And then there was a way out. The door was blown wide open and a flood of well-dressed wolves came dashing in, tackling the mass of bears in front of them. The three bears turned to look in astonishment as a massive wolf waltzed in, her head barely touching the ceiling.
"What are you?" they yelled as Ferryl picked them up and tossed them aside with ease. Kicking them to the side to let her pack deal with them, she turned to the pair and instantly knelt down.
"Ranka! Are you okay? Did they hurt you?" She cried out, reaching out and grabbing her sister, inspecting for any injuries. "Nope! I was too strong for them." Ranka replied confidently, her tail wagging around.
Getting back up on his feet, Jin groaned as he felt his head. It was throbbing, but he didn't feel any blood. Then he looked down at his legs.
It wasn't too terrible, but they had been scrapped when the bear had swung him too low, scraping his legs on the floor before he flew to the wall. There was a little bit of blood that has seeped through the skin.
Ranka noticed this and her eyes widened. "Jin! They hurt you!" she cried out as she leaped from her sister and right next to Jin's legs. Crouched down, she was about to proceed to lick them when she stopped. "Can I lick them?" she asked, turning her head towards Jin.
"Oh, wolves lick wounds to heal faster." Jin thought to himself. "Does it work on people? I don't know, but it might get an infection if I leave it as is, and the nurse's office is a while away from here." He nodded, giving her permission to lick his scraped legs.
After a minute or so, she had made quick work of both his legs, which were now covered in a thin layer of her saliva. It stung, but now it had begun to already feel better.
"I need to get to the nurse's office," he said turning to address Ferryl. "I might have a concussion from being slammed against the wall."
She nodded, calling one of her packmates to run and get a message to the faculty for medical attention.
"Heh." Ranka smiled weakly. "What is so funny?" Jin asked, annoyed at her laugh. "This was just like the first time that we met." she replied.
"Well, we did get attacked by the bears back at the Seton Academy when we met," Jin admitted, reminiscing back to that fateful day.
"No," she said, shaking her head. "I mean the very first time, back at the daycare."
"You must be-"
"I am not mistaken!" Ranka yelled out, her happy mood vanishing. "You saved me from the bears when we were three! And you remember, Yena told me so!"
"Ah, of course," Jin grumbled to himself mentally. "The only animal I trusted to tell the story and she blabs off to Ranka. Predictable."
"Wait," Ferryl said, realization hitting her. Pushing her face, a little too close to Jin's, she asked, "You protected Ranka when she was a mere child?"
Sighing, and seeing no point in denying it, he nodded. "I guess so, but to be fair the bears were not that dangero-what are you doing?" he asked as Ferryl knelt on the ground and slightly bowed down to Jin. "I may have underestimated you, chimpanzee. You protected my baby sister when I couldn't, at least back then."
Ferryl got back up and looked down at him. "Maybe there is something good in this ape that you like Ranka." She turned and walked out the door, her pack carrying the bears and boxes of food out the door.
Ranka turned back to Jin, a single tear falling down her sad-looking face. "Jin," she asked softly, "when we were little, did you like me?" Jin struggled to think of an answer.
He wanted to say no, reject it outright that he ever loved an animal, even when he was a little, naïve boy. After all, how could a human and an animal love one another, even if the animal looked like a human girl with a pink tail and wolf ears?
And yet, he couldn't bring himself to say no. When he looked back to that day, when his mother was taking him from the school, he remembered looking back at that place one more time.
Not at the place itself, but at Ranka, who was standing there clutching her raggedly wolf doll that he got beaten up over. The last and most prominent memory he had of that place was her face, upset that he was going away and never to return.
And when the group had asked him about his first love, his mind went immediately went to that last memory, of Ranka as he was being led away from her. No matter what way he looked at it, there was only one true answer that he could bring himself to say.
"Yes, I did back then," Jin muttered, barely enough for Ranka to hear him.
"I knew it!" Ranka cried out in happiness, sending her tail to turn into a pink blur of happiness. Jin looked away and towards the door to the outside. Still no sight of the medical team.
He hoped that they would take him before he had to answer another one of Ranka's questions. But now that she knew, there was only one thing left for her to ask.
"So, if you had those feelings back then, are they still there?" she asked, moving to crouch directly in front of Jin's line of sight. She had a small smile on her face, anticipating Jin's answer.
"Of course not!" was his knee-jerk response that came to his head. "It's obvious, isn't it? They are all gone, right?"
But was it? Jin second-guessed himself as he found himself unable to say what came into his mind. Even after the bear attack at the daycare, even after he 'realized' that humans and animals would not get understand even after he developed this disdain for all animals, there was still something that made him look back at Ranka as he was taken away from that daycare, a small, simple feeling.
It was one that he had buried, trying for years to forget it. And he had done that well until they met once again at the Academy. Every time it had even hinted at appearing again, he had swatted it away, brushing it off as coincidental that he did something the resembling being worried for Ranka or even caring about her.
Especially when there was Hitomi around. "How could I feel for an animal when the perfect person was right in front of me." He had rationalized repeatedly.
But now, with Hitomi as only his friend, and his romantic feelings for her wilting away that day, it was harder to ignore the truth. Even after all these years, there was still something about her.
Despite his self-described disdain for animals, there was just something about Ranka that made her the first animal that he willingly associated himself with. And now looking into her bright orange-yellow eyes, her happy face that almost pressed up to his nose, he again had no choice but to answer what he knew was the truth, no matter how hard he had tried to deny it all these years.
"I-I guess that there is something there that one may consider a feeling of affection beyond simply friends." He quickly spoke, folding his arms and closing his eyes. "Huh?" Ranka asked as she tilted her head to the side, confused at what he had said.
"It means he likes you!" MeiMei shouted as she burst through the doorway, followed by the rest of the cooking group and Yena. They had decided to follow Ranka and Jin but got lost on the way. It was only when they ran into the wolf that they found themselves back the right path and ended up finding them.
As soon as Ranka heard those five words, she looked at Jin with wide eyes, anticipating him to say more. Knowing what was on her mind, Jin sighed and nodded, letting Ranka know that what the panda said was correct.
She cracked the biggest smile that Jin had ever seen in the entire time that he had known this girl. "I knew it!" Ranka yelled out and proceeded to lick his face. Unfortunately, this made it hard for him to breathe, also given the fact that he had the weight of a university girl straddling his chest.
He tried to say something, but his vision blurred and finally faded to black as he passed out.
It was only when he heard Ranka calling out his name faintly that he slowly regained his consciousness. His eyes finally gained focuses and he squinted, trying to adjust for the bright with light around him.
"Is this heaven?" he asked himself. Blinking, his eyes went back to normal and he realized that he was staring at the ceiling of his school's infirmary room, lying in one of their beds in a private room. A doctor, a refined-looking cheetah came to his side and flashed a light in his eye.
"Jin, we have tested you and you have seemed to have suffered a minor concussion, but nothing more. We can expect to release you the next day after some further observation to make sure that you have recovered sufficiently." The doctor explained. While feeling a bit bruised, Jin was still very pleased with the news. The doctor left, leaving Jin alone.