Somewhere To Belong

First Snowfall

Ace shivered as he added yet another blanket to the pile that was already heaped on top of him. He had been woken up about an hour ago from the feeling of cold. It had shocked him because it had been so hot last night that they had decided that sleeping together in the bed was just not an option. He and Sabo had opted to take the floor and give Luffy the bed. Now he was wishing that he had taken it; at least the bed would be warm and not freezing cold like the wood floor he was currently lying on. He looked towards Sabo and saw that he too was struggling to get warm and had an excess amount of blankets. Turning to look at his little brother, Ace noticed that Luffy only had a light blanket and while still asleep, was shivering.

He sat up.

This was ridiculous.

He gathered up his heaps of blankets and spread them over Luffy before he climbed over the smaller boy and settled under the covers between Luffy and the wall. Sabo joined them soon after and spread two blankets over his brothers before throwing the remainder at Ace.

"Use those to put between you and the wall. It will act as an insulator and hopefully keep you warm."

Ace didn't need to be told twice. He quickly stuffed the blankets behind him before snuggling under the covers and moving towards the heat source that was his brothers. This was the reason why he made sure Luffy was in the middle. It would be weird if he and Sabo got this close but Luffy liked to cuddle and would do so as often as allowed, and Ace was really cold and willing to do just about anything to warm up at the moment.

"Why is it so freaking cold? Isn't it summer?"

"Well in the Grand Line each island has its own atmosphere. Maybe we're approaching a winter island?" Sabo said.

"How do you know that?" Ace questioned.

"Namur told me."

They were quiet for a while, thankful that the heat was slowly starting to build.

"Winter was never this cold back home."

"That's because we lived in a warm climate."

"Nowhere should ever be this cold," Ace complained.

"Ace, Sabo, shut up 'm sleepin'," Luffy mumbled.

The two boys laughed quietly because Luffy had just yelled at them in his sleep. They settled down and allowed themselves to drift off to sleep again.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

They were awakened by the sound of someone pounding on their door. "OI WAKE UP YOU LOT!"

Ace frowned. It was Thatch.

He was too cold to deal with him or anyone right now.

"Sabo tell him to go away," he requested sleepily.

"Go away," the blonde said not nearly loud enough to be heard on the other side of the door, snuggling deeper into the covers.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

"Sorry I tried."

"WAKE UP! YOU'RE GOING TO MISS BREAKFAST!" the fourth commander yelled/sang.

This caused the warm mass Ace had been cuddling with to spring up. "Food! We have to go eat or we'll starve. Come on get up!" The boy jumped on the bed before he stopped and wrapped his arms around himself. "COLD!"

"No kidding. Get back in bed Lu," Ace said pulling him down into the middle so that he and Sabo could have their heat source back.

He decided that he really hated being cold. He really wished that he could be warm all the time. Or at least have a fire with him at all times to keep him warm.

It was then that all three of their stomachs growled and they had the dilemma of either staying warm in their bed or eating.

Their door burst open letting even more cold air in. It was unusual for anyone to come into their cabin without permission but it did happen on occasion. Usually it was Thatch but this time it was the first division commander. "What are you all still doing in bed? You're not sick again are you?" he asked sounding slightly concerned.

"SHUT THE DOOR!" Ace and Sabo yelled.

"Hi Marco!"

"Hi Luffy," he greeted as his fellow commander joined him and shut the door. Ace had noticed that Luffy had taken to greeting the pirate by name every time he saw him. And he noticed that Marco would return the greeting with a smile every time.

"Seriously, you are usually up before now. Is everything alright?" Thatch asked. Ace groaned before sitting up, making sure he had a blanket securely wrapped around himself.

The two commanders were wearing scarves and gloves and heavy coats. So they knew it was going to get cold. Why didn't they warn them?

"It's too cold to get out of bed," Ace informed them shivering despite his blanket.

"Yeah," Luffy and Sabo agreed.

"Don't you have winter clothes?" Marco asked. "Garp said that you had everything you would need."

"You wear different clothes in winter?" Luffy asked.

"It's normal to wear warmer clothes in the winter. We didn't bother at home because winter wasn't that much cooler than summer," Sabo explained.

"Oh. I want to go back where it's warm," Luffy whined.

"Me too," Ace whined as well making his little brother laugh and Sabo to shoot him a confused look.

"You mean to tell me that all you have are shorts and T-shirts?" Marco asked.

"I have my coat," Sabo said pointing towards his tail coat that was hung on the back of the desk chair.

"Alright, but you don't have anything that would actually be useful in cold weather? Garp didn't get you anything?"

"Grandpa didn't get clothes," Luffy informed trying to snuggle closer to Ace. The older brother was happy to oblige and wrapped an arm around him glad to have the warmth.

Marco sighed. "You all go to breakfast. Let me see what I can do."

"Can we take our blankets?" Sabo asked.

"How else are you going to get to the galley without freezing?" Thatch asked making the trio smile.

Entering the galley Thatch offered to get them their food so that they wouldn't trip over their makeshift coats. They all thanked him before taking a seat next to Namur and Izo.

"Why do you have blankets?" he asked.

"Because we didn't know that there were different clothes for when it's cold," Luffy explained. It wasn't that they didn't know it was that they never had to think about having warmer clothes but Ace didn't feel like correcting him.

A half hour later they were done eating and Marco arrived with three scarves, and old coats. "This is all I could find," he said.

Sabo dived for the black coat while Ace grabbed the brown one. They both quickly put them on and frowned at how big they were. But at least they were warm.

Marco helped Luffy button up a green coat that looked like it was going to eat him.

"This might not work," Marco said seeing how the sleeves on the coat Luffy was wearing was dragging on the ground. "This will have to do until we can get you some coats that actually fit in town."

"No, these will do fine," Sabo said rolling up his sleeves so that his hands were now poking out.

Ace did as his brother and was pleased that he was now able to use his hands.

"Here are those gloves you wanted commander," a deep voice sounded behind them. Luffy tensed and instantly took a step towards Ace who wrapped an arm around him. Every time the man was in the vicinity, Luffy would get really quiet and seek out the comfort and protection his brothers would offer without hesitation.

"Thanks Teach. I appreciate it but I think they're going to be too big so they'll just get some when they get new coats."

"If you're sure then," the large man shrugged, turned and walked away.

Luffy calmed down once he was out of sight.

"That's really not necessary," Ace informed Marco. "We can make do with these."

"Nonsense Luffy's going to trip too many times to actually enjoy the snow if he wears that. Besides it won't offer enough protection from the cold if your coats are too big."

"We don't have money," Sabo informed. "So we'll take what we get. Thank you for finding these for us."

Marco gave them a confused look. "I know you don't have money. I'm going to buy you all some winter clothes."

"You really don't have to do that," Ace said quickly. He didn't want them wasting their money. He didn't want his new friends to start thinking of him as a burden.

"I like this one," Luffy said flapping his arms, giggling when the sleeves flopped around. "Look they're flying."

"Well then you can wear that one until we get you a new one," Marco said turning towards the two older boys ignoring Luffy's disappointed 'oh.' "You are my responsibility. If I want to get you new coats and gloves then you will be getting new coats and gloves. Isn't that right Thatch?"

"I can buy Ace's," the other commander offered with a look that was daring Ace to argue.

"I'll get Sabo's," Namur volunteered.

"So I guess that means it's you and me Short Stack."

Luffy giggled at the nickname.

"No. Really you don't have to. We'll just outgrow them soon anyway," Ace protested. "You don't need to waste your money."

Suddenly Ace had three division commander of the Whitebeard Pirates glaring down at him.

"It is not a waste of money to make sure that you don't freeze to death," Thatch said in a very deep and slow voice. If he had been saying anything else Ace would have thought it was a death threat.

"And just for that comment we're getting you new pants, shoes and shirts," Marco said in the same voice.

At that moment Luffy, who had been running around to see his sleeves "fly," stepped on one of them and smacked into the floor face first, breaking the tension.

"You alright, Lu?" Ace asked. He knew Luffy would be fine, he was rubber, but he really wanted to change the subject.

"Ha ha ha. That was fun."

"Of course it was," Sabo said sarcastically, helping Luffy to his feet making sure that he wasn't still stepping on the sleeves of his coat.

"Alright so shopping first and then playing in the snow," Thatch decided ushering the boys towards the door.

"What's snow?" Luffy asked cocking his head to the side.

"It's cold white stuff that falls from the sky," Ace told him.

"Like rain?"

"I think so."

"Oh wow. Please tell me that you have at least seen pictures of snow before," Thatch said.

"Well obviously Ace knows what it is," Namur said.

"Sabo told me."

"I read about it in a book once."

"Well then. You're about to see the real stuff," Marco informed as he picked up Luffy and jumped off the ship, gently putting him down after he landed.

"I-is that snow," Luffy asked looking around the island amazed.

"Yup. All the white stuff is snow. Stay close there are animals that are hiding in it and won't hesitate to attack."

"Really? I wanna see!" The straw hat wearer took off running towards where the snow looked deeper.

"Luffy come back here!" Ace shouted chasing after his little brother. It was about ten seconds later that he was lifted off the ground by the hood of his coat.

"Didn't Marco just say to stay close?" Thatch asked.

"I didn't want Luffy to get eaten by anything again," the older brother rationalized his actions.

The man nodded thoughtfully. "Hmm. Good excuse."

He grinned at the pirate.

"Do that again and I'll tie your sleeves together so they won't fly anymore," Marco told Luffy as he carried him back towards the group.

"No don't do that!"

"Then stay next to me."

"Fine."

Three hours the brothers were outfitted with everything they would need for winter fun.

Sabo had a blue coat, he wore a red scarf and gloves. He refused to take off his top hat.

Ace had an orange coat with black gloves and a scarf. He also refused to take off his hat saying that it matched his coat.

Luffy had a red coat and yellow gloves and scarf. He wanted everything to be red but Marco wouldn't let him. No one even bothered trying to buy him a new hat.

And true to their word the pirates had also bought the boys long pants, boots and long sleeved shirts.

"I want the other coat," Luffy said looking in disappointment at his non flying sleeves.

"I thought red was your favorite color," Marco asked in mock confusion.

"It is!"

"Well then, isn't this coat better?"

The boy thought for a moment before deciding that this coat was indeed better because it was red and not green.

Ace laughed. Marco was getting good at taking care of Luffy. It was nice knowing that there was someone other than him and Sabo that could take care of his little brother if they couldn't do it. Naturally they would still take care of their brother no matter what. But it was still nice know there was someone that could help if needed.

"See isn't that better?" Thatch asked Ace as they stepped outside the store.

He had to admit the new coat was a lot warmer than the one he had just been wearing. "Yeah but you still shouldn't have wa- spent your money on us."

"If we hadn't then Pops would have made sure that someone did. He likes you brats and will make sure that you're taken care of," Marco said as he watched Luffy wrapped his arms around one of his legs and sit on his foot so that he wouldn't have to walk. The blonde pirate shrugged but didn't miss a beat.

It was probably better that way. At least they would know when he ran off.

"So now that you won't freeze or get frost bite how would you like to build your first snow man?" Thatch asked.

"What's a snow man?" Luffy asked excitedly.

"It's a man made out of snow," Namur told him.

"Really?! That's so cool!"

"You shouldn't have said that. Now he's going to expect an actual man made out of snow," Sabo said shaking his head.

"Really?"

"Yup," Ace said.

"It's not a man made out of snow," Marco told the little boy still wrapped around his leg.

Luffy let out a disappointed "Oh."

"It's just snow that is shaped like a man."

"What?"

Marco chuckled. "Don't worry we'll show you when we get to a suitable place for building snow men."

They walked out of town and into a valley, looking for a nice open area that they could have some winter fun. Ace was pretty sure the adults were more excited than they were to play in the snow. "Alright here looks like a good place," Thatch declared once they were about thirty minutes out of town.

"Good for what?"

"Building a snow man of course. Come on I'll show you all how to do it."

The three boys watched as the fearsome pirate made snow man by rolling three big balls of snow and placing one onto of the other, giving him a face with pine cones and pine needles.

"Ta-da!" he presented with a smile. Marco and Namur burst out laughing.

"That has to be the most pathetic excuse for a snow man I've ever seen," Marco said between laughs.

"Shut up! It's fine."

"It's lop-sided," Namur pointed out once he had gained control of himself.

"Just because you two don't know a quality snow man when you see one doesn't mean that Ace, Sabo, and Luffy won't. What do you guys think?"

"Namur's right it's lop-sided," Sabo said his head tilted to the side inspecting it.

"Yeah, it really is," Ace agreed.

"I like him!"

"Thank you Luffy, you're my only friend here." The commander grabbed the seven year old in a hug and then stuck his tongue out at everyone else.

A snowball came from the side at hit him in the back of the head.

"Oi what was that for Marco!?"

"We're having snowball fight," the man informed and threw another snowball, this time at his friend's face.

"You are so going down!" Thatch yelled dropping Luffy and scooping up handful of snow.

The three boys watched as the adults started pelting each other with snow.

"Why would anyone want to get snow thrown in their face?" Ace asked cringing at the idea.

"Looks like fun," Luffy said picking up a handful of snow and throwing it at Sabo.

"That wasn't a snowball," Thatch called. "Come on I'll teach you how to make a real snow ball.

"We each get one of the brats on our team," Marco declared suddenly sweeping in and grabbing Luffy from in between his brothers.

"Yeah!" Thatch agreed latching onto Ace and pulling him towards his lop-sided snow man.

Ace was sure that Sabo had been dragged off by Namur at some point as well.

"Alright teammate. Pay attention because I'm about to teach you how to make a snowball." Ace rolled his eyes but nodded. "First you grab snow, then you put it in one hand, and then pack it tight with the other hand." The pirate demonstrated forming the snow into a ball as he explained.

"Now you try."

Ace did as he was told and picked up some snow. He had just been shaping it into a ball when there was a low rumbling sound.

"What was that?"

"I'm not sure." Thatch stopped making snowballs and stood looking around.

"AVALANCHE!" Namur yelled from his position about a hundred feet away.

Thatch's eyes grew wide as he turned and grabbed Ace by the waist and started running. Ace could see Namur carrying Sabo and running far in front of them. He looked around but couldn't see Luffy or Marco anywhere. He really hoped that they were alright because he knew that you can never mess with an avalanche.

The thought had just crossed his mind when he felt Thatch start to fall. His eyes widened as they both fell. He was thrown from his friend's arms and rolled a bit before he was able to stop himself. He sat up looking around. He couldn't stop the panic he felt as he saw a wall of snow coming towards him. Thatch screamed his name but he couldn't worry about him right now. He had to do something. Thinking quickly he looked around a saw a rock that jutted out of the ground that would provide some protection from the snow. Enough so that he wouldn't be crushed anyway.

He prayed he had enough time as he made a mad dash towards the rock.

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