Kitsune here with yet another new oneshot. Those of you who've read Burning Rubber knew this one was coming. This is similar to Nothing but Trouble actually, but isn't really a sequel. It's slightly AU, Thatch is still alive, Blackbeard almost killed him, but didn't quite. Ace is still hunting Blackbeard, but he's being a bit calmer about it. As for other changes, well...that's the point of the story. Read on!
A big thanks to Anjelle for giving it one last look over. More thanks to The Last ANBU and Mountain97 for their help as well!
Question of the chapter: "What's the weirdest crossover you want to see/have seen?" Weirdest I've read was Fallout: MLP. I want to see...wow that list is a lot longer.
"Looks like those rookies went wild at Sabaody." Thatch commented, turning the page of the paper. "Article on B-five. Squard is doing well, took out a vice Admiral...Damnit, bounties are missing."
"Mmmm. I think Jozu pulled them to show Oyaji." Marco commented in a way that suggested he was only half paying attention as he scanned the horizon. Look out duty was something he enjoyed, but only when it was his turn. Then he flew. If he'd known Thatch was going to take advantage of his 'eagle eyes' and have him do most (let's face it, the other was reading. All) the work, he never would have agreed to keeping him company when it was his turn. Ever since the close call with Teach's betrayal they'd all been a little soft on the pompadour'd man. They'd almost lost him. Hell, Ace was still hunting that bastard, though he was due to check in in a few days. Last time he'd been in a particularly foul mood. Blackbeard was apparently targeting his little brother since Ace had trounced the dirt bag. It had taken the threat of Marco carrying him back in chains to get the Second Division Commander to agree to frequent check ins. They weren't going to lose a brother over this, it wasn't worth it.
"This is boring. Almost no one is stupid enough to take on Oyaji."
"Ace, yoi." Marco smirked. He spied a bird of some sort off in the distance heading their way.
Thatch snorted. "That was years ago." He leaned next to his friend. "Is that a bird?"
"It's awfully fast to be a bird..." the blond was getting a sinking feeling as the shape flew towards them. Its angle had it on a collision course with the ship. "Shit! Incoming!" He shouted down .
"What the hell? Who's firing at us?" Thatch's gaze scanned the seas, there was nothing to see. "Brace yourselves!"
Whatever it was, it hit the deck at an angle, blowing right under the sails and lines to hit with enough force to send even the great Moby Dick rocking. People dove out of the destructive path as the object skidded across the deck before slamming to a rattling, denting halt into a wall. Now that it wasn't skidding and flipping, Marco thought he saw a foot. His mind racing with possibilities, he and Thatch practically flew down the mast and over to the damage. The crew easily made way.
His friend hissed as it became obvious the projectile was a person. "That's gotta sting." The body was in a crumpled sprawl, unmoving. Marco was pretty sure the poor bastard was dead. The victim of some far reaching attack maybe. (Wasn't there that annoying fishman with a devil fruit like that?) It didn't look like they'd gotten here deliberately.
"Pull him out, yoi." He gave Thatch a slight shove.
"What? No! You spotted him First; he's your dead body. You do it!"
"You were the one who was supposed to be on duty. That makes it your body, yoi."
Thatch made a face. "Buddy, please! He might, I dunno, twitch or something. I hate that, you know I do."
"And you call yourself a pirate? You big baby!" Jackson shouted from where he was helping Namur clean already.
The jibe had the desired result as the Fourth Division Commander huffed moodily. With one hand latched around the protruding foot, Thatch yanked the body free from the hole in the wall where it flopped bonelessly on deck. Marco was mildly disturbed to see the human projectile was a child. Harmless looking to boot, with messy black hair, a simple vest, East-blue shorts and sandals. He looked like some poor civilian who'd tangled with the wrong crew. Wordlessly, Thatch bent over to check the kid's pockets for something to identify him.
The body didn't so much as twitch as it sat upright with a yawn right as he leaned over. Since Marco himself jumped slightly, he couldn't comment on the yelp of fear his friend made as he scrambled away. The not-dead body blinked at the sound before swinging to his feet with a frown, reaching over his shoulder and pulled on a straw hat. He looked vaguely familiar.
Dark eyes took in the ship of now alert pirates. " Where the hell am I?"
"The Moby Dick." Thatch offered. "In the New World."
"Oh." A moment passed. Just as Marco was going to ask who he was, the stranger shouted. "WHAT? How did I end up here? Where's my crew?! Hey, Pineapple!" Marco twitched. "How far is it to Sabaody? Can you take me there?"
"At least a week, yoi. You'd have to ask Oyaji, brat, but I'm going with no, yoi."
"Oyaji?" The teen cocked his head to the side. "Ok! Where's the old guy?"
"Old Guy?!" Thatch wasn't the only one sputtering.
Booming laughter could be heard. Apparently Whitebeard had been listening in. Before Marco could stop him, the little shit ran right up to Oyaji's chair. He stared a moment before his eyes lit up. "Woah! That's the coolest Moustache ever!" Whitebeard laughed again, joined by the teen. "Mr. Moustache"
"Show some respect! Oyaji's the Captain!" Voices chorused.
"Mr. Old Moustache, can you drop me off at Sabaody?"
"What a cheeky brat!" Oyaji grinned down at the kid, "Tell me boy; do you know who I am?"
The shitty brat picked his nose. "Nope." A booger was flicked carelessly away.
"That is Whitebeard, yoi." Marco glared down at the boy who was watching him with a vacant look. "The strongest man in the world."
The kid pouted. "Where have I heard that name before...AH! You're that old man Ace really likes!"
"How do you know Ace?" Thatch put a hand on the boy's shoulder, turning him to look at the Fourth Division Commander.
"Ace is my brother." The boy grinned widely at them, and suddenly Marco knew why he looked so familiar.
"Strawhat Luffy, right?" Marco felt the sinking feeling get worse.
"Yep!" The grin grew impossibly wide, "I'm gonna be King of the Pirates!" Yep, that would be Ace's idiot little brother, alright. "Ace said that you wanted to be King, Moustache-guy. So I guess we'll have to fight, huh?"
"Aren't you a snot-nosed cheeky brat? You think you stand a chance against me?" Whitebeard was grinning, ever tolerant of young fools.
"Gahahahaha! You're a hundred years too young to take me on, brat!"
The look in those brown eyes turned almost feral. "Wanna bet?"
"Oh god, he's like a mini-Ace." Thatch paled. "Please, please tell me you're not going to keep attacking Oyaji."
"It might be fun."
"Right...I think you and I need to have a little chat. You're a D, right? Let's get you some food and you can tell me all about how crazy you are." Thatch steered the brat towards below deck, followed by a few other Commanders.
Marco waited until the teen was out of sight before turning to Whitebeard. "What do you think, Oyaji?"
"He's a cheeky brat." The older-seeming pirate grinned, taking a swing of sake.
"Blackbeard's after him, yoi."
"Ahhh. Let him stay on board for now. A brother of my son is welcome." Marco nodded. "But don't change course."
"Sure thing, Oyaji." He turned to leave, ready to assure his crewmates that all was well.
"Yeah, Oyaji?" Said man twitched, having a feeling what his father figure would say.
"He's your responsibility until Ace arrives." He turned to look at the grinning Captain. There would be no arguing that he was too busy; not with that look. Marco really wished he'd never agreed to lookout duty with Thatch today.
Thatch sat the brat down at one of the long tables in the galley, signalling to his brothers and sisters who'd missed the commotion that there was nothing to see. The kid was busy looking around with a big grin on his face when Thatch dropped a plate in front of him. He had a moment of panic when the brat wrinkled his nose after picking up the tankard of watered down beer that was served with lunch. Ace had refused any and all food or drink given to him for quite a while after all, and this was his little brother. He was worried that the kid would be just like Ace in this, which would be very bad. (Ace would blame him, he just knew it!)
He offered his friendliest smile. "Eat up, brat. I didn't do anything to it."
The Fourth Division Commander was all set to sample the food on the plate to prove it was safe before the younger pirate set on it like a starving animal. He ate everything, even the bones. For a Second, Thatch thought he was going to even eat the plate when he licked it clean. It didn't stop there, either. The food on his own plate vanished just as rapidly as he stared on in shock. While the brat was busy polishing off the octopus filled steam bun he'd liberated, an arm stretched to Haruta's plate at the far end of the table. While she was distracted talking to Izo the whole plate was snatched out from under her fork. Both the other Commanders looked down when the utensil thudded against the table before locating the escaping plate and tracking it back to the one foolish enough to steal from a Commander. Surprisingly Haruta just watched with a slightly horrified expression instead of yelling. Thatch could understand the look, he was sure a similar one was on his own face as the Strawhat pirate moved on, stealing everything edible within his quite considerable reach. He wasn't even watching what he was doing, leading to a couple of close calls with knives and forks.
"Woah! Look at him go!" Roku cheered as he polished off his Sixth plate.
"Thirty belli says he stops at ten."
"Fifty says he makes it to fifteen."
"What, are you kidding? This is Ace's little brother!" Thatch laughed, getting in on the betting pool. "One hundred on twenty plates, minimum."
"You're on, Commander!"
"Come on, brat, you can do it!"
"Hey, breathe, boy!" Vista slapped him on the back as he coughed. "Have a drink!"
"Don't like alcohol." Luffy spewed, food spraying back out as he coughed for a Second before continuing.
"Why didn't you say so? Oiy! Can I get a pitcher of juice here?" Thatch grinned as the young Captain continued to pack the food away. He was seriously wondering where it was all going. Ace was known for his voracious appetite even for a D and it looked like it was a trait shared by his kid brother. Not that the Second Division Commander would steal food off your plate. He was more of the raid-the-pantry type (Something told him he would need to lock up the kitchen tonight, actually) where Luffy had no qualms in taking food from strangers at all. "Cocky brat. What kind of pirate doesn't drink?"
"Tastes bad. I drink with my nakama some." He explained with bulging cheeks. "When we have a party or kanpai."
Haruta leaned next to the teen as he finally began to slow down. "Hey, what was Ace like as a kid?"
"He was cool! I couldn't ever beat him in a fight. Me 'n Ace used to do all sorts of stuff together."
"What kind of stuff?" Izo asked, a delicate eyebrow raised. Dark eyes stared at the male geisha as the brat froze. "What?"
"Are you an Okama?"
"NO!" Snapped the sixteenth Division Commander. "I'm a crossdresser. There's a difference!"
The younger smiled, oblivious to the danger he was in for even suggesting that. Izo had killed people for it before. "Oh. Cool. Like Dadan." He grinned widely. Thatch recognized the name from some of Ace's stories and for some reason he didn't think the woman would appreciate the comparison. "Ace and Dadan always fought. He'd call her an ugly old bitch all the time, and she'd call us monsters or devil-children."
"That's not very nice of her."
"She was still nicer then Jiji." The boy grunted, polishing off another dish.
"Jiji?" Thatch asked, passing over another plate. He'd lost count somewhere along the way.
"Mmm, Garp. Wanted us to be marines, but Ace and I wanted to be pirates! He used to chase us all over the woods and toss us off of cliffs." Luffy shoved another loaf of bread in his mouth. "This food's way better than the stuff we'd eat back then."
He could only imagine what kind of creepy-crawlies a little kid would pick up in the woods. It was amazing that the teen was even thinking about that while eating such good food. In fact, if Thatch had had any appetite left after watching Luffy inhale food, it was gone now. He glanced at the insanely large stack of plates. Actually, the redhead was feeling a bit sick at the moment. Seriously, where the hell did it all go?
The vibrant blue phoenix's gaze swept across the expansive horizon all around. Way far out in the distance, a few days' sailing away at their current rate of speed, there was an island. Even to his raptor-sharp eyes it was just a darkened lump. There was no sign of the Striker, Ace's custom skiff. He fought back a sigh of disappointment and he turned, gliding his way back towards the Moby Dick and his family. The winds were favorable, allowing for a gentle sweeping swoop around the ship before he came in for a landing, shifting before he even touched down.
"Any luck?" Jozu called out. When Marco shook his head, the Third Division Commander waved it off. "You know him. He could show up tomorrow." He hefted the mattress that had been laying at his feet, obviously in the midst of setting up a temporary room for their unexpected guest. As crazy as it sounded, the Strawhat brat was a Captain in his own right and it would be rude to expect him to bunk down with the crew. Even if he was rude to Oyaji.
Turning, he almost bumped into the diminutive Captain. Something he hadn't been expecting since Thatch was supposed to be keeping an eye on the brat and hopefully away from Oyaji. Of course, his friend was nowhere in sight, leaving him to believe the Fourth Division Commander had either gotten bored with his pseudo-assignment (Marco would kill him if that was the case) or the brat had slipped away. He guessed the latter as he looked into brown eyes practically glowed in the sun as the brat stared back at Marco, a incredibly wide grin stretched across the kid's face. It was a look that was remarkably similar to his older brother's when he was plotting something particularly stupid. Marco was about to ask what, exactly, the little idiot was doing so close to him when the brat spoke. "That was awesome! You're like that guy in Alabasta, except all fush! Shihihihi."
He blinked, wondering what the kid was going on about. "What guy, yoi?"
"You know! The falcon-guy! He gave me a lift once. It would have been a lot more fun except I had to go beat up that stupid sand-croc, so I didn't get to enjoy it." The mop of unruly hair cocked to the side. "Hey... do you poop?"
"I'm not going to answer that." Marco frowned slightly before turning away and heading across deck. Maybe if he looked busy the little shit would leave him alone. Asking questions like that, what the hell was wrong with the kid? It wasn't like Ace didn't have any manners, even given his childhood. Raised by bandits was no excuse. You just didn't ask a guy if he-
"Can you lay an egg for me?" A cheerful voice chimed, interrupting his train of thought.
"No." He continued to ignore the youth trailing after him like he was some kind of demented duckling. Catching Rue sniggering while splicing some rope, he shot the man a dark look, daring him to laugh.
"Please? Come on, I'm hungry!"
Marco spun around and glared at the brat, "For the last time, No, yoi. I'm a guy!"
"So?" The boy blinked vacantly at him and he felt that migraine come back. Counting to ten, the blond reminded himself that he couldn't kill Ace's little brother. (Ace wouldn't notice a little brain damage though, right?) "You're a chicken so lay some eggs! It would be so cool!"
"You dumbass, I'm not a chicken, I'm a phoenix!" He snapped back, slamming a fist into the idiot's head.
He wasn't surprised when the boy laughed it off. "A mystery bird, then!"
"Fine, a mystery bird." He sighed in defeat.
"Mmm, if you won't-"
"Can't, you moron." He wasn't going to even think about how insulting it was to even be asked.
"-lay eggs for me to eat, can we go flying? It would almost be as awesome as food!"
The First Division Commander actually found himself thinking about it for a Second and quickly stopped when he realized he was seriously contemplating dropping the Strawhat-brat into the sea. Not exactly a good way to remain on either Ace or Oyaji's good side. Even if it was incredibly tempting, especially when he was grinning at him with that look. Just daring him to do it... "No, yoi."
"Stingy!" The teen pouted as Stefan trotted past.
He honestly wasn't surprised when the boy instantly latched onto the dog for a ride, apparent annoyance at Marco completely forgotten as he laughed loudly while the monstrous white dog attempted to throw the strange new weight off. He'd feel bad for Stefan, except knowing how tenacious Ace had said his darling little brother was, that could have been him.
Vista patted the young pirate's shoulder. Sure, he was an annoying brat with absolutely no manners, but he was a ballsy brat. He was handling everything well, even if he was making a general pain in the ass out of himself. A lot like Ace, actually. He could respect that a little. "Here you go. Your bunk."
The teen pouted, looking around in the small storage room that the crew had quickly converted. "In here? Alone?"
"Oyaji thought you'd be more comfortable."
The young Captain sighed before looking up at Vista with sad eyes. "Can I sleep with you, Mr. mini-mustache?" Vista counted to ten, hoping he'd misheard. "Please? I'll even let you have all the blankets." He was going to go out on a limb and assume it was a misunderstanding. Kid didn't look like the type, after all.
"Surely you sleep in your own cabin on your ship?"
The young man cocked his head to the side. "I have my own cabin?"
"Let's try this again. Where do you sleep on your ship?" He supposed it was possible that Strawhat was just a figurehead, not really the Captain of his crew. He seemed simple enough for that to be the case.
"In my bed." The kid was an idiot. "And Sunny has a name, you know. It's Thousand Sunny! Franky built him. He said all ships are girls, but Merry was a girl, and Sunny doesn't feel like a girl. Maybe she's a crossdresser?"
Vista ran calming fingers down his mustache. "Focus. Where is your bed on the Thousand Sunny?"
"Oh. It's above Zoro and next to Usopp or Chopper." Alright, he took it back, maybe the boy was into that kind of stuff. He wasn't going to be the one to tell Ace his baby brother wasn't so innocent anymore. The teen grinned at him, "I get the top, because I'm the Captain."
Vista paled, thinking about Ace's reaction. "That was more information than I wanted to know."
"But, you asked where my hammock was."
"Yes, but I didn't want to know what you...did you say hammock?" He felt foolish when the teen nodded. "Oh. Never mind then. So you sleep in a hammock in the same room as the rest of your crew?" Another nod. "But, you're the Captain!"
"So? It's more fun sleeping with everyone else. Except Nami and Robin. They have their own room. Sometimes we all camp out in the lounge though, or on deck. That's a lot of fun! Brook plays songs, and we party all night!" Wide eyes looked up at him pleading. "So, please can I sleep with you?"
Vista sighed as he heard the sound of something being dropped behind him somewhere. He'd have some explaining to do in the morning. "No. I got someone better for you to sleep with." For a moment he thought about grabbing Marco, but the man might accidentally kill the kid.
"Vista?" Speak of the devil.
"Hey, Marco." The man turned to acknowledge his friend. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Just got here. Is there a reason Sean was telling Oyaji that you're bothering our guest?" Marco's lazy look had a dangerous glint to it. It looked like he was going to have to do some explaining to Oyaji tonight. If Marco didn't beat the crap out of him First. Vista really wished he hadn't been the one to volunteer to show the kid to his room as more people oh-so-casually strolled over.
"Marco, how could you suggest something like that? The brat and I were just talking about sleeping arrangements."
"Yeah. He's a bully!" Everyone was glaring at him now. "Mini-mustache won't let me sleep with him."
"You can't sleep with him!" They all shouted.
"If Ace was here, he'd let me sleep with him." The teen huffed.
Vista paled at the thought. Just imagining the Second Division Commander's reaction to the conversation was enough to give him nightmares. "No he wouldn't."
"Why not? I slept with Ace all the time." Luffy pouted.
Vista wasn't even going to touch that one as the rest of the crew gaped at the teen in shock. "You like dogs, right?" The boy nodded. "Someone go catch Stefan so he can sleep with him, alright? Ace does all the time."
"Really? YAY! Thank you, mini-mustache!" Judging by the look Marco was still giving him as the teen wrapped rubbery arms around his neck he wasn't going to be getting sleep anytime soon. Not until he explained. Maybe he could convince Oyaji to let him lock the kid in the room. Just in case Stefan wasn't enough for the grabby brat.
It was peaceful on deck. Or about as peaceful as it ever really got with his sons and daughters running around. Maybe lively was a better way of putting it. Not that Newgate would have it any other way. He loved every minute of it. This was his treasure, no doubt about that. There was the sound of laughter, followed by a splash and a shout somewhere behind him. It sounded like the shitty brat had fallen into the sea. Again. The aged Captain chuckled into his cup at the thought. It was amazing how well the brat fit into his crew. Usually when another Captain had the balls to show up on the Moby Dick they were a loud disruption to his family. The strawhat brat was loud, that was for sure, but he wasn't half as disruptive as he'd expect. Even with his obvious willingness to fight Whitebeard. Cocky brat was a lot like his brother. He felt a wet spot on his knee and looked down to see the grin of his unexpected guest.
"Hey! Get the hell down, you little shit!" Marco shouted as he came running up.
"Don't wanna!" was the laughing reply. The teen was ballsy, he'd give him that. "Hey, Mr. Old-Mustache guy. Can't you just give me a ship so I can go?"
Whitebeard waved Marco off with a grin of his own as his son stalked off. "Oh? And how will you find your way, brat?" The brat reached into the band of his hat and pulled out a small slip of paper, holding it out definitely for Whitebeard to see. "A vivre card?"
"Mmm. Rayleigh gave it to me. See?" He pointed to the name written in the top corner. "I just go where this points, right?"
"Are you telling me or asking me, brat?"
There was a pout."That's how I was told it worked." The teen whined. "Ace didn't explain anything, he just handed me this stupid paper and told me it would let us meet again. I have three now, but Ace's is the biggest. It got a little smaller for a bit, but now it's back to normal."
Three vivre cards, and from the sound of it, one from Dark King Rayleigh. Even if he ignored the one Ace had given the boy, it was still impressive for a rookie. He didn't look like much, just some gangly teen with a dumb expression on his face and a straw hat. The brat was short, even for a normal human, too. Still, Whitebeard knew better than anyone not to judge a person by reputation or appearance. Cocky brat had one hell of a reputation though. His contemplation was interrupted as Namur came trotting up. The fishman gave the child still standing on his knee a dark look before turning his attention to his Captain.
"Oyaji, some of the boys want to go fishing."
He laughed. "Since when do you brats ask for my permission? Tell them to go ahead."
Namur gave the teen another dirty look. "Only if he stays the hell out of the water." The fishman crossed his arms. "We don't want to fish for snot-nosed rookies, Oyaji."
"Fall in a lot?" Whitebeard looked down at the teen who was studying Namur. If the brat said one derogatory thing about fishman, he'd personally smack the kid into the sea.
Dark brown eyes looked up at him with a shrug. "Sometimes I jump in."
He might have misheard. "You can't swim."
"I know. Zoro usually has to come get me. Oh, sometimes it's Sanji." He grinned. "It's fun! Even when Nami'll push me overboard. My Nakama won't let me drown."
It was possible that the poor boy was brain damaged. Ace was a violent guy, even when you were his friend. Maybe he'd done some damage to his younger brother accidently. It would explain the protective streak if his son felt guilty over something he'd done as a child. That had to be it; because the brat was screwed up. Devil fruit user jumping into the sea. Namur was looking at him with a 'See what I've had to deal with?' expression and he felt a little bit bad. He'd not been aware that the kid was so potentially suicidal. "Ah. Stay out of the water."
The teen pouted, looking away. His eyes found Namur again and the brat stretched out on his leg like it was a cliff before looking down slightly at his son. "Hey, are you a fishman?"
Namur tensed slightly. "Yes."
"Is that a problem?" His eighth Division Commander asked.
"Huh? Why would it be?"
"There are people who don't like fishmen." Whitebeard explained, curious on what the brat's answer would be.
The brat looked over his shoulder at Whitebeard, finger digging in his nose. "That's stupid. I hate Arlong because he was mean to Nami, but Hachi's my friend. So's Keimi and Pappug. They're cool. Even Nami likes them."
Namur looked up at the kid. "You know Arlong?"
"Yeah. Nami, my navigator used to work for him, even though she didn't want to. The guy was a real bastard, but I took care of it. She said Hachi was alright." Whitebeard frowned, knowing there had to be a lot more to the story than that. He vaguely remembered Jimbei talking about how Arlong had gone off into the East Blue after he split from the Sun Pirates. Arlong was not the type to let a human 'work' for him. "Were you a friend of Arlong's?" The boy's voice had gone flat.
"Ok! Hey, do you know Hachi? He makes really good Takoyaki."
Namur shook his head. "Sorry, no. Hey, Oyaji, I'm going to let the others know about fishing. Brat, feel free to join us later. If you can stay out of the water."
"Really? Thanks!" The teen waved at the retreating fishman before looking over his shoulder at Whitebeard (little shit was still laying on his thigh! Ballsy brat.) and grinning. "I like your crew. They're not as fun as mine, but I can see why Ace likes it here."
"Is that so, brat?"
"Yep! But I'm still not gonna let you be Pirate King."
He laughed. "You think you can stop me?"
"Of course! Cause I'm gonna be King of the Pirates!" He cried out with such conviction Whitebeard couldn't help but shake his head. Luffy had a long way to go before he was ready to be King, and Whitebeard was still planning on his older brother being King, but he could see it happening one day. If the kid survived, that is.
"Why don't you become my son?" He found himself offering.
"Nope. A king can't serve under another Captain." Luffy shot back quickly. "Besides, I don't need a dad, I got Ace." Whitebeard blinked as he tried to follow what the boy meant. He knew the brothers were not brothers by blood, but it hadn't occurred to him that the younger had no contact with his own father. He wondered if Luffy even knew who it was before deciding it didn't matter. The boy was right; he had Ace looking out for him. Looking down at the Strawhat Captain he came to a decision that he'd have to talk to Ace. He wanted this brat as one of his sons.
Ace could barely quell his anxiety when the Moby Dick was finally in sight. He just hoped Oyaji would be willing to help. Not that he doubted Whitebeard's willingness to help one of his sons for a Second, but this was different. This was asking the man to help out another Captain, or at least find him. (If he could be found. If he wasn't dead.) Swallowing against the growing pit in his stomach he pushed Striker to go even faster. The closer he got, the more noise could be heard from the ship. It sounded like a party or something, which was great. It meant everyone was safe, and Oyaji would be in a good mood when he asked for help.
Swinging himself on board he wasted no time in heading for Newgate's chair. Here the cheering crowd was thicker, their attention taken away by something that was off to the side, allowing his presence to go relatively unnoticed. Thatch had spotted him though he pretended not to see the other's attempt to get his attention as he finally made his way in front of Oyaji.
The large man put down his tankard and grinned at him. "Ace."
"Oyaji." He nodded in reply, an answering smile on his freckled face, worries temporarily pushed aside.
"How was your voyage, son?"
Ace couldn't help the sneer on his face. "No luck. That rat-bastard's fast, I'll give him that. But when I catch him-"
"You will be cautious." Whitebeard cut him off. "The matter isn't as important to me as your life."
Despite trying to keep a scowl on, Ace couldn't help but feel warmed by those words. The simple reminder that Oyaji cared. That his being alive made the man he willingly called 'Father' happy in a way that neither of them questioned. Ace loved this crew so much. The feeling of contentment similar to what he felt around Luffy...The worry bordering on panic came rushing back. True, it had never really went away. He was a big brother after all.
It must have shown on his face, because Whitebeard leaned forward. "What is it Ace?"
"Oyaji...I need your help." He dug into his bag, pulling out yesterday's paper. "My little brother, Luffy! He's gone missing! He and his crew got into it with the marines on Sabaody and-"
A warm body slammed into him from behind, causing the young pirate to go flying into Oyaji's chair, paper fluttering to the ground. The Second Division Commander growled under his breath as he climbed to his feet, his already strained temper snapping. He was going to beat the shit out of the fool who'd hit him. Thinking viciously of broken bones and third degree burns he spun with a glare, only to come face to face with the biggest idiot he knew. (A grinning, laughing idiot that he was going to still kill for worrying him like that!) He felt his eye twitch as he stared down at his happy little brother who was supposed to be far, far away.
"ACE!" Luffy practically radiated joy in that way he had, eyes dancing. "Your nakama is huge!"
"Luffy, what have I told you about watching where you're rocketing to?" He scolded to cover his relief as a crowd began to gather. Naturally the teen just laughed it off. "How about telling me what the hell you're doing here?"
"Good question!" Thatch called out, pushing his way to the front. "Kid just slammed into the deck yesterday like some demented cannonball. Wouldn't tell us anything."
His brother cocked his head to the side and scrunched up his brow, obviously thinking hard. "Mmmm... I think it was that Kuma guy."
He nodded, letting Luffy know he wanted more information with just a raised eyebrow even as his stomach dropped somewhere down below deck. Luffy was strong, he didn't doubt it at all, but Kuma was on another level. Just what had the idiot done to piss the guy off?
"We were on Sabaody waiting for Rayleigh to finish coating our ship after we rescued Keimi-"
"Dark King Rayleigh?" Marco seemed interested.
Luffy laughed. "Yep! He's cool, Ace! He knows Shanks! Oh, and Roger, too, I guess. Funny guy, though. He was pretending to be a slave when we met so he could steal money."
"Wait you mean you really kidnapped some Tenryūbito, bra-" He glared at Izo, redirecting his anxiety over the thought easily. "I mean, Luffy?"
"Nah." Instantly he felt better. "I punched one, though." And now he felt a lot more worried, but proud at the same time. "I think that's why the marines and that Kuma guy came. There were these cyborgs that looked like Kuma, too. Pastafeasta? No. Mmm, Pastafist?"
"That's it! Anyway, We were fighting, and Kuma showed up and the next thing I know I'm here."
Ace wasn't even going to think about it. It was better for his health if he didn't contemplate how his brother had ended up in a fight with one of the Shichibukai again. Nope, wasn't going to think about that, or how he was pretty sure Luffy'd already threatened Oyaji. Kid was on the ship longer than five minutes. It had to have happened. Oyaji seemed to be smiling though, so maybe he liked his little brother? Ace grinned. He could work with that. "Hey, Luffy..."
"Ace?" His bumbling little brother looked at him with those wide eyes (People always said vacant. They weren't!) and tilted his head to the side, recognizing the grin.
"You sure you don't wanna join my crew? Just for a while, at least?"
"Will there be meat?"
Ace laughed, "All you can eat. What do you say, little brother? Just until we find your crew?"
"Ok...but I get to be Captain!"
"HELL NO!" A few crewmates shouted, overhearing Luffy.
Ace just laughed. "He's not serious. Well, he is, but he's got his own crew."
"I think they mean he can't join, yoi." Marco stated, looking slightly aggravated. "Do you have any idea the trouble your little brother is?"
"Why do you think I worry?" Ace pointed out, dropping an arm around Luffy to keep him from running off. He turned his attention to Oyaji. "Please? Can I keep him?"
Thatch muttered. "What is he, a stray dog?" Luffy barking at him didn't help his image, so he slapped a hand over his brother's mouth.
"He's a lively brat." Oyaji chuckled. "Send word to keep an eye out for his crew, Ace."
"So...is that a yes?"
"He can stay on board for now." Oyaji grinned down at him. "I'll decide later."
"YAY! Thanks Old-giant-Mustache guy!" Luffy cheered before turning his attention to more important matters. "MEAT!"
Ace just laughed as he was dragged along behind. When he felt Marco's hand on his shoulder he paused. "Just remember, as long as he's here, you're staying on the ship, yoi."
"Why, Luffy too much for you?"
"Hey, Mr. Pineapple, are you gonna lay some eggs for us yet? I'm hungry!" Luffy called out, causing Marco's face to turn interesting colors. Maybe it would be a good idea to stay on board. At least until he was sure that Luffy wasn't going to get someone killed.
"Wipe the grin off, Portgas. Izo's been keeping track of the bill he's run up, and unless he joins the crew, you are going to have to pay for it."
"Because he's your brother." Marco looked a bit smug when he said that.
"Marco...did I ever mention that I was adopted?"