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privy to the secrets (great griefs of a man)

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Godam sauntered into their - Patriot’s - base only several weeks after Sancaka-as-Gundala joined. He had demanded to join the team and Sri Asih - Nani - could only nod. They need all the super-powered people and they were not exactly plenty in number.

Godam was everything Sancaka had ever imagined in a hero. Equipped with his ever-billowing cape, Godam went through things as if they were made of paper. Not to mention his bulletproof tendencies - Sri Asih and Godam were their forefront fighter. It wasn’t long until the Patriot agreed to make Godam as their co-leader alongside Sri Asih.

What Sancaka’s imagination didn’t cover was Godam’s personality. He was - fairly speaking - bull-headed. Prickly, righteous, stubborn, impossibly protective of the others - that only covered some of his brilliant traits. Godam often went head-to-head with Sri Asih, nearly yelling on each other faces until Tira and Aquanus broke them off. Clearly, Sancaka was surrounded with super-powered children.

“Om penasaran ngga sih, sama Om Godam?”

A voice broke him out of his reverie. Sancaka, free from his superhero costume except for his helmet, glanced to his side. He found Virgo, grinning next to him in what seemed like a promise of trouble. She plopped down on en empty spot next to Sancaka and continued to bandage her hand, eyes trained ahead to where Godam was fussing over Tira.

“Penasaran kenapa?” Sancaka replied in a bland tone, examining the scratches and gouges he got from today’s fight. Bocah Atlantis had proven the Patriot that he was a quite formidable enemy, the little, evil genius. The lackies he sent managed to land several hits on Sancaka and Sri Asih, which was surprising, considering the latter was nearly immune against everything.

“Om tau ‘kan, dia tiba-tiba datang, nyelonong masuk ke markas? Tahu dari mana dia, kalau ini markasnya Patriot?” Virgo continued, voice hushed and conspiratorially. Sancaka was pretty sure Godam’s superpower didn’t include super hearing.”Belum lagi kekuatan supernya. Emang Om ngga penasaran kekuatan supernya dia datang dari mana?” she added, eyes wide behind the mask.

Sancaka could only chuckle and rapped his knuckles on the girl’s forehead. Virgo whined, covering her forehead with her hands before shooting him a wounded look. “Kamu ‘tuh, kepo banget jadi orang. Mending kamu kelarin beres-beresnya, terus berangkat kuliah,” he said after, voice laced with amusement.

At that, Virgo only harrumphed and got to her feet swiftly despite her injuries. “Kalau aku dapat info, Om ngga akan aku kasih tau.” And with that, she sauntered away. As if it intrigues him, Sancaka mused internally with another snort. The sound caused Godam to twitch, gaze landed on Sancaka who looked like a deer caught in a headlight. Maybe Godam had a super hearing, after all.

In a blink of an eye, Sancaka found Godam in front of him, practically hovering. Sancaka forgot how much of a mother hen Godam actually was, because he was never the end of his protective rage.

“Kamu ngga kenapa-kenapa ‘kan?” Godam started, eyes narrowing in what seemed like a scrutinizing glare. “Luka-lukamu... udah sembuh?”

Sancaka shook his head as an answer, unable to say anything because Godam never paid attention to him outside a battle. Well, not like this. “Biasanya dua hari baru sembuh, tapi udah ngga berdarah lagi.” Unlike you, not everyone here got a super healing ability, Sancaka mused a tad grouchily.

Something flickered over Godam’s face, something Sancaka couldn’t put a hand on. Before he added something, Godam beat him to it. “Kamu... kerja bagus hari ini. Maaf saya ngga bisa melindungi kamu dari preman-premannya Bocah Atlantis,” Godam said, voice gruff.

Sancaka blinked, stunned at the sudden confession.

Apparently not finished, Godam continued, still in his low voice. “Mau saya antar pulang setelah ini? Saya punya pesawat jet, biar kamu bisa cepat istirahat.”

Still gaping, Sancaka shook his head again. “Saya... bisa pulang sendiri, kok,” he offered after he collected himself, a sheepish smile on his lips, “mungkin lain kali.” He definitely didn’t miss the disappointed look that flashed on Godam’s eyes.

With a terse nod, Godam turned around sharply and stalked outside. Sancaka stared at his retreating back, mind reeling. He definitely saw a blush, high on Godam’s cheeks. Weird.

.&.

They met again after several weeks of radio silence from the villains. This time, it was Pengkor and Ghazul, joining force in an attempt to wipe the Patriot off their radar. Ghazul returned with his hi-tech weapons, one that even Tira couldn’t put a hand on.

Sancaka was in the middle of blasting Ghazul’s lackies away when he saw Godam, soaring on the sky in all his glory. He headed straight to Pengkor’s jet plane, truly the human version of a high-speed missile. Sancaka watched in awe, even as Wulan - Merpati - breezed past him.

“Godam, awas!” From somewhere above him, Wulan shouted. Too late, too late - a ray of light hit Godam square in the face. Sri Asih yelled something behind him, but Sancaka was already speeding forward. No matter how often Godam grated on his nerves, he was an ally, and Sancaka would be six feet under the ground before he let his allies - friends - die. Before Sancaka could do anything so much of launching himself to the air, Wulan swooped with grace, catching Godam’s limp figure in her arms.

Sancaka came close when Wulan landed, his eyes caught how Godam looked... different. He had lost his ever-billowing cape and he seemed smaller. The Godam he knew was big, wide around the shoulders and his costume accentuated his muscular figure. But this one was more in the lean side. Gone was his costume, replaced with a simple civilian outfits. His face was also different.

“Ghazul sialan,” Sancaka heard Sri Asih growled behind him, but he paid her no attention.

Because that was Awang. In Wulan’s arms. Awang, who left him decades ago. Awang, who taught him all sorts of self-defense. Awang, who was also Godam.

Now Virgo’s words rang clear on his ears.

Om penasaran ngga sih, sama Om Godam?

Oh shit.

Sancaka might have said it aloud, because Sri Asih - now Nani - stared at him in confusion. Wulan though - Sancaka could feel her gaze on him. She probably connected all the dots by now. Nothing got Sancaka this way except his family, anything from his past, and Awang.

.&.

“Nani." Sancaka heard himself speaking, but his voice sounded hollow, as if it echoed from afar.

As if she knew what Sancaka was about to ask, Nani exhaled. She looked grim, even when they were back at their quarter.

“Aku ngga tau dia siapa. Aku cuma tau dia Godam, anak bangsawan dari negeri Godam,” Nani raised a hand when Sancaka opened his mouth, ready to fire more questions. “Dia jelas ngga berasal dari sini, dari Djakarta. Tapi kita butuh orang, San. Dhanus ngga selalu ada buat bantuin kita. Virgo masih kuliah, aku ngga bisa minta dia bolos. Dan Barda ngga pernah bisa dihubungin.”

“Aku kenal dia.”

Sancaka’s words caused Nani to startle, eyes meeting his.

“Bukan, bukan Godam. Tapi orang yang ada di balik dia.” Sancaka frowned, fingers rubbing over the scar on his earlobe.

“Udah hampir 20 tahun, Nan. Aku kira dia udah mati.” The words still left a bitter taste on his mouth.

Sancaka resented Awang. He resented his mother, for leaving him. His father’s co-workers, where money beat loyalty. It had always been like that. Resentment was a cycle, hatred was more permanent. It lodged deep under his sternum, its existence made it harder for him to control his lightning.

He didn’t miss how Nani’s gaze softened when she stared at him. She reached out to pat his arm, a small gesture he always appreciated. Before she could say anything, Wulan appeared from the doorway. There was a worried frown on her face as she headed straight to the pair.

“Godam udah bangun.”

.&.

“Lo masih hidup.”

Sancaka held back the urge to roll his eyes and scowl at Awang. Of course that would be the first thing he’d say to Sancaka.

“Gue kira lo udah mati digebukin orang.” Again. Now Sancaka really did roll his eyes at that. Nani and Wulan were conspicuously absent during the whole exchange, causing Sancaka to relax slightly. He wasn’t sure he was comfortable with their looming presence.

“Gimana Tenggara, Wang?” Sancaka said, aiming for something light, as he sat down next on a chair beside Awang’s temporary bed. It clearly was the wrong thing to say, when Awang’s smirk dimmed to a passive mask. His eyes were still on Sancaka’s face.

“Godam naksir lo,” was Awang’s answer, side-stepping Sancaka’s question. Sancaka just stared at him as if he sprouted a head. He couldn’t hide the faint flush on his cheeks.

Silence hung between them. Not choking, just the right kind of quietude they both needed.

“Gue kerja di Tenggara,” Awang started, gazing absently at the metal band around his ring finger. “Kerja jadi apa aja yang bisa gue kerjain. Tenggara ngga spesial, sama kaya Djakarta. Lebih banyak orang, lebih rame.”

“Tiba-tiba ada orang ngasih gue cincin ini,” he was now tracing the ring around his finger with a faint smile on his lips, “katanya, gue bisa bantuin Godam. Dia dihukum dan cuma gue yang bisa bantuin dia.”

“Terus gue liat berita kalau di Djakarta ada kelompok pahlawan super,” Awang grimaced at the words, but continued steadily. “Godam pengen bantuin kalian. Dan gue ngga tau kalo Gundala itu lo.”

Sancaka stayed quiet during Awang’s explanation, lips pursed into a thin line. “Jadi kamu sama Godam itu... dua orang yang berbeda?”

With a shrug, Awang averted his gaze away.”Gue cuma jadi perantara buat dia. Dia dikurung di dalam cincin yang gue pakai sekarang.”

Sancaka just stared at him, contemplating. He trusted Awang. Despite the bizarre explanation, it actually made sense in his tiny brain. Wulan’s story on how she got her powers was more... disturbing. While he knew that Awang might left some details out, at least Awang’s didn’t include falling off a cliff.

“Nanti kamu harus jelasin semuanya ke Sri Asih,” Sancaka said, making to stand up, but a hand gripped his wrist.

“Jangan kemana-mana.”

Sancaka felt bitterness rose up his throat at the words. How dare you to ask for such things? He knew it was irrational, to keep blaming Awang for something that had happened decades ago. So Sancaka nodded and plopped back to the chair. Awang didn’t let his wrist go.

Silence dawned upon them again. Awang’s nails sank on his skin, but Sancaka didn’t ask him to let go.

.&.

He was sure that Awang was asleep, when a voice pulled him out of his thoughts.

“Gue ngga akan kemana-mana lagi.”

Sancaka only smiled at that, shifting his hand so his fingers were intertwined with Awang’s. Awang’s ring was cold against his skin. His chest felt a little less hollow, as if a piece long lost had slotted itself right where the empty space was.