The Auction House
Luffy sat in his cell, knees pulled up to his chest, waiting for his turn. He didn't really understand what was happening. All he knew was that he was a slave now, or would be soon, and that Ace and Sabo wanted him to wait for them to come and save him and to just be good and listen.
He didn't want to do that.
He wanted to escape and go find his brothers. He already missed them.
It had been hours ago when Darius had come into their cell, gagged Luffy, and fastened a sea stone cuff around his ankle, just like Ace's, before stuffing him into a sack. The last time he had seen his brothers they looked really angry, but mostly they looked scared and Luffy didn't like that.
Darius had taken him to some strange building and he was dumped onto the floor in front of some weird guy with strange clothes and the adults started talking about money. While this was happening someone had took his clothes and held him down while another guy put a collar on him before pushing him into a cell.
He hated it.
If this was how life was going to be like until Sabo and Ace found him, he wasn't going to stick around. That was for sure. It was boring, the people smelled bad, and the stupid collar was really uncomfortable and he got yelled at by one of the workers every time he pulled on it to make looser.
"This is stupid. I hate it here," he mumbled to himself.
"Shut up kid," the guy next to him said softly. "None of us want to be here so shut up."
Luffy stuck his tongue out at the man but kept quiet.
A few minutes later the guy that had told him to shut up was gone and if it was anything like the others, he wouldn't be coming back.
"Number fourteen, you're up," one of the workers said as he opened the door to Luffy's cell and grabbed the chain that was connected to his collar. He winced as he was pulled forward. They walked through a door and Luffy was backstage. The man reached down and undid the sea stone anklet and pushed him onto stage. He blinked in the bright lights. If he squinted he could make out hundreds, if not thousands, of people looking at him from the audience. The man from before that was talking to Darius was there with a microphone. He was talking excitedly to the crowd and Luffy realized he was talking about him.
"And now for our next item. He's young, meaning he will last long enough to pass onto your children, and he has a devil fruit power. He ate the Gum-Gum fruit and that means that he is entirely made out of rubber. That's right rubber." The Guy reached down and pulled on Luffy's face, stretching his cheek out to demonstrate his powers. Luffy tried to bat him away but the man released him and reached for a brick that one of the other workers brought him. "You can entertain your guest by throwing things at him and seeing how far they bounce. Trust me folks it's more fun than it sounds." To demonstrate he threw the brick at Luffy and it bounced off his head. Luffy turned to the man annoyed. He went to pick up the brick and return the favor but the boy was restrained and the sea stone cuff was back around his ankle sapping any strength that he had before he could do anything. "And look how excitable he is. I'm sure you'll be able to find plenty of fun things to do to him." He winked at the crowd and they laughed. "Now, should we start the bidding at say one million?"
Luffy clinched his fist as number after number was called. He sucked in his lips to keep himself from crying.
He had to be strong. He had to not cry.
No matter how scary it was.
"Sold!" Luffy looked at the crowd and saw a man smiling as if proud of himself. He wanted to look more but he felt a tug around his neck from the chain and stumbled forward and was forced to follow one of the workers off stage.
He was ushered towards a new cell and pushed into it.
"You'll stay in there until you're owner is ready to leave," he was told before the worker walked back towards the stage.
Luffy moved to the corner of his small cell and sunk to the ground. He pulled his knees up to his chest and bowed his head. He had just been sold to some guy and he didn't know what to expect.
He was humiliated, scared, tired, and angry. He didn't know where his brothers were or when the next time he would see them. He was mad at his grandpa for taking him away from his home: twice. Mad at Farmer Rob for selling them to Darius. And he missed Marco and the rest of the crew. So he was going to cry a little but he wasn't going to let anyone see his tears.
He was a slave. He was a slave. That meant no more dreams. No more being the next Pirate King. No more freedom. Suddenly the collar around his neck seemed to get tighter and Luffy felt as if he couldn't breathe.
Marco could laugh at how ridiculously easy it was to sneak backstage of the auction house. He and Thatch had intercepted a couple of workers, knocked them out and stole their uniforms. That's all it took and they had access to everything.
"We look ridiculous," Thatch complained in a low voice so that no one but Marco could hear.
The other pirate rolled his eyes. "True, but if we can save the brats it'll be worth it right?"
"I guess you're right. But we're changing back before we go outside. No way are we letting Haruta see us like this."
"Agreed." If the woman saw them like this there would be no living with her. They were in pink shirts with a ruffled collar, black overalls, had on black pointed hats, and wore sunglasses.
They looked like clowns.
The two pirates passed the time by bustling around the room where they kept the already sold slaves, looking busy. They were discreetly passing keys to the bomb collars to the poor souls that were locked up. The workers were surprisingly accommodating to "new employees" and they already had keys to all the cells and bomb collars that were being used that day.
Marco and Thatch were watching as each slave were brought through the door and pushed into cells to wait until their owners were ready to leave. Some left right away, others were still waiting. At least they could grab the brats and leave, saying that their owners were ready to go. It was a good excuse and would give them a pretty good head start.
As the auction wore on Marco became worried that maybe they were too late. Maybe the ship with brats on it had arrived a while ago and the brats had already come and gone. That thought had surprisingly enough not occurred to him before. Which is odd. He was usually a worst case scenario guy.
And then he saw Luffy.
The kid stumbled into the room looking exhausted and terrified. He had been stripped of his clothes, just like all the other slaves, and Marco could see the damage that had been done to him. Poor kid was bruised, pale, and shaking. And it looked like someone had beat him with a spiked club and then used tape to fix him up.
He watched as Luffy curled up into a corner. His shoulders started shaking and Marco knew that he was crying. All the pirate wanted to do right then was run over the cell and pick the kid up and run out. But he needed to wait for the brat's brothers.
He was surprised when an older man with a long gray beard was the next to come through the door.
"I wonder how much the last one is going to go for," he heard one of the workers say to another.
"I know, it's not often we get a giant in here. I thought for sure that the devil fruit kid was going to be the big ticket item for the day but then some guy dragged in a giant and the boss decided to focus on the giant instead of the kid."
Marco decided to join in. "Devil fruit kid? Really?"
"Yup. The small one over there. He went for forty million. Not as much as the boss was hoping for but you know how it is. The boss was surprised when Darius actually brought something worthwhile in. He usually just brings in old ladies."
"He just brought in the one or were there more?"
"Just the one."
Marco felt his heart drop into his stomach.
Sabo and Ace weren't here.
He excused himself and quickly crossed the room to Thatch. "Luffy's the only one here. Let's get him out and let the others know. I need his key. Number fourteen." Thatch handed the key over without any more prompting.
It was then that Luffy started to freak out. He started to frantically pull on his bomb collar. "It's too tight! I can't breathe!"
Marco ran across the room, ignoring everyone around him. He needed to get to Luffy before the damn thing went off.
The employees were trying to stop him before the bomb went off and by the time Marco got there the door was open. He pushed aside the other men and grabbed Luffy's hands and pulled them away from the bomb that was strapped around his neck.
"STOP THAT!" he screamed. He needed the brat to stop messing with the damn bomb.
"NO! It's too tight. I can't breathe. I don't like it!" Without thinking the pirate stuck his finger between the collar and the kid's neck to make sure that it wasn't actually too tight for him to breathe. It was a little tight but it would be alright until they could take it off and not tight enough to cause this sort of reaction.
Luffy looked up at him and Marco was surprised to see hate in his eyes.
Did he not recognize him?
The brat was easily tricked and Marco was wearing a disguise. The pirate hoped that's all that it was and that the kid didn't actually hate him.
"Oi, take him across the hall until he calms down. We can't have him damaging the other merchandise," the supervisor told Marco pointing to the door.
This was going to be easier than he thought.
"No I don't want to go anywhere! I'll do what I want!"
Marco shook his head grateful that he had found Luffy when he did. The kid wouldn't last a day as a slave.
"Come on brat," he said picking the boy up by the waist and holding him under his arm, like he usually did.
Luffy calmed down almost instantly and was now staring up at him with suspicion.
He jostled the kid to make him start up again. The last thing he needed was for the supervisor to decide that the brat had calmed down enough and change his mind. They were hoping to get out of here without some sort of fight.
Luffy did not disappoint.
"Don't do that!"
Marco looked around for Thatch and noticed he wasn't there. He was probably back at that closet they left their clothes in and was getting their stuff.
He shrugged before making his way across the hall. He shut the door and let out a sigh of relief seeing that nobody else was in the room.
He quickly set Luffy gently on his feet before pulling out the key and taking off the collar. He wanted to throw it across the room and through a couple of walls but he thought better of it. He didn't want it exploding and hurting the kid.
"What are you doing?" Luffy asked as Marco then took off the shackles around his wrist frowning when he noticed the sea stone cuff around his ankle. They were going to have to find the key to that before they could leave.
He shook his head to clear his thoughts before smiling down at Luffy and focusing all of his attention on the brat. "Come on, don't you recognize me yet?"
Luffy looked up at him and cocked his head.
The pirate sighed before pulling off the hat and sunglasses.
He was ready for it when Luffy slammed into him. "I missed you!"
"Missed you too."
Luffy pulled away and smiled up at him. It wasn't quite up to its usual brilliance but Marco would blame it on the day he was having.
Then the smile faded altogether. "Ace and Sabo! I have to find them! We promised we would find each other."
"Don't worry. The others are searching for them right now."
"Darius said that he was giving Ace to a human shop. Sabo was staying with him because somebody already bought him."
Marco nodded his head as he digested the information. That would narrow their search for Ace, but they would have to hurry if they were going to save Sabo.
It might already be too late.
The door opened. Marco stood and took a defensive stance in front of Luffy. He wasn't going to let anyone hurt the brat more than he already was.
He sighed in relief when Thatch stepped through the door.
Marco smiled down at the kid who was now clutching his leg looking at the other man in terror. "Don't worry Luffy. It's just Thatch."
"Hey Luffy," Thatch smiled as he pulled off his own hat and glasses.
Luffy shot across the room and wrapped his arms around the man's leg. He smiled and patted the boy on the head fondly.
"Here," Thatch said throwing Marco's clothes at him. "Change so we can get out of here"
"We can't leave yet."
"What? Why not?"
"We have to get the key to the sea stone cuff."
"Sea stone?" Thatch asked eyes widening. His eyes drifted down and his face grew dark when he spotted the cuff. "Those bastards. Stay here and change. I'm pretty sure it won't be hard to get the key." Thatch detached Luffy from his leg and left before the blonde could respond
Marco hurriedly changed out of the hideous clown clothes. Thatch was right it wouldn’t take long to find the key. Not with how accommodating everyone was around here. He grabbed his shirt and paused when a straw hat fell out. He had been carrying it with him everywhere for a week now. The only times he had untied it from his side was when he had cleaned it and when they had changed so they could move around the auction house freely.
He looked down at Luffy who was still naked as the day he was born and shivering. He was now examining the shirt Marco had just thrown on the floor. Probably deciding if he was going to try to wear it or not. Marco stepped up to him and knelt wrapping his own shirt around the boy. It would have to do until they got him back the Moby Dick and could get him some proper clothing. No way was the brat wearing that revolting pink thing.
Luffy cocked his head to the side and looked up at him in confusion. "This is more comfortable." He said. the small boy nodded and pulled the jacket around him tighter. Marco smiled fondly before grabbing the old straw hat and pushing it firmly onto Luffy's head. "I think you lost this."
"HAT!" Luffy snatched the hat off his head and hugged it to his chest. "thankyouthankyouthankyou!"
Thatch chose that moment to come back. He looked at the happily cheering Luffy and smiled before throwing Marco a key. "That should be the right one. I told them that number fourteen's owner was ready to leave.
The first division commander wasted no time in unlocking the sea stone smiling when it came free and fell to the ground. "That better?" he asked his young friend. Luffy smiled and nodded excitedly, hat still clutched to his chest.
Thatch, now dressed in his own clothes, smiled down at Luffy. "So what do you say we get outta here?"
Luffy cheered making the two men smiles widen. Marco had really missed the brat.
"Right." Marco scooped Luffy into his arms and held him to his chest. He arranged everything so that it looked like he was carrying a pile of clothes. Anyone who didn't know Luffy was there wouldn't be able to tell that he was carrying a kid. "Let's get out of here."
Marco and Thatch quickly made their way out of the building. Luckily the auction house wasn't that big so it didn't take them long. Anyone who saw them didn't say anything but would give Marco strange looks due to his lack of a shirt.
"Hey stop!" Marco tensed as one of the workers yelled. He saw Thatch tense up, ready to fight, but then one of the people they had handed a key to earlier ran past them followed by several of the auction house employees.
They traded satisfied looks, happy someone had taken the chance to make a run for it, before making their way towards the meeting place with Haruta.
"They weren't there?" she asked once they met up and blinked. "Why aren't you wearing a shirt?" she looked at Marco eyeing the bundle in his arms.
Marco didn't bother answering he just set Luffy on the ground. "Hi," he chirped sounding more like himself.
She laughed and fell to her knees, throwing her arms around him. "I'm so glad to see you," she said hugging him tightly.
"I need to contact the other teams. Let them know what's going on," Marco said. Thatch responded by holding out the mini transponder snail.
"Did you find them?" Namur answered the call.
No hello or how are you. Just business.
"Ace is in one of the human shops, not entirely sure which one, and I don't know where Sabo is. Apparently he was bought before they even reached Sabaody. Start looking for a man named Darius. He's the only lead we got."
"Right. And Luffy?"
A small hand grabbed Marco's wrist and forced the mouth piece down. "Hi Namur!"
"Hey Luffy. How you doing?"
"I'm good," he said into the mouthpiece before his face grew serious. "But I have to go save Sabo and Ace."
"I'm looking for them right now," the fishman responded.
"Good, the more people looking the better. You should try extra hard to find Sabo, he's really scared right now. More than Ace. Sabo doesn't like being trapped."
"Will do Luffy."
"Okay. Bye Namur." He let go of Marco's hand but instead of running off like Marco had expected he sat down next to him and leaned against his leg.
"I'm sending Thatch and Haruta your way to help with the search." The first division commander stated into the receiver.
"You don't need them?"
"Nah, I'm heading back to the ship to drop Luffy off and then heading to help Vista and focus the search on the human shops."
"I'll give him and Izo a call and let their teams know."
He replaced the mouth piece and tossed the snail back to Thatch. "Start searching ships if you have to," he told them. "Find them at all costs."
Thatch gave him a look that clearly said 'Duh' before he turned to Luffy and squatted so that he was closer to boy's height. "I'm really glad to see you Luffy. Now I'm going to go help find Sabo and Ace. I'll see you later okay?"
"No, I want to come," Luffy said stubbornly crossing his arms across his chest and puffing out his cheeks to let them know that he was serious. It did not have the desired affect considering he was in a shirt ten times too big and looked as if he was having trouble keeping his eyes open.
"Luffy, you need to go back to the ship. I promise that we'll bring Ace and Sabo to you as soon as we find-"
"No! Ace and Sabo are my brothers. We promised that we would save each other."
The tree pirates traded looks not really knowing what to say. They couldn't really tell him that he wasn't allowed to go look for his brothers. It wasn't really their place. But he looked exhausted and he was hurt. That much was obvious.
"Tell you what Luffy," Haruta said squatting down next to Thatch so she was now face to face with the boy. "How about you go back to the ship with Marco-"
Haruta held up a hand to stop any more protests. "Let me finish. You go back to the ship and get rested up. I bet you're tired. While you go rest we'll go look for Ace and Sabo for you. When we find them we'll let them know that you are the one who sent them. That way you can still rest like you need to but it'll still be like you're looking for your brothers but we'll just be doing it for you," she finished.
Marco and Thatch stared at the woman wondering if that was actually going to work on Luffy.
"What if you don't find them?"
"Then when you feel better you can look for them yourself."
Luffy bit his lip.
"I promise we'll look really really hard," Thatch said.
"Okay, but only for today and only because you're looking for them for me."
The three pirate commanders let out a breath of relief. It would have been easy to just make him go back to the ship but they didn't want to do that if they didn't have to. Luffy had been through enough with people making him do stuff he didn't want to do.
"I'll be sure to tell Ace and Sabo that you sent us to find them," Thatch said hugging the boy.
"Bye Thatch. Be careful, Darius and his crew are really mean."
"They are? Don't worry I'll be sure to be careful." The dangerous glint in Thatch's eyes promised pain and death for Darius and any of the men under his command. He ruffled the brat's hair before standing and nodding to Marco and then he and Haruta took off.
"You ready to go back to the ship?" The pirate asked his young friend.
The kid nodded and stood up. He took three steps before falling back down holding his head.
"What's wrong?" Marco demanded concern written on his face.
"'M dizzy," he mumbled hands grabbing onto his head, as if trying to hold it still.
The pirate frowned wondering what was wrong. He picked the kid up again and situated him so that he was against his chest, and Luffy's head was resting in the crook of his arm. "Come on the faster we get back, the sooner Lyra can look you over and the sooner you'll feel better."