Three On A Match

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He'd always get oddly melancholic that time of the year.

Many centuries ago, as a young man, he's actually been in Bethlehem. There was no snow, but palms though. Evergreens. White rocks and sand. The day wasn't particularly hot, but he still felt like he was simmering in his own sweat in his armor.

Now he was spending Christmas in US of A, the weather not being particularly cold either, but his fingers still stiffened as he spent some time outside, coming back home from a walk.

The old crusader celebrated alone. While most people were with their families, Jaime didn't really had anyone to celebrate with. He was old, an only child, his relatives died hundreds of years ago. He was new in town after he had to move places again.

But... He wouldn't complain.

Silence brought reflection. And Big Boss' birthday was a good day for some self-reflection. Even though Jaime lost his faith a long time ago.

He lit the candles.

Has he really ever lost his faith? Or maybe the faith simply has lost him. Jaime used to be an obedient soldier, realizing the mission of his order quite eagerly. In his travels, he has seen a lot of darkness in people claimed to fight in the name of God, through ages.

There was no tree, but he had a small nativity scene set up on a table. Under a beautiful rendition of the execution attempt of Saint Sebastian, one he miraculously escaped with his own life intact. Both the painting and the figurines were really old, but Jaime restored them from time to time.

Saint Sebastian was always his favorite. The martyr being a saint of plague victims, then co-opted by people of his own kind, who were frowned upon by Church elites. Joan of d'Arc being his another favorite...

He knelt, hands clasped together.

Symbols and gestures. Humble, like a barn.

And Jaime would remain humble in his prayer, words in Latin slipping out of his mouth. He closed his eyes.

Dear lord, thank you for blessing me at your birthday...

In a way, he was blessed. With his longevity, the people who supported him, the beautiful world he eternally walked.

Even if I may not walk in the light anymore, I will promise to bring justice to your creation...

Symbols and gestures... But if there was something Jaime truly believed in, it was protecting people and nature.

I don't ask for anything for myself other than forgiveness, as I got everything else I need, but please bring relief to the dead, the sick and otherwise suffering...

He thought of Obie, taken too soon, his body wedged between the rocks, impossible to retrieve. The empty grave, the grief. Grief was something Jaime knew very well...

Jaime bowed his head and whispered a couple of Hail Mary's, losing himself in the rhythm of it for a moment, before he finally said 'Amen' and opened his eyes.

He looked at the painting of a martyr and the figure of soon-to-be martyr, the Son himself.

Symbols and gestures he clung to every year.

“Happy Birthday, Boss...”