Breakfast with the crew and Teach
Ace snuggled into the covers of the bed. Despite the fact that there was enough room for all three of them on the bed Sabo and Luffy (because Sabo reminded him that it was his idea) insisted that he have the bed to himself for at least a week.
He still couldn't believe that they were actually on the same ship as Whitebeard. The strongest man in the world. He was considered one of the greatest pirates in history and they were here. What made it even better was that He, Sabo, and Luffy were all on the same ship together. It was like a dream come true. One that he hadn't thought would happen. Sabo and Luffy had their own dreams and they wouldn't give up and that was okay because he wouldn't give up his either. But he was going to enjoy this while it was still happening.
Even though they were on a ship surrounded by potential enemies.
Gramps had made sure that they knew that they knew that the pirates were not to be trusted.
Not that he needed that lesson after Bluejam.
It had been an interesting two weeks.
They were left alone for the most part and the only ones that seemed to bother them were the stupid Pineapple Head and that Thatch guy. Marco showed up at least once a day to "make sure you brats are still alive". Thatch seemed to actually be interested in what they were up to- even offering to get them some spices from the kitchen for their fish that they would catch every day.
The rest of the crew would usually just stare openly as they walked past.
Overall it wasn't a bad set up.
It was just a little boring not being able to hunt or run through the forest to train. In fact their training had suffered since they had left with Garp for their journey to the Grand Line. He and Sabo were able to train now in day light, some of the crew members even stopped to watch and cheer them on occasionally. Luffy would sit and whine that he wasn't allowed to practice but it was necessary until Sabo and he were able to find a way to get to train Luffy without anyone seeing.
They didn't want anyone finding out about his abilities. Gramps had made sure to pound into their heads, physically, that no one could know about Luffy's powers. The old man told Sabo and Ace, in detail, what might happen to Luffy if anyone ever discovered that he was made out of rubber. From outright killing to slavery and less savory things, Garp had spared no detail about what might happen to their little brother should anyone discover what he could do.
Luffy of course didn't understand a word of it.
Ace and Sabo had taken it upon themselves to tell him every day not to stretch in front of anyone, otherwise he would be hurt and his brothers would be mad at him. It didn't stop him from wanting to train and develop his powers. Ace could tell that Luffy was getting frustrated but it was better to keep Luffy safe and a little unhappy today so that he could get stronger later.
He groaned as he sat up. He really didn't want to get up but he knew that in a half hour Luffy would be up and whining about being hungry and the longer it took to get something to eat the more annoyed he would get and eventually Luffy would probably end up through a wall or Sabo would be jumping into the ocean to save him. Ace really wanted to avoid that today. He got up, stretched, and grabbed his pipe and a rope for his makeshift fishing pole.
He was really getting tired of fish, but what else were they going to eat? There was nothing else. Sure Marco had told them to go the galley when they were hungry but Ace didn't want them relying on anyone for anything. He yawned as he sat on the railing and waiting for his first catch of the day.
"You're not going to catch anything," a voice informed. He looked around to see Thatch leaning against the wall.
"What do you know?" He rolled his eyes and looked back towards the ocean.
"Not much." The man shrugged. "But there were some navigators talking about a weird current and there not being any fish in the area and blah blah blah."
"A-are you serious?"
"For how long?"
The man just shrugged again.
What were they going to do? Luffy and Sabo were going to be up soon and there was going to be no food for the foreseeable future.
"No need to look so sad. It's not like you're going to starve."
"We can take care of ourselves," Ace snapped. "I've been doing it since I can remember."
Thatch was quiet for a moment before taking a seat next to the brunette.
"Nobody is saying that you can't take care of yourself. But you need to be smart. Eating fish all the time is not healthy. You need to have a well-balanced diet."
"We'll be fine. It's only for a few months. We'll survive."
"You know there is more to life than just surviving right?"
Ace turned towards him, confusion written all over his face. "We're alive. What more is there?"
The boy watched as the man next to him grinned. "Ever hear of a thing called fun?"
Ace glared at him. "Of course I have. I have fun all the time." He did have fun when he and his brothers were up in their tree house pretending to be pirate captains sailing the ocean and enjoying their freedom.
"Really? 'Cause you could have fooled me."
"You don't know the first thing about me."
There was another moment of silence before the man chuckled. "You're right. So how about you and I be friends? We're going to be on the boat together for a while after all."
Ace couldn't help but stare up at the tall man for a while before turning back to the ocean, slowly wrapping the rope around his pipe. Having a friend would be nice. Thatch was nice to him now. But if he knew who Ace really was he would hate him just like everyone else; he would throw insults and talk about how he should have never been born and tell him he didn't deserve to live. Just like everyone else.
Everyone but Sabo and Luffy.
Thatch would turn his back on him in an instant if he knew that demon's blood ran through his veins. After all, Whitebeard and Roger were enemies, so why wouldn't anyone on the crew want him to die.
"Hey, come on. It's not that complicated. We can be friends. It's easy. I'll show you and your brothers the galley, we'll all eat together and then plan how we can make Marco's day… more interesting."
Ace didn't respond.
"Come on it'll be fun. You won't have to spend all day trying to catch something to eat and then cooking it." Thatch paused. "The food is really good," he offered lamely.
The boy turned to see his blonde brother sending the pirate a confused look and then asking Ace if he was okay without using words.
"Good morning," he greeted the other boy.
"What are you doing up? Usually I'm the first one awake."
Sabo sat on the railing next to Ace, tying the rope on the end of his own pipe.
"I didn't want to hear Luffy whine so I thought I would try to get breakfast before he woke up but he," Ace gestured towards the man sitting on his other side, "says that there shouldn't be any fish in the area that we can catch today."
The blonde sat contemplating this. "Well I guess we'll just have to go hungry for today. Luffy is going to be disappointed." After a few seconds he added, "and annoying."
"What is wrong with you kids?" the pirate exclaimed. "We, no, I personally will not let you starve. If you starve then it's because there is no food left on this ship. Now once the little bouncy one is up we're all going to go to the galley and get some food."
"We don't need anyone's charity," Sabo stated coldly. Ace knew that he didn't like relying on anyone any more than he did.
"Not making you starve is not charity," Thatch informed. "It's common human decency. Something I get the feeling neither one of you have really seen before."
They both glared.
"Glare all you want but once Luffy's up you'll either have to eat or deal with him whining all day."
Ace traded a look with his brother before sighing and calling out, "Luffy time to eat!"
The little boy was up and standing behind the two in less than ten seconds.
"Wow that was fast," Thatch commented looking towards their now open cabin door.
"Food," he demanded.
"Well the fish aren't biting so we're going to go get something to eat in the galley," Ace informed hopping down from the railing and landing by Luffy.
"Food!" he cheered throwing his arms in the air.
Ace rolled his eyes and he and Sabo quickly stashed their pipes in their room and followed Thatch across the deck.
When they arrived they found a large room filled with picnic tables. Men were gathered around all the tables, talking and laughing as the shoved food into their mouths.
Ace looked at the scene with confusion. There was no fight for food. Everyone was just eating what was in front of them and seemed satisfied. But where was the food coming from? How much was left? Had they already fought over the food and the victors were enjoying the spoils? Would they even have to fight for their right to eat like they would at Dadan's?
"This way boys," Thatch called picking up four plates handing one to each of them and keeping one for himself. "Now, I don't know what you're used to but in the galley you line up, hold out your plate when you see something that looks good and then one of the cooks will serve you. You get one serving of four different things. It's a lot of food so try not to take more than you can eat. We don't waste food on this ship."
Ace and Sabo looked at each other and shrugged before walking towards the line of chefs and held out their plates. Food was food. They would eat what they could get and be happy about it.
"I can only get four things?" Luffy questioned looking distressed.
"That's right," Thatch answered. "Don't worry. It should be more than enough for you."
"But everything looks so good."
"Don't complain, Luffy," Sabo chided. "They are kind enough to feed us. You should get what you get and be grateful."
Ace nodded in agreement before taking his plate back from the chef- it now had a large helping of eggs, a couple of pancakes, a banana, and some hash browns. He licked his lips. He had only had pancakes and hash browns once thanks to Makino and he was looking forward to having both again. "Thank you," he said with a small bow, remembering his lessons.
The cook blinked and smiled. "You're welcome."
A similar exchange happened between Sabo and another cook.
"Can I have all meat?" Ace heard Luffy ask and he couldn't help but roll his eyes.
"No, you need something besides meat," Sabo stated. He then told Luffy what he could eat.
The cook dutifully dished it out. "Thank you," Luffy said with his famous grin as he took the plate back.
Thatch took his own food before leading them towards a mostly empty table.
"Marco," the man greeted as he slid on to the bench next to the blonde.
"What do you want?" the first division commander asked.
"What makes you think I want something?"
"Well not anymore," he pouted.
Ace placed his food on the table before climbing onto the bench opposite of Thatch. He took Luffy's plate from him and firmly sat it down before his little brother had a chance to spill it.
Marco blinked at them. "No fish today?" he asked.
"No," Ace answered bitterly.
"That's too bad." The man was too sarcastic for Aces liking and he was about to tell him but he was cut off.
"Hi, Pineapple Head," Luffy greeted loudly causing the tables around them to all howl with laughter.
"My name is Marco," he said with a sigh.
"Are you ever going to get it right?"
"Get what right?" Luffy asked cocking his head to the side.
"I'll take that as a no." He sighed again before looking over at Ace and Sabo. "So what have you all been up to for the past week?"
"Why even ask? You see us every day," Ace stated taking a bite of hash browns.
"Just trying to make conversation unlike you and your brothers."
Ace looked to one side and saw Luffy was too busy inhaling his food to talk, probably afraid someone was going to take it. To be fair someone might. Sabo was no longer paying attention to the conversation. He was looking off to the side while absent mindedly bringing food into your mouth.
Ace smirked. This was the perfect opportunity. He slowly inched his fork closer and closer to the blonde's plate and stabbing a sausage and quickly shoved it into his mouth.
"Don't you have enough?"
Ace silently cursed Marco as Sabo's head snapped to look at him.
"What did you take?"
Ace responded by quickly shoving his pancakes in his mouth knowing that would probably be the first thing his brother would go for. "You took my sausage," Sabo accused before tackling Ace to the ground.
Ace punched his brother across the jaw who responded by kicking him in the stomach. Before he could bite Sabo like he wanted they were both picked up, himself by the back of his shirt, Sabo by the collar of his coat and held far apart from each other.
"What are you doing?" Marco demanded glaring down at them.
"Ace stole my food," Sabo explained.
"You weren't paying attention, which means you're food is up for grabs. You know the rules," Ace stuck his tongue out at the boy.
"Don't steal food," Marco stated shaking Ace a bit.
"Oi, Luffy stop!" Sabo yelled angrily.
Ace's head shot to look at his younger brother who had already eaten half of both his and Sabo's food.
Luffy stuck his tongue out before taking Sabo's apple and taking a large bite.
Sabo lifted his arms so that he slid out his coat and launched himself at the younger boy. Ace used his feet to push his way out of the pirate's grip and joined Sabo in pummeling Luffy.
None of the boys noticed the shocked look on the pirates' faces and they watched the fight. Finally having enough Marco once again grabbed Ace and Sabo, and pinned Luffy to the ground with his foot.
"WERE YOU RAISED BY WOLVES?" He screamed.
All three brothers looked at him in confusion. "There is enough food for all of you. You don't have to steal from each other." He set both Ace and Sabo back on the bench and let Luffy go. "Now, since Luffy ate half of your food I'm sure he's full. You can finish his."
"NO!" Luffy instantly wrapped an arm around his plate and pulled his plate closer quickly shoving the food into his mouth.
"Don't eat like that, you'll choke!" Thatch yelled.
"No he won't," Ace said picking at the remainder of his food. Luffy had gotten the food fair and square and there really was nothing else he could do.
He noticed a small hand sneaking towards his plate. He took his fork and stabbed it into the table glaring at Luffy. "My food," he said firmly. Luffy instantly backed off and jumped up onto the table and turning so that his back was now protecting his plate.
"Get off the table," Marco scolded.
The seven-year-old pouted before doing as he was told and sitting back on the bench. Ace made sure that his arm was now in between his plate and little brother.
"Where does it all go?" he heard Thatch ask as he watched Luffy scoop food into his mouth. "He's already eaten enough for a grown man and he's still eating."
"Slow down Lu," Sabo said looking across Ace. "You're scaring people."
Luffy looked around before slowing down his pace.
"Good. Now that you're eating like civilized people, what was that all about?" Marco asked. Thatch was still watching Luffy with a look that was somewhere between awe and disgust.
"It's breakfast time," Ace said sure that would explain everything. He turned to Sabo. "What were you looking at anyway?"
The blonde head turned again looking around the room before snapping back to the pirates that were sitting across from them.
"Is that really a fishman?" Thatch and Marco, both of whom seemed to tense up and looked at the boy.
"Yes," Thatch answered slowly almost defensively.
"I never thought that they actually existed, let alone that I would actually see one," Sabo said looking over at the other table where a shark man was sitting talking to the other pirates.
"His name is Namur," Marco informed with a guarded look.
"Do you think he would talk to me?" Sabo asked. It was very hard to tell for anyone that didn't know the blonde well but he was excited. "I read about them in different books. I read that they were just animals with the brains of a fish. I would love to meet one to find out what they're actually like."
"Actually like?" Thatch questioned looking interested.
"Well, if there is one thing I've learned in my life it's that you can't trust everything that you read in books, especially the one written by stuffy nobles, or are taught by them. I figure if he's on this ship then there is no way that anything I read about them could be true."
Thatch and Marco relaxed a little and were both smiling now. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind meeting you," Thatch said.
Sabo looked openly excited about the idea of talking to Namur.
"Nah, Sabo. What's a fishman?"
"I'll explain it later Lu."
"Commander Marco, Commander Thatch, good morning," a deep voice greeted as another man joined their table.
Ace looked up to see a rather large, hairy man with missing teeth sitting next to Luffy.
"Good morning Teach," Marco greeted with a smile.
"So these are our guests," Teach said smiling down at them.
Luffy didn't jump up and introduce himself like Ace had expected. Instead he scooted closer to his brother, getting as close as he could. Normally Ace would shove him away but he noticed that Luffy was shaking slightly and had also stopped eating when there was still food on his plate. That was not like his little brother at all.
"Lu, you okay?" he asked so that no one else would hear him.
Ace watched as his brother looked between him and the large pirate next to him and then nod slightly looking nervous. He looked as if he was going to back away from his brother but Ace simply grabbed Luffy's plate and slid it so that it was back in front of the smaller boy. "Finish eating. We don't want to waste food."
Luffy picked up his fork and ate at an even slower speed. His eyes kept sliding back towards Teach, who would just smile his way. Ace made a mental note to ask Luffy what all that was about later as he took a pieces of bacon off his brother's plate. He was shocked when Luffy just watched him take it.
There was definitely something wrong.
Ace and Sabo kept up a conversation with Thatch and Marco until they were done eating. Thatch then asked Ace if he wanted to go play a prank on one of the other commanders. Ace had never really played a prank so he jumped at the chance and all thoughts of Luffy's strange behavior left his mind.
It wasn't until later that night when they were getting ready for bed that Ace remember the incident at breakfast. Sabo was sitting at the desk writing in his journal and Luffy was bunching up blankets on the ground into a nest sort of thing. He didn't realize it until that moment but Luffy had been acting strangely all day. He had kept close to either him or Sabo and had been less talkative than what they were used to.
His brother looked at him, cocking his head to the side questioningly. "What happened at breakfast?"
Sabo paused in writing to look over at Luffy too.
"What do you mean?"
"When that Teach guy sat next to you, you started acting weird," Ace said.
Luffy scrunched up his face as if he were thinking about something really hard. "You mean the beard guy?"
"Yeah him," Sabo confirmed.
Luffy shivered. "I don't like him."
Sabo and Ace traded looks of surprise. Luffy had only said that he didn't like bandits and after what happened to him before they met they couldn't really blame him for that. But he had only just met Teach and he said he didn't like him. That was unheard of. Luffy liked everyone. Luffy had liked him and Sabo even when they said they were going to kill him.
Instead of saying anything Ace gathered a few of the blankets from the floor and Luffy's pillow and threw them onto the bed. The little boy took the hint and climbed in and smiled when Ace settled in next to him. His smile grew as Sabo also joined them. It was a bit of a tight fit now but that was okay because Ace didn't mind sharing with his brothers.
"Why don't you like him?" Ace asked quietly once they were all in bed and settled with Luffy in the middle.
Luffy scrunched up his face as if he were trying to think of the right words. He finally settled on, "He didn't feel right."
"What do you mean?" Sabo asked.
"I don't know. He just… didn't feel right."