Current Track: Blabb

It was that time of the year again.

Kevin watched the snow falling outside through the window. He had a cup
of warm chocolate in his hands as he sat on the bed, blanket all over himself.
In the city outside, people were walking here and there, happy to enjoy their
winter holiday. He envied them; he'd like to enjoy the winter, too.

Most people were preparing to go to or even were going to their hometown
to spend the holiday with their family. He could hear it from the television;
train tickets had run out in Legerville Station, much less the almost
all-purpose Wolvessye Central Station. The airport was also full. People were
looking forward to spending the holiday with their family.

Well, aside from him.

He didn't want to go home. While he missed his mother, he couldn't stand
being around his brother for five minutes. Longer than that and there was an
80% chance they would be literally at each other's throats—wait no scratch
that, there was a 100% chance of that. The last time he went home he ended up
being more depressed than before. So no, maybe not this year. Besides, he could
save money.

He sipped his beverage. Thankfully, every year the city threw a winter
festival, both for Yule and Christmas, and he made sure to enjoy the night.
Even though he was Christian, he didn't consider himself a devout one. Given
the diversity of religion in Barrowisle, he always tried to be in the
background, blending in. The Church had never been a refuge for him, and likely
never would. Rather strangely, he enjoyed the Esetrue holidays more than the
Christian holidays.

Probably he would enjoy the winter festival tomorrow. There weren't going
to be many people there compared to his hometown, but it was okay. Barrowisle
only had less than one hundred thousand residents even though it was the
capital of Lower Ysenhalt shire.

Somehow, it felt even colder now. The wolf put the almost cup on the
nightstand and picked his ageing phone that was next to that basketball wolf
figurine. There was a new message there.

Tom Barrowisle: “We're going to Max's on 24. You need help to talk to

He typed his reply. “nah wolfie txs you did so much already. I got
this. u home?"
He was about to put the phone back, but he remembered
something and typed another message. “is max still angry at me? like wanting
to kill me angry?"

Tom Barrowisle: “No, I'm running some errands."

Tom Barrowisle: “No, not really. He's still angry but you know him."

Tom Barrowisle: “I'd say you come to our flat. The best choice to deal
with him is to talk directly to him. Also, might be a good idea to bring some
coffee. He likes coffee."

Typical canine, Kevin thought. Most canines preferred facing a
problem head-on. Either a relic of their past culture or something genetic, he
didn't know.

At the last part of the message, though, he let out a small chuckle, but
it faded off quickly. “heh, you already know what he likes" But he
deleted that message after hovering over the send button for a bit. No, the
jealousy was strong on that. Instead, he typed back. “yea I'll grab one for
him thx"
Then he put the phone back on the nightstand and glanced back at
the window.

That incident, it happened just a month and a half ago, yet he felt like
it had been longer. He really felt bad about it; he was just back from his
hometown and he was feeling like shit. Tom invited him to have lunch with him,
which he didn't mind at all, but it turned out the grey wolf told him that he
was boyfriend with Max. The dam of emotion inside him which he didn't have time
to replaster after going back home snapped and he said some regrettable things
to the new couple, and the night after that he had a spat with Octo and a fight
with Tom.

At least he made peace with the grey wolf and started a new relationship
with him… species-wise. They confessed that they saw each other as brothers,
and it was enough for him. Tom provided a bit of respite from the isolation
that he had forced himself into.

As for Max…

“Fuck me." he groaned and leant back on the headboard. “I'd chain myself
and let that dog fuck me if that meant he forgive me."

He wouldn't say that, but still… if Max asked, then sure. He really felt
like an arsehole, talking shit about Tom in front of both of them just when the
wound of Tom almost died was still fresh in everyone's mind. Max had the right
to be furious.

Emotions really were troublesome.

It was almost 19; he'd better get going now if he wanted to get there
before half to 20. Tom's flat was quite far from here, but a tram ride would be
enough. He wanted to get a bicycle, but again, he couldn't afford one yet.
Thankfully, the public transports were enough for now.

The red wolf huffed, then uncovered himself from the mess of a blanket
on the bed. He took a fresh t-shirt from the cupboard and put it on before
drinking his chocolate empty. Taking his phone and jacket, he then exited the

Pulling his phone, he saw a new message from Tom. Tom Barrowisle: “I
tell Max you're coming?"

The wolf stared at the text as he went down the stairs. Would it be a
good idea? At least the dog would know that he was going here.

On another thought, maybe not. The dog could shoo him away instead, or
maybe he could go somewhere so that they wouldn't meet. “nah better not"
He typed back to Tom as he walked outside the building.

A short walk to the main street gave him a tram that was stopping. Just
when he got on it and it drove away, he remembered the coffee. Crap. He looked
through the windows; there was a minimarket across the road in front of the
tram stop. Eh, there had to be another near Tom's flat.

The ride was quiet, as he expected. Not many people were on the tram.
Kevin wanted to look out the window, but the scenery was dull to him. White
snow, buildings, dead trees, white snow again. He'd seen this lots of times and
it lost his charm long ago.

He chuckled a bit; Vilkas liked snow.

His phone beeped with a new notification. The wolf took it from his
pocket and stared at the new notification. Someone was asking if he was
available tonight, and he gave a pretty good price.

Kevin took a breath. His sex drive was still low. So, he replied, “sorry,
I'm not available this week. I'll keep that in mind for next week
" and put
the phone back in his pocket. Just for a good measure, he force-stopped the

It took quite a bit to reach Tom's neighbourhood. Kevin tapped his
e-money card at the register and got off the tram, letting out a sigh as he
looked at the street that would take him to Tom's flat. He then looked around
to find a minimarket, coffee first.

Thankfully, there was one just across the road. The red wolf went inside
and walked towards the coffee section. As he looked over the available coffee
packets, he realised he didn't know the kind of coffee Max liked. Uh, what
should he get? Asking Tom was out of the question, he wanted to do this
himself. But what kind of coffee?

Not knowing what to buy, he just took a brand that he usually bought. It
was cheap and he liked it. He walked to the paper cups and made the coffee. He
hoped Max liked it.

Also, maybe he needed one too, he thought and took another sachet while
he walked to the cashier.

“That's 65 cents." The cashier said, and Kevin handed him the money.
“Thank you. Enjoy your coffee!"

He left the minimarket and walked towards the grey wolf's flat, crushing
the snow on the way. His shoes felt cold, but it might be because of his
nervousness rather than the snow. The building came into view, and his grip on
the paper cup tightened. He went inside and took the stairs. Room 412 on the
fourth floor.

Letting out a sigh, Kevin looked around. The neighbourhood was quiet,
and it only made him even more nervous. Heck, he was already here, might as
well do it. He looked up and knocked at the door rather reluctantly.

“Coming!" The answer was instant, making him gulp.

The door then opened, revealing the big German Shepherd whom he knew
since his fifth semester in university. The circumstances in which they met
were funny; back then, he was interested in Tom, but Max was also there and he
couldn't help but be interested in him, too.

At first, Max smiled, but that smile fell when he saw him, replaced by a
frown, then by a scowl. “What the hell are you doing here?"

“I… uh…" The red wolf scratched his cheek and looked away, his tail
waving nervously, limp in submission. He really wasn't good at this. “Y'know…"

Easy, like Tom told you. Be honest. Be straight to the point.

“Can I come in?" he asked instead.

Max kept glaring at him, then he huffed and opened the door to let him
in. “I'm doing this because Tom asked me."

He didn't answer.

The flat felt welcoming. It was tidy, unlike his own. Things were where
they were supposed to be. It was minimal in decorations, but it made the flat
even more welcoming in its simplicity. Max sat down on one of the sofas with
his ears still half-mast, continuing watching the television. Not knowing what
to do, Kevin just took his jacket off and sat down on another sofa.

Don't let your emotions overwhelm you.

“Uh, Max?" He spoke. The dog kept watching the television, ignoring him.

The dog replied tersely. “What?"

That ticked the wolf off, but he fought it down. He looked down and put
the coffee on the coffee table in front of the dog. “Here's for you."

Max didn't take it, but Kevin felt him glaring at him.

Don't dance around it.

“I… uh… I'm sorry about that, saying shit about Tom to you two." said
the wolf. “I shouldn't've said those things."


He looked up, and he saw Max's surprised face. It then changed as the
dog scrutinised him, then huffed and looked away. “Tom roped you into this,
didn't he?"


Back to landnimming, he guessed.

Max then let out a sigh and took the coffee on the table. “I appreciate
you for apologizing, but don't think we can just fuck around after this. I'm
doing this for Tom. Besides, he's the one you should be apologizing to."

“I know. I already did." Kevin scratched his nape.

The dog was still glaring at him, but that glare softened. At least he
now wasn't planning to shove something up his arse and leave it there, the wolf
thought. “And about calling you two fag, I'm sorry, too."

That glare intensified again.

Kevin took a deep breath and braced himself. “I'm the fag one here."

“Can you fucking stop saying 'fag'?!"

He almost flinched. Max was almost growling at him. Kevin wanted to
growl back but backed down, it would do him no good. “Sorry."

Max looked away and wiped his face with a loud breath. He then stood up
and walked away. “Fuck's sake!"

Kevin thought he was leaving him here, but several minutes later the dog
returned with a can of soda in his hand. He threw the can to the wolf and sat

He caught it and eyed it.

“It's not drugged if you think I'm gonna beat the crap out of you while
you're half-conscious." Max snorted as he sipped the coffee, then flinched.
“Fuck, what is this?!"

“It's…" Ugh, he should've known better! Of course it wouldn't be to
Max's taste.

The dog stood up again and brought the cup with him, then returned after
a short while with a different cup.

“Is it really that bad?" Kevin asked him.

“Too much sugar in it. I just added more coffee."

The wolf wanted to say it came with the package but kept silent.

They went quiet. Kevin opened the can and watched the television. It was
showing a football match, probably a re-run, but it caught Max's attention.
His, meanwhile, did not. He didn't understand football, so he just watched it

Eventually, the dog let out a sigh and spoke up. “Tom didn't rope you
into this, right?"

Wait, what? “I came here to say sorry and you're fucking asking me if I'm
not acting on my own?!"

“Couldn't help it." Max grunted. “But from that tone I can tell you're being
honest. So, thanks, I guess."

Kevin stared at him, his annoyance quickly dissipating.

“Apology accepted, I guess. Nice to know you're not all bark." The dog
continued. “Tom's gonna be back around half to 9 if you wanna hang around."

That was… fast. Max just indirectly offered him to stay. However, when
he looked at the dog, he could tell that he was still angry. While his tail was
lazily waving, his ears were still half-mast, a sign that he was wary.

Kevin's own ear flicked, then he drank from the can. “Thanks, dude."

“You know, I kinda thought you're gonna ask for a fuck like that time
when we met." Max elongated his legs on the sofa.

“I mean… if you want?"

The dog gave him a quick glance, then the visible edge of his mouth
curved upwards. “Yeah, that's Kevin."

So, was he okay?

That made him wonder. As far as his observation went, Max was straight.
How did he become Tom's boyfriend? What did they do? Did Tom… somehow convince
him or was there something else involved that he didn't know?

Yes, he was jealous.

That anger rose again, but he quelled it down. He and Tom had already
made up; no reason to open it up again. Kevin looked at the dog. He really
wanted to start a conversation, but he wasn't sure if it would be welcome or
not. Unlike the time they first met, this time, they didn't have any topic to
bond over. He could ask him about work, but as he learnt from Octo, it could
end up quite badly.

He remembered Max and his job listing at his workplace. Could he ask him

Maybe not. Probably they were already taken. It had been a while anyway.

The wolf let out a sigh and directed his attention to the television.
Somehow, he felt like he was overstaying his welcome. Although Max indirectly
invited him to stay, he wasn't sure whether the dog really meant that or was
just trying to be friendly. Max seemed pretty content with him being here, as
indicated by his ears, now up.

Although, it might be a good idea to go home. Somehow, he wanted the
comfort of his own bed. There, nobody could see him being miserable or trying
to prevent himself from digging his own grave. The wolf finished the drink and
put the empty can on the table. “Thanks for that, uh… think I'll be going now."

Max looked at him, then looked back at the television and said
dismissively. “Yeah sure."

You could've at least tried to look like you mean it, he wanted to say, but the dog cut him.

“Be careful on the way back home." Max continued without looking at him.
“And thanks for the coffee."

Kevin only stared at him, dumbfounded at the way the dog spoke. He then
stood up and excused himself. “See ya 'round, dog." He took his jacket on the
hanger and went outside the flat.

Outside, he ran his hand through his hair. It could've gone worse, he
thought, but he was glad. Tom was right; keeping a cool head actually worked
very well. He took another glance at the door, then walked away, feeling glad
that he'd fixed one problem without any punching involved.

He might need a cup of coffee when he got back home.

Buon Natale, Giovanni."

Octo looked down. He crouched and nodded, smiling as he did so. He then
stood back up and caught a snowflake in his gloved hand, letting it pile up
with snow. “How beautiful is the snow today."

He closed his hand, watching as the snow slowly melted. The coldness was
making his paw pads numb, but it wouldn't matter.

It wouldn't matter.

“So, it's been a year since I graduated university." He looked back down
and smiled sadly. “I'm sorry I couldn't visit you for long last year. Things
had been… messy, to put it mildly."

Last year's Christmas came into his mind. He was home only for about
three days or so. He arrived two days before Christmas, his mood all down. He
couldn't enjoy anything, all he wanted to do was to go back to Barrowisle where
he was away from his family's reality and back to the safety of his own.

“Dad wants me to… continue the family operation instead of the family
restaurant. I really hate it." He let out a sigh and put his hands in his coat
pockets. “Ah, sorry, I didn't know that you didn't know about the family
operation. Basically, our family has been running our own operation since… when
was it? Since grandfather, maybe, I don't really remember. I really hate it; I
was too astounded when father told me that."

His smile turned sad. “I'm sorry, but I thought the operation would have
been given to you, while I were to be given the restaurant. But, well, we would
have both been given the restaurant sooner or later anyway, since it wouldn't
hurt for us to handle the two of them."

The panther caught several snowflakes and looked at them. They looked
beautiful, so small yet so intricate. They were a creation of nature, graced by
God's glory to be given to the world. No one could recreate it, not without Him.

Yet, mere moments after he caught it, it melted, leaving behind a drop
of water. It fell, and it turned into ice again. A symbol of regeneration.
Nothing was truly gone, only changed. Nothing truly died, only changed.

Only changed.

“Anyway, how's your homework?" asked the panther, his smile back. “University
is hard, isn't it? Heh, that's what you got for laughing at me. See now? It's
only your first semester and you're already crying for help? Okay, sure. I'll
help you do your homework, but before that, make me a plate of spaghetti."

He looked down, that smile turned sad again. “Yes, I know. I missed you,
too. Hey, did you know that winter in Barrowisle is a lot better than here?
Here, it always felt like we're going to freeze just after a few steps from the
door. I really want to bring you there. I want you to meet my friends; they
might look scary, but they're good guys." He chuckled a bit. “Don't worry, I'll
protect you if they're being bad. Nothing your big brother can't handle."

He looked at his phone, then realised he didn't have much time. His
mother would need his help to prepare for dinner later. “It looks like I have
to go." The panther smiled sadly. “Mom's asking for me to help her cook dinner.
We're going to have some duck, like usual. Sorry I couldn't be long, I'll
return tomorrow, okay? We'll talk more."

Crouching down again, he carefully took a chrysanthemum flower from the
inside pocket of his coat. He looked at it fondly, then put it on top of the
pile of snow in front of the tombstone as his expression saddened, softly
stroking the tombstone. “I love you, Giovanni."

The panther then stood up, giving a nod and a soft smile as he pushed
the grief away. “Buonasera, fratello. Che tu possa avere un buon Natale."
he said one last time before walking away from his brother's grave.


Buon Natale = Merry Christmas
Buonasera, fratello = Good afternoon, brother
Che tu possa avere un buon Natale = May you have a merry Christmas