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Everyone always has their reason to keep on living. Especially in this world where all hope is lost, everyone is desperately looking for any reason to stay alive, clings to it until they lose everything, and finally puts an end to their life. The one, single, remaining woman that miraculously still exists despite the event of White Flash, is the one single hope. Reason to keep living. Naturally, they will desperately cling to such hope, dismissing the possibility that she might not even exist. As long as there is hope, a human can continue on to live their life.

 

This particular man, as cool as he looks, has the most unusual, yet also the most considerably childish reason to live. If anyone ever gave him the chance, everyone would laugh, sneer, mock him for being such a child-like human being. It does not matter to him, he has been used to get the worse insults in the past. If by chance there is someone stopping by to ask for his reason for living, he is going to proudly answer:

 

"Friends."

 

And a mocking laugh would be expected. Why would you believe in the power of friendships? Get real! Grow up! There is a girl out there, you know?

 

No one would have thought that motivation alone is enough, to drive him until the end. No one would have thought that such childish, naive reason can be a powerful strength that can keep him going through any kind of hardships.

 

***

 

Benny had always been longing for a family-like relationship, something that he did not receive from his parents, and something they could not possibly provide. Other children could dismiss him for being ungrateful. At least be grateful they still give you something to eat, you idiot! they said, but they did not understand. Other than being fed every day, his existence was otherwise ignored. No one who would cheer him up whenever he felt sad. No one who would laugh and be happy along with him. No one who would come to his side and accompany him. No one who would talk to him. No one who would consider his existence. Parents were not supposed to be this neglectful, right?

 

He desperately sought for anyone. Anyone else. Anyone who would listen to his problems. Anyone who would be happy with him. Anyone who would smile along with him. Anyone who would laugh along with him. Anyone who would accompany him. Anyone. Anyone. This loneliness...it was so suffocating. It slowly drowned him. He felt nothing. He felt empty. He hated this feeling. The feeling of loneliness, the lack of voice around him, it was so agonizing. He wanted to let go of this feeling. Please, help-

 

It was at that moment, he learned a plural word, that could bring warmth and comfort, as he met three people in his life that brought him out from the agonizing loneliness.

 

Friends.

 

He never felt this much of happiness before.

 

One of them was a girl, probably shared the same age as him. Her bright, braided orange hair matched with the bright, "friendly" smile she always showed to him. She taught him a lot of things he did not know. She told him a lot of secrets that maybe other people would not tell. She brought him to an adventure, a fun journey together. His view of the world expanded the moment he met her. He always, always enjoyed the days he spent with her, even though it did not last as long as both of them hoped. Never once in his life, he forgot about her.

 

The other two, are like brothers to him. Liam and Clyde. Both of them always accompanied him and did not mind to listen to the endless blabbering of his experience with his other friend. Clyde barely changed his bored-like expression, barely responded significantly to the stories that he told, but he always believed that Clyde was a good person at heart, and the fact that he wanted to listen was already enough. Liam reacted differently, sometimes he would express that he was happy to hear such an amazing experience, sometimes he would express concern about the fun experience, though he was not sure why Liam would be worried. Clyde had a sharp tongue but secretly a good person, while Liam had a gentle heart and a caring personality. He really considered them as their best friends--even more so, his family.

 

While it really saddened him that he could not be together forever with her, he could keep going. Because he still had his friends. Liam, Clyde, and even later on, he also had his boss Rodriguez, who constantly lectured him about his errors. Even though Rodriguez was much older than him, still a very fun person to talk with. What a great life he had. The girl had never once forgotten by him, but he tried his best to keep going with his life and not to linger on his sadness for far too long.

 

He was not alone.

 

It was amazing how much power a friendship held, and how effective it was. Their existence alone brought him reason to keep going despite the world was falling apart. Their voices alone, brought hope to his life, even though the world around him was losing its hope. He really could not imagine, what his life would have been, had he not met Liam, Clyde, Rodriguez, and her. A life of loneliness and emptiness that was suffocating and hard to go through, he had to admit that he really could not handle living completely alone. After all, it has always been a nature of human beings to seek companions, be it from fellow humans or from other living beings, or from anything else that they can consider as friends.

 

He did not realize, that his friends had become his reason for living. He did not realize it, until the day he lost everything.

 

***

 

Beltboy cannot imagine a life without his friends, and this is life beyond his imagination. Lanks' tall figure and gentle voice, Cyclops's threatening expression and his heavy voice, Rodriguez's lecture and command...are all replaced with silence. They are all gone. This is the day when he loses everything. His sole reason to keep living. And at this moment too, he realized how dependent he has become. Rodriguez is the first to go, and in such a manner he wishes he never recalls it. Since then, he is entrusted to be the leader, but instead of being a leader who is independent, he becomes even more dependent. He desperately clings to his sole reason for living that is his friends, just like that one gang who desperately clings to their hope that is the girl's existence. His desperation makes him become reckless, and he ends up losing them.

 

Some might argue that he is selfless because he has been going on to this adventure to look for the girl, for the sake of Cyclops. Cyclops wants to meet the girl so badly. So, he has been going on this perverted adventure for the sake of his friends. Such is a selfless action, is it not?

 

No. Beltboy is selfish. He never speaks out his true desire, neither to Lanks nor Cyclops, not even Rodriguez know this. All he wants is just an adventure with his friends.

 

Just like the time when he set off for an adventure with his female childhood friend, he wants to have an adventure of his life with Lanks, Cyclops, and Rodriguez too. An exhilarating adventure, full of things they can fondly remember for the rest of their lives. Like a happy story about a group of friends traveling around the world together, stopping by at many places, enjoying the time they have together, a truly fun and unforgettable experience. That is what he wants, a very selfish desire that remains to be unheard by his late friends.

 

And now, that time will never come.

 

"Friends... forever."

 

Gazing at the campfire, he murmurs to himself, imagining his friends being here along with him, including his female childhood friend.

 

***

 

As much as he hates reality, he cannot run away from it. He cannot take it anymore. The suffocating loneliness, the agonizing emptiness that has long gone, now returns and slowly drowns him. It is even more frightening than he can remember back in his past. There is no one left anymore, and his life is slowly fading. The reason for the existence he desperately clings to has gone, and he really has nowhere to go, not even a reason to live. He needs to be accompanied again. He needs someone he can share his stories with. He needs someone he can laugh together with. He needs someone who wants to set off for an adventure with him. He hates being alone. It is painful for being alone. It is meaningless to live without any reason to. Please, please. Help.

 

"I need... a friend."

 

***

 

"You know." He started a conversation. "This might be really sudden, but..." He looks away, trying his best to properly put this into words. "I just want to thank you."

 

The brown-haired woman directs her attention away from the freshly-carved number "5" on the wall, as she turns to face him. "Why are you thanking me?" She asked, in confusion. "You're the one who's willing to help me, to find more surviving women in this world. That should be my line, right?"

 

"No, it's not about that." He replies. Even though he does not look at her, she knows she is still listening, despite his difficulty to express his gratefulness. "I want to thank you because you want to be my friend."

 

She blinks a few times, not expecting that. "Huh? Only because of that, you're grateful to me?"

 

"Yeah. I'm really grateful to you because of that." 

 

She probably does not understand how meaningful a friend is for him.

 

They are not just companions. They are important to him. A family. A lifelong companion. A reason to keep living.

 

Without his sunglasses on, he really sounds a lot less cool, and he cannot hide his expression anymore. Being less cool is a problem, but hiding his expression of gratefulness is not necessary anymore, as he puts a genuine, happy smile to the woman.

 

"I don't even know you,

but you make my life worth living."