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Chapter Text

“You’re going to have to make a choice,” Sabo states in Ace’s ear, the camera balanced on his knee. “You can’t keep putting the client off, he’ll start to think that you’ve backed out the deal.”

“And if I did? Back out of the deal?” Ace asks watching Marco move through his kitchen. There was music playing but it was too far away to tell what it was or if Marco hummed along with it the way that Ace liked to think he did. “What then?”

“Then we need to make plans,” Sabo pauses and Ace already knows what is going to come out of his mouth. “He doesn’t know you. There’s no way that you can make anything out of this.”

Ace watches Marco pick up his phone, one of his brothers or sisters, there were no lovers to worry about, “I know. Can I get three more days to think over what I want to do?”

“I can get us that. Ace,” Ace hums thoughtfully. “If you do this and you, if you care this much, we are going to have to take down whoever hired us.”

“I’m sure Koala would love that. She hated the guy when she met him and she’s been trying to convince us this was a bad idea.”

“Cut!”

Ace blinks up at the camera crew, pulling out the ear piece that let him hear Sabo speaking his lines off screen, “Was that better?”

“Much better,” Whitebeard laughs, clapping his hands together. “Alright, take a break and we’ll start back up later.”

“Marco!” Ace bounces to his feet and hurries over to him, hugging him tightly. “Where you listening to that silly jazz music that you like?”

“It’s not silly music,” Marco states running a hand down Ace’s back. “And you like it well enough when I dance with you.”

Ace grins, “Do I? Really?”

“Come on, we have reservations for lunch and it takes forever for you to change out of your costume.”

“Okay!

Chapter Text

“What do you think of love?” Marco asks softly, eyes glowing in the light of Ace’s hotarubi. “You never did say the last time someone asked you.”

Ace sighs through his nose, resting his chin on his folded arms to avoid looking at Marco as he tried to think of how to word himself for a long moment, the hotarubi flickering out slowly as his concentration wavered. Marco watches him, head tipped to the side just enough to see his face, to see what Ace would say.

“Love is strong and,” Ace pauses considering. “And dangerous. One of the most powerful things in the world. People would do anything for love.”

“That sounds like you’ve been thinking of an answer. But that’s not what I meant, Ace.”

“What?”

“When someone talks about love, they always have some idea or relationship or story in mind. Even I do,” Marco says smiling. “But you, you haven’t told us what you imagine when you hear about love. What idea is in your thoughts.”

“You haven’t told me yours either,” Ace shoots back, looking away from Marco quickly. “It’s not fair for you to ask and you haven’t told me.”

“That’s true,” Marco agrees easily. “Do you want to hear it? I’ve got more than enough time to tell you the story. Or at least the shorter version of the story. It won’t take more than a few moments.”

“If you want to hear mine then I want to hear yours.”

Marco leans back against the wall and glances at the stars, “A woman fell in love with sky, she wanted to able to touch it the way that the birds could, the way that all flying creatures could, except she was unable to leave the ground. When she was little, she thought if she jumped from a high enough tree that she could reach it. She never did, for all that she broke the bones in her legs when she landed.”

“That sounds too painful for her to still love it after all of that.”

“Her heart was set and she couldn’t let it go. Not when her legs broke or when she was banned from anything that would be too tall. Now, the sky wasn’t oblivious to this woman’s affections, it heard and saw and knew. But it thought, like all children who loved the sky, one day her love would waver.”

“Did it?”

Marco shakes his head, “Not once. Not when she when and was told she would marry, not when she was told that she needed to take her head from the clouds, and not even when they tried to force her to remain indoors. In fact on the day of her wedding, she ran away, to the highest cliff on their island and stood on the edge reaching to the sky.”

“Did she get caught?”

“She did and she stood on the edge of the cliff and stepped off rather than to be taken home. She couldn’t bare to be kept from even trying to be near the sky. In the end,” Marco says sadly. “She died for what she loved.”

Ace stares at him for a long minute, “She didn’t, the sky couldn’t do anything?”

“The sky doesn’t have any powers and so when the woman dropped to her death, all it could do was watch and mourn for someone had loved it so much. Will you tell me now?”

“My mother. She loved my father, loved him and continued to love him even after he died. She refused to even consider that she, what she, was doing because of him would end in her dying.”

“Doing?”

“Mom, she got pregnant when the Marines were hunting for Gol D Roger’s lover and she was unlucky enough to live on Baterrila,” Ace pauses and his knuckles go white for a moment. “She, my father was already dead by the time that it was announced, the hunt. And she loved him, loved me, so much that she found out how to delay her pregnancy. I was born a year later, so that I would live, and mom died.”

Marco blinks slowly, “She must have loved you to have done something so draining. More than anything. Is that what you think of?”

“No, I think of how she loved my father so much that she would rather have him than someone who could love her more than anything.”

“If he died before you were born, how do you know that he didn’t love her more than anything? It’s not as if you can know his thoughts or why he did things.”

“He was selfish and childish and he loved the ocean more than he could ever have loved my mother. Even though she loved him more than anything,” Ace pauses and finally glances at him. “Gramps told me.”

Marco leans forward, one of his hands sliding up Ace’s back, it always shocked him how feverishly warm his skin was, “Sometimes the way people see things from the outside isn’t how it was. You don’t know what your mother thought or what your father did.”

“I know enough,” Ace pauses and glances away from him, arms tightening around his knees. “I, it’s never stopped me. From falling in love.”

“Oh?”

“I love my brother and I love our crew.”

“That’s not the kind of love that we’re discussing, Ace.”

Ace flushes, barely visible in the night light and for a moment Marco regrets that the hotarubi went out. He likes when he’s been able to fluster Ace enough for it to show on his face, for him to react and be unable to hide it.

“I love people.”

“I’m sure you do, but maybe, maybe you should give it more of a chance. Just because it ended poorly once for someone doesn’t mean that,” Marco is cut off, hands tugging on the collar of his shirt, until Ace is closer. Close enough that Marco can almost count the freckles spreading across his cheeks. “Ace?”

Ace doesn’t answers, eyes flickering over Marco’s face as if he’s searching for something. Hunting for some ephemeral thing that Marco isn’t even sure exists or could be spotted, before nodding.

“Ace?”

“I l-,” Ace swallows hard, but doesn’t break eye contact. “I love you.”

“I know, you love all-”

Ace kisses him before he can finish and Marco’s heart leaps in his chest, breath frozen in his lungs as his mind seems to skip like a record. “I love you,” Ace repeats. “Or I think I do.”

Marco presses their mouths back together, one of his hands curving around Ace’s cheek, lingering for a moment before he pulls back, “I love you.”

“I noticed,” Ace says grinning brightly, hands no longer holding Marco close, instead just grasping them, like he needs to hold something for this to be real. “I- Izo says you’re suppose to date someone before you fall in love with them.”

“Love is weird and it doesn’t follow rules. May I kiss you?”

“Yes,” Ace says already leaning in for another kiss. “I love you.”

Chapter Text

Marco stares at his mark, curling around his left hip and easily hidden with his pants and sash, and feels his heart stutter in his chest. He doesn’t know when it showed up, it’s been weeks since he’s stumbled into his room and turned on the lights before stripping and his showers are normally fast. Rarely does he linger and that’s when they fill up the tub in the commander’s shared bathroom and even then it’s been months.

Gol D Ace is orange like the flickering of the candle he keeps on his bedside table. It’s-

“When did you get here?” Marco whispers softly, brushing his fingers over the name in confusion. “Roger’s been dead for over a year, little one, how do you exist?”

There’s only one option for who this is, for who they must be with Roger’s last name. Everyone knew that Gol D Roger had no family. No one to carry on his name, which meant one of two things.

One, someone had named their child with Gol D Roger’s last name. Which he doubts. Or-

Or Roger’s child had been born, though he doubts they’ll live. They’ve got the whole world hunting them, if they aren’t dead already.

Ace probably lived long enough to breath his first and barely any longer. No one would let Roger’s child live, not the marines at least and Marco know’s they have been hunting for Roger’s family. Who ever that was.

“I’m sorry, yoi” Marco tells the name and can almost, over the shock and confusion, bring himself to feel sorry. “That you didn’t make it this far. That you never got to live your life. I’m sure you would have been amazing.”

He covers the name, unable to bare looking at the promise of someone who could one day have been his. That he might have become friends with or maybe even more.

Now he just had to keep the name hidden from the rest of his family until it faded, he didn’t think he could bare to hear them teasing or trying to find out where Gol D Ace could have been. After all, he could only stand pretending that Ace was alive for so long, he couldn’t let it be for more than a second. He had too much else to do.


“When did you get this,” Izo demands pointing at Marco. “I can’t believe you never-”

“Oh Izo, leave him alone,” Thatch shouts from the tub that could easily fit their Oyaji. “Just because Marco got a new tattoo and didn’t tell you doesn’t mean that you can shout at the poor guy!”

Izo ignores Thatch, fan still pointing at Marco’s nose, “That is a name, Marco.”

“I’m waiting for it to fade,” Marco states, arms crossing over his chest as he tries to ignore the way Izo’s eyes flash. “There’s no way he survived.”

“That’s what you think. As long as the name is there, it means that your soulmate is alive!”

“That doesn’t prove anything, yoi. Names can take years to fade or have you forgotten Jozu?”

“And Jozu’s faded more than that!” Izo snaps. “It’s bright enough to be neon!”

“Ace can’t be alive!” Marco shouts. “He can’t!”

Izo jerks back, his eyes going wide, “Marco?”

“He can’t, yoi. Not with that name. It’s,” He ducks his head, refusing to look over at any of his siblings. “It’s impossible, yoi.”

The silence was loud, so loud that Marco’s ears are ringing with it as he stares at his feet. At the ground and anything but his siblings.

“What’s his name?” Haruta asks finally. “You said he, didn’t you?”

Marco swallows heavily, “Ace, yoi. Gol D Ace.”

“Oh, Marco,” Izo says softly, eyes going wide. “Is that why you?”

“We can’t tell anyone,” Haruta says interrupting them. “It’s bad enough that his name is on your skin, if someone finds out that Ace’s alive, and he has to be if your words are that bright still, than they will never stop hunting him.”

“Between us and Oyaji,” Jiru mutters tiredly. “We can hide your mark easily, which is the only reason we’re going to get away with this.”

“You think he’s alive.”

Izo frowns at him, arms crossed, “As long as those words are orange and look like a toddler’s favorite shade, than he has to be alive.”

“And, you think that- you think Ace’s alive.”

“We do, but don’t worry we’ll keep it a secret.”


“You should have said something, son,” Oyaji says softly, smiling. “We don’t care who your soulmate is, you know that don’t you?”

Marco nods, “I don’t want to get my hopes up, yoi. I don’t want to get so excited about meeting him, only to find the name is dull.”

“Marco.”

“He’s the son of the most wanted man in the world, Oyaji. Someone like that wouldn’t, couldn’t survive. Not with the Marines searching for him.”

“Maybe, for once in your life, son, you should focus on the fact there’s something happy to look forward to. A friend, maybe something more if you both decide on that.”

Marco looks away, “I’ll try, yoi.”


“He’s got the right first name,” Kingdew mutters softly, looking at Portgas D Ace try to talk with Izo, finally relaxing after agreeing to join their crew. “An’ who would let their kid run around with that last name, not when everyone knows that it’s going to get him killed.”

“We aren’t going to play this,” Marco mutters darkly, frowning at them over his coffee. “It’s too much of a risk to ask if someone is him, you know that as much as I do.”

“Well if you would let us look at your mark again,” Thatch whispers.

“No, it’s bad enough that you know his name, yoi.”

Izo rolls his eyes, “You just don’t like the color of the name.”

“That isn’t the problem and you know it. Leave him alone,” Kingdew insists. “He is your type however and don’t think we don’t know you think he’s attractive.”

Haruta waggles her eyebrows as she leans over the table, “He is your type. Dark hair and light eyes? Muscles for days.”

“I should have drown you,” Marco hisses trying not to kick at her. “Honestly, Haruta, yoi.”

“He’s your type and he’s not as much of a brat as we thought he was,” Haruta continues like she hadn’t been interrupted. “You’ve always been attracted to that sort of thing.”

“A person isn’t a thing,” Thatch mutters.

“Attractive as hell,” Haruta states like she hadn’t already. “Admit it, Marco.”

“I’m going to need you to stop talking about Marco being attracted to people,” Jozu states with the same kind of bored calm that he always does. “It’s bad enough the first time we caught him flirting with someone.”

“I’m not allowed to find people attractive, yoi?”

“No, you’re going to have to become a monk and never find anyone attractive. That’s how it works,” Thatch states.

“Sorry to bother you,” Ace says suddenly, startling them from their conversation. “Do you who I have to see for placement in a division?”

“That,” Izo says smiling like he’s won something. “Would be Marco. Marco, won’t you help Ace?”

Marco frowns at his siblings, “Come on, Ace, I’ll help you get settled.”

“Thanks,” Ace says bouncing on his toes.


“I think,” Ace pauses and bites his lower lip, siting on the edge of Marco’s bed like he always does when they’re alone. “I think you should know about my soulmate, since we’ve been, you know.”

“Dating,” Marco says smiling up at him, looking away from his paperwork to see him. “We’re dating, yoi.”

“That. Since we’re dating, you should know, about my name,” Ace spins the leather band on his wrist slowly. “It, it’s not why I agreed to date you, you know.”

“I don’t understand, yoi.”

Ace glances away from him, undoing the strap and turning his wrist to face Marco, Marco’s name printed in soft letters traced with fire and atop one of Phoenix’s feathers, “It’s not why I said I would go out with you.”

“Oh,” Marco reaches for his name, his name, pausing before he can brush his fingers over it. “That’s my name.”

“I didn’t find it out until after you asked me out, you don’t, you don’t transform all the way very often,” He moves his wrist closer, letting Marco touch him.

“I think it’s only fair that you see mine too,” Marco says finally. “Not as easy to show you, yoi, but I can. I’m not taking off my pants.”

“Uncomfortably located?” Ace teases, even though he looks sad. Like he already knows that the name isn’t his.

Marco shakes his head, “My hip, yoi. Somewhere that we can’t see normally, but not that bad,” He pauses. “There.”

“T-that’s your name?” Ace asks softly, looking all too entranced with the name on Marco’s skin. “You’ve had that name on your hip for years?”

“You don’t seem upset, it’s not yours.”

Ace takes a breath, “Did I ever tell you that Portgas was my mother’s name?” He glances up at Marco, smiling shyly. “I told Oyaji months ago, he laughed himself sick.”

“Ace?”

“Mom, she loved my dad. She loved him and I don’t understand why she would love him so much. Not when he was the monster that everyone told me, that people insisted he had to be,” He pauses for a long moment. “Mom gave me his last name, Gol D Roger’s son should share his father’s name.”

Marco stops, “Ace, yoi.”

“My mom named me Gol D Ace, for my father, but Gramps gave me her name, since it would be safer.”

“It’s you,” Marco says slowly. “You’re?”

“Me?” Ace asks.

“You’re real, yoi.”

Ace laughs, finally touching his name, the one that had been printed onto Marco’s skin, “Of course I’m real.”

“I thought you were dead. They killed so many people looking for you.”

“Mom extended her pregnancy, just so they wouldn’t find me. It, it killed her,” Ace explains softly. “She did it to protect me. I, I always thought that you were going to be my soulmate, but I wasn’t going to be yours.”

“I think we were both wrong yoi,” Marco says softly, sitting down on the bed. “At least in this case.”

“Yeah, at least in this case.”

Chapter Text

Ace sits quietly in a corner, his arms crossed over his knees as he listens to the sound of the crew shouting and laughing on the main deck. They had been planning this party for ages, Ace could tell that much when he had overheard their plans.

That’s why he had hidden himself away in the darkest room that he could get to, the most abandoned of the rooms that he had seen when he had been trying to kill Oyaji. The dust trails hadn’t been disturbed from his last visit, except the places where he could tell Kotatsu had been, trying to look for him, Ace is sure.

“Now,” He whispers. “We just have to hide out here until tomorrow, when the party will be over and it’s too late to throw another one.”

Kotatsu bats at the hand that Ace uses to rub his belly, purring when Ace scratched at a particularly stubborn itch.

“But you’ll keep me company, won’t you?”

Ace knows that he won’t get an answer, Kotatsu can’t speak the same languages that Ace can and Ace can’t understand cat anymore now than he could before, but it’s less lonely when he talks to him.

“You’re looking comfy.”

“Marco? How’d’ya-”

“Find you?” Marco finishes easily. “It wasn’t hard. You weren’t exactly hiding.”

“I was too!”

“Why are you hiding, Ace?”

Ace ducks his head, “Someone I care about always dies on my birthday.”

“Every year?”

“Not every year, but often enough to mean it’s not my imagination. First it was my mom and then it was members of my crew or allies-”

Marco kneels down in front of him, “You know, there’s a way to break curses, don’t you?”

“By killing the caster?”

“A little simpler than that,” Marco grins. “True love’s kiss.”

Ace flushes darker than the beads on his necklace, “K-kiss?”

“You’ve kissed people before this, you said as much.”

“But you just!”

“I could kiss you and see if it fixes it,” Marco offers brushing a hand through Ace’s hair. “And if not, I’m sure that I can keep trying.”

“This is just an excuse to kiss me, isn’t it,” Ace mutters darkly.

“Do I need an excuse?”

Chapter Text

Marco watches Ace from his spot against the railing, arms crossed over his chest as he tries to catch sight of the mark that Ace had admitted to having. His gaze moves over Ace’s back and jumps to his legs, already knowing it’s impossible to tell if there’s something hidden beneath his shorts, ending with a frown at his boots.

“Son?”

“Yes Oyaji?” Marco asks refusing to look at Whitebeard. “Do you need something?”

“You’re looking intensely at Ace. Did he do something wrong?” Whitebeard asks curiously. “His reports were turned in on time and I know that he has been causing less damage than he would normally.”

Marco snorts, “Ace hasn’t done anything wrong.”

“Something more personal?”

“He,” Marco glances at him. “He has a soulmate.”

Whitebeard raises an eyebrow, “You have a soulmate yourself, son.”

“Platonic and dead now. Ace never mentions his, which means-”

“You’re borrowing trouble, son.”

Marco huffs part of a laugh, broken because those aren’t his Oyaji’s words, they belong to someone gone. Someone who was far too good at making Marco do what they had wanted, some dead and gone. He misses his soulmate, who would beat his head in because he was mooning like this.

“It could be platonic.”

“We won’t know until they meet and,” He stops because Ace is spinning around in a circle, flames darting over his skin and his laughter echoing, “I don’t know if I’m able to cope with that.”

“With him leaving you?”

Marco flinches, “You didn’t have to state it, Oyaji.”

“Son.”

Marco doesn’t get the chance to answer, Ace bouncing over the deck, out of breath and still laughing, “Marco!”

“Ace?”

“Come and spar with me! Kingdew showed me this new move and I want to test it out on someone, but Jozu’s too busy and Thatch is being a baby!

Marco smiles, hoping it doesn’t look forced, as Thatch squawks in outrage, “That sounds like it would be fun. But, if it’s one of Kingdew’s moves, I think we should probably head below deck, so you don’t get launched into the ocean.”

“I wouldn’t!”

“Are you sure,” Marco teases, something in his chest still throbbing. “I think you’re perfectly capable of ending up in the ocean. Again. It’s been almost three hundred times, hasn’t it?”

“It has not!” Ace ducks his head. “Only two hundred and eighty six.”

“Close enough.”

Ace punches him in the shoulder gently, “Come on, spar?”

“Come on, I think your favorite training room is free.”


Ace traces the mark hidden high on Marco’s bicep, letting him sleep as his fingers trace the long sweeping lines of the mark, memorizing it. Everyone knew that Marco’s soulmate, best friend and sibling, had been dead for years and that it pained him, but the mark was still there, bright and colorful on Marco’s skin.

“Must have been something,” Ace whispers softly. “To catch your attention. Thatch says they were interesting and brilliant and caring. Sounds like they were a saint.”

“Not a saint,” Marco mutters against his pillow. “Too rude to be a saint.”

Ace snorts, “Still, sounds like quite the character.”

“They were somethin’,” Marco yawns. “I miss them. I’m sure you’ll understand when you meet yours and have to leave them.”

“I miss Lu all the time. I can’t imagine not being able to see him again,” Ace agrees, one hand sliding over the back of his neck, where his hair hid his nape. “It must have burned.”

Marco blinks at him, “Lu?”

“Lu,” Ace repeats slowly. “We’re soulmates, me and Lu.”

“You and,” Marco blinks and frowns in what Ace can only assume is confusion, “You mean your little brother?”

“Yeah. Lu and I are soulmates, have always been. Gramps laughed himself sick when he found out. Something about it being the whole family.”

Marco is still looking at him, “Garp’s soulmate is Sengoku, they’re been close for years. Luffy is your soulmate?”

“I thought you knew,” Ace says the same way he speaks to Luffy when his brother has confused him. “I talk about him all the time.”

“Brother complex.”

Ace laughs, burying his face into Marco’s hair, “I mean, that’s probably true, but Luffy’s my soulmate, of course I worry about him more than anything. What did you think I was going to meet my soul-” He stops. “Marco.”

“I didn’t know if you had met and I-”

“You’re stupid. I love you,” Ace can feel Marco stop moving in surprise. “But you’re so stupid. My soulmate isn’t going to make me leave you, even if they were romantic. Who just drops a lover because they met a soulmate, I don’t even know them, even if fate says they’re mine. You’re more important than that.”

“I love you too.”

“I still think you’re an idiot,” Ace warns. “But you’re my idiot. Don’t forget that.”

Marco nods, “Tell me more about him?”

“About who? Lu?”

“Mhm.”

“Always. You better listen well,” Ace warns. “There’s a test at the end.”

Marco laughs, “I’ll listen.”

Chapter Text

Ace hisses, quickly patching up the wound on his shoulder and pulling on his shirt, making sure the bandage hid it carefully even as Koala rolled her eyes at him.

“You could take the day off, Dragon wouldn’t care,” She smirks. “Or is this for the cute blond that’s been coming in the last week?”

“We both know that it’s for the cute blond,” Ace states buttoning his shirt up and swiping one of the aprons from the hooks. “We’re here for another week and I will be damned if I don’t get something from him.”

“Considering the way he tried to invite you out and was foiled by his own men yesterday?” Koala teases.

Ace sighs, “I know and who knows if he’ll even like Ace the Revolutionary as much as he likes Ace the bartender. I at least want to have a date before that. I saw a new ship pull into port when I was breaking into the Marine Base.”

“Not more pirates,” She groans. “If one more person grabs my ass.”

“It’s a fantastic ass,” Ace offers, grinning when she glares at him. “You act like they don’t go after mine just as badly.”

“I have bounced a beli off of it on a bet,” Koala says because she’s a horrible person. “Come on, I see your pirate sitting at the bar.”

“Marco,” Ace says sliding through the door and waving at him. “You’re here early today.”

“Oyaji has a meeting with one of his allies,” Marco states smiling back at him, cheek resting in his palm. “I tend to avoid him when I can. Besides, it means that the bar is less crowded this afternoon.”

Ace hums noting the lack of people as he fixes Marco up his usual drink and leans against the counter as he drinks it, eyes lingering on his mouth.

“But not you?”

“Not me. Actually Ace,” Marco leans forward and Ace’s heart throbs because maybe this is it?

“Marco!”

Ace is going to murder someone. He’s going to murder them and he’s sure that Dragon will forgive him because he is this close to finally getting a date for the first time since the whole horrible incident where everyone thought he and Koala would be cute since they were the same age and would make such cute children.

“Shanks,” Marco sighs tiredly. “I am a little busy.”

Shanks, Red Hair Captain, blinks between Ace and Marco before his eyes go wide, “Are you flirting? Benn! Benn!”

Marco groans, “I’m so sorry.”

“Ace?”

“Sabo!”

“I thought you were going to be at Saboady for a while,” Sabo says shoving past his captain and all but climbing over the counter to hug Ace. “I missed you, where’s Koala?”

“I see how it is, I, your brother, play second fiddle to your girlfriend,” Ace laughs hugging him back. “She’s in the back. Probably trying to kill someone. She’s been mad about something.”

Sabo sighs, “Wish me luck.”

“Good luck!” Ace waves glancing back at Marco nervously.

“Sabo’s brothers are a pirate and a revolutionary,” Marco states watching Ace curiously. “I’m going to assume you aren’t the pirate.”

“Does that mean you aren’t going to ask me out?” Ace asks pouting.

Marco laughs, “No, just curious. I’m still interested in asking you out.”

Chapter Text

Whitebeard gets involved the fourth time that Ace punches Marco in the face, taking him to his room so that he didn’t have to deal with the pressure of the whole family hearing this confrontation.

“Ace,” His youngest looks up at him in confusion. “Why did you punch Marco?”

Ace’s face wrinkles in confusion, “Should I not punch Marco in the face? Does he not like it?”

“No one likes to be punched in the face, son.”

“Than how am I suppose ta let Marco know that I like him? Aren’t you suppose to punch people when you like them?”

Whitebeard pauses, eyebrow arching upwards and watching him for a long silent moment, his mind already connecting several dots.

“You’re suppose to punch the people you like?”

“Gramps says that’s how you flirt with them. Does-,” He looks nervous. “Does Marco not like me? I’ll stop if he doesn’t want me to flirt with him. I would have asked, but Gramps says that telling them was wrong.”

“You don’t punch people that you like, Ace. Your Gramps should never have told you that, it’s not how that works. If you like someone, you tell them. You just have to talk to them.”

Ace makes a face, “Then how do you flirt?” He demands. “Flirting has to be a thing, right? I heard Izo tell Thatch to stop doing it. How can I flirt with Marco?”

“Son, I don’t know if I’m the best person for you-”

“Who should I ask, Oyaji?”

“You could ask Izo,” Whitebeard states finally after a long moment of thought. “Izo would be able to talk to you about flirting and not in such a way as Thatch.”

“Thatch?”

“Thatch flirts in a way that I wouldn’t agree with. But Izo,” He smiles at his son, already knowing Ace’s answer. “Or you could ask Marco how to flirt with him.”


Marco flinches when he spots Ace already at his side, remembering the fist that had slammed into his face the last time this had happened.

“Can I ask you something?” Ace asks after a long moment of silence, his hands behind his back. “Please.”

“You can.”

“So I asked Izo first, but he just didn’t make any sense and Thatch made less sense and Oyaji said that he didn’t know what to tell me and you’re the last one that I can ask-”

“Ace, what are you trying to ask me? It’s fine.”

Ace rubs the back of his neck, “How can I flirt with you?”

“What?” Marco states staring at him and feeling like the ground vanished from under his feet and he was falling. “Ace?”

“Oyaji says punching people isn’f flirting, that’s what Gramps told us when Luffy and I were younger. And I talked to Izo and Thatch and they were just confusing, you know?”

“You’ve been trying to flirt with me? Me? Like you want to date me?” Marco asks making sure he understood.

“Yes?”

Marco grabs Ace’s shoulders, pulling him closer and kissing him soundly, refusing to stop for a long moment. He pulls back only slightly before kissing him again.

“I like you,” Marco says resting his forehead against Ace’s.

Ace laughs, arms wrapping around Marco’s neck, “I like you too,” He kisses Marco. “Does this mean I don’t have to learn how to flirt?

Chapter Text

“You should stop that,” Marco states leaning back in his chair. “The students aren’t going to listen to you.”

“Listen?” Ace asks looking up from his paperwork. “They’re not going to listen after my introduction.”

“Why wouldn’t they?”

Ace smiles, “A second Mr. Newgate? It’s a boarding school, they’re going to ask.”

“There are six Mr. Newgates.”

“And I was Mr. Portgas last year,” Ace adds.

Marco snorts, “That might get noticed.”

Chapter Text

“You have to stop pretending to be Elsa,” Marco says glance at Ace as he smears Spackle over the newest burn on their ceiling. “I know Luffy likes to hear you sing Let it Go, but we can’t afford to keep repairing the ceiling every time he convinces you to sing it for him.”

“I didn’t mean to burn it! I just,” Ace looks embarrassed. “The students in my class think it’s cool and I wanted to practice, you know?”

“Not on the house,” Marco states dropping down onto the ground finally finished. “You are not practicing in the house again. I like it in one piece.”

“I suppose that we can’t live in the house if I have burned it down,” Ace agrees softly, his arms over his chest.

Marco laughs, tugging Ace closer, “You can’t. Not if the house is ashes.”

“You would until the first rain storm,” Ace teases. “And the water would drive you to find somewhere else to sleep.”

“That’s just rude,” Marco says wrapping his arms around Ace’s waist. “You are being mean to me again.”

“Being mean,” Ace grins, his flames twisting around his hands as he brushes them over his face. “I would never. But I might burn the area down just for you.”

“Or just our bedroom,” Marco says softly. “Which is fireproof. You know. Instead of the not fireproof rest of the house.”

“Our room sounds like a good place.”

Chapter Text

“I thought I was suppose to meet up with one of your men an hour ago,” White Bay snaps throwing open the door to Marco’s office. “You said it was too dangerous to have me come here and your boy didn’t even make the appointment.”

Marco freezes, “Didn’t make it?”

“I’m guessing your boy was trustworthy?”

“Considering I was sending Ace,” Marco answers watching the understanding settle over her. “Which means something happened.”

“I didn’t think you literally meant your boy,” Bay mutters darkly. “I like Ace.”

“That’s why I picked him. You want me to Vista next time?”

“I like Vista!”

Marco hums grabbing his phone, already tapping down to where Ace had given him the number for his only living family.

“Hello!”

“Luffy, this is Marco. Have you seen Ace today?”

Luffy hums thoughtfully, “Oh yeah! We saw him when we went to visit Vivi! He was looking for something and I guess he found it?”

“Found what, do you know?”

“Hm,” Marco can almost see Luffy frowning. “White nose? No that isn’t it. Zoro, who was Ace looking for?”

“Black beard,” Marco doesn’t know who shouts it but he feels himself freeze.

“Yeah, that’s who he was going after,” Luffy agrees brightly.

“Thanks Luffy,” Marco hangs up the phone already headed for his door, Bay falling in behind him. “I’m gonna kill him.”

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Bay offers.

“Knowing my idiot husband?” Marco says raising an eyebrow. “We should be moving faster.”

Chapter Text

“Well you look attractive,” Marco says grinning as Ace stepped out the office with his vest hanging over his shoulder. “Where is Pops sending you?”

“Africa,” Ace answers dropping the vest as he steps closer, “Something about how I was well behaved and I deserved to have a chance to work with my favorite co-worker.”

Marco raises an eyebrow, “I think you might say something entirely different when we’re both getting shot at. You always complain when someone starts to shoot at us.”

“Because you always get us in trouble,” Ace teases with a grin. “Always saying that we’ll be fine and then getting us shot at.”

“I’m not the one that got in trouble with the Prince the last time we worked together,” Marco reminds him, tugging Ace down onto the chair with him. “I seem to remember that he thought you were after his wife.”

“I would never,” Ace tilts his head. “She was mean and she said you looked like a pineapple.”

“You said that just last week.”

“And I mean it as your loving boyfriend. She meant it to be rude. Now, what are we doing in Africa? Pops was rather vague. Something about taking out a small time drug lord?”

“Think big time drug lord and think hired by the military. Apparently we have been carefully picked out because of how well and how often we work with the military.”

“I knew doing all those jobs for Gramps would shoot us in the foot one day,” Ace sighs. “Fine, but I want to stop over in Egypt. Luffy wants pictures of the pyramids for his next project and it’s not that far out the way.”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

Dancing is something that Marco and Ace don’t do often. There isn’t time to do so when they’re both so busy and with so much paperwork to do between the two of them.

“Dance with me?” Marco asks, their paperwork still piled high and their room a mess, both of them more than a little drunk from the night before which only ended about two hours ago.

“Dance?” Ace asks blinking wide eyes at him. “You want to dance? Now?”

“We have time,” Marco says still holding his hand out. “Are you saying that you don’t want to?”

Ace takes his hand, “I would never say no.”

“Thank you,” Marco says dragging Ace close and humming as he started to slowly spin in a circle. “This is much more fun than paperwork, don’t you think?”

“I do think it’s more fun than paperwork,” Ace says smiling.

“Why do I hear a but?” Marco says grinning.

“I like when you hold me like this. Like you’re never going to let go.”

Marco laughs, kissing him softly, “I like that too.”

Chapter Text

Marco stares blankly at Ace, smiling happy Ace, from his spot at Oyaji’s side. His mug tilting dangerously to the side, his focus on Ace instead of his booze.

“You are distracted son,” Whitebeard says calmly. “Something on your mind?”

“I’m fine,” Marco answers mechanically.

“You sound perfectly fine.”

Marco blinks as something cold drips on to his leg, cursing softly as he rights his mug and adjusts his seat to have a space on the armrest to set his mug down.

“Back with us, son?” Whitebeard asks smiling at him.

“I haven’t been moving,” Marco says raising an eyebrow. “I haven’t been anywhere either.”

“You certainly weren’t here, son.”

“Marco left?” Ace asks curiously. “But he’s there?”

“That’s what I said too,” Marco mutters. “But I think I’m turning in.”

Ace nods slowly, “Help me to my room? I think I’ve had too much.”

“Of course,” Marco says ignoring the muffled laughter from Whitebeard. “Come on then, Ace.”

Ace leans heavily against him as they make their way down to their rooms, stumbling only slightly. Marco almost wonders if Ace is as drunk as he says that he is.

“I miss you,” Ace says finally as they reach his room. “When you leave.“

“I always come back,” Marco says softly. “Always. ”

“I just can’t sand the thought of losing you too,” Ace says rocking into his toes to kiss Marco’s cheek. “Goodnight.”

Marco stares at the closed door for a long moment in shock before making his way to his own room, trying to understand what had just happened.

Chapter Text

Marco crosses his arms over his chest, leaning against the mast as Ace laughs with some of the other members of the second. He can’t hear exactly what they are saying, he doesn’t care to be honest, but he can hear the way that they make Ace laugh and joke.

“Marco!” Ace shouts catching sight of him, smile bright as he jumps to his feet, hurrying though his goodbyes and the good natured teasing of his men, as he joins Marco. “I didn’t know you were back.”

“I just got back,” Marco admits. “And finished reporting to Oyaji. How are you?”

Ace shakes his head, “I’m fine. How was your mission? Did you have any trouble?”

“It was fine, a supply run. We had a small encounter with the marines, but there wasn’t anything to worry about.”

“Good,” Ace smiles. “Welcome home.”

“I’m home,” Marco agrees, his chest aching as he refuses to touch Ace. “How was it? While I was away?”

“It was fine,” Ace says shrugging. “It was quiet, actually. I don’t know why, you would think people would attack, but we did have fun when Shanks stopped by!”

“I’m glad that I missed it.”

Ace rolls his eyes, leaning closer, almost into Marco’s space, keeping just a touch of distance, “You and your issue with Shanks.”

“Rude,” Marco says smiling at him. “I’m glad that everything went well while I was away,” He shifts and touches Ace’s cheek, heart throbbing when Ace leans into the touch. “And that you’re alright.”

“Me too. I’m glad you’re alright.”

Marco smiles and wonders if there’s a way to tell Ace that he owns his heart with out sounding strange. He thinks that Ace should know that he owns it, even if it isn’t much.

Chapter Text

Marco groans as Ace drops down on top of him, dropping his book to the side so that it didn’t slip from his hand and land on his face, again, “Really?”

“Really what?” Ace asks innocently, grinning brightly. “I can’t want to join you in bed?”

“You didn’t have to try and murder me while doing so,” Marco says running his other hand lightly down Ace’s side. “You could have asked me to move some.”

Ace wiggles slightly, moving away from Marco’s hand but staying carefully on top of him, “But I like this spot.”

“This spot? You mean me?” Marco asks grinning. “I’m not really a spot.”

“The best spot,” Ace says as Marco’s hands both run down his sides. “Stop that!”

“Stop what?” Marco asks raising an eyebrow, his hands still moving. “I’m not even doing anything.”

Ace tries to escape, but Marco rolls them over, trapping him with a grin, “Oh, are you ticklish?”

“No!”

Marco laughs, tickling Ace’s side and watching him try to escape, Ace’s head tipped back and snorting with laughter.

“Not ticklish? Are you sure that you aren’t ticklish? You look ticklish to me.”

“N-not ticklish! Stop!”

“Alright,” Marco says moving his hands away from his sides, “You are ticklish, Ace. You are very ticklish.”

Ace sniffs, “Not ticklish.”

Marco kisses his nose, “If you wish to lie to yourself, Ace, than I suppose that is your choice.”

“Maybe a little ticklish,” Ace mutters. “But only a little bit.”

“Of course, only a little bit.”

Chapter Text

Ace didn’t mean to get spotted that first time, but he had been so excited. It was his first big heist without his mom there to make sure he escaped and he had grabbed more than she had thought he would, so he was a little sloppy.

Fortunately, it hadn’t been a cop or one of the small band of Super Heroes that his dad was technically part of, Ace would never know how his mom had kept the fact that she was a superthief from him after so many years together, it had been a guy just a few years older than Ace with a camera that had caught him fleeing the scene.

His mom hadn’t even been upset when the picture was plastered across the front of the newpapers and all over the TV, even though his father grumbled about theft and not another one and as if it wasn’t enough dealing with Hibiscus!

Rouge had hidden a smile behind her hand and been careful not to draw attention to the pink hibiscus in her hair, far different from the yellow one that she planted at her crime scenes.

Ace had grinned back, still high off of his first solo success and bouncing from the feeling of only barely getting caught by a guy with a camera.

Marco Newgate, Ace would have to keep an eye out for him.

It was easy to spot Marco after that. A college student, two years Ace’s senior, who freelanced for a news paper taking photos of whatever they wanted. Which was why Ace isn’t at all shocked to be hanging from the ceiling trying to get his hands on a diamond that his mother had been after for years, and find Marco staring back at him.

“My aren’t you the stalker,” Ace grins, hands still moving. “I thought you were law abiding, darling.”

Marco’s face turns red and Ace smirks, ignoring the twitch in Marco’s jaw, “What are you!”

“I’m a thief, darling. I steal things.”

“Here? Tonight?”

“Should I not be here?”

“There’s a party!”

Ace pouts, “Are you saying that you haven’t missed me?”

“I- Why would I miss you!”

“You’ve shattered my heart, darling. You know I told you that I’m going to steal yours.”

“You aren’t selling my heart on the black market, Spade!”

Ace laughs, sliding the diamond up his sleeve with ease and swinging forward to catch Marco by the shoulders, “Who ever said anything about it leaving your chest?” He kisses him and quickly pushes the button to retract his rope back to the ceiling. “I’ll get it soon enough.”

Marco stares in shock at the roof as Spade vanishes through it, hands shaking where they aren’t gripping his camera too tight. What?

Chapter Text

Ace stumbles over his own feet as he slams the door to Marco’s workshop open, grinning in triumph. Marco raises an eyebrow as he barely catches himself before slamming into the floor.

“I got it!”

“Got it,” Marco repeats in confusion.

“The metal you wanted! It was hard and it took ages to track it down, but here you go!” He thrusts the basket out to Marco brightly. “You still want it, don’t you? I didn’t mean to take so long.”

“No, thank you, I was hoping you would find it,” Marco promises already remembering the project in question. “Thank you for such commitment to the project.”

“I’m your assistant, that’s my job.”

It was, Marco knew, but he was certain that Ace wasn’t suppose to be run quite so ragged trying to track down the finicky bits and pieces for all of Marco’s projects. If it wasn’t for Ace and his talent for finding things, and Marco wondered if that talent was just a talent or something else, more than a few of his projects would have never reached completion.

“Still, thank you. Have you eaten yet?” Marco asks. Ace’s stomach growls and Marco smiles. “I suppose that is a no. Come on, I’ve got lunch cooked and it’s not like my project is going anywhere anytime soon.”

“Thanks,” Ace says dropping into a chair.

“It’s the least I can do for all the help you give me.”

“It’s my job.”

Marco sets a plate on the table before him, “Eat up. I’m going to start this up.” He wiggles the basket.

Ace waves him off, already devouring his lunch, he would probably go back for seconds before Marco heard anything from him.

He sorts through the bits of metal, most of them were perfect for what he wanted to attempt and the few that weren’t would work well with another project that Marco had been tossing around. Honestly, he needed to find something to pay Ace back for all of his superb work. Most alchemists weren’t half as lucky to find such a dedicated assistant.

And Ace never gave up.

Marco had been given ingredients for projects that he had asked for years ago when Ace finally tracked them down. He had tried to give Ace a pay raise and that hadn’t worked and he had tried to make him take a vacation only for him to bring back an entirely new species of a plant that Marco liked.

“I’m gonna head back out to get those tulips you need,” Ace says finally. “You want anything else?”

“I’m fine.”

The tulips weren’t even for anything. It was just because Ace refused to do nothing and Marco didn’t want to send him too far away again. He was going to tear his hair out trying to repay his assistant.

“You okay?” Marco jumps looking at Ace in surprise. “You look tired again.”

“I’m fine.”

Ace frowns, “Are you sure?”

“I’m fine.”

“Here,” Ace leans in close, brushing his lips over Marco’s forehead, flushing as soon as he pulled back. “Makino says that kisses make things better. So you should feel better now.”

Marco stares after him in surprise, eyes wide as the door slams shut behind Ace, finally dropping his head onto his desk.

“He’s too cute,” Marco needed to figure out how to repay him.

Chapter Text

Ace bites his tongue, ignoring Garp standing in the doorway as he takes his time to write down everything the last woman who had come to visit had told him.

It’s painful. Like something is trying to eat him alive as he writes, but he has to finish. There’s still so much to go and he refuses to let this carry on another generation more.

He collapses when he’s done, falling back and staring at the ceiling, his chest burning where the mark spiraled outwards from his heart.

“You’re looking tired,” Marco states after what feels like hours as the pain starts to subside. “How many stories did you write?”

“Enough to fill a hundred scrolls,” Ace answers smiling.“Did you bring me back more stories? The good ones?”

“I thought all my stories were the good ones,” Marco teases sitting down beside him with a laugh. “I have a lot of stories to tell you.”

Ace grins, “But only after I rest and you look at the archives?”

“You are going to run yourself ragged like this.”

“I,” Ace taps his chest, “I don’t want this to pass on. My father failed to finish what he started and I was burdened with it instead. I want to make sure none of my descendants are burdened the same way.”

“And when you’re done?”

“Then I’ll travel the world.” He pauses. “Will you come with me? Show me everything?”

Marco nods, “I’ll show you everything you’ve ever dreamed of, Ace.”

“Good, I’m going to hold you to that, even if I’m really old by the time that I’m done.”

“I look forward to it,” Marco promises brushing his fingers against Ace’s. “I’ll be waiting.”

Ace yawns, smiling tiredly. “Tell me one of your old stories? One that I’ve heard before?”

“Of course.”

Chapter Text

“You’re looking lazy today, Marco.”

Marco opens one eye, peering at Ace for a moment before closing it once more, “If you’re looking for Luffy, he went out with his friend. The one that works with the Shinsengumi.”

“I know, I caught them harassing the commander friend of yours, with the red hair.”

“Shanks and I are not friends.”

Ace laughs dropping down beside him, “You have not convinced me that you aren’t friends. Just like you’re still friends with Thatch.”

“Thatch is a good friend to have.”

“Even when he’s trying to take down the bakufu?”

“Do my ties to terrorists have something to do with your visit, Ace?”

“No,” Ace sighs. “I missed you.”

Marco finally looks at him, “Missed me?”

“It’s weird, right? The last time I came to visit you were super pissed that I wanted to beat up Luffy and maybe kill a couple of people,” Marco snorts and Ace frowns at him. “But you were pretty nice to me anyway.”

“Luffy loves you. I figured there had to be something decent about you.”

Ace leans down, “Decent enough that you kissed me before I went home to tell Gramps that Luffy was alright?”

“Are you complaining?”

“Only if it was a one time thing.”

“I could be convinced to put in a repeat performance.”

“Convinced? Do I have to hire you for the job?”

“That’s just mean.”

Ace laughs, “I don’t mean it like that.”

“Come lay down, you’re too far away if you want me to kiss you,” Marco complains closing his eyes again. “And keep your elbows away from my stomach this time.”

“I am gonna elbow you extra hard for that.”

Chapter Text

The thing is when someone starts to throw fire around like Ace does, everyone, and he means everyone even the damn Marines, expect him to have the Mera Mera. And honestly, at first, it’s safer for Ace to pretend that he has the Mera Mera. No one else has found it yet and he hasn’t gotten caught up in a lie.

And if the real fruit makes his eyes glow and makes him want to horde things, then it’s easy enough to pass of to those who don’t know the truth. Which is most everyone.

It’s harder on the Moby Dick. The crew, at least the second division and the other commanders, are always asking for a moment of his time or inviting him to things and it’s harder to get the time to himself to stretch that he needs.

Not when Thatch and Haruta are more likely to pick the lock then respect that it is in use.

But he tries. An hour here and twenty minutes there, but it itches under his skin like a rash, burning.

He doesn’t realize how bad it’s gotten until he starts to loose control of it. Claws sliding out to replace his fingernails and scales creeping from his wrists up to his elbow, a bare hint of sparkle the same shade as his skin for now.

It’s safer, he knows, even here on the Moby Dick with his friends, a family, a weyr, it’s safer for them not to know what Ace really ate. Not when Mythical Zoan are hunted and not all of them are as lucky as Marco to have immortality. Besides, the Moby already has one mythical to protect, it doesn’t need to know about his.

Except it hurts! It burns like when he was young and would put his hand in the fire to grab the meat before Luffy took it all. It burns and burns and the moments he can eek out for it aren’t enough.

Which is why he isn’t all that surprised when he starts to loose more control, snapping when his horde is touched and breathing fire in a way he’s avoided.

“You look like a dragon,” Thatch laughs the first time it happens, almost falling over the railing and into the ocean.

Marco doesn’t laugh, but he smiles and Ace wants to smile back, but he doesn’t.

It’s too close. They can’t find out, except-

Ace gets sloppy, the dragon demanding more time in their other form and fighting Ace’s refusals.

He looses more than he likes to admit. So the moment they reach an island, private and large enough for Ace to avoid everyone, he takes off, finding a nice cave for his use and shifting.

The cave is clean and dry, a lake nearby with bananawari big enough to satisfy even them for the three days they are going to be here.

“So that’s what it is,” Marco says leaning against the entrance. “I knew you hadn’t eaten the Mera Mera.”

‘How?“ Ace doesn’t understand how he talks like this, it’s strange.

"You horde things, Ace. You pick people and keep them. Your fire always starts in your mouth and you don’t got intangible like the books say the Mera Mera does. It wasn’t hard.”

“No one else noticed.”

Marco nods, “Most people don’t watch you like I do.”

“Worried I’m gonna betray you?” Ace growls.

“No,” Marco smiles easily. “I’m not worried about that. You do know you’re attractive, right?”

“I have been told?”

“I like you. And you’re interesting. That is a reason to watch someone, Ace.”

Ace can’t blush like this, he knows that, but it doesn’t stop him from feeling like he is, “You like me?”

“Is that so strange?”

“I-I don’t know?”

Marco grins, “well then you can think about it. And if you are okay with that, I would like to date you.”

“Date!”

“Date. More then one. Alright? Just think about it.”

Ace isn’t sure he can think of anything else right now.

Chapter Text

Marco is very careful about looking at Ace. Not that Ace isn’t very attractive, but because Ace is attractive and Marco really, really likes him.

It doesn’t help that Ace trades out which piercings he has in on any given day and that means that Marco is treated to a new combination of piercings and studs each time he sees Ace, which is often.

Today is even worse.

There’s a ear cuff, gold and shaped like a dragon, too many tiny golden studs and interestingly placed rings and Marco, Marco is distracted. Marco is so distracted that he walks into a wall looking at Ace.

“That looks like it hurt,” Ace says hurrying over to help him up. “Are you okay?”

“I,” Marco needs to breath and talk, remain calm. “I’m fine, thanks for helping me up.”

“It’s fine, I’m glad you’re okay,” Ace grins and the lights glint off a stud. “Need anything else before I have to,” He gestures over his shoulder.

Your number?

“I’m fine.”

“I’ll see you later then, Marco.”

Marco waves and tries not to scream because apparently Ace does know his name. Has he been making that much of a fool of himself?

~

Ace grins, making sure not to look back at Marco and pretends to be busy with something that he’s already done.

Maybe he should ask Marco out instead, he seemed a little tongue tied and Ace was never very good at waiting.

Chapter Text

“Ace.”

“I can’t hear you.”

“Ace.”

“Sorry, did you hear something? I didn’t.”

“Light of my life, we don’t have enough space for eight puppies.”

Ace pouts at Marco from the ground, six of the eight puppies crawling over him and the other two asleep on his back, “They’re babies!”

“And the lease says no more than two dogs, Ace. We can keep two but eight will get us in trouble.”

“But they’re so cute! Look, this one looks like Stefan!”

Marco grins, running a soft hand over the puppy’s head and watching the little tail wag, “That doesn’t change the rules, Ace.”

“We could move!”

“We could. Except there isn’t anywhere conveniently placed between both of our jobs, Ace. You know that.”

“But Marco.”

Marco slides off the couch and immediately has three of the puppies scrambling into his lap, “We can talk to my brothers. I’m sure we can get them to take in the ones that we can’t and Pops says that Stefan is getting old and he’s worried how much longer he’s going to be around.”

“And I can still visit them?” Ace demands.

“I will make sure we can still visit all of the puppies, Ace. When ever you want within reason.”

“Fine.” Ace cuddles the one that looks like Stefan. “This one is mine, though. Your old man can’t have him.”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

Luffy sighs, staring up at the ceiling of his room, sprawled over Sabo’s chest and pouting. He was suppose to have set sail today for a cool planet that Nami had found a holo-map for, but instead he was stuck here waiting for Ace to get home instead of having fun running off and being a space pirate.

“I can’t breath,” Sabo mutters.

“Can so.”

“Your hat is covering my face and you are laying on my arms,” Sabo states trying to wiggle out from underneath him. “I want to be alive when Ace brings his new friend home.”

Luffy pouts, moving his hat and shifting slightly, “Better?”

“Thank you. Ace has brought home friends before, hasn’t he?”

“Not since he dragged you home. An’ he didn’t make me stick around meet you.”

“So,” Sabo trails off. “Boyfriend?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, at least he’s finally dating, I was worried that it was gonna be years. You know anything about him?”

Luffy shakes his head.

“Damn.”

~

Sabo wants to laugh because this is the second time that Ace has dragged home a blond with light eyes to meet the family, last time it was to adopt them, this time it was his boyfriend.

He looks nervous to.

Phoenix Marco was a name that Sabo and Luffy have run into before. A member of the same salvage crew, *pirate*, the Moby Dick under the command of something Newgate.

“Nice to meet you,” Sabo says smiling at him brightly. “I’m Sabo.”

“I know. Ace’s told me a lot about you both.”

“Nice to meet you too,” Sabo says smile turning sharp as Luffy drags Ace off like they planned. “If you hurt Ace, Lu and I will kill you.”

Marco nods, “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Ace is,” Marco pauses. “He’s amazing. I don’t want to hurt him and if I do, then I deserve to be punished for doing so.”

Sabo nods, maybe he would be alright after all.

Chapter Text

Tattoos weren’t mandatory, some people never got any, but they were considered polite. Even if it was just a small one that was easily hidden away because that was how you found your soulmate.

Marco hadn’t gotten his for that. He had gotten his like most of his siblings did, a way to show they loved the man who had taken them in and made them family. Though it did get awkward, all the times he had people touching his chest, just to check.

Which was why he hated wearing the clothes that Izo got him at the bar, they always showed off at least a slip of his tattoo and someone always tried to touch it. Like by seeing it, it meant that it was everyone’s right to see if he was their soulmate.

“Marco!” Ace slams into his chest, grinning up at him, face flushed. “Come dance with me, Izo says that we can’t dance.” He looks at the man that he had just brushed past. “Am I interrupting?”

“No,” Marco states firmly, “Let’s show off our skills.”

Ace slows down once they’re far enough into the crowd to avoid the man and be hidden, “He was a creep, huh?”

“I have been touched too many times tonight. Next time, I’m wearing a shirt that they can’t see the tattoo through.”

“I know,” Ace sighs. “I’ve had three people try and convince me to show mine off. I’m just lucky that mine can be covered up.”

“I am a little jealous,” Marco admits. “So are we dancing or was that just to help me escape?”

“No, we’re dancing,” Ace promises.

Marco nods as wishes that Ace wasn’t so careful about avoiding his tattoo, he wouldn’t mind if it was Ace, “What kind?”

“Tango? That’s the one we’ve practiced most.”

“If we have enough space,” Marco counters.

Izo has it all set up by the time they reached him, setting them up and nodding when it was time for the music to start.

Dancing with Ace feels like flying. Every move is like they’re floating and doing something more than dancing. Marco loves it. Spinning Ace faster and laughing as they move.

He doesn’t even notice when Ace’s shirt twists up and his hand falls flat on the skin of his back, he doesn’t even notice the fireworks or the way the tattoo glows under Ace’s shirt.

“Pay up,” Izo mutters. “I told you.”

Thatch sighs, “It’s not even like they noticed!”

“They don’t have to, only we do. Now I have to call Oyaji and see what we are going to do about this issue. We can’t let this go on.”

Marco grins, “You’re getting better.”

“Only because you’re my partner,” Ace teases.

Chapter Text

“I blame you,” Ace shouts punching the thing, it looks like one of the cheesy villains from the cartoons that Luffy use to watch on Saturday mornings, in the face and launching it back to take out several more. “This is your fault.”

“How is it my fault?” Marco demands, Ace is sure he’s making some kind of face underneath his helmet. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You planned this date in the middle of our last fight, they knew we would be here today!”

Marco pauses, barely ducking an appendage, was that an arm or some kind of tentacle?, “You might be right.”

“I am right. Duck!”

Marco rolls away from where he had been standing as Izo lands, violet armor glinting in the light, Thatch and Haruta on his heels.

“Took you long enough!” Ace snaps. “We all know you were following us anyway!”

“I would never!” Haruta snaps, the bright green armor protecting her from a beam of light from a weapon. “Maybe. I might have been.”

“I knew it!”

Marco sighs, “We can argue later! Right now we have people to fight.”

“Are they really people?” Izo mutters. “They look like those tentacle monsters in the porn we all know Thatch keeps under his bed.”

“I do not!” Thatch shrieks. “Izo!”

“I will break you both,” Ace says trying to move out of the way of the strange person shouting and saying they would be victorious. “I don’t want to know about Thatch’s porn. We all know too much about each other.”

“You love us,” Haruta sings bouncing over one of her targets. “You adore us, Red leader.”

“We look like crayons,” Izo mutters. Marco sighs, this is a reoccurring problem. “Really ugly crayons.”

“I’m bright yellow, fight me Izo.” Marco states calmly.

“True,” Izo sniffs. “Violet is closer to my color.”

“You’re all jealous that I got blue!”

“Thatch, I would trade you for one corn chip,” Haruta states drolly. “One single corn chip.”

“Rude!”

“We don’t have time for your drama!” Ace shouts. “I want to get back to my date.”

Thatch coughs, “Make out like teenagers.”

“We are teenagers,” Marco reminds them calmly. “And no, we have plans to watch movies with his brothers.”

Chapter Text

Marco is old enough to suspect that he will never find his Guide, not when it’s so extremely rare for anyone to find their Guide. He’s only ever met one bonded pair and Shanks is far too aggravating for Marco to ask how the hell he tracked Benn down. He keeps trying to make himself ask, but Shanks is just too much.

“You are far too heavy,” Marco mutters to the small lion on his chest, eyes closed. “You can sleep else where. Are animal guides suppose to sleep?”

This isn’t his. This is not Marco’s.

Marco’s animal is a bird with wings spans twice the length of Marco’s arms and never comes down from it’s watch of the world. The lion is a friend. It enjoys being close to Marco and following him around like they are friends. It doesn’t belong to any of the crew and Marco doesn’t know who to check.

The lion huffs, sleeping happily, licking Marco’s face.

“You are the worst.”

The lion doesn’t respond, content to be sprawled across Marco’s front.

~

Ace frowns at the bird overhead, circling him like a buzzard. It had been there since he had started fighting Jinbei and now it was still there, far too close. He sighs, closing his eyes and relaxing for the barest of moments before he’s forcing himself up, frowning at Whitebeard’s ship appearing from the mist.

He doesn’t remember much, it’s a blur, trying to fight him and save his crew at the same time, so many things happening before he falls to the ground and wakes up again on the Moby Dick.

With a lion watching him.

“Hello?” He says slowly, blinking when he realizes that this is his. He remembers that much, the tiny lion cub that had followed him until Sabo had died before being replaced by the bird. It licks his face. “Lovely.”

He knows most of Whitebeard’s main crew, so when the door opens and Phoenix Marco steps in, Ace isn’t expecting him to look at the lion first.

“He can’t see you.”

“The fuck I can’t!”

Phoenix stops, “What?”

“That’s my lion, leave him alone, you buzzard!”

“Phoenix actually. It’s a Phoenix.”

Ace can’t believe this is what is happening. He runs. He can’t. He’s suppose to kill Whitebeard, not find his Sentinel working as his first mate.

Chapter Text

Marco blinks in confusion at the flowers just in front of his face, this was not his tattoo parlor, he was sure he had opened the right door, he had, well he hadn’t, counted so he didn’t try to open the door to the empty little shop next door to his parlor.

“Are you okay, sir?”

“I think I took a wrong turn,” Marco answers blinking blearily at the young man suddenly right beside him. “Where am I?”

“Portgas Flowers, I just opened today. Do you work nearby?”

Marco stares blankly at the wall behind him for a moment, “This is the empty store, right? No one’s been here in like twenty years?”

“How’d you know?”

“I see that,” He gestures to a tiny sign covered in flowers and lettering unidentifiable. “Every day that I have mornings.”

“Not a morning person?” The man teases.

“No, I usually do the night shift but there’s a couple,” Marco yawns. “Days a week that I have to do mornings and I just, I’m exhausted. I’m Marco, Marco Newgate. I’m the owner of the tattoo parlor.”

“Ace Portgas,” He grins.

He’s adorable, smiling brightly and freckles covering his face like constellations. Marco wondered what one of his designs would look like on that skin.

“Nice to meet you.”

“You too.”

Marco pauses before he walks out, “Can I buy this plant?”

“Sure!”

Marco sets the tiny African violet on the corner of his desk with a grin. He would have to stop by again, hopefully he didn’t buy a plant every time, his desk just didn’t have enough space and he didn’t need to know how long it was going to take to finally ask Ace out on a date.

Chapter Text

“You have two flame alchemists?” Ed says looking far too close to laughter for Mustang’s sake. “I thought you were suppose to be one of a kind, sir.”

“I will light you on fire, Fullmetal,” Mustang states calmly. “And he’s different. His flames are extremely different from mine. He only agreed to meet with you because he wants to meet Alphonse.”

“Me?” Alphonse asks curiously. “I’m not much. Not like brother.”

Mustang shrugs knocking on the door and crossing his arms as something shatters inside, foot tapping against he ground, “He didn’t say why he wanted to meet you, just that he did, Alphonse.”

“Meet who?”

“Phoenix, I thought you were on assignment,” Mustang states trying to force a smile. “What are you doing here?”

“Ah yes,” Phoenix raises an eyebrow. “I’m on vacation, of course I’m going to come home to my husband. Most married people do. How is Riza?”

“Hawkeye is waiting in the car. Ace said he would meet with Alphonse and Edward Elric, something about wanting to meet Alphonse in person.”

Phoenix nods, glancing at Al and Ed, “I’m Marco, Phoenix Alchemist.”

“Phoenix?” Ed asks curiously.

Marco, Phoenix, smirks, “Wouldn’t you like to know. Come on, Ace has been wondering when Mustang was going to bring you both around. Are you staying Roy, or headed back off?”

“I’m off. Don’t teach them how to turn into a bird,” Mustang sighs.

“More people should. Come on, Ace is making lunch and I think we have enough for you, Edward, correct?”

“But not for Al?” Ed asks sounding like he wants to fight Marco.

“Well, a soul bound to a suit of armor can’t eat,” Marco says grinning at the looks they both shoot him. “Ace, love, we have guests.”

There is a hole in Ace’s chest, Ed bites his tongue to avoid saying it out loud, but he’s thinking it. It’s large and gaping enough so that Ed can see the wall behind him when he looks at the wound.

“Welcome,” Ace pauses following their gazes to his chest. “Sorry, I was sure I put on a shirt. I’ll go grab one and we can talk then. Marco, lunch is on the table.”

“Thank you, Ace.”

“He, there’s,” Ed tries.

“He tried to bring someone back,” Marco says softly. “It didn’t work and it almost killed him. He’s lucky.”

“Lucky?” Al asks.

“Phoenix isn’t just a moniker.”

Chapter Text

“Why hate Roger quite a bit for being so young,” Marco says watching Ace closely. “Kill someone in your family before you were born?”

“Took something from my mom,” Ace answers smirking at him. “She worked hard to get it and he got the credit for it. You know?”

Marco hums slowly, “Roger wasn’t a thief, not like that.”

“It happens. Are you gonna let me eat or keep asking questions?”

“I’m sure Rouge wouldn’t be too upset.”

Ace stops, “You-”

“I was with Oyaji at that point, Ace. And I know that smile,” He grins at the look on Ace’s face. “You look like her.”

“I was actually avoiding a last name for that reason,” Ace admits.

“It’s not helping.”

Ace laughs, “Because of my mother’s smile?”

“I always did think she was pretty. It looks better on you, however.”

Chapter Text

Ace frowns following Izo deeper into his studio, taking care to avoid the piles of fabric covering the floor, “You know, you never did say what you wanted me to wear for this.”

“It’s all in your changing booth. Marco is helping me with this too, so I wanted it to be a surprise for the both of you.”

“Okay,” Ace says slowly. “Am I going to end up in a dress again?”

“Not this time.”

Ace doesn’t like the phrasing of that but he steps into the booth and quickly puts on the suit that was hanging on the wall, stepping out to ask Izo for help with the bowtie when he caught sight of Marco, words dying in his mouth.

“I never imagined myself in a wedding dress,” Marco says grinning at Ace. “I’m not sure about this skirt.”

It’s Marco in a wedding dress, nothing is different and the dress looks nice but nothing that could make Ace speechless like he is now.

Except he can’t. He can’t say anything.

“Ace?”

“Y-you look nice.”

Marco grins, “You think so?”

Ace nods and Marco motions him closer, “Thanks. I was a little unsure about it but it’s not so bad. There you go.”

“Thanks,” Ace says trying not to sound like an idiot. “I can’t-”

“Tie a bowtie? I know.”

Ace was going to murder Izo for this.

Chapter Text

“You’re gorgeous,” Marco whispers, grinning at the way Ace’s face turns red and his arms cross over his chest. “So very pretty.”

“I’m not a girl,” Ace hisses back, looking towards their friends to make sure they were still busy trying to find out who was better at drunken darts. “I’m not pretty.”

“You didn’t deny that you were gorgeous.”

“I’m not gorgeous either.”

Marco hums, “I think you are. Are you calling me a liar?”

“Delusional.”

“So I shouldn’t think that my boyfriend is pretty? Should think he’s gorgeous and attractive?”

Ace elbows him in the side, “I’m going to break your face.”

“Because I’m saying nice things about you?”

“I’m not gorgeous,” Ace whispers looking away from Marco, unable to meet his eyes. “I’m not gorgeous or pretty or whatever else you are gonna try and call me.”

“You are wrong and I will prove it,” Marco states dragging Ace closer. “I’m going to prove just how attractive you are and you can’t tell me that I’m delusional.”

“How are you going to do that,” Ace asks letting Marco rest his chin on his shoulder.

“Haven’t decided yet, but when I make a choice then I won’t even warn you before I start.”

“I’m sure.”

“Gonna prove it,” Marco states leaning to the side to grab his drink. “Gonna prove it and make you believe it.”

“Is this about my shirt?”

“You aren’t wearing a shirt and seven people have tried to flirt with you since we got here.”

“I’m not being flirted with.”

Marco grins as Izo rejoins them for a moment, “Hey Izo, someone brings you a drink that you don’t know, what are they doing?”

“Flirting,” Izo answers easily.

“Told you.”

“Aw, is the bird brain getting jealous of people flirting with his pretty boyfriend?”

“I’m not pretty.”

“He’s in denial,” Marco whispers.

Chapter Text

“You’re staring at me again,” Marco states, eyes still closed. “Why are you doing that?”

“Why do you do it,” Ace asks sprawled across Marco’s chest, head resting on his arms.

“Do what?” Marco asks in confusion finally looking at Ace. “I’m not sure what you’re asking me.”

Ace tilts his head, “You really don’t know?”

“I don’t actually know how to read your mind, love, you do have to tell me what you are thinking.”

“Love me as if I deserve you.”

Marco frowns, “You think that you don’t deserve to be loved?”

“Marco.”

“Ace.”

“Why?”

“Because I love you? Because the way you smile and the way you laugh make my heart ache. Because I want to cause them both and stay by your side as long as you let me.”

“I don’t deserve you.”

“You deserve me. You deserve someone that will always be by your side and who will love you and do anything that you need. Until then, stay with me, won’t you?”

“Just because I don’t deserve you doesn’t mean that I’m ever going to let anyone take you from me,” Ace says smiling. “You’re mine.”

Sometimes Marco wonders if he’ll ever understand the way the fae purrs the words and his eyes flash with something beyond human, like they mean something more than he could ever understand.

Chapter Text

“Where are we going?” Ace whines. “We missed lunch and you wouldn’t stop and now we’re in the middle of nowhere!”

Marco blinks, “I didn’t tell you?”

“No!”

“Ah,” Marco shakes his head. “I, we were headed out to have a picnic.”

Ace sits up in his seat, eyes going wide and excited, “A picnic?”

“Yes?”

“I never say no to a picnic! Why didn’t you say so? We’re going on a picnic!”

Marco grins, “So are you still upset?”

“No way, this is all for a picnic! Where are we going are we close?”

“We’ll be there soon. There’s a bit of a walk, but Haruta says it’s pretty.”

Ace bounces in his seat as Marco pulls the car off the road onto a dirt trail, already out the door and demanding the trunk be open before Marco could turn the car off.

“Whoa!” Ace whispers when they reach the clearing that Haruta had described to Marco. The stream and flowers everywhere. “This is awesome.”

“Worth the wait for lunch?” Marco teases.

“Well if you had said it was for a picnic,” Ace says grinning. “I love it. Thanks Marco.”

Chapter Text

Ace has been actively been avoiding the obvious since Marco opened the door to the hotel room that the company had booked them for the conference. It was glaringly obvious and he knew that Marco had noticed, but he couldn’t bring himself to say anything.

“Do you want the bed?” Marco asks finally. “Since there’s only one.”

“You can have it,” Ace offers.

Marco raises his eyebrow, “You’re the one that has to present.”

“Well, I mean.”

“This is a yes or no questions, Ace, don’t worry so much about it.”

Ace nods and knows that his face is flushed, “We could share?”

“Are you offering?”

“I,” Ace takes a breath. “It’s a big bed. If we put some of the extra pillows in the middle then we won’t even touch each other.”

“If you’re sure?”

Ace regrets nodding when he wakes up the next morning and finds his face pressed against Marco’s chest and Marco’s arms around his waist. He is going to die before this conference is over.

Chapter Text

Marco’s head hurts. It throbs like the time in college he had been dragged to a Greek party by Thatch and his mouth tastes like something died inside it. He winces when he opens his eyes and jerks back at the sight at another face far too close to his own.

Ace mumbles in annoyance and is back in Marco’s space in moments, making soft tired noises as he settles back into sleep.

“Fuck,” Marco whispers. “Fuck, what?”

“You’re so loud,” Ace whines yawning. “Why are you so loud, Marco?”

“Sorry?”

Ace must hear something off with his answer before he shifts back enough to look at Marco, eyes still unfocused but concerned, “Marco?”

“Ace?”

“Oh,” Ace says softly. “You don’t remember last night at all, do you?”

“I’m sorry.”

Ace shakes his head, “No, I probably should have noticed you were pretty drunk. This is really awkward.”

“What did we?”

“You stripped and demanded that I sleep with you because you were gonna tell Izo that I threw up in his lunchbox when we were six if I didn’t,” Ace says grinning. “You passed out as soon as we were both in the bed.”

“Ah, that’s not so bad.”

“Before that,” Marco can feel himself paling. “You proposed to me with your class ring. Which I mean it’s nice but it’s too big for me to wear.”

Marco makes a sound like he’s dying, “I’m so sorry.”

“Why? I said yes,” Ace smiles at him. “I just want a different ring, unless that’s a deal breaker.”

“I can get a different ring.”

“Good, because Sabo says he’s fighting Thatch to be my best man and I already bet that he would win.”

Chapter Text

“Ace, love, there are no such thing as aliens,” Marco states refusing to look up from the medical report that he had received for their newest case. “I’m sure we would have seen some before now.”

“They’re real!” Ace shouts from his side of the small office that the FBI had shoved him into years ago. “Look at all the evidence we have to corroborate it!”

“That was a frisbee.”

“You have no imagination!”

“I have plenty of imagination, Ace. Aliens aren’t real.”

“You’re wrong and I’ll prove it!”

“How?”

Ace frowns, arms crossing over his chest as he thought, “By finding Luffy.”

“Your younger cousin that’s been missing since you were children?”

“He was kidnapped by aliens!”

“Of course he was, love. Please eat your lunch.”

(Ace does prove himself right when he drags Luffy and his alien crew to Marco’s house for introductions. Marco has never suffered such a humiliating defeat before in his life.)

Chapter Text

“What the hell is this?” Marco demands staring in confusion at what could only be Silvers Rayleigh and Gol D Roger walking towards them. “The fuck?”

“I made the mistake of thinking that this couldn’t get any weirder. Sorry,” Roger laughs as he moves closer. “What are you doing here, Phoenix? Last I heard you and Edward were closer to Fishman Island.”

“That was almost twenty years ago!” Marco says glancing back to where Ace was frozen and pale. “It’s been years.”

Roger blinks, “Ah, I really shouldn’t have thought that. Is he new?”

“Considering he only looks about twenty years old,” Rayleigh mutters pinching the bridge of his nose. “He looks upset?”

“You could say that,” Marco agrees. “Ace? Love? You alright?”

He ignores the whispered, ‘Phoenix is dating?’ from Roger as he tried to make Ace focus on him. Smiling when Ace blinks and finally says something.

“I don’t like this island.”

“I can tell.”

“Where did you get a boyfriend!” Roger demands. “Marco! Stop ignoring me!”

Ace snorts, “He really does remind me of Luffy.”

“I live in worry about your little brother.”

“Marco!” He glances back at Roger. “Where did you get a boyfriend? We’re friends and it’s not like it’s important to the future!”

“Gol D Roger meet Portgas D Ace. Ace this is Roger, you’ve heard of him.”

Chapter Text

“I have never seen you fuck up at flirting so badly,” Ace says biting the inside of his cheek as he watched Marco on the screen over Robin’s shoulder. “What are you doing?”

“It’s hard to flirt when I know you’re watching me,” Marco mutters pretending to sip his glass of champagne. “You ever flirted with a target while on the comms with me?”

“Ace does it rather well,” Robin answers for him. “He never gets hung up.”

Marco fakes a smile as the target returns with another set of glasses. “Thank you, Yonji.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Are we sure he’s gonna fall for Marco at all? I mean he’s Sanji’s brother.”

Robin hums, “Yonji is known to secret a couple of gay clubs in the downtown area. He’s fairly closeted but has picked up people from company parties previously. Besides, the Vinsmokes are butting into our business.”

“Marco,” Ace sighs as he fumbles another line. “Do you need me to leave the van?”

“I’m fine,” Marco says smiling, waving off Yonji’s concern. “Nothing to worry about.”

Ace grins, “Marco. Marco pretend you’re flirting with me.”

“What?” Marco hisses as Yonji is distracted by his father. “You think?”

“Pretend to be flirting with me! You can pretend that you’re flirting with me!”

“I can flirt with a target, thank you.”

Ace snorts, “Not that I can see.”

“I’m going to poison you when I get out of here,” Marco hisses. “Poison.”

“You know I love a good dash arsenic,” Ace teases.

Robin sighs, “Not over the comms please.”

“Sorry,” They both mutter softly.

“Do you have this Marco or do you need Ace to leave for a bit?”

“I’ve got this.”

Ace hums, “If you finish up on time, I can make it worth your wile.”

Chapter Text

“I blame you,” Ace mutters blowing on his hands as he pulls his coat closer. “Don’t try to look innocent.” Stefan whines, pawing at Ace’s leg. “Oh no, I’m mad at you.”

“Ace, you know it’s not his fault. Don’t be mean,” Marco sighs, leaning back to make sure that the curve in the cave they were hiding in was deep enough to hide them from the snow storm. “He’s just a puppy.”

“Fine,” Ace sighs, shifting to let Stefan crawl into his lap. “You are just a big dumb puppy. Aren’t you? A big silly pup!”

Stefan barks, licking at Ace’s chin excitedly as Ace failed to squirm away.

“We should be deep enough,” Marco says joining them and pressing against Ace’s side. “I didn’t see anything living deeper in the cave and I think the curve should protect us from too much cold.”

“I’m gonna murder Thatch.”

“And Haruta.”

“Her too. She’s the worst person that I’ve ever met. They just had to forget to close the back door right before the snow storm.”

“At least I grabbed our coats before following you out. Warm enough?”

Ace nods, “Yeah for now. Thanks for bringing my coat.”

“You’re welcome.”

Ace barely lasts twenty minutes before leaning more against Marco, starting to shiver, “Fuck, I’m cold.”

“Come here,” Marco sighs moving to press his back against the wall and dragging Ace to sit between his legs. “Your hair is still wet.”

“I had just gotten out the shower, sorry for being wet and half dressed.”

“Mhm,” Marco sighs. “At least you went after Stefan, everyone else just watched him like they didn’t know what to do. Huh, puppy?”

Stefan barks and Ace jolts, “Cold nose! Cold nose!”

Marco laughs, “Let him in your jacket, he doesn’t have enough fur to deal with this.”

“Fine. But, I’m still gonna murder them.”

“Plot quietly, I’m cuddling with you and Stefan, I’m content until I can actually see them.”

Chapter Text

“Ace, shit, Ace,” Marco scrambles up, pulling him into a hug, “Don’t cry, I’m sorry, please don’t cry.”

Ace sobs into his shoulder, hands clinging to his shirt, “I’m not!”

“You’re crying, Ace. You’re getting my shirt all wet.”

“No I’m not.”

Marco laughs, hand curling around the back of Ace’s head, “Yeah, you are. I’m sorry, I didn’t know that I was going to make you cry.”

“I’m not crying!” Ace insists, lifting his face to glare at Marco, eyes red and face damp. “I’m not.”

“You’re crying,” Marco says wiping the tears from his face. “You’re crying and you haven’t told me why. Are you alright?”

Ace nods, “I’m fine,” He laughs. “Alright. Again.”

“You are getting far too much enjoyment out of this,” Marco mutters stepping back and going back down onto one knee. “Don’t start crying this time.” He warns. “Ace, I love you, will you marry me?”

Chapter Text

Ace buries his face into his hands, biting back a sob, shoulders shaking. It hurts, it hurts and Ace wants it to stop, nails biting into his arms and he rests his head on his knees.

“Ace?”

Ace bites his lip and shifts further back into the shadows of the room that he had stumbled into, hiding himself away.

“Ace, I know you’re there,” Marco says softly. “Please.”

“I,” Ace clears his throat when his voice chokes up. “I don’t want to talk to you.”

Marco sighs, “Ace.”

“No, don’t you dare!” Ace shouts at him, wrapping his arms tighter around himself. “You don’t get to try and make this better. I heard you.”

“I didn’t mean it the way I said it.”

Ace laughs, bitter and heartbroken, “How else am I suppose to take, I should never have told you that I love you?”

“I didn’t mean it like that, Ace, please?”

“No,” Ace snaps. “No, Marco, I don’t want to hear what you have to say. How could you? You don’t just get,” He cuts himself off, crying too hard to speak. “You don’t, Marco.”

“I didn’t mean it that way, Ace.”

“But you meant it, you mean it, you think that it would be better if you had never told me that you were in love with me and I can’t. I can’t believe you said that, that you mean it,” Ace shakes his head. “Leave me alone.”

Marco breathes out shakily, Ace can hear it through the door, “Alright, but Ace, please. Don’t, I love you, please, I want to talk to you.”

Ace listens to his footsteps vanish back down the hall, biting his lip to keep quiet until he couldn’t hear them anymore. It hurts, Ace hates it, it hurts so much and it was all Marco’s fault.

Marco who had promised not to hurt him and then turned around and broken his heart so thoroughly that Ace wasn’t sure he could piece himself back together again.

I should never have told you that I love you, Ace buries his face against his thighs, sobbing.

Chapter Text

It takes Ace days to force himself to leave the room that he had found for himself, ignoring the other commanders who had tried to talk to him and left food that he could barely bring himself to pick at.

He reports back to Oyaji, feeling empty and heading for his room, doing his best to avoid his siblings, stopping short when he reaches Marco’s bedroom door and almost, almost, knocks before hurrying on to his own, swallowing heavily.

“Ace,” He freezes, hand on his door. “I didn’t know you were back.”

“I,” Ace shrugs. “I didn’t want to see you yet.”

Marco sighs, “I figured. Can I explain? Please?”

“What is there to explain? You said that you shouldn’t have told me that you loved me!”

“Because you go at everything like you’re going to die!” Marco snaps back. “Everytime you go out on a mission I worry that this is going to be the last time I see you! Do you know how painful it is to know that not only am I going to see you die one day but it might be tomorrow because you’re so reckless?”

“What?”

“I am going to watch you die one day. I’m going to watch everyone on this ship die one day and I’m going to keep living because I’m immortal! And you,” Marco laughs, shoving a hand through his hair. “You don’t care if you live to see tomorrow. Do you know how much that hurts?”

Ace glances at Marco, “I didn’t-”

“You don’t seem to think much about your own life,” Marco agrees. “Do you?” He turns. “I’m sorry that it came out like that and I’m sorry I said it, but I mean it, Ace. It’s hard enough knowing that you’re going to die, I can’t live with the idea that you care so little for your life that I won’t even get your whole life to be with you.” Marco takes a breath, “I have to go.”

Ace watches him walk away, before heading into his room and sliding down the door, already crying.

Chapter Text

Ace knocks on Marco’s door, waiting until he hears Marco shout for him to enter, stumbling slightly over his own feet as he does, ignoring the startled look on Marco’s face.

“What are you doing here, Ace?” Marco sighs, regaining composure faster than Ace can. “I thought you made it clear that you didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”

“I needed,” Ace glances at his own feet, “I needed to think. I just, I needed to think.”

Marco pinches the bridge of his nose, gesturing for Ace to take a seat on his bed, looking tired. “What do you want, Ace?”

“I’m sorry,” Ace says earnestly, catching Marco’s eyes, “I’m so sorry, for not understanding why you said what you did.”

“Ace-”

“I’m not done, please?” Marco nods. “I, I spent my whole life thinking that it would be better if I had never existed, I still think that, but I didn’t notice that it was making me seem suicidal.”

“This is about Roger, isn’t it?” Marco asks softly.

Ace nods, “Yeah. I, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know,” Ace scrubs at his eyes, trying not to cry. “I hadn’t realized.”

“Don’t cry,” Marco says moving to sit beside him. “Please, I hate seeing you cry. I-I shouldn’t have said that, about how I should never have told you that I love you, but Ace, you, can you imagine how hard it is for me?”

“No,” Ace sniffs. “But I am sorry. How do,” He glances up at Marco. “Can I fix it?”

Marco grins, “I don’t think you can, but maybe we could?” Marco tilts his head. “Unless you don’t?”

Ace shakes his head, “I want. I want to try and fix this, please. If you, if we can?”

“We can try,” Marco agrees, hand cupping Ace’s cheek. “I can’t promise we can fix this, but we can try.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much,” Ace cries, throwing himself at Marco and hugging him tightly. “Thank you.”

Marco laughs softly, hugging him back, ignoring the tears soaking his shirt and hoping that this actually worked. 

Chapter Text

“Thatch!” Ace says excitedly when he answers the phone, frowning at Robin when she shushed him. “Sorry, Thatch, I need help this is why you were suppose to come with me.”

“Sorry buddy,” Thatch mutters. “There is an issue with the wedding cake that’s suppose to be delivered today. Who’d you take instead?”

“No one, but I ended up at the one that Luffy’s friend, Robin, is working at for a bit. Now, you have the checklist on your phone, can you send it to me?”

“Of course I can. Just give me a minute and I’ll send it to you.” Thatch says easily. “Give me a minute.”

“Thanks!” Ace says hurrying through the goodbyes before turning back to Robin. “Sorry?”

Robin smiles, “It’s fine, Ace. I suppose you had expected Thatch to be here with you?”

“Yeah!” He grins opening the text from Thatch. “This is not what I needed.” He turns it to Robin. “This is a cake recipe, isn’t it?”

“That it is,” Robin agrees.

Ace sighs, calling Thatch back, “I’m pretty sure engagement rings don’t have eggs and flour.”

“What?” Ace feels the color drain from his face. “Ace?”

“I have to go, wrong number!” Ace shouts hanging up.

Robin giggles, “I’ll assume that you didn’t call Thatch.”

“No,” Ace moans, dropping his head down on the glass case of rings that Robin had been leaning against for the last thirty minutes. “Marco definitely heard me say engagement ring. How am I supposed to propose if he knows?”

Robin pats him on the back as his phone starts ringing again, “I’m sure it’ll work out Ace, but you might want to answer his call.”

Chapter Text

Marco waits until the others start trooping back to the ship, keeping silent as Izo takes charge of the crowd, directing the other commanders. He sighs when they vanish.

“It wasn’t suppose to end like this,” He says finally, arms crossing over his chest. “This wasn’t suppose to happen.”

Ace’s grave is silent, but Marco wasn’t expecting it to answer, focusing on his hat, rather than the grave.

“I broke up with you to keep you safe, because I couldn’t bare to see you miss out on a life with someone that could grow old with you. Because I couldn’t bare to watch you die,” Marco swallows around the lump in his throat. “You weren’t suppose to run off and get yourself killed less than a year later.”

But he had, Ace is dead, killed in front of Marco as he had rushed to save his little brother’s life.

“You were suppose to live, you idiot,” Marco says biting back tears. “You were suppose to live.”

Chapter Text

Marco blinks at the lump on his bed, tugging off his shirt from where it had soaked through during his shift to make sure they made it out the storm they had found themselves in.

He ignores it long enough to shower and change, pulling on the dry clothing and finally stopping to deal with the lump.

“You can’t just steal all the covers.”

Ace peeks out at him from a tiny gap that just allows his nose and eyes to peer out of, “can so.”

“I am pretty sure this is my bed, that means they are my covers,” Marco counters. “If you share, then you can keep some of them.”

“No.”

“Ace.”

Ace frowns at Marco, “but I’m comfy!”

“If you don’t move then I will have to steal all the covers myself.”

Ace sighs, releasing his hold on one edge of the covers and letting Marco crawl in, “I thought your shift was longer.”

“Storm was starting to vanish near the end, no where near as bad as the seastorm that was predicted.”

“Okay,” Ace yawns, cuddling into Marco’s side, “I’m gonna take a nap then.”

“Sleep tight,” Marco mutters closing his eyes, a nap sounded like a good idea.

Chapter Text

“This is hideous,” Ace states prodding the lopsided tea pot with it’s lid that didn’t sit correctly and the crack along the handle. “How long have you had this?”

Marco glances over, frowning in confusion, “That’s not mine.”

“It’s not?”

“No, Oyaji had me hold onto it, it belonged to a friend. Well someone that he considered a friend, she was interesting.”

“And she never came back?” Ace asks.

“She died, I hear,” Marco answers. “Course I don’t know much about it.”

Ace glances to where Marco is elbow deep in a box, “You don’t know what happened to her?”

“Ace, we didn’t even know she was dead until you told us.”

“I did?”

Marco nods, “You said Portgas D Rouge died in childbirth, we just assumed she was off on an adventure. You can have it if you want, there’s a matching tea cup somewhere.”

“This was my mom’s?” Ace asks in wonder. “Really?”

“Her name was on the bottom last I checked,” Marco agrees. “You can look if you want.”

It still is.

Chapter Text

Ace doesn’t say anything when he wakes up in the bandits hut after the burn of Akainu’s fist through his chest, the ache of it still there like a nightmare that won’t go away. It still burns and feels like he’s burning if he thinks about it, but Ace is dead now, so it can’t be real.

“Are you okay?” Sabo asks softly, after Ace has finally dragged himself from the hut and through a day of stealing money that means nothing since they are both dead and unable to be pirates.

Ace, Ace knows that he’s a monster, but he had been hoping that in death that he would be able to see his mother once. She was suppose to be amazing enough to make that man, the most dangerous and monstrous man in the world fall in love with her, Ace is sure that she must have been an angel. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t allowed to meet her, because she was an angel and he was the son of a demon. Her blood must have been entirely overwritten by his.

“I’m fine, Sabo,” Ace says smiling and feeling the way it’s forced onto his face because Sabo doesn’t remember Luffy. He had made the mistake of mentioning their little brother and he hadn’t known who Luffy was. Ace assumes this is what his punishment must be.

“You don’t seem alright,” Sabo mutters as he licks his fingers and starts to count their haul, muttering the numbers to himself and marking numbers down onto their accounting papers. “We made quite the haul today.”

“Good. We doubled our money, didn’t we?”

“Just about,” Sabo agrees hiding their funds away once more. “I need to head back to where I need to be. I’ll see you in a tomorrow?”

“Bright and early,” Ace sighs, still sprawled over the branch and staring at the sky. “I’ll head home in a bit, don’t worry Sabo.”

Sabo closes his mouth, obviously about to worry, but cut off too soon to try any of his usual attempts, shrugging and hurrying off as Ace stares up at the sky for a long time, trying to find some kind of flaw in it. Some sort of, any sort of something, that made it seem off because there was no way that he wasn’t dead and this wasn’t a punishment.

It’s sad that this Sabo, the Sabo who is just made from his memories Ace assumes like the rest of this place and has no memories of what happens after Luffy arrives or when they take off or when Sabo dies. It’s just as flat and empty as he thinks it is.

“I hope they loved me,” Ace whispers pulling his knees close to his chest and trying not to remember the look on Luffy’s face as he died in his little brother’s arms. “I hope they forgive me. I hope it was enough. I hope they didn’t die like I did. It wouldn’t be fair if they ended up some place like this just because I was stupid.”

It hurts to think about, his heart burns and he can’t decide if that’s because it hurts to think about everyone or because he can still remember his chest burning with Akainu’s hand and this is another part of his punishment. Along with not being allowed to see his mother.

He would had hoped that death would have been kinder than life, but Ace supposed that nothing would be kind for him in the end.

 

 

Ace stares at Luffy, fast asleep and readjusts everything that he’s been thinking of this place few years, his hands shaking as he fights not to brush through Luffy’s hair. Sabo had said he has been staring at Luffy like he’s seen a ghost and how could he not? If Luffy was here, if Luffy, who acted and did things and reacted to Ace in ways that he couldn’t predict was real that meant all of this was real. All of this was real and Ace wasn’t, he wasn’t dead.

“You’re doing it again,” Sabo whispers suddenly at his side. “That thing you do.”

“I’m thinking.” Ace admits.

Sabo smiles, rolling his eyes, and Ace with years of experience and having held Marco’s heart in his hands once upon a time, can tell the signs of a crush. Maybe just something that children have but he doesn’t know, he does know that he doesn’t think he fall in love with anyone for a while yet, not until they’re all mentally adults.

“You might not want to think too hard or you might fry your brain.”

Ace laughs remembering the devil’s fruit that he doesn’t have just yet, “I don’t think that’s possible. But I was thinking. And I’m thinking you’re very recognizable.”

“Oh, you’re right. Someone would notice me, tell my family,” Sabo bites his lip. “We wouldn’t do well against that. Not with their money.”

“I don’t want to lose you, you’re my brother,” He hopes that doesn’t hurt Sabo and his stupid crush. “And I care about you. So don’t you dare think about doing something stupid to try and keep them from noticing Luffy and I. We need you as much as you need us.”

Sabo stares at him and Ace wonders what is going on in his head for a long moment before he finally grins, “You’re different now. I like it.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“You’re my little brother, I have to make sure that you stay safe,” Ace teases. “You’re the one that needs to be kept safe you know, not me.”

“I need to be kept safe?” Sabo snorts raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Ace agrees, smiling at him. “You are just as bad as Luffy, I’m sure. Now get to bed, we have plans to make in the morning and I, for one, don’t want to be tired when that idiot decides we need to go against Tiger Lord or something equally stupid.”

A second chance, Ace considers because he doesn’t think even the afterlife could make something that acted like Luffy. He had a second chance and he wasn’t going to blow it.

Chapter Text

Marco doesn’t know why people stare at the ocean, why they write epics about the color of it and the shifting hues of the sky. It’s all gray and and white and black in differing shades and schemes, nothing that could make him think that they must look amazing. Just like he doesn’t understand why Izo keeps making so annoyed noises about his clothing and mismatching colors, blue and purple were matching according to all the colors for the color blind books he had been forced to read.

“You’re distracted,” Haruta frowns, her arms crossed over her chest as she crosses her legs. “Why are you distracted, we have work.”

“I’m running on two hours of sleep and so much caffeine that Pops has literally cut me off and anyone seen giving me any will be in serious trouble,” Marco states tiredly. “And we weren’t talking about work, we were talking about dinner.”

“Which I want you to attend tonight, we’re going to a restaurant just down the street and it’s only going to be an hour or so.”

“When does it start?” Marco sighs tiredly, knowing that he isn’t going to get out of it without being sick and even then, she was sure to destroy him.

“Eight, don’t you dare be late.”

Marco sighs, “Fine, I’ll be there and I won’t be late.”

 

Marco was running late, almost twenty minutes late and he had already fended off two calls from Haruta as he stumbles into the restaurant, looking tiredly for any of his siblings and frowning when he doesn’t spot any of them.

“Can I help you, sir?” The host asks sounding bored and almost uninterested as he looked over the paper on his stand. “Do you have a reservation?”

“I thought I did, my sister set it up, would be under Newgate?”

“Newgate, Newgate,” He hums before nodding, “Marco Newgate, your date is already here,” He picked up a menu and finally looked up at him. “I’ll esc-”

Marco blinks rapidly, staring at the sudden stark red tie on the host’s neck, “You’re-”

“I am at work, seriously,” The host hisses at the ceiling, his eyes narrowed. “Couldn’t have done this at another time?”

“You said date?” Marco repeats in confusion because his soulmate could wait a few minutes while he got over Haruta’s lies. “I didn’t have a date, I was coming to have dinner with my family.”

The host glances at him, “No, you have a date,” He clicks at his station again. “Oh, blind date. I was suppose to say nothing, oops.”

“It’s fine, can you just lie and say that I never showed up?” He pauses shifting nervously. “And could I have your number? I mean, just to talk. I understand if you don’t want to.”

“No, I can lie. My name is Ace,” He scribbles something down on the back of a piece of receipt tape. “And that’s my number. Just, you can text me? We can see about where this goes?”

“Thank you,” He pauses as his phone rings again, Haruta’s name flashing on the screen. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to yell at my sister about this. But I’ll text you later?”

“Later.”

Chapter Text

“There’s more flowers,” Thatch states, his nose wrinkling as he takes a step backwards from the innocent looking pink flowers that had appeared over night, replacing the daisies that Marco was sure had been there the night before. “They’re like rabbits.”

“Flowers aren’t rabbits,” Marco smirks, kneeling down carefully to avoid touching the flowers. They had started showing up several days ago, not always the same color, but it was the same flower, which was about all they had found out so far. “If they were, we might have found out who or what was spreading them around the forest.”

“I’m sure that you’ll figure it out,” Thatch tries not to yawn, looking stranger than he normally did. “You’re quite the detective.”

Marco frowns at Thatch, “Is this a joke about my promotion?”

“Never. You deserved the promotion and I was just saying that if you could rise through the ranks to detective so quickly, you are sure to figure out what this is.”

“You’re trying to butter me up so that I’ll let you leave to get ready for your date instead of hunting down more information, aren’t you?” Thatch at least tries to look as if he feels guilty, probably for being caught out, but doesn’t deny it. “Get going, It’s almost dark and I actually want to be inside tonight instead of going through the flowers, probably be faster without you.”

“I am excellent help, I’ll have you know,” Thatch sniffs dramatically. “Thank you, Marco. I owe you for this.”

Marco waits for him to vanish, first from sight and then the range of his hearing, still counting to ten to make sure that Thatch wouldn’t come speeding back, “If he ever pays me back for all the things that he owes me, it might be kinder of me just to take his first born.”

The flowers don’t answer, swaying slightly in the breeze, and smelling amazing even to Marco’s enhanced sense of smell. There’s no rhyme or reason to where the flowers appear, moving over the forest and parts of their small town, but they were basically a trail. As if they had been made by someone walking randomly, sprouting where they had stayed too long.

“Now,” Marco stands, spotting the next patch of flowers. “Where are you going?”

The path leads deeper into the woods, deeper than Marco wants to go with the full moon set to rise soon. He’s in control, he would hadn’t have been promoted if he hadn’t been, but it’s still something he doesn’t like to chance. Not when too many of the people in town can be infected, even with their own powers.

“Are you lost?”

Marco stops, heart stopping in his chest, because he hadn’t heard anyone approaching. He hadn’t even heard the heartbeat until he heard the voice, but he turns, slowly, hand going to his taser automatically.

The young man, in shorts that go to just below his knees and a shirt that hangs open, smiles at him, “Are you lost? It can get a little confusing in here, do you need help home?”

“No,” Marco says, finally realizing that the man is standing in a patch of the flowers, one he had dismissed since the petals were older, not as soft as the newer ones. “Are you lost? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in town before.”

“I’m Ace!” he’s smiling still. “I’ve lived here a long time, but I slept alot, so I might have missed somethings. Who are you?”

“I’m Marco Newgate, I don’t think I’ve seen you around before?”

Ace disappears and appears from behind another tree, closer, “Newgate? Like Edward Newgate?”

“You know Pops?”

“I know lots of people,” Ace answers close enough for Marco to catch his scent, almost the same as the flowers, but just different enough to distinguish, “You’re the new detective, right? Shanks told me about you.”

“Did he?” Marco doesn’t understand how Ace, who he’s never met, knows both his father and the sheriff. “He never mentioned you.”

“I was sleeping,” Ace explains. “Because my mom got sick. But I’m back now, I live that way,” he points further into the forest. “It’s the biggest tree ever. Do you want to see?”

Marco nods, “If you don’t mind me asking, what are you?”

Ace frowns, “You won’t laugh?”

“I’m a werewolf, I don’t think I’m allowed to judge.” Marco answers.

“I’m a nymph,” Ace says like he expects Marco to say something. “Half nymph, mom was a nymph and that’s where I get my abilities. I think I have coffee, do you drink coffee?”

Marco nods, following Ace deeper into the forest, “You wouldn’t happen to leave flowers, would you? I’m actually trying to figure out where they’re coming from, Shanks thought it would be ‘good for me’.”

“Oh, they’re mine,” Ace grins. “Come on, we can’t have coffee if you’re a werewolf, dogs aren’t allowed coffee.”

Marco sighs, he’s heard that joke to many times. 

Chapter Text

Marco can’t find his keys. He knows that Izou took his car keys at some point, probably right around the time that Thatch had started mixing his drinks instead of Jozu, but he was almost certain that his house key had been given back to him. Except, Marco pats at his pockets, fumbling his phone out of one and failing to get the fingerprint lock to recognize him. The numbers for the passcode were too blurry to even attempt.

“I just wanna go to bed,” Marco mutters frowning at the front door. “Did I, were you always red?”

The door doesn’t respond and Marco is glad he’s not that drunk at least. Or worried that one of his other siblings might have spiked the drinks with something else, like they’ve been prone to doing since the end of the last prank war. 

“Oh, thought I lost this,” Marco says pleased when he kicks the rug and finds his spare key, fumbling the lock open and kicking off his shoes. “They moved my couch?”

He doesn’t bother trying to make it to his bedroom, falling on the couch and dragging the blanket over the back of it down to cover himself. One foot pressed firmly to the floor as the room tries to start spinning on him to make it stop before falling asleep.

“What do you mean you don’t know any blonds other than Sanji?” Marco hears as he presses his face further into his couch. “I thought you knew more people than just your friends.” a long pause. “Then how did he get in my…”

The sound fades out for a few minutes and Marco almost thinks it’s carrying over from his neighbor’s house when he opens his eyes to peer at the couch. It’s a hideous shade of eye searing orange, the kind of thing that one of Haruta’s anime protagonists might wear, even if it’s far more comfortable than Marco’s staid blue one.

“I thought I told you to stop hiding my key under the mat? Luffy this is how you’re going to get me murdered,” Marco knows that voice, sitting up to catch sight of his neighbor frowning at a wall. “I have to go.”

There’s a long moment of silence, Marco isn’t sure what he’s suppose to say because he’s broken into his neighbor’s house.

“I’m so sorry,” Marco blurts out when his neighbor’s mouth opens. “I was really drunk last night and I don’t think my siblings remembered what house is mine. I swear all I did was fall down on your couch.”

“I know, you set off the alarm,” he nods to the box on the wall. “I’m Ace, I moved in here a few months ago.”

“Marco, I own the place next door,” Marco groans softly. “With the blue front door. I knew the door looked wrong.”

Ace snorts, “Yeah, it’s rather red isn’t is? Come on, the least I can do before shoving you out the front door is feed you.”

“You really don’t have to,” Marco says softly.

“I would do the same if you were my brother or one of his drunken friends showing up because it’s easier to direct to the house on 7th with the red door than an apartment building,” Ace grins. “Hope you like bacon.”

“I really am sorry about breaking into your house.”

Ace laughs, looking back at Marco, “Maybe you can make it up to me later.”

Chapter Text

Ace leans back against the wall and regrets agreeing to share a room with Sabo for the last year of college. He should have expected this to happen with Koala had mentioned that they needed to study. The political science majors kept starting parties when they were trying to study and their dorm just wasn’t big enough for Ace to keep studying for the test he had tomorrow while staying in the dorm.

Sabo would apologize tomorrow and feel guilty for causing trouble and forcing Ace to leave their shared dorm room, but tomorrow didn’t help him and it was too late to go to the library. It was either closed or going to close soon.

“Did you get kicked out because your roommates were fucking?”

Ace snorts, looking up at one of the two people in the dorm across from him, “No, political major study group turned party,” he glances at his own books spread around him. “Sorry am I blocking your path?”

“It’s fine,” there a long moment of silence. “Is this for the physic’s final?”

“How’d you know?” Ace asks.

“I spent the better part of the last four hours studying for it. I don’t want to fail anymore than you do from the looks of it,” he grins. “If you want, we can use my room to study? My room mate’s at his boyfriend’s dorm for the night if they stay up too late.”

Ace bites the inside of his cheek, “Sounds like a good idea. Alright, I’m Ace.”

“Marco, but I already knew your name. We sit three seats away from each other in Physics class.”

“We do?” Ace frowns, trying to remember the rest of his classmates and coming up blank. “I don’t remember anything about the rest of the class, I’m really sorry.”

“It’s at seven in the morning,” Marco says shaking his head. “I would be more shocked if you remembered much.”

Ace laughs, “Then how do you remember?”

“Maybe there’s a reason for it,” Marco shrugs. “Come on, I’ll even test you on everything. Unless you don’t know anything about our class. If you know nothing, I don’t think even pulling an all nighter is gonna help us.”

“Just the last chapter, I understand the rest of it, I promise.”

“Then come on,” Marco picks up one of Ace’s books. “This has no bearing on my offer, but after the test, would you like to do something?”

“A, are you asking me out on a date?” Ace demands.

Marco nods softly, “If you would like to? I would still let you have Thatch’s bed and help you study.”

“I wouldn’t mind a date,” Ace says smiling. “We can plan it after studying?

Chapter Text

“You’re going to make a mess of yourself,” Kingdew wants to groan, but if he makes a noise than he’ll be spotted and that’s not what he wants. If he does, then Marco and Ace will jump away from each other like they got caught doing something they shouldn’t instead of failing pathetically to flirt with each other. “Do you need help?”

“Sure,” too eager, Kingdew wants to tell Ace. “Hold these, I want to make Kotatsu a new toy since the others broke or went missing.”

“You’re talented with your hands,” Marco’s voice freezes and Kingdew wishes he could go back the way he came but they’re blocking his room and he is not going back up stairs after that tumble into the ocean. “I mean look at what you’ve got so far.”

“Thanks,” Ace has to be smiling, that’s always how his voice sounds when he’s smiling. “I’m sure that if we do this together, we’ll be able to get it all working for Kotatsu easily. I mean, you’re the smartest person I know!”

“Kingdew,” Vista stops. “Why are you?”

“You’re incredibly smart too, Ace. Some of the things you come up with are amazing.”

“Oh have mercy,” Vista hisses softly. “Here? Now? Can’t they flirt anywhere else?”

“See why I’m here?” Kingdew mutters arms crossed over his chest. “I don’t know what to do, this is the only way to my bedroom and I’m cold.”

“And dripping on the floors,” Vista sighs.

Ace is laughing, “You’re an amazing story teller, Marco. I don’t know why the others always complain when you are the one asked to tell the story for Pops.”

“They’re gonna make me sick.”

“I don’t know, I think you do well with the stories too. The pictures you make are a nice touch, it makes sure we can all see it how it happened, even if we were there.”

Kingdew chances a glance around the corner and groans softly, they’re in the middle of the hall, standing close enough that there’s barely any space between them before moving backwards.

“I’m not going out there.”

“Are they finally standing closer? If we’re going to suffer, they better be standing closer and flirting.”

“Marco’s hand is on Ace’s arm, there’s so much progress in this one moment that if we interrupt, I think we might get pushed back to longing glances,” Kingdew answers. “I am not going back to longing glances.”

“I will lock them in a closet if they go back to pining, longing glances when the other isn’t looking,” Vista states, head falling back against the wall. “Couldn’t they have done this somewhere else?”

Kingdew shrugs helplessly before choking, “Back up, act like we just came down this hallway,” he doesn’t waste time, “We’ll need to get more ammo at our next stop, there’s a lot of it missing from our last fight with–”

Marco nods as they pass, arm just brushing Ace’s. It’s enough progress that Thatch is going to cry because it’s been six months of useless pining and flirting and now they’ve made it to casual touches without over reacting.

“Are you sure that we can’t just get them drunk and dump them in a bed together? They’ll sleep and think something may have happened and maybe talk,” Vista insists tiredly.

“If you can convince Pops that it won’t backfire horribly then we can try, but otherwise it’s best not to even try.”

Chapter Text

“You’re late, Mr. Newgate,” Whitey Bay smirks behind M’s desk, her suit neatly pressed. “I do think that you were suppose to be back last week, wasn’t it? Did you get distracted by another pretty face?”

Marco smirks, ignoring the pain in his side from the stab wound and the ache in his spine that’s telling him that he’s getting too old to keep doing this, “You know I never kiss and tell. Where is M?”

“Sleeping, you know that he’s getting old these days,” Whitey answers standing up and brushing off her pants. “Come on then, I am going to have to escort you until your security clearances are put back into the system. We’re in the middle of revamping our security at the urging of our new Q.”

“You mean we have a new one?” Marco asks and is even more thankful that his suit jacket is dark because he knows that wound is going to start seeping through his shirt at some point and he has to at least meet the new Q. “I thought that was going to be held for a while?”

Whitey shakes her head, “We were hacked. Hacked badly and we had to pay them to show where the holes in our security were,” she pauses as the elevator goes down to the start of Q branches domain. “Q laughed herself sick and demanded that we hire the kid to take over for her.”

Marco snorts, because he remember Q and the way she would insist things happen until she got her way, “So how old is this kid?”

“Mid to late twenties?” Whitey shrugs because she doesn’t care about age as long as they’re competent. “He’s gutted the system and rebuilt it from scratch, something about how we might have gotten bugs already before yelling about security and fiddling with the designs for the communication devices.”

“Sounds like someone that would impress you.”

Whitey smirks a him, badging them through the entrance to Q branch, “Q, where are you? 007 came back from the dead, again.”

“I could have told you that,” and Marco can’t believe what he is seeing. “Oh, hey Marco! I thought you were gonna be passed out in the guest room for another few days.”

“You know each other?” Whitey asks, eyes narrowing because Whitey Bay has, and always will Marco’s sure, disapproved of things she doesn’t know. “How do you know each other?”

Ace blinks, that same wide-eyed maniac look that he always gets when he’s running on just a few hours of sleep and enough caffeine that their coffee pot has hidden itself in the closet, “We’re dating.”

“You never told me you were dating,” there’s that disapproval again, Marco should be use to it, but he’s never going to be. “When did this happen?”

“Two years ago,” Marco answers before Ace can, because Ace thinks it’s funny that Marco crashed through his window and broke his computer. He laughs when he talks about making Marco pay for the parts to repair it. “On assignment. When was the last time you slept?”

“What day is it?” Ace shoots back and Marco pinches the bridge of his nose.

“We’re going to the medical wing,” Marco states firmly, because Ace will try to slip out of it. “I’m going to get more stitches and we’re going to sleep,” he watches Ace try to complain. “Did you at least get your brothers to watch Kotetsu?”

“He’s in the office. Sleeping on my laptop. I can’t get anything done.”

“Good. Come on Q, we’re going to sleep.”

“I no longer have to listen to you, you know. I’m Q, that means that I outrank you,” Ace says bouncing to Marco’s side. “Also, we have to decide if we want to get married in the next year or break up because I’m now higher ranked than you.”

Marco nods slowly, “We can talk about it when we wake up. Come on, my love, sleep.”

“Sleep,” Ace yawns, falling into Marco’s side. “To bed after stitches.”

“I expect answers,” Whitey says after them. “You’re going to tell me what happened here.”

“If you can drag it out of me,” Marco shoots back at her tiredly, smirking at her as he closes the door behind them. “You are going to tell me why you hacked into Mi6′s computers, love.”

“If you can get it out of me.”

Chapter Text

“Your family seems nice,” Marco says softly, laying out on the bed that Roger had made Ace drag into his room for their guest. “You and Sabo don’t look the same.”

“Sabo’s adopted. Luffy is too honestly,” Ace answers, staring at the ceiling. “Mom took them in when we were all young, before she died. Was overwhelming for dad after she died.”

Marco hums, a question. One that Ace isn’t sure that he wants to answer because the memory still burns and his heart still breaks when he lingers too long on it. When he remembers what happened again.

“You know him, Roger,” Ace says instead because that’s easier than thinking about his mom. “It was pretty obvious how you both looked at each other. He didn’t believe your lie.”

“You’re observant,” Marco sounds like he might be grinning. “He thinks you won’t notice. Least that’s what he said, something about you being in college and too busy to pay attention.”

Ace snorts, “He’s stupid.”

“He always has been,” Marco agrees and Ace finally looks at him. “He’s like me, or he was. I don’t know for sure what he’s done to himself. His powers are sealed or something, he’s working with Franky.”

“I know Franky, he’s one of Luffy’s friends. Luffy sees things too, he gets it from his dad, Dragon.”

“I know Dragon,” Marco says slowly. “He’s the head of our assassination division. I wouldn’t have expected him to be related to someone like Luffy. He’s very bright?”

Ace grins, “He takes after his grandfather. I don’t suppose you know Garp?”

“I do forget they’re related,” Marco admits. “He’s very much like Garp. More so than I thought. Will you tell me about her one day? Your mother.”

“Her name was Rouge and she always had a smile when Sabo and I came home.”

Marco looks thoughtful and Ace doesn’t understand, “There’s a woman in the 11th, she’s strong and always willing to fight, that’s gone from unranked to fifth seat. Her name is Rouge. Portgas D Rouge, she comes to my division to speak with my captain.”

“Is her hair,” Ace’s throat is constricting. “Is it pink?”

“Your mom then,” Marco says nodding. “She talks about her family often. She doesn’t know where to find them. It’s part of the process of getting to the Seireitei. The fact she remembers that much is amazing.”

“She’s,” Ace swallows and his chest aches. “She’s, I can see her again?”

Marco hums, “I think I can arrange it. I’ve already asked my Captain to send a medic and they’ll need an escort, should be able to request that she come.”

“You think?”

“She misses her sons, her husband too but she knows that he’ll be fine.” Marco tilts his head. “You should be glad, if they can help fix this, I can leave you with powers and no one will have to get involved. She could come back then.”

“I want her back,” Ace admits. “I want to see her again.”

Marco nods, “I’ll make sure she comes.”

Chapter Text

Ace traces his fingers along the tattoo on Marco’s chest, feeling the surge of something, not quite a heartbeat, under his skin. It’s comforting, the ebb and flow of it to remind himself that Marco would wake up again soon.

“Distracted,” Marco mutters as Ace feels it surge again. “You didn’t sleep, did you?”

“You’re distracting, that’s your fault,” Ace counters smiling softly. “I wasn’t tired, apparently my kind don’t have to sleep often. Pops found some books for me to look over, I read them while you were passed out.”

Marco snorts, “Not everyone can stay awake when the sun’s out. Did anything happen while I was asleep? Other than you suddenly turning into a scholar?”

“I made french toast and made Thatch cry because I forgot the vanilla again,” Ace grin conspiratorially. “I didn’t tell him that it was a recipe that didn’t need vanilla. It was delicious and he made me by more bread because I ate a loaf all by myself.”

“You had a fun time then,” Marco yawns. “How did you find us, I thought you were off running away from some general?”

Ace hums, “I was. Garp is persistent, but after five years he got called back to lead some kind of attack against Hell. Which I didn’t sign up for, just because I’m an angel doesn’t mean that I want to follow their philosophies.”

“Yeah, you’re a little too free thinking aren’t you?” Marco raises an eyebrow. “Having fun?”

“You don’t have a heartbeat,” Ace states like they hadn’t known that for the last two centuries. “But I’m older now, I can feel something. It’s weird, not bad, but I like it. It means that you’re still here.”

Marco shakes his head, “Sappy, Ace.”

“You’re being mean! I leave for a decade and my husband is being mean to me the day after I come home!” Ace pouts dramatically. “You didn’t miss me?”

“I always miss you when you or I take off for a few years,” Marco states leaning up to kiss the tip of Ace’s nose. “But you’ll always come back.”

“Sappy, Marco.”

“Turning my own words against me, you horrid angel. Come on, I need to eat tonight and that means tracking someone down. Could show you around the city while I’m at it?”

Ace laughs, “It has been a couple decades since we lived here. I don’t know why you picked here while I was gone.”

“Because, this house is your favorite and I thought you might like to come home to it.”

“Sappy!” Ace laughs rolling to the edge of the bed. “Hurry up, I wanna see the sights!”

Chapter Text

Ace takes a deep breath as he parks his rental, checking the GPS one more time before shutting it down. His heart was pounding, had been since Marco had come through with the offer from WhiteBeard INC, asking for Ace specifically, Ace tried not to remember the hours that had gone into negotiations because Marco was Ace’s boyfriend and there were rules about this sort of thing. But he was here, for the next two months at least.

“You gonna come out the car,” Marco asks startling Ace. “I want to take you out to dinner and I can’t do that if you want to stay in there.”

“Dinner huh? Got somewhere in mind?” Ace asks leaning against the door, arms crossed on the edge of it where the window closed. “Or do you cook now?”

Marco laughs, “I’m pretty sure that I’m never cooking for you after last time,” Ace can still remember that twenty four hours that he spent throwing up between pictures on set in Germany. “But I do know a couple of decent places or we can go my brother. He’s boyfriend cooks well.”

“Does he own a restaurant?” Ace asks curiously.

“No kill shelter,” Marco answers. “And I don’t get delivery here, because apparently this is the address that kids use to send false deliveries. Since I’m not home as often as I would like.”

Ace hums, “Maybe pick up something and come back here? I don’t want to deal with more people after that flight. Twenty hours is a long way to go for dinner, Marco.”

“Then scoot over, I’ll drive us to pick something. Got a preference?” Marco asks opening the door to the car, Ace pretends to miss the chuckle as he scrambled over drive shaft. “Other that a lot?”

“You know me so well,” Ace says teasing. “I like Chinese?”

“And you’re in luck,” Marco says turning the car back on and raising an eyebrow at the way the dash board lit up. “We got a new Chinese place. We didn’t have one three months ago.”

“You live in the middle of no-where, you know that don’t you?”

“I like it. It’s a bit harder when I have to do jobs, but I have a contract with WhiteBeard and they’re willing to give me space when I have to do things.”

Ace hums, everyone and their mother knew that Marco had landed WhiteBeard years ago when the country had been much smaller. Not that anyone knew how Marco had landed it.

“Two whole months for a shoot?” Ace asks finally.

Marco blinks slowly, “Jesus is that what they’re paying you for?” Ace is worried for something. “Jozu said he wanted to meet you, but I didn’t think he would go that far.”

“Jozu? As in Jozu Newgate? The head of WhiteBeard? You know him that well?”

“He’s my brother. I thought the last name gave it away.”

“So it was nepotism.”

Marco laughs, “Dad did it, but I do have talent and I haven’t given them any reason to fire me. Jozu’s been asking about you for a while, I wasn’t sure what you wanted me to tell people.”

“You’re stupid, get me food and then we’ll talk.”

Marco nods seriously, pulling into the parking lot, “I’ll be back, don’t cause any trouble.”

Ace rolls his eyes, texting Sabo and Luffy to let them know that he had arrived safely and pausing, thumb hovering over his mom’s number. She wouldn’t mind if he called, before locking his screen and leaning back in his seat and closing his eyes. He only blinks himself back when the door opens and Marco shoves two bags of food into his arms.

“Sorry, did I wake you?”

“Nah, was waiting for you,” Ace yawns. “Think I might eat and then go to bed however.”

Marco nods, already starting the car back up and heading back to his house, “Just the bag in the back seat?”

“Thought I could buy some more stuff while I was here instead of having to pack.”

“That’s always what you do,” Marco states pulling into his driveway, Ace can’t believe how much faster that felt. “One day, you’re going to go somewhere where you can’t buy things.”

“I would never,” Ace grins. “Grab the bag? I have all the food.”

Marco says, already reaching for it, but pretending to be put upon, “I’m doing it. Come on, I’ve set up a room for you.”

“Not your room?” Ace pouts kicking his door closed and following Marco to the front door.

“Well I didn’t want to presume,” Marco says unlocking the door, something rushing out to bounce around Ace’s feet. “Merry, no.”

“You have a dog?”

“Did you, did you not know?”

Ace shakes his head staring at the tiny Collie, “I’ve known you for three years and been dating you for one, and you didn’t tell me you had a dog? What the hell Marco?”

“Merry’s only been here for the last six months, I was too weak to leave him behind after all his siblings were adopted.”

“I’m not talking to you, you have disappointed both of us,” Ace states barely able to gesture between himself and Merry. “How dare you not tell me about Merry. I show you pictures of Kotatsu all the time.”

“I was sure I mentioned it,” Marco says letting Ace pass him into the house, Merry on his heels. “I know I did.”

Ace sets both bags on the counter, bending down and picking up Merry the second his hands were free, “We,” he frowns at Marco. “Are disappointed.”

“Ace, I thought you knew. I’m sure I told you,” Marco sighs and Ace grins in victory. “You’re never going to let this go, are you?”

“Never.”

Chapter Text

“A date,” Ace says slowly, tasting the words because he’s never had someone say them to him before. Not the way that Marco had. “What’s that?”

Marco tilts his head, like a bird, “Have you never been asked on a date before, Ace?”

“I,” Ace feels confused. “I think someone mentioned dates before, but I’ve never been on one? I don’t think. What do people do on dates? Are they dangerous?”

“It’s eating and maybe dancing. Going somewhere with someone you like for fun,” Marco answers and that doesn’t make sense.

“Don’t we do that anyway?”

Ace knows it’s been harder, with Pops dead and the Armada being hunted, they’ve been fighting more than they’ve been doing anything. Running from place to place trying to keep their place. It was hard, harder to watch because Ace was still recovering, Marco might have kept Akainu from running him through, but a decent amount of his side had been taken.

“It’s different,” Marco answers frowning. “Dating is,” he trails off again, arms crossing over his chest. “I have no idea how this is described. I’ve never had to have it explained to me before.”

“Is dating fun?”

“It can be. Like I said, it’s going to out and eating. To fun places, like the fairs or other nice things. To have fun.”

Ace frowns, “But we already do that, Marco. We go and eat and you made me come to the festival two islands back. Isn’t that dating?”

“That’s,” Marco sounds so tired. “Dates are kind of the same thing, but there’s a difference. It’s,” he sighs. “Most people date to see if they like someone enough to marry them.”

“Marry them? Dating leads to marriage?”

Ace has wondered how marriage happens. People didn’t just suddenly decide to marry people, he knew that, unless they were nobles and arranged to marry, but no one had ever said how it happened. Shitty Gramps had always said that they would marry marines or, Ace really didn’t understand this part, someone who smiled like the sun and forgave them for their mistakes. It was weird but Ace never understood Gramps.

“It can. Dating is to see if you like someone enough to marry them or if not, you break up.”

That makes a lot of sense, “But haven’t we already been dating? We go places just us all the time and we do stuff without the others. So if that’s dating, haven’t we been already?”

“We’re friends, friends do that too.”

“What changes then? If it’s the same thing sorta thing?”

“Hand holding is usually the start. Kissing, if that is something that you want to try.”

Ace thinks that makes much more sense, he hadn’t been able to figure out why people decided to start kissing sometimes. It never made sense how it happened and Ace didn’t know what made them do any of it.

“And you want to do that with me?” Ace wants to makes sure he got that right. “Kissing and stuff.”

“I would like to. Which is why I asked you on a date, Ace. If you don’t want to, you just have to say no. I know that this is a little,” Marco sighs. “I know I’m technically the captain now and if that’s not something you’re comfortable with-”

“We can date,” the word is still weird on Ace’s tongue. A new word because it’s got more meanings than he had thought. “I don’t see why you being the captain is weird. I still think we’ve been dating for a while, you don’t make a lot of sense about things.”

Marco raises his an eyebrow, “You think so?”

“We go places and you bought me a present last time we went out. You held my hand too. I know it was really crowded, but you didn’t let go either,” Ace adds. “The only thing different is that we haven’t kissed.”

“If you insist. What do you want to go?”

Chapter Text

“What do you think is on your soulmate?” Ace asks, collapsed between two barrels to avoid Thatch and Haruta’s attempts to hand off their shitty warm beer. They both knew Ace always finished almost anything handed to him, even if he didn’t like it. “I mean, since what you love if printed on them?”

Marco hums, low and quiet, “I think that they must have something for my siblings. What about you?”

“My brother,” Ace mutters into his mug, glancing at Marco. “It’s probably something shitty for him too.”

“Shitty?”

Ace nods, “Two things that you learn quickly about my brother, he loves his hat and he loves meat. I figure that it’s one or both of them. And his hat is this old as fuck straw nonsense with a red ribbon.”

“That doesn’t sound shitty. Simple, perhaps, but there’s nothing wrong with simple,” Marco leans back against the railing. “Something for Pops. I would like to think that legends about the size of the mark meant something, but it’s all false.”

“Gramps said the bigger the mark, the more that person loved what it represented.”

Marco shakes his head, “Izou,” he gestures with his drink to where Izou is playing cards, and fleecing a number of the crew. “Has a mark, it’s on the side of his knee, it’s one of the things that Thatch loves most.”

“I think that one of mine is both.”

“Both?” Marco asks slowly.

Ace hums, spinning his drink in his hands, “I think they love something very much and it, it takes up the most space of any of my marks,” he sighs. “Honestly all of my marks are in the most inconvenient places, Gramps always said we were suppose to hide them.”

“Hide them,” Marco says slowly. “How are you suppose to find them if you keep them hidden?”

Ace doesn’t answer, finishing his drink and standing, “I think I need another drink.Would you like one too?”

“Please.”

Marco watches him slip through the crowd, careful to keep from being pulled into arguments or the dancing that’s taken over a good portion of the deck. Most people want their soulmates, the person that would match them best, be important to them in some way-

“Do you want to meet your soulmate?” Ace asks interrupting his thoughts, back faster. “Sorry, I took the long way around, turned out it was even faster.”

“Thank you,” Marco says slowly, taking his drink. “I would like to meet them, when I was younger, before I started to get marks, I was sad that I didn’t get a best friend.”

Ace chokes, covering his mouth quickly, “Best friend?”

“I thought soulmates were best friends,” Marco says easily. “I mean, they sound like them. Wasn’t until two decades back that I got one.”

“Best friend?”

Marco shakes his head, “You’re still stuck on that? I would hear stories about soulmates, always important, from best friends, to lovers, to worst enemies. They can be anything, but I wanted a friend.”

“Most people talk about soulmates like you’re going to marry them.”

“Marrying your best friend isn’t an issue, but forcing someone to think that’s all you want from them? A friend is a start, but it doesn’t have to ever be romantic. What about you, did you not want to meet your soulmate?”

“I didn’t think I deserved one,” Ace says quietly, before standing up. “I’m going to bed.”

“Good night,” Marco says slowly, watching him leave. “Now why would he think that?”


“This is my bed,” Deuce states tiredly, ignoring Kotatsu, because Kotatsu did as he pleased and stole beds whenever they looked comfy. “You have a perfectly good bed. More than one should you want them, if I’m hearing rumors correctly.”

“Shut up,” Ace mutters, mostly covered in the sprawl of Kotatsu. “Shut up and tell me to stop drinking.”

Deuce sighs, dropping onto the small space left on his bed, “Why?”

“I asked Marco about his marks.”

“You’re an idiot. Come on, you hate soulmates and you haven’t even told me why. Just that they wouldn’t-,” he pauses. “This isn’t about your dad is it? Ace, so help me, if you’ve decided that you can’t have a soulmate because of a man that you never met-”

“I’m a monster.”

Deuce punches him, he knows that it’s not hard enough to hurt Ace, but it makes him feel better, “You’re a person. Just because you’re dad was the Pirate King, doesn’t mean that you are a monster. He wasn’t a monster.”

“Everyone-”

“Everyone is wrong. Monsters don’t let giant cats use them as beds and allow those cats to position them as the cat likes,” Deuce states, yawning. “Why does this soulmate thing bother you so much?”

Ace hums, tired and sad, “One of my marks, it’s-,” he swallows. “It takes up my entire back almost.”

“Explains why you don’t go around shirtless.”

“Yeah,” he pauses. “It’s their jolly roger.”

Deuce raises an eyebrow, “Whitebeard’s?” he doesn’t wait for a response. “Well, that would be awkward if you wanted to murder him. You figured out who it is, haven’t you?”

“Maybe?”

“Ace.”

“Marco,” Ace answers, throwing his arm over his face. “I think it’s Marco. There, are you happy?”

Deuce hums softly, quiet for a long moment, “You know, I think that if you took off your shirt, no one would notice. Just think it was a tattoo, since the rest of them have them.”

“Would figure it out soon enough. I’ve got other marks.”

“Fine, but only because I’m tired. I’m going to sleep and then I’m going to fight you on this because you’re a fucking moron. Even if you’re my friend.”

Ace laughs, “Alright, let me go.”

“No, it’s too late. Kotatsu isn’t moving and this room is cold. You’re staying here and you’re going to suffer,” Deuce yawns, burying his face in a pillow. “Night.”

“Sleep well?” Ace says slowly.


“Aw man,” Ace mutters prodding a hole in the front of his shirt, holding it up to his face to stare through it. “I liked this shirt! I can’t believe that I couldn’t turn it into fire fast enough!”

“Ace?” 

Ace turns, freezing when he spots the rest of the crew watching him, even if Marco’s the look who looks the most confused, “Yes?”

“That is so detailed!” Haruta shouts, bouncing close and forcing him to turn around. “When did you do this? It’s the best work that I’ve ever seen!”

“Not to mention the lines are so straight and the color so solid,” Izou agrees and Ace can feel his fan on his back. “You haven’t shown us this tattoo before. That’s a bit rude, Ace.”

Ace flinches, jerking away from Izou’s touch, “It’s not.”

“Not?” Haruta repeats.

“A tattoo. It’s a mark,” Ace bites the inside of his cheek when they both go silent, already shifting his shirt back on because at least it would be covered. “It’s been there for as long as I can remember. What does it matter?”

“That’s a soul mark,” Izou repeats slowly and Ace can’t see him, but he knows that his eyebrows are raised. “I didn’t know you had a soulmate.”

Ace shrugs, turning to face them because it’s worse having them at his back, “Yeah well, I have one. Didn’t think it was important.”

“But that’s our crew’s symbol!” Thatch says, eyes wide. “And you-?”

“I don’t regret it. Trying to kill him, Pops. I did it and I would have done it no matter if there was a mark on my back or not,” Ace says calmly. “But Pops still accepted me and he knows about this,” he gestures, unable to say the words. “But it doesn’t matter.”

“And that’s his choice,” Marco says before anyone else can. “If Ace wants to avoid his soulmate, that’s for him to decide. Stop hounding him about it.”

Ace can hear them grumbling, but is grateful when they don’t ask more, even if Izou looks like he’s willing to fight Ace to get more answers, leaving Ace alone-

“You know,” Marco says slowly, startling him. “The straw hat doesn’t have any meat, I was sure that I was going to after you talked about him, but it’s a strawhat and a crown.”

“A crown?”

Marco nods, rolling his sleeve up slightly, the mark just above the crease of his elbow, “I never got it, who would wear a straw hat with a crown.”

“Luffy would wear them both,” Ace says slowly. “You knew?”

“No, not until,” he doesn’t have to say it, but Ace knows what he means. “But I like you. Liked you before that,” Marco smiles. “I’ve been trying to see if you were interested, but I wasn’t sure since you were avoiding talks about-”

Ace snorts, cutting him off, “You could have said it.”

“Well some of us,” Marco says slowly, stepping closer. “Are willing to avoid saying things straight out so that the rest of their family doesn’t end up teasing them about failing to flirt.”

“And you don’t mind, that I didn’t tell you?”

Marco raises an eyebrow slowly, “I don’t own you. Ace, soulmates are suppose to be important to you, but that doesn’t mean that they start off that way. You’re still strangers when you meet, for all that I have marks of things you love, it doesn’t mean that I know what they mean or who you are. I know that because I wanted to know you.”

“You’re,” Ace ducks his head, feeling too warm. “I like you.”

“That’s good to know,” Marco says softly. “Can I interest you in dinner? I think we can even call it a date, if you’re comfortable with that.”

Ace nods quickly, “You- this isn’t just because I’m your soulmate?”

“Considering I found out about that today?” Marco teases. “No, I like you. I liked you when you were an idiot trying to kill Pops and I liked you more when you were an idiot on our crew. Being my soulmate isn’t changing that.”

Chapter Text

Banshee frowns at Ace, her arms crossed over her chest, “You’re hot, which makes no sense. I’ve already met my soulmate.”

“Mera mera,” Ace shrugs, flicking his fingers and sparks, like fireflies, dancing in the breeze for less than a moment. “It seems to override the soulmate’s sense of cold. You won’t believe the number of people that approached me and claimed we were soulmates.”

“How do you deal with it?”

“Deuce.” Deuce hums from where he’s seated directly to Ace’s left, checking the numbers that Ace had written down from their raids and the capture of a merchant ship last week. “Banshee needs a demonstration.”

“You just don’t want to explain,” Deuce states, digging into a pocket and pulling out a small twisted lump of stone and setting it on the table between them.

Ace touches it and watches as Banshee blinks twice and nods, “Mera Mera. This is seastone, Deuce carries it around for me.”

“Good to know,” Banshee collapses into one of the free chairs. “You’re not exactly my type, Captain and my soulmate would be very upset if I happen to run away on her.”

“I’m not very interested either,” Ace shoots back, yawning tiredly. “It’s a pain in the ass, if I had know that this was going to be the drawback of the Mera Mera, I would have let Deuce eat it first.”

“Fire-fist Masked Deuce is far more of a mouthful than Fire-fist Ace,” Deuce answers. “And I’m perfectly happy with my ability to swim. I’ve always been happier with that,” he pauses, thoughtfully. “Should we start having Ace touch seastone when we recruit? To lower the amount of soulmate claims?”

Ace makes a face, “I hate seastone, but if it means that I quit getting cornered after meeting people because they think we’re soulmates, I’ll do anything.”

“Where is your’s?” Banshee asks curiously.

“I haven’t met them yet,” Ace answers shifting in his seat and frowning. “Think they’re that way? Pretty cold, so not anywhere near us currently. I think they’re hanging out in the New World.”

“Well,” Banshee grins. “At least this won’t be boring. I can’t wait to see how many fights get put on hold because some shitty marine thinks they’re your soulmate and you have to take out seastone to prove you aren’t.”

Ace scowls, “Say good bye to Banshee, we’re going to need a new one.”

“You aren’t allowed to throw the crew overboard, Ace. We just got Banshee and wore her in, I’m not throwing her away until we’re sure that we have a replacement. Deal with it.”


“Ace is weird,” Haruta says watching their newest sibling attempt to kill Pops again. “Everyone that I’ve spoke to state that he is either their soulmate or he’s overriding the sense. Even Pops.”

Marco hums thoughtful, “His devil’s fruit is fire, could have something to do that. I know that when we captured his crew, his first mate had a lump of seastone.”

“Could something like a devil’s fruit be enough to override the soulmate sense?”

“I haven’t run into a fire fruit before,” Marco answers tapping his pen against his paperwork. He had gotten good at ignoring how his own sense had lingered on warmth since Ace arrived, it was obviously the same issue. “I know that there has been rumors of something similar when Akainu ate his own.”

Haruta smirks, razor sharp and sudden, “Which means that I’m going to have to get Ace to touch some.”

“You could just ask.”

“No, I have to be trick-”

“Ace,” that’s Ace’s old first mate, he insisted that he was still Ace’s first mate and would always be because Ace hadn’t agreed to join the Whitebeard Pirates. “Come touch some fucking seastone before I have one more person come up to me and try to ask about you!”

“Again?” Ace asks shaking the water off him and heating his skin, Marco would never understand how he seemed to recover from dips in the ocean so quickly. “Ugh, fine.”

There’s that lump of seastone, Marco frowns because that had been hidden away from Deuce and no one had returned it to him, dropped into Ace’s hand easily enough.

“Huh,” Haruta frowns. “It is the devil’s fruit. Good to know.”

Marco hums, his hand stopping because his soulmate sense was still burning, still leading unerringly close to where Ace was whispering to Deuce. Which meant one of them was his soulmate. Marco was almost sure that it wasn’t Deuce.

“This is the worst devil’s fruit,” Ace says suddenly, loud enough to be heard as he dumps the seastone back into Deuce’s hand, a glance in Marco’s direction, avoiding his eyes. “I’ve never had so many soulmate questions in my life,” he smirks. “If someone can send me back in time, I’m making you eat your piece first.”

“Whatever would I do,” Deuce smirks back. “Not shove it down your throat and laugh until you’re spitting fire at me.”

Marco ignores them as they vanish below deck, his hands shaking before he can make them stop. Haruta doesn’t notice, already scribbling down notes about what they had seen and heard.


“Phoenix, huh?” Deuce asks once they’re below deck, hidden in one of the supply closets that Ace had taken over. “That’s interesting.”

“And he probably noticed,” Ace says scrubbing a hand over his face. “We were all on deck and without everyone noticing me, he’ll realize that there’s something different.”

Deuce shrugs, “You feel cold until you get closer to your soulmate. Of course it’s not your body feeling cold and you can tell temperatures, but it’s not hard mistake the heat radiating from you for that special soulmate nonsense.”

“You met your soulmate and like them, how can you call it nonsense?”

“My soulmate didn’t insist we had to romantic. They said we were destined to be important to each other. You know that appeals to me.”

Ace snorts, dropping to the ground, “Fine. Tell the crew that I’ll try and get them off here soon.”

“Them but not you?”

“I’m-”

Deuce shakes his head, “I’ll let them know that you’re being stubborn, but we’ll join the Whitebeard pirates. You would do better to tell us these things, Captain.”

“I should have left you on Saboady.”

“You love me,” Deuce says waving as he heads to where the rest of their crew has been held after their third attempt to burn the Moby down.

Ace leans back against the wall and sighs, he doesn’t feel as certain as Deuce that he’s going to join the Whitebeard Pirates, even if one of the man’s commanders is his soulmate. After all there were plenty of soulmates that weren’t on the same crew. Maybe if he found out why these idiots called the old fool Pops and, he closes his hand into a fist and remembers that bar so long ago, finds out what they thought of Roger’s son.

After all, Marco might be curious about him now, but it would vanish once he knew that. Ace was sure of that, who could love a monster?


Ace doesn’t move when Marco knocks on the open door of the private medical room, the tattoo on his back still aching as he sprawls on his front.

“You look tired, shouldn’t you head back to where ever it is that you’ve been sleeping to avoid the dorms?” Marco asks curiously, leaning against the door frame. “Unless you’re going to fall asleep here?”

“I’ll move at some point,” Ace answers tiredly, his arms folded underneath the pillow. “It’s still plenty of time for me to get up and hide away from everyone who wants to congratulate me and slap my back.”

“Don’t let them do that, you can still hurt yourself even if the tattoo should heal fairly quickly,” Marco agrees. “You need anything before I get off shift?”

“You’re not gonna ask?”

Marco raises an eyebrow, crossing his arms over his chest. The silence lingers and Ace wonders if he should have kept ignoring it, even though he knew that Marco knew exactly what he meant.

“Do you want me to?”

Ace laughs, “I thought we would have to acknowledge it at some point, but if you’re not interested in being anything to me-”

“Now who said that,” Marco asks. “We’re going to be something to each other, even if it’s just as two people with the same Pops. But I thought I should let you approach me.”

“Could be a little weird for you to do come to me when I was technically being held here against my will,” Ace agrees, smiling softly. “We could try friends?”

“Friends sounds like a safe start,” Marco agrees. “If you sleep here, I’ll bring you breakfast. What do you think?”

“Mhm, breakfast sounds nice,” Ace yawns. “Could talk about stuff?”

“Stuff sounds fine. Goodnight Ace.”

“Night Marco.”

Chapter Text

“You are a failure,” Thatch states, trying to scrape the pot that Marco had attempted to make dinner in clean. “This is worse than the no-bake cheesecake incident.”

“I’m sorry, who was it that left me baked cheesecake recipes instead of no-bake?” Marco demands, balancing Luffy on his hip. “And I can cook plenty of other things, you know that.”

Thatch hums, “I’m sure. And who’s this?”

“I’m Luffy!”

“Luffy, huh?” Thatch grins, filling the pot with water and leaving it in the sink. “And why are you with my dorky big brother, Luffy? Did he steal you away to become a pirate?”

Luffy gasps, eyes wide, “Marco’s a pirate?”

“No,” Marco corrects, rolling his eyes when Luffy pouts. “My dad played a pirate in a movie a long, long time ago. He bought the boat that they used and made it into a clubhouse when my siblings and I were little. We played pirates, we aren’t really pirates.”

“We’re totally pirates,” Thatch whispers. “Don’t let Marco fool you. You can be a pirate too.”

“I wanna be a pirate!”

“Pirates eat their vegetables,” Izou states, shaking off his coat as he hangs it on the coat rack by the door. “I swear that it’s getting colder out there. I think the milk almost froze.”

Luffy frowns as Thatch takes the bags from Izou, spreading the purchases on the counter and muttering to himself as he starts to dig through Ace’s kitchen for something.

“Do pirates really eat their vege-bles?” he asks finally, tugging Marco’s shirt to get his attention. “Really, really eat them?”

Marco nods, “Vegetables were very important to pirates. Since they were at sea all the time, they didn’t get fruit and vegetables all the time, not fresh ones because they didn’t last long. And if you don’t eat them, you get really sick.”

“Really sick?”

“You better not show that child pictures of Scurvy victims,” Izou says stepping away from where Thatch has started chopping something up. “You know those are nightmare inducing, no matter how effective it might be getting children to eat vegetables.”

“I’m not showing pictures,” Marco promises, even as Luffy begs him for pictures. “Oh no,” he taps Luffy’s nose to stop him. “You have to ask Ace if you can see pictures like that.”

“But Ace left you in charge! Please?”

Marco shakes his head, “No. I think that it’s Ace’s choice to show the pictures, not mine. Now, do you want to play while we wait for Thatch to cook dinner or do you want to do something else?”

Luffy pouts, before bouncing in Marco’s arms, “Can we play pirates?”

“Play pirates, huh? How do you play pirates?”


“I have caught you, Pirate King!” Marco says, projecting his voice as he speaks, arms behind his back and the strange red and gold coat that Luffy had dragged from Ace’s closet resting on his shoulders. “You will never escape, admit your defeat!”

Luffy scowls, his too big strawhat falling into his face as he wiggles against the jump rope that he had been tied to the chair with, “Never! I’m never gonna give up!”

“Oh really?” Marco laughs, trying to remember how to make it sound evil, it had been years since he had used any of Pops’ acting tips and he could only half remember them. “You are defeated and your crew is scattered to the four winds, Pirate King. How can you hope to escape me?”

“My crew is gonna come! They’re gonna come and beat you up!”

Thatch clears his throat, “Actually, dinner is done. If you don’t mind taking a break and coming to eat, I’m sure that we can keep playing Pirate King and Villainous Pirate Emperor later?”

“Food!” Luffy wiggles, easily escaping the jump rope and running to the kitchen as Izou rose elegantly from behind the couch.

“You’re lucky, you know,” Izou sniffs. “I had a plan of attack ready to take you out before the game was stopped.”

Marco laughs, draping the coat over the back of the couch, watching Luffy bouncing by Thatch’s feet to try and see what he had made, “Luffy, we have to wash our hands.”

“But they’re not dirty!”

“We still have to wash them,” Marco states, picking him up to reach the sink. “You don’t want to go to bed early without playing more Pirates, do you?”

“Fine!” Luffy sighs, heavily put upon. “But Marco is the best evil pirate ever. Ace never plays the evil pirate as good!”

Marco sighs, “Thank you, Luffy.”

“Down please!”

“You’re at least getting along with his brother,” Izou whispers patting him on the shoulder. “Ace was worried about that, wasn’t he? I’m glad, I like Ace.”

“Wash your hands,” Marco mutters shaking his dry and grinning when Izou complains about the water hitting him. “Thank you for coming and making dinner, Thatch. I know you’re busy.”

Thatch laughs, “It’s fine. I wanted to meet Ace’s little brother, Luffy’s cool.”

“I’m cool!”

“See, he’s cool,” Thatch gestures shaking his head. “Come on, I wanna play pirate with you all when we’re done. It’s food time.”

“What is it?” Luffy asks, standing on his chair until Marco raises his eyebrow. “Sorry.”

“Thank you. Thatch?”

Thatch claps his hands together, spreading them to gesture at the entire table, “It’s pasta with a vegetable and meat sauce, Nothing fancy, but you sounded hungry when Marco called and I didn’t want to take too long cooking.”

“It doesn’t taste like vege-bles,” Luffy mutters licking sauce from his finger. “Is it really?”

“Sure is, kiddo. Come on, we have food and it’s a waste if it gets cold!”


“Where did you even get this?” Thatch asks as Marco throws the coat back on his shoulders, shifting slightly to make sure that it wouldn’t fall down instantly. “It’s perfect.”

“It’s Ace’s dad,” Luffy answers bouncing. “He’s real tall and has lots of cool stuff for pirate games. Come on, Thatch, you’re on my crew!”

“I don’t get any crew?” Marco asks curiously.

Luffy shakes his head, “Bad guys don’t have crew.”

“Bad guys,” Marco scoops him up, tickling his sides, the way that Ace always said he did when talking about Luffy. “I’m a bad guy?”

“Marco!” Luffy laughs, wiggling to try and escape and failing. “Marco!”

“There,” Marco nods. “Ready to play?”

Luffy nods, cut off by a yawn, “Yeah.”

“Movie first,” Izou asks. “I don’t like to play after eating. It can upset my stomach,” he rolls his eyes when Marco frowns at him. “Just a short one. What do you say, Luffy?”

“A pirate movie?”

“A pirate movie.”

“One movie and then play,” Luffy agrees, rubbing his eyes tiredly. “Um, the one with the coat on it!”

“This one?” Thatch asks holding up the dvd case with a copy of the coat Luffy had dragged out of Ace’s room on it.

“Uh-huh. Ace’s dad is in that one.”

Marco hums, throwing the coat over the back of the couch and pulling the throw blanket down, “just so we don’t get cold.”

“Yeah, it’s cold,” Luffy mutters shifting closer to Marco’s side. “Izou and Thatch too?”

“I’m ready, hurry up Thatch, it’s time for a movie and you’re going slow.”


Ace sighs, kicking off his shoes at the entrance and ignoring the way the melted snow puddled on the ground as he tried to get it out of his hair. He could hear the start up menu for Luffy’s favorite movie as he hung up his coat and headed to the living room.

“Oh,” he smiles, leaning against he wall when he spots them.

Marco is barely on the couch, almost taking over the footstool, taking most of the blanket with him as Luffy curls into his side. Thatch and Izou, who hadn’t been here when he had left, had taken over most of the couch.

He takes a picture before turning off the tv and grabbing another blanket to drape over them, pausing long enough to brush Luffy’s hair back from his face. He would consider waking them up later, but they looked comfortable and he was tired. It could wait a while.

Chapter Text

Ace stares at his cake and wants to cry because it’s perfect, just like it was when he had been practicing at home over the last week, it was also harder to move.

“Need some help?” Marco asks, turned partially to face him. “I’ve got a minute before my cake come out if you need a hand.”

“Please,” Ace says smiling brightly. “Grab two spatulas, if you don’t mind, that way we can each lift two corners.”

Marco twirls the spatulas when he grabs them, laughing at the look that Ace knows is on his face, “Sorry, my brothers always tell me I should do that. We moving to the platter or the rack?”

“Platter, not enough time for the rack.”

“True enough,” Marco agrees sliding his spatulas under two corners. “Count of three?”

“Yeah, ready?” Ace swallows nervously, staring at his cake and hoping, praying, that it wouldn’t fall to pieces when they started to lift it. “One, two, three!”

Ace can feel the tears as they the cake to the platter, shoulders slumping in relief as he and Marco slide their spatulas out from under it, “Thank you, Marco.”

“No problem, I’m glad to help,” he stops something beeps and gestures to the oven. “That’s mine. Pardon me.”

“Yeah,” Ace says softly, turning back to his cake and grabbing one of the baking sheets to try and make it cool faster. He still had icing to put on and decorations- Ace was going to kill Sabo for setting him up for this- and then, if he was good enough today he would have be back next weekend.


 

Judging is harsh, but Ace was expecting that. It’s been getting harsher since they’ve lost more competitors. There’s only six of the original twelve of them and Ace’s heart always feels like it’s going to beat out of his chest when Marco sits next to him, offering his hand when he notices that Ace’s are white knuckled around his apron.

“Thanks,” Ace mutters, feeling his face heat up as they wait. “Do you ever just hope to get sent home?”

“If only to escape the heart attack that this is going to give me?” Marco whispers back, grinning just slightly. “Yeah, but it’s fun too.”

Ace snorts as Lucci sniffs and glares at them, “I mean, sure, but I’m shaking with fear.”

“You shouldn’t, your bakes are good. They’ve had nothing but compliments for you this week.”

“My brothers like desserts,” Ace says, finally glancing at him. “And they liked your cupcake thingys yesterday, remember?”

“I also came fifth in technical,” Marco reminds him.

“I think you did well in the showstopper.”

“You’re sweet. Uh-oh,” Marco sighs, “here they come.”

Tsuru and Sakazuki look calm and collected as always as they stand off to the side, letting Vivi and Nami step forward to announce who was star baker and who wouldn’t join them next week. Ace squeezes Marco’s hand, biting a smile back when Marco squeezes back.

“I have the bad news this week,” Nami pouts as she takes a small step forward to gain their attention. “Next week the person that won’t be joining us is…” Ace knows that the cameras are on their faces. “Bonney.”

Ace feels himself relax, before frowning, because Bonney was good. But she had come last in technical this week and even burned her initial bake. 

“I have the slightly better job this time,” Vivi says smiling brightly. “This week’s star baker is someone who not only made a chocolate cake so decadent that my dentist will be paying him for more, but an amazing triple fruit pie, this week’s star baker is Ace!”

Ace feels like he’s seeing things through water as Marco throws an arm around him and hugs him. He can hear Lucci’s begrudging congratulations and feels when Bonney slams into him and demands that he win for them both, but it’s distant until he’s following them out the tent to the tube.

“You did well,” Marco says smiling again. “I’m glad.”

“Shouldn’t you want to do well yourself?” Ace shoots back.

Marco laughs, “Well that’s true, hard to flirt with you if I’m not in the tent. Maybe next week I can convince you to give me a number?”

Chapter Text

Marco is nervous, he still wasn’t entirely how the algorithms for the dating site worked, but he knew that they did and he had spoken to several matches previously, even if they had been rather disturbing and he had quickly cut them off before meeting them in person. (The date he had been on with his third match didn’t count because it hadn’t been planned and the man in question had apparently been stalking him.) But he had planned this one and the man seemed nice, a little quirky, but nothing worrying.

“Marco, right?”

“Yes. And you’re Ace?” Marco asks hopefully because if not, he’s going to steal the bread basket and jump out a window. Actually that sounded like a perfect scene for one of his novels. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“You too,” Ace smiles.

He looks just like his pictures, which is a plus. A major plus, Ace is unfairly attractive with freckles and a smile is boyishly charming- Marco needs to stop thinking as a novelist- and great abs, if the pictures were right.

“These are always so awkward,” Ace says once he’s seated and their orders have been taken. “Having to do all those conversation starters and asking about things you didn’t when you were talking online. Do you want me to start?”

“How about I start?” Marco offers, because he’s going to make this a good date. “Unless?”

“No, please.”

Marco grins, well at least Ace wasn’t upset about it, “I told you before that I’m a writer. I’ve got a couple of novels out and I have a dog.”

“What kind of books,” Ace asks curiously. “Horror, romance?”

“Murder mystery mostly,” Marco admits slowly, because people will get so strange about it. It’s not like he’s going out and murdering people, he knows how to, but it’s needed. “There’s a small hint of romance between the detective occasionally, but nothing really there beyond flirting?”

“Sounds like my kind of book,” Ace smiles. “I do like murder mysteries. A bit of horror sometimes, but happy endings too.”

Marco laughs, “I do too. Tell me about yourself.”

“I’m a lawyer,” Ace grins, sheepish and nervous. “I travel a lot for different contracts and spend most of my time either travelling to get to somewhere or here? Which means that I’m going to be around less than if you were dating someone else.”

“We aren’t dating yet,” Marco points out, smiling because so far, Ace is charming and sweet in a way that none of his dates have been since he was in high school. “But there’s nothing wrong with travelling for work. I have book things to travel for.”

“Well, if this date goes well, will you tell me if there’s going to be another one? Because I do like you, at least this far.”

“You’re not so bad yourself,” Marco says leaning back as their dinner is set down in front of them. “So, how do we keep this talk going?”

Ace laughs, “Alright, but this is what my brother likes to ask people. If you were going to kill someone, how would you do it?” There’s something intense about his look and his smile is weird, but it’s not the strangest thing. Not when Marco’s admitted to writing murder mysteries.

“Take a needle, fill it with air, use it between the toes. It’ll look like a heart attack and I can count the number of people who look between the toes on dead people. It’s three.”

“Really.” Ace looks no less intense but his smile is sweeter. If that’s even the right word for it. “I suppose you want my answer?”

“Unless this is question time for me?”

“Fire probably?” Ace pauses as if to consider. “Yeah, fire, I think. At least to cover it up? One of my clients, his family was murdered by someone who make it look like an electrical fire.”

“Oh that is a good one, may I?” Marco asks already pulling out his phone to make a note. “I’m sorry, you can say no.”

“Take it, I’m sure your book will be amazing. You’ll have to tell me one of the books so that I can read them. I have a tonne.”

“Which one is your favorite?” Marco asks. “I’ve seen some amazing ones, but a lot of the genre is more romance focused? And I’m not always a fan of that.”

“I’ve been reading ‘Something lingers here’? It’s by-,” Marco knows he made a sound because Ace stops. “Do you not like it?”

“I wrote it,” Marco admits. “That’s one of my books.”

Ace’s face lights up, “It’s one of my favorites. I picked it up because I read ‘Death becomes such ivory bones’. My brother told me about it and when I saw your name, I thought if it was even half as good-”

“You’ve read that one too?” Marco feels embarrassed, like he’s going to jump out of his skin and run from the table. “I thought a lot of the changes made it seem pretentious?”

“Not really?” Ace offers. “I mean it made the main character seem pretentious, but it worked well for him.”


“Ace, do you know how long it takes to die of a stomach wound?” Marco asks frowning at his paper because if he looks it up himself, he’ll end up down a worm hole of facts and Ace has always been good at murder stats. “I need it.”

“I’m not sure, but I can check while I’m out and text you?” Ace offers peeking into Marco’s home office. “I have to get some paperwork for a case and apparently my intern did something stupid.”

Marco hums, “kiss.”

“Of course,” Ace says stepping closer to press a kiss to his cheek. “I’ll be back in a few hours and I’ll have all the information that you want. A stab, right?”

“Please,” Marco agrees. “I want to have something happen but I need a time frame and it’s important.”

“I’ll get if for you.”


 

Marco doesn’t even realize that it been hours until Ace is leaning over the back of his chair, kissing his cheek, “Still focused?”

“Yeah. I can skip back and rework some things, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Do you have my answers?”

“Two to thirty minutes,” Ace answers. “Depending on location and size of the wound.”

“You used too much cologne again,” Marco says tipping his head to the side to steal a kiss. “You know I think it smells like blood.”

“Sorry, Robin vomited on my shoes and I figured blood would smell better,” Ace teases leaning closer. “What’s happening in your story now?”

“No, nope. You don’t get to sneak peeks, Ace. Out, go play with the dog. I’ll be done soon.”

“Alright, alright,” Ace laughs. “Love you.”

“Love you too, now go away.”

Ace shakes his head, “I’ll make dinner.”

He waits ten minutes before heading into the back yard, the pasta boiling on the stove as he heads out to the tree that Marco had planted when they moved in together, taking the trowel from the back porch as he went. 

“Hush,” Ace warns their dog as he digs a hole close to the tree, where the dirt still looked disturbed, taking care to not break the roots until he thought it was deep enough. “I think we can both agree that Marco doesn’t need to know about this, don’t you?”

Their dog’s tongue lolls out of it’s mouth, but it doesn’t move, tail wagging as Ace pulls the plastic wrapped knife that he had used to get the information that Marco wanted. Sure, he could have googled it, but where was the fun in that?

Chapter Text

“This is the worst system that I have ever seen.”

Marco winces, “that bad?”

“You have giant holes in your system. And I mean giant. There’s a couple in here that are basically redirecting me to more secure parts of your servers and then telling me shortcuts to hack into them,” he pauses, glancing up at Marco. “I mean from a hacking point of view. From a normal person, even a low level hacker, they wouldn’t see it.”

“But you do.”

“I’ve done a lot of systems. Come here,” he point to the screen. “Do you know coding? Or at least the coding used in your security system?”

“No, I’m the VP of Accounting,” Marco admits, still moving to see what he’s pointing at. “We were going to have the head of cyber security here to see you and walk you through everything, but he was arrested for corporate espionage yesterday afternoon. I was asked to take this meeting over.”

“Ah, I’m Ace, in case no one told you. Ethical hacker. Anyway, you’re probably going to need the whole system redone. And I mean, the whole thing. It’s a mess, some of these holes are so big, I could probably drive a truck through them if they were real.”

Marco sighs, “I assume we’ve been hacked by someone outside while we’ve had this talk?”

“No,” Ace answers, still typing. “I’ve been setting up stop-gaps, which is in the contract that I have. I have full access to everything until I leave. But I hacked in yesterday to test the system and it was-,” he pauses and stares at the screen for a long moment. “It was like walking into a store to find no one there an walking out with thousands of dollars worth of things, never getting seen.”

“Fuck.”

“Hey, it’s not your fault. And finance is actually good. That and HR are the only parts of the servers without these holes. Which is really good, those house your money and your employee information.”

Marco sighs, “So their socials and banks?”

“That’s right, you’re not going to have to worry about that. Now here,” Ace taps another part of the screen. “Your R&D has eh protection. Some of the more important projects are pretty hard to get into, but still do-able.”

“You do know that I understand none of this.”

“I know, but I’m recording myself,” Ace gestures to the audio recorder. “It’ll help me write up my report later. This way, I don’t miss anything.”

“Can we repair the system?”

“No, not likely. There’s too many holes and too many back doors in the system,” Ace answers honestly, shrugging slightly as he takes screen shots of things. “I think the best choice you have is to put in stop gaps and pay someone to redo the whole system. It’ll cost you a pretty penny, but long term? It’ll stop people from stealing your work.”

“Can you do the stop gaps?”

“Sure. It’s in my contract, I’ve got everything at least patched up, but you’ll want to contact someone rather hurriedly. I’m going to request continued access until you either take everything offline or get someone on board to take over the stop gaps.”

Marco sighs, scrubbing a hand over his face, “Thank you.”

“Here,” Ace taps the coffee cup that Marco had given him when he arrived. “Should still be warm. I can’t drink it anyway.”

“Thanks,” Marco mutters draining the cup. “I think we have someone in the security department that I can have take this over. I’ll have to make some calls. They may know more about what’s going on with the system than I do.”

“Sounds like a plan, Marco.”


“Thank you again,” Marco says feeling calmer with the new system in place and Ace’s stamp of approval on it. “For rechecking the system for us.”

“No worries, it’s a solid set up. I’ll have my report in the next few days with the weak spots that I found and ways to shore those up,” Ace says rocking back on his heels, hands in his pockets. “But thanks for letting me hack it, I haven’t gotten to play with a decent system in ages.”

“Because you aren’t hired for them?”

Ace shakes his head, grinning brightly, “Because I’m an ethical hacker and most of the time the security department lets me do what I want. Yours tried to stop me and reroute me back, a live test is always the best.”

“It sounds like a lively time,” Marco says, pausing. “I wish I could hear more about your work.”

“Well, maybe we can meet up at a later date? You’re pretty decent and,” Ace shrugs. “Your sense of humor is deadpan and great, may I see your phone?”

“Sure.”

Ace grins, typing something into it and sending himself a text before returning it, “Text me any time. I keep strange hours and,” he tilts his head. “if asked, I can spam cat pics.”

“I do like cat pictures. Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Ace realizes he said something wrong almost as soon as he says it because Izou makes a face. It’s not upset, but his lips are curling up like he’s trying not to smile, his lower lip vanishing probably as he tries to bite it to keep quiet, shoulders shaking.

“Ace,” it’s choked up and it breaks the shaking, Izou bursting into bright peals of laughter. “A-ce.”

“You just propositioned Izou,” Marco says still frowning at his newspaper like it was going to tell him something different if he just stared hard enough. “What have I told you about French?”

“It’s always verging on inappropriate?” Ace answers slowly. “I thought I had it right this time.”

“It was close,” Izou promises, still laughing. “But, there’s a reason you don’t translate a sentence about being excited into Je suis excitee, Ace. You just said you were horny.”

Ace can feel his face heating up, “Oh.”

“I know you didn’t mean it,” Izou promises, waving his hand. “And I know that Marco knows you didn’t mean it, but I think we have all learned a valuable lesson.”

“That French is on the verge of sexual harassment?” Ace offers.

“Considering verge is French for penis?” Izou says raising an eyebrow. “Yes. However, I’m sure that Marco would love for you to tell him that sentence, wouldn’t you?”

“I would love to throw you into a river,” Marco answers. “I don’t think I need your help getting my boyfriend into bed, Izou. Maybe you need some advice however, I heard that Thatch’s been lonely.”

Izou gasps, offended, “How dare you?”

“Well,” Ace says smirking. “I mean he did tell me something about a coup de fou, which I thought was a gunshot and made the sentence confusing or-”

“That went well,” Marco says putting his paper down as Izou storms out of their apartment, probably to go hunt down Thatch to shout at him. “I suppose I should be more upset that Thatch was telling you about blowjobs.”

Ace smiles innocently, “We were talking about guns. But he may have warned me about how easy it was to change that into blowjob, you know, because it’s so close. And maybe I wanted revenge for something.”

“Have I told you that I love you recently?”

“Mhm, yes. But, you could tell me again.”

Chapter Text

“You stole that right out from underneath me,” Ace shouts, the door slamming shut behind him and his bag dropping loudly. Marco can hear him struggling with his shoes, a rule that they had both agreed after the third time they had to redo the floors. “I was literally right there and you just stole it!”

Marco smiles, “Was it hard to talk your way out of that bedroom?”

“Shut up,” Ace is frowning, but he still darts forward to give Marco a kiss. “Would almost think that you were jealous.”

“Jealous of what? An old man who’s own wife and mistress both ordered hits out on him?”

Ace hums, “I mean, you did shoot him in the crotch, Marco. It looks like you were a little jealous. Did you get home with enough time to make this?” he says leaning over the pan that Marco’s been stirring. “Or was this provided by one of your team?”

“Thatch,” Marco answers stirring the pan. “I only walked in the door three minutes ago. Oh,” he pulls a letter from underneath one of the strange magnets that Ace had started collecting at some point in his travels. “One of the neighbors dropped this by.”

“Another baby shower and I’m going to throw a fit. The last time we went to one of these, I kept hearing people whisper about us,” Ace states, skimming the invitation. “You’re not going to leave me for a foreign swimmer, are you?”

Marco laughs, he doesn’t mean to, but Ace always gets the strangest ideas from their neighbors, “No, I’m not going to run off with someone else. I married you and I love you. If I was going to leave you, I would kill you first.”

“That’s far more of a relief then you would think,” Ace says, leaning into Marco’s side as something bubbles. “What is it?”

“I have no idea. Thatch told me what it was when he ran out of here, but I can’t for the life of me remember. Something something beef? You know he’s been using us to test recipes for him.”

Ace raises an eyebrow, “Oh?”

“Trying to seduce himself a spy,” Marco rolls his eyes when Ace laughs. “Do you really get to laugh at him? You married an assassin working for another organization, after all.”

“I knew who I was trying to seduce when I started this,” Ace states. “Do we need to eat dinner?”

“Need to eat dinner?”

“Well, you did kill someone for touching me-”

“For money,” Marco corrects.

“-Touching me!” Ace states louder, talking over Marco as he tend to do when he thinks he’s right about something. “And you looked very good with that rifle. What was that, I don’t think I’ve seen if before.”

“A new design,” Marco teases. “I can’t tell you what it is or I would have to kill you.”

Ace pouts, “No fair. We could have matching sniper rifles.”

“I gave you a wedding ring and matching knives last year for our anniversary.”

“But not matching sniper rifles.”

Marco rolls his eyes, knowing that Ace will have convinced his own group’s inventor to make something better before their next assignment. It was what he always did, aiding in the arms race that they’re separate organizations didn’t know that they were part of.

“But,” Ace says smiling easily as he wraps his arms loosely around Marco’s neck. “that’s not what I was talking about. I was talking about skipping dinner and letting me thank you for killing our target before I had to let him do too much.”

“A thank you, I thought we agreed that we weren’t going to use sex as a way to thank each other?”

“Well, not thank so much as you looked very, very good when your in uniform.”

Marco laughs, setting down the spoon that he had been using to stir and slowly moving Ace towards the island and lifting him to sit on it, “I don’t think you’ve seen me in uniform.”

“We might have perfected a kind of contact lens that can zoom in your sight,” Ace admits, looking far too pleased with himself when Marco kisses him. “Might have.”

“I think that I’m a little jealous. But,” he kisses Ace again and slips away from him, grinning when Ace frowns. “I am starving. So this,” he gestures at Ace. “Can wait until after we eat.”

“You’re a horrible husband, I should trade you in for a better model,” Ace crosses his arms over his chest and looks away, until Marco nudges his side. “What?”

“I love you.”

Ace tries to scowl, failing as he almost smiles, “That isn’t how you win arguments.”

“I’m not trying to win anything,” Marco denies, knowing that Ace won’t believe him. “But I do love you.”

“You’re a lying lair who lies,” Ace sighs, rolling his eyes as he slides off the island counter top and opens up one of the cabinets. “But I love you too. Even when you’re being horrible.”

“You can try to seduce me again after dinner, but I missed lunch because you changed the target’s schedule and I had to hurry to catch up, so I’m going to eat first and then you can test your luck.”

Ace nods, pulling out plates, “If you’re up for that?”

“I never said that I wasn’t, just that I was hungry. Are you saying that you’ve tried to seduce me and didn’t even check to see if I was interested?”

“I thought you would say you weren’t interested, because we’re adults and talk about if we want to have sex or not,” Ace states, smiling as Marco laughs. “You would have said something by now if you were against me seducing you. And it’s not really seducing.”

“No, I suppose if you were going to seduce me, it would be something more like our honeymoon. I do remember you said that was seducing me.”

“Mhm, you would know. I have stolen some of your moves to seduce my own targets.”

“Stolen my work right out from underneath me,” Marco kisses his cheek as Ace comes back for silverware. “Thank you for setting the table.”

“I’m doing it so that I can seduce you faster,” Ace admits. “Unless you are actually against sex tonight?”

Marco shakes his head, “You were right, I would have said something by now. But if you need me to say it, I’m absolutely interested in what you’re trying to sell.”

“Good, because I’ve already stolen your next target,” Ace laughs dancing away from the fork that Marco throws at him. “I had one of my people hack your system and then even had someone hire a fake, so have fun with doing nothing on your next mission.”

“My revenge will be swift,” Marco promises, pulling the fork out the drywall and setting the pot on the holder on the middle of the table.

“But not bloody, since I stole that kill out from under you.”

Chapter Text

"We're married, right?" Ace asks, sounding more than slightly confused as he balances on the back of the couch, frowning at the letter he has in his hands. "I didn't dream up that horrible day with us both in uncomfortable suits and my brothers at the court house?"

 

"I would hope you didn't considering the trouble we had making sure that both of our separate organizations would buy the covers that the other was using," Marco agrees, his pistol spread out over the coffee table as he cleans it. "Why?"

 

"Because I just got a letter for you, with a picture of an attractive young woman and comments about setting the two of you up."

 

Marco raises his eyebrow, holding his hand out for the letter and skimming it over, "That's strange indeed. I'll call my father."

 

"It's from your dad?"

 

"It has his signature," Marco agrees folding the letter back up and setting it to the side. "Which is a bit odd, he knows that I'm not entirely interested in women and I don't remember if he was told that I got married, but it's not like I've been hiding it from him."

 

"So you're not going to leave me for a hot blonde?"

 

Marco laughs, "I have told you before, Ace. I've been telling you since we started dating seriously, if I'm going to leave you, I'll kill you. You know far too much about me and my family to be left alive."

 

"I'm obviously going to do the same," Ace says collapsing upside down on the couch and smiling softly as his head hovers just over the ground. "I mean, I did actually bring my real brothers to our wedding."

 

"Wait," Marco raises an eyebrow. "Luffy and Sabo are actually related to you?"

 

"We were all raised by Luffy's gramps, but we are brothers," Ace frowns. "We have dust bunnies under the coffee table. Who do we have cleaning the house when we're away?"

 

Marco hums, trying to remember, "I think it's my team, but this is going to be a difficult question to ask, since we both have to word this perfectly."

 

"It's you," Ace says wiggling his phone at Marco. "Deuce knows about this."

 

"You told Deuce?" Marco doesn't remember which one of Ace's people is Deuce, there's a number of Spades and he's never been able to fully remember who is supposed to be who within his own group. "Is that a safe idea?"

 

"Deuce is the one you tried to kill in Bolivia three years back. He saw your picture on my desk and thought it best, as a concerned friend, to let me know that my husband was going to kill me in my sleep."

 

"So you told him that you seduced me instead?"

 

Ace nods, "I told him that we have an accord about the whole working against each other technically and that I promised that you weren't seducing me into leaving the Spades. Because you won't be able to, no matter how attractive you are."

 

"My brothers would be very upset if I left the Whitebeard's, so it's not as if you can convince me to join the Spades. Did you tell him how we met?"

 

"Why would I do that?" Ace asks finally spinning to lay his head against the armrest. "I could tell Deuce that I caught you in the middle of a mission and you didn't notice me, so I spent the next two days seducing you or I could leave him in the dark."

 

Marco laughs, "Has Deuce done something to upset you?"

 

"He ruined our anniversary dinner!"

 

 

"Is that why you ran out in the middle of dinner?" Marco asks putting his pistol back together and setting it to the side after making sure that the safety was on. "I seem to remember that you were very excited and then you were gone."

 

"Deuce upset a spy and got himself into trouble, so I had to bail him out. I had the whole night planned out."

 

"I know you did," Marco assures, nudging Ace's legs off the couch long enough to take their place and rolling his eyes when Ace throws them over his lap. "It was a lovely night, even if you weren't able to stick around. Why were you so worried about it being perfect, by the way?"

 

Ace shrugs, "My dad apparently went all out for their anniversaries, so I thought that I would try my hand at making them nice. Did you not like our anniversary?"

 

"I think that I might have preferred something a bit quieter," Marco admits, sliding his hand up and down Ace's calf. It's hard to avoid the smile at the look of outrage on Ace's face. "I did like it, there was nothing wrong with it. But I like quiet nights more."

 

"Well, I'll remember that for this year."

 

"Are you already planning our anniversary?" Marco demands.

 

"Already planning?" Ace says raising an eyebrow. "More like planning since the end of our last anniversary. I will make sure that they're good and we have a nice time."

 

"Our anniversary is not a competition."

 

"You're only saying that because you're losing."

 

Marco laughs, patting Ace's ankle, "If you say so, my dear. Which reminds me, why do we have a small bag of bath bombs in our bathroom that say 'do not touch'?"

 

"Because they turn bathwater into acid," Ace answers digging his heels into Marco's thighs, revenge Marco was sure for laughing at him. "Luffy was very upset about the fact bath bombs weren't bombs so he talked to one of his friends."

 

"Does Luffy kill people?"

 

"No. Hilariously, Luffy is a spy."

 

"A spy," Marco chokes, feeling off balanced by the thought of Luffy as a spy. "I would believe Sabo, but Luffy?"

 

"Luffy is very good at it. And Sabo is technically a spy too. What do you know about Dragon?"

 

"The senator or the shadowy leader of that revolutionary group?"

 

"There's really not a difference and you should fire all of your people if they don't have that information already," Ace states. "Sabo is Dragon's direct apprentice and Luffy is his son. They're both spies and very good at it. Though, Luffy has a bad habit of being less for information and more for sabotage."

 

Marco frowns, "Do they know who I am too?"

 

"Of course. Do you think we would be married if they didn't? They've threatened more than one of my partners with death because they thought that they weren't good enough for me. I don't get to do the same."

 

"Because?"

 

"Luffy's not dating anyone and Sabo's girlfriend is hard to catch for a chance to threaten," Ace hums. "Can I test my massage skills?"

 

"Massage skills, you have some?"

 

Ace nods, "Yeah. I spent almost six months undercover as a masseuse in France, but it's not a skill that I need often enough to keep it in form. Need it for my mission next week and I thought you might enjoy one, since you look like your back still hurts from that throw last week."

 

"I have a bruise across my back, but if you want to test your skills, then you can. A massage would be nice."

 

"Perfect, because I found these very nice oils on my way home and I'm very excited to try them. They're not very strong smelling either."

 

"After dinner then?"

 

Ace hums, stretching slightly, "I don't want to cook. Could order something in? Have a quiet night and relax? I know you're going out for fact finding tomorrow, aren't you?"

 

"Hm," Marco agrees. "I think that sounds like a good plan. You're just lazy because it's raining, aren't you?"

 

"It makes me sleepy," Ace whines, pulling open the drawer on the side table and rifling through the menus. "Preference for dinner?"

Chapter Text

Ace hums softly, sliding his fingers through Marco's hair as he watches the sky shift outside his bedroom window, too wired to sleep with the way that the rain has been falling for the last few days. It's like the plants are singing, something only he can hear, as Marco grumbles in his sleep, his nails biting into Ace's back for a moment before the pain vanishes.

 

He had left a trail of mud through their entrance way, into the kitchen, and up the stairs to their ensuite after his run last night. Even his tail had been smeared in it, leaving streaks of mud at eye level. Ace had left all of it for Marco to clean up when he had hands again, refusing to spend the evening scrubbing floors when he knew Marco wouldn't be able to scrub himself clean without hands.

 

Even if their bathroom smelt like wet dog now. Hopefully the flowers that he had grown in a wreath and the open window would clear it out some before Ace had to go back in to brush his teeth in a few hours.

 

"Thought trees slept," Marco mutters, sighing heavily when Ace scratches softly just above his ear. "Even human shaped ones."

 

"It's just loud tonight."

 

Marco shifts, lifting his head to twist it from side to side, hunting down a sound too far away for Ace to hear, before dropping it back down, "Sounds quiet."

 

"The plants are singing," Ace explains, even if he knows that it doesn't make sense for a werewolf. Nymphs were only suppose to hear their trees, maybe other plants at a softer level, but Ace always heard everything singing at the same volume. "The rain's made them happy, because now it's time to grow."

 

"Tell them to sleep."

 

Ace laughs, dropping his head to rest his chin on Marco's head, "It doesn't work like that, even if I wanted it to. It's a pretty song, all about growing and new life. I think you would enjoy it if you could hear it too."

 

"Don't wanna. Wanna sleep."

 

"This is what you get for running out the house and gallivanting through the woods in the rain because you're a silly wolf. You said you weren't going out in that storm."

 

"Smelt something funny, wanted to see what," Marco yawns, shiver working it's way down his back. "It was. Couldn't find it. Was looping back in on itself and then I was wet and came home. Won't be able to find it now, rain will have washed the scent."

 

"Poor puppy."

 

"Wolf, not a puppy. Puppies are cute and have little," Marco traces something on Ace's back that Ace thinks is suppose to represent how chubby puppies always seem to be but could also have something to do with the way puppies can't keep their tongues in their mouths. "Not a puppy."

 

"Would cub be better?" Ace teases, laughing when Marco growls. "A little werewolf cub. I bet you were a cute little baby were."

 

"I wasn't."

 

"I'll just have to ask your dad then. He'll have pictures, I'm sure."

 

Marco sighs, pressing his face further against Ace's chest, "That's not fair. You get all these pictures of me as a baby and I can't even find one of you."

"Did have cameras when I was a baby. Think there's a portrait of my parents and me as a baby in the attic, but I couldn't begin to imagine where. Probably with their wedding stuff," Ace kisses the top of Marco's head. "Want to go back to sleep? You've got a few more hours until work."

 

"Mhm, yeah. Are you?"

 

"Probably not. Between the rain and the singing, I'll probably still be up when your alarm goes off. I can catch a nap later if I'm still too tired."

 

"Could stay awake," Marco yawns, tugging Ace's shirt until Ace shifted enough to steal a kiss. "Or tell you a story?"

 

"You're the sweetest thing on this planet, but go to sleep. You're still too tired and Shanks says he's going to make this shift a twelve hour one."

 

Marco groans, "I don't want to."

 

"I know, but he's the sheriff and you're his deputy. But if you don't bite him, I'll see about making something chocolate for dessert tonight."

 

"Lava cakes."

 

Ace laughs, "Lava cakes then. Go back to sleep."

 

"Will you sing it? The song?" Marco asks, even though Ace knows he's almost asleep by the way the words slur and his grip loosens. "Please?"

 

"If you like," Ace agrees, humming softly to find the tune again as the song starts back into it's loop once more. Marco would be asleep before the words started, but that was fine, it's nice. Ace doesn't remember the last time someone asked him to share the song other then his mom.

 

"Love you," Marco breathes.

 

"I love you too."

Chapter Text

“I’m going to apologize now,” Marco says, seated in one of the chairs in the corner of the room, his head in his hands. “I didn’t realize that this was going to be a romantic cruise. I thought this was just a cruise.”

“Are you saying that you wouldn’t have brought me if you knew this was a romantic cruise,” Ace asks in mock outrage, smiling when Marco lifts his head enough to raise an eyebrow at him. “Do I not deserve to be romanced?”

“Ace.”

“It’s not that big of a deal. We’ve been each other’s fake date before, you’re making it out to be more than it is. We can share a bed easily and I don’t mind pretending to fake date the whole cruise. Or we can just be friends.”

Marco snorts, leaning back in his chair, “I am sorry that I didn’t read the tickets.”

“Marco, you won tickets to a cruise. I wouldn’t pay attention to anything beyond the fact that the tickets were real and they said cruise, don’t worry about it. Come on, we’ve known each other for years, a little bit of bed sharing won’t kill us.”

Ace isn’t sure what his heart is doing in his chest when Marco finally smiles, soft and warm and happy, but it feels like it’s flipped in place and beating too fast, but it’s not important when Marco has finally stopped freaking out over the mix up with the tickets.

“We can always have someone else come trade out with me, we don’t leave for a few more hours.”

“No,” Marco says quickly, clearing his throat when Ace laughs. “No. The only other person who had the time to come on the cruise with me is my dad and I don’t think that I could live through an entire week with him on a romantic cruise.”

“That would be more awkward then the time that someone assumed we were dating.”

“Times, Ace. It’s more than once,” but Marco is relaxing now, just like Ace had hoped, bantering instead of being an idiot over there only being one bed and a week full of romantic events to take part in. “Fine, you win. But you’ll let me know if it’s too much?”

“As if I would keep something like that a secret,” Ace lies, turning to pick up a rose petal from the bed. “But these are real and I’m a little upset that they went through all this trouble and we’re not even going to use it. Help me pick them up?”

“Why?” Marco asks wearily.

Ace shrugs, “Maybe I’m going to save them or maybe I’ll dump them on you in your sleep. The choice is all mine.”

“If you dump them on me, I’m dumping you overboard.”

That’s better, Ace decides, watching Marco dig rose petals out from between the sheets and under the pillows, Marco was suppose to use this week to relax and if it meant that Ace was suppose to play pranks on him or tease him, that was absolutely fine.

“Thank you,” Marco says after a moment, smiling again. “For coming with me. I can only imagine how much worse this would be without you.”

“What are friends for?”

Ace laughs when Marco bumps their shoulders together, “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Now shut up and show me what this cruise has in store for us, he gave you the pamphlet with all the fun things.”

“Yeah, the fun things.”

Ace rolls his eyes, because of course that was what Marco would come back to, “We’ll do what we always do when we have to share a bed. Think there’s a pillow limit?”

“If there is, we might have to get creative,” Marco says after a moment. “You’re still okay with sharing?”

“If I had a dollar for every time we have shared a bed, I would have more then ten,” Ace says dropping to sit on the bed. “Now, the pamphlet.”

“Fine, Mr. Bossy.”

“I have never been so insulted in my life. How dare you talk to me in that tone of voice, young man.”

“Are you trying to make me feel better?”

“Only if it’s working?”

Marco laughs, “I love you,” Ace bites the inside of his cheek as his heart stops and his voice freezes. “Thank you, you’re the best friend that anyone could hope for.”

“That’s what best friends are for.”

Chapter Text

“You’re trying to be sneaky, but I see you!”

Tama pouts, trying to curl up smaller behind her balcony. It doesn’t help, because soon, Ace is climbing over the side, his smile too wide and bright as he sweeps her up from where she’s trying to slip under one of the sun chairs.

“Caught you!”

“Ace,” Tama whines, kicking her feet to try and escape. “I was playing!”

“Playing spy,” Ace teases, moving closer to the balcony and waving to the person that Tama had been spying on. “Marco, I’ll be back down in a minute.”

Marco nods, leaning back with his hands in his pockets. Tama thinks that he’s smiling, but it’s small and doesn’t seem as bright as Ace’s always are. She doesn’t know if that means he’s not as happy as Ace is when he smiles, or maybe he is.

“You know, your mom has been telling my mom all about you being nosy.”

“I’m not nosy!”

“You are, just as bad as Luffy. Come on, I told Marco if we saw you that I wanted to introduce you to each other.”

Tama bounces, hugging Ace around the neck, “Thank you!”

“I knew it, you wanted to meet him,” Ace laughs, waving to Tama’s mom as he heads to the door. 

Tama’s mom doesn’t say it, but Tama knows that she doesn’t like him climbing up to the balcony. She says that it’s dangerous and makes her promise not to copy him because it’s too dangerous. Tama doesn’t know why her mom thinks she wants to climb up, she’s too small, Ace had promised when she was bigger that he would teach how to do it safely.

“Is he nice?”

“Marco is nice. He’s quiet,” Ace says leaning against the elevator as it goes down. “And he listens. He’s got a lot of siblings and he’s vindictive. He’s petty and he won’t always accept apologies. He has a temper sometimes and takes on more than he should, but he cares about me and I care about him.”

Tama nods in understanding, “He sounds much nicer than the last person. You said meaner things about them.”

Ace laughs, pushing himself up and waving to Marco, “I did, didn’t I? Shall we meet Marco?”

“Yes!”

“Marco meet O-Tama, she’s my neighbor-”

“And little sister!”

“-And little sister. She heard that Luffy said he was my little brother even though we weren’t related and wanted to be my sister,” Ace continues, rolling his eyes. “Tama, this is Marco. He works at the hospital.”

“It’s nice to meet you!”

Marco’s smile looks happier now, maybe Tama had seen it wrong last time, “It’s nice to meet you too.”

Chapter Text

“You know,” Ace says grinning when Marco grumbles into the kitchen table, head on his arms. “No one believes me when I say you aren’t a morning person.”

“Cause I can fake it,” Marco mutters, yawning into the crook of his elbow to peer up at Ace, eyes barely open. “Coffee?”

“It’s going, if you would set the machine at night, like I keep telling you-”

“Too much effort.”

“-You just love interrupting me. It takes three minutes total to pop a cup into the machine and set it up with the timer so that it’s ready when you finally stumble into the kitchen.”

“Your coffee tastes better.”

Ace smiles, sliding the last of the pancakes onto a plate, “I see through your ploy to get me to make your coffee.”

“You’ve seen through my brilliant ruse,” Marco yawns, finally lifting his head. “Thank you.”

“You get to make breakfast tomorrow.”

“Only if you make coffee.”

“You and this coffee,” Ace rolls his eyes sliding the cup close to Marco’s hands. “I think you love it more than me. Playing second fiddle to a drink.”

“I play second fiddle to the cat and I don’t complain.”

“You love him as much as I do, don’t lie.”

“I didn’t ask you to call me out. Are you working late tonight?”

“Five, should we order in? I know we’ve put off shopping, not sure we have anything to really make.”

Marco shakes his head, draining his mug, “I’ll do it. I get off at four thirty. Want anything in particular? I was thinking pizza.”

“No, not pizza. You and I both know that you like the idea of pizza but hate to eat it. The little Thai place on the corner.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Chapter Text

Ace bites his lip, hoping that the way his shoulders are shaking doesn’t give him away as Marco tries to pronounce the phrase they had gone over earlier. It’s mangled and barely sounds like the phrase that Ace had repeated to him. But he’s trying and the effort is more than Ace had been expecting when Marco had asked him about his native language.

“Qual cam-in-hoe eh rhua principal?”

“Not quite.”

Marco frowns, looking back at his notes for the pronunciation tips that he had gotten from somewhere, Ace really wasn’t sure if he was taking a class or had an online learning center, but he did know that Marco had a lot of notes.

“Am I pronouncing any of that right?”

“Qual is good and so is principal.”

“So the first and last words, one of which is similar in English,” Marco sighs, scrubbing his hand over his face tiredly. “At least I can read it now.”

Ace laughs, smiling brighter when Marco glared at him over the top of the notebook, “You’re lucky you’re so cute or I would have already died laughing.”

“I’m trying.”

“I know you are,” Ace assures. “But your accent is horrible and your pronunciation is worse.”

“Any tips?”

“Work on each word, don’t take the sentence as a whole until you know how each word is suppose to sound,” Ace holds his hand out for Marco’s notebook, writing in a phonetic version of each word. “Here, try again?”

“Even the words that I can pronounce?”

“Each one. Try them ten times without a mistake and then move to the next,” Ace pauses leaning over to press a kiss to Marco’s cheek. “It’s sweet of you to try and learn Portuguese.”

Marco looks away, not embarrassed but something similar, Ace thinks, “You said you had an easier time with Portuguese, I thought it would be nice if you could talk without having to consider what you’re saying all the time.”

“That’s,” Ace pauses, unsure of how to respond for a long moment. “Thank you. It would be nice, I’m smarter in Portuguese.”

“You’re plenty smart in English.”

“I love you too,” Ace says,  grinning when Marco refuses to meet his eyes. “Alright, let’s try this again.”

“Qual,” 

Chapter Text

“You’re getting fat,” Marco says, grinning when Arthur purrs but doesn’t attempt to jump out of his arms. “King Arpurr is getting too chubby.”

“King Arpurr?” Ace asks and Marco can hear the way his voice goes up at the end, like he’s biting back a laugh. “Really? I thought you didn’t like Arthur.”

“I said no such thing,” Marco states looking over his shoulder to where Ace is hanging his bag on the coat rack, even though Marco has told him to stop doing that. “Why wouldn’t I like Arthur?”

“You avoided him and kept kicking him out of bed?”

Marco rolls his eyes, scratching under Arthur’s chin as Ace comes around to pet Arthur too, “I don’t avoid him, you just keep Arthur to yourself after a rough day at work. And,” Marco pauses as Arthur puts his paws on his shoulders for more height. “the window was open.”

“You’re adorable.”

“I can’t believe that you thought I hated our cat.”

“You call him King Arpurr.”

Marco doesn’t look away from Ace because that would be weakness, “He purrs a lot and you named him Arthur.”

“Arpurr, Marco.”

“Like you wouldn’t give him a nickname,” Marco states, grinning when Arthur drops back into his arms, purring loudly. “You thought I hated him?”

“I don’t know, Marco, it’s not like you told me that someone I thought you were friends with was someone that you absolutely couldn’t stand.”

“I’m polite for the sake of work, but fuck Teach,” Marco yawns, dropping into his computer chair and waking it. “Dinner should be done, if you want to eat now or leave it for a while longer.”

“You’re the best!” Ace shouts already in the kitchen.

“What a dork, huh?” Marco whispers to Arthur, smiling when Ace breaks something in the kitchen in his excitement. “Come on, you should stay here while I go make sure he’s okay. Don’t touch that keyboard, Arthur.”

Arthur purrs, already curling up on the keyboard before Marco reaches the kitchen. Marco isn’t surprised.. 

Chapter Text

“You’re more enamored with my pet than you are with me,” Marco states, watching Ace leaning close to the side of the glass enclosure to try and find where Malefic had hidden himself after breakfast. “Should I worry that you’re going to claim custody of him should we break up?”

“He is pretty,” Ace agrees distantly, eyes focused on something that Marco can’t see at this angle. “Like a little dragon.”

“That’s why he’s named after a dragon.”

Ace is looking at him, wide and unblinking eyes steady, “He is?”

“Kind of. One of my siblings used to watched this show with a card game in it. There was a Red-eyed black dragon in it. Malefic is one of the archetypes for it.”

“It’s a good name,” Ace agrees, watching the enclosure. “Do you like dragons?”

Marco hums, “Not as much as you do, but yes.”

“I don’t like them that much,” Ace admits, grinning when Marco raises an eyebrow. “I’m the foremost expert in Dragons in historical writing and one of the leading experts in Dragons in contemporary literature, but that’s for work.”

“You’ve got dragons on your dishes,” Marco points out, smiling when Ace scowls, checking the temperature on the enclosure. “But we are going out to dinner and we can’t Malefic.”

“No, it’s not humid enough here,” Ace agrees with a sigh, pushing himself upright and grabbing his jacket from the back of the chair he had thrown it over when he arrived. “I do like you, not just your Malefic.”

“I know that, Ace. I was just teasing, you were pretty clear that you wouldn’t date someone that you didn’t like, no matter if they had something you wanted or not.”

Ace smiles, “You’re smarter than my last boyfriend, he thought that I was only dating him because I liked his library.”

Marco rolls his eyes, because that might be why Ace had made sure that Marco knew that Ace liked him, “You’re cute.”

“I’m being insulted,” Ace whines, tangling their fingers as he grins. “You’re being so mean to me, I’m not cute.”

“Cute.”

“You’re cute.”

“That’s the game you want to play? Where are we going, you planned this out, not me.”

“There’s one of those Brazilian steak houses near by that Luffy said was really good, I thought we could do that. Lots of food.”

“Lead the way then.”

~~~~~

“You look like a baby dragon,” Ace whispers to Malefic, arms crossed as he lays his head on them. “Smaller than most babies, but still a baby.”

Malefic is shy, like all crocodile skinks, but Ace can see him in the burrow that he’s made for himself, even if humans are too blind to do the same. It’s almost dawn however and Malefic is always up and active in the few hours afterwards. Even though Marco won’t be up for at least two hours more.

“My brother was a lot bigger than that when we first met, but his Gramps has lots of pictures,” Ace continues, fire humming in his chest, burning bright. “Marco’s taking good care of you.”

Marco grumbles softly, asleep still, but Ace laughs, twisting to catch sight of him for a moment, before looking back at Malefic.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him. You’re too small to do that, but I can,” Ace slides his finger over the glass and rolls his eyes as the glass fogs over. “He got you crickets for breakfast. If you were a dragon like me, that would be an insult, but skinks like crickets.”

Chapter Text

“You brought me a child,” Ace states, frowning over the counter at the baby cooing happily in the basket that Marco had been handed hours ago. “I know that we’re close but if you found a human woman-”

“Please don’t continue that sentence,” Marco says pushing his sunglasses further up his nose to avoid letting the woman, who’s trying to hide one of Ace’s books in her bag only to find it back on the shelf, from seeing his eyes. “No, this is about something else.”

“If someone traded you a baby, you best give it back. We both know that you yell at your plants when they have spots, what will you do with this boy when he gets them.”

“Angel,” Marco says sharply, smiling when Ace looks at him. “This is the Anti-christ.”

Ace frowns, “Is that starting now? He looks a bit small to start the end times.”

“When he’s grown a bit,” Marco agrees. “But that’s not the point. I was suppose to take him to be switched with the child of a senator.”

“And I assume you haven’t?”

Marco nods, “I was thinking as I drove to the hospital, about what you said a few years back, about how it sometimes seemed like we were on our own side?”

“Oh, I must have been more drunk than I thought,” Ace says rubbing the back of his neck as he forces a polite smile on his face, using a miracle to get back the book that the person leaving was trying to steal. “I was stating that more as what it felt like.”

“But think about it, angel. Instead of letting the boy grow up to become the Anti-Christ, we raise him.”

“We don’t know the first thing about humans, Marco. What will we do with a child? What will our sides think about this?”

Marco smirks, letting his glasses slide down his nose as the store cleared out, “That’s the beauty of it, Ace. We have humans around us. They’re always adopting children, we adopt this boy and tell the humans that we’re trying to raise him to the best of our abilities and they’ll advise us without needing to ask. We both know you don’t want the end of the world.”

“It would be boring without my books,” Ace agrees, but Marco doesn’t miss his smile. “I suppose that we could try. We have enough power between the two of us to take care of anything that could come up.”

“We do, so?”

“Oh fine, we will raise him, but so help me, Marco, if you yell at him for having spots.”

“As if I would. Now, you don’t happen to know how these things eat, do you?”

Chapter Text

“You know that one of these days, you’re going to pick a fight that you can’t win,” Marco states, watching Ace press his fingertips to bandages on his chest. “It’s not healthy to go on like this.”

Ace shrugs tiredly, barely flinching even though it should tug on the wound hard enough to make Marco wince in sympathy, “A lot of people have tried to kill me and I’ve survived the past twenty years.”

“Surviving twenty years doesn’t mean that someone can’t get lucky.”

“Isn’t that how life goes?”

“Most people don’t have death wishes, Ace.”

It comes out sharper than he had meant it to, but Ace doesn’t seem to notice as he frowns at Marco like he doesn’t understand what he means.

“I don’t want to die.”

Marco sighs, dropping onto the hospital bed beside him, “Just because you don’t want to die doesn’t mean you don’t have a death wish. You don’t think you should exist, Ace.”

“This is going to turn into one of those talks where you get upset with me and I end up feeling guilty?” Ace asks, eyes narrowing even as he leans against Marco’s side. “Because I think we had that talk recently and I can’t deal with it again this soon.”

“You got stabbed because you were an idiot, that means there’s an exemption to that rule,” Marco states feeling tired. “And means that you have to talk someone about this.”

Ace groans, “Please not that.”

“You promised.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Ace.”

“Marco.”

“Ace.”

“You’re going to do something drastic if I don’t go talk to this person, aren’t you? Because I love you, but I don’t think I can deal with you tracking down my brother to convince me to do this.”

Marco laughs, “You say that like I would have to go that far. Your grandfather is an idiot but he does love you, he would get me in contact with your brother if it meant you taking care of yourself.”

“I think you have too much power.”

“If it means that you stop doing things that can get you hurt, then I will use that power how I see fit,” Marco ignores the way Ace elbows him in the side. “It’s not like you don’t know Jozu.”

“This is because I can’t set him on fire, isn’t it?”

“It’s because he’s spent a while studying how to help people deal with mental trauma. But the fact he’s fireproof helps.”

Ace yawns, “I still think the fact I’ve survived twenty years of people trying to kill me means that I’ve not suicidal.”

“I’m not going to explain that right now,” Marco states standing up. “Come on, I’m tired and you’re on light duty.”

“Cuddling isn’t light duty!”

Chapter Text

“I’m going to throw you into a fire,” Ace hisses, glad that he muted his microphone before this round started as their Pharah launches herself into the air and lands in the middle of the enemy team’s attack force. “You better not fucking-”

“I need healing!” Pharah shouts, spamming the chat on the side of the screen with her cries as she falls to an attack.

Ace bites the inside of his cheek as the voice chat crackles, Pharah’s player speaking for the first time.

“Way to go, Mercy. You can’t even heal someone asking for it.”

Reinhardt’s player laughs dryly, “Right, you want us to let our only healer run into the middle of the enemies to heal you, when I’ve had her following me so that I can keep this shield up and running?”

“And we should just ignore that we need healing?” Pharah’s player demands as their D.va hurries over to Ace’s Mercy. “It’s not fair-”

“Stop whining like a fucking baby,” D.va’s player snaps, her accent sharp. “Mercy’s trying their fucking best. But since you decided to DPS instead of a healer, we can’t afford to have a healer die.”

“I’m not-”

“You were the last to join the team and complained because someone "took” Junkrat first and tried to argue Genji into trading with you,“ D.va interrupts. "I would rather deal with Mercy. At least they can heal and they’ve taken out, what four people with that shitty pistol of her’s? And only one death, when we all got wiped by the other team’s D.va Mech?”

Ace smiles, turning as he spots their Genji inbound with just a sliver of health yet, making sure to heal him until he bounces out from behind Reinhardt’s shield to head back into the fray.

“I’m dropping the shield, get ready,” Reinhardt warns, giving Ace enough time to move behind a pole. “Where is Junk?”

“I’m listening to you all and wondering when Mercy’s gonna chime in. I know you’re on mic dude,” Saber states appearing from behind them. “I got killed, but I got their Reaper.”

“So that’s where he went,” D.va mutters. “Nerf this, bitches.”

“You’re really going to call them bitches,” Ace asks, turning on his mic as D.va dodged behind Reinhardt’s shield, her mech taking out the entire opposing team. “But seriously Pharah, I’m not here to answer to your beck and call.”

Genji laughs, “Oh, I was right. I always forget you’re a Mercy main.”

“Shut up, Three sword. I know exactly where you are right now and I’m more than willing to kick your teeth in. Mercy is a great character and you would have never made it to this rank without me.”

Reinhardt clears his throat, “Can we focus on how we’re about to win instead of picking fights with people we know.”

“Sure thing, blue bird,” Ace promises, smiling at the exaggerated sigh from Reinhardt. “Do you not want me to call you by your user name?”

“Focus!”

Ace laughs, hurrying after him and making sure to watch their backs a bit more when one of the other team switches from Mei to Widowmaker.

“You’re a Mercy Main?” Reinhardt asks after requesting to remain on the same team.

“Over 400 hours,” Ace agrees joining the request, as Saber tells them that he has to leave. “I’m AceofSpades, you can call me Ace.”

“BlueBird2020, my brother made it for me,” Reinhardt admits. “But please call me, Marco.”

“So you main tanks or?”

“I’ve been playing for three days, but I play two dps fairly well, one tank, and Moira. But of course, this is still early. You never know. Yourself?”

“Mercy is my main, like you noticed. But I can also do Lucio, Mei, Roadhog, and Zarya. How long do you have?”

Marco hums, “Two hours? I have to get some sleep before work, but I think that six is enough, don’t you?”

“I’m going to be at four hours,” Ace laughs, flexing his fingers. “Alright let’s do this.”

It’s fun. Hard, but fun and for all that Marco’s still learning the buttons, he’s also willing to listen to advice and tries his hardest. Plus, Ace will admit to enjoying his sense of humor.

“Alright, I’m going to bed now,” Ace yawns. “Because otherwise, I’m going to die at work tomorrow.”

“Right,” Marco mutters. “Work. Good night, Ace. I hope we can play together another time.”

“I’m sending you a friend request, that way it’ll be more fun. We can see if the other is online and request to play together there instead of falling into a team on Quick Play,” Ace rubs his eyes. “But maybe tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow. I’ll be on at six?”

Ace stares at his clock, “By what time zone?”

“Eastern?”

“It’s a date.”

“I can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

“So,” Ace says slowly, watching Marco with narrowed eyes that keep returning to the new hole in their wall and his hands pressed together under his chin. “You’re not a business consultant.”

Marco shifts uncomfortably, because he had thought he had known what Ace had done for a living too, but apparently he had been a little off, “I don’t suppose you can forget that?”

“My husband’s response to the phrase “I think I’ve been found out” is to break down the wall to reveal a cache of weapons that I didn’t know were in our home and promise me that we would get out alive,” Ace sounds far too calm for this conversation. “Which implies this is not the first time you’ve fought your way out of somewhere. And adds the implication that you don’t know what my job is.”

“I may have gotten the wrong impression,” Marco says after a long moment of silence. “Possibly.”

“Only possibly?”

Marco doesn’t say anything, but this is starting to imply a lack of effective communication in their relationship, which, according to Izou laments recently, is one of the leading causes for divorce. He’s still in trouble for forgetting their anniversary last month, he doesn’t want to think of the consequences for this on top of it.

“So when you apologized for being late to dinner because you were knee deep in Russians, I’m going to assume that wasn’t a joke,” Ace states finally leaning back and raising an eyebrow.

“I’m a spy.”

Ace nods thoughtfully, his nose wrinkling, “That does explain all the business trips. And Izou.”

“It explains Izou?” Marco asks in confusion.

“He keeps talking about dropping in and killing the crowd,” Ace answers vaguely, which leaves Marco with more questions than answers. “And what do you think that I do?”

“The same?”

“I have never been a spy, before we start this conversation. I came home to tell you that we need to move and soon because I review restaurants.”

Marco pauses, rolling the words over, “That does explain why we go out to eat so often. But I don’t think most critics have your level of concern about being revealed. Not that I’m against moving!”

“Michelin has certain standards and I need to avoid a restaurant in the area for a while, I think they’ve realized I’ve been there too many times and around ratings,” Ace sighs, before frowning back at the hole in their wall. “You’re fixing that.”

“I did break it.”

“And I would like to discuss a move elsewhere.”

“I could be up for a change of scenery.”

Ace rolls his eyes, smiling easily, “I’m not leaving you. I’m upset that you didn’t think to tell me you were a spy and I told you a lot about my own job, even if it wasn’t absolutely all of the details. But I think we can both agree we can work on our communication.”

“And not get divorced.”

“Not unless our communication fixes don’t work. Now,” Ace stands up and brushes drywall dust off his pants. “I’m tired and if you’re not opposed, I would really like to spend sometime together working on this talking shit. Are you busy?”

Marco thinks briefly about the mission brief that he’s suppose to have skimmed before tomorrow morning and the order he’s going to have to make to R&D for the specialty drywall to replace what he had broken, before deciding that he can leave it for another night.

“No.”

“Cool,” Ace smiles brightly. “I was thinking pajamas, snacks, cuddling, and talking? Unless you want to put most of that off until tomorrow. I could be convinced to replace talking with movies.”

“Both sound nice. Flip a coin?”

“Deal, but you have to go get the snacks and I know for a fact that we have none, so chop chop, Mr. Secret Agent Man. I want my usual,” Ace pauses thoughtfully. “And a kiss.”

“The little foil wrapped ones?” Marco asks, already running down Ace’s usual snack order to see how long it was going to take.

Ace laughs, stepping into his space and raising an eyebrow, “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Good,” Ace kisses the corner of his mouth. “Because if you didn’t, Mr. Secret Agent Man, there would be words. Luffy really is my brother and he actually likes you, if you break my heart, he would probably be a little upset when he broke your face.”

“Izou and I are siblings. Adopted, but still siblings.”

Ace drops his head to rest on Marco’s shoulder, “That explains so much. Alright, my kiss and then get snacks. I want to take a bath and it’s impossible to do if you’re moping around like a creeper.”

“I’m not a creeper,” Marco mutters, kissing Ace softly. “I do want to know why you want to move when I get home.”

“How about I tell you why I want to move and you tell me why you decided the wall in our front hall was the best place to hide a weapons cache, deal?”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

“You know,” Ace whispers, leaning over Marco’s shoulder an almost invisible cloud of heat pressed too close. “They say it’s cursed.”

“Are you?”

Ace laughs, steam hissing through teeth that can barely be seen in the light, “Cursed?”

“You’re a ghost, Ace. A ghost that haunts the brasa do coração and can only be seen by those who are foolish enough touch it without gloves, since it’s cut so jaggedly that you slice your fingers in an attempt,” Marco states sketching the route to his next heist from what he had seen on the tour and of the photos he had found. “And you never said why.”

“Do I need a reason why?” Ace asks, moving away to curl his hands over the gem, like he’s trying to protect it. “You make it sound like I have to explain myself to a thief.”

“So you didn’t try to steal the brasa?”

Ace laughs, bitter, Marco thinks, as he slides an insubstantial thumb over a particularly sharp spike, “No, I never attempted to steal brasa do coração. Actually, this gem didn’t exist before I died.”

“It didn’t?”

Ace hums but doesn’t answer, brushing his fingers over the top of it. There’s a song, something that Marco has heard before, about fire and sparks and ends bitter that he can’t remember the words for, but it’s the same tune.

“Ace?”

“No, not until after my death did the brasa do coração come into light,” Ace smiles, sharp and dangerous. “If I died at all.”

Marco studies him for long moment, watching the way Ace’s fingers can’t pass through the gem, “Did you? Die?”

“That is a good question,” Ace agrees. “Did you know that the brasa do coração was suppose to be the heart of a fire god? That’s why it’s called the,” he snorts, “Ember of the heart.”

“That sounds like a fairytale,” Marco mutters turning back to his papers, missing the way Ace’s smile slips from his face, hand pressing flat to the top of the gem.

“A fairy tale,” he agrees softly, after all what God of Fire got himself captured by a minor demon of chaos?

Chapter Text

“We’re going to need something faster,” Ace says, his eyes bright as he stares at the blueprints of the building that Marco had spread over the table between them. “And a team. I thought you wanted to get out of this?”

“I don’t remember saying that,” Marco says tapping his fingers in time with the song playing on the radio. “We have a plan and I know that you would miss this if we stopped.”

Ace smiles, pushing the blueprints back towards him, “If you wanted to go straight, I would. I love speed and I love the thrill, but I love you more. Even if it means we’re headed to Brazil.”

“We could,” Marco leans his chin onto his palm, watching the plans before looking back up at Ace. “One more, you think? So we don’t have to worry about finding jobs?”

“Only one,” Ace asks, raising an eyebrow as he stands up and circles the table to push Marco’s seat out, sitting on the table with a smirk. “And why this specific job? You wouldn’t pick it without reason.”

Marco smiles, pulling a picture out of his jacket pocket, watching the way that Ace’s eyes catch on the treasure, “The entirety of Roger D Gol’s ill begotten treasure, including what was legally brought into the family with his marriage to Rouge Portgas.”

“Mom’s necklace,” Ace whispers, his fingertips dragging over the picture before he pulls back. “Alright, but I don’t think that we’ll get a team just for that.”

“It’s a bank, Ace, I’m sure the millions of other things inside are more than enough to tempt them.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t read this, where are my glasses,” Ace mutters frowning at the illuminated manuscript, worried that it would vanish the moment that he looked away. He has spent years hunting this particular manuscript down to a collector that would let him read it. “Fuck, come on, I can’t look away.”

“You can’t look away?”

Ace jumps and regrets looking away from the manuscript minutes after he does, catching sight of the collector, Sir Marco Newgate, leaning against the window behind him.

“Did I startle you?”

“No?” Ace regrets that it comes out like a question. “It’s, this is the first time someone’s allowed me to look at this particular manuscript. The universities that I’ve been working with haven’t had scans of them either and I’m afraid it will vanish.”

Sir Newgate laughs, “I understand that feeling. They’re on your head.”

“Of course they are,” Ace sighs, tugging them into place and reaching for the gloves he had set aside, unwilling to risk the pages. “Okay, I can do this.”

“It’s a book, is there something about it that is important?”

“I’m not going to throw something at you because I’ve got my gloves on,” Ace states, easing the book open, heart in his throat. “This is manuscript should, if I have my translations right,” And found the right book, he thinks privately. “Have a legend of an immortal knight.”

“Immortal knight? I don’t think I’ve heard of one of those.”

Ace tips his head in acknowledgement, skimming the text as he moves through the book, “It’s not stated explicitly. The first legend in the series, at least the one that I can prove comes before the others, speaks of how fifty years pass and the same man returns looking as he did upon his last visit. Which is corroborated in the third story, where they run into an old man who remembered meeting the knight as a child.”

“And you think the knight is immortal? It’s not just the son of the previous knight?”

“It’s not, the knight says that he’s the same and he speaks of something the old man spoke of with the last knight,” Ace says stopping at a page and grinning. “May I take pictures?”

“Help yourself.”

Ace hums, adjusting his camera to look over the pages, both individually and then together, to show the design work. It’s time consuming and Sir Newgate is kind enough to turn on a light when it gets darker, a specialty one, Ace notes distantly.

“Thank you,” Ace says closing the book and backing away before he takes off his gloves. 

“Did it have the legend that you were looking for?” Sir Newgate asks curiously. “You seemed far too excited to have found nothing at all.”

“A later story, I think,” Ace admits, sending the pictures to himself, already worrying that he’s going to loose his copies. “He sounds lonely, he had companions before and they’ve moved on? I haven’t translated it properly yet.”

“Why are you so interested in an immortal knight?”

Ace looks up from his phone, watching Sir Newgate over the top of his glasses, “My mom was laughed out of public for daring to mention these stories. I want to prove they exist for her.”

“That’s an interesting view of it. And what if you met an immortal knight yourself? What would you do?”

“My first response would be to befriend them,” Ace admits, packing his things away. “Do you think immortal knights want friends?”

“Yes, I think they do,” Sir Newgate agrees slowly. “Are you off?”

“For now, there’s another story in that book that I would love a chance to get a second look at. If you don’t mind?” Ace grins when Sir Newgate smiles, looking happier than he had when Ace had first arrived. “You don’t have to.”

“I think that I would like that. Good night, Mr. Portgas.”

“Ace!”

“Ace then. I’m Marco.”

Chapter Text

“You’re on my side of the bed,” Ace mutters, obviously not too upset, Marco thinks, since he’s still sprawled over Marco’s chest. “Why are you on my side of the bed?”

Marco hums, “I’m not the one who stole someone else’s bed space. You’re on my side of the bed. Unless you are claiming the whole bed, in which case I will have to fight you.”

“My bed,” Ace yawns, but doesn’t move away or attempt to push Marco off of it. “But, you’re warm, so you can stay.”

“You’re made of fire, Ace. I don’t think you can get cold.”

Ace pinches his side, using his nails because he’s an asshole, shifting enough to glare at Marco, “Not cold, just like warm things. Now shut up, sleeping.”

“And if I want to get up?” Marco doesn’t want to get up, he is comfy here and he’s still tired enough to doze back off if given the opportunity. “I have paperwork to do and duties to take care of.”

“No, sleep only. Cuddling.”

Marco laughs, pushing Ace’s hair back from his face, “You’re adorable.”

“You’re a stupid bird,” Ace scowls, glaring at him, interrupted by a yawn. “Sleep now, stupid bird.”

“I cannot sleep, I’m a stupid bird, up with the sun,” Marco states loftily, grinning when Ace grumbles about biting him. “Release me to catch my worms.”

“You know, you’re not at all funny. Please sleep?”

Marco yawns, dragging the blanket higher, since Ace had kicked it down around his knees, “Sleep then.”

Chapter Text

“You must have been lonely,” Ace says softly, turning the helmet over in his hands as Marco watches him, mouth dry, unsure what to do. “Hundreds of years of keeping your distance.”

“It was safer.”

Ace glances up at him and Marco hates that he seems to look sadder, “That’s not fair to you. Being alone hurts more than anything,” his smile is soft as he puts the helmet back on the table. “My brother said that, I think he’s right.”

“He sounds like a smart person.”

“Luffy’s an idiot, but he does make a point occasionally.”

“Isn’t he an physics prodigy?” Marco mutters, trying to remember which of Ace’s siblings was which. He had heard plenty about them both over the months of letting Ace use his library for research.

“Being a physics prodigy doesn’t give him an ounce of common sense, but that is off topic, Marco and we both know it,” Ace pauses before one of the portraits. “You’re lonely.”

“I’ve had friends.”

“Had. That’s past tense, Marco. It means you had someone and don’t anymore.”

Marco hums softly, “It’s not exactly easy to keep more than a few, not when you don’t age, Ace. They can be less than accepting in some cases. One of them called me a demon and tried to have me excommunicated.”

“Or want to know how you became immortal?”

“Some of them,” Marco agrees softly watching Ace move on to another picture. “Are you curious?”

“About how you found the Grail or why you pretended to age quickly and die when you reported it?” Ace asks, grinning brightly. “I’ve spent years on this legend, Marco. It’s not impossible to connect them.”

“Most people don’t connect an immortal knight to three brothers hunting the grail, my legend is older than that.”

Ace hums, “There’s more than one legend about people going after the grail. It might not have been your first trip, but it was one of your trips. Did the other two?”

“I don’t know,” Marco answers after a long moment. “One stayed behind and the other left me in Italy. If they’re still around, they haven’t come looking.”

“That’s sad.”

“I have you.”

Ace laughs, eyes bright as he looks back at him, “Do you?”

“Your friendship.”

“You do have that and I’d hunt you down if you vanished. I care about you.”

Marco nods, feeling his chest grow tight, “I care for you too.”

“Now tell me about this one,” Ace demands, frowning at a picture that Marco was sure he remembered being taken. “Who is this?”

“This is one of my friends,” Marco answers easily, leaning in close and ignoring the warmth that comes from being close to Ace, knowing that he doesn’t have to lie to him about anything, and that Ace won’t abandon him yet. “It’s a rather long story.”

“I have time.”

Chapter Text

"You don't have to do this," Marco repeats softly, kneeling in front of Ace to check that his skates were tied tightly enough. "I know that I said it would be fun, but don't let that pressure you into this. Not everyone likes ice skating."

"Pops said that you should give things a chance," Ace mutters into the scarf Izou had shoved at him before he had left the ship. Something about how looking at Ace had made the rest of the crew feel cold. "It can't be that hard, right?"

Marco smiles, easy and warm as he kisses Ace's knee, "It can be. But I'll be there to make sure that you don't fall. I'm pretty good at this, if I do say so myself," he pushes himself up, holding out a hand for Ace to take. "Shall we?"

"Alright."

Ace regrets standing, the skates are harder to balance on than he had been expecting, wiggling when he puts too much weight on certain areas, the only thing keeping him from falling flat on his face are Marco's hands on his biceps.

"Take your time," Marco says softly, stepping onto the ice backwards, his hands sliding down Ace's arms to hold Ace's. "There's no rush. we'll start when you're ready and do a loop around the rink. Don't worry about being fast, just focus on moving."

"And not falling."

"Leave that to me, I'll keep us balanced."

The smile Marco gives him feels like it's supposed to be reassuring, but all Ace can feel is the pit at the bottom of his stomach as he shuffles his feet onto the ice. It seems fine, until one of Ace's feet slide out from under him, leaving Ace clinging harder to Marco's hands.

"Easy," Marco says softly, helping Ace back up and squeezing his hands. "It's okay. Everyone has a hard time skating when they start off. Don't focus on that, focus on me, alright? I'm not going to let go of you."

"Even if I take us both down onto the ice?"

"Not even then," Marco says leaning forward to steal a kiss. "Relax and we're going to move away from the entrance. We can't block it forever."

Ace nods, swallowing nervously as Marco skates backwards, moving them out the way, whispering tips on how to move.

"I don't think I can do this."

"You don't have to," Marco reminds him, squeezing his hands. "I asked you to join me because I wanted to spend time with you, Ace. If you don't want to skate, we can do something else."

"You like skating."

Marco nods, one hand sliding up Ace's arm to cup his cheek, thumb stroking along the arch of bone, "I do like skating but that doesn't mean you have to. We can do something else if it's too much. I asked you to try it because I thought you might enjoy it, you're not obligated to."

"We," Ace's breath hisses between his teeth as his skates slide again. "Once around? Just, just to see if I get a feel for it?"

"One lap. And we'll go at your speed. Would you rather hold onto the railing?"

"No, I trust you."

"Then we'll go ahead and loop," Marco says shifting his hold from Ace's hand to his waist and kissing him softly. "Let me know when you're ready."

Ace nods slowly, taking a deep breath, "Okay. Lead the way?"

"How about," Marco says softly, helping Ace stand upright. "I teach you to stop first, before we start skating?"

"Please, I'm already having sudden, horrid thoughts about running a child over with these knife shoes."

"Put your hands on my shoulders, you'll have a bit easier of a time balancing," Marco states, smiling softly. "This is going to be a bit different from when you're moving, remember that. To stop, you spread your legs," Marco nods, watching Ace move. "Now trail one foot back. Just like that.”

Ace snorts leaning further into Marco, "Seems pretty simple when I'm not moving."

"I know that it does. Do you want to try that again or start moving?" Marco asks, grinning when Ace's hands go tighter on his shoulders. "Okay, let's do that again."

Chapter Text

Marco doesn’t remember when he noticed it, the way that Ace moved when he was trying to intimidate someone verses how he normally did, but it’s something he recognizes as Ace steps forward to speak with the man they had tapped as a spy for the marines on one of their islands.

“Good morning,” Ace says like a threat, his smile just a baring of teeth that never reaches his eyes as he steps up behind the man. “I was hoping to get a few minutes of your time.”

“I’m sure that I don’t have a moment, young man.”

Ace’s hand stops him from opening the gate to his yard, the wood cracking under his fingers as the man pales dangerously fast, “You and I seem to have very different ideas about what I just said, sir . How about I try this again, do you think?” the man shakes, eyes darting from Ace’s face to his hand, still holding the gate shut without any real effort. “I need a moment of your time.”

“Young man, this island is under the protection of the Whitebeard Pirates-”

Marco clears his throat, smiling blandly when the man catches sight of him, eyes darting from Marco’s face, and his rather notable hairstyle, to the tattoo prominent on his chest, “And I do believe that our second division commander has some questions for you. Unless you would rather have this talk aboard the Moby Dick.”

“See, sir,” Ace smiles brightly, all sharp teeth and fire glinting in his eyes, Marco can’t breathe for a moment as Ace meets his eyes, mouth dry at the sight. “We’re just here for a pleasant conversation, unless you want to make it difficult.”

“No, no,” he assures quickly.

Marco pushes himself upright, ready for their target to make a run from it. It was obvious that he was still looking for an escape. Not that he needed to worry, Ace’s hand going tight on the man’s shoulder, hard enough to make him whimper.

“That’s great, I’m glad that you had time for us. Do you want to go inside? I know how gossipy your neighbors can be.”

“Y-yes, please both of you,” their target agrees quickly. Too quickly, Marco thinks but Ace catches it too, smile like a seaking’s. “I’ll put on some tea.”

“I think not,” Ace says firmly, his tone dangerous. “What is in your house, sir?”

“N, There’s nothing in my house.”

“Lying isn’t appreciated, you know.”

Marco swallows down the urge to push Ace up against the small garden wall and kiss that smile from his mouth, pushes it away as he keeps himself perfectly still. It doesn’t stop him from wondering if Ace would let him, if he could taste the fire that’s burning inside him.

“I would, could-”

“Come on now,” Ace says sharply, no longer trying to play at remotely nice. “You don’t think we’re stupid, do you? What is waiting inside your house, sir.”

“I promise, I swear, there’s nothing!”

Ace clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth, thumb pressing against the base of his skull, “I don’t think that I can believe you, sir. I want to, really I do, but after all the things we’ve found out, I just don’t think that I can,” he glances over and Marco arches a brow in question. “Phoenix, think you can heal him faster than I can burn him?”

“Now that sounds like an experiment that I can get behind,” Marco agrees, playing his role, the kinder of the two here to get answers. The nice marine to the Ace’s more dangerous one. “But I don’t know if that’s going to get us any answers. Perhaps a finger would be better.”

Marco is going to kiss Ace after this, he decides, watching Ace look thoughtful about the suggestion. He’s going to press Ace up against something and kiss him until his lungs burn or Ace tries to kill him, just to get the desire out of his system. Maybe if he was lucky, Ace would kiss him back, if he wasn’t it, it would be a hell of a way to go. 

Chapter Text

“Most people don’t notice,” Ace admits, smiling easily as he drops down onto Marco’s bed like he belongs there. “The freckles, I mean. Deuce says that it has something to do with how people will try to come up logical explanations for things, a trick of light. Or they assume it’s to do with my devil’s fruit.”

“But it’s not,” Marco asks, swallowing hard as Ace lifts his hand, shadows trailing unnaturally along his forearm and up over his fingers. “Is it?”

Ace smiles wider, his teeth bared like a threat, “It’s not,” he pauses, tipping his head to the side, “I thought no one here was going to notice.”

“They look like star light.”

“Star light sounds rather poetic, honestly,” Ace laughs, relaxing as he pulls his legs up onto Marco’s bed. “It’s hereditary.”

Marco moves closer, unable to stop himself as the dim light of his room makes Ace’s freckles seem brighter than ever, “I don’t remember Roger glowing like this.”

“He didn’t,” Ace agrees, raising an eyebrow as Marco took another step closer, pausing until it drops. “It’s from my mother. I hear that she looked less human than I do. She wasn’t, so that makes sense.”

“Wasn’t,” Marco repeats, taking the hand that Ace holds out for him once he’s close enough, his breath catching in his throat as Ace’s smile goes soft and warm, his thumb sliding along Marco’s fingers.

“Portgas D Rouge was a monsterous goddess pressing herself into the form of a human woman,” Ace answers, the shadows reaching over to curl possessively around Marco’s wrist, and for all that he can’t feel them, Marco knows that if he pulled, they would keep him from moving away. “She loved him.”

Marco lets himself be pulled closer, until he can feel the warmth of Ace’s calves pressed against his legs, his hand pressed to Ace’s mouth, his lips burning against Marco’s knuckles, “Ace?”

“She fell in love with a man who was supposed to be a monster,” Ace says turning Marco’s hand to press another burning kiss to his palm. “I inherited her love of humans.”

“Just her love of them?”

Ace laughs, his mouth pressing to Marco’s wrist, his eyes too bright as he watches Marco’s face, searching for something, “Maybe a little more than that. Do you want to know one thing that I learned from her that I won’t forget?”

“Just one?” Marco teases breathlessly as he moves his other hand to curve around Ace’s cheek, tension dropping from his shoulder when Ace leans into it.

“Well, more than one,” he agrees, pressing a kiss to Marco’s forearm, his thumb lingering over the pulse point at Marco’s wrist. “She said that he was the first person to see how false her humanity was.”

“False.”

Ace nods, “She said his first words to her where about how her teeth were too sharp and her shadow was too long. He watched her.”

“Like I watch you,” Marco doesn’t ask, because it sounds right. He hopes that it is.

“Maybe,” Ace says slowly, tipping his head up. “You like me.”

“I do,” Marco agrees, because he was never going to deny he was attracted to Ace if he asked, and Ace did ask. “I like you quite a lot.”

Ace hums, smiling as he uses his grip on Marco’s arm to pull him closer, “Good.”

“Good?”

“Yes,” Ace says pressing their mouths together briefly. “I like you too.”

Marco laughs, leaning back in for another kiss, his fingers sliding over the glittering light of Ace’s freckles, “Do you really?”

“I don’t lie,” Ace whispers against Marco’s mouth, both hands framing his face as something else pulls him closer. “I will twist and bend the truth, but I’m an honest God. Kiss me.”

Marco doesn’t bother with an answer, kissing Ace again without a thought, one hand curling in his hair to keep him from moving too far away. The feeling of something curving around his waist, almost as warm and solid as Ace’s hands, almost alarms him. Almost, before Ace presses their foreheads together, breathless and smiling.

“Is it too much?” he asks softly, nervously, like he thinks that Marco will panic. Like he knows how people react to things they can’t see but can feel.

“No,” Marco answers, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth to catch his breath. “Can I?”

“Yes.”

Chapter Text

“This is your fault,” Ace laughs, breathless and bright, eyes glowing in the shadow of the building Marco had dragged them both into when the sounds of Marines had gotten louder. “You wanted to burn the house down.”

“It’s standard procedure,” Marco mutters, swallowing hard as Ace leans into his space, frowning at something over his shoulder for a long moment. “Ace?”

“It’ s nothing,” Ace says finally, smiling as he meets Marco’s eyes. “Thought one of them had spotted us, but I suppose we do look a bit indecent.”

Marco raises an eyebrow, his face feeling warm as Ace’s meaning catches up with him, “Oh. I suppose that would give them reason to look away.”

“Physical affection makes people uncomfortable,” Ace teases, leaning back against the wall as he pushes his hair out of his face. “Gramps used to tell us that sometimes, he used to go undercover, you know.”

“I can’t imagine Garp the Fist undercover. He’s a bit too much like your brother,” Marco says slowly, swallowing hard as his thumb slides, feather soft, over Ace’s belt. His hands still on Ace’s hips, even though there was no need for it. “Loud.”

Ace snorts, “He’s loud but he knows when to be. He’s not an idiot, you don’t make it to Vice-Admiral on luck and trust. He was a fool to teach Lu and I so much top secret shit before we joined, but he wasn’t an idiot.”

“Top secret things like?” Marco prompts, licking his lips nervously, his mouth going dry as he leans closer.

“Like how to break the marine codes. He used to get Luffy and I seaking when we broke them, which was incentive enough,” Ace pauses, thoughtful. “I think I recognized the code on the papers we took, I might be able to find something if the code hasn’t shifted that far along the cypher.”

“I’m sure that Izou would appreciate the help.”

“If he needs it, Izou’s good at code breaking too.”

Marco watches the fire in Ace’s eyes, bright and burning as he talks, never dulling for a moment, before he realizes what he’s doing. Unable to help himself as Ace watches him, eyes wide and confused before Marco kisses him, tilting his head to slot their mouths together for just a moment before pulling back, heart beating too fast in his chest.

“Marco?”

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” Marco says softly, forcing himself to let go of Ace and step back. “That wasn’t right of me.”

Ace follows him, pushing him against the other side of the alley, one hand curling in the collar of his shirt, “You, I didn’t…”

“I should have asked, but I just really wanted to kiss you,” Marco adds, feeling unsettled at Ace’s confusion. “I can give you another apolo-”

Ace surges forward before he can finish, kissing Marco harder than Marco had dared to kiss him, teeth catching Marco’s lower lip and tugging softly before he pulls away, still close enough to feel the heat of him, “I didn’t think you wanted to kiss me,” Ace mutters against his lips, smiling softly when Marco fumbles over his words. “You could, kiss me more.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Ace whispers, eyes sparkling with laughter. “Maybe more if you play your cards right and we both know how good you are.”

Marco swallows hard, hands pressing to the small of Ace’s back to urge him closer, “And if I’m good?”

“I’m sure we can think of something.”

Chapter Text

"Your hair is softer than it looks," Marco says carding his fingers through Ace's hair, separating it into sections and twisting them through elastic bands to hold them away from the rest of Ace’s hair. "I thought it would be more tangled."

"The only way my hair is soft," Ace mutters, flipping through the supply demands his division had sent in. "Is magic because salt air doesn't make for soft hair."

"Softer than mine," Marco corrects himself, grinning when Ace's elbow smacks his leg, digging into his shin. "That's not very nice."

"You're not very nice," Ace says yawning as he leans back into Marco's touch. "You're enjoying this too much."

Marco laughs, leaning forward to press a kiss to the top of his head, taking a moment to enjoy how nice it was to have this, "Your hair is longer than normal."

"Missed my last two hair cuts. Feels weird now, not used to it this long."

"It does give me more to braid," Marco says reaching for the first section of hair. "Do you mind if I do something elaborate or would you rather simple?"

"Just don't pull, I have to start working on the accounts and you always get pissy when I spill ink across the page."

"It's impossible to read as it is. Your handwriting is horrible."

"Says the man who writes like a doctor."

Marco snorts,twisting another piece of hair into the braid, "I am a doctor, of course I'm going to write like one."

"If you wanted to and you actually worked at it, you absolutely could make your words legible. Izou’s shown me what your handwriting can look like when you put effort into it."

"But I won't, so I can't," Marco says easily, sliding a bobby pin into Ace's hair to hold it in place so he can attempt the next section. "You're not going to wreck this the second I'm done, are you?"

"Maybe not the second you're done," Ace teases, melting as Marco's fingers rubbed against his scalp, sighing happily.

"This is why Thatch calls you a cat," Marco teases, grinning brightly when Ace shifts back enough to glare at him, even though Marco can see how he’s biting back a smile. "You know it's true, there's nothing to deny."

"I'm not a cat."

"Of course," Marco says easily, stealing a kiss before Ace can shift away from him. "You just like the feeling of fingers in your hair.”

Ace scowls, still turning his head to give Marco access to the next section he was going to braid, “I don’t want to hear it from you, Mister Regularly Takes Naps in Fires. Or did you forget about that in all of your wisdom.”

“I’m a phoenix, starlight, I’m supposed to sleep in fires and be reborn from my own ashes. You’re a fire logica, not a cat zoan.”

“You’re a horrible, awful boyfriend,” Ace mutters, his tone too soft to mean it. “This doesn’t feel elaborate.”

Marco nods, humming as he braids the two braids together for the final piece of it, “It’s not. It’s a crown. Starts at each temple and comes around, pulls hair in from what’s left down to make sure it goes all the way back. I thought it would look better on you than something elaborate,” he ties it off with an elastic from his wrist. “Plus, it holds up longer than something elaborate.”

“You just like playing with my hair,” Ace says brightly, leaning back to catch his eye, his paperwork stacked neatly beside him. “Are you sure that you don’t want to talk about whatever it is that’s upsetting you?”

“No, thank you,” Marco answers honestly, tapping Ace’s nose to watch it wrinkle and his mouth twist in annoyance. “Thank you, for being here and letting me do this.”

Ace rolls his eyes, shuffling around to his knees, one hand curling against Marco’s cheek, “I’m always happy to be here for you and it’s not like I didn’t have work that could be done sitting around and letting you play with my hair.”

Marco hums, stealing another kiss as Ace’s hand slides to cup the back of his head, “You had other things to do.”

“Nothing that couldn’t wait,” Ace answers leaning in for a kiss. “Wanna have dinner in our room tonight or shall we brave the mess?”

“Anything you want.”

Ace laughs and Marco is so glad to have him here, “Come on, pretty bird. You need to eat, we can make up our minds on the way.”