As a person who always expected the best in life, there were a few things Colby never expected. But that just goes to show how unpredictable things could be. Early on in his childhood, he knew becoming a food-fighting master would be a simple accomplishment to achieve. Though, he had a few difficult matches here and there, they still managed to shape him into the fiery fighter everyone knew and loved. And along with becoming a food-fighting master, Colby never expected all the fame that came with it. First of all, shortly after gaining his master status, the King of Curry wanted to push food-fighting aside for the moment and dabble more with professional wrestling, which is how he made a name for himself in Mexico, exploring lucha libre and putting his own flame-bursting twist to it. Every time fans walked by, they always greeted him with "El Fuego!", seeing him as the embodiment of fire he prides himself on. Colby even expected his son, Monty, to be inspired by him as an upcoming food fighter and he was, but not as much as he thought. That's the thing with becoming a parent; he thought that raising Monty into the person he wanted him to be would be simple but the occasional teenage rebellion gets in the way.
Just that afternoon, Colby returned from filming another commercial for a sports drink. And that's another thing the food-fighting master never expected; appearing on television seemed surreal enough, but to be the face for food products and exercise equipment felt like something of a dream. It's too bad his father wasn't around so he could rub it in his face, claiming he was "too ugly" to appear on TV. Once the male with the eye-patch opened the door to the apartment, high-pitched beeps rang in his ears, wondering where they came from until he saw Monty sprawled out on the couch, in front of the TV with Sir. Cuddlekins lying on his belly. At that, Colby could already feel anger burning inside him; he wasn't so bothered by his son as to another thing that rubbed him the wrong way.
"Ah, there you are, Colby. Back from filming, I assume?" the kitten began with a little small talk.
"Oh, fuck, you're back already, dad? Shit... didn't think you'd be home 'til much later." the half-Hispanic yawned, unaware of the stern expression his father rarely wore.
"Uh-huh... uh, son, care to explain to me what you're watching?" Colby pointed at the program on television. Happened to be several males in their twenties torturing themselves with crazy stunts like riding a motorcycle off a cliff.
"Eh, just some random shit I found while channel-surfing. It's about these dudes who call themselves 'godlike daredevils', but they're really a bunch of jackasses."
"And I must add they make you seem sane compared to them, Colby..." Sir. Cuddlekins, however, could tell something bothered his owner. And he's been around him long enough to know when something troubled the guy. "Er, is something wrong?"
"As a matter of fact, there is. Monty, not only do I not approve of you watching these people torture themselves for your entertainment, but all the cursing they do isn't okay with me. I want you to change the channel to something more appropriate now." The King of Curry even spoke in a more serious tone his son wasn't used to hearing, but it didn't falter his indifferent scowl.
"Hell no." Monty spat back.
"Monty, change the channel now! I'm not asking you again!"
"Then, fuck off and let me watch what I want, damn it!"
Having no other choice, Colby snatched the remote from the coffee table and shut off the TV, tucking it behind his back.
"Hey, what the hell, dad?! I wasn't even done watching that!" the spiky-haired boy growled, standing before his father with his fists clenched, ready to fight.
"Now, Monty, don't get too hasty. He is your father after all." Sir. Cuddlekins informed, now lying on the couch.
"Don't fucking remind me..."
"Enough with the language, young man! Now, I really don't like raising my voice at you but I'm not gonna stand here and let you curse like a sailor! What is it with you, Monty? Why do you think it's okay to talk like this?" Colby sighed.
"Why the fuck not? As you can clearly see, I'm a teenager and I'm clearly not the only one who swears all the fucking time so what's the big deal?" scoffed the half-Hispanic, folding his arms.
"Teenager or not, you're still my son. And I'm not going to tolerate you using that kind of language, especially when you keep watching shows that encourage it."
"So? You've never bitched about this before, why the hell are you getting so anal about this now?"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe... because I thought that since my son's a smart kid who can learn from his mistakes no problem, he'll think, 'Hmm, maybe I'm too good for this swearing junk.'"
"Well, it ain't gonna happen, dad. Besides, as long as we're in America, I'm allowed to talk any fucking way I want, whether you like it or not. You never heard of Freedom of Speech? Need your smart son to teach ya what that means, huh?"
That's when Colby bit his lip. Everything in him wanted to yell at his son for his constant sass and sarcasm, peppered with curses. But they both knew that yelling wouldn't do either of them good and it would probably turn Monty away in an instant. Just like the time they argued after they moved into their apartment. The food-fighting master's eye darted around, searching for a retort, something to wipe that ugly scowl off his son's face. And the answer... lied in the recycle bin?
"Er, Colby, shouldn't you be more focused on reprimanding your son?" Sir. Cuddlekins said, watching the male dig through the bin before pulling out a cleaned-out peanut butter jar.
"In a sec, Sir. Snuggles, just gotta do something real quick!" Scurrying to his room, Colby took the jar and placed a sticky note on it, writing "Swear Jar." He rushed back to Monty with the jar in hand, presenting it to him, "Ta-da! If I can't make ya stop swearing, then this nifty little punishment should do the trick!"
"A swear jar? Really, a fucking-" Monty began, hearing a mock buzzer noise from his father.
"You cursed, now you gotta toss a coin into the jar, bud!"
"Ugh, goddamn it-"
"Ah ah, pay up!"
"Whoop, more change for the swear jar! Keep it up, Mont!"
"Aaagh, fuck you-shit! Damn it, why's this so fucking hard?!" Grasping at his hair, Monty grit his teeth at his father's perky grin.
"I dunno, man, but you can't stop now! Gotta keep filling that jar!" Colby tapped the jar with his finger, seeing his son dig through his pockets.
"Uh, I would if I wasn't out of change."
"Who said you only needed to put change in the jar? Better bring out the big bucks!"
"Ugh... you're really trying to make me miserable, aren't you?"
"A little! Seriously, you may think I'm doing this to tick you off again but trust me, Monty, this is gonna do ya a lot of good."
A lot of good? Yeah, right. Not the first time Monty had been assured about something that seemed detrimental to him could've benefited him in the end. After those times Colby would intentionally put his son in danger in hopes of letting him fend for himself, while they did push him to use his wits to his advantage, they also steadily increased his resentment towards his father. And it frustrated him even more than Colby seemed oblivious to that. He always saw that constant scowl as a reason for mockery or amusement than to be concerned.
But rather than get caught up in his issues with his father, Monty left the apartment, shortly after he was given his swear jar punishment, to hang out with Ronnie and Rika. Hopefully, he could vent without either of them judging him, but that didn't seem likely. In the twins' backyard, the gang kicked around a hacky sack which acted the perfect opportunity for Monty to flaunt his soccer skills. Juggling the little footbag like a soccer ball, he thought he'd show off a bit.
"Okay, okay, okay, Mont! Are you done?! I think you've done more than enough showboating, will you just pass it already?!" Rika complained over the spiky-haired boy's taunting laughter.
"Alright, fine, here. Just feels good to cut loose after what happened earlier." Monty said, taking a deep, relieving breath.
"It always feels good to cut loose, my friend! Especially with hacky sack, and I thought I'd be terrible at this since I'm not that good at soccer but who would've thought I'd be a pro at this too!" Ronnie grinned, about to kick the hacky sack his sister passed him.
"But let's not gloss over what's going on with you, Monty. You said something happened with you earlier, what was it?" the girl in pink questioned.
"Oh, nothing, just dad being a dick as usual. He picked today of all days to bitch about how I curse all the time, but I don't see what the big fucking deal is." the half-Hispanic explained.
"Of course, you wouldn't. Hasn't it ever occurred to you that Mr. Colby's obviously concerned about you and you're too young to be swearing so much?"
"That goes for us too, Ri-Ri. If mama caught either of us pulling a Monty, we'd find ourselves gargling with a bottle of soap!" giggled the bubbly blue boy.
"And that's what Mr. Colby needs to do with you, Monty. ...wait a minute, has he?" asked Rika.
"Pfft, once or twice. It was actually abuelita who gave me the soap treatment after she caught me cursing. And I really thought if I cursed backwards in Spanish, she wouldn't catch me but nope. That's what I get for underestimating abuelita." sighed Monty.
"Heh, you deserved it."
"Oh, fuck off... anyway, dad came up with the idea to make this swear jar and every time I swear, I gotta put some money in it, which sucks major balls. Think I lost about ten bucks already, is this really worth it?"
"It must be if Mr. Colby wants you to get over your swearing habit. Did he tell you if you'd get the money back or not?" questioned the pigtailed girl.
"Yeah, but that would mean going a whole fucking week without swearing and that shit seems impossible!" exclaimed Monty.
"Aw, not with that attitude, Monterey! It's all about willpower and you seem to have plenty of that being the tough guy you are!" Ronnie tried to encourage his pal.
"Dunno about that, Ron, you're looking the same guy who swears he'll eat only two slices of pizza when he'll actually have five." sneered Rika.
"Ey, depends on how good the pizza is, alright? Don't assume shit like that. But yeah, I'm just glad I can swear to my heart's content without him around. It's not like you two would snitch on me, though, I know your shady ass would, Rik." the spiky-haired boy glowered at the smirking girl in pink.
"And you're definitely not wrong about that."
"Tch, you little... anyway, as long as I never have to see another dumb jar with the words "Swear Jar" on it, I'm good."
"Uh, hate to burst your bubble, Mont, but... SHA-BAM!"
Out of nowhere, Ronnie whipped out a jar that looked identical to the one Colby made, except it had more stickers to show the bubbly boy's artistic flair.
"Aw, what the fuck, Ron?! Seriously?! You guys are in on this shit too?!" Monty screeched.
"You got that right. See, Monty, you may think you're a boy genius and all but you're really not. Mr. Colby knew you'd think that you'd get away with swearing without him around, so he asked us and mom to be his eyes and ears!" Rika explained, fixing on a wicked grin.
"Mostly, ears! Now, pay up, Monterey, chop chop!" Ronnie also smirked, tapping his fingers against the glass jar. "Also, here's a random factoid, we used this exact jar to make homemade marionberry jam and it was super-duper yummy! Especially when you put it on toast, oh..."
"Ron, what the hell does that have to do with anything?" Monty dryly spat.
"Nothing! Just felt like sharing, now fork over the cash! You owe about a hundred bucks in curses, buddy!"
"Ugh, fuck my life..."
"And make that a hundred and one." goaded Rika.
"Not helping, Rik!"
Following such a tiring day for Monty, he just wanted to head to bed and sleep his problems away. First his father coerced him into quitting his swearing with a backwards version of a tip jar and it even got to the point that he had to get his friends involved. As if Colby didn't trust him enough or wasn't naive enough to let him get away with swearing without his supervision. Changed into his sleepwear, the half-Hispanic spent the last five minutes punching his pillow, pretending he jabbed at his smug father's face.
"Er, Monty, I think that's enough pillow-hitting for one day. You don't have to completely take your anger out on it, son." Sir. Cuddlekins, advised, lying beside the boy by the foot of the bed.
"How about you mind your damn business, you stupid furball? At least, I'm not kicking your shit in or I would've done that already." Monty scowled, punching his pillow one last time.
"Gosh, that's harsh. You're so upset over your punishment that you would resort to animal abuse? And speaking of, you need to-"
"Don't remind me already, I've probably tossed my whole wallet into that jar... so stupid."
"It may be stupid, but don't you think it served as a wake-up call for you to change your swearing habit?" asked the tabby kitten as his owner scoffed.
"Pfft, I dunno... maybe..." Resting his head on his pillow, the spiky-haired boy glanced up at the white drywall ceiling. "Today just sucked... today really fu-... it just really sucked, okay?"
"Yes, I imagine so. But that's karma for testing your father, young man. Sure, he may not be the best father in the world but he's not too far gone when raising you."
"Tch, that's laughable... Cudds, you might wanna keep your muzzle shut about me and my dad when you haven't been around us long enough to know how messed up our relationship is."
"You're correct about that, but you did inform me about it a little when you shared those stories with Ronnie and Rika. I'm aware that your father is quite the character, he may be difficult to understand but he's still your father, like it or not."
"Okay, well, answer me this, what kind of father would leave their young son in danger on purpose and not try to help him out? What sane father would let his son wrestle against a bull in hopes of helping me train? And tell me, just tell me what kind of father is so dead-set on shoving their crazy King of Curry obsessed life down their child's throat like they're not allowed to have a life of their own? That's why I keep swearing, that's why I curse and hiss and spit whenever I can 'cause it's a convenient way for me to vent."
"But there's much healthier ways to deal with your anger, Monty, perhaps punching your pillow could be one of them. And not only that, exercising and working out in general are especially helpful." described Sir. Cuddlekins.
"Maybe... I just wish I had a normal dad instead of the obsessive, weird one I'm cursed with." groaned Monty, slowly shutting his eyes.
"Young man, you honestly don't mean that, do you?"
"If I didn't, I wouldn't have said it. Now, shut up and let me sleep."
What Monty didn't know was while he chatted with his kitten, Colby happened to be outside his bedroom door, listening to his son's thoughts. And he looked distraught when he heard them, did he really feel that way about him? He always thought his son appreciated him, aren't children supposed to appreciate their fathers despite the embarrassing things they put them through? Not sure how to deal with this unfamiliar feeling of vulnerability, Colby returned to his room and sat on his bed. For a moment, he stared at that old picture of him and Monty on the nightstand. Such a heartfelt photo. It had been taken after a match the King of Curry won, posing with the gold trophy and a toothy-grinned Monty cuddled in one of his arms. Probably one of the rare moments he's seen his son so cheerful and happy. ...but was that his fault? Was he to blame for darkening his mood over the years?
Letting out another sigh, the male with the eye-patch decided to ring up his closest friend.
"Please pick up... I know it's late but please pick up..." He whispered to himself, relieved when he heard a woman yawning into his ear.
"Colby, do you know what time it is? In case you don't, it's almost midnight and my usual bedtime so can this wait until tomorrow?" groaned Sage, sleep audibly heard in her voice.
"I know, I know, really sorry to call you just before you were gonna hit the sack. It's just this problem came up and I feel like if I don't talk to someone, namely, you, about this, it's gonna drive me crazy and keep me from sleeping and I-"
"Alright, you motormouth, relax. What's going on now, is this about Monty?"
"Yep... see, I was gonna have a little chat with him before he went to bed but right before I could, I heard him and Sir. Cuddlekins talking about me and... I just... I had no idea that Monty hated my guts so much. I mean, I sorta knew but sheesh..."
"Oh, he's just being a kid, it's nothing new with kids his age. Anytime your kid tells you they hate you, they don't really mean it." insisted the bluenette.
"Okay, then how do you explain him saying he'd rather have a so-called 'normal' dad instead of me, huh? Explain that, Ms. I Got a Bachelor's in Philosophy?" sneered the food-fighting master.
"Just shut it, you drama queen... but again, that's Monty being a kid for you. It did sound pretty harsh but that's what kids do. They tend to say dumb things because they don't know any better, but I highly doubt that Monty said that out of spite."
"Huh, so... I'm off the hook? There's nothing wrong with me and how I'm taking care of him?"
"Actually, there is. The way you keep being pushy with Monty, mostly with the whole following in the King of Curry's footsteps thing. It's pretty pathetic. And don't think Monty hasn't told me about all those times you nearly got him killed. Giving a five-year-old a pet scorpion for his birthday... really, Colby?"
"Sheesh, way to make me out to be the bad dad, Sage. Tell me how you really feel..."
"Well, since you asked nicely, I will. Colby, you are a lousy father to Monty but that doesn't mean you can't change. Now... it's not often I hand out my books for free, but since you're a good friend of mine, I'll lend you this book I wrote about raising children like tending a garden. Odd comparison, I know, but you'll see what I mean once you read it." suggested Sage.
"Uh, thanks for the offer, Sage, but I-" began Colby.
"But knowing that you're too lazy to read, I can give it to you on audio-book."
"Oh, ho, ho, sweet! Sage being a bro yet again, really appreciate it, bud."
"Yeah, yeah, but remind me about it later... gotta get my beauty rest."
Today would be a day to start things fresh for Monty and for him, that meant attempting to cut down on his cursing for the sole purpose of getting his money back. At the twins' place, he decided to turn to Ronnie and Rika for help in accomplishing his habit. But would they try to provide helpful advice or kick him while he's down? The half-Hispanic sat on the couch, gazing around the living room until he felt a semi-light mass of fur gently placed on his lap.
"Aw, what the-?!"
"Here ya go, Monterey. Your own purrsonal cat cushion!" Ronnie, the one who put one of his siamese cats on his lap, giggled at his pun. "But no, jokes aside, it's scientifically proven that petting a cat, especially an adorable one, does wonders for your stress!"
"And by 'scientifically proven', you mean it's a random fact you came up with, right?" snarked Monty.
"Duh! But it can't be a random fact if it's true, am I right?"
"Whatever... I'm here struggling to not curse both of you out, could you at least try to help me out here?!"
"Oh, enough with the dramatics," Rika came back, handing the spiky-haired boy an orange, apricot, and raspberry smoothie she blended together. "We know that not being able to swear stinks, but it can't be the worse thing that's ever happened to you."
"Pfft, might as well be. It's like every time I get the urge to swear, I get this weird burning sensation in my head and it gets worse the more I try to hold it in. There has to be something else I can do to avoid that feeling." described Monty.
"Then, you just gotta think of other words you can swear with! Non-curse-y sounding words! Like borscht!" chirped the feathery-haired boy.
"Or tartar sauce!" added the pigtailed girl.
"And one of my favorites, 'D'oh, pumpernickel!'" Ronnie said with a joyful swing of his fist.
"Alright, but those sound so corny. Can't you suggest some less corny words I could use?" the spiky-haired boy groaned.
"Why? That's the point of using these words, Monty, their corniness makes 'em more fun to say than regular swear words!"
"Or how about this? Take a rubber band, place it on one of your wrists, and if you ever get the urge to curse, just pull back the rubber band and let it smack you on the wrist." explained Rika.
"So, you really want me to torture myself when I'm already being tortured? That definitely some sh... something you'd suggest, Rik." Monty took another sip of his smoothie.
"Aww, you know me too well, Mont. But seriously, it really works. I tried it when I had my nail-biting habit and I haven't had the urge to do it in years!"
"Lies, Ri-Ri, lies! I caught you nibbling your nails just last night when we were getting ready for bed!" accused the bubbly blue boy with a pointer finger at his sister's direction.
"What, no, I wasn't! I was just washing my face! And would I even think of biting my nails when I already brushed my teeth?" reasoned Rika.
"Oh, don't try to get yourself out of this sticky situation, missy! 'I was just washing my face!' Mmmm-hmmm..."
"You know what, maybe I should just go mute for the rest of my life. Why torture myself when I can just walk around with duct tape over my mouth 24/7? That seems like a pretty good idea, don't you think?" sighed the half-Hispanic, downing the rest of his smoothie.
"It is, the best one I've heard today!" grinned Rika while her brother didn't seem to agree.
"Don't do it! No, bad idea! I disapprove, Ronnie disapproves!" Ronnie quickly shook his head, crossing his arms to make an X.
"Aww, why not? This isn't about you still being sore over me taping your mouth shut when we were eleven, is it?"
"Yes, totes! Monty, take it from your pal, you do NOT wanna put yourself through that! Don't put yourself through the pain like I have!"
"Pfft... what's the point when every day of my life is filled with pain?" Which came out rather frostily from Monty's lips.
Feeling his chat with the twins was getting nowhere, a stressed Monty went home to his apartment, where he found Colby standing from the couch. Greeting him with neither a smile nor a frown.
"Oh, Monty, hey, kiddo," the food-fighting master expected a snarky response but he remained silent. "Just got back from hanging out with the twins, I see? Everything alright?"
More silence. Instead of entertaining his father, Monty headed for his room only for Colby to block his path.
"No, no, wait! Don't go anywhere, let's just talk... there's a few things I need to get off my chest," Swallowing a lump in his throat, the male with the eye-patch continued, "Now, I'll admit, I haven't been such a great father to you. Surprising to hear, I know, but... I never realized you had that much pent-up anger because of me. And I thought you always walked around with a scrunched face 'cause you were usually mad with the world... when really, it was me who left you in a bad headspace."
Monty's hardened glare faltered a bit, probably comforted that his father finally owned up to his faults as a parent.
"But that's all gonna change starting today, it's gonna be difficult but I'll try my best to be the father you want-no. The father you truly deserve."
"...and I... if you're really going to do that, then I guess I can learn to appreciate you more. Learn to... love you even," croaked Monty, rubbing the back of his head. "...sorry for being such a prick, dad."
"Aww, it's cool, bud," With that, Colby wrapped his son in his arms. "You're just a kid, you can't help it. Just like I can't help being a prick to you, so I should be the one apologizing for all those times I treated you like crud."
"Eh, guess being a jerk runs in the family."
"Yep, but we're the cool kind of jerks!"
"Right, 'cept I'm way more cooler than you."
"Heh heh, wanna bet?" challenged the food-fighting master, chuckling with his son.
"But yeah, since we're technically cool now, does this mean I'm off the swear jar punishment or..." began the half-Hispanic, hearing his father laugh for a moment before giving him a cheesy smirk.