Thatch laid in bed listening to the thunderstorm raging around the Moby Dick. He could feel the ship rocking back and forth and could only imagine how huge the waves outside were. He was thankful that, as a commander, he was never expected to have to take a look out shift.
He truly felt sorry for the poor souls that had to be out in this weather.
He turned on his side and saw the chest sitting on his desk. He still wasn't positive what fruit lay inside but he had talked to a few guys in the ninth division that had researched the different types of fruits and they were pretty sure that this one held the power of darkness.
He was sure that if that were the case he didn't want to eat it.
The Dark-Dark fruit.
It just sounded ominous.
The research guys said that if it were that particular fruit then he would be able to absorb things if he ate it. There were also a few rumors that the Dark-Dark fruit had the power to absorb and stop other devil fruits. If that were the case he didn't want that kind of power falling into the wrong hands and being used against them.
"Maybe I should talk to Pops about it?" he wondered out loud. He had a bad feeling about it. The more he thought about the stupid thing the more he wished that he had just thrown it into the ocean. Just looking at the chest was giving him the heebie-jeebies.
He jolted when there was a knock at the door.
He got up wondering who would be out of their cabin at this time of night. He opened the door to reveal Teach.
"Sorry to bother you commander, but I wanted to ask you a something."
He scowled. "It's past midnight Teach."
"I know. I'm afraid it couldn't wait."
Thatch sighed and ran a hand through his hair before gesturing the man in. "Alight then. Come in I guess. What can I help you with?"
The man came into the room and idly pushed the door closed. Thatch noticed with a frown that it was still slightly open. He hopped that it wouldn't let in too much water.
"Well I was wondering what you were going to do about that fruit you found."
Thatch shook his head in disbelief. It was late and he wanted to go to sleep. "Teach, this can wait until morning. Don't you have watch tonight?"
"Yeah. I offered to walk around the ship so that the other guys could get out of the rain."
"Then why aren't you on watch if you're the only one? Go do your job."
Teach grinned at him. "Well." He took a step forward so that he was now in Thatch's personal space. The pirate wondered idly if Teach had always been that big. "I was wondering what you were going to do about that fruit you found." He repeated and laughed.
Before Thatch could respond Teach punched him in the ribs.
His already damaged ribs.
He heard a sickening crack he was sure that his ribs were now fully broken.
Since when was Teach that strong?
He bent over trying to ward of the pain, gasping desperately for breath. Something was really wrong. He couldn't seem to breathe right. He looked up to see Teach still grinning with a look in his eyes that made Thatch sure that the man was going to murder him and that he was going to enjoy doing it.
It was then he noticed the knife.
Thatch rolled to the right trying to avoid the blow. He gasped in pain when the knife struck his back. Teach tore the knife out and kicked him down so that he was lying on the floor, gasping in pain. Teach laughed as he stomped on the wound before turning towards the chest that was still sitting on the desk. He grabbed it before turning back with a smirk. "Thank you commander. I can assure you that this won't go to waste." He left closing the door behind him.
Thatch wanted to scream. To yell. To hit the bastard his damn smug face. But he couldn't move. He couldn't even breathe properly.
It was then that Thatch started praying to every deity that he had ever heard of, none of which he really believed in, that someone, anyone, would find him before it was too late.
He didn't want to die.
As his vision grew blurry he heard more than saw his door burst open and in ran three small figures. He was able to make out three very familiar, very young faces staring at him.
Oh God. Please not them. Anyone but them.
He didn't want them to see this.
Luffy was going to have more nightmares.
Ace and Sabo were startled awake by a sound of distress. It wouldn't have woken them if they hadn't been expecting and waiting for it. Finding out that Luffy had stopped coming to them about his dreams was a distressing thought for both of them. Learning that Luffy had purposely slept on the floor as to not bother them was downright unacceptable.
He had tried to settle on the floor again that night but Ace and Sabo weren't going to put up with that. He had been firmly pushed onto the bed and then sandwiched between the two older boys so that they would notice when he was upset. They were determined to make sure that Luffy slept most of the night and this was the best way they could think of how to do it.
They both sat up quickly, Sabo grabbing Luffy's arm and shaking him awake. "Luffy you're having another nightmare."
"Sorry," he mumbled when he woke up enough to do so.
"It's alright," Ace reassured. He had felt really guilty about yelling at Luffy about his nightmares now that he knew that Luffy had actually seen when the snow covered him. He would have been terrified had their positions been switched.
"Was it the snow or the monster this time?" Sabo asked bringing his little brother into a comforting hug.
"Monster," Luffy said quietly burrowing into Sabo's arms. "It was big and dark and had a scary laugh. It ate Thatch."
Sabo looked at Ace. That was new dream. In the past two weeks they have heard everything from snow eating people, a snow monster eating them, a monster eating Shanks, among other things but they hadn't heard of a dark monster eating Thatch yet.
"We have to go see him!" Luffy exclaimed.
"Lu, it's late. We can see him in the morning," Ace said trying to push Luffy back into bed.
"No," Luffy pushed his brothers away and stood by the door. "I'm going to see Thatch right now. I've decided."
"There's a really big storm right now Lu," Sabo said. "If we go out we might be washed off deck and Thatch's room is on the other side of the ship."
"I'm going. You stay here." He opened the door only to have it slammed shut and to be dragged away from it.
"We're not going to let you go out in this alone," Sabo said and sighed when Luffy looked at him with his determined look that meant that he wouldn't change his mind no matter what.
"If you're going then at least put on some shoes," Ace demanded holding out his sandals.
"Right." He did as requested and soon his brothers were ready to go as well.
"Since we're going out in this, you stay in the middle so that if a wave comes it won't carry you away," Sabo told Luffy.
The boy agreed and soon they were making their way across the ship and towards the fourth division commander's room. They ran close together, keeping each other up right. A massive wave crashed into the deck throwing them into a wall, but they kept going. Ace and Sabo both knew that they should probably turn back, especially after the wave, but for some reason the need to see Thatch grew with each passing second.
"Zehahahah." Luffy stopped just as they reached the cabin.
"That sounded like the laugh from the monster," he hissed quietly.
Ace's face scrunched up in confusion when he noticed the door open slightly. He traded a look with his brothers before all three, with stealth they had learned while hunting creatures a hundred times their size, snuck up to the door. All three watched in horror as none other than Teach punched their friend in the chest.
Sabo winced at the crack he had heard when the fist connected.
Thatch was now bent over having trouble breathing. The large man didn't waste any time. With a look that Ace hadn't seen since he had been in the fire with Bluejam Teach drew a knife from his waist band and brought it down into the other man's back.
Ace got ready to jump into action but Sabo grabbed his arms and Luffy wrapped himself around his legs. "Let go," he hissed.
"This is the New World. Thatch is a thousand times stronger than you, and Teach just beat him," Sabo hissed back. "You go in there and you will die. We can help Thatch after Teach leaves. But we have to be alive to help him and if we try to fight we won't be able to help anyone."
Ace growled but didn't fight against the arms holding him back as the watched as Teach stomped on their friend's now wounded back, laughing again.
The pirate walked away from the commander and said something they couldn't quite make out.
Sabo's eyes widened realizing that Teach was about to leave the room. He quickly pulled his brothers away from the door and around the corner and pushed both his brothers against the wall, covering their mouths so they wouldn't make any noise. This man was dangerous and wouldn't hesitate to kill them.
He had just murdered someone he had supposedly been friends with for years.
What were three kids to him?
Sabo grew tense as the man walked right past them carrying the chest Sabo knew had the fruit that Thatch had been so excited about and a large bag. Luffy and Ace pulled him closer to them and all three dropped to the ground trying to become as small as possible so they wouldn't be noticed, each not daring to breathe.
They watched tensely as the hulking man quickly loaded a boat, climbed in, and then lowered it into the ocean. Not wasting any more time they ran back to the room and pushed open the door flying into the room only to stop and stare in horror. It was so much worse up close. Sabo was vaguely aware that the man was breathing and so he was still alive.
"Thatch?" Ace called in a shaky voice. His friend, his best friend, was lying there starring up at them. He was bleeding, a lot, gosh there was a lot of blood, and was shaking his head before he passed out.
Luffy was the first one to move. He wasn't sure what to do so he just fell to his knees ignoring the growing pool of blood and started shaking the man calling his name.
This caused the other two to jump into action.
"Luffy stop! We don't know how hurt he is. If you shake him you might make it worse," Sabo said urgently. "We need to stop the bleeding. Ace put pressure on the wound."
"Right," Ace said covering the wound with his hands.
"With the blanket!" Sabo yelled. The blanket would do better at stopping the blood than Ace's hand could. "Just move." The blonde pushed both brunettes away from the man and grabbed a blanket. Bunching it up, he put it on the wound and leaned against it with all his body weight. He really didn't know what to do next.
They needed help.
"Ace go get the doctor or a nurse or something!"
"Right." Without hesitation Ace ran out the door.
"Luffy go get one of the commanders," he demanded.
"Marco! Go get Marco!"
Luffy nodded once before running out the door and around the ship towards Marco's room.
Sabo was right; if anyone could help then Marco could.
He was running so fast he didn't have time to stop himself and he smacked into the door and was bounced back. He shook his head before sliding up to the door and pounding on it.
Marco had had a peaceful night despite the storm that was going on outside. He actually worked on some of the work he had put off earlier that day in favor of hanging out with the trio of brats on board. It had been fun.
He had even gotten to go to bed early and was having a very nice dream about a curvy blonde when a loud thump interrupted his dream.
He blinked wondering what that noise was. He looked around looking for the source of the noise. Someone started pounding on his door. He sat up confused. No one came and knocked on his door this late. Not even when they were under attack. He was generally left alone when he found time to actually sleep. It was a little annoying on the one night he had been able to get to bed early someone was trying to ruin it.
"MARCO! HELP! MARCO! MARCO!"
He stumbled out of bed and towards the door.
That was Luffy.
Luffy was at his door after midnight screaming his lungs out for help.
Thoughts of the last time one of the brats had woken someone up in the night passed through his mind.
Were Ace and Sabo okay?
He threw open the door and looked down. His heart stopped at the sight. There was sweet, innocent, happy little Luffy completely soaking wet, hands and knees covered in blood, and tears running down his face.
He fell to his knees frantically checking the child for any injuries. "What happened? Are you okay? Where are Ace and Sabo?" he demanded.
"Marco! Thatch is hurt! He needs help right now!"
"Thatch? Where is he?"
"In his room."
Confused about what was going on the commander scooped the boy into his arms and, ignoring the various crew members that were now exiting their cabins and looking on curiously he ran towards his brother's room. When he arrived he felt his heart stop for a second time.
Lyra was there with two nurses working furiously yelling out orders and getting ready to move Thatch.
He put Luffy on the ground before turning fully to the doctor. "What's going on?"
Alice, one of the nurses responded. "We're not sure. Ace said that Thatch was attacked and stabbed. We think one of his lungs was punctured. We need to perform surgery right away to repair it. Move." Marco was pushed out of the way by the other nurse and Thatch was carried out of the room and towards the infirmary.
"Marco, what's happening?" He turned to see the remaining commanders staring at him questioningly. Vista was standing in front of the others looking as confused as Marco felt. "Half the ship was woken up by Luffy and the other half by Ace."
"Thatch was attacked. He's going into surgery right now. That's all I know," he said shaking his head numbly. He couldn't believe it.
Thatch had been attacked while on the Moby Dick. The very idea seemed inconceivable.
One of his brothers had been attacked while he was home.
"Who would attack us in the middle of this storm?" Haruta asked angrily.
"I don't know." Marco heard himself say wondering who would be brave enough to sneak on their ship and attack their family. "Who's on watch? Maybe they saw something."
"Riley's on watch," Jozu informed. "So is Nathen and-"
"It was Teach," a quiet voice broke the conversation.
All the commanders turned their attention towards Ace who was now standing in the doorway. His hands were in fists. He was shaking and looked as if he were barely holding in his anger. Marco noticed that he too was covered in blood.
"Ace, that is a serious accusation," Izo said. "One that you shouldn't say unless you're absolutely sure."
"We saw him," Sabo said joining Ace. "He loaded up a boat with a big bag and he had the fruit that Thatch found."
"What are you doing here anyway?" Vista asked.
"Luffy had a nightmare about Thatch getting eaten by a monster and wanted to see him. He wouldn't take no for an answer," Sabo shrugged. "So we came and saw Teach on the way."
Marco narrowed his eyes. There was something that brats weren't telling them. Whether on purpose or out of shock he couldn't tell.
"What's going on?" a deep voice demanded. All the commanders turned to see their captain.
Marco stepped up. "Thatch was attacked. We have reason to believe that it was Marshall D. Teach of the second division that did it."
"That is a serious accusation. What evidence do you have?"
"Ace and Sabo claimed to see him fleeing the ship with the devil fruit that Thatch found earlier today."
Haruta came out of the room. "His fruit is gone," she confirmed
"Is Thatch alright?"
"As of now he's still alive," Marco said. "Lyra is getting ready to perform surgery on him."
"Very well. Ace, Sabo, Luffy." The three boys shuffled up to the giant man. "Are you positive you saw Teach leaving?"
"Yes sir," Ace answered for them not an ounce of hesitation or uncertainty in his voice.
"Get them cleaned up and bring them to my room. The rest of you I want you to do a head count I want names of everyone not on board. Make sure nobody else is hurt. If Teach is indeed missing then it is safe to assume that he is the one that attacked your brother. If Thatch recovers he will be able to confirm or deny this. Get to work."