Current Track: Blabb

Mom had seizures again.

Those words kept haunting him ever since he went home from his job-hunting. Since the day before yesterday, he had been by his mother's side, watching over her, keeping her safe. Shaun had work, but when he was off-shift, he too was here, making sure that she would get any help she needed.

Kevin looked at his mother's peaceful face, some cables connected her body to the machines next to her. She hadn't woken up since the doctor allowed visitors two days ago. She was stable now, but Kevin feared the worst. He softly caressed his mother's whiskers; she had been his saviour, and now it was his turn to be her saviour.

Letting out a breath, the red wolf pulled his hand and leant back on the chair again, the anxiety at least calmed down. He took his phone and continued reading a book, one that Vilkas suggested he should read. At first, he dismissed it—he didn't really like reading books anyway. However, as he read it, it turned out to be far better than he expected. The book was long, but the story was engaging.

And it apparently helped calm him down and focus.

The door then opened and Shaun and a nurse came inside. The nurse greeted him and went on to check on his mother. Meanwhile, Shaun gave him a sandwich. “When's the last time you ate?" he asked, still in his work uniform.

Kevin looked at it uninterestedly but then took it nonetheless. “I ate."

“Eat it."

“Yeah, yeah. You just got off work?"


Done with the check-up, the nurse then turned to them. “Your mother is fine. She's all stable."

“When's she gonna wake up?" Shaun asked her.

“She should wake up tomorrow, either afternoon or evening." She replied. “It's fine, you can go home. You look exhausted."

Kevin wanted to argue, but she had a reason. He had been here for two days straight—three if one counted the day his mum had seizures. He hadn't eaten anything since Shaun went to work earlier this morning. He hadn't changed his clothes at all.

Shaun wasn't in a better condition, either. He only went home to take his work clothes once. He had been here with Kevin to watch their mother, only going to work when he had to. He had used all his paid sick and off days, and he didn't feel like telling his boss about his mother's condition, so he had no choice but to go. Kevin did not blame him for that; right now, without him, they would be in an even bigger debt.

“If anything happens, and it's unlikely, I will inform you, Mr Huntington." The nurse said again with a reassuring tone. “Your mother will be so proud of you."

Shaun looked away, while Kevin gave a soft sigh.

“Yeah, though, guess we look even more wrecked than we thought." His brother then said, scratching his nape—something he only did when he was nervous or anxious. “Let's go home, Kev."

Reluctantly, Kevin stood up. “Call us if anything happens, alright."

“Of course."

The red wolf glanced at his mother on the berth once more, then closed the door.

It was late in the night. Neither Kevin nor Shaun said anything when they were on the bus, adding to the quietness of the night. Ausalt-on-Haye was a busy city, and Kevin appreciated the small bits of silence when he found it. He opened his phone again and continued reading the book whereas Shaun looked through the window. Somehow, they sat a bit closer to each other than usual, looking for any kind of warmth in the cold, harsh winter.

The bus stopped near their neighbourhood. Kevin tapped his phone while Shaun his e-money card on the register and went down, walking down the street tiredly with his tail limp. He followed his brother from behind, equally tired, hungry, cold, and upset. Winter had never felt this cold before.

Inside the house, Kevin went to the kitchen and took a few gulps of milk. He didn't feel hungry and he wasn't feeling like eating anyway. Shaun locked the front door and went towards his room. “'M gonna crash."


Kevin followed soon and went towards his own room. On the bed, he stared at the ceilings. It was late in the night, but he didn't want to sleep. The words were still there, threatening him with reality.

What would he do if his mother really passed away?

He rolled over and hugged a bolster, holding his anxiousness aback. That was more like a question of when, not if. Was he ready for that? His mother was counting days, and there was time for the count to end. Was he ready for that?

That would mean that the bond he had with Shaun would break. They would leave and part ways as there was nothing else that united them. As freeing as the thought was at first glance, they were still brothers. Kevin did not want him to leave. Despite his rudeness, Shaun was still kind. He understood that Shaun was equally hurt by their father as him, and they only had each other.

What would he do when Shaun left?

Too stressed by his own thoughts, the red wolf lay on his back again, tears starting to water his eyes. A lot of things had happened in this house, this home, both good and bad. Kevin had only ever left home once, to go to Barrowisle for college. Even then, he had always thought of this house as a beacon to return to, no matter how dim or bleak.

Kevin sat up on the bed and buried his face in his paws. This felt just like those times when his father beat him up. He could only hold back the pain and run to help, either his mother or Shaun. This time, his mother was not here.

Fuck it. Kevin stood up and went to Shaun's room. The lighter-red wolf was on his side away from the door, but he turned around when Kevin went inside.

“Kevin?" He asked his younger brother.

Kevin didn't answer, only looking down and holding back a sob.

“Kevin, what are you doing?"

He felt shameful like this, standing by Shaun's bedroom door with his ears down and tail curled in anxiousness. “I… I…" he stuttered. “If mom's gone… when mom's gone… what are we… a-are we…"

“Kevin, stop that!" Shaun said, the sharp tone sounding so loud in the quietness of the house.

“When mom's… g-gone… what are we…"

“Fucking stop it!" Shaun yelled, this time sitting up.

“When mom's gone, what are we gonna do?!" Kevin finally barked, unable to hold back any longer.

Shaun stood up, then pulled him into a hug. Kevin didn't react, still sobbing. Then, Shaun's hug tightened and he whispered, “Don't c-cry. I-I will protect you."

Finally, Kevin burst into tears and cried as emotions overwhelmed him. He tightly hugged his brother, looking for any warmth he could find. Everything had been hitting him too hard, and it was time he looked for help. Shaun would protect him, like all this time.

Like all this time.

With shaking hands, Octo got into position.

Next to him on the roof of a building was Richard, observing the road with a pair of binoculars. Jarl and Pacal were visible below, looking like regular pedestrians waiting for the bus. It was snowing softly, and the snow was starting to pile up on his back. Even through the coat, he could feel the coldness seeping… looking to unite with the coldness in his heart…

How in this cursed, god-forsaken world could Red Wolf be Thomas?!

Seriously, how?! Why?! What?!

What the fuck?!

There was nothing suspicious about him! Tom was the nice, gentle, awkward wolf that he knew. The files said Red Wolf killed all who were involved in Operation Red Wolf by himself. How could Tom do that? That was insane! Tom wouldn't even dare to even slap someone!


That document made everything click into place. Tom was admitted to hospital right at the same time Operation Red Wolf was held. He was not red, exactly how Róðgar told him. He was exactly how the files described him.

Fuck… how…

As soon as he read the file, he immediately tried to change the wolf's schedule so that he wouldn't meet any of his agents. He told Tom twice not to go shopping and the wolf complied with suspicion. He wanted to tell him one more time, but of course, the mafia knew that Tom changed plans because Tom still had to go to work. Two days ago, he called him again and told him not to go to the usual supermarket he went to. Tom was even more suspicious but agreed nonetheless.

He did all he could to avoid this operation from happening, yet he could only do so much. Cancelling the operation after it was approved was going to raise suspicion, so he could only resort to trying to postpone it and causing confusion. With Boulder suspecting a traitor, he doubled down on it despite being the traitor himself.

In his way, he wasn't. Even though he was here as a supervisor of sorts and did not intend to meddle, he was still one of the owners of the operation and his words were law. Yet in their way, he was. He was leaking information, assisting the suspect, and sabotaging the operation. So many things happened in so little time and he admitted that fear overcame him, that he felt powerless, that… that…

If his words were law, then why couldn't he bring himself to speak?

“Red Wolf spotted. The area is clear. Ready anytime for Signore Octo and Signore Walter." Richard said to his HT next to the panther, not knowing the utter disgust he was feeling. The hyena put the HT down and let out a soft sigh. “Sir, I trust you."

He put the rifle into position and waited.

Now, in front of him was Tom, and as he adjusted the viewfinder, it gave him a moment to think. The world was unfair indeed, and despite everything, everyone was still mere pawns. Although he meant to miss the shot, he could feel his fingers going numb. What if he shot him?! What if he killed him?! What if… he… ended up… betraying his promise… to his brother…?

“All clear."

With shaking paws and a drop of tear, he moved the rifle up a little, and then pulled the trigger.

One bullet was fired. People screamed. Confusion raged.

With no time to think, he adjusted the gun to one of his men, the one who meant to shoot Red Wolf, and pulled the trigger.

Richard said something. Octo could only roll over and freeze, staring at the sky as snow fell on him. He almost killed his brother. The snow felt cold. He just shot someone dead. It was cloudy above. He had just fucking shot someone dead and almost fucking killed his brother.

What kind of sick fuck was he?!

He laughed. He laughed at the joke. He hated this operation. He hated Ludwig. He hated his father. He hated himself.

“…cto… Octo… Octo!"

He looked at Richard with a wide smile.

The hyena looked worried. “Octo, come back to your senses!"

He laughed again. “The fuck?! I almost fucking killed my brother! How is that ok—ugh!"

Richard slapped him hard.

Slowly, he came back to his senses. He put his hand on his cheek where Richard slapped him before. Everything was coming back to him. The shouts, the screams, they sounded so much clearer now. Richard's worried face was looming in his vision.

He blinked. He blinked again. Realisation then hit him. He was not done. Time was ticking, and he was not done.


Octo nodded at Richard. “Thank you for that, Richard." He sat up and gripped his head. “Make sure whatever happens, no one hurts Red Wolf. That wolf over there is my brother. I'll get down to get him to safety. Tell them to retreat and evacuate the area now. Meanwhile, you call the police now."

The hyena was surprised. “He's what?! Your brother?! But you… he… you're a leopard!"

“Good observation, but brothers don't need to be of the same species, right?" He stood up and hugged the hyena. Even though they'd known each other only for only less than a year, he found himself trusting the hyena more and more. Richard was his only hope in the operation, the one he could trust.

Although he could sense the hyena's surprise, Richard did not protest the hug.

Octo let him go, but still held his shoulders and looked right into his eyes. “Listen, tell everyone to retreat and call the police. I'll take care of him. Do you understand?" He said with a reassuring but firm smile.

The hyena's expression hardened in obedience, then he nodded. “Yes, sir."

He nodded, then ran downstairs.


Tom ran with Max behind him, blending in with the rush. Why again? Why now? Did Octo somehow know about this by telling him all those things before?!

“Tell Max to go to safety!"

He pulled on Max's arm until the shepherd was standing in front of him. Max looked terrified, his head turning left and right with his ears flat, as if his nightmares were coming true. He slapped the dog, then looked into his eyes. “Max, look at me!"

The dog looked at him.

“Listen. Go to safety. Call the police. I will be fine. I. Will. Be. Fine. Understand?" he said with a steady voice, “I brought my metal staff. I brought a dagger. Don't worry. I might be small, but I know what I can do. I have no intention of fighting them today."

Max kept staring at him as he cried, then he hugged the wolf. “Tom… please… no… don't…"

Taking a deep breath, the wolf hugged him back. “I love you, Max. I love you more than myself. You are my world. They're chasing me. They want me. You go in front of me lest you'll also be caught. Call the police, I'll be right behind you." He pulled the dog's coat hood to cover his head. “I will meet you after this. Now, go and call the police!"

“I love you, Tom!" The dog let him go. “I'll—I'll call the police! Don't attack!"

“I won't."

Max looked around again, tears in his eyes, then he looked at the wolf again before finally running away, blending in with the crowd. The hood should keep him from being recognised. He stared as the dog weaved in and out of the crowd before looking back at him. Tom nodded at Max, then as if assured, Max disappeared around the corner.

Now, Death asked him for another dance. He had to provide.

“What now?!" Lain said

Tom joined the crowd running to safety when he heard some gunshots. “Fucking hell!"

He wasn't sure if he ran right into their trap, again. Men appeared in front of him in the crowd, but they seemed… vengeful, not organised. He growled at them, but no one budged. They looked rather similar to the people who had tried to kill him six seasons ago, uniform and all.

A bear walked forward, then someone gripped his hand and dragged him away. He thrashed like a wild animal, trying to lose the grip. People ran into him, making him unable to properly pull himself away. A quick glance over his shoulder revealed a large elephant gripping his hands tightly that it almost hurt, and he found that he was being dragged into an alleyway.

When he was finally let go, a bear was standing in front of him. “Fucking hell, you're so much smarter than I thought. Seems like the reports were actually right." Men appeared around him, cornering him.

The wolf growled.

“Now, we're gonna teach you a lesson for messing with us! Kill him!"

Tom clicked his tongue and took his coat off. “Guess there's no way out now."


He looked straight at them with a piercing glare. “I will say this only once. Back away or die."

Richard couldn't believe his eyes. His suspicion turned out to be true and he felt his heart drop into his stomach. Red Wolf might look harmless, docile even, but right now, he looked like he had been training all his life just for this.

His movements were swift, precise, switching between offence and defence and even turning one to the other so effortlessly. He knew he should be worried that those were his friends that Red Wolf used as a shield but right now, he was impressed. The hyena could only stare at them from the top of the building. Octo said that no one should hurt him, but he doubted anyone could hurt him at all like this.

The way he used his weapons was very skilful. Despite only using a metal staff and a dagger, he could still manage to stand against ten or more people there. Clothes were torn away, the snow lay unbothering to them. Yet Red Wolf didn't seem to be bothered by that. Even when he was caught, he could still manage to lose their hold and fight back.

Wait, where was the German Shepherd?

The hyena scanned the crowd again, looking for any sign of that dog. He couldn't find him, so he seemed to have escaped. So, he wasn't Red Wolf's bodyguard and was just his boyfriend, then? Kind of strange, since that dog looked a lot stronger and more powerful than Red Wolf, not to mention bigger.

His HT buzzed in his hand. “Richard. Come in, Richard."

He took it and responded. “Richard here."

“How's the situation there?"

Tail waving anxiously, he answered. “Red Wolf is fighting back. Doesn't seem like he's losing."

“Hmm." The panther hummed. Richard was confused at that, then he realised they were talking on the common frequency and therefore they couldn't talk about it. “I'm still on my way. Octaviano out."

“Understood." He was about to tell the panther to be careful but held back.

Not sure about the whole situation, the hyena just kept watching Red Wolf getting cornered. He trusted Octo, really, but he still wasn't sure. There were too many risks, the biggest of them lay down there before him. Red Wolf pretty much quit the operation, now he was there, fighting for his life. Richard could be next.

Yet, Octo was literally one of the owners of this entire organisation. There must be a reason for him to do this. Richard didn't know what it was, and couldn't even figure it out, but he trusted him. Octo didn't seem to be someone who lied. He covered the truth, like everyone else, but he did not tell lies. Quite brash in emotion yet reserved in expression. He always had this air of confidence around him, that he was someone who demanded loyalty and would provide loyalty in turn. He seemed ambitious yet knew his limits.

The hyena sighed. That was poetic and stuff but that didn't answer his question. Should he trust the panther?

Down there, his so-called friends seemed to be debating the same thing. Some chose to go with Pacal and retreated, some chose to go with Ludwig and proceeded. He saw Pacal and Lucia leading those who wanted to retreat to safety, whereas those who chose to follow Ludwig were assisting the bear. Boulder was screaming around telling people to retreat, and even though his HT was on his hips, Richard could hear him, “Fuck's sake, retreat! Signore Octo told us to retreat!"

He caught sight of Octo below entering an alleyway next to the one in which Red Wolf was fighting. The panther looked rushed, as if he were racing with time to save Red Wolf.

However, he couldn't delve deeper as a scream pierced the air. Red Wolf was held down, blood splattered on the snow around them. He looked like… he was going to die soon. Ludwig was standing before him with a gun in his hand.

Richard clicked his tongue and closed his eyes. He chose to trust Octo.

He took the sniper rifle next to him and got into position. He might be familiar with guns, but he never held a sniper rifle. It was bigger and longer. Quickly, he pointed the rifle at the scene below, then it struck him when he noticed something.

The way blood covered his fur and painted it red might be the reason he was called Red Wolf.

Not wanting to kill anyone, the hyena adjusted the shot a bit. He took a deep breath, then pulled the trigger.

Another scream pierced the air. Like Octo before, Richard rolled over and froze, staring at the sky as snow fell on him, slowly getting heavier. The rifle was heavy indeed, heavier than the guns he used.

I'm sorry, Signore Ludwig…

Both the trigger and the guilt were heavier.

I chose to trust Signore Octo and Red Wolf.

Was it not enough?

Tom could only stare with wide eyes at the snow on the ground, blood dripping from his muzzle. Was it not enough? Was everything he had done not enough?

They pinned him down and he couldn't do anything more. Lain kept screaming and tried to take over but their body just refused to move. Someone then took his throat and lifted him up. He only gargled blood and tried to release himself almost uselessly. He could feel his head getting dizzy as blood couldn't reach it. The grip tightened, then his vision turned white.

Then he was dropped to the ground again. Was it not enough? Did he need the Third Voice after all?

The wolf looked up again and saw a gun pointed at his head. The bear was grinning. He couldn't make out what he was speaking, his senses almost numb. So, was he going to die here?

Then, the bear screamed. He dropped the gun he was holding and the other rushed to help him. Tom only watched him as he lost his balance, tripping and falling onto the snow. He saw blood leaking from his back, then he realised that the bear had been shot.

Blinking, Tom slowly came back to his senses. Pain shot up his body. He took a deep breath. Life was meaningless. Now, he had a meaning. It was enough. Everything he did was enough. He had reasons to live. He had reasons to be happy. Because life was meaningless, he had to give it meaning for himself.

Fate brought him here. Who was he to question fate? To question fate meant to question himself. This was meant to happen, because he had to be responsible for the fate that he himself had created. 

The snow fell harder as he let Lain take over. Now, he had to run. He had someone worth fighting for and dying wouldn't do him any good. Max was still out there, waiting for him. He couldn't let him down.

His expression hardened and he took a deep breath. Standing up straighter, he rolled over to release himself from the hold. That took the stoat who was holding him by surprise. Lain bit his hand, then clawed at him and kicked him. Before anyone could catch him, he took his metal staff and ran away, with Lain moving aside to let him take control.

The snowfall became heavier, and Tom was glad of it. He took a scoop of snow from the ground and munched it before spitting it out. It stung a lot, but it should help with the bleeding. He did it several more times as he kept running in the maze that was the city alleyways, hoping to quickly find an exit.

However, he ran into someone instead.

He looked at the one standing before and his eyes widened. In front of him was Octo, with a dagger on one thigh and HT on one shoulder. The panther's face was surprised, too.

Was… was Octo a part of this?