Ace stared at the flames of the fire that he was currently cooking his, Sabo's and Luffy's dinner on. It had been nearly two weeks since the incident with the alligator and in that time Luffy had somehow gotten sick. It had started out with a mild fever, sore throat, and a runny nose and developed into a cough-nothing they usually couldn't handle. The only problem was the fever was still there and had gotten progressively worse over the past two days. It had gotten to the point where his little brother was beginning to hallucinate and it was scaring him. Sure they had all been sick in their lives and Luffy had been sick once before about five months ago but that had been nothing compared to this.
Sabo, their sort of doctor in the group, usually knew what to do when they were hurt and he had been able to make Luffy feel better last time he was sick but now it seemed that nothing they did worked. He wasn't eating and could barely keep anything down when he did. Sabo said it was because of the fever and that they should try to get him to drink water. Lots and lots of water. Only problem was that Luffy's stomach couldn't handle even that.
Ace turned the small fish that he had picked out for his little brother hoping that it was going to be small enough that he could eat it and keep it down but considering he had gotten progressively worse all day he doubted it. He bit his lip trying not to think of the worst case scenario. There was no way Sabo would let anything happen to Luffy.
Neither one of them would.
If they could help it.
He looked the fish over one more time and decided that they were thoroughly cooked and poured some water over the fire. He didn't want Marco to yell at him today just because he didn't put the fire out properly. In fact he was happy to say that he hadn't seen Pineapple Head all day and that every pirate he ran into seemed to be able to tell that he was just not in the mood to be messed with or even talked to.
The pirate had made several attempts at trying to get them to hang out with him but Ace simply refused. He had been polite because he had no reason to be rude, but he was not going to neglect his little brother anymore for anyone on this ship. They would be leaving in a few months anyway and Luffy was his little brother and therefore his responsibility.
He had no ties to the men on bored this ship.
He threw open the door as he arrived at their designated cabin. He had recently discovered that it was the cabin of the late second division commander and the only reason that it had been available for them was that he had died only a little while before they had arrived. He wondered where they would go when a new commander was chosen but brushed it off. It really didn't matter. They'd make due with whatever they were given.
He kicked the door shut with his foot and winced when it was just a little too loud and made Luffy moan in pain. "Sorry Lu," he apologized quietly. "Do you think you're up for trying a little dinner?"
"Do I have ta?" Ace winced at the rough voice. It was tired and lacked all of the Luffy enthusiasm it normally had.
"Can you just try?" Sabo pleaded. "You haven't been able to keep anything down since yesterday afternoon."
"But my tummy hurts."
"Alright, but at least try to drink some more water."
Luffy agreed and Ace ran to the bed, after putting the fish on the desk, and sat behind the smaller boy to support him while Sabo gently guided the cup to his mouth. After just a few sips Luffy pulled his head away. "No more," he whined.
"Alright I guess," Sabo said putting the cup to the side, biting his lip. "Just get some sleep."
"Sabo and Ace will be here?"
"Of course we're going to be here," Ace answered. "Where else would we be?"
Luffy smiled as he quickly fell asleep. At least they were able to make him feel a little bit better.
"I'm going to try and get some fresh water to keep his forehead cool," Sabo said picking up a small wooden bowl they had found on deck and had stolen to use to treat Luffy's fever.
"Sabo. He's not getting better."
"I know. I-I just don't know what to do. I'm not a doctor."
"I know." Ace bit his lip before asking, "What are we going to do?"
"We could talk to one of the nurses on board," the blonde suggested. "Or maybe Thatch. Marco always seems to know what to do and he won't do anything to go against Captain Whitebeard so we know we can trust him because even the geezer says Whitebeard can be taken at his word. Namur might have some ideas."
"Then they would know that Luffy was vulnerable." He looked at his brother. The boy looked beaten down and tired. He also looked a little flushed. He hoped that Sabo wasn't getting sick as well. He didn't know if he'd be able to handle two sick brothers at once.
"Would it be all that bad?" he asked quietly. "They had a chance for over a week when we weren't around to attack Luffy and they didn't. Don't you think that the geezer might have exaggerated a bit?"
Talking about the past few three weeks made Ace feel guilty. He was guilty because he ditched his brothers and he felt guilty now for brushing Thatch off. He did have a lot of fun with the pirate who was always thinking of new things for them to do and try out. He had even invited Luffy along most of the time. Luffy was just too young to relate to for the man. But Ace did give him points for trying. But when push came to shove Ace would choose Luffy every time.
But Sabo did have a point. Luffy had been by himself and he had been perfectly fine, which meant that the pirates were trustworthy enough not to attack them.
"Maybe if he's not any better by tomorrow we'll go ask someone what we should do," Ace said slowly with a shrug.
"I like that idea." Sabo smiled before leaving the room to get the fresh water.
Later, much later, that night, Ace had just decided that he was going to get a few hours of sleep before relieving Sabo on Luffy watch. He was about to get settled when suddenly Luffy started shaking uncontrollably.
His eyes widened as Sabo pulled Luffy down on the bed a little so that his head won't hit the head board and then just let go.
"What's happening?" he demanded heart pounding. This had never happened before.
"He's having a seizure I think."
"I told you I'm not a doctor!"
"What do we do?"
The blonde was now pulling his hair, tears in his eyes. "I don't know! Go get some help! I'll stay and make sure he doesn't get hurt."
Ace didn't need any further instructions. He took off running towards the first person he could think of.
Thatch sighed as he laid in bed trying to figure out what he had done wrong. It had been about two weeks since Luffy had been eaten by that alligator and Ace and Sabo refused to talk to him. Sure they were polite and would respond when spoken to but now the two boys just kept to themselves.
According to Namur, Sabo wasn't talking to him either and for some sadistic reason it made him feel better to know that he wasn't the only one they were refusing to talk to.
Luffy had been as friendly as ever. He would bounce up to Thatch, Ace or Sabo, sometimes both, close behind, and strike up a conversation easily. It didn't seem like he was traumatized from the event or anything. But then again he hadn't even seen Luffy for about a week now. It was rare to catch sight of any of the trio now days and he had to wonder why.
Izo and Haruta told him that he shouldn't worry about it and just be glad that the brats weren't bugging him anymore. But Thatch liked it when they bugged him. They were fun to hang out with, especially Ace. There was just something about that kid. He was able to take a joke to the next level and he and Thatch were quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the Moby Dick. He smirked thinking about the last joke he had played with the kid. They had managed to dye the entire sixth division's hair blue.
He missed playing pranks with Ace.
He missed Sabo being able to work out the small details he and Ace just couldn't with pranks. He missed the way Luffy would smile that smile that just didn't seem to fit on his face. He just missed them, which was pathetic because they were just kids after all and they hadn't been on the ship all that long and they still were on the ship. What was he going to do when they left?
He sighed and forced his thoughts to calm down. He would just go to their cabin in the morning and see what was going on. Maybe Namur would go with him. After all he and Sabo were getting on really well before the trio stopped talking to everyone.
He was on the verge of sleep when he heard pounding on his door. He sat up, heart racing. He had not been expecting that. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself thinking that it was ridiculous he would have such a reaction while on board and blamed it on the fact that he had been in that moment between being asleep and being awake.
The pounding grew more frantic.
He climbed out of bed and stumbled across the room before throwing open the door. He didn't see anything so he looked down. A frantic Ace was standing there staring back at him, eyes wide with fear.
The tears started before Thatch could do anything and all he got was a strangled, "Help."
He knelt down so that he was eye level with the ten-year old. "Hey calm down. What do you need help with?"
Ace didn't respond. He just latched onto his arm and started tugging him towards the trio's cabin. Thatch let himself be pulled along wondering what had happened that was bad enough that Ace would not only ask for help but would be crying too.
The door was thrown open so hard that it bounced against the wall as Ace ran in with Thatch.
Sabo looked up from where he was knelt on the bed, the same frantic look in his eyes that Ace had. "What's wrong?" the pirate asked again automatically. These were tough kids, they wouldn't just freak out about any little thing. If they were this scared something big was happening.
Sabo just moved so that he had full view of the bed. He felt his eyes widen. This was bad.
Luffy was lying on the bed, face flushed, breathing uneven and shallow. It didn't take a doctor to figure out that the kid was sick.
"W-we don't know what to do," Sabo said, voice shaking. "He's never been this sick before. A-and we tried to get him better but his fever is really high and we don't know what to do."
Thatch nodded slowly before placing hand on the small boy's forehead, wincing at the heat that was coming from it. He didn't know a lot about medical stuff but he knew enough to know that the kid was way too hot.
"We need to take him to the infirmary," he stated.
"No! Luffy hates the doctor," Ace said Sabo nodding in agreement.
Thatch almost smiled. So they still did think like children occasionally. They wanted to spare their little brother the fear of going to the doctor and thought that they could handle it here. When they knew they couldn't handle it they thought that getting an adult would fix things. Unfortunately that was not true and this was far beyond Thatch's ability to help.
"His fever is too high. There is a chance if it's not brought down soon that he will have brain damage or even die."
The frantic look in their eyes grew to looks of pure horror at the thought. "If you let me take him to see the ship's doctor it might not be too late."
The two traded a look before nodding at one another. "We get to go with him," Sabo said.
"Well that's up to the doctor," Thatch said not wanting to get their hopes up of actually being able to stay with Luffy. Lyra, the resident doctor, was not a fan of unneeded personnel in her infirmary.
It was then he noticed that both Sabo and Ace looked a little flushed as well. His hand shot up to rest on Sabo's, who was closer, forehead. He frowned when he noticed the boy was a little warm. "I think you both might be sick as well."
"We're fine," Ace protested. "It's Luffy who's sick."
There was no doubt that the straw hat wearer was sick but he had a feeling the other two were as well. Instead of arguing he just picked the small boy up, blankets and all, wrapped him up tightly so he wouldn't be exposed to the cool night air, not sure if this would help or not. "Let's get going."
He made his way below deck and down a hallway and soon found himself standing in front of his least favorite room on the ship. It was this room that his brothers and sisters would come to when they were injured or sick. He didn't like that this room had to exist, but at moments like these he was glad that it did.
He kicked open the door and saw several nurses walking around, tending to those lying in the beds. Thankfully it didn't look like too many of his brothers were here.
"Commander Thatch. What are you doing here?" one of the nurses asked, noticing him.
"Luffy's sick," he said simply. That was all that it took before the boy was snatched out of his arms and put into bed.
A woman with blonde hair, pulled back into a messy bun was called and she quickly checked the boy over. "Thatch!" he quickly walked over to the bed, Ace and Sabo with him.
"Lyra," he greeted.
"How long has he had a fever?" she demanded.
He looked at Ace, who looked at Sabo. "About a week," the blonde answered.
"And why is this the first time I'm seeing him?" she glared down at the two boys. If there was two thing you didn't do on the ship it was mess with one of Lyra's patients and ignore being sick.
"W-we thought we could handle it. We didn't think that it was this bad."
Her glare softened as she looked at the two downtrodden boys. Suddenly her hands shot out, much like Thatch's had earlier, as she checked both boys for a fever. "We need two more beds. You will be forgiven this once for not bringing him in sooner only because you are ill yourselves and it obviously impaired your judgment," she stated.
"Iris!" she called a nurse over.
"I need you to run a shallow lukewarm bath."
Thatch watch in fascination between Ace's and Sabo's beds as a tub was brought in and Luffy was stripped and placed in the water. "Iris, can you tell me why the water is not ice cold?" Lyra requested of the nurse.
"If the water is too cold the body temperature will fall too fast and send the body into shock."
"Very good." She turned towards another nurse. "I need a fever suppressant."
Lyra turned her attention on the boys. "Has there been any other symptoms?"
"He had a cough and a sore throat and a runny nose," Ace informed right away.
"And he had a seizure a few minutes ago," Sabo added, voice shaking. "At least I think that's what it was."
At hearing this Thatch's eyes widened and his heart rate picked up. Luffy had had a seizure? That's why they had been so frantic and scared. He would have been freaking out more than they had been had he been in that situation.
"At least you knew to get help after that," she said more to herself than anyone.
"Here's the medication you asked for," the nurse from earlier informed.
"Give him an injection and monitor his temperature. If his fever doesn't drop in a half hour then come find me."
"In the meantime get him dressed and into bed."
She turned towards her two other new patients and frowned. "What are you still doing here commander? It's after visiting hours and you know the rules. You can come back tomorrow and check on them."
Thatch slumped in his seat at breakfast. He hadn't been able to sleep at all last night. After the trip to the infirmary he hadn't been able to calm down for hours. He just kept seeing Ace's and Sabo's pleading looks and Luffy's fever flushed face.
Imagining the small boy having a seizure.
He shivered at the thought of having to watch the normally cheerful and outgoing boy go through something like that. What he had seen had been enough.
"Well don't you look gorgeous this morning," Marco greeted sitting next to him.
"Shut up. I didn't sleep last night."
"Oh and why is that? On second thought I don't want to know," the first commander said with a disgusted look on his face.
"Get your mind out of the gutter. Luffy's sick."
Marco shot him a confused look. "I just saw the two older brats the other day. They didn't say anything about him being sick."
"Well apparently he's had a fever for about a week and it spiked last night. Ace was pounding on my door at about midnight last night; it would seem that Luffy had a seizure and it scared Sabo and Ace so bad that they came for help."
"Hey guys! What's going on?" Haruta chirped as she took a seat across from Thatch.
"Luffy's sick," Marco said distractedly. "He had a seizure?" The blonde looked distressed at the thought. Probably because the boys were technically his responsibility and he hadn't even known Luffy was sick.
"That's what they told Lyra," Thatch shrugged.
"That's not good," Haruta commented quietly, automatically joining in.
"No, it's really not. I'm going to go see what's going on as soon as visiting hours start."
"How are Ace and Sabo?" Marco asked.
"What's wrong with Ace and Sabo?" Namur asked joining them at the table.
"Luffy's sick," Haruta informed.
"And had a seizure," Marco added.
"And Sabo and Ace are sick too," Thatch concluded.
Within fifteen minutes the entirety of the Moby Dick knew that the three youngest passengers were sick. And despite the fact that almost every single one of the pirates had said the kids were annoying at least once since they had been on the ship, all of them were very concerned about their well being. Sabo, Ace, and Luffy were on their ship and it was their responsibility to protect and look out for them.
As soon as he was able, Thatch found himself with Marco in the infirmary looking at a scene he had never thought would happen.
Someone was actually standing up to Lyra.
"He's fine!" Ace shouted standing on his bed, fist clenched.
"He needs to stay in his own bed," Lyra yelled back.
"They're mine and Sabo's beds, if it makes him feel better to sleep in them with us why does it matter if he stays in his own bed? He'll just whine and cry until he gets what he wants and that won't be good for anyone!"
"Of course he's going to whine and complain. All children whine and complain when they're sick!"
"Is there a problem?" Marco asked.
"She's trying to make Luffy move," Ace said looking as if she had just committed the ultimate crime.
Thatch looked over to Sabo's bed to see Luffy sound asleep despite the noise and Sabo holding him tightly glaring at the doctor. He briefly wondered if that meant he was feeling better considering he had to actually move beds. He doubted that Sabo would carry Luffy to his bed.
"Just leave them, Lyra," Marco said exasperation in his voice. "They're not hurting anyone and they're used to sharing." He smiled repeating Sabo's words from their first day about the bed in their room. "They're all probably more comfortable this way anyway."
Thatch was sure Marco was going to be avoiding Lyra at all costs in the near to distant future if the look she gave him was any indication of what was to come.
Ace was looking at Marco in confusion. It was clear that the boy had expected them to take her side. The confusion slowly transformed into a very small smile and looked pleased.
"Where do you get off telling me what to do in my infirmary?" Lyra demanded getting into Marco's face, poking him in the chest. "I know you're the first division commander but in here I'm higher than the captain. In here I am God. So I don't have to do anything you say."
The man took a step back and put up his arms as a kind of barrier between the two of them. "I didn't mean anything by it. It's just that there all more comfortable when they're together and I figured that they would get better faster if they were more comfortable."
Her eyes narrowed. "GET OUT!"
"Fine, I'm leaving. But just let the kid stay where he is."