Somewhere To Belong


Luffy silently followed Izo's as the man ushered them into a room with a big bath tub. "You three get cleaned up. I'm going to go find some new clothes for you. You can just leave those here someone will clean them for you. Or burn them." The last sentence was mumbled but Luffy still heard what he said. "I'll be back in a few minutes. If you need anything don't hesitate to ask anyone."

The door was shut leaving the three brothers alone.

Ace and Sabo immediately stripped and climbed into the large tub and both snatched a cloth and started scrubbing themselves clean.

Luffy grabbed a cloth of his own, dipping it into the water before rigorously rubbing the cloth on the back of his hand as hard as he could, hoping that the now dried blood would come off easily. He didn't really mind blood. He got hurt all the time so blood wasn't something he wasn't used to. But he really didn't like Thatch's blood on him. It reminded him that his friend was hurt and he hadn't been strong enough to help fight against Teach. He wanted to help Thatch but Sabo had been right. There was no way that they could fight someone that could hurt the commander.

"Luffy stop!"

The seven year old was shocked when he felt someone grab his wrist and stopped him from scrubbing.

He looked up at Sabo who was now pulling the cloth out of his hand. "If you keep that up you're going to make yourself bleed." Luffy looked down at his hand and noticed that there was no longer any blood on his hand but it was now a bright red and looked raw.

"Come on."

Sabo grabbed his other hand and made him stand up. He took off Luffy's hat and set it by the door where it would be safe. "You need to take off your clothes so they can be cleaned."

The small boy nodded before following his brother's orders. Sabo then led him to the tub and made him sit on edge. He guided Luffy's feet into the water and he instantly felt the effects of the water. He tried to pull his feet out but Sabo held onto them.

"It's alright. You're with me and Ace. Nothing is going to hurt you," the blonde reassured before gently cleaning the blood off of his legs.

After a few minutes there was a quiet knock at the door.

"Come in!" Ace called.

Izo opened to door with and placed a pile of clothes next to Luffy's hat. "I brought you something to wear. The shirts are going to be too big but they'll be good enough to see Pops and comfortable enough to sleep in." He frowned. "Is Luffy alright? He seems a little out of it."

"He's fine," Ace stated. "Just tired."

The pirate nodded. "Understandable. When you're finished I'll be right outside waiting to take you to Pops."

Sabo nodded. "Thank you for the clothes."

"No problem." With that the pirate left and closed the door behind him.

Ace pulled himself out of the tub and grabbed a towel and quickly dried himself off. He grabbed another towel before walking to Luffy and grabbing him under this arms helped him stand. Once out of the water Luffy felt his strength return. Ace dropped the towel on his head and Luffy used it to dry off.

As they were pulling on their over-sized shirts Luffy asked, "Why didn't you tell Marco that we saw that guy stab Thatch?" He had been wondering since they had told the commanders that they had seen Teach leave the ship.

Sabo and Ace traded looks before the blonde answered. "They might be mad that we didn't help Thatch fight. That I didn't let Ace help Thatch fight."

"That's stupid," Luffy mumbled. The others wouldn't be mad at them. Especially since it seemed like a lot of the crew, especially the commanders, were a lot stronger than they were. And Sabo had a good reason for them not to fight. Because they didn't fight they were able to help Thatch get the help that he needed.

"Like you know anything about it," Ace said before opening the door and stepping out of the room.

They found Izo leaning against the wall, eyes closed. Luffy thought he looked really tired and sad. The pirate opened his eyes before looking at them and asking, "Ready to go see Pops?"

Edward Newgate was heartbroken. One of his precious sons was fighting for his life and the only theory was that it was someone he had taken in, put under his protection, and considered family and loved had tried to kill Thatch.

He desperately wanted it all to be a nightmare. A lie.

He sat on his bed knowing that he wasn't going to get anymore sleep that night. Not while his son was fighting for his life. Not until he knew for sure that Teach had been the one to attack Thatch.

He heard a knock at his door and knew it was Izo delivering his three guests. "Come in!" he called.

"Hey Pops. How are you doing?" He smiled at his son's thoughtfulness.

"I'll be better when I know how Thatch is."

"I'm sure Lyra will send up a nurse soon to let you know what's happening."

"She's a good girl. She won't make all of us worry for long," he agreed.

Izo smiled at him softly.

"So where are the brats?" he asked. He was anxious to talk to them and hear the entire story from them.

"They're here," Izo said gesturing outside the door. The three filed into the room looking down. They were clean and thankfully there was no trace of blood on them. The old pirate didn't like seeing ones so small covered in the stuff.

He couldn't help raising an eyebrow at the choice of attire Izo had made. Each had on a too large shirt, his mark clearly visible on the front of each shirt.

"Just a thought," Izo said before leaving and shutting the door behind him. He chuckled at the boy's forwardness. It was obvious that Izo was sending the message that he wanted the brats to be part of the family. It's not like the captain hadn't thought about it but he had made a deal with Garp and he would not break his word just because he found the three cute.

He hadn't realized that Izo had an opinion on the subject.

'That brat,' he thought fondly before turning his attention fully on the three children in front of him. All three looked tense, exhausted, and emotionally drained. The oversized shirts made them look younger than he knew they were and he felt his heart go out to them.

"Relax," he told them softly. "I just want to know what happened tonight that's all."

They traded a look.

"Go on. You're not in trouble."

The two older boys traded looks before the full story came tumbling out. They told him about how Luffy had never felt comfortable around Teach. How the little one had a nightmare and wanted to go check on his friend. How they actually saw Teach attack Thatch before watching him leave the Moby Dick. They told him how they had found Thatch and how they had tried to help him.

He sat in silence until they were done talking.

He was shocked.

They had seen it happen.

They had actually witnessed and were able to describe, in detail, what had happened to Thatch. Someone they trusted and thought of as a friend had been attacked and they were able to keep a cool head during the entire thing.

"I'm sorry," Sabo apologized. The poor child looked close to tears. "Ace wanted to help Thatch fight off Teach but I wouldn't let him. If I had let him maybe-"

The captain cut off the boy before he could say anything more. "Thank goodness you stopped him. If Teach is able to take down one of my commanders then he is stronger than what he appears. If you had joined the fight we might not have found any of you until morning and by then it would be too late. If Thatch does survive it will be thanks to your actions tonight," he told them. They just looked at their shoes. "You all look tired. You may sleep here with me tonight."

"O-oh no. We really couldn't," Sabo protested.

"Yeah. We wouldn't want to bother you," Ace said.

"It won't be a bother. I offered."

"I don't want to sleep," Luffy pouted.

He studied the pale faces in front of him and then scooped all three boys up, laid down, and sat them on his chest hoping that it would offer enough comfort for them to settle down and get some rest. "If you don't want to sleep that's fine," he said. "I don't feel much like sleeping myself. How about a story?"

"What kind of story?" the smallest asked.

He smiled kindly. "Have you ever heard of Montblanc Noland the Liar?" They shook their heads. "I thought not. It's a story that they tell mainly in the North Blue."

By the end of the story all three youngsters were sound asleep. He smiled at them fondly. He enjoyed having them on his ship. They were entertaining to watch and his children, even those that didn't spend much time with the brats, enjoyed having the three around.

Everyone had nearly panicked when the avalanche buried Ace in the snow and it took so long to find him. The entire crew had celebrated after finding him under that rock, completely safe from harm.

His smile grew sad. They would be missed when they left. But until then he would enjoy having them around.

He was broken out of his thoughts by a soft knock on the door. It slowly opened. "Pops are you still up?" A quiet voice asked.

"Come in child," he said quietly. It was Iris, one of his nurses.

"I've come to update you on Thatch," she said looking at the three children on his chest.

"Go on," he encouraged keeping his voice low as to not disturb his sleeping guests. "Tell me what's wrong with him."

"Well, he was stabbed in the back. Luckily the knife missed the spine. He lost a lot of blood so we had to give him a transfusion. His ribs, which were cracked from the avalanche, are broken now and one pierced a lung. This is what Lyra is most concerned about. She was able to get the bleeding under control and is now working on repairing the lung. It is a little worse than we initially thought."

"Thank you for letting me know. Please keep me updated. I'll probably be awake for the rest of the night and even if I'm not please don't hesitate to wake me."

"Alright. I'll see you later Pops." She hesitated by the door before turning back to him. "Is it true what they are saying? Was Thatch attacked by someone on the crew?"

"We are doing some fact checking but unfortunately I am positive that's what happened."

"Oh. I'm sorry Pops. I know this must be hard for you."

"It's hard for us all child. But we will figure it all out. Now off with you before Lyra gets upset at you for being gone so long."

She smiled at him. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight. Try to get some rest when you can."

The door closed softly leaving him alone with his thoughts and the three sleeping boys.

Marco did his best not to stomp around deck and show just how angry and frustrated he was with the situation. His best friend, his brother, was attacked by someone, most likely Teach, and was now undergoing a surgery that would hopefully save his life. It was shortly after dawn and he had just finished checking his division and second division. Teach was indeed missing and was the only one in the first two divisions that was. He desperately wanted to go after the man and teach him a thing or two about what it meant to not only mess with his friends but to spit in the old man's face and take advantage of his protection and love. Just thinking about it just made him too angry to do anything but seethe about what had happened.

"Calm down," Haruta said walking with him as he approached Pops' door.

The information was gathered and now it was time to report. "After what happened, how can I calm down!?"

"Well getting angry about it right now is not going to help anyone." Haruta was probably right. He needed to clear his head before he did anything stupid. "So, is Teach missing?" Haruta asked casually as if the answer didn't matter to her.

"Yeah. The only one in first and second division unaccounted for. Anyone missing in your division?"

"No. I talked to some of the others and it seems like no one else is missing or hurt."

Marco let out a sigh. At least no one else was hurt.

They arrived at the old man's door and knocked.

"Come in."

They walked into the dimly lit room and saw the old man, not drinking like usual, but humming a soft tune. Marco felt bad when he noticed the three tiny forms curled around each other on the old man's chest. He had completely forgotten about checking to make sure that they were alright.

"Teach is missing?"

"Yeah he is," Marco confirmed.

The old man didn't look surprised as he nodded his head. "I have no doubt that he is the one that attacked your brother."

"I'll go start looking for him. He won't get away with this." Marco said. Second division was under his command right now so it was his responsibility to take the man out.

"No. I have a funny feeling about this. We will not be going after him. At least not yet." After the command was given the old man started humming again.

Marco stood stunned at what his father had just said. Someone had attacked the family and he wasn't supposed to go kill the bastard? "Alright." He would not question Pops on this. He would do as he was told and hopefully, eventually he would be able to go after the monster that had committed the ultimate sin on a pirate ship.

A distressed cry filled the room and Luffy sat up, tears in his eyes.

Marco felt bad for the little guy. How many nightmares had he had in the past few weeks? The events of the night would probably not help him either.

"Hush little one," Whitebeard soothed. "It was just a dream. Nothing can harm you or your loved ones while you're with me."

Marco watched in fascination as Luffy was able to calm down after the words were spoken. The little boy looked up at the giant man and silent understanding passed between them and a spark that Marco knew very well entered into the old man's eyes.

He had seen that look in his father's eyes whenever the man decided that he wanted something. He wanted the brats to stay. Hopefully they wouldn't have all of the marines after them when the old man got what he wanted. Marco had no doubt that they could take on the entire marine force if need be. It would just be annoying to do so.

"The sun is up," Luffy observed. "Do I have to keep sleeping?"

The old man chuckled quietly, as to not wake the other boys. "No, but you are more than welcome to stay."

"Is Thatch better?" he asked looking hopeful.

"Not yet." Luffy seemed to be distressed by this news. "I'm sure he'll be fine though," the old man reassured but it didn't seem to work.

Luckily Marco knew just how to distract the kid. "Hey Luffy, the cooks woke up early so breakfast should be ready by now. Want to go get something to eat?"

He perked up for a second but then looked down at his brothers. He shook his head and laid back down. "I'll wait for Ace and Sabo."

Marco didn't know what to do so he just nodded his head. He was sure that would cheer the brat up. "Well, if you're sure, I'm going to go see if I can get any news on Thatch. If you need anything Pops don't hesitate to ask."

"Thank you Son."

Arriving at the infirmary he noticed that the entire fourth division was sitting outside the door and looked as if they had been there for a while. There were many men from the other divisions including a few of the commanders, as well. It would seem that everyone was waiting anxiously to hear news on how their brother was doing.

Marco took a seat next to Vista and buried his face in his hands. He wanted to cry but refused to do so.

He wouldn't cry.

That wouldn't help anyone at this point.

And Thatch wasn't dead yet.

They sat in relative silence for another forty two minutes and twenty six seconds before the door swung open and Lyra stepped out.

Poor woman looked utterly exhausted.

She rolled her eyes at seeing all the men lining the hallway. "Don't you people have jobs to do?" she demanded hands on her hips before sighing. "Commander Thatch was hurt badly during the attack. He sustained multiple injuries. He was stabbed in the back, has some bruises, broken ribs, and a punctured lung. He is currently under sedation and intubated and will stay that way until his lung has healed enough to take him off the machine. He is still currently alive and I intend to keep him that way. Now get lost all of you because only Pops and the commanders are allowed in to see him for the time being. I have to go update Pops and when I get back I want all of you gone."

Marco let out a breath he hadn't been aware that he was holding.

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