Chapter 274 Resolve to Fight
Aldrich looked around his Boundary and took in a deep breath, nostalgia washing over him. The living room that he was so familiar with, his mother's paintings, his father's comics, all of the warm memories associated with it all welled up in his heart.
This was a good place. And he could thank one little girl for all of it.
"...Father?" Chrysa whispered out, her voice still shaky with sleep. She sat on the couch, in front of the telescreen. She rubbed her eyes, wiping away sparkling tears of sleepiness.
"How are you feeling?" Aldrich sat down beside her.
"I'm okay," said Chrysa. She hung her head low, placing her hands together in pensive gesture. "I'm sorry for being scared."
"It's fine." Aldrich patted Chrysa's head, and she started to smile. "It's fine to be scared in a situation like that. We were in a fight, a real fight, and you probably couldn't handle the stress."
"Nuh-uh." Chrysa shook her head defiantly. "The loud booms and bright lights and fighting didn't scare me!" Her smile tipped upside down into a frown. "It was…it was…"
"Go on. You can tell me."
Chrysa side eyed Aldrich. "Promise you won't talk to me mean?"
"Of course. I promise."
"You also promised a fun time in the city."
"I"m still keeping that promise. When things settle down, we'll all have a good time, and I won't let anybody get in the way of it."
"Okay." Chrysa took in a deep breath, psyching herself up, then confessed. "I wasn't scared of the fight, I was scared of you, father."
Aldrich blinked. "Me?"
Chrysa nodded. "Not you you, because seeing father always makes me happy, but what you wanted from me.
Okay, I was scared at first, when the big lights and big sounds first happened, but not for too long!
I thought about fighting and using what I learned from Meddy, but I didn't know if you wanted that. Because you didn't want me getting hurt.
I got confused, and that made me more scared, and then, and then, I fell asleep."
"I see." Aldrich put his hand on Chrysa's head again in a comforting gesture. The reason she had gotten overwhelmed was not so much because she was scared of the fighting, but because she did not know what to do, and that confusion only made her fright even worse.
The Death Lord had been right. Aldrich had coddled her too much. He had not given her any expectation to fight. No, he had actively tried to shield her from everything. As a result, when danger came, she did not know what she should have been doing, and that shut her down.
It was easy for people to freeze up in intense situations. Aldrich had only made that reaction worse.
Aldrich asked her. "Then what do you want, Chrysa? Do you want to fight?"
Chrysa balled her fists and shook them up and down with vigor. "Mhm! I want to fight! I want to make booms and pows and whacks!" She peppered her sounds with gestures, clawing and punching at the air.
Aldrich raised a brow. Even now, it felt odd to let her, with all her childlike reactions, fight. To really fight. To throw her into the thick of fire and force where blood, tears, and screams could flow like water. "Are you sure? You could get hurt. Hurt badly, even. I can always heal you, but that won't stop the pain."
"I know. I know I can die too." Chrysa looked down at her little hands, at the milky white claws that protruded from her fingers. "But if anyone wants to hurt you, father, and make you cry or mad, then I'll try my best to kill them! Even if I get hurt too!"
Chrysa's innocently voiced declaration to kill Aldrich's enemies sobered him up more. It made him even more distinctly aware of the fact she was not human and he could not treat her like a normal human child.
Aldrich nodded. That was the tipping point. He would still care for Chrysa as a child, but he would also not hold back her variant instincts. "Then, Chrysa, I'm all for it. If you want to fight, you should. I shouldn't be holding you back from what you want.
From what your instincts drive you to do.
But tell me this, is this really, really what you want? Don't just think of doing it for me. It has to be something you want for yourself."
"It is!" Chrysa closed her eyes, and a sweet smile settled on her face as she thought of something happy. "Lately, I've been having dreams. A dream about a small white house on a bright green hill.
There, father is smiling all the time, and that makes me smile all the time too. Everything is quiet and warm and happy.
I want to make that dream come true!"
Chrysa looked down, twiddling her thumbs.
"But…but I know that father won't ever smile like that for a long time. Something bad happened to father, and you don't smile like that anymore.
I know that because sometimes, when I dream, I feel a little bit of what father feels, and because of that, I know father won't have big smiles and live in a quiet white house until he's done fighting.
Until then, I will fight with father! Make my dream happen! Make father smile one day!"
"I see." Aldrich saw determination in Chrysa's eyes. It was a kind of determination that was childlike in its purity, and at the same time, there was another glint there, one fiercer, sharper, belonging to a beast more than capable of fighting, that made it clear that when Chrysa said she wanted to fight, she knew what she was saying.
She knew the risks involved. The hurt and pain and struggle she might face.
And she was still willing to fight.
"Then that settles it." Aldrich got up off the couch.
Chrysa followed, hopping off and looking way up at Aldrich in wonder. "What is it?"
Aldrich rolled up his sleeves. "I'm going to be teaching you how to fight."