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Paradise of Free Fire

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Marco.

Marco, Marco, Marco.

Marco.

Marco.”

The blond blinks.

“What?”

“What are you doing?”

Marco looks to his side to see Thatch leaning against the railing, a smile on his face.

“Enjoying my peace and quiet before you came along.”

A chortle escapes the Fourth Commander.

“I bet you’re thinking about that fire boy again, aren’t ya?” he says, wiggling his eyebrows casually.

He looks at him. “Why would I do that?”

“Because…” the smile grows more playful, and Marco sits up a little straighter, eyes narrowing. “It seems to me that someone’s got a lil’ crush on ‘im.”

“That sounds like an excuse for more work, Thatch.”

“So you admit it.”

“I’ll let Jozu know you’re taking cleaning duty for him.”

Thatch’s smile falls then. “I don’t want to clean Stefan...he keeps going to my hair!”

Marco snickers to himself, and turns to gaze back into the sea. “Not my problem, now is it?”


If there’s one thing that Marco never is, it’s sick. Being a Phoenix has its perks of being sick-free and never feeling weak, and he uses that to his advantage when one of his family members gets sick. For example, when Thatch has the sniffles, or when Jozu has a horrible cold that leaves him all red in the face, or when Izo doesn’t come out of their room for fear of their makeup being ruined by an ungodly sneeze. And when one is sick, Marco shows up and laughs at them for five minutes like the big, annoying, brother he is.+

But lovesick? It leaves a weird feeling in his chest, and it makes him nauseous one moment, and feeling free the next. He’s heard rumors of how far love can take people, whether life or death do them part, and he’s not sure how to feel about this heavy weight in his heart. It’s funny, because he’s never felt this way before, and he doesn’t know if it’s a good feeling or a bad feeling.

And it’s just from looking at a particular person.

One specific Portgas D. Ace.

He’s been on the Moby Dick for a while, and after the initial Murder Teenage Phase he went through, he’s now crowded by every Commander trying to convince him to join their group. He’s young, a newbie, but his strength was no exception, wowing everyone when he held his own against Jozu in an arm wrestling match, and showed his smarts for fishing and getting good prices on certain things. He's pretty good at navigation to where he’s undesignated Head Navigator on the ship, and Marco's been thinking about having him in his own division...they could use a little cheer in his party.

“You should totally join us! We mostly just get ingredients, but we go on lots of adventures!”

“Ugh, no, you don’t. You guys are lazy. Ace, we get to do amazing spy missions!”

Thatch pushes his way in between everyone. “We get the food first in my division, Ace, my friend! You can’t skip out on that one!”

Ace’s head snaps everywhere around him where multiple voices speak at once, and he laughs shyly. “Uh...I...I’ll have to think about...about all of this, guys.”

Marco’s sitting next to Pops, legs crossed and a frown strapped to his face. It’s a nice day, a warm breeze blowing through as the ship sails in whatever direction it wants to go. A normal day, with the crew playing in unusual antics of bombarding the newbie with proposals.

Newgate glances over to Marco, who makes a low noise in his throat when a particular hand rubs a little too low on Ace’s arms.

“Something wrong, son?”

His frown deepens. “No.”

A moment, and before he knows it, Newgate’s softly chuckling to himself.

“Are you jealous that you’re not talking to him?”

“What?” his head snaps to his left as the Emperor starts snickering . “Why would I be jealous?”

He’s shaking his head now, face scrunching as he snickers even more, moustache twitching.

“Me? Jealous? Pops, you’re talking about me, of all people.” he crosses his arms across his chest and turns to look out at the sea angrily. “Tch. Jealous. I’m not jealous at all. Over my dead body.”

Newgate's laughing now, and Marco feels a blush coming up his neck. There’s a huge hand patting at his back and it nearly pushes him off the seat, but all he does is make a face. “Stop laughing.”

He laughs harder.

“I hate you.”

“What’s so funny?”

The Emperor suddenly freezes, long enough for both of them look down and see Ace looking up at them curiously. His hat hangs from its string around his neck, and there’s freckles all over his body. He’s wearing low hanging shorts and combat boots, hair long and messy and partly blocking those mercury colored eyes of his.

Marco’s heart skips a beat and he feels the world burning around him.

Newgate doesn’t move, and half the ship looks towards them. Some in anticipation, some in fright, and some that are curious.

“Uh…” Marco starts, and suddenly all logic flies from his head. He’s got nothing to say, and he think he looks so stupid, sitting there with his mouth hanging open like an idiot he is.

A pining, love-struck idiot.

The Emperor side-glances at Marco, and one look at the blond’s face has him cackling at the top of his lungs, laugh ringing out into the seas and rocking the ship.

Indistinctively, it reminds Marco of that red-head’s laugh, and he makes a scowl.

“I don’t get it?” Ace says, smiling. He’s confused even more, and jeez, Marco is working up a sweat at this point because when did it get so hot?

“It’s nothing,” Marco blurts out, and he feels his embarrassment rising up to his cheeks and settling uncomfortably in his stomach. “Don’t worry about it, newbie.”

The freckled man pushes his hair out of his face with a swipe of his hand, and it flies back into his eyes. “I’m not that...that much of a newbie.”

A snort escapes the blond, and he smirks, when really his heart feels like it’s about to explode under that glare. “Whatever.”

Newgate’s in tears at this point with how red his face his getting, and how he’s slapping his thigh when he can’t laugh anymore, laughing in silence.

“So...are you going to...to tell me the joke, or what?”

“And why should I, hmm?”

Ace bites at his lower lip and raises an eyebrow, fingers drumming against an arm. “...because I asked?”

The blond’s lower jaw shifts, and he grunts. “We were laughing about how Thatch farts when he’s embarrassed.”

What!? That’s not true!” a voice cries in the back, and there’s a loud thump that shakes the ship. Marco turns to see Pops on the ground, curled up in a half ball, tears streaming down his cheeks and gasping for air. Ace stands in front of him, rigid as a board, and his face contorts into utter disbelief.

He likes that look in his eyes. It’s adorable, if he thinks about it for a moment.

Marco thinks he winged it.


“Land ho!”

It’s a summer island, and it’s the middle of summer. Yeah, it’s hot, and the entire ship of 942 people plus one captain are ready to just let their hair down if it means they can cool themselves down.

With a summer party.

It’s the newbie’s first party, and Marco knows from experience that it’s going to be wild. Some people might end up in the dunk for all he knows, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that he lays down the rules for the party to the guy, and maybe, just maybe, he can go in his room and pine after him for the rest of the evening.

Or maybe ask him for a walk in town?

It’s a lovely island, Honeysuckles Island, known for huge toucan birds cawing in tall palm trees with sticking branches that hold coconuts and bananas. There’s a few monkeys with blue fur swinging around, showing some of the crew around with little dances and small noises. The town’s large, with a festival going on in between their three-story tall marble columns of buildings. There’s streamers and lanterns hanging everywhere, even in back alleys, and all the doors are open and there’s people everywhere. Colorful paint are designed on the children’s faces and the adults have a little painting on their cheeks here and there.

It’s a nice atmosphere. Nice enough for a date.

“So, rule number one of parties. Don’t trust anyone here.” Marco starts, leading Ace on a tour of the humongous deck. “It’s all good, but when it comes to parties, it gets a little...unpredictable.”

“Oh.” Ace says softly.

They sidestep a few guys moving barrels into a small section behind them. Izo waves at them from a distance, and Ace waves back.

“Rule number two. No jumping off the railings into the water, devil fruit or not.”

“Why would I want...want to do that?”

“Long story. Rule number three.” he stops and looks out into the horizon, where the sun would be setting soon. “No fireworks.”

“Why not?”

“Another long story.”

Ace makes a confused face, but he doesn’t question it any further.

“Rule number four. No jumping off the Eye Tower. And last but not least, rule number five.”

He turns to face him, and their eyes meet. Marco notices that they’re awfully bright in the sunlight, and his freckles are darker than ever.

He feels his mouth going dry when Ace blinks slowly, mercury eyes never moving from his azure ones and his lips twist to the side. “So what’s rule number five?”

Marco blinks, and Thatch walks by, whistling a tune. He notices that the deck grew quiet, and everyone stopped moving, listening in.

“There are no such things as rules. Disregard them.”

“Favoritism!” someone shouts in the background. “That’s favoritism and you know it, Marco!”

He reminds himself to give them all extra work.

“So...what was…” Ace frowns deeply, and takes a deep breath. “What was the point of mentioning all...all those rules?”

To simply just talk to you, Marco wants to say, really, and he really wants to press himself close to him and just breathe him in, to just touch those freckled cheeks that look like stardust on his skin, to just get lost in those gorgeous eyes of his--

“To see if you were paying attention.”

Ace’s eyes narrow slightly, and he purses his lips together. “...o...okay.”

“Cool. So, just have fun and all.”

“...thanks.”

“But I was serious about jumping off the railings and the Eye Tower.”


As the party gets itself started, Marco tells Jozu and Thatch that he’s going into town with the others to see the Summer festival.

“Aww, going to think about your boyfriend?” Thatch teases, laughing and nudging at Jozu’s arm, who smiles.

“That’s double cleaning duty for you, Thatch.”

Jozu snorts as Thatch goes slightly pale. “I--”

“Anyways, no, I’m not going to be thinking about my boyfriend,” he turns and lifts a leg over the railing and heaves himself up to balance on it, preparing himself to jump off. “I’m going into town to look at the sights. There’s a festival, and I hear it’s pretty this time of year. So. Bye.” he waves.

The Third Commander smiles softly. “Have a nice time, Marco.”

"Thanks--"

“Wait!” a voice shouts, and all three of them turn to see someone running towards them.

Marco’s eyes widen when he realizes that it’s Ace--

“Ooh, a date~” the Fourth Commander sings, and Marco hisses at him to shut up.

The freckled man finally makes his way over and pants slightly, pushing his hair out of his face. There’s a light blush over his cheeks.

“Is...is it okay if I can come?” he asks in a soft voice, and Marco feels his face growing hot.

The two commanders look at him expectantly. Ace smiles awkwardly, and suddenly Marco’s breath is taken away in one swoop.

He starts to lean off to one side to look casual on one arm and not like a guy that’s trying too hard to win the freckled man’s affection over. He goes to answer, and the more he tries to form his sentence, the more lopsided his vision got.

His hand slides against the polished wood and into air, and before he knows it he ends up slipping off the railing and into the waters, making a loud splash that has Thatch cackling to the point of doubling over and Jozu bringing a hand up to his face.

“What happened!?” Izo asks, running over to where Thatch is leaning against Jozu for support. There’s more people following behind, and they look over the railing to see bubbles at the surface.

“I thought we weren’t allowed to jump off the railings?” Ace questions, scratching at his head.


After pulling a half-drowned Marco out of the warm waters, a nurse stops by and checks his pulse and confirms that he is in fact, alive, with a little water in his lungs. She notices that Marco doesn’t stop squirming when Ace comes in and asks if he’s okay. And the pining look he gives him when Ace leaves to go change his shorts for something more decent in case he gets some trinkets through the festival. And when she dismisses Marco, she looks back at him and shakes her head.

“Teenagers.”

When he gets to gain his energy back, he changes his clothes and decides that he’ll just take Jozu’s workload and push it onto Thatch while he’s changing. The Fourth Commander always complained he had nothing to do most of the time.

He writes the note on a piece of paper in humongous letters on his desk, and makes his way into town with a quiet Ace in tow.

The streets are crowded with people dancing and laughing and eating cooked food, and there’s flower crowns being given out. The music is loud and upbeat, and it gets Marco slightly nodding to the tune.

“Would you like a flower crown, love?” an elderly man asks them. “We have all sorts of flower crowns, for you and your date!”

Date?

He turns to face the man, pausing in their walk. “Date? What, oh, I--we’re just--” Now that he thinks about it, what are they? Friends? Allies? Comrades?

What?

“Sure!” Ace exclaims, and he reaches out to grab one from the man’s arms. It was a flower crown with nothing but sunflowers in it, and Ace turns to face Marco with a huge smile on his face. He looks giddy, and he left his hat behind on the ship, but when he puts the crown on top of his head and the sunflower petals obscures part of his vision, Marco can’t help but laugh softly at the goofiness.

Adorable, he finds himself thinking, and he  slowly feels at ease. More relaxed than he ever did while he was on the Moby Dick.

The freckled man giggles to himself, and the crown falls halfway down his face. Marco laughs when Ace curses at a petal hitting him in the eye, and really, Marco just wants to hold hands with him. Even though the blond’s laughing his lovesickness away, he realizes that the more he laughs, the bigger the warmth spreads through his chest, and the heavier the flowers grow in his stomach.

Ace manages to get the crown settled right on his head, and he turns to bow towards the man. “Thank you, Mister!”

“Please! All I’d like is to see such a nice smile on everyone’s faces!” they both laugh together, and when Marco and Ace turn to leave, they wave, and he waves back happily and gestures to another couple walking by.

They walk deeper into the throngs of the festival, and they weave their way in and out of the shuffling crowd. They eventually make it to the upper part of the street, where there’s a huge spacious area for a group of belly dancers dancing with open fire.

They both look on in awe as they dance with the fire with such expertise, and Ace pushes aside a few people to get closer.

“Marco!” he shouts over the crowd’s amazement at a flip over a twirling rope of fire. “Marco, look! Did you see that?”

Marco really didn’t, because someone’s elbow hits him in the cheek, leaving him with a dull throbbing. “Yeah, I did,” he lies.

“Oh, my gosh, look!” Marco shuffles closer to where he’s pressed against Ace’s side, and he notices that Ace was taller than him by an inch or two, at best. He feels an arm wrapping around his waist, and he jolts, pushing himself harder against Ace’s hip.

Oh, my god, please don’t get a boner, no boner, no boner-- he tells himself, breathing deeply through his nose. He feels himself growing hotter than the sun, and he forces himself to look away from that magnificent jawline to see the belly dancers whoop and holler in a native language. The fire crackles and sparks on their torches, with hip sways here and dips there. It’s swift, and gives an impact to the crowd, which cheers and whistles, and Ace howls along with them, his other arm flying up in the air. He’s laughing freely, and Marco is staring and he knows that it’s rude to stare at your crush, but all he feels is nothing but gushy warmth, and it gets lodged in his throat and he sees nothing but Ace . He feels a spark on his hand, and he realizes that it’s his devil fruit coming out.

The dance ends with a loud drum beat, and his heart skips a beat when Ace turns to look at him, eyes shining and cheeks flushed.

He’s realized that he’s fucked for good.

“I’m hungry,” Ace starts, and abruptly lets go of Marco. “I’m sorry. For hugging you.” he takes a breath. “I have a brother and we...we would always go to plays in our town and I would always hold him...hold him up to let him see better.” he laughs softly to himself. “Sorry.”

No, please, I liked the hug. It was warm. You’re really warm. So warm.

“I-it’s fine,” Marco stammers, and the blond kicks himself internally for stuttering. “We should...you know, go get some food. I’m sure they have something we’d like.”

“Yeah!”

They emerge from the crowd, and he prays that his blush wasn’t so noticeable to the freckled man. He touches his cheek absently to make sure he wasn’t on fire like his hand would have been earlier.

They walk through the streets, and a few turns here and there has them in the main area of town, inside a round courtyard, food carts and restaurants open and enjoyable for everyone. Lights are strung up everywhere with streamers, and vendors shout out the goods they have, from the local fish to the Hogbackers in South Blue, and Ace drools heavily at the endless list of food.

“I want everything!”

“We have to pay for it, you know.” Marco responds, and Ace turns sharply to look at him with hungry eyes.

“I want everything.”

The blond stares back at him. “Sure,” he agrees without a second doubt.


Three restaurants and 17 food carts later and negative 592 belis into debt, they both leave to walk back to the harbor, and the sun is setting. It leaves beautiful colors of violet and pumpkin orange on the calm waters, and as they walk down the street, they gaze out into the horizon, paddle boats sailing out to prepare for the lanterns being set off into the sky.

“I bet the sight is going to be gorgeous tonight. With the lanterns and the candles.” Marco muses, and melts at the thoughtful hum Ace gives.

“I never did the lantern thing. I heard...heard it was really nice, though.”

They’re closer to the harbor, and there’s a long line of people lining up to order boats and handmade lanterns decorated with flowers and symbols.

“...do...do you want to?”

Ace blinks. “What?”

“I mean, I have a couple of lanterns in my office, and,” Marco gestures with his arms, waving them around as he comes up with words, “I don’t know. I mean, it’s just, you know, collecting dust, and I don’t mind lending them to you.” he’s rambling at this point, and the look Ace gives him is blank, and it makes him ramble more. “If-if you want to, I mean. I...dude, I don’t know. It was just a thought. A thought. It’s cool if you say no.”

“Really?” he mumbles, and he looks on the brink of tears.

The blond starts to panic at the wetness in his eyes. “Oh my god, are you crying--”

“Thank you!” he gushes suddenly, and there are arms wrapping around Marco and the blond lets out an inhumane squawk that makes some people look over to him, and he hugs him back tightly just so he wouldn’t get dropped or crushed by this freckled brute. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” Ace pulls back far enough to show his glee, and Marco instinctively smiles back because god that smile is so bright and so happy it makes him squawk again, but softer. “Thank you, Marco! Hey, we’ll even...even use my boat! My Stryker!”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah!”

“Okay.”

There’s a warm hand grabbing Marco’s, and they run the rest of the way through the streets and into the harbor, fingers locked together and hair flying. Ace is holding onto his flower crown and pulling Marco along, and he turns back to smile at the man being dragged. The blond is feeling all sorts of emotions to where they overwhelm him, and he laughs with Ace if it means he can feel light and free when he turns into the Phoenix. He chooses to ignore the blue fire going up his fingers and into his palm, and just focuses on Ace’s figure in the fading light.

The sun is a little lower when they finally reach the Moby Dick, out of breath and pushing their hair out of their face. When they stand up to catch their breath, their eyes lock together and even though Ace’s cheeks are red from panting, Marco’s are on fire just from the genuine raw look he’s giving him.

“I’ll go get the lanterns.”

“I’ll get my Stryker.”

“We can meet back here in ten minutes.”

“Okay.” a smirk lights up the freckled man’s lips, and they climb up the ladder after one another.

Feet land on the deck, and Ace runs to the left as Marco darts off to the right.

“Oh, Marco--” Izo starts, running after him, papers in his hands.

“No time!”

“But--”

“Not right now!”

Marco kicks the door open to his office, and his eyes dart to the corner where the paper lanterns sit in a pile, and he manages to grab four without crushing them.

“What’s going on?” a voice questions, and there’s a crowd gathering at the door.

“I don’t know, but I’m really curious, guys.”

The blond rolls his eyes at the comments, and runs back out, the crowd parting for his way like the Red Sea. He’s running full on to the railing and jumps over it clearly, and lands onto the harbor, legs feeling like jello after he lands. He looks up from his crouching position to see Ace casually standing on his Stryker, hands fiddling with the bracelet on his wrist.

“Oh. Hey.”

The freckled man giggles again, and waves back casually. “Nice landing.”

“Practice.” he replies cooly, even though his legs feel like grains of sand and pain.

He walks over and looks at the boat. “Is that really big enough?”

“Yeah! I...I had it custom made for two people, so that way I...I can have more room for myself. Come on in, it’s really comfy!” he gestures to the space in front of him, and Marco steps in with the lanterns in his arms, the boat rocking gently.

“Are you ready, princess?” he coos, and Marco rolls his eyes dramatically.

“Why yes, my prince, I am.”

Did I really just say that?

Ace gives out a chuckle, and he sits first, and Marco sits in the space in between his legs, holding the lanterns. It’s a fit that makes the blond turn a bright red in the face, and he’s so grateful that Ace isn’t looking at him, because he’d be a mess.

The Stryker lurches forward, before setting off at a steady pace. He glances down to the lanterns and notices that they were plain, with decorative paper and not covered in flowers like the ones that were being sold at the pier.

“They’re pretty,” Ace comments over his shoulder, and Marco nods as the sea breezes through them. “Where did you get them from?”

“I stole them.”

There’s a chin sliding in between his shoulder and his neck, and a face presses close to his. “Stole them? You don’t look like a thief to me, buddy.”

His heart races in his chest and threatens to jump out of its ribcage and into the sea. “Don’t tempt me.”

A snort.

The sun is almost gone, where twilight is appearing, and Ace slows the boat to a stop. There’s a sea of small boats all around them, and they all have their own lanterns. People of all ages are on the boats, and they chatter excitedly as they prepare to light up the paper lanterns, big and small, into the sky. Children squeal in excitement and jump up and down, causing some boats to rock hazardly.

“I didn’t grab the matches.” Marco realizes, and he feels like he should just disappear into ashes.

“Well, that’s okay.”

The blond side-glances at him, and Ace pulls away, flower crown shifting backwards onto his head. The blond turns around completely so they’re face to face, and he sees a blush go across the freckled face.

“I...I am the match.” he says cooly, and a finger lights into a small, orange flame.

Marco blinks in awe. “A devil fruit?”

Ace looks at him with a pout. “Were...were you not listening? The whole ship boasted about...about it all last week!”

Huh. Well, that’s interesting. “Oh.”

“Just...just hand me a lantern. I’ll light it up.”

A lantern is passed to him, and there are fingers brushing up against the back of Marco’s hand as he holds it for Ace to light with his finger. Warmth blooms up his arm and throughout his body, and he feels so warm that his hand lights up in turquoise flames by accident, and a gasp escapes the freckled man.

“Shit,” he curses, and yanks his hand away, willing himself to just breathe, despite how his heart is just ready to implode from the touch. He hopes that he didn’t burn Ace, or ruined the lantern, or did anything stupid.

Ace’s eyes are wide, and the flame on his finger flickers. “Fire?”

“No!” he waves his hands around frantically, spluttering. “No! God, no, no, not exactly.”

Ace’s eyes look up at him, and the lantern is lit. And when they both let go--Marco to calm himself down, and Ace in awe from blue flames--it floats in between them like a will-o-whip, and slowly makes its way into the sky.

“I-it’s not actual fire. It doesn’t burn or anything. It’s just-just more of a light, if you will. I mean, it’s useful for signals in the dark and stuff. But it kinda sucks, because it doesn’t keep me warm as it should.” the blond rushes, making the fire go out on his hand, and mercury eyes light up in glee. “It’s just. A healing factor. Yeah, a healing factor. To be honest with you, I hate it.”

There’s a smile going across Ace’s face. “I like it.” Marco hears him mutter, and at this point, he’s ready to lay down his life if it means he can see the freckled man smile so warmly at him. “It’s pretty.”

There’s oohs and aahs going on around them, and more lanterns are being lit. Soon, the ocean becomes a field of floating lanterns with all sorts of flowers and dsigns, and the children shriek in excitement as the adults sigh in content.

And before the blond knows it, their lips are touching together. It’s soft, and cool to the touch, and Marco’s mind goes completely blank.

Ace was kissing him.

Ace was kissing him.

Ace pulls back, and his face is red from the lantern lights, and he’s rubbing at his arm shyly.

“Ace--”

“I...I shouldn’t have done that.”

“I like you.”

The freckled man stares at him for a long moment, and the shock settles in. “What?”

He blinks. “I. I like you. I like you. Jeez, I like you.” He’s rambling again, and he tries to stop, but he finds it that he just can’t. “God, I like you, Ace.”

Suddenly, Ace’s face blooms a dark red, and the flower crown shuffles forward to cover his eyes.

“Cute.”

“I-I’m not cute!”

Marco laughs for the first time that day, loud and bright and joyful. And when he calms down enough to look at him, all he sees is a blushing, stuttering Ace.

“I liked it.” Marco comments.

“Wh-what?”

“The kiss.” he’s smirking, and Ace’s eyes go wide. “I liked it. It was nice.”

“R-really?”

“Yeah.”

Marco grabs another lantern in between them, and holds it out for Ace. “I’d like to try again, if you’re accepting.”

“Yeah. Yeah...yeah, I can do that.” and Ace’s finger goes into flames again, but this time it’s brighter, and bigger. He reaches forward and grabs Marco’s hand, and the turquoise flames come up again, but they’re more calm. They’re not wild like before, and Marco feels content.

He likes this. He can live with this.

The freckled man mutters something under his breath, both hands going to the candle wick. The flames lick at the wick, and suddenly, the blue reaches out to the orange flames that radiate heat unlike his, and the wick is lit in blue and orange flames.

“Oh, wow.”

Ace is awestruck, too, and the lantern glows and settles in a bright blue, and they release it and watch it float into the sky.

“Mommy! Mommy, look! It’s blue, it’s blue, it’s blue!”

“A blue lantern? Wow!”

“Ahh! So pretty!”

“I’ve never seen one before!”

“What does it mean?”

An elderly woman chuckles fondly, and she looks at the child, and Marco is very surprised he wasn’t on fire. “It means that two spirits are in love, dear. The blue is for the start of a new love and a happy moment.”

The child gasps loudly, and looks up in the night sky. “Wow!”

Just from hearing that, Marco chokes on his own spit.

“A new love?” mercury eyes look into azure ones, and there’s a bright smile being painted onto his face. “I think we...we can work with that.”

Marco lets out a loud caw in embarrassment, and the freckled man cackles at the sound before leaning forward to capture the blond’s lips once more, their flames merging together. There’s a light purple flame over their linked hands, and even though it’s warm to the touch, it feels like the first warm day of spring after a long, harsh winter.

And Marco likes it. He really likes it, and he doesn’t want it to fade. He doesn’t want any of this to die off.

“Ace,” he starts after another kiss, the lump in his throat slowly disappearing.

“Yeah?”

He swallows, and though the grown flowers are now calm inside his stomach, they leave a memorable rush through his heart. “Starting tomorrow, you have dish duty.”

The horror on Ace’s face was priceless, and it makes Marco laugh again. It’s one of the many expressions he’d grow to remember.

And lovesick? It’s not that bad, now that the blond thinks about it, and being in love with Ace is something that would always keep him warm. Even if it means embarrassing himself at times and Ace laughs with him about it.

I can work with this.

And for the first time, he feels really warm and comfortable, with Ace beside him. The flames don’t separate to their owner’s colors for a while, even when they let go of each other’s hands to hug each other tightly and watch the light show together, heads touching and whispering.

Yeah. He can work with this.