Ace watched as Izo made sure that Luffy's new clothes fit with smile waiting for his turn.
He liked getting new clothes.
It reminded him of the times Makino had dropped by Dadan's place and had brought them all something new to wear. It had been really thoughtful of her, especially since the first time since she didn't even know that he and Sabo existed until she met them. Luffy had told her they were his brothers and she treated them with the same kindness she had shown Luffy. It was the first time Ace could ever remember an adult being nice to him.
He wondered what she was up to. Maybe there was a way he could send her a letter or something? Let her know that they were alright. She was probably worried about them. They hadn't even gotten to say goodbye to her when they left with the geezer.
"Alright everything looks good," Izo said as Luffy looked over his new t-shirt with a smile on his face. It was red, his favorite color, and had a pocket with the same mark that Marco had but the mark was white so that it would show up well on the red. Ace could tell that Luffy was excited about the shirt. He also had on blue shorts on and Izo had also been able to find some sandals just like the ones Luffy had before. "Do you like your new clothes?" the pirate asked.
Luffy nodded his head. "I love them!"
Sabo had already been fitted with a blue shirt, the mark was on the back of the shirt and much larger than Luffy's. The shoes Izo had picked out were too small and he would need to get new ones so he was forced to wear the ugly purple slipper things he had been wearing when he had been rescued for now. But other than that his clothes seemed to be fine.
"Alright Ace, you're up."
Ace stepped forward and pulled on the clothes that Izo picked out for him. Black shorts and an orange shirt, Whitebeard's mark in white like his brothers but it covered the front. He also pulled on the socks and tennis shoes. They were a lot more comfortable than any shoes Ace had before. And the fabric of the clothing felt nicer than anything he was used to.
"How does everything feel?"
"It's great," he answered with a smile.
"Good. Now hold out a foot I want to make sure that the shoes aren't too tight." Ace did as he was told and Izo felt the shoe and placed his finger so that he could feel the end of Ace's toe and frowned. "Are they too lose? They seem a bit big." Ace shook his foot and the shoe stayed on so it would be fine.
"Are you sure? I don't mind exchanging them."
"No. They're great. Thank you."
The man smiled kindly. "No problem. I just hope that you like everything I picked out."
"This isn't it?" Ace asked. They had just been offered a permanent spot on the ship and already they were becoming a burden.
"Of course not. You all can't run around in the same clothes day after day, it's unhygienic."
"What's un-hi-jean thingy?" Luffy asked.
"It means that it's dirty and makes you smell bad," Sabo said automatically.
Ace shook his head at the pirate. "But how much did all of this cost? We don't want you to spend-"
Izo gently bopped him on the head. "There's plenty of money to cover your expenses. You're kids. You're not supposed to worry about stuff like that. You're part of the family now so until you're older we'll worry about that stuff for you."
"I don't want to hear another word. Just be sure to thank Pops."
Ace nodded still concerned about the price.
Dadan hadn't liked having to spend money on him. She said that it made him even more of a burden.
"Alright then, if everything fits I'm going to go and make sure that your room is done being set up. I'm glad you're all feeling better."
"Bye Izo," Luffy said waving as the man left, smiling wide when he turned and waved back to Luffy before closing the door behind him.
They were still in the infirmary and all of them were eagerly waiting for Lyra to come check the over one last time so that they could leave. She had said yesterday that there was a good chance that they would be able to leave today.
Ace really hoped so.
He wanted to see Thatch again. Doctor Lyra had said that no one was allowed in to see them so that they could get enough rest. It was frustrating and he really wanted to see his friend but Thatch and the rest of the crew were too afraid of Lyra to go against her orders for some reason.
A few minutes later the woman walked in and gave them all a calculating look before breaking into a smile. "I like your new clothes." It was the first time Ace could remember her looking happy. It was kind of freaking him out a little.
"They're awesome!” Luffy cheered.
"They sure are. Now who's first?"
Luffy raised his hand volunteering to go first. Ace was sure that he didn't know what he had volunteered for.
Thirty minutes later they were given explicit instructions to not eat anything that wasn't approved of by the chefs, who had been given a list of foods they were allowed to eat for the next couple of weeks. They were also told that if they got tired they were to stop what they were doing and take a break, and if they felt any pain they were to come straight to her.
And then Doctor Lyra said that they were free to go.
As soon as the words passed her lips Luffy was out the door with Ace and Sabo close behind him.
Marco let the pen drop out of his hand and let his head slam down onto his desk with a dull thunk.
He was done.
He was finally all caught up on all his work.
It was a glorious feeling. Too bad it couldn't last longer.
There was a knock at his door.
"Come in!" he called not bothering to pick up his head.
"Long day?" Thatch asked.
"You have no idea."
"I do too. I lead my own division you know."
"True, but I am now leading two," he held up two fingers to make his point. "And did you forget that you report to me and I decide what's important enough to let Pops know about."
"Eh, he's just getting you ready to take over when he's finally is too old to do all the captain stuff," Thatch said nonchalantly.
"Don't joke about stuff like that," Marco responded turning his head and glaring at the other man. He didn't like to think about the fact that his father was getting older.
Marco groaned as he finally picked his head up off the desk and sat up. "So have you seen the brats yet?"
It had been almost a week since the brats had all been back on the ship and no one but Pops and medical personnel were allowed to see them.
Not even the commanders were allowed in. And anyone who crossed those orders had to not only deal with the she devil but Pops as well.
"No. The Witch is in rare form these days. Although I do know that there have been nurses running back and forth between the infirmary and the kitchen at odd hours. And Izo was sent to Sabaody for clothes."
"Well, all of the brats' things were burned and there's nothing on board that would fit them. We established that with the coats."
"I still wish you hadn't killed that farmer so that I could punch him in the face a few times before killing him myself. What those kids went through because of him," he took a deep breath cutting himself off.
"Relax, he's already been taken care of so there's no need to talk about him again. Ever. How about we go get some dinner?"
"You worked through the night."
The blonde sighed. "Of course I did."
Thatch threw an arm over his shoulder. "Come on brother, take a break and get something to eat. You deserve it."
"Yes. I do deserve it. I worked all night and now I'm finished.”
"Really? Does that mean you'll be able to relax a little?"
Marco knew that Thatch was only kind of joking. "Shut up," he said pushing past his friend.
He walked out of his room and took a deep breath of fresh air. In the distance he could still see the Sabaody Archipelago he wasn't sure why but they were waiting around until the brats were feeling better before heading back to the New World. Marco had a feeling that the waiting had something to do with Haruta, Namur, Thatch, and Sabaody Park.
If his suspicions were true he might have to get in on that.
That is if they were allowed anywhere near the place. He was certain that the marines were all on the edge trying to figure out what they were doing here in Paradise and itching to take them down. Like that could ever happen.
At breakfast he sat with a few of the boys from his division and chatted idly with them. After the meal he made his way on to the deck and decided to sit with Pops for a while. He was tired and should probably go take a nap but it felt good to have nothing waiting for him back in his room and he was going to take advantage of it until he had to deal with something else.
He watched as the crew came to life as those who liked to sleep in woke up and joined them in the daily chores that were required to run a ship this size. It was fun to sit back and watch his brothers and sisters interact. Occasionally someone would come and strike up a conversation with him before running off to do an appointed task.
About an hour before lunch he found himself chatting with Haruta about her need for a new sword. Apparently she had found one in a shop in the tourist district on Sabaody and was debating on whether or not it was worth the money.
"Just get it," he told her. She was usually responsible with money so he didn't have trouble telling her to get something for herself every now and then.
They were interrupted by three small blurs running past them.
Marco felt his face split into a grin.
The brats were loose.
The three blurs stopped in front of the old man and all three boys had wide grins on their faces.
"Thanks for the clothes Pops," Ace said. The other two also expressed their gratitude in a similar manner.
Pops? Did that mean he had already asked them? He looked at Sabo and saw the second symbol displayed proudly on the back of his shirt.
"Anytime my sons."
Marco felt his excitement grow. It was official now.
The brats were staying.
He had three new brothers. And not even Garp was going to be able to take them away again.
The three boys all had bandages still visible but they looked much better than the last time Marco had seen them. They no longer looked exhausted, but it would seem that they had lost weight during their time away. He was broken out of his thoughts when he felt a light weight hit him in the chest. He looked down to see Luffy smiling up at him.
"Look," he said proudly pointing to his pocket. "Just like yours!"
Marco looked at the shirt and felt his smile grow. It was Pops' mark alright. He was pleased beyond all words to see it. He looked over to see Ace and thatch scheming a little ways away and saw that he too had a mark on his shirt. He glanced over to see Namur and Sabo, the mark showing proudly on his back, talking to each other excitedly, he caught the words Fishman Island and knew that they would be making a stop on the way back so that Namur could show the brats his home island. Good. That meant that anyone who even thought about messing with the brats would think twice and know exactly who they'd be challenging if they did. It would keep them safe. "It sure is. Do you know what it means?" The boy shook his head no. "It means that we're family now."
Luffy gave him the most dazzling smile he had ever seen.
For that moment everything was right in the world.
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