Chapter 2: Love
Marco had been alone for a long time. While he had a family surrounding him and a father figure he could look up to, it didn’t make himself any less alone in his mind. He had always kept his distance from everyone, kept them at arm’s length and away from any damage they might have done to his heart. At the end of the day, no matter how many people surrounded him and made him smirk and chuckle and worry, he was alone.
He knew there was once a long time ago where he craved the acceptance and love of others, knew there was once a time where he knew what true companionship was. It had been decades though, so many centuries had passed that his memory had long since faded and the ones he held so close where forgotten. He accepted that he would never find the closeness he once craved as a child with another human being for he knew that it would be like a blink of an eye before they were six feet under the land he walked on. Time flew too fast for him to not make it seem like a fleeting moment.
So with that understanding that he would forever live and not be able to find a closeness he once craved so badly for, he grew afraid of it. He was terrified that he would find something like that and lose it within the blink of an eye because he would not be able to follow them when their time came. And since he had no fear of dying, it was replaced with being forgotten. He was petrified with fear at the very thought of being forgotten when he finally did find a way to die. If he managed to find a way to end this long lasting life of his he, at the very least, wanted to be remembered by someone.
He wanted to make sure he didn’t fade into the void like so many great people did.
Oyaji could sense this deep fear within him, could tell at a glance that the connection to someone who would die before him and forget him was his greatest weapon against himself. It didn’t matter how many brothers and sisters that came aboard and made friends with him, they knew something was off when he would stare at the sky and the sea but never really knew what had bothered him so much.
And then Ace was suddenly there, looking at him with eyes so clear and staring at him so much that it felt like he could see into his very soul and into his heart.
It frightened Marco more than anything before.
He tried to stay away from the being that seemed so intent to stalk him wherever he went. He kept his distance and was always kind but firm when speaking to him in any way unless the situation called for it. He was professional in every way when speaking to the younger man and kept out of his way most of the time and didn’t bother him unless it warrant it.
Marco didn’t seem to be able to get rid of Ace no matter what though.
Ace had no idea why he was so fixated on the first division commander when all the older male did was avoid him at all coast. It was like this since the first time they had met; not even that truthfully. Ace had been close to borderline obsession since the moment he laid eyes on the blonde. He didn’t know why he constantly searched for the other man in his free time nor did he want to know. He was enjoying being in the other’s company, but apparently Marco didn’t feel the same.
At any point of the day when they were together Marco kept his distance and spoke politely and with a blank face with cold eyes on at all time. Marco never once touched him in any way, shape, or form to relay he had any interest with the younger man and yet Ace couldn’t seem to forget him in any way.
When Marco finally did touch him he was in threat of falling overboard and Marco had grabbed his hand before he could go over the railing. And when he had Ace felt his fire coil in his belly and warm him, sparks flying from his finger tips and a desperate need to hold onto this warmth that was right in front of him because it felt like he was never going to see it again. He wanted to grab hold of his flame and never let go because if he did his fire would be lonely and cold and he couldn’t stand the very thought of letting anyone else having it besides himself.
It was no longer just an obsession, it was a part of his very being to watch where ever the blonde went.
He saw Marco’s devil fruit three months later, and he was lost.
It had been during a fight with an admiral and fifty battleships on the opposing side. The admiral had gone for Oyaji’s head and suddenly Marco isn’t the Marco he knows and he can’t help but want to back away because this Marco will tear his enemies a part and didn’t need any distractions. The blue flames are suddenly there and he can do nothing but watch as the cool and collected first division commander is turned into a raging beast that can’t be caged and wants blood more than anything, and he wants that blood to be spilled on his hands because he won’t be satisfied for any other reason.
And then he transforms and Ace is so entranced that he doesn’t notice that the battle is already won because he’s too busy staring at the being in front of him that is ensnared with bright blue and golden flames.
It’s no longer just an obsession nor a part of his daily routine, he’s in love and can no longer think about anything else but the Phoenix that just burned his spot into Ace’s heart.
It’s a week later that Ace is finally able to see something besides the cold front and what he sees is enough to break his heart into pieces before remembering that Marco would kick his ass into the ocean if he pitied him and not let anyone fish him out. What he saw was a man that was shattered and his trust in others destroyed and his heart scarred with gashes that were done with horrible healing and an equally horrible patch up. But he also saw a man that was willing to keep going on with the heavy wounds that should have killed him for his families sake, just so they wouldn’t be left alone.
And suddenly when Marco turns to Ace his eyes are no longer a cold icy blue he had known until this point but a warm blue that can make the sea and sky green with envy.
He doesn’t know how it came to be like this, doesn’t really remember who made the first move but suddenly they’re kissing and fire is dancing around them and Ace can’t thank whatever deity out there enough for letting him talk to Marco in his room about it because then they would have been interrupted before they could even start. Marco’s strong, warm hands are everywhere and for once in his life he truly feels safe and loved and knows that he is feeling the same way because he can see it in his eyes and feel it with every move he makes.
He feels like he’s suffocating and never wants to breathe because if he does he fears this will break and he won’t ever be able to get this moment back. He wants to claw his way into Marco’s heart and never let go because he had long since decided that Marco was his and he wasn’t going to go anywhere because he couldn’t bear the thought that anyone else would have his place. Marco was his flame and his fire, Marco held his heart and if he was right then he wasn’t going to give it back anytime soon unless Ace himself asked and he would never do that because it would mean that he no longer wanted Marco and that was never going to happen. He wanted Marco for the rest of his life and after because god damnit nothing else mattered to him more than he did.
But it was like Marco said, the time they had together was gone within a blink of an eye because not long after Ace was going after a traitor that nearly killed his brother and he couldn’t stand for that to go unpunished.
He never saw the way Marco eyes had darkened after he left, nor did he see the tears he had held back in front of everyone.
Because if he had stayed one more day he would have seen the scars that suddenly appeared on Marco’s body that no one could see thanks to his clothes that covered them.
He would have seen the scars of a man that had tried to kill himself.
After Ace had went to go hunt down the bastard Blackbeard (AN: which personally ticks me off because neither BB nor WB have beards!!!), they healed their brother and continued on with life, waiting for their youngest to return home. They didn’t notice anything wrong with the first division commander, didn’t really register his shakiness and tired eyes that grew more pronounced as the days wore on. Of course they all noticed but all of them thought it was worry for Ace, and while it might have been true it wasn’t what was causing him agony.
Because every night since Ace had left the ship one by one his injuries reopened itself, slow enough to be healed by his devil fruit power yet fast enough to feel the pain as well as the scars to settle hard enough to be there but not hard enough to see from a distance.
Whatever the reason was, his immortality was fading, and he couldn't imagine a worse time for it to do so.
Ace had just been captured by Blackbeard, and sent to Impel Down.
War was coming.