Ace was gone. Ace was gone. Ace was fucking GONE. And not on a trip where he'd come back. He'd died. Been burnt up. And they hadn't been able to save him.
Ace was gone and Marco couldn't fix it. Couldn't bring him back. And Ace's kid brother Luffy had snapped. He was frozen in pain and rage and everything all the Whitebeard pirates wanted to express and couldn't, didn't have the time or chance to yet.
Only one thing mattered. Marco had to get there. He didn't care how many pirates stood in the way, there was no fucking way in hell he was going to let Ace's killer touch Ace's kid brother. Simple as that. Luffy was all they had now. Luffy. He promised to protect that Straw-Hat kid at all costs. Ace had died to save Luffy. Marco would make sure Luffy was safe.
"You will not take this boy's life!" He was going to kill Akainu. Fuck the battle, fuck the world, the bastard had to die. He killed Ace. He killed Ace.
But first he had to protect Luffy. Beccause protecting his family and crew was what Marco did. He'd failed Ace, but he couldn't fail Ace on this one. Luffy's life had always mattered more to Ace than his own. He was just that way. "GET ACE'S BROTHER OUT OF HERE JIMBEI!" Marco roared, launching himself at Akainu, blue flames protecting the phoenix and trying to help him combat the sickly red and black magma that had killed his nakama. "That boy's life is what remains of Ace's will." He was all they had left. The Whitebeard pirates had messed up and lost Ace, but they couldn't lose Luffy. Not now. Especially not now. He'd declared he'd protect him, he promised he'd protect him, he would fucking do his job and not let them kill that crazy kid in a Straw Hat.
"We will protect him without fail in place of Ace!" Marco rallied the Whitebeard pirates. It was all they had left.
Jinbei was running and Marco was protecting their exit. He couldn't afford to get distracted. Not by anything now. He was pure determination on this. Ace's last want, last desire, last determination was for his kid brother to live so Marco would see it through.
Pops was furious. No surprise. Pops was so furious, he couldn't speak. Upset, worried, outraged. Pops always said a father was supposed to outlive his sons. Ace... Pops...
Marco was relieved by the backup from his father, by Whitebeard launching himself at Ace's killer with every intent to kill Akainu too. And then Pops made an Earthquake, starting what he'd planned all along and cut himself off from the crew, almost destroying the marine HQ in the process. Whatever, the bastards deserved it.
Marco's crew was distressed. They didn't want to leave Pops. To lose him. They wanted Ace back.
So did Marco.
The name of this era is Whitebeard.
Ace's sentiments of outrage. Marco shared it too, watching his Pops almost in awe of the power and fatherliness that Marco loved so much.
And then an ugly face Marco never wanted to see again except to bash it in a hundred times over.
God damn Marshall D. Teach.
And some new friends.
Marco didn't care about them, even though the marines made a big fuss.
The marines had their priorities all wrong. Their fault for giving Teach a shichibukai position and revoking Jinbei's. Fools. If Teach betrayed Pops, Teach didn't HAVE a sense of loyalty or restraint to anyone or anything. Especially not them.
Pops was even more mad than ever.
No surprise there. After all, Teach killed Thatch. Teach gave Ace to the marines to be executed. This was his fucking fault and the prick was standing there laughing at all of them and calling them weak for messing up. There weren't enough words or expressions in the world for all Marco's outrage. Pops went to kill Teach and Marco wanted to fly over. Tried to spread his wings, but Pops ordered him back.
"Don't you interfere in this Marco!"
Why, Pops? Marco was mad too. Thatch was Marco's friend too. Ace and all of them. And Pops was his father. He wanted to protect his father, but he had to stay back. Had to protect the crew. He promised his Pops he would. And he'd worried about Pops before and gotten himself in handcuffs. Damn it Pops.
Marco wanted to cry. To scream. To lash out and launch over there and kill Blackbeard even though Thatch and Ace hadn't been able to.
Vista had to be held back too. And Jozu... was on a stretcher. Had they even fixed his arm?
That coward. Oh god, Marco hated Teach almost more than he loved Pops. Pops was already so injured from that other bastard Akainu. Pops cornered Teach and then that bastard was so low nothing could describe him. He was scum to scum. He betrayed Pops all over again. Begged for help, cried pretending to be one of Pops' sons and then when Pops paused for a second, Teach ordered all his men to attack Pops. Scum. NOTHING was lower. Nothing.
Now Marco was crying. Fuck Teach, fuck the marines, fuck the world watching. Pops was dying and nothing else mattered to Marco. He couldn't stop crying. He couldn't fly over there or seek revenge. He could protect Pops or save him. He had to watch and couldn't do a thing. Being a phoenix protected Marco from almost everything. No physical wound could hurt him except the ocean or seastone, and so long as he had nakama to pull him out he was virtually invincible. But NOTHING would ever fix this would. This place in his heart for the one man he loved the most.
"One Piece is out there!" Pops wanted the world to know. So that someone would go find Roger's treasure and shake up the world. Last thorn in Sengoku's side. Prick deserved it.
Pops died standing.
Pops was always impressive like that.
But Marco couldn't even be awed. All he could do was cry. And feel anguish like nothing else. Not even Thatch's death, not even Ace's death, nothing could have prepared him for this pain.
And now... Marco was in charge. They were relying on him. He had to pull them together. He couldn't stand there and cry.
They had to leave. They had to get away. They had to save Ace's brother.
Because nothing else mattered. Ace was gone. Pops was gone, and their will lived on for Ace's brother to live. So they'd keep him alive. Nothing else mattered.