Ch 122: Survival Round
Father is not pleased.
Now there are plenty of reasons for possibly why that is.
He has a lot of make up work to do for his impromptu dungeon vacation? A lot of meetings to make, current projects to update, and even ribbon-cutting ceremonies to attend. It's his fault for making so many damn bridges and stuff.
A lot of property damages to estimate and pay off? That includes the fee for all the hotel employees to never speak of it again. Maids to bribe and noble witnesses to calm down and generally forget.
Forget what? Why the damage that my mother, Lady Ventrella, was technically responsible for.
Lots of reasons why my busy father is darkly fuming in silence, his poker face promising a long and cruel death. It's not just the work stress. Probably.
After the fiasco of that game of 'tag' the other day, that ended only when a deliciously ponytailed Gable appeared. Such beauty! It was so wonderful!
Said beauty did not confiscate any of the minions right away but rather locked the door to our suite and had them all kneel on the floor for hours, arms up high carrying weight enchanted water buckets in repentance. When I say all I mean everyone, the minions, Grampa, even Mother....a fully grown woman.
Grampa on the floor is fine, normal even, but Mother? It was quite odd to see her like that? My mother being the princess and queen of this family, with her every whim tended to. Forced to kneel till her legs cramped and arms trembled.
It was a sight never before witnessed in any of my lifetimes.
Inhumane torture on such a delicate lady.
But she did leave a mother-shaped hole through that one window.....did she not...feel the wall? There seems to be some messed up genetics at play, let's blame Grampa.
Well, it's not like anyone would ever winningly go against Gable anyway. Gable knows best. All hail Gable! Please punish everyone appropriately, especially Grampa. It is very much needed.
It must have been a very serious offense though?
I didn't even get any extra time to admire Gable's glorious high hair, high cheekbones, or the knuckles of his long fingers, pressing more invisible weights onto the punishment. Soooo handsome even when angry. Right after Gable saw fit to end it all, Lukas was immediately lifted off to be 'grounded' into maximum security back home.
At least, he wasn't alone. My grampa was subsequently dragged off. Gable's perfectly shaped lips cursing and scolding in his ear the whole way out.
Leaving...exactly one defenseless minion. In the same room as Mother...No escape. Let's just say that cute white sailor suit really didn't make it
"Soooooo cute~ You're just soooo cute~" Mother nuzzles her 'prize'. For both the game of tag and surviving Gable's punishing lecture. She's literally kept him like a toy plushie, unreleasing my minion trainee and preventing any escape.
In her very strong and secure arms, Amar seems to be trying to play dead. It fails of course given that he's still very much breathing and warm-blooded. When Mother squishes their cheeks together, he stiffly takes it. Eyes frighteningly wide, as if it's a monstrous kid-eating bear and not a beautiful human woman cuddling him to death. That if he just stays very very still, she'll eventually release him and go away.
So far, that plan is failing, in fact, it may be getting even more dangerous. I'm not just talking about my father mentally dissecting the kid alive in his mind's eye.
"Open up~ here here!"
Mother tries force-feeding Amar like a baby doll, waving a spoon in front of the frozen stiff boy. Doing everything short of prying his jaw open to spot the adorable teeth gaps again.
Ah, the charms of children at that age.
As if still analyzing the room for even the chance of escape, Amar's eyes rapidly scan the perimeter, briefly glancing upon not just me and my pouting sister but the increasingly cold glare of my father. One that only Mother seems to be blissfully ignorant of.
Taking a deep breath, Amar seems to have decided on how he would like to die today.
"Sorry. I can't, it hurts...." he turns up presenting his soft little face to Mother's hungry jaws, "my tooth...really hurts too much..." Amar whimpers.
He's chosen death by Mother, the most dangerous and quite frankly suicidal choice!
Let's review the stats. He's done it before and actually has a decent chance of miraculously pulling it off again. This is what I've been partially training him for. There's also the elements of natural cuteness on his side and an additional physical buff of...a whole new little sailor suit!
Where the hell did Mother get that anyway? He might just make it out alive, from both my parents, like that!
With slightly downturned eyes, like a shyly peeking green of a tasty pistachio nut, the kid doesn't even need to pull out any fake tears. He naturally looks so puppy dog cute and pitiful at all times, all without doing anything. Against that pathetically sweet whimper and bashful head tilt behind small shaking hands, trying desperately to cover his mouth, my cute worshiping mother is near losing her mind.
Starting out strong! Critical hit!
"Kyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! <3<3<3~ Oh of course! Milk, porridges, custards, and puddings! All the puddings! Oh, look at your thin little shoulder, you're as light as a feather! "
"...pudding? Can it be sweet?" his head tilts the other way in questioning.
Oh, a brutal follow up, all bases of cute covered. Every angle to show how pitiful but adorable a kiddy can possibly be!
"Ooooof course~" Mother swoons falls over herself practically.
The dimples come out. Amar smiles, squinting up in happiness so softly sweet who cares if it's all a major fat lie.
The killing blow! We can all hear it the exact moment Mother completely loses her mind and soul. A complete victory!!!
"Kyaaaaa!!! Kyaa kyaa kyaaa!!!! Order everything! Order everything soft and sweet! AT ONCE!!!" my mother fangirl style screams, breaking everyone's eardrums.
"I like custard....but it's a little cold?" Amar shivers.
"Clothes! Quilts! Order the children's tailor at once! And-"
"These shoes make my foot hurt...I can't run in them."
"New ones! At once!!! Kyaaa oh even ur little leggies! So tiiiiiiny and cuuuute!~"
"...I'm scared?" he tugs.
"Of what?! What is it?! " Mother fusses.
Okay, now he's just lording over this way too much. Run off now child, take your pudding and go. You had your fun.
The child in her arms, who is not her's, uh hello Lilyanne and I are right here, shakes his head as if in denial. Playing coy, he snuggles down like a little gerbil, as if unaware how more adorable it all makes him look.
"Everything...is all....too scary."
As if it was simply a mistake as if he didn't mean to at all, Amar peeks those now shimmering tearful eyes, only to 'accidentally' meet the dark villainy hurricane that is my father's murderous aura. Whimpering, he quickly burrows himself back down, crying like a weak newborn baby animal for its mother.
Ha! He's gone too far now! There's no way Mother would-
"Darling! Stop that or leave the room immediately, can't you see you're scaring him! Oh, the pitiful little thing!"
"Maria, beloved,...you can't be serious." the dining utensils in Father's hands make ear-splitting noises, splitting and cracking on themselves against porcelain. In fact, there are quite a few already broken forks. Huh...
In Mother's arms, Amar shakes much like a teacup chihuahua, blinking away legitimate tears at this point. That doesn't make sense, I've only seen him cry once prior to this. I don't understand, he's already won and milking it! What more could he want? Too far minion! You're going too far.
"...sorry...I'm sorry..." he whimpers, tightly closing his eyes to wipe away such crocodile green tears.
"The poor innocent boy! Frederick, stop doing that glaring face! At once!"
Father is not the only one very displeased. There's an, admittedly very young and cute, homewrecker in our presence and we are seemingly powerless against him. It's like I'm living a bad drama, where a parent defends his lowly scheming mistress instead of his legitimate family.
At this rate, I fear Mother may give up our family fortune if the kid asks for it next.
"Oh there there, don't be scared. Oh, it must all be so new and large and frightening! Yes! Oh of course. I understand the first time Papa took me to a proper city was just so strange. There there, don't shake, oh has the shop been set up yet? The custard?! There there now~"
Mother coos, ignoring the world but for her new boy toy. As if disappointed in Father, the most important and disgustingly loved man in her life, she hmmph and walks away, carrying off my minion to be dolled and pampered in luxurious torture.
I'm in shock, pure shock. It's not just critical hits but a full turning of sides in the battle, no the war! Mother why? Mother?!!
I would have stayed in frozen shock, if not for that little peek of Amar's head popping out from the crook of Mother's arm. No longer acting, he calmly and silently waves. With a little smile just big enough to spot those childish teeth gaps, he mouths out two repeating syllables 'bye bye.'
"Maaaamaaaa! Waaah! Mama!"
"Maria? Surely you're not this mind-numbingly stu- Maria!?"
The trail of her skirts disappear, the maids closing the door neatly shut. They may as well have slammed it on Father's dead and broken heart. Prompting Lilyanne to cry even harder. What shall become of our family now?
"Father? How could you let this happen!? How!?!"
"...Alfonso. I want the rat disposed of immediately and his ashes on my desk by midnight."
Alfonso, with the loyalty of a good wife and mother unlike my own, rocks away Lilyanne's tears while comforting Father with an "Unadvisable, but we shall do what we can my Lord."
"Rosa?!" my sister sniffs, calling for me as I walk to the door.
"Chip...what do you think you're doing?" Father sounds even more unamused than he looks. Expressionless dark void as a finely carved statue, about to break open the gates of hell and fury. Maybe.
I pull out from my bag, not my usual safe practice staff, but the crooked hook. Suitable for herding chickens, sheep, and misbehaving minions into their places.
"Tonight takes too long. I'm going to kill him in the most painful way now."
Even if it sounds like a bad drama, it really can't be helped. As the eldest Ventrella child and current heir, I must defend my father's sullied honor. My foolish mother, stolen and seduced away by a mere primary school-aged youth.
I knew the sailor suit was too powerful. I just knew it, but it's my fault for first bringing it to this world, thus also my responsibility to dispose of it. As is the training of my own servants. What a shame, I have to kill my own minion.
At my talk of murder, Father calms down. I can tell for the air no longer feels as if teetering on the edge of a plague level storm.
"That's my girl." he pats me on the head but ultimately prevents me from going to teach my henchmen a lesson.
Too far I say, too far!!!
Also if I wait for Father to really act, there might not be any kiddy henchman left?
"My Lord. There is still the auction on schedule to make." Alfonso reminds Father, as he wraps up Lilyanne with something of a baby blanket. My little sister learning quite early on the concept of parental abandonment.
"An auction? What kind?" I look up, now properly distracted.
"Charity, as it always is. " Father rolls his tongue, allowing a steward to help him hand his outer coat and pass his fine leather gloves.
"Ah. 'Charity'." I repeat.
That's what organizers often say when there's something that will cause public outrage being auctioned and sold off. It's not necessarily bad or illegal stuff. Just often. Especially in the private auction that occurs after the general one. Usually only a few choice pieces behind all the general filler and pretties, like hiding a tree in a forest.
"Papa? Papa leave us too?" my sister wetly sniffs, still looking cute despite being wrapped up like an insane asylum patient.
What? It's a comforting toddler wrap supposed to stimulate a warm hug. Works great at getting kids like Lilyanne to calm down. Even better on kids like Lukas! No chance of flailing if you tie her arms down like that.
The crazy toddler look works for not only does Father pick her up to pat, he even considers it.
"Shall I take the girls out today?"
Hmmm, sit around the hotel suite crying for our lost mother? Or go out with Father? To an auction no less. The choice is obvious!
"Will Mama be dere?" Lilyanne sniffs.
"No Lily," I roll my eyes, clapping to demand an outing cloak and hat, "the homewrecker took her, and now we don't have a mother."
Though he was very much not drinking anything, Father chokes. The snap of his glove sounding particularly tight and painful. He calls me by the awful nickname in reprimanding and it reminds me just how messed up my relationship to this nerd is compared to Rosalia the original. Such a discrimination difference.
Though to be fair, he never called Lilyanne "Cheese" either.
Nor does Mother leave the gross love of her life, and precious Lilyanne to galvanize with, dare I say it, much younger boys. Oh, the shame. The scandal! That one broken window!
My head hurts too much if I try to compare and contrast all the differences of how I recall my parents are supposed to be, and what I am actually forced to live with day to day. Let's just blame Grampa and move on.
"What? Did I say anything wrong? I was already very nice for not mentioning how you failed as a man to keep Mother from walking out with another. To think you're considered good looking? More like good for nothing. You nerdy loser. "
Why is he still choking? I'm the one who should be surprised at these turn of events. Is that blood coming out of his mouth?
Ah, was he sneaking wine earlier? Shame, it's too early for actual drinking!
"Father, I'm getting my hat and bag. Wait a bit and have some water to sober up." I hold my arms out, allowing Mother's maids to dress me in outer layers like any respectable lady.
Bonnets are just so childish and it's practically summer now, hats are much more suitable. Especially to protect my poor growing out locks. Sun hats seem like such an easy and common idea, but they're too common, and thus not popular. But I'm three and adorable so I say it works!
That and I was bored enough to crochet one, not much to do when Mother and Father have business around the city and I don't. Boooo, even staying on the vineyard was oddly more productive in some ways.
Shame how I can never be fully satisfied anywhere I get thrown around.
"Lily too!" my sister wriggles and rolls, snuggling up in Father's chest.
Hey. Lilyanne. You're three and have proper working legs. Get out of there and suit up, oh never mind. Fine. Be a big baby.
"....Failure....as a man...." Father seems traumatized from a healthy dose of the truth. Good for him. He's too prideful anyway, with that unholy face of his.
Despite how much I complain or make fun of her closet, Mother really does work hard to pretty herself up. What does Father do in return to be attractive to her? Besides purely existing of course?
It's simply not fair!
Mother isn't me. She can't be seduced by pure money. Oh, I do love money. I hope there are some fun things at the auction to amuse myself with. Maybe help me make more money?!
"Thank you for waiting, Father, I'm finished dressing and can...Father, what are you doing. Father? "
"Papa huggies! Yayay!"
It's funny how blank-faced he is, as if completely overloaded. Ahahahaha I see. He's never been faced with rejection before! Ahahahahaha!
"It's not your fault you're a loser....well yes it is. But it's not all your fault, I guess. Now hurry up!"
Even after I had my laugh, the father unit is not operational. Still clutching onto Lilyanne like she's a comfort blanket, eyes blank and face frozen.
Ah, it's almost unreal how handsome he is when he's not using that foully rude mouth of his. If only cameras existed, I'd sell postcards of him. I'm sure there're plenty of young and not so young rich ladies who I can make a pretty coin from that way.
"Alfonso? Is the carriage prepared?"
"Already called for my lady, please allow for additional preparations to make the trip all the more comfortable for you and young lady Lilyanne. It shall be done in the time you finish your juice." he presents me with a kiddy glass and a tray, ushering me to one of the cushioned lounge chairs.
Very well then, I can't expect magically speedy service and I do get motion sick easily. The stablehands and footmen are only human and need their prep time. I'm not a pure evil little boss.
"Alfonso, please slap my loser of a father awake."
"Right away my young lady."
Taking off his glove, Alfonso slaps my father with the cloth exactly once.
"Yes, young lady Rosalia."
Oh ho ho ho, this is so amusing! He's not reacting at all. Father broke so easily!
My legs are a little, okay a lot, too short to cross and look cool while I sip my drink, but I do point and laugh at least. Lilyanne giggled along, though she may just be more amused by the glove, reaching out past the blanket to swipe at it like it's a toy.
"My my my, whatever shall pure sweet pretty Lilyanne do with a father as charmless and useless as this? However, will you protect her from all her future scheming admirers when you can't even stop Mother, your own woman, from being wooed and stolen off by one measly commoner boy? What a headache! She'll be crying in another's man's arms in no time at all, if nothing but for comfort about what a pure loser her own father is. Oh ho ho ho!"
This is honestly quite fun! Despite the complete lack of facial expressions, his mood quite obviously sinks as I speak.
She already did you know, just cry into Alfonso's arms? Seriously though, please consider the Lilyanne anti-harem and fan club defense fund. I'm not kidding at all when I say any of this. It really will be quite a headache during puberty.
However, as if the ball had finally dropped, Father looks simply aghast. Looking down to his precious baby girl, then back to me, back to a giggling Lily, then stupidly back to me, his eyes in pure horror and panic.
Yes, yes, yes, the truth I speak is quite painful to hear. Yes, I'm a terrible sort of genius I know.
"Alfonso. Get the leashes." Father orders.
You know this is exactly the kind of treatment that women hate. You're not getting any love that way? Wait, no, not the toddler leash! Nooooo!
Helpless, I'm strapped down and leashed up. The device previously only used by the blasted grampa and unfortunately even Gable, now in Father's cruel hands.
"Wherever did you get such juvenile cheap thoughts to even utter into words, hmmm my love?" still holding Lilyanne in one arm, he tugs at me with the whip-like leash. Forcing me to follow along, much like a misbehaving pet.
"I didn't say anything wrong...."
"Abominable influences this past month...I see. Gone by midnight I swear."
Hmmm? Yes, Grampa is a very bad influence in general. Please think again before leaving me alone so long with that awful man. Ahhhhh don't drag me, I have very short little legs! I don't need to follow in the range of your shadow!
Into the carriage I go, picked up right at the steps.
To make matters worse, I don't even get my own seat despite all this room. The bigger the carriage the better, and stabler, thus affecting me less. So what if it's ostentatiously large at this point? Make it even larger and more comfortable for me, we can afford it.
Instead, Father plops me right down into his lap.
Meanwhile, his favored daughter is released to roll and wander across this compartment of the carriage, meant to resemble a cozy lounge as much as possible. There are even little toys and pull out tables for her to draw and amuse herself on.
Somehow the leash on me tightens even further, completely locking me off from leaving even 2 feet. I've never felt discrimination so blatantly in this life till this moment.
"Really now Chippy, please go on. Where else have I ....failed? Hmmm? Why so silent now my dear?" that evil man threatens by untying my ribboned hat, petting the top of my head like I were the plaything.
".....I'm good now."
"Oh, I'm sure there are plenty more wild...ideas, in my Rosa's pretty little head. You were so ready with so much to say. Hmmm?"
".....nope! Nothing! Very empty."
He leans down, obviously to threaten and interrogate me further by pressing a cruel chuckle into my hair. Warmth pressed hard against my delicate little skull. Oh the vile man, no mercy even for a three-year-old.
"It's too dangerous, you two resemble your mother too much." Father laughs behind me, against my ear, sounding more than a little insane right now.
"Ah....not really, no. Actually, I think Lily is even stupider? You should do something about that!"
"Something hmm? Whatever happened to that 'very empty' status of yours, my mischievous pretty little foolish daughter?"
I'm scared now.
I joked too much and now I must pay the tall price. Woe is me. This is what I get for overstepping. Why did I ever want to have fun? No more fun, only hard work and suffering from now on.
Lilyanne, save me. Go be cute or something. Do a stupid dance, draw a pretty picture, get kidnapped. Just get the damn nerd away from me.
But no, I'm quite stuck. And I really don't think I'm allowed off till I squeal out information like a scared piglet.
Really sometimes this nerd just gets so damn scary!
I'm squealing! I'm squealing already, stop being so damn creepy! Take my shitty useless ramblings on wooing women like a normal person. What was a month underground not enough for you two!? You're so gross, don't be even grosser!
I don't know! Go for that domineering CEO thing or something, I hear women love that! Kabedon and rain down roses and riches. Buy her everything at the auction and compose all the shitty poetry yes! She liked emotional cheesy shit like that. Just let me go!
What's a CEO you say?
Oh oops. Did I really say that part out loud? What is a CEO in this world? Oh shit.
It's too early for the tailored suit I've been secretly working on, in my very bored and very spare time of course, but I may just have to ask for Alfonso to pull it out to appease Father's torturous curiosity.
Am I bringing another sinful creation into the world with this? Quite possibly?
Should I at least make it as high fashion sellable as possible by using Father's fine figure? Absolutely.
Really I don't know anything else, honorable Father. Please release me?
Nothing! I swear! Ahhhhhhhhh!!! Not the tickles! Anything but the tickles!!! That's just cheating! Information confessed under duress means nothing ahahahaha! I'll spill, I'll spill!
I'm going to be sick.
It's a total loss for me today. A girl just can't win.
Well, as expected for me. What a shame.
Can I at least buy something today? Maybe a horse? Let's get started on my stable for when we finally go back home.
Going out is fun and all, but at my current small age, home really is the best. I'm also not leashed as much. Got a lot of money to make and save. Got a lot to prepare for before I can officially run away.
But until then, I'll play along. Just until then.
"....prepare...officially run away....play...oh ho ho ho~"
Is she getting better or worse with this habit?
Like her mother, it increases when she's in a relaxed and comfortable state. Unlike her mother, it also goes up with stress.
At the very least, it's not....as bad....for now.
My eldest daughter....is truly the one greatest headache I have ever had the pleasure of having. Really up on par with her mother, and she's only three years old. How wonderful.
Three grand total headaches I wouldn't trade for the world.
Holding my troublesome eldest, while calming, is not very reassuring still. Children are not something you can just 'predict', especially so for Rosalia.
Years ago, when my not-yet wife jokingly, perhaps dreamily, asked how many kids I would like, I told her flat out. Without missing a single beat of any tone.
Zero. Negative. Avoid at all costs.
If the poor unfortunate woman that would be paired and partnered in matrimony with me wanted to conceive, that would be her quest and not mine. I realized, even then, I'm not exactly the ideal catch of a husband.
A concept maybe. A desire, status, even a possession. Especially a possession.
I'm not fond of the idea of being used personally. Understand it. Accept it as inevitable, but I was never fond of it. But there are some things that either really can't be helped, or just go by more efficiently as such.
Since I was established as old enough to not drown in my infancy, death by sudden unexplainable childhood perhaps, my matches were offered and set like pairings of wine and cheese. Every other year, another match would perhaps come up. Switched or flipped around.
There were none that were particularly better or worse, simply what, or shall I say who fitted the situation best at the time. Who and their families. What they stood for, What statement we were making.
Officially on paper, I've been 'engaged' more times than the bullets loaded into the gun hidden on my holster. Something Maria has never been very pleased about.
Ah, to think I married Maria after all that?
Leaning back, I feel the warm weight of a horribly laughing child. Pink faced and hair as fading red as an auburn sunset. Only a few minutes of time darker than mine, with curls as well placed as those carefully ironed on a painted porcelain doll.
Maria coos and fusses over them so. Childishly soft and much looser than her wonderfully whimsical locks in their natural state. It's been a while since I've seen them like that, not till the last month when we were left stranded without all her pretty products.
No finery, no contact really, unless you count honorable Father's and Gable's occasional informational portal mirrors. It was....a little too much like our youth.
And now I feel aged. What utter insanity.
Before kids, who I once never thought I would have in mind you. Before marriage, hell before getting Maria at all.
Did I marry Maria? What? And I'm not dead and just fantasizing it all in hell? Are we quite sure about that?
But there is a growing toddler with both our bad habits on my lap and another, entirely different, one on the floor destroying good parchment in her terror making ways. They're such small and foolish little things.
Very soft and crushable little girls. I love them dearly, with more emotions than I thought I could muster for any person really. But they don't exactly have their mother's....resilience.
That's my fault.
There's a disgusting, vile, self-torturing train of thought that is still whispered beyond where all my ears can reach. In their walls and holes. That if ...bred...correctly...honorable Father could have had stronger heirs, much stronger grandchildren. Hell, they would have liked more children in the first place. They dare even think about my Maria with their filth in that way. They dare utter damnable things that still grip my mind even though some of their throats I satisfyingly ripped out myself.
The trachea will do, but it's best to be thorough. Larynx, thyroid, glands, perhaps even the first rib if feeling up to it. 7 bones, not including the one under the jaw. Fascinating. There are some much larger species that share the same number, and yet here we are.
Underneath my fingers sit my Rosa's vertebrae. I could count right now all her fragile little bones. Count all the ways they could easily snap.
This world is really too cruel and dangerous. It would be best to dispose of it all really. Only then could my soft delicate girls be truly safe.
But Maria and her honorable father would never allow it. Who am I to damper their great hunger for life? An empty world...would be cleaner, safer, but it wouldn't be one worth living in.
The things we do for our loved ones, the little ones especially.
Oh god, I have children?
There are many headaches to live with, and so far I've chosen the most intimidatingly insane ones. All three of them. Their names are Maria, Rosalia, and Lilyanne. In that order.
What have I done?
I suppose too, the ones that come with them. Unintentionally or not.
I'll sign off on the mission orders by midnight. They can have their damn fun. As long as they take that detestable brat away.
Even if there's a good chance of creating another scene. That's a whole new headache to deal with.
Well as long as they don't set that witch Damia's castle on fire, that's good enough.
"Papa! Papa lookie! Lily draw us!" my sweet innocent little block of cheese calls, all the goodness scrapped from this damnable earth condensed into her soft milk bag of a small body.
My. how precious, it's hideous.
"I love it."
"Yaaaaaay!" one cheers.
"Father...is there something wrong with your eyes?! No wait, nevermind. ....There's a lot wrong with you in general....how did Mother marry someone like you in the first place? Not for the hair, I would think? And she doesn't care for money? That's stupid. Money makes the world go round. Oh dear, Lily how is it so ugly? You're.... supposed to be the artistic one...." goes my other.
"I absolutely love it." I settle, the final truth of it all.
At the end of all days, I love my life here. I love my wife. I love my girls. I, who have no right to say so, love them.
And that's enough to not let the world burn.