There’s no nobility in becoming a martyr.
Jonathan had to understand that at a very young age. Because if that’s not the case, then the number of fingers pointing at him would be zero.
It started with that movie.
It was night. He was slapped in the face by his mother, and his father had shouted at him. He was left outside to watch two dogs hump each other. His stomach grumbled in hunger. It was his fault that they had no food. It was his fault that they couldn’t buy anything. Making money turned out to be tough. He tried to make the other kids laugh if it meant a few coins.
He came home with a packet of chicken instant noodles in hand.
His parents were fighting for food.
They shouted. They punched each other. It was like the cartoons he watched.
He didn’t mean to laugh.
Then they shouted at him. His mother slapped him the moment he offered that packet. He told them that he had managed to buy it by pretending to be tripped by a piece of wood, then diving face-first into the sunbaked, dusty ground. Then, he had to convince them that he didn’t steal it. They called it bullshit. His father hit his leg with a broom. No one said sorry. Then, they started blaming each other like he didn’t exist.
He’s used to this.
He clutched his chest and helped himself out.
Jonathan caught a glimpse of a movie from the window of a nearby house. It was about a man speaking with lots of people. He was screaming into the mic. Jonathan couldn’t understand what the man was saying, but his eyes glimmered back then. He walked forward as though he was following the scent of good food. He was, but his eyes were still focused on that man. It was hard to ignore the smoky flavor of cooked meat, but he got it.
The man stared down at his people. He said that he had been rich and that he had been poor. Jonathan looked at himself, and his awe grew as that man declared that he would choose rich every time, with the word “fuck” in-between that’s as crispy as a chicharron.
So that rich man also had problems, but he was rich. And he was cool. He showed off his suit and threw his gold watch at his men. They fought for it. Awesome.
He’d be awesome, too, and he’d say “fuck” as much as he could. He’d be strong. He wouldn’t be rich, but he’d be strong. He’d be big and bulky like a pro-wrestler. Some words went through his ears back then.
But he grew older. He studied. Ran away from home. Worked at a local gym here with the help of a friend. He ended up helping someone in training others to fight. He learned. He built his body. He achieved his dream.
He had been blamed before. At least, he had to deal with his problem like he’s the real problem, instead of being a thin child. He might as well be blamed, but he’s dealing with it as a strong man would.
Everything was his fault.
He took pride in looking like the part.
It’s everyone else’s fault anyway.
But this thin-limbed man, who fell off a roof and suffered a few more broken bones after fighting an actual giant, bowed in front of him. Jonathan covered his trembling mouth. He asked him for help.
And Lucy was staring daggers at him like he’s gay or something.
“Please, help us protect what we have left,” Uncle repeated while still on the floor, his voice tightening like he’s choking in his own breath. “I need your help.”
But Jonathan shouldn’t lose his cool yet. He grinned. “You’re begging?”
“I saw them again.”
“They were moving closer to us, monitoring us. I used my special red eyes to detect their movement, and I was right to feel anxious. It’s like I couldn’t breathe.”
“Might be your ribs.”
“Yeah.” Jonathan breathed. He retreated, leaned his back against the wall of the house, and cupped his chin. He held up a finger with his other hand and narrowed his brows. “Then it means that they could move during the mornings as well. They’re capable of strategy.”
“Lucy, please…” Jonathan glared at Lucy. “I have always been that smart if that’s what you’re going to add.”
“You dare talk back to me mortal—”
“Please drop the head,” Uncle pleaded.
Lucy froze. She parted her mouth. She flashed her eyes out to make sure everyone knew she was astonished, then curled her lips into a full-toothed smile. She seemed to blush. She fanned herself. She covered her face with the back of her hand, like a pure princess, and tossed the decapitated head of the monster into the ground like it were flowers.
“Sure, sweetie,” she added, winking. “If my knight requests of such with utmost sincerity,” she clicked her tongue to up her royal tone. “then it would fill my heart to comply.”
Uncle’s tired eyes sharpened as he moved his head slightly like he’s bowing. “My Queen.”
“I…” Lucy fanned herself again and let out a low whistle. “I accept your proposal.”
What the fuck? Jonathan felt the crisp as that particular word rang inside his brain. It’s like he could taste it. He wanted to savor it. He wanted to forget that he’s in this circle, but they had a certain charm to them. The only problem at the moment was the fact that they’re talking like this after revealing that their enemy was around.
“So, brother—” Jonathan winced. It was a slip of the tongue, but it seemed fine. This little man hugging the floor didn’t seem to bother. He cleared his throat. “Going back, you mentioned monsters roaming around the area. Are you sure of this?”
“One tripped. Few sets of arms caught him back in the shadows. I prayed for power and help, and I fell off the roof after.”
Jonathan raised a brow. Uncle seemed nonchalant about this. “Are you okay?”
Uncle smiled and spent the next minute groaning to give them a trembling thumbs up. What an unyielding man. He could respect that. They’re like best friends already.
“I’m better than everyone else, but it seems that I need help, too. That’s my character arc.”
Lucy clicked her tongue and finger gunned Uncle.
“You’re not helping.”
Jonathan eyed Lucy again. It looked like she’s on cloud nine. The way she looked at Uncle was different.
“What do you mean?” Lucy raised her voice, putting her hands together as she looked at him like she’s about to set down a decree. She shook her head and licked her lips. “My presence alone,” she nodded. “should be enough not to just energize, but to revitalize you, people. For that is my blessing, my ability as the leader of the pack, provided to me by the Elder Wolf, Max Pegasus.”
“It’s a regeneration buff,” Uncle mumbled.
Lucy’s mood soared again. “Ah, Sir…”
“Uncle. It would be an honor to be called as such.”
“You understand me,” she winked at him. “Sir Uncle. My knight. My prince. I shall take it as a declaration of your loyalty and subservience to the Eclipse Dragon Queen of the Abyss. Now, be with me, and my companionship alone shall bring you the healing that you need.”
“Sure,” Uncle replied, fighting to not let out a groan.
“You…” Lucy fanned herself again and smiled. “You’re just the sweetest, aren’t you?”
Jonathan couldn’t find his words. They were being scouted. He considered whether he should let the others know or make some necessary plans to prepare for an incoming attack. They could attack today or even tomorrow. Them not knowing anything made it hard. And his only help was two people zoning into each other’s bullshit.
He sighed. His gaze fell on the monsters he mutilated. Jonathan left and came back with a shovel. His newfound brother was right about one thing. They weren’t savages. They’re just a bunch of questionable people coping with everything.