Lupin was not accustomed to being out of his depth. Always controlling any situation, he usually had the foresight to be able to see bad things coming his way. Unfortunately for the wolf, he never saw the club coming to the back of his head. Dazed and caught off guard, he put a paw to his numbing skull and fought against nausea and a group of vengeful, bloodthirsty animals. Swinging at anything that came into his distorted vision, Lupin fought for all he could. Resisting everything that they threw at him, even when he tired and the stamping began, Lupin swung his furry grey arms at his assailants.
Finally beaten, the wolf stared blankly into the middle distance, not even wondering why they had bothered to stop. He could not see the other victim of the pack, the person that had come to his aid.
“You should be helping us,” one coyote spat. “He caused you more grief than anyone.” The teenager was having none of it. When he tried to reach Lupin and they stopped him, he fought against them. His fist made contact with the alpha male’s snout and sent him yelping to the floor. He shoulder barged another one and jumped onto a third. Now fully involved in the scrap, the young adult gave it all he got. Swinging wildly, his fists made contact with sharp teeth and fur covered bones.
The sudden feeling of being severely winded rushed through his body and the man was finally overpowered and set upon by the pack of feral dogs. Feet swung into his face and body and, just like Lupin, the one man cavalry was now utterly defenceless.
Kale missed the second day of college. He discharged himself from the hospital and went home, knowing his foster parents would be anxious for not knowing his whereabouts for the entire night, he began to make up excuses in his mind for as to how he came across receiving a few stitches. In the end, as his hand settled on the doorknob, Kale decided the truth would be more appropriate. As close to the truth as he felt he could get away with anyway.
“And where have you been all night?” came his welcome as he closed the front door behind him self. His mother’s angered look transformed to a look of worried concern when her eyes settled on his packaged wounds. She rushed over to him and squeezed him in an embrace, making Kale gasp sharply in pain. “Are you alright? Why didn’t you call?”
“Ribs…” Kale said grittily. “Pain…”
“Oh!” his mother yelped as she let her grip of him go. “Where were you? I had your father worried on the phone to the police when he found out that you weren’t at any of your friends’ places. Bruce said you’d left hours before we called.”
“I got set upon,” Kale told her truthfully. “I didn’t see who did it but I’ve already spoken to the police about it.” Liar!
“Yeah… Sorry,” he said with a sense of humility. She put an arm around him and took him in to the kitchen. Kale sat at the table and gave Tyler a friendly wink. The youngster was rifling through his satchel, looking for some obliterated form of pottery he had made at school that day to show to his mother. “How was school, Tyler?”
“I made a bowl,” he said triumphantly, pulling the monstrosity out of his bag. He handed it to Kale who took it with a false smile as he pretended to admire it. “I drew some stars on it an’ stuff.”
“That’s very good,” he told the tiger, mix cougar, child as he handed it back to him carefully so as not to irritate his injuries. “Why don’t you show it to mom?”
There was a knock at the door.
“I’ll get it,” Kale offered and lifted himself out of the chair. Wincing and holding his breath to mask the pain. Tyler said nothing but he could sense that Kale was not well somehow. Slowly making his way, Kale made it to the door after the second set of knockings and opened the door. Kale’s eyes settled on the beaten and still bloodied figure of Lupin. The two looked at each other for a moment, saying nothing. Eventually it was Kale that broke the silence between the two teenagers. “What do you want, Lupin?”
“I, uh…,” he struggled, pausing for a second or two as he gathered his words into a coherent sentence. “I wanted to thank you for helping me out last night.”
“If you call a dozen stitches and a few bruised ribs helping out, I’d hate to find out what you call a personal favour,” Kale sniped sarcastically. “Being decapitated with a blunt axe? Perhaps I can get that with a side order of disembowelment? And could I have fries with that too, please?”
“Look, I’m sorry, alright!” Lupin started. “I’m sorry for giving you crap for all that time through high school, I’m sorry you had seven different colours of crap kicked out of you at my expense last night. Is there any chance of starting over?”
The wolf offered his paw. Kale did not look at it, too focused on seeing the sincerity in Lupin’s eyes. He considered just closing the door and ignoring Lupin altogether. Kale had been doing that for years, after all. Sighing, Kale took the wolf’s gesture and shook hands with him.
“I’ll see you at college tomorrow?” Kale asked. Lupin nodded and turned away. Kale watched him walk down the path to the sidewalk and proceed down the street. Closing the door, Kale ran over what just happened in his mind. Eventually, he decided that he had no idea what had just happened and he did not want to think about it too much, so he returned to the kitchen and sat down.
“Who was that, dear?” she asked, setting a plate of scrambled eggs and toast in front of him. Kale thought about it for a second before answering, looking at Tyler and wondering how he would cope with school.
“A friend from college,” he told her. “He just wanted to know why I’d missed today.”