Name: CC / Wolf
Age/18+?: yes 29
Contact: LittleTigerCC12 on aim, firstname.lastname@example.org / silverwolfcc
Other Characters Played: N/A
Most Recent AC Link: N/A
Name: Marco the Phoenix, First Division commander of the Former Whitebeard pirates, and Captain of the Sparklebirds.
Canon: One Piece / + CRAU
Canon Point: Chapter 490 + 5 years of RP
Age: Over 40+ somewhere closer to "infinity" than not. -> he looks like mid-low 30s however. See also: "phoenix"
Type of Character: CRAU
In Witchesreign, hereafter to be referred to as "The Balamb Garden" as that is where it took place, Marco was given time and space enough to cope with the loss of his father and brothers, well away from the anxieties of Blackbeard, slavers, and marines all trying to kill him and his family and take over his father's beloved protected islands. Instead he was given the opportunity to focus on what was most important to him, given the downtime to do so, and given enough emotional distance to work on putting the pieces of his family back together at least for his own sake. He had to learn to adapt to being completely without the family who'd meant more than the universe to him, and indeed, while he met a version of his fallen brother Ace there, it was not the one Marco knew, but one who'd grown up as a marine and therefore hated Marco instead. Still, Marco persevered, and found that it was well worth it. He started making his own family, rather than simply existing to help his adopted father create the Whitebeard family, and living just to protect them as best he could.
He even got married to Grell Sutcliffe, since she couldn't die (as a shinigami) he felt safe with that, and more, he needed someone as high maintenance as his brothers to keep him distracted, so constantly pulling out the stops for her fulfilled that void. He added another brother, and adopted a child with Grell to look after, all while getting to do something he never would have had the chance for in his world: go to a school for the sake of actually learning. As the son of a pirate, as the right-hand man to the formerly strongest man in the world (or all time if you ask Marco) such an opportunity would have been impossible in his world. Allowed to pursue tactics and information gathering with the emotional distance of not having his actual brothers in threat greatly helped the phoenix develop the skills he thought he'd most need without his father and brothers Ace & Thatch who usually did the infiltration.
His loathing for heroes was intensely exacerbated by the number of heroes at the Garden, and there are fewer insults he can give more sarcastically than that. However, he still developed something of a conscience in the form of Espio the Chameleon who was constantly trying to keep Marco in check... as much as anyone can. Or if not that, at least he proposed alternative angles to Marco's desire to burn down the world and leave it to ruin in ash.
Marco empathized best, ironically, with Seifer on account of his own struggles to graduate "on time" with finicky rules, and every time the rules were changed to more stringent, Marco worried he'd never get his credentials in on time, but luckily his rapport with Headmaster Cid (who reminded him of his Pops) kept him undercover enough to bend the "25 and under" rule, even if he did later all but lose his temper after graduation when he was demoted.
His Pops did show up for a bit, just in time for Marco and Grell to move up their wedding so his father could officiate instead of Headmaster Cid, and much to his initial bewilderment, his brothers Namur and Thatch had apparently been living in a different mercenary school hidden away from the world before getting transferred to Balamb Garden. At that point, Marco realized that the "Time Compression" spell that had brought them all together didn't merely squeeze things to that point, but included ripples and folds in the fabric of the space-time continuum. He became convinced he could start to manipulate it and use it to keep them together, though the rest of them weren't sure if it was just an act Marco was putting on to reassure them or not.
After fighting black holes, a Lunar Eclipse, and the end of the world as they knew it, they transported behind the veil, which left Marco with a permanent sense of the vagueness of space and time; something that had always kind of eluded him as a phoenix. This didn't help his insistence that he could manipulate it to suit his desires.
In Cerealia, Marco couldn't find himself terrible fazed by being teleported to the inside of a volcanic cave, or fighting the robots sent by others, instead he was much more concerned with trying to find the rest of his brothers and knit them together so he wouldn't keep losing them. He did enjoy acting as a mall guard (although it meant the occasional "torture" by pranksters) and as a gondolier at the park, and in the winter months, he made a bunch of mini-hoodies for pigeons and taught them to be a gang and how to mug people. For fun.
More significantly for him was that he was able to meet other people from his world again and catch up on the news of Luffy's well-being (indeed, Luffy insisted he was going to protect Marco, to which Marco didn't have much response truth told, aside from "okay good luck") and the reminder that his own world was more or less in ruins as far as Marco was concerned, so his desire to go back home was closer to "nil" than not. Especially when it came to ensuring Thatch's continued existence, and finding his version of Ace again.
1. Devil fruits are a cursed fruit that once eaten, gives the user an immense singular ability, but the price is a weakness to water, ocean, seastone and the like, and to never be able to swim again. Marco is a mythical zoan (animal shapeshifter) user, which is why he turns into a literal blue phoenix. With sparkles.
2. Haki is concentrated will that takes on a literal physical form, either in shielding, or in enhancing awareness to even "psychic" levels, and for true conquerors, allows them to pressure weaker lifeforms into unconscious or terrify animals into running away.
3. Nakama: While nakama are very important for anyone in One Piece, the Whitebeards take the family aspect of it a lot more literally since they called their captain "Pops," making the rest of them brothers. Indeed, it's this loyalty that drives Marco to protecting them as much as he can, and so insanely determined not to lose them.
4. Vengeance: The Whitebeard pirates are most well known for their infamous law of total vengeance upon anyone who hurts one of their own. Marco was one of the main proponents who made that law synonymous with the Whitebeard mark, so to have Thatch's killer: Blackbeard, one of their ex-nakama on the loose drove him nuts. After Ace lost to Blackbeard, and Blackbeard killed and stole Whitebeard's devil fruit, this only got a lot more severe.
5. Tattoos: The Whitebeard tattoo is arguably the most important defining trait about Marco, but when Namur pointed out to him that Espio and his son had never really known Whitebeard, and couldn't be part of that time period, Marco agreed. His father wanted him, and them all, to move into the future, so he took the mustache of his own tattoo and closed it to form his own crew and their newer identity together. Likewise, he did the same with Grell's, Thatch's, and instead added a T-bar to Namur's 8 tattoo.
6. Zou: Zou is the name of a giant elephant, the oldest living creature in the world of One Piece, upon whose back live a tribe of talking animal people whom Marco is great friends with. Indeed, they sailed with him, and their leaders are currently (in canon/future time) looking for Marco to get his help. When asked, Marco claims his haircut design like a pineapple is so that his long lost people will always be able to find him. As the village is on the back of an elephant, they are never in one place long, and it's important to note, their architecture has houses dangling from trees shaped like pineapples. They also have little to no concept of the value of personal space, and to a very large degree, neither does Marco.
7. Fishmen & Fishmen Island Fishmen and merfolk are two sides of the same coin. Merfolk have a fishy tail and human head and body, but fishmen have human legs and fishy heads and arms or bodies. The King of Fishman Island: King Neptune, was one of Whitebeard's absolutely best friends. And indeed, after Roger's death, when slavery became rampant in the kingdom, Marco was one of the strongest to stand alongside his father and make sure that if anyone thought they could enslave mermaids or fishmen on the island, they would have to go through the Whitebeard crew first and foremost. Marco has an anklet in fishman style, and Jinbei, despite formerly being forced to war against the Whitebeards (in order to protect Fishman Island) refused, and sought to help his friend Ace whom he wound up in prison alongside. Marco's brother Namur (8th division commander, and one of the three able to get to the Garden aside from Marco himself) is a fishman, and Marco instinctively has a protective streak a mile wide for all fishmen and merfolk.
8. Okama -- What is in a gender? Being an okama carries with it a huge rejection of the rules of gender in society, and can be vastly ostracizing. 16th division commander Izou is an okama-style geisha crossdresser who wore painted nails and geta sandals to battle, and Grell whose extreme motivation and lost dream was to have a child, but couldn't because she was born in the wrong body, both play significant roles in Marco's life and why he continues to ensure that they can live as freely and happily as possible. That said, Marco is good at biology, but with the added introduction of magic, he can get thrown for a loop.
9. Time Compression The spell cast over Balamb Garden in order to deal with the sorceress, which also led to people from other worlds and dimensions being brought to the garden unknowingly.
10. World Government While the government surrounding Balamb Garden had its issues, Grell even took a citizenship officially in the world, leaving Marco and the other pirates slightly baffled, as they had always been an entity unto themselves. In Cerealia, Grell met the personification of England (and since Marco had been friends with Japan in the Garden, this didn't surprise him) whom as her homeland, was something akin to a father for her. Nevertheless, Marco will always first and foremost remember his own world's World Government; with their tyrannical rules, the marines' sense of "justice" which led them to pursuing and executing his family members, and it's this which leaves him incredibly wary of most authority, despite being something of an authority figure himself at times.
Caves, Cars, Elevators, & Claustrophobia: While caves don't bother Marco too much, because despite being a hefty 6'3", he's one of the shortest in the Whitebeard family, and thus he's used to cavernous living quarters; spaceships, cars, and elevators take all of his self control not to feel immensely trapped and want to break out in a violent way. Indeed, this coupled with his capacity to fly outside of vehicles means that he'd rather run thirty miles than ever have to ride or drive in a car. Defensive driving is the only course Marco failed at the garden, and even with intense tutelage, he only barely passed the second time. He also crashed over five cars, and really shouldn't be allowed a license. Don't even get him started on Cerealia's subway. Birds are not meant to be there, clearly. And elevators are just for people without wings. How sad for them. Thatch usually coddles this side of Marco, Espio mocks it, and Grell just rolls her eyes.
Marco is extremely strong: physically, as far as fighting goes, but also mentally, as he has a lot of willpower and was able to resist falling asleep from Shanks' haki. He's ridiculously protective of his crew and anyone he cares about as an ally or trusted friend. He loves Whitebeard as a father, calling him Pops like the rest of the crew does, and was the first person to explain to Ace why the pirates trust and love Whitebeard as a father. He gets very distraught when someone hurts his crewmates, and tends to be the worrier of the crew, sometimes referred to as the "Mother Hen" in fanon. He's intimately well-informed on crew matters, having been one of Whitebeard's most trusted commanders, and is seen as very responsible, even duty-bound at times. As the first division commander, he's "the big brother" of the family that is the Whitebeard crew, and he looks after all his little brothers, calling them "young ones" and treating them almost like baby ducks, until they get stronger and learn more about how the world works. He has a deadpan sense of humor, claiming in the middle of battle to be severely hurt by Kizaru, even when he was completely unharmed, and is shown to be quite sarcastic while maintaining an emotionless face. He doesn't like to show weakness to enemies or outsiders, and because a lot of people (such as Crocodile) want to kill Whitebeard to take his place, or in an attempt to become the next pirate king, Marco is usually quite wary of them. However, he does take a quick liking to Luffy, partly because he knew how important he was to Ace, and also because Luffy stopped Crocodile from attacking Whitebeard in the fight.
Marco has an intense loyalty to Whitebeard. So much so, that he generally dislikes Red-Hair Shanks for asking Marco to switch sides and join his crew instead. He also got annoyed with Shanks for using haki on his crew, which Marco is very protective of. His love for Whitebeard (and worry thereof) is so great that despite the composure Marco shows through the rest of the battle at Marineford, when Whitebeard got hurt and started to fall, Marco turned his back on his enemy to try to rush to Whitebeard's side, and this got him into handcuffs draining him of his phoenix powers. He openly cried at both Ace and Whitebeard's deaths, even though it was in the middle of a battlefield, but he still maintained the presence of mind to try to get the rest of his crew to safety -- showing exactly why he was one of Whitebeard's strongest commanders, mentally as well as physically. Likewise, Marco is extremely intelligent, and knowledgeable about aspects of the world, that few, if anyone, knows much about.
He was extraordinarily worried about Ace when Fire-Fist took off to avenge Thatch against Blackbeard and even tried to stop Ace, because while he trusts his fellow commanders to have the strength to take care of themselves, and knew Ace's capabilities, Whitebeard told Ace to stand down. Marco trusted Whitebeard's judgement intimately and likewise trusted that Thatch was strong enough to survive where he couldn't, which meant Blackbeard far exceeded anyone's expectations of strength (as Shanks tried to inform the Whitebeard crew, though they already knew.) In spite of this, however, in order to save face for Ace and his pride, Marco backed up Whitebeard every step of the way in the claim that they ordered Ace to hunt Blackbeard down, even to Shanks and the world at Marineford.
Even without being Teach's division commander, Marco kept a close enough eye on Blackbeard to know things about him no one that else appears to. This is most likely due to his care for all of his crew, not just his own division, and his attention to fine details that was necessary to help his captain keep the crew running smoothly. However, in spite of the friendship and closeness to his crewmates, Marco still managed to keep a managerial distance, calling the newer crew members "young ones" and making it very clear that they took orders from him. He can be warm and gentle with them (like making sure to bring Ace food), but for all his affection for his supposed little brothers, Marco doesn't hesitate to take lone action himself, like surging ahead in a battle.
The Whitebeard pirates in general have the reputation of swift and terrible vengeance, and Marco is by no means exempt from this. His fury for Blackbeard for killing Thatch was only compounded when Ace was turned over to the marines to be executed, and worse yet, when Teach killed their captain. Marco was also furious with Akainu (who delivered Ace's killing blow), but in spite of that and all the other times the crew made sure to exterminate anyone who hurt their family; Marco knew his first responsibility was to keep the rest of the crew safe and alive. If he rushed toward revenge in the way he desperately wanted to, his crew would have tried to back him up and gotten hurt. Thus Marco put the priority of making sure as many got back out alive as possible above their reputed priority of vengeance.
Marco can come across as very flippant and dismissive, part of his cocky arrogance and also part of his sense of humor. When Rockstar was trying to brag about his fame and asked if anyone had ever heard of him, Marco quickly retorted, "No," steamrolling any more attempts on the pirate messenger's part to puff up his name and own ego. Marco can be extremely deadpan and sarcastic, even in the middle of a battle, and usually jokes lies with a completely straight face. He lights up and he's at his best and happiest when he's talking about his Pops and how much they love him and why. There's a glimmer of this reflection when he's explaining things to his crew around him, or straight-away agreeing with his Pops (like minds), or when he's proudly determined thinking that even if victory isn't immediately at hand, it'll be fun to try.
Despite easily having one of the highest bounties in the world, being the second-hand-man to the strongest man in the world, and having one of the rarest and strongest devil fruits in the world, Marco doesn't talk much about himself or brag at all. Instead, he seems to share some of Whitebeard's dream of a desire for family in that Marco wants to keep them safe. He's smart and at least a little ambitious to reach the rank he did, but he has no desire to be the next Pirate King, and even having been around during Gold Roger's rise to fame (as well as Golden Leo Shiki's), Marco's loyalty was always to Whitebeard because he respected his captain so much for wanting family and love instead of jewels or power. Following in his captain's footsteps, Marco's strength and power isn't used to make him famous, but instead to protect the beloved crew he has. While Whitebeard was supposedly taking a gamble on Ace's "Will of the D" carrying the new generation of pirates into the future and setting Ace up to become the next Pirate King, Marco supported this stance and never sought the title himself.
Whitebeard himself was most famous for not allowing slavery and even taking islands under his protection to stop other pirates from trying to engage in it. He adopted any son of the sea who needed a home as one of his own and didn't hold any discriminations based on race, species, abilities, personality, and was a very firm believer that a son should never be held to pay for the sins of a father. Marco backed up all of these beliefs every step of the way, worked with cross-dressers, fishmen, monsters, giants, and other seeming outcasts without question or pause. The only thing Marco seemed to have troubles with was forgiving someone who hurt his crew; the same thing Whitebeard himself said he could never forgive.
Marco seems to have an incredible memory for names and faces, and has been shown to hold grudges for years past where most people would forgive or forget. He remembered Crocodile years later, Shanks, and various minor details about the crews and allies, and he is exceptionally skilled at spotting his own crewmembers. At one point when they were infiltrated by a would-be traitor, Marco was the one to find Chameleone and stop him, even though Chameleone's devil fruit disguised him perfectly by copying other people's faces and devil fruit abilities.
When Squardo was beating himself up for getting tricked by the marines into attacking Whitebeard, Marco was furious with him, but got straight to the heart of the matter and told Squardo that agonizing over the mistake wasn't going to fix it or help them. If Squardo wanted to be sorry, he could prove it by backing Pops up and helping him against the marines to rescue Ace. Likewise, Marco has a very straight-forward attitude towards problem solving with most things he comes across. While Whitebeard was considered a brilliant tactician in his life, but much like the King piece in chess: slow-moving, but lethal in close quarters, Marco's role was much more that of the queen. Throughout Marineford, Marco kept an eye on several different divisions at once, moved and adapted to many different circumstances, but always gave everyone their orders according to what they were best at.
One of Marco's biggest strengths is his usual ability to keep a level head in bad situations. He's deadpan and nearly unflappable; the only thing that gets to him is seeing his family/crew hurt. He can rationally analyze most situations and he's excellent at getting straight to the heart of the matter, or cutting through unimportant details along the way. As one of the older crewmembers and first division commander, he's earned the respect and loyalty of his men and even most of the entire 1600 man crew, and yet he cares about all of them, even if they're new and younger and he sometimes calls them idiots. He even took time out of his day to bring Ace soup and talk with him; well understanding the importance of simple gestures, and because he really looks out for the crew that much.
Marco is so rational and even tempered, that he's able to put his desire for vengeance against Teach second to keeping his family safe -- particularly knowing that this is what Thatch, Whitebeard, and even Ace would want. When Ace died, for all of Marco's fury and outrage, he made it his priority for the crew to protect Luffy at any cost, even though this meant letting Akainu go rather than killing him (despite again, the crew's reputation the world over for vengeance). Marco has a lot of experience in fighting, the New World, and piracy at large since they lived in the most dangerous part of the world, had a captain who had frequent assassination attempts on his head, and Marco's been part of the crew since before Shiki's visit to Whitebeard (20 years prior to Strong World/canon before the timeskip.) This means he knows a lot about the ocean's hazards, and enough to keep his family safe through all of that.
Like other One Piece characters, Marco has a flair for the dramatic, can be an extreme showoff (though for tactical purposes, he purposely tries to draw the attention and fire to him, when he wants to be overlooked, he often can be, especially since for a Whitebeard pirate, he's a very short 6'3" and not twenty feet tall or pockets in his chin) and he also has a verbal tick. In Japanese this is best used as adding "yoi" to the end of his sentences, but in English, this can be somewhat translated to having, "eh" at the end of the sentences.
Marco takes a great deal of pride in the Whitebeard name and tattoo. Having spent the last several decades watching legends come and go, Whitebeard was the only father he had. Not only does this set up the very core of Marco's personality and convictions, but he instills it in others as well, and he was the first person to explain to Ace why they called him Pops and convinced the struggling pirate to take the mark and be free with them. Likewise, it's a huge part of why Marco defends it so vehemently and gets the vengeance he once did; in order to spread their reputation and make sure everyone knows what will happen to them if they mess with the Whitebeard crew. Even when Ace and Whitebeard both had fallen, Marco pulled the crew together by his insistence that letting Straw Hat die would dishonor the Whitebeard name.
He's very affectionate with those he likes, and tries to maintain a 360 degree scope awareness of all that is going on with his family, so if one of them is depressed (like Ace) he brings them soup or tries to cheer them up. However, this affection isn't automatic, it has to be earned through time and friendship, and then the instinctual bird side seems to get the better of him.
He has a head like a pineapple, a tattoo of the family on his chest, and bright blue fiery feathers.
Abilities: As a phoenix, Marco is able to procure blue flames with limited regeneration powers. The flames do not burn however; but Marco is so adept at using his devil fruit that unlike most zoans who can only switch between 3 modes (hybrid, original/human, and full form of the alternate species) he can procure the flames at whim. Likewise, he's shown himself able to transform any part of his body he wants into a phoenix form without completely switching into hybrid or full phoenix. His phoenix form is large enough to carry a normal-sized human, well capable of flying, (which Marco can also do just by switching his arms into wings) and very fast. He's a very strong martial artist and prefers to kick; partly as a reference to phoenix lore, and also because with his arms in wings, he likes to hang suspended and have the option of backing up with them. Due to the wings and devil fruit, he's a little bit of an acrobat, known for flips and kicking while upside down.
Able to hold his own against all three marine admirals, who are all logia (elemental devil fruit specifically: magma, ice, light) and highly trained in the use of "haki," Marco is also very strong with his own haki. Haki is the One Piece world's condensed spiritual pressure which can be used to pierce the elemental logia types; put weak-willed foes to sleep or stop them in their tracks, and resist blows like an armor. When one of the pirate emperors was visiting Whitebeard using all their haki and making Marco's crew pass out, Marco was easily able to resist -- something expected of one of the strongest men in the world, and first division commander in the crew of the strongest man in the world.
Marco is extremely skilled at cartography and astronomy, as he canonically used both to fly and set his courses (though again, not allowed to steer the ship, just set the course) and while he was spoiled with living for over four years in a world that was entirely mapped out, he and Thatch used to talk about how nice it would be to map the stars. Marco himself has a special love of stars, having to do with sparkles and phoenix metaphors.
Marco is incapable of ever learning to swim, and cursed to be weak to ocean. He can be taken by surprise and defeated by stronger haki (such as with Garp) and he's so protective of his family that seeing them injured sets off his temper and causes him act rashly, which doesn't work out well for him. Plus, while he can remain extremely composed no matter how bad the situation is, this does not mean he isn't deeply affected emotionally. If anything, though Marco rarely shows his emotions, he is deeply affected by events, and the reactions he does reveal can be very extreme, from tears to solidarity. He has great conviction in what he does, and what he believes, even though as far as even One Piece pirates go, he doesn't seem to have much (if anything) by way of morals, but when he likes something, he strongly does. Likewise, when he dislikes someone there isn't much that can stop him from showing it.
While he can fly, he can't travel long distances, especially in thunderstorms or unpredictable weather. This also takes effect in the form of his mild claustrophobia, and an intense dislike for being restricted to areas he can't fly freely using only his wings. As a being made of flames, he's weak to rain, he doesn't do well in fog, and he's especially weak to ocean and seastone. Likewise anything that gives off "the energy" of the ocean. As a zoan, Marco is susceptible to various zoan problems and dangers, including diet restrictions, as the more carnivorous a zoan is, the more bloodthirsty they become (which can be both a weakness and strength.)
Despite being nearly immortal from the phoenix devil fruit, Marco is definitely able to die and has several set weaknesses hampering his regeneration capacity. He also gets tired and worn out the more he does, and because he doesn't have normal signals of when to slow down, he has to be more careful about it.
Likewise, zoans have been shown to develop some distinctly animal traits and personality affectations, and as such, Marco is also limited by his bird
Inventory: His pirate gear, wedding ring, a pair of reading glasses that are really just for show, a copy of the book "Moby Dick," and a file of drawings from Toby (his adopted son) mostly of the family and animals/pokemon.
Soul Gem: A diamond ring on the opposite hand from his Balamb Garden class ring and wedding band.
Third Person: TDM Scattered Throughout
Has anyone tried speaking with Tu Vishan to ask what she prefers to call herself? [He assumes the turtle is a she on account of the babies.] I wish to sing her a thank you lullabye, I'm sure she'd like it, but I'm not sure where would give off the best acoustics. And I'm not about to go under the shell, thanks, yoi.
Ah, perhaps it's not meant for mortals to touch upon but then... [He chuckles.] Surely a less than mortal has tried?
Still, if the initial goal was for us outsiders to help, then it doesn't seem like that task is as over as the Kedans seem to think.
Additional Information - CRAU Characters:
Game Origin: Witchesreign takes place during the Time Compression of the Balamb Garden and Final Fantasy VIII world. The players all became mercenary students or teachers or staff, and tried to survive the political and assassin intrigue involved with the sorceress and others of the world. Cerealia takes place in the futuristic city of Ceres, wherein the new arrivals are hard-coded into the programming at the end of the universe and trying to find how to bring the rest of reality back with them. There's a lot of slice of life and jobs, but some fantasy and adventure.
Obviously Marco's core never changed. No matter what, he's insanely protective of his family, crew, allies, and anyone who can earn that loyalty will be forever well-defended. But two of the biggest key points of change for Marco's five years in another pair of worlds are both his emotional and social states.
After Thatch's death, Marco was in pretty deep mourning. Not only was Thatch his best friend, the man always at his side, and the one helping Marco get along with other people, but they were bitten by a betrayal. Despite Marco's skills in thwarting numerous infiltration attempts, he like everyone else, had believed that Marshall D. Teach was one of them. Instead Blackbeard stabbed Thatch in the back, took his devil fruit, and ran away. In a crew not only famous for their loyalty, but also for their revenge, this was incredibly shocking, and indeed it shook up the world. Marco earned his own fame from his own vengeance in previous years, and yet this time he wasn't able to get it himself. Whitebeard ordered Marco and the other sons not to go chasing Blackbeard, because he knew it would end disastrously. Even though this didn't sit well with Marco, he couldn't bring himself to disobey Whitebeard, and worse still, Whitebeard was already sick and dying. If Whitebeard died while Marco was away, Marco knew he'd never be able to forgive himself.
Surrounded by all the hurt and anger, Ace, the youngest and most reckless of the crew decided to get revenge for Thatch on his own, claiming responsibility on account of being Teach's commander.
In the Garden, Marco had a good long time to reflect on every single piece of it. More, he had time to actually process it all logically, rationally, and relatively detached from all the stress of the subsequent war in his world. Even though he started off quite lonely and had to learn to adjust hard not just to a new world where no one his name, reputation, skills, and everything he'd worked for for the past few decades, but he also had to learn to go from being surrounded by sixteen hundred siblings (and another several thousand in allies whom Whitebeard also called his sons) to having nearly none, and an almost panic worthy state about Ace who suddenly wasn't dead, but was a marine, oh and hated Marco.
For all that, while he wasn't able to take care of his crew, he was forced to learn how to look after other people and how to adopt more family. He was able to transition from Marco: Whitebeard's oldest son, to Marco: a leader following in Whitebeard's footsteps and painting a path through the stars and time itself.
While Marco never lost his thirst for vengeance, he did gain something almost of a conscience in his little brother Espio, the Chameleon. Of course, he also had a terrible effect on the Chaotix crew member and turned him into a pirate, convinced him to sleep with Ace when they found him again, oh and always promised to help Espio kill Shadow if he ever felt like it. But hey, Marco never once said he stopped being a pirate first, and phoenix second.
Most bizarrely is that Marco's phoenix capacity aside from being literally birdlike, became mentally affected by the time shenanigans. Marco never fully told anyone, even his wife, just how deeply he was experimenting with Time itself, but the person he gave the most insight to was Thatch. Marco would move heaven, earth, hell, and yes, time, for Thatch. And while that was true long before his stint in the Balamb Garden, his messing with it in desperation gave him even more hope, and determination. While enough of Marco was able, in some ways, to let his father go, under the knowledge that Whitebeard was 72, sick, and already dying on the day that Whitebeard died the way he wanted to (standing up, proudly facing the enemy, and with a record no one will ever be able to match, and his family safely guarded because of it) Thatch and Ace were quite younger. Ace was only twenty, and Thatch had a world of potentials unfulfilled.
In One Piece, it's said that devil fruit users are restricted only by their imaginations (which is why inanimate objects make for boring users and some people are ridiculous with minor things) and if that is true, then Marco has more surprises for the universe than it can probably even handle. Marco never stopped trying to understand the legends of phoenixes, all with the same goals he ever had in mind: to protect his family. He is a pirate, and they are his treasure, and he never ever loses sight of that. Having been to the other side of metaphysical dimensions, having heard of Espio's special zone loss, and having spoken to the very people involved in Time Compression, Marco expanded his mind, and as a consequence, the limits of what he'd try.
While he shows his family no doubt in his capacities, they all know, or at least suspect, it's partially an act where he just wants to reassure them and keep them safe. Marco is a born liar, and when it comes to protecting his family, he'll swear anything through his teeth. Still, if there's one man consistently doing the impossible to protect them, it's Marco. Especially the more he transitioned from commander to cadet to SeeD to Captain. It wasn't a mantle he felt ready for, but he refused to back down either.
Marco married the only woman who'd be able to keep up with him, a shinigami who wouldn't outlive him (she was already dead) or inevitably die long before him, even if he lived another millennia. Despite, or perhaps because of her frequent head games, Grell was huge steadying influence on Marco in more ways than he'd ever be able to express. He dotes on her often, spoils her whenever possible, and trusts her even with Thatch and Ace's lives. She had the same dream as his Pops, and because of that, Marco has always made sure he'll never let her down.
The return of Thatch himself was like light in darkness for Marco. Suddenly he had his twilight back where he could see dawn, dusk, and the horizon in all directions. He knew where to go, when to go, and how he was going to get there. Marco no longer had to just focus on being a better commander to try to deal with the war back in his time, but he became convinced that time, like light, could be refracted into alterations and he could go on the exact beams he chose. After all, who could stop him? He's a phoenix and no one really knows the limitations to that, so why not do what he wanted with it? That's the best part of being a pirate, after all. Marco once even asked Thatch with warnings for all the possible negative consequences he could, to see if he should still try, but Thatch fell in line with Marco like a first mate, and said he absolutely should try, every step of the way.
Marco is still incredibly lazy about some things, and since he outright acknowledges he has no head for technology, he's almost one hundred percent completely and totally at the mercy of relying on others. This is partly arrogance as well. Marco doesn't even wish to be without those people he relies on, so he refuses to learn almost as a superstition that somehow it might make that person feel unneeded. Indeed, even though it would have been useful to learn about healing magics as much as possible to protect his other crewmates, Marco believed he wouldn't be able to use it in his own world's time, and so he convinced his adopted son to learn it all instead, and often ran into troubles when he could barely get off a low level spell. This tripped him up badly already when he thought he didn't need to focus on instructing cadets as much, and set him back in a great number of ambitions.
He is still thoroughly reliant on his family for certain things, and despite five years of separation from the Grand Line, Marco's focus remains on fragmenting time so he can hold onto literally stolen time with his other family members. He doesn't trust anyone to fly him in ships, airships or spaceships, other than Espio, he doesn't trust anyone to handle computers other than his wife. He doesn't trust anyone with Pokemon, Guardian forces, summoning creatures, and certain healing quite as much as he trusts Toby -- but he sent Toby to a safe spot so that the boy wouldn't break. And if Marco was once upon a time codependent on Thatch and trying to learn how to break that from Thatch's death, it isn't exactly removed. Marco would still entirely leave his emotional, mental, and existential well-being in Thatch's hands and not even think twice about it, for all of Thatch's own faults and issues, and the fact that Marco is married, and such a task should arguably fall to his own wife instead. Moreover, Marco's primary new goal is to find a way to stretch twilight to allow Thatch more chance to live, more chance for Marco to heal him in ways no one else can, and just more time period. So long as Thatch exists in any form, Marco will do anything, bend anything, and break anything for his brother and best friend.
Marco's first love is the sky, and while Grell once told Espio that Marco could only sneak up on him so easily in more outdoorsy places, Espio has always been nice about downplaying Marco's intense claustrophobia. Most everyone is aware that if Marco is going to get anywhere, he'd rather fly by power of his own wings, but barring that, he was a pirate on ships that even sailed under the ocean. On the other hand, these were ships built for men a good five times Marco's size, and so he never had to feel quite so claustrophobic, particularly as they'd reach open air soon enough. In the Garden, Marco often flew to the roof, and he was spoiled on the freedom of being able to go any random town he felt like. Still, very few have the capacity to fully understand the extent of Marco's related problems, much less deal with them.
Namur is yet another Marco was pretty damn codependent on. Not only did Namur take care of Thatch for three years before Marco found them, but Namur knew everything that Marco had been through, that Thatch had been through, and unlike the other two, the fishman didn't beat around the issues or deflect with every single chance he could. And more, Namur was the most balanced of all the crew members, in a way that held everyone together right from the middle. Namur's a fishman, and for a pirate like Marco who is incapable of swimming and doesn't even like large quantities of water, Namur is pretty much his lifeguard. More than that, Marco implicitly trusts Namur because the shark fishman is capable and does what needs doing with only a single word, nod, or direction from Marco. Even despite doing his best to embrace his role as Captain, Marco is all too used to half of his crew rebelling against him just for the fuck of it and an in effort to show him how strong they are (rookies). So Namur's trust, implicitly given, and never revoked, keeps Marco going forever and he gives that trust back in spades.
Every single nakama and family member is irreplaceable and Marco makes sure to never let them forget it (because they're human....ish and forget sometimes) but time shenanigans have made Marco both wary and flexible. He's still prone to suspicion, but he's able to absolutely believe in the idea that anything is possible now. After all, he's seen and done a lot, even by New World standards of his own world. Furthermore, as Marco reminded his crew, their Pops would have adopted a lot more, and letting Teach's betrayal affect them or hold them back is too damn weak for Marco's liking. It's not easy to earn Marco's trust, but once earned, he doesn't forget a thing and his overprotective loyalty is as extreme as the rest of him.
For all he says that however, Marco has become considerably less flashy. The man who used to literally sparkle in battles as a means of drawing attention to himself, has spent the better part of a few years never ever blending in, but certainly learning some more covert means of operations. At first he did this because he thought he would be without Thatch and he needed to learn. After Thatch's return however, it just became so that he and Thatch could help each other. This way Marco could do things more Thatch's way and help ease the man back into living.
Marco is still and forever will be dramatic, and in fact, marrying Grell exacerbated that considerably. A sometimes penchant for going big and showing off, goes all out when it comes to Grell, and she always encourages it. He's not above making up wild stories, ridiculous lies, and deadpan whaleshit all under the guise of entertainment, but even more than that, he'll be completely serious about the most ridiculous things, and completely ridiculous about the most serious things, and if he can, he'll do it without giving away his hand whatsoever.
He's also still one hundred percent a pirate. He doesn't trust heroes, he doesn't trust justice, he believes strongly in revenge, "borrowing without permission," and truly he enjoys a bit of chaos, mayhem, anarchy, and bacchanalia for the sake of it. While he practiced a decent amount of restraint and encouraged it over Grell, if there was an opportunity for antics, he got it, and part of what restrained him was loyalty to the Garden and Cid and his desire not to cause them any undue trouble. Marco's restraint, like his loyalty however, is not easily earned, and his temper is a simmering grudge that never ever goes away.