Somewhere To Belong

Marco and Luffy

Marco ran a hand through his hair. Today was going to be a really long day. They were docked at a town for the next few days and he was, as usual, in charge of making sure that all the supplies were restocked. He was hoping that he would be able to do all of this one day so that he would be able to relax in town for the remainder of the stay.

Adding to his list of things he had to do, he also had to make sure that the midget brat was eating. Luffy had recovered from that horrible fever and was released to go back to his cabin. The only problem was that Ace and Sabo were still sick and were going to be for the next few days. The two patients had insisted that they were better and tried to leave with Luffy only to be denied. They had put up quite a fight and only stopped due to exhaustion and the fact that Marco had promised to keep an eye on their little brother.

Apparently Thatch had passed some sort of test with the two older brats and was now deemed worthy enough to talk to and for some reason Namur and Marco were given the same right.

He had no idea what was going through those kids' heads.

Thatch and Namur were both asked to sit with Sabo and Ace while they were recovering.

He was given babysitting duty and very explicit instructions that he was to make sure that Luffy stayed off the railing of the ship so he wouldn't fall into the ocean and was well fed.

For some reason Ace and Sabo were worried about Luffy eating enough.

So with this in mind he made his way towards the Brats' cabin determined to pick up the kid, feed him, and then pawn him on someone else because he had too much to do.

As he rounded the corner he stopped dead in his tracks.

There was Luffy hanging off the edge of the ship, foot hooked on the railing. He ran as fast as he could as the little foot slipped from the railing. He sighed in relief as he snatched the little boy right before he was out of arm reach.

He started to pull Luffy back onto deck but almost had the boy torn from his grip with an unexpected and sharp tug. He frowned when he saw Luffy holding a pipe with rope tied around the end and a smaller sea king attached at the end.

"Let go of the pipe," he told Luffy.

"No!" the boy screamed back. "It's Ace's! He'll be mad if I lose it!"

Marco tightened his grip and pulled Luffy towards him, this time expecting the tug. He wrapped an arm around Luffy and held him to his chest tightly and leaned back so that they wouldn't be pulled forward and reached for the rope that was tied to the pipe that the boy still held, but the rope snapped before he could untie it.

He and Luffy went flying backwards as the force that was pulling them forward was suddenly gone.

Luffy looked up at him and laughed. "That was fun Pineapple Head."

That could have been bad.

Almost everybody else was eating at this point and if Marco hadn't been able to get to him; well he was pretty sure Luffy didn't know how to swim. It might have taken too long to get anyone else over here to rescue the brat.

“The hell are you doing?" He yelled at the boy letting his fear come out in anger.

Luffy looked startled. "I-I was trying to get somethin' to eat," he said looking down at his feet. "But I guess I'm not strong enough to pull up that big fish."

"Why didn't you just go to the galley?" Marco demanded rubbing his head trying to figure out what the brat was thinking

"I couldn't remember where it was," he mumbled. "Ace and Sabo always come and get me when we eat there. Sorry Mr. Pineapple."

Marco sighed running a hand through his hair as the adrenalin wore off. "Are you alright?" The boy nodded. "Good. How about we go get you something to eat?"

The straw hat boy instantly perked up and smiled up at him. "Can I have some meat?"

"I'm sure that will be fine," Marco said as he turned and started walking towards the galley making sure that he had a seven year old merrily skipping next to him the entire time.

A half hour and a well fed Luffy later Marco found himself walking to the infirmary having been talked into it by a set of big watery eyes followed by a too big grin. After just the short amount of time spent with the kid, Marco could understand why it was rare to see the youngest brother not in the company of at least one of his brothers.

He had a thought that Ace and Sabo were protecting the crew from Luffy more than they were protecting their brother from the crew. The brat just walked into a room and was able to get anything that he wanted.

Although it probably didn't help that most of the crew was still feeling a little protective of him due to his recent illness.

Before reaching the door to the infirmary he put a hand on the brat's shoulder to stop him. "Alright kid, I said that I would take you to see Ace and Sabo but we have to hurry otherwise Lyra is going to have our heads. And by our heads I mean mine." She was still angry with him.

The brat just laughed and said, "You're funny Pineapple Head."

"My name is Marco."

"Right." The commander just shook his head before opening the door.

He didn't know if he should or shouldn't have been surprised to see Thatch sitting by Ace's bed, the two playing some card game. Namur was sitting next to Sabo the two talking excitedly about something, the kid's voice was hoarse due to the sore throat he probably had. Luffy hadn't jumped on either of the beds like Marco had expected. Instead he stopped just inside the room and for the first time since he had met the three brats Luffy looked unsure.

He gave the kid a nudge. He had been adamant about seeing his brothers and now he looked like he had changed his mind. From what he knew about the kid, it wasn't like him.

"Luffy!" Sabo's excited voice called from across the room. Ace's head turned towards the door and Luffy instantly slapped his trademark grin on his face before he bounced over to his brothers and told them about the adventure he had that morning trying to catch his breakfast.

When he got to the part about him actually falling off the boat what color the two older boys had vanished. "Don't worry though, Pineapple Head-"

"Marco." The man ignored the snickers from his fellow commanders at the name that, unfortunately, was beginning to stick, especially with the other commanders.

"Right. He caught me."

"Luffy you really need to be more careful," Sabo pleaded. "You can't swim."

"If Marco hadn't been there you would have fallen into the ocean," Ace scolded quietly. They both looked as if the very thought of losing their brother was painful and Marco had to wonder what they had been through that they understood what it would be like to lose someone in that way. Most children their age didn't have a clue what it would mean for someone to die.

"Sorry. I'll try."

"Don't worry," Thatch spoke up, "I'm sure that you two are feeling well enough that Namur wouldn't mind showing Luffy how to swim. I wouldn't mind showing him a thing or two either."

Ace and Sabo shot each other a look before both laughing awkwardly. "Yeah that's a great idea," Sabo agreed a little too loudly.

"But Sabo-"

"Luffy look a bird," Ace interrupted pointing out the small window instantly distracting his brother.

"Where?"

"Sabo?" Namur questioned but the blonde joined his brothers at the window and all three were talking excitedly about the bird.

"That must be some impressive bird," Thatch stated dryly as the three commanders traded looks with each other wondering what the brats weren't telling them.

In the month and a half that they had been on the Moby Dick it was more than a little obvious that Ace and Sabo had trust issues. In fact it had been a huge step for them to actually come to Thatch and ask for help when Luffy was sick. Marco was impressed with the fourth division commander and wondered what he had done to earn the trust of the older boys.

He decided to ask while the boys were distracted with the apparently impressive bird.

"You're kidding me right?" Thatch asked with a laugh.

"What? They do trust you."

"They trust you too." The other commander stated with certainty. Marco gave him a disbelieving look. He had been watching out for the brats since they had been on board rather anyone noticed or not and he knew for a fact that Thatch was their go to guy, Namur was quickly becoming their second go to person. "Think about it. When have you ever seen Luffy without Ace or Sabo around?"

He thought for a moment. "There was that one time when- wait, no Sabo was there."

"Exactly. He is either in their cabin, close to their cabin, or with one of them. And now they are asking you to look after him."

"So getting to babysit means that they trust me?"

"Yup."

Marco shook his head disbelievingly. "Too bad I have too much to do today to watch him." He shrugged.

"Don't you dare push this off onto somebody else. In their minds we're all connected. If one of us is trustworthy then we're all trustworthy. If you try to get someone else to watch Luffy they're never going to trust another living soul on this ship."

"So you want me to give up a day so that you can play games and pull pranks?"

Thatch thought a moment before nodding. "Yup."

"Not going to happen. Besides he'll have more fun with someone else."

"Marco I'm serious."

"Luffy," Marco called ignoring the other man. He watched as the kid perked up and turned at the sound of his name and turned. "It's time to let your brothers rest. You've riled them up enough and if Lyra finds out she's going to chop off my-" he stopped himself wondering if it were appropriate to tell the seven year old about castration.

"Who's Lyra?"

Marco rolled his eyes. "Doctor Lady," he responded not sure if he should be happy that he was learning what Luffy called everyone.

"Oh. She's nice. I like her."

"I know you do." The man grabbed his charge by the waist with one arm and put him under an arm so that he could carry him with ease. "Now say bye to everyone."

"Bye Ace. Bye Sabo." He waved at them.

"Bye Luffy," they responded.

"Bye Thatch. Bye Shark Guy."

"Bye Luffy."

"My name is Namur."

"Right."

Marco then turned and left the room taking the straw hat kid with him smirking because Luffy didn't know Namur's name either. "Now let's go find someone to watch you."

"Can't I stay with Pineapple Head?"

"Marco."

"Right."

"No. I have a lot to do and I can't have you getting in the way."

"Please. I promise I'll be good and not get in the way."

"Nope. We'll find someone else that has enough time."

"But I don't know anyone else. I don't have any friends like Ace and Sabo. I want to have a friend so that I won't be alone when they go play."

He turned Luffy right side up and put him on the deck before kneeling down so that he was eye level with the boy. "Well, then you can make a friend. With someone else."

Luffy bit his lip looking as if the world was going to end just because Marco didn't have time to play. "But I want Pineapple Head to be my friend."

"Look kid, I have a lot of work to do, we just need to find someone who isn't as busy as me and they'll play with you."

"Can I stay with you, please? I promise that I'll try really hard to not get in your way and to stay quiet."

Marco was about to insist, once again, that they go find someone else but he made the mistake of looking into the big, bright, sad, brown eyes. Really Luffy should have a bounty just because of his puppy-eyes. The kid could get someone to destroy the world for him if he just used that look.

Or maybe he was just a pushover.

Yeah, that's probably it.

"Well I did promise your brothers. I guess it will be okay, but you have to stay out of my way." The brunette gave an excited nod while the blonde gave a resigned sigh. "Let's go."


Marco wanted to hit his head against his desk. He hated paperwork just as much as the next person but unfortunately he was forced to do not only his own but the second division's as well considering they had just lost their commander almost three months ago. He was currently looking for someone to replace the old commander but he hadn't seen anyone he thought would be good at the job and strong enough to protect the rest of the division. He was considering Teach just because the man had seniority but for some reason the idea just didn't seem to sit well with him.

The brat had been surprisingly quiet. He had only really made a racket for the first hour and a half. Marco didn't really care because the brat was entertaining himself and it wasn't so loud that Marco couldn't tune him out if need be. The boy was currently drawing with a pen and some paper Marco had offered him when he noticed that the kid was bored and trying very hard to keep out of his way. The only sound that had escaped him in the past hour and half was a quiet singing of a song that only Luffy seemed to know.

Something about islands and idiots.

The man looked over at the papers that were still in his to do pile and decided that he had enough for now and got and stretched catching his charge's attention.

"Are you done?" he asked looking hopeful.

"I'm done with paperwork for now."

"What next?" came the question as the boy abandoned his picture and jumped up.

"Well I have to go to town and buy some supplies for our trip to the next island."

"We get to go to town?"

"Yes, I have to go to town. You can come but it's not going to be fun."

"Yay! I get to go to town with Pineapple Head."

"Marco."

"Right."

"Well come on we'll get some lunch and then head into town. We have a lot of stuff to buy."


Marco for the first time today was happy. His day was going much better than he had expected when he had woken up this morning. He had been able to get everything that they needed in just a few short hours and were now in the last shop. He was talking to the owner of the store about the large order of food they would need, ignoring Luffy as he ran around, causing havoc, and being chased by three store attendants.

"Thank you. Someone will be by to pick everything up in three days."

"No. Thank you," the owner said looking happy. Marco supposed that this was the biggest order the man had ever had.

He looked up to see the straw hatted boy climbing the shelves while the three shop attendants begged him to come down before he broke something. "Come on Brat. We're leaving." He caught Luffy as the boy came flying towards him. "Having fun?" Luffy grinned at him and nodded. He shifted so that he was now holding the kid by the waist under his arm again. It was an easy way to make sure he stayed out of trouble.

"Yeah. Thanks for playing with me," the boy grinned at the three now exhausted looking workers all waving looking relieved to see him go.

Marco couldn't help but laugh at their faces as he walked out.

Really, the brat wasn't that bad. He had listened to Marco all day and had been, for the most part, well behaved. He just needed to burn off all of his excess energy he had and the high shelves in the last shop they had been to were probably just way too tempting to pass up and the man wasn't going to take away his fun. Not when his work was finally done and the kid had been nice company. It had actually been fun to see the boy run around in circles as they walked around town going to the various shops.

"How about we go get a snack?" he suggested, happy to indulge in Luffy's favorite thing.

"Really?!"

"Yup. You can have one thing."

"Yay! You're the best Pineapple Head."

"Marco."

"Right."

The pirate put the straw hat boy on his feet and smiled as he started running around him excitedly singing about snack time. This continued until they reached a bar that served food and Marco had deemed safe enough for children. He took a seat at the bar and helped the kid climb onto the stool next to him.

"What'll it be?" the bar keeper asked.

"Meat."

"I'll have Sake and get some juice for the kid and his meat."

"Coming right up."

They had been sitting in the bar for about fifteen minutes when they heard a commotion outside. Luffy paused in his eating to look towards the door.

Marco frowned.

Those were Whitebeard pirates and what more they were from his division. And they were fighting. He sighed in annoyance before standing up. "Stay here," he told the boy before making his way outside toward the two morons that were fighting.

"Oi! We are guests in this town so try to make a good impression idiots," he yelled pulling them off each other. It took another ten minutes before they were civil enough that Marco could leave and get back to the brat.

When he walked into the bar he was surprised to find Luffy's stool empty. Looking around he quickly found the boy.

He appeared to be less than happy.

"I said stop it! I don't like it!" Luffy grabbed his hat from around his neck and stuffed it onto his head before turning around and trying to walk away from a group of men that seemed to be harassing him. "Don't touch me!" screamed the little boy as he fought to get away from one of the men. Getting fed up Luffy bit down on the man's hand and then ran away. One of the other men in the group was able to latch onto one of his arms and Marco watched in fascination as Luffy kept going and the limb stretched.

The men seemed to think this was funny, especially when Luffy's body flew across the room back towards them with a snap.

"Oh come on kid we're just having a bit of fun. I can think of a few things we can do that would be even more fun if you're up to it." The man latched onto Luffy's other arm and lifted him off the ground so they he couldn't get away and smiled lecherously.

Marco felt his anger rising at the implications.

Luffy was a kid.

Luffy was one of the kids under his protection.

Luffy was one of his brats.

How dare that pervert say something like that to one of his brats?

The first division commander of the Whitebeard pirates walked deliberately towards the man that was now stretching Luffy's face and commenting on how much fun he was going to have with the kid's flexibility. Luffy tried to push the man way but to no avail. Marco latched a hand onto the man's shoulder squeezing almost to the point where it would crush the bone.

"What are you doing to Luffy?" he asked in a calm voice, ignoring the man as he cried out for him to let go.

Every head in the group snapped towards him. He was almost insulted at the surprised look on the brat's face.

"Oi let go of Ricky."

Marco slowly looked over at the moron who had just yelled at him.

"No," he said, calmly digging his thumb into "Ricky's" shoulder.

It was then that one of the other men's eyes grew wide as he looked at Marco. So someone had finally recognized just who's crew he was on.

"Dude, let go of the kid," the man yelled at Ricky. He pointed a shaking finger at Marco. "He's part of the Whitebeard Pirates! That's Marco the Phoenix."

Luffy was instantly released and the poor kid brought his arms close to his body so that nobody else could hold onto him and ran to stand behind Marco.

"If I ever see you so much as look at the kid funny ever again I'm not sure you'd live to regret it," Marco informed the group of men before pushing "Ricky" across the room and through the wall. "Let's go kid." The pirate placed a hand on top of Luffy's head leading him out of the bar and down towards the beach. Once there instead of heading towards the Moby Dick he made his way to the sand and sat down. He didn't really feel like getting back on the ship anyway and the brat still needed to burn of his excess energy.

Funnily enough, Luffy hadn't said a word since they had left the bar and that was a little concerning.

"A-are you going to hurt me now?"

Marco's attention was snapped onto the small straw hat wearer.

"Why on earth would I do that?"

The boy shrugged. "Grandpa told me not to tell anyone I was made outta rubber cuz then they would hurt me," he explained still not looking up. "And you're really strong so I don't think I could fight you yet."

"What makes you think you could ever fight me?" Marco questioned thinking over what he had just heard.

"I'm going to be strong enough to beat you someday."

"Is that so?" He couldn't help but smile. "Are you going to be a marine like your grandpa and come after me?"

"No way am I going to be a marine. I'm going to be King of the Pirates."

Marco blinked. He had not expected to hear that. Not from Garp's grandson. Sure Namur had told him that Sabo said they wanted to be pirates but he hadn't really believed him. But Luffy had said he was going to be Pirate King as if stating a simple fact. It seemed as if he talked about it a lot.

"Pirate King huh?"

"Yup."

"Alright then I guess I'll have to keep an eye on you. Make sure you don't become a threat."

Luffy giggled a bit before growing serious and looking down at the ground.

Marco studied the boy for a few minutes, his mind going back to what Luffy had said about being rubber. "You ate a devil fruit?" he finally asked.

"I ate the Gum-Gum fruit," Luffy announced looking happy. "I thought it was dessert."

"I bet that wasn't a tasty dessert," Marco commented thinking back on when he had eaten his fruit.

"It was gross," Luffy confirmed with a nod of his head.

Marco chuckled before speaking again. "Your gramps was right about you not telling anyone about being made out of rubber. There are many people on the Grand Line who would try to hurt you or use you if they knew."

Luffy looked back towards the ground.

"That being said, I'm not one of those people. I promise that I'm not going to hurt you."

Luffy's head shot up and he looked up at the pirate with hopeful eyes. "You're not?"

Marco smiled at the boy's trusting nature. He would have to make sure that no one took advantage of that. "Of course not. You know, I ate a devil fruit too."

"Really?"

"Yup. I turn into a phoenix."

The brunette looked up at him with a blank look "What's that?"

"It's a mythical bird made out of fire," he explained in a way the kid might understand.

"So you turn into a mystery bird."

It was said so seriously Marco couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah that's pretty much it."

"That's really cool."

"You know? It really is."

The boy sat next to the pirate running his hand through the sand with a thoughtful look on his face. "You're not gonna tell anyone that I'm rubber are you?"

"Well, anyone on the crew wouldn't care and none of them would hurt you." he looked down to the boy and frowned at the distressed look on his face. "But, it's not really anybody's business so I won't tell," he said with a shrug.

"Are you going to tell Ace and Sabo that you know?"

"Don't really have a reason to."

The boy giggled. "Thanks Marco."

"Mar-" he stopped mid word realizing what Luffy had just said. The pirate sat stunned for a minute. Luffy had said his name right. It was the first time he had done so without being reminded. He smiled down at the little hooligan. "What are friends for?"

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