Chapter 3: Pain
He never felt so helpless in his life.
He watched as his siblings died around him while he was unable to do anything because he could barely move with the blasted seastone handcuffs on his wrist. He could hear their hearts slowing down and not being able to do anything to stop it even as Ace ran with his younger brother towards the sea. Then Oyaji almost said those damned words, but before he had he had seen the glint in Marco’s eyes and knew that he couldn’t rid himself of this world yet because the Whitebeard Pirates would suffer a defeat they may not recover from.
He had felt it settle into his soul the second he was chained. He felt Fate make her decision, felt her choice settle in his bones and wrap him in a cocoon that made him want the wish he so desperately kept hidden from everyone. He wanted so desperately to grab hold of what Fate offered him but knew there was always a price because Fate didn’t give things for free.
If he wanted it, he would have to do it with possibly hurting everyone he cared about around him.
He decided with the way things were going, it would be his pleasure just to see them off this thrice damned island even if he wasn’t leaving it with them.
That was okay, he had long since prepared to go to Hell.
He might even welcome it over Heaven.
After all, what adventure waited him in such a place where good people went? No fun at all.
And then he saw something that made his heart stop cold and his world stop for an instant before he was moving.
Because Ace, Ace; the one they had come to save, was in threat of dying. And in front of him was an imagine that was not going to happen even if he had to relive how he should have died more than a billion times. No one was getting close to his flame that was so afraid of the darkness that had, and still is, surrounding Marco to make Ace feel the same way. He remembered that fear, remembers the hatred that came with the darkness because you thought you weren’t worth anything to the people around you and all you wanted was to protect them even if it meant losing everything in return. The darkness ate at you until you were nothing but a mindless puppet and willing to die on a whim for those who tried to play god. And it was more likely that Hell would freeze over before they got to his flame that shouldn’t be anywhere near the disgusting matter.
And in that instant he knew he could never have been happier. Because even as his pride was burned out of his chest, even as his organs were burned into mush and the screams of his siblings rang in his ears, he knew the reason why he had to stay alive for so long in weight crippling agony for more than a millennium. When he had stood in front of his wife’s grave and waited and waited for something he could not know, he had been waiting for Ace because it didn’t matter how many relationships he took up, Ace was the only one for him and while his wife was his best friend so long ago, she was not the love of his life and never would be because that spot in his melted heart was taken and could never be given back.
When he looked into the eyes of his soon-to-be killer for the first time he couldn’t help but feel a burning hatred because while he was grateful for the end of his time on this world he had tried to put out his fire and that was not okay. His phoenix raged and thrashed because even it knew that if this bastard didn’t come with them into the next world he would go after his family and he would go after Ace until the day they both died. And as Marco, as the first division commander as the Whitebeard Pirates, as Ace’s lover, as a Phoenix, he could not allow that and he no longer gave a damn about the ability that was lost in time and that no one was able to use it anymore because this would get them all out of here and leave him behind because he wouldn’t be leaving with them.
So he spoke the last words to strike fear into his enemy because his last words were going to be for his family and making sure they left him behind because it was too late for him and even though his phoenix was sad, both of their times had long since run out and it was time to go on to the next world where he would wait for them and had people waiting for him.
Because it was time to say goodbye to the only people he had ever known to show unconditional love for him.
“Did you know…” he could literally feel the stares in the back of his head and the screams that weren’t in the air in his head and couldn’t help but think goddamnit why are you just standing there? Leave! as his voice echoed around the battlefield because even they could tell something wasn’t right. “…that when a phoenix dies, an era ends?”
Akainu, the red dog of the marines, looked at him and asked if he was breaking under the pressure of dying. Marco chuckled, because he could no longer laugh without large amounts of blood overflowing his ability to speak and he would need it to bring this dog’s end. And he whispered, though he might have shouted it because anyone with ears could hear it, that he had waited for his death for more than five hundred thousand years, he could wait a few minutes longer.
“And when a phoenix is reborn, a new era begins. I’m not about to let you enter the new era. You’ll die in this one.”
And then everything is a blur and he’s shouting at the person he called Oyaji to leave and take care of his siblings because he is no longer able to because he’s an old man and that he is still a brat and he’ll damn the entire world before someone younger than him is killed because while he might have seen him as a father he was also his son in a twisted way that probably would never make sense to anyone but him. And then he’s leaving, with everyone on board and the lava bastard is right there and almost looking ready to rip past him to get to the others and he speaks the words that were burned into his mind the moment he was born because it had always followed him. Green light crackle at his fingers and his palm and he can’t help but wonder if the blue eyes that he has had for more than a hundred years is back to the green that bare a resemblance to the very curse that is able to leave his lips because he’s going to go in flames as he dies taking out another person that could harm his family.
Ace can do nothing but watch as the love of his life bursts into blue flames that are different because it means it’s the end and he can’t watch but he must because he has to memorize everything as his beautiful bird dies so he doesn’t forget him for even a moment. He forces himself to watch because there’s still that loving look in his eyes that he can see even from here that is for Ace and no one else and the smile that lights up his face, for once no longer stressed and pained but one of peace as if he had never known it before in his life as he goes up in flames and his opponent dies in a flash of green light and he can hear the screams around him crying because Marco is gone and he has always been there with his tired eyes and weary smile and his calm presence and they can’t believe that he just died.
When he comes out of it they’re miles away from the battlefield and everything is calm even if the air is filled with sadness and heart wrenching pain that can never heal because the only person who can heal it is the person who caused it. And when he searches through their (never his, because it’s theirs and nothing is going to change that) room for anything that Marco left behind. He finds a journal that is old and ragged and so torn up that it’s not hard to believe that it’s more than a hundred years old. And then he opens it because goddamnit there might not be anything closer to him than what is inside this book that’s clearly in his handwriting.
And so he reads.
I have no idea what has happened to me. I have stopped aging, cursed to look the age of twenty five forever. I have seen the looks they send me, I have seen the looks of disgust and mistrust even as they try to desperately to hide it behind a smile that’s not real. I have to watch as my younger wife grows older and as my children have children, getting older and not stuck in time. I have to wonder, what have I done to deserve this misery? I have played the part of a puppet for Fate, I have dealt with everything she has thrown at me, and yet she repays me with an ability I do not want. Please, someone, kill me.
They have betrayed me. The people that were my friends, my family that I built with my own two hands, were never on my side. I could have dealt with the fact they just wanted money or power, but they knew what I fear more than anything. I’m an idiot to trust easily and give my heart to someone who acts as if they want my best interest when really I am just a useless tool that has played the part in a play. I hate them.
I have watched my ‘friends’ die all around me, I have watched as they have turn their backs on me in fear of what I am and I have watched the world change in so many ways that I cannot recognize it any longer as the world I was born into. Its hurts to know that in this world of mine that no one but I can understand that I am alone. I have decided that one hundred years is enough for me, more than enough and that I am ready to die.
I tried and I tried and I tried but no matter how many time I slash at myself nor how far I fall my skin heals itself, the bones mend back together and blood pumps faster to get more into my system. I have tried to drown myself, I have torn my limbs apart and slowly tortured myself with starvation in hopes that it would end. I have done everything to join the others in the afterlife but it doesn’t matter because I can never die when the only thing I want most is my suffering to end. It’s a curse and I wish for just once that something would come my way in life so it doesn’t just fuck me up later.
Entry One-Hundred and Twenty-Eight:
I have come to the realization that I cannot die. I have a purpose here and I need to fulfill it before I die. The problem is that I have no idea what I am supposed to do. I am waiting and waiting but Fate has told me it is not time yet and it will me so long before it is. So I have decided to learn everything in hopes that when it does come I will be ready. I have learned everything that might and might not help me in the future, and I can only hope that it is enough when the time comes.
Entry Three-Hundred and Fifty-Two:
Dear Who Ever This May Concern,
I am sorry that you have had to sit through my rambling without a proper introduction or an explanation. I guess I should start, but remember my memories have faded with time. I no longer remember names or faces, just the story and the emotions behind it. I have no idea why I have suddenly decided to tell you, why I am writing in the first place. I can’t even be sure if anyone is reading this and not just rotting away with the passage of time. I guess, before I forget even the story, I need to tell it so I’m not completely gone.
The world has ended, but that doesn’t matter much to me though. My world ended when I was twenty five, I only realized it when I was fifty. The world I lived in is probably very different than yours. We’re a time where the world is more land than water. I guess I should tell my story from the beginning. I was destined to die before I was born, a mass-murder was sweeping the land in hopes to kill everyone he didn’t deem worthy to live. After my parents were killed, I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle, spiteful people who hated what was different than the normal. There I was raised as a slave, hating myself as well as them. When I turned eleven I was given a chance to be away from them, away from the ‘normal’ that never fit me. I gained friends, and those friends became my family. But every summer I was sent back to those people, while they schemed the next role in my life. I killed the mass-murder at age seventeen, and moved on with my life, marrying my best friend’s little sister. As everyone grew older around me, I stayed the same. I did not age, I did not die, and they grew afraid of me. I watched over what remained of my family until the end came, and that’s when I learned the truth. The friends that I had weren’t friends, but puppeteers who ruined my life. And even after so long, after the anger as burned out and the hatred as turned to embers, I still cannot forgive them. I cannot forgive them for breaking my trust in people. And if you haven’t already guessed, I am immortal.
Entry Four-Hundred and Seventy-Three:
This world is bright and full of water, so very different from my time. I have gained friends and allies in the people who have called themselves the Clan of D. They have taught me what they know, the language they speak. And I cannot be anymore grateful for them for easing my loneliness.
Entry Five-Hundred and Twenty-Six:
The Clan of D went down in flames, with only a map in my hands to remember them by. ‘Eat the first fruit that blooms on the tree, and never eat another.’ I went to search for the tree, and found it. And just like they said, the fruit that was heart shaped, blue the base color and golden swirls lining it. I ate it, because it was the one thing I would to connect me to them. And I gained a companion, a phoenix that is always with me, has become a part of me, for all eternity until we die.
Entry Six-Hundred and Thirty-Five:
I have decided to go on a hunt once more, a hunt for a way to die. And on that hunt, I met a man. A man that calls himself Edward Newget. Newget, a nutshell. Wonder how similar they are.
Entry Six-Hundred and Fifty-Eight:
He has finally convinced me. After three months of bugging me, he has earned my respect and gained a first mate. I am his son, a word that not even my own father could utter before he died. It’s funny, if you look at it. I am over five hundred times his age, and yet he is the father in our crew.
I haven’t written in a while, Roger passed away twenty years ago and the world seems to be in chaos. I wonder, will the world end from just one man’s words? I sort of hope so. It could be something exciting to see.
Entry Seven-Hundred and Twenty:
A new rookie has come to take Oyaji’s head, and he continues to do so. We’re all just waiting for him to give up so he can join. But to be honest, I’m not sure he will.
Entry Eight-Hundred and Thirty:
Ace…I can’t describe Ace. All I know is that he is unlike anyone I have ever known. His father, his birth father, loved him more than anything yet Ace can’t do anything but hate him because he never knew him. It’s a sad tale all around.
Entry Eight-Hundred and Forty:
I love him. Whether I get the chance it or not is something I won’t ever know. I love you, Ace.
Entry Eight-Hundred and Sixty:
I’m dying. The immortalty that I was granted has been fading ever since Ace left the ship two months ago. And it’s the worst time. Ace, my Ace, was sentence to Impel Down.
Entry Eight-Hundred and Ninety-Nine:
I plan to die on that battlefield, I can only hope that they forgive me.
It took more than a week to read every word Marco wrote down. His words of agony deeply touched Ace, made him want to smooth out his worries and take the ache in his stead. And by the time he was done reading the whole damn book, he had wrapped himself up in their covers and cried.
He laid in bed for hours, wrapped up in his sent because there was just no way that Marco, Ace’s flame, his fire, his love of his life, was gone and never coming back. He could feel the faded lips of the Phoenix, could feel the lingering hands that caressed Ace’s body to his. Ace could almost feel Marco’s arms around him, shielding him away from the world, protecting him. All he wanted to do was burry his head into Marco’s neck and breath because he would always calm Ace down. He could smell the ashes, the ocean, the sky and pure freedom that it almost hurt to be away from.
It hurts, because it didn’t matter what he looked at. All he could see was the bright eyes of the sky.
And be forced to realize that freedom was no more.