he could only assume Conis had not actually glanced at. Nursing was busy profession, after all.
But this was good, now Pops and his brothers would at least know he was alive, but whether they would reach the correct conclusion about the situation was dubious. If they did not realize Teach had turned traitor, or worse, the bastard had actually returned to the Moby Dick with a contrived tale... well, that thought process made Thatch's mutilated stomach turn painfully.
The article vaguely mentioned that he was arrested and being held captive in a marine base, but specifically mentioned that he was found with a near fatal knife wound to the back and the exact location where he was found. The rest of the article was questions and hypothetical ramble.
Yet, why would the Navy allow this to be published? It blatantly told the whole world he was not yet transferred to Impel Down, providing his crew with a window of opportunity to rescue him, as well as some information on his current location could possibly be.
Why? Was he bait? The Navy would never allow such an article to be published unless they had a hidden motive. But if they were trying to draw Whitebeard out, why was he in a mere Naval Base? Since the issue of PM was this month's, he was still in the New World, meaning they were literally surrounded by pirates. The base was probably already constantly in a rush to keep its head above water, there was no way such a place could be able to survive an assault by his Pops.
The whole situation just did not add up.
It seemed the guys back at Pirate Island had received similar information, but also had some more shady details, but lacked the official ones that could only have been obtained from the Marines themselves that the newspaper had. Their reporters had spoken to some inhabitants of the island he had last been on and been fed varying tales, some outrageous, because Thatch was pretty sure he did not get in a fight with narwhal, while others told of a lumbering man with bad teeth and a bandanna, and a Devil Fruit. If his brothers read the article, they might be able to piece the true story together, though before a knife stabbed him through Thatch couldn't say he'd ever even imagine one of their own turning, so Teach's betrayal may not even cross their minds as a possibility.
To distract himself from fretting over something he couldn't do anything about as of right now, practically mortally wounded and all, he continued on to read the information on his crew that the PM Editors had included. A whole page was dedicated to each division and their commander, because people outside of their crew tended to get them confused, and while he immediately skipped ahead to read his own, vanity said he had to, he didn't see Ace or Marco included. After skimming the article, which disappointedly mentioned that he was defeated and caught more times than probably necessary, he flicked back and looked again. Between Pop's page and the Third Division's, an entire leaf had been painstakingly torn out.
"Huh." Why would the navy want a page of a gossip rag about the First and Second Divisions? Maybe one of the nurses was a fan of Ace's? He had quite a few, running around dressed like a stripper all the time, but that was kind of scandalous in a Marine Base.
"Something wrong?" Conis asked, coming back into the infirmary. She was carrying some books in her arms, and what looked to be a few tone dials. Gotta love skypeian technology. She glanced at the open magazine, and smiled a little, before setting down her load on the nightstand next to his bed and turning the page. "This is you?" she pointed at a candid shot of him in action, before reading the blurbs of information scattered around it.
"Yep, and not a bad shot." He grinned proudly, but she chuckled.
"Does your hair usually look like that?" She motioned towards his scalp, where long locks of orange hair hung limply instead of his typical pompadour style.
"Yeah, got any hair gel?" He joked, before showing her the rest of the page.
"It says you fight with two swords."
"Mmm, don't know what happened to 'em, though."
"Confiscated, most likely."
He sighed, he loved both those blades. "Pity. Whatcha got there?" He asked about the books and dials, and she lifted them up one by one, showing him each individually.
"I figured you'd get bored with just magazines pretty quickly, and you're going to be stuck here for a while. I don't know if pirates like to read, but uh, everyone likes music, right?" Her compassion towards him was impressive, considering his situation. He never thought someone working for the Navy would ever care about a pirate being bored, of all things.
He made sure to give her the biggest smile he could muster, gratitude easing the knot of worry in his gut. "Thanks."
He hoped in the back of his mind that she wasn't the one ogling Ace's bare chest while they went through the dials together, the familiar melody of Bink's Sake filling the room.
I bet you though Ace was the captured one, huh? Nah, but we'll be seeing the Whitebeard Pirates, and Blackbeard, new chapter~! R&R?