A/N: The reviews! You guys are killing me! And sorry for the long wait. Again. I know, you guys are probably getting tired of me apologizing…and getting tired of waiting for updates…Sumimasen…

Disclaimer: *insert witty and funny remark on how I don't own One Piece* HAHAHAHA WASN'T THAT JUST HILARIOUS? LAUGH DAMN IT.

~ Sweeter ~ Than ~ Sugar ~

Chapter Five: Family Time!

Ace was frozen.

He was speechless.

He pretty sure his entire thought process had shut down.

He knew one thing for sure, though.

Marco was kissing him.

Marco was kissing him.

When Marco pulled away, they stared into each other's eyes; waiting for the other to do or say something first. In the end, it was Marco. "I'm sorry, yoi," he said, pink dusting his cheeks ever so lightly. Ace wanted to scream, because never before had he seen Marco blush. It was fucking cute. When Ace didn't answer, Marco cleared his throat and looked off to the side; feeling as if he'd done something terribly wrong and had just ruined his friendship with Ace. "We should probably check to make sure your brother is alright." But as he moved to get up, Ace grabbed Marco's hand.

"C-Can I have another one?"

Marco blinked at the question. "What?"

"Can I have…another kiss? I kinda…you know…like you. And another kiss would be fantastic." The older blond male couldn't help but look surprised before a small smirk slipped onto his features. Leaning forward, he gently rested his lips upon Ace's once more, and he swore he felt Ace completey melt into the action. The freckled male let out a happy hum, gripping the front of Marco's jacket to pull him down as he fell back onto the grass to deepen the kiss. To Ace, it seemed as if hours had gone by, and he felt like he was on cloud nine.

Marco liked him.

Despite the fact he was out of oxygen, he let out a breathless laugh, wrapping one arm around the back of Marco's neck and resting his head on the soft grass below. Marco, leaning on his elbows, looked at the ecstatic teen trapped below him and gave a happy smile; resting his forehead against Ace's to stare into those hypnotic storm-gray eyes. He felt something akin to fluttering in his heart, and the organ seemed lighter than ever in his chest for the first time in so long.

The two males could have stayed like that forever, staring into each other's eyes, but, unfortunately, they were still in public. Three passersby glanced in their direction, one having the decency to look away, the other not even caring, and the last giving a teasing smirk. "Fufufu, it seems the birds and bees are still doing their business despite the fact Spring has ended." Ace lightly flushed at that, realizing what position he and Marco were in and began to sit up. The second passerby in the group smacked the shoulder of the man who spoke, scolding him lightly before almost tripping over his two feet. "Fufufu, what? I'm just having a little fun. Hey Lawsy, shouldn't you be finding someone to take to bed soon, too?" The third passerby scowled and gave a dark glare, not even bothering to respond to the tease aimed his way.

Marco helped Ace up and both wiped away any blades of grass clinging to their clothes and hair before clearing their throats and looking off to the side. "A-Anyway, we should probably check on Lu." Marco nodded in agreement and the two headed for the tree Luffy had fallen from. "Hey, Lu?" The young teen stuck his head out from behind the trunk, a larger-than-usual grin plastered on his face. Ace raised an eyebrow at the sight.

"Ne, I knew Acey was in love~!" The freckled male almost sputtered, holding down a small blush as he smacked the back of Luffy's head. Hard. Causing the teen smack his forehead against the trunk of the tree. The youngest of the three grabbed his head and let out a pained yelp.

"What were you thinking? You could have hurt yourself falling out of that tree! Idiot," Ace muttered. "Pull a stunt like that again and you're going a week without second breakfast."

"W-What?! You can't do that, Ace! I need to have second breakfasts if my brain is to fully function through the day!"

"Like your brain 'fully functions' at all."

"Eh? What was that?"

"Nothing." Marco let loose a chuckle, pocketing his hands as he stood off to the side.

"Oi, Ace." Said male turned toward the blond. "So I'm guessing it's okay to call you my boyfriend, then, yoi?" Marco wanted to make sure he wasn't jumping the gun or anything, he simply wanted to make sure that Ace wanted to start a relationship with him and was serious about this. The last thing Marco wanted was to date someone he truly cared for and have the relationship end within a month or so, or to discover he was being viewed as a 'friend with benefits.'

Ace gave a sincere smile and pulled one of Marco's hands out of the pocket, grasping it tightly and nodded. "Sorry to say this, but you're gonna be stuck with me for a while. You have been warned."

The blond pecked Ace's cheek, giving the male's hand a squeeze. "Wouldn't have it any other way."

"And my work here is done," Luffy smiled, puffing out his chest in a sense of accomplishment.

"Huh? What do you mean, Lu?"

"N-Nothing, nothing. O-Oh, hey, I think I hear Sanji calling for me. See you guys later!" And before anything else could be said, Luffy fled the scene with a sweating face and nervous looking eyes.

"…You weren't kidding when you said he was a terrible liar, yoi."

"He literally cannot lie for his life."

"Anyway, shall we head over to your house? I do believe we have some things to discuss."

"Sounds good to me," Ace smiled, practically beaming. "Hey, could I call you my honey?"

"And this is exactly why we're going back to your house to discuss the rules of this relationship."

"So that's a…?"

"No, yoi. It's a no."

Ace pouted. "Meanie."

The next day rolled around and Marco sent a text to Ace saying to meet him at New World Nightclub around five. Ace hummed as he walked down the sidewalk, a light skip in his step despite the fact it looked like it would rain soon. He was glad for that, it hadn't rained in a while and it would give everyone a chance to recover from the Summer's blistering heat.

It was on the days when the temperature spiked did Ace think about maybe buying a cactus. But then he'd really stop and think about doing that; how he'd be too busy with all his jobs to remember to water it, and that Luffy would probably forget, and it would most likely die within a month. Which would be horrible, because cacti were supposed to the hardest plant to kill, really.

However, since he was in such a good mood, he thought that maybe, just maybe, buying a cactus wouldn't be such a bad idea. He made a mental note to stop by the supermarket on the way to home after meeting up with Marco. His boyfriend. Another wave of happiness hit him full-on and he couldn't help the excited chuckle that left him. He practically ran the rest of the way to the nightclub, a large smile plastered on his freckled face.

A boyfriend. He never thought he'd find someone he could truly be comfortable around, someone he'd cherish just as much as his brother. It was nice, and left him feeling warm throughout the night. Marco was his. Or, well, he was Marco's. Either way, he was with the blond, and that was all that mattered. He was so busy with his thoughts that he almost didn't see Marco standing outside of the club waiting for him.

"Ace?" The freckled male snapped out of his thoughts to see the one he was just thinking about. His smile grew, if that was possible, as he lightly bounced over to the blond. Marco threw an amused look his way as he crossed his arms. "Are we feeling happy today, yoi?"

"Very much so," Ace answered. "I don't know, I just feel like a whole new person. So what's up?"

"Well, since we discussed last night how we wanted our relationship to be public, I figured I might as well tell my family before they figure it out on their own. If that's alright with you, I mean, yoi. If it's too soon, let me know."

Ace shook his head and grabbed Marco hand. "Nah, we better just do it now. But you do realize this means you'll have to meet our grandfather, right?" Ace looked a little unsure about such a meeting, but the blond gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. "Okay. After you," the freckled male opened the door and Marco walked in, still holding Ace's hand.

The nightclub was just as Ace remembered it as they entered, and he noticed all fourteen of Whitebeard's other children were sitting among the tables. He saw four new faces sitting amongst the others he met the last time he visited, and he swore he saw Izo throw a wink his way. Whitebeard sat in the middle of the room, and all heads turned their way as they walked in. The room fell into silence, and it was at that moment did Ace start to feel a little nervous.

Marco cleared his throat and opened his mouth to announce his relationship with Ace when Thatch threw his arms wide open and practically flew out of his chair. "We have a new member of the family!" the pompadour'd male screamed, his eyes actually watering with what Ace guessed to be happiness for Marco. However, once Thatch screamed the sentence, all chaos broke loose.

Everyone, and Ace meant everyone, rushed him and Marco, and Ace actually clutched onto Marco's arm in fear of being lost in the stampede of men. The two were encircled in a giant hug, and everyone was throwing their 'congratulations' and 'we're so happy for you's all at the same time, some even crying – cough, Thatch, cough – to see that Marco finally found someone he was happy with.

"I told you he was a keeper," Izo said, lightly nudging Marco in the ribs. The blond only quietly laughed in response as he was showered with love and happiness from his family. After a few minutes, Whitebeard cleared his throat, a sign he was going to speak so his children automatically quieted down.

"Marco, I believe you had something to tell us?"

"Yes, Oyaji," Marco smiled. "Me and Ace are in a relationship now. And…"

"And I wanted to know if it would be okay if I dated your son," Ace picked up, also wearing a smile as he already knew the answer to his question. The large man laughed and gave an approving nod.

"You have my permission," he answered. "Welcome to the family, son." Son. Son. Ace felt something swell within himself at the simple word, and he felt his eyes tear up. Marco noticed this and threw a questioning look at Ace, but the freckled male shook his head. He'd explain another time. Right now, he just wanted to take the time to know his new brothers…and father.

It took until eleven to 'get to know his brothers and father' and despite the fact Ace had to wake up early the next day to go to work, he hadn't minded at all. He unlocked the front door and closed it behind him quietly, being careful not to wake Luffy up if he went to sleep already. He set a small bag of groceries on the table and began to put them away. After that, he left the small cactus he bought in the kitchen window so the little plant would catch some rays in the morning.

He made his way over to his bedroom, removing his shirt in the process as a large yawn escaped him. He was going to be tired in the morning, no doubt about that. As he changed into his pajamas, he wondered what Luffy had for dinner and if Sanji had to come over and make something for him. Since Luffy wasn't allowed to cook in the kitchen, Ace had to even wonder if Luffy went over to one of the neighbors' house and asked for some dinner. He'd have to ask Luffy about that in the morning.

He slipped between the covers of his bed and gave a content sigh. Life, it seemed, was finally starting to look up for him. He chuckled to himself as he nuzzled his pillow.

Not once in his life did he ever think he would truly fall in love.

Morning came around and Ace was absolutely exhausted. He'd been so excited he hadn't been able to fall asleep until around three in the morning, meaning he'd only gotten a good three hours worth of sleep. He gave a large yawn as he bused another table, catching Jessica's eye. The owner of the restaurant headed over to the tired freckled male with a concerned look. "Hey, Ace, you alright?"

"Yeah, I am," he answered, throwing her a tired smile. "I just didn't get enough sleep last night is all."

"Do you want to go home? It's not that busy and I can call in someone else to take your place."

"No, no! I'm fine, really. Thank you, though."

"Alright, if you insist." Jessica patted him on the back before heading back toward the kitchen to make sure everything was on track. Ace scolded himself, lightly slapping his cheek to keep himself awake. He could do this. He only had four and half more hours to work. Then he could go home and…

Oh. Oh. Great. He forgot all about the big event that was to take place after he got home.

Marco would be meeting Garp today.

He let out a loud groan and smacked his head against the nearest wall, catching the attention of almost every diner in the room. Ace was not ready to deal with his grandfather when he got so little sleep, he just wasn't. Maybe the restaurant would get so busy that Ace would be forced to work a double shift! But the chances of that happening on a Wednesday was low, and he slumped his shoulders in defeat.

Today was going to be a long day.

Marco was feeling a little nervous, but, then again, who wouldn't? Ace had told him his grandfather was none other than Garp the Hero, a famous Vice-Admiral who'd been serving for many years. The blond could only hope everything would work out alright. He slowly paced in Ace's living room as he waited for the freckled male to come home from work. The door's lock clicked, and Marco turned to face the person.

"Ace–" He cut himself off when he realized it was not Ace, nor was it Luffy. It was Garp, Ace's grandfather, and he'd shown up nearly an hour early. The marine looked at the blond before raising an eyebrow.

"Can I help you with anything?"

"No, sir, yoi. I'm waiting for Ace to come home."

"Who are you? You look quite familiar," Garp asked, going into the kitchen and coming out with a container of rice crackers. "Cracker?"

"No thank you. My name is Marco Ph–"

"Marco Phoenix! Whitebeard's boy!" the marine suddenly exclaimed. "Nice to meet you. So, how do you know my grandson?"

"Well, you see, I'm–"

"Marco, I'm home." Both Marco and Garp stopped to look at Ace who, literally, dragged himself into the living. Ace smiled at Marco before suddenly realizing there was one more male occupying the room. And it wasn't Luffy.

"Ace! How's my grandson doing? You never call anymore! How about an ol' Fist of Love?" Ace visibly paled and began to back away.

"N-No, really, Gramps, that's alright! Y-You don't have to…" But there was no reasoning with the old marine, and soon a fist came crashing down on the top of his head. "O-Ow…" It left Ace's world spinning as he cradled his injured skull and Garp only laughed at his reaction.

"I missed you, Ace! You know, maybe I'll visit more often, check up on you two. Where's Luffy, anyway? I miss his cheeky grin."

"He's at school right now," Ace managed to get out, silently cursing on how lucky Luffy was.

"I see. That's unfortunate, I have to be gone in two hours. So, you said you needed to talk to me face to face?" Garp asked, raising an eyebrow. Ace had never made such a request before and it certainly had the old marine curious. Ace made his way over to Marco and grabbed his hand, taking in a deep breath.

"Gramps, this is my boyfriend. Marco." A silence fell in the room and time seemed to freeze. The tension in the air became so thick that even Zoro would have had a hard time cutting it. Garp stared directly at Ace while Ace stared straight back at him.

Luffy entered the room, bag of crackers in hand and backpack on his back, and stopped; taking in the situation with quiet eyes. He then continued on, walking in between everyone to head to his room to start his homework and quite possibly hide in his closet until Garp left.

"When did you two start dating?" Garp asked, finally breaking the silence.

"Two days ago. I went to Whitebeard yesterday to ask for his approval."

"I wanted to ask you for your approval, too, yoi," Marco said. "May I have your permission to date your grandson?" Garp threw the blond the look. You know, the look that said, Right now I am looking into the very depths of your soul to see what kind of person you are. He circled the blond like a vulture, eagle-eyeing Marco.

Finally, he stopped in front of the blond. The two had a stare down, Garp's gray eyes staring into Marco's azure ones. Beside Marco, Ace was biting the inside of his cheek as he anxiously awaited his grandfather's response. Well, not that it really mattered. He'd still go on dating Marco regardless of what Garp's answer was, but it would still mean a lot to him if he got the marine's blessing. However, the suspense was killing him, and the fact that he got so little sleep was not helping his patience at all.



Ace almost fainted as he released the breath he'd been holding. "Thank you," he breathed.

"But if you so much as hurt Ace, I will–" But Marco stopped listening to old marine the moment Ace suddenly collapsed to the floor. The blond was quick to crouch down beside him, worry filling his eyes.

"O-Oi, Ace!" Marco felt a deep fear suddenly grow within him. He didn't understand, Ace wasn't sick anymore or anything. Why would he collapse? He was about to reach for his phone and dial 911 when Garp burst into laughter behind him, and Marco actually jumped at the sudden sound. The blond was thrown into confusion, should Garp be concerned for his grandson?

"I see Ace forgot to take his medicine today!"

'Medicine? What medicine? Does Ace have some kind of illness that requires him to take medication everyday? It's not terminal, is it?' So many thoughts ran through Marco's mind, and it was when the blond looked like he was about to have a heart attack did Garp finally speak up again.

"Easy there, Phoenix. Don't get your feathers all ruffled up. I'm guessing Ace never mentioned his narcolepsy?"

"Narcolepsy…?" He looked down at Ace and finally realized the man was quietly snoring. Relief suddenly flooded his mind and he ran a hand through his hair, a weak chuckle leaving him. "Of course he has narcolepsy," he murmured, shaking his head. Garp patted him on the back, rather hard, mind you, and laugh once more.

"Make sure to take care of him, alright?"

"I will," Marco answered.

"Good. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go say hi to my other grandson." Garp exited the room and headed right for Luffy's.

After a moment of silence, Luffy's cries for help could be heard echoing throughout the house as his received his own special Fist of Love. Marco chuckled once more. And here he thought his family was crazy. It was practically nothing compared to Ace's.

And honestly, Marco wouldn't want it any other way.

A/N: Garp stayed until he had to leave, and he left many a damaged skulls. Also, cant write Garp for my life. All I know is that he likes rice crackers (I THINK) and he laughs a lot 'cause he slightly on the crazy side. I'M SORRY I'M SORRY I'M SORRY IT TOOK SO LONG I'M SORRYYYY. Anyway, there's one more chapter left to this! I'll try to get it out quickly so you won't have to wait again. Q_Q And again, thank you for your kind reviews!

And psst. Check the poll please, if you haven't already. Thanks~

Your shy ice elemental,
~»roo the psycho«