The Hoffman family—a bloodline of men and women born and bred to serve Bellum's wealthiest and most prominent figures. Generation after generation, the Hoffmans were raised to be bought by others, and to live their lives for someone else. Many became private soldiers, others became personal assistants, or maybe their lives were really so expendable that they were bought because they just looked like accessories. The Hoffman Estate was a symbol of subservience, and that kept their bloodline valuable and popular for generations. Even now, they flourished underneath this role they've played in society.
For the Hoffmans, this cause was a noble one, and their destiny for subservience was the only thing that mattered. You were a product on the shelf, made to fulfill some sort of purpose assigned to you. There was no escaping their destiny, except if you were lucky enough to be betrothed to some other man or woman for breeding purposes, or if you were selected to become the next head of the family. Though, most people probably wouldn't agree that these are acts of luck and good fortune. It was often the girls who ended up being wedded off, and then their only purpose was to have as many children as possible. They were hardly ever happy. The selected heads of the household were the only ones who seemed to benefit from that decision because a lot of the money made from selling Hoffmans went directly into their pocket, and then the rest went into providing for the estate. It was all just one big business, and the generations of children who grew up on that property just internalized that this was how things ought to be—even Leon.
For his entire life, Leon shared the belief that it was his purpose to serve. His destiny, even. There was nothing valuable about him or anyone else if they didn't accept their role in the world. But he was set up to fail.
He was born magically inept—that is to say, he had a mana pool but it was so significantly small that it was better to say that he didn't have the potential to wield magic at all. It wasn't defective, or a mutation, or a disorder, or a disease of some kind... it was actually quite common, around the world. But in Bellum, a country that glorified the very existence of magic, nothing couldn't be more shameful. Nothing was worse than being unable to harness the best thing to happen to mankind. It was vile. It was wrong. It was some sort of evil, and it was something that Leon was just born with, and it tormented him for years.
His family didn't make growing up easy for him. Everything was an uphill battle, and no matter how hard Leon worked, it never amounted to the acceptance and acknowledgment he so desperately yearned for—that he continues to yearn for. The only thing it ever amounted to was a banishment when he turned eighteen, and large, profound scars on his face for good measure. he was sent away to live in Fiore after the confrontation on his eighteenth birthday, and he hadn't heard from his family since.
It had been over a year since his exile, and Leon spent most of it trying to keep his head above water. He didn't have any good skills that made a worker valuable, and that was mostly because Hoffmans were never made to join the workforce. He was in a country he had only ever seen in the newspaper, and he was left to deal with the hurt and bitterness of what had happened to him. He was only able to keep himself from succumbing to poverty by taking on a bunch of low-paying jobs that could easily eat away at someone's soul, but he had no other choice. Every day, he went to bed telling himself they'd send for him to return home. He kept a distance from people to avoid creating friendships in order to avoid abandoning them for what he considered to be his inevitable return.
His days were a constant struggle of attitude, a tug-of-war between his emotions. Part of him wanted to believe and convince others that he was worth more than his mana, but that would mean overcoming the idea that he was worth less than dirt because of it and growing up in the Hoffman household only led him to internalize that fact. It was like a fire surrounded by glaciers, waiting for a spark to melt away the chains that bound him to the ideas he didn't want to accept, but nothing ever came to spark it. Days felt longer, night drew out, and it seemed like it was less and less likely that his family would reach out to him every time he woke up without word from them. He felt like he was going to suffocate...
Leon couldn't recall when he began to admire Percy so much, but whenever he thought about it, it was these words of his that came to mind. It was such a typical compliment, nothing short of what he'd hear from old men who wanted to scout him for boxing or professional brawling, but it really just... felt different, coming from Percy. Maybe it was because it felt like he meant it, like he actually saw something in Leon, even if it was for something as trivial as fighting. He was just so sincere...
It wasn't just Percy, either. For the last few months, Leon was beginning to meet all sorts of people. There was Gwen, Robin, and everyone in the Hunting and River Village. So much had happened that he began to think less and less about his family situation, and woke up eager to return to the life he was beginning to build for himself. He really liked his job, and although they started off on a bad note, his friendship with Percy was finding its stride rather quickly. He had new scars since coming to Fiore, and he didn't want to heal a single one. They all marked a time where he had helped someone he was passing by or something he did that he'd do again if it meant feeling the way he felt. He went to festivals, met some people at a Singles event, got a dog... his life now wasn't easy, and actually came with some unforeseen challenges, but it just... felt different.
Lately, Leon started wondering about something. If his family never reached out to him, and if this abandonment was really how it was going to be, would he really be so bitter? Could he really move on, and if he could, would he be okay with that? What if he felt okay with that? At first, the idea was absurd, and he pushed it out of his head the moment he conjured it up. But recently, he didn't feel so terrible about his situation. Whenever he fell into a bitter fit about his life in Bellum, he thought about his life now. If he was being honest, he really just thought about the life Percy had given him. The opportunities he's had since he met him. The guy was awkward, introverted, ridiculously messy, a terrible drunk, and was actually pretty easy to read. He bought an ugly Christmas tree for the sake of it, and he only felt comfortable singing one song for karaoke. He was more competitive than he looked, and was completely different inside of a fight than he is outside of one. The semi-redhead was literally one run-in away from being slugged by Leon, and yet he began to look forward to seeing him the most nowadays.
Honestly, how stupid was that? They started off on bad terms, and now they were friends. It was a little funny, but Leon couldn't get upset. Percy gave him this chance to live comfortably and to do something he liked to do. He gave him security and something to look forward to, so how could he not hold him in high regard? Leon owed Percy more than he could ever repay, but it looked like he'd have a lot of time to do his best to repay that. It looked like that, until this morning.
Topless and bed-headed, Leon sat on the edge of his bed in his River Village cabin. It had been a while since he last cut it, so his hair had gradually been growing longer and longer until it was at this length, now. The day started off like any other, waking up early so he could drive to Rose Garden. But the call he received from this unknown number suddenly dimmed his spirits, his eyes wide and full of shock as the static murmur rambled from the other end of the iLac. His bag was next to his nightstand, two art gallery tickets resting on top, and Robin was curled up on the bed next to him, asleep.
The conversation on the phone was very one-sided, Leon just staring out of the window with a look of alarm and disbelief. He didn't know what to say.
"Yes, thank you. Understood... bye." Leon chimed back, frowning as he ended the call. He looked over at the art gallery tickets he had received as thanks for his deed back in Hargeon. It was an event taking place next week, but it didn't look like it mattered anymore. He never thought the day would come... the call he had been waiting for. So why did he feel so awful?
As usual, Leon drove to Rose Garden, where Percy's home and lab was. He'd normally slide some earbuds in from underneath his motorcycle helmet and listen to the Blues or country music as he rode into town, but today he drove in complete silence. He had a softer look on his face than usual, but not soft with kindness or affection. He looked a little depressed.
When he arrived, he parked his motorbike in the driveway, but he didn't take off his gear aside from his helmet like he usually would, and he had a little grocery bag with him as well. He walked around the back, knocked on the door, and went inside without waiting for Percy to invite him in. It was his workplace too, after all, and as usual, it was a complete mess. Papers everywhere, items littering tables and the floor, rags here and there... it was chaos.
"He...! Seriously!" Leon began to curse to himself as he stumbled into the mess yet again, his eyes looking like daggers as he irritably began to place his helmet down so he could organize everything. It almost seemed routine now, but he stopped himself the moment the helmet left his hands. He remembered why he came here today, and it wasn't to work. The ever-so-slight tinge of melancholy came over his features again.
Leon closed the door behind him and sighed, stepping into the room with his eyes grazing the place for the head of his boss. He looked like he was glaring. Did Percy sleep in the lab? More importantly, had he eaten yet? With the bag from before in hand, it contained just a few things to eat. Some parts of his routine seemed to be too important for him to abandon just yet.
"Percy, you there? I need to talk to you," Leon called out to him with his usual deep voice, maneuvering through the lab with the sound of crinkling plastic following him.
He didn't know the guy for very long, and yet every step he took made him feel worse about what was happening. He hated it. A lot.
Last edited by Leon Hoffman on 19th February 2021, 12:27 pm; edited 1 time in total