Now That You're Not Around, Baby I Can't Think

Summary: When the World Government fakes the death of Portgas D. Ace, the Whitebeard Pirates are left in limbo after they believe they have lost their Commander. That is until Red-Haired Shanks shows up on the Moby Dick to tell them they couldn't be more wrong. (Set in the Universe of "They Don't Know About Us"/Alternate Reality).

Whumptober 2021: Day Seven: Helplessness/Numbness.

Author's Note: Hey everyone and welcome back to Whumptober. This one is technically a side fic I've been wanting to do for They Don't Know About Us and Whumptober gives me an excuse to do it. I do hope you enjoy! You don't have to read They Don't Know About Us to understand this so just a quick run down of the family dynamic: Shanks and Mihawk are Ace and Luffy's biological parents. Rouge and Roger are Shanks' parents. Garp is Rouge's dad. Sabo was adopted by Dragon. Ace and Luffy did grow up on the Red Force. That's just about all you need to know about this. I will be doing what I usually do in They Don't Know About Us. I hope you enjoy!

Additional Notes: There will be a continuation/chaptered fic of this. Cause I have ideas for a version of Marineford happening. This is just for Whumptober but definitely will be continuing.

Warnings: Faking Someone's Death, Mentioned Execution, Omegaverse, I don't know what else to put.

Now That You're Not Around, Baby I Can't Think

Marco couldn't get the feeling that something was wrong out of the pit of his stomach. It had been two weeks since Red-Haired Shanks had shown up on the Moby Dick. Telling them exactly what Ace was up against when it came to Teach. What power Teach now possessed. Marco had done everything in his power to try and find Ace. Flying out almost immediately after Shanks and Whitebeard had decided to form an alliance together. He couldn't find him. No matter where he had went. There was no sign of him.

Questions still bugged him. The biggest one had been, why didn't Ace tell them that he had grown up on the Red Force? That he was the apprentice of Red-Haired Shanks. He had mentioned before that he had grown up on the Grand Line, but never liberated on it. Giving minimal information about anything regarding his childhood. Just that he had been trained to fight and knew how to survive alone on the Grand Line.

So many secrets. Marco wouldn't push it. Ace had proven himself trustworthy. If Marco didn't trust him, he wouldn't have started to court the Omega. Giving him the trinket to signify as such. It just lingered in his mind why he never mentioned Shanks.

That wasn't what this gut feeling was.

No.

It was worse.

Something he couldn't figure out.

Every instinct in him was screaming for him to go out and search for Ace again. Ace was excellent at being able to manipulate his way through a situation. Hide in plan sight if he covered the mark on his back. It was a skill that Marco admired. Not many people in their crew could pull something off like that.

He still couldn't help but feel absolute dread.

Something was wrong.

The Commanders and Whitebeard were on the deck. Most the crew also on the deck since lunch time had just finished and no one had any more duties to complete for a few hours.

Whitebeard sat in his normal spot, leaning back against the rail, staring up at the sky. The clouds were dark. The rumbling of thunder following closely behind. It was going to rain soon. Marco could smell it in the air over the ocean water. He wondered what island Ace was at. He was confident that Ace could handle himself with whatever crossed his path. He was not confident in Ace's ability to beat Teach. There was something nagging at him, screaming at him about not going enough to make sure Ace stayed on the Moby Dick.

"Son, are you alright?" Whitebeard's question brought him out of his train of thought.

Marco looked away from the clouds, gaze moving over to the Alpha Captain. "I'm fine. Just thinking." He replied.

Whitebeard cast him a soft smile, looking up to the sky himself. "I'm worried about him too."

The crowing of the mail bird caught their attention as Izou pushed himself up, stating that he would get that day's paper. Marco sighed, letting his gaze settle back on the sky. He hated this. Ace was really good at not allowing himself to be found. Marco wanted to make him a vivre card just so if this ever happened again, he could hunt him down easier. He felt like a fool for not thinking of doing that sooner. It should have been done when Ace first agreed to become a Commander. All of the Commander aside from Ace had one.

"Oh God no!" Izou's desperate shout exclaimed, voice cracking that instantly had everyone looking at him. The Sixteenth Division Commander standing exactly where he had received the paper, tears forming in his eyes, staring to spill over. Painted lips open and eyes wide as his hands shook. "Please, no. Don't let this be true."

"Izou, son, what's wrong?" Whitebeard questioned.

Izou looked up from the paper. "Ace… Ace is dead."

Marco felt like his entire world just crumbled underneath one of Whitebeard's tremors. Cracking every part of his interior as he pushed himself up. Eyes wide as he realized he couldn't hardly breathe.

Ace was dead?

"Wh… what?" Thatch muttered.

Izou let out a cry as he looked back down at the paper. "Fire Fist Ace Executed." He paused, taking in a shaky breath before continuing, "One week ago, on Barano Island, a battle between Whitebeard Second Division Commander Fire Fist, Portgas D. Ace and Captain of the Blackbeard Pirates, Blackbeard took place. Blackbeard defeated Fire Fist and gave him to the custody of the World Government. In exchange, Blackbeard was extended an invitation to join the ranks of the Seven Warlords of the Sea." The Wano native read, voice continuing to crack as he continued, "A private execution took place at Marineford, the location of the Marine Headquarters. Fire Fist Ace was executed this morning at eight am. Fleet Admiral Sengoku the Buddha released a statement following the execution, stating, Fire Fist Ace's position as a Whitebeard Pirate Commander put the lives of many at risk. If a public execution were to take place, the World Government believed a war would have broken out between the Marines and the Whitebeard Pirates and their allies. In order to protect as many lives as possible, Fire Fist was executed quietly at Marine Headquarters under the order of the World Government." Izou finished.

Denials immediately flew around. Every one of them crying out for it not to be true. Marco felt the tears stinging his eyes as his own denials started to fly from his mouth. Peering over his shoulder to Whitebeard who was staring with wide eyes to Izou. He looked back to Izou to hear his cries getting harsher as he turned the newspaper to show two pictures. One that was on Ace's bounty poster, and the other was of Ace laying in a pool of blood. Arms bound behind his back in cuffs. Eyes closed.

No. No. No.

It couldn't be true.

Ace couldn't be dead.

Marco couldn't hear a thing anymore as the ringing in his ears started up. His breathing becoming worse as he muttered, "I… can't… breathe." Clutching at his chest as the pain lingered.

He would never get to see Ace again. Never get to hear his laugh. See his smile. Watch his random bouts of narcolepsy. He never got the chance to mate with him like they had been talking about before Thatch was attacked.

"This can't be real… he can't be dead." Marco mumbled, starting towards the rail of the ship, feeling the flicker of the flames from his phoenix over his skin. Arms starting to transform into wings. "I have to go find him. He's still out there. I know he is."

The denials continued. He wasn't the only one. Arms wrapped around him. Multiple sets as he stumbled his way towards his usual take off point. He barely caught hearing Thatch say, "Marco, don't!" If he said anything after that Marco couldn't hear him as he blindly swung behind him. "Marco, brother, please. I know it hurts. Man, I… I couldn't even do anything. I don't know how you feel right now, but… Ace is gone."

Marco choked down a sob as his knees buckled, his shoulders shaking as he let his forehead fall against the wood. Thatch leaned over him, arms around him as he muttered reassurances. All that he really could do. Tears falling on the back of Marco's neck that he knew belonged to his friend. His brother.

They had lost Ace, and never stood a chance to help him. They were helpless in this situation. They didn't even know.

Ace had found Teach, and just like Shanks predicted… he lost. Being handed over to the Marines just to get executed.

Ace was gone.

Just like a snap of their fingers.

Taken from them.

Taken from him.

Marco felt absolutely numb.

X

It had been two weeks since that day. The Moby Dick wasn't the same. The former Spade Pirates had all but shut down. Not one person had a dry eye ever since Izou had read the paper out to them. Whitebeard even openly cried right in front of them as they drank away their sorrows at night. Marco most of all. He would stumble back to their – no, his… Ace was gone now, and he wasn't coming back – to pass out to the lingering scent from Ace in his sheets. The cherry blossom and wine laced within the fabric that was slowly started to deplete.

No one wanted to believe it. That Ace had been executed in secret. That they never had the chance to actually get him back. Ace had died. Taking a part of Marco with him.

One of the watchmen, puffy red eyes looking up to Whitebeard, had walked over, pointing away from them. "The Red Force is approaching, Oyaji."

Whitebeard nodded.

Marco choked down the lump in his throat.

It really wasn't a good time for Shanks to be showing up. They didn't need that stupidly bright energy from him. Not now.

Marco could only sit, arms thrown over his knees as he watched the approaching ship. It did catch him off guard that he didn't feel Shanks' haki which he normally activated the second that their ships were close enough.

This was just strange.

With the ships right next to each other, the gangplank was thrown across and Marco noticed quickly that Shanks was not alone. No, he was joined by four others including his entire crew. The people standing next to Shanks had Marco's eyes widening.

To his life was Dracule Mihawk. One of the Seven Warlords. One that they all knew dueled against Shanks constantly. It was easy to tell when the two met up because their duels could be heard anywhere on the Grand Line, no matter how far from them you were. Standing to Shanks' right was their own former Second Division Commander. Portgas D. Rouge herself. Standing in her old gear, mark proudly displayed. A hibiscus flower tucked behind her ear just like her nickname always stated. What caught him off guard was Ace's hat that was hanging around her neck. If the shock couldn't get any worse when he noticed that the Revolutionary Dragon and his Chief of Staff were standing beside Rouge.

"What's going on here?" Thatch muttered.

"Commander Rouge!" Izou exclaimed as well as a few of the other nakama on deck.

Rouge gave them a soft smile.

One thing he noticed was the smile wasn't a forced one. It was absolutely genuine. She hadn't even looked like she had shed a tear at all. Which was strange considering Ace was her grandson.

"What are you doing here, Shanks?" Whitebeard questioned, his voice hoarse from the constant crying the Alpha had done.

The Omega Captain smiled at him. "I need your help."

"Now is not the time, brat." Whitebeard growled. "You must know what happened."

"Oh, we do." Rouge replied, a dark look coming to her face that was sending chills down Marco's spine. That look was never one you wanted to be on the receiving end of.

"You'll want to help with this." Shanks stated. "I'm going to infiltrate Marineford."

Marco growled, pushing himself up despite Thatch reaching out for him. "You have to be the stupidest bastard I have ever met, Red-Hair." The blonde Alpha growled, approaching Shanks. Mihawk stepped between them, getting nose to nose with Marco before the Commander could reach Shanks.

"Back off, Marco." Mihawk hissed. "You want to hear this."

"Hear what?! A suicide plan of attacking the Marines?!" Marco shouted. "Ace is dead! Attacking their headquarters would be pointless!"

"No, it isn't." Dragon cut in.

"Can someone explain to me what is going on here?" Whitebeard questioned. "Brat, why did you bring a Warlord and the Revolutionaries to my ship?"

Shanks sighed. "I wasn't completely honest with you at our last meeting." The Omega Captain stated.

Marco peered over Mihawk's shoulder to the Omega to see the smile lingering on Shanks' lips. "You seriously would lie?! After you made an alliance?!"

Shanks' full attention was on Marco at this point. "Marco… I said Ace was my apprentice. That wasn't the truth."

"Why lie about that?!" Thatch exclaimed.

Shanks smiled, "Dracule, move out of the way." Mihawk looked over his shoulder to the Omega and side-stepped allowing Shanks to walk forward until he was standing in the middle of the deck. "Ace wasn't my apprentice, but he did grow up on my ship. He's my son."

Marco froze as he looked over to Shanks, eyes wide.

Ace is Shanks' son?!

The mixture of stunned statements and shock flowed over the deck as the information started to set in.

"He's… your son?" Marco questioned, just to make sure that he had heard that correctly.

"He is. Born on Baterilla twenty years ago." Shanks confirmed.

"That's why you came to the ship. That's why Commander Rouge left." Jozu stated, to which Shanks made a noise of confirmation.

"That doesn't explain the others though, Red-Hair." Izou muttered, pointing at the others who were standing behind the Omega Captain.

"Izou, Shanks is my son." Rouge stated, walking forward, and placing her hand on the small of Shanks' back. Marco looked over to Whitebeard, seeing the understanding on his face. It did look like he didn't know either, but had his own suspicions in the past. "You all already know that Ace is my grandson. So, that's why I'm here." She looked over her shoulder and pointed at Dragon. "Dragon is my brother."

Dragon nodded at them. "You have the full support of the Revolutionary Army." He stated.

Marco eyed the blonde next to Dragon. "And you?"

The blonde smiled. "My name is Sabo."

Marco's eyes went wide as his jaw dropped. He knew that name. The other did to cause shocked sounds erupted again. Sabo was Ace's deceased sworn brother.

"That's impossible." Marco muttered.

"It's a long story, but Ace is my brother." Sabo simply stated.

"We have information you want to hear so if we've done enough introductions." Mihawk started.

"What about you?" Marco questioned. "What is a Warlord doing here?!"

Mihawk rolled his eyes at the sneer of the word Warlord. "I am here because I am Ace's father."

Alright, Marco was not expecting that.

"What is this information, brat?" Whitebeard questioned.

Shanks reached into his pocket, pulling out a burning piece of paper that Marco recognized as a vivre card. He was close enough that he could read it.

Ace

His heart skipped a beat as Shanks held the vivre card high enough for Whitebeard to see it. "Ace is alive, Whitebeard-san. That's why we are here, and we are going to get him back."